Rabbit Invasion – LEGO Friends Magazine, March 2022

The date when Mr. Easter Bunny will be visiting is still a ways off, but his next of kin are already here thanks to the March 2022 edition of the LEGO Friends magazine.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, March 2022, Cover

Rabbits are of course pretty cute – most smaller breeds, anyway. Even I can’t escape their quirky charm whenever I’m at a small petting zoo or visiting relatives. On the other hand, they are pesky little buggers and notoriously prone to falling ill with all sorts of weird infections, so keeping them is not as easy as it sounds and as this magazine makes it look. You might need to be prepared for that if your kid falls in love with the idea and keeps pestering you about it. ­čśë

LEGO Magazine, Friends, March 2022, Comic

As always the comic is so-so, with the best moments/ best panels being the ones where the girls don’t annoy the heck out of everyone by being in view like someone tried to zoom in on their teenage girl pimples, a.k.a. puberty acne. Otherwise it’s just the usual combination of cheap soap opera level writing, the girls seemingly wearing the same clothes everyday and some harebrained stuff going on in Heartlake City. Funny enough the car shown in the comic bears quite a bit of similarity to the recent Tree-Planting Vehicle (41707), though in reality it would be even smaller than that.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, March 2022, Comic

Thankfully there’s loads of other pages such as this info page on a few rabbit varieties, several coloring bits and a few quizzes/ puzzles, of course. This makes the whole thing tolerable, as clearly the comic alone doesn’t hold a candle to provide enough interest.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, March 2022, Info

The poster with the two baby rabbits snuggling up to each other is also quite okay, while the back side has just yet another umpteenth group shot of the girl gang.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, March 2022, Poster

The extra is a small enclosure for the rabbit such as you would likely have at home if you were to have such a small critter. It even has a small drinking spout. The colors are interesting, since the flap element used for the slide is in Bright Light Blue, a rare variant. There’s also a single 1 x 2 plate in that same color. I guess we’re just lucky that LEGO came out with a few sets using those pieces last year and we can profit off surplus stock here. Something similar could be said for the rabbit droppings, which are Dark Brown, not the more common Reddish Brown. Again we have to thank the ART sets for them being available at all in this color. The yellow corrugated bricks mimicking the hay/ straw are also nice. I only have a few from other sets and every bit helps to expand my parts stock, obviously.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, March 2022, Extra

The general shortcomings of this publication notwithstanding, this issue is one of the better ones. It isn’t as atrociously “teenage fantasy” as some others and there’s enough content aside from the comic to warrant a purchase. There are even a few unique pieces, which make me a happy camper.

Another Pistol Jet – LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736)

Right after I had finished my review of Red Son’s Inferno Jet (800019) another not quite dissimilar model found its way in my home. The Boulder Blaster (71736) is a remake of the 2015 model of same name (70747) which apparently was prominently featured in series 4 of the LEGO Ninjago animated TV series. That’s why this modernized and optimized re-issue appears under the Ninjago Legacy sub-theme.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Box

Before you think I have gone completely OCD over those pistol-like planes I have to clarify something: No, I haven’t. The only reason you even get to see a review of this set is because I won it in a raffle in the run-up to the Easter holidays. Aside from this super-weird coincidence, both in the timing and subject, there’s really not much more than that to it.

Contents and Pricing

As just mentioned, I got this set for free, so the pertinent question becomes whether I would actually ever have bought it and if so, at what price. The set officially retails for 40 Euro. Within the Ninjago universe that is not a bad price for 450 pieces, but not exactly a bargain, either. There have been sets with a better price-to-part-ratio when you break it down to each individual element. In addition you have to consider that it’s just a remake of an older set that people who may be interested in also purchasing this new variant may still have floating about.

That’s why right off the bat I think 35 Euro would have been a better price. With discounts that could have brought the cost further down to around 25-ish Euro as opposed to the 29 Euro which at this point appear the best discount you can get anywhere. As usual this is of course quibbling over something that you can’t control, anyway, and all things considered 40 Euro plus whatever rebate you get that is still not really terrible in the weird world of LEGO. Still, the plane may not be attractive to many people and aside from the totem pole there is not much else except for the four minifigures. It’s the old gag of the set missing that little bit extra that would make you feel okay or good over what you pay for it.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Overview

The Minifigures

While four minifigures isn’t a bad deal for such a relatively small set at first glance, the not so great news is that none of them are particularly special. If the Kai figure wasn’t golden and thus coveted by collectors looking for a complete set the metrics would be even worse. Lloyd, Cole and Eyezor have either been featured in other sets or don’t deviate much from their standard appearance if you don’t count the specific vest prints. far be it for me to complain too much, but maybe they could at least have included some exclusive weapons or another little gimmick. On the bright side their ordinary nature means that the minifigures will be available in abundance on Bricklink and similar sites for minimum cost – except for the golden boy, of course. On the merits of the figures alone this set would not be worth buying even for a die-hard collector.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), MinifiguresLEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Minifigures

The Totem Pole

The only extra build is a basic totem pole/ cage contraption. The black disk is supposed to have a sticker with a shield pattern, which obviously I did not use. You are supposed to “shoot” at the shield/ snip you finger at at, so it tips over and unlocks the bars. this works well enough and you can place a minifigure behind the ladder in the closed position, but it does not have any studs for fixation.

The Jet

The bulk of the set is of course the model of the eponymous Boulder Blaster jet. in terms of design it is based on a Canard style plane, with smaller fins, the actual canards, in the front and the wing moved far aft. There are advantages to this design, but equally as many disadvantages, so it never made huge inroads on actual aircraft (like so many other things) if you don’t count super-sonic planes with delta wings like the Eurofighter and a few others. For sub-sonic planes I more or less only remember the MiG Utka and some experimental Italian┬á Piaggio planes. I’m sure if you research it a bit you could come up with a few more examples, scarce as they may be overall.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Front Left View

The proportions are credible and the whole layout even makes some crude sense from an engineering point of view, though the plane would probably be terrible to fly in the real world. The pistol-like nature of the thing is disguised a bit better, not least of all because the large main wings obscure some areas that otherwise would be more visible and also visually distract by themselves.

The grip handle and the extra bits for the firing mechanism of the arrow shooter array only become noticeable at certain angles and otherwise blend in more or less nicely. Of course there’s still room for improvement and LEGO could easily have substituted the few grey pieces for black ones as well. Still, within reason perfectly acceptable the way they are.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Aft Left View

One of the areas lacking a pinch of finesse is once more the main jet exhaust on the tail. At least its in Pearl Gold and being a proper wheel hub/ rim element it has some structure, so it doesn’t entirely come across as a non-effort like the one on on the White Dragon Horse Jet (80020), but there could definitely be some more details to spice things up.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Aft Right View

The front section is extremely bulky, which only in part feels like it’s owing to the design. It’s just as much a limitation of the mechanism and the gearbox having to fit in there and the way the shooter array is constructed. In that regard Red Son‘s jet offers the better solution, though with not nearly as many shooters. Admittedly even if they had opted for a similar approach the likely could only have squeezed in four shooters, not eight. There would only be so much room even in the largest cowling.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Front Right View

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Front View

The wings are built surprisingly simple, yet effective by using the relatively large 4 x 10 plates on the undersides and the large curved slopes on the top. In addition with the Orange trim line this provides a nice “frame” for the whole area and a believable structure. After all, the smooth sections could be ailerons, air breaks or some other type of the many flaps you find on an airplane. The wings are plugged into the fuselage using pins and locked in place using two 4 x 4 plates on each side, with the new pauldron-like wedge element behind the cockpit sealing everything off.┬á

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Top View

The underside view once more underline the odd decision to use grey elements on an otherwise almost completely black model. Swapping out those bits for Black versions would not be much of a problem if you have the parts and most likely I would take it one step further even and get rid of the T-shaped Technic liftarm that is part of the wings’ socket construction. I’m confident I could come up with something that’s a bit less obvious and would allow me to create something smoother, including also removing the 16 units long Technic bricks. I know why they did it this way for strength, but I would gladly sacrifice the shooter functionality and some stability for a better look.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Bottom View

On that matter: I found the arrow shooter rather unsatisfying, not only because it makes the front section look so bulky. The mechanism is a case of “It works sort of, but not very well.” the rear ends of the arrow are supposed to “ding” against the small wheel hub piece underneath the big golden one so they are released from the spring-loaded bricks, but this doesn’t really work to a degree where you would feel happy. There is too much resistance and overcoming it comes at the cost of poor targeting. This is yet another area that would need major rethinking and re-engineering.

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Detail Arrow Shooters

The cockpit is a minimalist affair, but serviceable for what it’s supposed to represent, but not more than that. And now for the big one: For the time being the new canopy piece is exclusive for this set. Before you get too excited, however, here’s some news for you: According to leaks of the upcoming next summer wave of Ninjago sets it will be used prominently there. The series has an underwater theme and on the images I have seen, this canopy/ windshield piece is literally in every set, be that on a small submarine or another vehicle. So certainly there is no rush to get this set just to get the cockpit element. Still, it’s a nice one with its integrated, dual-molded golden frames and should proof popular (among other things like an actual black & white Manta Ray based on the new mold from last year).

LEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Detail CockpitLEGO Ninjago, Boulder Blaster (71736), Jet, Detail Engine


Concluding Thoughts

If I hadn’t been lucky enough to win it, would I have bought this set? It’s still a tough question to answer. This is by no means a bad model, but at the same time it doesn’t get me excited enough that I would have lost sleep over it. This one is more or less “for fans” who actually watch the animated series and may get a kick out of seeing the vehicles shown there as real counterparts on their shelves.

For most others it will be too much of a “your mileage may vary” thing as once you strip out the shooting functionality, you have a nice, but imperfect model that could use some work to bring it up to code. I might have only picked this up during a really good sale if nothing else was around and/ or I really wanted to scalp it for parts, but even in that department it doesn’t do much for me. It relies mostly on established standard pieces and does not include highly desirable exotic new parts or color alternates. At least it netted me 17 more of those sexy 1 x 2 ingot pieces in Pearl Dark Grey and some Dark Bluish Grey minifigure pirate pistols.

From where I’m sitting this is not an essential model and unless you want to relive the nostalgia of the old Ninjago days you could easily ignore it and save your money for what’s coming now that you’ve been told about it…

Egged all over…

This year I’m surprisingly busy with building stuff for contests pretty early in the year. That’s most definitely a sideeffect of the ongoing crisis and everyone trying to keep people distracted and engaged.

Easter Egg MOC, Closed As you may have guessed already, this particular competition was themed around the Easter holidays and this is my contribution to it. I grandiosely call it “Verstecker- & Entdecker-Ei”, which roughly translates to a simple “Hide & (Re-) Discover Egg”

 

 

 

 

 

In initially I had planned something slightly different, but ultimately it became a matter of managing resources. I had way underestimated the number of pieces I might need and both my own stock and the extra parts from Bricklink I had ordered eventually ran out. Likewise, figuring out how to build the model and get a good approximation of the curvature took me longer than anticipated, especially given my own drive for savvy engineering and making things perfect.

Easter Egg MOC, Open

I wanted it to have a large hollow space inside right from the outset and I wanted it also to close seamlessly, so the upside-down modular building were on the table right from the start. this is also extremely useful for transporting the model and stowing it away as separate parts and had the model ended up being even larger this would have been even more of a requirement.

Easter Egg MOC, Components

The slightly irregular, asymmetrical shape is a concession to the curved building. The problem with these types of things is that you can ever only get it reasonably perfect in one direction and have to decide what’s more important to you. I in particular wanted to avoid those ugly large gaps on the corners where the two directions of the “flow” converge simply because there are no suitable bricks to fill those areas. At least for now the new 1 x 2 brick with the curved top isn’t available in Lavender like I would have needed it to fill some of those gaps.

Easter Egg MOC, Underside Mount

I didn’t win anything for this as with people stuck at home there were a lot of participants, diminishing the chances of winning as a mere function of statistics, but if some user comments are to be believed, I may have been in the top ten or top twenty still, as many users liked the clean design and solid building techniques. Who knows? At least it’s a good basis and may be worth revisiting and improving some time in the future…

Easter Double – Brickheadz Sheep (40380) and Bear (40379)

Despite the hard times out there, Easter is of course not far away and like every year since the inception of Brickheadz there’s a seasonal one to go with this event. Last years Chick (40350) was kind of so-so as was the Bunny (40271) in 2018, but this year the Sheep (40380) is really taking the cake.

LEGO Brickheadz, Sheep (40380), Box

Incidentally this special event themed set is also the 100th in the whole series, so this better be good, should it not? I have a soft spot for everything that is cutesy, anyway, and this one sure delivers.

LEGO Brickheadz, Sheep (40380), Front Left View

Of particular note is of course the face which gives a nice impression of the typical sheep/ lamb snout with the nostrils. initially I wasn’t sure whether the grey was actually a good idea, but the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that making it Bright Light Pink would have been even more odd. So I guess it works out, after all.

LEGO Brickheadz, Sheep (40380), Front Right View

The sheepskin is given texture by alternating 1×1 tiles with matching plates. Actually attaching them is of course its own story. It can become a bit tedious and you have to pay attention. Thank goodness this isn’t a large model where you’d have to do it thousands of times instead of just hundred or so! There’s also a few of the relatively new 1×1 bricks with the curved top thrown in for good measure and of course there had to be a rockabilly curl giving the little guy some character.

LEGO Brickheadz, Sheep (40380), Back Side View

While the sheep itself is nice, the surroundings are a bit lackluster and only rehash the same accessories known from the previous sets – a tulip-like flower and the “eggs” build from 2×2 round elements. That’s where the set really missed its opportunity for total awesomeness and a chance to outshine other Brickheadz for a while.

Point in case: As the 100th set in the series and with the narrative being that the sheep dirtied itself while painting eggs (as hinted at by the orange “paint splats” here and there) this would have the perfect occasion to give us a printed egg of in some form to support that storyline. Even partially printing one of the dome pieces with just a few dots to indicate that something went wrong and the coloring had to stop would have been nice.

While there, this could even have been expanded by creating a “puddle” of paint using those 1×1 quarter/ pizza corner tiles and to go fully crazy this could have been done in two or three nice-looking colors and gone along with 1×1 round bricks in matching colors for the paint cans. so much potential there!

LEGO Brickheadz, Bear (40379), Box

When I bought the sheep I saw that they still had the Valentine‘s Bear (40379) at our local LEGO store in Leipzig, so after a week of pondering whether to buy it or not and a lucky coincidence of being on the road again with a doctor’s visit and thus getting an opportunity to stop by, I took the plunge and ultimately bought the set, again for its pure cuteness.

LEGO Brickheadz, Bear (40379), Front Left View

The first interesting thing to note is that the designer chose to represent the bear in the sitting position as seen on a lot of teddy bears/ care bears, making it even more adorable. The build on the other hand is pretty basic and this set doesn’t feature any specific printed elements, either. One could say that it is as pure Brickheadz as it may get on some level.

LEGO Brickheadz, Bear (40379), Front Right View

The one thing that this has going for it are the many pieces in Medium Nougat. If you need this type of stuff for a project, this would be a good parts source, mainly for the fact that neither the 4×2 curved double slope nor the 4×2 plates are used in such large numbers in any other set currently. depending on the situation, a single set could have you covered.

LEGO Brickheadz, Bear (40379), Back Right View

the details are nothing earth shattering, but I like those little inventive builds from 1×1 elements like the bee. Here’s another nice idea not quite unlike that other one in the polybag set from last year. The honey pot uses a Dark Brown inverted dome piece, so it’s useful for generic “neutral” flower pots as well, should you decide to remove the side extensions for space reasons like I did and use the parts elsewhere.

My only small criticism would be the Dark Pink 1×1 heart tiles. It feels like LEGO are still sitting on large stockpiles of this element that they produced for Friends and The LEGO Movie 2 sets and throws them in wherever they can to deplete the surplus. Actual red hearts like the larger one on the stick would have been preferable or at least something in Bright Light Pink.

LEGO Brickheadz, Bear (40379), Back Left View

Overall I’m pretty satisfied with both sets. Of course one could always do more in terms of adding more details, but for 10 Euro a pop I’m not expecting something overly complex. Yes, the sheep could have been a bit more round-ish and fluffy and the bear looks a bit too smooth, but on the whole both models capture the essence of what they are supposed to represent and that is what counts.