Tag Archives: Review

BuWizz | Bluetooth Control Battery | Review

Lego BuWizz Review

The Lego Car Blog Elves love remote control Lego creations. Well, they love them if they are at the controls. As regular readers will know there have been a number of remote control related incidents here at TLCB Towers, resulting in much Elven hospitalisation. Well things are about to get taken up a notch…

Revealed here as a Kickstarter project back in June 2016 the BuWizz bluetooth control battery brick has become a regular third-party accessory within the Lego Community. With claims of up to eight times the power of LEGO’s own Power Functions battery set-up, now expanded to twelve times with the release of BuWizz 2.0, the potential to transform the way Lego models move is huge. But does the BuWizz live up to the hype? We’ve been sent a copy to find out…

Lego BuWizz Review

The Brick

Our BuWizz arrived a simple cardboard box, packaged only with a little piece of paper denoting the required warnings and LED indicator meanings. The BuWizz brick is a clever thing, incorporating both a rechargeable li-ion battery and a bluetooth control into one 8×4 stud box, reminiscent of LEGO’s own battery boxes from the 1980s. There are studs on top, tubes on the bottom, and four Technic pin holes with which the BuWizz can be attached to genuine LEGO pieces.

Our BuWizz came in a dark grey hue that we don’t think matches any of LEGO’s colours, but seeing as it can be mounted internally within a creation an exact match isn’t required. The moulding quality is OK, perfectly adequate for the job in hand, but certainly not as good as an official LEGO piece (or the rival SBrick reviewed here previously). On top of the BuWizz are two connection ports, a status LED, and four LEGO Power Functions compatible power outlets.

You must charge your BuWizz upon arrival via a micro USB, which the pack does not contain. This is a bit of a shame as it means the device is not truly plug-and-play, requiring a lead from something else in order to charge. We found a lead, plugged in the BuWizz, which let us know it was charging via the LED on top, and busied ourselves for a few hours.

Lego BuWizz Review

Set Up

Upon returning to our BuWizz a green light indicated we were ready to go. Like the aforementioned SBrick, the Buwizz brick uses an app to connect your phone or tablet to itself. The app is an easy download and connects the device seamlessly. Within it are six pre-programmed control interfaces available to operate your model. Each requires a small amount of set-up so that the app knows which of your motors is connected to which port which is simple enough, although there is no ‘test’ function as per the SBrick, which would be useful.

We connected four XL motors mounted within a direct-drive skid-steer test rig to the BuWizz battery and hit the controls. Weirdly one motor (and only one) span the wrong way, but the BuWizz’s simple ‘reverse’ option soon cured that. Then, because we have the mental age of five, we engaged ‘Ludicrous Mode’…

Inspired by Tesla, BuWizz’s ‘Ludicrous Mode’ turns up the power to the motors by a factor of three. Multiply that by the four motors you can drive at once and you get twelve times the power! And boy, does it show… Continue reading

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SBrick | Bluetooth Control | Review

SBrick

It’s time for another Review here at The Lego Car Blog. However we’re not reviewing an official LEGO set, or even an official LEGO product. After several days of fun… er, we mean ‘arduous testing’, we can bring you a full review of one the most important products to enter the Lego Community in years. This is TLCB’s in-depth review of the SBrick bluetooth control.

Regular readers of this website will know that remote control vehicles appear here frequently. This is thanks to LEGO’s excellent Power Functions system, which upon its release in 2008 allowed builders to easily motorise and remotely control their creations via infrared receivers. It was an instant success, and – judging by the amount of Power Functions equipped vehicles that still appear on these pages – it’s a product that shows no signs of waning.

There is a weak(ish) link with the Power Functions system though, as those infrared receivers struggle in direct sunlight, have a limited range, and they also restrict power to the two outputs they can handle simultaneously. But technology has moved on a lot in a decade, and it was only a matter of time before someone attempted to address these issues. And add in a whole lot more besides…

SBrick Review

Launched a few years ago the SBrick by Vengit removed the need for infrared control by bringing bluetooth to LEGO’s Power Functions system. This means that models can work in bright sunlight, there’s a huge 50m range, and – of course – that Lego creations can be controlled via any bluetooth enabled device, including your phone, tablet or gamepad control.

The SBrick itself is a wonderfully neat bit of design. Measuring sixteen studs square it’s no bigger than LEGO’s own infrared receiver, however with no, er… infrared receiver to worry about, it can fit twice the number of outputs – effectively doubling what your model can do. Plus as bluetooth uses UHF radio waves the SBrick can be completely hidden from view deep within a model – unlike LEGO’s infrared receiver which must have a line-of-sight to its controller in order to collect the signal.

Our SBricks arrived in grey, being a good colour match to LEGO’s usual Technic hue, and both looking and feeling high quality. In fact the only way the SBrick differs visually from an official LEGO piece is with square studs instead of round. The SBrick can connect to LEGO pieces in the same way that the official infrared receiver does, via studs on top, tubes on the bottom, or via Technic pins/axles on the sides. The SBrick must be connected to a power supply – in our case LEGO’s own Power Functions Battery Box – via a LEGO extension wire, at which point a green light appears to tell you power is being received.

You are then able to connect your motors, lights or sensors up to the SBrick’s four different outputs in exactly the same way as you would with LEGO’s own infrared receiver and your model is now ready to be controlled via bluetooth! Well, almost…

SBrick Review

Of course to control an SBrick-equppied creation you will need a bluetooth device. There’s no need for LEGO’s infrared controller, which can be replaced with any number of bluetooth enabled products. We selected an iPhone, downloaded the SBrick app, and got to work!

The app is a quick and easy download and install, and allows you to log in as a guest, or to set up your own SBrick account where you can create and save your own model profiles. We created a model profile for our previously reviewed LEGO 42030 Volvo 350F set and started looking through the various pre-programmed templates. The ‘Joysticks and Sliders’ seemed like a good fit and within minutes we had successfully set our Volvo up to drive, steer, raise, lower and tip its bucket all via a mobile phone! There’s a direction reverser should forwards turn out to be backwards and an ingenious ‘test’ button which gives the motor selected one second of power so that you know which one you’re setting up.

Even at this basic level the SBrick is light-years ahead of the Power Functions control, and it can do a lot more besides. Next we downloaded SBrick’s pre-programmed 42030 controller, which is one of several available for various LEGO sets (e.g. 42009 is shown in the image above). This effectively did the same as the profile that we created using the ‘Joysticks and Sliders’ template as a base, but it added graduated control (so not just ‘on’ or ‘off’) and it labelled all the controls too, creating a very pro-looking control screen. But what if you want to create your own bespoke profile for your own bespoke creation? Well it can do that too… Continue reading

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42062 Container Yard Review

Scrolling through the Brick Badger website can be a dangerous business, especially if you haven’t bought any new bricks for a while. It was a dull Sunday afternoon at TLCB Towers. The Elves had decided to find out which colour of 32009 Technic beam could do the most damage when beaten against a colleague’s head (medium lilac apparently). We were wandering the interweb and spotted the 42062 Container Yard was nearly 40% off on the famous riverine retailer.

The set contains 631 pieces, including a selection of beams in LEGO’s standard blue and orange colours, plus eight, grey 64782 flat panels. Not owning the 42056 Porsche 911, a source of orange Technic pieces is always welcome and the grey panels looked like they’d come in handy for making neat bases for MOCs.  There’s also one of the new worm gears and a good number of 18654 (15, plus spares). LEGO insists on calling these 1×1 beams, despite the pieces obvious inability to perform this engineering function. The most obvious new pieces in the set are the 18942 and 18940 Gear Rack & Housing. It will be interesting to see what use MOCers come up with for these parts. The set continues Technic’s trend of axles coming in a variety of colours: red, yellow and brown in this case.

Building the models is the usual, enjoyable adventure with Lego. There is a very nicely produced instruction book for both the main build and the B-model. The different colours are well differentiated and the days of dark grey and black getting confused are long gone. The parts come in numbered bags; building the tractor unit, the trailer and finally the telehandler. It took us a couple of hours of building and tea-drinking to complete the build. Builders at the youngest end of the suggested age range might find this quite a marathon of building and concentrating. Perhaps an advantage of this set is that you can build the lorry (and pause to play with it), build the trailer (and pause to play with it) and finish off with the telehandler. We certainly did!

As you would hope from a set with two different models, there are a good variety of mechanisms for young (and old!) engineers to build and play with in this set. Each vehicle has a different steering mechanism, plus the four-bar linkage that raises the arm on the telehandler, which also uses that new worm gear. Purists might be annoyed that the A model doesn’t use the gear rack to extend the telehandler’s arm. However, the B model does and the A model uses an interesting camming mechanism similar to the locking mechanism found in early repeater rifles. The container grabbing claw is another very neatly implemented version of a locking knuckle. For a set with a relatively small number of pieces there’s a lot here to inspire amateur engineers to experiment and build their own machines.

Sadly, the one thing that this otherwise excellent and exciting looking set doesn’t do so well on is its playability.  Compromises have had to been made to keep the set within a certain price range, which is understandable. Continue reading

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The LEGO Trains Book | Book Review

The Lego Trains Book

Thump. It was just before Christmas, and a brown package slammed onto the hallway floor of TLCB Towers. A dozen TLCB Elves immediately ran towards it, but thwarted by its weight were unable to make off with their prize. A lot of post goes missing here.

Fortunately this TLCB writer is considerably bigger than a TLCB Elf and thus was able to pick up said package and, with some Elves still attached, retreat to the TLCB ‘staffroom’ (an ancient sofa in the corner of the office).

Usually heavy packages received here at TLCB Towers are ‘Cease and Desist’ notifications wrapped around a breeze block from The Brothers Brick, but this time we had a present! No Starch Press; we like you!

The Lego Trains Book

No Starch have been in the Lego book game for a while, consistently churning out books about our favourite plastic building blocks for some years. Their latest publication is this, the 230-page ‘The Lego Trains Book‘ by Holger Matthes.

In compact landscape format and produced in No Starch’s usual glossy high quality form ‘The Lego Trains Book’ really is surprisingly heavy, but does the content live up to the cover?

‘The Lego Trains’ book begins, after a brief Forward and Acknowledgements section, with a chapter detailing the history of LEGO’s official Trains line, following the range from its beginnings in the 1960s, through the battery era, live rail era (this writer’s favourite), to the latest remote control Power Functions sets. It’s a comprehensive compilation of the LEGO Trains history and one that’s sure to be of interest to anyone who loves the theme, although it is perhaps a bit too in-depth for the more casual Lego builder.

The Lego Trains Book

Chapter two is entitled ‘Basic Principles’, and it’s brilliant. Detailing building techniques and parts ratios it’s perfect for any builder of any theme (not just Trains) looking to create more advanced Lego creations. Utilising well-chosen digital depictions the author makes even the more complex techniques easy to understand, and whilst these aren’t quite as high quality visually as LEGO’s own they are good enough to make for useful teaching-aids.

Chapters three and four build upon these techniques with practical application, detailing the considerations and choices available when designing your own train models. This is a very thorough chapter offering insights into a variety of scales, how to ensure models can handle tight corners, how to connect carriages to one another, how to create realistic steam train mechanisms and such like.

It’s a gloriously nerdy section and as such Holger includes links to third-party products and design software that can help a builder reach the utmost level of realism. This may be a bit too in-depth for most builders (ourselves included), but it’s usually better to have too much information than too little.

The Lego Trains Book

The final chapter, which at 100 pages long makes up nearly half the book, is where ‘The Lego Trains Book’ comes alive. Continue reading

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42058 Technic Stunt Bike | Review

LEGO 42058 Stunt Bike Review

Yes, it’s that Set Review you’ve all been waiting for; the 42058 Technic Stunt Bike! Ok, maybe not… But we have a copy, so we’re going to review it anyway, you lucky people!

Launched at the start of 2017 the Stunt Bike and its pull-back twin form the entry to the LEGO Technic line-up. Aimed at ages 7+ they’re colourful, cheap, and very playable.

The heart of 42058 and the part to which everything is attached is the pull-back motor, which powers the rear wheel via a set of gears. It works well enough and allows the bike to jump over the cardboard ramp that comes included in the set with ease, and thanks to the very un-motorcyle-like wheels it’ll stay upright nine times out of ten too (slightly less if you’re playing skittles with unsuspecting Elves).

Aside from the pull-back motor though, that’s your lot, as there are no other working functions at all. That might be OK if 42058 looked like a real motorcycle, but due to the need to stay upright when being propelled by the pull-back motor, that’s not possible.

This TLCB writer remembers when the Technic starter sets might have included a piston engine, steering, even suspension… but those days are long gone. It’s not LEGO’s fault of course, they’ll probably sell ten times more pull-back toys than a model with a fiddly and complicated-to-build piston engine, but this writer knows what he’d rather have…

Still, if you’re looking to start off in Technic building or you’re looking for a gift for a child ready to make the step up from City, Star Wars or Ninjago, you could do worse than the colourful and be-stickered 42058. You could also do a lot better.

42058 may include a ’40th Anniversary of Technic’ brick, but there are much better starter sets in those 40 years than this one. Head to eBay and take a look. 3/10

LEGO 42058 Stunt Bike Review

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How To Build Brick Cars | Book Review

Lego Cars

‘How can I build [insert model here]?’

It’s the question receive more than any other here at The Lego Car Blog.

Until now we’ve politely diverted people to the builder of their desired creation directly, knowing full well that instructions won’t be available and that they’ll leave disappointed. However we may now have an answer, thanks to Peter Blackert (aka Lego911) and Quarto Motorbooks and their new release ‘How to Build Brick Cars’.

It sounds perfect, but is it all it promises? We hand over to Lego car-building legend and TLCB Master MOCer Firas Abu Jaber to find out…

‘How to Build Brick Cars’ – A book for all LEGO fans and petrolheads!

First of all, I’m no pro in reviewing books, but I’m a big fan of LEGO and a petrolhead myself. I build LEGO cars as a hobby as well, so I can assure you that you’ll have a very interesting and unique experience with this book if you have any interest in LEGO and/or cars.

There’s no more fun than building your own favourite scale model out of LEGO bricks yourself, rather than getting a die-cast model. ‘How to Build Brick Cars’ can help you to build some of the greatest vehicles ever made, from city cars to super cars, you’re sure to find something you like in there!

What first took my attention of this book is the cover of it, very well designed and printed it gives you the expression that you’re dealing with a high quality product. That goes for the whole book as well, every single page is well printed, the pictures are very sharp and the instructions are clear enough and easy to follow, just read the ‘How to use this book’ section before you start collecting your pieces and building the models. Experienced Lego builders will be able to use the instructions without reading the introduction, but I would still encourage you to do so.

Lego Ford '32 Hot Rod
This point leads us on to the content of this book, ‘How to Build Brick Cars’ is divided into three main sections, 1. Foundation, 2. Intermediate, and 3. Advanced. But before we look at these sections let’s talk about the first pages of the book and a bit about the author.

Peter Blackert, who is very well known in the Lego community as “lego911”, is a prolific and talented Lego car builder. Fortunately for me I know him through Flickr, and although I’ve never met him personally I can assure you he’s a very nice person. I have always been impressed by the quality of his work and the ‘speed’ at which he builds his models! You might never believe me if I told you he can build a very nice and detailed car every day. No wonder he works as an engineer for Ford Australia!

In the few first pages of ‘How to Build Bricks Cars’ you’ll find the introduction, ‘Why build brick cars’ and a detailed contents page so you can see what the pages of this book contain.

Another important section is the ‘How to use this book’ page, as mentioned above, specially if you’re not an experienced Lego builder. Although the instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow they are made in a compact way to ensure the book is able to contain as many different models as possible, so you need to pay attention while putting the pieces together, but for me that adds to the fun in the process!

1. Foundation Section

1. 1932 Ford V8 Roadster.
2. 1932 Ford V8 Coupé.
3. Ferrari 488 GTB.
4. Ferrari 488 Spider.
5. Citroën 2CV Charleston.
6. Jaguar E Type Coupé.
7. Jaguar E Type Roadster.

After the few introductory pages you’ll find the first main part of the book, the ‘Foundation’ section, in which you’ll find instructions for seven very detailed and accurate small scale cars in a scale of 1:28. Being small scale doesn’t mean they’re simple to build though, they are still challenging and big fun! The models in this section range from cars as old as a 1932 Ford (above) right up to the latest Ferrari 488 GTB.

Lego Citroen 2CV Instructions

My own favourite of the Foundation section is the Citroën 2CV Charleston. I built one myself (see below!) and noticed some very smart and interesting techniques and connections between the bricks all over the model, something you’d never guess just looking at the model from the outside.

2. Intermediate Section

1. 2017 Ford F 150 Raptor
2. Datsun 240 Z Coupe
3. Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder
4. BMW i8 Hybrid Coupé
5. Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS

The second part of ‘How to Build Brick Cars’ is the ‘Intermediate’ section, where you’ll find some of the most iconic sports machines have ever made. The models in this sections are at a slightly larger scale of 1:20 (LEGO Miniland scale), with more advanced and complicated techniques than those in the previous section. They also include more detail and a few working elements too, including opening doors, hoods, trunks, even working suspension, afforded by the jump in scale.

My favorite model of this section is the 240Z/Fairlady Z (maybe because I’m a big Nissan fan!), it was a big joy to build and very satisfying with some superb techniques, details and features.

Lego Datsun 240Z Instructions
3. Advanced Section

1. Bugatti Veyron 16.4
2. Ford GT Le Mans Race Car
3. 1971 Plymouth HEMI Cuda

Finally the third part of ‘How to Build Brick Cars’ is the ‘Advanced’ section, which features instructions for some of the fastest cars that have ever been produced. Fasten your seat belt and get ready for the adventure!

As you’d expect, in the third and final section of the book you’ll find the most detailed and complicated Lego models. Whilst these models are at same scale as the previous section you’ll experience a much higher degree of build complexity utilising more advanced building techniques, enabling you to create an even higher level of engine and chassis realism.

After building the cars in this section you’ll have gained more building skills and a greater breadth of techniques enabling you to build better models for yourself, plus of course you have some very nice models from the book to display on your shelf!

Lego Bugatti Veyron Instructions

Continue reading

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10258 Creator London Bus | Set Review

LEGO 10258 London Bus Review

The Set Review Library here at The Lego Car Blog is – just like your Mom – ever expanding. Today we’re joined by guest reviewer Andy Boal to add one of the most eagerly anticipated sets of 2017 to the library’s stock – the 1,686 piece Creator Expert 10258 London Bus. Is it worth £110 of your cash? Over to Andy to find out…

When I was young, I wanted LEGO’s London bus set 384. Smart, red, and it looked like a Routemaster to someone like me who had never been to London and didn’t know it was modelled on the Routemaster’s predecessor, also manufactured by AEC, the Regent III RT.

So I decided to make my own London bus, a full half-cab bus, and I made it 10 studs wide. Unfortunately I ran out of parts after the lower floor, so I didn’t bother making the stairs.

My history with Lego buses is otherwise rather chequered. 696, a white and blue bus almost entirely unlike the Ulsterbuses I would later take to school, was given to me in the 1970s, and I bought the original Knight Bus 4755 in 2004, complete with beds racing all over the floor.

I finally got my hands on 384 and, some time later another set I coveted for making models in the 6000 and 7777 Lego ideas books, 379, from eBay some years ago, and with at least one unique chassis part, 384 lives at my parents’ house.

So until this year I only had one model of a London bus. A Valentine’s trip let me pick up the four stud wide 40220 in Leicester Square, but then this week we were in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries shopping mall…

LEGO 10258 London Bus Set Review

The 10258 London Bus box is the standard size for Creator Expert sets, and boasts two pictures of a real life Routemaster, as well as interior shots of the completed model.

Opening up reveals what is a relief to those of us who have had to build and later rebuild a nephew’s Death Star after parts had broken off while moving house – numbered bags. The bane of many a builder’s life, but I’m fully sold on them for making it easier to find the piece you want. Call me a wuss if you want.

The instruction book is 176 pages long – I have to say I like the single books. Looking at the sticker sheet though reminds me that the number plate is incorrect, because no UK numberplate runs to five digits. Of course, I’ve no idea whatsoever whether Morten Graff-Wang could have a personalised numberplate MGW258 or not, but GW was a South-East London registration.

Anyway, back to the set itself, and I’ve thrown the bags for parts 2, 3 and 4 back into thebox to save space and leave me with four to cope with. And breathe.

Part 1 is the chassis and the body sides up to a row below the windows, and the staircase. Turning the page reveals what many will assume is a new innovation, and that is highlighting the added pieces with a yellow outline, but those of us with longer memories will remember outlines on added pieces from the 222 Lego Ideas Book (there’s my childhood again!)

As you would expect, the chassis begins with Technic bricks and frames – all studded construction, of course, and establishing a strong foundation for the rest of the set.

After 21 main steps the floor is laid, the stands for the seats are set up, the staircase has begun, we build the engine with grey bullion forming the top of the engine block, and finally it is time to start building bodywork. 4×3 panels provide most of the flat bits, with a hint of a curved back to come.

As I build the driver’s seat I decide I’m glad I’m not driving this thing, as there is only one stud of leg room between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel and gearstick, and the seat won’t go back.

And then it’s time to build the stairs! The construction is very straightforward – the end of each step is held in place with a single stud round plate. I don’t think the five resulting steps are quite enough, but shh, it’s impressionistic.

The back of the bus includes a new 1x1x1 2/3 brick with two studs on the side, which match up if placed on top of the washing machine piece. It’s used to attach both rear light clusters – the left one directly, and the right one indirectly due to the curved corner I’m now expecting. You also get a yellow number plate option. A yellow fire extinguisher goes under the stairs (Hmm. Canary yellow is for hot oil fires. Who’s keeping a commercial deep fat fryer on a Routemaster bus?).

The side benches complete Part 1, and then we move on to Part 2 to finish the lower deck. Continue reading

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Technic 42064 Ocean Explorer | Review

LEGO Technic 42064 Ocean Explorer Review

It’s review time here at The Lego Car Blog, as the first of 2017’s Technic sets is placed under the microscope. Reader and previous bloggee Nils O has got his hands on the new 42064 Ocean Explorer set, and he joins us here at TLCB Towers to let you know whether you should get your hands on it too. Over to Nils…

Worth a second look?

OK, this isn’t a car, but it’s Lego Technic and it’s a vehicle. So, who cares…? When I saw TLCB’s preview for the first 2017 Technic sets I was a little disappointed by the picture of the 42064 Ocean Explorer. It was already written in the blogpost that the model looked more like a City set than like a Technic model, and there weren’t many Technic functions visible on the photos.

Despite this, I really liked the look of the ship, so I thought that I’d give it a second look when the set became available in stores. When I finally saw the set I was pleasantly surprised; it really had enough functions to wear that Technic logo on the box. So I made a wish for my birthday and now I’ve got it!

Ok, so what do we get? We get quite a big ship with a clean, studless, almost LEGO City like look. We also get a small submarine and a small helicopter. Each of the three models has one or more Technic functions. The scale is more or less in line with LEGO City, so if you like you can use a crew of mini-figures with it.

First of all there is the ship, a big explorer vessel of the type you would expect to search for a sunken ship or to explore the deep sea fauna. There are three ‘hidden’ functions operated by ‘HOG’ gears on top of of the ship’s bridge. The first function is the steering of the ship. The model has four little wheels for smooth movement on the floor. The rear wheels have a steering function operated by the bigger gear mounted in the centre of the bridge. The steering is also connected to two steering rudders on the rear end of the vessel. The second and third function are for the operation of the crane. The crane can be rotated and lifted by turning the two smaller gears on the left and right side of the bridge. It works perfectly to drop the submarine into the ‘water’ and get it back on board.

The second model is a little deep sea submarine. It’s quite small, but it has two Technic functions built inside. One gear is connected to the rear propellers, so when you turn it, they turn too, whilst the second gear is connected to a mechanism that opens and closes the pair of robot arms like a pair of pliers. With a little practice you can grab ‘specimens’ and bring them back to the vessel.

The third model is a small helicopter. Even though it’s smaller in size than most LEGO City helicopters it has the typical Technic helicopter function of both rotors being connected to an ‘operation gear’ outside the model, allowing them to spin simultaneously. Both smaller models – the submarine and the helicopter – have a canopy big enough to carry a mini-figure, and by adding one or more ‘half pins with a stud’ you can even fix the figures inside.

So, after all, the 42064 Ocean Explorer is really worth a second look, and for me it really was worth buying it. My son loves it, too. For him it’s like his LEGO City models, just better. I think it could also be cool to see all the functions of the vessel motorised with Power Functions elements (hmm, I think I see a new project appearing on the horizon…).

Thanks to Nils O for joining us as a Guest Reviewer to add another set to the Set Review Library. If you’d like to write a set review as Nils has you can; simply get in touch with us via the usual channels.

LEGO Technic 42064 Ocean Explorer Review
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The LEGO Batman Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Review

It’s been three years since The LEGO Movie became the surprise hit of the box office. Rapturous reviews (including here at The Lego Car Blog), a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96%, nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, and winner of the BAFTA for Best Animated Film, the animated adventure shook up a cinematic genre that was starting to look a little tired.

Fast forward to 2017 and LEGO, DC and Warner Bros. are hoping to repeat the huge success of the original with the spin-off we all hoped for. Yes, LEGO Batman has got his very own movie.

Reprising his role as the Very Very Dark Grey Knight, Will Arnett is joined by an all-star cast including Zach Galifianakis as an inspired Joker, Michael Cera as Nightwing, and the brilliant Ralph Fiennes as Batman’s long-suffering butler Alfred.

It is Batman of course, who narrates the opening credits… “All important movies start with a black screen…”, Arnett growls, and The LEGO Batman Movie duly does.

The Lego Batman Movie Review

A frenetic opening returns movie-goers to the colour and vibrancy that only a world built from LEGO bricks can provide. The animation is absolutely first class, and there are some brilliant adult-friendly sight gags and pop-culture references throughout, including a nod to every Batman movie ever made (especially the bad ones) and a long-running joke about the pointlessness of many of DC’s superheroes (kudos to DC for the self depreciation!).

The story itself is pretty engaging, probably on par with even some of the better Batman movies – whilst some of the worse ones would be glad to trade their plot for this one – and it employs a wealth of cameos and small-part characters to keep the amusement coming.

The Lego Batman Movie Review

Our favourites though, are the two leads. Arnett’s mini-figure Batman we know and love from the original LEGO Movie, and Zach Galifianakis’ Joker is no doubt his equal, being both brilliantly comedic and delightfully scary in equal measure. Our warmth for these characters doesn’t extend to Nightwing though, who is just as annoying as he is in the trailers, and is surely the Scrappy Do of the entire Batman franchise. To that end at least, Michael Cera has nailed it.

The Lego Batman Movie is a wonderfully self-aware addition to the Batman franchise, poking fun and reverence at the comic’s history, whilst also managing to continue the LEGO Movie saga.

However, the film is not quite as fresh or clever as The LEGO Movie of 2014. Whilst a very good family-friendly animated movie, and no doubt enhanced by the inclusion of the LEGO universe, The Lego Batman Movie could ultimately have been animated in any number of ways and remained a very good family-friendly adventure. It’s a film made because the box office demanded it, and with The Lego Ninjago Movie on the horizon too, we could be entering a period of diminishing returns.

The Lego Batman Movie is the film that cinema deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

★★★½

The Lego Batman Movie Review

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42054 Technic Claas Xerion 5000 Review

Lego Technic 42054 Claas Xerion Review

It’s time for another official LEGO set review here at The Lego Car Blog, and it’s a big one. Welcome to the Claas Xerion 5000 Trac VC.

This TLCB staff member has wanted to get his hands on LEGO’s 42054 Claas Xerion set ever since he first saw it. A large lime-green tractor now sits next to him as he types, so has it met expectations?…

42054 sits, a little surprisingly, in the middle of the current Technic range. A little while ago it would have probably been the Technic flagship, but so huge are the current models getting that the Claas is less than half the price of the Volvo L350F and Porsche 911 GT3 RS. However at almost 2,000 pieces 42054 actually features a few hundred more than the big Volvo.

Many of these are new too, with brand new (awesome) tyres, and a wealth of new bushes and pin connectors making their debut in this set. LEGO have employed a few interesting techniques in building with these, as some of these parts are used purely as a construction aid (think an unseen bracket on a car bodyshell that serves no purpose once the car is built, but allows a robot to align a laser or something during manufacturing), and all are coloured in a way that aims to assist with the build process (as opposed to the colour being chosen to best suit the finished model’s aesthetics).

If that makes you concerned about how authentic the Claas looks, don’t be. 42054 is one of the finest looking Technic sets ever produced, and it continues the trend of featuring almost Model Team levels of detailing, with Technic lift-arm holes concealed by smooth plates, lights, mirrors, and some very well chosen stickers.

The downside of the aforementioned colour choices is that black and dark grey parts can look almost identical in the instruction booklet, and when you first come across one of the new pieces you may spend ages looking for it amongst a sea of 2,000 bricks, scanning for black, when it is in fact nestling in a pile of grey. Not that this reviewer did that of course. He’s far too experienced to make that mistake.

Lego 42054 Review Claas Xerion

Colours aside the instructions are clearly laid out, and feature some huge sub-assemblies. Which brings us neatly on to a new phenomenon that the Claas Xerion demonstrates wonderfully; Density of Engineering.

Yes, we have just made that phrase up, but 42054 features some of the most compressed and tightly-packed mechanics of any LEGO set. Ever.

It’s the first set where the design has genuinely amazed us in its complexity – it’s so far above our building ability that we could never hope to better it. Some of this engineering brilliance fulfils relatively simple tasks, for example when the motor isn’t in use the battery box is automatically switched off (a thoughtful piece of design), whilst other elements, such as the three-mode steering, are mind-bendingly fantastic. Continue reading

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Review My Set Competition – Now Closed!

TLCB Review My Set

Running over the past 6 months or so we’ve been asking you, our readers, to submit your reviews of LEGO sets that you thought should be in the Set Review Library. We’ve published loads of your entries (which can read by clicking the link above) and we now have the tough job of shortlisting, via the view count figures, those who will go to the judges’ vote.

Some say we only embarked on this exercise to increase the Set Review Library’s stock without paying anyone. And they’d be right. But we do have prizes up for grabs, made up of the loot that we have acquired here in TLCB Towers over the past year.

We’ll be announcing the winner of the aforementioned swag in the New Year, in the meantime a huge thank you to all those who have entered the competition, and if you’d like to submit a review for the Set Review Library here at The Lego Car Blog you still can (only you won’t win anything). If you have good written English and creative writing skills then get in touch!

Lego Set Reviews Prizes

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21103 – Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine – Review

Lego 21103 Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine

The Lego Car Blog Review My Set Competition is drawing to a close, so there’s just enough time to fit in one more fan review! Today’s reviewer is a previous bloggee himself, and today he’s on the other side of the screen after joining us here at TLCB to pen the final reader review of the competition. Over to Nils O to pick up the story…

A Dream (Almost) Come True…

The LEGO Ideas set of the Back to the Future (BTTF) time machine could have been one of the best LEGO sets ever. For me the project on LEGO Ideas (then still called CUUSOO) is still one of the best on the platform. The pictures of the car / time machine are so cool that as a BTTF and LEGO fan you just want one thing: To own that model!

The set that hit the shelves was another thing entirely. If you want to be nice you could call the look weird, but let’s be honest; it’s ugly. I think most BTTF fans still want the set, but they also want to do something more; modify it to make it look better.

But first things first. 21103 comes in a high quality black box featuring a cool BTTF design. There’s a book with instructions for the time machine from all three parts of the movie franchise, including a hover function and 1950s’ wheels and ‘electronic components’, and the parts are included for all three versions of the car. There are also unique mini-figs of Marty and Doc which are instantly recognisable, and additionally you get a skateboard, but no – no Hover Board.

Lego 21103 DeLorean Box

But what you do get is a handful of excellent printed parts (yes, printed parts, no stickers) (Hurrah! Ed.): License plates for 1985 (‘OUTATIME’) and 2015 (bar code), a time computer and, of course, a Flux Capacitor. The only part I’m not a 100% happy with is the Flux Capacitor. I just don’t like the 1x2x2 panel, for me a 1x2x2 printed brick or a 2×2 printed tile would have been a better choice.

After building the set (I built the version from Back to the Future Part II) the second thing you notice (after realising how ugly it really is) is the untypical fragility of the set. You can’t really touch it without something falling off. I had to modify the thing, especially the 4-wide roof which didn’t look right. Surprisingly I could build a 6-wide roof and matching A-pillars and doors just using parts from the set. So, why didn’t the LEGO designers do something similar? We will never know. Continue reading

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5591 Mach II Red Bird Review

Lego 5591 Mach II Red Bird

The Lego Car Blog Review My Set Competition is drawing to a close, but we have just enough time to squeeze in a couple more reader reviews before the end of the year deadline. Today’s set review comes from a TLCB reader, and also one of our Master MOCers, the brilliant Andrea Lattanzio aka Norton74, and things are getting decidedly 1990s. Over to Andrea…

This Red Bird is ready to fly.

My love affair with the set No. 5591, also called ‘Mach II Red Bird’, started during a very cold Sunday morning of a past winter when I saw the big truck displayed on a flea market counter. I immediately bought it even though a few yellow pieces were replacing the missing originals, red train doors in place of the white ones, and other things like that were afflicting it. But for the price it was on offer for I got it with no hesitation! Without difficulty I replaced the incorrect parts with the right ones and the set is now restored in all its glory alongside the other Model Team sets in my collection.

Let’s step back. The Red Bird is the eighth set of the Model Team series, released by LEGO in 1994. Model Team was the large scale vehicle line that LEGO produced from 1986 until 1999, with a total of 15 sets, plus a re-release of the 5541 Hot Rod in 2004 as part of the Legends series.

Model Team vehicles were characterized by realism, although whilst there is no doubt they were detailed and charming models the techniques used are fairly basic by today’s standards.

Lego Model Team Range

5591 Red Bird is a big set and it’s rich in pieces, an impression I had the first time I looked at it. Despite the basic colours – white, red and black – the livery is really spot on, reminding me of the “B.J. and the bear” colours. The wide usage of stickers makes the set more appealing too.

The set is composed by three parts: the tractor truck, the low loader semi-trailer and the Red Bird jet aircraft. Let’s take a look.

The tractor truck is probably the best part of the set. It’s based on a typical US truck with the cab behind the engine and a long front nose. The truck has a very well balanced design and it’s rich in details, among others: side mirrors, windshield wipers, opening doors and many auxiliary lights, with the side ladders located on the lateral fuel tanks.

You can open the hood to reveal the cool looking engine which was probably influenced by the first LEGO Model Team engine ever, found in the 5580 Highway Rig. The hood is wedge shaped too, which I really like as it helps to make the front of the truck more streamlined. 5591’s interior is quite simple featuring two yellow seats, a steering wheel and the dashboard constituted of two printed slopes. The front wheels can steer by turning a knob located on the roof and the Hand of God control works well – all good so far.

However, the back of the truck is a little bit poor without a realistic fifth wheel and with a simple bumper featuring only rear red lights. We’d have to wait until 1996 for the 5571 Black Cat to see a decent rear to a truck with a convincing fifth wheel.

Lego 5591 Mach II Red Bird

The second part of the set is the semi-trailer, which is quite simple and it perhaps looks more Technic than Model Team. Naturally the trailer can be hooked unto the truck by a plate modified with a towball socket. Continue reading

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21307 Caterham Seven 620R Review

Lego 21307 Caterham Seven Review

The Lego Car Blog Review My Set Competition is nearly at an end, but we’ve just got time to squeeze a few more of your Set Reviews in before the competition closes in December. MOCpages’ Marco. qm joins us today with the set that everyone’s talking about, fresh from the LEGO Ideas platform and designed by TLCB Master MOCer Carl Greatrix, it’s the magnificent Caterham 7 620R…

The LEGO Company are known for making strong and resistant sets. Lego Fans are experts in making good-looking cars. When they get together, great things can happen. Things like a LEGO Ideas project that achieved the magical number of 10,000 supporters to gain approval to become an official LEGO set, which in in this case is the Caterham Seven 620R by Carl Greatrix.

Two years ago, on December 2014, Carl’s Seven started its journey on LEGO Ideas, by May 2015 it reached 10,000 votes and finally in March of this year Carl’s design was approved for production as an official LEGO set.

Now let’s talk about the product, the $79.00 brick-built Caterham, or as the builder called it ‘the kit of a kit car’. Although officially licensed by Caterham, 21307 is not a particularly expensive set; it’s $20 cheaper than LEGO’s previous Creator Expert sets and it comes in a nice black box with wider cardboard usual, something that I think is a nice detail.

Upon opening it, you’ll find one instructions book and seven bags of bricks, with the typical larger 1, 2 and 3 numbered bags, plus some smaller bags with the same numbers on them.

Lego 21307 Caterham 7 Review

The moment you start building it you notice how cleverly designed the 21307 set is, with a very rigid chassis and a nicely detailed exterior, it’s a builder’s dream. Upon finishing the first part of the build you’ll already have a strong chassis and the rear fenders completed.

Next you open the bags labeled with a 2 and build the second stage of the car, in which you construct the engine, the seats, the front wheel arches (which by the way are very well designed!) and the exhaust. Basically all you’re missing after this is the nose cone, the hood, the trunk and the wheels. Continue reading

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Last Chance to Win!

TLCB LEGO Set Reviews

The Lego Car Blog Set Review Competition has just a few short weeks remaining! We’ve asked you, our readers, to join us to add even more LEGO sets to the Set Review Library, and those that made the grade have seen their words published here reaching over a million readers annually!

If you’d like to add your own set to our Set Reviews and be in with a chance of winning some awesome prizes then get in touch via the comments – but be quick as the competition closes December 31st!

Still up for grabs are several superb Lego books from the great guys at No Starch Press, including the 5-star rated Tiny Lego Wonders, and the brilliant Manner-Spielzeug Mad Max Interceptor set, making a prize pot worth over $130!

You can read all of the Set Reviews submitted so far, as well as those written by our in-house reviewers, by visiting The Lego Car Blog Set Review Library here, and we’ll announce the winner (based on a combination of views and a judges’ vote) in early 2017.

Lego Set Reviews Prizes

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