Neon Fire Jet – LEGO City Magazine, September 2022

My own resolutions somehow always come back to haunt me, so here we are at it again with the LEGO City magazine for September after skipping the August one The reason is very specific and will no doubt make me look like an utter weirdo, but more on that later.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Cover

Interestingly, when you skip issues you sometimes inevitably thematically pick up where you left off. This is the case here and while it’s an utter coincidence, it’s still in a way funny. We’re indeed getting another fire patrol story in the comic, though of a different kind. At least it features a freight train, a subject far to rarely seen. It’s really too bad that LEGO have neglected this particular sub-genre so much or we could see many more rail-based fun.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Comic

The story with a cargo load turning into popcorn is sure to entertain a seven year old, but otherwise is one of those “stranger than fiction” things that you have to try really hard to suspend your disbelief.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Comic

As a pixel musher myself the poster creeps me out. There’s so much wrong with it and it’s just another in a seemingly endless line of terrible Photoshop hack jobs. the alternate one on the back doesn’t fare much better.

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Poster

Now for the fun part. As I already told you, the rationales for if and when I get these magazines (and by extension pretty much any LEGO set I buy) can sometimes be rather weird. From reading my blog you may know that one of those reasons is my occasional obsessing about specific parts/ elements. Not only do I have certain favorites and keep forever pondering their uses, but I also have this thing that makes my brain tick where I want an element that I have in a certain color also in as many other colors as possible. Now guess what happened here!

LEGO Magazine, City, September 2022, Extra Yes, I got it in my head that I wanted those Red wing/ tail fin elements when I already have some in White, Blue, Bright Light Orange, Black and so on. Go, figure! Buying this magazine therefore seemed as good an opportunity as any other and getting a minifigure and a few more pieces to boot doesn’t hurt, either. The model itself is nothing special, though. The wings are rather sloppily attached to 1 x 2 x 2 SNOT bricks (that aren’t even’ Red, though they exist in this color) and since there’s no counter-locking by ways of brackets or extra slopes, the whole block can easily be pulled off the model. Not too much of a concern for kids, but certainly they could have thrown in some extra pieces to allow for that. On a side note, the Red elements look really saturated, which is nice, too. At times it’s one of those colors that can look a bit translucent when the in-machine-mixing with the pigmented pellets doesn’t work quite right. In fact to me it almost feels like there were a few Dark Red grains accidentally mixed in, so deep is the color.

This is by no means a great issue and I really only got lured in by wanting the pieces. Given the recent price hike for those mags I’d think twice about buying it, but of course you may have no choice in the matter if your little tyke keeps bugging you about it… ­čÖé

Neon Fire – LEGO City Magazine, July 2022

Before we get to the actual article, let me make an important announcement: This will be my last regular review of the LEGO City magazine.

I’ve bemoaned the decline in quality in the last few issues, no doubt to the annoyance of you, my dear readers, and while last month’s space theme gave me a glimmer of hope, now we’re back to the ever same boring stuff and it’s not even good. This assessment is not only based on this issue but also the preview of the upcoming one. I understand that I’m not the target demographic and there’s certainly nothing wrong with fire patrol and police themes running on repeat, but it has become so stale I no longer consider worth it. It used to be fun, but lately LEGO seem to be optimizing and simplifying their sets “to death” and it simply doesn’t make for interesting comics or extras, when you can clearly see where stuff was chopped and cost spared.

All that being the case I will limit myself to sporadically buying the mag whenever there is something that I deem “good” or interesting like the aforementioned space stuff or perhaps if they include animals or other bits from this year’s agricultural theme like back when the lion cub came as an extra. I regret this decision and really would love to give you better news, but the LEGO City mag has become a source of frustration more than one of enjoyment and I’d rather focus my energy on other things.

Now on to the review!

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Cover

As mentioned, we’re back to stuff burning and the inept LEGO City fire patrol trying to put out the fire while all sorts of other messy stuff ensues. I for one hope that most real firefighters are more competent, but of course the mundane facts of a real emergency scramble would be uninteresting for the little ones. So I guess if you don’t take it too seriously, the comic is just fine. Visually it could be a bit more varied, as there’s tons of orange fire, drab walls in brown shades and a bit of blue sky, but not too much else. It just doesn’t look as lively as it potentially could.

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Comic

The posters are overstuffed and lack any sense of “classy” design. It’s once more just a mess pieced together from cut out marketing photos haplessly layered over a background and each other. The reverse is slightly better, if not by much.┬á

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Poster

The extra is downright an embarrassment for everyone involved from whoever designed it to the guy signing off on producing it. C’mon, we had minimalist buggies a-plenty, but how did we even arrive at this total non-effort? It really makes me wanna throw a tantrum and shout at someone for how lazy they are…

LEGO Magazine, City, July 2022, Extra

As you would have guessed based on my introduction this really tipped me over and I can barely put into words how the sloppy treatment of the mag annoys me. I mean I’m not even working for Blue Ocean and I can think of a million ways to do this better! Be seeing you for only the occasional “good” outing then, I guess…

Yellow Warning – A quick Analysis of LEGO’s new 2022 Color

It’s been a minute since I had an excuse to nerd out about LEGO colors, but with them just adding Neon Yellow to their line-up it’s time to talk. It’s not going to be an ultra deep exploration of everything and I’m just going to share a few thoughts, so don’t expect too much.

Getting the good Stuff – Set 60319

In order to even be able to talk about this new color of course I had to procure a set. It’s still early in the year 2022 and the pieces in these colors have not proliferated enough yet to be easily available on Bricklink or from LEGO‘s own Bricks & Pieces service. Therefore I ordered the Fire Rescue & Police Chase (60319) from the City line of products. It was cheap on Amazon and while certainly not the most exciting set out there, it looked okay for what I had in mind plus some potential for re-using its parts later.

LEGO City, Fire Rescue & Police Chase (60319), Box

The set is pretty much your run-off-the-mill variety and you have seen everything in it done a million times in as many combinations. That doesn’t mean that’s bad and for a theme aimed at being played with by younger kids there is certainly only so much you can experiment with, but it sure isn’t the most glorious aspect of LEGO.

The main attraction is the large fire truck, which is solid enough for some intensive play. The drone on its cargo bed feels a bit pointless in the sense that it just stinks of corporate-mandated “We need to have a drone because it’s hip!”. I’m sure even most kids would have preferred a utility rack or water tank in its place. the smaller black car is the escape vehicle used by the crook lady and while serviceable is still kind of terrible. It has large open areas and gaps, in particular around the mudguards and uses the bare minimum of parts to even hold together. I really thought I had forgotten to add some pieces underneath to cover the gaping holes, but no, there’s really nothing supposed to be there.

LEGO City, Fire Rescue & Police Chase (60319), Overview

In addition to the two cars there is of course a police motorbike. Thankfully it’s printed, so despite being otherwise just a standard model it doesn’t look that bland. The small building represents an electrical power conversion station as you would find it in many areas to branch distribution lines and convert high voltage into household electricity. The front shutter can be opened and there is a “fire” element on a swiveling hinge on the roof that you are supposed to “extinguish” by firing water splotches from the drone and tip it over. There#s also very conveniently a water hydrant nearby. the traffic light is mounted on a ratcheted hinge as well and can be “run over” if you so desire while playing out your gangster chase.

LEGO City, Fire Rescue & Police Chase (60319), Notable Elements

The set does not contain too many fancy parts aside from the obvious Neon Yellow recolors, but there are a few interesting highlights. There’s the already mentioned “splat/ splotch” pieces, basically a round 2 x 2 tile with some protrusions and here you get two in Trans Light Blue to simulate water. In a static setup you would use them as puddles most likely. Then there’s also a new cat mold, actually a kitten/ young cat version of the regular one. It’s super cute and actually more appropriate to minifigure scale in terms of size since the normal cats often more feel like lynxes or small mountain lions. Colored hair pieces are also nice to have and then of course inevitably there has to be a new fire helmet in the new color.

For the 20 Euro I paid for this set this feels okay and now two weeks later you can get it even cheaper, but you could definitely find other models that are more attractive. If I wasn’t in such a hurry to satiate my own curiosity I’d definitely have looked into other options, but at least I got a cute kitty out of it…

Analyzing the Color

The set mentioned above contains exactly three (!) 1 x 2 plates in the Neon Yellow color and I used one of them for my little analysis simply because it would be easy to use other such plates for comparisons. It’s pretty much the only LEGO piece that at one point or another was available in any color they ever did and thus lends itself for these types of articles.

The color in question is of course pretty much on everybody’s mind, given that it’s widely used on all manner of rescue and emergency vehicles. Technically it’s RAL 1026 Tageslichtgelb (Daylight Yellow) and its matching counterparts from other color standardization systems. It was unavoidable that one day it would make an appearance in LEGO‘s portfolio, it was just a question of when. Competing toy makers such as Playmobil have had it since forever. Now the real question in a versatile system such as LEGO bricks becomes how useful it would potentially be for other applications outside serving as a primary warning color.

Despite being called Neon Yellow this color has a slightly green-ish tinge which in the real world has something to do with how it is supposed to reflect light in specific ranges of the spectrum. A quick side-by-side comparison with the existing greens and yellows shows that it doesn’t really fit that well with the more regular colors and always sticks out. If at all, it looks the least obtrusive next to the pastel-y Bright Light Yellow and Yellowish Green.The foregone conclusion therefore would have to be that it will be extremely difficult to integrate elements into things like buildings or non-rescue cars unless they are intentionally supposed to be very bright and flamboyant. It’s more likely we’ll see this sprinkled in as the occasional decoration and highlight.

My lousy camera doesn’t do a good job of capturing the colors correctly due to its limited dynamic range, but the intensity of the color is affected massively by the light situation. Under intense light it really pops or even stings the eyes whereas under dusky/ overcast light it exposes a slightly translucent quality where it gets toned down quite a bit. This is also important to keep in mind in context with other colors and can be seen to some degree on the firetruck already. It’s shadowy side makes the color appear slightly duller and the Red seems to bleed into the other bricks. These perceptional phenomena need to be considered carefully similar to when I wrote my article about the Coral back then.

Neon Yellow, Color Comparison

While the Neon Yellow would be a strong contrast color to most others, there are a few where it is “harmonious” in terms of saturation and perceived brightness. Those are of course Coral and then also Bright Green, Dark Azure and Dark Pink. Dark Turquoise might also qualify to some degree, despite its own caveats and how it responds to different light situations. This is a rather abstract theoretical statement, naturally, as the practical integration would still be hugely affected by the ratio in which these colors are actually used. If you get into trouble, though, you should keep these colors in mind as they could be used to soften otherwise very harsh contrasts and can make things look more pleasant.

Availability

It would be an exaggeration to say that LEGO go out of their way to make the new color available, but they are introducing it on a rather broad basis with a good variety of pieces. There is a considerable number of City and Friends sets where bits and pieces are done in Neon Yellow. The problem however is that many of these new parts are not necessarily the most useful with many of them being wedge plates, brackets, lesser used brick types or large compound elements like a helicopter hull. On top of it the more regular elements are often only used very sparingly, with some sets only containing two of e.g. a 1 x 4 plate to barely cover what’s needed to represent pin stripes on a car. This is in particular limiting for MOC builders who at this point may not be able to find that particular piece they may need. This will of course improve rather quickly as more and more sets come out, but in the short term it could be difficult to source what you need.


Concluding Thoughts

New colors are always a good thing, but truth be told, despite it being sort of an inevitability based on the market, LEGO‘s competitors and the color being everywhere Neon Yellow would not have been my top priority. Using Bright Light Yellow as a stand-in substitute worked well enough and seemed to work well enough and kids couldn’t have cared less most likely. Most “serious” fans would simply have preferred other colors to be introduced or revived like the much-coveted Sand Red for architectural models or one of my personal pet peeves, a decent realistic plant green.

In the meantime we’ll most definitely be seeing the new color a lot, even when it’s only used on invisible elements inside the models for visual distinction in the building instructions. That’s all well, but I’m really hoping that we’ll be over that soon and LEGO have plans to give us other colors.

Firefighter Readiness – LEGO City Magazine, May 2021

The Easter holiday weekend is messing with the publishers’ release schedule, so some LEGO magazines have arrived a bit earlier than usual. The first is the LEGO City magazine for May 2021.

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2021, Cover

This issue┬á is centered around the firefighter theme once more, but actually in a good way. The comic is reasonably elaborate, with the story being a bit too wacko for my taste, though. I also found it quite distracting that it is interrupted with a puzzle or some advertising every few pages. That could be rather confusing for kids, given how disjointed the comic already is in its narrative. The puzzles are simple mazes and memory tests as usual and won’t keep your children busy for that long.

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2021, Comic

The posters are stylistically quite similar, but overall acceptable. The slogans actually even make sense from a German language point of view unlike some more awkward translations in the past.

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2021, Poster

The extra is interesting in that it has a somewhat unusual subject for the buildable parts. It’s an equipment readiness station with an emphasis on the pressurized air tank and mask. You would not necessarily find this en mass in many fire stations, as to my knowledge it really is only required for very qualified uses, maintenance of the masks/ tanks and testing/ refilling. Chances are that most fire departments only have a few of these and the equipment is otherwise stored in conventional lockers and shelves. Still, it’s a nice idea and certainly something different that should spice up your fire station. The figure on the other hand is super generic, but that must not be a bad thing, allowing for varied uses and customization without being limited or committed to all too specific stuff.

LEGO Magazine, City, May 2021, Extra

Overall this is a nice enough issue, with the best part for me being the extra. At least they are trying to do a few more unusual things and leave the trodden path of the umpteenth samey fire buggy or burning logs. Definitely worth a look if you feel the same.

Small-ish Ghost Patrol – LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436)

After I’ve been a bit under the weather in the last two weeks and didn’t really get much done it’s time to pick up pace again on this here blog and what could be more fitting for the Halloween weekend than to have a look at another LEGO Hidden Side set with the Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436).

Package and Contents

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Box

I got this set only very recently. I always kind of wanted it, but at the same time I never thought it would actually be worth a 70 Euro investment. I only jumped on to it when it dropped below 50 Euro. Aside from my overall cost-conscious approach to LEGO this simply had to do with the fact that it never felt essential within the Hidden Side series itself and in addition also didn’t look like it could hold up on its own as a standard fire truck to be used elsewhere. More on the specifics of that later on.

The other thing that I noticed when looking at the official marketing photos is that this model looked somehow oddly small next to the minifigures. You can even see this in my own overview shot. This also contributed to my reluctance and was confirmed once I had the model. The box it comes in is a rather pretentious affair in that it is being very wide and tall, but very flat, which always makes me suspicious. It’s the old gag of “Size does matter!” and I don’t like being lured into a false sense of scale by oversized boxes.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Overview

By comparison the model is indeed a bit on the tiny end. This is in particular disappointing as it doesn’t even match in scale with the Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000 (70423). At the very least this will impact play value should you or your kids decide to use both vehicles next to each other. I have no way of verifying any of this, but I would wager that you’d have similar issues with the ghost train, the school or other buildings. It may even look weird next to the Graveyard Mystery (70420) or the Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419). So no matter what – something is wonky with the scale they chose.

The Minifigures

The figures are your run-off-the-mill standard Hidden Side crew – Jack, Parker, J.B. – complemented by a robot called TeeVee and on the opposing side a Shadow Walker. The robot doesn’t have a real torso but rather uses a 1 x 2 x 2 brick with studs on the side for the upper section and it’s face is created with two exchangeable printed 2 x 2 tiles. Sadly they are designed so unimaginatively, I was ready to throw them out immediately. They are pretty garbage and at this point I can’t imagine ever using them for anything.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Minifigures

The Monster

For once this set comes with a genuine monster by ways of Nehmaar Reem – The Harbinger, constructed from buildable parts. This, however, is yet another only half successful effort at best in my opinion.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Monster, Front View LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Monster, Back View

I do understand the concept – some tentacles or strands of smoke/ some oily liquid form the limbs and then converge to form the torso – and it might even look pretty cool when animated in 3D inside a game or a movie with everything wobbling around and constantly re-forming itself, but as a physical object it looks utterly boring. Most notably there should be a lot of additional half-formed tentacles coming out of the ground and the main character be engulfed in them as well as having other little stuff on their ends like bats or lumps of “mud” that the creature tries to fling at the ghost hunters.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Monster, Top ViewThe biggest shortfall is however the head and I’m not even criticizing the color choice. A plain 2 x 2 round brick in Light Aqua doesn’t bother me. It just looks way too tiny and not the least bit scary here and I guess that is the point: It would have made a lot more sense if they had dug out an old Bionicle face mask like this one for instance. It looks positively alien-ish and creepy. Re-done in Black and Yellowish Green and combined with some glowy transparent color for the underlying head piece that apparently go with those masks this could have been pretty rad.

The Truck

The main item is recognizably modeled after an older General Motors fire truck from the 1970s and early 1980s. In theory that should be a good thing, as there’s a certain charme to those old rustic vehicles, but of course it is sort of ruined by all the add-ons.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Front Left View

The vehicle itself (minus the blue parts) represents some sort of mix between a ladder truck and an equipment truck with a large box/ container section. I’m not an expert on this stuff, but as far as I can tell such a hybrid could exist somewhere as some sort of specialized version e.g. with a big rigid float for water rescue operations covering up the rear deck and the equipment lockers therefore having to be shorter in order for the vehicle to not exceed height limits for driving under bridges and the like. It’s just one possible explanation, of course, and you can always craft your own story around that. Either way, in that regard the model is highly plausible.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Aft Left View

As far as it remains visible, the shaping is done nicely all the way round, be that the driver’s cabin or the rounded edges at the top not least of all thanks to the 1 x 2 rounded bricks introduced two years ago.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Aft Right View

The rear bumper, or for that matter the entire rear, loses quite a bit of its magic due to being split in the middle. As you may already have guessed, this has to do with these areas actually being parts of the mech folded onto the back of the chassis in a Transformers-like attempt to disguise themselves as normal sections of the car. Inherently the limitations in precision with plastic-based joints prevent the alignment from ever being truly one-hundred percent perfect and the crack can be easily seen most of the time, no matter how meticulously you push things into place. This could have benefited from a solution where the two halves actually interlock to stay straight.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Front Right View

A lot of the sides is covered up with the “junk” equipment used for ghost hunting and the bumper bars/ cages around the wheel wells. Those would be the first elements I’d remove to turn the car back into a regular fire truck, but then you would also have to replace the black wheel hubs with grey or metallic ones. If you will, there’s a bit of illusion painting going on here which only works with the bumpers in place.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Front View

The cockpit exterior is nice and the front believably looks like it could have originated in the 1980s. In fact in addition to the GM trucks this also reminds me of the similar Skoda fire trucks that I saw in my youth. The horns/ sirens are extremely exaggerated, but i think that this is appropriate and looks cool.

Splitting Up Together

As mentioned earlier, “the lady comes in two parts”, as they say with one being the truck undercarriage and the other the mech huddled together. once you remove it, a few things come to light or become accessible.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Separated, Overview

The first of those is the cockpit interior. It’s not impossible to remove the roof with the mech saddled up, but the big cannons tend to get in the way if you’re not careful. It’s much easier this way, even more so as I found the fit to be very tight and removal of the roof requiring some force and technique. The layout inside is pretty much identical to what you get in the yellow school bus from this series, with the area behind the driver’s seats occupied by a big computer workstation to track the ghosts. Unimaginative, but okay.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Cockpit

The rear section of the plain truck has some nice details indicating some sort of docking mechanism as you also would find it on cargo trucks. There is also some pretty elaborate tubing to hint at exhaust pipes and power ducts, but a lot of it is hidden behind the equipment shelves and beneath the color dial used for the interactive app. That way the two silver goblets used to hold the cones barely get their due.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Car only, Aft Left View

Speaking of color dials, the big one behind the cockpit is pretty much Hidden Side 1:1 standard fare, but in a neat twist there are also additional markers on the sides that use the new cut-in-half round bricks I already was so fond of with the Supernatural Race Car (70434), only this time in Yellow.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Car only, Color Dials

Finally, the doors can be opened, of course, but again with the “cannons” in the way access to the interior might be finicky at best. Better to remove the roof entirely. On that note, the Red doors and train window panels likely should prove popular with train enthusiasts to some degree. The ones in this set even have actual glass elements in Trans Black already, making for excellent port hole windows e.g on the engine sections of some diesel locomotives.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Car only, Front Left View

The Mech

The worst part of the set, and I have to be honest here, is indeed the half-concocted mech. It literally has “We ran out of ideas, so let’s just do the umpteenth mech!” written all over it. Now perhaps I need to blame myself for having bought too many Ninjago mechs, but it’s getting a bit tiring – not so much the subject itself, but seeing the ever same interpretations and techniques being used in the LEGO world.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Mech only, Front Left View

This particular model is reminiscent of the smaller tactical mechs found in some older Mechwarrior games and similar – open cockpit areas, ridiculously oversized guns (or rocket launchers) and overall rather barebones with critical parts like hinges hopelessly exposed to enemy fire.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Mech only, Aft Left View

In its folded up posture this constitutes the whole rear section of the fire truck and basically just looks like one big gun. It’s held in place by the few exposed studs you saw further above on the truck’s chassis frame. This works okay if you press things down neatly and don’t mess around too much, but for my taste the mech comes off too easily, not to speak of the symmetry alignment issues I also already mentioned earlier.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Mech only, Aft Right View

Posing the mech is far from easy and essentially the pose you see in the images is the maximum of how you can spread the legs to appear somewhat dynamic without the whole shebang tipping over. Sadly the model copies the “stiff knee” approach LEGO have adapted for Ninjago et al, meaning the knee joint is missing and instead there’s a fixed ninety degree angle, and as a result due to the shortness of the legs there is very limited freedom of movement to get this balanced nicely.

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Mech standing, Front Left View

LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Mech standing, Aft Right View

One good thing, and ultimately one of the reasons I took the plunge to get this set, after all, is the plethora of parts in Dark Azure. That also includes parts of the large joints, which in my book counts as an extraordinary event. Usually LEGO doesn’t bother to color them consistently with the model and will opt to go the standard route by using the stock Dark Bluish Grey, Light Bluish Grey and Black versions, so this is indeed something worth pointing out specifically.

 LEGO Hidden Side, Ghost Firetruck 3000 (70436), Mech standing, Right View


Concluding Thoughts

As I wrote in the introduction, this is in no way essential to have, well-executed as some parts of it may be. It doesn’t do much for Hidden Side and converting it to a more regular fire truck for a city scenario, while not impossible, would require some not so minor effort to replace the mech sections and convert them into standard superstructures. Ultimately that’s perhaps the point: A more conventional design with a ladder or just a large tank and water guns would have been more useful from the outset and looked the better for it. The mech somehow doesn’t cut it at all and only disturbs what otherwise could have been a nice fire fighting vehicle to hose down them ghost’s…

Fiery October – LEGO City Magazine, October 2020

The CoViD-19 pandemic is unfortunately reigniting everywhere and the world certainly needs some committed medical firefighters to combat that. Therefore it’s kind of fitting (along with the fact that there’s actual massive bush fires in some countries currently) that the current LEGO City magazine brings us one of those helpful dudes.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Cover

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Extras The minifigure is the same you will find in the Forest Fire (60247) set, which incidentally I had bought earlier this year just for the unique owl it contains. The red slopes also came in handy for my lightsaber sharpening facility MOC, of course. Sometimes things work out in mysterious ways indeed. The little buggy is virtually just another variation on the same build found in the Jurassic World magazine where I already mentioned this. They only use different wheels and a few details deviate, but overall it’s nearly identical. Naturally there’s only so many ways to skin a cat when you have such a limited number of pieces. To my eyes the color scheme looks the wrong way round. I would have preferred red mudguards and only Bright Light Yellow accents.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Poster

The comic is pretty nice this time and overall there’s tons of puzzles and activities, which is always a good thing to keep your kids occupied. They sneaked in some animal rescue stuff as well, which makes it regrettable that none of the depicted pumas and panthers is actually in the foil pack. I know, those animals are expensive, but it would be ace to one day get them this way. One of the posters, the “No time for panic” shown above, is also pretty good.

Fiery March

This year’s City line-up so far really isn’t that great. What functionality has been added by the inclusion of Light & Sound bricks, parachutes and fake water guns has unfortunately been done so at the cost of overall parts count and complexity of the models. Naturally, as the respective LEGO magazines are tie-ins to this stuff, it even shows here.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2019, Cover

While the last issue focused on the police side of things, this time it’s the firefighters that get their due. The minifigure is actually okay with its reasonably realistic details even for a European firefighter (except the helmet), but the buildable extra otherwise leaves a lot to be desired. It matches the “burning” Octan fuel barrels found in some of the sets with the flames being on a round disc totally separate. This is supposed to topple down if you blow at it or otherwise “extinguish” the flames by moving them out of the way. Not particularly interesting. If they had at least decked out fully on the “flames” parts for better density…

The comic is nice. I feel that the focus on longer stories spread across more pages and using larger panels makes them a lot more enjoyable, be it just for inspecting the visual details. Granted, still nothing that will go down in literary history, but enough to keep your kids busy for a while. Even the main protagonist is something you can relate to. The posters aren’t very interesting and as someone who has done this for more than twenty years I even detected some “bad CGI” with straight edges of the geometry approximation showing where they should be perfectly round.

By any measure, for a person beyond a certain age this is a very skipable issue unless you really want the minifigure to bolster your squad if you have bought one of the sets and even then I’m not sure. When I was very little we used to get more fun out of toying around with little camp fires or watching our parents and grandparents stoop the fire in the coal oven/ stove… Anyway, the next mag will have a little lawnmower tractor, which looks a lot more interesting to me, so I’m looking forward to that.