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Ace Kim| September 12th, 2017 | News, The LEGO Batman Movie

Hallmark Is Making A LEGO Batman Ornament

LEGO Batman Ornament 1

Hallmark is making LEGO ornaments again, but the next one isn’t going to be a LEGO Star Wars one. It’s going to be from The LEGO Batman Movie. Not sure how I feel about it, since the hype seems to have died down for it. That, and that face. That face leaves a lot to be desired. Is that really the way an official Batman minifigure looks like? He looks like he’s doing an Elvis impression while viewing a solar eclipse without official NASA-approved eclipse viewers. I can’t remember the last time I handled a Batman minifig, but I don’t remember one looking like that.

Anyways, if this is your thing, go check out Hallmark stores or Hallmark online on October 7th to pick one up. It’ll run you $15.95.

Hat tip to banthafodder for posting this on the forum.

Ace Kim| September 12th, 2017 | Episode IX, News, Star Wars

J.J. Abrams To Helm Episode IX

What once was old is new again… of course that kind of saying usually applies to things that make a comeback after a couple of decades. Bell bottom jeans… mom jeans… of course the mullet never really made a comeback… but in this case it’s a just a couple of years since J.J. last directed Episode VII, The Force Awakens. Today, StarWars.com is reporting that the veteran director will be returning to write and direct the final chapter in the sequel trilogy. He’s gone on record before saying he had wished he stayed on for VIII, so maybe the script is THAT good to make him want to come back to finish off the sequel trilogy.

Episode VIII, The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15th, 2017. I’m assuming Episode IX will open sometime around December 2019.

Edit: StarWars.com tweeted the release date for Episode IX. It will be in theaters on December 20th, 2019.

Ace Kim| September 6th, 2017 | LEGO Star Wars, News

Cease and Desist Coming In 3, 2, 1…

LEGO was PDQ about telling Hasbro they couldn’t sell their Star Wars construction toys. No, it wasn’t KRE-O; more like their Hero Mashers line. In fact, if I remember the story correctly, their entire launch line up was stopped at the Port of Long Beach and was told to go back to China. All because of licensing issues around what was marketed as a “construction toy”. So I can’t imagine LEGO being okay with this, assuming it’s even officially licensed. And if it’s not, Wisehawk may be stirring up a bigger bee’s nest with Lucasfilm.

Nick Martin| September 5th, 2017 | News, Rants

Lego Sales Drop, Layoffs, and Speculating About Why

Money Money Money

It seems like Ace and I aren’t the only ones feeling a bit burnt out on Lego lately… Lego released their earnings report for the first half of the year, and for the first time in a decade (perhaps even longer), Lego reported a drop in sales since the previous year. Last year was already the lowest growth they’d seen since their turnaround years in the mid 2000s, and there had been rumblings from retailers that there wasn’t as much demand for sets recently. Specifically, it looks like the LEGO Batman movie was in particular a poor performer, but their original lines were the top performers in the period.

Knudstorp said brands that Lego invented, including Lego City, Lego Friends, Lego Duplo and Lego Technic, were the best performers in the period

That’s a pretty telling little bit after years of Star Wars and similar lines being the powerhouses of the lineup, and big releases like the Lego Movie and Lego Batman getting all of the attention and marketing. Of course, if you’ve read my reviews for any of the licensed sets I’ve covered in recent history, you can probably guess that I’m not overly shocked to see them fall off. It has felt that Lego has a drought of creativity in a lot of set designs, with things like the Batcave feeling like a copy/paste and Star Wars being full of remakes coming out closer and closer together (looking at you, Force Awakens X-Wing).

The worst part about this news is that 1400 people are going to lose their jobs as Lego tries to corporate their way out of a product problem (as someone who has spent many years in a corporate environment… that has, to date, never worked). Hopefully they land on their feet (and they aren’t out of the brand retail stores, those guys are overworked and underpaid as it is).

To quote their CEO…

We have added complexity into the organisation which now in turn makes it harder for us to grow further,” he said in a statement. “As a result, we have now pressed the reset-button for the entire Group.

I’m certain that’s true on the front of complexity… Lego is the largest toymaker in the world and has grown to just about everything in recent years. But I fail to see the connection on too much organization complexity causing problems with people not wanting your sets. I’m going to go into my own personal guesses for some of it, and I won’t claim any special insight, but I think there are a few things in there that should make anyone still following Lego very concerned about the future.

Full article »

Ace Kim| September 5th, 2017 | LEGO Star Wars, Sales News

UCS BB-8 Is The Most Popular Set, Says Captain Obvious

No surprise that the UCS 75187 BB-8 is the most popular set to come out of The Last Jedi sets. It’s currently listed as “Temporarily Out Of Stock” and a quick call to [email protected] yields no estimated delivery date. It hit that “out of stock” status pretty darn quick. All the other sets else could still be backordered except that one. But would you really want to? Everything else is just kinda blah. Big giant grey wedge? No thank you. Ugly TIE Fighter? Pass. BB-8 was the only one worth getting on Day 1; everything else can wait for a decent sale. Plus I’d rather save my pennies for the Falcon. That being said, I did get 75188 Resistance Bomber and will post my thoughts about that soon.

If you’re still looking to get a UCS BB-8, Amazon has your back. No Scarif Trooper promo since that was a [email protected] only deal, but those should be found pretty cheap elsewhere.

Nick Martin| September 3rd, 2017 | News

A Dark Age, Bored, or Just Getting Old?

Daughter's First MOC

Hey, Nick here. You may have noticed that it’s been quiet around the site lately. There are a multitude of reasons for that, honestly. The active staff members all have full time jobs, and currently that means we aren’t always able to post. More than that, we have families and kids in school, and that sucks up a whole lot of time. Ace posted his reasons the other day, and they sound very familiar. Myself, I have a newborn son and a daughter that started school, and that has been consuming a whole lot of my free time as of late. As of late, the most I’ve been into LEGO is in playing with her… she’s been playing with them for a good portion of her life at this point, and the picture above is the first “MOC” she made and could describe… and it was of us.

Shortly after my son was born, I started going through a bunch of my older stuff and selling off duplicates, things I hadn’t used in years, etc. While I was doing it, I came to a realization… that I didn’t really care all that much about getting rid of the stuff. That was really driven home when I opted to get rid of a crown jewel of my collection… my Chrome Gold C3PO. The motivation wasn’t one of space or really needing the money… it was more about selling it to someone who would want it before my kids grabbed it and started playing. I hadn’t used it in a display for years, to be honest… it doesn’t look right next to the other figures… and didn’t miss it.

That little endeavor made me realize something; in the past year, I’ve bought maybe a half-dozen total sets for myself. Most sets that I’ve purchased were for reviews, and there are several of them that are sitting in draft here on the site waiting for me to finish them (dating back to about a year, ago, sadly). Sets that I really wanted, like the Saturn V rocket and the Modular buildings, have gone un-purchased, and when it came to stuff like Star Wars, the core of this site, it was even worse.

The last time I bought a Star Wars set was probably sometime last year… the last review I did for a Star Wars set was in December with a set provided by LEGO, and before that it was nearly a year ago. Don’t get me wrong… I still love Star Wars. I loved Rogue One and I’m extremely excited about The Last Jedi… I just find it hard to get excited about the stuff that’s come out lately. There are some sets that I would like to get… or more accurately, some characters (looking at you, Thrawn), but I keep picking up the box and putting it back down. After selling off some sets, the reason for these changes made me realize that LEGO just honestly wasn’t all that important to me anymore.

A good portion of that is on me; I’ve changed in the nearly two decades I’ve been collecting LEGO. My collection has long since become too large to be manageable, and probably less than 2% of it is on display at any given time. That’s a whole lot of money to put into stuff that’s sitting in boxes, bags, and bins. I was never much of  MOC builder… I liked it, but didn’t have the obsessive drive that a lot of people do. Yet bins still fill my wall and go unused for the most part. When I do actually build these days, it’s because my daughter wants to build, and I can use the time to teach important life lessons about why she has to keep the Barbie MegaBloks set she got for her birthday apart from the rest of it.

But I’m not going to say it’s all on me. LEGO has made it exceptionally hard to be a fan in recent years. I’ve made more than a few snarky comments about how LEGO does their reveals on far bigger, and typically unrelated, sites. But it’s really worse than that… we often get ignored for news, sets, or the like. Sometimes LEGO is nice when they want publicity, like when they sent us the LEGO Batman and LEGO movie sets. But they ignore us most of the time, even when we ask just for press releases or the like.

Outside of the press aspect of it, though, just being an AFOL has gotten difficult in recent years. I’ve called out price on reviews more than once, or just the flat lack of creativity that runs through the huge majority of LEGO sets at this point. It feels like a good portion of their sets are just the “stock” build they need to slap a look on between all the different lines. The jets in the Marvel lines, the stock playset like we got with the Batcave… things like that. Worse, the price of LEGO, specifically the price in the AFOL ranges, has gotten just plain stupid in the last couple of years. The new UCS Falcon is a ridiculous $800. I don’t care how many pieces it comes with or the size, that is, quite simply, too much. Heck, $500 was probably too much for the first one, but at the time, it was unique.

It’s not just that set, though. The last few UCS sets have been disappointing, if I’m being charitable. Sure, the Snowspeeder looked cool, but I was sick of those in the system line, and it just continued the price creep in sets. The last modular building was $280. The carousel was $200. The Saturn V Ideas set was $120 and the fishing shack was $150… together more than all of the other Ideas sets I’ve ever bought, combined (and I’ve bought several of them). At a time when i’m having trouble convincing myself to spend money on a $25 set (that should have probably been $20), seeing these prices makes me want to just walk away in disgust.

And from a creative point of view, LEGO seems to only care about their original themes or movie tie-ins. The LEGO Batman movie sets were fantastic, the Ninjago ones look cool (but I could not care in the least about Ninjago). Yet Star Wars has been mostly remakes that are less stuff for more money, or reskins of other builds that are swapped in for something else. The most recent Super Hero sets are just overpriced junk for the most part, and even someone like me gets tired of dropping that kind of money for ugly sets and a few minifigs.

I suppose looking back, a Dark Age was inevitable for me. For years, I’ve purchased a lot of sets I wouldn’t have otherwise touched because I was going to review them. I genuinely like writing reviews and getting my snark on, and will keep doing it. Maybe I’ll finally finish one of the half-dozen movie reviews that I’ve started (in the case of Force Awakens, I have two different review drafts for a review) and get them up here. I may also be putting up more opinion pieces… some of those are the most pride I’ve had in what I’ve written for the site. But for the foreseeable future, I’m done purchasing LEGO for myself. Much like Ace, I’m burnt out, even if for different reasons. I’ll probably be working on some of the changes around the site, and maybe trying to fix some stuff.

As we open up to more stuff, perhaps I’ll branch out too (though it may be a hard sell to post most of my hobbies like painting miniatures or role playing games here). I’m learning what it’s like to share a hobby that was a bit part of my life with someone who’s just starting out on hers, and there’s something kind of magic in watching her. I don’t know yet and haven’t made any plans, but also knew I wanted to get a statement in too.

tl;dr… I hate the entire idea of tldr and refuse to summarize here (but I bet you can guess by the title).

Ace Kim| September 1st, 2017 | Site News

I Am Burned Out

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time and finally have a couple of free minutes to focus my thoughts and put them down on paper. I’ve come to the realization that I am simply just burned out on LEGO. If the lack of regular updates to the site isn’t an indication of that then I don’t know what is. I’ve had LEGO in my life since 1999, the start of the LEGO Star Wars license, and on the site way back when it was just a subsection of yakface.com. I’ve been the showrunner since … I want to say 2002. That’s over 15 years ago. We’ve had our ups, we’ve had our downs, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this un-enthused before about all things LEGO like I am now.

I can’t really point to any one thing as being the cause. It’s a combination of a couple of things really: having to chase the news, trying to keep up with other sites, feeling like things had to be done a certain way, feeling like I’m being ignored by my main point of contact with LEGO, my family, other interests, and probably a couple of other things. At some point it no longer became fun and anytime I had to do something for the site, it was a monumental effort to gather the will to do it. Running this site shouldn’t feel like a chore and it was.

I had a good friend ask me recently, what was the last set I built for fun, and I couldn’t really answer him. This was when we were standing in line waiting for the LEGO store to open to make our purchase and qualify for the Wonder Woman Brickheadz build. It dawned on me how much time passed since I last built a set, and a set that I wanted to build for myself and not for a review. It also reminded me of my review “pile” and how out of hand it’s gotten, and how far behind I was. My god my pile of unopened sets… does the term “box fort” mean anything?

And this goes back to what I was saying earlier, about how I felt like things had to be done a certain way, like writing a post or a review. If it couldn’t be done the way I thought it should be done, then why bother doing it at all. I placed all these self-imposed restrictions on myself, it hampered any effort in doing something, anything. And that is something I am letting go.

Now, before I go on, I should say this: I am not quitting. It sounds like I’m done, and ready to leave the hobby forever. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t seriously consider it, but I’m not about to quit. I’ve been on a break from LEGO and this site for awhile, and I think it was the break I needed to figure out what I wanted to do. That mentality of feeling like things had to be done a certain way or else it’s not worth doing? Yeah, I’m getting rid of that. I want to make running the site fun again, and post things however I want without having to conform to some standard, or feel like I’m competing against other sites. On that note, I may post some non-LEGO related posts on things that interest me. I’ve buried myself in my Nintendo Switch lately (anyone else playing Splatoon?) and rediscovered my love of video games so maybe you’ll see the occasional post about that here and there about. We will still be LEGO-centric, but will include some more personal, off-topic stuff. And that is one thing I want this site to be; I want it to feel more personal. We are more than just LEGO news and reviews. We are just some regular dudes with other things going on in our lives and other interests. There are a lot of reasons why we’re burned out on LEGO, so why keep focusing our efforts on stuff we don’t like? Why not put our energies in the stuff that brings us joy instead?

I had a text stream conversation with Nick and Don about all this, to whom, and I cannot stress this enough, I owe my deepest and sincerest gratitude. This site would be in a way worse condition than it is now without them. I communicated my change in attitude and approach to what this site is about and they are on board. It was such a relief to get this off my chest with them, and you know, that probably wasn’t the first time that happened either. I had a bit of deja vu thinking that I had the exact same type of conversation with them before. Maybe it’s a cyclical thing with me. Pour my heart and soul into something, burn out, rise from the ashes, rinse and repeat. /shrug

Anyways, a lot of things will be changing around here. For better or for worse, that remains to be seen, but I’m ready to move forward again.

tl;dr: I’m back; things will change, but we’re still the same jerks and we aren’t going away.

Image shamelessy lifted off of The Odyssey Online

Ace Kim| September 1st, 2017 | News

Wildcard Toys Is Giving Away That $800 UCS Falcon

wildcard_falcon_giveaway

Wildcard Toy has been hinting at a LEGO giveaway for awhile now and they’ve finally announced that they will be giving away that recently revealed $800 UCS Millennium Falcon. All you have to do is fill out this form. It looks like you’ll have to follow all their social media accounts to enter. You can gain an additional entry by tagging someone on facebook or something. I have no idea when the deadline for entries is or when a winner will be announced; that information isn’t posted anywhere. But they do post the winner on their page. Good luck!

Ace Kim| August 31st, 2017 | LEGO Star Wars, Sales News

Force Friday II Is Here!

scarif trooper

Today is September 1st, at least it is on the East Coast, and the celebration starts now for Force Friday II! You can pick up the first wave of sets based on The Last Jedi right now! Before we get to the list, you should know about a few promotions that are going on right now:

– FREE Exclusive Scarif Trooper! This guy, pictured above, is free and will be automagically added to your bag with your LEGO Star Wars purchase of $50 or more. Offer good while supplies last.
– Double VIP Points! You’ll get double VIP points on all LEGO Star Wars items purchased during Force Friday II.
– Sale on older sets! Yep, you can get 20% just about every set that’s old and taking up space. The more recent stuff is excluded, but you might be able to find some gems. Too many to list here, but you can check out the sale page for details.
– There is a free poster with a LEGO Star Wars purchase. Three to collect, a different one each day from September 1st through September 3rd. It will automatically be added to your cart while supplies last.
– Force Friday II means Force Weekend, all the promo items are good from September 1st through September 3rd.

No UCS Falcon yet, gotta wait at least two more weeks for that one and the exclusive VIP card. And with all that being said, onto the list of The Last Jedi sets:

Ace Kim| August 31st, 2017 | LEGO Star Wars

LEGO Reveals UCS 75192 Millennium Falcon

75192_Front_Comp[1]

For weeks, LEGO was teasing their worst-kept secret on their twitter account and today is the day that the set is finally revealed: the re-release of the most iconic LEGO Star Wars set ever made, the Millennium Falcon. It features about 50% more pieces than the original 10179 set (7,541 pieces to be exact), costs 60% more ($799.99 MSRP), and comes in box that will require it’s own set of wheels to transport. The set will come out on 10/1 but look for VIP access starting around 9/14. Look for our review sometime way after that since it doesn’t seem like we get samples anymore.

Couple of obsevaations:
– Eight hundred bucks! I guess I don’t have to eat…
– This is officially the most expensive retail price for a LEGO set, also the largest.
– New cockpit piece!
– You can choose between Episode V and Episode VII versions of the Falcon, with matching minifigs and creatures. Of course, this means you’ll have to buy two to display both versions.
– No certificate like the first version had.

As usual, the massive set of images, designer video, and official press release are below the fold.

The Fold.