Category Archives: Reviews

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

70900 Minifigures

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.

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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.

RC Tracked Racer Challenge

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Over the last two weeks I’ve had a chance to do something that I don’t often get to do – I took a completed set and actually played with it. The RC Tracked Racer is my first Technic set and it just happens to be a set with power functions, meaning that there is lots to do with it once the build is finished.

To see how the Tracked Racer performed as an RC toy I put it through a series of challenges. Note that these tests were performed on a closed circuit at busy office building and nearby park by a professional stunt driver a LEGO fan. In all seriousness though, some of these tests might damage your set, so I don’t particularly recommend them.

Watch the video and then read on below for more details

Review: 42065 RC Tracked Racer

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Technic theme. While the theme has existed longer than I have, this is my first ever Technic set. I went from being a LEGO fan into my dark ages without ever making the transition to the more advanced theme.

With that confession out of the way, here is my review of 42065 RC Tracked Racer.

I was initially interested in this set for one simple reason – the finished model looked like a heap of fun. Far too often I build a set and then stick it on a shelf or (more often these days) put it away in a cupboard until I can find room. The RC Tracked Racer on the other hand was something that had the potential for on-going enjoyment.

The LEGO Batman Movie Review

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The LEGO Batman Movie in cinemas March 30th.
4-Stars

After a delay that felt a lot longer than it was, The LEGO Batman Movie hits Australian cinemas this week. I got to attend the Brisbane premier over the weekend in order to provide you all with a review. Is the movie worth the wait? Read on to find out.

This review talks about some of the basic plot, but doesn’t contain any specific spoilers.

For a lot of people, LEGO Batman was one of the stand-outs of The LEGO Movie so he was naturally a great subject for a standalone adventure. That is actually a fairly accurate assessment – this movie feels very much like it was designed to stand up without any knowledge of the The LEGO Movie. There are a few references that people will spot, but there is no outright linking between the two. There’s no mention of the heroes from the last film for example. I would have loved a cameo or two just to tie the two films together a little more.

Book Review: The LEGO Animation Book

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Stop motion animation using LEGO bricks is a fantastic way to tell stories, and some of the top YouTube channels have massive followings.

It’s no surprise then that there is a lot of interest in learning how to get started with the medium. The LEGO Animation Book aims to be your complete guide to being a LEGO stop-motion animator.

A lot of the previous LEGO books that I have reviewed have been fairly light, easy reading. They’ve either been fun things aimed at kids or informational books with more pictures than text. The LEGO Animation book does start off light but does get very technical.

The book has a great progression from the basics of staging a shoot to some very advanced topics. You can see the trailer for the film referenced throughout the book at the end of the article.