Category Archives: Review

Game of Bricks – Light Kit (76139 1989 Batmobile) | Review

The Lego Car Blog laziness, er… we mean ‘generosity’ continues today, as we’ve passed another impressive looking Game of Bricks lighting kit on to a reader for their thoughts. Greg Kinkaid (aka black_hand_bricks on Instagram) was one of the lucky readers first to respond to our Facebook call, and bagged himself a Game of Bricks kit to light up the huge LEGO 76139 1989 Batmobile set. Read on to find out Greg’s thoughts!

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” people might ask of me. Well the Batmobile comes from LEGO, but the light emitting from within it – that’s all Game of Bricks. I was offered the opportunity to write a review here at The Lego Car Blog, making this both my first review and my first light kit; the Game of Bricks 76139 1989 Batmobile.

My Game of Bricks light kit arrived in a plain padded envelope, which held a nice sturdy box filled with individually numbered bags. At first I was unsure of how to even begin putting it together, but a link to the online instructions was in my order confirmation e-mail, leading to thorough and well photographed build steps.

Onto the kit, and a tedious process starts at the back of the Batmobile set running wires from the rocket booster, tail lights, as well as the fin lights, and moves forward from there. Much of the set must be disassembled during the installation, with wheels, headlights, side panels, the back panel as well as the intakes all removed, but the result is wires that are very hard to see when the installation is finished. That said, several of the kit’s lights are fitted with 3M tape, so I don’t get the feeling the lighting kit will be reusable if the set is ever disassembled again.

The wiring on the lights seems thin but is stronger than it looks, with some wires twisted together and others a single strand, depending on the number of LEDs attached. All the boards and the battery pack fit nicely within the back end of the set between the rear wheels, and these had command strips so they’re not just floating around. 

Now for the bad bits; The lights in the headlight area and the turrets were tricky to run in-between gaps within the front wheel-wells and through to the bottom of the vehicle. Once they were run to the back of the set I discovered the wires were the exact length of the model. That made it even more difficult, because – whilst the instructional photos showed a bit of slack to pull the board out and easily plug in the lights – instead I had to fat finger the plugs in the lower part next to the axle and hope the lights didn’t pull out of the other end.

The 3M strips I mentioned before didn’t seem to hold up after the recent heat wave and I had to go back in and push them back down. Afterwards the underside looked messy so I used the wire ties that were in the packaging to clean it up, and perhaps this kit would be better to use these in the official installation instructions.

Overall though, even after the frustrating installation, I would recommend the Game of Bricks  lighting kit for those looking to make their LEGO 76139 1989 Batmobile set even more impressive ; visually the end result is amazing.  And in hindsight I should probably have opted for the remote version too, so I wouldn’t have to mess about with the backend to turn it on!

Visit the Game of Bricks Shop here!

Game of Bricks – Light Kit (42114 6×6 Volvo Articulated Hauler) | Review

It’s review time here at TLCB! The guys over at Game of Bricks, makers of bespoke LED lighting kits for LEGO sets, offered us a few of their products for review, and because either a) we’re awesome, or b) this site is too incompetent to be sent sets from LEGO, this time we’re handing over to our readers!

Wojtek Hildebrandt was one of the readers to respond to the offer of a free lighting kit (via our Facebook page) the fastest, and fortunately for us he’s a throughly good reviewer too. Check out his thoughts on Game of Bricks’ lighting kit for his recently reviewed Technic 42114 6×6 Volvo Articulated Hauler set below! The answer was (b) by the way…

They see me hauling, they lighting.

The LEGO Technic set 42114 6×6 Volvo Articulated Hauler is a big and very yellow piece of equipment that I really like and that’s hard not to notice. That is of course if there’s light outside. But what if you need to haul whatever it is you are hauling around when it’s dark? The Game Of Bricks lighting kit comes to the rescue and frees you from filling in endless Health and Safety forms so I’m glad that TLCB together with GoB came up with this review idea. The kit I got is the full version – lights and sound with remote control. How does it look? How does it sound? What about installation and control? First things first.

The package comes in a nice black box with components divided into steps and packed in separate string bags containing required wiring, boards, and LEDs as well as any additional LEGO pieces needed to install it. Depending on the version of the kit – standard, remote, or remote + sound – there are different motherboards and additional equipment like remote or speaker. There is also a user manual, but it’s not the one that gets the user through the installation. It’s rather a general description of components and how to handle them. An actual step-by-step instruction is available on the Game of Bricks website, which is mentioned both in the user manual and in the order confirmation email from GoB. For the 42114 lighting kit, it is a series of pictures showing where to put which components, how to route the wiring, and sometimes what to remove from the set and when to put it back. Some other sets get video instruction – perhaps this one will get it too at some point.

Read twice, place once.

Before you start your installation or even before you open the bags, have a good look over the entire web instructions. Twice. Game of Bricks’ pictures are usually rather clear but not as much as LEGO’s own instructions. Black wires can sometimes hide in the shadows, other times some important details can get unnoticed as there is no description to point it out – this is, in particular, the case for rear lights that have two different LED colours. Still, I was able to follow the instructions with only a minor slip so I guess everybody should be fine. But knowing what to do is one thing and knowing how to do it is another thing entirely.

Do you fancy some knitting after a day of hauling? Have I got news for you!

Installing the lighting kit is a totally different experience to building the LEGO set itself. It feels more like knitting or sewing – at least I guess so. LEDs and wires seem fragile (even if they aren’t, excuse me for not running the stress test) so be gentle and patient. Get a pair of trusty tweezers, maybe even a magnifying glass, and make sure you have a good strong light on your workplace. You’re thinking of a headlamp? Why not. It takes light to install the lights, let’s call it a “circle of light”.

As for the LEGO set, you will need to remove or collapse the side mirrors to be able to lay the hauler on the side, and some wheels will need to be temporarily removed too. The beacon can be a problem when the hauler needs to be put upside down, so prepare for that as well. I need to say it quickly became tricky to handle this heavy set with an increasing number of wires leaving less and less space to firmly grasp the vehicle without worrying. The wires are a bit springy which is both a blessing and a curse. You will need to force them to your will, but eventually, they will obey. Connectors are tiny, they need to be put into ports precisely and with a click. Motherboard, extension boards, and optional speaker are attached to the set with double-sided adhesive tape. It seems to keep things together well, even the big speaker sits firmly in place. My only fear for the future is how to uninstall the lighting kit when I’d like to disassemble the set – will I be able to put it all back together?

Anyway, slowly but surely – like the hauler stuck on the first gear – you will get to the final step of the instructions; plugging in the power source. You can choose either the battery box that’s included in the lighting kit or any power bank – power goes through a USB connector so there are plenty of possibilities. Where to store it? If only there’d be a vast free space on the rear part of the hauler… Finally, the set should be ready to shine… Continue reading

Technic 42114 6×6 Volvo Articulated Hauler | Review

It’s review time here at The Lego Car Blog, as we add another LEGO set to the by now pretty huge Review Library! This set review comes from one of our readers, who dons the Reviewing Anorak (which may or may not be a real thing) and takes on the enormous remote controlled LEGO Technic 42114 6×6 Volvo Articulated Hauler. Wojtek Hildebrandt is the reader in question, and so good is his review that TLCB Team are frankly a little worried for their jobs. That’s not true of course, as they don’t get paid… Anyway, over to Wojtek!

LEGO has a long-standing tradition of recreating dominantly yellow construction equipment in Technic sets. This is rather a grateful theme for construction blocks after all – simple shapes and function over form. Recently these have mostly been Volvo licensed vehicles; wheel loaders, excavators, and haulers with different degrees of motorisation – from full (as in 42030 loader) via optional (to power 42053 excavator pneumatics) to none (for endless knob spinning fun with 42081 concept loader). The time has come for a fully remote-controlled articulated hauler – a Volvo A60H with the Control+ app.

Beauty is in the eye of the behauler.
First, let’s have a look from the outside. This is a looker, at least for a construction machine. We can see it already on the box cover, where the hauler is put in some blurred quarry environment. It fits well, but then the same image is sometimes used without the background, which makes the chassis twist look weird, like doing some unlikely stunt.

Speaking of weird: LEGO’s previous attempt to minify a Volvo hauler – the B model for 42030 – had it all wrong (even with the number of wheels), but if you’re generous enough, you can say it was a tribute to vintage, skeletal Technic sets. If so, then 42114 is more from a bloodline of Model Team or recent adult Creator sets, even if it uses mostly Technic parts. Of course, the pins and holes are there and some proportions and colors are off, but both overall shape and some neat details are very true.

Let’s start from the business end; the dump body – we’ll call it the body from now on – has a complex shape with clever usage of tapered panels (which are flat on both sides, unlike straight panels) and very few empty spaces. I guess you couldn’t haul sand in it, but it should be perfect for some beans or potatoes. Or lemons to match the colour. The driver’s cab is correctly centred and surrounded by a proper, orange safety railing as well as accurate big mirrors. There is a slightly surprising mudguard serving as a dashboard, my favorite seat made of a single curved panel 3x5x3 (which seems to fit the same purpose regardless of model scale), and a warning beacon on the roof that twists slightly to turn the Control+ hub on or off.

Further to the front, we have one of the best-looking parts – a nicely sculpted bonnet. The impression is improved by a few stickers, but even without them all the angles and curves feel just right, even if they’re not entirely true to the original, e.g. with headlights. One curved panel covers the limits of the other and everything works together nicely. It’s wobbly during construction but becomes solid enough eventually. The front bumper on the other hand is no match for a durable look of the original, but to me, it doesn’t harm the overall impression too much.

Green energy
Now we get to the hardware. Both real-life and miniature versions of the Volvo hauler are powered by six cylinders. In full scale, they are six, famously green inline cylinders of an internal combustion engine. For the set, they are 6 AA/R6 batteries. Which one is “greener” energy depends probably on whether your batteries are rechargeable and if so – how you recharge them. Continue reading

Game of Bricks – Light Kit (10277 Crocodile Train)* | Review

*Plus a few Speed Champions kits.

Being lazy, er… we mean tremendously generous, we’re handing over to another reader today for a review of more LED lighting kits for the 2020 LEGO sets, courtesy of LEGO-compatible LED lighting experts Game of Bricks. John Olive is the lucky recipient/willing reviewer, who has fitted some twinkly lights to his 10277 Crocodile Locomotive, and a few Speed Champions sets too – over to John!

Lights are only good for 3 things. Driving in the dark, for decorating a Holiday tree, and for lighting up LEGO sets. You know that feeling you have when you’ve finished building an official set that cost you an arm and a leg, and you have the desire to take your build to the next level? Well, for a good price it’s time to look to lighting your set or own creation with a good set of lighting kits.

While the current lineup of LEGO lighting kits are few and far between, a majority of builders have to turn to 3rd party vendors for all their lighting needs.

I had the distinct pleasure of getting hooked up with some lighting kits from Game of Bricks. Curious on the build quality and lighting ability, I had 3 kits sent to me in the United States. Two were for Speed Champions sets and the third was for the 10277 Crocodile Locomotive.

While shipping did take a little while, I was pleasantly surprised that when the package arrived, the kits were packaged nicely in thin black boxes. Inside all 3 kits, were the necessary components for each set and all came with a disclaimer packet. I was thrown off for a hot second because there weren’t any installment instructions and I didn’t know which lighting kit was for which set. I was quickly corrected by my 6 year old as he noticed a sticker on each kit with the set number on there. Go figure.

I had to refer back to the website for instructions as the kits didn’t come with an installment guide which was conflicting with their website offer of having instructions in every set. The instructions online were geared towards folks that have built the corresponding set already, so it included tear down instructions prior to adding the lights. This was extremely helpful for the Speed Champions sets and Crocodile. With only receiving digital instructions, I don’t hold that against them as I prefer to use digital instructions. The pictures were clear and provided a close up view of what was happening. I may have been distracted by the model’s fingernail in some pictures, but as I replicated the instructions on my own desk, it was apparent that Game of Bricks had given some thought in this phase of the installment. While the sets I reviewed were somewhat newer, hopefully older sets have the instructions right out of the box. Just in case customers don’t have the internet.

Let’s get to the actual kits.

The quality of the lighting kits was high just by the look and feel of the components. The website promises top notch quality, and while I’m unsure of the specific requirements to that, my experience with lighting kits confirms that it’s true. The extremely thin Connecting Cables are wound tightly and I didn’t notice any unraveling wires when running the cables in between the plates and bricks. Connecting the cables to a light strip has to be done ​very carefully​ and will be rewarded with an audible click when it slipped in there correctly.

*Veteran tip: A classic technique requires you to use your fingernail to push the connector into the port when dealing with such small components.*

Once cause of concern when dealing with any kind of lighting kit is the size of the LEDs used, but luckily Game of Bricks comes through with the perfect size. On the Crocodile Locomotive set, there are several 1×1 translucent clear pips that mimic the lights.

The LEDs from GOB fit nicely inside the pip. On the flip side, the light kit for the 75894 Mini Cooper S Rally & 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Buggy came with 2 sets of pips that had small holes that snaked the connecting table inside for you. This was because the Crocodile lights had their clear pips connected to a brick that allowed the cable to be hidden. When it comes to creating lighting kits, attention to the smallest detail allows for an easy installment. Spending time with a set when developing these clever little work-arounds is important because not only does it need to be installed correctly, the cables need to be hidden in order to pull off that realistic component of the set. No one likes a gorgeous set with clunky wires being exposed. With that, Game of Bricks is going to receive good marks when it comes to hiding cables.

While it makes sense to light up a locomotive like the Crocodile, Speed Champions sets like the MINI or Jaguar were a wild card for me. In all my years going to brick shows, it is rare to see those small cars being lit up because it becomes difficult to hide those clunky battery boxes. Luckily the battery boxes provided in the lighting kits aren’t much bigger than a zippo lighter, and comfortably hold 3 triple A batteries. Just make sure that you are hiding that box behind the set as it is clear that these lighting kits are more for display than for running trains on a train layout. A nice little tidbit is having the on/off switch on that battery box and some sets like the Crocodile include a secondary battery box for two 3 volt round batteries. This extremely thin box allows for installment underneath the set and is hidden from view. The finished models shined brightly in all the right places. For example, on the Crocodile Locomotive, the main cabin’s lights shine a dull yellow, mimicking this 1919-1986 model, while the lights at the front and rear “snouts” shone a bright white light. I appreciated the thought behind those decisions.

Having so many options for kits leads to the biggest question that I will leave to others to debate. Are there certain LEGO sets that should be MODed for lighting kits or are there sets that should not be lit?

Game of Bricks throws all that into the wind with their wide selection of lighting kits and says, you shouldn’t let anybody tell you what LEGO set to light up. Their catalog of lighting kits is ever growing, and just by the looks and experience of using their lighting kits, it’s hard to not think of a LEGO set they don’t have a kit for. If they don’t have one available, you can make suggestions which I appreciate as a consumer.

As LEGO continues to pump out new sets, Game of Bricks appear to be doing a great job of creating new kits for them. With their robust catalog of kits, and accessories for your own creations, I believe that Game of Bricks is here to light up the competition.

Game of Bricks – Light Kit (42107 Ducati Panigale) | Review

It’s nearly Christmas, when twinkly lights are everywhere! So why not add some to your Technic sets? Reader Francesco Frangioja has done just that…

When TLCB and Game of Bricks kindly offered me the chance to pick two light kits for 2020 vehicle sets, in addition to the LEGO Technic 42111 Dom’s Dodge Charger kit, which I chose because I’m a big fan of the Fast & Furious franchise, I also chose the LED kit for the LEGO Technic 42107 Ducati Panigale V4 R. Being Italian and an engine enthusiast, the choice was practically forced!

The lighting kit comes in a cardboard box, black and premium quality, which has only the logo of the manufacturer on it. Because TLCB and Game of Bricks have sent me two different kits, there was an additional identification (handwritten) tag with the number of the set in which to install the light kit itself (left-bottom corner). 

Inside the box I found: 

  • Three numbered plastic bags with tiny LEDs stripes and the thin, very thin cables
  • Two un-numbered plastic bags with the battery box, one “hub” to connect the single part of the LED circuit and the USB connector to connect the LEDs “circuit” to the battery box
  • One booklet with the explanation of what each component is and its use/purpose

Also for this kit, as for the specific one for LEGO Technic 42111 Dom’s Dodge Charger set, the actual building instructions are on Game of Bricks’ website, consisting of a series of “photographic” steps showing where to place the individual “light points” and how to organise (where they have to pass) the various wiring. 

Now that I’ve become familiar with the Game of Bricks system and had ways to practice with the tiny connectors I was able to follow the steps for this set very easily. 

The fist task is to install the elements included in the plastic bag No.1, by inserting the LED elements behind the trans-clear round tile in the front headlights, simply by “squeezing” them between the tile and the underneath Technic pin. To install these lights, of course, you need to remove the front fairing, not before applying the first of the connection strips behind the handlebars.

Continue reading

High Tech LEGO Projects | Book Review

We like rule breakers here at The Lego Car Blog. Thus when No Starch Press offered us a sneaky peak into a book with ‘rule-breaking inventions’ written on the cover, we had a take a look! Well, one of our readers did, seeing as we don’t have a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 set in the office, and re-coding this site nearly killed us. However reader Wilson Luk is far smarter than we are, and a better writer too; check out his assessment of No Starch’s dangerous new book below!

Ahhhh Robotics…

For every new breathtaking advancement in robotics, 10 memes come out declaring the end of humanity (Boston Dynamics, I’m looking at you). LEGO appears intent on speeding up robotic dominance with the new LEGO Mindstorms 51515 Robot Inventor set, the much anticipated successor to the EV3 Mindstorms set. While the new set offers a bunch of quality of life improvements with its new app and native scratch and python support, no one can discount how the new Gelo build looks eerily similar to Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot…

Luckily, our topic today is a little more human-friendly. Grady Koch’s new book High Tech LEGO Projects demonstrates that there is still a ton of life in the older EV3 kit, pushing the boundaries of what the 7-year-old kit can do, without the whole world-dominance vibe.

No Starch Press has kindly provided me with a print copy for this review. My particular copy may be a pre-production copy as it has a bit of a raised splatter texture on the back cover. Nonetheless, the actual contents of the book is clearly printed on nice semi-gloss paper. Colours and text come out well, ensuring no issues following build and programming instructions.

High Tech LEGO Projects is the most recent book tailored towards EV3 users from No Starch Press. This time around, High Tech LEGO Projects introduces some basic circuitry and hobby-grade sensors to the mix, extending the capabilities of the ageing EV3.

A wide range of projects are covered in the 12 chapters of this book, with 2 extra projects available for download from the No Starch Press website. Each project showcases a different electrical component either to use with the EV3, or simply to add to one of your existing or upcoming lego creations.

Many of the projects will require extra pieces beyond what is provided in the EV3 Mindstorms set. Most of these can be found on BrickLink/BrickOwl, while many of the electrical components and tools can be found at local or online electronic stores.

Get comfortable acquiring the extra LEGO pieces, but don’t get too attached to them. Some of these projects are not for the faint of heart. The second project already has you drilling holes through TWO technic gearbox pieces! I can already hear the collective screams of agony right now. The first time I saw the picture demonstrating where to drill, my first reaction was to cover the eyes of all my Lego mini-figs.

Continue reading

Game of Bricks – Light Kit (42111 Dom’s Dodge Charger) | Review

Here at TLCB we’ve taken a fairly backwards approach to employee payment. As in, no one gets paid anything. But why should we have all the fun when we could not pay you guys for doing work too! Cue Francesco Frangioja, who joins us here at TLCB to review one of Game of Bricks’ new lighting kits. For free. Because he’s great. Over to Francesco!

TLCB kindly offered me the chance to pick two Game of Bricks light kits for 2020 vehicle sets, and my first choice was the light kit for the LEGO Technic 42111 Dom’s Dodge Charger set. After a couple of weeks (due to the shipment), I finally had time to install the kit in the set for which it was intended.

The lighting kit comes in a cardboard box, black and premium quality, with only the logo of the manufacturer on it.

Inside the box I found: 

  • Seven numbered plastic bags with tiny LEDs stripes and the thin, very thin cables
  • Three un-numbered plastic bags with the battery box, some “junction” cable plus the control unit and the USB connector to connect the LEDs “circuit” to the battery box
  • One booklet with the explanation of what each component is and its use/purpose
  • A remote (because I got the remote/RC version of the kit)

The actual building instructions are found on the Game of Bricks’ website; a series of “photographic” steps that show where to place the individual “light points” and how to organize (where they have to pass) the various wiring. 

I’m already familiar with the installation of this kind of product (light kits from other manufacturers) and the instructions were very similar, so I was able to follow the steps for this set very easily. Installing all the front lights is pretty simple: you have to “squeeze” the various LED element between the respective/relative transparent piece and the underneath on which the transparent one is originally fixed.

After that, you have to place the “array stripes” in the position/as shown in the photo-instructions.

Because normally there is exactly zero space between a transparent piece and the stud below it, you need to push it in place carefully even with this super thin wire. In fact, compared to the kits of other manufacturers, the peculiarity of the kit from Game of Bricks is that only a few of the “light points” are glued into LEGO brick. In practice, only the bricks of set 42111 which have to be physically replaced with counterparts with the LED already wired and glued inside, have been inserted in the light kit. All other “light points” are realised by fixing the LED element between the transparent and to be illuminated LEGO element, and the stud of the underlying piece.

The rear section was just as easy to manage; once the wiring steps are completed, you need to attach the tiny connector to a “splitter piece”, also equipped with adhesive tape to fix it in the position indicated by the photographic instructions. The connectors are very thin, so the use of a modeling plier can make the job easier. The cables, although very thin, are very resistant to traction and torsion. You just have to pay attention to the “scissors effect”: if you “staple” them too hard between brick and stud, you risk that they get cut. Therefore, you must always pay a lot of attention and procedures gently and carefully. 

The battery box requires 3 AA-LR6 batteries and includes a female USB connector. It’s up to you to choice to fit it into the model (i.e. into the trunk) or to keep it outside the model. Just remember that you will need to be able to access the on/off button.

Once the installation is finished and all the LEDs are connected, the final result is really great. 

Keep in mind that the kit in my possession is the top version, the one with the highest number of lighting points and including remote control to manage the on/off of each group and some “lightshows”.

Unlike the light kits I have tried before previously, the solutions of modular wiring and the interlocking of the lighting elements between the transparent bricks and the stud below implemented by Game of Bricks are perhaps the two most significant plus: not having bricks with pre-glued LEDs inside, you do not have to do too many replacements of parts of the official set to be illuminated, as well as the modularity of the wiring, allow you to decide from time to time if and which lighting elements to insert and which not. 

You can find the Game of Bricks lighting kit for the 42111 Dom’s Dodge Charger set, alongside a wide range of other kits designed to fit official LEGO sets, by clicking here!

LEGO Engineering Fundamentals – Interactive eBook | Review

It’s been a Technic-filled day at TLCB, but are you looking at some of the models featured here and wondering how they work? From steering and suspension, to ratchets, walkers, gearboxes – LEGO Technic can be used to create any mechanism you can think of. And probably a lot you can’t.

And that’s where Jorge Moreno Barrios’ eBook ‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ shines, as the first 3D interactive guide to creating incredible mechanisms (and the basics too) from LEGO Bricks.

We were given access to an early copy of Jorge’s eBook, which is available to purchase through Apple Books, to assess how it works. And how it works is rather brilliant.

‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ is divided into five chapters, each of which features 3D interactive renders of the subject;

1. LEGO brick alignment (effectively the measurements needed to build)
2. A complete 3D catalogue of LEGO Technic parts, sorted by use (e.g. ‘steering’, ‘gears’ etc.) with part numbers
3. Simple machines, consisting of levers, pulleys, wedges and screws
4. Basic mechanisms, including gears, ratchets, cams, chains, and junctions and linkages
5. Basic structures

Each render can be rotated on any axis, allowing the reader to see it from any angle, with the moving components rotating/sliding/lifting on a loop as if they were built from real bricks. Rotating the subject also reveals Jorge’s explanation of the render in question, with key words highlighted to ease understanding. If that sounds complicated it isn’t, and it works wonderfully. Naturally we can’t share the interactive element here, but hopefully the static images we’ve included will provide some insight.

In the examples above the inputs and outputs turn on the screen, with all the components of each mechanism following suit. Many of these are very simple pulleys and levers, taking readers through the basics of both Technic building and machines in general, but some – despite the ‘basic’ in the chapter titles – delve into advanced physics, recreating the beautifully intricate designs by noted engineers and kinetic sculptures. Again, each of these is completely interactive, and is ‘alive’ on the screen running through its mechanised loop to demonstrate how the design works in practice, with some looking really rather incredible indeed.

It’s mechanisms such as these we think readers will find most useful, as ‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ provides a toolbox of options for ‘I want my creation to do [this], but I don’t known how’.

So is the eBook perfect? – It is Version 1 after all.

Not yet, as there are a few of refinements we’d like to see for v2, chief among which is a contents page. The ‘How this book works’ animation also didn’t work on our copy, and there a few official LEGO sets rendered within the book that are – we think – used as examples of either parts or mechanisms in action, but without any explanation. A brief ‘Set No. [xxxx] uses pneumatic cylinders and a basic lever. You can find details of these on pages [x]’ would definitely help to explain their context. The same is true for a few mechanisms that don’t have descriptive text – often because it isn’t needed, but we would prefer at least a title for every render as a minimum.

Verdict
Despite a few obvious improvements, the basics behind ‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ are superb, and the first time you rotate a moving mechanism on screen to see the explanation appear you do go ‘Ooooh!’. Well we did anyway.

It’s also the first book we’ve received here at TLCB that has actively made us want to try creating new things, things we would never have thought of on our own, nor had the engineering capability to do. For that reason alone we can’t recommend ‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ highly enough.

For now, this is a four star book. With a few tweaks for v2, it’ll be an easy five.

★★★★

Buy LEGO Engineering Fundamentals eBook via Apple Books here

Game of Bricks – Light Kit (10271 Fiat 500) | Review

It’s review time here at The Lego Car Blog, and on this occasion we thought we’d share the love and offer the product we were supplied to one of our readers. It just so happens that the reader in question owns a considerably more professional Lego site than we do…

So, over to Balasz at the brilliant Racing Brick, as he switches on one of Game of Bricks newest kits, bringing LED lighting to the lovely LEGO 10721 Fiat 500 set;

TLCB kindly offered me a light kit by Game of Bricks for the Creator Expert 10271 Fiat 500 kit. This happened months ago, but due to some logistical issues on both sides (thanks Coronavirus, Ed.), I only had a chance to try it now.

The 10271 lighting kit comes in a nice black box, but it only has the logo of the manufacturer on it. I’m not sure if you get any additional identification if you order multiple light kits, but mine didn’t give any clues as to which LEGO set it belonged to.

Inside the box I found five numbered plastic bags and a battery box, and as you can see there’s not any extra documentation or anything in the box besides the hardware, which is a good thing if we think about the environment, but it makes the project a bit challenging if we are looking for some building instructions.I tried to go first to the web page of Game of Bricks and the product page of the Fiat 500 light kit, but there’re no instructions there.

As the text says I can ask for pdf instructions, but I was hoping to find them without the need to reach out to the team.As always Google helped me out; apparently Game of Bricks have a page for their instructions and I managed to find the one for the Fiat 500. I already installed some light kits from other manufacturers and the instructions were very similar, I can say that the steps for this set are pretty easy to follow.

The tiny LEDs and the cables are also familiar, if you ever saw a 3rd party light kit then there won’t be any surprises.

Installing the front lights is a pretty straightforward exercise, although I was a bit surprised that only the upper lights got a replacement piece instead of the LEGO pieces, the lower ones had to be squeezed under the transparent round 1×1 piece.Under normal circumstances there’s exactly zero space between the transparent piece and the stud below it, so even with this super thin wire it will be a bit off and you need to push it in place carefully.

The rear section has similar challenges to solve, and we get a light strip for the roof with an adhesive tape to attach to the sunroof. I decided not to attach it, as the cables can be arranged to hold it in place.All cables will meet at the bottom, where you need to attach them to a splitter piece, although the tiny connectors are not the easiest to handle, and you need some extra arrangement if you want to keep your model movable.

The battery box requires 3 AAA batteries and includes a USB connector. If you have a smaller power bank or something similar then it might be a good idea to change it, as the one in the kit barely fits in the model. It is also challenging to turn on and off, as you need to remove it to be able to access the button.

However the end result looks great, and can really spice up a display model. The modular design is a big plus, all my previous light kits were hard wired together so it was not possible to add only certain sections of them to a model. For example, if you don’t want to use the cabin light in the Game of Bricks kit then you can simply detach it whilst leaving the rest of the LEDs in the model.

The only thing I’d like to change if I wanted to display the set permanently with LED lighting installed would be the power source, if only to make the on/off button more accessible!

Thanks to Balazs from Racing Brick for taking a look over Game of Bricks lighting kit for the 10271 Fiat 500 set. You can find this kit, along with all of the Game of Bricks kits for official LEGO vehicles, at their website, and you can check out Racing Brick too by clicking here!

Lego Train Projects | Book Review

We can be accused of many things here at TLCB, but not reading isn’t one of them. The mass of emailed complaints our inbox receives don’t read themselves…

Requests for building instructions also land here with frequency, and as such a whole industry has sprung up to provide the online Lego Community with step-by-step directions to build all sorts of creations, from realistic real-world supercars to tiny micro models. Today we have another addition to this increasing pool of instructional resource, thanks to Charles Pritchett and the guys at No Starch Press, this is ‘Lego Trains Projects‘.

Running to 200 pages, ‘Lego Train Projects’ brings seven rather lovely train creations to life via step-by-step building instructions, with everything from a coal hopper to a hefty diesel locomotive. Each is compatible with LEGO’s own 6-wide train system, and matches their more advanced models – such as the 10020 Santa Fe Super Chief – for detail, only without the need for stickers.

Whereas previous No Starch books have offered small descriptions or backstories to the builds within them, there’s little pre-amble here, as Charles gets straight down to the building steps. A title page for each model displays the number of pieces, whilst a bill of materials (aka a parts list) and alternative colour suggestions finish each section.

The instructions themselves are fantastic, equal to LEGO’s own with clear steps, sub-assemblies, additions to each step highlighted in yellow, and probably a touch more complexity. The models aren’t necessary more complicated than the more advanced of LEGO’s own offerings, but they do pack in a variety of techniques that are probably above those within the grasp of the average builder, thus ‘Lego Train Projects’ could be a worthwhile educational aid for those wishing to up their game beyond basic studs-up construction.

The result is a set of train-based models that will up the realism of most layouts considerably, and which can be easily tailored to suit the preferred colours of the owner, with our favourite of Charles’ seven designs probably being the milk tanker, which could easily be converted to an Octan tanker if you prefer petrol over cow juice by simply switching the coloured rings.

Verdict

As we’ve become used to with No Starch Press publications, the quality of both print and paper is superb; ‘Lego Train Projects’ not only looks great, it feels great too, with a soft matte cover and beautifully crisp pages within. Whilst we personally don’t always understand the need for building with instructions, if you’re looking to use them to build yourself some really rather lovely train creations, they don’t come much better than this.

★★★★½

No Starch Press

VAG BUG

Today’s creation might sound like something you picked up on that trip to Thailand, but it is in fact the dubious name given to this marvellous Technic Volkswagen Beetle buggy by its maker, februar88. Stupendous in its appearance, februar88’s creation includes four drive motors – with one L Motor powering each wheel, plus Servo steering, a V8 engine (turned by a Medium Motor), mega suspension, opening and locking doors, LED lights, and SBrick programmable bluetooth control. There’s lots more to see – including a video of the bug in action – at the Eurobricks discussion forum. Take your penicillin and learn a valuable lesson about using protection via the link above.

LEGO 10271 Creator Expert Fiat 500 | Review

What’s up guys, this is Balazs from RacingBrick. As you might know, Technic is my favourite LEGO theme but today’s set comes from a different lineup. We’ve seen many iconic cars being released with the Creator Expert badge in the past few years, and the newest one in the family is no exception; say hello to the 10271 Fiat 500!

The box has the usual characteristics of the Creator Expert sets, fairly big but thin. On the front you see the car in a beautiful Italian sunset in front of the Colosseum, and there’s also a nice painting commemorating the exact same scene. On the back you’ll find closeups of the details and the different features.

The set has 960 pieces and cost $89.99 / €79.99 when it launched on March 1st this year. There are 9 numbered bags in the box split into 3 phases, plus there’s a separate bag for the fabric sunroof, and you’ll find the instruction manual with the sticker sheet in another plastic bag.

The manual thankfully follows the tradition of the previous Creator Expert vehicles and provides some extra details and information at the beginning, which I think adds a lot to the building experience. As a nice gesture the text is in English and in Italian, we get some information about the history of Fiat, the birth of this specific model, and the design process of the LEGO model.

Total building time was around 1h and 45 minutes, and the 3 phases within this are more or less distributed equally.

The building process starts with a studded Technic frame, and it has some interesting connections reinforcing the structure. The axles are totally fixed, meaning there’s no suspension – which is not a surprise in a Creator set – but unfortunately no steering either, which was kind of expected as the recent Ford Mustang set included this.

10271 does include an engine that’s a pretty accurate representation of the original one, with some interesting part usage including a black head piece and a flower. The designer also did a great job at the rear of the car, where the real 500’s curved panels are replicated with straight elements, but the whole panel sits on hinges so the shape of the model is a faithful representation of the original car.

Bag 1 finishes with the seat holders being attached to the floor along with the gear shifter, the handbrake and some other accessories, and finally the basic structure of the front bumper.

The front seats follow, built after the rear ones, and there’s a very interesting piece used to connect them to the floor (centre). I’ve never seen this brick before, although I have to admit I’ve never built a Unikitty or Nexo Knights set where it is also available.

Next comes the dashboard with the fuel tank behind it, including a steering wheel with a cool printed Fiat logo. The doors follow and are actually quite complex with lots of details; I really like the ice skate piece as the door handle. There are again some clever building techniques used to connect the different curved parts, and the result is very nice with the doors opening well, despite a small but acceptable gap at the top.

The next item is the rear window, which is quite interesting because it’s actually a regular window used in many City sets, but this time fitted sideways. It might be confusing at first sight as the bottom doesn’t have the same smooth surface as on the top, but when it is built into the model this won’t be visible.

Finally with bag 3 we finish the front of the car with the brick-built logo and another printed tile. The front wheel arches have a similar structure to the rear ones, connecting with hinges to the rest of the body.

After the hood the curved side windows are added, which first appeared in the Manchester United set introduced recently. The roof includes a fabric sunroof, and although the structure appears a bit flimsy before putting it in place it works well.

The final components fitted are the spare tyre, license plates, (with a choice of three, one for Italy, one for Denmark, and one for Germany), the luggage rack (with suitcase), and lastly with the shiny metallic wheel covers the car is finished.

So here’s the finished car! I’d say the overall shape is a faithful representation of the original one, considering the limitation of the available bricks. The colour is an interesting and unusual choice, I wasn’t a fan at first sight but it definitely looks better than the standard LEGO yellow.

I read some complaints online about a few missing details, the most frequently mentioned of which was a missing side view mirror. It is quite interesting because if you have a look at the old photos in the instruction manual, the cars shown don’t actually have a side view mirror. In fact the original car did not have a factory installed side view mirror, it being an optional accessory that only became obligatory in Italian law in 1977. (Plus Italian drivers never use them anyway – Ed.)

So, what is my conclusion? I think the Fiat 500 was a great choice for the Creator Expert line, it is truly an iconic car and the LEGO version is instantly recognizable. The added extras are also really nice, enhancing a great building experience for a reasonable price. My only complaint is the lack of steering – after the excellent 10265 Ford Mustang I was really hoping to see a functional steering wheel in the next Creator Expert car as well.

Overall; 8/10. Recommended.

Thank you to Balazs from RacingBrick for joining us here at to review the new 10271 Creator Expert Fiat 500 set. You can check out the excellent RacingBrick website by clicking here.

Fast Bricks: Build 6 LEGO Sports Cars! | Book Review

They’re the questions we receive here more than other (apart from your Mom calling to find out if we’re free); “Where can I buy this?” / “Are there instructions?”.

We’ve reviewed a range of books here at TLCB (see here, here, here and here) that aim to answer the questions above, providing parts lists and building instructions to enable readers to create real-world vehicles from LEGO bricks. Today we have another, kindly provided by publisher ‘Brick Monster‘ who have a range of both instructional books and downloadable building instructions available at their website, offering everything from BrickHeadz to dinosaurs.

Fast Bricks: Build 6 LEGO Sports Cars!

Overview: Brick Monster’s latest publication, entitled ‘Fast Bricks’, details the step-by-step building instructions and complete parts lists for six real-world sports and performance cars. Each car is designed to match LEGO’s old six-wide Speed Champions scale which, whilst less detailed than the new 8-wide standard, should mean both a plentiful parts supply and that fewer parts are needed.

The book follows the now familiar format that we’ve come to expect from instructional publications, offering a brief (and really well written) introduction to each car, along with a few key statistics – although in this case they are about the model itself rather than its real world equivalent.

Instructions and Print Quality: The bulk of the book is taken by the step-by-step instructions, which are clear and well laid out. Minor sub-assemblies are used every so often and all parts added are highlighted by a contrasting brightly-coloured outline, which is very nice touch. A ‘Bill of Materials’ ends each section, along with the alternate colour schemes available for each build. Unfortunately we have no images of these available to show here, which is something that Brick Monster should look into so that they can showcase this content.

‘Fast Bricks’ is not the glossiest book we’ve reviewed and nor is it printed in the highest quality, but it’s well suited to its purpose, where ultra high quality paper can actually be a hinderance to following building instructions, however beautiful the product looks. On the other hand one area where higher print quality would have been useful was in the instructions for C8 Corvette pictured on the cover, where the dark blue bricks chosen are hard to distinguish against the black lines that surround them. This is never an issue with official LEGO sets and highlights just how good LEGO are at both designing and mass-producing the building instructions found in their products.

The Models: It’s the Corvette that is probably the best model within the book, although all feature a range of excellent building techniques that newer builders may appreciate learning.

However, unfortunately for us in some cases the builds are not particularly recognisable as the car they are purported to be. We could have ten guesses for the Mazda MX-5 and Lamborghini Huracan and we wouldn’t have guessed correctly, with other models having only a passing resemblance to their real-world counterparts.

It’s a shame, because – whilst not really offering anything new – the layout, instruction designs, descriptions, and parts lists of ‘Fast Bricks’ are all pretty good.

Verdict: We wouldn’t have thought there was a need for yet another building instructions book, however the constant requests we receive here at The Lego Car Blog indicate that – as usual – we know nothing, and there remains a significant interest in step-by-step instructions for models.

We’re not sure that any book is the best medium for providing step-by-step instructions anymore, with digital downloads performing the job just as well, but nevertheless ‘Fast Bricks’ take on the book-based instructional formula is another competently engineered addition, utilising well-judged techniques and instructional designs to walk readers from a pile of LEGO bricks to a finished sports car model. We just wish the models found within it looked a bit more like the cars they’re supposedly based upon.

★★★

Buy your copy of Fast Bricks by Gilad Barlev and Brick Monster here.

Brickworms Jaguar MkII | Review

It’s review time here at The Lego Car Blog, but today’s review is not an official LEGO set. Looking like a car from LEGO’s new 8-wide Speed Champions range – only with considerably more detail – this is Brickworms’ Jaguar MkII kit, one of the many custom real-world replicas available to buy on their website.

With kits from the ‘How to Build Brick Cars’ book by Peter Blackert (one of several books available to buy at the Brickworms online store), plus other vehicles such as this classic Jaguar, aircraft and even animals, there are dozens of models to choose from. But are they any good? Read on to find out!

Our Jaguar MkII kit arrived in a cottony drawstring bag, a neat packaging solution and one we rather like. Inside the pieces required to construct the Jag were jingling happily together, as was a paper instructions booklet, which wasn’t jingling at all.

The instructions booklet for our Jaguar was rather interesting, being printed on standard paper (not gloss), and switching the black parts for a light semi-transparent blue, as you can see below, and clear-trans for yellow. This is presumably to save on ink, but – once you get your head around blue being black – it probably makes the instructions easier to follow, as black pieces can be hard to spot. LEGO have got round this in recent years by applying all sorts of colours to the hidden parts of their sets and via their beautiful glossy instructions manuals, but the Brickworms’ approach, whilst a little odd, works pretty well.

The instructional steps themselves are clear, although more complicated than the over-simplified equivalents from LEGO, with many pieces applied at once. This is also because the Jaguar itself is more complex than LEGO’s similarly-sized Speed Champions sets, with advanced building techniques and a higher level of detail. However, we did feel a bit like Beta testers with our kit…. Continue reading

Game of Bricks Lighting Kits | Review

The presentation of Lego models has moved on a bit since this particular TLCB Writer started posting creations for the internet to see. Gone are the days when a white sheet and a desk lamp were all that was required to create satisfactory presentation, with high quality cameras, easy photo editing, and a host of custom accessories now available to enhance the visual impact of a model.

One way of making that impact is with custom lighting, both for MOCs and for official LEGO sets, and newcomers Game of Bricks have quickly established a vast range of LED lighting kits to service both official sets and home-built creations. We handed three boxes of their products over to our readers to let you know what they’re like. Over to them!

Light kit for Ford Mustang 10265 | Review by Andrea Lattanzio | Norton74

I must admit I’m not so much into lighting LEGO sets or MOCs, but when TLCB offered me this chance I was curious to test out one of the lighting sets from the Game of Bricks company. I requested the 10265 Creator Ford Mustang kit because it’s one of the few official sets I own and because it’s probably one of my favourite LEGO sets ever. Within a few days I received the pack with the lighting kit and soon I got to work fitted it on the Pony;

    1. Pack.  The Game of Bricks lighting kit comes in a very elegant black box. You probably won’t throw it away after installing the kit, as you can use it to store the smallest LEGO parts from your collection. Inside the black box another surprise, a plastic container (transparent) in which you’ll find the lighting kit neatly stored inside three little bags, a very well-finished pack.
    1. Building process. The Game of Bricks lighting kit for the 10265 set give you two kinds of kit, the ‘standard’ and the ‘advanced”’ I started with the standard version, fitting it to my Mustang set in about half an hour, and something more for the ‘advanced’ version. To install the kit there are video instructions to follow, which consist of a step-by-step video manual. It’s quite easy follow the steps although you do have to stop the video many times because it’s quite fast. To install the entire kit you have to disassemble few parts of the car as well as change a few parts for the new ones which have the Game of Bricks LEDs installed. It surprised me that the kit is all-in-one, the single lights are linked via the same wires, so you have to hide many wires through the bricks. Although the threads are very thin, it is not easy to hide them all completely within the bricks of the set, so in the end some pieces of cable will still be visible. You have to be very precise and patient, but you can do it and it is fun, and the ‘advanced’ kit does ask you to take apart more parts of the car than the ‘standard’ one. 
    1. Instructions. As above, the instructions are basically two step-by-step video manuals, one each for the ‘standard’ and ‘advanced’ versions. The steps are easy to follow and you can stop the video when necessary.
    1. Final result. Even if I personally prefer the 10265 Ford Mustang set as LEGO made it, the Game of Bricks lights are quite fascinating, especially for my kids and wife. I’m sure about this because both my kids and wife said ‘WOW!’ when I shown them the shining Mustang set at night!

Personally, I prefer the ‘standard’ version of LEGO’s 10265 set, both with and without the Game of Bricks kit. However there are two shades of light, warm and bluish and honestly I don’t know why, as I would have preferred everything with the warmer hue. Overall though it’s a good kit and if you are a lighting fan you must get your Game of Bricks set; you won’t be disappointed.

Town Street Lighting Kit (plus a few extras!) | Review by Anonymous via TLCB on Facebook

I bagged myself some Game of Bricks goodies via The Lego Car Blog’s Facebook page, not having heard of the brand before but intrigued to see what they had on offer. Plus who turns down free Lego stuff?!

I requested the Game of Bricks Street Lighting kit, as I don’t own many new Technic sets and I prefer to keep them original. However I do build LEGO City and the working street lights looked like they would make a cool addition to modular buildings.

A small black box arrived a few days later with ‘Game of Bricks’ embossed on the top. It’s pretty high quality packaging and to my surprise it contained not just the street lights I had requested to review, but light sabres and multiple ‘daisy chained’ 1×4 lighting bricks, each with a row of LEDs hidden inside them. Continue reading