Showing posts with label Creator. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Creator. Show all posts

Set Review - Power Digger 31014

The next set in the new Creator mini-series is a Power Digger that has some cool alternate builds.  I mentioned last week how I feel that the alternate builds are sort of meh.  But the Power Digger has two alternate builds which are harmonious with the main build.  For starters, you build a digger.  Alternate build 2 is a wheeled front end loader and alternate build 3 is a dump truck.  All very symbiotic indeed!


I had originally purchased jut one of this set.  But after staring at the alternate build pics, I figured it would be worth while to have two more.  So on one of my increasingly frequent visits to the inconvenient LEGO store, I grabbed two more.  There were none on the shelf but there was a box of them behind the counter.  Several were gone already.  I inquired about and received two more.  Apparently these little things are hot.

And then a strange coincidence occurred to me.  I had three of these sets in hand and I have three children.  Why not let each of them build one of models and we'll play test them?

What a great dad I am.

And so we commenced.  The three chillens' easily picked different ones and started building.  The 7 year old built the front end loader.  The 5 year old built the power digger.  And the 2 year old assembled the wheels to the dump truck and called it good.  (Daddy got to build the rest of it).  We then played construction site for a while.  This consisted mostly of two year old backing up his truck and saying "beep, beep, beep!"  Meanwhile the girls played "hi" wherein their construction vehicles talked to each other.

The power digger is the main model for this build and is a cute little representation.  I was immediately reminded of the excavator from the mining series set 4203.  There are some fairly common SNOT techniques but they are used well.  One of my favorite is to use a clip and handle technique to attach the cab on top of a tile.  Tiles are studless, mind you.  Play is pretty good but little hands that are still learning fine fine motor skills keep popping the arm off.


Next was the dump truck.  There's quite a bit if chubbyness (chibi?) in this guy.  The bed itself is shallow and sits in a fat built up assembly to allow for a tipping mechanism.  But it's very sturdy.  Except when the 2 year old is allowed to vroom it throughout the house and separates it into its molecular elements.  Then daddy's a little irritated.  Since it is not the main build, I used the numerous extra parts to build something.  Most of the parts were articulated in nature so I ended up with a stationary digger.  Or a construction serpent.


The front end loader is the stoutest one of them all.  The arms to the bucket are connected behind the cab allowing a large range of motion.  The only drawback to this model is that arms can come down and rest on the tires.  However it doesn't seem to hinder the tires from turning, even if you force the arm down.  The 7 year old followed my lead with the extra parts and built a construction pelican.  He carries concrete in his mouth.


(I should add too the the 5 year old got the raw end of the extra parts deal since she had the main model.  But she still put together a construction doggie from her four extra parts.)

I'm much more amenable to this set than last week's helicopter.  It's the wheels mostly.  This set has a lovely assortment of yellow pieces, especially the new baby bow now available in near 100 sets.  If price per part is what you're interested in then this comes out tops with 64 + 4 pieces for $5 which equals a paltry 7c each.  But the parts are even smaller than the helicopter so is that fair?  Perhaps we should be thinking price per ounce?

LEGO has hit an instant win with three dashing models that work well together.  They've almost guaranteed that you will be spending the money on three copies just to have your own micro construction site.  I would say it's money well spent.

Get more construction vehicles by clicking the image links below:


Set Review - 31013 Red Thunder

These next three set reviews are all about excitement, confusion, and drama.  And not necessarily in that order.  I found three new mini Creator sets on LEGO.com and decided I wanted them.  I called my local LEGO store asking about the Creator polybags.  They were of course confused.  At $5 each I had assumed they were polybags.  Little did I know that such a low price set comes in a box.  So I switched gears a little and asked by name, specifically, Emerald Express (which we'll get to in a couple of weeks).  Came the reply, "oh that one's been retired."  "That's funny, because I'm looking at it on your website as 'New'.  I don't suppose you're thinking of the Emerald Night?"  "Oh yeah, that one.  Sure, we got the little train."

Fast forward to several days later when I make a trip to the LEGO store.  No Emerald Express and only one each of the helicopter and digger.  Somehow I found the money to fund not only this small trip but also a S@H order.  I was able to finish off the triad.  But it seems these sets are popular as they are hard to find.  </story>


Not only is there some confusion in the name of the train, but the helicopter as well.  Badged as "Red Thunder" I had it confused for "Red Rotors" which is a more applicable name as well as a larger set.  And technically, Red Thunder's rotors aren't red.  Then again, neither are they in Red Rotors.

Red Thunder appears to be a baby version of the Rotors.  Both sets feature a red helicopter though the Rotors is a co-axial counter rotating machine while the Thunder has a smaller tail prop.  Both sets feature two alternate builds which are an airplane and a hovercraft.  But then there's also the mini helicopter polybag 30184 which is straight up a Red Rotors baby.

To the build already!

As for me, I tend to stick with the main Creator model.  Oftentimes the alternates seem like they're trying too hard.  The set comes with two bags inside so no building in the bag.  The second bag has a whopping 12 parts in it which seems ridiculous.  In true Creator style you often find yourself using 2 parts where one would be adequate.  Why use two 2x3 or 1x6 when a 2x6 would work fine?  Because this is Creator!  And one of the designers decided that they needed the piece split to use in one of the alternate models.  This would be the same reason why two wedge plates are used in the helicopter tail when only one would do the job.  You need both to balance the airplane build.  It does sort of artificially increase the part count but on such a small model who cares?

I make it a habit of trying to incorporate the extra pieces into my builds.  This becomes fairly difficult when you have lots of smooth surfaces.  Fortunately there were plenty of studs and anti-studs to work with.  Can you find my extras?


I'm much more into mini wheeled things.  Just a personal preference.  But this was a fun little build and it makes a nice display/swooshing model.  Despite my little digs about how and why it came together I'm pleased with the result.  I really only have one complaint and that is that the 'copter can only be in flight mode.  There's no landing gear.  A few extra pieces on the underbelly would have been a nice touch.

If you're concerned about part count, there are 66 pieces plus six extras.  A total of 72 pieces for $5 seems like a sweet deal until you realize that most of them are smaller than a 2x2 brick.  Nonetheless if you like small aircraft, or you're a micro builder who needs red, white, and dark bley, this is a great little set.  Almost every piece is versatile except for the rear rotor.  Pick it and it's cousins up in the image links below.

Set Review - Mini VW T1 Camper 40079

As a purveyor of all things mini my heart skipped a beat when I saw the September Shop at Home promotion from The LEGO Company.  This miniature little Volkswagen Camper Van was waiting to be shipped free when I spent $75.  Done deal.  I dropped the cash on a couple of Minecraft sets and was surprised to receive the whole shebang sooner than usual.

The set comes in a larger than usual polybag.  It also includes a smaller polybag of parts almost like it was a real set.  What was really surprising is that the stickers come in a cardboard protector.  As if the sticker would get any more ruined in a polybag than it would rattling around loose in a box with a bunch of parts and instructions.  A nice gesture all the same.

Admittedly it's hard to get the curves of a VW just right when using square blocks.  The back end should be rounded in three dimensions.  But the use of the white wedges on the roof helps to soften things up a little.  The model shown comes with grooved jumper plates but mine were non grooved.  I prefer this as it gives a smoother look as if it really were canvas.  The grooves make the pop-up look like it's built of bricks.

When I was younger I had friends that had a 23 window van.  Those curved gallery windows were so cool that you hardly noticed the whopping 42 horsepower trotting along.  That and the headlight bezels hitting your knees in the front seat.  You could recreate the windowed look by replacing the white double cheese slopes with alternating white and clear single cheese.  Some sort of accommodation and reworking would need to be made for the front roof piece to get the two forward most side gallery windows.  (The rearmost side windows have no such additional windows).  You'll still be shy about 6 windows though.

TLG lists the set as being worth $4.99 on the invoice.  This seems way too low in my opinion.  With 76 (+2 extra) parts this should be more like a $7.99 set.  Several sellers have them listed on BrickOwl for about $18 each while the larger supply on Bricklink has dropped the average price to a little over $16.  You can find it for lower if you are patient and snag it at the right time.

If you can, I would recommend making an order at LEGO.com or going to your nearest LEGO Brand Retail Store to get it free.  If you're already planning on purchasing $75 worth of stuff then you'll get free shipping in the US and this little set.  Definitely worth the purchase.

Of course you could build the bigger brother as well. Find it at The Official LEGO Shop:

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Set Review - 7602 Black SUV

In the absence of any decent polybags available to review this week, I'm going to fire up the wayback machine and look at a set from 2006.  I first fell in love with the black SUV after a random hit on brickset.com.  I loved Hot Wheels as a kid and have always loved miniature cars.  I had some 1:24 model cars as well but they didn't have the same zing.  Between 1:40 and 1:70 is where it was (and still is) at.



After seeing the parts list I realized that there is nothing uncommon about the set.  Very basic parts.  In true Creator style two or three parts are used to do a job where one would suffice making the part count seem higher.  Of course you are encouraged to make your own alternate models as well.  There apparently were two versions of the set as there is an alternate inventory that contains black 1x1 bricks instead of black 1x2 bricks.  But my interest is really in the main model which at this scale resembles a Hummer.  Okay maybe it's a Jeep but what sort of detail do you expect at this level?

As this is an older set there's not very much to say about availability, price per part or any of the other sort of get out and buy one now factors.  I like the set for what it is; a Hummer that looks good with all my other Tiny Turbos.  Actually it looks a little small in scale and basic to be parked next to them.  Then again the Hot Wheels scale varied widely from the usual 1:65 to 1:100 with construction equipment and larger trucks.  So maybe it's not all that bad.  A Hummer at scale with Tiny Turbos would probably be at least 5 if not 6 wide anyway.

The set was originally a promo given with Hellema Brand cookies in the Netherlands.  I liked the set so much myself that I made 5 of them available in the United States.  If you are interested in one you can purchase it in my BrickOwl store.  There is no bag or instructions but I am happy to send a set of instructions from my printer for no extra charge with your order.  Mention that you saw it in my blog and I'll give you $2 off.

Set Review - Mini Speeder 31000

In the process of other building projects I realized it was necessary to obtain several (dozen) trans black 1x2 plates.  No problem, fire up the gerbils and get on Bricklink.  Oh, they're 60c from Germany or a solid $1 each in the states?  As someone who aims for 10c per part, this was a little steep.  I filled several voids with tiles instead but still needed a dozen plates to finish the structure.  Wasn't I surprised and relieved when LEGO released a little (not quite polybag) Creator car that came with not one, not two, but fiv- I mean, three of those little plates.  I cleared out the shelves at K-mart for $6 each holding back one in it's entirety for me to build.  But this feature is about set reviews not best sets to part out.



Many years ago I discovered building-in-the-bag.  This is a practice whereby you build the parts while they stay in the bag they came in.  Fun and challenging for smaller sets, next to impossible for larger sets.  Because they come in more then one bag and often have bags within bags.  Challenge: Build me Bag-End in the bag.

Once I discovered this challenge I built Tiny Turbos in the bag.  Two. sets. later. they stopped using the bags and just put the pieces loose into the hard case.  Very disappointing.  Excited I was when they started doing it again for the mini Creator vehicles.  I've got two under my belt now and decided to add this one to the mix.  The only issue to this end was that some of the connections are weak until several steps later when you get to strengthen them up.  Part of the idea of a Creator set I suppose, using smaller parts to allow for more flexibility in the creativity department.  Unlike, say, Jack Stone.



As far as parts go red and blue aren't necessarily part of my building palette.  But there are some good parts in basic colors here.  Red wedges and blue curved slopes seem to be new as do the white wheels.  When I first saw this set I thought of one thing.  What else would red and blue with white delicately spoked wheels remind you of but Spiderman?  Right?  Isn't this his sports car?  Maybe this set was originally a failed idea for the Super Heroes line so they turned it into a Creator set.  Dunno for sure, just saying.

I appreciate how LEGO designers have lately been more bold in the techniques they use for builds.  In this case headlight bricks backed onto brackets are a nice touch.  Maybe I don't build enough LEGO sets but this was new to me.  From LEGO, mind you.  I've seen the AFOL community do things like this for years.

With such a small set I didn't expect much in the way of extra parts.  But every 1x1 plate whether round or square as well as the cheese slopes were replicated once more per occurrence.   At the recent Bricks Cascade 2013 convention I was able to ask North American customer rep Kevin Hinkle about the generosity of TLG and their extra extra parts lately.  He said that a lot of it was based on calls from parents that junior had lost/ate/permanently jammed up their nose such and such a part.  Really?  Well I'll tell you what.  In my day we never got extra parts with sets.  You lost a part, you lost a part.  And we didn't have Bricklink or eBay back then either.  Maybe I'm getting old and crotchety or maybe parenting now is completely different than how I was taught to parent.

Not that I'm complaining.  I'll take extra extra parts any day.  Oh, and the build is fun too especially in the bag.  I recommend getting several for the new exclusive parts and building your own fleet of Spiderman vehicles.