Things aren’t going too well for the LEGO Explorer magazine from the looks of it, as they’re clearly trying to space out the publication dates. After the March issue, it’s now been a whopping seven weeks for the April issue to arrive. The next edition is pre-announced for May 20th, which is going to make this another long wait. Going from a monthly cycle to this odd six week interval can clearly only be interpreted as a cost-saving measure to bring the number of issues down to ten or nine per year. One would only hope that the extra time and budget is used to make the remaining ones better. Let’s see if this is already showing somehow.
This month’s edition is re-treading familiar ground in that it boasts another look at all sorts of animal records, with the occasional original twist and not just focused on obvious qualities like size, weight or running speed. Nothing revolutionary, mind you, but they try. The issue with the less than great stock photos persists and representing rare and elusive creatures for which no pictures may be available with LEGO mini builds is also a bit of a cheap cop-out.
The comic is okay if you can get behind the silly story, but nothing to write home about. At least it’s drawn nicely. I’m also beginning to wonder why they keep sneaking in references and characters based on older Collectible Minifigures series. If they’d used current one it could be considered collateral marketing at least, but with those legacy figures it ends up being a bit pointless, as trying to obtain those now could end up quite frustrating and costly.
Another major WTF? is the poster. Everybody loves dinosaurs and I don’t mind the CG illustrations, but seriously: What peanut-brained executive selected the yellow/ blue version of the Mighty Dinosaurs (31058) set which was ever only available as a limited run experiment in the UK? That alone is massively upsetting and just shows how they don’t seem to care. Imagine the kerfuffle that would ensue if you have to explain that to your kid (similar to that thing with the minifigs in the comic). C’mon, internationalization is common as we all know, but you have to be smart about it and not piss off people with such nonsense.
Another double spread contains a few ideas for some simple games you can do with your LEGO bricks like quick building/ quick transformation or throwing contests. The apparent shortcoming here is of course that you can do very little of that if you a) don’t buy multiple issues, b) have some back-catalog from this magazine with all the extras and/ or c) have a decent supply of your own materials.
The saving grace for this outing 100 % is the little buildable dino. It’s not dissimilar to the T-Rex found in one of the most recent Jurassic World magazines and a few techniques look very familiar, but it aims at a different demographic with its style and look. It’s a cutesy “bighead” version instead of trying to mimic realistic proportions. I like it and it sure will appeal to kids.
Overall this isn’t the best version of the magazine and to answer my own question from the beginning: No, nowhere does it show that more time, care and attention went into this and the production cycle has been drawn out artificially. It may well be that we’re already on a declining slope here and it won’t be before long before it get’s cancelled for good. That’s what happened to the LEGO Disney Princess mag because they didn’t quite know what to do with it, either, and just kept meandering around just like this one does. History certainly could repeat itself…