Not just Garbage – LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386)

LEGO City certainly isn’t my go-to series and I rarely ever buy stuff from that theme, but occasionally there are little gems hidden in it. A lot of times it comes down to desirable animals or “rare” parts, but every now and then it’s also just that the models are done nicely and have an overall appeal. That just happened with one of this year’s new releases, the Recycling Truck (60386), so it’s time to have a look at it.

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), Box

Pricing and Contents

The set officially retails for 35 Euro, which is more than slightly ridiculous, given that it only consists of 261 pieces. This once more illustrates that LEGO have completely lost their marbles and just don’t seem to care. The problem here isn’t even that I mind slightly above average prices when they’re justified, but apparently I think here they aren’t. Even the overview shot already tells you that the actual truck is relatively small and that aside from the garbage collection stand there isn’t much else in the box. The volume of stuff you get isn’t that great. So for the umpteenth time it’s up to the sellers to rectify this and give you a discount. Since I didn’t want to wait another two months for prices to drop I snatched up my package for 25 Euro and that’s okay, but overall this feels more like a 20 Euro offering. If you’re not in a hurry your patience can pay off. You may be able to get it cheap during e.g. a pre-Easter sale.

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), Overview

The Minifigures

The minifigures aren’t much to write home about with two “generic worker figures” and an equally generic other person. The best part therefore is the little white kitten. I already have it in Dark Bluish Grey and Dark Orange and it’s always nice to add one more to the collection.

The Garbage Collector

The set comes with a small garbage collecting/ sorting station as you could find it in your neighborhood. It’s built one one of those 8 x 16 “road” plates that are also regularly used in 4+ sets. Here it comes in Bright Green. To me it feels a bit unnecessary, as a normal plate would have served the same purpose just as well without compromising stability. Inside the stand you’ll find three trash cans. Dark Bluish Grey is always useful and can be used widely and the Green version is the one that predominantly has been used in abundance in the last few years, but the one in Dark Azure is a new color.

You could further enhance your play fantasy with the Coral, Neon Yellow and Lime Green versions used in Friends sets and in fact a simple way to obtain all three of them would be to buy “that other garbage truck”, their version of the Recycling Truck (41712). As you can see there’s even a few bits and bobs to throw into the cans, but I honestly don’t get why LEGO don’t just throw in at least another fifty pieces of that kind. It’s another of those points where they are cheapening out. You may want to find a few more 1 x 1 elements and such to really give your kids a pile of pieces to play with.

The Truck

The truck’s appeal is rooted in that it looks very “neutral” and universally usable. For reasons that nobody understands, LEGO often lock themselves in very American looking designs despite doing good business and having their headquarters here, but this time they managed to evade that trap and give us a vehicle that could drive around pretty much anywhere in the world. Of course the colors would vary. It also overall feels very contemporary and not like some old truck that hasn’t been around in decades.

Now nice as that all is, there’s one huge problem with this: The truck is too small. In a case of “Honey, I shrunk the Kids!” this is a good one third too small to accommodate actual minifigure scale. They cheated it on the package photo, but if you really put a minifigure near to the car it becomes very, very obvious. The funny thing is that the truck could still pass as a garbage collection vehicle even then, but you’d have to shorten the container/ deck to bring the proportions more in line with a small van or utility vehicle.

As the photos show, pretty much all the functions of a real garbage truck are there including lifting the dumpsters into the back chute, opening the intake frame as well as swiveling it up to empty out the container on the garbage dump or the waste incineration plant.

Tilting up the loading deck also reveals another problem, though a lesser one. Unfortunately LEGO decided to make this all too “kids-friendly”, which in their world apparently means omitting extra parts to secure things into place. The two yellow brackets are a prime example of this sort of poor design as it’s way too easy to loosen them by just holding the model on the two large grey “boxes” on the sides, which are just 2 x 8 bricks. Likewise, the hinges holding the container are not fastened with extra slopes or similar, so that part comes off easily just as well just by grabbing the model at the top and not the chassis. Both problems could easily have been avoided with a few extra parts and/ or a different construction.

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), Tilted Deck

At the same time, oddly enough, one has to give the designers credit for a very smart solution. The side panels mimicking the round shape of the stirring drum can easily be pushed out sideways by reaching into the compartment with your fingers via the rear hatch since they’re only fixated on two studs in the front on the yellow SNOT bricks. This will be very useful to avoid tears when your kids unwittingly stuffed their favorite toy in there and can’t get it out because it’s jammed (without disassembling the truck more, that is). as they say, it’s all about the little things.

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), Side Panel

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), CockpitOf course the cockpit can’t be opened as well, but only a single minifigure will fit in there and due to the scale issue it will look rather odd.

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Concluding Thoughts

The set offers good play value, but is ultimately let down by the scale being too small and the lack of robustness in several areas. On its own and with careful handling that may not come into play too much and your kids won’t mind, but still… The sad thing really is that all of that could have been easily avoided with a bunch of additional elements to e.g. raise the height of the cabin and container as well to strengthen some connections and then maybe even the crazy price might have been justifiable.

As it is this is a somewhat mixed bag. It’s definitely leaning on the “good” side, but nowhere near perfect. Too much consideration needs to be given to things like how cautiously children have to handle the model. the “wrong” scale also sort of disqualifies it from being displayed in your LEGO city without it looking odd.

Blue Bike Chase – LEGO City Magazine, November 2022

Three times in a row! That’s how Blue Ocean got under my skin by including something actual useful in the LEGO City magazine after I announced my abstinence from this publication. So what’s it for this month? Let’s find out!

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2022, Cover

The comic is another police chase story, only this time on a bicycle. It’s also spiced up (no pun intended) with some Halloween-themed stuff and the evil-doers exploiting the situation by doing their mischief during the spooky night.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2022, Comic

Unfortunately the special holiday is not really put to good use with the emphasis being on the rather mundane police action (and the gangsters not even dressing up for the occasion), so the panels are a bit boring at times in the sense that there’s a lot of “blue night”, but no crazy ghosts, werewolves, vampires or other such creatures.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2022, Comic

The posters reflect the story as well, but are equally a bit too ordinary and lacking an original twist.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2022, Poster

The extra that tempted me into buying this issue is of course the Dark Blue BMX bike/ mountain bike frame. This particular bicycle type is still pretty rare and while I have one in Dark Azure from the Hidden Side Newbury Subway (70430)  (oddly enough, I never reviewed it here) and also the Light Bluish Grey one from the Jurassic World Blue & Beta Velociraptor Capture (76946) (too small to make a review worthwhile), it’s always good to have more options at hand. The minifigures are a so-so affair. The positive thing is that the female police officer has a dirtied up face, but her uniform doesn’t reflect the same. It’s just a standard torso and pants. The same could be said for the thief who really is just “Bad guy no. 3” in a standard outfit.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2022, Extra

To get back to my opening statement: No, my streak won’t go up to four in a row. I definitely won’t be buying the next issue because I have no interest in the extra, which is going to be an ugly forklift with no “special” parts for my collection that would warrant spending the cash. This one is okay if you want a simple way of obtaining the bike vs. buying an overpriced set, but otherwise it doesn’t really offer much that would get me excited.

Steamrolling into Autumn – LEGO City Magazine, October 2022

Blue Ocean really caught me on the wrong foot. Just when I was ready to ditch the LEGO City magazine for good, they start bundling them up with interesting extras that I can’t resist. So here we are again with the October 2022 issue and a very positive surprise.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Cover

First things first, though. The comic is what it is – it’s certainly the most interesting across al those magazines in terms of how the visual style has evolved, but the stories really are for the 5+ generation and the flat jokes and repetitions just don’t land with me.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Comic

The safety and security transgressions in this issue alone would make any building site’s supervisor hair stand on end. I also don’t quite get why we still have to put up with American style hard hats in for a European magazine. It seems like LEGO really need to fix this and create a new mold. It just seems weird, especially when they appear in mass like here.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Comic

The posters are okay and at least have a sense of visual clarity and communicating their intent, not just being lumped together excuses. The frontal lighting on the one with the steamroller is a bit odd, though. Like they shot it in a studio and not on a construction site.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, PosterLEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, ExtraNow for the goodie, the steamroller itself in miniature form. I so friggin’ love it! When I saw it on last month’s preview page I had to giggle. This is just cool. It makes good use of the 3 x 3 cylinder piece that came out last year and even better, you get four of them without having to buy e.g. a Star Wars X-Wing or similar where they are used as part of jet engine exhausts or intakes. That alone is some decent value and overall the vehicle just looks cute and believable. If they had thrown in some of these discs to cover the ends it would have been perfect. I guess they just didn’t want to go through the trouble, as it would also have required 7L axles and some extra 2 x 2 plates to offset the side skirts holding them. Anyway, it’s still pretty good even without that. I just had so much fun crunching up some cookie crumbs on the coffee table! 🙂

Of course this edition wouldn’t be much without the extra and it’s the major selling point. If I as an old guy can have fun with it, then your kids can definitely have it, too. I seriously recommend this issue for that reason alone.

Neon Fire Jet – LEGO City Magazine, September 2022

My own resolutions somehow always come back to haunt me, so here we are at it again with the LEGO City magazine for September after skipping the August one The reason is very specific and will no doubt make me look like an utter weirdo, but more on that later.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Cover

Interestingly, when you skip issues you sometimes inevitably thematically pick up where you left off. This is the case here and while it’s an utter coincidence, it’s still in a way funny. We’re indeed getting another fire patrol story in the comic, though of a different kind. At least it features a freight train, a subject far to rarely seen. It’s really too bad that LEGO have neglected this particular sub-genre so much or we could see many more rail-based fun.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Comic

The story with a cargo load turning into popcorn is sure to entertain a seven year old, but otherwise is one of those “stranger than fiction” things that you have to try really hard to suspend your disbelief.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Comic

As a pixel musher myself the poster creeps me out. There’s so much wrong with it and it’s just another in a seemingly endless line of terrible Photoshop hack jobs. the alternate one on the back doesn’t fare much better.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Poster

Now for the fun part. As I already told you, the rationales for if and when I get these magazines (and by extension pretty much any LEGO set I buy) can sometimes be rather weird. From reading my blog you may know that one of those reasons is my occasional obsessing about specific parts/ elements. Not only do I have certain favorites and keep forever pondering their uses, but I also have this thing that makes my brain tick where I want an element that I have in a certain color also in as many other colors as possible. Now guess what happened here!

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Extra Yes, I got it in my head that I wanted those Red wing/ tail fin elements when I already have some in White, Blue, Bright Light Orange, Black and so on. Go, figure! Buying this magazine therefore seemed as good an opportunity as any other and getting a minifigure and a few more pieces to boot doesn’t hurt, either. The model itself is nothing special, though. The wings are rather sloppily attached to 1 x 2 x 2 SNOT bricks (that aren’t even’ Red, though they exist in this color) and since there’s no counter-locking by ways of brackets or extra slopes, the whole block can easily be pulled off the model. Not too much of a concern for kids, but certainly they could have thrown in some extra pieces to allow for that. On a side note, the Red elements look really saturated, which is nice, too. At times it’s one of those colors that can look a bit translucent when the in-machine-mixing with the pigmented pellets doesn’t work quite right. In fact to me it almost feels like there were a few Dark Red grains accidentally mixed in, so deep is the color.

This is by no means a great issue and I really only got lured in by wanting the pieces. Given the recent price hike for those mags I’d think twice about buying it, but of course you may have no choice in the matter if your little tyke keeps bugging you about it… 🙂

Veggie Wagon – LEGO City, Farmer’s Market Van (60345)

I don’t put up reviews of LEGO City sets that often, but that doesn’t mean I’m not buying any at all or don’t like them. Most of the time it’s just that I buy small, cheap stuff that is not worth turning into an article unless there is a specific reason like when I elaborated on the new Neon Yellow color. Apparently this must also be the case for the Farmer’s Market Van (60345) then, don’t you think? As a certain Juno Birch would say: Yes, that’s happening! 🙂 So let’s look at what we have here.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Box

Pricing and Contents

This package is part of this year’s farm-centric line-up that also includes the Chicken Henhouse (60344), Grocery Store (60347) and then Barn & Farm Animals (60346). Apparently it’s been ages since LEGO had such sets in their portfolio, so it was about time and these sets have generally been welcomed. However, there’s a an ugly dark cloud in this scenario: Except for the 10 Euro chicken pen (which I also got in the meantime, by the way), these sets are prohibitively expensive. The store has a MSRP of 60 Euro for only 404 pieces and at 50 Euro for 230 pieces the farm house doesn’t fare much better despite containing many desirable molded animals.

By comparison this makes the van the cheapest in the whole sub-series with 30 Euro for 310 elements. This pricing logic doesn’t make any sense on any level even if you figure in factors like large pieces or 4+ sets always being more expensive. It doesn’t make this little truck a steal, but by and large the most cost-efficient of the series. That’s even more true once you factor in the discounts. I got mine for still relatively expensive 24 Euro, but as of now you can find offerings for around 21 Euro.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Overview

As you can see in the photo there are many smaller parts, so there’s ultimately not that much “volume of stuff”. That does not only extend to the field/ plot of land but also the car itself, which is quite hollow (not in a bad way, though). Point in case: While the models look good, you don’t have much in your hands in terms of pieces once you break them down again. The pile really isn’t that big. That’s why aside from my usual very cost-aware attitude I feel that 25 Euro is really more in line with what you get and any additional discounts sweeten the deal further.

The Minifigures

The set comes with three minifigures, which isn’t bad for such a small and affordable offering. The figures themselves don’t look anything special, but interestingly the girl with the blue hair has not only said hairpiece in Blue for the first time but also a new and unique torso print. Inevitably, the “farmer guy” called Horace also had to have a custom print with an imaginary logo on his dungarees. If you look hard enough you can see a slight color mismatch to the Lime Green leg piece. regrettably this seems to be more the norm than the exception with LEGO‘s prints these days. Also included in the set is the small rabbit, for the first time in Light Bluish Grey when before it was only available in White. A nice expansion of the color if you ever plan on building your own little brick farm.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Figures

The Field

One of the main attractions in this set is undeniably the field with the green stalks on it. There’s so much new to find here and that alone could make it worthwhile. The use of green minifigure candle elements is not new and has been seen in the Spring Lantern Festival (80107) where it was used to emulate bamboo stalks. However, this has been heavily expanded upon here. The most obvious addition is the new branch element that fits into this system and onto which then more stuff can be added. In this set this includes Red horns for peppers, Dark Purple bubbles/ ice cream scoops as berries (first seen as wine grapes in the Heartlake City Restaurant [41379]) and the new dual molded corn cob piece. The stalks are fixated in Bright Green round jumper plates that were only introduced in this color earlier this year (see Antonios Magical Door [43200] for instance). Finally, we also get a Medium Nougat barrel, yet another recent recolor.

The field is built from two structurally identical segments that can be connected with pin bricks, so in theory you could expand this if you buy multiple packages. In such a case one would likely also consolidate the plant stalks into sensible groups. Personally I would have preferred the set contained more of these pieces from the outset and one could build at least a second row or ideally a fully decked out square plot with up to sixteen plants. That would also have sensibly allowed to throw in a wheel barrow for harvesting and perhaps more rabbits and some chickens sneaking through the greenery and “pull out” carrots as indicated by the little slightly hidden mechanism that flips over to reveal the carrot in place of the former stalk. For me a massive expansion of the field would have been one of the few occasions where I then also would have accepted having to pay more simply for the fact that those plant elements can be used to such great advantage elsewhere. With that in mind I also hope that the branch element will soon enough come out in other colors so we can start building nice trees or branching water pipes.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Field, CratesThere’s a small add-on by ways of some crates mounted on swivel hinges. This segment connects to the field in a similar fashion thanks to Technic bricks providing the necessary pin holes. Unfortunately LEGO are cheapening out again, as clearly there is plenty of room left to fill the boxes. This would have been yet another good opportunity to sneak in a few extra corn cobs, but they reserved that little trick for the expensive supermarket. A third apple, Lime Green bananas or a Tan/ Bright Light Yellow pumpkin might have been other ideas that would have made this more interesting.

The Van

The transport vehicle is pretty much a “Seen them once, seen them all.” thing. This for me includes the Surfer Van (31079) for instance, but I could just as well point to others I have either reviewed here on this blog or built, including of course from other series like Friends or Creator 3in1. that’s not meant to put blame on anyone, as after all there’s only so many ways to skin a cat, but I really yearn for some variety. Just doing the mudgard pieces in an unusual color like Yellowish Green would totally make my day, considering that the majority of them are still one of the greys, White or Black. LEGO are oddly conservative in this matter and reserve other colors mostly for police vehicles and fire trucks, give or take the occasional exception from the rule.

For what it represents the car is not bad, just a tad mundane and boring. As I mentioned earlier, the build is pretty spacious with a lot of room on the inside and this shows during the assembly. All the side walls stand openly nearly until the end when you add the top plates and wedges, which makes them fragile and has you believe something is wrong because there are larger gaps left until adding the force of the plates pulls everything together.

The build is not completely symmetrical and uses a few different techniques to accommodate a hinged sidewall on the right hand side of the van and a sliding window on the left side. To me this seems a bit of an odd choice as it’s more likely that this would have an flap swinging upward and doubling as a protective roof when selling goods at the weekly groceries market. Slide windows are more appropriate for food trucks, after all.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Car, Interior, Right ViewThe interior is sparse, to put it mildly and slightly disappointing. There would have been plenty of opportunity to spruce it up like again adding a (small) create with corn cobs or other fruit, a small glass door fridge with soda cans in it and so on. It’s also unfortunate that you cannot easily remove the roof due to how everything is built and held in place by it. Mind you, it’s not that you cannot access the inside, it’s just not as easy and efficient. This also applies to the small deck behind the rear doors. You know what it is supposed to represent, it’s just not that terribly useful in light of the absence of something to put there.

The door itself is made from the 6 x 6 window frame introduced a while ago and the new 3 x 6 door elements that came out this year for easily creating double-winged doors. I’ve blathered on about the novelty and use cases for the elements of the field, but there’s a few more hidden gems in this set. More specifically the big carrot uses two significant elements: One is the 3 x 3 cone, which only once has been done in Orange so far in a Nexo Knights set and next to it there is its companion 3 x 3 dome. Those large chunky pieces are not what you would use everyday, but it’s nice to know they exist and are available just in case you may need them.

Concluding Thoughts

This set certainly doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but is what people call a solid effort on LEGO‘s part. Most importantly it reintroduces a theme that has long been underrepresented or even totally absent from the City series and this should help to familiarize and popularize the subject with younger audiences who hadn’t seen it before. For adults there’s of course the rich harvest (cheap pun alert!) of new and unique elements that could make it worthwhile. In conjunction with a straightforward assembly and the result looking nice this is a relaxing and fun experience. My only gripe really is that there could have been more agricultural stuff and by that I mean a lot more of the veggies and a larger field to “grow” them on.

Neon Fire – LEGO City Magazine, July 2022

Before we get to the actual article, let me make an important announcement: This will be my last regular review of the LEGO City magazine.

I’ve bemoaned the decline in quality in the last few issues, no doubt to the annoyance of you, my dear readers, and while last month’s space theme gave me a glimmer of hope, now we’re back to the ever same boring stuff and it’s not even good. This assessment is not only based on this issue but also the preview of the upcoming one. I understand that I’m not the target demographic and there’s certainly nothing wrong with fire patrol and police themes running on repeat, but it has become so stale I no longer consider worth it. It used to be fun, but lately LEGO seem to be optimizing and simplifying their sets “to death” and it simply doesn’t make for interesting comics or extras, when you can clearly see where stuff was chopped and cost spared.

All that being the case I will limit myself to sporadically buying the mag whenever there is something that I deem “good” or interesting like the aforementioned space stuff or perhaps if they include animals or other bits from this year’s agricultural theme like back when the lion cub came as an extra. I regret this decision and really would love to give you better news, but the LEGO City mag has become a source of frustration more than one of enjoyment and I’d rather focus my energy on other things.

Now on to the review!

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Cover

As mentioned, we’re back to stuff burning and the inept LEGO City fire patrol trying to put out the fire while all sorts of other messy stuff ensues. I for one hope that most real firefighters are more competent, but of course the mundane facts of a real emergency scramble would be uninteresting for the little ones. So I guess if you don’t take it too seriously, the comic is just fine. Visually it could be a bit more varied, as there’s tons of orange fire, drab walls in brown shades and a bit of blue sky, but not too much else. It just doesn’t look as lively as it potentially could.

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Comic

The posters are overstuffed and lack any sense of “classy” design. It’s once more just a mess pieced together from cut out marketing photos haplessly layered over a background and each other. The reverse is slightly better, if not by much. 

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Poster

The extra is downright an embarrassment for everyone involved from whoever designed it to the guy signing off on producing it. C’mon, we had minimalist buggies a-plenty, but how did we even arrive at this total non-effort? It really makes me wanna throw a tantrum and shout at someone for how lazy they are…

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Extra

As you would have guessed based on my introduction this really tipped me over and I can barely put into words how the sloppy treatment of the mag annoys me. I mean I’m not even working for Blue Ocean and I can think of a million ways to do this better! Be seeing you for only the occasional “good” outing then, I guess…

Space Walk in Yellow – LEGO City Magazine, June 2022

Allow me to make a sigh of relief: *phew*. After the last three LEGO City magazines have been extremely underwhelming, to put it mildly, this one seems to turn things around. Let’s hope this will turn into a trend and there will be more good issues this year. For now let’s focus on the June 2022 edition and see what it holds for us.

LEGO Magazine, City, June 2022, Cover

The whole mag is based on space exploration and so is the comic. Even the story, despite being rather wacky, has a certain charm for me as a sci-fi nerd. Who hasn’t dreamed of flying out there and exploring planets? Of course it’s heavily promoting this year’s space exploration sets, but since they are based on realistic NASA concepts I really don’t mind. All of this could come true in the not too distant future even if by then I’m likely an old man in a retirement home. 🙂 The comic is drawn well and there’s even a small coloring section derived from it. Unfortunately it’s not a full double-spread and really tiny or else even I might have been tempted to take out my Copic markers and give it a whirl.

LEGO Magazine, City, June 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, City, June 2022, Comic

Spending a calming evening filling in lines might also have given us a better poster. This part is the weak link in this issue. The reverse side I chose to depict here is okay-ish, but the front is just another Photoshop hack job based on LEGO‘s own promotional photos. Basically the epitome of laziness as if shooting some extra pics based on an assembled model or rendering some alternate 3D views was too much to ask.

LEGO Magazine, City, June 2022, Poster

LEGO Magazine, City, June 2022, ExtraThe undisputed highlight is the extra. Not only do you get a minifigure in the new Bright Light Yellow spacesuit design, but also a small satellite. Even that is kind of accurate if you think about the many current efforts to build communications networks such as Starlink with miniaturized satellites – and lots of them at that. It’s not that special in terms of sophistication, of course, but just nice. The printed solar panel can be used in a multitude of ways and is nice to have, too.

Overall this is a pretty good issue and I’m really pleased. It has a positive vibe and tingles my nerd genes. It’s only regrettable that they didn’t go far enough and slipped up on the coloring page and poster…

Mini Lorry – LEGO City Magazine, May 2022

After last month’s issue was such a major low point, the LEGO City magazine for this month needs to make up a lot and something enticing. Will it succeed? Let’s find out!

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2022, Cover

The immediate bad news is that the comic doesn’t live up to that expectation. The story about corking up some soda volcanoes is rather nonsensical to begin with, but kids probably won’t make much of that. However, I’m miffed by the inconsistent drawing style. The regular panels are decent and some of them are even quite good in their expressiveness, but every time the volcanoes or corks come into view, the quality massively drops. That’s quite similar to the one with the Mount Rushmore figures two issues ago. Somehow the artist(s) struggle with rendering the textures in a convincing way and the perspective also seems off.

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2022, Comic

In brighter news, we get a decent poster this time. This applies to both the composition and also the technical aspect, as this one actually has pristine colors and hasn’t been turned into a mess in pre-press. Someone really must have screwed up in the other editions, as this clearly shows that they can do it if only they want to. Otherwise there’s not much to report. at least I didn’t discover any extraordinarily gripping puzzles or other activities. It’s really just standard fare.

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2022, Poster

The extra is a small mini dump truck as you occasionally see them at construction sites as small utility vehicles to distribute materials and goods from a central unloading area to the actual locations where the workers are busy. It’s another super simple build with everything being just plugged onto a central 2 x 6 plate, but at least the result looks believable enough. The tipper bed/ gravel container is a new element for my collection, being that otherwise it is mostly used in 4+ ish sets and since I never bought any in which it was contained, I never had one before. I don’t feel it’s something essential everyone should have, but my gut tells me that it may one day come in handy for an unexpected creative use. The minifigure is just “construction guy no. 5” with orange legs and a plaid shirt, so not much extra value here, either.

If it wasn’t for the small surprise with the buildable extra, this issue would be just another disappointment for me. There’s really very little here and it’s just not particularly good. *sigh*

Just another Red Bike – LEGO City Magazine, April 2022

I have to admit I almost didn’t buy this month’s LEGO City magazine because I knew it would be rather unspectacular. I’m fast approaching the end of my patience with how repetitive it has become, but for now I got over it one more time. We’ll see how long this goes before I really give up..

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Cover

Despite the ever same subject (you know, the umpteenth chase scenario), the comics are the least of my worries as at least they are drawn dynamically enough to generate some interest and excitement.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Comic

I also like that they keep playing with full page or even double spread panels, My only small complaint this time would have to be that those train carts and a few other things look a bit too much like they’ve been drawn with a ruler. At least varying the ink lines’ thicknesses would have made it look a bit more organic not to speak of other techniques like intentional misalignment or faux lens curvature here and there.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Comic

The poster sadly continues the trend of reasonably tolerable content, but really terrible technical execution. Again the colors look extremely dull and murky, lacking visual depth. Given, that even the most lo-fi 3D rendering apps available today crank out pretty decent images with their default settings, I can only assume someone is sabotaging Blue Ocean and intentionally mis-tweaking this stuff to make it look ugly.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Poster

As I already wrote in my last review for this magazine, I wasn’t particularly enthused about this issue’s extra, being that it would just be another red bike and so here we are. I’m really at a loss for words on how lazy it is to recycle those same leftovers over and over again. Anything would have made this better – a different color for this shell or one of the Stuntz theme ones depicted in the comic and poster – just not that. Even the minifigure looks stuffy, though at least it is a unique combination of body parts. The “Xtreme” jacket torso can be found in a few other sets with other leg and head combinations, so it’s not entirely useless, it’s just the figure overall is boring as heck. Perhaps a Bright Light Orange helmet might have spiced it up enough? Point in case: Everything is just Red and without contrast.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Extra

The decline in overall quality for the LEGO City magazine at this point is so obvious, I’m really beginning to wonder if it’s still worth it. This one in particular blows all its potential out of the door by simply refusing to give us something “good” in the form of one of the Stuntz bikes. It’s really telling when LEGO can’t get over themselves…

Expensive Squirrels in the Park – LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326)

I don’t buy City sets that often since I don’t want to end up with too many “useless” parts (large panels, wedges and similar stuff or elements in weird colors), but occasionally I take a liking to some of the sets. A lot of that has to do with the animals included or small details that just appeal to me and so I ended up getting the Picnic in the Park (60326), after all.

Pricing and Contents

This particular set is a LEGO store exclusive here in Germany, but it seems it is freely available through regular retail e.g. in the US. The exclusivity in these parts kind of preempts any debate about prices, but there’s always a chance it might become more widely available at some point. At 15 Euro for 147 pieces it follows the crude standard logic of around 10 Cent per element, but is it a good price? Personally I don’t think so, as ultimately this builds into some very small models and the volume of stuff just isn’t there. This definitely feels like 10 or 12 Euro at most. Even when you open the box you already see how little actual content there is and it feels like one of those 10 Euro sets that you pick up for 7 Euro after discounts at the drugstore.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Box

Minifigures and Animals

In relation to the price I’ve seen and heard the argument of the set containing three minifigures, which is one more than the usual two, but no, sir, that’s not really a good point! It’s not like these would be unique or particularly special. Scraping body pieces together from other sets the figures could be recreated with not too much trouble, give or take a few specifics for the prints. This will only get even simpler once LEGO starts re-using the parts in other sets as well, although be it in different combinations.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Minifigures

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Squirrels

The main attractions are of course the two squirrels. They are based on a completely new mold for the City line and are much more realistic than the ones originating in Elves and having been revived only some time ago. The Black one is exclusive to this set, but the one in Dark Orange can be found in some others. There’s also a third variant in Light Bluish Grey which itself is exclusive to the School Day (60329) set. For the time being getting all three is not easy, but I’m pretty confident we’ll see the little bastards in many more sets soon enough.


Having a huge chunky oak tree with the squirrels would have been good enough for me, but apparently this is not how things work and there had to be some vehicles for actual play.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Bicycle

The first is a yellow bicycle with a small cart in tow. The latter is the simplest construction imaginable with the crate piece being used. Not much else to say here. It certainly works and while simplistic, it looks elegant enough.

The second is a small (electrical ?) utility vehicle reminiscent of a Tuk Tuk or similar vehicle originally based on a motorcycle frame. Even one of my first reviews for the Heartlake Pizzeria (41311) came with something along those lines. The details and building techniques change over time, but the design always is pretty much similar. Still, those little cars look the part and are always a nice addition.

Tree and Bench

Squirrels live in trees, that’s a given, and so this set of course needed one. Too bad it turned out rather awful! Yes, as you can see in the photo this is just another of those trees built from stacked arch elements at a ninety degrees angle. sure, it’s simple for kids, but is it any good? Not really! It is especially disappointing now that we have much better pieces such as the curved tube elements from the Bonsai Tree (10281) and other recent additions to the LEGO parts catalog.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Tree, Front View

The small table and bench are just fine, being built from six (!) identical 1 x 3 x 1 arches. the pizza box tile on the other hand… I really don’t understand why they haven’t come up with something better after all those years. They could even do new designs every year so you can date the sets easily even after the fact just by looking at the motif.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Tree, Detail Table

Personally I would have hoped for a fuller, more elaborate canopy with perhaps at least six of the large “leaf” elements. Then they could also have thrown in one of the ladybug tiles or a butterfly. Some more of the acorn tiles also would have been nice. You know, during an autumn storm it sometimes literally “rains” acorns from those oak trees in my area which goes to show how many there actually are. At least two per leaf element would sure have not been too much to ask, methinks.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Tree, Top

Concluding Thoughts

In a funny way this is one of those “Made with irony in Billund” sets, both in the good and bad sense. It’s a negative in that the set definitely is overpriced for the ordinary and very average content. There’s just not enough mass of stuff here and the tree is just *meh*. The squirrels would have deserved a better habitat and presentation.

On the positive side, despite the limitations, this set is still the most cost-effective way to get two squirrels, including the exclusive black one, short of buying some 80 Euro/ 100 Euro sets, ordering the animals from LEGO‘s Bricks & Pieces service or Bricklink. The small car/ cart and bicycle are also nice and give me a positive vibe, minor as their contribution may be.

The bummer really is that if this cost just 10 Euro I’d totally say “Go for it!” with no regrets or reservations. However, those 5 Euro on top really bother me and give me an uncomfortable itch. I just can’t see where that extra money went. There aren’t any special prints, no second bike or any of that which would justify it to me. Therefore I would only recommend this set to people who really want the squirrels and enjoy the overall cutesy-ness.