April Infiltration

A certain virus is infiltrating the world and the Sith are to blame for it! No, of course I’m just kidding around. It’s true, though, the April issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine comes with a mini model of the Sith Infiltrator spacecraft, if minus a Darth Maul figure.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2020, Cover

Though barely even visible in The Phantom Menace, the ship has become somewhat notorious and a fan favorite on its own. Once you actually do your research the shape is immediately recognizable even though personally I think LEGO has not been very successful in capturing it in one of their many attempts, neither in big sets nor as a Microfighter. As far as that goes, this version is kind of okay, but without the name printed on the front page it would be hard to discern what it is supposed to be. I’m not going to complain about a “free” goodie, but it definitely lacks volume in the aft section.

On the bright side, and for me the highlight of this little package, it comes with the new 3×3 dome piece introduced with the The LEGO Movie 2 sets last year, specifically the Unikitty & Friends set (70822). The grey version so far has only been used in the Trafalgar Square (21045) set in the Architecture line, so this is extremely valuable if you are a MOC builder and may warrant a purchase of the magazine for that reason alone. It may just take a bit to hunt it down given the current situation out there.

I’m certainly past the core demographic age, but the comics are quite appealing. The main comic ties into the failed Solo film and thus feels a bit like recycling content that they had produced for it and didn’t want to throw away, however, I must admit. The posters are okay and the games/ puzzles can occupy your time for a few minutes. In a time where many people are stuck at home for weeks on end one should be thankful for small diversions.

April what…?!

As indicated last time, we’re getting yet another LEGO Hidden Side magazine issue with Jack all too prominently featured on the cover and while I would be glad that him receding into the background might hint at something better, that is far from the truth. Yupp, I thought my eyes were cheating on me, but the El Fuego skeleton is already visible in the exact same pose in the preview for the next edition in May.

Talk about over-re-using stock art! That’s like when you find the same stock photo being used in totally unrelated adverts for different products. This couldn’t be *facepalm*-ier and is a poor testament to the designers, given how much new artwork has actually been created for the series.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, April 2020, Cover

The minifigure of the bicycle gang member for me is a win, because I still haven’t bought the El Fuego’s Stunt Truck (70421) set where it was originally featured. the prints are nice and if you manage to buy a couple of those figs, vary their heads and other details and have some ideas for bikes an Easy Rider like formation is not impossible.

The magazine itself is oddly overblown and yet incoherent, trying to cram in a million story beats into the comic. This is just plain confusing and to me does only confirm how directionless Hidden Side is overall. It’s just jumping from subject to subject to crank out sets and that will be its undoing. The puzzles are only mildly challenging and the posters are as awful as the cover. Aside from the figure there’s not much of interest here, unfortunately.

Yellow April

Just another month, just another LEGO City magazine one might say. Yes, the April issue is already here.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2020, Cover

First thing to note: Blue Ocean seem to be using a different glue for the tacked on bag with the buildable elements (and also in this case a free sample pack of Ninjago collectible cards). It appears to be a bit less elastic and thus sticks to the paper more. Being unaware of this and following my usual method i therefore managed to shred the cover and rip of bits of the top layer of the paper, hence the white areas. I need to be more careful next time.

The parts included are touted as being for a bulldozer, but honestly words begin to fail me. It’s quickly becoming pointless to even include these elements if the supposed vehicle is barely even recognizable. They are clearly taking the reductions too far. The pieces are not without merit for me, though. Funny enough in all those years I never had come across this particular wheel hub type in yellow nor did I have the shield element in Dark Blueish Grey yet. So at least it’s a minor addition to my parts stock. The yellow hubs might come in handy if I ever decide to build a DHL/ Deutsche Post (German postal services) vehicle at least.

The comic is pretty wild and colorful, which I guess is natural when it’s about a rainbow-colored theme park being built. The activities, i.e. puzzles and so on also tie in quite well with this subject. And for once there’s even a pretty good poster (the one with the construction worker standing on the steel bar in mid-air). While certainly not essential, this is overall a good enough issue.

Baby Triceratops?

I was really pleased in which direction the LEGO Jurassic World magazine was heading with the amazing T-Rex in the last issue, so understandably I was looking forward to the current March issue.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, March 2020, Cover

Of course for me the most exciting part is once again the pretty elaborate buildable dino model, this time for a Triceratops. At 65 parts it’s pretty much on par with some commercial polybag editions and by itself represents enough value to warrant a purches of the magazine.

Stylistically it takes a cue or two from the B-model Triceratops in the Mighty Dinosaurs (31058) set, which itself has been around for several years now and has become a staple of the Creator 3in1 series. Next too each other the similarities between the larger and the smaller model are easily apparent and the latter could even function as a child to the former.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, March 2020, Comparison with Set 31058

With a bit of effort one could make this even more consistent by e.g. modifying the building style on the legs of the big guy to be more like the ones of the small guy or vice versa. Even if you just leave them as is, they are both nice models in their own right despite their simplified nature.

Beyond that the magazine has a nice comic, including a good rendition of the Triceratops itself, though in a different color, so the connection is definitely there. The games are too few and too simple for my taste. The posters are oddly framed and feel strangely overcrowded with large text occupying a good chunk of the space and the edges coming dangerously close to the depicted characters.

For me as a graphics artist a bit of a *grmpf* moment, since I value my whitespace and sufficient bleed to let artwork “breathe”, though of course I far too often mess up my own photos and then have to crop them too tightly as well. No shame in admitting that 🙂 In any case, this is another well done edition in this series and if they keep up that level of quality then I’m all for it. Definitely check it out!

March Veterinary

Some topics are come back again and again, so it’s little surprise that the new LEGO Friends magazine once more is built around the pet veterinary subject in its March issue.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, March 2020, Cover

Most notably this becomes apparent by the buildable parts included. The examination table has been done a million times. In fact it was in one of the first Friends issues I reviewed on this blog and is also a recurring feature in similarly themed sets like e.g. Emma’s Mobile Veterinary Clinic (41360). The building style is always pretty much the same, with some variations on the decorations and extras thrown in to adapt it to whatever is the latest fashion. This time this means it comes with some prominent Dark Cyan pieces, bringing its color scheme in line with this year’s Heartlake City Hospital (41394) for instance. Overall that’s okay, but I wish they’d at least include some different animals.

One possible way is in fact even presented prominently in the magazine – one of the comics heavily leans onto the new magic cubes with the surprise animals, playing around with the fact that they contain the animals in previously unseen colors and even include “rare” versions in Pearl Gold. The comic features a blue peacock and lama, but for the immediate issue I would have settled on Chico the cat coming perhaps in Medium Azure or Lavender instead of the standard grey version.

The rest of the magazine is surprisingly well done (within the limits of what you can expect). It seems the message is getting through and it’s steering into a new direction with more emphasis on activities. There’s a good amount of puzzles and some large coloring and tracing images, so you might want to dig out the crayons… This could keep your kids busy for quite a while. That makes it overall pretty okay even if you don’t obsess about the little bags with the pieces on the cover like I do.

Getting Hexi

While I’m admittedly a slow builder who likes to take his time and doesn’t too often jump in with immediate solutions to specific problems when people ask on forums, occasionally it still happens when something is pretty obvious and I can exploit my limited experience in these matters.

Such was the case a while ago when someone had bought commercial MOC instructions that just didn’t live up to the expected standard. I believe it was some sort of Star Wars TIE Fighter and as some those vehicles so often do, it used a triangular/ hexagonal arrangement of the wings/ cooling panels. This was done very flimsily (which to me proves that the original creator never actually had built a physical copy and only relied on digital creation or else he’d have noticed this easily) and needed some serious changes. The person asking had come up with an own solution that didn’t work that well either, so I spent an evening figuring things out using a mix of Technic pieces and conventional stud-based construction.

I’m not claiming it’s perfect and by all means it’s more an exploration of specific construction techniques, but it should meet the following criteria:

  • It’s perhaps as narrow in diameter as it can get under these circumstances.
  • It’s relatively stable compared to stud-only methods.
  • It’s expandable by inserting more elements and swapping out the axles, so you can in theory create some pretty long segments just by repeating bits.

There are some downsides, too, of course, with the biggest likely being the extensive use of the half-width Technic liftarms. They tend to be more expensive on Bricklink as they are simply not found in as large numbers in commercial sets. I was just lucky to have them in my repository. Anyway, check out the small instruction booklet and make up your own mind. This will also be linked via my Rebrickable page, so you should be able to conveniently access the inventory. The crazy colors are just for distinction. Use whatever fits your type of model or whatever you have at hand on your own projects.

Hexa Core MOC, Preview

Hexa Core MOC, Instructions

2-22-2020-R2-D2

It again feels like I was writing my review just yesterday, but it’s true – another month has passed already and here we are with the March issue of the German LEGO Star Wars magazine.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2020, Cover

This edition comes with an R2-D2 droid minifigure. This hasn’t been included for the first time, but since it’s been like two years when it was featured last, enough people will have missed out to appreciate it reappearing. There’s definitely at least one guy out there that might want to have this droid sans crooked printing. Yes, I’m of course talking about Mr. Jang of Jangbricks fame on YouTube. how he always seems to end up with misprinted versions is indeed quite baffling.

In addition to the main figure there’s some pieces to build an imperial mouse droid, so that’s a nice little addition. Next month’s issue is supposed to include a Sith Infiltrator and judging from the preview image this could be a cool thing and yield some nice parts for the collection.

The rest of the magazine follows the usual pattern and where the games and puzzles are concerned the Star Wars version of these magazines at least offers some challenge and isn’t just a five minute affair. The main comic with Darth Vader partaking in a pod race of all things first had me confused, but ultimately is pretty much resolved as you may expect. Still, it’s a nice funny spin on a bit of lore and Vader/ Anakin‘s history.

One thing particularly worth noting are the posters, which use a somewhat abstract linocut/ woodcut style. That makes them almost “living room ready” like professional commercial posters. If the colors were tweaked a bit and were more intense and the paper was of better quality, I’d be tempted to actually put up the Boba Fett/ Slave 1 one. So overall this is one of the better editions of this magazine series and you should definitely check it out!