LEGO Creator Expert: Brick Bank 10251 Review

IMG_2698A new year and a new LEGO creator modular building – this time a corner model providing a brick bank and a small laundry. I got this model 10251 two weeks ago while visiting the LEGO store in Nuremberg but now found the time and mood to go into building.

The set contains 2380 pieces, four build steps with 267 steps inside the instruction manual. Compared to older modular buildings it isn’t that hard to build and some building techniques have been changed. This one goes more into building bigger spots and putting it together.

When it starts off on the ground plate, the first cool thing you’ll recognise is the lockable vault including the removable ceiling. Building further the vault is still open but once the atrium foyer is finished you’ll find out about another cool surprise – the washing machines provide a hidden chest for actually washing the money and putting them directly into the vault. That’s something you cannot really tell from the package images.

The other part of this building step adds the pull-able cashbox for the transaction counter adding yet another lovely detail to the scene. When it comes to the ceiling there’s a hidden entry for thieves coming from the roof. You may actually change one of the mini figures into a thief outfit and start your own play story.

The first floor seems empty as there is only one room for the bosses office and a spot for the secretary. Though the build is fun and provides lots of details like the coffee vendor or building the fireplace attached to the chimney for the thief entering the bank. The typewriter totally fits my kind of humour.

The rooftop is not much in height but offers many details for making this model good. It also adds a chandelier and a small winch for pulling heavy stuff from the ground. The rounded roof windows use a common building technique already known from the pets store.

There are no stickers – everything is printed, even the window glasses. There could probably be more than 5 minifigures – the laundry seems pretty empty without employees. There are also not that much repetitive build steps except for one, but the look really compensates for that afterwards. What I really missed was building letters/numbers from other bricks (like “AL’S” and “POOL” from the detective’s office).

Sorting the bricks takes quite a while, so I guess this model was like 5-6 hours for building and sorting. Being a corner building it perfectly fits with the detective’s office from last year 🙂


LEGO Dimensions

thumb_IMG_1760_1024I’ve played and enjoyed each LEGO game from Telltale (except the Wii-U exclusive City Undercover) starting with LEGO Star Wars and most recently, LEGO Jurassic World.

When I heard about LEGO Dimensions coming up this year, I watched a couple of trailers getting an idea what to expect. Considering that #breaktherules is their slogan, that game supposed to be huge. When I read about level, team and fun packs to be bought in additional waves it felt a bit like a cash printing machine for LEGO instead of a real game.

I’m fairly too much into LEGO to resist in pre-ordering this game, but only the starter pack for now. Furthermore Amazon granted a 15€ pre-order bonus when getting LEGO Jurassic World, so the 100€ starter pack wasn’t too expensive.

thumb_IMG_1761_1024Level packs range from 25€ to 30€ providing additional levels for: The Simpsons, Back to the Future, Portal, Dr. Who (Amazon exclusive available at 5.11.2015), Ghost Busters (available January 2016) and Midway Arcade (March 2016, never heard of that).

Team packs add more figures and vehicles and range at ~25€ each. Fun packs consist of one figure and one vehicle at the price of 15€.

There will be several waves where these packs are released over the next couple of months. According to Warner Bros they will support the game 3 years with updates too.

thumb_IMG_1764_1024Opening the starter pack box unveils the toy bad, the game disc and an additional box containing the bricks for the portal, three characters (Batman, Gandalf, Wyldstyle) and the bat mobile.

thumb_IMG_1766_1024Before starting the build I did start my PS4 and inserted the game disc. It then immediately started to download a 5 GB (!) update to 1.02 which fairly took over an hour even with VDSL50.

While that download lasted, I did build the three characters, the portal itself and well, then I was stuck – the bat mobile instructions are not available inside the printed build instructions. The reason for that is implicitly explained in-game: You may modify and upgrade vehicles and characters inside the game and it holds additional build instructions.

thumb_IMG_1773_1024The toy pad itself is a simple NFC reader attached to the PS4 via USB (cable is pretty long). While the figure stands are printed and reserved NFC tags for each character, the vehicles must be built and then written to the NFC tag. The game will tell you to do so – at first glance this happens when you’re building the bat mobile after completing the portal build.

The light bulbs are using different colours, sometimes blink for giving hints and the three areas can hold 7 characters or vehicles at the same time. At first it was not that clear how the toy pad would be involved in the game – ok, by putting the bat mobile on it it did appear in-game and could be used.

thumb_IMG_1776_1024When going further with the story you’ll experience 5 different purple keystones with different modes: colour puzzles, special character abilities to clear fire, melt ice, enlighten dark rooms, etc. You need to interact with the toy pad and put your characters on it – be it a defined order, or a specific area. Once you’ve completed the first story mode levels you should’ve learnt how to use them. Cool thing: The game tells you to physically attach each keystone to your portal once each level is finished.

thumb_IMG_1777_1024So far I’ve finished 4 of 5 keystones in the story levels and came across Gotham City, Wizard of Oz, Simpsons, Ninjago and Doctor Who. Still curious what else to see. The story itself has an evil boss, the usual suspects supporting him and you, the brave hero fighting your way against them. The level design and story somehow reminded me of Super Mario World, especially the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz 😉

If you are familiar with LEGO games you certainly want to achieve the 100% level. This is helped by buying the red bricks with collected studs which help detecting mini kits, gold bricks, 2x studs (no more 4,6,8,10 multipliers though) and a quest detector. The other ones are more or less funny additions.

The “nasty” thing about these red bricks – they are hidden in the adventure worlds. In order to access these adventure worlds you’ll need a character of each world. So you’ll end up buying additional level, team and fun packs. Clever, LEGO, very clever. Which in return means you cannot complete LEGO dimensions just by getting the starter pack.

Once you’ve completed the first levels you are allowed to use the lift to move up and access all adventure worlds – and there are quite a few. The main three figures allow you to access the DC Comics, LEGO Movie and The Lord Of the Rings adventure worlds instantly. The rest – well, first the story mode, then buy additional adventure world characters, collect red bricks, finish story mode free play and then work towards the 100%.

Conclusion: Apart from the money it will cost you, it is a definitive must buy. The gameplay is better (not so much different characters in the main story, if you don’t want to) and the toy pad integration really adds a new special feature to just sitting on the couch with the controller. Solve puzzles or just transform your character into the level and play with it. Typically you’ll find plenty of LEGO humour and sarcastic references 🙂 And yet, there’s offline LEGO to build!



LEGO WALL•E 21303 Review

I’ve read plenty of rumors about this build, even that the head would not stay put. Strangely enough, LEGO did not do any promotion for this lovely set coming out on 1st of September 2015. Although it does not matter – the LEGO store in Nuremberg is on the lunch route in town, so I just went there with a friend on Tuesday.

I was not the first to buy LEGO WALL•E 21303, and I guess it will be sold out pretty soon – already lists it as bestseller. The model is rather tiny, but with 677 bricks I did not expect it to take that long to build. If you are fast builder sorting the bricks beforehand, you can watch the movie on bluray while building the model – fits perfectly fine.

The instruction booklet consists of a nice intro into both, the movie and the designer who was actually involved in the animation team at Pixar and built the model iteratively in his spare time over a decade. Then 178 build steps follow. Some steps are repetitive but overall they are short and the whole model is fun to build. Its origin is LEGO Ideas – chime in there and support future community built models! Many details from the model now in stores can be found in the original submitted LEGO idea.

One special thing – NO STICKERS. The logo is printed and looks perfectly fine. Thanks LEGO.

Conclusion – WALL•E is one of the cutest models I’ve ever built, and anyone who loves the movie will certainly love this model 🙂


May the 4th be with you

11188245_951345114898038_3242923167258976802_nLEGO recently announced the “May the 4th be with you” campaign offering various reduced prices on LEGO Star Wars models and other exclusives (LEGO Star Wars film poster, Admiral Yularen mini figure, etc). Starting on the 2nd of may lasting one week guess who joined the LEGO store in Nuremberg on Saturday 🙂

While it’s tremendously hard to look at all the fine stuff being reduced by 10% it’s even harder to resist against buying all the bigger models – I personally prefer the bigger ones of the smaller play sets, I love to build LEGO, but I don’t play with it 😉 Being at the LEGO store also answers the questions when models won’t be produced anymore and go off stock. One of them clearly is the VW “Bully” being terminated later this year. “Star Wars”-wise rumors do tell that the Red-Five X-Wing Starfighter 10240, Ewok Village 10236 and the Death Star 10188 won’t survive 2015.

The original price of 420€ for the Death Star is a lot of money, given a discount of 10% and lots of VIP points collected from previous store visits, it was tough, but in the end LEGO won (again). It seems they’ve removed it from the online store in Germany (probably sold-out) but the international version is still available.

While I won’t play with it, I’m really in love with the scenes from the films in each “quarter” – certainly you’ll need to be a Star Wars fan to recognize all of them. Laser sword fight between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker accompanied by the emperor, adjustable guns and the super laser, and even the jail scene with some 3d view (!) where princess Leia will be freed by Chewbacca, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker – directly jumping into the trash compactor.

Even a view onto the hidden rebels base, or vice versa, Alderan, brings the original film scenes to mind. This model really got many many details you won’t see on the box design or any reviews on the net, you need to build them and have the aha-effect 🙂

The build steps are repetitive only on the ground floors (building them in quarters) but then have their own lovely style and details. There’s an elevator in the middle connecting all floors and scenes together, which can be lowered by a cord, similar to a goods lift implemented in the Tie-Advanced parking lot.  There’s also the famous door with an open-close mechanism looking at another laser sword fight between Obi-wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. Before that you may adjust the scene for Obi-wan disabling the power plant (which actually hides the blue-transparent bricks simulating the power when pulling off the knobs).

Check the images from the build process below – 4 boxes, unpacked into 7 build sections and 192 build steps, it took me ~11 hours to build it on the weekend. This time on the couch again, it does not really fit on a small table. The instructions book is pretty big and connected with rings, bringing all the details onto each page. Some build steps must be done twice, but that’s not that many compared to the rest (e.g. two laser cannons). I would’ve replaced the Tie-Advanced with a small version of the millenium falcon but that probably did not fit into the model which already is rather complex to build.

Once you’ve finished it half way, you’ll just build and build and oversee the time 🙂


LEGO SHIELD Helicarrier 76042 Review

IMG_0356Spending 350€ for a LEGO model seems pretty much money, and I had a hard time convincing my self to actually buy the LEGO SHIELD Helicarrier 76042. I have been reading the build series on BrickFanatics and also watched this review video by the Brick Show.

In the end it turns out that I’m busy during the weeks (Icinga 2 Trainer, Icinga 2 2.3 release, CeBit, etc), and it’s a nice present building LEGO on the weekend. Further this had been an exclusive pre-order for LEGO VIPs, and I already know that such UCS models are sold out at last (remember the Star Wars Slave I model). So, Bernd also invested into important things in 2015, and got his one even sooner. Though, mine also arrived on 2nd of March, then Icinga 2 training and finally on Sunday I got my hands dirty on this one.

The 76042 model consists of 2996 pieces and 12 build sections with one to four bags to sort and build. Those build sections take less than an hour each, and can be easily sorted on a small table (not the couch version). The instructions book is huge – 151 build steps and 448 pages. Without the power addon stuff of course. You might actually use power functions to make the rotors move, and also add some led light in front. Looking at the reviews, I didn’t like it much as the cables destroy the inner good looking, the bridge and computers.

IMG_0487The scale is not for mini-figures, although there’s a stand adding 5 of them: Nick Fury, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye und Maria Hill. In order to make this model more playable and lively they have added micro-figures: Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Captain America, Iron Man and 8 SHIELD agents. They fit on a single nob, and you’ll certainly recognize Iron Man by its transparent hover 😉

Additionally there’s lots of lovely details with 3 quin jets, 3 fighter jets, lift trucks, tank wagon, etc – the helicarrier looks like there’s a lot of stuff going on currently. From the inside, there’s lots of Technic bricks and building involved – also space for the power functions. The front features the command bridge where the scene play with Nick Fury and lots of transparent computers could be seen.

In terms of building sections you’ll start with the eagle stand for the minifigures – though, you’ll get them later on during the build. After that, the black UCS stand including the sticker (god, I hate stickers) is built. It’s pretty robust and it has to be since this model is very heavy.

IMG_0426Starting with the base you’ll be reminded of the pirates ship’s body, but in a long scale. Plenty of LEGO Technic items are used to make this model robust at last. Furthermore you are building the command bridge directly inside. On top, the mechanism for moving the rotors is already integrated. That one is a bit tricky to adjust the gears so they fit, but there are instructions for that as well. On the side, you’ll hide many of the ugly technic bricks with on top base plates and the famous 64 logo (again stickers).

IMG_0447The repetitive and boring part are the four wings with the rotors – they are not the same, but quite similar being built. It’s not as much pain as with the Star Wars XWing but still not that much fun to build. In the end, the water-transparent bricks used for the rotor are the most enjoyable since they are unique to this model. Afterall there are some building techniques used again which are not the standard way.

Once the wings are done, you’ll add the propulsion in the back including some nice building techniques as well. Putting the runway in place unveils the first new thing – the long black plates are printed, no need for any stickers. The ceiling of the command bridge can be removed which adds some playable ground for later.

IMG_0463The front needs to be added – but that design decision to use a mix of printed plates and stickers which don’t really fit together on the runway – dear LEGO Designers, WHY BUT WHY? The stickers are way too small and make the runway look ugly, if you’re close to the model.

In the end, build section 11 introduces the skew runway which can be removed later on as well. There’s a nifty build technique used here, and it’s fun to add all the details to it. Section 12 finishes the modul with adding a small command bridge with transparent glass on top of it – that one must be removed to remove the skew runway later (although there’s no real reason to do so, because the floor below is boring, just black plates).

IMG_0488One of the quin jets can be put into the air with a transparent holder, while the others stay in starting position. Two of the SHIELD soldiers are hidden in the mini command bridge, Nick Fury and Hawk Eye are put inside the huge command bridge. The other SHIELD soldiers as well as Iron Man and Captain America are placed somewhere on the runway. Additional packages and petrol tanks complete the scene.

Putting the model on the UCS stand is a bit tricky – it is really heavy and the stand does not fit. I made it work, but I think it could be done better by fitting smaller parts, not the entire lane (which is hard to find with that huge model to hold). You cannot turn the model to the bottom and make it fit, unless you have three arms – holding the model in the middle with just one hand will make the skew runway go away, and so on.

IMG_0443Conclusion: Apart from various repeating build steps, stickers and the not so good designed stand I really like this model. I won’t add the power functions, there’s no real benefit with this model and I don’t want to see cables anywhere in the scenes. What I really like about this model – I generally like carriers and their level of detail (remember the Revell models, Bismarck and so on). In combination with the cool Avengers story, as well as having played the video game “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes” where you’ll run and fly on the helicarrier as basis – just awesome & pure imagination joy.

I’ve been watching the Lord of the Rings Special Extended Edition blurays (which is ~11h) while building this model. In the end, it took me ~9 hours to build which is not that bad for nearly 3000 pieces. On the other hand – imagine how many pieces and time this would take if it would be in mini-figures scale? 🙂


Lego Star Wars Slave I 75060 Review

IMG_0125I’ve been in the LEGO store Nuremberg on the 2nd of January in the afternoon, looking if the Ultimate Collectors Series model Star Wars Slave I is already available. An employee told me that the “zombies” were waiting at 10 am, and so there are no items left to sell. Well, too bad. But the detective’s office was available, so I got that one instead.

Still, I couldn’t stand it and so I went there again and pre-ordered it (could’ve done it online too, but I like the Lego store‘s atmosphere, always something new and special :)). I had to wait until the end of January, but at least I got one – the online shop says it can be delivered by the end of March currently.

Right on the weekend before going to FOSDEM, I started to unpack this baby. 1996 pieces doesn’t sound much, but when you’ll open the box, you’ll see that it’s a lot of steps to build. There are certain pieces which are just big, but also lots of small-ish ones. One good thing about the new 2015 models: You’ll have one big instructions book referencing the different bags step by step. Previous models had 2, 3 or even 4 instruction booklets which made the “instructions library” a bit chaotic. The UCS models also provide an introduction to the model itself, its background and also an interview with the designer – challenges, ideas, vision. I enjoy reading their story before actually starting the build process every time 🙂

IMG_0129Building the Slave I requires 13 separate build sections with one or two bags on each step. This is solved better than the Creator buildings where you’ll normally need the entire couch for sorting all the pieces. Slave I actually did fit on a small table (better sitting position!). The instructions are split into 115 build steps which took me ~6 hours to build (including some breaks for taking photos and refreshments ;)).

The building process starts with the front base “plate” which is tied together by Technic pieces making it very robust. The round shape is actually done in an interesting way of using orthogonal items to connect to the plate below. Oh well, then something starts what I don’t like about Lego models – stickers. And this models contains many stickers. Although the Lego designers learnt from the past – the stickers are now numbered, similar to what you know from Revell models. The only problem with those stickers – put them into the right place on the round lego bricks surface. Take a break and breath before continuing!

IMG_0137You are actually building both bottom parts in red, and then combining both with more Technic bricks. The good thing is that you’ll see your model evolve step by step which keeps the motivation flowing. At this point there were no repeating build steps (which is one of the most annoying things with Lego models). You’ll also build a detailed bottom with the engines and one good thing to mention – there are transparent bricks for creating an hover effect when the model is standing on the ground 🙂

IMG_0140Build bag 6 introduces a nifty build idea – integrate the frozen Han Solo into the ship, helped with Technic items to actually remove it easily later on when playing. You can even stash the minifigure into the frozen “mask” which is really cool. Another really magnificent idea are the two wings – Slave I is one of the few Star Wars models which has two modes – landing and flying position can be reached by turning the model by 90 degrees. So the wings must be adopted based on how the model is positioned. The designers realized that by making the wings “free flowing” and they always keep the right place, depending how you turn the model. Awesome!

IMG_0149When it comes to building the cockpit, you can even adjust the pilot’s position depending on how the model is put (landing or flying position). Additionally there are some surprising building steps involved with the green bricks where you’ll see the result only in the end. You’ll have to repeat that for both sides, but that’s not really an issue here as the building steps are rather short (10 each). After the cockpit, the “nose” is being built in section 10. There are some interesting building techniques involved as well (find out yourself) which make the model even more robust.

IMG_0168One bad thing – transparent cockpit glass with two stickers on it. But – building the side parts with a mixture of green and gray sounded like building the same parts again. Actually this does not happen – they look the same, but the model uses different coloring on both sides. Also the weapon slots differ – one side with laser cannons, the other one fires a missile.

All in all, the model is pretty heavy but therefore robust. Therefore the stand must be pretty robust as well. It does not look like it, but the black Technic bricks really create one which keeps the model in flying mode. Except for the stickers building the Star Wars Slave I 75060 really was a blast. And it’s really big in minifigure scale compared to the Red Five X-Wing Starfigher 😉