Steamrolling into Autumn – LEGO City Magazine, October 2022

Blue Ocean really caught me on the wrong foot. Just when I was ready to ditch the LEGO City magazine for good, they start bundling them up with interesting extras that I can’t resist. So here we are again with the October 2022 issue and a very positive surprise.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Cover

First things first, though. The comic is what it is – it’s certainly the most interesting across al those magazines in terms of how the visual style has evolved, but the stories really are for the 5+ generation and the flat jokes and repetitions just don’t land with me.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Comic

The safety and security transgressions in this issue alone would make any building site’s supervisor hair stand on end. I also don’t quite get why we still have to put up with American style hard hats in for a European magazine. It seems like LEGO really need to fix this and create a new mold. It just seems weird, especially when they appear in mass like here.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Comic

The posters are okay and at least have a sense of visual clarity and communicating their intent, not just being lumped together excuses. The frontal lighting on the one with the steamroller is a bit odd, though. Like they shot it in a studio and not on a construction site.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, PosterLEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, ExtraNow for the goodie, the steamroller itself in miniature form. I so friggin’ love it! When I saw it on last month’s preview page I had to giggle. This is just cool. It makes good use of the 3 x 3 cylinder piece that came out last year and even better, you get four of them without having to buy e.g. a Star Wars X-Wing or similar where they are used as part of jet engine exhausts or intakes. That alone is some decent value and overall the vehicle just looks cute and believable. If they had thrown in some of these discs to cover the ends it would have been perfect. I guess they just didn’t want to go through the trouble, as it would also have required 7L axles and some extra 2 x 2 plates to offset the side skirts holding them. Anyway, it’s still pretty good even without that. I just had so much fun crunching up some cookie crumbs on the coffee table! ­čÖé

Of course this edition wouldn’t be much without the extra and it’s the major selling point. If I as an old guy can have fun with it, then your kids can definitely have it, too. I seriously recommend this issue for that reason alone.

Explorer-ing… Monumental (?) Buildings – LEGO Explorer Magazine, July 2022

After a long six weeks the next issue of the LEGO Explorer magazine has arrived. The crooked release cycle is really driving me batty and not something I need in addition to Blue Ocean’s jumble for their magazines. It’s really getting confusing to keep track which magazine comes out when and spontaneous delays don’t help the matter, either. Anyway, on to the content of this mag.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, July 2022, Cover

This one is about “monuments”, architecture and building construction in the broadest sense, but of course you can’t expect too much depth on either here. The emphasis is on stuff that is available in some form as a LEGO set, anyway, so you’d be forgiven for seeing it as the shameless promotion that it is.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, July 2022, Info Page

I still like the comic for its clean colorful look, but the stories are getting weirder and you can see some flubs in the drawings where clearly the artist struggled to make it work.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, July 2022, Comic

In keeping with the overly promotional theme the poster depicts the model of the LEGO House in Billund, for which you’d actually have to go there to even be able to obtain the set, since it’s exclusive. More frustrating weirdness.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, July 2022, Poster

Aside from the usual small puzzles and quizzes there’s a simple board game which could be interesting for an afternoon if you throw a pile of LEGO pieces on the table and let your kids collect elements to build a house and master the small challenges.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, July 2022, Game

The extra is a small excavator which feels a bit naff, to be honest. Nobody was expecting miracles, but this just looks a bit too out of proportion., especially on the driver/ operator’s cabin. What makes this even more incomprehensible is the fact that they actually emulate the steps to climb up and even the supports, but then did not use more parts for the cockpit. This most definitely should be at least on a 3 x 3 plate and have some bulk at its rear end for counter weight. Really not great.

All in all this is rather disappointing, considering that there have been many better editions of this magazine. Even if they had shortcomings, at least some part was always convincing, but I feel that this time they completely missed the mark.

Mini Lorry – LEGO City Magazine, May 2022

After last month’s issue was such a major low point, the LEGO City magazine for this month needs to make up a lot and something enticing. Will it succeed? Let’s find out!

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2022, Cover

The immediate bad news is that the comic doesn’t live up to that expectation. The story about corking up some soda volcanoes is rather nonsensical to begin with, but kids probably won’t make much of that. However, I’m miffed by the inconsistent drawing style. The regular panels are decent and some of them are even quite good in their expressiveness, but every time the volcanoes or corks come into view, the quality massively drops. That’s quite similar to the one with the Mount Rushmore figures two issues ago. Somehow the artist(s) struggle with rendering the textures in a convincing way and the perspective also seems off.

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2022, Comic

In brighter news, we get a decent poster this time. This applies to both the composition and also the technical aspect, as this one actually has pristine colors and hasn’t been turned into a mess in pre-press. Someone really must have screwed up in the other editions, as this clearly shows that they can do it if only they want to. Otherwise there’s not much to report. at least I didn’t discover any extraordinarily gripping puzzles or other activities. It’s really just standard fare.

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2022, Poster

The extra is a small mini dump truck as you occasionally see them at construction sites as small utility vehicles to distribute materials and goods from a central unloading area to the actual locations where the workers are busy. It’s another super simple build with everything being just plugged onto a central 2 x 6 plate, but at least the result looks believable enough. The tipper bed/ gravel container is a new element for my collection, being that otherwise it is mostly used in 4+ ish sets and since I never bought any in which it was contained, I never had one before. I don’t feel it’s something essential everyone should have, but my gut tells me that it may one day come in handy for an unexpected creative use. The minifigure is just “construction guy no. 5” with orange legs and a plaid shirt, so not much extra value here, either.

If it wasn’t for the small surprise with the buildable extra, this issue would be just another disappointment for me. There’s really very little here and it’s just not particularly good. *sigh*

Yellow Digger – LEGO City Magazine, March 2022

As far as I’m concerned, it seems the LEGO City magazine has reached a new low with the March 2022 issue, so let’s see what the damage is.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2022, Cover

First we have the comic, naturally. I still favor the City comics for their dynamic drawing style, but man, what did go wrong here? The Mount Rushmore reference with the oversized heads being carved into a rock face completely looks like from another planet. It literally lacks depth and looks overall quite wonky, causing a lot of “empty sky syndrome” on my part.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2022, Comic

Another thing that just bugs me is the colors being printed wrongly, in particular the yellows having a distinct reddish/ magenta hue to them. Someone seriously screwed up in pre-press or during the print run.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2022, Comic

The print issue also ruins the poster, which once again looks rather murky and the colors appear just wrong.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2022, Poster

The extra feels like the designers went out of their way to make a maximum non-effort. There’s not a single piece in here that would mimic at least a hint of a motor housing or cockpit cover. It’s as barebones as it gets and if it wasn’t featured in the comic, you’d barely know it’s meant to be a pneumatic hammer drill/ excavator. The minifigure of Paul is okay. At least it has some silver tools peeking out of the chest pocket printed on, though otherwise it’s just an ordinary, generic construction worker.

Overall this is a rather disappointing issue and next month doesn’t look much better. I’m not even sure if I’m going to buy it, as I really don’t need yet another red motorbike. They’ve already over-used that one with their pizza delivery variations…

Orange everywhere! – LEGO City Magazine, December 2021

The inconsistent quality of the various LEGO magazines really annoys me at times and this time I feel it’s particularly annoying with the City mag, December edition.

LEGO Magazine, City, December 2021, Cover

It starts off badly already with the comic. It’s plastered like crazy with those phonetic descriptions for sound effects. On some panels it’s so bad, you can barely view the actual drawing. I get that they wanted to visualize a noisy city, but this is way overboard and beyond any reasonable measure. It’s even more distracting due to the odd orange color. Might be a good reference to Halloween season and pumpkins at this time of year, but really just looks ugly.

LEGO Magazine, City, December 2021, Comic

This is quite frustrating, as once you try to filter out all the distracting type work in your mind the comic comes across as well drawn and pretty acceptable. Not the best there ever was, but at least bearable.

LEGO Magazine, City, December 2021, Comic

The madness continues with the poster, which is really, really bad. Not so much in terms of style, but the rendering is extremely flat and on top of it someone majorly screwed up in pre-press. The colors are all murky.

LEGO Magazine, City, December 2021, Poster

The extra isn’t particularly exciting, either. Construction workers just like police officers and fire fighters pop up frequently and there almost identical appearance every time doesn’t provide much variety on the menu. In this case at least the dual-molded hard hat with the ear muffs brings a bit of fresh air and the traffic light with the fence element would offer at least some play value if you have a suitable vehicle at hand to reenact that traffic jam…

LEGO Magazine, City, December 2021, Extra

If I wasn’t a regular reviewer of these mags, I’d likely have skipped this issue otherwise. It’s really rather dull and bland and as they say, the production value just isn’t there. Thankfully the outlook for the next issue is much better, but I’m not going to tell you what it is… ­čśë

Yellow Excavator – LEGO City Magazine, March 2021

Just like the current situation feels like an endless repeat loop of the last weeks and month, it seems the LEGO City magazine has also an underlying cosmic cycle, with the March issue thematically being almost identical to the one from last April.  And I really mean it. To say they are merely similar would be an understatement, as the clone-like nature is pretty obvious.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2021, Cover

This begins with the included extra, of course which is essentially the same minifigure and the same vehicle. One has a differently colored helmet and the differences for the othere are merely there to accommodate the different shield/ excavator bucket.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2021, Extra

The copy-catting continues with the poster, which also gives you an extreme sense of d├ęj├á-vu. I’m fully aware of the limitations of City and its standard themes repeating over and over, but could this get any more unimaginative? Me no like!

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2021, Poster

With so much sameness all round, the comic is this issue’s only saving grace, as that’s a new story at least. A bit too crazy for me to the point of almost feeling psychedelic and wacky, but the kids will probably like it. The activities and puzzles are sprinkled in next to the pages that cover the subject and while there#s a good number of them, they are super simple.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2021, Comic

Overall not really a good and unfortunately the next issue doesn’t look promising, either, with the umpteenth white police motorcycle, of which we got one last February already. It really feels like the just lazily switched around the publishing months without thinking much… ­čśŽ

Construction July

The months keep slogging on in these weird times and I’m still always surprised how quickly those weeks inbetween pass, yet here we go with another issue of the LEGO City magazine, this time for July.

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2020, Cover

The City theme has become kind of stale in the sense that they are walking on trodden paths all the time with the current subjects of the commercial sets being all too dominant, so I for one at least am glad that instead we every now and then get some diversity. Construction workers are a trope unto themselves, of course, but at least it’s not the umpteenth police officer.

This one comes with a ground compactor and some extra mobile fencing. Lovely stuff for an actual play scene. I also realized that until now I didn’t have a single of the 2 x 2 pillar-stile round bricks in Dark Bluish Grey in my collections. The wonders of incidental LEGO purchases! The name of the little guy is weird, though. Harl? SRSLY? Neither Harley nor Harlow or any derivations thereof are common names in German and it just doesn’t work for me. It certainly feels forced to squeeze the alliteration of the letter H in the name.

The rest of the magazine is pretty well-rounded. There’s lots of activities and while the puzzles, games and coloring image are not overly complex, they will keep your kids busy for at least an afternoon. I even like one of the posters. not that I would necessarily put it up on my wall, but as a graphics artist I have to say that its composition and execution are up to a certain standard that makes it perfectly acceptable. The comic doesn’t do much for me, but I guess that’s due to my general lack of interest and knowledge about soccer/ football.

The next issue will be a kind of d├Ęja-vu, as it gives us another of the divers we already had in last year’s summer issue, just with variations on the accessories. It will also include a shark, but the old standard mold. Would have been nice to get the hammerhead from the just released new underwater series┬á instead… ­čśë

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.