Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review: Great LEGO Sets – A Visual History

Great LEGO Sets A Visual History Cover Small

RRP $49.99
Available from most retailers
Currently $33 at Target

LEGO is undoubtedly one of the most popular global brands and that success comes from decades of creating amazing products (and of course some not so great ones). Great LEGO Sets attempts to distill the best of the best from LEGO’s history into a single book.

This isn’t a book for young LEGO fans, this is a detailed study of the history of LEGO. I’d like to think that if there was a university course in LEGO this would be high on the required reading list.

The book opens with a beautifully written foreword that makes a very strong case for why LEGO is such an amazing product.

The intention behind the LEGO System of Play was to “create a toy that prepares the child for life, appeals to the imagination, and develops the creative urge and joy of creation that are the driving forces in every human being.”

The foreword also give adult LEGO fans a call to action – go and get that LEGO sitting in your parents house collecting dust. I’d try this myself but I’ve been told by my mum that those bricks are reserved for grandchildren.

The content of the book is broken down by decade. This structure works perfectly as it allows LEGO fans of any vintage to quickly flick to the decade of their childhood.

The book opens with a year by year timeline of the LEGO company. While the main parts of the book focus on great sets, this timeline is more broad but also less exclusive. Themes that are well regarded as flops still get a mention in the timeline.
Great LEGO Sets Review Timeline

After the timeline is one of my favourite parts of this book. The section is called “How a LEGO set is made” and it’s a really interesting insight into the design process. It’s packed with great quotes and information that people may not know.

BrisBricks 2015 – Photos & Review

The start of October kicked off with a busy weekend for me. Not only did my little brother get married but it was also when BrisBricks put on their biggest show of the year . I headed out to Chandler on Monday to check out the show and you can see my photos and recap below.

Brisbricks-Chandler-2015-Front-Banner

Ticketing
Tickets were exclusively sold online this year with no tickets available at the door. I’m not sure if anybody got caught out with the lack of door tickets but I doubt it was a major issue. Like most large events there were pre-determined session times to spread the crowds out. I noticed that some sessions did sell out but there were still some available when I purchased my Monday ticket on Sunday night. I attended the 12:30 PM session on the Monday and when I arrived 15 minutes early the area looked pretty quiet so I got some food before going in. That was a slight mistake – the area was only quiet because there was a line up around the corner that I didn’t see. Thankfully the staff managed to get everybody inside within a couple of minutes.

Review: 21303 WALL•E

21303 Wall-E Review Thumb B

When we learned that the WALL•E Ideas project had passed review there seemed to be a lot of people adding the set to their wishlist. I was certainly one of them. Despite stock issues I managed to track down one of these sets at my local Toys R Us store and built it over the weekend.

21303 WALL•E

RRP $69.99
677 Pieces ($0.10 per piece)
Temporarily out of stock online. Store stock very limited.

For those interested in the “neck issue” I address it later in the article.

When I cut the tape and opened up the box the first thing I noticed was that the bags aren’t numbered. I personally love the process of tipping everything in to a big pile and sorting the bricks out before getting stuck in to a build. It gives you a chance to appreciate that those little pieces all combine to create something cool.

The only alike parts bagged together are the tread pieces for the wheels.

The second thing that I noticed is that there is no sticker sheet. The few decorated elements are all printed. For a set that seems designed as a display piece I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about getting the stickers perfectly applied.

The build of the body begins out fairly easily. The overall shape of the body is very boxy but the build manages to not be boring or overly repetitive. There are more details on the body than you may initially release from the pictures.

21303 Wall-E Review 02

Rather than just being fixed to the side of the body, the arms are attached to a sliding mechanism. The way they have build the arm slider means that it is easy to move the arms forwards or backwards, but they shouldn’t move when you are handling the model.

21303 Wall-E Review 10

Review: 41099 Heartlake Skate Park

41099 Heartlake Skate Park Thumb

When I picked up my 75099 Rey’s Speeder set at Toys R Us the other day, I decided to take advantage of their sale and pick up another set for half price. It seemed like a good opportunity to buy something from a theme I don’t usually buy. So here we are – my first ever proper Friends set.

41099 Heartlake Skate Park

RRP $29.99
199 Pieces ($0.15 per piece)
Available online and most retailers.

I had seen pictures of this set online as I had been reporting on LEGO news and thought it looked interesting. There are some of the Friends sets that seem a bit boring but a skate park seemed like something different. The box contains two numbered bags containing different parts of the set.

The set includes a Mia minidoll and a white puppy. I believe the printing on Mia’s outfit is quite common. The hair and helmet are combined into a single element made out of the softer rubber material. While I appreciate the need for safety I would have liked to see a normal hair piece included as an alternative.

The Friends style animals are very cute, and the included puppy is no exception. It also fits perfectly on the skateboard.

41099 Heartlake Skate Park 01

The actual build begins with the construction of the half pipe. I really like the colours used here. I didn’t apply the stickers but I don’t think the finished model is worse without them.

Review: 75099 Rey’s Speeder

75099 Rey Thumb

The new Star Wars Force Awakens LEGO sets are now available (although with all the coverage I’m going to assume you knew that). After braving the midnight Toys R Us crowds I am going to take a look at the cheapest of the new sets.

75099 Rey’s Speeder

RRP $39.99
193 Pieces ($0.20 per piece)
Available online and most retailers.

When I first saw a list of The Force Awakens set names I went back and watched the teaser trailers looking for hints as to what those sets may be. Sure we all know what an X-Wing looks like, but I’m more interested in new additions to th Star Wars universe. After re-watching those few seconds of Rey taking off into the desert on the back of her speeder the LEGO version jumped to the top of my wish list. It would fair to say I was hoping this set would be good when I grabbed it off the shelf at midnight.

The box is reasonably sized for the part count. The front of the box features a nice action scene of Rey taking off and leaving the unnamed thug behind. The rear is a little more interesting with a look at the included accessories and insets showing off the play features such as the stud shooters and the opening sides. The rear also includes an x-ray/schematic type drawing of the completed model.

Inside the box there are two numbered bags, an instruction booklet and small sticker sheet. As somebody that doesn’t apply the stickers to models, I would have liked if there were some more printed elements in the set.

Surprisingly bag one does not include the titular Rey, but rather the grey cloaked “Unkar’s Thug”.

75099 Unkars Thug

Book Review: LEGO Awesome Ideas

LEGO Awesome Ideas Book Cover

RRP $39.99
Available from most retailers

When I came back to LEGO one of the first books that I got was a LEGO Ideas book. The concept behind these sort of books is to inspire the master builder within us all. Does this book live up to that? Read on to find out.

If you spot the Awesome Ideas book on a store shelf you may pick it up, admire the holographic 3D effect cover and then put it back disappointed that it doesn’t come with an exclusive minifigure or small set. In my opinion that would be a mistake. Even though it doesn’t come any actual LEGO, this book is easily my favourite so far (sorry Friends Adventure Guide).

The book features 5 different sections; Outer Space, Modern Metropolis, Wild West, Fantasy Land and The Real World. Each page is then further categorised according to the type of content:

  • Expanding your world – builds related to the overall section.
  • Builder Secrets – the slightly trickier builds.
  • Showstoppers – the larger more impressive builds.
  • Dioramas – combining the previous builds into an overall display.

After the contents there is also a brief section on the things every builder needs to know. It’s a great primer for the terms and techniques used throughout the book.

I don’t want to spoil the contents of the book in detail but here is a brief overview of each section that should give you a rough idea of what’s included.

Book Review: Friends – Build Your Own Adventure

Friends Cover Small

RRP $39.99
Available from most retailers

The Book

The Friends Build Your Own Adventure book is a new entry from DK books. Unlike older books that featured a selection of bricks, this title features a single set (and minidoll) with the book serving as inspiration for future building.

I suspect that there is going to be a mixed response to the format – some young LEGO fans might find it frustrating that they can’t build everything that they see in the book. It’s important to go into the book knowing what it is.

The book opens with the instructions for the included set then a few pages of introduction. There are profiles of the main Friends characters, and nice explanation of how the book works.

Friends Page Feature01

I really liked the Builder Talk section which contains a visual glossary of different LEGO elements. There is also a section on sideways building, which has always been considered a more advanced technique.

Book Review: Ninjago – Build Your Own Adventure

Ninjago Cover Small

RRP $39.99
Available from most retailers

The Book

The Ninjago Build Your Own Adventure book is a new entry from DK books. Unlike older books that featured a selection of bricks, this title features a single set (and minifigure) with the book serving as inspiration for future building.

I suspect that there is going to be a mixed response to the format – some young LEGO fans might find it frustrating that they can’t build everything that they see in the book. It’s important to go into the book knowing what it is.

The book opens with the instructions for the included set. I liked that this is the opening of the book rather than stuck at the back as an add-on.

Once your model is built, you are greeted with a few pages of introduction. There are profiles of the Ninjago characters, and nice explanation of how the book works.

Ninjago Page Feature01

I really liked the included pages that explain the different types of parts that LEGO produce. It’s a great visual introduction to things like the difference between plates and tiles.

Book Review: LEGO Friends – The Adventure Guide

LEGO Friends Adventure Guide Cover

RRP $24.99
Available at most retailers

I am going to start this review with a confession – I know very little about LEGO Friends. I am a 29 year old man with no children. Currently the only children I spend time with are my two nephews who love Ninja Turtles and Superheroes . Of course this site covers LEGO Friends products in our regular sales coverage, and I know about the initial controversy that came with the launch, but beyond that my knowledge is limited.

With that in mind, this review is going to be a little different than one you might read from a hardcore LEGO Friends fan. This book is my introduction to the world of Heartlake City. Will it make me a lifelong Friends fan?

Review: LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia

LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia Small

RRP $29.99
Available from most retailers.
On sale for $20 in the Big W catalogue starting Thursday 30th April 2015.

In between working and writing blog posts I don’t really get a lot of time to sit down and read books, but when I was given the opportunity to review the new LEGO® Star Wars: Character Encyclopedia I jumped at the chance.

The 2015 edition of the book features information on minifigures released including those featured in the first batch of 2015 sets.

The Content

When you open up the book you are greeted with a detailed contents broken down by movie or show. There is a lengthy blurb explaining how the book is laid out. The breakdown makes it very easy to find a particular minifigure, but if you are having trouble there is a detailed index in the back of the book. The index also includes set numbers, which is great if you want to learn about minifigures in a particular set.

It would be impractical to have every variation of every Star Wars minifigure ever produced, but DK have got around this by focusing on the most recent version of each character, and highlighting interesting variants. I like the way they have used the information about the variants to show the evolution of the minifigures. As somebody who happened to not be a LEGO fan when the prequel trilogy was released I found the traditional yellow versions of the characters really interesting.

One thing you will notice going through the book is how LEGO’s printing has improved over time. Minifigure designs that are only 15 years old look vastly different to the versions from 2015. Basic lines and shapes are now incredibly detailed prints.

The improvements in the printing are even more apparent because the photography in this book is fantastic. Every minifigure is captured with such clarity that it jumps off the page. You can see detail that you may not have noticed even having the minifigure in front of you.

The pages are also full of really interesting facts. You would have to be the most hardcore Star Wars and LEGO fan to not learn something from this book. Did you know that Jar Jar featured the first moulded minifigure head? I don’t want to spoil the content, but there are heaps of other facts that I jotted down as “interesting” while reading the book.

The Exclusive Minifigure

Boba Fett Exclusive Small

One of the best parts of any DK LEGO books is the LEGO attached to the front cover. This edition of the Star Wars Character Encyclopedia is no exception. If you were walking past it in a shop your first impression may be that this is a boring old storm trooper or clone trooper but hardcore Star Wars fans will realise that this is a Boba Fett inspired by the original concept art for the character by Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston.

With so many Star Wars characters already produced as minifigures it is great to see something different as the exclusive.

Wrapping Up

I have never been a huge collector of Star Wars LEGO, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book. There is enough interesting information here to keep young and old Star Wars fans entertained.

If I did have any criticism of the book it would be a personal one – as somebody who hasn’t watched the Clone Wars or Rebels cartoons I found those sections a little bit tedious. The different clone troopers all started to blend together and I was actually glad when I finally got past the Clone Wars and into Episode III. Obviously if you were more familiar with those series then these sections would hold more interest.

The only other issue is The Force Awakens, which is released in December this year. That film is going to bring new characters and older versions of existing characters. While Force Awakens sets haven’t been official announced, they are coming. I don’t feel that this is a huge issue – this book is still a fantastic read. I actually think it could be cool to have a few different versions of the book to see how things change over time.

If you are a LEGO Star Wars fan, or even just a minifigure fan, then I highly recommend this book. It would make a great May The 4th present.

Bricking Around was sent a copy of the LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia to review by Penguin Australia.