Stubby Flyer – Race Plane (31094)

I’ve been a (military) aviation buff all my life, so one would think I latch on to every LEGO model that is a halfway decent rendition of an aircraft, but not so fast. Indeed the Race Plane (31094) from the Creator 3in1 line wasn’t even on my radar until an unexpected opportunity changed that.

LEGO Creator, Race Plane (31094), Box

Said opportunity came when I was browsing eBay searching for something else and they were offering a 10 Euro voucher for every purchase above 20 Euro within a specific (very short) time frame. I wasn’t planning on buying any LEGO stuff that day, but then I figured “What the heck.” and did it, anyway. The real trick of course would be to find a suitable set that would meet the minimum purchase value to be entitled for the voucher, yet not be overly expensive to make it worthwhile.

A quick search turned up this set being sold at 27 Euro with the original MSRP being 30 Euro and given that shipping was free, anyway, the math worked out quite favorably and I took the plunge. At 17 Euro effectively you couldn’t ask for a better price. Typically you can find this set for around 21 Euro, but given the bulk for once I would say that even paying 25 Euro would be fair. In fact, depending on your inclinations even the full price could be considered okay as this set really feels massive.

LEGO Creator, Race Plane (31094), Overview

In typical 3in1 fashion the bulk of the parts goes into the plane itself, but this set has at least a pilot figure and two racing pylons. The latter feel a bit out of place in that in order to set up a real racing circuit you would simply need a lot more, ideally with different color coding as it’s used to indicate where the plane needs to take specific turns and loops or fly at different heights as in real aerial racing. It also stands to note that the cones aren’t used in any of the secondary builds for this set. I’m not complaining to have them, but it feels a bit inconsequential and redundant in either direction.

LEGO Creator, Race Plane (31094), Left View

The plane itself is based on the old school premise of racing planes derived from old wartime planes like the P-47 Thunderbolt and/ or classic designs like the Gee Bee Racer that ultimately also drew a lot of inspiration from military planes of the 1930’s and on. As such the model represents a quite wild mix of different ideas, borrowing bits here and there. In addition to the already mentioned examples of course the one thing that stands out is the shape of the wings, very apparently based on the F4U Corsair‘s unique inverted gull wing design.

LEGO Creator, Race Plane (31094), Right View

The main fuselage is built a round a pretty massive core made up of different types of bricks and plates, including ones with pin holes to which later the wings will be attached. This provides a pretty robust basis for the rest of the parts. The aft part of the cockpit is constructed from stacked wedges of the integrally molded symmetrical type. This also provides a lot of stability. Personally, though, I would have preferred separate pieces using sideways construction methods in the interest of better re-usability of the parts for later projects.

The vertical rudder could be a bit of a weak spot do to it being put together from slope bricks without much interlocking/ overlap and also being fixed to the body using 2 x 1 jumper plates. Mind you, it doesn’t fall off under normal conditions, but you have to handle it with care. There is also no moving parts, though i feel that would have been easy enough to do using some hinges and building the part from perpendicular plates plugged to the fuselage with pins or such. The blocky appearance is also a reminder that LEGO seriously need more thin slopes and narrow curved bricks to allow for smooth aerodynamic edges.

LEGO Creator, Race Plane (31094), Top View

To me personally the wings feel a bit short, as a Corsair has quite an impressive wingspan. Inserting one more row of 2 x wide slopes/ bricks at the wing root and the same on the outer part might have improved this. I’m fully aware that wings on race planes are often clipped to increase maneuverability, but I can’t help but feel that they are simply not large enough to provide enough lift. I also think the “depth” (front to back width) would need to be increased on a real plane, no matter what. in relation to the rest of the aircraft the proportions fit, though, and look just fine.

LEGO Creator, Race Plane (31094), Folded Wings

Like on many naval airplanes the wings can be folded up. I don’t think this is necessarily an intended thing, however, more a side effect of using the ratcheted hinge plates to create the angled attachment points in the first place. The downside to this is also that there are no stoppers on the underside, so the wings can actually have negative inclination, which not only looks odd, but just wouldn’t work on the real plane. Given that the wings are connected to the fuselage using Technic axles and connectors and the wheels are also attached this way this seems like an oversight. It shouldn’t have been that difficult to add a “stopper” pin or whatever somewhere to prevent pushing the hinges into negative angles.

The motor section is perhaps the weakest part. Not so much for how it’s done, but once again how illogical and inconsistently it is done. It’s like the designers had a ton of ideas and then couldn’t decide what kind of motor to emulate, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it. Or they just don’t understand how this stuff works. In any case, for this reason this section feels massively overstuffed and a good chunk of it could probably have been left out.

For instance you wouldn’t want a carburetor intake/ air scoop to obstruct your view. Doing so might also have offered a chance to simply add proper fairings and access hatches for this area, possibly also allowing an alternate build without the interior engine parts and just a smooth surface. The same goes for the coiling, which I would have preferred to be build from curved slopes around a square core, similar to how you build Brickheadz.

LEGO Creator, Race Plane (31094), Front View

Finally I also think they could have done better on the propeller. In terms of length and width the small Technic rotor blades would have been a perfect fit here and I’m sure they could have produced them in black with yellow tips plus a new four- or five-fingered axle hub to hold them. This would incidentally be quite useful, anyway, not just for this set, so totally worth the investment in my view.

All my niggles aside (which are simply due to being involved in the subject so much) this is a very nice set. It hits all the right beats and most importantly is fun. It’s not super simplistic to build, but also not too complicated, so assembling it is enjoyable and a good way to idle away an evening. It’s also a very stable and massive model that can withstand a bit of mistreatment by children without falling apart at every turn. I was quite surprised how much I actually like this set, never having seriously considered it beforehand. I might even build the Alpha Jet like third alternative model one day just for fun. I definitely can recommend this.

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Jurassic Madness

The cat, ore more precisely the T. Rex is out of the bag and the long rumoured “big” Jurassic World set has been officially revealed. A lot of people were hoping for a fully decked out Visitor Center build from the first Jurassic Park movie including those fancy Jeeps, but they opted for a super large T.Rex and the equally large entry gate to the actual park ride instead.

And therein lies the problem. To say it’s causing an uproar would perhaps be an exaggeration, but it is definitely divisive. There are of course a few problems with this approach. Even if you discount the disappointment of not getting a building-based set there’s no denying that it will be difficult to get behind the set for many. The biggest issue in my view (and many others’) is of course the gate. It feels for all intents and purposes like superfluous padding. Of the 3120 pieces at least one-third of them appear to go just into this gate and since they are also large ones, they are likely responsible for a good chunk of the 250 Euro price.

What’s worse even are the little miniature scenes crammed into the gate posts and replicating a few iconic scenes from the movie, including the genetic lab, that infamous toilet scene and a few others. In particular this part feels like giving potential buyers that would have been interested in that Visitor Center thing the finger or in other words rubbing salt into their wounds while they ponder what could have been. say what you will, this doesn’t seem a smart decision on LEGO‘s part.

Personally I tend to see things similarly – love the dino, loathe the gate. I’d dig the T.Rex if it was sold separately for around 120 Euro and it would jump to somewhere at the top of my wanted list, but potentially having to buy something at twice the price of which you only really want half the package doesn’t seem like a good prospect. I’d think very hard about buying it even if my finances weren’t as constrained as they are. So overall this is a bit of a disappointment on several levels, sad as it may be…

No real Talent – Andrea’s Talent Show (41368)

Do you know that weird feeling of wanting a LEGO set and at the same time being extremely reluctant and skeptical about it? That was pretty much the case with Andrea’s Talent Show (41368), so let’s see what’s to love and what not and also explain my inner struggles a bit.

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Box

In my life as an graphics artist working in a small media production company the subject of the set wasn’t that alien to me. Occasionally I would even help out with pushing buttons behind the scenes on trade shows and open house events for our clients so the screens wouldn’t remain black. That and of course I knew a few people who were in the stage show business, be that riggers, audio engineers, lighting people and so on. Combined with my own interest in elaborate shows from the likes of Cirque du Soleil or our very own Friedrichstadtpalast the subject on some level appealed to me. at the same time, though, I totally despise those awful “talent” shows on TV, so this caused me some trepidation to actually commit to it.

As usual the “right” price would help to convince me, so I took the opportunity when it dropped below 30 Euro. I think I ultimately got it for 28 Euro or something like that. The original price of 50 Euro is just ridiculous, so stay away from this set if you can’t get it cheaply enough. It’s definitely not worth that even if you allow wiggle room for the many large parts that by their nature are already a bit more expensive. Case in point: Due to the unusual colors e.g. even those eight Magenta plates in the set could be had cheaper on Bricklink than what they would cost you when buying the set. I’d definitely not spend more than 40 Euro on it even on a good day.

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Overview

The set itself is reasonably large and comes with a number of little side builds, yet you always feel like something is missing. More importantly – to me, anyway – the assembled stage looks very uninviting due to the extensive use of Black. For a Friends set this is pretty uncommon and unfortunately doesn’t really elevate the set. I understand why they did it (more on that further down), but I still don’t particularly like it. Using Light Bluish Grey at least for some of those parts would have been preferable and incidentally also more “realistic”, as e.g. most trussing for portable stage construction is just plain aluminium, zinc coated lightweight steel or stainless steel.

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Stage InsertHow unsuitable the Black is can easily be determined by just looking at the images of the little turntable inserts for the stage’s front area. The larger parts simply look like a mush, which is something you would avoid in a real scenario, at least in this way. Of course lots of Black are used on real stages to hide things in the background. Anyway, as the center pieces the inserts do not look particularly convincing. For all intents and purposes they should be flamboyant and stand out with strong colors. The singer pedestal could be Medium Lavender, the magic trick table with the rabbit could have glittery parts and the drum kit could at least have had its supports in Gold or Silver.

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Stage Insert LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Stage Insert

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Jury Table

The judges’ table feels equally unimpressive and underdeveloped. Naturally there would be at least three jury members in most shows, so it feels way too small. They should at least have aimed to include two seats. how they undermined their own intention in fact becomes apparent by the elaborate construction of the buttons. They use rubbery Technic connector elements underneath them to give the effect of touch buttons rather than permanent switches as would have been the case with a simpler, more straightforward approach. It’s really odd to “waste” this idea in such a manner.

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Dressing Rooms

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Dressing Room Connectors

The “dressing rooms” share a similar fate in that they are way too small and thus just don’t feel “real”. They plug into the back of the stage at the sides if you choose so, but in that case feel somehow quite misplaced. In my view they would have to have some panels then to give the idea of some physical separation even if only with paper-thin walls.LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Front View

The front view of the stage looks okay, but ultimately empty. aside from my usual not using the stickers in the set this can be attributed to the total absence of a background or for that matter the stage having no real depth. this brings us back to one of my previous points – the stage is black because most mobile phones and tablets have black frames and you are supposed to use one of those devices as a large background LED screen/ projection.

That’s all well and good if you have one, but there are at least two flaws in this plan: First, LEGO don’t tell you where to get those show-y backgrounds and how to get them on your device. In the end you might spend hours scouring YouTube trying to find a suitable clip and then struggle to somehow download/ rip it to your phone or tablet. I’m not even going to begin debating the legal implications.

The second flaw in this plan sure is that even if you have a mobile device available you might not want to give it to your kids to play around with. Therefore it seems to me it would have been inevitable to include some printed cardboard as an alternative to put in place. I mean they know how to do it with their Movie Maker sets and some others, so it sure wouldn’t be too much to ask, or would it?

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Top View with Insert

The shallowness of the stage is even more apparent from a slightly angled top-down view. This also shows that the stage is by no means a contiguous surface. It’s a missed opportunity that could easily have been remedied by including some of these new inverted round plates in White. That would have nicely hidden away the underlying gear construction for the turntable, of course.

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Top View with exposed Gears

Sadly, this part doesn’t make much sense, either. If you look at the picture of the backside and imagine your phone being slotted into the yellow Technic holders, the driving gear might be very difficult to reach it would have been much smarter to construct a longer drive train using multiple gears and have it be accessible from one of the stage’s sides.

If that wasn’t enough, what also wouldn’t work with a device in place are the score boards. If you do the math in your head, you should come to realize that in their up position where they are supposed to be held in place by the grey axles they would also rest on the edge of your device and never drop down once you pull out the stoppers. This is such a glaring oversight and lapse in functional logic.

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Talent Show (41368), Back View

All things considered, this is far from a great set. I got what I wanted from it for the low price I bought it for, but I sure wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. This set is full of unnecessary mistakes and shortcomings and my resounding feeling is that the designer(s) were totally clueless how traditional stage design or design for TV shows actually works. Most annoyingly, though, the almost inescapable requirement for some sort of stage background makes the set feel lifeless without it. The Black color doesn’t help, either, even more so in light of the absence of more bling that it would contrast with. It really feels sort of drab and dreary when it should be exuberant and colorful…

Walking under the Sea – Underwater Robot (31090)

As I’ve written a number of times I’m not the biggest fan of mech/ robot style sets due to the large joints and hinges always somehow floating about uselessly (mostly). Naturally I still can’t escape buying one of these models every now and then and the Underwater Robot (31090) from the Creator 3in1 series is one of those rare exceptions.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Box

The reason I got this set in the first place is of course that I’m sort of on a roll with the subject ever since the Deep Sea Creatures (31088). It’s not that I wanted to be complete or build a diorama, I was just in the mood. This set boasting a few parts that I didn’t have yet in my repository plus the large transparent bubble canopy made the decision easier, too. With the underwater-themed new Friends sets coming out now there sure is going to be a use for substituting the tinted counterparts with the clear version e.g. on the Dolphins Rescue Mission (41378) once I get it.

Price considerations with this set should be closer to your heart even than for other sets, given the nature of its content. Literally half the volume and weight is made up of the hinge/ joint parts, not leaving much room for other parts that perhaps might be more useful later. The suggested retail price of about 20 Euro therefore doesn’t seem like a good value proposition. Getting the set at 15 Euro or below would be more acceptable. Lucky for us street prices are already reflecting this, so it’s mostly good.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Overview

Aside from the main build of the mech itself there are some very minor extra items by ways of a see weed with some gold lumps and a little stingray. The latter follows the color scheme from the Deep Sea Creatures and would therefore match. The limitation would be that actually only the shark and perhaps the whale then would fit in terms of scale. For the squid and angler fish it would be more like a tiny baby.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Stingray

One of the reasons I’m so reluctant to buy these robotic sets is the fact that LEGO usually don’t bother to include the joints and hinges in custom colors equal to the rest of the set. If at least that was a thing, there would be more incentive to bolster one’s parts arsenal with differently colored variations. In this set this becomes even more apparent as the robot is actually pretty tiny and on top of it not much of an effort is made to shim over the exposed grey areas with more yellow bricks.

I’m not opposed to the Dark Bluish Grey and Yellow scheme per se, but I think it would have looked better if there was more of the yellow. My reasoning here is that there would be a pressure-resistant, watertight shell all the way around leaving no internal parts exposed. It would be even more so if this was a manned mech and not a remotely operated/ autonomous unit as depicted. This lapse of consistent functional logic applies to the alternate models as well, with their open cockpits and exposed parts perhaps not making the most sense 300 ft under the sea.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Front

The mechanics of this model are as simple as it gets, with the structure more or less consisting of immediate, direct connections of the joint elements plugged into one another and held together by a minimum of plates and tiles. the only area that involves some actual building is the main trunk. It’s not super-advanced, but at least uses a bit of perpendicular/ sideway construction. Once more the “air hose” system perhaps doesn’t do much logically, but adds a nice visual touch. They could likely have expanded on this by including some more tubes/ hoses (the soft pneumatic ones) to simulate electrical wires and pressure lines for the actuators.

The model is fully poseable, but naturally there is a big caveat here: With the joints connected so directly there is not full freedom of movement for each of them  and in addition there is not enough leverage due to each segment being short. this makes it somewhat difficult to actually get the limbs where you want them. As an adult you can get there, but smaller kids will struggle. This limits the play value unnecessarily. the secondary models are more forgiving in this regard, as they do not require so many joints to be adjusted.

LEGO Creator, Underwater Robot (31090), Pose

As a quick snack I enjoyed this set in an odd way, but ultimately its value for “serious” users is somewhat limited. There’s not enough “real” parts to keep you busy with the assembly for long and as display items the different models don’t hold up to scrutiny. More or less this is really a play set, though even in that case there are limitations. At the end of the day i tend to think that you would need two or three of those sets to really turn this into something by refining and expanding upon the ideas in the set – making the models larger or detailing them up.

It might also have helped had the set included parts to build a sled to drag behind the mech on the sea floor or a crate/ cage to hoist up samples and machinery to the (imaginary) research ship. there’s some ideas how this could be spun, but you definitely would need to invest a bit of extra time and money to get the best experience…

June Walk(er)

Last month’s IG-88 wasn’t exactly a priority item for me, as I really prefer buildable bricks with my LEGO magazines, so the June issue of the Star Wars mag represents a return to form of sorts for me.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, June 2019, Cover

The model purports to represent an AT-M6 walker as seen in The Last Jedi, but to be honest it looks anything but. The lanky feet and overall flimsy construction simply don’t impress. The model is basically just a collection of hinge plates of various types. On the positive side it has the small 1 x 1 rounded hinges in Light Bluish Grey, which aren’t as common as some might think. Most sets use this part in Black. There are also two 1 x 3 on 1 x 2 jumper plates in that same lighter grey. This part is just so useful and has become indispensable ever since it was introduced last year, so one can never have enough.

The comics are okay, with the Vader droid one actually possibly not being that much off-canon, at least from my passing knowledge of these things. Allegedly indeed clones and droids were used as decoys and training partners. The other is dealing with a mishap involving an AT-M6 and a TIE Fighter, which kind of undermines the whole point and only shows how flawed the concept of these walkers is to begin with. On that note, though, I would have loved a nice large poster showing the various walker types as nice illustrations rather than just having three very specific ones pointed out on a page in their LEGO-fied form. With a bit more thematical consistency those mags could be so great even for adults…

Krakken Alert – An Octopus MOC

Back then when I was writing my review of the Deep Sea Creatures (31088) set I was quite enthused as you may have noticed, yet something was missing that I would have considered essential – an octopus model. This compelled me to actually sit down and create one of my own. That may sound simple and obvious, but of course there’s a specific twist to the whole story, so allow me to tell you a bit about the thoughts and design process behind this project.

The Objective(s)

Before I even started to actually construct the model I knew how I wanted it to look and feel eventually. How to get there was a different story entirely, so I had to establish a few rules and parameters.

Octopus MOC, Comparison with the Squid from set 31088

Size Comparison with the original Squid from the Deep Sea Creatures (31088) set

The scale should match the generalized “squid” model one can build with one of those sets. This would not only reduce parts count to something sensible, but also keep things manageable since I wanted to include tentacles with a realistic length and on top of it all eight of them as you would find them in nature. Ideally I also wanted them to act and look naturally with some tapering and possibly also the “wings”/ skin webs between them at least hinted at.

It also set up a nice challenge in that it would require some strategic thinking to capture the shape of the creature, build a robust and stable model and still keep it poseable. If you get my meaning – building a large model and getting a good approximation even of complex surface curvatures is easier, but the real crunch comes when you have to express them with a limited number of pieces crammed into a small space.

The model itself should be based on the four sets I ultimately had bought as much as possible, meaning it should use the parts contained therein without having to throw in too many extra parts. This would save cost and avoid too many leftover bits clogging up drawers and storage boxes. Resorting to some additional parts from my collection should be kept to a sensible minimum, though I was aware that I possibly could not avoid it entirely. Some elements I planned on using are just not part of the original set.

The two factors combined resulted in a third prerequisite presenting itself: The overall parts count would and should be in a region that equals that of a commercial mid-range set, i.e. the accrued cost should ideally not exceed the combined value of the initial four sets plus some minor spending for the extra parts. Reigning in the cost would make it feasible to create instructions for the model and publish them so others could possibly re-create it without going broke in the process.

Time for some Action…

Building the model took quite some time. I’m a slow builder who likes to take his time to properly check and evaluate each step to begin with and naturally, getting the most out of limited resources presented its own challenges, given that my parts repository isn’t endless and even small changes can cause delays if you don’t have the right piece on hand and have to wait for that Bricklink order to arrive. I’m also a bit obsessive about making things stable and unbreakable, requiring even more thought to go into how you attach individual elements so they don’t fall off easily.

Octopus MOC, Head in resting Position (closed)

Head in resting Position

Octopus MOC, Head in swimming Position (open)

Head in swimming Position

Given those circumstances and my self-imposed rules I started out with the main part of the head, the mantle. Visually it is the largest body region on most octopus species due to it being more or less a big hollow sack inflated by water inside. Naturally the main purpose is to provide jet-like propulsion when said water is pressed out through the siphons, but the mantle also plays an important role during mating rituals or in its deflated form for camouflage when the octopus is resting. Incidentally it also looks like a big bulbous nose, which in not so minor parts is one of the reasons I think octopuses are cute. Getting this right therefore was important to me.

The tricky part for this section of the body was squeezing in all those elements necessary for the perpendicular building, so the various slopes could be attached to the sides, front and top. The problem here is not so much that it would be impossible overall, but rather that you have so little room and in some corners three different “flow” directions converge. One has to find ways of fitting in all those different brackets and bricks with studs on sides.

After that was done and I had arrived at a satisfying look the model rested in a box half-finished for quite a while. During this time I dabbled on and off with the aft section to which later the tentacles would be attached. In the process I must have started over and rebuild this segment at least five times, optimizing the various sub-steps over and over.

Octopus MOC, Tentacles fanned out

All eight Tentacles fanned out

Octopus MOC, Top View with spread Tentacles

Top View, notice the Shape and Volume of the Mantle

The point here is that the eight ball joints for the tentacles needed to be placed in a very specific way. They had to be far enough apart to accommodate the tentacles themselves, yet close enough to keep the body section compact and small to match the mantle’s scale. Additionally I also wanted to retain some semblance of the attachments being placed in a circle.

All of this made this quite complicated, even more so as later this little part would have to be solid enough to not fall apart when the tentacles were attached and exerted their force. In the end I opted for an alternating placement of the square ball joint plates with the longer bar and the regular short versions. This would also come in handy since it allowed for some overlap of the tentacles without them getting canted.

Octopus MOC, Tentacle, Side View

Tentacle Side View

Octopus MOC, Tentacle, Top View

Tentacle Top View

Compared to all that, the tentacles themselves were more or less a walk in the park as their construction is pretty obvious in the first place. Once you have decided on the length and number of the individual elements it’s merely a matter of building the segments eight times each and clicking them together. A bit repetitive, but perfectly manageable. In the interest of easy modifications I kept the design quite generic and the tentacles are interchangeable for different positions. There’s a million ways to handle this, so you could naturally also build your completely own interpretation, vary the overall lengths or build specific versions for each attachment point.

Mission accomplished?

The measure of how well I may have achieved my own goals depends on a few factors.

First, the re-usage factor of pieces from the original Deep Sea Creatures (31088) sets can be anywhere from around 60 percent up to 90 percent. I wanted my model to look “nice”, so I did quite a few color swaps/ replacements by digging into my parts repository and this value is therefore inevitably on the lower end. In particular I shunned all the red pieces from the original sets, if they would be visible. If you can live with that, the number will go up.

Octopus MOC, Tentacles partially curled up

Tentacles partially curled up to illustrate Poseability

The same goes for compromising on some structural parts like the ball joints. Unfortunately the sets only contain so many of them and they are not always in the right orientation. Unless you seriously spend at least a bit of money on additional such parts you could swap out some of them with the regular hinge joints at the cost of reduced stability and limited posing options. Good candidates for this would be the tips of the tentacles where the loads and forces aren’t that extreme.

Octopus MOC, Rear View with open Tentacles (Attack Posture)

Rear View with open Tentacles (Attack Posture)

The previous point also extends to the overall realism. A good chunk of parts is genuinely consumed by just the tentacles. As it turned out at the length I built them the pieces from the set didn’t suffice in quantity and I had to complement them with additional ones. The more you shorten the arms and use fewer segments, the closer you get to not having to rely on extra stuff. This is entirely up to you.

Though generally I’m of the opinion that the length of the arms is often totally underestimated and misrepresented, there’s no denying that different sub-species of octopi have different lengths. As a general rule you can say the smaller the creature, the shorter the tentacles. This includes infantile and adolescent specimen not yet having fully formed tentacles, but also small variants like the poisonous blue-ringed octopuses appearing more stubby to begin with.

Octopus MOC, Rear View Detail with Beak

Rear View Beak Detail

With all those optimizations you can trim down the overall parts count from above 600 pieces to 400 and below. You can take this even further and only use six tentacles if you want to match it up with the squid, though then you may require quite some reworking of the aft head section. In any case, anything is possible and more than anything else I consider my model one possible approach and solution with lots of room left for alternatives. In fact even now I’m considering options on how to improve this further.

Instructions are coming?!

From the start I planned to create instructions for this little critter, but as a matter of fact I haven’t even started yet. Given that I built the model physically, I have to go back, disassemble it and back-trace what I actually did at each step. That’s gonna take some time, so bear with me and check back in a few weeks. In the meantime you can always support my efforts by ticking a few items off my wishlist as encouragement and motivation. Lately I’ve had this weird image in my head how the octopus would look hugging the ship in the bottle or something like that, for instance. 😉

Fiery Strawberry Jam

Due to the changed release cycle, the LEGO Friends and City magazines came out today on the same day, so I’m taking the opportunity to review them all at once.

LEGO Magazine, City, June 2019, Cover

Once again built around this year’s firefighters theme, the City mag comes with a little helicopter thingy and a female minifigure. The model is rudimentary, to say the least and its originality ends at creatively using a carriage drawbar as an aft beam. The rest is kept to the bare minimum and thus not particularly detailed. They could at least have thrown in a wedge piece for the front hood! The current themes being so simplified unfortunately also trickles down to the comics and given the flimsy nature of the model it doesn’t make for interesting visuals. Overall this isn’t really that great.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, June 2019, Cover

The Friends mag only coming out every other month now here in Germany one would think they make a bit more of an effort and at least pick the best parts from the skipped issues and included them in place of less attractive content, but it appears there’s no hope in sight. At least the comic is okay this time around. They still use those awful CG figures for the posters, though, so there’s that.

The model of the waffle stand isn’t anything extraordinary, but as a little surprise contains a printed round 2 x 2 grille tile that can be used fantastically on technical models and seems to not have been used on models in quite some time. This alone could be worth buying this magazine. The colors on the cover are misleading, BTW. The 2 x 1 plates appear to be Medium Azure, but are actually Dark Cyan. Someone must have mistweaked the colors when preparing the photo for print production…