Skeletons Galore – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, November 2022

Minecraft somehow isn’t my thing and as much as I want to, I just can’t get myself to even play it once. There’s some value in LEGO Minecraft, though, as I often enough find myself buying some sets just for the bricks. Out of necessity (because all the bricks are exposed and visible) they keep introducing interesting recolors and new elements. That said, of course the corresponding magazine is another way to sometimes snatch up the goods.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, November 2022, Cover

The November edition of the LEGO Minecraft magazine doesn’t offer too much that would get me excited, though. The comic is one of those uninteresting ones with lots of empty sky and endless green planes.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, November 2022, Comic

The poster is quite acceptable in that it is colorful and lightens the mood. On the other hand the one on the back with a Creeper head and informing you “When you see this, it’s already too late” sucks up this positive energy.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, November 2022, Poster

The extra is interesting in that we get a skeleton horse built from plates and bricks  plus of course one can never have enough skeleton minifigures, Minecraft or otherwise. The Alex figure is nothings special, on the other hand.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, November 2022, Extra

This edition is not really anything special, but serviceable. The little bone horse is fun to build and looks the part. The rest of the magazine can’t really hold a candle to that, unfortunately. It’s definitely not a must-have issue.

This must be Underwater Love – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, September 2022

The LEGO Minecraft magazine really is a bit of a sleeper hit with some positive surprises in store for every issue. Of course that’s easy to say with being only on the market for a year and a meager six issues in, but compared to e.g. Hidden Side it feels so much varied and a lot less repetitive. Let’s have a look what the September 2022 issue has on offer.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, September 2022, Cover

This one is built around some underwater adventures, which is a subject I always like, given my general love for sea creatures. Even the puffer fish from The Guardian Battle (21180) make an appearance as do of course some of the temple ruins. There’s also a nice brick-built dolphin featured throughout, which would have made for a cool extra. Perhaps they’ll make it happen some day?

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, September 2022, Comic

The posters are rather generic with a “Wanted!” poster for a skeleton on the front and a scene with the Iron Giant from two issues ago on the back.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, September 2022, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, September 2022, ExtraThe extra is made up of two minifigures, another version of Steve and a “Drowned” Zombie and there’s some pieces to build a small boat or float. Zombies are always nice to have should you decide to build your own swamp or temple scene or buy those sets and want to add some more action. The boat is done well enough, but overall I think the dolphin really would have been the better option here.

While it’s not a particularly surprising issue, this one is solid enough to provide some fun. With the dolphin in place of the boat it would of course have been awesome.

The one with the Creeper – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, August 2022

There was a slight delay in the LEGO Minecraft magazine making it to my newsstand and it’s still so damned hot that i can barely focus on the simplest things, so this review is a few days behind the times. Still, it’s not like the mag wouldn’t be available for a while to come, so maybe it can still be useful for you to make a purchase decision.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, August 2022, Cover

The comics are getting notably better with every issue, though of course there’ll always be distinct differences in style across the different artists doing the illustrations. either way, it seems they’re getting more and more a handle on understanding what works and what doesn’t and while one can’t rule out that there will be murky “seas of grey” in upcoming editions, this one offers a nice balance of bright colors, good contrast and interesting perspectives.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, August 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, August 2022, Comic

The posters do not quite live up to that level, mostly because they’re simply shoddy 3D renders with a lot of Photoshop effects thrown on, but I guess we’ve had worse. The ghostly Creepers are okay and the reverse one with the cutaway view of some underground halls in moonlight isn’t entirely terrible, either. Would I hang them up in my room? Probably not, but that’s just me…

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, August 2022, Poster

The extra is pretty decent value with effectively two minifigures and another little side build, especially for folks like me that rarely ever buy an actual Minecraft set. If you really just want some more figures and don’t care for the specific characters that’s an easy way to get them and have some play fun. Incidentally, my Creeper had a bit of damage with the semi-lifted “legs” showing stress marks because there was too much pressure on the thin walls while the pieces were squeezed in a stack of magazines. I don’t mind, but you may feel otherwise, so keep an eye out if your magazine has suffered a lot during transport and the foil back looks too crumpled or compressed on the shelf.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, August 2022, Extra

All things considered this is a fairly acceptable issue, especially with the comic not being such an eyesore. Definitely worth a look if you’re even only half interested in Minecraft!

Iron Man? – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, June 2022

At this point I’m inclined to believe that Blue Ocean‘s publishing schedule is completely off the rails. It’s really a jumble of some magazines being delayed while others fill the initial release slot. It’s getting ridiculous to the point where even the employees at my newsagent’s get confused which old issues to keep around for a few more days and which ones to replace with the new editions. Can’t really blame them as I myself got confused this time, but alas, here we are with the June issue of the LEGO Minecraft magazine.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2022, Cover

My reservations about the comics likely will never fully go away, but it looks like they are more and more getting a handle on how to make this world of perpendicular edges and people with cubic heads visually interesting. This one has some nice panels and a good density with relatively many characters and environmental details, so it doesn’t feel all too shabby. My only complaint would be that there’s a bit too much green and blue, which makes it look cold and gloomy.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2022, Comic

The posters are okay and in fact now that I think about it I should probably have done the cool thing and shown you the backside which depicts the battle at the underwater temple, including the two puffer fish. The wanted poster for the golem ultimately feels a bit redundant and like a low effort, as they didn’t even fancy it up with some statistics or adding some “bad photocopy” filter.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2022, Poster

Other than that there’s a “witch hunt” board game worth mentioning that’s also on a two-spread and looks like it could be fun for a while. It doesn’t add much to the “chase game” formula and pretty much copies all the tropes, but appears balanced enough to be fair and not frustrate kids too much. It could keep the little ones busy and add at least an hour of distraction on top of the other simple puzzles scattered throughout the mag.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2022, ExtraThe extra is the Iron Golem from the poster. He’s certainly not the most attractive guy, but I guess it’s okay. As usual I have no idea about his relevance in the game. The build is reasonably complex, but at the same time also simple. The printed 2 x 3 tile is another nice piece for the collection and incidentally so is the modified tile with the minifigure head stump. In researching it I was surprised to find out how rarely it has even be used despite being around so long. Seems a bit odd, as I could imagine quite a few scenarios where it could be used to add some interest to a setting or allow for some unusual construction.

Overall this issue is just fine. Not outstanding, but just fine. Minecraft still doesn’t quite jibe with me, but at least what you get here is enjoyable and provides a few minutes of fun.

Paper Creeper – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, May 2022

The LEGO Minecraft magazine definitely is not the most attractive one in terms of design, which can easily be proven with the May 2022 issue’s cover. i could barely believe that such a distasteful abomination left the print shop. *yikes*

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2022, Cover

As I’ve written the last few times already, the comic is more of an acquired taste than an actual thing of beauty. Somehow it just doesn’t click with me and most panels just look ugly or even creepy. Maybe if you’re steeped in the lore of the game you can overlook these things and get something out of it, so I’ll leave it at that.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2022, Comic

The poster is another hack job from the subterranean floor at the Blue Ocean headquarters where someone is chained to a desk in the cellar and it looks bad in more way than I can count. Not quite as terrible as the last one, but still pretty awful. Not was Photoshop was invented for!

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2022, Poster

A small interesting bonus is a paper cut & fold creeper on the back cover. It comes in two flavors thanks to a double-sided print – in regular form and charged with blue lightning. It’s not a full creeper model, though, just a cube you glue together. I’m always for this kind of activities stuff. It’s much more preferable than those nonsensical and way too trivial puzzles inside the mag.

The extra is quite substantial with a minifigure and two animals, the latter being an ocelot and a sheep. These are always desirable for their heads and Bricklink suggests that in fact the yellow guy as seen here has otherwise only been in one set. The Alex minifigure is nothing to write home about but I’ll gladly take another silver fish and a brown whip for my collection. You never know when you might need another vine on a wall or tree…

Granted, I’m a victim of my own ignorance when it comes to Minecraft, but somehow this magazine just doesn’t light my fire. Except for the extra I’m not getting much out of it and even from an abstract graphics design standpoint it turns me off. Maybe you feel differently, but overall I don’t think you would be missing much not buying this issue.

Explosive Block – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, March 2022

The LEGO Minecraft magazine is relatively fresh, but seems to do surprisingly well. At least the initial issue was quickly sold out on my local newsstand, something which barely ever happens with most of those other LEGO comic magazines. We’ll see if the second outing can repeat this and will be just as popular.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, March 2022, Cover

I still have my doubts about the subject being suitable to be turned into a comic and the one in this issue seems to confirm these reservations. some panels look pretty decent, others extremely flat and uninteresting and there’s any number of degrees of variation inbetween.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, March 2022, Comic

The inclusion of a puzzle page is not an accident, as frustratingly this edition literally has only two double-spread pages for the comic with all the others being single spreads with the opposing page having a puzzle, quiz or info bit on them. This further interrupts the flow of the story and I find it rather confusing plus it makes things unnecessarily look more ugly.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, March 2022, Comic

Speaking of ugly – the posters are just terrible. I never had much faith in whoever is “Mr. Graphics Guy” at Blue Ocean, but man, is this just a crappy piece of work. They didn’t even pay attention to draw straight paths for their fake shadow overlays and of course the whole composition is just bad, bad, bad to begin with. Someone teach them Photoshop, please! The alternate poster on the back is better, but not an achievement of artfulness, either.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, March 2022, Poster

The buildable extra is nice. Skeletons are always a good thing to have and the bricks are useful, too.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, March 2022, ExtraWhile it’s too early to truly judge the quality of this magazine series after just two publications, this one certainly is a misfire and disappointment. I sure hope the next one will be better again…

Foxy Mushroom – LEGO Minecraft, The Fox Lodge (21178) and The Mushroom House (21179)

LEGO made a boatload of money last year, which speaks for the popularity of their products, yet the downside to that is that they still appear to struggle with keeping up with demand. Thus availability of some products is lagging behind and the company churning out new sets every month doesn’t make things better. Supplies are low and prices are high. As a customer that severely limits your options on what to buy (well, at least in my budget range), so I ended up buying these two sets much sooner than I might have otherwise, considering them optional purchases when prices might be lower in the future. I really didn’t mean to turn this into a streak of Minecraft reviews, but alas, it just so happened.

Pricing and Contents

Though some people might say otherwise, Minecraft sets are relatively expensive for what little content they offer. Both The Fox Lodge (21178) and The Mushroom House (21179) retail for 20 Euro at 193 and 272 pieces, respectively. On the face of it that doesn’t sound too dramatic and yes, you get some decent volume and sizable parts, but no matter what, most of it is just basic bricks and plates, not fancy custom molded elements. Even the Mushroom House only makes it look like a good value proposition with a seemingly higher parts count owing to a ton of 1 x 2 plates and associated 2 x 2 corner plates. Point in case: LEGO could and should have shaven off 5 Euro right out of the gate and one shouldn’t have to rely on discounts so much.

The Fox Lodge (21178)

This set admittedly triggered my “Oh, that’s cute!” sensors. The curled up sleeping fox turned into a building is just adorable! I also like the small foxes and the guy in the fox costume. If that doesn’t count as “clear messaging”, then I don’t know.

LEGO Minecraft, The Fox Lodge (21178), Box

As you can see, the set is relatively compact and mostly built on a single 16 x 16 plate with the real news here being that this plate is the first time it has been available in Sand Green. surprisingly, LEGO only started manufacturing larger plates like some 8 x 8 in this color last year in the Harry Potter series to represent the roofs. For someone like me who uses the 16 x 16 a lot for MOCs in favor over base plates having more color options can only be a good thing.

LEGO Minecraft, The Fox Lodge (21178), Overview

The small foxes are built from a custom head mold and regular pieces for the body. Some reviewers like Jangbricks have criticized the proportions as being inaccurate to the games’ internal logic of how thick and wide elements have to be, but I tend to see it just the opposite. Adapting sizes to get stuff looking nice and integration in the overall system strictly in the context of brick building is absolutely fair game. Even if they may not have immediate plans, LEGO may one day decide to creatively use these heads as decorative elements elsewhere and they wouldn’t want to preclude that by making the design “true” to the game, but incompatible with their underlying grid measurements for their bricks.

LEGO Minecraft, The Fox Lodge (21178), Minifigures The minifigures are limited to the guy in the costume I already mentioned and a swamp zombie. The prints are nice, though once again the White parts noticeably lack opacity, making them appear pink-ish on the orange guy. Sadly this looks to be the new normal we have to get accustomed to and LEGO just don’t seem to care.

 

 

The building itself is rather simple, after all, despite the original idea. It almost entirely consists of 2 x 2, 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 bricks and a handful of plates with the differentiation of details being expressed via colors. That to me is one of the biggest regrets I have about this series. If LEGO were to interpret this more loosely instead of slavishly adhering to the game’s logic and added some finer details, this could be a whole other level. For instance the eyes and ears could have insets with jumper plates and no doubt some irregularities in the “fur” could have been added with differently colored 1 x 1 and 1 x 2 plates and leaving small indentations and bumps in some places to represent ruffles.

The interior is appropriate for a single occupant of a lodge, I guess, with a bed, a chest and a hearth. Not much else to see, but thanks to the roof being removable perfectly accessible.

A little surprise is hidden behind the map on the wall. It may not look like much, but yes, at long last we’re getting a proper SNOT “jumper” brick and this set is genuinely the first to feature it. Other manufacturers probably have beaten LEGO to the punch and have had it for a while, but it really feels like this should have existed already. Of course you always could use this Technic brick with a matching stud pin, but since the pin is frictionless, everything attached to it will of course swivel around easily. The new brick solves this dilemma.

LEGO Minecraft, The Fox Lodge (21178), New Brick

The Mushroom House (21179)

I only picked this one up as some sort of filler for the box when I was ordering the Fox Lodge and because it has a few usable parts. However, had I known how bad this is I would have abstained.

LEGO Minecraft, The Mushroom House (21179), Box

Calling the content lackluster would almost be an understatement. It’s really quite underwhelming. Aside from the mushroom cow’s head piece there is very little new to be found here and the rest is just re-using techniques and ideas from other sets in the series.

LEGO Minecraft, The Mushroom House (21179), Overview

LEGO Minecraft, The Mushroom House (21179), AnimalsSaid cow is otherwise built from various small plates and the two bricks for the legs. The same goes for the spider, only that it uses hinges to spread the legs out. It has a bracket on top to which the skeleton’s feet can be attached so it can ride around and be a nuisance.

 

LEGO Minecraft, The Mushroom House (21179), Minifigures

For the minifigures we’re getting yet another Alex and the skeleton already mentioned. The quality issues with the White also pervade this set and make this frustrating.

 

 

The building is basically just a big square block perched on a few supports and has very little semblance with an actual mushroom. There are a few white 1 x 1 plates sprinkled in to create the appearance of an amanita mushroom, but I found that this in combination with the 25 (!) 2 x 2 corner plates in Red to fill in the rest only prolongs the build and not in a good way at that. It felt really tedious and unsatisfying. The funny thing is that I probably wouldn’t have minded if it actually resulted in a more varied and detailed structure. That’s why I can only reinforce my point from the Fox Lodge: A more liberal interpretation of these things would really be beneficial to making this more interesting.

Another big problem in this model is how the bottom plates are held together. All connections are based on the 2 x 4 jumper plate introduced a while ago with no extra bricks or plates to strengthen them. This simply cannot work and as you would guessed everything just falls apart when you try to lift it as a whole. The only consolation here is that the plates for the water and tree can perfectly exist as separate sections.

The interior is even more spartan than the Fox Lodge, but at least you can access it easily be not only removing the roof and wall on the entry side, but also the other walls. That’s nice, but has very little extra value for play and such.


Concluding Thoughts

Unless you are a Minecraft die-hard, I’d consider neither of the sets essential. The Fox Lodge is cute, for sure, but ultimately that may not be enough to justify a purchase. The Mushroom House at the end of the day is pretty terrible and I would not recommend it at all, even more so since it does not include any of those little gimmicks that might tilt the balance in its favor. Also the execution of the build is very poor, further subtracting from its value. I’m baffled how this even passed QC. For the right price both can be nice parts sources, though.

Axolotl Fun – LEGO Minecraft, The Guardian Battle (21180)

As I’ve said a number of times here on this blog I’m totally not into Minecraft – I know that it exists, I get what the appeal may be and I acknowledge that millions of people play it, but personally I never got hooked. That is pretty much the same in the LEGO world, though as I mentioned in my blurb on the recently launched LEGO Minecraft comic magazine, I’m always keeping an eye out for interesting parts from that range. That’s how I ended up buying The Guardian Battle (21180), after all, so let’s see what it offers.

LEGO Minecraft, The Guardian Battle (21180), Box

Contents and Pricing

If you have been following these things more closely than I do and for much longer, then certainly the set will feel familiar to you. The building is sort of a spliced out segment from the original The Ocean Monument (21136) released in 2017, representing a gate or just some random ruin section, embedded in a bit of reef. Wiser minds more steeped in the lore will actually know what it is supposed to represent. The puffer fish on the other hand are an almost 1 : 1  recreation of the ones in the original set. The real difference is the minifigure, defined as a diver, and the little guys that come with it, so this could indeed be a scenario where the original temple long has been destroyed and only pieces of it are still there decades or centuries later.

LEGO Minecraft, The Guardian Battle (21180), Contents Overview

The set itself retails for 22 Euro and having literally bought it three days after its January 1st release, I did not get any discounts. If you do your math and take into account the usual 20 to 30 percent discounts this will get after a while you’ll arrive at around 15 Euro. That’s okay for a 255 pieces set, but regardless you have to keep in mind that you are paying a for a few standard bricks and lots of small elements. On the other hand that’s certainly much more affordable than the 120 Euro ocean monument and even people who have this older set may consider getting this one to have some extra stuff.

Minifigures and Animals

The single most important reason why we are even here reviewing the set are the Axolotls. I just couldn’t help myself from thinking “Oh, how cute!” when I first saw a picture of them. As far as I understand, they have special magical or healing powers in the game, so it seems one would take care to not lose them or gather as many of them as you can. Two of them are supposed to be attached to the minifigure as if they are swarming around him and protecting him, but I found that construction clunky and way to heavy, so the diver tips over backwards.

LEGO Minecraft, The Guardian Battle (21180), Minifigure and Animals

The little newts are a new mold, which can be attached onto a regular 1 x 2 plate from the underside. If they ever come out in more regular colors like Tan, they could make for nice decorative elements on buildings. LEGO have done that for some of the heads already to be used as lamp shades or stucco on facades of Modular Buildings (Police Station [10278] for instance), so I’m optimistic that this may happen one day. The heads are separately printed 1 x 1 plates and there’s a spare for each of them in the package.

The singular minifigure is a bit of a head-scratcher. Obviously there could and should have been two at least, even if they were the same, but I’m also concerned with how it looks. The Dark Bluish Grey and Olive Green just don’t pop enough on the Dark Orange body and at the same time the bright face looking through the round glass window stands out too much. It would likely have looked better with different colors. There’s also quality issues with the prints. No, for once not that they aren’t opaque enough but rather in a way the opposite. The paint here seems to have been a bit too pasty and the prints have notable ridges/ stamp marks. If I were collecting these figs, I’d likely request replacements.

The Temple

The temple fragments and reef parts are the simplest build you can imagine. It’s literally a case of “My 3-year-old could have come up with it!” with simple stacked bricks and plates with the only real bits of finesse being the vines/ plant stalks interwoven as extra supports. By that I don’t mean to imply it’s bad, just simple. It certainly could have been a bit more elaborate with perhaps some debris lying around or the reef parts being larger with more flowers and all that. The squid with only four very short “tentacles” perched on top of the archway is also odd, but not knowing better I have to accept that this is probably how it’s meant to be.

The Puffer Fish

The puffer fish are essentially simple cubes with a bunch of appendages and protrusions. The larger blue one is based on a 3 x 3 x 3 SNOT construction using the 1 x 2 clip plates as the basis. Regrettably LEGO did not recolor those clips in Dark Tan of Blue, as would have been desirable, so they stand out a bit despite their “neutral” grey. While the fish is pretty much a 1 : 1 re-creation of the one already used in the ocean monument, there is a small enhancement in that the tail uses the new 1 x 2 modified plates with a horizontal clip instead of the less directionally stable 1 x 1 version. More on that in the extra section on the notable pieces.

The smaller puffy is constructed around a 2 x 2 x 2 cube arrangement and for its spikes reverses the underlying principle with the hinge plates being on the body and the clips forming the appendages. Naturally, for any of it to look good you have to spend some time orienting the spikes on both models.

Piece Mania

For a set this small the selection of notable and new parts is amazing and of course this was part of the plan after having studied the digital PDF instructions. The orange clips aren’t new, but technically still sort of exclusive, as they have only been in the previous The Ocean Monument (21136) set and a Nexo Knights set. I’m sure MOC builders will appreciate their reappearance. The 1 x 2 plate with the horizontal clip is already appearing in many new sets released since last autumn and here you get two of them in Tan. Apparently at long last LEGO seem to have realized this gap in their parts portfolio since the 1 x 1 counterpart tends to slightly rotate on its single stud, even when butted against other plates around it. Having this available definitely should make some constructions more stable while at the same time reducing the number of elements needed. the fish tail is a good example for this, actually.

LEGO Minecraft, The Guardian Battle (21180), Special Pieces

LEGO have long been extremely reluctant to produce certain items as transparent pieces. Their rationale always has been that it’s not good for models due to friction and tension working differently and thus those pieces being more prone to damage. That and of course things like cracks, fogging and gilding being even more apparent than on opaque parts. It seems they are finally coming around and easing up on this strict stance, so we now get the 2 x 2 jumper plate in Trans Dark Blue and a Trans Clear 1 x 2 vertical clip plate. the latter is part of that clunky block you are supposed to attach to the minifigure’s back to hold the Axolotls. Insignificant as it may seem, there is also now a Blue 1 x 1 round flower plate/ stud. So far they have been mostly produced in greens, yellows and pastel tones and I’ve forever wondered if we’re going to get a few more colors. This is a good start, but how about browns and Black for withered and charred flowers?

LEGO Minecraft, The Guardian Battle (21180), Double Plate Piece

The element that will no doubt cause the biggest sigh of relief by many is the 2/3rds or two plates tall 1 x 1 brick, depending how you want to see it. This is not an essential element by any stretch of the imagination, but a) other manufacturers have had it since forever and b) it solves one big annoyance, that being having to stack 1 x 1 plates to get uneven heights. This can be particularly frustrating on areas where they need to be aligned perfectly to give the illusion of a solid surface, so this new element should indeed facilitate such builds considerably. In this set it’s included in Olive Green, but it can already be found in some others in Medium Nougat and Dark Orange. It will be pretty standard in no time and should be available in a wide range of colors then.


Concluding Thoughts

This is a lovely little set and in a way I’m surprised myself how much I like it. There is soem decent value here and unlike many other Minecraft sets it has a certain elegance about it and doesn’t look too crude and blocky. The only real complaint would have be the skewed value. A second minifigure certainly would have provided a better balance as would have some extra bits and bobs on the reef. Overall one can’t complain, though.

New Block on the Block – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, January 2022

Minecraft is an odd thing of a game. Some love it to death while others like me couldn’t be bothered. In  the LEGO universe it has its own weird place, given how many compare the game to the actual building with bricks. I think that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but there can be no denying that there is a certain charm in seeing parts of that virtual world turned into sets. since that seems to be reasonably successful, too, it really isn’t much of a surprise that we’re getting a matching comic magazine, too. So let’s see what the first issue offers.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, January 2022, Cover

There was some “through the grapevine” info leaked on this being in the pipeline last October and I really couldn’t wait to check it out. In particular I was wondering how the comics would turn out, as generally this does not lend itself particularly well to that format in my opinion. It’s one of those cases where the limited design options any block-based world may offer kinda will get in the way. Interestingly, my mind having been conditioned by video games in the 1990s I could see a lot of it working as an isometric perspective thing and so far the comics seem to confirm that. At least to me it looks nice when it’s drawn like those little scenes e.g. in role playing games, where the camera is hovering above and viewing the goings-ons at a certain angle from a bit of distance, but once they get too close things start feeling strange. I guess we’ll have to wait how it evolves stylistically.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, January 2022, Comic

The story very much is in line with what you’ve come to expect from these magazines – pig runs away, everyone panics, hijinx ensue, pig is saved from peril, everyone is happy. Not really many surprises here, but at least there’s hope we might see something more imaginative one day.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, January 2022, Comic

The poster is acceptable, though I still always find myself going *umppphhhh* over plastering everything with fat type. It feels superfluous and ruins the mood. the back side shows a “No Creepers!” sign, but to me that is a lot less attractive than the front one.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, January 2022, Poster

The extra is quite comprehensive with two minifigures and the pig. You get Steve and a zombie version of him, which really is a good start, generic as the figures may be in the Minecraft universe.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, January 2022, Extra

It’s of course too early to tell where this is headed, but I’m definitely going to keep an eye on this. Even if you have no specific relation to Minecraft, this series has some interesting pieces, quite a few of which have useful prints and that alone could be a reason to pick up the mag every once in a while.

Scary times two? – Skeleton with Magma Cube (21150)

Spontaneous impulse buys can be a dangerous thing and despite my tight budget I’m not completely immune to making those spur-of-the moment decisions, especially when the vividly colored shelf labels in a store prominently announce a discount on LEGO stuff. Of course I’m still being quite rational on some level, as I spend a minute or two almost every day checking prices and weighing my options on what to get next, so my purchase of the LEGO Minecraft Skeleton with Magma Cube (21150) set wasn’t entirely unprepared.

LEGO Minecraft, Skeleton with Magma Cube (21150), Box

One of the main considerations is of course the price and while the value for money ratio in the Minecraft sets is quite terrible in general, I figured I would be a bit forgiving this time. I definitely wanted to check out the set because it uses a different building technique than the one with Alex and the chicken and even if it wouldn’t turn out super-exciting, at least the parts would be useful.

For instance the Light Bluish Grey 3 x 2 tiles aren’t used as widely as one tends to think when looking at the tons of Star Wars vehicles and other technically-oriented sets out there, so having a bunch of them along with their 4 x 2 counterparts in a single set isn’t really that bad a thing. Similar observations can be made for other parts – they are and will be useful in custom builds, but really not that special on their own, though i would argue that somehow one can never have enough 2 x 1 tiles in Dark Medium Flesh.

What really got me jazzed even more were the Dark Brown 2 x 1 plates used in the Magma Cube along with the Dark Red tiles. It surprises me again and again how LEGO use them in such mundane sets as filler, often completely invisible, while at the same time aggravating people with extremely colorful similar elements used for the same purpose even in expensive sets where you would expect consistent color usage. Go, figure!

LEGO Minecraft, Skeleton with Magma Cube (21150), Front

The skeleton itself is constructed in the simplest way imaginable – white plates and tiles, some joints a few brackets and it’s all stacked together in the most straightforward manner. Once again of “Your kid could have invented it, would it have had the parts at hand.” That’s in itself not a bad thing, but it kinda furthers my point about those Minecraft sets perhaps being a bit all too obviously overpriced to begin with. They could at least have made the joint parts all white, to provide some unique incentive for getting this set.

Arguably the latter point at least applies to the bow element. Similar to the sword in the Alex set it has studs on both sides, which shows that LEGO know how to do that stuff, they just refuse to give us regular two-sided adapter plates for bi-directional building, however they may rationalize that decision. Anyway, the bow also is in Dark Brown and has a more or less obtuse triangular form, which makes me think you could very successfully use this creatively for e.g. building roofs on little country houses and the like.

The spring-loaded shooter arrows coming in Reddish Brown is also nice and could likely be exploited as extra long bar elements when needed like with all sorts of high-stem bushes and young, small trees, a flag pole or just as a long faux “axle”.

LEGO Minecraft, Skeleton with Magma Cube (21150), Back

Looking at the backside doesn’t really reveal any surprises. There is some minimal effort to cover the calves by ways of the Unikitty style 3 x 1 inverted tiles and I sure do not object to having the new T-style brackets in white, but other than that there’s really nothing exciting to see. Unfortunately the model once again doesn’t take the opportunity of expanding and refining the original Minecraft in-game creature design with additional joints, so you can’t really pose anything – at least not without it looking rather ridiculous for a “collectible figure”.

LEGO Minecraft, Skeleton with Magma Cube (21150), Lava Monster

As written further up, the Magma Cube/ Lava Monster keeps most of its secrets hidden inside, which in addition to the cool Dark Brown plates is a simple mechanism with a Technic axle that allows the upper half to be lifted and dropped back as if the creature was chomping onto someone. There’s no friction and it can’t be fixated in a (semi-)open position, so it’s ultimately not that useful, after all. It’s a nice touch, regardless.

Overall this is an okay set, but really not much more than that. Somehow the Minecraft theme just doesn’t click with me despite my best intentions and everything feels somehow a tad off. The figures are really too small to impress and can be built so quickly, it’s just unsatisfying. It seems I really would much prefer a more liberal, slightly more realworld-ish interpretation with much more pieces instead of just re-creating the in-game items so simply. Perhaps I should simply focus on my other stuff.

That said, if you are a fan of the game or the characters, this set represents them faithfully as far as I can judge. Then you actually might appreciate the quick and simple build, too.