Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Exploring 70620 Ninjago City

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It feels like everybody was caught by surprise when LEGO announced the Ninjago City set. This set was bigger, more detailed and generally just more than anybody was expecting for a Ninjago Movie set - 4867 pieces and 16 minifigures.

LEGO have attempted to collate the entire Ninjago City into a single set. Did they succeed? I will be finding out by looking not just at the build itself but also exploring some of the real world influences and the world-building within the set itself.

This is a huge set so this exploration is broken down in to various sections. I have tried not to be too long-winded with so much get through. For each section I will examine; the minifigures; the style, influences, signage and imagery of the set; and the build itself, such as innovative parts usage.

Level 1 – The Old World

Style

The old world is blatantly and unapologetically inspired by iconic waterfront cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and various Japanese cities. As you navigate around this layer of the set you find all of the things you expect from a great waterfront city. There’s wide walkways right on the waters edge and a bridge that fishing boats pass under.

There is a market stall selling freshly caught fish and crabs, styled in a way that you can picture the real world version in your mind.

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The LEGO Ninjago Movie Review

The LEGO Movie turned out to be a massive hit that was hugely popular with audiences both young and old. It’s no surprise that everybody involved wanted more of that success, so LEGO Batman got his own movie. Now the popular LEGO theme Ninjago gets the big screen treatment with The LEGO Ninjago Movie – in cinemas from today (no Australian delay this time).

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If you aren’t familiar with the world of Ninjago then don’t worry – this movie uses the setting and characters from the theme/show but it is a completely stand-alone story. I have only seen a few episodes of the television show myself and I had no problem understanding what was going on. It’s possible that there were some references that I may have missed but this isn’t a direct adaption or continuation of the show.

I won’t get in to detailed spoilers here, but I will discuss some basic plot points.

One thing I will say is that the opening scene of this film caught me completely off guard. It’s an opening that on reflection I really liked, but not at all what I was expecting. Some reviews have given this away so be careful if you are reading others.

Even though this is a standalone film it is not an origin story. It’s not Wu finding a group of teenagers with attitude and teaching them ninja skills. The “secret ninja force” is already established and there is a regularity to life in Ninjago City – Garmadon attacks, he is stopped by the ninjas, repeat.

Review: The Ninjago Movie Minifigures

The Ninjago Movie looks like it is going to be a heap of fun, and like the LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman Movie before it LEGO have released a series of tie-in minifigures. With 20 different minifigures in this series there is a lot to cover, so lets get stuck in to it.

There are two parts to this review, first up brief review of each minifigure with pictures. The second part is a full 360° degree look at each minifigure. I have grouped the minifigures into four different batches for the 360° looks; Ninja Crew, Garmadons, Shark Army & Others.

The Minifigures

Lloyd

Lloyd

Lloyd is undoubtedly the main character of the movie and this minifigures features him in his ninja outfit. The two-part ninja mask works well but I am sure that a lot of kids are going to misplace the smaller neck part in time. The optional hair element gives you some flexibility in play/display options. The highlight of this minfigure may just be the printed tile. The blue on white is quite striking and the design perfectly matches Lloyd’s mech. The printing on the torso reads NINJA.

Feature Lloyd Hair Element Feature Lloyd Torso Feature Lloyd Printed Tile

Book Review: DC Comics Build Your Own Adventure

As book week comes to a close I am taking a look at one more Build Your Own Adventure book. This time Green Lantern John Stewart takes us on a journey through the world of DC Comics.

The central plot of this book is that John Stewart is looking for the Justice League, and with communications down he has to go find them in person.

For those not familiar with the character there is a brief introduction on who he is. It doesn’t get in to the entire history of the Green Lantern Corps but does provide a basic overview.

The Justice League has had a varying line-up over the years as you’d expect for anything to do with comics, but the team presented here is the basic big hitters: Wonder Woman, Flash, Superman, Aquaman and Batman.

DC BYOA Book 01

After the instructions for the included set we get the usual builder talk section that seems to be common to all of the Build Your Own Adventure books. It’s a nice overview of the different parts on offer and acts a little teaser to get your brain thinking about building.

[Read on for details on the Green Lantern Minifigure and the included set. There is even a 360° look at the set]

Book Review: Nexo Knights Build Your Own Adventure

It’s Book Week, so this week I am going to be reviewing two LEGO related books. First up the Nexo Knights Build Your Own Adventure Book. Be sure to check out the 360° look at the included set below.

There are a few different style of LEGO books produced by DK – from the serious encyclopaedia style books to sticker books at the other end of the spectrum. The build your own adventure books fall closer towards the “kid” end, but generally still have some great building inspiration.

This latest Build Your Own Adventure book is based on the Nexo Knights theme, specifically the 2017 sets – with the current rock villains featured.

As this is a book that comes with a LEGO set it is presented in an outer cardboard sleeve. If you don’t intend to keep it in that once you’ve built the set then you will be pleased to note that the book itself is nicely bound with a solid hard cover.

First up is some basic introductory type information – a spread on the various LEGO parts that are available, an introduction to the Robin character and the actual building instructions for Robin’s Mech.

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The book is split up over 5 chapters. Each chapter is loosely based around a different area of the Nexo Knights world. I am by no means an expert in the lore of the Nexo Knights, but the book does a decent job of explaining the various areas and their relevance to the story.

The basic plot is that Monstrox and Jestro have destroyed a network of servers around the kingdom, and Robin must travel to each of them to make repairs. It’s a very loose story just to link the various sections.

Review: 21309 LEGO NASA Apollo Saturn V

On July 21st 1969 millions of people watched Neil Armstrong take a giant leap for mankind, but you may not know that Australians saw it before the rest of the world.

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The combination of a decision by Neil Armstrong and the time it took to put on the spacesuits meant that two Australian locations were in the perfect position to receive the signal from the moon – The Parkes Radio Telescope and the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station outside Canberra. As Neil took the first steps the signal was received by Honeysuckle Creek, sent to Sydney and split – one feed going to the ABC and the other to Houston. The international transmission introduced a 3 millisecond delay to the broadcast, which means that Australian audiences saw man walk on the moon before anybody else on Earth. After switching to the Parkes feed NASA felt it was so good that they stayed with that for the remainder of the 2.5 hour broadcast.

The Apollo program is one of the most fascinating achievements of the human race, and that crazy dream of going to the moon has now been immortalised in one of the most impressive LEGO sets I have built in a long time.

This is my review of 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V.

Be sure to read on for my exclusive photos of 21309 at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, and a huge gallery of photos at the end of the article.

Construction

The box for the Saturn V is huge, at least on par with a modular for size. This is a standard box rather than the thicker cardboard used for other ideas sets. For the part count it’s not a surprise that they went with a standard box.

As we’ve all come to expect from Ideas sets the instructions include a heap of additional information. There is a great blurb about the Apollo program with some fantastic black and white photos; information about the Saturn V itself including a breakdown of the various stages and again some real-world photos; a timeline of the journey to the moon, and interviews with the fan designers and LEGO designers. Even if you never get the set I suggest downloading a PDF copy of the instructions and having a read.

The set features 1969 pieces (a deliberate reference to the year Apollo 11 launched) across twelve numbered bags. The build follows the bags sequentially so you don’t need to sort out all of the pieces at once.

From pictures the set may look like a boring build, with it’s essentially monochromatic colour scheme, but it is actually satisfying and complex. By step 3 of the build you are already using brackets and SNOT techniques. The inner build is also surprisingly colourful.

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The early build features curved panels and I naively assumed that they were going to set the scale – only to discover that they simply form an inner core. The set itself is, for lack of a better word, thicker than I thought it would be.

Review: 70900 The Joker Balloon Escape

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With The LEGO Batman Movie out now on DVD and Blu-ray it seemed like a great excuse to finally build this set I’ve had sitting around for a while.

The Joker Balloon escape is the smallest and cheapest of the sets in the first wave. Like most of the first wave sets 70900 is based on the opening scene of the film where the Joker brings a team of villains together. There are two main elements to the build… The Joker’s balloon/rocket hybrid jetpack and a small section of the Gotham energy facility.

Also included are two minifigures – Batman and The Joker.

360 View

The Minifigures

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For a small set it’s great that both Batman and The Joker are included. It’s a great way for kids to get the characters without having to spend a fortune.

Book Review: LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes – The Awesome Guide

While LEGO Batman has been around since 2006 it wasn’t until 2012 that the rest of the DC Comics universe started to show up in LEGO form with the DC Comics Super Heroes theme. This Awesome Guide book takes a look at that theme and the characters and sets that make it.

[Be sure to check out the details of the exclusive Wonder Woman minifigure at the end of the article, including a 360° look]

DC Comics 101

Comic book universes are messy, especially the DC universe. There have been various events that have rebooted the universe and multiple Earths with slightly different versions of characters.

With all of that mess it seems like setting that history out in a timeline that made sense to kids would be impossible, but this book handles it quite well with a timeline that highlights the key points without getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty details. The timeline presented features all the things you’d expect it to – Batman, Superman and the forming of the Justice League for example.

DC Awesome Guide Feature 01

There is also a fun little flow-chart that will help you work out your DC alter ego, even if that happens to be a villain.

In general the details are reasonably light – this book is a guide and not a character encyclopaedia – but still manage to contain a decent amount of information. There are some fun little features like comparing the net worth of Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen. The first half of the book is dedicated to the heroes and covers secret identities, sidekicks, weapons and vehicles among other topics.

Review: 30400 Gymnastics Bar

I make no secret of the fact that I am a big LEGO Friends fan. The sets are almost always well designed and I actually don’t have a problem with the Minidolls.

When my local Woolworths finally got in the polybag range they are now offering this was the first set I grabbed.

30400 Gymnastics Bar

30400 Gymnastics Bar (1)

This set contains a relatively small part count of just 26 elements, as well as a single minidoll.

The included minidoll is Naomi – who is not one of the main LEGO Friends characters. It’s nice to expand my Heartlake City citizen collection, but some buyers may be disappointed that it doesn’t include a more well-known character. Despite this the minidoll is great. Naomi features blue eyes, a freckled face and dark brown hair. She is presented here wearing a great green spotted top and purple shorts. Overall it’s a really nice minidoll.

Review: 30426 Stealthy Swamp Airboat

I am not the biggest Ninjago fan but while looking at the available polybags at my local Woolworths, this set caught my eye.

30426 Stealthy Swamp Airboat

30426 Stealthy Swamp Airboat (1)

This 2017 polybag set contains 40 parts and a single minifigure.

The set includes a Cole minifigure, as he appears in the 2017 lineup. His torso is dark bluish grey with extensive black and brown printing on the front and rear. The print is quite detailed and features a robe and rope pattern. This pattern continues on to the legs which have front printing. The arms provide a nice contrast in black.