Lego Review 19: 75182 – Republic Fighter Tank

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I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been a sucker for sci-fi vehicles with aerials and radio antennae on them for as long as I can remember. I think it just adds a gritty quality that I like, for some reason. Because of that, and also because I just fancy tanks in general, especially twenty pound Lego ones (see my Imperial Hovertank review), I’d wanted the Republic Fighter Tank for a while. As my parents have issued the ultimatum that any more Lego in the house will make them very angry, I was hesitant when me and my girlfriend stood in the Lego section of John Lewis before going to see Dunkirk (review of that here). But to be honest, I’d just been paid, and the set was rather cheap, so I thought I might as well. I remember saying to her after I’d built it that I was appalled I’d even considered passing it up.

The Republic Fighter Tank comes with the main build (a tank, what were you expecting?), a Phase 2 clone gunner which, as far as I’ve been led to believe, isn’t actually canon, Jedi Knight Aayla Secura with her blue lightsaber, two battle droids with a blaster pistol each, a wrench and rifle for the clone, and six studs to be shot.

The Good:

  • Lots to be said about this set despite it’s relatively small size and very affordable price point. That’s a positive in and of itself.
  • First off, the lovely light green and sand-red colour scheme (I believe those are the official Lego colour names, but I’m not an expert expert) really pops. This isn’t so much a positive as a personal preference, but I do like it so what else can it be classed as other than a good thing?
  • Lack of stickers, a major plus, but in turn no lack of detail therein. In fact, there are loads of little touches included which really add to the personality of the build, like:
  • the printed control panel,
  • the wrench, a lovely addition,
  • the small transparent cheese slope pieces (official name) to make up the windscreen, a great piece of fine detailing that I’d like to see more of from Lego,
  • and the control sticks inside the cockpit (in reality a Lego bucket handle piece) which, though barely seen, are wonderful.
  • The clone figure himself is intensely good, with some fantastic leg-printing and a Phase 2 helmet to die for (in fact, he’s the first one I own!).
  • Much to my surprise, I don’t actually mind the Jedi figure because she’s blue and I think that’s appealing to my better nature. Besides, now I can do some roleplaying that she’s stranded in the desert somewhere and this one lone grizzled gunner operating his tank pulls up on her, then they form a begrudging partnership to take down a battalion of droids. See? If my imagination can run that wild just by looking at two minifigures and considering what chemistry they may have, that’s an achievement on Lego’s part.
  • I got, very pleasantly, a spare of the rapier pieces used as mock antenna on the back end.
  • Stud shooters are actually integrated nicely, which Lego seems to be getting better and better at.
  • The build process itself is very intuitive but is also very fresh; loads of techniques I’ve never used before and some great new pieces included along with some classic ones really make it feel modern and exciting.
  • The wheels, even though they’re much different to the Hovertank’s big transparent ones, works exceptionally well and really make it roll like… Well, a tank!

To be Improved:

  • This isn’t even an issue with the set, but rather with the design on the whole; it just looks a little piddly without a forward turret. In fact, even the original Lego version has a gunner position complete with cannon, and though the hatch does open up very nicely on this new model I’ve had to order a Brickarms Hotchkiss turret (and also heavy machine gun for the clone to wield just because I thought it would be sad only buying one gun).
  • The biggest kick in the teeth has got to be the minifigures. One clone operating a whole tank? I get that it isn’t very big but it just seems like laziness on Lego’s part every time they include the flimsy battle droids, which most people don’t even count as minifigures anyway. To be frank, I am not among those people, and don’t really own enough battle droids myself, so in all fairness I’m not unduly upset, but perhaps replace the Jedi with another clone and this would be perfect.
  • Lego still haven’t fixed their rifles, despite the fact that the tranquilliser guns from the Lego Dino range had the bottom of the stock flush with the minifigures’ arms, meaning they could actually hold it without it being bent at a funny angle. Why this has not carried over to the other lines is beyond me.

Overall: 8/10

The majority of criticisms I’ve seen online for this tank cite the original version’s major size difference (that being the fact that it was way bigger) and the rubbishness of the battle droids. I, in case you hadn’t noticed, don’t whole-heartedly share these opinions, and believe this update to be far superior in nearly every way save for the lack of a second clone. It’s more streamlined, more fun to play with, there’s sort of an implied backstory and lore to it that wasn’t there before, and small though it may be it still took me the duration of a Usain Bolt documentary to build it.

Lego Review 18: 30521 – Mini Batmobile

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I got this from a car boot sale in Dorset, which seems like a very odd place to pick up a relatively new, sealed Lego set but it’s the truth, and when you think about it it’s unsurprising considering the fact that most country folk have started to become savvy to the ways of the business world.

The Mini Batmobile is a polybag that, the guy who sold me it claimed, was given away free with tickets for the first screenings of the Lego Batman Movie… Possibly? It comes with all you see above, which is a one mini batmobile. It does, however, also come with a spare batarang and trans-purple stud, which is nice.

The Good:

  • Where the big set has wheel mounts that swivel to turn this into a more monstertruck feeling vehicle, Lego has actually sort of stayed true to that design in the miniature version, as you can take the Technic wheel pieces off and place them in different orientations.
  • The build process itself is nice and rather unorthodox.
  • Those red stripes are very subtle but without them it wouldn’t feel the same.
  • As mentioned above, purple stud is a nice addition, especially two of them.
  • You get one of what I shall be referring to as the Nexo Knight shield pieces, in black.

To be Improved:

  • The overall design is very ugly, in my opinion, now that it has been shrunken down to this size:
  • The windscreen has a very obvious ugly line through it,
  • the thruster wings aren’t oriented the right way,
  • the batarang on the front is way too big (no way they could have gotten around this but still),
  • and by god is that shield piece the wrong one to use. It either completely shrouds or totally exposes the windshield, and doesn’t look good either way.
  • In fact, everything about this set looks like it’s stuck on the wrong way round, but then you switch it about (which is what Lego is designed for, just saying) and it still looks wrong.

Overall: 4/10

The batmobile is supposed to be this big gorgeous chunky thing, and this set is decidedly none of those things. I really don’t like the way they’ve tried to ‘capture’ the look of the one from the film, when in reality they just don’t have the pieces to do something like that. It’s not minimalist; it’s just ugly.

Lego Review 17: 31048 Lakeside Lodge

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We have a little cottage in Dorset about five minutes from the beach, I may have mentioned it at some point on this blog but if I haven’t, I have now. I was never into these three in one sets, because I find it super cheeky that you can only build one at a time. My girlfriend urged me to buy the new Space Shuttle set because “look how many things it comes with”, but then turned her nose up when I informed her you can only build one at a time.

But with the Lakeside Lodge, I didn’t even take a second glance at the other two building options, as it was so similar to our little house. The main event, especially for the incredibly cheap £15.00, is absolutely gorgeous. The interior and exterior detail, the subtle but evocative suggestions of lake, beach and forest, that MOOSE. It’s all so lovely and intricate, and I love it. It comes with the Lodge itself, the darling brick-built moose, and a generic dude minifig. Lots of other accessories inside and out, of course, like letter, bed, lantern, shovel, deck chair, axe, logs, etc., but I count those as part of the build.

The Good:

  • Beautiful detail, especially on that gorgeous eggshell blue bed, and an inspired use of the flower piece for a cracked egg sizzling in the pan. That stove and in fact everything inside the house is just gorgeous.
  • Loving the ‘doll house’ build, where you open it instead of taking a roof off and fiddling about in there with yer big meaty AFOL hands.
  • The brick-built fine detail is especially good, like the glowing fire pit and the little cobbles leading up to the house (which my girlfriend maintains are mushrooms, another idea I like). It just pushes that evocative feel like the suggestions of an extended landscape which I mentioned earlier.
  • When I saw reviews, that moose… Sorry, pardon me. That MOOSE. Wasn’t really my thing. I wasn’t too keen on the brick-built design and prefer solid animal pieces. I think I still lean more towards them, But this big guy is just charming.
  • Roof is expertly built, and every time I put a piece down I was like “This isn’t going to line uuup come on… Oh wait, yes it does, oh wow!”
  • If the ‘comes with’ list in the intro didn’t do it for you, did I mention how many things it comes with?
  • Great colour variation without going too off-putting, which happens a lot with some Lego sets. The red really compliments the surrounding green and blue, with some nice splashes of yellow, light green and grey thrown in around it.

To be Improved:

  • Minifig is very generic indeed, and I think I can probably make him with parts I already own.
  • Not sure why the floor inside the house is green, unless this is a very basic log cabin with… grass tiling? Some sort of tiles over the baseplates would have just made the interior 100% good, and though not really noticeable as you’re just looking at the inside, once you realise, it cannot be unseen.
  • That tree really isn’t my favourite. The grey is just too visible beneath the top, and that ridiculous cone doesn’t carry the sleek look of the pine like it should. There isn’t an alternative piece which would have done better, of course, but maybe that’s the problem.
  • There IS a Lego fishing rod piece, so why did they feel the need to have an ugly brick built one with no string for the fish to hang on?! I understand that maybe it’s so that they can incorporate that black rod into the other two buildings somehow, but come on now.
  • They could have included even more fine detail seeing as they’re only doing it with studs, and there’s a lot left unused.
  • I like the variation on the windows, but unfortunately the nice ones with glass (plastic) in them are all on the back where you don’t get to see them unless it’s from the inside! It’s just a shame really.

Overall: 9/10

Even though it seems like I’ve said about as much bad as good stuff about this set, it’s just so charming and reminds me so much of being in the countryside myself that I really really love it. The intricate detail, the number of accessories included, that MOOSE. All of it, seriously, is super nice. This conclusion is pretty short but that’s only because, apart from a few minor nitpicks, I like everything about this set on the whole so much that it’s hard to sum it up any further than simply saying that it’s beautiful. And for fifteen quid? Bargain isn’t a strong enough word.

Lego Review 16: 60145 – Buggy

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No, Lego hasn’t started releasing Sylvanian Families-style accessory packs. This is not a pram. This is a dune buggy. If you want some more backstory on this set, check out my Gotham City MOC which details everything about why I got this and what I’ve done with it. Let’s get into it and keep it short and sweet.

The set comes with the buggy and a driver. What, did you expect a little more for £7.99 when you’ve already somehow acquired one of Lego’s coolest looking vehicles for less than a tenner? Didn’t think so!

The Good:

  • Overall design is incredibly chunky and nice while maintaining a streamlined look, especially that roll cage. I found a blue version of that piece while colour-coding a massive box of Lego the other day, and realised that it’s probably one of my favourite elements just for the sleek nature of it.
  • Relatively few stickers, but really there’s just an amount in proportion with how small the set is so still a little meh on that front.
  • Gorgeous printed control panel that I want to see more of!
  • The fact that they’ve even incorporated at least one more movement than the tires spinning into such a small set is great and just adds a tiny bit more intimacy and playability.

To be Improved:

  • Too many of those face-headlights albeit printed rather than stickers.
  • Not even one accessory, maybe a scenery element would have made this a perfect set.

Overall: 8/10

Yeah, I really like it! This is a great set for the super low price tag, so I can’t really complain at all. It does it’s job and, unlike the stunt truck which I assume is the counterpart to this set, isn’t massively chunky or comically over/under-proportioned as so many of these starter sets are. On the contrary, it actually fits with the rest of the City line and doesn’t stand out for any reason other than the fact that it’s a brilliant build.

Lego Review 15: 76054 – Harvest of Fear

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When I was growing up, I never got any really big Lego sets because I never wanted to have to try and play with a Death Star or a hyperdrive boost ring. Even as a little kid I always wanted something little and intricate which could fit in one hand, probably on account of growing up with Mighty Max and Micro Machines playsets (good times, man, good times!). Consequently, when I opened the parcel which contained the box for Harvest of Fear, I had to have a little sit down when I realised that, standing on its end, the box goes from the floor up to my knee. And I’m 6’2″.

Harvest of Fear comes with the fear gas harvester (not sure what else to call it but that sounds dope), the Batcopter (which is way bigger than it looks in the picture), an adorable red tractor, Scarecrow himself complete with pitchfork, a farmer, Blue Beetle complete with energy blast, Killer Moth complete with ray gun, and a wicked black and green gas-masked Batman complete with two batarangs.

The Good:

  • I just want to say off the bat (haha, pun intended!) that I have no idea which aspect to begin with for this section, and if that doesn’t show you how much I like this set, what will?
  • I think a good point to start us off is one that proves my argument across all the Speed Champions reviews: THIS IS WHAT I MEAN WHEN I TALK ABOUT THEM HAVING TOO MANY STICKERS. I mean god damn, this is a £64.99 set at full RRP, with three large vehicles no less, and it has about twelve stickers. That’s in total, by the way. All of the detail is brick-built, and it shows. Take that, Scuderia!
  • The tractor is a truly charming build and one of the most pleasurable Lego experiences I’ve had to date. It’s just so cute, and we all know that I’m a sucker for the mundane done well, and of all the items in this set it was probably this vehicle that caught my eye. It lived up to and exceeded my adorable expectations.
  • This is how to do stud shooters right. Fitting the green trans-clear minifigure heads onto the chrome studs (just pointing out the colours because they’re very unique, another positive) makes them sufficiently weighted as to only travel about the length of the vehicle that’s shooting them, give or take a few inches depending on how well the firing mechanism triggers. Rather than pinging off into the middle-distance, you can actually play with this feature and use it to shoot canisters into crowds of unsuspecting civilians (which works particularly well in the Gotham City diorama I’ve made recently, more on that in a separate post). It’s perfectly executed and I’ve gone from detesting stud shooters to reloading this one for countless “oh, go on then, just one more time” moments. That’s not to say I appreciate Lego shunning regular blasters in favour of these in terms of minifigs, but when it comes to the fear gas launcher it’s beyond flawless.
  • The Harvester’s spinning… well, harvester, I guess, works really well, even on carpet, so no complaints there.
  • Speaking of the front end of the harvester, I was a little worried when buying this set that it would only be made up of very large pieces, as those comprising the chopper’s rotor and the harvester’s blades are very long and thin. But nope. In the end, this set probably took me about three hours to build, granted I was simultaneously eating takeaway and watching, rather appropriately, Days of Future Past. It was such an experience to actually take time building a Lego set rather than just, with the expertise that comes from collecting Lego since you were four, having the ability to slap a fifteen pound set together in about the same number of minutes. It’s the difference between knocking back a shot and sitting down in front of the fire with an expensive glass of wine, there is no better analogy for this feeling than that.
  • The Batcopter’s action feature is really lovely, and I do wish those studs didn’t fly quite so far away when you shot them because I’ve been using these cannons as a mock flare system, lifting it up over the city and popping four studs off at once to light up the sky. Sure, that’s my imagination working overtime, but what I’m trying to say is that this is yet another successful integration of stud shooters, something I really didn’t think possible until owning this set.
  • Goodness. Gracious. Me. The minifigures. These are some fricking superlative figs, I can’t even begin to describe how good they are. The sinister green and black batman was the final straw in my deliberation as to whether or not I should purchase this set, Blue Beetle comes with an awesome neck brace and wings that actually look 3D when you see them front on, Killer Moth has some ace printing and a mask and colour scheme to die for, Scarecrow comes with my very first Lego pitchfork and wonderful straw-like hair and design, and even the farmer has a beer belly and a nice little cap. All in all, words don’t do justice how much I appreciate all these figures. This leads nicely onto my next point:
  • Which is that I only paid forty quid for all of them. Lego, as I’ve previously discussed, operates on their tenner-per-minifig basis, right? Well, you would be, if I’d gotten this set from Lego themselves. Once again, John Lewis came to the rescue, and I got this set at a steal of a price, a steal, I tell you! Three vehicles, one of them tiny yet charming, two of them massive, awesome and packed with features, and five exclusive minifigs?! Be still my beating heart. Why I ever considered not picking up this set is beyond me, it really is.
  • I got a spare gas mask, and as this is a unique piece in my collection, I’m very happy to be given one extra. Only a minor point, but it’s just the icing on the multi-tiered cake, really.

To be Improved:

  • The ‘mock’ cannons (in the sense that they aren’t the hidden ones that actually fire) on the chopper are very wobbly and don’t seem to want to stay together if I bump them, which is unfortunate because it happens on both sides. I don’t know if it’s the piece they used, as I’ve never tried sticking anything on the bottom of it before, but as it’s not just one of the two that’s niggly but both of them, I’m gonna go with that explanation. It’s not too major a problem but I personally do like my Lego to be tight-fitting. Don’t let’s be immature, now, I’m talking about plastic building bricks!
  • The tail rotor doesn’t spin, which is a shame, and I really wish they’d gone with one of their bigger propellor elements rather than the piddly turbine piece, as it looks totally out of place.
  • The tail itself is loose, due to the action feature, and when not pushed in it does tend to rattle around a little bit.
  • Scarecrow’s pitchfork clips incredibly snuggly to the side of the combine, but then it’s the getting it off again which is the problem. I’m now incredibly nervous to do so, as it’s for some reason made of quite thin-feeling plastic, which means that it bent horrifically (but luckily not permanently) the first time I tried to pull it off, expecting it to come away easily. I’m also worried to slide it out as the grip is so tight on the clip pieces that I fear it’ll scratch the already brittle plastic to hell.
  • In fact, speaking of the tightness of the clips and the looseness of the cannons and chopper tail, much of this set is off in terms of quality control. Some limbs on the minifigures feel like the ones on figs I’ve played with for years (which for me just means it’s easier to pose them but is still an issue to point out), and some parts, especially heads and hands, are tight as a jam jar lid. This inconsistency can’t be to do with the mere age of the set, as it’s not even a year old, and it’s all sealed in the box anyway, so I don’t know if I just got a dodgy copy or not but it does put a perfectionist like me a little bit on edge. Not too big of an issue overall, though.
  • Batman doesn’t fit very nicely in the cockpit, especially considering the fact that he wears the new and slightly thicker fabric cape (loving that, by the way, probably not the best place to say that seeing as this is the ‘to be improved’ section, but there it is) and that Lego didn’t include studs to clip him onto, just flat tiles for him to rest on. I guess you can’t really see him through the darkened glass anyway, so it doesn’t matter too much if he’s askew, but it’s another little nitpick I have.

Overall: 10/10

I was going to give Harvest of Fear an 11, I really was, but even I’m not biased enough that I’ll refuse to acknowledge the number of nitpicks that get in the way of this being a better than perfect set. But it has blown my mind in so many ways and is an absolute delight to build, play with and display. The dramatically lowered price point (I’ve calculated it, and I got it for 40% off the original price; again, mind blown) means that you get some truly amazing vehicles and figures for, as I said, what I consider to be a steal. This, for once, is a set which doesn’t deserve to be so cheap for what you get. But it is, and I’m not about to complain for a second. I’m just saying I was considering buying it for full price until I found John Lewis, and I still feel like I would have considered it a worthwhile investment had I done so.

Lego Review 14: 75167 – Bounty Hunter Speeder Bike Battle Pack

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We all know how into sci-fi I am. We should also assume that I’m into Star Wars, and you’d be right. It’s a real treat to finally be doing a review of something Lucas-related on my blog, and of all the characters for it to be related to I am so happy that it’s the bounty hunters. Some of the coolest looking, most appreciated, and least seen characters in the Star Wars franchise, they’re most people’s favourites, and they’re certainly among mine.

The set comes with (and it’s giving me butterflies just being able to say this list) Bossk, IG-88, Dengar, the newly Lego-ified 4-Lom, and the speeder itself in that sexy light blue. It does not come with the stands shown in the above picture.

The Good:

  • Are you kidding me that I get four bounty hunters in one go for like twelve quid? There can never be anything wrong with that. Standing all of these guys next to each other and my wonderful Boba Fett figure just makes the gang feel so close to complete, but I really need a Zuckuss because he may very well be my favourite hunter. That said, it’s not the fault of this set, and I’m so pleased to have all of these guys. The minifigures themselves are just so intricately and exquisitely painted and designed it’s ridiculous.
  • That blue on the speeder is just gorgeous, and I’m pretty sure I had no pieces in that colour until I got this set. I’m fairly fond of the design overall, and there’s also something really charming about that little splash of brown in the classic Lego backpack at the rear end.
  • Stud shooters, as with Ice Attack, are actually integrated nicely enough that they just look like lights or something.

To be Improved:

  • IG-88 is by far the weakest figure of this set. He doesn’t stand up by himself without studs unless balances perfectly, his ‘backpack’ looks awkward, and although I really like his head piece so don’t think I’d exchange him for Zuckuss, I’m leaning towards that opinion more and more every time I look at him.
  • There’s just something about Bossk’s head that doesn’t look that sinister and is somehow quite goofy, although this is a major nitpick (by that I mean the nitpick itself is major, not the problem!).
  • It’s a darn shame that there isn’t even a gunner seat on the speeder, but then again bounty hunters work alone and for themselves so perhaps this is intentional.

Overall: 9/10

The figures themselves are very much close to perfect. That’s all there is to say, and as they are the main reason for this set’s existence, I’ve gotta praise it very highly! I’d pay twelve pounds for just the four figures in a polybag, let alone ones that come with a gorgeous blue speeder. Our assassin droid friend really lets the set down, but how can you complain when we finally get four sixths of our favourite gang of galactic scum? Still praying for a Zuckuss, but this is undoubtedly more than enough to tide me over until then.

Lego Review 13: 70902 – Catwoman Catcycle Chase

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I got this set alongside Mr Freeze’s Ice Attack because I knew I was going to end up getting both of them at some point. I’m super torn between both of them and I really don’t think I can pick a favourite, but I’m absolutely leaning towards this one, and that sentiment is mainly just for Catwoman!

The set comes with the Catcycle, a jewellery shop scenery piece complete with what I guess counts as an action feature but is really just a streetlight that tilts, Robin, Batgirl complete with three yellow Batarangs, and Catwoman herself complete with two whips.

The Good:

  • Catwoman is easily the best looking figure in the entire Lego Batman Movie line in my opinion. That purple with the iridescent green is just beautiful, and with the silver printing on the arms, legs, head and torso.
  • We get three minifigures that aren’t Batman in this set! My girlfriend hated her design but personally I love Batgirl’s yellow printing, especially the intricate detail on the boots, the yellow Batarangs, and the sparkly gold cape. I actually think Robin is the weakest figure of this set. That’s right, I’m stickin’ with mah two purple girlies.
  • The cat references in and around the jewellery store scenery piece are charming and the ‘lost cat’ poster is another tongue-in-cheek touch like the pull-able lever in Ice Attack and that was sorely missing in Balloon Escape. The bricks, trash can, and opening and closing door are also adorable additions.
  • Catcycle is chunky and fun and has some amazing printed pieces that in all fairness can’t be used anywhere else due to their cartoony design but are still really nice to have.
  • Two whips and three yellow Batarangs, hell yeah for spare accessories!

To be Improved:

  • The only action feature, being the lamppost falling over, is decidedly weak and is maybe not even designed to do so, that might simply have been the easiest way to keep that piece up.
  • The visible technic pieces on the front of the bike are very ugly. The blue barely fits with the purple, but I’m sooort of willing to forgive it.
  • Lego could have at least used a slightly different purple for Catwoman and Batgirl, no?
  • Batgirl’s hair looks a bit like the back of her head’s taking a dump, though this is more something my girlfriend pointed out and also looks a lot worse when not actually attached to her cowl.
  • A little more detail on the inside of the jewellery shop would have been nice, but Lego worked fairly well with the space they had.

Overall: 9/10

As with Ice Attack, I really enjoy this set, and upgrading to the slightly higher price bracket from Balloon Escape was definitely worth it, once again. Despite my slightly higher amount of negatives, these are really just nitpicks or things that I’m acknowledging other people may find off about this set. Like I said, I try to give a balanced opinion with each and every one of these so that people know the possible downsides instead of having me just gloss over them and tell them a set which they might otherwise dislike is amazing. Speaking of amazing, Catcycle Chase certainly us, as it’s so much more an expansion pack to build your superhero collection than the other sets due to the fact that it’s in the second-to-lowest price bracket yet still comes with three new figures. Woop!