20 December 2015

Sunbeams from a Ferris Wheel

It's time for another review in my "Better Late than Never" series! Elspeth De Montes (azurebrick) has been helping out with builds and photographs in recent months but this is her first actual post for New Elementary. She's a prolific builder and new recruit to The Sisters Brick who originally hails from Scotland. Even though you can't hear her right now, you can tell she's not English because she uses funny words like 'loch' and thinks that a tea-stirrer is for stirring coffee.

I don’t normally build let alone review sets but I do love new parts and playing with them to create new builds. I’m afraid this is not a review of 10247 Ferris Wheel in the traditional sense, but don’t worry, there are lots of reviews out there with part-built photos, discussion of techniques and final model commentary (eg. Brickset). This is more of a 'new element' review, which seems particularly apt for the New Elementary blog.

16 December 2015

Let's get ready to rumble

I've nearly recovered from the huge "Brick 2015" LEGO event which took place in London from last Thursday to Sunday - nearly! - and can say that I had a really great time. It was especially wonderful to meet more New Elementary readers, even some from overseas.

The first afternoon was AFOLcon, consisting of a few talks given by fans as well as LEGO Senior Designer Mark Stafford who revealed some of the thinking and the work behind Nexo Knights, the new Castle-meets-Space theme (and TV show) coming in January 2016. There was plenty of chat about the new elements designed for the theme, some of which have a dramatic V-shape which evokes the angular forms of castles and heraldry, whilst also distinguishing the theme from the organic forms of Chima elements.

4 December 2015

Older and Skully

The return of the LEGO® BIONICLE theme in 2015 appears to have been popular, as have the articles about it written for New Elementary by two of the Barnick brothers. I've been slow at posting this review of five summer releases by Andrew Barnick, so the sets are perhaps old news to some, but Andrew's thorough examination of the available parts and the new characters is always a welcome analysis to have!

The sets in the 2015 winter wave of Bionicle featured a dearth of foes for the Toa to fight besides the omnipresent Skull Spiders, so a wave consisting almost entirely of larger villain sets was in high demand. While the Toa sets from the winter wave were all based on characters from the classic theme, the figures from the summer wave all represent brand new antagonists. I’m happy to say that these sets don’t disappoint, either in terms of their builds or their vast selection of new and recolored parts. Read on to get a taste of what these sets have to offer!

1 December 2015

Skylines

2016 will be the ninth year of the LEGO® Architecture theme; quite a remarkable success. It's a theme that I love, in fact it was responsible for the end of my Dark Age, yet I've felt a bit bored by it recently. The LEGO Group must be feeling the same, as they are adding something new into the mix next year with the release (in January 1st, I believe) of three sets which take a fresh approach: each includes a number of buildings and monuments from a city, rather than a single building. The first three sets represent Berlin, New York and Venice.


25 November 2015

Bow and arch

The best thing about doing this blog is meeting people who like it! A noticeable amount of these people mention that their favourite post is "that one about the arches", which I wrote back in March 2014 detailing the ways in which the part designers were raising up the interior curves in arched bricks. If you haven't read it you may like to do so first, as I have a little more to say on the subject today, but first we need to take a look at a related part which Gary mentioned last time, in his review of 41101 Heartlake Grand Hotel, the bow window.




13 November 2015

Such a friendly place

We have our first ever post from Gary Davis today; he's the Brickish Association's Ambassador and goes by the name of Bricks for Brains on Flickr.  When Gary agreed to write something, he didn't expect me to suddenly reappear with a massive LEGO® Friends set... 

I'm not much of a set builder - I much prefer building MOCs - so I was pleasantly surprised when Tim entrusted me to write this review of the LEGO Friends set: 41101 Heartlake Grand Hotel. I've always loved the way that New Elementary focuses on new LEGO elements and on re-coloured elements, so that's what I've done for this review. If you're interested the step-by-step build of this set, please refer to the excellent review written by LostInTranslation on Brickset.

The Friends range continues to be popular with over 30 new Friends sets issued in the first half of 2015 alone (not counting polybags and 'tat'). At £99.99 (US$129.99), 41101 Heartlake Grand Hotel is the highest-priced Friends set ever issued and also the one with the most pieces: 1,552. The average price per piece works out as 6.44p (8.38¢), which is not bad as it includes several large plates.

The finished model is an impressive size and is packed with features that provide plenty of playability for the 8-12 year old target age group. There's a moveable lift (elevator), a revolving door, a grand piano, baggage cart, ice cream bar and trolley, sun loungers and a fountain. There is also four-seater taxi for arrival and departure. With only two bedrooms, the hotel is quite exclusive but fortunately non-guests can use the lovely roof-top lounge area. The modular construction enables some alternative arrangements and creative builders, with suitable parts, could add more rooms.

3 November 2015

Totally Swooshable

I recently found myself quite appalled with myself. I came across a LEGO fan site called Swooshable, which has been around for years and is utterly superb, yet I wasn't aware of it. How did I miss this for so long? In case you're as deprived as I was, I'm writing about it today and the site's creator, Linus Bohman, has kindly answered some questions.



28 October 2015

Slow-E-Mart

In what I should perhaps name the "Better Late Than Never" season here on New E, today we have the mammoth 71016 The Kwik-E-Mart. Bless Tim Goddard; he's found original things to say and taken some awesome pics!

Who needs another Kwik-E-Mart review? I doooo! However there have been many already in magazines and online. The set has been out since late April so there has been plenty of time for those interested in buying the set to investigate and decide if they wanted it. So when Tim J asked me if I wanted to review the set I was not sure what extra I could offer to the discerning New Elementary reader. But it’s the Kwik-E-Mart so I had to say yes!

23 October 2015

A double elving

You might recall that the Barnick brothers were systematically reviewing LEGO® Elves sets for us earlier this year. I'm horribly behind, but at long last here is Andrew Barnick's remaining review and yay it's a double-header.


Today I’m going to be doing something a little different. Since many of the new parts and figures have already been discussed in previous reviews, I’ll be reviewing two Elves sets together. Don’t let that fool you, though—each set still offers a plethora of new or rare elements. First, I’ll look at 41071 Aira’s Creative Workshop. After that, I’ll dive into 41072 Naida’s Spa Secret!

18 October 2015

Doctor Who and the Toy of Doom

Doomed to spend all our Earth credits, that is. What's that, you don't like Doctor Who? Keep reading. You may well need this set anyway.

To say that I'm thrilled to have received LEGO® Ideas 21304 Doctor Who from the High Council of the Time Lords the CEE team would be an understatement. Doctor Who was my number one favourite geek thang from about the age of five until a few years ago when it got knocked off the top spot by LEGO. To have the two together at last is simply pant-wetting. Better yet, all bias aside, it's actually a fantastic set. I'll be reviewing it in the November issue of Bricks magazine, but don't worry I have plenty else to discuss here today! That's because this set is absolutely awash with excellent recolours and a couple of interesting new 2015 parts. Of course for the Whovians amongst us, it also contains printed elements that will just blow your tiny human minds. And zero stickers!

11 October 2015

Who-tensil

I don't have the Doctor Who set yet, which is very distracting. I'm filling some of the time by writing this silly little post instead, because I do have the sonic screwdriver from the set! Two, to be precise.

Here is one being held by the Fourth Doctor (a custom minifigure by minifigs.me). Yes I know his sonic didn't look exactly like that, but let's face it, neither did Tom Baker.

I hasten to add, these did not come to me via the CEE team who will be sending out the review sets in due course. Mine fell off the back of the timey-wimey equivalent of a truck a few weeks ago and with the first review of LEGO® Ideas 21304 Doctor Who now live, I figured it was safe to let them out of the Pandorica.

1 October 2015

Trick or Treat?

Sadly, LEGO® sets do sometimes languish on the shelves of New Elementary's busy, glamorous high-tech offices. It's not that I don't want to review them... quite the opposite. They sit there glaring at me, waiting for the moments when they catch my eye and accuse me of neglect. One such gaggle of sets was the 2014 'Bricktober' sets, kindly sent to me by the CEE team last December, which I was really looking forward to reviewing despite their lack of new elements. It never happened, which I readily blame on my new roles working on Bricks Culture and Bricks magazines. As October 2015 and its fresh range of 'Bricktober' sets inevitably neared I figured it was "now or never", and looked for a suitable victim to hand the poisoned chalice of a New E review about a bunch of old elements. The lovely, talented Ian Greig (bluemoose) fell happily into my trap, mwahahaa, and came up trumps by making you all some LDD files of the sets

While he was working on the Bricks Culture magazine article about the LEGO Space: Building the Future book, which I did a lot of the photography for, our good host here at New Elementary, Tim, arranged a photography session in London on a quiet Sunday morning. As with any ‘modelling’ assignment, there’s a lot standing around & waiting while lights are moved, people positioned, camera angles investigated, lights moved, people repositioned, and so on… which, delightfully, meant there was lots of time for catching up with friends, talking about future plans & generally chatting about stuff.

I can’t remember how we got on to the topic, but we were talking about recent LEGO sets we’d missed buying that we’d really like to get hold of. I mentioned that I quite fancied getting hold of last year’s Toys’R’Us ‘Bricktober’ micro-modular sets; I’d seen them a few weeks earlier at a BBQ at Huw ‘Brickset’ Millington’s house, and, yes, they were fairly small & simple, but I did really quite like them. Tim turned to me and said “OK, I’ll send you the Bricktober sets & you can write a blog post for New Elementary about them”. “Sure,” I said, “no worries”.

17 September 2015

Pull Together With Polybags

Here's a box of about 100 polybags, collected from people from New Elementary and London AFOLs and destined for Germany where they will be personally handed to refugee children. It's not too late to donate some yourself!



30 August 2015

Scrollin' along

Somewhat later than intended, here is the second of three reviews of new parts that the LEGO Group (TLG) have released this summer. First up we looked at the new inverted half-arch; today me and the gang are back to examine the...um, what to call this piece? I seem to have ended up referring to it as 'the scrolly thingy' but that's a bit rubbish... although much more descriptive than the official TLG name, 'Design Brick 1X1X2'. BrickLink (BL) are typically long-winded but accurate with theirs; 'Brick, Modified 1 x 1 with Scroll with Open Stud'. I find BL names too tiresome to write repeatedly, so I will go with my sister's exotic suggestion of 'the curlicue'.


14 August 2015

License to Thrill

Back today is Ryan W. (merman) with masses of Technic goodness for you... and it doesn't come any more massive and good than set 42043 Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3245!

LEGO® and licenses are often an exciting combination, so it was no surprise the Billund people from Technic started to work closely with renowned companies. The first licensed Technic set (if you do not take the 800x-series Technic Star Wars sets that appeared in 2000 and 2001 into the equation) was the 8110 Mercedes-Benz Unimog. Not only did it mark the first official collaboration between the LEGO Group and the German car factory, with a piece count of 2,048 in 2011 it was also the biggest Technic set ever released. A second licensed set appeared last year, the 42030 Volvo L350F Wheel Loader and 8110’s record had been broken a year earlier with the arrival of 42009 Mobile Crane MK II, which had a total number of 2,606 parts.

31 July 2015

Sky high

When Andrew Barnick suggested writing a review of the new spinning toy in the LEGO® NINJAGO range, I wasn't champing at the bit. The Chima Speedorz were interesting enough, although their potential never seemed to translate into MOCs to any great degree. Given Andrew's enthusiasm however, I figured, why not? I'm so glad I did - these look fascinating. The new parts really surprised me and the spinner system seems a big step closer to being a proper part of System. But I'll let Andrew explain!

When the LEGO fan community got our first look at this summer’s new LEGO sets at Toy Fair this year, some of the sets that excited me most were the new Ninjago “Airjitzu” spinners. That wasn’t just because I’m a diehard Ninjago fan, but also because I’m a sucker for functions and because as a long term Bionicle fan these flying spinners seemed like an evolution of the classic Bionicle “Rhotuka” spinners from 2005.

This past May, I was lucky enough to get a chance to participate on the LEGO Inside Tour. In addition to getting to meet with designers, engineers, and other high-profile LEGO employees, my brother and I got season passes for LEGOLAND Billund, and the shop there already had many of this summer’s new releases, including the Airjitzu sets. Over the course of the week we bought 70739 Airjitzu Kai Flyer, 70740 Airjitzu Jay Flyer, 70741 Airjitzu Cole Flyer, and 70742 Airjitzu Zane Flyer. On the last day of the tour, Nick Vas, a friend of mine and the designer responsible for the weapons in all six Airjitzu sets, showed up and gave us the last two Airjitzu sets (70743 Airjitzu Morro Flyer and 70744 Airjitzu Wrayth Flyer) as a gift from the LEGO Ninjago team. As a result, I’m happy to be able to review all six of these sets for New Elementary!

20 July 2015

Fire to Your Plane

Following his exhaustive review of new Technic parts in the winter sets earlier this year, Ryan W. (merman) returns today to review an upcoming summer set; 42040 Fire Plane. At time of writing, prices have not been officially announced.

Traditionally, August is an exciting month for Technic fans, since it marks the release of the summer line-up with the big, spectacular sets. Official pictures usually show in the early months of the new year when the international toy fairs take place. So the times they are a-changing: I recall flipping through paper catalogues when I was a kid and going to the final pages with the Technic section as fast as my eager fingers possibly could. Those were the times without the world wide web. What Billund had in store in the field of Technic was a surprise until the catalogue arrived at the toy store. I remember salivating over the look of set 8880 black Super Car, knowing my parents would never get me one. And to this day I've never built it.

5 July 2015

1x3x2 inverted half-arch

Over the next few weeks I'll be publishing articles about new LEGO® parts that have come out this summer - "with a little help from my friends". Yes, these new parts have gone out to a handful of the UK's finest builders to see what they make of them. The first of the three parts under the microscope is the new small inverted arch, offering Bart Simpson a slightly less dangerous skateboarding experience than before, as Simon Pickard shows:


24 June 2015

Top of the world

Our final Elves review for the time being is a big one, both in size and in the number of new recolours! Scott Barnick gets lost in the treetops.

41075 The Elves’ Treetop Hideaway is where Emily Jones’s adventure in Elvendale begins. Unlike 41073 Naida’s Epic Adventure Ship  which I reviewed previously, this set is more focused on slice-of-life play than adventure play. However, it still gives a great taste of how strange and magical this new world is. Fittingly, it includes lots of new parts in quite an exotic selection of colors! Without further ado, let’s take a look!

11 June 2015

Year Three

I'm not one for navel-gazing but feel a quick post about what I'm up to is overdue, and given that this week is the second anniversary of starting this blog, now seems a good time. Yeah, two years! Bloody hell. Thank you for reading and a special thanks to everyone who has given up their time and sanity to write for New Elementary. And I can't really let an opportunity like this pass without thanking Kim Thomsen of the CEE Team for his faith and support.

I'm sure many of you have noticed my increased absence from the blog this year and in case you're not aware, it's because of a new project in my life: Bricks Culture magazine. I've finally taken the plunge and 'given up the day job' in favour of easing on down the LEGO brick road.

3 June 2015

From rainforest to ocean

He's a Spacer, but Tim Goddard (Rogue Bantha) is also pretty darned handy when it comes to building creatures. We sent him a copy of the delightful Creator 3-in-1 set 31031 Rainforest Animals.

As always here at New E we do not pump out reviews, parrot fashion. We will not be overly dwelling on the much talked-about working bodily functions of the main model in the set. We will also not be recycling cheap jokes. On with the review.

30 May 2015

Fairy Bricks limited edition set

As you may recall, we love and support Fairy Bricks here at New Elementary. They raise funds, use them to buy LEGO sets at discounted prices to make the most of , then donate the sets to children's hospitals and hospices around the world. Their latest fundraising endeavour is a limited edition kit of the Fairy Bricks logo in 3D, designed by UK Certified Professionals Bright Bricks. There's only 500 available and you can buy set FB001 now! International customers, it's probably best to contact Fairy Bricks direct at contact@fairybricks.org.


24 May 2015

An ‘Appy Medium

Ultra Agents has proven to be a popular and exciting LEGO® theme, and in advance of the new summer sets hitting stores Jeremy Williams (Bricking It) takes a look at one of the currently-available winter sets: 70170 UltraCopter vs. AntiMatter.

My 'eighties childhood was marked (as I’m sure everyone’s is) with some key contests: which is better? Dallas or Dynasty? BA or Murdoch? Neighbours or Home and Away? Blue Thunder or Airwolf? I had answers to all these questions, and (as you’ve probably guessed by now) also had the sallow skin and weak eyes of an indoors, trash-TV addict. And in the case of the latter question, it was Airwolf all the way.

Which is why I am irresistibly drawn to the Ultracopter. In my mind, it lives inside a dormant volcano, ready to unleash terror on any would-be villains. The Ultra Agents playtheme is already a firm favourite, but this has to be the standout set of the range. Bristling with weaponry and oozing with style, I couldn’t wait to get started.

5 May 2015

Elven oven heaven

Our comprehensive LEGO® Elves coverage resumes today with Andrew Barnick heading to the bakery, where they seem to be cooking up some great new parts and excellent recolours of existing parts.

The second Elves set I’ve been lucky enough to build is 41074 Azari and the Magical Bakery. And boy, is it a doozy! I knew it would probably be a great set for parts given its vibrant and novel magenta and orange color scheme, but even I wasn’t prepared for just how many of those parts would be new, rare, or otherwise noteworthy. I’d be willing to say that this may well be one of the best sets of the year if you’re looking for a mid-sized set with an interesting and diverse part selection. Let’s take a look!

16 April 2015

Our chief minifig is surprise

A brief break from our Elves coverage to look at a Star Wars set: 75082 TIE Advanced Prototype in the hands of Jeremy Williams (Bricking It).

Let’s start with an admission: outside of the six films, my knowledge of the wider Star Wars Expanded Universe is pretty limited. Thus I’m not too familiar with the Rebels series, so I’m going to judge this set on its own merits. And it stands up extremely well. (Except that it doesn’t actually stand up very well at all, owing to those folding wings. But I’m getting ahead of myself).