Iron Mountain Ninja – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, June 2023

The summer time tends to be a bit slow for me for a variety of reasons, so I’m looking forward to my monthly dose of magazines even more. The LEGO Minecraft magazine is of course par for the course, so let’s have a look at the June 2023 issue.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2023, Cover

The comic has four ninjas crossing the Iron Mountains, and while I’m familiar with the name, my lack of knowledge on Minecraft lore prevents me from putting it in context and providing a better explanation. Anyway, the advantage with this location is that we get rather varied panels, sometimes on top of the mountains, sometimes in the caves below them and ghost blocks, i. e. parts that just materialize, play a role, too.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2023, Comic

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2023, Comic

The poster isn’t much of an artistic achievement, but still kind of funny with its raining frogs and slime blobs. The back side has the warden/ demon from the The Deep Dark Battle (21246) set. In any case, the posters are at least different enough and don’t just repeat the same motives for the umpteenth time.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2023, Poster

The extra isn’t anything surprising, but at least we get one of the ninjas to expand the diversity of the minifigures in your collection. Since it’s one of those one-offs that literally has only been available in a single set, this is even more true and collectors chasing the minifig may appreciate getting it easily and cheap this way. The rest is mundane stuff with another exploding block and another of god knows how many zombie Steves. One of the frogs would have been much cooler, obviously.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, June 2023, Extra

Overall not the most exciting edition of this magazine, but that’s not really much of a surprise. The last two issues simply raised the bar with some good minifigures. As always I’ll be the first to admit that of course Minecraft nerds will get more out of it than people like me only valuating the contents on its abstract merits.

The White Houses – LEGO Creator, Cozy House (31139)

While there’s some sort of house/ building in the Creator 3in1 series pretty much every year, their designs regrettably jump all over the place. It’s like you get excited for bringing back the glory days of the bike shop, deli and park town house when you see the toy store or the noodle shop, thinking of building that small town street you always dreamed of only to be let down the next year with a somewhat mundane different building that doesn’t really fit the pattern or style. The Cozy House (31139) is exactly that with it representing a completely different living area. Let’s see where it would fit in.

LEGO Creator, Cozy House (31139), Box

Contents and Pricing

I almost ended up not buying this set. I kind of wanted it, but it was never a top priority and the exorbitant price was a major deterrent. On the face of it 808 pieces for 60 Euro may not at all sound that bad, but as you can see on my photos and LEGO‘s own marketing images there is once again tons and tons of 1 x 1 and 1 x 2 elements that do not significantly contribute to the size and volume of the build. I’m not saying they should give them away for free, but when you consider what e.g. some DOTS packages cost it just doesn’t feel right they would charge you much more for the same tiles in another set. LEGO‘s pricing baffles me every time and there just doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it that could be explained rationally. I took advantage of a special sale and ultimately got my package for 42 Euro, but this was still scraping hard on my self-imposed limit. It’s really that I feel that this could just as well be a 45 Euro set to begin with and then the extra discounts would make it work better for everyone.

LEGO Creator, Cozy House (31139), Overview

Minifigures and Gimmicks

The package comes with three minifigures – a mom, a dad and a kid – which is sufficient to fill out the play fantasy, but could of course be more. Somehow I feel a baby might have been nice so then you could have parked a stroller in front of the porch or something like that. The cat is recognizable enough, though as usual I would much prefer to have a molded animal.

There are a few “gimmicks”, meaning a bunch of toys and contraptions for the kid to play with. There has been some confusion as to what the leftmost thing could be in some other reviews, but it clearly is a net shooter. Can you see it? The hooks on the side to anchor the net and the net itself being rolled up in the center… The other items are a small robot which is reminiscent of some 1960‘s TV designs and then there’s a small train or truck plus an RC car, the latter likely being one of those flip-over designs that can drive on both sides (let’s imagine the antenna was simply integral on the body, not a separate piece of wire).

Alternate Builds or what?

One thing you’re not going to see in this article is the alternate builds. It’s not that I wouldn’t like them, I just had motivational issues going through the drill of disassembling the model and rebuilding it two more times. At the end of the day a house is a house and there’s only so many ways how you can build certain things from a given selection of pieces no matter how hard the designers try to add variety. In addition to that, there are other circumstances contributing to my not wanting to go through with the procedure. One of them is of course the way too high price which made it unfeasible for me to just buy a second package. The other factor is that this year we are kind of in a “white year” with many sets across different themes being made from predominantly White bricks, at least ones that I would potentially interested in. It’s just not attractive and I have no need to add more white elements to my parts supply.

The House

The house, and by extension the alternate builds for the A-frame cabin/ bungalow and double-decker slim house, are typical modular/ prefab component buildings as you would often find them in very recently built quarters. Where I live we have a number of lakes that are actually filled mining holes and their shores are plastered with these things. The “towel” version seems particularly popular as a space-saving and cheap way to build tourist accommodations directly on the water’s edge, with the other two variants apparently then being used more in-land a distance away from the actual water. I think those standardized designs are fine enough and functional for a while like during a holiday stay, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “cozy”. It’s all a bit too much selling that travel magazine fantasy and when you’re actually there you realize that the thin walls, limited furniture, reduced kitchen and some other things would be impractical for permanent residence.

This particular build mimics a traditional house with an angled roof and the exterior is hitting every cliche you might imagine – a “Swedish” door with its own awning (just like the windows), a gazebo-like porch, the garbage can, the old style mailbox and even a birdhouse. The only real hint of modernity is more or less the choice of color for the roofs, making it look more contemporary compared to traditional red shingles. On that note: Building that roof structure is not nearly as tedious as it may look. Placing the tiles doesn’t take nearly as long as one would think and even getting them aligned at the correct angle is not complicated. It’s almost intuitive. The one thing you have to watch out for is to keep the orientation right. I messed up on one plate and added the hinges that hold them to the wrong end, so the rightmost part of the roof above the door is upside-down. If you didn’t know what to look for you wouldn’t notice it, though. It blends in naturally.

Since this is a rather small house, after all, the interior is somewhat limited. The saving grace, however, is that the more conventional square-ish nature of the rooms makes them feel more like an actual living home compared to the Downtown Noodle Shop (31131) or Toy Shop Town House (31105). At the same time it’s not getting even close to being as spacious as e.g. Andrea’s Family House (41449) from the Friends series or for that matter even some of the camper vans we’ve seen over the years. It’s definitely a bit crammed.

The top floor contains the parents’ bedroom right above the door and the kid’s bedroom/ nursery right next to it. really not much to say about it, as they didn’t even add some carpet made from tiles or an image on the wall. That’s how barebones it is.

The ground floor contains the kitchen/ breakfast room right in the entry way and the living room with the fireplace. The layout kind of makes sense and in a real world scenario would probably just be one big room, but apparently the lack of depth on the model restricts the options to arrange the furniture. Again there isn’t any tiling on the floor/ no carpet, so it looks a bit bland. especially for the living room it would have helped to distinguish it from the porch area.

The porch itself is done nicely a perfectly adequate. As I said earlier, the “garden” could have benefited from some small extra, be that a baby stroller or a BBQ grill. personally I’m also slightly bothered by how abruptly and unevenly the lawn areas cut off. It would have made sense if at least they were the same length.

The house comes with a pretty clever hinge mechanism that allows it to be presented either open or closed. You actually only realize how smartly constructed this is when you see the overlapping bits from the roof fitting together and the edge rails/ rain troughs slotting into the gaps provided by some other bricks. Another clever trick is that the smaller roof can actually be easily removed, so you could transform the parents’ bedroom into a balcony if you so desire.

Concluding Thoughts

This set has its moments for sure, but I found that they never rose to the level of “You must buy this.” Boring as it may sound, this is, as they say, a “solid” model which aside from a few interesting tricks for its construction doesn’t offer too many highlights, yet at the same time doesn’t make any fundamental mistakes, either. You can enjoy it for what it is, but if you’re looking for more excitement you have to buy something else. This also extends to the not so great price, which will make you think twice whether the same money couldn’t be spent on a set that is more fun. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad offering, but I also wouldn’t push people to buy it. It gets a clear “maybe” recommendation from me. It’s really one of those situations where it could be just the right thing if you want to be a small suburban neighborhood, but otherwise just wouldn’t fit elsewhere.

Explorer-ing… Sharks – LEGO Explorer Magazine, June 2023

The LEGO Explorer magazine still remains one of my favorites due to its kind of public science-y approach. In fact, if I had my way it could be even more academic and nerdy, but one can’t have everything. Let’s see what the June 2023 issue has to offer in that regard.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, June 2023, Cover

As you well know, I’m a big fan of all those deep sea creatures and next to some reef fish and whales, sharks rank among the top three. Not necessarily all of their many families, but certainly some of them, especially the more elegant ones such as Hammerhead Sharks or Black-tipped Reef Sharks. The first info section lists some of them. As usual we get some really, really old stock photos, which once more makes me wish they’d invest more on that front. Now they are elusive little buggers hard to catch in nature, but perhaps they really could hire some illustrator to draw them or do 3D renderings. These days they probably could even clip some frames from a documentary filmed in 4k

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, June 2023, Info Page

Another info segment deals with the sharks’ counterparts, the whales. It’s not as comprehensive, but cites a few sensible examples.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, June 2023, Info Page

The poster deals with everyone’s favorite reef fish/ coral fish and to that end also features the Creator 3in1 Fish Tank (31122). It’s an okay set, but certainly could have benefited from some extra details as laid out in my review. The poster inevitably can only capture a tiny fraction of the many thousand different species living on and around a reef, so that’s certainly a topic they could revisit in the future with more (extra large) posters.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, June 2023, Poster

The extra in this issue is a Hammerhead Shark and it looks reasonably believable. as so often a slightly larger scale would have helped to render more details, but the way it’s built has at least the advantage of looking equally good next to the shark from the Pirate Ship (31109).

This issue doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but is done well enough. Somehow they seem to have got rid of the comic, which puzzled me at first. I really thought I had overlooked a few pages, but no, there’s really nothing there. On the other hand this one came with an extra bag tacked on, which contained the steampunk flying vehicle from pretty exactly two years ago in June 2021. Cost an extra Euro, though. Either way, not much to complain about, just not anything super cool to point out, either.

Y oh why… ? – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, June 2023

We’re in that weird time of the year where one public holiday here in Germany seems to follow one week after another, so time seems to fly past even faster with some weeks only having four or three business days. I wasn’t really paying attention to my calendar when I saw the LEGO Star Wars magazine for June 2023 popping up on another blog, but yes, it’s definitely here at the right time. Let’s see what it has on offer this time.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, June 2023, Cover

In the comic the Millenium Falcon quite literally takes a dive, with it crashing into a planet consisting of a huge body of water. The usual troubles ensue from sprung leaks to sea monsters getting involved. The ridiculousness aside, we do get some interesting colorful panels which is a nice diversion from what could have been very drab illustrations with lots of greys and browns for this old flying rust bucket.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, June 2023, Comic

The second comic deals with some test flight procedures going awry and naturally serves as a reference for the extra, that being a Y-Wing fighter.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, June 2023, Comic

The poster brings us the “alphabet wings”, that is the A-, B-, X- and Y-Wing fighters. They’re all the UCS versions, though interestingly enough they did not use the latest incarnation of the X-Wing that just came out (75355) but the one from a few years ago. The B-Wing is also very old and overdue for an improved reissue. With the new parts that have come out in recent years it could look so much better. Either way, the poster is done reasonably tastefully. The reverse isn’t quite as good, but if you’re a fan of The Empire and like Palpatine staring at you it should do the trick.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, June 2023, Poster

The people at Blue Ocean now seem to have settled on an alternating pattern, so every other month we do get a minifigure and inbetween a buildable model. As you well know I much prefer the latter, being that I’m not a minifig collector, but I understand that many others would prefer it the other way around and could go for one of those highly coveted rare Star Wars characters in this magazine.

Anyway, while X-Wings, TIE-Fighters or Imperial Star Destroyers have made regular appearances, the Y-Wing has made itself scarce. In fact the last time it came in this miniature form was way back in 2017 before I even started this blog. I think I then picked it up later in one of those special editions where they bundle up two or three of the leftover mags and sell it for a good price. This new version looks markedly different from the older one in the sense that the engine gondolas are more accurate in their proportions. The rest is open to discussion. This particular fighter seems to be notoriously difficult to render in LEGO due to its tricky design and even the larger builds suffer from limitations like an inaccurate canopy for the cockpit. Even the UCS version (75181) didn’t get that right and used the wrong mold. So for what it’s worth, we have yet to see the “perfect” brick-built Y-Wing. This small version is certainly okay, but nothing revolutionary, either.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have been away on a very long holiday in an isolated region you surely have heard of the upcoming new LEGO Dreamzzz theme. The first episodes of the animated companion series are available on YouTube and some commercial streaming services and they’re promoting it left and right. The new sets have already been revealed and personally I’m looking forward to them. After the botched Hidden Side and VIDIYO some slightly crazier theme with wacky colors and fantastical characters is certainly needed. It seems like they indeed even had the good sense to not force it to be tied to an app. We’ll find out the definitive truth in August when the sets should be available.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, June 2023, Dreamzzz Teaser

At that point we likely also will already have the first issue of the new magazine to go with it for which we get a sample/ teaser/ preview bundled with the Star Wars mag. What can be seen looks enticing enough, but that’s of course easy to say when something is brand new. The real test will be how varied and fresh they can keep it in the long run. Hopefully we don’t end up with always the same minifigures and perhaps there will even be some small builds. We just have to wait and see.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, June 2023, Dreamzzz Teaser

If “average” is a negative term to you then perhaps this issue isn’t great, but if you view it more charitably it simply means that this mag neither causes excitement nor major disappointment. Funny enough the Dreamzzz add-on is more interesting to me than the rest of the content, but that’s just me. The rest is just acceptable with neither any highlights nor massive flubs standing out.

A Tale of two Vans – LEGO City, Penguin Slushy Van (60384) and LEGO Friends, Dog Rescue Van (41741)

My ignorance about the bigger world of motorized road-bound vehicles notwithstanding, somehow I still end up building a lot of car models. Whether it’s the Speed Champions or some random truck or van from another series, I all too often find myself attracted to some of them. Not necessarily for them as “cars being cars”, funny enough, though. Sometimes I just like the design and idea behind it, other times my zeal for harvesting parts just gets in the way and yet another time it’s just an affordable way to kill some time on an evening with a manageable number of pieces. The two cars presented here are inevitably a mix of all these things, so let’s have a look.

LEGO City, Penguin Slushy Van (60384), Box

LEGO Friends, Dog Rescue Van (41741), Box

Price and Contents

But first things first and let’s run our usual drill of evaluating the price and value. At 194 pieces for 20 Euro the Penguin Slushy Van (60384) is the cheaper of the two models. It regularly retails around 13 Euro, however, so it is extremely affordable. The downside to that is that it feels rather barebones, with only the two minifigures and no other extras. That also goes for the van itself, which could be summarized as “you just don’t see where those 200 parts are”. A lot of them are simply buried inside and/ or invisibly used on the chassis. At this price there’s little point to complain about that, though.

LEGO City, Penguin Slushy Van (60384), Overview

The second package, the Dog Rescue Van (41741) likewise comes with pretty exactly 200 pieces, but at 30 Euro is a tenner more costly. Whether that can be attributed to a few more larger parts and them being a different kind or LEGO just deciding on prices randomly during lunch break is anyone’s guess, of course. It feels a bit arbitrary and you just can’t see where those extra bucks go. The vehicles end up being about the same size and what little additional effort and parts the little side build may require surely doesn’t rationalize the extra cost. This would be expensive if it cost 25 Euro and the self-regulating magic of the market seems to prove my point. Apparently nobody buys this at full price, so retailers offer it regularly for 18 Euro or less to their own financial detriment.

LEGO Friends, Dog Rescue Van (41741), Overview

Penguin Slushy Van (60384)

Right out of the gate the slushy van is one of those “I get the idea, but…” situations. You can see the intention of what the designers tried to do, but at the same time you also see the simplifications and where corners were cut. One of the most obvious issues to me is the color scheme, meaning more specifically some choices in the actual colors used vs. ones that would have been desirable.

The thing that bugs me the most are the mud guards. Apparently LEGO were unwilling/ it wasn’t in the budget to produce this particular type of wheel housing in Orange, considering they haven’t done so in 15 years and even then only once. As it is, we end up with the Dark Azure version again, but really, who needs that? In recent years they clearly have used this version way too often. The point here is not so much me bitching about this just to make a stir, but Orange would have much better served to communicate the idea of this being a penguin sliding on its belly. You know, those feet… In fact perhaps there should even have been two colors with the front being Black to hint at the wings and the aft being the Orange ones for the flippers. Either way, it feels like some very obvious visual trick was missed here.

The other issue pertaining to the colors is that the vehicle feels neither frosty nor refreshing. The other blue-ish areas are the wrong kinds of blue, the Black regions are too extensive and even the Magenta trim elements make things look kind of dirty and depressing. Point in case: This is nothing I would suspect being a slushy van/ ice cream vendor if it drove around the neighborhood ringing its bells. The stickers would not improve this too much, either.

Another such weak point is the slushy cup on the roof, even more so since it isn’t meant to receive a sticker that would act as the branding/ label. It looks a bit weird and not at all like a bottle filled with fluid. Again it also doesn’t look “frosty” nor does it convey the frothy/ foamy texture of the liquid. Even if they hadn’t changed anything else, making the two half-cylinders Trans Orange or Trans Red would already have improved things and communicated this better.

LEGO City, Penguin Slushy Van (60384), Front ViewComing beg to that penguin thing, the front doesn’t really do it for me, either. I guess the most obvious shortcoming is the “beak” not really looking very pointy and the face being to compressed. Those eyes should be further up and on a real van of this ilk would probably be stickers on the hood. that doesn’t mean this section is bad, just not really what I would do. On the bright side it does come with the (for now) still somewhat rare rounded corner piece in Black and the semi-circular 1 x 2 tile in the same color.

The interior is functional, but not very exciting and rather sparse. With so little on offer it is questionable whether the business would be sustainable. Not even a fridge to keep the base juices/ syrup around! Of course the penguin costume minifigure is one of the highlights of this set, though similar to the car itself I feel a color other than Dark Azure would have popped more. How about Bright Light Blue or Light Aqua?

While my complaints may sound terrible, in summary this is a good enough van in the sense of “generic food van No. 5” It would work for a number of scenarios with minor changes, it just doesn’t do the job it was originally designed for very well. Just a dab of Orange here and there would have made it look more friendly. Similarly, making it entirely Black and adding some gold trim could sell this as a gourmet BBQ or cheese wagon. there’s a lot of ways to spin this.

LEGO Friends, Dog Rescue Van (41741)

The second van comes from a different universe, in a manner of speaking, and it definitely shows with regards to the way it is constructed, color selection and so on.  Before we delve into that, let’s have a look at the side build, though.

LEGO Friends, Dog Rescue Van (41741), Bus StopThis set comes with a little bus stop. It’s not realistic in that it lacks the typical parking bay and is built directly onto the lawn rather than connecting with the road. To me this is more like one of those auxiliary stops in big parks or cemeteries that are only serviced during certain hours of the day or on weekends with small (electrical) vehicles while the rest of the time people would simply us it as a normal bench for resting. If you buy into this backstory then the little contraption makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is how flimsy it is and I really wish there was a bit more going on to stabilize the two Lavender frames in particular. The “found dog” kennel with the raise-able sign to signify people whether it’s occupied is a nice idea, though I’m not sure how it would work in practice and haven’t seen it anywhere near me. You know, someone would still need to alert the nearest animal shelter or authorities by phone or whatever.

On to the car that in this scenario apparently would be the means of picking up the stray dog(s) and provide first care. What drew me in here was the containerized design, a concept which has rarely been explored in the Friends line or for that matter in other series as well, at least for cars of this size. You may get your occasional explorer truck with a removable lab or similar, but for those smaller vans it’s not as common. In this particular case you could sell it as a custom build on top of a used car frame perhaps and that’s why it looks a bit wacky in a way with the container being noticeably wider than the car’s frame.

On that note: The van definitely needed to be longer. Even just adding two studs would have improved the appearance massively and it might also have helped adding some more stuff to the interior. Short bed vans do exist, yes, but with the curved panels taking up so much space it doesn’t look very elegant. For me as a parts collector of sorts the 2 x 2 quarter cylinders in Bright Light Yellow do have some value, though, as it’s a new color not seen before.

LEGO Friends, Dog Rescue Van (41741), Front ViewThe stubby-ness is also very noticeable in the front view with the truck looking like it was cut off in the wrong place. This can be verified further once you take off the removable sub-assemblies. The car’s usable length is literally split in half with fifty percent being allocated to the cabin and the other fifty to the container. This also explains why it looks so disproportionate. In artsy terms it would need to be more along the lines of the Golden Ratio with the rear bed being extended ever so slightly. The images at least illustrate that everything is very accessible, so decent play value is ensured.

Not to belabor my point about the length ad nauseam, but the inside of the container could serve as further indication that more space wouldn’t have been a bad idea. It feels very crammed and doesn’t even come with a transport unit for whatever dog they may pick up. I also think it would be more realistic if there were actual stilts/ supports to raise the container into a convenient working position.

LEGO Friends, Dog Rescue Van (41741), FiguresFor the figures we have Dr. Marlon and another version of Nova along with her dog. The girl has a different shirt and the dog comes with its harness in Sand Blue as opposed to the Neon Yellow in the other set. Regrettably there is no additional dog that would actually fit into the little rescue kennel at the bus stop. It would have enhanced the play fantasy quite a bit.

Outside that the set does not offer anything special or exciting, unfortunately. The idea behind it just doesn’t feel fleshed out enough and for all intents and purposes this perhaps should have been part of a larger set with an actual rescue station. That would have allowed to “sell” things differently. Some might argue that I should just shut up and buy the actual Dog Rescue Center (41727), but that doesn’t really do it for me, either. Something just doesn’t gel. That aside, it simply strikes me as an odd sales strategy.

Concluding Thoughts

A lot of what I wrote no doubt sounds like I’m unhappy, but ultimately I’m not. With those sets I didn’t expect anything magical to happen and within the constraints and limitations of these series and the cost of the models even the designers can only do so much. It’s more about seeing the potential of what could have been. That said, there’s of course nothing wrong with these sets. With some modifications the slushy van would be a good addition to many City scenes and the same could be said over on the other side in Heartlake City. On their own they just feel a little incomplete and of limited use.

Red Raptor – LEGO Jurassic World Magazine, May 2023

I was really looking forward to this month’s LEGO Jurassic World magazine simply because I like buildable stuff and knew this one wouldn’t disappoint. more on that further down. First let’s take a look at the regular contents for the May 2023 issue.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, May 2023, Cover

The comic, while it would be okay in the overall style, again puts me off with its excessive use of fake Inner Shadow and Bevel layer styles (to the uninitiated: that’s what it’s actually called for real in Photoshop). It not only makes everything look very dark and murky, but personally I’m even offended by the sloppy way it’s applied. The values are all wrong and it is too large and too soft. It’s like they created a preset and threw it on to every image without re-tweaking it to account for different scales.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, May 2023, Comic

In terms of story writing Blue Ocean aren’t going to win any awards, as of course it’s just another escape & chase story. That even goes for the shorter secondary comic. It’s odd that they always play up the hostility and danger when there could be other narratives to explore.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, May 2023, Comic

For the poster I elected to show you the back side, not just because the one on the front is yet another run-of-the-mill hack composition pieced together from existing renderings. sure, this little overview isn’t showing that any special effort was made, either, but at least it meets my standards for acceptable clean design. Funny enough, as another little bit of Photoshop and design wisdom, adding a thin outline or outer glow would have helped with contrast. Some of the Tan-colored areas blend a bit too much with the yellow background and the Quetzalcoatlus with its White body would have benefited from that as well.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, May 2023, Poster

Moving on to the extra, we get a Pyroraptor built from bricks. If the overall appearance looks familiar of course you are not wrong. This is quite similar to the T-Rex and Velociraptor builds we got in past issues, but then at the same time there’s only so much you can do with a given set of elements. It’s almost impossible to avoid that they all look nearly the same. This particular build tries to distinguish itself not only with the colors, but by also trying to hint at the plumage. Jurassic World – Dominion is by all accounts a terrible movie, but at least they started honoring this long-standing knowledge that very likely a lot of dinosaurs had feather-like body coverage, at least in part. Whether they had to invent a whole new species for that is a different question entirely… Anyway, it’s just fine.

With regards to the parts usage we even get a small highlight by ways of the vertical “shield” 1 x 1 modified plate being included in Dark Blue. At this point it literally has only been in the expensive The Ice Castle (43197) sett associated with the Disney sub-theme and therein the Frozen animated movie(s). The horizontal red tooth plates are also not bad and since you get four of each type, the yield isn’t bad. The rest is just a bunch of curved slopes, hinge plates and a few others in pretty standard colors, but you can never have enough of those, either. I’m just wondering why they didn’t go with the wedge slopes on the head like on the previous variations of this critter. It would have made him look more aggressive.

This is a pretty decent issue, in particular since building the model takes more than thirty seconds and thus you feel like you get some value. Unfortunately the comic is a bit of a miss due to that weird shading thing. It would have looked so much better in a more pristine style.

Blue Bird – LEGO Creator, Exotic Parrot (31136)

The LEGO Creator 3in1 sets have always been around, but I actually only became more interested in them in the last two or three years. Before that, aside from some of the houses and the annual incarnation of the beach van/ camper truck, the designs weren’t always attractive and the quality a bit over the place. In more recent time, however, the smashed it with truly impressive stuff like the Majestic Tiger (31129) and this year’s line-up doesn’t look too shabby, either. so lets continue our exploration with the Exotic Parrot (31136).

LEGO Creator, Exotic Parrot (31136), Box

Contents and Pricing

The 3in1 sets tend to offer good value for money, with a few notable exceptions every now and then affecting this perception negatively (think of the massively overpriced Caravan Family Holiday [31108] for instance, no matter how nice it was otherwise). This set is very much average in that regard, hitting the typical 10 Cent per piece mark, but at the same time not being priced particularly low, either. At 253 pieces for 25 Euro it is certainly okay, but slightly more costly in relative terms than e.g. the White Rabbit (31133) or even last year’s Majestic Tiger (31129). This impression is further reinforced once you actually have the model in front of you with it being more like a parakeet in size rather than a big parrot. I’m not complaining even if it may sound like it, but within this sub-theme it is a bit more on the costly side. This inevitably affects retail prices as well and they just won’t drop below a certain threshold. At this point the discounts have settled around the 17 Euro mark, which is also what I got my package for..

The Parrot

The main model is of course the eponymous parrot that lends the set its name. More specifically it is a Blue and Yellow Macaw, which is more than just a little obvious. With such a well-known kind of bird it’s of course easy to draw comparisons just as it is easy to find and point out potential flaws. As mentioned above, the scale is nowhere near the actual real life creature. At best it’s half the size if you assume a smaller specimen, but typically it’s probably more like one-third size, given how large those birds can get.

The build process is pretty straightforward, with the basic drill once more being that you build a central block from stacked plates and bricks for the trunk and then the rest of the elements are attached via SNOT elements and joints. As noted in my review of the White Rabbit (31133) this method inevitably limits the opportunities to create actual curved surfaces and transitions and while the contours viewed from the side look just fine, this shortcoming is immediately visible from the front and back. It’s really just a two studs wide cookie-cutter shape. It’s almost a bit of a joke that the wings have more depth and texture than the body. If it wasn’t for the gradated colors the whole creature would look very flat. That said it’s of course all just an illusion and viewed from a sufficient distance it still looks very believable. It’s just that a slightly larger scale might have been beneficial to add more details and add believe-ability.

One of those areas are definitely the feet/ claws. The placement is wrong to begin with and then of course they are used as the fixation for the body on the lower platform. Due to the requirements for stability we get a rather ugly lump of Technic elements with the claw’s fingers flung on. Is it tolerable? Absolutely! It’s just not correct and personally I could have lived better with some longer axle or even (transparent) liftarm holding the body with the feet moved further back, mounted at an angle and being more detailed. This might also have allowed to use a different build for the branch/ twig, which also feels a bit crude due to being assembled from more Technic pieces. It’s all a bit too straight and doesn’t feel organic.

LEGO Creator, Exotic Parrot (31136), Parrot, HeadThe highlight is definitely the face and it’s quite amazing with how few pieces it is created. That of course necessitates that pretty much each element is unique and has to have a very specific color to create the illusion. As a result we even get one of those super rare 1 x 2 plates with a rail edge in Dark Orange. The only thing that could have made this even better was if the beak hat an actual sharp tip. There’s just not an element for it. The symmetrical 2 x 2 wedge is too “fat” and the old Hero Factory claw too big entirely. Another good reason for making larger models perhaps? Dunno.

LEGO Creator, Exotic Parrot (31136), Parrot, FlowerThe two blossoms are quite strange. I think they were trying to mimic some of the many hibiscus-like flowers you can find in the tropical regions such as the South American sub-continent, but it just doesn’t work that well and I feel my brain tingle, being that creating digital 3D plants for computer graphics was/ is one of those weird obsessions of mine and I can go crazy over minutia, let alone a “wrong” plant. I won’t even ramble about the incorrect number of petals, but clearly selecting some thinner, more blade-like pieces would have been better. The slopes aren’t even used on the alternate models, so using something else wouldn’t have impacted them.

The Fish

The first alternative build is a fish, more specifically it is clearly supposed to be a Blue Regal Tang (Paracanthurus), member of the huge color family of scalpel fish/ surgeon fish. Of course this particular specimen is widely known thanks to the Finding Nemo/ Finding Dory animated movies by Pixar. As a 3D artist myself I have vivid memories of how enawed we were when the first one came out. That and of course I already have a deep-rooted fascination for most underwater creatures. Funny enough I’m completely intolerant to fish and sea food (I’ll throw up), so the “Fish are friends, not food!” line from the film makes even more sense to me.

The model follows the same pattern as the parrot and is also just a two stud wide block with contour shaping again while the fins and a few details are plugged on to the sides. This is often only by two or three studs, which means that overall stability of those appendages isn’t great. For instances those two large round plates on the head can come off quite easily. Not the biggest of issues for what’s ultimately meant to be a display model, but worth keeping an eye on.

The selection of leftover pieces is quite notable. As already mentioned, pretty much all elements constituting the flowers are not re-used again and neither are the Technic pieces for the branch/ twig on the bird. If it wasn’t for that, parts usage would actually be quite good with only a few unused (mostly Blue/ Dark Azure and Yellow) elements remaining.

LEGO Creator, Exotic Parrot (31136), Fish, Leftovers

The Frog

The third option in the set is a little colorful frog. It’s sort of a Red-eyed Tree Frog turned blue, but of course it could just as well count as a Poison Dart Frog of the blue variety. Any interpretation is valid and the model doesn’t go out of its way to tell you what it is meant to be. This one uses a more conventional building stile with plates and tiles being stacked vertically instead of being attached sideways. This helps to keep the creature small and facilitates quick building with only a few parts. However, it comes at the cost of things being rather fragile. Many elements literally only overlap or hang on one stud and you can imagine that this is a bit fragile.

One thing where LEGO lost me are the feet. Not including some blue-ish version of those leaf elements seems strange, given that there is so much unused extra stuff, anyway. Or they could have gone with a different solution entirely. You know, those minifigure swimming fins do exist in Dark Azure and may even have looked better…

LEGO Creator, Exotic Parrot (31136), Frog, Aft Left View

There’s again plenty of bits leftover and since there isn’t a base, there are even more of them.

LEGO Creator, Exotic Parrot (31136), Frog, Leftovers

Concluding Thoughts

Overall this set is decent enough. The main sticking point is that somehow the price feels off-balance. The main model is small, after all, and the secondary models are making even less of an impression due to their limited parts usage. They get the job done, but on their own merits probably wouldn’t justify getting the package. This is even more the case since it doesn’t include any desirable new elements except for the Dark Azure arches, which were  introduced as a recolor only last year. There’s also no good reason to scalp this for parts or get multiple sets. A few Euro less might have me look more favorably at it, but as it stands this feels a bit expensive for what it delivers.

Underwater Hero – LEGO Minecraft Magazine, May 2023

Another mag that suffered from me getting too strung up on my long article is the Minecraft one for May 2023, which in fact even came out on the same day as the Friends mag for that month. Playing catch-up is certainly not the best way to run a blog, but anyway, here we go.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2023, Cover

The comic takes us back to the underwater temple, which means it is predominantly in greens and blues. this seriously limits the visual impact and gets tiring on the eyes quickly. On the bright side, though, they really try to work with shadow and light as well as throwing in some other colors where possible, so it’s not all as bad as it may sound. Some of those panels probably look better than the actual game already.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2023, Comic

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2023, Comic

The poster is a case of “Nice try, but you need to try again.”. I was reasonably satisfied when they used the same technique two issues ago, but here it just doesn’t work the same. The image composition as a whole is lacking and of course there’s also just not enough contrast overall. Still better than the reverse, which is an even bigger mess, but neither one of the two posters is great.

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2023, Poster

The extra is again very rich and well done, which is one of the reasons I really like this particular magazine. Even if I’m not that much into collecting minifigures, within the Minecraft world they make sense and I probably wouldn’t mind adding yet another zombie/ drowned character to a custom build swamp or such. This edition is further boosted in its awesomeness by including the blue version of the Axolotl from the The Guardian Battle (21180) package I reviewed last year. How time flies…! The zombie hunter is also a nice addition, as it’s apparently a relatively new figure from The Abandoned Village (21190). Since it’s exclusive to this set, buying this magazine would be a simple way of getting it if you don’t want to buy the full package. The skin-colored arms also oddly enough got me thinking about how there isn’t even a single “naked” minifigure in this color. Weird, I know, but oddly relevant with summer being around the corner and me getting ideas about doing a beach scene perhaps…

LEGO Magazine, Minecraft, May 2023, Extra

As a whole this issue is just fine, with the extra being the highlight once again. If the poster was a little better this could have been even more of a thing. As it is it’s just okay.

Yellow Dog House – LEGO Friends Magazine, May 2023

My long review of the latest Speed Champions kept me far too busy for far too long, so I’m a bit late in bringing you the latest magazine updates. You know, had it floating around, had done the photos but then just didn’t get around to doing the article. Now that we’re here, let’s see what the May 2023 issue of the LEGO Friends mag brings us.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, May 2023, Cover

Opening the magazine for the first time and quickly sifting through the pages immediately brought up a pleasant surprise on the first few pages – a pretty decent coloring picture. Unfortunately it’s the only one and covered with clutter plus, of course, it being printed on the regular thin paper is not ideal. They really should do a central section with thicker stock and put that stuff on there. More on this later.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, May 2023, Comic

The comic is surprisingly acceptable, which may or may not have to do with the fact that it has a lot of panels with the doggies instead of just the girls (and boys) in awkward situations in their homes. Certainly the choice of location helps. A detailed forest is just more attractive than a bland kitchen or study.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, May 2023, Comic

While the back side of the poster is just a bog standard “girls lying in the grass with rainbow swirls” affair, the front one has a cute little dog/ pup on it. Certainly nothing extraordinary, but cute enough.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, May 2023, Poster

Another nice gimmick is the crafting page. Now the “Let’s build a tent!” gimmick has been in this mag on and off, but in my opinion it really would be good if these crafting pages with paper cutouts would be a regular occurrence in every mag. It just fits the theme and there’s enough material I could imagine. This brings us back to my point with the coloring page, though. No doubt all this stuff would benefit from stronger paper in terms of stability, opacity and brilliance of the color.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, May 2023, Crafting

The extra is something I’ve been looking forward to since the preview in the last edition. It’s really something new we never had before and it just looks adorable. I love everything about this little makeshift dog kennel. Okay, it would have been nice to get the hinge plates in proper Green instead of Sand Green, but as I’ve said in the past it’s absolutely clear that they’re not going to do recolors just for these little magazine bags if an element doesn’t exist in a specific color already for a set. Either way, it’s nice.

Overall I can highly recommend this issue. It’s just fun. There’s naturally room for improvement, but I won’t complain too much. If every of these magazines were as good, we’d live in a better world…

Spring Car Wave – LEGO Speed Champions, Porsche 963 (76916), Pagani Utopia (76915) and McLaren Solus GT & F1 LM (76918)

Fair Warning: Long, long article ahead! Yes, I figured instead of tackling them one by one i’ll pack three sets with overall four cars into a single review and be done with it, at least for this release cycle. So have a look at my thoughts and ramblings below.

LEGO Speed Champions, Porsche 963, Pagani Utopia, McLaren Solus GT & F1 LM, Banner

Contents and Pricing

Within the established standards of this product line. After the raise last year the single item packages cost 25 Euro and the dual pack is that same price times two minus a factory default discount, so we arrive at 45 Euro. Considering, that LEGO occasionally do stupid things like when they inexplicably raised the price of the Lamborghini set to insane levels, I guess we should be satisfied this time. The doesn’t negate the fact that cheap is sexy and a good retail discount never hurt anyone. That’s why you can get the small boxes for as low as 14 Euro and the big one for 33 Euro if you’re lucky. I got mine for 16 Euro and 34 Euro, respectively, which is pretty decent for 280, 249 and 581 pieces.

Parts Cornucopia

One of the reasons I like the Speed Champions sets so much (despite my total ignorance in most things cars) is that they 90% certain introduce some new part every year and really a bucket load of recolors of existing elements. Last year’s big thing was the new 3 x 2 wedge appearing in several sets with prints in order to mimic the headlights. We’re getting more of that this year as well, but LEGO really have upped the ante with a ton of other pieces. Before moving on to the individual cars, therefore let’s have a look at them in a single sweep in the interest of efficiency.

As usual there are a few obvious candidates: Inevitably each car will have its own canopy and many times those have individual prints even if they may be the same type otherwise. This is of course the case here as well and in an added twist, they are actually new shapes for three out of the four cars discussed here. The Porsche 963 and the McLaren Solus have the 180 degree “cylindrical/ conical” windshield with extended sides in four studs wide and the Pagani Utopia has its 6-wide equivalent. The beauty of those items is their simplicity. No complex curvatures in multiple directions that leave gaps, just plain “panoramic” windows that can be seamlessly covered with other round elements. They probably also would make for nice regular elements in solid colors to be used for roofs and display stand bases.

The other very noticeable items are a few recolors. Of particular note are the many ones in Orange required for the McLaren F1 LM. Those in particular cover a number of brackets previously not available in this color, the 1 x 1 x 2/3 brick introduced last year and even the minifigure oar element. The latter is probably its own story, given that after years of being only available in Yellow and Red it has seen a bit of a renaissance as a greeble part in some sets and of course also as a petal piece in various sets of the Botanical Collection and thus is available in a variety of colors now. Two slightly more hidden recolors in Black are the large Technic propeller blade, which should make aviation enthusiasts very happy, and likewise the rarely used long horizontal fin. Both fall into that weird “What? I thought they already existed for ages.” category where you could swear you’ve seen them before, but your memory is betraying you.

A lot of buzz/ fuss has been made about the small 1 x 1 x 2/3 SNOT piece with rounded back. There’s even one of those designer videos on how it changes everything and *blah, blah, blah*. Does it, though? I’m somewhat torn on the matter. As someone with a model building background in my youth I naturally favor filigree building techniques over more crude ones. In that regard having what is basically a tried & trusted SNOT brick only one plate thickness thinner is not a bad thing. The other advantage is that due to the rounded back side it can be rotated into arbitrary directions instead of being forced to the grid. This will/ should allow more freedom building connections at custom angles.

However, and that is ultimately the big “if” with this element, as a 1 x 1 piece it only has so much clutch power. This effectively means that under certain conditions you are always going to need multiples of this element. That by itself could also force you back into the grid pattern, which kind of defeats the purpose. Another point to consider and a feeling I had during building the models is that oftentimes the part could potentially be substituted with existing 1 x 1 (rounded) plates. All that and finally, as long as they are only out in Black, options are quite limited. I would love to see this in Light Bluish Grey to build custom railings or in green to integrate it into plants for instance.

When a few years ago the 1 x 2 plate with rounded ends found its way into LEGO‘s portfolio it was quite an interesting thing. Having had built some Mega Construx sets at this point it seemed such an obvious omission and the lack of the element could be felt, given that I had an idea what it could be used for. Its introduction really solved quite a few problems. Apparently that wasn’t the end of it and the designers recognized the value, which now led them to also give us a 1 x 3 version and a 1 x 4 type, respectively. similalrly to the small SNOT brick I did not find that they were always necessary and could have been swapped out for their conventional counterparts, but regardless it’s nice to have them.

One thing that slightly rubbed me the wrong way was the introduction of yet another variation on the chassis. It now has cutouts on the front and tail ends, allowing to inset elements by another row of studs. With my engineering hat on I see why they did it just as I recognize that after the transition from 6-wide to 8-wide models they may not have considered a few things with the original chassis design, but can we please now settle on this one? That also goes for the updated wheel housing/ mudguard design. It’s okay and clearly there’s a reason, but I’d rather see new designs with different shapes instead changing existing ones. It’s not that the older version with the higher step was not usable and couldn’t have been padded with a few plates and bricks.

Moving on to the more specialized parts in the sense of being (for the time at least) specifically tailored to a given model we get some new wedge elements, those being the pointed wedge with base in Orange and Black found on the McLaren cars and the pointed wedge in Dark Bluish Grey on the Pagani. It’s not much of a stretch to come to the conclusion that we will be seeing them again a lot on Star Wars and Ninjago vehicles soon enough. They definitely solve some major design issues, given that this is the first time we really get sharply pointed versions.

Porsche 963 (76916)

LEGO Speed Champions, Porsche 963 (76916), Box

Long-distance-racing at the end of the day is more of a technical battle than an actual race (at least once the first two hours or so have passed and the gap distances are big enough), so it’s not necessarily something I would go out of my way to watch. I catch bits of the LeMans, Spa and Nuremberg races on TV, but that’s where my knowledge basically ends. One thing that’s for sure is that the cars tend to look highly unusual or weird even, weirder in fact than a Formula E car, at least to my eyes. With that we already are again at the most critical point: How the heck do you capture those complex shapes in a brick-built model?

LEGO Speed Champions, Porsche 963 (76916), Overview

On first glance things don’t look that bad. The car is very flat and in another universe you could believe that’s how those vehicles are built. That is in a very 1980s way when aerodynamic computer simulations and and construction were much less sophisticated and you had to keep things simple. The illusion once more falls apart as soon as you start searching the Internet for photos of the real car, however, and then you realize that not much is actually representative of the genuine article. The approximation of the curvature along the longitudinal axis is okay, but the same can not be said transversal direction. the cross sections along the central axis are always more or less harsh steps, not nice rounded transitions.

LEGO Speed Champions, Porsche 963 (76916), Stickers

One of the things that could no doubt help here is the sticker sheet. The original has an elaborate pattern of faux streamlines (literally) that would help to disguise straight edges. Being “that guy” who never uses stickers, this doesn’t help me of course and the original point stands. In addition the sheer size of the sheet and the number of stickers makes this the worst offender in the selection of the three models reviewed here. Again, this can’t be held entirely against LEGO. It’s just how the livery of the car is in the real world. Further evidence is even provided by the decals themselves not having too many fake air vents, intakes and hatches printed on them as it would be on some other cars. Still, it’s more than a little unsatisfying. If at least the three bricks on the hood had their stripes printed on…

As a fully custom racing car this model has a few unique design aspects, one of the most being that it uses a ton of jumper plates to center elements along the main axis. The middle section is based on an odd number of studs (three), so there’s quite a few of those required to get the spine and cockpit where it needs to be. The rest of the build is then quite conventional. It isn’t even big on studs-on-the-side building except for the two wedges behind the cockpit. This makes the model beginner friendly and quick to assemble.

The details are a bit sparse and most of them kind of drown in the sea of black; but they are adequate. A small highlight are the headlights actually being 2 x 1 half-circle tiles in Trans Clear instead of having them printed on the slopes and the lateral air intakes hint at the internal airflow guiding system using stacks of the equally new semi-circular 1 x 2 jumper plates.

Pagani Utopia (76915)

I admit that I never heard of Pagani until I researched their name and history and stumbled upon their relation to Zonda, which rang a bell, if only very faintly. You know, those fading memories of 1980s and 1990s racing…

LEGO Speed Champions, Pagani Utopia (76915), Box

The Utopia is admittedly a pretty stylish vehicle that could appeal even to me. Unlike other hypercars it has this air of understatement and not pushing all its fancy features and extras in your face like an exhibitionist, yet you get the impression that it is a total beast. It also looks kind of “normal” in the sense that it feels more like those more attainable Ferraris or a Porsche. If it passed you by you could easily mistake it for one of those if you’re not an expert and it looking rather compact no doubt helps.

LEGO Speed Champions, Pagani Utopia (76915), Overview

That said, next to the minifigure the model appears a bit too small, regardless. It’s hard to judge those things if you never saw the actual thing, but to me it looks like it could be one or two studs longer and slightly wider. the other thing is of course the color. I’m pretty sure you can order it in whatever color you want and are willing to pay for, but at least for this model it would have been wonderful if it came in the actual silver metallic with a hint of gold tone seen in most of the promotional materials. Yes, I’m asking for miracles, as naturally LEGO never do that. It just would be nice…

In contrast to the Porsche, this is one of those models that uses quite some tricky construction methods here and there, in particular to get the front and rear mounted at an angle. At times it feels a bit like the designers are merely showing off, though, as some of these sub-assemblies are a bit too involved for their own good and there would have been alternate ways of doing things. The downside to this very granular style of building and changing directions at every step really is that it hampers you from jumping ahead or otherwise you may end up getting stuck because elements block each other. You really have to stick to the instructions pretty closely.

One of those convoluted building blocks clearly is the aft section. The model uses a bunch of the small door elements to represent the trapezoid airfoil/ spoiler assembly of the real car. While in and of itself it is an interesting solution, the result feels hugely exaggerated. This is further exacerbated by the 2 x 2 round tile with the exhaust ends being too large. This is one of those weird situations where you would need something like a 1.5 x 1.5 tile or such. I’m not meaning to complain, but the fact remains that it is way too large.

The front is much better in that regard. I only wish they’d a) produced the ice skate piece in Dark Bluish Grey and b) come up with a way to align things better the sharp edge on the front of the hood really is quite distinct and here it looks like this is actually two entirely unrelated sections of the car.

McLaren Solus GT & F1 LM (76918)

The big package for this cycle comes yet again with two McLaren cars. LEGO seem to love them and in turn the car company seems to be generous in licensing their designs, probably betting on the promotional effect. At least there have been several of their cars turned into Speed Champions those last few years.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Solus GT & F1 LM (76918), Box

For this offering we are getting the Solus, their latest exotic racing care and the F1 LM, one of their earlier designs from the 1990s.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Solus GT & F1 LM (76918), Overview

The Solus is its own kind of weird. Not only does it hit all the standard tropes of those over-designed hypercars, but it takes them to a new level by looking extremely futuristic. Unfortunately not in a good way. This is one heck of an ugly mofo! This goes to show that having money doesn’t equate having good taste and I have some really disturbing thoughts about people who could even afford this thing in my head.

The part that is more relevant for us is of course how it translates into LEGO at a small scale. Regrettably I have to give it and F in that department. It’s really not just the usual “less than ideal choice of subject”, but a total failure in my view. The big hang-up for me is that this is basically a black cardboard model with all the other parts painted on. This kind of illusion painting wouldn’t even have worked had they opted for a different color variant. It’s not dissimilar to the Porsche – the contours just look fine viewed from the side and in this case if you forgive the straight edges and squint a little the shapes of the wheel housings would also look okay from a flat top-down view, but there is just no genuine curvature and viewing it from any other angle totally betrays the illusions

Other points of contention for me are the ways in which the air guiding plates are attached in a way they come off too easily because they have built-in tension, especially the ones in the front. In the first moment you marvel at the creativity, but soon you find out how much it sucks when a triangular tile is only attached by one stud. It’s just not great.

There aren’t too many visible details on this model, which is in line with the real thing being super smooth and also sort of spartan. The rear lights immediately reminded me of having seen the same approach using Nexo Knights spear tips on the McLaren Senna. How fast time has moved forward from that 6-wide era!

The F1 LM very much immediately reminded of other cars from that era, be that Ferraris or Hondas. They kind of looked all quite the same with the real differences being in the details. that being the case, you could probably use this model as a template and derive a number of other cars by only changing a few things. the irony here of course is that the lack of some rounded edges even makes this viable in the first place. This is a major complaint if you read other reviews, but ultimately you have to accept the limitations of LEGO at some point. In fact I’m almost of the opposite opinion because I like how the front has this nice slope while not having considerable gaps like on some other models. therefore it really becomes a matter of what’s more important to you.

That notwithstanding, I do have a huge gripe with the sides of the car. That ugly hole just doesn’t belong there. It’s like someone carved an ugly gash into the doors. now here’s the thing: I get that they were aiming to emulate the sort of embossed pattern with the aerodynamic ribs the original has, but it just is way too much. This for all intents and purposes could have sufficiently be hinted at with a conventional build using more and different wedge plates. Even recoloring some Ninjago sword blades and stacking them creatively might have worked, now that I think about it. I’d definitely consider these options or simply close the holes in a “dumb” way with more plates if I was serious about collecting these vehicles.

On a bright note, I like the grille effect printed onto two 1 x 8 plates and the way it’s designed it would even be adaptable to shorter plates. LEGO should seriously consider using the pattern on some white bricks for Star Wars models for those slotted walls or air vents.

Concluding Thoughts

The quality of the models is all over the place. The Pagani Utopia and the McLaren F1 easily come out on top despite their undeniable flaws and the Porsche 963 is kind of okay, but the Solus for me is a dud. As a non-collector I got my mileage out of the building experience, but to be honest if I were into serious collecting I’d consider other options. Yes, it’s always a compromise to build these cars with a limited selection of bricks, but I feel there’s just too much amiss this time around. I’m just not getting this satisfied tummy feeling like with the Aston Martin DB5 for instance. This won’t deter true car aficionados, it’s just not for me.