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Showing posts with label Bricktober. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bricktober. Show all posts

LEGO Set Review - Bricktober Toys'R'Us 40144

Well now I honestly didn't see this coming. Makes sense though, right? Back in 2010 We got a minifig size Toys'R'Us truck and storefront. So why not have a mini Bricktober store? Looks pretty good actually. Kind of ironic that it has the lowest piece count of any of this year's promo sets. Toys'R'Us where we give you the least amount possible for the most money possible. That was kind of how I acquired this set. Yes, I paid over MSRP for a couple of sets. But I couldn't price match because price matching and promos are mutually inexclusive in the TRU universe. I take solace in knowing that I still got the sets in question for under 10c per piece. I think that was TRU's goal anyway.

Back to the review!

The TRU store is simple, bright, and effective. Primary colors, heavy on the blue. I'll admit that someone knows something about color theory because it makes me want to miniaturize myself and walk in to browse around. Not necessarily spend, mind you. Like the train station it's a 10-wide module. I call it self-edification. Unlike the train station it has two 4x10 base plates and so doesn't offer the option to shrink it to an 8-wide building. I call that arrogance.

And by the way what is that clear... thing out in front? Is this a micro louvre? It does have a trash bin near the door which seems appropriate. Like the rest of the models, there was plenty of attention given to the rear facade. You can see a roll-up door where overpriced deliveries are made. You can often see employees out here having their prolonged smoke break. The truck is a nice departure from the usual cars. It might make more sense if it was wider as compared to the smaller cars, but then you'd have to embiggen several oif the other vehicles as well.

Part of the reason the piece count may be low is because of the amount of bricks used instead of plates. Given the color massing in some places, bricks easily accomplish what is needed. The efficiency is so good that rather than add another piece type of a blue 1x4 brick, they used the similar brick with 4 side studs. But the side studs are hidden inside the building. Since there's more monetary and build value in the SNOT piece, I swapped mine out for a boring old 3010.

Much as I dislike stickers I think they add something here. Obviously TRU wants their branding and printed pieces may have had more value but much like the prior set, stickers give the welcome option. I ultimately applied my stickers but these shot are sans decor for your viewing pleasure.

It's kind of a relief that Bricktober's over. Though rumor has it that I'm going to need to get into a TRU again soon to get the new off-roader (Hummer) polybag. I'll tackle that trauma when I get to it.

LEGO Set Review - Bricktober Bakery 40143

Why are my TRU purchases always so beset with setbacks? I called my local store to double check that they had last week's Bakery available still so that I could add a few bucks and get the TRU store free. (Not the whole store, but Bricktober week 4). After 10 whole minutes I finally got confirmation that not only did they have it but they also had enough stock of the filler set I was looking for. I thought I had asked them to hold some up front for me but alas they did not. Seemed the whole crew needed coffee and the store wasn't all that busy. Anyway, mission accomplished.

We were on our way to a family gathering so I figured I'd do the build at some point during that time. I decided to handicap myself even further by sitting on the back deck and build the model in my lap. I squeezed parts as needed out of a little tear in each bag - all 234 pieces. I only lost one little Reddish Brown 1x1 round plate down the cracks in the deck. An extra, thankfully. Besides, I've got a bazillion of them anyway.

To see the model on the box art is nice but to see the pieces in the bags is amazing! Such lovely colors! The built model is even more beautiful. I think it comes from a nice variety and usage of sand tones and dark tones. Sand Green, Sand Blue, Dark Sand Yellow (Dark Tan) and Dark Blue all contrast nicely. The Medium Azure and Yellowish Green flowers set the street scene off nicely. There's as many colors as a Friends set but better balanced.

I really like the offset facade. It appears that this is a bakery on the ground floor but two levels of apartments above. There are two obvious front doors to the building, each with their own colored welcome mat. The only waste of pieces I can find is the windows built into the sides. It looks nice when the building stands alone but they will obviously be covered when the modular buildings are attached. Not like you'll have actual people living in there anyway. Of course the rear of the build is well thought out too. Even without all the decor on the front it's just as pleasing to the eye. Texture!

The only thing striking throughout this year's mini models is the color of the 1x2 technic bricks for the connections. Last year the colors blended in very well with the model, this year they are much more noticeable. The conundrum is that the piece has not been made in a wide palette of colors. I'm not sure which tones TLG is running through their molds for this part currently but the Tan color is a little stark against the Sand Green. I may play around a little with some of the different colors I have.

LEGO Set Review - Bricktober Train Station 40142

Ahh, October. Full of leaves and pumpkins and overpriced Toys'R'Us sets. We're cruising through Bricktober 2015 and looking at this year's second promo, the Train Station.

Sort of.

There are several things wrong with this set. Primarily it's the shortest line ever. At 8 studs it's little more than the two cars that fit on the track. It takes more time to queue up than it does to ride it. At least that's the presumption. Sneaking a peek at the back of the box, there's no connections to be made unless the sidewalk spontaneously turns into track. The platform has two signs on it. Both ends of the line? "How far are you going?" "To the end of this fence." But at least the track is dark pearl grey, not just a normal grey!

Second, these things seem to be growing. Last year all of the modules were 6 studs wide and 8 studs deep. This year's hotel is 8x8. But it's a corner module so that kind of make sense, kind of. This train station is 10 studs wide.


The draw of the large modular sets is that they are all standardized to a 32x32 baseplate. This means they can be mixed and matched and still all set up nicely. Now in the real world, I understand that building lots can be different sizes. Most often (where I live) they are 50x100' but anomalies happen. Maybe they'll be 60' or 75' wide. So I get the aspect of injecting a little bit of realism. But this is microscale LEGO where the scale is no longer 1:1. Now we're about 1:480. There's not a lot of wiggle room for subtle variation while still staying within a larger uniformity.

Therefore, I decided to redesign my Train Station to be 8 studs wide. But now that I've built it and shot it I realize it still doesn't solve the problem of the shortest ride ever. I think I need to make it 8 studs wide and 10 studs deep so the train track is actually out in the right of way. Then maybe I can expand the track and make it travel all around the town.

But despite these problems there are a few redeeming things about the set. Namely, trans-clear, dark green and roller-skate, roller-skate, ROLLER-SKATE!

By the way, if you would, please petition Great Ole's ghost that I would be able to obtain the next two Bricktober sets. I'd hate to lose out on one and, well, you'd hate to miss a review.

LEGO Set Review - Bricktober Hotel 40141

It's that time of year again! Y'know when TRU runs their overpriced promo requiring you to buy a plethora of overpriced items and you figure out the best way to leave the store with a discount anyway. With this year's requirement of $80 $75 to get a $20 item, it's already a somewhat decent deal. You get $100 $95 worth of toys for $80 $75 so an easy 21% off. Depending on your math (or massage) skills, it can look like more. *(edit: apparently I overspent. I'll try to do better next time)

A brief analysis before I get into review. First, I had intended to walk into the store on Sunday, purchase last week's set, and walk out. But of course I was curious to see what else there might be. I waltzed over to the LEGO corral and browsed the shelves. Five Halloween Bat 40090 sets, 156 pieces for $3.99 each? Deal! Plus the Bricktober set I was buying, I was halfway to getting this week's promo. Browse for "clearance" deals, check the phone for part out value. Finally settled on a Star Wars Advent Calendar for $43.

With 156 pieces, the bat sets should be selling for $15 but the internet says they were $10 last year. The Advent Calendar usually sells for $40 but, well, TRU. Add in two Bricktobers (purchase and promo) and I had a value of $110. Sales price $83. That's almost 25% off. Probably won't be able to pull that one off again.

I was ecstatic to see the Bricktober sets make a comeback this year. I've still got last year's lineup sitting on my credenza; it will be fun to increase my street scene. I assembled the Hotel with my children. Each of us built a couple of pages until one of them raised a stink. Then the rest of us finished the set while she got personal alone time.

The detailing in the front gardens is gorgeous and it makes me wish for Mini Modulars II to come out. All the tiny little pieces and implied detail make me giddy. A small surprise this year was the single sticker on a paneled piece. I'm usually pittakionophobic but was all too happy to dress up the single panel with a name.

The most fabulous part of this build is not the detail, though that is incredible. The gardens are varied shades of green and floral colors including medium azure and dark magenta. There's even some sand green unicorn horns to act as shrubbery. There's a trellis out the side that is beautiful. The fountain and reflecting pond are incredible touches.

The most fabulous part is the design of this model as a corner module! At first I thought I'd have to put Bricktober 2014 on one side of the street and BT 2015 on the other. Now I can create an intersection for even more rousing dioramic excitement. I have some issues with what I think I see in the other sets but I'll camp on this for now.

This promo doesn't appear to be good online. You've got to actually take a breath and darken their door. I hope you find some bats.


Set Review - Bricktober Town Hall 40183

At long last, Bricktober is over.  Well okay it's been over for a couple of weeks but I'm just finishing.  Maybe other bloggers have covered all the sets by now and are on to new material.  Fine, at least I don't have to deal with TRU for a while now.  They've been better than usual this last month but still, well, TRU.

It's amusing that TLG named this set Town Hall.  That name was already reserved for the Modular 10224.  Now when we get the Mini Modulars II, we'll have three sets going by that name.  Oh the confusion.  But it really is quite a charming little building.  The basic structure is the same as the modular but the color scheme is completely different.  Tan and sand green (or patina'd copper in this case) are fabulous colors for an old civic building.  The style is Federal and is clearly seen with the chimneys on either side of the building.  The dome on top is rather typical of many government buildings of the style.

While the design cues are much subtler on this one, there are some great touches.  The steps and colonnade are well done.  The clip plates give a nice bit of texture at the top of the columns.  Slide rail plates are used to great effect for more depth.  The frogs as statues are a nice touch if not oversized.  At least they're not fire hydrants.  But the most perfect detail is the lamppost out front.  It's a nice match to the theatre from the first week.  The double decker bus is a nice touch too, even if it's a little small in scale.

Wrap-up:  Are these overpriced?  Absolutely.  Are they well detailed?  Absolutely.  Would I buy them again?  Likely, but only if they were a little cheaper.  Maybe $12.99?  Maybe if they were a little bigger?  Maybe if they weren't tied to an overpriced chains promo week and could be had when I was ready.  And yet the secondary market has them pegged at nearly 50% beyond the MSRP with more sold than are available.  TLG must have done something right.

Set Review - Bricktober Fire Station 40182

Week three into Bricktober and more expensive, beautiful, tiny sets.  Last week I mentioned that my 6 year old daughter built the Pizza Palace herself.  In the same sitting I built the Fire Station.  I had built the cars for her so I challenged her to build the vehicles for me... from the box art only.  No instructions.  After some initial complaints, she concentrated and went at it.  She nailed it.

So while she started in, I went to work.  When I first opened the box I was greeted with a nice treat.  There were THREE bags instead of the normal two!  And the piece count was way better!  Here were 175 pieces plus 23 extras for darn near a 200 piece experience.  Lovely, lovely.

Of course, this set would have a precedent to meet.  Mini Modulars from 2012 contained the Fire Brigade which was a very nice build.  My only complaint would by the symmetry of it.  Boring.  But the techniques and final product were excellent.  Bricktober Fire Station would have some big shoes to fill.  We've already learned that the size is about 2/3 of the previous Mini Modulars and the part count is a bit less.

Immediately obvious from the box art is the fact that this build is NOT, in fact, symmetrical.  It has a nice 4 wide garage front protruding forward.  Rising up to the left and slightly behind is a 3x3 bell tower.  Very nice architectural massing.  Wait, didn't I say that with the Pizza Palace?  Well, here's another winner in that camp.

Again, the touches and details on the remaining four sides are not lacking.  There are windows all around and the bell tower is treated well too.  Behind the bell tower was a great opportunity to just lay a tile for the extra roof.  Instead, it got some slopes as if it were a real roof.  Very very nice.  I also like the roof of the bell tower.  This uses a rarely utilized technique of studs into bottom tubes.  Since the tower is 3x3, this is the perfect way to set a 2x2 pyramid slope on the very top.

But not all is perfect.  You may have immediately noticed that there is some sort of gigantic statue in front of the main door.  This is apparently a gargantuan fire hydrant.  I'm thinking this fire station belongs on Birdwell Island.  Although Clifford's use of it might just be the death of the rescue squad.  I reduced mine to 2 stacked round plates.

As for the vehicles, functionality is always cool.  The fire truck's ladder goes up and down and the helicopter's blades spin, thanks to a half pin inserted into the bottom side of a travis brick.

Next week, final installment of the (lagging behind) Bricktober minis!

Set Review - Bricktober Pizza Palace 40181

Always a story with TRU.  After inquiring several times at several different TRU stores, I decided I was not going to be able to purchase the week 2 Bricktober promo straight out.  One store told me their remaining stock would be available for purchase on November 1.  Another store told me that they would sell the extras at the end of each week.  I chose store number 2 as my target.

On Sunday morning I went in and asked for a Pizza Palace.  They were willing to comply but had to radio several associates before the last one in the store was finally located.  There were still tons of Theatres though, go figure.  I added another $55.01+ and checked out, receiving the Fire Station as well.  Easy peasy.

My girls and I set about building.  Actually, my 6 year old grabbed the helm, the 8 year old being more interested in pencil art at the moment.  The 6 year old has historically struggled with building, but went through the instructions just fine save for one or two minor areas that were a little unclear.  Good on her!  Two things struck me about this set.  First, at $19.99 MSRP, it only has 139 pieces.  We discussed this last time but it was even more apparent this time.  This should have been a $10 set.  The only comfort came in the 19 extra pieces.  But what really grabbed me on pouring out the contents was the number of flesh colored brick bricks plus a few extra 1x1 bricks.  Very nice.

I would have a lot more problem with the MSRP if the design was crummy.  While they are small, the detail is very well done.  Attention is paid to all faces, even the rear of the building.  The Theater was nice but not as detailed as the Pizza Palace.  The architectural massing is very well done too.  These are not boring square buildings.  They've got offset portions, little touches, and good color grouping.  The green, white, and red awning of the building is carried well throughout the rest of the build.  The windows all have red headers, there are other white details, and the small lawn out front helps carry the green.  For splashes, the yellow flowers and orange sidewalk stools help liven things a little.  What I assume is a waste can is well done in flat silver which matches the ventilation fan on the roof.  Nice part use, by the way.  That little swirl is coming in handy as all sorts of decorative touches.  The cheese grater on the roof is completely unnecessary but is another one of the great touches.

While the lass was building the restaurant, I put the vehicles together.  The pizza delivery van was called out as an ambulance.  I had to remind the girls what the building was.  The other vehicle is a little odd but I'm guessing it is an SUV that belongs to someone with a pizza craving.  Or their minion.

I'm calling that this is some sort of lead-in.  Much like Jek-14's Comic Con starfighter was a lead in to the other Microfighters, I'm hoping that this promo is a subtle announcement for the Mini Modulars II.  I just know that TLG will be producing that set someday.  I just hope it's not as overpriced as these little babies.

Set Review - Bricktober Theater 40180

Move over Star Wars, Bricktober is here.  Time to fire up the shield generators and mosey into my local Toys'R'Confused.  Rarely do I make it out of there without an incident.  This time was no different.  All the buzz was that this year Bricktober would be different.  It used to was, you'd spend $60 on overpriced items and get the week's set for free.  This year would be different!  This year you could just buy the set for $20 which is still inflated.  I saw three. period. on the shelf and grabbed one plus an ARC-170 poly.

I saw another guy with a few in his cart and made conversation.  He mentioned also that if you were a Rewards'R'Mediocre member, you could spend $20 and get the Pumpkin poly for free.  Great, I had $23.98 in my hand so I grabbed the Jack o' Lantern as an orange parts pack.

Cue the cash register.  Stacy was very helpful and I can't fault her for her part.  First, the Bricktober set came up as unsaleable (had to buy $75 worth starting Oct 5; well why is it on the shelf then?; I don't know, Margo!) but she got a manager to override that.  Second, the Pumpkin deal was only valid with a coupon that you had to print out online.  She let me use a store computer to log in to my rewards account but, alas, nothing would come of it.  So I left the pumpkin behind.  Stacy also tried to get me to buy some S12 minifigs that were up at the counter but I passed.  She mentioned that she really wanted the pizza guy.  So while I was waiting for the Computer'R'Us to think about letting me log in, I committed mass packomancy and found her dream guy for her.

For the set itself, I'm pleasantly impressed.  The build techniques were similar to, though more basic than, the Mini Modulars.  The model is built on a 6x8 plate (not 8x8) and is about 2/3 the size of its cousins.  This should be obvious by the piece count.  Not to mention that a couple dozen pieces were used in the construction of two micro vehicles.  The theater is a nice subtle art deco appearance with detail on all four sides.  Nice touch.  The vehicles are what I would consider to be boilerplate.  One looks like an SUV or a limousine or something.  The other looks like a pickup truck.  Confusing is the use of a trans clear 1x2 plate on the bottom of the vehicles.  Unless you are Lennie Small, it's not that hard to set the vehicles down and scoot them around without stressing the chassis.  But mostly the trans-clear plate just makes the vehicles look like they are floating or perhaps a game piece.  Completely unnecessary.  Which is good because I hoard those trans-clear plates by the hundreds.

At first blush, 12c per piece for a less than Micro Modular quality set seems high.  Especially since almost all of the pieces have less volume than a 1x2 brick.  There are 164 pieces and 15 extras.  For a total of 164 advertised pieces I would like to pay $15.99.  Include the extras and I might be willing to push a little higher.  But remember set 10230, Mini Modulars?  This was a set with 1355 pieces for only $79.99 or 6c apiece.  Based on this scenario, and adding in a slight price increase, $9.99 should have been a more reasonable price for this set, maybe $12.99 tops.

But add the Bricktober factor, the exclusive merchant factor, and the fact that it's TRU factor and TLG has a solid case for a sturdy markup.  Even though they are supposed to be free with a $75 purchase and you can price match to Target et. al., that just means you need to buy $90 worth of TRU sets just to get your price match at $75.  Every week.  Or just go early, grab the set, and have them override for a straight purchase.

For a collector and micro builder such as myself, I'll purchase them all with a little sigh, knowing I'm bending over every time.  For the random person who doesn't care as much, you can easily build these with pieces from your own collection or a small BrickOwl/Bricklink order.   But the part out value of the Theater is oddly enough, near $19.  Still better than the grey market prices for the set.