Flying Triangle – LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272)

After the latest LEGO Star Wars magazine came with a mini version of the Sith Eternal TIE Dagger and I already posted a size comparison to the actual commercial model, it only seems natural to follow up with a full review of the Sith TIE Fighter (75272), late as it may be.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Box

As you may know, I won this set in a little building contest a while back. This opens up the question whether I would actually ever have bought it myself. I think I can pretty much answer this with a firm “No!” without much pretense and dancing around like that it would depend on the circumstances and whatever other excuses one could make up. The only exception from that is of course when I would need the parts for a project and buying the box would be cheaper than ordering the pieces individually from Bricklink.

The latter is, however, unlikely to ever happen, considering how pricey this set actually is. At a suggested retail price of 70 Euro for a meager 470 parts the price-to-piece ratio is terrible. You can’t even rationalize this with some of those elements being larger plates or for that matter some of the wedge plates used on this model being “new” (more on that later). They will be common pretty soon and lose their “exclusivity”, given in how many sets they are already being used and latest at that point nobody will be willing to pay a premium just to get them. This will be penny stuff one day soon.

Now of course actual retail prices are lower, but even then the usual metrics of 10 Cent a piece don’t work out when you still have to pay 50 Euro when that’s what it actually should cost before discounts. Point in case: These TIE Fighter sets just don’t have enough bulk, use mostly standard parts and in this particular case there aren’t even any fancy extras to justify an extra profit on top. In fact one could even be majorly upset by the way the minifigures are distributed, so let’s have a look at that.

The Minifigures

This set only has three minifigures to offer. On a general level that is adequate enough, but more or less feels a bit underwhelming, given how large the model will be. Most notably, aside from the pilot himself there aren’t any actual figures associated with the craft itself. In some other sets you get at least a guard and a mechanic. Funny enough, the opposing side, The Resistance, more often than not gets a much richer selection of characters, with even some smaller sets having more minifigures than this one.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Minifigures

Aside from the sheer number of little guys, there is also something very, very cynical (to the fans) going on here: Critical characters from the The Rise of Skywalker movie have been scattered across multiple sets from this series, forcing people who want to collect them to spend big just to obtain a complete selection of figures. Of course I’m referring to The Knights of Ren first and foremost, but this has happened to some others as well. It’s just sad to see and while I have ambiguous feelings about obsessive collectors, I still feel for anyone who had to shell out big just for a special minifig, as much as I may then benefit from buying sets bereft of the figures for cheap on secondary markets.

The characters themselves are executed nicely with some fine details and prints. Finn even got his utility bag and wears his leather jacket! The TIE pilot isn’t anything special, but may still be valuable for a larger diorama with an imperial squadron if you want to mix up things a bit and need different helmet types. Maybe that becomes even more a thing when the new Star Wars – Squadrons game comes out? Finally there’s of course the single Knight of Ren. Since I’m not that deep into the overall canon and lore I’m not going to bother with his name, but it’s interesting to me what crazy prices this would fetch. Again, I’m stunned what consequences such a very corporate move can have in practice…

Is it real?

One thing that really drives me up the wall with this particular TIE Fighter is the scarcity or even utter lack of any references and background info. Aside from one or two rather generic official concept drawings there is nothing for interested fans to verify and obsess about actual dimensions, technical details, tactical combat use and so on. There’s not even a cutaway drawing in one of the usual The Art of Star Wars… books that accompany every movie.

The big stinker is that very, very, very clearly detailed plans for this vessel existed/ exist somewhere. This can be easily proven by the amount of detail that not only the LEGO model tries to squeeze out, but also other model renditions like the Metal Earth version folded up from etched frets or more toy-ish versions from other vendors.

The unfortunate and very frustrating conclusion therefore has to be that this vehicle is a victim of circumstance in that it simply fell between the cracks some time during production of the movie and what little remains of all the conceptual work cannot be recognized and appreciated because quite literally this fighter has been relegated to act as background filler in a big battle scene. So if anyone at Disney or Lucasfilm is reading this: Give us that dang concept art from your vaults!

The Lady comes in Pieces!

One thing I’ve always appreciated as a bit of an engineering nerd myself even way back then is the way those TIE Fighters are split into sensible sub-assemblies not just to facilitate the building process. It really helps with transport and storage. On the other hand, once plugged back together, things are extremely stable and robust, making for a very “swooshable”, i.e. playable, model. As you would expect, this model separates into the two main wings and the central cockpit section with it’s beam-like mounting points and then there’s an extra small support pylon.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Sub-Assemblies

The Cockpit Section

If you’ve ever built any TIE Fighter, you know what to expect here. The only real difference compared to similar models is that this time there was an actual effort made to give the cylindrical cockpit some real volume with some round 3 x 3 x 2 dome pieces used to give it a shaped butt. The proportions otherwise are still wrong, though, with the glass canopy being too large and not bulbous enough.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Cockpit Section, Front Left View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Cockpit Section, Opened Interior

Another major flaw or shortcoming it least is that no attempt was made to reproduce the wedge-like shaping of the front edges of the support beams. There may not be many resources to draw on, but at least this part is very clearly visible in the concept artwork, more so than on any other TIE craft ever before. I find it almost tragic, given how the beams are built, as in my opinion it would have taken minimum effort to squeeze in some suitably shaped wedge and slope pieces like this one and this one perhaps.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Cockpit Section, Aft Left View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Cockpit Section, Aft Right View

The Wings

The wings, or more precisely the radiator plates for the TIE drive constitute the bulk of the build and ultimately are what makes any of these fighters appear so large. The basic triangular shape has been around for a while on Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter (75179), Major Vonreg’s TIE Fighter (75240) and a few others, but this extreme symmetrical, almost equilateral form was never used before.

Does it make sense? Probably not? Is it cool? I don’t agree on that one, either. The whole thing feels forced as if they were trying to come up with yet another shape for the fighters just for the sake of it when there really was no need to. An iconic design like the original hexagonal TIE simply does not need to be reinvented over and over again. It also doesn’t make much sense from an engineering point of view, as the internal tubing for the cooling fluid would be a nightmare and sharp turns cause hot spots and potential congestions.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Right Wing, Top View

The red border is also kind of pointless. As stated, the fighters are barely visible in the movie and this outline is so thin, you just don’t recognize it enough. and not to state the obvious: With such large areas available any TIE Fighter pilot would be more likely to just paint on large squadron badges, diagonal stripes or other insignia. Point in case: Had the edge been copper, brass or silver colored I could have accepted it as being a different material for technical reasons, but being as it is it is simply the lamest way they could have designed this.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Right Wing, Side View

The double sandwiched wings could arguably have some purpose on a real vessel by massively increasing the available surface area for cooling, but of course this rationale is lost in the way the LEGO model is built with the secondary wing foil just stacked on the first one by ways of standard bricks, thus not allowing anything to stream through the gap. It might be possible to build this differently, but arguably just hanging by a few axles and brackets this would be too flimsy and unsafe for mainstream consumption, so I guess it’s okay on some level. At the same time of course it could be merely a misinterpretation of the original artwork just as well. We’ll likely never know…

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Right Wing, Aft View

The rear edge of the radiator panel is actually a completely separate entity. if you study the few original sources, it appears to be shaped like a broad sward with an irregular blade, which kind of brings us back to my point about the leading edges of the cockpit section: It seems the whole thing was supposed to look a lot more aggressive and intimidating in the first place, leaning much more in the somewhat rough Knights of Ren design direction. Given, what a mess the movie was and we already mentioned the various failures of this TIE Fighter I’m not at all surprised things turned out that way and not in a good sense.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Right Wing, Bottom View

When viewed straight on either from the bottom or the top the basic construction and some of the cooler tricks become readily apparent. First there’s that thing with the Trans Clear 1 x 4 tiles used to reinforce the gap between the actual panel and the “cleaver” section I just described. According to Bricklink, this is the first set in like forever to have these tiles and on top of it there are exactly two sets to date that have even used them. I was kind of wowed by this, though I have no concrete idea if and when I actually might need such tiles. They’re not particularly rare, either, but I’ll definitely stow them away safely just in case.

The other interesting thing are of course the tons of the relatively new 4 x 2 and 6 x 4 wedge plates. As I already wrote in my LEGO Star Wars magazine review they will be common soon enough, but I sure don’t mind having a good helping of them right out of the gate. Further incentive is of course provided by some modified tiles which at the very least also will come in handy when that next Star Wars MOC for a competition will require those polished Imperial black floors. ­čśë

Pylon What?!

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), PylonNow for the part that wants me make to slap the LEGO designers in their face (or the responsible higher up project manager) – the sad excuse that is the support pylon/ display stand. It really is like they couldn’t be bothered to even put in a minimum of effort to make it look nice nor actually stable. All it does is literally serve as a third leg to prevent the model from tipping forward while it rests on the bottom aft corner points of the wings. This apparently works sufficiently, but it’s still disappointing. There isn’t even a transversal plate to keep the two trusses at the right distance, much less anything in the way of an actual display stand. I yearn for the day when we get a real launch platform/ gantry with any of the TIE Fighters!

Photo Tour!

While there are a lot of shortcomings with the set, there’s no denying that from certain angles it looks good enough. In particular viewed from steep angles that stretch it in perspective you can almost feel it zooming by and making your furniture tremble. Funny enough, it also looks pretty decent from behind. It’s just the sideways views that give away its somewhat clunky appearance and uninteresting design of the radiator panels. As I said, at least that latter point could have been fixed easily with a different color scheme, so it’s a pity things have to be that way.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Front Left View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Top Left View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Aft View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Front Right View


Concluding Thoughts

Would I have bought this set if I hadn’t won it in a building contest? I consider it extremely unlikely. Unless I had a very concrete plan to build a custom model that would require or at least benefit from having those new wedge plate type en masse, this simply doesn’t add up. The vehicle itself is not the most attractive and on top of it the set is extremely overpriced for what little you get in return. I can appreciate it as a free lunch, though, and of course some people will be right in that I probably shouldn’t complain as much under those conditions. Still, I feel that it’s important to give you the full picture, especially when there’s several caveats to consider. Feel free to agree or disagree and voice your opinions in the comments!

October Triangle – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, October 2020

Blue Ocean‘s release scheduling this year has really taken a hit, if not to say it sucks. they were still advertising September 12th as the release date in their other magazines when it was past that already and it became clear that the LEGO Star Wars magazine would be out only one week later.

Now these things happen – a print run may go wrong, distribution logistics may get stuck somewhere and all that – but this hasn’t been the first time. Worse yet, in a day and age where there’s Facebook and other social media and they have their own web site, too, they can’t manage to keep them updated in a timely fashion to inform customers. I certainly don’t need the unnecessary excitement and uncertainty of going to the news agent every other day and coming back empty-handed. Now that it’s here, though, let’s have a look at the October issue.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Cover

The main comic is weird. Aside from being utterly non-canonical, would anyone actually believe that Vader could not be recognized posing as an imperial officer? It’s not bad from a technical or stylistic viewpoint, mind you, just not a great story. The second, shorter comic is somehow of lesser quality and displays Luke‘s original X-Wing that isn’t even available as a LEGO model currently, while on another “info” page Poe Dameron‘s fighter is shown. Confuses me!

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Comic

There is extremely little in the mag in the way of activities and puzzles, with all of them being mazes/ labyrinths of sorts to find your way. It took me under three minutes to solve them in my head without even tracing the lines. Definitely underwhelming even if you account for a kid’s less developed spatial awareness and acuity.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Poster

The posters aren’t good, either. the one on the back has this weird Yoda silhouette with the characters peeking through and the front one, as displayed here, fails because someone went crazy with Photoshop‘s lightning filter. Kylo Ren‘s kintsugy-style repaired mask is of course iconic and I get what they were aiming for, but this once again looks like a sloppy intern job.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Extra LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Extra

The highlight of the issue and its saving grace is once more the buildable model, this time a Sith Eternal TIE Dagger. Fancy names aside, it is basically the TIE Fighter that never really was, because, as I wrote in my film review back then, it isn’t even that important or prominently featured in the The Rise of Skywalker movie. Further indication of its limited relevance is that there isn’t even a concept drawing/ cutaway in one of the The Art of Star Wars… books. It really feels like an afterthought with no rhyme or reason simply because they wanted something in their movie nobody had seen before, only to then relegate it to the background.

For comparison I took a snapshot of the small version with the bigger model from set 75272 that I won in this building contest a few months ago. The value of the small model lies in the new 4 x 2 and 6 x 4 wedge plates only recently introduced. I had the Medium Azure version of the smaller plates in this Speed Champion set already, but getting a bunch of black ones may turn out much more useful. I could see them being used as spires for towers or similar pointy, sharp stuff already.

Anyway, you get eight of the smaller plates (four left, four right) and two each of the larger ones, so this is a good basis and a simple way to obtain some examples just in case you might need them if like me you are not privy to having the big set (where there’s a ton of those plates, including the red versions of course).

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Comparison

This issue is not great by any stretch of the imagination. It leaves a lot to be desired and even the model would be just the umpteenth micro scale TIE Fighter if it weren’t for the new parts. Perhaps I’m really getting too old and jaded, but it seems to me that they need to shake up the formula a little, even more so considering how many adults actually read the mag. The insistence on pretending this was primarily still for kids feels more and more out of alignment with reality to me…

Another Deep Dive – LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.’s Submarine (70433)

I’m a sucker for certain subjects and as much as I may want to, my inner demons take the upper hand if only something stimulates my nerves in the right way. As I have written many times, oceanic deep see life is one of those things, so it seemed unavoidable that I would by J.B.’s Submarine (70433) from the Hidden Side series, after all. however, I did do so with some major reservations and inner struggles.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Box

The first obvious reason for my reluctance of course once more is the price of the set. It became immediately apparent that the contents of this set are a bit on the sparse side just from looking at marketing photos. This was further confirmed by the small package size when I saw it sit on a shelf. I’m an advocate for using packaging volume efficiently, but in case of LEGO sets this really communicates that the box may not live up to what you might expect, so I’m always wary.

This weird unevenness of package sizes is also confusing and it begins to bother me – you can have two sets in the same price range stuffed into completely different boxes, making it hard to compare how much bang for the buck you possibly get. One could of course speculate endlessly whether or not this is intentional just like you could come up with a million rationalizations like larger parts needing more “air” so they don’t get scratched, but it’s at times frustrating as heck.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Overview

The value of the set is split across four main components: the minifigures, the shark, the submarine itself and what I call a “reef” section for the scenery.

The Minifigures

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Minifigures If you have already bought the Supernatural Race Car (70434) like I did, one of the minifigures will be very familiar. I have nothing against Vaughn Geist, but you don’t necessarily need him twice in your collection. On the other hand it’s still nice to have him as a basis for some Steampunk-ish/ Victorian Era minifigure customization.

J.B. has a new torso and legs mimicking a scuba suit. that’s okay in the general sense, but has a very 1990s vibe. I think that was the last time cyan/ turquoise/ petrol and pink colored neoprene suits were actually hip. I also believe a hair piece with a pigtail would have made more sense, as you wouldn’t want your long hair to float about uncontrolled underwater.

Shark Time!

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Shark

The shark is a neat little addition. It is however regrettable, that they gave him “snotty eyes” as if he had some illness. Sure, that’s meant to be spooky and scary, but since the print is relatively weak it a) is difficult to recognize while b) at the same time limiting the use of the shark itself for other scenarios. If you care to remember, I was rambling on quite a bit about which types of sharks I would love to see. The Sand Blue color is a good start, though.

The Reef

Now for the painful part. Yes, the reef feels like they couldn’t quite decide what to go for, but somehow needed this filler to even validate the existence of this set from a commercial perspective.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Reef, Front Complete

Most tragically, this section is not self-explanatory and does not communicate what it is supposed to be about. Maybe it’s somewhere in the┬áAR┬áapp, but to date I don’t know what this grey figure is supposed to stand for and how it fits into the overall story. Sure, some sort of sea master/ guardian, possibly for some long sunken ruins, but other than that? It’s really not clear and at best feels generic.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Reef, Front without Sub

Another massively irksome thing is the excessive use of colors. This little piece of “land” already feels rather flamboyant in a way and revealing the markers used to trigger the events in the game only exacerbates the issue. Again, there is an overall feeling that they really didn’t care much and on top of it were probably not allowed to spend an extra budget, so even the Dark Cyan curved slopes feel out of place and like they had to make do with what they could scrape together. One really wishes everything was Dark Bluish Grey and Black to make it more consistent even if you could argue that the Dark Tan elements are supposed to represent the ocean floor.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Reef, Front with Markers exposed

In a bit of a “What?” moment there is a rather clever gate mechanism hidden under the central plate. In light of not knowing what is going on here one could assume this could be some way to release ghosts or a strong water stream that pushes away invaders. Just the same it could of course also be some very narrow passage. In fact I’m almost inclined to believe that it was initially even more elaborate and may also have included more coral bushes to actually cover up the statue, but then things were struck from the list to meet budget limits.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Reef, Front with open Center

This feeling of incompleteness continues on the back side as well. One simply cannot shake the feeling that this originally was designed quite differently and possibly part of a bigger scenario which then got culled and now we’re only getting remnants.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Reef, Back

The Sub

Calling it the main attraction hardly seems appropriate, but for me the tiny submarine is the best part about this set. This isn’t so much a case of it being particularly special overall, but for its size it is constructed pretty cleverly. Sadly, though, no time was spent to even hint at some cockpit interior, be that just adding the standard lever, printed 1 x 2 slope and a seat known from other sets.

There’s enough room inside there and the face print on the glass canopy simply does not cover up enough. On that note I would have preferred an unprinted bubble, anyway. Mine was also rather scratchy, but I didn’t trouble myself with requesting a better replacement part simply because it’s unlikely I will ever use it for any of my own creations again.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Submarine, Front Left View LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Submarine, Aft Left View

The one thing that also bugs me here is once again the excessive use of colors. Someone really must have had a bad day and everything feels kind of thrown together using a little less of the yellow and making those round tanks on the side also Black or Light Bluish Grey would have resulted in a more pleasing, overall calmer appearance.

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Submarine, Right View LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), Submarine, Front View

LEGO Hidden Side, J.B.'s Submarine (70433), New Wedge PieceOne thing of note is the wedge piece on the side. It’s actually a new part, not just the existing separate left and right pieces that have existed for the last two years now. Personally I don’t know how to feel about this, to be honest, as the only reason this part seems to exist is further “economization”, i.e. reduction of parts count in sets.

It’s not entirely without merit, as indeed the way it’s being used in other sets loosely hanging in the air and bridging gaps would be difficult to achieve with the same level of stability and elegance, but I’d rather they’d given us some other slope piece with those angled edges instead or at least use a more obtuse angle. if you will: This doesn’t necessarily expand creative possibilities, it really just solves a technical problem.

 


Concluding Thoughts

All things considered, this isn’t a must-have set unless you really don’t mind spending those 20 Euro (or 15 Euro with discounts) to complete your Hidden Side collection. Outside my own weird “I’ll use those crazy colored parts one day.” logic I can’t see how this would appeal to anyone else. It’s not even particularly good or desirable within the series itself. It just completely lacks a unique selling point that would make me recommend it.

Explorer-ing the Medieval – LEGO Explorer Magazine, October 2020

The Middle Ages are an integral part of our European history and castles and fortresses from all periods are scattered all across the landscape, so what could go wrong with a LEGO Explorer issue on the whole matter? As it turns out, quite a lot actually. So let’s dig into the October issue and have a look.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Cover

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Given what I just said, this is of course going to rub quite a few people the wrong way. In an age where LEGO seems to have all but abandoned any knights or medieval theme, the whole notion of doing an entire mag on it, pretending there was plenty for people to dig in, just seems odd. You know, awakening hidden desires vs. the reality of the market. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision the drama should your kid fall in love with one of the knight minifigures only to find out that the latest one was in the most recent Collectible Minifigures Series 20, sold out super fast and goes for 20 Euro or more on Bricklink. Not to speak of anything even older from the original Castle and Knights series. See what’s wrong with this picture?

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Poster

The content is pretty much all over the place in terms of geography and the different eras of the Dark Ages or for that matter even later times. This can only be forgiven under the assumption that little kids won’t care because they simply don’t understand the intricacies yet, but I feel a more focused effort would have helped. There’s no reason to throw in Schloss Neuschwanstein just because you have a good picture of it. It only adds to the confusion. It’s also utterly unnecessary, as it wouldn’t be difficult to draw up a very long list of castles in the area where I live alone or for that matter limited to Germany.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Heraldry

In the activities department there’s quite a few things to do. Aside from the typical knowledge quizzes and info pages there’s a noticeable emphasis on heraldry. Some of the symbolism and color usage is explained and then you are encouraged to design your own crest and flags. Still, I have ambiguous feelings about that as well, as some of that stuff doesn’t seem appropriate for the time period in question and on the other hand things like e.g. the Fleur de Lys that can be found as symbols on so many French flags and shields go mostly unmentioned. Sure, there are entire books about it and this is by no means meant to be comprehensive, but a broader approach to this wouldn’t have hurt.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Extras LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Extras

The included mini model is a piece of castle/ fortress with battlements and what could be the top section of a defense tower. There’s also a small finger-snap catapult to literally fling poop, rocks or fire at the castle to destroy it. It’s too finicky to have actual play value, but at least the poop piles/ sundae swirls in Reddish Brown are a nice addition. So far I only had White ones from the Disney sets I reviewed where they stand in for clam shells and that sort of thing. Generally the parts value in this little bag is excellent with the thirteen 1 x 1 slopes in Dark Tan, a number of 2 x 2 round bricks (macaroni) and some other parts, even more since they come in very usable “neutral” colors, i.e. mostly greys.

Overall the magazine simply feels overstuffed this time. It doesn’t really make sense trying to squeeze in so many topics spanning several centuries. Each of the different sub-genres could easily fill their own mag, be that medieval weapons, daily life, castles/ fortresses or heraldry. Don’t get me wrong – as far as keeping kids busy there’s enough here, it’s just that it feels too scattershot for a consistent experience. This diminishes its overall (educational) value and one would certainly hope they will revisit some of the subjects in the future with a more focused single-topic issue…

Fiery October – LEGO City Magazine, October 2020

The CoViD-19 pandemic is unfortunately reigniting everywhere and the world certainly needs some committed medical firefighters to combat that. Therefore it’s kind of fitting (along with the fact that there’s actual massive bush fires in some countries currently) that the current LEGO City magazine brings us one of those helpful dudes.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Cover

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Extras The minifigure is the same you will find in the Forest Fire (60247) set, which incidentally I had bought earlier this year just for the unique owl it contains. The red slopes also came in handy for my lightsaber sharpening facility MOC, of course. Sometimes things work out in mysterious ways indeed. The little buggy is virtually just another variation on the same build found in the Jurassic World magazine where I already mentioned this. They only use different wheels and a few details deviate, but overall it’s nearly identical. Naturally there’s only so many ways to skin a cat when you have such a limited number of pieces. To my eyes the color scheme looks the wrong way round. I would have preferred red mudguards and only Bright Light Yellow accents.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Poster

The comic is pretty nice this time and overall there’s tons of puzzles and activities, which is always a good thing to keep your kids occupied. They sneaked in some animal rescue stuff as well, which makes it regrettable that none of the depicted pumas and panthers is actually in the foil pack. I know, those animals are expensive, but it would be ace to one day get them this way. One of the posters, the “No time for panic” shown above, is also pretty good.

Boombox Mechanic – LEGO Hidden Side Magazine, September/ October 2020

With the death knell for LEGO Hidden Side not being that far off, I welcome every opportunity to explore the series while it lasts and the associated magazine, while certainly not the most attractive out of all the LEGO magazines, this month certainly has some welcome goodness.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, September/ October 2020, Cover

The September/ October 2020 issue comes with a very useful minifigure and an even more useful little extra and for once I was really looking forward to it, despite my not being much into collecting minifigs. The mechanic is a different version of the one also included in Jack’s Beach Buggy (70428) and by that I mean the body/ torso is the same and the head has been substituted for a simpler version. Since I bought two magazines this time, I was actually able to display the regular and the ghost version side by side in the same picture.

Now, why would I do such a thing? The answer is also already in the image – it’s all about the boombox. This particular version in Light Bluish Grey has only been included in a handful of sets, some of them pretty expensive ones, so it’s a bit elusive. Not in the crazy expensive and rare sense, just that it may not always be readily available in larger quantities. That’s why it’s nice to get it in such a straightforward manner. You never know when it might come in handy. After all, I outfitted my prize-winning MOC from last year with the orange version and it helps to bring across that beach vibe.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, September/ October 2020, Extras

With the mechanic and his boombox being front and center they of course have to be in the comic as well along with the already mentioned beach buggy and the Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000 (70423). that and then the buggy is featured on a separate product page as well. A bit too much promotion for such a small, unimportant set, if you ask me. Regardless, the comic is done well enough to derive some fun, even though it doesn’t introduce anything we haven’t seen before.

The posters are once more pretty terrible, with some fat ugly type having been overlaid on the already hyper-active, overstuffed Hidden Side art style. The puzzles/ mini-games follow the usual pattern of “Find person X!” and some random “Ghost Hunter Practice” stuff like pointing at some crosshairs with eyes closed, so nothing new there.

Overall the main reason for getting the magazine at this point is to complete your collection of minifigures from the series. The other stuff becomes less and less relevant for this “no future” magazine and who knows, the next issue for November/ December could already be the last.

Locked up Ghosts – LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435)

Regrettably, LEGO Hidden Side will come to an end later this here, so let’s have a look at some more sets from the second wave while there is still a chance. Today’s menu is the Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435).

Contents

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Box

This set is one of the few in my life and the series specifically where it didn’t need much of a second thought and that “Want! Want! Want!” urge was right there as soon as I saw some real photos of the set. I was immediately taken in by the fact that this would be a “realistic” model using naturalistic colors and, also somewhat unusual for Hidden Side, wasn’t plastered all over with those colored markers that the smartphone app latches on to.

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Overview

The Minifigures

The minifigures aren’t that special. There’s of course for the millionth time Jack in his typical white sweater, only this time with an added separate hood piece for good measure. Similar to J.B., his smartphone also has a different screen print to further distinguish him from earlier editions. El Fuego is his standard skeletal from know from his stunt truck set and often depicted in the comic magazine.

That only leaves the prison guard and Rami as actual new figures. The guard is okay, but ultimately just feels like yet another LEGO City police officer, even more so since he doesn’t have any colleagues to support him. God forbid there’s ever a prison riot! Rami stands out the most with his Dark Cyan jacket and Blue T-shirt with the neon-style logo. As a bonus, he also comes with a Chihuahua dog. This little critter has only be rarely used at all in any sets and here it comes with a refined print for the eyes and nose to boot.

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Minifigures

The Prison Building

Despite my wanting the set, one thing made me go “Not again!” and *facepalm* myself: Yupp, it’s easily apparent and one can’t dance around it, but this set, too, follows the flat facade/ triptych type overall layout not least of all dictated by the requirements for the Augmented Reality (AR) app and some ill-conceived notion of accessibility to the individual sections. The consolation here is,however, that for all intents and purposes a prison is an enclosed facility and the idea of the cell blocks framing the yard makes sense.

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Front View, Closed

The center section very prominently features a big hunking door constructed from the same piece used on the Ninjago play cabinets earlier this year, just in a different color. I’m sure we’re going to see this part being used quite a bit in the future, as it would be useful for anything from thick, reinforced bank vault doors to serving as a loading trough on a truck.

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Front View, Open

The actual cells for the inmates open by ways of a custom-built sliding mechanism. Since they are based on the four studs wide fence element, there is ample room to move your minifigures through the opening when slid back. Those fence elements are done in Dark Pearl Grey for the first time here, by the way, which makes them super useful and highly desirable for custom builds. The same goes for the horizontal O-type bars used on the roof. Even better, you get eight and ten of each element, respectively, so even if you only buy one set, you have quite some good start count to work with.

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Front View, Monster Transformation

The monster transformation is okay, I guess, but nothing to write home about. As always I didn’t use the stickers, so the eyes are missing, but I feel even if they were there they wouldn’t add much. It’s just not scary and the space in the surveillance towers could probably have been used better for adding some more small details. They also at the very least could have thrown in a bunch of chains in Trans Neon Green to put up as decoration.

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Left Watch Tower, Front View LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Left Watch Tower, Back View

The towers are kept quite simple, being based on the old octagonal castle pieces. The left section has a basketball hoop and someone even left the ball laying on the ground, which makes for a lovely touch. It begs the question, though, how long ago the prison was actually abandoned. If kids are still playing there, it again can’t be that scary.

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Right Watch Tower, Front View LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Right Watch Tower, Back View

The right tower is your typical elevated platform with a roof on it, but otherwise feels a bit barebones. They could easily have added some details like a loudspeaker/ megaphone and if the monster claws weren’t there, there would be room for a weapons locker with stun guns and a ladder or something to that effect.

LEGO Hidden Side, Abandoned Prison of Newbury (70435), Center Section, Back View

The center section is either the guards’ holding area or a community room/ shared facilities for the inmates. I couldn’t quite figure out which it is supposed to be, but either would be appropriate. The toilet even has a small gag in that a transparent yellow 1 x 1 tile hints that someone forgot to flush after taking a pee. I’m not sure, though, if Lavender toilet paper would be appropriate. ­čśë


Concluding Thoughts

All things considered, I like this set very much. It looks the part and I thoroughly enjoyed building it. The parts are very, very useful for custom builds, so despite being very cost-aware it isn’t really worth opening a discussion about it. Getting it for 30 Euro sure made things easier, but I’d have bought it for its full prize at 40 Euro eventually as well. This is in fact one of the few sets where I’m seriously considering getting it more than once and might rebuild it as a bigger version one day. In any case, if you have similar thoughts, you should definitely hurry up securing your copy before it’s going to disappear from the market. I highly recommend it.

September Rabbit Escape!

In these weird times it is even more regrettable that the LEGO Friends magazine only comes out every other month here in Germany, so it feels like a small eternity since when the last one arrived end of June now that the September issue is here.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September/ October 2020, Cover

This one weirdly enough is centered around the literal “rabbit out of your hat” theme, with cylinders and rabbits being front and center everywhere such as a quiz on rabbits, the comic and even one of the posters. That doesn’t change the fact that the Friends magazine is seriously falling behind in graphical fidelity compared to the other magazines. Next to those it really looks like it’s from the 1990s.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September/ October 2020, Rabbits Quiz

On a positive note, in addition to the now standard coloring page in the mag they also make good use of the back cover and include a cut & glue template for a magical cylinder. This certainly adds some value in the activities department and could make for a lovely afternoon with your little ones.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September/ October 2020, Back Page LEGO Magazine, Friends, September/ October 2020, Buildable Extra

The buildable extra represents a small magician stage also appearing in the comic. It’s nothing too fancy, but done well enough. Interestingly, while I figured the 1 x 2 x 2 slopes in Dark Purple would have been abundantly used in Friends sets, this isn’t actually the case. They are currently only part of two official sets, with all other uses dating much further back. They are not exactly rare, though, but it’s nice to get them this way without much ado. You never know when you might need them.

Despite the unusual subject, this feels like an acceptable issue and offers good enough value overall with the cutout cylinder taking the cake. Perhaps that’s even worth an excursion to the crafts shop to pick up some glittery stuff and build a bigger version and a magic wand from a wooden spoon to boot…

September Quad

The LEGO Jurassic World magazine comes out way too infrequently for my taste, being that it is one of the better ones and thus more interesting, but I guess we just have to accept that it only rolls out every 2.5 months.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, September 2020, Cover

The latest issue adheres to this relatively high standard once more. The comic is once again drawn reasonably well. Initially when I was just quickly skipping over the pages  the pink and purple panels even threw me off. I really thought they were wrongly inserted from a Friends comic or similar. A second, more thorough glance of course then revealed that this is related to the zapping effect of the electrical stun gun.

The posters are also pretty nice this time with their bright, intense colors and focused design. As a graphics artist I especially like the blue one (“Los! Los! Los!” simply translates to “Go! Go! Go!”) It’s not overstuffed and leaves enough room around the edges to let the center piece “breathe”.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, September 2020, Comic

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, September 2020, ExtraThe little buildable extra and minifigure are nice in that we don’t just get the umpteenth version of Owen Grady, but Vic Hoskins instead, another trainer/ keeper on Isla Nublar and the entertainment park there. The figure so far has only been featured in the T. rex vs Dino-Mech Battle (75983) set, and since that one may not exactly be a hot burner due to the weird mech dino requiring getting used to, it’s a nice way for people to get their hands on this figure without having to buy this set.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, September 2020, Preview

The quad is a pretty mundane and boring affair. If it wasn’t for that little twist with a animal cage trailer coming in the next issue, you could mostly write it off. In fact I’m pretty sure when the new LEGO City magazine comes out in two weeks the quad on that one will be almost exactly the same, just different colors.

Anyway, stretching out the buildable parts across multiple issues is in my opinion a good idea I’ve been vying for for quite a while. If it means that we get better, more complex models I’m all for it. I wouldn’t mind getting e.g. a full-sized Jeep spread out across three or four magazines. The downside to that is of course that it is less marketable to impatient kids who look for more immediate results.

All things considered, this is yet another quite good Jurassic World magazine. If they hadn’t played it so cheap on the quad/ buggy, it could have been even more remarkable, but i guess we’ll have to see how the trailer makes up for it and how the models look when combined.

Yellow Deep Dive – LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264)

From what it looks like, this is going to be the last day of the heat wave that has been making my life miserable those last three weeks, so it’s time to sit down and finally write this little review for the LEGO City Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264).

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Box

This is one of those “Maybe/ perhaps/ possibly some day” sets, that had me pondering a purchasing decision back and forth for quite a while. The reason is of course that that are some interesting things in this set, but I’ve never been greatly into City to begin with and, let me spell that out right away, the set overall looks somewhat bland despite being actually reasonably filled with stuff.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Overview

A major contributing factor for my hesitance was the price. We all know that LEGO has this weird piece count x 10 Cent logic and I can acknowledge that there are a few large pieces in here that may cost a tiny bit more to produce, but overall 30 Euro just didn’t feel right. It’s too mundane and ordinary to make me go “I’m going to accept a small surcharge for the coolness factor.”. So ultimately I once more waited for the price to drop below that magic 20 Euro threshold and only then jumped on to it.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Minifigures

The minifigures aren’t much to write home about. For a play-centric series like City they are okay, but have very little collector’s value. It’s not that they’re bad, just not in any way outstanding. The Sand Blue and Dark Red combo for the regular guys is pretty common and even the divers literally feel like what they appear – astronauts that took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up underwater. As they say, this is neither here nor there, as for a genuine diving expedition at the depths presented here they would have to be hard shell pressurized suits, not those semi-dry industrial diving suits.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Grotto, Front Left View Moving on, the reason for this becomes easily apparent: The species of Angler Fish depicted in this set typically live way beyond the 200 meter deep ranges any mainstream diving suit would withstand, hence you likely wouldn’t encounter them on a normal expedition, let alone a casual scuba dive. So basically the set gets this aspect completely wrong.

The fish itself is of course one of the main attractions of the set. I was surprised how large it actually is – almost the height of a minifigure. The overall proportions and anatomy are recognizable, but the lantern whip is kind of in the wrong place. It should be above the mouth/ on the forehead and point backward.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Grotto, Front Right View

As much as I wanted the fish, I always had serious doubts about the coloration and those weren’t alleviated now that I have the set. I do get why they opted for a “glow in the dark” effect along with the Lime Green, but ultimately the result is to limited to really warrant that choice. Therefore it seems more conventional colors would have been better. Since this is dual molded, it may not have been possible to make it fully transparent (Trans Black) like many of the real deep sea fish are without exposing the mold edges, but I could have totally gone for Dark Bluish Grey with Trans Neon Orange or Trans Neon Green teeth, fins and eyes.

The cove/ cave/ grotto or whatever may be the correct term is just a run-off-the mill small rock build with nothing specific to it. It looks nice enough, but clearly could have benefited from some more love. Most disappointingly it would and should have been easy to include a pack of the mini fish and creatures introduced for the animal rescue Friends sets one year ago. This would have enlivened the whole scene, small as it may be and having this pack of extra in another color would just have been cool.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Grotto, Back View Another shortcoming that tickles the engineering half of my brain in all the wrong ways is the flimsy mechanism meant to pull the fish back and forth. It’s not so much that it exists at all, but seriously, just locking in the transparent liftarm with only a single plate? It just wobbles around and is more or less useless. If you hand this to your kids, I would recommend you just leave it off and let them hold the fish directly.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Submarine, Aft Left View

The bulk of the set, not in terms of the number of pieces, but overall volume, goes into the exploration submarine. The build captures the typical overall structure and appearance of these vehicles quite nicely – ballast tanks that could also double as skids to sit on the ocean floor, the actual pressure cell, the large float/ stabilization tank(s) on the top (filled with fluids so they don’t collapse under the exterior pressure), the omnidirectional propellers, the robotic manipulator arms, the large bubble window. They even included a small underwater sled for the drivers to hold on to. It’s just that it looks all way too perfect and smooth.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Submarine, Aft Left View with Diver Sled LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Diver Sled Ultimately that is the biggest failing of this set: everything looks so pristine like it has never actually been used. Now of course this is a play set for kids and considerations for simplicity, stability, ease of assembly and so on may take precedence, but it honestly shouldn’t have been too difficult to integrate some greebly stuff.

Those vehicles get repaired all the time and modified on the spot to optimize them for a given task, so they show some wear, have extra rails and ropes bolted on, may carry additional exterior air supplies, lighting rigs or specialized sensor buoys. There’s just so much they could have added. Even something simple like replacing one of the Yellow window frames with a Dark Orange one to indicate a replaced segment that simply wasn’t painted yet along with boarding up the window with an opaque insert might have added just that bit of interest and still would be perfectly safe.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Submarine, Aft Right View

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Submarine, Front View

The lack of details unfortunately also extends to the interior. The cockpit doesn’t even have a single printed panel, only the secondary radar operator has something to show for. Again, this is another case of where it would have been easy to add a few SNOT bricks or brackets and plug on some printed tiles at least.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Submarine, Top View Open

On a more positive note, this set has one good thing going for it: It brings back the Yellow 1 x 6 x 2 arch, which until not so long ago was quite rare. I mentioned this in the review for the Winter Village Station (10259). So if you were ever keen on building just the yellow bus or for that matter a school bus or here in Germany an old-fashioned postal truck this set would be a good basis, even more so since it also includes the two large hood pieces and also two of the roof wedge pieces.

LEGO City, Ocean Exploration Submarine (60264), Submarine, Roof Insert

As should have become clear, I’m far from in love with this set. It is okay as a play set for your kids and I certainly got my value out of it from the parts, but at the end of the day this is a very sub-par set. The irony here is that it would be just fine if LEGO had concocted this as a 20 Euro set of their own, but it is unworthy of a NatGEO collaboration. It literally reeks of those cheap licensing deals where nobody cares beyond just slapping on the logo. Simply disappointing.