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30 December 2013

Nature in tooth and claw

I began December by discussing the new ball and cup connectors that I'd received in two new Chima sets (70126 Crocodile Legend Beast and 70127 Wolf Legend Beast) and promised I'd discuss these sets more fully "soon". Well, a horrible 'flu and the general nightmare of All Those Christmas Things to Do put paid to that! But here is the promised post at long last, and it's something to get your teeth into. Ba-doom kissssh. I'm here all week.



Most interesting of all are two new parts that have been based on part 49668, the 1X1 plate with tooth, which appeared a decade ago and has seen wide usage (not only as teeth and claws but also quite random stuff like headlights and ice skates) and been moulded in a surprising sixteen colours. That part has a couple of inherent problems though, each of which have been addressed by these two additional toothed parts.

1X2 PLATE WITH 3 TEETH

Element ID 6046907 | Design ID 15208 | Colour Tan [BL] /Brick Yellow [TLG]

Element ID 6052181| Design ID 15208 | Colour Dark Green [BL] /Earth Green [TLG]


Firstly, if you use the original 1X1 part as a claw you ideally need several of them in a row, which quickly creates a very wide claw and therefore a large animal. So the first of these new parts is 15208, which I'll call the tri-tooth. Each of the teeth is a scaled down version of the tooth from part 49668 and they sit fractionally apart from one another. A slightly frustrating effect of this is that when you place two or more of these side by side they're not perfectly regular, as there's no gap between the teeth on adjoining parts.

These new smaller teeth extend out by just a little over half a plate width, which will cause you some irritation if you're trying to abut them against an offset plate. However plates with rails extend out just under half a plate, so you can abut the tri-tooth to a railed plate perfectly, as shown in this decorative example.



For these rows of microscale trees, I've employed the similarity between the original 1X1 tooth and the new tri-tooth to create a basic 'forced perspective' shot. The front row are the larger 49668 and the back row the smaller 15208.

Perhaps what struck me most about this part is how unusual it is for a section of a LEGO® part to be divided into thirds. It feels a little 'out of System' but isn't really, since the teeth are purely decorative and don't connect to anything. The temptation is to find a technique that allows you align other parts with one of these teeth! I've not yet investigated this but do let me know of anything you come up with by uploading pics somewhere and adding links in the Comments at the bottom of this post.

PLADE 1X1 M. 1 LOD. TAND

(Translation: Plate 1x1 with vertical tooth)

Element ID 6046905 | Design ID 15070 | Colour White


The second issue with the original 1X1 tooth part is that if you want to use it as a tooth it needs to sit vertically, so you need SNOT, which might complicate the build. This is possibly more of an issue for LEGO Designers creating simple models than for us fan builders. However, the solution this next new part offers is very welcome; a vertical tooth - part 15070. It's very odd-looking, resembling a bracket.

The tooth section projects outward from the 1X1 plate (fractionally less than a railed plate does) which creates an interesting shape on the top side of the part reminiscent of a hut in microscale! I seem to be in a forced perspective mood today.


But as for the side with the actual tooth, apart from representing a tooth or claw or some other real-world object, it's a really interesting piece just for creating detailing or texture - especially when combined with textured bricks or arranged repetitively amongst other parts. I had a lot of fun playing with this part and seemed to come up with a lot of things that would look nice in a castle!


OVAL SHIELD

Element ID 6028411 | Design ID 92747 | Colour Trans-Light Blue [BL]/Tr. L. Blue [TLG]


A new element that appears in all five Legend Beast sets is this shield for minifigs, which previously has only appeared with printing on it. I've seen decorated oval shields used in MOCs before - most recently in Alice Finch and David Frank's astonishing Rivendell model - so having an unprinted version will definitely be of use to some.


As for the sets themselves, I found the animals to be more realistic than expected. However the animals aren't super-realistic, nor I imagine were they intended to be - they're based on cartoons. Within the Chima TV show, apparently the Legend Beasts are animals that decided not to anthropomorphise themselves, unlike the minifig tribes that we are familiar with. I've never properly watched the show but doubt it fully explores the ethics around sentient creatures deciding to genetically modify themselves into a master race that descend into war. Or maybe it does. Um... where was I?

Oh yes, the aspect that is unrealistic are the feet which, at two studs wide and (at greatest) five plates high, are disproportionate. From a practical angle I suppose they're this wide because they wanted to use the tri-tooth at one end and the ball/cup joint at the other. From the aesthetic angle, I put it down to creative license - as I was saying, despite being 'pure' animals the Legend Beasts are being represented here with oversized body parts, as is common in Manga. It works with the wolf - with the crocodile, less so. The wolf's head is clearly oversized to match, the feet are further away from the body and they're centered in relation to the legs. All these aspects add up to the wolf looking very impressive, but by contrast the crocodile just seems to have fat sticky-outy feet. This is partially alleviated by the weighting of parts that top the feet, but perhaps the lesson is that if you want to use the tri-tooth as a realistic claw in your models, you'll need to build something a little larger than the Legend Beasts.

Given that I previously discussed the ball and cup connectors at length I will just comment here on their usage. The wolf is highly posable with a great range of movement, which by comparison leaves the crocodile seeming rather limited. The crocodile largely only moves his feet on the horizontal plane and it is only the presence of a boat stud on his belly (presumably included to allow kids to slide the crocodile across the floor more easily, but it doesn't really add anything to the shape or realism of the model) that gives some space for the feet to have a little vertical movement. It's no fault of the design, and is simply caused by the effect the shape of a crocodile has; but this isn't the most thrilling use of the new ball and cup connectors.

The croc is still chock-full of personality though. He seems to me to be a very sneaky chap thanks to his flatness, the way his legs move side to side, and his evil eyes which are printed Olive Green 1X1 round tiles (Element ID 6020144). Much as I would prefer those to be unprinted for wider usage, they'll nevertheless be fun eyes to use in your own creature builds. Most fun of all is his enormous mouth with ginormous tongue inside! The tongue is another printed Olive Green tile - this time a 2X4 (Element ID 6058771).


Although the crocodile has less ball and cup connectors than the wolf, it does have the tri-tooth in Dark Green [BL]/Earth Green [TLG]. Four of these are used with SNOT so that the teeth stick upwards, to form the ridges of the crocodile's back - a really lovely idea. Plus you get four tri-teeth in Tan [BL]/Brick Yellow [TLG] in both these sets. The other parts advantage to the crocodile are the vertical teeth, which don't come in the wolf set. You get a very healthy eight of them, compared to just two in 70123 Lion Legend Beast. The vertical tooth also comes in Yellow [BL]/Bright Yellow [TLG] in 70124 Eagle Legend Beast - a solitary yellow one makes a fine beak.

A final part definitely worth mentioning is the 2X2 bow, part 15068, which I highlighted when discussing 10243 Parisian Restaurant. The wolf has four of these on his feet in White (Element ID 6047220), plus a fifth which is printed with his eyes and forehead. Oddly the feet come with stickers as shown above - I'm at a loss to guess why the face is printed but the feet are stickered.

So if you haven't realised it by now; these Legend Beasts are excellent parts packs for the price. The ball and cup connectors make them unusual builds too, so they're definitely worth picking up!

My thanks to LEGO's Community and Events Engagement Team for providing these sets.

22 comments:

  1. can't tell you how much i look forward to your blog posts - and i really enjoy the detailed usage photos you post. awesome job!

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  2. You keep saying "lion" where I think you mean to say "wolf"... at first I thought you might have gotten more sets than you mentioned, but then at the end you say that the vertical teeth are not included in the lion set, when in fact it does include two of them. And when you refer to its white feet that seals the deal.

    I've only seen the first three episodes of the Chima TV series (I was disappointed, expecting something more like Ninjago in quality, though I really ought to give it another chance and see if it's improved). However, even the episode that introduces the concept of the Legend Beasts does take care to present the Legend Beasts, who never used CHI and remain in their natural animal forms, as something purer and more magical than the civilized peoples of Chima. So it is clear that the tribes of Chima recognize the civilization that CHI granted them as a double-edged sword.

    Anyway, good review. I don't think the feet of the crocodile look too bad to be honest. Real crocodile feet are so tiny compared to the wide bodies that it almost looks ridiculous. This look with the wide feet seems a bit less silly to someone who grew up around differently-proportioned creatures, even if it isn't accurate to reality. It's certainly no worse than the Duplo crocodile's feet which like this one's are just around half the maximum width of its body.

    The Wolf Legend Beast is probably going to be my first purchase. It's a very elegant design. I built it on LDD back when we were still dealing with preliminary pics (making some necessary part substitutions).

    Bit of a shame that the tri-tooth element doesn't have perfectly regular spacing when you use them side-by-side, but it's still an attractive piece with a lot of uses. The vertical tooth is also a very useful detail element. You can see it in Bright Yellow in very large quantities in the LEGO Movie construction mech that was recently revealed in Dorling Kindersley's "The LEGO Movie: The Essential Guide". Chances are that's going to be a set later this year, along with other sets that book reveals like Benny's spaceship — the first ever Neo Classic Space set!

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    1. Also, don't worry about the Olive Green 1x1 round tiles being printed. They're unprinted in 70133 Spinlyn's Cavern, and may very well appear in other sets after that.

      The faces of being printed and the feet being stickered makes sense to me. The models can essentially be considered complete without the armor stickers on the feet. The face, on the other hand, is what takes it from being a sculpture to being a character. So basically the same reason the eyes of Mack from set 8486 or the plane from 8638 are printed and the other patterns are stickered.

      Having the face printed but the other patterns as stickers makes the parts available to MOCists in an unprinted form and saves a bit of money on printing, but also ensures that younger builders who aren't confident applying stickers of their own can play with the model immediately after they finish building, without having to wait for an adult to apply the stickers for them.

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    2. Thanks - fixed.
      Yes I like the crocodile too. I did try rebuilding his feet using regular hinges and the 1x1 tooth, and indeed realistic proportions look pretty silly.

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    3. Your explanation for the printed face makes sense. Highly logical!

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    4. This is just my opinion, but I think you really should go back and watch Chima. I was told to git my teeth and bare the first few episodes before I watched it, and my friend was right. It gets a lot better. And Season 2 looks to be way cooler. I highly suggest you give it a second chance and make it to at least 6-7 episodes in. I think it takes like the first 4 episodes to find its feet and be something watchable(as watchable as any of the Lego programming can be at least).

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    5. Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely try and find time to give the show another shot. And maybe also get the Legends of Chima books by Greg Farshtey, because I LOVE what I've seen of those. Childish, but in a fun "Aesop's Fables" way, not an embarrassing way. The kind of innocent amusement you get from re-watching a cartoon or re-reading a book that you loved as a kid.

      Even if I end up liking the show, of course, I doubt I'll start collecting the theme with the same passion and commitment I've had for Hero Factory and Ninjago. There's just not room in my budget for ANOTHER theme of this size! I've got some of the 2013 sets and plan to get the Legend Beasts, but unless Toy Fair is a real game-changer then I'm content to leave it at that.

      Oh, btw, regarding the sets, my brother reminded me that 21021 Marina Bay Sands also has unprinted 1x1 round tiles in Olive Green.

      Also the first word in my captcha for this post starts with "lego". How ironic!

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    6. All things considered, I think the Lego group made the Chima TV series WAY to childish. Some episodes were kinda good, but the rest was pretty pathetic. So far the new NinjaGo season has been GREAT though. It was jam-packed with action, and left me laughing too. Great job Lego. (On the NinjaGo part.)

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  3. I think you keep calling the wolf a lion. It's a Wolf, dude. Haha.

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  4. Haven't found the element # yet, but when I found 60046 in stores last week, has 1x4 masonry brick

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    1. Ooo wow! That excites me perhaps more than necessary. Yes I can make it out from the pics of 60046

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    2. I fear the catch is that the mortar joints will still line up when one tries to use them interlocked, looks like at 1 and 2 stud offsets. With the 1x2 I found one could reverse every other brick, and it would look ok, but only on 1 side, the joints all align on the "back" side of those walls.

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    3. @WHoKNoWS:

      Nonsense. With a 1x4 brick, you essentially have a pair of 1x2 bricks that are stuck together. The problem with the 1x2 masonry bricks has always been that you couldn't offset them by one stud or the masonry pattern would get messed up. If you treat the 1x4 bricks as normal 1x2 bricks, and the 1x2 bricks as normal 1x1 bricks, you can indeed build in an interlocked pattern without skewing the masonry pattern.


      And the back side of the masonry bricks is supposed to be wood slats, not bricks. That's why it doesn't have any beveled edges.

      Personally, I would have preferred a 1x2 plate and a 1x1 plate with beveled edges all around.

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    4. The instructions for set 60048 also indicate that it includes the 2x4 brick and list its ID (in that specific color) as 6055309

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  5. There's another advantage to the new tri-tooth. Put it between two of the original tooth plates and you've got a mouth full of teeth with larger canines. You know, like on a real animal. Well, except for that whole not-an-even-number-of-teeth bit (though sometimes that's how it happens in real life).

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  6. So, are you more for stickers, or are you against them?

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    1. More against, I only apply them to sets that I know I won't break up into parts. Plus I'm rubbish at applying them.

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    2. Yes but stickers allow you to pull them off and repurpose the part if you decide you want to use it for MOCing. Its a pro for MOCers, a con for Set Collectors. I'm all for stickers for this very reason.

      Don't worry though, I suck at applying them to. 9 times out of 10 I don't even bother with them since I know the set is gonna come apart anyways. Never actually used unapplied stickers in a MOC though, that's the other advantage to stickers. They to can be repurposed where applicable.

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  7. *spazzes out* GAH I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THESE TO SHOW UP! I've been frequenting TRU since before Christmas to see if they'd get em in in time for International Consumerism Day(A.K.A Christmas), but they didn't. :( So I'll be looking again first week of the new year(which is tomorrow!).

    At first I didn't think anything special about these sets, now they've been the most anticipated Sets for me. I'm wholly glad Hero F***ery isn't coming out till later as I've found those new sets largely unimpressive. Lego's CEE team, if you're reading this, give Caper a pat on the back, he's really getting people psyched up for your new sets. Ahem. Anywho, I haven't decided if I wanna get all of the sets or just a couple and double up on the lion or possibly the wolf. The eagle and crock are the least desirable ones for me, the Gorilla looks great since its got a bunch of the browns and those standard Constraction joints. Thanks so much for these reviews Caper. These LoC Legend Beasts are what i've been saving Christmas "I'm too lazy to buy you a gift" money for. I hope you cover more of the LoC Series more, like those new finger parts on Spinlyn, those are interesting. I can see a plethora of uses for those in Constraction MOCing. Not to mention all that olive. So I think the olive 1X1 round tile is coming out unprinted. Then aren't there a bunch of recolors for it in The Lego Movie sets as well?

    I don't suppose anyone knows if these have been spotted in the States yet have they?

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  8. Great to have a new piece to easily make tiny shield decorations in walls. I made a whole difficult SNOT construction with the original tooth pieces for my Big Ben, and now it turns out it could have been way more easy...

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