November TIE-Up

Nobody likes price hikes, so the November issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine now costing 4.20 Euro instead of the previous 3.99 was not a pleasant surprise at the newsstand. As long as there is some good value attached that 5 percent increase would acceptable, though, so let’s see if that does add up.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2019, Cover

For me this is determined primarily by the parts included in the mini build and I have to say it’s pretty good this time around. There of course have been any number of small scale TIE Fighters already and one would think that this subject has been done to death, but the one included with the mag surprises with yet another novel approach. That is in particular how the large cooling panels (a.k.a. wings) are attached inverted by ways of the new T-style brackets. Logically then on a symmetrical model you get two of those. To somewhat cover up the now exposed undersides of the plates you also get four inverted tiles and it never hurts to have those, either, be it just to make your model undersides scratch-proof to prevent damage while the are standing on your table. all nice stuff to have from a builder’s perspective.

The comics don’t tie in with a specific story line from the movies and thus function independently, with clear references to The Force Awakens and The Empire Strike Back, however. They’re both drawn in the new, more dynamic style and here’s hoping that this will be the new norm. The posters are also pretty good and I’m almost tempted to put up the first order pilots one just for giggles. If you care remember there is a commercial, quite similar poster out there and it could be funny to have them side by side. The games and puzzles feel a bit light in this issue. I admittedly have no idea how long a simplistic dice-based strategy game with only a handful of planets to conquer can keep your kids distracted, though…

October Jedi Fighter

October is the time of year where the leaves on trees turn yellow, so it seems a fitting coincidence that the LEGO Star Wars magazine has some prominent use of this color on its cover this month. In fact even the insides could be called autumn-ish with lots of browns, ocres and similar colors featured in the comics.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2019, Cover

One of the comics revolves around a desert-based adventure, though, so there’s no direct relation. On the other hand the second comic hammers this home even more by being a direct tie-in to the little Jedi Interceptor model that comes by ways of the buildable parts.

Personally I don’t care much about any of the Jedi fighters because they always look kinda ineffective in the movies and series and probably really don’t stand much of a chance in a larger battle. The model is an adequate representation of Anakin‘s vehicle from Episode III, Revenge of the Sith, though, at least at this tiny scale. No particularly extraordinary or rare parts to skim for your collection, but Yellow and Dark Bluish Grey pieces are at least pretty universally usable for different types of projects, so no complaints there.

The magazine itself feels a bit light with only two relatively simple puzzles to keep your kids busy and the already mentioned comics. Not much there to distract the kids for too long, unfortunately.

September Trooper

With the magic 50th issue in August, the race up to the next fifty is now on with the September edition of the LEGO Star Wars magazine.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2019, Cover

To celebrate that anniversary, belated as it may be, someone figured it might be a good idea to include a Stormtrooper minifigure. People are clamoring for this all the time and this seems to be so much in demand, they likely could bundle another variant with every second issue without the subject ever being covered to the point of getting stale. In this instance it’s not the “cool one”, though, with it actually being a First Order version rather than one from the original first movies, which most aficionados still prefer.

Still, not a bad move if you have bought any of the sets for one of the movies in the last three or four years and want to bolster your troops. In fact I would predict that quite a few people will buy more than one copy of the mag. With those figures being in such high demand everywhere, prices on Bricklink are not necessarily cost-effective to build larger line-ups and in the end the math could add up, even if paying 4 Euro for a figure may seem steep at first.

The rest of the magazine once more is indicative of the meandering back and forth between “barely acceptable” to “okay” to “almost good” in terms of the quality of the comics, posters and puzzles, all very apparently depending on which team took responsibility for any given month. This one falls in the upper half of this range and therefore isn’t that bad. I always like it when in particular the puzzles are reasonably complex and not dumbed down as if only three-year-olds read the mag.

August B-Wing

Call me weird, but I was really hyped for this month’s LEGO Star Wars magazine already even a few weeks back when I merely saw the preview for the next issue in the July edition. What could it be that got me so excited?

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2019, Cover

The answer of course is the B-Wing model, but the reason is even more specific than you may think. Looking at the photo I asked myself whether it could be true and it almost brought a tear to my eye when this became more and more clear, but yes, the set does indeed contain two pairs of the new 1 x 2 angled wedge slopes (29119, 29120) and in Light Bluish Grey, no less. For me that’s just plain awesome, being that lately I could have used this part a couple of times and was almost on the verge buying a lot on Bricklink. Not many, mind you, as the prices for these pieces are still relatively high, but a few to cover the most basic necessities every now and then sure would be nice. So here we are and ultimately the problem could be solved by buying the mag more than once.

That may sound stupid, but bear with me. Point in case: This is an excellent micro model with several valuable or at least useful parts. I wouldn’t have done it this way, if it only contained garbage. In addition to the slopes you get some 3 x 2 plates and also equally sized tiles, some droid head cones, hinges, wedge plates and even a Barraki eye, all in Light and Dark Bluish Grey plus a black double slope and tons of round 1 x 1 studs in different colors. This easily rivals some of the separately sold Microfighter sets in terms of parts count and complexity. If you will, the value isn’t so much in the individual pieces, but in everything combined into a nice wholesome model. For me here in Germany even the economics make sense, as buying the parts off Bricklink would cost at least just as much as the magazine. As you may gather from my long-winded hubbub I’m quite happy and satisfied.

The rest of the mag presents the usual 50/ 50 split of okay-ishly good and slightly terrible, meaning the comic and the mini puzzles are acceptable, but the posters are sort of ugly CGI stuff. For my taste it’s also a bit too obvious how the plug LEGO Star Wars sets on the centerfold that seem to be selling not that great. Talk about cheap marketing moves…. 😉 This issue also came with a pack of the series 2 collectible card game and an – ahem –  “limited” Darth Vader special card. There’s also a building competition marking the 50th issue next month and I’m almost tempted to cook something up just on the off chance I might actually win something…

July Falcon

With the Friends and City magazines being so all over the place in terms of quality these days, oddly enough the Star Wars one has become a staple to look forward to every month. It may not be particularly glorious, but given the focus on a single subject you can at least manage your expectations. Sometimes it’s even really good.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2019, Cover

The July issue perhaps doesn’t fall into that category. The mag itself is pretty lackluster, but at least you get some decent parts to build a mini Kessel Run Millenium Falcon from the The Last Jedi movie. It’s stacked together from a bunch of 4 x 4 and 6 x 6 round plates with some wedge plates in-between, making for a nice, stable model to swoosh around with. Interestingly, it also uses three of the newer 1 x 1 upwards brackets, so that alone is a good way of boosting your stock of that part.

The only weak spot is the cockpit made from a 1 x 1 cone in Transparent Black. It’s not reinforced by a bar inside and only sits on a stud of one of the aforementioned brackets, which itself is merely loosely plugged into the underside of the little protruding plate. That is to say it tends to come off as soon as you touch this area. I wish they’d come up with a more robust solution here.

As I said, the magazine isn’t t that great. The comics are okay (though even here you can see stylistic differences due to them having been drawn by different people), but you can forget the posters and puzzles. Yes, it’s “bad CGI/ bad photos” alert again and the few simple puzzles barely keep anyone busy for longer than three minutes. Just odd, considering how well they seem to handle this in the City mags. The target audience for Star Wars would actually be older and shouldn’t mind a bit of a challenge….

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…

May Dinos

I love dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures as much as the next guy, having spent hours and hours as a kid looking through the same books on the subject again and again as well as watching documentaries of this sort even today, so naturally, the LEGO Jurassic World magazine specials bring two worlds together.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World Special, May 2019, Cover

Admittedly, I haven’t bought any of the actual big sets. They’re not economical because quite literally there’s pretty much only one species of dinos in each of them and you’d have to spend a ton of cash. That wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of the sets were useful as parts sources, but since they are very play-centric, even that doesn’t add up. Therefore I’ll likely resign myself to buying those magazines and possibly buying a bunch of the creatures from Bricklink. Regrettable, though, as I’d be totally game for a box with just the dinosaurs at the right price.

Anyway, people in a similar pinch might appreciate getting at least the mini version of Blue in this issue. I was lucky enough to snatch the polybag back then due to my little anecdote at the LEGO store, but otherwise you’d have to have bought a set for this little tyke just as well. It’s supposed to pop up from behind a bush in that little contraption you can build from the parts in the bag. It indeed works with the little platform on which the dino sits sliding forward and the wedge-shaped brick pushing aside the leaf elements on their liftarms.

It’s a bit flimsy, though, and to me the “rock” pedestal feels a bit lackluster. They could have included a few more pieces to cover it more fully. The rear ends of the black slide rail bricks should at least have had 2 x 1 tiles or plates matching the Reddish Brown and Dark Orange ground pieces and embedding them fully with some slopes on the sides would have been perfect. Still, good overall value on the parts.

The rest of the magazine naturally ties in with the latest movies and the The Secret of Isla Nublar animated mini series and is on long advertisement for the sets, but at least the comic is drawn well and has tons of images of different dinosaurs, so your kids will be happy and pull out the mag from under their bed and sift through the pages more than once, making this an excellent investment. There’s another issue already announced for October, though sadly it will not feature another mini dino. Would have been nice, but understandably they’ll keep the new prints exclusive to the not even released T.rex vs. Dino Mech Battle (75938) set for the time being. So we’ll have to make do with yet another Owen figure then…