30 January 2014

Putting the leg into LEGO

Our next LEGO® Movie set is one of the large ones; 70809 Lord Business' Evil Lair. It's a busy scene full of drama and confrontation (and of course silliness) so I feel it must be a climactic sequence from the film. As with most sets in the range, there's an abundance of minifigs but strangely only one bad guy, but hey who needs friends when you're ginormous?




I'm going to dispense with the actual build of this set quite rapidly today, because there's just too much else to discuss! Well, that and the fact that I didn't actually build it myself. My nephew decided this would be a valid way to spend a rainy afternoon on his first-ever European trip, and who am I to dispute that. For the record, he thought it was a great build, especially the Technic play functions, and we both agreed it looks more impressive 'in the brick' than on the box. The model is slightly modular too; you can rearrange the three sections, and there are five distinct areas to play in.



These kinds of 'scenery' sets aren't for me on the whole. I can see how they're valuable to kids, with the little compartmentalised areas in which to act out imagined stories. Which is great. I just don't think they look as nice as other models.

Putting bias to one side, each compartment is fun and unique with impressive details. In particular the sofa in the TV studio, the giant battery and tube of glue are superb tiny builds. You'll note we added the stickers, which is a very rare occurence for me, but I thought they added a lot of fun to the model and the parts were common enough to sacrifice.

The rooms have a variety of architectural styles, including a Classical portico harbouring a dangerous glue gun. There's also a huge red diamond-shaped hole - bizarre, but attractive, and it's a surprising build as you can see here; two of these submodels get attached to the back of the columns via the Technic snaps.

Parts

Two existing parts come in new colours exclusively in this set. Part 99206 is one of the most useful of recent SNOT pieces thanks to the lowered, flush alignment of the sideways studs, and comes here in Red [BL]/Bright Red TLG] (Element ID 6061711).

The other new element is less useful, but probably far more desirable to many of us because it makes a great minifig stand! Yes, those curvy things that the green soldiers from Toy Story stood on in a couple of 2010 sets has been released here in Trans-Clear [BL]/Transparent [TLG] (Element ID 6074416 | Design ID 17514). Any Trans-Clear part is a good part in my book, but this one is especially pretty and rather clever, as the curved edges do not prevent attachment underneath - it can be happily stuck on a large plate. Note the two studs on top are actually in unusual offset positions; not where you'd expect any studs on a 2X4 plate to be. They are recessed studs too, adding further functionality.

I'm pleased to see the 2X2 brick with vertical axle hole and grooves on each side is finally here in a new colour; Black (Element ID 6052796 | Design ID 90258). It first appeared in 2010 and until now has only been released in Dark Bluish Gray [BL]/Dark Stone Grey [TLG] and aside from the functional uses, is a useful part for creating textures. It's not exclusive though - six are in 10241 Maersk Line Triple-E.

There are some new moulds but these also appear in other 2014 sets, so I'll be brief: two Light Bluish Gray [BL]/Medium Stone Grey [TLG] ribbed flexible hoses (Element ID 6056596 | Design ID 14301) and four of the strange new A-frame plates (Element ID 6054852 | Design ID 15706) which are used here to set the sides of the portico at 45° angles. With A-frames positioned top and bottom, it makes for a really sturdy construction which I guess was the main idea behind introducing the A-frame.

Minifigures


The minifigures are where most of the "new stuff" action is going on in this set. Lord Business comes in two forms. As pictured earlier, his standard configuration has weird blocky hair which could make an interesting detailing element. But he also comes with the parts to transform into some weird super-evil robotic sort of Lord Business, by changing his headpiece and legs and adding body armour and a hilariously long cape. The resulting fig is giant, resulting in this rather long picture of him, which is good because I've got an awful lot to say about him. (I left the massive cape out of the pic for clarity.)

His new headpiece is a flagrantly stupid helmet measuring about 6X3X3, decorated with a 1X1 round plate and two coffee cups. Yes, coffee cups. I love that; he put some random LEGO parts on his special hat. I wish more of the headpiece was made of regular parts though; that would be even funnier. Instead we get one of the least reusable accessories ever. In its defence it does have four points of connection (the studs for the round plate and coffee cups, plus of course the anti-stud to attach to the head) and the two coffee-cup studs are a standard six studs apart. But the shape is so utterly bizarre, using it in a model would be nothing other than a challenge. A challenge I shall therefore attempt, later in this post.

His super-evil legs are more interesting. As you can see they're largely brick-built with lots of nice trans-colours and Black slopes. Being so bulky, using a regular stud attachment between the legs and the bricks would result in instantaneous detachment during play, so instead we have a new part. It's a Frankenstein mashup of slopes, minifig legs and Erling bricks. Its separate sections all come pre-attached in the set, and are also listed in TLG's database as a single part (Element ID 6083001 | Design ID 18386). This means that they were not designed to be pulled apart and doing so will damage the sections, just like minifig torsos and arms. And so, just like minifig torsos and arms, we're all going to pull them apart, right? We're only human. Surely TLG foresaw that, and made them in such a way that they wouldn't snap the first time you detached them? *grits teeth* Yep, all seems fine; my one LEGO element is now three. The legs appear to be regular, and I guess moulding new legs would have been expensive and pointless. By the way, you also get regular legs for Lord Business in this set so that you don't need to pull these things apart unless, like me, you're curious. Now let's analyse these Black sections, from top to bottom.

Instead of a stud at the top there's a big spike, which connects very firmly to the interior space of a leg. It must have been an interesting design process to come up with these spikes. I tried putting a 1X1X5 brick onto a spike, and it doesn't go all the way down as the tapered base of the spike becomes just too thick.

Next we have a section the size of a 1X1 brick, but one side (the rear, when attached to legs) has a square hole like an Erling brick. I haven't figured out why. The hole on Emmet's "Piece of Resistance" has a clear use but I'm stumped why Lord Business needs to attach something there. My best guess is that it adds extra stability should you wish to sit Lord Business down; it aligns to the anti-studs at the rear of a fig's legs.

Now to the actual sloped part at the base, which is 1X2X2. Unlike most existing slopes, this one slopes on two edges, tapering from two-wide width at the bottom to a centered one-wide width at the top of the slope. The resulting angles are a teeny bit steeper than a regular 75° 1X2X3 slope. (75° is the BrickLink name; TLG classify those slopes as 73°. Note that TLG categorise this new leg part as having a 77° angle.) This new angle makes these new slopes much more interesting to me as a building element, however using them in a build will require either covering up the spikes or embracing them in the build. A challenge I shall therefore attempt, later in this post.

The other minifigures have plenty of great parts too. Ma and Pa Cop have great double-sided faces and hair - Ma's being the bun in Dark Bluish Gray for the first time. Depending on what you like to build, El Macho Wrestler and Vitruvius (pictured here) might not be terribly useful to you but they have great unique prints and parts, including magnificent capes, although Vitruvius' eyes freak me out. His staff is topped with a Trans-Bright Green "moonstone" (as seen in the Monster Fighters theme) which is notable for being unprinted for the first time. Emmet is... well, he's Emmet isn't he. The best thing about having so many Emmets from these sets is that you get a lot of Pieces of Resistance. I've been a little ho-hum about that part, but having just seen (in a Nürnberg Toy Fair pic of upcoming set 70816 Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP!) that it looks like it will come in Light Bluish Gray, my enthusiasm is revitalised.

The final "minifigure" is actually brick-built. Of course I am talking about Uni-Kitty, who comes in set 70803 Cloud Cuckoo Palace but here appears in the form of Biznis Kitty; I assume this is a disguise for her but perhaps this is another of her freakish mutant species. In any event, she's the same except for scribbles on her face and body - which render those parts quite useless for re-purposing. But she sure looks hilarious and it doesn't dampen my overall enthusiasm for her, because a) she's cute and b) constructed almost entirely from new or rare elements.

Her horn is Bright Light Blue [BL]/Light Royal Blue [TLG] (Element ID 6055615 | Design ID 89522) and attaches to the head via a 1X1 round plate with hole (Element ID | 4547649 | Design ID 85861) - that's the part which I accidentally christened the "Apollo stud". It's not a rare part but it is rarely allowed to be used in System sets, for unconfirmed reasons. A reader has just pointed out to me that the Apollo stud is going to be released in a shade of red (looks like Dark Red to me) in the forthcoming Summer set 70814 Emmet's Constructo-Mech, revealed this week at the Nürnberg Toy Fair. because there's a rather evil-looking version of Uni-Kitty included. Hooray for Uni-Kitty, saving the Apollo stud!

Back to the present version. Her ears are cheese slopes, brand new in Dark Pink [BL]/Bright Purple [TLG] (Element ID 6057894 | Design ID 50746), and I note that TLG list these as being made of polycarbonate rather than ABS plastic. Her neck is a 1X1 round plate in Yellowish Green [BL]/Spring Yellowish Green [TLG] (Element ID 6057898 | Design ID 6141); this is a very new colour first used in DUPLO® in 2012 and then as minifig arms in last summer's Lord of the Rings 79008 Pirate Ship Ambush. I'm sure this new shade of round plate will be very welcome in everyone's LEGO gardens, despite being (to my eyes) a rather unnatural colour. Both of her feet are new colours for the humble 1X1 plate; Light Aqua [BL]/Aqua [TLG] (Element ID 6058016 | Design ID 3024) and Bright Light Yellow [BL]/Cool Yellow [TLG] (Element ID 6058014 | Design ID 3024). A great aspect to all these small parts I'm mentioning is that you get a spare of each. Lastly, we have an actual new mould; the tail (Element ID 6055598 | Design ID 15856). This is causing differing emotions for me. It's a pretty shape and I want to try building with several of them; perhaps a decorative wall feature for a '70s house - or something more exotic. But it just feels so 'un-LEGO' and part of me wishes they'd gone for a more traditional parts solution for her tail. It does add enormously to Uni-Kitty's character though and after all, it seems every major character in The LEGO Movie has received its own signature new part!

Alternate build


Bigging up how I was going to build using the most challenging accessories in this set was a poor idea, as the results of an hour's fiddling are frankly underwhelming. But I enjoyed myself.



I used all four points of connection on Lord Business' helmet but of course it's still a delicate arrangement. Emmet's brick actually came into functional use.


The wings were just some fun using the four A-frames.





My thanks to LEGO's Community and Events Engagement Team for providing this set.

70809 Lord Business' Lair retails at US$69.99/GB£59.99.

Affiliate links:

Amazon US: Amazon UK: Amazon FR:
Lego.com:
Lord Business' Evil Lair
Play.com:
LEGO The LEGO Movie 70809: Lord Business' Evil Lair

18 comments:

  1. Good review, but you totally forgot Lord Business's amazing necktie-shaped cape! Together with the coffee cups on his headgear and the gray business suit it gives him a hilariously absurd "corporate overlord" look.

    Oh, and technically, there's no rule that parts listed as single LEGO elements are not meant to be taken apart... after all, the LEGO Friends, BIONICLE, and LEGO Batman accessory packs that each include over ten pieces each are listed as single elements since the parts (presumably) come out of the same mold and are packed immediately. The same obviously applies to any parts that come on a sprue. I think the fact that the legs comes pre-assembled and a "standard" set of minifigure legs is also provided is a stronger hint that the legs and their supports are not meant to be separated.

    Unikitty's tail is a bit bizarre, but having attempted to create a brick-built alternative for my Robokitty (http://www.flickr.com/photos/aanchir/11341369374/), I know that a really shapely alternative is not really possible with existing pieces. Perhaps the new piece could have been designed with more versatile uses in mind (perhaps as a simple 1x2x1 dome piece with a traditional 1x1 brick attached underneath for the tip of the tail), but I have no doubt that a new part of some kind was necessary.

    One feature of the tail that would not have been possible with existing bricks is the groove underneath, which allows it to be mounted on Unikitty at irregular angles, rather than being limited to 90-degree intervals.

    In any case, Unikitty is one of my favorite new characters from the LEGO Movie. She's just so very DIFFERENT than anything the LEGO Group has ever released previously, and with her drop-dead-adorable appearance and attitude, she's a welcome addition to the LEGO universe. I'm glad there are going to be so many different variants, especially Astro-Kitty from Benny's Spaceship! Spaceship! SPACESHIP!

    Overall, this set is definitely on my family's wish list, and really highlights a lot of what makes the LEGO Movie equal parts epic and hilarious.

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    1. I never noticed that about Unikitty's tail - thanks! Playing with it now

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    2. @Aanchir:

      There's a reason for the necktie-cape. It'll become obvious after Emmet gets stepped on...and that's all I'm going to say about it until the movie sees general release.

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  2. Good review! This is one of the sets I want most this year. I love a good evil lair, especially one as humorous as this! And as the only set that features Lord Business and his ridiculous battle suit, it's a must-buy.

    The clear army man bases will probably get a lot of use (especially by customizers) as simple fig stands, but that's far from their only use. I've seen the green ones used very effectively as toxic chemical spills, and I'm sure these clear ones will make great puddles for damp scenes!

    The A-frame's stability is indeed its greatest asset. As a "constraction" builder, a big lesson I've learned is that more articulation isn't always better—if a part of your model isn't supposed to move, it's worth your while to secure it! This set uses it in a configuration that basic hinge plates would work fine for (indeed, being able to rearrange and re-angle the individual segments is the main advantage modern scenery-based sets have over classic ones bound to baseplates), but for some of the other things it's been used for this year (such as aircraft in the Ninjago theme), stability is very important! It's no fun to swoosh something around if it keeps changing shape when you don't want it to!

    I think the preponderance of new elements for figs in this theme is partly due to the time-tested principle of character design that important characters should have distinct silhouettes. Hairpieces are one of the only ways to do this when you're mostly working with the standard minifig body type, hence Wyldstyle's askew ponytail and hoodie, Emmet's cowlick, and President Business' boxy 'do. On a less gracious note, it serves an added incentive for kids to buy the sets because it means that a kid's Emmet that they self-assembled with a construction torso and standard hairpiece will be even less authentic than the one that comes in sets (at least, until next year, when I wouldn't be surprised if at least Emmet and Wyldstyle's hairpieces work their way into other figs).

    Lord Business's helmet is indeed a very specialized part, but I almost wish it were more specialized. If the cups were molded into it, it'd be easier to give them attachment points for flames like the ones that emit from them in the movie. But that's a minor issue, and probably not worth the more complex mold it would need or the even lower versatility of the part itself.

    Uni-kitty's tail has a neat feature, despite having only one attachment point. The piece is molded with a cavity/groove on the inside edge, which on Uni-Kitty herself allows it to be set at angles other than the standard 90 degrees off her brick-built body. I imagine this helped the filmmakers to make it seem more dynamic by waving to and fro! On the subject of Uni-Kitty, her "torso" in this set is interesting—I think it's the first time a basic brick has been printed on multiple sides. It'll be interesting to see if that printing method is ever used in the future, but I wouldn't be sure. These days stickers are often preferred for basic rectangular elements, and the main reason Uni-Kitty uses printed parts is that she represents a character (like a minifigure, or the Cars from the eponymous theme).

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    1. Interesting suggestion about the printing on multiple sides. A hard one to check.

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    2. @Andrew:

      The ironic thing about the GAM bases is that in all three instances in which TLC used these in sets, they were _not_ used as basic minifig bases. The two GAM sets had them as an integral part of the minifig. This set has them as spotches of Kragle (or Krazy Glue) holding the two security guards in place (just figured that out one or two weeks ago). This is the only instance I can think of where TLC released a part that we AFOLs primarily use in _less_ creative ways than they did.

      The flood of new minifig parts stems directly from the fact that they finally realized how addicted we are to them. That's why SW suddenly gets a new minifig in pretty much every set after years of giving us the same core characters every time.

      If it's true that Uni-Kitty will come with a red version of the 1x1 round plate w/ hole, plunk a couple of those on top of the mugs and you'll be able to attack a few different styles of flames.

      And Uni-Kitty's body (either version) is at best the seventh brick to have double-sided decoration. The brick-built calendar has six double-sided month bricks. If you count Duplo as well, there's also a crapton of double-sided 1x2x2 promotional bricks (though, to be fair, I don't think that shape has been used for anything non-promotional, so maybe it wouldn't count as a "basic" brick anyways). There might be more, but I'm not going to sift through the Bricks, Decorated category on Bricklink now that I've remembered that I have several examples sitting right on top of my fridge.

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    3. I assumed Andrew was referring to Biznis Kitty having printing on three sides...but like you I can't be bothered trawling through BL!

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    4. Ha, I had forgotten about those calendar bricks (despite owning that set myself). I think the reason Biznis Kitty's torso stood out to me is that it's printed on three sides, some of which are perpendicular to each other.

      Unfortunately, not only is Angry Kitty's 1x1 round plate with hole Dark Red instead of Bright Red, but it wouldn't work for attaching flames to Lord Business' helmet anyway. Unlike the minifig wineglass, 1x1 round plates and bricks don't connect to the top of the minifig coffee mug.

      Two last points which I forgot to mention in my initial post: For one, I wouldn't be surprised if the slopes connecting Lord Business' legs had that anti stud on the back so that they can be secured via SNOT. It's true that with the firm connection that wedge provides that isn't needed, but perhaps they needed extra stability at one point in the movie, or perhaps it's an artifact of an earlier design that used a normal stud to attach to the legs.

      Secondly, don't get too excited at the prospect of the Piece of Resistance coming in Medium Stone Grey. None of the pics of the Robot Emmet fig are good enough for me to tell for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that that piece is actually Silver Metallic (the current Flat Silver color on Bricklink). Which would be cool in itself, seeing as few basic bricks exist in that color; but it'll probably be slightly less versatile if that is the case.

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    5. @caperberry:

      I knew what part he was referencing, and I was fully prepared to dig through the "Brick, Decorated" category (even had it up on my computer) until the moment I remembered the brick-calendar. With the theory soundly disproven, there was no longer any point. Now, the Bizniz-Kitty arch brick might very well be (and probably is) the only standard element with three-sided printing. Even minifig parts that look like they might be three-sided are usually just two-sided print app on a curved surface. One rare exception that I can positively ID is the headdress from the S3 Tribal Chief. The hair on the back side of the headdress is painted black and can only be applied from directly behind the part. The tips of the feathers on the front _could_ be applied from directly in front of the part, but there are two gold circles on the sides that taper towards the back. That means they can't be hit from the front in a single paint app, and the fact that the feathers stick out wider prevents them from being covered in a single app from behind. But that's a minifig part, and excluded by the original statement. Stuff like the Trojan and Centurion crests I'd exclude even if minifig parts were fair game, since they appear to be straight paint apps rather than print like you'd find on most minifig parts.

      @Andrew:

      It took me a couple minutes to remember the calendar bricks as well. Actually, the reason I remembered them was because the first page of Bricks, Decorated is a bunch of 1x1 bricks with numbers and letters on them, which reminded me of the calendar day bricks.

      Yeah, I was thinking of the goblet connection, which I thought worked on the mug as well (and which really should be changed, the next time they have to retool that mold). Well, one quasi-cheating trick might work. Wrap a red Technic band around the base of a flame repeatedly and see if you can stuff it down inside the mug. No guarantees, but at least it won't involve resorting to Kragle.

      On the leg thing, I thought there was a pic that popped up at one point that showed plates attached to the back of LB's legs. Maybe it was part of the prototype design and they realized there were bigger failure points than the feet (specifically somewhere in the stacks of 1x2 plates). I can say with 100% certainty that it does _not_ factor into the movie, as I just watched a sneak preview this morning. Without getting too spoilery, there's one point where you see them self-assemble, and repeatedly throughout the movie they actually change height (intentionally, like they have hydraulic lifts built in). At no point are they at risk of being ripped off.

      As for the off-color PoR, there is a scene that would justify it coming in some sort of silvery color. Chrome would be most accurate, but to get the best all-around look it should actually be painted silver, like the head on the microphone piece (I think that's the Flat Silver that you're referring to). That way other elements could be decorated with silver that's an exact match for the PoR.

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  3. Ah, I did not see that particular picture, so I did not notice that it was dark red(I'm the same anonymous as before). Did anybody else have a problem with bizness kitty's head being kind of warped?

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    1. Hello Same Anonymous, well, I'm not sure it's Dark Red either. Terribly dodgy to be guessing from a couple of random pics. So we shall see in the fullness of time!
      But, whilst I'm dodgily guessing stuff, I think the 1x1 plate on Astro-Kitty's feet look Pearl Gold in the pic...

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    2. (same anonymous again) I would bet on it being dark red, after all, what else could it be. It's definitely darker than the rest of her. I was actually kinda hoping for regular red because I desperately need it in a Spyrius MOC. It would have been nice of them to have a blue one on astro-Kitty. Well, at least they are making them in more than one color, maybe that means they will make more colors of it in the next few years. Now if only they could make T-bars in more than one color. That robot Emmett with the gray POR looks interesting.

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    3. @Anon:

      Looks dark-red on a red head in the movie, so it would make sense for them to stick with that for the toys.

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  4. Good review. Although I'd like to point out something amusing: Have you ever looked at Lord Business from the back while he's wearing the cape?

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  5. Where do you find all of the names for the colors that TLG uses? Is there some place with a list of all the color names like there is on Bricklink?

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    1. Hi Chris,
      for particular elements you can use Brickset. For a comparison table, Peeron is very useful, but it has problems - it's getting out of date, plus Bricklink actually get colours wrong sometimes, but for the most part it's very helpful.

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    2. Chris, Brickset, as caperberry mentioned, is a good source for the TLG color names, although the names can be very vague. For example what Bricklink calls "Pearl Gold" is officially known as "Warm Gold" by TLG. Warm gold? What does that even mean, description-wise? For me, "Pearl Gold" nails the color description to a T, a gold color with a pearlescent-like hue, due to the swirls. Pearl Dark Bley [BL] is called "Titan Metallic" and Pearl Light Bley is "Silver Metallic" [TLG], while "Trans-Black" [BL] is called "Trans-Brown" [TLG]...

      My advice would be to pick a color database to use and stick to it, the varieties of colors to remember would be frustrating if you used both TLG and BL.

      As for why BL gets "colours wrong sometimes", I believe it's because BL is a user-submitted inventory (which can be prone to mistaking one color for another) as opposed to Brickset using APIs to retrieve inventory data from the LEGO.com servers. (At least, that's how I think it works at BS). Also, TLG sets can contain multiples of the same exact element in the same set, but some of those elements may be off slightly in the color. For example, I have the Hayabusa space craft set, which came with a lot of yellow bricks. When I had it all put together, I saw that some of these yellow bricks were slightly brighter or "shoutier" (eye-catching, i guess) than surrounding pieces; even several 1x2 yellow bricks varied.

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  6. I am assuming the reason you could not plop a standard 1x1 brick over the leg extensions is not due to thickening of the extension, but rather the small protrusion on the back of the spike. That protrusion needs a relief point, such as the back of a minifig leg, to snap into. If you're willing to risk, I'll bet you could snap a headlight brick down on to the spike. That's assuming the spikes aren't too tall for the headlight brick. Which is probably why you used a 1x1x5.

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