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Archive for March, 2014

Nick Martin | March 12th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75040 General Grievous’ Wheel Bike

75040 - Full Set

Anyone who’s read my reviews knows that I like to do comparisons when a set is an update to an existing release. I’ve been collecting for a long time, and have a pretty decent collection of stuff to pull from to do it. I’d like to tell you this is going to be some great comparison review, showing the differences between the old Wheel Bike set, made in 2005, and this one.

Yeah, I parted out the old bikes years ago. It was an awful set based on an awful and absurd design. The Wheel Bike was basically the Star Wars version of the G.I. Joe Ballistic Battle Ball, something so ridiculous you have to assume it was some kind of covert plant by the opposing side to see how many troops they could kill just by getting them to use it. I mean, seriously, what is the purpose of a giant spinning wheel with legs and an energy bar thing when you’re in a universe where flying stuff is everywhereIs there some sort of strange situation where a STAP and some shields aren’t going to work, so you need a clumsy, slower, and much more shootable wheel? The thing is effectively a big rolling target.

I un-parted out the AT-AP I’d taken apart because that set was broken down because of storage space. I have more space now, because I’ve got more places to stash sets, and could put it back together. The wheel bike was parted out because it just sucked as a set and a vehicle, and I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to put in a display (it was even bad at sitting on a shelf), and I had no intentions of finding the stuff.

The original also was one of those sets that was really a harbinger of things to come, as it ran $20 and only included 111 parts. Some of that space was made up for, in hindsight, by the creature that Obi-Wan was riding (it was called General Grievous Chase, after all), leaving only a smattering of parts to make up for that money. This new set increases the price to $25, but let’s be honest… that’s basically the same price point as $20 was back then. It also increases the part count way up to 261 parts… yet sadly, is missing the one thing that I bought the original for.

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Ace Kim | March 11th, 2014 | DC Universe, LEGO Super Heroes

Martian Manhunter No More!

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I just received the following email from LEGO Shop@Home:

Due to overwhelming demand, the LEGO Shop Martian Manhunter promotion has been ended early for both the US and Canada.

Not even halfway through the month. Hope you didn’t do what I did and procrastinated yourself into a depression. I missed the boat on this one. A big giant green boat. From Mars.

Nick Martin | March 10th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75039 V-Wing Starfighter

75039 Full Set

It’s always strange that the Star Wars universe has a fixation on ships named after letters for an alphabet that doesn’t exist (or didn’t after someone introduced Lucas to post-production to remove all of those english words for Aurebesh). But I suppose Xesh-Wing doesn’t really market as well as X-Wing does, and A Galaxy Far, Far Away is all about merchandising.

The V-Wing was an unremarkable fighter in a sea of unremarkable spaceships that littered the Prequel Trilogies. Sure, some of the larger stuff like the Venator had an interesting look that tied to the big stuff in the Original Trilogy, but for the most part, the ships were either not on screen long enough (ARC-170), too plain (Jedi Interceptors), or just kinda ugly (ARC-170 again). The V-Wing was an even worse case than either of the other ships, since it was basically just the wing-man to the bigger ship, and mostly it was there to get shot down at the start of Revenge of the Sith.

As a set, the V-Wing has been out once before in PT form, in 2006 as a $10 set that was notable for being a reasonable source of Clone Pilots and dark red Astromech heads. It was a different time back then, as there were… I don’t know, maybe three astromechs in total, so a new head was a very big deal. Eight years later and we have a couple more than three (I’m not feeling ambitious enough to check) and a new astromech isn’t all that spectacular anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still love them, but the days of me buying some awful Republic Cruiser set just to get an astromech in green are over (well, mostly… stupid Sandcrawler). There was an “Imperial” version in 2010 that was kind of like a fusion between the original and this one, just with more black, Imperials only build in black. Or sometimes very dark gray. I know I bought that set, but have no idea where it is, and know that it was never very popular, so I’m going to stick to reviewing the PT versions of this set.

2014’s V-Wing is an entry into the “yet another $25 set” lineup that dominates Star Wars stuff this year. We’ve already reviewed the Jedi Interceptor and have upcoming reviews for the Wheelbike and Vulture Fighter, all at the same price point. This set comes in at 201 parts, which seems a bit on the light side, at least compared to the Interceptor, but is a bit more visually striking than the yellow monster. I liked the old set, simple as it was, because, at the time, it was an easy way to get pilots, wing wedges, and a few other parts that I didn’t have a whole lot of. These days, though, most of what came in the old one are absolute weeds in sets that I’ve got more than enough of, which leaves me somewhat curious if this new set, at more than double the price, can really wow me enough to buy as many new V-Wings as I did the old ones…

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Nick Martin | March 7th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, News

Lego Reveals 75059 Sandcrawler

Update: We received the following message regarding the change in the packaging design:

The decision has been made to change the packaging for future “LEGO® exclusive” Star Wars™ sets to include the UCS seal and de-link from the core Star Wars packaging. In addition to the packaging change an update has been made to the building instructions. The building instructions will have additional pages detailing the model’s connection to the movie and its development process. Much as the Creator Expert badge differentiates the larger models from the core assortment the goal of this change is to better communicate to builders that these sets represent our biggest building challenge in the LEGO® Star Wars™ theme.

Well, the poorly kept secret we all knew (it’s listed on “exclusive sets” at Lego Stores that aren’t eligible for discounts) but knew nothing about is now official and out there. Announced at Bricks Cascade in Portland, OR, and featuring the designer video above, there’s certainly a lot to like in the set. Brickset has the press release for the set, along with the picture below, and… well, look at it!

75059-1

75059 Sandcrawler is the next in that line of that “not really UCS but priced like UCS, so we call it UCS” that has given us winners like the Death Star and Ewok Village. Coming out in May and weighing in at $299, this isn’t a cheap set, but certainly one that will see plenty of demand.

The original Sandcrawler was a strange beast. It’s one of those sets that I never got around to getting, despite seeing it in stores several times, discounted on Amazon and Lego a lot, and available for sale for years. I had nothing against the sets, I just didn’t feel that a few Jawas made it worthwhile for all of that brown. This one is an improved design that goes from a big chunk of brown to an actual, factual playset.

Plus, there’s now another set to get the new R2-D2 in (assuming you aren’t going to drop the $25 on the Jedi Interceptor), as well as a couple of other astromechs, some brick-built droids, a new Gonk, Jawas, and Uncle Owen (no word if there’s a charred carcass to put somewhere). Take a look at the full press release for some of the details. Hopefully, we’ll get some better pictures as Lego gets more information out there.

75059 Sandcrawler, Ages 14+ 3,296 Pieces

US $299.99 – CA $349.99 – DE 299.99€ – UK £249.99 – DK 2,799.00 DKK

Collect a true icon of the classic Star Wars universe – the mighty Sandcrawler!

Recreate unforgettable scenes from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope with this amazing LEGO incarnation of the Jawas’ desert-going vehicle, the Sandcrawler. Turn the knob at the rear and steer the Sandcrawler into position, lower the front ramp and offload the droids using the 2 working cranes.

Luke Skywalker and his Uncle, Owen Lars, are sure to be impressed with the selection on offer: there’s R2-D2, an R1-series Droid, an R2 unit, R5-D4, a Treadwell Droid, Gonk Droid and even C-3PO.

When the sale is complete, lift the side panels and top to reveal more great features inside, like the engine, storage bay, cockpit and more. There’s even a speeder bike for when the Jawas need to venture outside.

Includes 7 minifigures: Luke Skywalker, Uncle Owen, C-3PO and 4 Jawas, plus R2-D2, R2 unit, an R1-series Droid, Gonk Droid, R5-D4 and a Treadwell Droid.

Travel the dunes with the LEGO Star Wars™ Sandcrawler with working cranes, detailed interior, 7 minifigures, 5 droids and lots more!

  • Includes 7 minifigures: Luke Skywalker, Uncle Owen, C-3PO and 4 Jawas, plus R2-D2, R2 unit, an R1-series Droid, Gonk Droid, R5-D4 and a Treadwell Droid
  • Features 8 tracks with steering function, lowering front ramp, opening side flaps, removable top, working cranes, speeder bike, opening hatch for easy access to the boxes, attachable handles for lifting boxes, and a detailed interior including engine bay, storage bay and cockpit
  • Also includes stock for old droids and droid parts
  • Weapons include a lightsaber for Luke Skywalker
  • Sell droids to Luke and his Uncle
  • Keep your droids well maintained
  • Pretend to suck R2-D2 up into the Sandcrawler – just like in the movie!
  • Own your own iconic vehicle from the classic Star Wars universe
  • Relive classic moments from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
  • Measures over 9” (24cm) high, 18” (48cm) long and 6” (16cm) wide

Available for sale directly through LEGO beginning May 2014 via shop.LEGO.com, LEGO Stores or via phone.

Nick Martin | March 7th, 2014 | LEGO, LEGO Star Wars, News

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago Star Wars Days March 15th-16th

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We got a note from a member of the Community Outreach Team for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago and their fantastic new Lego Star Wars Miniland Display for Episode IV, and specifically, the LEGOLAND Star Wars Days running March 15-16th. If I lived closer, I’d have to check it out just to give my daughter a chance to play with a life-sized R2-D2. She looooooooves my UCS R2. If you’re in the area, it’s certainly worth checking out for the AFOL and Star Wars fan in you!

You can see a gallery of some exclusive shots of the new layout below, and check out the full press release after the fold!

darth death_star_blue  death_star_rays r2d2 han_confrontation

death_star droids_scene  jawas

model_droids model_falcon_2 model_falcon

 model_moisture_farm model_scene storm_trooper 

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Nick Martin | March 7th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75028 Clone Turbo Tank Microfighter

75028 - Full Set

The Clone Turbo Tank and I have a weird history. As a vehicle, it was on the screen for probably less than a minute in the movie, and I didn’t even realize that it existed until I saw the Lego set for it sitting on the shelves of my local Walmart waaaaay back in 2005. It also first launched when I was in the only dark age of note I’ve had as an adult collector, from about 2003-2005, and I was never all that interested in the PT stuff anyway. Then I noticed that the set came with Mace Windu, and I absolutely had to have it! I was young and hadn’t discovered FBTB yet, so I knew nothing of the aftermarket sites and thought eBay was for people with more money than good sense (the years since have taught me that thought was true most of the time). I ended up getting lucky, and found a couple of the original CTTs on a 50% clearance, so I got my Samuel L. Jackson fix and got introduced to the aftermarket to sell my extra.

The weird history continued with the updated CTT that came out with the Clone Wars, since by that time, I’d gone on to doing reviews for the site and angering hundreds of people with my opinions. I actually had the review for the CTT lined up in a big blitz a long time back, and was doing a whole bunch of pictures on a beautiful summer day. This was before I had a decent setup or lights, so I was actually taking them outside in my driveway, because the sun is better than any lamp I can get on Amazon.com. After getting through a half-dozen sets, I set up the new CTT for pictures, turned around to do some positioning on my tripod, and heard the sound that you never, ever want to hear, and that is the connection of a large lego set and a driveway from a fall of a few feet. I grabbed most of the parts, though I occasionally still find a brick or the like in the driveway, but never got around to doing that review.

The Microfighter version is the first one that we’ve had since the Clone Wars one in 2010 in anything other than a micro format, so I suppose we take what we can get. This one is an interesting choice for the Chibi style, since the full-size sets have never been very great at capturing the original model. Much like the X-Wing Fighter, there isn’t a whole lot there, but this guy does feature an exclusive figure, for now, in the Phase 2 Clone Wars Trooper. I’ll rant about the fact that such a basic army building figure is in such a not-army builder set later, but at $10 and 96 pieces, it’s not as if this is going to be a huge hit to the wallet (unless you try it as an army builder). But are those parts worth it, or are we paying for a whole lot of 1×1 round studs?

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Nick Martin | March 6th, 2014 | News

DK Reveals Lego Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary

dk_lswvd_book

Just in case you weren’t planning on spending all of your money on the obligatory May the 4th sale for Star Wars stuff on Shop@Home (and as soon as we know what minifig will be robbing us of our purchase of $75 or more, we’ll let you know), DK has announced on their Facebook Page that a new Visual Dictionary for Lego Star Wars will be coming out on the same day. It’s obviously updated through the early 2014 sets we’ve been busy reviewing, given the prominence of the Falcon Mini and the Police Gunship on the front.

1925192_598857340205559_908275028_n

The big news is that they’re including a “Retro” Luke Skywalker minifig to celebrate 15 years of Lego Star Wars, complete with a yellow head and hands. Not sure how I feel about that. Sure, it’s a new Luke figure with an old head (and the printing is certainly the new styles)… but we’ve had fleshy figures longer than we’ve had yellow in Star Wars, so he’ll be way out of place.

I will still be buying this, of course. You can go pre-order your copy on Amazon.com right now (just like I did)! Thanks to murphquake for the head’s up on this.

Nick Martin | March 6th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75032 X-Wing Fighter Microfighter

75032 - Full Set

Were you the one clamoring for a whole new “official” scale that’s been popular as MOCs? If so, Lego has the sets for you! I guess that’s probably because chibi is really just slang for “oversized” or “super deformed” that maybe Lego didn’t want to adopt it as an official term. As a style, it’s obviously something we’ve invested in a lot here at FBTB, with our Chibi contests in the past and featuring builds in that style.

I’m not sure if these things are ever going to get a fair shake in the eyes of the AFOL community, since they replaced the Planets sets that were fairly popular to collectors, and I don’t think popular at all for kids. I don’t have any evidence for that, it’s just… how many kids want to play with what is effectively a christmas ornament and a mini-build with a figure? It was a display piece, which would be fine if it was targeted swiftly at adults, but Lego is notoriously bad at targeting their products outside of the kids market.

These sets are pretty much the opposite. The appeal to kids is pretty obvious, especially if you’ve kept up on the action figure trends. The whole oversized / out-of-proportion look has been big, with Star Wars, Marvel, and Transformers all having a line dedicated to looking odd. More than that, they’re obviously not designed for AFOLs… except of course for that minifig, which sort of proves that someone at Lego is just an evil genius, getting us to drop $10 on a handful of parts just because they know we want a Theron Nett minifig. Well played, Lego… well played. (more…)

Nick Martin | March 5th, 2014 | LEGO Super Heroes, Marvel Comics, Reviews

Review: 76018 Hulk Lab Smash

76018 - Full Set

Playsets are always seen as a risky choice in the development of Lego stuff. They often underperform, because they’re not swooshable, and apparently kids only like buildings that can also turn into a robot (even if Tom Hanks doesn’t think so). I’m pretty far removed from doing anything as a kid, so I know that my opinions are colored by being an adult, and worse, an AFOL, but I’d hazard a guess that kids just don’t like playing with bad toys. Playsets, especially Lego playsets, are often just bad toys.

Sure, everyone likes vehicles, and they are rightfully the core of toys about doing stuff. My favorite toy as a kid was G.I. Joe, which has a whole mess of vehicles (including some spectacularly terribad ones), vehicles that were buildings (often with jets for some reason), and just straight up buildings (The Command Center was awesome). What was important with the stuff that was successful is that it made sense with the other stuff. I could put figures in the command center or park vehicles, things like that.

Lego has a tougher time with stuff like that, because sets aren’t really designed to “work” together most of the time. This is especially true for the Super Heroes line… where a lot of the stuff is thematically similar, but mostly just sits there. The Quinjet isn’t going to pick up the SHIELD truck, and no one wants to put Spider-man in any of those terrible vehicles. So how does Hulk Lab Smash, the Avengers Assemble set in the Marvel Super Heroes lineup measure up to the whole mix like that? At $50, four (or five) minifigs and only 398 pieces, there probably needs to be a whole lot of playset to make it work…

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Nick Martin | March 4th, 2014 | LEGO Super Heroes, Marvel Comics, Reviews

Review: 76017 Captain America vs. Hydra

76017 - Full Set

Take a read through Ken’s review of Thor: The Dark World, and his biggest beef with that movie and it’s lack of tie-ins to Lego sets, and you’ll get one of the big problems with the Marvel lineup this year. There are some sets coming out for Guardians of the Galaxy, but that’s pretty much it for movie tie-ins. Which means that Lego has ignored two big releases, Thor and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, opting instead for Avengers Assemble, the Disney Channel cartoon.

From the point-of-view for Marvel and Lego, that makes sense… Avengers Assemble is one of their popular shows and it has a bigger exposure over time than the movies do. But it really looks out of place in toy aisles full of figures from the movies (and the cartoon) to keep ignoring the big releases. That’s not to say that this set (and it’s cousin, Hulk Lab Smash), are bad sets. Far from it… this is an interesting set that gives us a new Captain America and his greatest nemesis, Red Skull (along with a Marvel henchmen that’s not Chitauri). It’s also a chance to put captain on a proper motorcycle at last, and give us some nice Hydra stickers to decorate our MOCs with. That and I bet there’s more than a few classic army type builders that will get this set just for those number stickers on the side.

At $20, the set seems like a great value, but at only 172 parts, you’re left wondering if it comes up being a little bit short. It’s price point is replacing two stand-out sets as well, Wolverine’s Chopper Showdown and Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape, which means that the bar is set up pretty high for this little set right out of the gate. Given that there are only two sets in the early Marvel Lineup that don’t feature the same Spider-man figure (and that trike set is just absolutely awful), is this one worth some of that hard-earned money?

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