Skeletons Galore – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, November 2022

Minecraft somehow isn’t my thing and as much as I want to, I just can’t get myself to even play it once. There’s some value in LEGO Minecraft, though, as I often enough find myself buying some sets just for the bricks. Out of necessity (because all the bricks are exposed and visible) they keep introducing interesting recolors and new elements. That said, of course the corresponding magazine is another way to sometimes snatch up the goods.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, November 2022, Cover

The November edition of the LEGO Minecraft magazine doesn’t offer too much that would get me excited, though. The comic is one of those uninteresting ones with lots of empty sky and endless green planes.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, November 2022, Comic

The poster is quite acceptable in that it is colorful and lightens the mood. On the other hand the one on the back with a Creeper head and informing you “When you see this, it’s already too late” sucks up this positive energy.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, November 2022, Poster

The extra is interesting in that we get a skeleton horse built from plates and bricks  plus of course one can never have enough skeleton minifigures, Minecraft or otherwise. The Alex figure is nothings special, on the other hand.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, November 2022, Extra

This edition is not really anything special, but serviceable. The little bone horse is fun to build and looks the part. The rest of the magazine can’t really hold a candle to that, unfortunately. It’s definitely not a must-have issue.

August Pony Ride – LEGO Friends Magazine, August 2022

Little girls love horses. That seems to be one of those universal cosmic mysteries that nobody can explain. So literally Blue Ocean are right on the money with the August 2022 issue of the LEGO Friends magazine being centered around the subject.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, August 2022, Cover

As you know, I can’t quite get behind the Friends comics due to the unnatural faces looking like ugly grimaces. That said, this one is at least okay in terms of the visual density. Some panels would actually look quite nice if you substituted the characters for more appealing versions.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, August 2022, Comic

As is now an established standard feature there’s a coloring page, this time depicting the girls at the stables. As usual it would be even better if they didn’t plaster everything with those wannabe “funny” text overlays and graphical elements.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, August 2022, Coloring Page

There’s an info page providing some factoids about foals along with some cute photos, which will please the kids.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, August 2022, Info Page

That also goes for the reverse side of the poster, showing yet another of the little horses. The front shows two of the girls with the horse in the middle.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, August 2022, Poster

The extra this time is rather elaborate with a feeding and cleaning station, a water pump, some bales of hay/ straw and – surprise, surprise – an actual horse. It’s just LEGO‘s old foal mold in black that has been around forever, but it’s better than nothing. What’s even better is the fact that this extra would make a nice addition to the Pony-Washing Stable (41696), a low price set that contains another white foal and some more horse-centric elements to enrich your kid’s play fantasy. It’s definitely worth considering, even if only now after reading this brief magazine review.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, August 2022, Extra

Overall this is a pretty neat edition of the Friends magazine. As I’ve written in another such article, a consistent mono-thematic publication is always preferable over scattershot issues that try to cover too many different topics only to fail. The lucky coincidence of out there being a complementary set that would boost the experience can only mean to buy this issue, so just do it! 🙂

A whole New Price World – LEGO Disney, LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208)

As much as I try to restrain myself, I somehow always fall for the appeal of some of those Disney sets and that is no different here with Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208). I just couldn’t help it. The more I studied the images, the more I wanted the tiger and after a while there was no turning back because the thought had gotten such a hold over my brain.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Box

Contents and Pricing

Unfortunately this set once again proves that LEGO and Disney are no longer living on planet Earth and that their uneasy alliance is to the detriment of their customers. Yepp, this package is overpriced – hopelessly. There’s really no way around it and you can’t sugarcoat this as much as you may want to. Even if you account for the two large animals and some larger construction elements, the price to part ratio makes no sense. At a suggested price of 40 Euro for a measly 176 pieces it has been blown out of any reasonable proportion.

Now of course I’m “a man with a plan” and could justify a purchase to myself for the simple fact that this set contains a ton of useful parts (more on that near the end of the article), many of which are making their first appearance with this set. Still, even that does not justify the exorbitant pricing and if it wasn’t for some lucky circumstances we’d not even be here to discuss the set because I simply wouldn’t have bought it yet. The magic moment that made this feasible, after all, was once more Amazon matching the price of one of their competitors, so I could order this package for 25 Euro, equaling something like a 37 percent discount.

That still leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, as ultimately I feel I paid too much even under those conditions. More or less those 25 Euro (or 30 Euro for arguments sake) should have been what this costs from the outset and then we’re talking, especially once discounts come into play. Sadly, that’s the tragedy of it: This could have been a great set, but it was ruined by shameless greed on the part of those involved.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Overview

The Model

While both Mulan and Jasmine have had their share of standalone Disney Princess sets, this is the first time they’ve been thrown into a box together. This caused a bit of an uproar from some self-proclaimed “purists” because it doesn’t make sense, but then again in this particular corner of the universe what does? Disney can do with their characters whatever they want and sometimes these experiments turn out well and open surprising venues, other times the results are terrible. This one isn’t so bad and if you bend reality just enough, it could even be plausible they could actually have met some day despite being from different Asian/ Arabian regions.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), TigerAs already mentioned, for me a big motivator for getting this set was Rajah, Jasmine‘s pet tiger. The interesting thing here is that it actually looks quite female here, though in the animated movies it’s clearly a male. I quite like this change, as the softer contours make it look even cuter. It’s also done really well with nice crisp prints and good coverage of same, including the two 1 x 2 curved bricks used for the insert on the back.

Mulan clearly gets sidelined in this set with her contents being limited to the horse and this small build of a shrine. It’s nice and all, but certainly there would not have been much harm in making it at least twice as big and adding a few more details like perhaps two more branches for the cherry tree and building it so that the shrine is an actual enclosure with a recess, i.e. add sidewalls.

The bulk of the set is dedicated to building a massively simplified version/ section of the Agrabah palace, residence of Jasmine and her father the sultan. This pretty much only would ever pass as one of the minor side entries into the palace, though apparently they included the balcony as a clear reference to the huge one where Aladdin is romancing Jasmine. It’s adequate for what it is supposed to convey, but my personal feeling is that perhaps they could have designed this more freely and been better off for it. A bit of garden around it and a less symmetrical layout would have looked more convincing, with the real point being that you cannot convey the enormity of the palace, anyway, unless you make it a 5000+ pieces set or something like that. Settling on a smaller segment might have been creatively liberating and had allowed to play around.

The parts that are there are okay, but barely provide any challenge or deeper satisfaction during the construction process. It is what it is – a set aimed at young children – and as such it relies on simple stacking and plugging on of large elements. The downside to that is that a) it takes forever before everything stabilizes and b) alignment can be tricky. Even for me it was a bit tricky to plug on the magenta plate without pushing the golden columns away. You really have to be careful here and meticulously align everything before applying the pressure.

Once completed, the palace looks okay and is actually quite stable, so it can be handled without too much trouble. The golden domes and the palm occasionally still come off, however, due to really only being connected with a few studs. The insides look a bit barren since there are not that many details and contrary to what you may think, this time it isn’t even to blame on my refusal to use stickers. There simply are none except for the purple flying carpet!

The Pieces

As mentioned earlier, this set offers a wealth of new pieces and recolors of existing pieces plus for me also simply a number of elements I did not yet have in my collection. The most apparent new addition is the huge 10 x 10 plate with the rounded end, a fusion of the classic 4 x 4 plates and a rectangular plate combined into a single solid element for enhanced stability. For sets targeted at children of a certain age this makes perfect sense and I’ve been critical of LEGO‘s approach to fragmented plates with insufficient stabilization (i.e. additional layers of plates and bricks) in Friends sets and such many times, anyway. Of course it’s a bit of a two-fer as well, as it’s not just a simplification of the assembly, but also a cost saving measure by not having to include more pieces and in the long run the cost for a new mold will pay off easily. The other piece in a similar vein is the 4 x 4 plate with the cropped corners, whose novelty (to me, anyway) I only realized when I tried to sort it into my stock and didn’t find a matching companion.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Pieces, Plates

The rounded pieces will not necessarily be “new” to many of you, but most of them so far have only been included in sets I never bought like various Harry Potter offerings where they are often used to build all those towers and spires.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Pieces, Round Elements

There’s a slew of other items as well and I didn’t even include the 6 x 2 arch in the photo because I only realized later that it’s the first time it comes in Dark Turquoise with this set. The brown “dinosaur tail” pieces are interesting in that I would have assumed the thin tip has been on the market for forever, but no, 2022 is indeed the first time it has been done in this color. The tapered curved stem, an element introduced last year, has previously been only done in Medium Azure (Raya and Sisu Dragon [43184]) and Olive Green (Gargantos Showdown [76205]). The rest is mostly “nice to have” stuff. One can never have enough gold decorations and color options.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Pieces, OthersLEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Pieces, New PinA literally tiny thing that stands out is the new Technic pin with the half stud end and a friction notch (I enhanced the image to make it better visible). The blue and grey frictionless counterparts have existed and been used for forever, but annoyingly of course pretty much everything you attached to it would swivel around or just not sit as tightly as you would have wanted it, making them less than ideal in some situations. With this small enhancement things should now be much better.

Concluding Thoughts

Regrettably I cannot really recommend this set and that is not because of its design or technical merits. While it feels a bit bland and lifeless in many areas, the construction and execution of the set and its components is just fine and you get a more than acceptable play set that doesn’t even look that bad, all things considered.

However, all those efforts go to waste once you begin considering the price point. That’s where all good intentions fall apart and this becomes a real headscratcher in the “What were they thinking?” sense. The problem really is that even if you get this package for a reduced price during a sale, you potentially still pay way too much. There just is not enough “bang for the buck” here. And it’s not that LEGO couldn’t have done something about it. Aside from lowering the price, they just as well could have gone the opposite way and bolstered the content. A bigger shrine would have been nice as would have been for instance an extra, more fully formed palm tree on a separate “island” (round plate).

If you can get this offering for around 20 Euro, it might still be worth picking up, but otherwise I feel that every penny you pay on top diminishes the enjoyment you get out of this to being utterly frustrating if you have paid the full price.

Squirrel Time – LEGO Friends Magazine, September 2021

Autumn isn’t far away and in fact we have a quite unexpected wave of almost fall-like cold weather here in Germany, so the arrival of the latest LEGO Friends magazine and the subject it covers seems oddly appropriate and timely.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September 2021, Cover

That subject is for all intents and purposes the life of those wonderfully adorable little creatures called squirrels. Their cuteness is almost irresistible and of course the comic plays heavily on that. On the bright side it also makes amends by showing how potentially in danger those little critters are.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September 2021, Comic

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September 2021, Comic

To that end they are even including an info page, which is something rare in the Friends world. It’s only the most superficial facts, though, but something is better than nothing.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September 2021, Info

Continuing the theme is a crafting page where you’re supposed to make use of that good old toilet paper roll. It’s a bit odd in that they expect you to color it with paint while at the same time including pre-printed eyes, hands and a tail. Not only would it have been better to include those on the inner side of the stronger rear cover page, but perhaps it would also have been better had they included a matching body fold & cut pattern then.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September 2021, Crafting

Even though the coloring page picks up the horse riding from the comic, a squirrel is nowhere to be seen here, making this one of the few pages not depicting one of the small rodents.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September 2021, Coloring

Similar to last time, I wish they’d just leave out the tacky renderings of the girls from these types of posters entirely to make them more appealing. I mean they have a group shot of four girls on the front poster, did they really have to do it here?

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September 2021, Poster

As you would expect with the squirrel being front and center in this issue, the buildable extra also has one of them. It’s in itself nothing special, even if the old Elves/ Friends mold only recently has reappeared with new prints after being AWOL for a few release cycles. The small hut is based on the protective “bird house” from the comic and perfectly serviceable. I was pleasantly surprised by the two inverted slopes in Dark Orange, because so far they have only appeared in two other sets and also the flower blossoms in regular Yellow, which are still hugely outnumbered by their Bright Light Orange peers and thus kind of rare-ish. The two acorns and the mushroom are also nice additions.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, September 2021, Extra

Overall this is definitely one of the more pleasing editions of the LEGO Friends magazine, mostly owing to the consistent topic throughout. It’s much more enjoyable than some others which were rather higgledy-piggledy and tried to cram in too much. It’s also noteworthy that there is actually enough “real” activities here to keep your kid busy for some hours, making those 4 Euro a worthwhile investment overall.

Bubble on Wheels – LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192)

With the LEGO supply chain still sputtering like an old engine and only occasionally spewing out a few products, I find myself reshuffling my purchase schedule quite a bit. By that standard therefore this review of the LEGO Disney Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192) is definitely a bit premature, but let’s have it, anyway.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Box

Contents and Pricing

Given, that this was not a well-planned and well-timed purchase, getting this set for 30 Euro, representing a 25 percent discount from the original 40 Euro isn’t that bad a thing. You probably shouldn’t expect more than that, anyway, based on how those prices start out at a pretty high level. However, in this case it’s more or less a “glass half full” vs. “glass half empty” situation, as the concrete value you will get out of this set really depends on your inclinations as you will hopefully find out.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Overview

For me it ends up in the “It’s okay for one reason, but pretty terrible for another reason.” area with lots of shades of grey. Some of it has to do with the lack of complexity and thus building challenge (for a set aimed at kids totally expected, though, some of it with LEGO being total misers when there was no need to.

Figures and Animals

The “miser” point all too obviously has to do with the deficit of minidoll figures, both in terms of quantity and originality. Having only two figs for a set that is clearly meant to depict a celebratory procession, with one of them being the good fairy not even taking part in the actual proceedings, is rather weak. This is not helped by the Cinderella figure just being the bog standard version we’ve seen time and again before. The same goes for the fairy figure.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Figures

The star of the show, and admittedly one of the main reasons that nudged me over the threshold to buy this set, is the little fat mouse who in German goes by the name Karli, but is otherwise known as Gus in English-speaking countries. It’s a completely new mold used for the first time here and he’s all kinds of adorable and hilarious to look at. He’s not exactly true to how he’s drawn in the animated movie and, for lack of a better word, the LEGO designers certainly have “hamsterified” him to blend in with the Friends rodents of that type, but he’s still original and good in his own way.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Mouse

Now the real question, of course, is where his little fellows are. “But don’t you know that they are transformed into horses by the spell?” Yes, I know. Despite not having seen the movie in a while I remember at least that much. Still, for me that’s not good enough and not really an excuse, either. Point in case: It should even not need discussing that when they were shelling out cash for one new mold they might have been able to do the other two just as well at reasonable limited additional cost. In the day and age of computer-based design and manufacturing it’s not like this would have taken months of expensive prototyping and carving a mold from a steel block by hand, if you get my meaning. Yes, it would still have cost money, but perhaps not as much as many people seem to think.

So with all that being the case, I feel there are quite some missed opportunities here that could have provided more incentive to buy the set by making the figures a must-have for any collector.

Unique Parts

One of the reasons I had this set ion my radar in addition to the cute mouse are of course some interesting and unique parts. It’s always a good excuse to justify even slightly more expensive set to oneself and while not overflowing with super-exciting stuff, some of the pieces fit my usual thinking of “May be useful at some point in the future.” and my preferences for certain colors.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Parts

First there’s a good helping of the new 1 x 2 x 2 modified bricks with studs on the three sides, this time in White. Surprisingly (or not) LEGO are using them quite aggressively in many new sets, complementing the variant without the proximal studs and the 1 x 1 x 2 version nicely. With that, the slightly more intuitive regular grid SNOT system gets rounded out quite nicely and there’s a few less problems to worry about for some situations.

The pink dome is the same I already mentioned last time for Andrea’s Family House (41449). The modified 1 x 4 plate in Pearl Gold should prove extremely popular. With LEGO for reasons nobody can understand still not producing regular 1 x 4 plates in gold colors and even the plain 1 x 4 tile not having been produced in ages in something along those lines, this new element will make many people happy who are into building delicate fragile decorations and jewelry.

The item that gets me most pumped is the 3 x 3 round corner plate. I was genuinely thrilled when last year I found out that LEGO had introduced it in the Brick-built Minions and their Lair (75551) set. It solves so many issues when dealing with circular/ cylindrical elements, most notably not having to resort to full plates just to stabilize a corner stacked up from 3 x 3 macaroni pieces and similar.

All the Queen’s Horses

Another notable standout item in this set are the horses. If you care to remember, the totally unsuitable horses were one of my main complaints about the Harry Potter Beauxbaton’s Carriage (70344) back then, and if they had the ones from this set available, there would have been less to be critical about. As it is, however, this is actually a completely new mold solving more than that particular problem. It seems to me that LEGO have sat down and taken a deep breath to work out this conundrum in a more holistic manner.

Not only are these new horses included here, but a version of them in brown is also featured in the new Heartlake City Vet Clinic (41446). Furthermore, though it’s merely speculation on my part at this point, it seems to me that this will also find its way into regular City and Creator sets, in part superseding and replacing the older version as well. the specific point here is that it seems to be designed in a fashion where the dual-molded colors for the mane and tail as well as the prints define its look and feel rather than having too many molded-in details typical for a given series.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Horse, Left View

Now for the bad part: Regrettably LEGO opted for the kitsch version of the horses in this set, limiting their scope outside the Disney fantasy realm. I would have much preferred to have them with White or Light Bluish Grey manes and tails instead of the Light Aqua ones and of course also without the twinkly prints. That way they could have boosted the stock of the already mentioned vet clinic set considerably and, which is kind of a point, too, some parents might even have considered buying both sets at once just for that.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Horse, Right View

The horse’s shape overall is just fine, with one important point of note being that it is larger than either of the other variants. I forgot to actually do a comparative shot, but it’s at least around 15 percent bigger than the previous Friends horse and many times that compared to the old Knights/ Creator horse. By now I’m sure you also already noticed that it has a tiltable head, also a novelty. Kids are going to love it for those “horse eats carrot” poses and similar.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage with Horses, Detail View

The Carriage

I never had one of the previous sets, but apparently this isn’t the first and only version of the Cinderella carriage or for that matter its various interpretations and variants. As far as the level of realism is concerned, however, it is probably right to say that this model is closest to capturing the appearance of the final “wedding” version so far. The proportions with the long chassis and the central, yet relatively small passenger cabin at least make sense.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage, Front Left View

The construction of the vehicle is more or less symmetrical left to right, but also sort of from front to back. The only real difference of note is the raised pedestal for the attachment point of the horses’ tow bar in place of the simpler construction in the rear for plugging on the chest. By relying on the old wishbone suspension, for the first time in Bright Light Blue here, this is sufficiently stabilized horizontally, but I wouldn’t lean too much on the carriage as a whole. The central strut really is just a long two stud wide plate which is only ever so slightly being reinforced by some smaller plates, jumper plates and slopes plugged on top and below it.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage, Aft Left View

The construction of the bubble cabin is in a way quite clever and efficient, making good use of some sideways building techniques not least of all thanks to the 1 x 2 x 2 bricks with the studs on three sides acting as a central pillar. However, while it’s certainly recognizable and round-ish enough, the perfectionist in me wishes they had invested in some more slopes and plates to make it even more elegant. The specific point here is that in those corners where the rounded 3 x 3 x 3 bricks are used, I feel that inserting a layer of suitable rounded corner plates might have minimized the harsh steps you can see here and there just like adding some smaller curved slopes might have broken up the uniformity of the large elements.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage, Right View

The doors are the part where most of the new and unique pieces are used and in fact it’s one of those ironies that without them you couldn’t even have built it this way for reasons I have explained in the respective paragraph. Yes, this is basically a “loose” frame only held together by single stud connections where the gold elements touch the 3 x 3 round plates and in a similar fashion the frame then is only affixed by a few studs at the top and bottom. Serviceable, but also way too easy to damage for my taste. I also would have preferred that the plates were Bright Light Blue or White instead of Dark Azure as the carriage in the movie is indeed almost perfectly white, give or take a few blue-ish glow effects.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage, Front Right Top View

One thing that also caused some facepalming on my part is the interior design. Why? It follows the classical Friends design where you are supposed to clamp the legs of the figure around the modified tile serving as the footrest. However, someone completely ignored that Cinderella actually wears a skirt and this therefore won’t work. This is such a stupid oversight, one really has to wonder what the quality control process at LEGO is.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage with Horses, Front Left View

Concluding Thoughts

As I wrote already, this set is in a way mostly passable and that’s the long and short of it. It’s neither particularly bad, but not in any way outstanding, either. This is mostly owing to the simple construction, which, while efficient, is just super-boring and doesn’t even try to do more than the bare minimum to get the required functionality. It lacks the sense that some love and effort went into this set and once more comes across as an intern’s afternoon job.

For me the main consolation are some of the new parts, but if it wasn’t for that, I’d likely never even have considered buying this, despite the somewhat dire situation with LEGO‘s overall supply shortages. Combined with the lingering feeling that this probably is just a 20 Euro “real” value and the price seems hopelessly inflated I would not really recommend this set. It doesn’t even get the play thing right and is a bit fragile. Most disappointing, however, is of course the absence of the rest of the mouse gang and that laziness alone doesn’t deserve to be rewarded with your money…

Pony Carriage? – Beauxbatons’ Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958)

As someone not particularly into Harry Potter it surprises even myself how many of the respective LEGO sets I have bought lately, so here we go again with another one that ties right into The Goblet of Fire and the Trimagic Tournament. Specifically it’s themed around those short few moments when the contestants from other schools arrive, so we get Beauxbatons’ Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958) to represent the eponymous French school of magic and sorcery.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Box

As a non-fan I don’t put too much emphasis on all the details and my buying decision is merely driven by whether I like the overall appearance of a model and/ or how I may re-use the parts later. In those regards the set ticks a few points on the list with lots of pieces in useful colors and the overall design of the carriage being a nice generic baroque-ish coach.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Overview

The most noteworthy part about the figures is perhaps Hagrid which is not contained in too many sets. Of course there’s also Madame Maxime and two of her students, though the latter is a bit like that old Stormtrooper problem in Star Wars – you never have enough of them and some versions of them are extremely rare. In order to re-create the actual scene from the movie you’d need a lot more Beauxbatons.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Figures

Before we move on, let me get the most disappointing thing about this set out of the way – the horses. For the life of it I can’t fathom what madness drove LEGO to include thirty years old horses in such an otherwise beautiful and elegant set. This completely ruins the overall impression. Not only are the horses kinda child-ish looking and blocky, but compared to the carriage they look like ponies and not like the mighty steeds you see in the film. It’s really ridiculous.

Creating a dedicated new mold may sound a tall order, but given that LEGO sometimes come out with new animal molds where and when you least expect them, this idea doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it may sound. One can only wonder why they didn’t do it. In fact looking through Bricklink I’m almost inclined to think that this would have been a wonderful opportunity to dust off those old Belville molds, give them a work-over and use those horses.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Horses

The second, but much less bothersome caveat is that the carriage is more a generic one that would fit the European Baroque and Renaissance eras instead of being in any way representative of what’s actually in the movie. Of course a fair argument would have to be that this could be a more than valid interpretation strictly based on the books and that’s just fine. However, where the film is concerned it doesn’t capture the “flying palace” feel that the carriage evokes in the few shots where it can actually be seen. You know, not unlike with the Tardis from Dr. Who – larger on the inside than on the outside.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Carriage, Aft Left View

The failure to communicate the actual “bigness” can mostly be attributed to the window arrangement. A quite conventional layout was chosen as opposed to the large tiled windows on the film prop that lead you to think this is more built like a tall (factory) hall with huge, multi-storied windows. Doing so would of course also have necessitated a larger chassis as well, so aside from the specific issue with the horses this also seems to me like they were trying to keep it at a specific smaller scale to also not have to worry about things like larger wheels and the pieces count reaching a level that would make it too expensive. All sensible measures, just not in line with what you get to see on screen.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Carriage, Aft Right View

All that said, the model is still pretty gorgeous once you move on and ignore all those issues. Due to our history of Germany once having been a patchwork of smaller countries and regions and the kings, counts and earls trying to outdo each other, there are a lot of these pomp-laden, mostly decorative and representative carriages still to be found in museums and I’ve seen quite a few of them. It’s all lots of gold on black or white accentuated with gem stones and other colors, including lots of red velvet for the seating to represent royalty.

I’ve not yet seen a specific one in light blue (that would likely have been more of a Prussian mail coach or something like that), but it’s not impossible that something like that may have existed. In that regard if you are into this sort of thing the model would be more than an adequate representation. Conversely it may be more than fitting as a basic design for English, French or Italian carriages of certain historic eras. The details would differ and there would be a lot of specific customization and decoration, but overall this is so good you may just want to download the instructions and give it a try to build from your own parts.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Carriage, Front Right View

The build process is quite enjoyable. A lot of it is of course building the left and right walls and while there are lots of repeating steps I found it never too tedious or boring. There are some interesting building techniques as well. Not particularly challenging and extraordinary, but well executed and used where it makes the most sense. One of my concerns for instance was that the “horns” might fall of easily, but they snap into place just fine and stay there unless you handle the model too roughly. There’s no denying that some of the parts require some extra care, though. The lamps and some of the other golden elements can easily be whacked out of alignment and need to be placed properly to look “nice” in the first place.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Carriage, Open, Overview

The interior is nothing to write home about, but sufficient to accommodate the three representatives of the school, i.e. Mme. Maxime and the two student girls. The idea with the entire wall lifting up deserves some accolades and they even went so far to outfit it with a cabinet. It’s crammed, but lively.

LEGO Harry Potter, Beauxbatons' Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts (75958), Carriage, Open, Top View

Once you dismiss the Harry Potter context and can do away with those awful horses you get a nice generalized carriage that can fit into many scenarios. However, it’s definitely not worth the 50 Euro LEGO are asking for. I may have been pulled in by the Bright Light Blue parts, many of which are available in this color for the first time in this set and I sure don’t mind getting a few nice golden and wood colored elements on top, but clearly even the 35 Euro you get this for with discounts still feels like a bit of a stretch, given the circumstances. Things would definitely look different if they had included more adequate animals, that’s for sure….

Chasing the Horse

As you well know by reading this blog I regularly LEGO Friends sets. That does however not mean I’m picking them randomly and indiscriminately, so I do not necessarily cover certain subjects. One of those is all that horse stuff, which most of the time is simply contained in sets that just don’t interest me. I therefore welcome every opportunity to catch up on this using other means on my modest budget and lo and behold – this year we are getting a horse special for the summer.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, Horse Special 2019, Cover

The issue has been out for several weeks already as I’m writing this, but Blue Ocean somehow decided to only release it in limited distribution, meaning my local newspaper agent was unable to obtain it through his channels. I therefore had to wait until I got a chance to pick it up when I was on the road for medical appointments in the next big city this Thursday.

Let me cut to the chase right away – a price of 4 Euro doesn’t bode well from the start and you can’t expect that much from the magazine. The actual print product therefore is pretty limited to put it kindly. The comic is pretty uninspired and drawn rather poorly. The funny thing is that it hints at this year’s boardwalk amusement park sets, but apparently at the time of planning the magazine and creating the artwork no finalized designs were available, so they made up their own stuff. As a result it lacks all the details that would make the comic rich and vivid and feels rather meh.

The magazine comes with the usual mix of posters plus a few games and on one page even features a cutout horse stable. Unfortunately unlike in past years they didn’t bother to print it on thicker card stock nor did they make it a double-sided print or at least a consistent solid color for the backside. Instead you are supposed to glue it onto stronger colored paper yourself. Less than ideal and really not great for a special issue.

Of course the main reason for me were the parts and within what you can expect this is actually quite nice. The black pony/ foal makes up a good chunk of the value, but the rest isn’t bad, either. It even includes one of the newer 1 x 3 on 2 x 1 jumper plate in white and overall you have a good volume of stuff, if not a huge parts count. There have definitely been less useful Friends magazine extras, so I’m happy with that.

As it is this is an okay issue and should make your kid happy for what it is. It feels a bit barebones, though, and if they keep reducing the useful stuff further while also cutting down on distribution and print numbers in upcoming years it may simply not be worth it any longer.