Tag Archives: Review

Not sure which LEGO sets to pick up for yourself? Need ideas for that LEGO fan who already has more LEGO than he or she can possibly build with in a lifetime? Nervous about the quality of the custom accessories that tempted you at your last LEGO convention? Read our reviews of LEGO sets, books, accessories, and more right here on The Brothers Brick.

LEGO Star Wars 75060 Slave I [Review]

The good folks over at LEGO sent us an advance copy of the new flagship set for the ever-popular LEGO Star Wars line, 75060 Slave I. Ever since I first saw Star Wars Episode V, I’ve thought the Slave I was one of the coolest ships in the Star Wars fleet. A truly unique design for a spaceship (in 1980 when Empire released), the Slave I lies on its back for landing, but stands upright for flight, the cockpit and wings rotating to retain orientation. LEGO has released 4 previous minifig-scale versions of this ship, two for each color scheme from the new and old Star Wars trilogies, plus another five versions in smaller scales. So this new Slave I fittingly is the tenth version of the ship from LEGO, and is unquestionably the best.

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Make no mistake, this is a big set — a very big set for being minifig scale. The Slave I is a deceptively large ship, and LEGO’s previous minifig-scale versions have not done it justice. The very first Slave I (7144) released in 2000 was almost laughably small at 166 pieces, but I still harbor fond memories of it. The new 75060 Slave I clocks in with 1996 pieces and is almost 2 feet long from tip to tip.

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LEGO Book Roundup: LEGO Ideas, LEGO Play plus Ninjago and Batman Visual Dictionaries [Review]

This time we have reviews for the last four books from Dorling-Kindersley (DK) that LEGO sent us for Christmas. We’ll be talking about the LEGO Ideas Book, the LEGO Play Book, the Ninjago Visual Dictionary and the Batman Visual Dictionary.

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Lego Hobbit The Lonely Mountain 79018 [Review]

The Lonely Mountain is currently the largest set in the Lego Hobbit line. This set was released this fall and retails for $129.99 on Amazon. Below is a brief video review and my remarks regarding the set.


Pros:

  • All 5 minifigs are unique to the set
  • Smaug is a well-designed dragon with Lego’s first collapsible wings
  • Good source of sand green bricks


Cons:

  • Very high price tag

Overall this is a great set for parts, minifigs, and Smaug is an attractive beast to most fans. A decent number of play features mark this as a good playset, and the sand green bricks make it stand out among other less brightly colored sets from the same line. My only complaint is the huge price tag, which is largely a result of including Smaug, whose new parts drive up the production cost. Ultimately I’d like to see this set discounted to $80-$100, which would be a reasonable purchase. I recommend holding off on buying the set unless you absolutely love the new Smaug.

Steampunk LEGO by Guy Himber [Review]

As holiday season approachs, No Starch Press is kicking into high gear with a slew of new titles for LEGO fans. Their latest offering is Steampunk LEGO by well-known LEGO builder, innovator and steampunk enthusiast Guy Himber. This 200 page compilation features the work of over 90 individual builders, and includes just about every notable LEGO steampunk creation of the past five years.

Physically, the book has a definite steampunk feel about it. Its blue and gold hard cover sports a full-color dust jacket (shown here) and all the pages have a high quality satin finish that enhances the sumptuous graphic design. The material is presented in the form an ornate Victorian scrapbook, complete with notelets and other trinkets mounted atop a variety of textured vintage backgrounds.

A cornucopia of building styles are covered here. And while the majority are mini-fig oriented, microscale and life-size builds are reasonably well represented. Entries are 1 or 2 to a page, and organized into logical chapters focusing on different categories such as trains, vehicles, automatons, weapons, sea vessels, airships and even floating rocks. There is also a pleasant ‘interlude’ in the center, showcasing Guy’s memorable Cabinet of Curiosities collaborative project.

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LEGO 21116 Minecraft Crafting Box 8-in-1 [Review]

LEGO has sent The Brothers Brick a copy of the Crafting Box, one of the larger sets from the new minifig-scale Minecraft line. The set includes 518 pieces, and will be $49.99 USD. LEGO hasn’t given us an exact release date, but it should be available in stores around the beginning of November.

LEGO Minecraft 21116 Crafting Box

Now, I know many LEGO fans roll their eyes at the fact that LEGO picked up the Minecraft license at all, but I love it. I’m a huge Minecraft fan, and I have a bit of history with combining LEGO and Minecraft. I created the first minifig-scale Minecraft creation back in 2011, and was one of three fans involved in the development of the first official LEGO Minecraft set, 21102 Minecraft Microworld. During the development phase of that set, we started off trying to create a minifig-scale set. We quickly realized, however, that it would be very hard to do justice to Minecraft at that scale within the price range that the LEGO Ideas (née Cuusoo) program was targeting, namely $30-$40 USD. The current lineup of six minifig-scale sets is a valiant — but flawed — attempt at doing what the original set could not.

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Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark by Mike Doyle [Review]

It’s been barely a year since No Starch Press released Beautiful LEGO, a coffee table book packed with carefully curated images of LEGO creations, conceived and organized by New Jersey graphic designer and LEGO builder Mike Doyle.

Unlike many of their other LEGO themed titles, which are targeted squarely at the AFOL community, the book had the potential to appeal to almost anyone with a passing interest in LEGO (ie. almost anyone on the planet). It soon started showing up on the shelves of regular book stores, and has since become one of their best sellers. So the rumors of a sequel came as no surprise…

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark replays that winning formula, with some interesting twists. The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s weightier: this version is about 50 pages longer and sports a proper hard cover. Some folks will be pleased to hear about that change, although as a coffee table book, I kinda find this one harder to handle.

Mike has also cut back heavily on builder interviews (just 4 this time round, compared to 9 in the first book). I’m sure some AFOLs will see that as a loss, but I think it makes sense for a work like this to focus on the images first and foremost. For those curious to learn more about specific builders, every image is labeled, and the Contributor index contains all the necessary URLs.

Then there’s the subtitle, “Dark”. With this book, Mike applied what he calls a “thematic filter” to the curation process, targeting specific classes of build. It’s a bold move, but gives this sequel a much stronger identity than merely “hello, here are some more great builds”. Admittedly “dark” is a rather broad theme with many possible interpretations, but I think it still pays off. The builds range from the serious, the creepy, the political, the darkly humorous, and even just darkly colored.

As for the individual builds and images, Mike delivers again with another 300 pages of gorgiously photographed creations, from over a hundred different builders, that will be appreciated by both AFOL and non-AFOL alike. Everything is organized into chapters such as “Creepy Crawlers”, “Skin and Bones” or “Future Shock”. And a wide variety of building styles and categories are covered.

To achieve a harmonious effect, some of the models were specially reworked or reshot by their creators, and Mike also re-tuned some of the images too (for example, applying neutral backgrounds). The overall effect is definitely moodier than the first book – and that means it’s literally darker. The builds in this tome also skew to the more complex/detailed end of the scale than in the first one. So you’re gonna want to read this one under a decent light!

For the sequel, Mike also chose to include a small selection of digital creations. This is definitely a controversial decision, which Mike acknowledges and explains in his Preface. But the digital creations are clearly annotated as such, wherever they appear.

Like its predecessor, Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark is a beautiful object, that shines a flattering (low wattage) spotlight on the LEGO building community, and in a way that makes that world accessible to the general public. I’d recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoyed the first book. And I really hope this becomes a series of books. If it does, I cannot wait to see what theme Mike decides to cover next!

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark goes on sale everywhere November 20th, and will retail for USD $39.95.

10245: Santa’s Workshop [Review]

Lego was kind enough to send The Brothers Brick a copy of the upcoming Santa’s Workshop set for review. I was lucky enough to be the one to review the set, and my 3.5 year old son was lucky enough to help. There are plenty of official photos of the set floating around already, including those in our own coverage of the set reveal, so I’ve tried to concentrate my review on interesting things about the set, rather than take a bunch of new photos. This is partially due too the fact that it has been tough to pry the set away from little hands, as my son ran around the house with it screaming about Santa as soon as I opened the shipping box.

Santa's Workshop 04

Parts
This set is a virtual smorgasbord of unusual parts, in fascinating colors. The set contains 883 pieces, which is pretty fantastic for a price point of $70. Although I primarily build space and mecha, I can imagine repurposing most parts in this set to my own use. The doors might find themselves languishing for awhile, but that’s balanced out by a huge helping of gold parts. There’s certainly enough gold piping here to outfit a steampunk lab (even the inside of the North Pole sign is a gold lightsaber blade). I was also surprised to see quite a few printed parts for the reindeer (both their faces and backs are printed. I was also rather pleasantly surprised by the number of extras included in the set. There was even a spare cookie! Finally, the set is PACKED with SNOT bricks, it’s almost worthwhile as a parts pack alone.

Minifigs
Santa's Workshop 05
As with the parts, I was rather happy with the minifigs included in the set. You get Santa, Mrs. Klaus, four elves, and five reindeer. Oddly, Mrs. Klaus and an elf both come with two-sided faces (alternate unhappy faces shown in the photo). The Santa hat is really nice, though I presume it’s the same as the Collectible Minifig Santa, which I don’t have (at least not open). Mrs. Klaus looks like her dress is a new print, and it certainly fits the part. The elves span a variety of personalities, which helps give the set a bit of a Burle Ives Rudolph vibe, which I personally like. Our complement includes “Magic Wand Guy”, and “The Badest Elf There Ever Was.” The latter steals Santa’s cookies.

Speaking of Reinder, though, there are five in the set, four large, and one small. That said, the set doesn’t actually include Rudolph. According the Marcos Bessa, the designer, Rudolph is a character they would’ve had to license. Fortunately, it was easy enough to swap one of the spare Christmas lights onto the small Reindeer’s nose, and Christmas was saved. The Reindeer count has been raised as in issue in my house, so I may have to pick up more of the printed bits on Bricklink, to bring our complement up to the proper eight (plus Rudolph). The tubing used to connect the harness to the sleigh looks long enough to be able to attach at least one more pair of reindeer. “Rudolph” by the way, can apparently even balance on his tail.

The Build
This set was pretty interesting to build. There are some nice SNOT technique used for everything from the Reindeer heads to window construction. It was far beyond my son’s ability to build anything but the minifigs (and repair reindeer), but that’s to be expected. I’m betting that town builders won’t learn much new from building this set, but it’s still a fun build, with a lot of variety. The set is also broken into a series of smaller sections, as most are these days, which allow you to break up the building into discrete chunks, without opening all the bags. There’s also a great little micro-scale Classic-Space ship rolling out of the toy machine, which is marked improvement over the inclusion of another micro scale train for the minifig children to play with.

Overall
This set is a great buy, you get a lot of interesting parts, a lot of useful parts, and some unique animal bits. It was fun to build, and SCREAMS Christmas. If you’ve got kids in your house, it’d be fun to build a chunk at a time, as a build-up to Christmas. It’s surprisingly sturdy for a set in the Creator Expert line, but sleigh can even withstand swooshing by a three year old. It also looks like the two exclusive holiday sets for spending over $99 with LEGO direct this year are annexes to this workshop. I’ve only seen the one available October 1 in the store catalog, but it looks like a little elf workshop that’d match up with the back of this set nicely. The set is available September 17 to VIPs, and October 1 to everyone. I’d recommend waiting until October 1, so you can add something else to your cart, and get the free add-on.

The LEGO Neighborhood Book [Review]

No Starch Press, known as the purveyors of many LEGO books written by LEGO fans, recently sent me a copy of their latest book exploring our favorite hobby, The LEGO Neighborhood Book. Written by brothers Brian and Jason Lyles, it explores the City Modular standard through pre-built creations, architectural techniques, and model instructions. The 204-page book is 8″x8″ with a high-quality soft cover, and the glossy pages with great color representation we’ve come to expect from books about LEGO.

The LEGO Neighborhood Book

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LEGO Ideas 21110 Research Institute [Review]

It should come as no surprise at all to long-time readers that the new LEGO Ideas Research Institute has been on my list since the day it was confirmed as a set, if not before. I’m all for more gender-equality in my minifig world, and love seeing sets with female figs.

All three vignettes

I picked up this set as well as the 21109 Exo Suit while I was on vacation, and admittedly I’ve been waiting to get a chance to break in and build it. Great way to spend the first day back from vacation, I wager.

So let’s get on with the review.

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10242: Mini Cooper [Review]

As a child, I was a big fan of LEGO’s Model Team sets of highly detailed and realistic-looking vehicles. It will be no surprise then that I also liked the Classic Beetle LEGO released more than six years ago and that I also bought the Volkswagen Camper van. To my delight, LEGO has now introduced another classic car: the MINI Cooper.

Mini Cooper Review

The Mini started life as a humble economy car, but with a lasting legacy. To maximise passenger space within its short body, its engine was transversally mounted and drove the front wheels, which is a configuration copied in pretty much every small family hatchback built since. Sporty versions, called the Cooper and Cooper S, became successful rally racers and celebrities such as Steve McQueen, Paul McCartney, Prince Charles and even Enzo Ferrari owned Minis. From its humble origins, the Mini grew into a cult car, with a particularly British kind of cool.

The vehicle
The set represents a late-model Mini Cooper (produced in late 1997/ early 1998, judging from the license plate) in dark green, with white stripes on the bonnet (hood), white wing mirrors and a white roof. The dark green colour is a close match for traditional British racing green and the colour scheme just screams Mini. The front of the car is spot-on, with the shape of the radiator grille, front-mounted fog lights and the silver bumper pieces. The curved elements used below the windows have neatly-printed thin white lines on them, that run the length of the car. Small details such as the fuel filler cap and indicator lights are nicely represented. Remarkably, for a LEGO set, the finished model is almost completely studless, which suggests that LEGO also hopes to cater to fans of the Mini who may not necessarily be into LEGO.

Mini Cooper Review

The model is not without faults, however. Especially when seen from behind, it does not look quite round enough. Having built my own models of Minis, I know that both the front and rear windows ought to be curved, but on the model they are built using large flat window panels. I also don’t particularly like the way the pillars supporting the corners of the roof are built, using 75-degree slopes covered with stickers marked with a black triangle. The stickers are intended to make the pillars look narrower, but I don’t think it really works. In fairness, though, alternative solutions would either require completely new part shapes or would add greatly to the complexity, parts count and cost of the set. Despite the compromises, it definitely looks like a Mini.
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