Category Archives: Reviews

Build Yourself Happy Might Help With All That Coronavirus Anxiety

Let me begin by saying I am not a mental health practitioner. Everything that I am going to say is a suggestion only and just my personal opinion. Anxiety and depression are serious medical issues. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Things are a bit shit at the moment, to put it bluntly. Everything that is going on has led to a huge amount of anxiety for a lot of people. I think we all need something to take our minds off things.

I know we’ve all got our LEGO sets to build but sometimes you need something else, and Build Yourself Happy by Abbie Headon is a great option. It’s a book that looks at simple ways you can use LEGO to improve your mental state.

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If you are looking for something to help you justify spending $250 on a modular to your less than supportive partner then this book isn’t for you.

This book is about Mindfulness.

Review: Xtra 2020 Sets

For the first half 2020 the LEGO Xtra theme returns with two new sets. Late last year LEGO sent me both to check out. After a bit of delay of I’m here to give you the verdict on these little cart fillers.

40376 Botanical Accessories

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I am going to start with the better of the two sets. You can never have enough foliage when you are building LEGO scenes and for that reason alone I really like this set. There is a good mix of trees, flowers and general greenery. I also appreciate that they have included two fence elements.

Your view of this product may depend on your proximity to a LEGO Store, as the PAB walls have been doing a pretty good job of making plant elements available in high quantities. A small PAB cup is going to get you a lot more plants than this set (it will cost more too though).

The brick-built tree is probably not going to blow anybody away in terms of design and execution but I do likethat it is included.

If you aren’t near a PAB wall or just after a cheap pack with a good mix then I highly recommend this set.

40375 Sports Accessories

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LEGO is a Northern Hemisphere company, so it makes sense that while we are sweltering through our summer they release a bunch of wintery sets. Even with that in mind I find this set to be a weird mix of elements.

The Sports Accessories set seems to feature some kind of modified biathlon with skiing and archery instead of shooting. There is also street/ice hockey. It’s weird.

The actual elements are all pretty good and I like the archery stand mini build but honestly who is crying out for these elements? Who is building a moc and thinking “This really needs some hockey goals and/or archery”.

Overall there is one set that’s great and one that is weird. I really want the Xtra theme to continue but hopefully the range in the future can include packs that are more generic. How great would a Castle Xtra set be?

If you are after either set they can be found online here [affiliate link]. You should also be able to find them in your local LEGO store, if you have one.

The LEGO Xtra sets were provided to me by LEGO for review. Opinions expressed are my own.

LEGO’s Marvellous Mustang

I have never been a car person. My technical knowledge doesn’t extend much beyond “they’ve got wheels and a motor”. Having said that, there are a few cars that have broken through my indifference. The cars that have become popular culture icons in their own right. One such car is the Ford Mustang. When the Creator Expert Ford Mustang was first leaked I knew I’d be getting one.

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The set features an impressive 1471 pieces with a build split over 6 sections.

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I’m not going to go in to the construction process step by step in a lot of detail, because I feel that a lot of the joy from a Creator Expert set comes from the build itself.

Xtra Xmas Accessories: Cute, A Little Bit Hemisphere-ist

LEGO Xtra is a bit of a dark horse of a LEGO theme – your first instinct might be to view the theme only as something to buy to reach a free shipping or GWP threshold but there are actually some interesting combination of parts available in these cheap polybags.

For 2019 LEGO have released a new Christmas themed Xtra set in 40368. Here in Australia the set will set you back $6.99. For that you get 32 elements. Unfortunately, as of now you can only find this at the LEGO Certified Stores around the country.

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The set comprises of single elements as well as a few mini-builds.

The single elements include two gold fences, a 6 point ice crystal star thing, beanie, snow shoes, bag, Christmas tree and Husky dog. There is also a white leaf element that doesn’t really count as a build because the instructions just say to add two studs on top.

The mini builds that are included are a cute snowman, candy cane pole with wreath and two presents.

Overall I think it’s a good mix for adding extra detail to your Christmas builds. Which I guess is the point.

As is common with pretty much every Christmas related toy this set is very focused on the whole Northern Hemisphere “white Christmas” thing. The closest I’ve ever seen to a snowman at Christmas is when you buy two bags of ice from the servo and you put one on top of the other.

If you are planning an Australian Christmas MOC there’s probably not going to be much use for snow shoes, a beanie or snowy foliage. Maybe that’s why it’s not available in the Australian online store?

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If you are open to a bit of Northern Hemisphere cultural appropriation in your LEGO Christmas then I’d suggest this is a good buy. Assuming you can find it.

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LEGO City Space Sets Have Me Excited For The Future

LEGO City is one of those themes that has never really blown me away. I like it just fine but it can feel a bit too grounded. Or sometimes a bit too fantastical – I’m looking at you Sky Police. It has then come as a bit of a surprise that the 2019 City Space sets have completely won me over.

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I recently built 60227 Lunar Space Station and while a space station orbiting the moon is inherently cool, this set has an extra cool factor. This set is inspired by actual NASA mission objectives. In fact all of the 2019 City Space sets are based on real projects and concepts from NASA.

NASA has a goal to return humans to the surface of the moon by 2024 and beyond that to send a human to the surface of Mars. This project is called Artemis, named for the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. Just like the Apollo project, Artemis will feature a series of different missions each with different objectives. One major difference between Apollo and Artemis is that this time NASA wants to go to the moon to stay.

The Lunar Gateway will be an orbital space station built in various stages. It will serve as a base for landing crews, a laboratory and communications hub. Essentially providing the same role that Columbia did during Apollo 11, but on a much grander scale.

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Giving LEGO’s “Rebuild The World” Concept A Go

You may have recently seen a new ad campaign from LEGO (If not it’s at the end of this post). While I shared it on the Bricking Around Facebook page I haven’t done a separate post about it. Until now!

The new campaign features the tagline “Rebuild the world”. This is essentially a new philosophy that LEGO are saying they want to embrace. It’s hard to know what exactly that means in practical terms for future products. The ad also doesn’t really make things clear because it’s so damn odd.

Pulling back all that oddness my understanding of the line is actually something that I fully support. Rebuild the world by taking something and making it different. It’s the spark of every great MOC ever built; taking the parts that LEGO makes and rebuilding something else.

I had a set that I go to review in January sitting around and to be honest I was stumped about what to do with it. I doubt anybody is still hanging out for a review of Riverside Houseboat 31093. I decided to tip out the set and “rebuild the world”. Presenting…

Sally and the Ent

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While on a camping trip with her dad, Sally befriends an Ent. This mythical tree creature may look gruff but he loves carrying Sally around as they pick flowers together. Sally’s dad is a little less than thrilled about her daughter’s new best friend.

I set out to only use parts from the 31093 set but in the end added a few foliage pieces I had just to improve the overall tree like aesthetic.

The angle plate pieces on the face kind of look like a moustache which I thought was pretty funny. I also spent far too long trying to align the eyes in the centre of the two window elements because, again, I thought those two pieces looked funny.

I had originally created legs that I wasn’t happy with. While playing around with alternatives my young son saw something I’d rejected and informed me they were boots so that the tree person can go ice skating. Of course the Ent loves to go ice skating. Can’t believe I didn’t think of that.

Clearly I am not cut out for LEGO Masters and you won’t be seeing Sally and the Ent on LEGO Ideas but I had fun. I had more fun building this silly little thing than I would have building the full actual set.

LEGO aren’t going to stop selling sets with instructions, but if they can also get more people building stuff like silly tree creatures who love ice skating then maybe they can rebuild the world in to something more interesting. Perhaps the key is for the last page in LEGO instructions to say “Okay now pull it apart again”.

What do you think of LEGO’s rebuild the world campaign? Despite the weird ad I am going to embrace it.

I received a copy of 31093 Riverside Houseboat from LEGO at my request. Elements from that set formed the basis of this post.

First Look At The Robina LEGO Certified Store

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The spread of Australian LEGO Stores continues with the official opening of the Robina LCS taking place tomorrow (September 28th) at 9am. Today I was lucky enough to attend an official pre-opening event where I got to check out the store.

Overall I was really impressed with the store. It’s well laid out and has the look and feel you’d expect if you have ever been in a LEGO store before.

There is a fantastic LEGO mosaic of the Gold Coast beach and skyline (created by Ryan McNaught) as well as a huge sculpture of a minifigure building a sandcastle.

For kids and the young at heart there is LEGO Play tables, a build-a-minifigure station as well as the Pick-a-brick wall. Check out the video below for a look at what was on the wall when I was there.

Chatting to the staff they seem to be pretty aware of what parts are popular with AFOLs (like foliage) and hope to be able to have a good offering all the time.

All of the exclusives you’d hope to see in a LCS were there in plentiful numbers. There were lots of Friends sets, heaps of Lunar Landers, the Disney Train and even the older exclusives like Ninjago City.

Be sure to check out the full gallery of photos from the day below.

Review: Collectible Minifigures Series 19

After the most recent licensed series of minifigures (Disney Series 2) LEGO is back with a random assortment of characters for series 19.

The good news is that this series features 16 minifigures. That’s right there is no chase figure this time around. No more frantically fingering fresh boxes for that elusive 1 per box figure. What is also great is that you get 3 full sets. Perfect for anybody looking to split a box.

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LEGO was kind enough to send me a box, so here’s my look at all 16 minifigures. I’ve also included my box layout and the minifigure counts at the end of this article.

10907 World Animals is a world of fun (and animals)

Today I am taking some time to embrace my inner toddler as I check out the big new Duplo set 10907 World Animals.

As the name suggest World Animals is a trip around the world exploring the animals found in each region. It’s a concept that LEGO has done in the past and in theory it’s a great way to teach kids about the world and animals.

For each part of the set I’ll be looking at two factors that are very important when it comes to a Duplo set and impressing a toddler: Cuteness and Coolness.

Australia

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Let’s kick things off with something close to home – the Australian section. The set description refers to this area as “a tropical beach” but I’m claiming it as North Queensland. It comes with Nemo – it’s got to be here.

This section of the set features a really nice sandcastle build with a flag. I have a son who practically lives in his sandpit so this part was a hit with him. There is also a palm tree and a really great van.

The animals included are a clownfish (that blows bubbles underwater) and a toucan. Toucans are from South and Central American rainforests but I think this is just the most interesting bird mold they had available. It’s still cute.

There are two figures associated with this area – a father and daughter wearing nice blue and yellow wetsuits.

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The set comes with Nemo – that is both cool and cute. The sandcastle is really cool. The van is really cool too. The dad and little girl are wearing matching wetsuits and that is cute.

I Built Emma’s Art Studio And Now I Have Questions…

I’m working through my backlog of sets to review. The other night I built Emma’s Art Studio and I have so many questions so let’s skip the traditional review…

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So does Emma own this Art Studio?

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I always assumed the Friends characters were teenagers. Are LEGO trying to tell me that one of them owns an art studio?

Can a teenager sign a commercial lease in Heartlake City?

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Does Emma have a silent partner running things or is everything in her name? Maybe a parent?

Is the art scene in Heartlake City big enough to support this store long term? Does Emma have a business plan?

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Isn’t Emma like the only artist in town? Is she getting paid for commissions or is the store the main income source?

This is a multi-level store and studio with a rooftop terrace. Seriously, how is Emma paying for all of this?

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Does Emma pay well?

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So clearly Andrea works at the store, but is she a casual? Does she get paid overtime or is Emma the George Calombaris of Heartlake City? Did the other friends apply for the job too? Did they get rejected? Do Andrea and Emma have all these work related in-jokes that frustrate the others?