Burlogh’s rendition of Goldberry’s Spring from The Lord of the Rings is top-notch. I love the effect of foliage-piled-on-foliage that virtually hides the brick-built base. It really conveys the lush feeling of Goldberry and Tom Bombadil’s home. The tree has the appropriate feeling of age and Goldberry is holding the white water lilies that Tom brings her everyday. This is decidedly a nice piece!
70401 Gold Getaway is the obligatory carriage/chase scene set from LEGO’s newly rebooted Castle line. With 199 pieces and a $20 USD price-point, it falls in the middle of the scale for LEGO’s carriage sets (Amazon actually has it for less at the time of writing).
LEGO has a long history of prisoner transport wagons, releasing them in 1985, 1990, 2005, 2007, 2010, and now 2013, with this one being one of the larger. Thematically, LEGO’s new castle line syncs with the Castle line from the “Fantasy Era” (circa 2007-2009), since the “CASTLE” logo remains the same, and the heraldry is identical to that of the Crown Knights, though this time there’s a lion emblem in addition to the crown badge.
I’m not sure what’s going on in this set narratively. The title “Gold Getaway” implies a heist of some sort, but the wagon is a prisoner transport wagon (which also carries gold). I would guess, then, that the Dragon Knights soldier has absconded with the Crown Knights’ wagon of gold, but the wagon is clearly in Dragon Knights’ colors. Perhaps the Crown Knights soldiers, which have traditionally been portrayed as the “good” guys, have taken a cue from Dennis Moore and gotten into the highway robbery business. That might explain the scowl on the Dragon Knights soldier’s face.
The box contains 2 numbered bags, the instructions, and no stickers or loose parts. With only 199 pieces, it’s a pretty simple build. Bag 1 constructs the 2 Crown Knights soldiers, the small structure, the ballista, and the horse and tack. The structure is hideous. I’m sure the intent of mixing the brown and grey pieces in the structure was to give it a mottled, weathered feel, but it just doesn’t work. It looks like there’s a piece missing on the top of the back side, although with a structure this small front and back have little meaning. I’m not sure what the structure is even supposed to be; there’s no place to put a figure on top, like a small tower, and the bottom is open, so it’s not a defensible structure. I thought perhaps the instructions would give a hint, but alas, no such luck. I suppose it’s simply a doorway for one of the knights to pop out and surprise the wagon. The ballista is better, however. For all my loathing of flick-fire missiles, I do have to admit that when placed properly, they can work quite well. A good finger flick on the missile piece here sends the missile flying several feet, once you get the hang of it. The ballista carries ammo for 3 shots.
Bag 2 completes the set, containing the pieces for the wagon and the Dragon Knight soldier. The wagon is an OK build, but uninspiring. It’s a single horse wagon, with an immobile grate on one side, and a barred-door on the other. It carries a treasure chest on the back. The base contains several hidden tiles. I thought as I was building it that this was to enable the prison section to be removed from the chassis to create a standalone structure. Upon completing the build though, I discovered this wasn’t the case, and the wagon is firmly built as one piece. The only other reason I can determine is that this particular arrangement of pieces means that there are no plates stuck completely within the underside of the larger grey plate where LEGO’s brick separator can’t remove them. I don’t recall LEGO being shy about this in the past, but as long as it doesn’t hamper ingenuity, I think it’s a good idea. The roof is removable, more as an access point than as a play feature. The red 1×1 “cheese” slopes on the roof look like an afterthought. The main play feature of the wagon, however, is the explosive bolt on the chain over the door. Push a Technic axle protruding on the opposite side, and a flick-fire missile to which the chain attaches flies out, “unlocking” the door. It works well, though I think the “lock” 1×1 round tile (which is a neat print) would be better placed on the chain than on the door, since it’s the chain that really unlocks. The unlocking mechanism, cool though it may be, isn’t really necessary though, since any prisoner can easily escape through the gaping hole in the back of the wagon. The wagon’s pearl dark grey wheels are a welcome change from 30 years of brown wheels, and are currently unique to this set. The horse tack is brick-built to take advantage of the new style horse’s ability to rear while in the harness, instead of using the classic harness piece. I thought that maybe with the new style horses, that classic piece might be phased out, but it appears in many sets that use the new horse. This was the first set I’ve gotten that includes the new style champron (that’s the armor piece that goes on a horse’s head). Here’s a comparison shot between the 3 styles of champrons LEGO has made. The two older styles only work on the old horses, and likewise the new one only works on the new horse. I like all 3, and I think they will all have their places. The chest on the back of the wagon contains 3 gems and 6 “coins,” which are 1×1 pearl gold round tiles. Now, I love the new 1×1 round tiles, so I’m always happy to get more of them, but they make lousy coins compared to the chrome ones LEGO has been using for years (and which they recently redesigned). Since the chrome coins do appear in other sets in this line, I’m guessing the substitution here was to shy away from using chrome parts, which are famously expensive.
The minifigs are all solid. LEGO has determined over the past few years that kids really identify with the minifigs, and that they are a strong selling point in any set, so they’ve been slowly working more detail into each figure, regardless of theme. All 3 minifigs have detailed front and rear torso printing. One of the Crown Knights soldiers is in full plate armor, while the other is wearing a tunic. The minifigs are definitely the highlight of this theme.
All in all, this set is very underwhelming. It’s just one example of many from this wave of Castle sets that shows that the general increase in the quality of construction we’ve seen in most sets for the last 6 years or so isn’t immune to hiccups. Compared to the preceding Kingdoms line, this wave of sets is a profound disappointment. This CASTLE line is reminiscent of Knights Kingdom I, which wasn’t the worst Castle line LEGO has produced, but it’s far from a compliment. The parts in this set are fair, and unlike the KK1 line, it isn’t full of large simple pieces. So ultimately, it’s a passable parts pack, and the minifigs are excellent, but I can’t recommend Gold Getaway as a set.
I just got back from BrickCon and this beauty, from Tim Goddard (AKA RogueBantha), was waiting for me. Lovely, lovely work. The flexible neck and tail are nice, tight work and I’m very happy that he filled the wings in with actual plate rather than the paper or cloth solution that some people have used.
I’m probably in the minority of nerds who prefers the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit to the current overblown Peter Jackson spectacular, but I won’t let that stop me from posting great models based off the 7-part film series. This particular scene comes to us from Paul (Disco86), who uses some familiar but effective techniques to paint an immersive scene from the trailer of the latest installment of “The Hobbit“. The diorama is entitled “It is our fight” and it appeals to me in large part because there is nothing but Lego in the scene, no glaring white background, kitchen table or Photoshop weirdness, just 100% mainline ABS goodness. There is also a nice technique I haven’t seen before involving flower-petals and green string. I’m guessing that’s Legolas on the right, probably saying something incredibly clever like ““There is a fell voice on the air” or “A shadow and a threat has been growing in my mind”. Oh Legolas, won’t you ever lighten up?
In the last week or so, new pictures by James Pegrum (peggyjb) kept popping up in my contacts’ latest photos, offering tantalising glimpses of an amazing Castle model coming together. James has now posted a picture that shows just about the whole thing, although he couldn’t quite capture all of it without doing some major remodelling of his house. The castle is not based on any particular real one, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look realistic.
Admittedly, I’m not a connoisseur of Castle models, but this one strikes me as really rather good, for a couple of reasons. My fellow brother Gambort once explained that, to be good, a LEGO city should ideally not all be built on the same level or on a rectangular grid, except perhaps if it’s meant to be somewhere in a particularly flat part of the United States (I am paraphrasing a bit and this latter part is my own addition, but it is a nice bridge to the next sentence). There are no castles in the United States, except for generally cheesy-looking fakes, and I reckon that LEGO castles too get better by not being rectangular and level. James’ model ticks both of those boxes.
This is as good as it gets for now. However, it will still get better. This is merely James’ contribution to a collaboration with seven other members of the Brickish association. Their complete layout will be unveiled at the 2013 Great Western LEGO show, which will take place on the 5th and 6th of October in Swindon, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it with my own two eyes.
One great thing to come out of the collectible minifig craze has been a renewed effort by builders to capture ancient Greece in all its mythological splendor. The latest builder to capitalize on the available cast of characters is mihaimmariusmihu who brings to life one of the labors of Herakles; the rescue of Prometheus from his eternal torture chained to a rock at the foot of Kazbek Mountain. The admittedly few sources I checked indicated that this particular labor was not one of the original 12, but was sort of an extended adventure. I’m sure Hesiod and Aeschylus would agree, however, that this is a great diorama with bold colors and classical details, even if the gang of minotaurs seems a little odd. Unfortunately this is one of the few times I was hoping for a back-story or explanation of some kind, the builder doesn’t have much to say on Flickr. Perhaps this posting will coax him out.
The title of our next featured model sounds more like the name of a module from Dungeons & Dragons, filed right next to “Shrine of the Kuo-Toa” or “Queen of the Demonweb Pits”….not that I would know anything about such a dorky game. The diorama was designed by lisqr, who really shows a mastery of how to compose a shot here. The purists among you need not fear, the swords are stuck in the gaps between log-bricks and do not appear to be cut, glued, or otherwise mangled. One of my initial reactions was to admire the builder’s choice of having only one minifig present in the expansive scene, it really adds to the desolate feeling of the diorama. You can’t actually see him in this photo, he’s just off-screen to the left, but you can get a better view in lisqr’s full set. This shot just appealed to me the most, even with the ghostly light-switch in the background it’s a critical hit!
Look twice, because this fantasy tower by Kris Kelvin (Montgomery Burns) is larger than it looks (Kris says it’s over 1.4m tall). The ramshackle, staggered look of the tower is terrific, and all the texturing on the walls gives a lot of personality to the structure.
This mind-blowing working compound crossbow is completely LEGO, and made by builders extraordinaire Sean and Steph Mayo (Siercon and Coral). Be sure to check out the video of it in action! Not only does it shoot, even the cables are made from LEGO train electronics wires.
The Brothers Brick snagged a quick interview with Sean and Steph about this awesome creation:
The Brothers Brick: Where did you get your inspiration?
Sean and Steph: We wanted to use LEGO to shoot a projectile, building something other than a catapult or a trebuchet. We’ve seen lots of epic brick built guns online, and thought it would be tons of fun to create a custom Lego compound bow. This quickly evolved into crossbow for extra stability, as the bow is under tons of tension.
TBB: How long did this build take?
S&S: We probably spent a week playing around with the different mechanics. We had a lot to figure out about the flexibility of LEGO pieces under stress, how much the train cables could take, and which pieces would be useful for the cams. Once that was sorted the actual construction in a couple days.
TBB: Why a compound Crossbow, wouldn’t it have been enough to just create a bow?
S&S: A regular bow honestly would probably have been more effective as a lot of the natural flexibility of the LEGO pieces makes them more conducive to a recurve bow rather than a compound bow. But for ages we’ve been fascinated by the cams, idler wheels, and the mechanics of a compound bow, so we wanted to give it a try!
TBB: How many pieces did you use?
S&S: We usually don’t count the pieces we used, and have no clue how some builders do it, but we estimate around 1700 pieces.
TBB: How far can it shoot/how much would it hurt?
S&S: Disregarding the outliers, it can shoot around 40 feet. As a bow without the compound element it could shoot farther, but we couldn’t resist trying to build the cams. As far as how much damage it can deliver, we’re not entirely sure. We have yet to shoot anyone with it, and it is tipped with a flexible rubber lego (both for the competition this was built for and to minimize any accidental injury). It can likely stick into drywall with a sharp enough tip, but not much else.
TBB: What is it designed from? Is this from a video game or something similar?
S&S: This is an original design, but influenced by the Spartan Laser aesthetic from the Halo series. We also wanted to use the green spikes as viper fangs, so we tried to stick with venomous snake inspired highlights. We picture this to be something a Green Arrow vigilante might carry around.