Brickset news archive: Pick of the week
Here this year's other Christmas polybag: 40035, Rocking Horse.
It's a bit disappointing, frankly. The horse is a nice shape, but doesn't have a printed eye piece: I've added one here which improves the look considerably.
More importantly it doesn't rock: what's the point of a model of a rocking horse if it doesn't rock! Of course we can guess why it doesn't, because getting it to is actually quite difficult with the LEGO parts palette available.
I played around with bits of technic tubing and other flexible parts yesterday to try and make something that would, and not look terrible, but I didn't succeed.
Do you have any ideas how to get it rocking?
The order I placed on Saturday, including 3300014, the 2012 Christmas set arrived yesterday, which I thought was a pretty decent delivery time, being next working day, particularly given it was dispatched from Zwolle in The Netherlands.
Amongst my order was 40034 Christmas Train, which is a cute little set. It's interesting to note that the official photo omits the 2 x 2 round green plates on side of the engine.
I can't say I'm overly impressed with the open front to the cab though, and one wagon isn't going to be enough to transport all the stuff Santa needs to bring to to my house, so I raided my spare parts boxes and added another three which makes it a far more respectable length.
A fun set and a great 'stocking filler' even if it doesn't have the '16 silver wheels' the description at LEGO.com claims!
Update: Prompted by suggestions in the comments, here's an improved version of the loco: the side windows have been turned to the front thus enclosing it, and four 1 x 1 red bricks have been added to the sides.
Now, I wonder if a black 2 x 4 curved slope would look better for the roof...?
This week I've just built 9449 Ninjago Ultra Sonic Raider, which I acquired three of in the recent Argos 3-for-2 offer (then passed two on to others at GWLS). It retails at £60, or US$80, so it cost me £40.
It's a bit of a weird vehicle, to be honest, what with caterpillar tracks at the front and huge Technic motorcycle wheels and the back, but I guess it works, just...
The pictures on the box show the grey pipe-things pointing forwards but that looks a bit daft, IMO, so I pointed them back for this photo. They look more like exhaust pipes than weapons or whatever to my eye.
I'm not sure that the flexi-pieces with daggers sticking out work particularly well, but I guess they are needed to make it a bit more interesting and add apparent 'bulk' to the design.
The set also comes with all four (red/blue/white/black) ZX Ninjas and Spitta. The box and instructions state 'Jay ZX and Zane ZX included'. Why is that I wonder? Why are the other two not mentioned in that statement? Are they not as important? It's not as if those two are unique to this set: far from it.
Overall then, it was an interesting build and quite fun to play with. The six minifigs are great, and it's a convenient way to get all four ZX ninjas at once.
At the moment the set has been reduced by £10 to £50 at Amazon.co.uk, which is the lowest it's been. It's still at the retail price of $80 at Amazon.com. It's not been reduced there much in the past, and I guess probably won't be during the run-up to Christmas.
This is Lloyd ZX, from the spinner set 9574. It seems that he's in demand, because within days of being available at shop.LEGO.com early in September, the set went onto back order until mid-October.
I managed to find one in my local Tesco, in a newly opened box of the new spinners.
Can the set be found on the shelves where you are, or is it disappearing fast?
I believe he's been hyped up in the cartoon series, which might explain his popularity, although as it's not aired here in the UK, I haven't seen it to be sure.
He's a nice figure. The green spikes are very cool, and uncommon. His spinner is attractively decorated and if you only buy one Ninjago spinner (perhaps before they are retired next year (maybe)), make it this one.
Of course, he's not the first green ninja: the other two in this photo are from 3346 from 2000, which was a hard-to-find set then and much in demand now. New examples will set you back $30/£20 each on BrickLink, while a MISB set will cost you around £80. Unbelievable for a set that cost just $5/£5 twelve years ago!
I suspect the rarity and coolness of them is a contributing factor to the high demand for Lloyd ZX.
For my pick of the week this week, I've chosen another set that I wouldn't normally buy, but current discounts at Amazon.co.uk (36% off at £25) made it irresistible.
I've never bought a City fire set before, because as I explained when the forest police station was pick of the week, emergency services sets usually leave me cold. However, I am coming to realise that they are packed with playability, and this one is no exception.
The set contains three sub-models, the first of which is this fire jeep and trailer. The jeep looks great, although it would have looked better -- not to mention safer for the driver in a fire situation -- if it had a roof. A red Wedge 4 x 6 x 2/3 Triple Curved would have done the job nicely.
The trailer, presumably a water tank/pumper, is packed with details and hoses.
The ten flame pieces let you 'set fire' to one of the trees and thus have something for the fire service to extinguish. I think I'm right in saying that this is the first time something 'on fire' has been included in a fire set, presumably because burning buildings or vehicles would be too scary for kids.
The plane itself isn't too bad, although it does use the new large juniorised parts for nose and tail, but thankfully, not for the wings. They are made from two 6 x 24 plates which are something of a rarity. There are some in the Town Hall, but other than that they haven't appeared in a set since 1998.
There's a flap on the top of the fuselage in which to put the 'water' (trans-blue 1 x 1 round bricks), and a mechanism operated by a lever on the side to drop them onto the burning tree.
It's not a bad effort although I'm not entirely convinced by the wings, particularly the ends, or the grey slope pieces under the wings; red would have looked much better.
Normally, like most AFOLs I suspect, I have no interest whatsoever in emergency services sets, particularly police stations and cars, which have been done to death since I was a lad in the 1970s. However this year LEGO has managed to breathe some new life into the police theme by moving them from a city setting to the forest, complete with trees, bears, off-road vehicles and hidden booty.
4440 Forest Police Station is the largest set in the theme and, having just built it, I have to say that it is exceptional both in terms of playability and usefulness of parts. The fun starts as soon as you've built bag 1, which contains the tree, bear, quad-bike, robbers and a female police officer (not shown above). The bag would make an excellent mid-priced set on its own and is one you'd be likely to buy multiples of, for the tree parts and of course the bear.
I'm not normally one for applying stickers but a police car without police markings would look a bit daft. As they are printed on transparent backing plastic and not white (which is prone to peeling over time), I made an exception this time.
The fourth minifig, another police officer, is provided to drive the vehicle.
Although it adds to the set's playability it could be argued that it's a bit superfluous because, unlike recent police station sets, there is no helicopter landing pad on the police station itself.
The pilot is the fifth and final minifig, who has a dark blue torso and legs.
The set would make a great one for a family to build together because each sub-assembly has its own instruction book so they can be built concurrently.
The police station is a good looking structure featuring a small office with desk and coffee machine on one side and a cell on the other. The cell doesn't really need two doors as there's no dividing wall, and I'm not really sure what the red letter-box thing between the doors is for: it slides in and out.
It's built with plenty of useful parts including 27 'Medium Dark Flesh Brick, Modified 1 x 2 with Masonry Profile' and 33 'Medium Dark Flesh Brick, Modified 1 x 2 Log' bricks so once you're done playing with it, it will make a good parts pack for your own creations.
One thing I found unusual was that the set comes with a second tree that is not shown anywhere on the box (or in my photos for that matter). It's not often you get more in the box than you're expecting, is it!
So despite my initial apprehension and normal dislike of police sets, I will recommend this set particularly at the moment because it's 33% off at all of the European Amazons (except France), making it a much more reasonable £40, or €50. At Amazon.com the discount isn't so great but US$70 is still a good price.
Technic brought me out of my dark ages (Air Tech Claw Rig in 1995) and I've bought most of the large sets that have been released since. I'm not much of a fan of super cars and other 'street' vehicles but I do like a good digger or other utility vehicle, so this tractor is right up my street.
This latest one, 9393, like most recent ones, is lime green and is fitted with a farming attachment (that I'd name if I knew what it was called) that can be raised and folded in when not in use. It can also be detached completely.
I find it interesting how the Technic design team make something look a particular colour but actually use very few pieces in the colour, and it's certainly the case here. Out of the 350 pieces, only 10 are lime green!
If you've never built a Technic set before this is a good introduction: there are not too many pieces so it only takes an hour or so to construct, yet it packs in enough 'technical' functions to make it interesting to build and play with.
Being a new release, it hasn't been discounted much yet, although it is currently 20% off at Amazon.de, according to the Amazon price comparator. At shop.LEGO.com it's priced at $39.99 in the USA, £24.99 in the UK, and $49.99 in Canada so for once we Brits are not being ripped off: the current £:$ exchange rate of 1:1.57 has been honoured almost exactly.
A great introduction to Technic and a good looking model that's fun to play with. Read more reviews by Brickset users to find out what others think.
I should probably rename this article 'pick of the year' since this is the first PotW I've found the time to write this year. I'll try not to be so tardy in future :-)
Anyway, this Cars 2 set, Oil Rig Escape, was briefly available at 30% discount at Amazon.co.uk earlier in the week so I took the opportunity to snap it up, and I've just finished building it.
When I first saw the Cars 2 sets last year I vowed not to buy them but it wasn't long before I succumbed to the charms of the cars themselves and now I just about have all of the 2011 sets. Although I loved the cars and vehicles I wasn't too impressed with the rest of the sets. Some were downright awful (Big Bentley Bust-out) and others were pretty much superfluous (Tokyo Pit Stop) and did nothing except add to the cost.
I was slightly surprised when I heard that there would be a second batch of Cars sets this year particularly given that there isn't a movie or anything else for them to tie in with. I guess sales must have been strong enough last year to warrant it. In many ways, this second batch is better than the first: the cars are more varied and colourful and the supporting structures have either been removed or are much better.
9486 Oil Rig Escape falls into the latter category in that the oil rig itself is actually a pretty good model in its own right. The oil rig platform consists of two of the new 8x16 plates to make a total area of 16x16, so it's a bit on the small side, particularly when compared to that in the movie. It's designed so that you can rearrange the subassemblies on it, the tower, control room, container, helipad and so on to make it how you want it. There's a lot of playability in it, what with the platform's flexibility and a winch, crane and several bits and pieces to lift on and off the platform.
It comes with five characters, three of which are cars: Finn McMissile in submarine configuration, Professor Z, who's much the same as last year's, but with a new 'angry' face, and Grem who this year is orange instead of red which is what he should be. He certainly looks better in orange and adds a lot of colour to the set. The other two characters are 'The crane' and Leland Turbo, who has been crushed into a cube (2x2 brick with 2x2 tile on top!).
One thing I don't like was that there area lot of stickers in the set. The faces are printed but everything else is a sticker. Thankfully they are the transparent film type rather than printed on white so they shouldn't peel over time like the white-backed ones are prone to do. Other than that (and the set's full price!) there's nothing not to like about it. In fact I think I'd go as far as to say it's my favourite Cars set so for that reason it's my pick of the week.
Here are some pictures of the cars:
It's currently discounted by 15% at Amazon.co.uk; hopefully it'll drop again soon. In the USA it's still priced at RRP, $49.99, but that's equivalent to a 30% discount in the UK anyway!
If you're a City fan you will no doubt be very excited about the City sets being released in 2012. There are some superb vehicles coming out, and even the Fire and Police sets are sufficiently different to make them interesting.
My pick for this week is the new City set 4434 Dump Truck, which I picked up at the Brighton brand store yesterday and which has just appeared at shop.LEGO.com for the very reasonable price of £14.99 and US $19.99.
It's actually surprisingly similar to a truck I made a while ago, even down to the colour scheme. One challenge I faced when building mine was getting the sides of the deck right. In the end I built it upside down to make best use of the brackets available.
To solve the problem on this model, LEGO has made two new parts, one for the ends and one for sides, which makes the model much more elegant. As well as these new parts, there's a new three-part hinge that replaces the ancient 2x4 plate hinge that's been around since the 1960's, and also a new wheelbarrow, which have been difficult to render at minifig scale in the past.
This an excellent, interesting and highly playable model at a great price. If all 2012 City sets are as good this then City fans have every right to get excited. I'm certainly looking forward to finding out if they are.
It's been a while since I wrote a Pick of the week, so this one is long overdue. Unfortunately my pick this week is one that very few people here can actually go into a shop and buy because it's only available in the UK. However, given that this week is Children In Need week, I feel compelled to extol the set's virtues and encourage you to buy one or more if you can, or, if not, hook up with someone in the UK and get them to send you some. (The Brickset forum is an ideal place to do that!)
This 95-piece set costs £4, of which £1 goes to the CiN charity, and builds a pretty good represenation of the charity's mascot, Pudsey. For such a small set it packs in some interesting building techniques using a lot of pieces, including plenty of SNOT, the likes of which you don't normally see in similar sized sets. Although you may have most of the parts in your collection, you won't have his unique spotty bandage, which finishes off the model perfectly.
Still not convinced? DrDave has reviewed the set this week as well over at his GimmeLEGO blog where you can see more pictures, including sans bandage.
Find out more about Children In Need, order the set from shop.LEGO.com, or go and buy one from Asda. Actually, this is surely going to be a collectors' item in years to come and handy to have a stock of for trading internationally, so don't just buy one, grab a handful and help underpriveleged children while you do so.
This week I've chosen to write about a set I never intended to buy. When I first saw the Cars sets, I decided to give them a miss, partly because they didn't have minifigs in them, but also because, well, I have to draw the line somewhere, I can't buy everything! However I had the opportunity to buy the set for 33% off when some friends bought three of them in the Argos 3-for-2 sale a few weeks ago, so I thought what the heck, why not...
The set's main appeal is definitely the cars themselves, of which there are six included. Lightning McQueen and Mater are among them and I'd tell you the names of the other four had I not just put the box away in the garage; their names aren't mentioned on the instructions anywhere. EDIT: I've since verified the rest are Flo, Fillmore, Sarge and Sally.
There are several great things about the cars from a LEGO perspective. First, many of the parts are printed so there's no fiddling about with stickers that you can never apply straight and which peel off in a couple of years anyway. Next, there are some really nice new pieces in them, which give the cars a smooth, curved, streamlined look. Finally, two of them are a 'light aqua' colour which until now has been quite rare.
The V8 garage itself is there to provide some play value and it does a pretty good job at it, featuring as it does a car wash, petrol (gas) pumps, and a 'car cafe' area.
If you have no other Cars sets this is a good one to start with because of the number of vehicles in it, including the movie's main protagonists.
Now having become besotted with the cars themselves, I'm wondering if I should just bite the bullet and buy the rest of the theme...
The set is currently 20% off at Amazon.co.uk and 14% off at Amazon.com:
This week I've selected another set that I've just built and which is available at a significant discount, in the UK at least.
Ninjago Earth Dragon Defence is one of the new Ninjago sets that has just been released. I first saw it at the London Toy Fair in January and thought it looked cool then. So, yesterday, while at the Milton Keynes LEGO store (helping to build the 'ribbon' models for the new London Stratford shop opening soon) I thought I'd treat myself.
Ever since the Vikings dragons appeared in 2005, I've had a soft-spot for LEGO dragons so I was pleased to see that so many were to feature in the Ninjago theme. I bought the Ice Dragon, 2260, earlier in the year and this is the only other NinjaGo set I've bought so far, not being a huge fan of the theme otherwise, particularly the cheap-and-nasty spinners.
The Earth Dragon isn't what you'd call a traditional dragon because it doesn't have wings. It's more of a giant lizard or pre-historic monster but I have to say, once built, it really is a fearsome looking thing. It's built mainly from brown and dark tan pieces and measures 15" (38cm) head-to-tail. Its front legs are fully poseable but its back ones are fixed. The spike-wielding tail can be swished from side-to-side. A ring of sand green aircraft tail pieces make up an armoured shield behind which Cole DX sits. Wyplash, the undead enemy in this set doesn't stand a chance against this thing...
The minifigs are so-so (you probably have them already if you have other Ninjago sets) but the creature is excellent and a sight to behold once built and I highly recommend it.
Price-wise in the UK, it's £30.99 which if I'm honest, is a little on the high side. Luckily though, you can currently get it at Amazon.co.uk for 31% off making it a much more reasonable £21.36.
In the USA it's $35, and while I haven't managed to find a saving online for you, that's a far more realistic price anyway. Amazon.com doesn't seem to stock it (but 3rd party sellers do) so you are probably better getting it directly from shop.LEGO.com or your local toy store.
By the way, last week's Pick of the Week: SpongeBob Herioc Heroes of the Deep is now even cheaper in the UK: £9.19 which is 34% off.
Update: looks like this article may have caused a bit of a rush on the set in the UK, the price is now back up to RRP :-(
Welcome to the first in what will hopefully be a regular feature here at Brickset news: my personal 'pick of the week'. Each week (particularly on slow news weeks :-) ) I'll present a mini-review of a set that I've just built or have found at a bargain price on the Internet somewhere.
First up it's a set that meets both these criteria: one of the new SpongeBob sets, 3815, Heroic Heroes of the Deep. I have to confess to not being a big SBSP fan having never seen the cartoon. I bought this set and 3816, Glove World from Amazon this week mainly to keep my minifig collection complete. I wasn't expecting too much from it, but when I opened it, I was pleasantly surprised.
For starters, the minifigs are excellent. SpongeBob and Patrick are in colourful super hero costumes, and Plankton comes in some sort of diving machine (excuse my ignorance, as I said, I've never seen the cartoon :-) ). The main protagonists both feature cloth capes in rare colours, blue and green, and SpongeBob carries a red version of the collectable minifigure alien ray-gun which fires LEGO ice-cream.
The coolness doesn't stop there though; it's not obvious from the pictures (at least it wasn't to me) that the set features quite a few parts, including the ice-cream, in the new 'dark azure' blue colour used for the Alien Conquest minifigs. I hope this is the first of many apperances of this very nice colour.
Once built, the ship-on-wheels looks very colourful indeed and I'm sure very appealing to young fans of the cartoon. To make it even more tempting, it's currently 25% off at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Order your copies below: