Pizza for Christmas? – LEGO Friends Magazine, November 2020

In these dark times every new magazine is almost a reason to rejoice just for making the release date and being on the stands on the planned day. So here we go again with the LEGO Friends magazine for November, a certainly rather weird issue this time.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Cover

Around this time of year it’s usually pretty much a given that we would get a Christmas-themed issue that either would be centered around gift-wrapping or baking, even more so since here in Germany the mag only comes out every other month and factually this is the Christmas edition therefore. However, baking pizza of all things? That is just a weird choice, no matter what.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Comic

The topic is carried through consequently throughout the issue in the comic and the activities, including some pizza game where you need to collect your slices (they are printed on another page and need to be cut out) by throwing dice and whoever has the first complete one wins. Additionally there are some other activities involving e.g. pizza-based math (Now that was too obvious, wasn’t it?) and a bit of info. Even the pseudo-advertorial by ways of a double page on the Heartlake City Restaurant (41379), essentially a pizza restaurant in Mediterranean style, fits the through-line. I don’t even mind that much this time, though, as it’s a really good set at least.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Pizza Game

Fittingly, of course the extra buildable parts have to be a pizza oven and a small kitchen workbench. This is nothing you haven’t seen before, including in the old Heartlake Pizzeria (41311) or for that matter pretty much any food-themed Friends sets. It’s literally just your run-off-the-mill standard builds. It would be nice if they at least shook up the formula every now and then with some nice new prints or something as revolutionary as a genuine ketchup dispenser/ bottle for instance.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Extra

Interspersed in all that eating madness are some pages built around this year’s Jungle Rescue theme, most notably a coloring page and one of the posters. Getting the outlines colorized properly on that kind of paper is probably a bit of an exercise, but at least it should keep you kids busy for quite a bit.

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Coloring Pages

For the poster the obvious statement would have to be “If only they had focused on the animals only!”. Seriously, I’d totally hang this on my wall if only the girls would have been left out. The animals are that cute!

LEGO Magazine, Friends, November 2020, Poster

All in all this is certainly a strange issue. As someone who eats pizza only once every blue moon (I’m really not getting much out of it and I don’t like cheese) this is missing the mark and then of course there’s that thing with the reduced publishing cycle here in Germany. It might have been more palatable (no pun intended) if we had an actual Christmas issue to look forward to in December

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.

Mustard Pizza? – Pizza Cart (60150)

One of the good things about pre-Christmas season is that it brings some opportunities to fulfill your LEGO desires and get your fix cheap because there are lots of special promotions and discounts even in your friendly neighborhood grocery store. Sifting through the info flyers this weekend reminded me that I had this little gem in my collection already, so I’m posting my thoughts on it just in case someone might consider it as a small Christmas present and is looking for an opinion.

LEGO City, Pizza Cart (60150), Box

I got the Pizza Cart (60150) set in October when it was on sale in a large drugstore’s toy department for something like 12 Euros and that’s what it is typically being sold for in those promotions I mentioned as well. That also is the sweet spot that I’d consider a fair price, given that the model is basically a “shake box to assemble” simple affair. That’s not supposed to say it’s bad or any of that, it’s just not going to keep you busy for long and the suggested retail price of 20 Euros doesn’t feel warranted in that regard.

LEGO City, Pizza Cart (60150), Overview

I don’t do much City stuff, but the overall building style seems very prototypical/ stereotypical and judging from photos is used pretty much on every van-like vehicle of this type and size these days with only the details varying. Still, I think it’s nice, regardless, since overall it makes for a very balanced appearance and could be interpreted as many different car models from different manufacturers without explicitly hinting at a specific one.

LEGO City, Pizza Cart (60150), Front View

The big difference and standout feature is of course the color scheme. For me as a German it’s a bit awkward, as the yellow body and red trim are too reminiscent of the postal service/ DHL parcel delivery vehicles that drive around here. Yes, for a while they were in fact even using a Dark Red in parts, which makes this even more of a strange coincidence. LEGO‘s overcranked color corrections on their promotional photos and the packages to me also made it look like the yellow was in fact the more orange-y Bright Light Orange, but that’s not the case. It’s really just plain old Yellow.

Either way, based on my gut feeling I would have preferred a different color combination, but of course it’s clear that this could then feel just as odd to people from other countries where those same post vehicles are Blue, White, Orange and so on. Perhaps prominently using a third color on the exterior would have avoided some of that? Dunno. In any case, to me the car just doesn’t spell “pizza truck”. I can’t get over those years  of subconscious conditioning. 😉

LEGO City, Pizza Cart (60150), Aft View

Arguably this can also be attributed to the lack of some details and decoration. Granted, I never use them, but the sticker sheet on this set is rather sparse and not particularly well designed. There are for instance no sticker for the large rear panel or the bonnet. Usually this type of car is covered all over the place with self-promotion for the foods offered, has chalk-boards to write on the prizes or printed posters with that info and then some….

For all intents and purposes, this should look like a super-busy vehicle that hits the road every day and has a bit of a rustic charme. It’s also missing a standee that could have had this pricing info or prominently featured an arrow and some text to point the people to the delicious food and a garbage bin would have been nice, too.

LEGO City, Pizza Cart (60150), Interior

The interior is not particularly logical, being that it suggests pizza comes out of a small microwave like oven. There is also no real workbench, no fridge/ freezer and any number of kitchen utilities…. Most puzzling, though, is the fact that there isn’t even a door to get inside there. Given the limitations of the small size and the simplicity of constructions those are forgivable omissions, it just feels incomplete to me.

The winged flaps/ doors are designed nicely and even have smooth inverted tiles to stabilize the connections on the undersides. What’s not so nice is the construction of the hinge. You can really see how the middle segment with the two hinge elements formed this kind of pattern and then they filled it in left and right with some modified tiles to make it look continuous. It doesn’t make much sense for a million reasons, though, and I would have preferred had they just raised the roof one plate height and faired over everything with tiles to disguise the hinges.

My article probably makes it sound terrible, but I’m really just nitpicking over minor issues. Taken at face value and what the set is meant for it is delivering what you expect. It’s meant to be a playable set to put in your city, not something to store and admire in your showcase and it does this job pretty decently. It’s a solid build that doesn’t distract with fancies and despite not being ultimately realistic offers good play value along with some interesting parts in nice colors. For 12 Euros you can’t go wrong with it, it’s just that I would spend my money on other sets if the price was any higher than that.