Baker’s Delight – LEGO Friends Magazine, November 2022

It’s that time of the year where we’re making giant leaps towards Christmas and inevitably this has been a recurring subject in the LEGO Friends magazine just as well. Sometimes with Christmas trees, sometimes with fun in the snow and more often than not with baking activities. This year we’re once more going down that route.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2022, Cover

Interestingly, the comic doesn’t delve too deep into this and after a short introduction with the girls baking cookies it’s off to some winter-ly outdoor activities.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2022, Comic

The baking theme is taken up again on a coloring two spread, but strangely enough they’re suddenly making pizza. This feels a bit like they’re recycling a drawing that was originally intended for a different issue. There’s a second coloring page with a Mandala-like round design.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2022, Coloring Page

The poster is the same boring stuff we’ve gotten a million times already, but maybe there’s hope for next year when the revitalized and redesigned characters make an appearance and we get more diverse characters overall.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2022, Poster

The extra is a small cookie selling stand with an oven next to it. It’s serviceable, but really a bit underwhelming and too unspectacular. throwing in a bit more stuff wouldn’t have hurt.

This issue isn’t much to write home about and it’s “just okay”. Definitely not the special celebratory edition one would have hoped for and way too early to count for the holiday season. Thanks to the coloring sections it will keep your kids busy for a little while, though.

Funfair Baking – LEGO Friends Magazine, November 2021

At this time of the year there’s really only two possible subjects for the LEGO Friends magazine: Christmas decorations or baking. With the actual holidays being a bit too ways off for Christmas trees, baubles and stars, Blue Ocean opted for the latter – to some degree, at least.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2021, Cover

The comic is centered around this year’s new Magical Funfair theme. I haven’t bought a single set from this series at this point, as the weird combination of predominantly Dark Turquoise, Dark Purple and Black puts me off, but who knows, maybe something falls out of the sky… With that in mind, the comic isn’t really much better for it and coupled with the general lack of drawing finesse it just looks extremely unappealing.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2021, Comic

Returning to the subject of baking we get a coloring picture spread across two pages and there’s another smaller one a few pages further in. There are a few simple puzzles and games as well, of course, but nothing to write home about.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2021, Coloring Page

While I’m not too enthralled by the funfair stuff nor the often botched CG renderings, this time I have to give props to whoever did the poster. It’s really pretty good, both on an abstract artsy level but also when applying my own experience as a 3D artist. The secondary poster on the back is also not too annoying since they had the good sense to not plaster it with ridiculous typography or unrelated fluff.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2021, Poster

The extra is just some random baking equipment like we’ve seen it several times already. given how they went out of their way to advertise the fairground theme I would at least have expected some of the parts to be Dark Turquoise, which would at least have been something fresh.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2021, Extra

Sadly this is another rather boring issue, though at least the poster is excellent. It really bothers me that despite these mags being planned months in advance they never really align with what sets are available at a given time. the disparity between what’s being advertised and what you ultimately get is baffling…

Cookie Bird – LEGO Disney Princess Magazine, June 2021

The odd publishing cycle for the LEGO Disney Princess magazine still causes me a lot of trepidation as chasing down the latest issue is still a major pain (at least without back-ordering it directly from Blue Ocean‘s web site), but this time I once more got lucky on one of my trips to the doctor. The June issue is in fact already out for two weeks now, but that’s still close enough.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Cover

The topic of this edition is baking and the comic goes quite fanciful in that it throws in a lot of stuff on the subject from the Friends series where it is much more prevalent. A bit nonsensical, but adequate. It’s also surprisingly short overall, because the rest of the mag is filled quite well with quizzes and puzzles, crafting and coloring pages.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Comic

There’s a big double spread that should keep your kids busy with their crayons or felt pens for quite some while plus there’s some additional smaller ones to move on to after that. The crafting part, a stowage box, is perhaps a bit too complex both in execution and source materials required, at least for kids below a certain age. I would estimate that you shouldn’t try this with first-graders lacking the precision and dexterity or you’d see a lot of bleeding fingers…

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Coloring

The posters are rather average and don’t expose much finesse in their design, but I guess this won’t deter some little girls as long as it shows their favorite princess.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Poster

The buildable extra is an old-fashioned kitchen oven fired with wood as it apparently plays a role in that infamous scene in Cinderella. The construction is super simple, involving only three arches more or less with a few plates, but sufficient and stable enough. It even comes with one of the small birds/ pigeons, which is always a bonus. The White version is more readily available than the Dark Azure one, but still surprisingly costly on Bricklink. Therefore getting one “for free” can only be a good thing.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Extra

All in all this is an okay issue as in particular it offers enough on the activities front and the extra is pretty acceptable. If you find it wherever you live you can buy this without having to think about it too much.

Pizza for Christmas? – LEGO Friends Magazine, November 2020

In these dark times every new magazine is almost a reason to rejoice just for making the release date and being on the stands on the planned day. So here we go again with the LEGO Friends magazine for November, a certainly rather weird issue this time.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Cover

Around this time of year it’s usually pretty much a given that we would get a Christmas-themed issue that either would be centered around gift-wrapping or baking, even more so since here in Germany the mag only comes out every other month and factually this is the Christmas edition therefore. However, baking pizza of all things? That is just a weird choice, no matter what.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Comic

The topic is carried through consequently throughout the issue in the comic and the activities, including some pizza game where you need to collect your slices (they are printed on another page and need to be cut out) by throwing dice and whoever has the first complete one wins. Additionally there are some other activities involving e.g. pizza-based math (Now that was too obvious, wasn’t it?) and a bit of info. Even the pseudo-advertorial by ways of a double page on the Heartlake City Restaurant (41379), essentially a pizza restaurant in Mediterranean style, fits the through-line. I don’t even mind that much this time, though, as it’s a really good set at least.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Pizza Game

Fittingly, of course the extra buildable parts have to be a pizza oven and a small kitchen workbench. This is nothing you haven’t seen before, including in the old Heartlake Pizzeria (41311) or for that matter pretty much any food-themed Friends sets. It’s literally just your run-off-the-mill standard builds. It would be nice if they at least shook up the formula every now and then with some nice new prints or something as revolutionary as a genuine ketchup dispenser/ bottle for instance.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Extra

Interspersed in all that eating madness are some pages built around this year’s Jungle Rescue theme, most notably a coloring page and one of the posters. Getting the outlines colorized properly on that kind of paper is probably a bit of an exercise, but at least it should keep you kids busy for quite a bit.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Coloring Pages

For the poster the obvious statement would have to be “If only they had focused on the animals only!”. Seriously, I’d totally hang this on my wall if only the girls would have been left out. The animals are that cute!

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Poster

All in all this is certainly a strange issue. As someone who eats pizza only once every blue moon (I’m really not getting much out of it and I don’t like cheese) this is missing the mark and then of course there’s that thing with the reduced publishing cycle here in Germany. It might have been more palatable (no pun intended) if we had an actual Christmas issue to look forward to in December

Today I’m a Princess! – Moana’s Boat (43170) and Aurora’s Royal Carriage (43173)

We all have our favorite animated Disney movies and while my most beloved ones have little to do with today’s modern takes on the subject nor in some way the more kitschy older ones I still enjoy even those for what they are when they run on TV or I can snatch them up on a cheap DVD/ Blu-Ray. That being the case I was, odd as it may sound, pleasantly surprised to see that there would be new Moana sets as well as a few others lined up for this year. Let’s begin with Moana’s Boat (43170)

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Box

I have a funny relation to this movie. I loved the original trailer way back then (the one with the flashbacks also used in the film where she’s a toddler), but to this day never got around to actually sit through the movie from beginning to end. I know bits and bobs and some larger sections even, but not the whole story. That’s perhaps one of the reasons why I never had much interest in the original, way larger sets. It’s not that I feel I missed out on something special, but I always wanted the little pig named Pua in my collection. The new release makes this easy enough, with this being a 10 Euro set, often sold for 7 Euro.

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Overview

Given the pricing of course one shouldn’t expect anything miraculous to be included. The buildable components are very simple and just enough to allow to re-play some scenes from the movie, but far from being super-realistic or proportionally accurate. naturally there’s Pua the pig which I was so keen on and then a Moana figure as well. Here in Germany she’s called Vaiana, by the way, due to some other pre-existing registered trademark having foiled Disney‘s marketing plans.

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Island The small island has been reduced to the bare minimum, but to me is still enticing. Not only does it contain the triple leaves element in Lime Green as a new color for this year but also the “poop” swirl 1 x 1 round plate introduced with the Dog Sitter Collectible Minifigure last year, but this time in white. If you know my obsession with LEGO Friends and baking you know that this will make a perfect piece for Sundae swirls or any other similar cake decoration while here in this set of course it stands in as a shell housing.

 

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Canoe, Front Left ViewThe boat/ canoe is an equally simplistic build, but is sufficient for the smallness of the overall set. I could be critical of the construction, but for the most part it will be just fine for kids. My only serious concern is the lack of an extra axle/ beam to support the auxiliary float, as indeed it’s only connected via the arched slopes. Similar to the island however there is a lot of value here if you are hunting for specific parts.LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Canoe, Front Right View 

 

First, there’s the two inverted curved slopes in Reddish Brown for the first time ever. Yes, one would think that such a mundane part had been done in this color a long time ago, but while I don’t always trust Bricklink 100 percent (they do get information wrong at times despite peer reviews), it seems true. Similarly, the bar used for the mast, an almost 30 year old mold, is premiering in a brown color in this set as well. And finally, there’s the new 2 x 2 x 1 container only introduced in 2019 (under the lid with the flower).

I almost struggle for words to describe how awesome it actually is that they crammed in so many “new” pieces into such a small and affordable set. Buying a second or third of these sets doesn’t seem like the worst idea, especially if the price drops even lower during some special promotion.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Box

Moving on to Aurora’s Royal Carriage (43173) I can barely contain my excitement, either. Initially the only reason I so wanted this set is the owl. Yes, it may seemed stupid, but when i first saw pictures of this little critter and its dumb-founded look I laughed my bum off in the real LMFAO sense. Even now when I look at it I can’t help but grin and giggle. It pushes all my buttons.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Overview

The little side build with the table feels a bit superfluous and doesn’t do much for me. it doesn’t even have a genuine candle and the least they could have done to make this more interesting is to include the new “dripping icing” 2 x 2 plate found in the just released baking-themed LEGO Friends sets. A real wedding cake would have been even better. Other than that the set is again overflowing with pieces in previously non-existent color variants. Those include the bracket used for the seat, the modified plate with a single clip, the slope and there’s also the three to two jumper plate and the stairstep bracket, both of which however were already introduced in these colors for The LEGO Movie 2 last year.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Left View

There could be some debate on the modified tiles with the wall panel, though. New Elementary has a whole article on the subject, but I honestly think they are over-interpreting this and make things way too complicated. Point in case: The only reason why they all get different numbers is because LEGO counts them as special/ custom-produced one-off parts tied to specific sets or series. Other than that it’s presumably always the same coating that just looks different depending onto which base color it is applied. That’s in fact perhaps the most sensible theory to begin with. While nothing speaks against it, I don’t consider it likely that LEGO would try out a ton of different coatings. That would make things way to convoluted for mass production.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Aft Right View

All things considered, I really like these two little sets. They offer great value for little money and just feel useful to me. I even almost like the minidolls. The ones used in Friends have definitely improved in terms of showing different prints and colors, but these two models show how further modifying them with different types of skirts and perhaps a different hair piece can further enhance them.

The models themselves are also robust enough to actually be played with by children. I accidentally dropped the storage box where I keep those things in during the photo shoot and aside from a few pieces that you would expect to come off such as the palm leave on Moana‘s island or some of the golden swirlies on the carriage nothing broke. It should be safe even for three-year-olds. If your kids are into any of the movies, you should definitely consider buying those sets.

January Cake Decoration

The Christmas craze is now behind us and I hope everyone gut through it well enough, but of course the world doesn’t stand still and as hinted last time, we’re getting another baking-themed LEGO Friends magazine for January.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, January 2020, Cover

The cake-centric topic is interesting not just interesting as a seasonal residual but of course also because there’s going to be at least one such themed commercial set, The Big Bake Show (41393). If you’ve been paying attention, i.e. actually buying these last two issues, you already have some extra pieces to deck out this scenario further.

Admittedly the buildable pieces in this set aren’t that special – a bunch of “squeeze bottles” for colored frosting, a small spoon, an egg beater and some decorative elements on a two-tiered cake, but where it gets interesting, and to me this was quite a pleasant surprise, are the little flower elements which for the first time ever are now available in Bright Pink.

Yupp, with years of Friends sets already one would think they are commonplace by now like their Dark Pink counterparts, but just the opposite is true: They have never been done thus far. Not only will this be super useful for this cake & cookie stuff, but also for real flower bushes and fancying up gingerbread houses, if you get my drift. One can only hope that they will become more widely available in foreseeable time.

The rest of the magazine is also surprisingly rich with some decent puzzles, a few coloring pictures and an acceptable comic. Even the poster with the two bunnies looks okay (the other not so much). Overall one of the better issues I’ve seen…

Premature Christmas Bakery

Christmas is quite a few weeks away, but apparently we are already getting the respectively themed LEGO Friends magazine with the November/ December issue barely a few days after Halloween.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2019, Cover

As you would expect, it’s full of seasonal clichées and the Friends series being so gender stereotypical is getting more and moire cringe-worthy the more things progress on these matters in the real world. Perhaps a reimagining and restart of the series might be worth considering…

On the bright side, the CG renders are a little less creepy this time around, so it seems the artists responsible for this stuff are slowly getting a handle on their deformation rigs. It’s still far from great CGI, but knowing, as I do, that these things are whipped up on last-minute deadlines (always of course after the editorial staff have wasted months and months with being undecided which stories to actually publish) and minuscule budgets it’s okay.

Similarly the comics are compared to the other LEGO magazines still behind the times and just don’t look exciting or particularly enjoyable. This issue is also extremely scant on activities stuff, so if you were hoping to distract your kids for any thing longer than 5 minutes, that hope gets busted. The puzzles are really solvable by a three-year-old without much effort.

There’s a good volume of buildable parts at least, mostly owing to the inclusion of two “containers” for the cake fridge and a more regular storage box. Additionally there’s some related bits and bobs like cherries or the pretzels, so all around good stuff to have for detailing up a build. Even better yet, though probably total coincidence again, the next issue will focus on cake decoration and include even more decorations, so you could almost do your own version of The Great Bake Off