March Fire Drone

The predictable alternating cycle of Police – Fire Patrol – Some other current theme continues in this month’s LEGO City magazine (March edition) and guess what – we’re on step two of the loop, meaning that we get another firefighter.

LEGO Magazine, City, March 2020, Cover

It’s getting harder to muster up some enthusiasm, but on the bright side you could technically now have four different such figures from the last 1.5 years without having ever bought an actual set. Good for people who want to bolster their squad, kind of bad for LEGO when users can’t be bothered to purchase boxed sets and just wait it out with the magazines. I don’t have much interest in either and solely obsess about the actual buildable pieces, but that’s not getting much better, either. The drone build in this one is again pretty barebones and wouldn’t justify purchasing the mag more than once. The rest of the content is okay with two comics and a bunch of simple puzzles.

In other news I’ve joined a small LEGO Magazines group on Facebook, in case you’re interested. It’s also permanently linked from the sidebar on the right. I’ve already always posted my articles to my own news feed and now also include them there, so it should be a bit easier for you to keep up. That’s even more so as from what I’ve seen so far the German versions always seem to be among the front runners. Sometimes the same issue is published months later in other countries. Having some advance information might help you make a decision further down the line. I’ll try to keep my schedule of firing out my little reviews pretty close to the release date as much as I can, so perhaps check back regularly…

January Jack (again)

Guess what? It’s January and Jack is back! Not that that’s a good thing and yes, before you ask, he’s also going to feature on the cover of the next issue according to the preview page. I’m really stumped by the unimaginativeness of the LEGO Hidden Side magazine designers in that regard.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, January 2020, Cover

The minifigure this time features El Fuego, which is sort of a good thing for me because it’s not redundant. I never could get myself to buy the Stunt Truck set (70421), at least not yet, so this is an easy way of getting the dude. Especially the helmet with the bullseye markings is a fun little addition that could be useful even if it’s only put up somewhere as decoration e.g. in a garage scene.

What I don’t get with these LEGO magazines are the CG-based posters. I mean this issue has several comic panels almost covering a full page and any of them would have made for a gorgeous poster. This seems such a waste, even more so since it’s apparent that some artists have been working hard for the past years creating all the graphics for Hidden Side. In my opinion this would have much more value instead of LEGO trying to force force the AR gimmick down everyone’s throat and thus every set and magazine being demoted to being just a tie-in to some ill-conceived bigger plan.

The activities section is adequate for the targeted slightly older kids and will keep them occupied for ten minutes, but on the whole the magazine feels terribly lightweight. I’ll keep on it for a few more issues, but if it doesn’t improve notably I think I’ll ditch it in the long run.

February White (K)Night

After last month’s brief intermezzo with some wood chopping it’s now back to police work (and next month firefighting) in the LEGO City magazine.

LEGO Magazine, City, February 2020, Cover

With the buildable parts once more we’re getting a superbike body. Thanks to this magazine and a Ninjago set I bought once I now have them in Black, Red and White. This almost makes me want to sit down and design some custom prints/ stickers, as sadly just like the pizza delivery version this is just unprinted. On such a large surface area it simply looks very plain and boring. If I ever were to e.g. build a motorcycle shop I’d definitely do something about this to make them look more attractive and even just a police patrol roaming the streets would benefit from some markings.

The rest of the magazine is just the usual stuff, though I was surprised to find a coloring picture on one page. Are we perhaps seeing a new trend, given that this was also the case in Friends recently? On a side note, the mag nicely illustrates why having named characters is not a good idea in the LEGO world. Duke DeTain? My ass! This kind of word play simply isn’t flying in German and the gag will be lost on many…

January Wood Chopping

My already somewhat low activity in recent weeks had been further impaired by having caught a pretty nasty cold and pulmonary infection, so I’m pretty late with this month’s updates on the latest magazines.

Funny enough Blue Ocean, who publish these mags in our region also contributed to the mess by delaying the LEGO City magazine by one week. They kept printing December 10th as the announcement date in every of their mags, yet it only arrived this Tuesday the 17th. One can only speculate what went wrong. A botched print run? Those little bags not delivered in time from the LEGO factory? Who knows! I’d sure be interested to find out one of these days.

LEGO Magazine, City, January 2020, Cover

The LEGO City issue focuses on wood chopping which at this point of course could be interpreted as a sign of things to come once people start slicing up their Christmas tree after the festive season. The parts coming with the magazine are very much standard fare and similar to what came with the mini version of the forest tractor last year with some minor variations on the theme in terms of colors used and the prints on the figure. The feet are in Sand Blue, BTW, they were just printed excessively blue-ish so the colors look very different.

The City magazine continues to deliver with a satisfying mix of activities for your kids and a well done comic, so not much to complain about. The posters are okay, though I still wish they would use panels from the comics instead of those CG-generated versions. There’s just a specific charme to classically drawn stuff and the color contrast is better.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, December 2019, Cover

The Hidden Side mag came out earlier and I’m only mentioning it for completeness, but somehow I feel that it just isn’t gaining traction. I played that fun trick last month, so I’m not going to do it again already, but can you spot what might be wrong with the cover? Yepp, it’s yet again Jack front and center for a third time in a row. Calling it repetitive and boring would be stating the obvious. It’s not helped by the extra being Parker of all things. I haven’t even bough all sets yet, but already have amassed a graveyard of the ever same figures. This only goes to show how named characters can quickly back you in a corner…

Orange Space December

I’ve been too distracted with other things, not always quite in the way I intended, so activity around these parts has been a bit low and the December issue of the LEGO City magazine also kinda snuck up on me.

LEGO Magazine, City, December 2019, Cover

Space has apparently no bounds in the LEGO universe and that’s why we are getting another astronaut minifigure this month. thankfully it’s of the alternate type, meaning not the one with the white pressurized “space walk” suit but rather the orange planetary exploration/ space station daily overalls variety. Just the other day I bought the smallest shuttle from the current space series (Satellite Service Mission [60224] ) on a grocery store discount sale, so this figure makes for an interesting alternative occupant for the cockpit.

The rest of the parts is not worth writing home about, as the vehicle you are supposed to build from them is literally the most simplistic, most trimmed down version of a four-wheeled vehicle one could imagine. Not a great look by any stretch of the imagination and certainly nothing particularly space-themed, either. It’s really approaching a point of “Why even bother?”.

The rest of the magazine is pretty good on the other hand, consequently built around an imaginary “mission” and its planning/ preparation, which is reflected by the puzzles and even sort of a plan view of the big space station (Lunar Space Station [60227]) on one of the posters. If your kid is anything close to a space nerd like me it will have lots of fun.

The back cover also doubles as a cut-out buildable mobile with the solar system’s planets orbiting around the sun, so there’s definitely some educational value for astro-kids plus it should also be useful for sharpening manual skills just by assembling it for the lesser scientifically inclined. Overall this is a nice issue. I just wish it would be richer in the parts department.

October Dèja-Vu?

As I keep on chewing through some of the Hidden Side sets, a new issue of the companion magazine has just arrived, so let’s have a look.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, November 2019, Cover

See something in the images below? Yepp, the cover is almost identical, a few minor differences notwithstanding. This had me confused at first until I checked the included minifigure. As hinted at last time it represents a version of the pizza guy also included in the Shrimp Shack Attack (70422) set. That’s good in that in its regular form it perfectly fits into an ordinary City scenario just as well. At the same time it’s a bit boring because it is way to unspecific and mundane for the ghostly world of Newbury.

LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, November 2019, Cover LEGO Magazine, Hidden Side, October 2019, Cover

The rest of the magazine is very much in line with what you know from the other LEGO comics. What rubs me the wrong way, though, is that you can clearly see that a lot of effort has gone into some of the graphics. According to hearsay some illustrators labored over this for the last five years to prepare enough content for at least that long a publishing cycle as well, it seems. Yet it barely seems to pay off due to the individual panels being cropped and overlaid on top of each other in rather odd ways, obscuring large parts of some images.

Overall it is my impression that the mag has quite a way to go before reaching a certain level of quality. It likely doesn’t really help that for the next issue they are including the umpteenth Parker. L. Jackson figure. I really wish there was something a bit more exclusive as incentive to actually buy the mag regularly…

November Speed Trap

I don’t suppose that the LEGO City would be a multi-part series of fictional writing with a contiguous story, but as chance will have it, and that’s likely really just totally coincidental, one could see some greater story threads going on in the November issue.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2019, Cover

If you care to remember, last month’s edition was all about fast pizza delivery and now imagine if that guy took things a bit too far and got caught in a traffic control. Yupp, the young police officer lady with her laser speed gun would sure have to say a thing or two to him. It could in its own way make for a brilliant play scenario and I think it would be fantastic if the magazine took that approach more often, unintended as this may have been. It would definitely be more attractive than just seemingly randomly firing out figures from the different sub-series.

Of course the female officer matches up with the rest of the ones we’ve gotten in the last few months, so at this point you could have about three or four of them to open up your own little police station without actually ever having bought a set. The buildable pieces don’t live up to that, though, and it seems we’re getting fewer and fewer with every issue. regrettably the various LEGO magazines are really becoming more minifigure packs with some extras than the other way around.

If donuts are your thing, then the comic is absolutely right for you as it’s built around the big sign from the Donut Shop Opening (60233) getting stolen. Funny enough I would in fact love to own the set for those special pieces since I have an idea floating in my head where such a large donut might come in handy. It’s just a bit on the expensive side only for that… Anyway, I digress. The rest of the magazine is okay and in particular the puzzles are a bit more demanding again this time, so those little brain teasers should give your kids something to do for a while on a bad weather fall afternoon.