Baby Triceratops?

I was really pleased in which direction the LEGO Jurassic World magazine was heading with the amazing T-Rex in the last issue, so understandably I was looking forward to the current March issue.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, March 2020, Cover

Of course for me the most exciting part is once again the pretty elaborate buildable dino model, this time for a Triceratops. At 65 parts it’s pretty much on par with some commercial polybag editions and by itself represents enough value to warrant a purches of the magazine.

Stylistically it takes a cue or two from the B-model Triceratops in the Mighty Dinosaurs (31058) set, which itself has been around for several years now and has become a staple of the Creator 3in1 series. Next too each other the similarities between the larger and the smaller model are easily apparent and the latter could even function as a child to the former.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, March 2020, Comparison with Set 31058

With a bit of effort one could make this even more consistent by e.g. modifying the building style on the legs of the big guy to be more like the ones of the small guy or vice versa. Even if you just leave them as is, they are both nice models in their own right despite their simplified nature.

Beyond that the magazine has a nice comic, including a good rendition of the Triceratops itself, though in a different color, so the connection is definitely there. The games are too few and too simple for my taste. The posters are oddly framed and feel strangely overcrowded with large text occupying a good chunk of the space and the edges coming dangerously close to the depicted characters.

For me as a graphics artist a bit of a *grmpf* moment, since I value my whitespace and sufficient bleed to let artwork “breathe”, though of course I far too often mess up my own photos and then have to crop them too tightly as well. No shame in admitting that ­čÖé In any case, this is another well done edition in this series and if they keep up that level of quality then I’m all for it. Definitely check it out!

Snow Dino!

The Christmas holidays have jumbled up the release schedule of the various LEGO magazines quite a bit, so the next few weeks will be a bit of a race to keep up with those costly trips to the newsstand until the cycle is in sync again.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2020, Cover

The Star Wars mag comes with a rather unspectacular Snowspeeder model. Not that there would be anything wrong with Snowspeeder, it’s just that it doesn’t have that much to offer in terms of interesting details in the first place and shrinking it down won’t improve upon this, understandably. Most annoyingly the model looks very stumpy with no provision having been made for the short rectangular aft area and everything having been chopped off immediately behind the wedge section. For a freebie it’s okay, but it just would have been nice to get a more accurate model.

Since the price has gone up again and is now at 4.99 Euro, a bonus extra has been thrown in to console users and to preempt a larger uproar. Depending on which packaging you manage to get you either get a Snow Trooper or a young Luke Skywalker with blond hair minifigure. That’s okay for the time being, but regardless, asking so much for a few printed pages and some lightweight extras is pushing it…

The content of the pages is the usual mix of an acceptable comic, some very limited games and the usual adverts for other publications from Blue Ocean. The poster provides a facepalm moment in that it depicts the UCS Snowspeeder (75144) set from last year that you can no longer buy. Kinda stupid to whet people’s appetites and then leave them disappointed, should they decide to investigate the details.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, January 2020, Cover

The LEGO Jurassic World magazine was a bit of a surprise release. There had of course been rumours and even confirmed info that there would be new issues coming out for 2020, but no actual dates were ever mentioned. If you remember, I wasn’t necessarily that satisfied with the older ones as were likely many other buyers (they basically always appeared to be dumps of surplus Owen figures and such), but it seems this is headed in a new direction and more effort is made to make them attractive. Let’s see how long that will last.

The first mag in the new series comes with a nice little T. Rex model, which with its 65 pieces even provides some longer-lasting building fun than the usual models lumped together from half that number of parts. The result is indeed reminiscent of the large T. Rex from set 75936, which I now thankfully had an opportunity to build, in terms of colors and also features some very useful parts like 1×1 brackets or the 1×2 curved slope wedges in Black that are also used for the toes on the giant version. After assembly it really looks the part and in a way is cute. My only small gripe is that there are a few too many black and dark grey parts that would have benefited from having been done in one of the brown colors as well.

A stand-out item this time is the poster with the T. Rex breaking through the wall, which is really something I could see myself actually putting up somewhere. The framing could be a bit better with a bit more visible wall, but let’s be thankful for small things. The comic is okay and funny enough there are more puzzles than in the Star Wars mag to be found here. It’s just odd how inconsistent this is at times. The best part for me is the preview of the next issue hinting at an equally complex Triceratops model, so there is definitely something to look forward to.

The German version here also comes with a free album and a sample pack for the new collectible stickers, but I can’t tell you much on that, being that aside from the free extras no actual stickers were sold at my news agent’s yet. I’ll probably just give the album to one of the neighbors kids and drip-feed them the leftover stickers I surely will get more of when buying other LEGO magazines…

Ornithoraptor vs. T. Rex

Already being caught up in a million projects and never getting much done for a million reasons, I rarely take part in LEGO Ideas“Activities” as they are called as of late, in particular the building contests. I admire how people are able to whip up those creations as if they had never anything else to do all day, but I’m just not that kind of person and somehow I always seem to have too much else to do.

On the rare occasions when I choose to participate and can actually manage to get my butt to sit down for a few hours just dabbling with my LEGO bricks there usually has to be a good reason, i.e. some incentive to rush through those four or five weeks and cook something up. That of course has been/ is the case in the Unleash your own genetically modified hybrid Dinosaur contest (What a title!). I really, really would have loved to win one of them Jurassic Park T. Rex Rampage (75936) sets they gave out as prizes, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. There are a lot of other great creations, so competition was stiff. You should really check them out!

Ornithoraptor mylenii - Side View

Anyway, my humble contribution to the whole affair was what I called Ornithoraptor mylenii, a small, bird-like raptor. I find that those smaller species are often overlooked in favor of the bigger, more awe-inspiring dinosaurs, yet I’m pretty sure if you only do your research you will find that for every Tyrannosaurus Rex there are a hundred other species that are just as important to the overall eco system. My rationale here is that this would have been a relatively harmless, docile creature living near lake shores, small rivers and swampy meadows, feeding off fish, insects, mussels, algae, grass and similar stuff. Pretty much the goose/ duck of its day taking care to keep the waters clean and preventing harmful smaller species from spreading too much while at the same time being a potential prey for other carnivorous dinosaurs, naturally.

Ornithoraptor mylenii - Lateral Front Views

Ornithoraptor mylenii - Front and Rear Views

In order to replicate this and because I just knew I wouldn’t have enough pieces to build a full model in the first place I limited my efforts to a head bust with a piece of neck. I mainly focused on getting the head shape right and make it anatomically believable, that is seeing to it that the mechanics eventually could work, the eyes were in the right position, the teeth overlapped correctly and so on. The tip of the beak is the typical horn “tooth” you also find on many birds and that would be used to e.g. scrape mosses off rocks or dig in the ground whereas the small teeth would function like the serrated edges of a fine saw to bite larger chunks or for instance clip reed grass for building nests.

Ornithoraptor mylenii - Beak Interior

Ornithoraptor mylenii - Head with closed and open Beak

The model is more or less a 2 : 1 or even 1 : 1 scale representation of the real thing and inevitably my biggest struggle was the limited selection of parts I had at hand. This sure would benefit from having more slopes and nice wedges here and there, but I hope my approximations with stacked plates and a few standard curved slopes does the trick. Building it in full would be a whole different exercise and require many more parts, so I’m not too sure if I’ll ever be able to pull it off. That’s also my one peeve with the contest as a whole, BTW – nice as some concepts may be, I’d consider most of them unbuildable because just like my own creation the parts count and size would end up being like the T. Rex set.

In any case, I hope you like what you see and if you’re feeling very, very generous, I sure wouldn’t mind that Jurassic Park set to drop on my doorstep one of these days. ­čśë

Dino Time! (Round Two)

As previewed back then, the second volume of the Jurrassic World movie tie-in LEGO magazine Dino Special came out today here in Germany and of course I had to check it out, though a bit reluctantly.

LEGO Magazine, Dino Special, Cover

As I said in my original article, I would have much preferred to get another dino instead of a minifigure. Now of course this little matter kind of resolved itself in an unexpected way, but I’d still prefer to get one more of those little green goblins or for that matter perhaps even a third variation on the theme. The matter isn’t helped by the Owen minifigure being rather generic and to boot being included in several of the commercial dino-themed sets currently available. This diminishes the value of the mag further for people already owning one of those.

The parts for the surveillance post on the other hand are pretty useful, so not all is lost. There are some Dark Tan plates plus a good selection of brown parts which are easily reusable on other projects. The wedge part in Dark Bluish Grey for the roof is okay, though I would have prefered to build this from slopes, again for better reusability. The operator’s console is a printed part, but an old pattern that has been used a million times.

LEGO Magazine, Dino Special, Poster

A little surprise is the centerfold poster, which actually almost looks like something that I’d put up on my wall. the image composition is interesting and it’s simple and elegant. In the English version the tagline probably reads Tyrannosaurus ROCKS. Overall, though, this isn’t a must-have magazine. There’s simply not enough incentive for the adult LEGO connoisseur because at the end of the day there’s nothing truly exclusive about it.

Honesty Reward!

Sometimes things work out in a weird way and so despite not really having an intention to buy one of the Jurrassic World sets, I still ended up with one of the promotional Velociraptor Play Pen (30382) bags that you would otherwise get if you were to buy products from that range of a certain value. How did I do that? That’s an anecdote so odd, it’s definitely worth telling.

LEGO Promotional, Velociraptor Play Pen (30382), Bag

I was on the road yesterday in the next big city close to where I live, Leipzig, and for a few years now (three or four, I believe), we have our own LEGO store, so I always make it a point to at least stop by and sneak in, looking if I can get something that fits my limited budget, ideally at reduced prices. There wasn’t much in the way of actual sets, but I picked up a bunch of minifigures and shovelled a few hands of loose bricks into a small Pick a Brick cup since it doesn’t happen that often that you get Sand Green 2 x 1 bricks en masse.

I paid my stuff and then left the premises to check out some other shops in the mall and all the while I had this nagging feeling that something was off and I didn’t pay what it should have cost. So when reorganizing the contents of my backpack I took the chance to check the receipts whether I had missed some discount or something like that and there it was – they young lady operating the cash register had missed on checking in my PaB cup and the bill was 10 Euros short.

Since I’d like to think I’m an honest guy, after all, I returned to the LEGO store and in slightly theatrical fashion dug out the unpaid cup and asked, whether I could still keep it even if I hadn’t paid for it. Imagine the stunned looks! After the first moment of surprise had settled, I jokingly said that I would only pay it if I got one of those dino bags. Of course I would have paid either way, but the guys played along and as a reward for my honesty I really got one of the bags, which is great! Now little baby T-Rex from the magazine set has a friend to play with! ­čśë

LEGO Promotional, Velociraptor Play Pen (30382), Overview

The set itself is simple enough, but what of course stands out are the Dark Blue elements, which LEGO uses throughout the entire Jurassic World series. They also match the little Velociraptor‘s colors since he goes by the name of Blue due to his dark side stripes. Personally I just love those toned down, soothing colors. For my taste the set could have been a bit wider/ have had more depth, but at least judging from photos it seems that even the commercial sets are more built like narrow facades, so this would fit the theme.

In any case, I’m a happy camper and such little funny incidents show that “Life finds a way!”, as Dr. Malcolm always says in the movies. Thanks again to the staff of the store for being game and indulging me!

Dino Time!

This week had a nice surprise by way of a LEGO Magazine dino special as a tie-in to the upcoming second Jurassic World movie.

LEGO Magazine, Dino Special, Cover

As a goodie, the mag comes with a poly bag of LEGO parts, the most important of which is of course the little baby T-Rex. This little critter is/ will be included in some of the thematic large LEGO sets for the movie as well, but since it’s unlikely I will buy any of those (not enough value for money on the parts, though some of the dinosaurs look quite nice), I figured I take the opportunity and get the mag.

LEGO Magazine, Dino Special, Poly Bag

In addition to the little dino it also has two eggs, which unfortunately are not specifically colored or printed like real dino eggs would be (most likely some sprinkled camouflage pattern in earthy colors). A nest for the eggs is provided based on the octagonal “crow’s nest” / sail platform part onto which you are supposed to clip some brown 1×1 hinge/ bar holder parts. The surroundings are created with some grey wedge bricks, some plant parts featuring the newer 2018 flower stem element with a pin and a single leave plus a few tiles.┬áA┬á6×6 wedge (triangular) plate as the base in Dark Tan.

Other than this ground element, unfortunately neither of the other parts is specifically colored to match the prehistoric/ jurassic theme, which really is a shame. Especially the nest could have looked much more interesting in a natural color or by at least providing a round tile in such a color to put on top. Also the flower stems could have had at least one blossom each. We’re not talking about something exotic here, just some minor parts literally worth pennies. To illustrate my point, I plugged the little tyke onto my doodle plate that I use to experiment with techniques and arrangements.

LEGO Magazine, Dino Special, Dino Vignette

Little T-Rex himself looks very convincing and has a nice printed-on pattern. Of course the scientific merits can be discussed endlessly, but for what it is and for the usual target demographic, this should do just fine. If these kinds of things are up your alley, buying the mag wouldn’t be a bad thing, even more so if you have some use for the other parts.

LEGO Magazine, Dino Special, Dino Detail

Unlike the normal regular LEGO Star Wars and so on magazines with their ever same parts or minifigures, I totally think this is worth it. Grab it while you can still get it, assuming your country has these LEGO-themed magazines! There’s a second one supposed to come out in August, but sadly it won’t have any more dinos and just a minifigure and some parts. I would much have preferred to get the Velociraptor version of the dino baby in grey/ green/ blue, but I guess LEGO are going to keep that exclusive for the retail sets for a while…