November Speed Trap

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

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2019, Cover

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

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

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

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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.

Ghostly October Apparition

As I was writing just a few days ago, I quite like LEGO‘s new Hidden Side series (minus the interactive features, of course), so I was wondering whether it would at least get some special issues in magazine form. Lo and behold, it looks like it’s even going to get a regular bi-monthly publishing cycle for the next two years at least. So let’s see what the first issue has in store.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, October 2019, Cover

First, let me be clear about one thing: While the main protagonists are supposed in their early teenage years, i.e. early puberty, I don’t think the magazines will do anything for this target demographic or appeal to them specifically. To me this whole concept seems like some people in their mid-forties decided to be zeitgeist-y and in a corporate meeting came up with something that they think younger people might consider hip. It always feels a bit embarrassing and ingratiating.

Why is this important? Well of course the magazine can’t stay away from giving everyone a short biography. I’d rather they would not and left it open to everyone’s imagination what specific age the figures are. It’s already bad enough that they all are explicitly named. You know, LEGO are always beating about the bush on fostering creativity like e.g. with this week’s launch of their Rebuild the World campaign, but at the end of they day they way too often try to lock people into specific play scenarios. Arguably, with this being also being tied into their digital games some of that is inevitable, but it still rubs me the wrong way.

With all that said, the magazine isn’t half bad. It comes with a version of the Jack Davids figure that also is included in pretty much almost every single one of the buyable sets. I couldn’t say that I needed the umpteenth iteration to stash away in my boxes, but if e.g. you only got the Newbury Juice Bar (40336) as a freebie while buying other stuff at the LEGO store, this is a good complementary figure to get you started. The rest of the magazine follows very much the same pattern familiar from the Star Wars and City versions.

The comic is drawn nicely, but not least of all due to that odd age thing doesn’t quite click with me. But perhaps I’m really getting too old and stay away from all this new-fangled social media stuff too much. The poster has the artworks of the commercial sets all munched together on one side and while this provides a clearer look at some of the pieces, I still wish they’d tackle this one at a time. It seems a bit of a waste to come up with the designs and then print them so barely recognizable over and over again.

Overall it’s okay for a first issue, though I hope they will amp it up quite a bit in future mags. The next one due in November is going to include the pizza shirt dude from the Shrimp Shack Attack (70422) set with an alternate “possessed” head and hair piece, so that’s at least a tiny step up already. In the long run I would like to see something a bit more exclusive, however.

Speedy October Pizza

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

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2019, Cover

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

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

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

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

October Dog Spa

Two months seems like a long time when you’re at the start, but time flies quickly and in the end a few weeks isn’t that much, after all, as the October/ November issue of the LEGO Friends magazine proves.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, October 2019, Cover

Where the buildable parts are concerned, it’s back to “cutesie animal plus bubble bath”, which at this point is getting a tired and stale trope. I still have more Chico cats than dogs, but I think with the one from this issue I now also own at least five brown Dash dogs. The only saving grace this time around is the old-style golden dual tap, a piece which had a bit of a renaissance in the last three years after it was barely used anywhere after its introduction in 2011. That is to say it could sure be useful in a custom build one day.

The rest of the mag is forgettable or even terrible. The latter category is prominently filled with the very botched-looking CG cover and posters inside. I’m not going to bore you with my 25 years of 3D graphics knowledge, but if you look up “bad deformations” in a web search within this context, you can surely find enough examples of what I mean. It’s really creepy. The comic uses my preferred newer, more dynamic style of drawing, but its content is kinda WTF?. A parade of costume fetish? Just weird.

So overall this isn’t much to write home about and with the last issue for this year falling into November, we can’t even look forward to some good Christmas-y stuff…

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.

Space September

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

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2019, Cover

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

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

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