Honesty Reward!

Sometimes things work out in a weird way and so despite not really having an intention to buy one of the Jurrassic World sets, I still ended up with one of the promotional Velociraptor Play Pen (30382) bags that you would otherwise get if you were to buy products from that range of a certain value. How did I do that? That’s an anecdote so odd, it’s definitely worth telling.

LEGO Promotional, Velociraptor Play Pen (30382), Bag

I was on the road yesterday in the next big city close to where I live, Leipzig, and for a few years now (three or four, I believe), we have our own LEGO store, so I always make it a point to at least stop by and sneak in, looking if I can get something that fits my limited budget, ideally at reduced prices. There wasn’t much in the way of actual sets, but I picked up a bunch of minifigures and shovelled a few hands of loose bricks into a small Pick a Brick cup since it doesn’t happen that often that you get Sand Green 2 x 1 bricks en masse.

I paid my stuff and then left the premises to check out some other shops in the mall and all the while I had this nagging feeling that something was off and I didn’t pay what it should have cost. So when reorganizing the contents of my backpack I took the chance to check the receipts whether I had missed some discount or something like that and there it was – they young lady operating the cash register had missed on checking in my PaB cup and the bill was 10 Euros short.

Since I’d like to think I’m an honest guy, after all, I returned to the LEGO store and in slightly theatrical fashion dug out the unpaid cup and asked, whether I could still keep it even if I hadn’t paid for it. Imagine the stunned looks! After the first moment of surprise had settled, I jokingly said that I would only pay it if I got one of those dino bags. Of course I would have paid either way, but the guys played along and as a reward for my honesty I really got one of the bags, which is great! Now little baby T-Rex from the magazine set has a friend to play with! šŸ˜‰

LEGO Promotional, Velociraptor Play Pen (30382), Overview

The set itself is simple enough, but what of course stands out are the Dark Blue elements, which LEGO uses throughout the entire Jurassic World series. They also match the little Velociraptor‘s colors since he goes by the name of Blue due to his dark side stripes. Personally I just love those toned down, soothing colors. For my taste the set could have been a bit wider/ have had more depth, but at least judging from photos it seems that even the commercial sets are more built like narrow facades, so this would fit the theme.

In any case, I’m a happy camper and such little funny incidents show that “Life finds a way!”, as Dr. Malcolm always says in the movies. Thanks again to the staff of the store for being game and indulging me!

Little Shop of LEGO – 40305

One of the reasons for my haul in the LEGO online shop besides the H. C. Andersen book freebie was “that other promotional set” one read about so much, the small LEGO Brand StoreĀ (40305). For a while it wasn’t clear how it would be available here in Europe at all, as it seemed that several weeks before they decided to make it a paid model, after all, it was given to some customers for free in Asian territories. LEGO‘s policies can be quite confusing when it comes to those things.

LEGO Promotional, LEGO Brand Store (40305), Box

The set comes at a price of around 25 Euros, which is kinda okay, but not exactly cheap. Of course as always part of the game for me is reusability of the elements and since a lot of bricks I have scraped together bit by bit are white, it seemed a natural fit to add this set and benefit from some extra parts. It might only take one or two sets more and I can seriously think about trying to build a custom “big” Modular Building style house using these elements. We’ll have to see.

What also helps is that this model uses other very reusable parts such as the 16 x 8 plates it is built with, the windows or even the large transparent panel as a storefront window. Yummy stuff! Even the many yellow slopes and tiles could come in handy some day. On the other hand the limited selection of colors makes it look a bit boring and lacking in contrast. It wouldn’t have hurt if the second floor had been done in a different color like Medium Blue, Dark GreenĀ or any other color that goes well together with yellow (which most of them are, even something weird as Light Lime Green or Light Purple).

LEGO Promotional, LEGO Brand Store (40305), Crumpled Mess

One of the unexpected bummers with this set is that except for the fake computer screen used on the cash register and the ATM machine there are no printed tiles. That’s really lame for a (self-) promotional set from LEGO themselves. As a minimum I would have expected the LEGO sign to be printed and even possibly included more than once, as in real LEGO stores the brand name is also plastered inside the shops.

To me it also would have made sense to have printed 2 x 1 tiles for the faux LEGO brick boxes themselves so they could be stuck onto 2 x 1 plates. This would also have made for a nice gag to sneak them in as wall images, postcards etc. in other sets.

Why am I saying that? Because, as you can see in the above image, my sticker and the instruction booklet had suffered some considerable crumpling. This can be attributed to the box not exactly being packed to the brim and thus allowing too much room for things to move and flop around.

LEGO Promotional, LEGO Brand Store (40305), Front View

Overall construction is pretty straightforward in a very simplistic way – you literally just stack up the walls with bricks and insert the windows. Since the walls are very narrow and often only consist of two units wide elements that don’t overlap/ interlock with other bricks, it’s easy to break them off over and over until you add the final row of plates or bricks spanning them all on top. Only then will it get reasonably stable, though overall this isn’t a masterpiece of engineering and needs to be treated carefully.

That’s also the reasons why all you sleuths that bought the set multiple times to build a bigger model will run into trouble. You simply won’t have the parts to create a stable enough body just using elements from this one. You definitely have to have some extra spares from another model somewhere, be that just a bunch of 6 x 1 bricks for bridging the separate halves. Also note that this set uses the “tilt & click” method employed by current Creator sets to snap in some Windows and the main door. That’s okay while the model stands still, but these parts tend to fall out easily while handling the model.

LEGO Promotional, LEGO Brand Store (40305), Rear View

The interior captures the typical elements of a LEGO store nicely with some assembled showroom models in miniature format, a minifig tower, some bargains trays, a Pick a Brick wall and the boxes on the shelves all crammed into the small area available in a rather “no frills” way. There isn’t even a stair!

While the model overall is rich with hints and clues that reinforce the “LEGO store” theme, the novelty of it wears thin rather quickly in light of the simplicity of the construction. I never had the intention to keep it around assembled, but if I had, I would have grown weary of it quickly and probably disassembled just as well.

It’s not a bad model on its own merits, it just doesn’t fit with my way of thinking nor am I that much of a fanboy that I would put it in a special place and enshrine it in my LEGO showcase. Had it e.g. been built on a 16 x 16 plate for the ground flor like many LEGO Friends models are and been a bit more fleshed out, I’d probably see it differently.

Point in case: As a regular model it would be nice, as a promotional effort it’s a bit of a letdown and doesn’t breathe that “crafted with love” feeling that you would expect from something that is supposed to put a positive spin on the corporate identity. I still can’t get over that LEGO tile not being printed, if you get my meaning…

Plastic Book – 40291

LEGO‘s promotional sets are a weird thing. It’s difficult to keep up where to get what at any given time. Some are only sold at LEGOLand parks, others in their stores (including the online shop) and some you get free when you make purchases of a specific minimum value in their outlets. The ones you have to pay for also tend to be way overpriced.

To make matters even worse, these items are often rolled out at different times in different regions, making it a nightmare to keep up with what is the latest plus when they actually become available, you only have a short window of opportunity and the clock is ticking. Either the eligibility period is very short or there are limited numbers of sets or both.

Lucky for me, most of the time the subjects chosen in the sets is not really relevant to me – What would I do with strange minifigure pods for instance? – so I tend to sit things out and pass over them, but I admit, this time LEGO got me and pushed the right buttons. After the announcement made the rounds on respective news sites, I took a note in my calendar to not miss the date.

With the help of the best mom in the world I scraped together enough Euros to put in an order in the LEGO online store on Monday morning. After much delay (apparently too many people ordering Bugatti Chirons) I was getting worried, but thankfully my package finally arrived and included the Creative Storybook: Hans Christian Andersen (40291) as I had hoped (amongst a few other things you will get to see here soon-ish).

LEGO Promotional, H.C. Andersen (40291), Box

Was it worth spending way too much money and paying LEGO‘s full MSRPĀ on their sets just to get this? I can definitely say yes! With around 300 pieces this a full set that on its own would easily cost around 15 Euros, so you get a good bang for your buck, or in this case free, which, depending on what other sets you bought, balances the bill nicely.

LEGO Promotional, H.C. Andersen (40291), Front View

The build consists to around 70% of building the actual book itself, which is made up of a ton of Tan and Reddish Brown plates and tiles. The yellow parts are actually Bright Light Orange, which takes a bit getting used to. It’s okay, but clearly it shouldn’t have been too difficult to include at least the corner reinforcements in Pearl Gold or something like that, as in reality they would often be made of brass.

Building the book spine and the two halves is straightforward, but a bit repetitive, since in the latter case you of course have to do it twice. Everything is connected with simple clamp-on hinges and for the most part things are stable enough. You have to be careful, though, when handling the model as the pages can act like levers and things can easily come off.

LEGO Promotional, H.C. Andersen (40291), Rear View

The inserts in the pages are simple and quick to build, as you basically only throw on the tiles and a few decorative items. Ironically the instruction booklet shows little vignettes from several of Andersen‘s stories built onto equally sized plates, so it would have been easy to replace the inserts, but none of the parts to re-create ideas are actually included.

That is a bit of a bummer since it would have been super cool and lifted the product to an almost commercially viable one. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not asking that they should have included another ten minifigures, but it should have been easy to e.g. throw in some white and transparent blue parts to recreate that Snow Queen scene or a few golden bits and bobs for the various other royally-themed fairytales. It would certainly have helped people to get creative.

Am I complaining about a free lunch? I hope not, but I still always regret if a cool idea isn’t carried through the way I would imagine it. That is also still true for some more of the color choices. As far as thoseĀ go, the fluorescent transparent green lamp bulb also sticks out and for the smallness of the simulated pond the bright turquoise pops out a bit too much until you get used to it.

LEGO Promotional, H.C. Andersen (40291), Better Colors, simulated

Getting to a point, I’m also not the biggest fan of those intense brown colors and would have preferred something else. In the above photoshopped image I used Dark Blue, but Dark Red or Dark Green would have been just as fine. In fact even Dark Tan would have worked to pose as plain, uncoated leather as it was often used in the olden days.

I also totally intentionally dialed down the Tan color of the pages. I understand that they were selling this as gilded paper, but say what you will, it’s a bit strong, especially since old paper tends to change color a lot less than most people think. In my youth I was part of an archival project at school and many books printed 200 years ago looked much better than modern ones printed on cheap acidic pulp. In any case, this makes also a good point that LEGO needs to introduce a off-white/ beige/ ivory color, which incidentally would be super useful for buildings as well.

Despite all my complaints making it perhaps sound otherwise, I totally love this little set. If all of LEGO‘s bonus sets had this kind of design effort and level of detail, it would almost be worth to order stuff from their online store more often (assuming it actually worked better and wasn’t such a cramp in the rear). If you hurry up and order something this week you still have a chance to get it as well. Personally I’m hoping we’ll see more like this and perhaps LEGO will even listen and give us that alternate vignettes set for the book I’m dreaming of. The development work has apparently be done already, they only need to produce and package it in sufficient numbers, if you get my drift…