The First Avenger(s)

Full disclosure: I honestly don’t care much for comic hero movies or for that matter the original comics themselves for a million reasons, so take everything I’m going to say about the first issue of the LEGO Marvel Avengers magazine with a grain of salt.

LEGO Magazine, Avengers, September 2020, Cover

Being blissfully ignorant of most of the Marvel movies of course I cannot say much about the merits of the story and lore in this one. I literally just bought it out of curiosity because it’s fresh on the market and I wanted to see how it holds up. The comic seems to be drawn well enough and allegedly it’s a unique story, but I’m totally clueless as to whether there’s any truth to that claim.

Outside that this one follows the same pattern as the other LEGO magazines from Blue Ocean. There’s some puzzles, some “hero profile” pages and a few other little tidbits to keep kids occupied. The posters are at best mediocre, with the Spiderman vs. Venom one being at least bearable. The Avengers one is a complete fail, though, in my view. I still don’t understand why they go through all the trouble of drawing those comics and then don’t use all that graphical fidelity to their advantage on the posters as well.

LEGO Magazine, Avengers, September 2020, Comic

The real value of this magazine is the minifigure. Well, strike that. The actual value are the extra web parts. I don’t have any of them yet and they even included the new angled posing stud. Yippee! This all will sure come in handy if and when I should ever build some old house covered in cob webs or similar. Other than that I guess the Spiderman figure is okay, though it appears the most basic one that they probably have used in a ton of sets.

LEGO Magazine, Avengers, September 2020, Minifigure

With all that said, I don’t quite know whether I’ll be buying this regularly. I suppose it will depend on the extra value I get out of the minifigures and the parts that come with them or whatever they plan on including in the future. It seems an almost sure bet, though, that this will be hugely popular with little superhero nerd kids, which at the end of the day all of them are on some level. So I guess it’s okay to buy this then.

Lucifer-ific!

It literally took forever – the LEGO Disney Princess issue no. 4 (July/ August) was originally previewed in the last edition for June 6th, but only came out this last Saturday, meaning 1.5 months later. Lucky enough I was on the road for a doctor’s appointment and was able to snatch up a copy without much delay this time.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, August 2020, Cover

I was rather keen on this issue for the buildable parts because of course Lucifer, the deceitful cat from the Cinderella animated movie. It has only been in two or three sets recently and those are ones from the 4+ range, thus most adults won’t buy them, and it’s therefore nice to get the figure this way. The other parts are useful, too, with in particular the white arched window and a matching arch on top standing out. That’s always nice to have for MOCs. Even the 1 x 4 roof brick in Dark Blue falls into that category. The small window corner also goes well together with the Cinderella Mini Castle (30554) polybag set as illustrated in the photo.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, August 2020, Buildable Parts

Lucifer himself makes an appearance in the illustrated readable story in the second half and his devilish cunning is captured so well, the pictures would make for a good poster. At least it put a broad grin on my face. The main comic on the other hand feels weird this time. It reminds me too much of those terrible LEGO Friends comics and on top of it it feels stylistically rather disjointed with different graphical elements. I get that they were trying something new, but the result doesn’t look attractive to me.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, August 2020, Poster A Speaking of which… the same could be said about the posters. The vertical one looks nice, but the second, horizontal one feels overstuffed and lacking in contrast, making it more difficult to recognize what it is even about.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, August 2020, Poster B

 

Derived from the comic is a bit of crafting activity. As you can see there’s a rather colorful owl in there (which would actually be cool to have as a physical LEGO animal figure) and you can build a small deco version of it to pin on your wall or door. Unfortunately, and that’s a serious criticism, it’s once again not printed on thicker, more stable stock. So if you and your kids feel like building the little critter you may want to glue it on cardboard or alternatively scan it and print it on photo carton with your home printer.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, August 2020, Owl Crafting

Overall still a nice issue despite some shortcomings. If you have been paying attention you also already know what’s coming in the next edition. Yes, Belle is featured so prominently in the comic and the poster she will be included as a figure next time. The obvious question is, however, whether we will have to wait just as long as for this one. The current plan according to Blue Ocean‘s web site is to release at the end of September, but whether this date sticks is anyone’s guess…

Explorer-ing the New

There’s definitely no shortage on LEGO magazines, but at the same time one can never have enough. Personally I had always hoped for something more scientifically oriented and not just tie-ins to existing product lines, so maybe there’s a chance to get my wish fulfilled with the new LEGO Explorer?

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, July 2020, Cover

Unlike the other magazines this one is not published by Blue Ocean, but rather something really fresh and independent from Egmont publishing, a company who more than just coincidentally has its origin in Denmark just like LEGO themselves. The differences become readily apparent once you hold the magazine in your hands in terms of subject matter, layout or even the paper used. This comes in handy for the door hanger you can create from the back cover, which is made from slightly heavier print stock.

The publication purports to be based around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and thus covers a wide variety of subjects with the emphasis of this first issue being robotics. As a Sci-Fi nerd and someone who had a strong interest in physics, astronomy, construction and many other things ever since his earliest childhood (I think I got my first construction kit at the age of three) that’s pretty much my territory. However, this is of course at the level of eight-year-old school kids, so there’s not much for adults to learn here, at least not for me.

There are some puzzles and the magazine cites realworld examples for its models by ways of including reference photos of machines, animals and so on. Unfortunately it reeks too obviously of commercial stock photos you can license for a few bucks from respective sites, so not much effort went into that part.

Similarly the LEGO product placement is a bit too “in your face” with several models being presented from commercial sets, supposed interviews with official LEGO designers (which is kind of pointless, as average people have no way of verifying any of it, even if it’s legit) and even the central poster being the robot from LEGO Boost (17101). They seriously need to dial it back.

On the other hand there are no genuine building tips as in explaining some of the more obscure things about LEGO parts usage or how to apply some basic physical principles to your models, which is weird and wasted potential, given the alleged direct connection to the designers. This also shows in the included pieces that allow to build the robot depicted on the front page, which looks pretty naff overall.

For the time being, as much as I would want it to be a different conclusion, this is not the magazine I was hoping for. They need to seriously step up their game with better models, better explanations and more emphasis on really having educational value. It’s early and they need to find their footing still, so I’m gonna watch this for a while at least, but if it doesn’t improve, I’m not going to hang on to it forever.

Cinderella Blue(s)

The unpredictable nature of the LEGO Disney Princess magazine’s release cycle and distribution still rubs me the wrong way. I was genuinely surprised when Blue Ocean announced the new issue on their Facebook page as apparently no planned release date had been given in the previous edition. Since I wouldn’t hit the road this month and thus not come across one of the few newsstands in my area where the mag is sold, I ordered it from their online shop, adding a costly 2.10 Euro for postage on top of the 4.50 Euro price.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, May 2020, Cover

The third issue in this still very young series follows the same pattern as the other two that came before. The highlight for me is still the actual written story, which makes good reading for a second or third grade kid or as a bedtime story. Some simple puzzles round off the content along with some acceptable posters. The crafting tip for some ruffled paper flowers is a bit of a head-scratcher. The templates in the mag are just stars, but since they’re not printed on stronger stock they are pretty useless as the real patterns. You better create your own ones from cardboard for improved stability and durability.

The Cinderella mini doll is okay, though obviously my preference still lies with buildable parts such as will be included in the next issue again. I already found out via Blue Ocean‘s web site that it’s supposed to come out on June 6th and if that holds up I should be able to pick it up only a few days later when I have one of my doctor’s appointments…

Aurora goes to Bed

In these trying times every bit of good news helps to lighten the mood, so I was pretty happy when I got the chance to pick up the latest LEGO Disney Princess magazine. Since it’s still not being distributed through the regular channels like the other LEGO magazines and only available at a few select sales outlets, of course once again it took one of my many excursions to a doctor to get the opportunity. At least that’s still allowed under all those restrictions.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, April 2020, Cover

Of course my primary focus are still the buildable parts that come with those magazines and as far as that is concerned, this issue is pretty nice. Most importantly you get some of the relatively new 1×2 bricks with a curved top and having a white 4×6 plate isn’t to bad, either, loatest when you’re getting into building Christmas-y/ winter stuff later this year. The whole thing would have been even more useful to a MOC builder if the cat tail elements at the head end would have been in Reddish Brown or Tan instead of Dark Pink. Can’t have it all, I suppose.

The magazine follows the same style as the last one, meaning there is some coloring images, a readable story and some decent comic. One of the posters features the cover image from the last issue in full glory and along with the complementary pieces for the bed kind of closes off the Aurora theme in a nicely rounded manner.

Another issue is previewed on the last page, but no concrete date is given, which could be a sign of the times or mean that the magazine may not sell that well and could be cancelled at any point. Then again, of course, they are not making it easy to actually buy it, so what do they expect? We’ll have to see if there’s some movement on this at the end of May/ early June. I’ll keep you posted…

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.

Belated January Princess

Our friends at Blue Ocean have decided that the world needs another LEGO magazine, so naturally I got a bit excited when first news came out late last year about the new LEGO Disney Princess line. As you well know I do have a soft spot for this girl-ish stuff in crazy colors and with the Friends magazine only coming out every two months in these parts I welcome every additional alternative.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, January 2020, Cover

The first issue actually already was released mid-January, but unfortunately they chose to only distribute it through some larger outlets for the time being in some sort of test drive. Therefore I was only able to catch it this week while I was on tour for a medical appointment in one of the nearby bigger cities. Here’s hoping that this will get popular enough that they decide to also pour it into regular channels and I can pick it up on my local newsstand some day.

Having only recently bought the pink carriage set, I of course had no urgent need or desire for the included Aurora figure, but it’s not that bad overall and should be of interest for your kids. beyond that I really only wanted to check out the magazine. As far as that goes, it’s pretty much in line with any of the other LEGO magazines and follows the same pattern. There’s some comics, a coloring picture, posters, some simple puzzle, some crafting activities in the form of instructions for a crown-shaped pillow and even an actual readable text story. Apparently I’m not the core demographic for this, but this seems okay.

I’m also pleased that there’s a lot of painted stuff. Admittedly a lot of it looks like digitally over-painted CG-renderings, regardless, but the natural touch and a few irregularities make it much more bearable and less creepy. It’s still kind of inconsistent, though, with photos, cheap CG, the mentioned over-paint style, the comic illustrations and then of course other graphics often appearing next to each other. this certainly could be smoothed out a bit, including better typography and font use. Sometimes it feels very lumped together.

It remains to be seen how this develops and stabilizes, but if you get a chance there’s no harm in picking this up. I’m already looking forward to the second issue which is due mid March and will contain some actual buildable pieces to create Aurora‘s bed. I just hop that I’ll be able to get my hands on it without that much of a delay and hunting it down will not be so complicated as the first time…

Snow Dino!

The Christmas holidays have jumbled up the release schedule of the various LEGO magazines quite a bit, so the next few weeks will be a bit of a race to keep up with those costly trips to the newsstand until the cycle is in sync again.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2020, Cover

The Star Wars mag comes with a rather unspectacular Snowspeeder model. Not that there would be anything wrong with Snowspeeder, it’s just that it doesn’t have that much to offer in terms of interesting details in the first place and shrinking it down won’t improve upon this, understandably. Most annoyingly the model looks very stumpy with no provision having been made for the short rectangular aft area and everything having been chopped off immediately behind the wedge section. For a freebie it’s okay, but it just would have been nice to get a more accurate model.

Since the price has gone up again and is now at 4.99 Euro, a bonus extra has been thrown in to console users and to preempt a larger uproar. Depending on which packaging you manage to get you either get a Snow Trooper or a young Luke Skywalker with blond hair minifigure. That’s okay for the time being, but regardless, asking so much for a few printed pages and some lightweight extras is pushing it…

The content of the pages is the usual mix of an acceptable comic, some very limited games and the usual adverts for other publications from Blue Ocean. The poster provides a facepalm moment in that it depicts the UCS Snowspeeder (75144) set from last year that you can no longer buy. Kinda stupid to whet people’s appetites and then leave them disappointed, should they decide to investigate the details.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, January 2020, Cover

The LEGO Jurassic World magazine was a bit of a surprise release. There had of course been rumours and even confirmed info that there would be new issues coming out for 2020, but no actual dates were ever mentioned. If you remember, I wasn’t necessarily that satisfied with the older ones as were likely many other buyers (they basically always appeared to be dumps of surplus Owen figures and such), but it seems this is headed in a new direction and more effort is made to make them attractive. Let’s see how long that will last.

The first mag in the new series comes with a nice little T. Rex model, which with its 65 pieces even provides some longer-lasting building fun than the usual models lumped together from half that number of parts. The result is indeed reminiscent of the large T. Rex from set 75936, which I now thankfully had an opportunity to build, in terms of colors and also features some very useful parts like 1×1 brackets or the 1×2 curved slope wedges in Black that are also used for the toes on the giant version. After assembly it really looks the part and in a way is cute. My only small gripe is that there are a few too many black and dark grey parts that would have benefited from having been done in one of the brown colors as well.

A stand-out item this time is the poster with the T. Rex breaking through the wall, which is really something I could see myself actually putting up somewhere. The framing could be a bit better with a bit more visible wall, but let’s be thankful for small things. The comic is okay and funny enough there are more puzzles than in the Star Wars mag to be found here. It’s just odd how inconsistent this is at times. The best part for me is the preview of the next issue hinting at an equally complex Triceratops model, so there is definitely something to look forward to.

The German version here also comes with a free album and a sample pack for the new collectible stickers, but I can’t tell you much on that, being that aside from the free extras no actual stickers were sold at my news agent’s yet. I’ll probably just give the album to one of the neighbors kids and drip-feed them the leftover stickers I surely will get more of when buying other LEGO magazines…

January Wood Chopping

My already somewhat low activity in recent weeks had been further impaired by having caught a pretty nasty cold and pulmonary infection, so I’m pretty late with this month’s updates on the latest magazines.

Funny enough Blue Ocean, who publish these mags in our region also contributed to the mess by delaying the LEGO City magazine by one week. They kept printing December 10th as the announcement date in every of their mags, yet it only arrived this Tuesday the 17th. One can only speculate what went wrong. A botched print run? Those little bags not delivered in time from the LEGO factory? Who knows! I’d sure be interested to find out one of these days.

LEGO Magazine, City, January 2020, Cover

The LEGO City issue focuses on wood chopping which at this point of course could be interpreted as a sign of things to come once people start slicing up their Christmas tree after the festive season. The parts coming with the magazine are very much standard fare and similar to what came with the mini version of the forest tractor last year with some minor variations on the theme in terms of colors used and the prints on the figure. The feet are in Sand Blue, BTW, they were just printed excessively blue-ish so the colors look very different.

The City magazine continues to deliver with a satisfying mix of activities for your kids and a well done comic, so not much to complain about. The posters are okay, though I still wish they would use panels from the comics instead of those CG-generated versions. There’s just a specific charme to classically drawn stuff and the color contrast is better.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, December 2019, Cover

The Hidden Side mag came out earlier and I’m only mentioning it for completeness, but somehow I feel that it just isn’t gaining traction. I played that fun trick last month, so I’m not going to do it again already, but can you spot what might be wrong with the cover? Yepp, it’s yet again Jack front and center for a third time in a row. Calling it repetitive and boring would be stating the obvious. It’s not helped by the extra being Parker of all things. I haven’t even bough all sets yet, but already have amassed a graveyard of the ever same figures. This only goes to show how named characters can quickly back you in a corner…