February White (K)Night

After last month’s brief intermezzo with some wood chopping it’s now back to police work (and next month firefighting) in the LEGO City magazine.

LEGO Magazine, City, February 2020, Cover

With the buildable parts once more we’re getting a superbike body. Thanks to this magazine and a Ninjago set I bought once I now have them in Black, Red and White. This almost makes me want to sit down and design some custom prints/ stickers, as sadly just like the pizza delivery version this is just unprinted. On such a large surface area it simply looks very plain and boring. If I ever were to e.g. build a motorcycle shop I’d definitely do something about this to make them look more attractive and even just a police patrol roaming the streets would benefit from some markings.

The rest of the magazine is just the usual stuff, though I was surprised to find a coloring picture on one page. Are we perhaps seeing a new trend, given that this was also the case in Friends recently? On a side note, the mag nicely illustrates why having named characters is not a good idea in the LEGO world. Duke DeTain? My ass! This kind of word play simply isn’t flying in German and the gag will be lost on many…

January Wood Chopping

My already somewhat low activity in recent weeks had been further impaired by having caught a pretty nasty cold and pulmonary infection, so I’m pretty late with this month’s updates on the latest magazines.

Funny enough Blue Ocean, who publish these mags in our region also contributed to the mess by delaying the LEGO City magazine by one week. They kept printing December 10th as the announcement date in every of their mags, yet it only arrived this Tuesday the 17th. One can only speculate what went wrong. A botched print run? Those little bags not delivered in time from the LEGO factory? Who knows! I’d sure be interested to find out one of these days.

LEGO Magazine, City, January 2020, Cover

The LEGO City issue focuses on wood chopping which at this point of course could be interpreted as a sign of things to come once people start slicing up their Christmas tree after the festive season. The parts coming with the magazine are very much standard fare and similar to what came with the mini version of the forest tractor last year with some minor variations on the theme in terms of colors used and the prints on the figure. The feet are in Sand Blue, BTW, they were just printed excessively blue-ish so the colors look very different.

The City magazine continues to deliver with a satisfying mix of activities for your kids and a well done comic, so not much to complain about. The posters are okay, though I still wish they would use panels from the comics instead of those CG-generated versions. There’s just a specific charme to classically drawn stuff and the color contrast is better.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, December 2019, Cover

The Hidden Side mag came out earlier and I’m only mentioning it for completeness, but somehow I feel that it just isn’t gaining traction. I played that fun trick last month, so I’m not going to do it again already, but can you spot what might be wrong with the cover? Yepp, it’s yet again Jack front and center for a third time in a row. Calling it repetitive and boring would be stating the obvious. It’s not helped by the extra being Parker of all things. I haven’t even bough all sets yet, but already have amassed a graveyard of the ever same figures. This only goes to show how named characters can quickly back you in a corner…

Orange Space December

I’ve been too distracted with other things, not always quite in the way I intended, so activity around these parts has been a bit low and the December issue of the LEGO City magazine also kinda snuck up on me.

LEGO Magazine, City, December 2019, Cover

Space has apparently no bounds in the LEGO universe and that’s why we are getting another astronaut minifigure this month. thankfully it’s of the alternate type, meaning not the one with the white pressurized “space walk” suit but rather the orange planetary exploration/ space station daily overalls variety. Just the other day I bought the smallest shuttle from the current space series (Satellite Service Mission [60224] ) on a grocery store discount sale, so this figure makes for an interesting alternative occupant for the cockpit.

The rest of the parts is not worth writing home about, as the vehicle you are supposed to build from them is literally the most simplistic, most trimmed down version of a four-wheeled vehicle one could imagine. Not a great look by any stretch of the imagination and certainly nothing particularly space-themed, either. It’s really approaching a point of “Why even bother?”.

The rest of the magazine is pretty good on the other hand, consequently built around an imaginary “mission” and its planning/ preparation, which is reflected by the puzzles and even sort of a plan view of the big space station (Lunar Space Station [60227]) on one of the posters. If your kid is anything close to a space nerd like me it will have lots of fun.

The back cover also doubles as a cut-out buildable mobile with the solar system’s planets orbiting around the sun, so there’s definitely some educational value for astro-kids plus it should also be useful for sharpening manual skills just by assembling it for the lesser scientifically inclined. Overall this is a nice issue. I just wish it would be richer in the parts department.

November Speed Trap

I don’t suppose that the LEGO City would be a multi-part series of fictional writing with a contiguous story, but as chance will have it, and that’s likely really just totally coincidental, one could see some greater story threads going on in the November issue.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2019, Cover

If you care to remember, last month’s edition was all about fast pizza delivery and now imagine if that guy took things a bit too far and got caught in a traffic control. Yupp, the young police officer lady with her laser speed gun would sure have to say a thing or two to him. It could in its own way make for a brilliant play scenario and I think it would be fantastic if the magazine took that approach more often, unintended as this may have been. It would definitely be more attractive than just seemingly randomly firing out figures from the different sub-series.

Of course the female officer matches up with the rest of the ones we’ve gotten in the last few months, so at this point you could have about three or four of them to open up your own little police station without actually ever having bought a set. The buildable pieces don’t live up to that, though, and it seems we’re getting fewer and fewer with every issue. regrettably the various LEGO magazines are really becoming more minifigure packs with some extras than the other way around.

If donuts are your thing, then the comic is absolutely right for you as it’s built around the big sign from the Donut Shop Opening (60233) getting stolen. Funny enough I would in fact love to own the set for those special pieces since I have an idea floating in my head where such a large donut might come in handy. It’s just a bit on the expensive side only for that… Anyway, I digress. The rest of the magazine is okay and in particular the puzzles are a bit more demanding again this time, so those little brain teasers should give your kids something to do for a while on a bad weather fall afternoon.

Speedy October Pizza

Full disclosure: I don’t particularly like pizza. This likely has a lot to do with my general dislike for anything with cheese and my disdain for “ordering-in”, but suffice it to say that the occasions where I have been eating a slice are few and far between. That’s why a good chunk of the appeal of the October issue of the LEGO City magazine may be lost on me, so bear with me if I just don’t “get” what it’s all about as apparently the whole things is built exactly around these subjects this time.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2019, Cover

The included model struck me as odd at first, as such a sport bike would barely make sense for a regular delivery service. Within the context of the magazine’s comic it begins to fall into place, though. In any case, not having had such a particular type of motorcycle in my collection yet I’m not going to complain. The only thing that is very obvious are the large empty areas on the windshield/ aerodynamic covers. They really beg for a print, but I guess that was too much to hope for on a freebie.

Funny enough I have even less reason to be miffed because my little bag actually contained two of the black support frames. It’s certainly puzzling to see, considering how large a part this is. You would only expect this on smaller items. On the other hand, having to request replacement parts from LEGO‘s service on what seems every second set I buy lately it’s not that surprising, after all. Something is seriously awry with their sorting and packaging.

The minifigure is quite generic and if you have a spare hair piece somewhere to replace the helmet, you can easily integrate it in every scenario in your little city. Beyond that there’s only the printed tile with the rather uninspired generic “Pizza” print and two white 2 x 2 jumper plates to create a small stack of delivery boxes. You know what would have been cool? If they had included said tile with an exclusive print like e.g. the “City Pizza” logo from their xtra (853129) signage sticker set. that would have been ace and made this a coveted item.

The comic itself, barring my brain being unattuned this kind of eating habits and everything that goes with them, seems okay and is nicely drawn. It just doesn’t really click with me. The posters, despite being CG-based are also acceptable this time around. All things considered this is a pretty solid issue.

Space September

As a science fiction fan of sorts and a nerd with a general interest in exotic scientific subjects like quantum physics, astral dynamics and so on of course I love myself some space-y stuff even in LEGO form. This month’s issue of the LEGO City magazine caters just for that.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2019, Cover

The content is derived from the current space exploration theme. Unfortunately for my taste it’s a bit too simplified with many large and specific parts and kind of crude looking models, so my interest in buying some of those sets is a bit limited to say the least. That’s why I’m all the more pleased to get some of the stuff that is contained in those sets on the cheap, in a manner of speaking, by ways of the mag.

Most notably that covers the new 2019 geode-type piece, i.e. a rock with a crystalline transparent mineral inside. I have to say it really looks nice and interesting when the light refracts through the sharp edges and facets when the rock is backlit. The magazine comes with the Dark Orange and Trans Light Blue version with some other combinations being found only in the commercial sets for the time being. The second piece of mention is the printed 1×1 round tile for the robot face which due to its generic look should find some creative uses.

The minifigure is just the generic astronaut and unlike the cover image may make you think, it neither comes with a special face or an alternate hair piece so you could present it with the helmet off. It’s adequate for basic play scenarios, but not much more than that. Similarly the comics and games this time around can’t disguise that they are more of a marketing pitch for the new sets than really deep content. Therefore the real value of this issue will genuinely depend on whether you are into any of this space stuff and can overlook the shortcomings or are a regular buyer, anyway.

Summer Police

It’s probably fair to say that the current LEGO City lineup is perhaps a bit boring and inevitably this also adds little variety to the respective magazines. Alternating between fire rescue, police and soon the flood of space-themed sets this month we get another cop figure.

LEGO Magazine, City, August 2019, Cover

Not all is lost, though, as actually the mag is once again pretty good. It seems that every three months or so a certain team is working on the publication that has a better feel for what users may want than the other teams that produce the less interesting stuff in the interceding months. That being the case, I had quite a bit of fun with the comic in a Duck-Tales-esque style (you know, with over-the-top dumb robbers and all that), a good selection of games that provide at least a bit of challenge and decent enough poster artwork.

The little police vehicle at first looked a bit *meh* when I saw it in last month’s “next issue” preview, but it’s actually better than anticipated. It’s just photographed in a weird manner and presented out of scale next to the minifigure. The cool thing – if you wanna call it that – is that it uses the single piece chassis also used e.g. on the various Friends karts, so it’s actually a bit larger than the usual constructs from 2 x 4 plates and the like.

Had they included a few more pieces, this could build into a nice police beach quad/ buggy or something similar. As it is it feels a bit flat and you are left to whatever extra pieces you may have in your repository to spice it up. At least there’s already the printed slope piece for the hood to get you started. Call me weird, but for me also the wheel hubs have value – they’re nothing special, but just like that I got them in Light Bluish Grey when before I only had them in Flat Silver. It always helps to have options.

Overall this is one of the better City mags this year and definitely worth its money. In fact the relatively robust model might even make for a nice little item for your children to play on the beach during your summer holiday…