Category Archives: Reviews

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.

Bricking Around Reviews The First Ever BrickPak

brickpak_200x200

Is there anything better than receiving a package in the mail? Only a package that you know contains LEGO. That’s the core concept behind BrickPak – the new Australian LEGO Loot Crate product.

We received the first ever BrickPak on Monday morning and couldn’t wait to open it up and see what’s inside. As I had planned to save opening it for the video below, it was certainly a struggle to have it sitting beside me all day at work, teasing me with it’s LEGO contents.

 

So enough of the anticipation, let’s crack it open and check out the contents.

Warning: If you have ordered the BrickPak and have not yet received it, anything after this is going to kind of ruin the surprise. We suggest you turn away now.

Review: 75038 Jedi™ Interceptor

  • RRP: $39.99
  • Parts: 223 ($0.18 per part)
  • 1 Minifigure, 1 Droid

75038 Box

As I mentioned in my last Star Wars review, I don’t usually buy sets from this theme. I also said that I was a Star Wars fan, but this set certainly tested my Star Wars knowledge. I mistakenly assumed that it was based on something from the Clone Wars cartoon series, but after looking it up this is actually based on Episode III. I actually quite enjoyed episodes II and III so I am a little disapointed in myself for not recognising it.

First Impressions

Just from looking at the box you can tell that this is going to be a good play set. It’s got things to shoot at bad guys (or your siblings) and the overall design looks like something that is fun to swoosh around. That makes sense, because this set is not a difficult UCS model designed for display.

The Build

On opening up the box you will get three numbered bags and the sticker sheet. As a small set the sticker sheet is not packaged with cardboard, but luckily my sheet was not damaged at all. You will notice in the photos that I have not applied the stickers myself.

This is a sequential build, so let’s kick off with Bag 1. This is where you will find the new spring loaded missile firing parts. These aren’t your regular flick-fire missile; they actually shoot quite a good distance. Follow the rules in the instructions and never aim these things at faces.
Review_75038_03
We also get our only minifigure in bag 1 – A new version of Anakin Skywalker. The torso printing is quite detailed, and he comes with two different hand colours to represent Anakin’s robot arm. The head features a double sided face print with an angry expression and a happier one.

Review_75038_05Review_75038_04

By the end of bag 1 we have the bulk of the central cockpit area completed. There is still a canopy to attach, but that shows up later.

Review_75038_07

Bag 2 consists of the parts for the first of the wings. There were a few steps in this section where it can be difficult to distinguish correct placement of a part; there are a lot of overlapping flat plates  of similar colour and upside down assembly. It’s not difficult, but I found myself double checking the instructions more than I usually do for a small build.
Review_75038_09
Bag 2 ends with the wing being attached to the main body of the ship.
Review_75038_11

Bag 3 contains everybody’s favourite astromech droid – R2-D2. This is actually my first LEGO version of R2, and I was impressed with the printing. If the box is to be believed this is a new version for 2014.
Review_75038_13

With the mainly symetrical design of the ship, bag 3 is constructed in much the same way as bag 2. The main difference between the two wings is the cut-out for placing R2-D2.
Review_75038_16

The Final Verdict

I didn’t exactly have the highest expectations going in to this set. For me the Jedi Interceptor is not a classic Star Wars vehicle (such as the Millennium Falcon) and doesn’t hold a lot of appeal. Having said that, I actually quite like the finished model.
Review_75038_17

If you are looking for a display piece, then this set is probably not going to be at the top of your list. If what you are looking for is a fun set to fly around and shoot stuff with then this hits the mark.

I have the same gripe with this set as a I do with most Star Wars set, that being the higher price per part compared to other themes. As always, if you are interested in this set I would hold out for a sale.

So should you buy this set? This is a more difficult one to answer than our last review. That set was under $20 and was a classic ship recognisible to not only Star Wars fans. 75038 on the other hand is $39.99 set based on the prequal trilogy. If you like the idea of this set, then you will not be disappointed with the final product. If howerever you don’t particularly have any interest in it, then I don’t feel there is anything here that will bring you around.

Check out the full build gallery below

Review: 75030 Millennium Falcon™

  • RRP $15.99
  • 94 Parts ($0.17 per part)
  • 1 Minifigure

75030 Box

I am going to start this review with a confession – I am an AFOL that does not buy Star Wars LEGO. From what I have seen it appears that this is actually quite rare. When I got back in to LEGO I was tempted because I do like Star Wars. There were a few reason why I decided not to buy into the theme; Star Wars sets are generally more expensive per part than other themes and the Star Wars range covers 6 different films, so I knew I’d never have a complete collection.

Hopefully you’ll have a better sense of where I am coming from with this review. I am a Star Wars fan, but not exactly the biggest Star Wars LEGO fan.

First Impressions

As part of the Microfighters range 75030 is certainly one of the smallest versions of the Millennium Falcon that has been produced by LEGO. This Star Wars sub-theme replaced the Planet Series as LEGO’s low-cost Star Wars range. The Microfighters sets are essentially the novelty go-kart version of classic Star Wars vehicles.

When I first received the box I couldn’t help but think that the set was cute. There is something adorable and funny about seeing tough guy Han Solo sitting in a tiny Millennium Falcon.

The Build

This is a small set, so there aren’t really any surprises when cracking open the box. Parts are divided between two bags, with one bag containing all of the smaller pieces.

Review_75030_01

The build starts off with the assembly of the Han Solo minifigure. As somebody who doesn’t have a Star Wars LEGO collection I was impressed with the minifigure, but I’m not sure how we compares to previous versions. I always appreciate the added detail of leg printing, which is present on this minifigure. Han also comes with a blaster, which is handy for those times when you have to shoot first.

Review_75030_02

Once you have put Han together you start on the Falcon, and I was surprised by how quickly it becomes a recognisable shape. Within just a few steps you are looking at something that is clearly going to become the Millennium Falcon.

Review_75030_03

LEGO have done a great job of capturing the lines and curves at such a small scale.

Review_75030_06

There are also slide shoes added to the bottom of the set, which helps it glide around. This inclusion is obviously more for the younger fans, or as LEGO calls them “the target market”.

Review_75030_07

I appreciate the inclusion of a printed brick to capture the cockpit. It may sound strange but without that little extra bit of detailing I think the set would lose some of it’s overall resemblence.

Speaking of the overall look – I am not a big fan of the two flick-fire missles added to the top of the set.

Review_75030_08

The Final Verdict

I was really impressed with this set. The final product is quite a solid little build, something that would handle being played with well. The only complaint that I do have is very minor (the flick-fire missiles) and does not really have that much impact.

I also feel that the RRP is just a little to high for this set. Yes it does have 94 pieces, but all of those pieces are on the small side. It’s definitely a set that I wait to get on sale. At 20% I think this would be better value for money.

Review_75030_11

So should you buy this set? This is a small, quick and simple build but the final product has a lot of charm to it. I think whether you buy this set really comes down to what you think of the style. If the pictures of this set have you interested then I do recommended it. If you have a huge Star Wars collection and find this set to be a bit unimpressive then I don’t think there is anything here that would change your mind.

Check out the full build gallery below

The LEGO Movie Review

Background

In cinemas April 3

Rated PG

5 Stars

 

This review is contains minor plot details, but won’t give anything away.

When The LEGO Movie was first announced I was one of a huge number of people who weren’t sure how it could possibly work. LEGO is one off the most recognised brands in the world, but it is also a broad subject to try and capture on film. The team behind this movie have nailed the brief. A LEGO Movie could have easily turned out to be a shameless 2 hour toy ad with little substance, but the end result is not just a great film but it also perfectly captures the essence of the brand.

The movie tells the tale of Emmet, an unremarkable construction minifigure who lives his life following a detailed set of instructions. His life changes forever when he discovers the key to stopping an evil plan to destroy the world.

The action in the film is fast paced and at times frantic. You will settle in to a new location only for the bad guys to show up and keep the characters moving forward. There is no filler here. My only complaint would be that some locations are only given a passing glance.

LEGO Batman
The cast of characters are all perfectly executed. Vitruvius is the textbook example of the wise old mentor character, but there are lots of knowing winks to the older viewers. They know that he is a stereotype and they play with that. There will be a lot of debate about Wyldstyle, but I felt that she is given enough depth to her character beyond the generic ‘tough chick’ shown in the trailers. LEGO Batman is a hilarious take on a character that could have just been stale. We have seen Batman on the screen plenty of times before, but LEGO Batman is something new and he steals the show in quite a few scenes. Looking back there are no characters that don’t serve a purpose. The standouts for me are Metalbeard, Uni-kitty and Benny the Spaceman. Between the three of them there lots of laughs.

The jokes are constant with this movie, but there are none that I felt miss the mark. The humour here is clever and not forced like in other kids movies. Jokes are made in a split second of action and if you miss them they are gone. Things never slow down for the sake of a joke. One element of the humour that I found refreshing was that there weren’t lots of jokes deliberately aimed at parents or older viewers. The majority of the jokes work well for all ages, and that is going to make family viewings a lot more enjoyable.

Wyldstyle

For all of its humour this film also has an incredible amount of heart. It’s possible that the way you see LEGO is going to be changed after you leave the theatre. There is a message here but it is never preached or shouted at you. From the trailers and marketing you might think that the movie has a simple message that following the instructions is bad but that isn’t what this movie is saying, it’s more complex than that and really goes to the heart of what LEGO is all about. This movie is a lot smarter than I expected it to be.

There are lots of movie critics who are going to view this movie just as a movie, but as an adult fan of LEGO I went in with my own set of hopes and expectations. I wanted to see how well would this film capture the subject that I am passionate about. Everything that is presented on screen is authentically LEGO; I was in awe from the opening moments of the film. The animation team have created a visually stunning world that always looks like it is made with real bricks. Scenes are clearly inspired by stop motion animation, just without physical limitations (like access to millions of bricks). I feel like the animation team were given a strict set of design rules to follow. Unlike the LEGO videogames these characters don’t bend and flex except where their real world counterparts could. Seeing Emmet doing jumping jacks I was struck with “this is a minifigure”.

Emmet

There are lots of LEGO references in here too. There is a scene early on in the film where Emmet is working his construction job and hearing the construction crew call out for parts, using terms that every AFOL will be familiar with, was great. The general audience isn’t going to get all of those references, so I appreciate their inclusion all the more. They are like a hidden message for true fans.

If you are a child, then this movie is easily going to be the best fun you will have during the school holidays. Parents, this isn’t just a 2 hour distraction for your kids, this film has heart and genuine laughs for you too. As for AFOLs, well you also get to see the bricks that we love brought to life; almost every frame looks like a MOC that you’d love to be able to build. I can’t wait for the blu-ray release so I can pause the action and soak up the way the (digitally rendered) parts are put together.

The LEGO Movie has already earned a spot on my list of favourite movies.

Belkin LEGO® Builder Case Review

Belkin LEGO iPhone Case

Since the iPhone first gained popularity there have been a huge variety of unofficial LEGO iPhone cases available, but now Belkin has partnered with LEGO to produce an officially licensed LEGO iPhone case. Does being an offically licensed product mean it meets the same high standard that LEGO bricks aspire too?

I have been an iPhone user for a few years, starting with the 4S and then moving to the iPhone 5 shortly after it was released. I am also somebody that has never had a case on my phone. I just use a simple pouch to protect my phone from scratches when it’s in my pocket. I had never found a case that offered me something to justify adding the extra weight and bulk to my phone. That was before Belkin announced the builder case.

Review: 10230 Mini Modulars

LEGO 10230

Price: $79 (Myer Toy Sale)
Parts: 1356

Price/Part Ratio: $0.05/Pc

One of the surprise treats at the Myer Toy Sale (on until 28th July) was 10230 Mini Modulars set. Originally designed as gifts from the LEGO design team, these microscale versions of the iconic modular building sets were released as a single set available exclusively to VIP customers. This year is the first time the set has been released at an Australian retailer. The set covers the first five modulars: Cafe Corner, Market Street, Green Grocer, Fire Brigade and Grand Emporium.