Just another Red Bike – LEGO City Magazine, April 2022

I have to admit I almost didn’t buy this month’s LEGO City magazine because I knew it would be rather unspectacular. I’m fast approaching the end of my patience with how repetitive it has become, but for now I got over it one more time. We’ll see how long this goes before I really give up..

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Cover

Despite the ever same subject (you know, the umpteenth chase scenario), the comics are the least of my worries as at least they are drawn dynamically enough to generate some interest and excitement.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Comic

I also like that they keep playing with full page or even double spread panels, My only small complaint this time would have to be that those train carts and a few other things look a bit too much like they’ve been drawn with a ruler. At least varying the ink lines’ thicknesses would have made it look a bit more organic not to speak of other techniques like intentional misalignment or faux lens curvature here and there.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Comic

The poster sadly continues the trend of reasonably tolerable content, but really terrible technical execution. Again the colors look extremely dull and murky, lacking visual depth. Given, that even the most lo-fi 3D rendering apps available today crank out pretty decent images with their default settings, I can only assume someone is sabotaging Blue Ocean and intentionally mis-tweaking this stuff to make it look ugly.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Poster

As I already wrote in my last review for this magazine, I wasn’t particularly enthused about this issue’s extra, being that it would just be another red bike and so here we are. I’m really at a loss for words on how lazy it is to recycle those same leftovers over and over again. Anything would have made this better – a different color for this shell or one of the Stuntz theme ones depicted in the comic and poster – just not that. Even the minifigure looks stuffy, though at least it is a unique combination of body parts. The “Xtreme” jacket torso can be found in a few other sets with other leg and head combinations, so it’s not entirely useless, it’s just the figure overall is boring as heck. Perhaps a Bright Light Orange helmet might have spiced it up enough? Point in case: Everything is just Red and without contrast.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2022, Extra

The decline in overall quality for the LEGO City magazine at this point is so obvious, I’m really beginning to wonder if it’s still worth it. This one in particular blows all its potential out of the door by simply refusing to give us something “good” in the form of one of the Stuntz bikes. It’s really telling when LEGO can’t get over themselves…

Expensive Squirrels in the Park – LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326)

I don’t buy City sets that often since I don’t want to end up with too many “useless” parts (large panels, wedges and similar stuff or elements in weird colors), but occasionally I take a liking to some of the sets. A lot of that has to do with the animals included or small details that just appeal to me and so I ended up getting the Picnic in the Park (60326), after all.

Pricing and Contents

This particular set is a LEGO store exclusive here in Germany, but it seems it is freely available through regular retail e.g. in the US. The exclusivity in these parts kind of preempts any debate about prices, but there’s always a chance it might become more widely available at some point. At 15 Euro for 147 pieces it follows the crude standard logic of around 10 Cent per element, but is it a good price? Personally I don’t think so, as ultimately this builds into some very small models and the volume of stuff just isn’t there. This definitely feels like 10 or 12 Euro at most. Even when you open the box you already see how little actual content there is and it feels like one of those 10 Euro sets that you pick up for 7 Euro after discounts at the drugstore.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Box

Minifigures and Animals

In relation to the price I’ve seen and heard the argument of the set containing three minifigures, which is one more than the usual two, but no, sir, that’s not really a good point! It’s not like these would be unique or particularly special. Scraping body pieces together from other sets the figures could be recreated with not too much trouble, give or take a few specifics for the prints. This will only get even simpler once LEGO starts re-using the parts in other sets as well, although be it in different combinations.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Minifigures

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Squirrels

The main attractions are of course the two squirrels. They are based on a completely new mold for the City line and are much more realistic than the ones originating in Elves and having been revived only some time ago. The Black one is exclusive to this set, but the one in Dark Orange can be found in some others. There’s also a third variant in Light Bluish Grey which itself is exclusive to the School Day (60329) set. For the time being getting all three is not easy, but I’m pretty confident we’ll see the little bastards in many more sets soon enough.


Having a huge chunky oak tree with the squirrels would have been good enough for me, but apparently this is not how things work and there had to be some vehicles for actual play.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Bicycle

The first is a yellow bicycle with a small cart in tow. The latter is the simplest construction imaginable with the crate piece being used. Not much else to say here. It certainly works and while simplistic, it looks elegant enough.

The second is a small (electrical ?) utility vehicle reminiscent of a Tuk Tuk or similar vehicle originally based on a motorcycle frame. Even one of my first reviews for the Heartlake Pizzeria (41311) came with something along those lines. The details and building techniques change over time, but the design always is pretty much similar. Still, those little cars look the part and are always a nice addition.

Tree and Bench

Squirrels live in trees, that’s a given, and so this set of course needed one. Too bad it turned out rather awful! Yes, as you can see in the photo this is just another of those trees built from stacked arch elements at a ninety degrees angle. sure, it’s simple for kids, but is it any good? Not really! It is especially disappointing now that we have much better pieces such as the curved tube elements from the Bonsai Tree (10281) and other recent additions to the LEGO parts catalog.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Tree, Front View

The small table and bench are just fine, being built from six (!) identical 1 x 3 x 1 arches. the pizza box tile on the other hand… I really don’t understand why they haven’t come up with something better after all those years. They could even do new designs every year so you can date the sets easily even after the fact just by looking at the motif.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Tree, Detail Table

Personally I would have hoped for a fuller, more elaborate canopy with perhaps at least six of the large “leaf” elements. Then they could also have thrown in one of the ladybug tiles or a butterfly. Some more of the acorn tiles also would have been nice. You know, during an autumn storm it sometimes literally “rains” acorns from those oak trees in my area which goes to show how many there actually are. At least two per leaf element would sure have not been too much to ask, methinks.

LEGO City, Picnic in the Park (60326), Tree, Top

Concluding Thoughts

In a funny way this is one of those “Made with irony in Billund” sets, both in the good and bad sense. It’s a negative in that the set definitely is overpriced for the ordinary and very average content. There’s just not enough mass of stuff here and the tree is just *meh*. The squirrels would have deserved a better habitat and presentation.

On the positive side, despite the limitations, this set is still the most cost-effective way to get two squirrels, including the exclusive black one, short of buying some 80 Euro/ 100 Euro sets, ordering the animals from LEGO‘s Bricks & Pieces service or Bricklink. The small car/ cart and bicycle are also nice and give me a positive vibe, minor as their contribution may be.

The bummer really is that if this cost just 10 Euro I’d totally say “Go for it!” with no regrets or reservations. However, those 5 Euro on top really bother me and give me an uncomfortable itch. I just can’t see where that extra money went. There aren’t any special prints, no second bike or any of that which would justify it to me. Therefore I would only recommend this set to people who really want the squirrels and enjoy the overall cutesy-ness.

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

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

Getting the good Stuff – Set 60319

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analyzing the Color

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

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

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

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

Neon Yellow, Color Comparison

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


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

Concluding Thoughts

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

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

Red Dino Bike – LEGO Jurassic World Magazine, July 2021

It’s getting notably hotter outside and the temperatures are slowly getting at me along with my usual health issues, so I’ve been a bit lazy this week, but at least there’s a new issue of the LEGO Jurassic World magazine to take my mind off things a bit. Let’s see what the July 2021 edition has in store for us.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, July 2021, Cover

First off the comic. In the last issue I criticized the somewhat dull and monochromatic nature of things. Thankfully, this time around things are much better and the comic is a lot more colorful and vivid. Story-wise it’s just another chase drama with a minor twist, so nothing new there.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, July 2021, Comic

The main poster follows the design template of the previous ones with a dino surrounded by a brick pattern. By now you could have a line-up of four or five of them side by side and it may actually not look that bad. The one on the reverse would in theory also not be that bad, showing different types of dinosaurs in a jungle environment, but unfortunately it is one of those terrible Photoshop hack jobs. Instead of organically placing the 3D models of the beasts inside a fresh scene, the poster is bashed together from existing separate renders all too recognizably. The lighting and scale of the individual creatures is way too inconsistent.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, July 2021, Poster

On the games & activities front there’s not much to do with only a bunch of simplistic and insignificant puzzles that wouldn’t stress out a first-grader, but maybe it can at least distract for fifteen minutes.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, July 2021, Game

The extra that comes with this issue is rather unspectacular, but potentially still useful. Sure, nobody needs the 100th Owen, at least not when they’re not really doing anything with him in terms of different prints and components. They could have just left him out for once or thrown in a different character. The motorcycle on the other hand is nice. It’s the same type as the Dark Orange version that came with the City mag a few months ago. Together with the Pearl Dark Grey version from Pigsy’s Food Truck (80009) this completes my collection and I now have it in all three colors it currently exists in. The Red version otherwise only can be found in the hard to come by Monkie Kid polybag or two somewhat costly City sets, so getting it just like that is a good thing. It’s one more example where a little patience has paid off and can save you some money.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, July 2021, Extra

If it wasn’t for the red bike, this issue would unfortunately be very unremarkable. The comic is good, but the rest is somehow lacking and just doesn’t give me that kick. There’s simply that little something special missing that makes me love these magazines. Don’t let this stop you from buying it, though. I’m perhaps just being a bit too picky…

Not so super? – LEGO Creator 3in1, LEGO Creator, Superbike (31114)

With availability of LEGO sets still being so spotty and many physical stores closed, I find myself more and more in a situation where I’m actually struggling to find something to buy. the availability of many sets is still spotty and prices just all too often don’t drop to a level that I would feel comfortable with. That’s why the Superbike (31114) ended up finding its way to me despite many other sets having been in front of it in the purchase queue.

LEGO Creator, Superbike (31114), Box

Point in case: I had some concerns and reservations about this set, mainly its overflowing with too many Technic pieces for my taste in the context of a Creator 3in1 model, and only might have bought it much later, if at all. So essentially this is a case of “Something is better than nothing.” rather than something I was totally crazy about.

Contents and Pricing

The set retails for an official suggested price of 20 Euro. That’s technically not bad for a 236 pieces model, among which are some recognizably large Technic pieces. However, since I already have a sizable collection of Technic elements (which I rarely use these days) I did not have much interest nor any specific urgent need to get those. This of course skewed my perception of the value of this set. I would not have bought it at full price for reasons I’m going to explain later.

Thankfully the market corrects itself and since this set doesn’t seem to sell that terribly well, the actual street prices are much, much lower. Whether that’s always a good thing or not is open to discussion, but being dependent on the good graces of some decent discounts due to my situation you can imagine which side I’m on. I got this package ultimately for 13 Euro, which is acceptable. Given the low yield of interesting parts I still would have loved to see it drop even further, but one has to be realistic. So for all intents and purposes that’s a good price, after all.

The Model

I’m not much of a motor aficionado to begin with and even less so for bikes. therefore my knowledge about this subject is limited to occasionally watching MotoGP on TV and whatever motorcycles are driving around now that it gets warmer outside. Beyond that I just don’t get the appeal of riding around on an overpowered machine and risking life and limb. Then of course I used to cycle like crazy, which on some level is not much different. So this is not a judgement, just my opinion.

LEGO Creator, Superbike (31114), Left View

As I wrote, I was somewhat reluctant to even get this model because of the Technic parts and this shows right away. The front and rear suspension are built completely from liftarms and axles. Aside from not fitting with my overall perception of what the 3in1 series should be, it just looks a bit too simplistic and crude overall for my taste. There’s nothing wrong with it, as it also provides playability, I just would prefer the model emphasized good looks. Additional details would certainly enhance the appearance and personally I could perfectly live with a non-functional faux suspension.

LEGO Creator, Superbike (31114), Aft Left View

From a technical point of view I think the rear section of the model is poking up a bit too high. Granted, I’m not an expert, but having the “ass” so far up in the air is something I only have seen on cross bikes where the suspensions are very soft and have a huge range of deflection to absorb the impacts from those crazy jumps. This IMO boils down to being a bit of a scale issue. To make the bike appear a bit flatter it would have to be one row taller and the liftarms a bit longer, so the spring element could be placed at a different angle. Then I guess something else would have looked off, though.

LEGO Creator, Superbike (31114), Aft Right View

The central section is more or less one big block onto which everything else is clipped one way or another, but there’s a lot of trickery going on in that there is no actual frame or motor. Everything hinges on the few colored elements in Dark Azure selling the illusion, while the underlying construction consists of layers and layers of brackets and very few bricks. This makes the actual build extremely boring because at any given point during the assembly you are wondering when you get to the good parts. Mind you, it’s far from the repetitiveness of sets like e.g. the large Jurassic World T-Rex (75936), but for such a relatively small set you surely spend a good chunk of your time with something that isn’t very rewarding.

LEGO Creator, Superbike (31114), Front Right View

The cover pieces and decorations are rather sparse and limited a minimum number required to hide the block underneath. Arguably this could count as mimicking the thin sheet metal/ glass fibre/ carbon fibre shells those motorbikes have, but still feels like there’s not much substance. On the bright side, LEGO at least had the good sense to produce this arched plate in Dark Azure exclusively for this set. It looks the part and follows the contour of the front wheel, making it appear as if it was aerodynamically optimized.

LEGO Creator, Superbike (31114), Top View

The cockpit is a pretty barebones affair and aside from the use of the new 2020/ 2021 version of the dashboard slope there is not much going on here. Representing the steering handle with ratcheted hinges also does not feel ideal.

LEGO Creator, Superbike (31114), Detail Speed Gauge

Concluding Thoughts

On the face of it this set wouldn’t be that bad – once you finish it, it looks quite nice and you can play with it. You also get some good Technic parts with the slip-free robot wheels and the shock absorber along with usable regular system pieces, few as there may be other than a ton of brackets. However, it still leaves you somewhat unsatisfied and pondering the possibilities of what might have been. I for instance would have loved if the Dark Blue elements came in Yellow or Bright Light Orange, but apparently this wasn’t in the cards. It would have made the model look a bit more attractive and contrasty.

Ultimately this is not a play set nor something that really fits into the Creator 3in1 series. More to the point this really feels like they should have gone the full mile and made this a completely Technic-based model so at least it would stylistically match the older BMW motorcycle (42063) or the current Ducati (42107), though even then the scale wouldn’t line up. So for what it’s worth, this model sits somewhere inbetween and is neither fish nor flesh, in a manner of speaking. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it (and at least the quite similar secondary model of an alternate bike), but strictly from the viewpoint of a LEGO builder, not a motorcycle fan, there is little to be had here.

If it wasn’t for the current “drought” in LEGO land and my budget limitations I might have preferred other options. As a snack it’s okay for the price I got it for, but I bet that I will have forgotten that I ever built it pretty soon.

Police again – LEGO City Magazine, April 2021

The first week of any given month is apparently always the busiest in terms of what new LEGO magazines are released, and so here we are with the latest edition of the City mag for April 2021.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2021, Cover

As I wrote last month already, at least in terms of the included extra I wasn’t that excited about this edition. I really have nothing against motorcycles, but can we please have some variety at least? Even if they merely included a sticker sheet with a police logo this would change things up enough, no matter how much I don’t like them, but the umpteenth plain white bike? That’s just lame. The minifigure is okay and with the light blue shirt fits the rest of the squad while at the same time having a unique utility vest. my little guy had misaligned prints on the head with the left eyebrow bleeding into the eye, so it looks like he took a punch and has a swollen eye/ black eye.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2021, Extra

The comic is another overblown heist story to “sell” the bike and give it some context, but its overall acceptable. Funny enough it even carries the seeds of potential alternative extras. I would have loved the one-man submersible vehicle and I also would have been happy with a bunch of pink balloons lifting a Dark Brown treasure chest or piece of a ship wreck. See what I’m getting at? It’s not that the creativity isn’t there, it just seems the people in charge don’t see it and always settle on the smallest and easiest possible option.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2021, Comic

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2021, Comic

The rest of the magazine follows the established pattern. The poster shown would be quite nice if only they had opted for a different background tint. The excessive use of blue shades makes it look oddly flat and I almost thought they ran out of magenta ink during the print run, leaving only the cyan and yellow. Something like a purple night sky or a dark red sunset would clearly have helped a lot to improve contrast.

LEGO Magazine, City, April 2021, Poster 

On an interesting side note, the “Criminal File” this time is on Daisy Kaboom. I got mine in the LEGO City Christmas calendar and immediately recognized her with the unique hair piece with the orange-colored tip. Of course it has also become a bit of an in-joke to call her Walmart-Karen. Even the LEGO world isn’t isolated from real world events.

On the whole this isn’t the greatest of issues, with the most disappointing thing being indeed the wasted potential to bring something fresh and cool to the series. As usual kids won’t mind or even notice, but it would just be nice.

Small, but good – LEGO Creator 3in1, Cyber Drone (31111) and Tuk Tuk (40469)

Finding happiness in the LEGO world often depends on the size and complexity of a model determining how it ultimately will look. While that certainly implies that bigger, more detailed models are usually better, sometimes small models still manage to surprise positively and that certainly is the case with the Creator 3in1 Cyber Drone (31111) and the Tuk Tuk (40469), which I’ve rolled into a single article.

Contents and Pricing

Both sets sell for 10 Euro, with the drone having 113 parts vs. 155 on the Tuk Tuk, which is pretty much in the usual range for these sets. With the Tuk Tuk being a LEGO exclusive set only available from them directly you have no real options to get it cheaper, anyway, but thankfully for once I don’t consider this too much of a problem with the model turning out reasonably sizable and looking good. The drone is available via normal retailers and due to its relatively small size definitely worth looking for discounts, even if it’s only the typical 20 or 30 percent. Those two or three Euro really make a difference, even more so if you plan on getting multiple sets to build the alternate models that use significantly less pieces compared to the primary build.

The Cyber Drone

LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Box

The cyber drone represents a bit of an odd paradox in that it is a drone (plane) being flown by another drone (humanoid robot). In a real world scenario that probably wouldn’t make too much sense. The flying drone would already have all its own autonomous systems in place and not require anyone to control it, while the robot itself would then merely be a passenger. In a way this feels like those old sci-fi movies from the 1980s and early 1990s where everyone assumed that because computers were so expensive, you’d only have one and move it around in to plug it into dumb devices rather than those devices having their own intelligence. Of course today things are much, much different.

LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Overview

The minifigure, while not exactly a foreign concept in the 3in1 sets at large, is certainly unique for such a small set. Most of the time you only find them in sets for houses or larger vehicles that offer play features. What makes this even better is the fact that this figure is quite unique and elaborate. It has an overall Flat Silver body with a detailed multi-color print on the upper torso. The latter features the classic LEGO Space logo and in fact the whole harness design may be derived from an older astronaut figure, but i was too lazy to really investigate this. Similarly the head has some nice metallic printing stenciled out with Black and Medium Azure “glowy stuff”, making it indeed looking like exposed internal circuitry. for such an inexpensive set it’s really a great minifig.

LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Minifigure, Front View  LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Minifigure, Back View

The drone itself is recognizably based on the “drop ship” designs found in many classic science-fiction movies such as Alien, Terminator and a few others with a chunky section holding the cockpit or cargo bay and an extended tail boom with V-shaped control surfaces. there’s also the typical massively oversized jet engines that make the vehicle look imposing and threatening.

LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Front Left View

In terms of construction the set doesn’t go out of its way to do anything all too fancy or revolutionary. For me personally the only real novelty is the use of the 3 x 3 square Technic connector since I did’t have it yet in my collection. It is however not used as an essential structural element and more of a way to quickly bulk things up without having to use more extra pieces. You could totally build the relevant sections with other parts. You’d just have to do it differently and use extra bits to fill gaps.

LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Aft Left View

One thing I definitely don’t like is the reliance on so many hinge-style connections. Aside from the double ratcheted plates used to attach the tail boom acting as a stiff connection all the other hinges are single axis/ single point connections, meaning the parts attached to them can easily be brought out of alignment. This begins with the engine pods themselves and continues with the various flaps. The point here is not so much my own nerdy obsession about engineering stuff, but this minimizes stability for play and could become a bit annoying if kids need to realign things over and over again.

LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Aft Right View

The weakest area on this model is easily the aft section on the fuselage just behind the cockpit. The main issue here is the many large gaps and overall openness of the space that exposes too much of the construction details. This really feels like adding two or three more slopes would have gone a long way toward making it look better. 

LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Front Right View

As explained previously, the set seems to assume that the pilot drone would connect directly with the onboard systems and thus there are no real details in the cockpit. the only concession are the grip knobs on the sides, which is more or less only a sneaky way to find a use for the ball joint plates that are needed for the alternate mech build. Regardless of this it would just have been nice to have some dials for the cockpit or for that matter an actual connection wire/ hose for the data link between the two machines.

LEGO Creator, Cyber Drone (31111), Cockpit

The Tuk Tuk

LEGO Creator, Tuk Tuk (40469), Box

The Tuk Tuk essentially fell out of the blue and surprised many people, including myself. Who could have thought that LEGO even were capable of coming up with something this simple, yet highly original? It’s not entirely unexpected, given that they are expanding in Asian markets, but at the same time not very typical of them. I’m also pretty sure their competitors in those regional markets already have covered the subject of these various Rickshaw-like vehicles quite sufficiently, making this even more unusual.

LEGO Creator, Tuk Tuk (40469), Front Left View

While I’m usually more for a harmonious color scheme, the Tuk Tuk appealed to me because very much like the original it is just the opposite. With many of these vehicles being under constant repair and being heavily customized by their owners in terms of colors and decorations, pretty much any and every combination of shapes and colors is fair game, not to speak of the ones that have been built from scratch using old motorbikes and random spare parts. Therefore this particular model more or less may only represent one exact real counterpart that is driving around somewhere.

LEGO Creator, Tuk Tuk (40469), Aft Left View

The overall build is simple, yet efficient and pretty stable, given that the whole cabin is mostly a hollow box with relatively thin walls. This makes handling the finished article quite easy and it also doesn’t break apart immediately when it topples over sideways due to the small wheels and the high center of gravity. It does this quite a bit on surfaces that are not perfectly level, but it’s not entirely unexpected.

LEGO Creator, Tuk Tuk (40469), Aft Right View

One thing I’d definitely wouldn’t have minded is simply more of this craziness. This is one of the few cases where in fact I might even have plastered the model with stickers, if it came with any. The more wacky these things look, the better. I think it would also have been nice if the vehicle had an extra external stowage box at the rear end.

LEGO Creator, Tuk Tuk (40469), Right View LEGO Creator, Tuk Tuk (40469), Front Right View

One of the questions on everyone’s mind has been whether this will fit your custom LEGO city layout and streets and the answer here is “Kind of it may, but then again it may not.” The point here is that this model is not only notably wider than the regular 4 studs (even if you were to remove the little step protrusions), but it is also quite tall. A direct comparison with a minifigure seated inside reveals that it would actually be undriveable for this little guy.

LEGO Creator, Tuk Tuk (40469), Size Comparison, Driver seated

Things do look a little better if you are playing on some optical illusions and your perception. In the image below the figure is placed just about 5 cm away from the model, yet due to the short focal length of my camera and resulting strong perspective distortion it looks much more to scale. That could mean that if you place the vehicle strategically in your scene without some other object near to it as size reference, it could still work out short of giving the model an actual work-over based on its original design.

LEGO Creator, Tuk Tuk (40469), Size Comparison, Driver standing

Concluding Thoughts

Both sets turned out unexpectedly well. The most important takeaway here is that not only do they look good, but also have some actual play value, meaning you can’t do much wrong regardless whether you want them as display items for yourself or as toys for your kids. There are of course some limitations that are more or less inherent in the limited number of pieces and the resulting building style, but they are perfectly acceptable. There’s some good value here no matter how you spin things and that is something you cannot always say about this type of sets. I definitely can recommend a purchase for both items, assuming they suit your overall preferences and tastes.

Autumn-Tinted November – LEGO City Magazine, November 2020

Full throttle ahead into autumn! Was that too obvious? Perhaps, but nonetheless it’s more than appropriate for the November edition of the LEGO City magazine. Why? Of course because we get another motorbike. That’s why.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2020, Cover

To make things even more odd (or perfect, depending on how you see it), the bike comes in the most autumn-ish LEGO color one could imagine – Dark Orange. That’s clearly not a coincidence, even more so since even the helmet of the driver is in this color. This makes me alternate between “WTF?” and “This is just brilliant!” in the sense that no matter how flabbergasted you are, it is definitely kind of awesome on so many levels.

The motorcycle frame so far can only be found in the Tuning Workshop (60258) and is the same new mold type as the ones in Pigsy’s Food Truck (80009). The good news here is that if you never had any intention of buying the rather ridiculously priced LEGO City workshop set you can expand your collection of bikes nicely just by purchasing the mag. I’m at least always amazed how many different types have amassed over the last three years in my collection already without ever having bought an actual bike-themed set.

The minifigure is similarly nice and somewhat unique. The torso with the Dark Green hoodie and black T-shirt with the digital VU-meter print also originates from the aforementioned set and will make a nice addition to any scenario where you are going to need a set of reasonably “hip” teenagers/ young adults to populate your city or whatever.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2020, Extra

As you would expect, the bike and its driver are featured massively throughout the issue, be that in the comic or on the poster. As you know, I like this kind of consequent carrying through a specific motto/ theme, so I’m quite pleased. As they say: “This one’s got style!”.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2020, Comic

The comic is a detective story playing out through the night and therefore predominantly tinted in blues, something which we in Europe call “American Night”, as it’s derived from a film technique where blue filters are used on daylight footage to make it appear as if shot under moonlight a.k.a. day-for-night. I got a lot of flak once for this because someone from the US felt insulted, but there’s really no reason to be upset. It’s just a common term in professional circles.

LEGO Magazine, City, November 2020, Poster

All things considered, this is probably the most perfect LEGO City issue I’ve ever seen. I doubt there would be much room to improve this even further in terms of stylistic and the content’s consistency, so this may indeed be as good as it ever gets for adults. This is one to remember and shows how good the magazine can be, if only someone pours enough effort and consideration into it instead of just dumping disjointed content. I would highly recommend snatching this up, especially if you have any use for the bike and the minifigure.

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…

Speedy October Pizza

Full disclosure: I don’t particularly like pizza. This likely has a lot to do with my general dislike for anything with cheese and my disdain for “ordering-in”, but suffice it to say that the occasions where I have been eating a slice are few and far between. That’s why a good chunk of the appeal of the October issue of the LEGO City magazine may be lost on me, so bear with me if I just don’t “get” what it’s all about as apparently the whole things is built exactly around these subjects this time.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2019, Cover

The included model struck me as odd at first, as such a sport bike would barely make sense for a regular delivery service. Within the context of the magazine’s comic it begins to fall into place, though. In any case, not having had such a particular type of motorcycle in my collection yet I’m not going to complain. The only thing that is very obvious are the large empty areas on the windshield/ aerodynamic covers. They really beg for a print, but I guess that was too much to hope for on a freebie.

Funny enough I have even less reason to be miffed because my little bag actually contained two of the black support frames. It’s certainly puzzling to see, considering how large a part this is. You would only expect this on smaller items. On the other hand, having to request replacement parts from LEGO‘s service on what seems every second set I buy lately it’s not that surprising, after all. Something is seriously awry with their sorting and packaging.

The minifigure is quite generic and if you have a spare hair piece somewhere to replace the helmet, you can easily integrate it in every scenario in your little city. Beyond that there’s only the printed tile with the rather uninspired generic “Pizza” print and two white 2 x 2 jumper plates to create a small stack of delivery boxes. You know what would have been cool? If they had included said tile with an exclusive print like e.g. the “City Pizza” logo from their xtra (853129) signage sticker set. that would have been ace and made this a coveted item.

The comic itself, barring my brain being unattuned this kind of eating habits and everything that goes with them, seems okay and is nicely drawn. It just doesn’t really click with me. The posters, despite being CG-based are also acceptable this time around. All things considered this is a pretty solid issue.