Will any other 2021 Technic set be as good as the 42124 Control+ Off-Road Buggy? No, of course not.
Resembling both a real life off-road buggy and a Tamiya RC car, 42124 is a pink and blue wonder resplendent atop its new knobbly tyres, white rims, and excellent looking suspension. Even the ‘Xtreme’ stickers look good.
Brought back to TLCB Towers in the hands of one of the ‘specially selected’ TLCB Elves catapulted over The LEGO Company’s perimeter wall during our annual new set sneakathon, there has probably never been an official LEGO set more suited to our smelly little workers.
The Control+ app launched last year brings bluetooth remote control to 42124, allowing it to be controlled from a smartphone, Playstation controller, and many other bluetooth enabled devices, and alongside the aforementioned suspension it looks more than tough enough to shrug off inevitable crashes with household furniture/pets/family members.
In fact our only complaint is the interior’s a bit crap, but seeing as this is a Technic set that’s totally OK, as it’s supposed to be about working functions (cough, 42123 McLaren Senna, cough). Aimed at ages 10+ the new 42124 Off-Road Buggy will reach stores for 2021, and we – and the Elves – can’t wait.
It’s that time of year again, when shadowy figures scurry through the night in search of things they didn’t know they wanted. No, not Black Friday, but the annual Elven unearthing of LEGO’s new Technic sets!
One of the ‘lucky’ Elves chosen to be catapulted over the walls of The LEGO Company HQ returned a little while ago with this (and only a few Alsatian teeth marks), which we can now show you following LEGO’s official unveiling. This is the new for 2021 42123 McLaren Senna GTR.
Following the brands’ previous partnership within the Speed Champions line-up, the Senna becomes the first McLaren to become an official Technic set (although it won’t be the only real-world car to be immortalised in Technic for 2021…).
Expected to cost around $50/£45 when it reaches stores, the 830-piece 42123 McLaren Senna GTR looks quite pricey for a mid-range set despite the high parts count, but perhaps the ’10+’ on the box hints at a complexity within that justifies the price of admission.
We’d be surprised though, as 42123 appears only to have working steering, a miniature V8, and opening doors, which is a long way short of what we would usually expect from a Technic set targeted at ages ten and up.
Still, what 42123 misses in working features it attempts to cover (literally) with a great many stickers, with a vast array of printed and be-stickered parts helping to add visual realism to the set’s complicated (and parts intensive) bodywork.
We’re sure that LEGO know what they’re doing and their focus groups have determined that stickers trump features in the minds of ten year olds, but we’d happily trade a few ‘GTR’ decals for working suspension.
The other officially-licensed Technic 2021 set it is then…
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.
‘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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 →
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!
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;
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.
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.
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.
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 →
Today we’re privileged to share a piece of work that combines all three of the areas above, as the awesome guys at No Starch Press sent us a copy of their new book written by Sariel; ‘Build a LEGO Mustang‘. And not just any Mustang either, it’s the same glorious 1960s GT350 fastback that first appeared here almost two years ago, with remote control drive and steering, LED lights, a 2-speed transmission, opening doors, hood and trunk, and a V8 engine. So, what’s it like?
Firstly, as with all the No Starch Press Lego products we’ve reviewed, ‘Build a Lego Mustang’ is a very well published book. High quality, glossy, and with excellent full colour imagery throughout. Unlike previous publications though, ‘Build a Lego Mustang’ is not coffee table art, a Lego history, or varied model showcase. Instead it’s an instruction manual, detailing the 420 steps required to recreate Sariel’s Mustang masterpiece.
Running to 110 pages, Sariel’s book provides the building process to create his amazing Ford Mustang GT350 for yourself, using a presentation and process that will be familiar to anyone who has built an official LEGO set. Like LEGO’s own instructions, ‘Build a Lego Mustang’ includes a complete parts inventory at the start, followed by the traditional ‘spot the difference’ steps that turn a pile of bricks into a complete model. Continue reading →
The Lego Fan Community is a marvellous thing. Like all the best products, LEGO has the scope – and the adaptability – to allow for improvement, with bluetooth remote control, custom decals, and even bespoke mini-figures available through third party providers to help builders to personalise their own creations and official sets.
One area that LEGO themselves dabble in is LED lights, with a pair available through their Power Functions range. But what if you want more? Like, lots more?
That’s where Game of Bricks come in, a new start-up offering tailored lighting kits for existing LEGO sets. The guys at GoB contacted us to see if we’d like an early test of a one of their kits, and a box for the huge 42078 LEGO Technic Mack Anthem set duly arrived here at TLCB Towers. So how did it fair? Read on to find out!
Packaging & Product
First impressions were excellent, with the Game of Bricks Mack Anthem kit arriving in a secure and rather nice box, with a mass of wires and lights neatly packaged within it. Unpackaging it undoes much of that neatness unfortunately, as a lot of lights means a lot of wires, but more on that in a bit.
The wires themselves are extraordinarily thin, so much so we feared breaking them, but it turns out they’re remarkably robust, and their slim profile allows them to (mostly) fit between bricks without issue. Attached to these are the lights themselves, each glued inside a non-Lego brick that replaces the non-functional light pieces on the model. These non-LEGO replacements are a good match, although their clutch power is slightly variable, and each has a hole drilled through it to allow the ultra-thin wires to pass through.
Power comes from a battery box (or two in the case of our kit) that takes AAA batteries and plugs into the wires via a USB connection. This makes disconnecting the battery boxes to change them an easy process, plus you can plug your lights into a USB port should you wish. So far, so good.
Here at The Lego Car Blog we’re definitely towards the more adult end of the Lego fan spectrum (not that you’d necessarily know that from our writing ability or professionalism…), however it’s worth remembering that LEGO is, first and foremost, a toy.
It’s therefore with great pleasure that today we can share with you a book aimed exactly at LEGO’s core audience, and on a topic that we’re surprised has taken so long to be published. From Lowey Bundy Sichol‘s ‘From an Idea to…’ series, this is ‘From an Idea to LEGO’.
Lowey’s ‘From an Idea to…’ series of books explore some of the world’s most famous companies, explaining to children aged 8-12 how they were created whilst teaching entrepreneurship and business along the way. They are in fact the only books in the world that provide biographical business studies to kids, which – in a world filled with ‘influencers’ teaching children little more than how to open boxes of free things – is a wonderful alternative.
‘From and Idea to LEGO’ runs to around 100 pages and is filled with lovely illustrations by C. S. Jennings, fun facts and pop-out text (more on that in a bit). Printed in black and white on non-glossy paper the book is typical of those aimed at children (and a price point) so don’t expect another glossy coffee table publication of the type we usually review, as that’s not the point of this book.
Lowey charts LEGO’s history from carpenter’s shop and the invention of the plastic brick, via near bankruptcy to its position today as the world’s largest toy maker. The language is easy to understand, yet still detailed enough to educate, and when a new piece of business terminology appears it’s printed in bold and accompanied by a small pop-out explaining what it means, examples being ‘Patent‘, ‘Brand Equity‘, ‘Profit‘, ‘Revenue‘ and so on.
It’s this aspect of ‘From an Idea to LEGO’ that we particularly like as, whilst it’s well written, the history of The LEGO Company has been detailed many times before. What hasn’t is the business acumen behind the story, particularly in a format that children can understand. Lowey’s explanations are well-judged, clear, and will undoubtedly help readers to join the dots between having an idea and turning it into a profitable business. Lowey’s ‘Lemonade Stand’ example in the book may be slightly cliche, but it communicates the basics brilliantly.
If you’d like your kids to begin their understanding entrepreneurship, and perhaps to fuel ambition beyond becoming a YouTuber, then the books from ‘Lowey Bundy Sichol’s ‘From an Idea to…’ series are a wonderful way to start. That one of the four books published so far is about our favourite plastic bricks is a bonus!
It’s review time here at The Lego Car Blog and this time we’ve got a big one. Literally. This is the 42078 Mack Anthem Technic set, and it’s huge. Very possibly the longest Technic set ever(?), 42078 consists of two separate models, and one large white shipping container.
Inside all of that bigness there are no motors, no electronics, and no pneumatics, just lots of cogs and gears. This is an old-school Technic set. Apart that is, from the way it looks.
There’s been a trend within the Technic range in recent years to add ever more visual realism, sometimes to great effect, and 42078 continues this but takes it to a whole new level. Sort of. We’ll explain…
The Mack Anthem truck is a realistic replica of the real deal, being officially licensed from Mack and including some of both the biggest and smallest stickers ever fitted to a Technic set to help achieve the desired look. It’s also festooned with lights and intricate detailing (including a unique golden bulldog mascot piece), contains a fully equipped interior that even includes a bed in the sleeper portion of the cab, and features… well, not all that much Technic.
It’s a trick that the Lego Community has used for years, adding working functions to visually realistic creations, to get the best of both worlds. LEGO have definitely taken this approach with 42078, and we think they may have started with the look and added functions afterwards, which is probably the opposite to the way Technic sets were designed in the past.
The result is rather a pleasing one as the truck looks great, certainly better in reality than it does in the pictures. The hood opens up to reveal a miniature straight-6 piston engine (of the sort the Lego Community has been building for years) driven by the rear wheels, the doors open to reveal a very realistic interior, there’s steering via Hand-of-God that also turns the steering wheel (although not much – surely as you’ll never steer this set from inside the cab it could have a realistic steering wheel ratio LEGO?), and a working fifth wheel. And that’s it.
So not a lot if we’re honest, especially considering its size, but just enough to qualify it as a Technic set. And then we come on to our earlier-mentioned ‘sort of’; the trailer…
There’s one question we get here at The Lego Car Blog more than any other; ‘Can I have instructions?’. Mattia Zamboni, author of the previously reviewed ‘Tiny LEGO Wonders‘ and previous bloggee ZetoVince have decided to respond to the call, and recently sent us their latest book that claims to provide the answers…
Thunderbay Press’s ‘How to Build Dream Cars with LEGO Bricks‘ aims “to deliver accurate car models of epic cars”, and it really does feature some epic cars. From legendary American classics like the Ford GT40, Dodge Charger and Corvette Stingray, through European supercars such as the Lamborghini Countach and Porsche 911, to modern-day exotic hypercars like the Pagani Zonda.
Epicocity achieved then, but how about accuracy? Well Mattia is so confident in the realism of the builds within ‘How to Build Dream Cars’ that the contents page doesn’t name them, or even feature colour, instead showing simply black and white renders of each of the models featured. It works too, creating a beautifully clean look that is maintained throughout the book.
The models are indeed instantly recognisable, at least for car fans which we suspect you’ll be if you’re reading this. LEGO’s own Speed Champions sets are too of course, and we’ve loved seeing each new release in this line-up as LEGO create more partnerships with real-world car manufacturers. However there are many brands that LEGO have not yet partnered with (and may never), and often the sets can be quite sticker-heavy, making recreation from spare parts at home impossible.
‘How to Build Dream Cars’ manages to accurately recreate some of the world’s best known cars without a single sticker, whilst using more advanced techniques to achieve greater realism than LEGO’s Speed Champions sets. Let’s take a look at how!
Each model starts with a description and image of the real car, including the all-important fact sheet that all car fans require. The instructions continue the black and white theme and add colour simply via the bricks used in the build. Like Mattia’s ‘Tiny LEGO Wonders’ book, these are slightly more complicated than those found in an official LEGO set, both because the techniques themselves are, and because LEGO have simplified their own steps, sometimes to the point of adding just one piece at a time.
‘How to Build Dream Cars’ feels more like LEGO instructions did a decade or so ago, being noticeably more advanced, and using more monochrome piece colours. This means that there are few contrasting-colour pieces in hidden places (as LEGO now use to make them easier to find/identify), which is appropriate given most builders will be creating these models from their own parts and black/grey is a safe bet.
Ingeniously the book also contains a complete parts list (which can be dropped straight into Bricklink should you need to buy them) and video instructions for each model, accessible via the QR Codes printed inside. This makes creating the models in ‘How to Build Dream Cars with LEGO Bricks’ a properly interactive experience should you wish it to be, and makes us wonder why LEGO haven’t done this themselves.
Graphics are excellent, and whilst black-on-black isn’t quite as easy to follow as LEGO’s white-pages the instructions are well laid out, clear, and printed in high quality, with good visuals for sub-assemblies and piece positioning. Most importantly the results are superb, successfully mixing System and Technic parts to recreate the iconic shapes of some of the world’s most famous dream cars, such as the AC Cobra pictured below.
LEGO are a roll right now with their ever-expanding line-up of officially licensed vehicles. However there are many more amazing cars out there not yet licensed to become official LEGO sets.
If you’d like to expand your own car collection by building some stunning real-world replicas that LEGO haven’t yet created themselves (and that are more detailed and more advanced to build to boot), ‘How to Build Dream Cars with LEGO Bricks’ fulfils the brief brilliantly. From vintage classics to modern supercars, Mattia and Vince have created an excellent instructional guide to building your own dream cars at home, with enough technical specs and vehicle history to keep car fans happy too.
That the book also contains complete parts lists, video instructions, and looks beautiful is the icing on the cake. Highly recommended.
It’s been five years since the smash-hit ‘The Lego Movie‘ reached cinemas, garnering Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, winning the Bafta for Best Animated Film, and earning a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Since then the pretty good Lego Batman Movie and pretty average Lego Ninjago Movie have followed, whilst we’ve waited for a proper sequel to the film that started the franchise.
With Phil Lord and Christopher Miller back in the writers’ chairs, exactly half a decade on the sequel has arrived. But is everything still awesome in Bricksburg?
‘The Lego Movie 2, The Second Part’ picks up exactly where the first ended, and exactly five years afterwards too, meaning real time and Bricksburg time are aligned. That’s quite important, but more on that later.
Finn, the boy whose imagination built the first story, has had allow his sister access his father’s impressive LEGO collection in the basement. The resultant Duplo invasion has led to the destruction of Bricksburg, and Emmett, Lucy (aka Wildsyle), Uni-Kitty, Batman, and a multitude of minor characters now live in the post-apocalyptic ruins under the constant threat of further invasion.
Emmett – hankering for the life he once knew – builds himself and Lucy a cottage outside the city, and unwittingly attracts the attention of one of the invaders, who promptly kidnaps the rest of the characters a departs through the ‘stairgate’ into another dimension…
Picking up exactly where the first instalment left off has a certain Back to the Future vibe, one that makes itself more apparent as the film progresses. Much of the original cast reprise their roles, with the addition of a slew of new characters joining them, voiced by Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Richard Ayoade, and many others.
The animation remains frenetic and joyous, quite unlike any other computer-animated franchise and all the better for it. There’s more time spent in ‘the real world’ too, with Maya Rudolf joining Will Ferrell in parental duties.
There are jokes aplenty, with more perhaps aimed at the adults in the audience than before, and there’s a wealth of movie references, from Mad Max, Mary Poppins, Superman and – as mentioned above – Back to the Future.
It’s this last reference that provides the story with its genius moment. We were wondering how ‘The Second Part’ could capture the twist of the first, and it’s safe to say that it does – with such surprising depth that we suspect it’ll be lost on The Lego Movie 2’s core audience, but we’re glad it’s there all the same.
Overall ‘The Second Part’ could never hope to appear as fresh and counter-cultural as the original ‘The Lego Movie’ did five years ago. However the ingenious explanation for Bricksburg’s troubles, a decision that Emmett must make that will resonate with every adult watching, and some of the catchiest (and cleverest) songs that cinema has ever created, make The Lego Movie 2 a gloriously enjoyable watch.
Watch it with an eye on the metaphors too, and you’ll be thinking it over for some time afterwards.