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.

Kaneda’s Bike Book Review

The Arvo Brothers published a book on their masterpiece recreation of Kaneda’s Bike from Akira. This is a unique Lego book dedicated entirely to describing one creation while including a full set of instructions. The book is available for €19.99 + shipping and is sold directly from the Arvo Brothers, whom you can reach by email at arvobrothers[at]hotmail.com. Below is my review of the book.

book_01


Pros:

  • Meticulous details documenting building techniques, parts selection, and references to the original model
  • Includes commentary on steps in the instruction manual for an in-depth building experience
  • Includes a parts list and sticker sheet


Cons:

  • Almost impossible to recreate the model due to lack of availability of the x-pod lids used on the wheels.

This is a well-written book centered on one of the Arvo Brothers’ most iconic and beloved Lego creations. It is obvious that a lot of work went into designing the model and producing the book. It is a good read for fans interested in the minutia of the design process of a top-tier fan model. For those wanting to recreate the model, there is a full set of clear-cut instructions with supporting commentary for an in-depth experience on the build process. However, you will be disappointed to find out that a key element of the model is out of production and nearly impossible to obtain on the aftermarket even if you have money. Because of this detail alone, I hesitate to recommend the book because the majority of its content is dedicated to the instruction set. However, if you are still curious about the design process, this is a publication that will not let down your expectations.

The Art of LEGO Design book review

The Art of LEGO Design is a book written by Jordan Schwartz about ways to approach creative building. This book is the first of its kind focused on building tips. It is now available on Amazon. Below is my review of the book.


Pros:

  • Features interviews with builders who have iconic building styles
  • Thorough depiction of Jordan’s own building style
  • Content includes specific examples as well as general concepts


Cons:

  • Specific topics such as Fabuland and cloth accessories nudge out broader themes like train, military, Technic, Bionicle

Jordan has covered a lot of ground and touched on most major themes in Lego creations. This is a huge task for just one author and Jordan handled it pretty well. This book can be interesting to both novice and experienced builders because it offers the in-depth perspective of the author who is a jack of all trades builder along with that of about a dozen builders known for excelling in particular themes. Outside the builder interviews, the book is entirely focused on Jordan’s own views on Lego design and most models featured are his own. This is relevant if you want to look through the lens of one builder and learn the specifics of that person’s approach. It is not meant to be a reference for how to build in every major theme, but for new fans this book can be a nice springboard into making your own creations.

Lego Ideas Ghostbusters Ecto-1 Review

Generally, I am not particularly interested in sets and LEGO CUUSOO/ LEGO Ideas does not do much for me personally, but I have to admit that I was stoked when I found out that the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 by Brent Waller passed the design review and that LEGO were going to turn it into a set. I’ve been a big fan of the movie ever since I first saw it as a child. It is imminently quotable and still funny, thirty years after it was released and the car is a moviestar in its own right.

Lego ECTO-1 review

I think that the earlier Cuusoo Back to the Future DeLorean looked a bit disappointing compared to the design originally submitted to CUUSOO. Pictures of the Ecto-1 set looked pretty good, however, and I was eager to have a look at the model in real life. Last week, while on a trip, I came across the set in a toy store in Germany (for €49.90 ) and decided to buy it.

The Vehicle
The real car used for the movie was a customised 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance conversion. The 59 Cadillac is an icon of excess, known for its enormous aircraft-inspired tailfins and its ornate front, with a lot of chrome and double headlights.

Front left view

Brent’s original represented this look quite well and, as his own comparison picture shows, not much was lost when his design (on the left) was turned into the set (on the right). The car in the set is a bit less smooth, but it is also a bit smaller. This is a good thing in my book, but more about that later. Ecto-1 is a popular subject and a lot of builders have built their own examples. On most, including Brent’s original, the windscreen is too steep. On the set, however, the angle is just about spot on, but it does look a bit too tall. I built my own larger scale version last year and spent a lot of time poring over photographs of details of all the equipment and lights mounted on the roof. The set’s version is impressively faithful to the original.

Lego ECTO-1 review

The roof of the model can be easily removed, revealing an interior large enough to seat three of the figures (in tandem) and one or two proton packs in the back. The sides of the body are mostly built using SNOT techniques, which keeps the tailfins nicely thin. The side windows are angled slightly, using a clever technique involving clips and bars. The set designers have done an excellent job.

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70816: Benny’s Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! [Review]

As most regular readers know, I am a big fan of LEGO space. Like most fans of 80s LEGO space, I loved the character Benny in the LEGO movie, and was excited to see that his ship would become a set. Even better, fellow Brother Brick Simon found this set for sale at his local LEGO store, ahead of the launch date for my part of the world. He kindly sent me a copy, so that I could bring you this review. First, let me get the obligatory “spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP!!! out of the way.”

Benny's Classic Spaceship!! 01

I have to admit that it has been a long time since I built an official LEGO set. I tried to build and review the Palace Cinema, but only managed one floor. Sifting through bags of parts to find the right one is something of a chore, compared to my sorted collection. Coupled with that, I’m no great fan of following instructions. The instructions for this set did recall a bit of a peeve, which is that LEGO seems fond of putting multipliers for assembly instructions at the end. The first few pages of the instructions are for the detachable little ships on the wing, and at the end, an exciting “X2″. Fortunately, it wasn’t the nightmare that the same treatment in the original ISD caused. None of this was enough to keep me from building this entire spaceship, though, and I must say that it was worth it.

Parts
Space builders are going to want to pick up a few copies of this set, which is sure to kick of a new frenzy of Neo Classic Space creations. First off, we’ve got three new pieces in transparent yellow. All three are great windscreen parts (I never thought I’d see the UCS X-Wing canopy in another color!), or useful to build large enclosures. There are a lot of new elements used throughout the ship, though I don’t think most are exclusive to the set. We also get three slopes with the Classic Space logo printed on them, which look fantastic. Speaking of that logo, we also get it printed on four stickers with clear backing!! Here’s a shot of an original printed logo next to the new incarnations. The sticker sheet is just outstanding, as it also includes sticker versions of classic space computer screens and buttons. It does rain one complaint, and a bit of an idiosyncrasy for the set. That is the placement of stickers on slopes. I never feel like stickers adhere well or long to most LEGO slopes, due to their textured surface. I suspect that LEGO may feel the same way, as they printed the logo on three slopes for this set. Even so, I’m generally happier with clear-backed stickers than I am with printed parts these days, so I’ll take it. In fact, I didn’t apply most of the stickers, because I want to use them on my own creations.

Minifigs
This set doesn’t skimp on the figs. Most of the figs are unique to the set, and they’re all awesome. I’m going to consider astronaut Unkitty a minifig, but we should remember that she’s made of parts, which include a 1×3 arch printed with the CS logo, and gold 1×1 plates. That arch has tons of potential for use in space creations, and I hope they end up being affordable on Bricklink, though I rather doubt it. This set’s Emmet has wrapped his face and the Piece of Resistance in foil, which makes for a pretty bizare looking minifig head, and a pretty awesome silver brick. I don’t remember Wildstyle changing into a different outfit for the spaceship scene, but it’s pretty cool seeing the graffiti style applied to a classic space uniform, and it gets us her hood piece in blue. The bad-guy robot has a pretty cool space suit, with an Octan logo in the center.

Finally, we have Benny, now available outside of the Sea Cow. I don’t have the budget for the Sea Cow, and hadn’t actually seen a Benny fig in person yet. While I love the Character for nostalgia, the fig himself doesn’t wow me. The scratched up logo on his chest is in worse shape than anything from my childhood collection, and I’m not sure I can see myself using it in a creation. I’m also not sure I see much utility for the “broken” helmet, though the cover of Inherit the Stars springs to mind. LEGO went all out with Benny on the nostalgia factor, though, and printed a classic smiley face on one side of his head. Bravo!!

Benny's Classic Spaceship!! 03

Playability
This is another spot where this set really shines. First, it’s very strong, built with technic frames locked in place by plates. This means I can swoosh it with one hand. I feel confidant that I could let my three year old play with it, and while I’m sure some fins and antennas would come off, the main body of the ship would probably be fine. I’ll have to remove all the shooters, so his baby sister keeps her eyes, though (they sure plaster the don’t shoot your eye out emblem everywhere, don’t they?). Second, the set has many of the play features we expect in Classic Space sets. There are little robots to deploy, single-fig fighter/scouts to detach and fly away, rotating radar dish, and an internal lab. Of course, the set also has four spring loaded projectile launchers (two are the new 1×4 brick launchers, which are surprisingly strong), as well as the ubiquitous flick-fire missiles. Finally, you can push one of the engines forward, to open the wings wider, revealing two of the guns. The motion of this feature is quite smooth, and the mechanism is simple and effective.

The set also comes with a little bad-guy fighter, so you can play out your own dramatic battles. It’s small, but has a nice shape to it, and a fairly clever SNOT technique in the nose. Compared to Benny’s ship, it’s rather tiny, but it got enough attention that it’s not merely a throw-away model. It’s swooshable, and has a few lasers, so you can fly both ships around and go “pew pew pew!” Honestly, what more do you need?

Overall:
My overall impression of this ship is that it was a fun and interesting build, with plenty to hearken back to the Classic Space sets of my youth. The ship has the gray engines, gray wings, blue body, and trans yellow windscreens we all love. It has a little lab inside, a radar dish, and some helper robots, just like old times. The set has tons of play features, some interesting construction techniques, and is SWOOSHABLE. It’s a bit pricey ($100) but the 980 part count helps with this, as do the bevy of unique figs and elements. I intend to buy a few copies, and if I ever catch it on sale, I might go nuts.

Lego Star Wars Coruscant Police Gunship 75046 [Review]

Lego Star Wars Coruscant Police Gunship is one of the new Star Wars sets released in March 2014. This set retails for $49.99 and is available on Amazon. Below is a brief video review and my remarks regarding the set.


Pros:

  • High-value minifigs
  • Interesting model, different than the typical starfighter with wings.


Cons:

  • No real outstanding features (more of a neutral comment)

This is a well-balanced Star Wars set that’s got a bit of everything including an acceptable price-per-part ratio, interesting parts and colors, unique design, spring-loaded shooters, and high-value minifigs. Because many Star Wars sets these days have repetitive designs, low parts count and basic colors, the lack of criticism I have for the Coruscant Police Gunship makes it an above-average Star Wars set. There are no real drawbacks either. It’s one of the few Star Wars sets I recommend buying at retail price.

Lego Parisian Restaurant 10243 [Review]

Lego Parisian Restaurant is latest modular building released this January. It contains 2,448 pieces and retails for $159.99. Below is a video review of why you should buy this set and possibly hold on to an extra copy of it in the years to come.


Pros:

  • High number and variety of parts for the price
  • Several useful building techniques
  • Excellent for display
  • Has the most reliable investment value for collecting


Cons:

  • No discounts will be available for this set because it is a Lego Exclusive with a set number containing 10xxx.

The modular building series is one of the best lines for adult fans. It appeals to the builder, the collector, and those looking for a gorgeous filler on a shelf. There are already many review of this popular set within a click on Google that shows the technical and aesthetic aspects of the build. Instead I’ll take a moment to point out that the modular buildings are the best sets to invest as a collector or someone who would like some extra cash down the road to buy more Lego with.

Right now, if you want to buy a brand new copy of the first set of the modular building series, Cafe Corner, you won’t find it anywhere for less than $1,000. The second in the series, Green Grocer, is currently selling for prices close to $800. While most Lego exclusives containing 10xxx in their set number are good sets to invest due to their appeal to adult fans, the modular buildings are the most reliable because they are part of an ongoing series. As long as Lego continues to produce modular buildings, there will be increasing demand for earlier releases to expand the city. Even if more people catch on and hold on to these sets for resale later, it’s still a good idea as long as LEGO remains a growing hobby among adults.

The next set to retire among the modulars is Grand Emporium. While there is no fixed discontinuation date on sets, judging by the time that Fire Brigade went out of stock during the holidays last year, it’s a good estimate to say the same may happen for Grand Emporium this year. Within 6 months of Fire Brigade’s retirement, it’s price on Bricklink has already gone up by $100 over MSRP. I will be waiting until the fall of this year to buy Grand Emporium during promotions such as double VIP points.

I hope you found this tip on collecting to be useful or interesting, and once you get the ball rolling, you’ll have a hobby that completely funds itself.

Lego Ninjago Thunder Raider 70723 [Review]

The Thunder Raider is one of the 2014 Ninjago sets released in January. It contains 334 pieces and retails for $29.99. You can purchase the set on Amazon. You can also see a previous review of this set by Chris.


Pros:

  • The mech is a great complement to Kai’s Fire Mech and is well designed
  • Better than average price-per-part ratio and interesting new elements


Cons:

  • The blue vehicle, while designed for function, doesn’t look very appealing

This is a solid set both for parts and playability. The mech is the best feature of this set, having a simple and elegant design. The vehicle on the other hand looks a bit messy with the haphazard array of blue plates, but it plays well and features a transforming attack mode and the ability to carry the mech. Parts-wise, there’s a wide selection of elements including new ones like the black vehicle spoiler and A-frame wedges. Even though I recommend buying individual parts on Bricklink, sometimes it’s good to buy sets when you there’s not a specific piece you’re looking for and just want to expand the variety of your collection. This is a great set for that purpose.

Lego Star Wars Z-95 Headhunter 75004 [Review]

Lego Star Wars Z-95 Headhunter was released in August 2013 and contains 373 pieces. It retails for $49.99 and is available on Amazon. Below is a video review and my remarks regarding the set.


Pros:

  • Includes the 4-armed Pong Krell minifig
  • Features a concealed spring-loaded cannon


Cons:

  • Very high price tag for a set with low part count
  • Unremarkable selection of parts

This is a typical Star Wars set that exemplifies the continued price-spike on Lego products from this licensed franchise. Like most other Star Wars sets today, this set is priced high, short on new elements, and relies on exclusive Star Wars minifigs to enhance its appeal. It’s long since 2005-2006 when Star Wars sets hovered around the $0.1 price-per-part ratio. The reason I purchased this set was because it was on sale during the holidays for half off, and even then I wasn’t excited about parting out the set because of its bland pieces. I can’t justify spending $50 on this set unless there’s a compelling need to have Lego’s version of the Headhunter.

Lego Star Wars Jabba’s Sail Barge 75020 [Review]

Lego Star Wars Jabba’s Sail Barge was released in August 2013 and contains 850 pieces. It retails for $119.99 and is available on Amazon. Below is a video review and my remarks regarding the set.


Pros:

  • Overall sleek design of the sail barge makes it a great display model
  • Includes iconic and unique minifigs such as Max Reebo and Ree-Yees


Cons:

  • Model is very small for the price
  • The jagged slopes on the front of the barge looks weird, may be better if plates were used instead.

LEGO’s second version of Jabba’s Sail Barge is a neat little model that carries a big price tag. It’s an iconic Star Wars vehicle well deserving of some shelf space. I wouldn’t pay the full price on this model, and luckily Amazon currently has it on sale, and 26% off is a good enough deal. The model’s interior can be fully exposed to allow easy access, but there’s not much room after accounting for Jabba’s presence. The barge rolls on inconspicuous wheels underneath and also features a concealed cannon in the front that’s a hassle to fire. Overall, I recommend this model at a price tag less than $100.

Winter is Coming – Citizen Brick launches “Dragon Sword Fighter Force” minifigs

One of the things I’ve loved about Citizen Brick from the first time I encountered their custom minifigs is their sense of humor. Joe and his crew at Citizen Brick make things you’ll never be able to buy in a LEGO set. Yes, you can buy usefully realistic military accessories, too, but they won me over back in 2011 with minifigs like “Botany Enthusiast.” Their latest batch of custom minifigs is titled “Dragon Sword Fighter Force,” which itself is hilarious, much like the over-the-top book series and premium cable TV show that clearly inspired these minifigs (obviously Game of Thrones).

Custom Citizen Brick Dragon Sword Fighter Force minifigs

I don’t generally quote ad copy, but the product blurb on the back of the three-minifig blister packs proves my point:

Dragons! Knights! Totally inappropriate family relations! Join the adventure as these brave fighters cross swords with some of the most fearsome foes in the realm. Whether defending their kingdom or clamoring for the crown, these minifigs are ready for a battle royale to the death. Horde the complete series of stunning figs before every character you like is killed off. Your honor is at stake!

It’s not just their sense of humor that attracts me to Citizen Brick, it’s the subversiveness of choosing to depict fairly adult subject matter in repurposed LEGO minifigures — “totally inappropriate” pretty much captures most of the Citizen Brick catalog, and “totally inappropriate” has a special place in my heart. (There’s also a strong disclaimer on each Citizen Brick product indicating zero affiliation with, endorsement by, or approval from LEGO.)

Citizen Brick sent me a batch of the “Dragon Sword Fighter Force” minifigs recently, and I wasn’t disappointed. They arrived in three-minifig blister packs with the aforementioned description on the back, plus a 13th bonus minifig of some guy who looks like a fishing boat captain titled “Sir Typesalot” (which you get when you buy all 12 custom minifigs at once).

As amused as I am by Citizen Brick’s subject matter, what keeps me coming back is the quality of their design work. Each custom minifig includes unique printing on nearly every available surface — face/head, torso (both front and back), arms, and legs. Many of the “Dragon Sword Fighter Force” minifigs also come with custom cloth accessories and weapons. The printing is indistinguishable from the printing on official LEGO minifigs, and the designs themselves don’t feel out of place from the world of LEGO (thus the big disclaimer, I suppose).

At $55 for a three-minifig pack or $220 for the full set of 12 (which also includes the George R.R. Martin-esque author minifig), these aren’t inexpensive, and I suspect they’re not the sort of minifigs you’d just fold into your Castle/medieval collection for use in a crowded display at a convention. No, these are serious collectibles for the dedicated A Song of Ice and Fire fan. That said, they are certainly wonderful Castle/medieval minifigs, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing some of the cool parts from these figs on “hero” minifigs quite a lot (I just wouldn’t bury them in an army). Citizen Brick minifigs range from $15 to $25 (these are $16-18 depending on whether you get the three-packs separately or buy the whole set at once), so prices are well within the range of what other vendors are charging for custom minifigs.

Now that so many vendors are producing custom-printed minifig elements at reasonably high quality, the distinguishing factors boil down to subject matter, design, and price rather than just availability and quality. Since price and quality are now somewhat less of a comparative factor, what continues to distinguish Citizen Brick minifigs is their often-humurous subject matter and consistently great design.

Although a bit on the pricey side as a complete set, I can definitely recommend Citizen Brick’s “Dragon Sword Fighter Force” minifigs to every Game of Thrones fan out there, because we certainly won’t be seeing an official LEGO Game of Thrones Collectible Minifigures series anytime soon.

“Dragon Sword Fighter Force” minifigures are available on CitizenBrick.com.