Anvil Knight – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, February 2023

The LEGO Minecraft magazine is certainly shaping up to become one of the more favorable magazines in my little universe despite me having zero interest in the actual game. That’s not least of all due to the extras being useful, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and see what the February issue offers otherwise.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, February 2023, Cover

The comic is a bit of a mixed bag as usual. This time at least it offers some variety with regards to the coloring of the panels and there even are a few really good ones with the knight and lama, but of course the underlying problem remains that the underlying system of blocks is not necessarily very diverse and there’s only so many ways you can add interest to all those perpendicular angles and straight lines.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, February 2023, Comic

The comic is also spread thin with it being stretched across the entire magazine by inserting games, puzzles and quizzes and other activities on every other page. The two double spreads shown are literally the two only ones in the publication where the comic is covering two adjacent pages. This makes the alternate pages even more feel like stuffing.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, February 2023, Comic

The main poster is quite neat. As you know I like those clean, graphical designs and even though this is just a “comic” style filter thrown on top of a photo instead of everything being re-drawn in a graphics program, it looks the part. The alternative poster on the back features that scene with the underwater temple guardians again. This must now be the third time or so… Not that I don’t like puffer fish, but it’s getting a bit repetitive.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, February 2023, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, February 2023, ExtraI’ve complained about the ever same Steves and Alexs enough and thankfully we’re really getting something different this time. It’s a knight in a shiny armor, and you can take that at its word since the pieces are in Flat Silver indeed. If nothing else this stuff is always useful for kit-bashing together your own minifigures from different individual parts. The ingot/ bar elements in Dark Pearl Grey should also be interesting. The anvil and treasure chest are just standard stuff you find in every set. Throwing in the new mold for the lid with the flattened top would have made this more interesting and if it was in a metal color as well that would have been killer. Can’t have everything, I guess! ­čśë

In summary this is an okay issue which in particular benefits from the extra being very acceptable and useful. The comic didn’t really do it for me and there’s a lot of filler, so it’s not going to keep you or your kids busy for a long time, though.

Explorer-ing the Medieval – LEGO Explorer Magazine, October 2020

The Middle Ages are an integral part of our European history and castles and fortresses from all periods are scattered all across the landscape, so what could go wrong with a LEGO Explorer issue on the whole matter? As it turns out, quite a lot actually. So let’s dig into the October issue and have a look.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Cover

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Given what I just said, this is of course going to rub quite a few people the wrong way. In an age where LEGO seems to have all but abandoned any knights or medieval theme, the whole notion of doing an entire mag on it, pretending there was plenty for people to dig in, just seems odd. You know, awakening hidden desires vs. the reality of the market. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision the drama should your kid fall in love with one of the knight minifigures only to find out that the latest one was in the most recent Collectible Minifigures Series 20, sold out super fast and goes for 20 Euro or more on Bricklink. Not to speak of anything even older from the original Castle and Knights series. See what’s wrong with this picture?

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Poster

The content is pretty much all over the place in terms of geography and the different eras of the Dark Ages or for that matter even later times. This can only be forgiven under the assumption that little kids won’t care because they simply don’t understand the intricacies yet, but I feel a more focused effort would have helped. There’s no reason to throw in Schloss Neuschwanstein just because you have a good picture of it. It only adds to the confusion. It’s also utterly unnecessary, as it wouldn’t be difficult to draw up a very long list of castles in the area where I live alone or for that matter limited to Germany.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Heraldry

In the activities department there’s quite a few things to do. Aside from the typical knowledge quizzes and info pages there’s a noticeable emphasis on heraldry. Some of the symbolism and color usage is explained and then you are encouraged to design your own crest and flags. Still, I have ambiguous feelings about that as well, as some of that stuff doesn’t seem appropriate for the time period in question and on the other hand things like e.g. the Fleur de Lys that can be found as symbols on so many French flags and shields go mostly unmentioned. Sure, there are entire books about it and this is by no means meant to be comprehensive, but a broader approach to this wouldn’t have hurt.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Extras LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, October 2020, Extras

The included mini model is a piece of castle/ fortress with battlements and what could be the top section of a defense tower. There’s also a small finger-snap catapult to literally fling poop, rocks or fire at the castle to destroy it. It’s too finicky to have actual play value, but at least the poop piles/ sundae swirls in Reddish Brown are a nice addition. So far I only had White ones from the Disney sets I reviewed where they stand in for clam shells and that sort of thing. Generally the parts value in this little bag is excellent with the thirteen 1 x 1 slopes in Dark Tan, a number of 2 x 2 round bricks (macaroni) and some other parts, even more since they come in very usable “neutral” colors, i.e. mostly greys.

Overall the magazine simply feels overstuffed this time. It doesn’t really make sense trying to squeeze in so many topics spanning several centuries. Each of the different sub-genres could easily fill their own mag, be that medieval weapons, daily life, castles/ fortresses or heraldry. Don’t get me wrong – as far as keeping kids busy there’s enough here, it’s just that it feels too scattershot for a consistent experience. This diminishes its overall (educational) value and one would certainly hope they will revisit some of the subjects in the future with a more focused single-topic issue…