Book Review: The Art and Making of the Dark Knight Trilogy

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a huge fan of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy of films. (The sad part is, I wasn’t a Lego collector when they released the sets to go with The Dark Knight.) All Christopher Nolan movies are special (which means excitement for Interstellar in the coming weeks) but he did a wonderful job with Batman. I even like Christian Bale’s Batman voice. So you’re probably not going to be too surprised when I tell you that this book is spectacular. It came out a few years ago when The Dark Knight Rises was released, but I finally got a copy of it this year. Great photography as you would expect from what is basically a coffee table book, but also a great read. It starts with an introduction by Michael Caine – read it in your Michael Caine voice to enhance the experience. Then we get the backstory on where the ideas for the script came from – including specific instances in the comic books – and read about how Christopher Nolan was working on this in his garage. Remember, when Batman Begins came out he wasn’t the huge name he is now. He Inception or The Dark Knight (obviously), two of the biggest movies of the last 10 years. Before I continue rambling, let me just recommend this book if you’re a lover of the films like me. More so than a great book about the Batman movies, it’s a very interesting look at the process of movie making – and when it comes to the latter films, movie making on a grand scale. You can see some excerpts from the book (and obviously buy it) on Amazon: The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy
Oh and in the interest of sticking to the review number system, this gets a 10.

Review: Lego 79015 Witch-king Battle – The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies

Pieces: 101  Minifigures: 3  Retail Price: $14.99  Price I Paid: Retail (Double VIP Points)

I haven’t seen any of The Hobbit films yet, I figure I enjoy Lord of the Rings enough, if I’m hankering for a 3 hour Peter Jackson fantasy film, I’ll just watch one of the “originals.” But I didn’t have a Galadriel. So this set was all about the minifigures.

You get Elrond, Galadriel and the Witch-king, who’s body painting is pretty nice and who has a steel crown atop his glow in the dark head. And after I opened it and started building it, I realized it was all about the minifigure capes. Specifically, Galadriel’s once again resplendent cape.

Just look at that. I was quite excited about the Wizard’s cape from S12 of the collectible minifigures, but this brings it to another level. Galadriel is officially the pop star of the forest with that thing on. I do have one problem with it however…

Once again, and most frequently with a Lego Lord of the Rings derived set, Lego has given us a minifigure with a cape AND a big headpiece or hairpiece that scrunches the cape up. It is especially disheartening to see this beautiful cape scrunched up. They really don’t seem to care about this and somehow render it as a non-issue in the box image.

Back to the set at large, it’s a small set and should really be selling for $11.99 or $12.99 but it’s licensed and the glittery cape probably costs a few extra cents to produce. I’ll give the set a 6, it’s really not a bad value proposition for the figures you get. These sets were just released on Wednesday so I bought this one at the Lego Store over the weekend. If it hadn’t been for the double VIP points in Oct, I might have waited, although the low end sets can never really go that much on sale. Plus it’s always fun to have one of the brand new sets around the time they come out. It’s still full retail on Amazon and they haven’t gotten the item description perfect yet: LEGO Hobbit Hobbit5 79015 Playset

Review: Lego 76015 Doc Ock Truck Heist

Pieces: 237  Minifigures: 3  Retail Price: $19.99  Price I Paid: Retail

Looking at the images of this set, I realize now that I kind of need to put the stickers on, the truck looks pretty bare without them. I bought this set soon after it came out, because the truck in it looked pretty neat. After building it I can say it is pretty neat but it’s nothing super spectacular. I’m not especially a fan of Spider-Man but they seem to always be pretty good sets that come out for him so I’ve bought a few.

This set has three minifigures, Spider-Man of course, Doc Ock (sadly not Alfred Molina) and your standard flesh colored policeman. I’m not sure if the policeman is supposed to be the truck driver or not, but he’s obviously the most qualified of the three.

As you can see, the Truck is interesting with all of it’s little compartments and what especially drew me to it is the armored look of the front grille. I’m pretty lukewarm on this set, more so than when I bought it, so I think I’ll give it a 4. If you’re a Spider-Man fan you won’t be disappointed though. As a play set for a younger Lego fan, I’m sure it would be hours of fun.
It is pretty nicely discounted on Amazon, less than $15 currently: LEGO Superheroes 76015 Doc Ock Truck Heist

Lego 21109 Exo Suit available at the (my) Lego Store

I went to the North Shore Peabody, MA Lego store today and they had the Exo Suit in stock. There were more than 15 when I was there in the early afternoon. An employee told me they had had the 21110 Research Institute this morning but sold out – they only had 10 copies. Hopefully this means that Lego stores throughout the country have stock of the Exo Suit.

Review: Lego 21109 Exo Suit

Pieces: 321  Minifigures: 2  Retail Price: $34.99  Price I Paid: $34.95+tax

This is the first Lego Ideas set I’ve gotten.

The minifigures are named Pete and Yve.

The box opens in a special way and has a nice bound instruction booklet.

The set also comes with a platform and “barrels” and a robotic guard turtle.

The “claws” are perfect for picking up the barrels… or Pete.

The back of the suit is nicely detailed as well.

Yve and Pete.

And their robotic turtle.

Close up: front and right arm.

Close up: left side.

Close up: back.

Close up: front right, left arm extended.

Close up: claw holding barrel.

Well as you might be able to tell from the large number of pictures I took, I love this set. I was always looking forward to it and now I’m very glad I managed to get one when they cmae back in stock last week on Amazon. They are out of stock once again right now, hopefully back in stock soon.

This has got to be one of the most creative Lego sets to come out recently and it’s popularity should inform Lego of how important the Space theme is but more importantly how much people enjoy complex and creative sets. I love the green space suits as well. The only thing I wish it possessed was one more articulation in the arms so that they could fold out away from the body. This likely would have made the set too unwieldly though. The price is decent given that it comes with a fancy box and manual. Obviously it hasn’t prevented anyone from buying one so far. I’ll give this set a 9. As I’ve said before a 10 is going to be hard to get, but this is close. Maybe if it was $30 and actually in stock on a regular basis it would get there. Don’t take it from me, buy one now! LEGO Ideas Exo Suit 21109
Er, now as in, when they’re back in stock.

Review: Lego 76004 Spider-Man: Spider-Cycle Chase

Pieces: 237  Minifigures: 3  Retail Price: $19.99  Price I Paid: about 25% discounted

What’s this, a Marvel Spider-Man set reviewed on a Lego Batman site? Well, yeah, calm down. They only make so many Batman sets ever year. Also I just learned something new while posting this review, it’s “Spider-Man” not “Spiderman.”
Anyway, I bought this set mostly to add Nick Fury to my cadre of Avengers figures – I’m only missing Black Widow, it didn’t seem necessary to buy a $70 plane to get one minifigure, even if it was Scarlett Johansson. This set has been well discounted for awhile now, I bought it a long time ago and finally opened it for building and review. And just like the Lego 6867 Cosmic Cube escape, we’ve got another great vehicle in this one. (Ahem, Batman builders, take note.)

You get 3 figures for your $20, more like $15 – see Amazon. And more than the 200 pieces you’d expect for a $20 set. Of course you get Spider-Man, Nick Fury and a villain who I had to look up (on the front of the box) called Venom.

Nick Fury is one of the few minifigures that has an eyepatch.

The wheels on both the Cycle and the car fold up so they can appear to be hovering – as seen on the front of the box. Basically, Spider-Man has to spend a certain amount of time in the air. The Cycle is pretty boring, but as I said before, the car is great.

It is money green and has a pop up back end to reveal a missile of course. The hood is a nice one piece hood and the windshield (or windscreen if you’re across the pond) is a tall windshield piece that is used horizontally rather than vertically. This is the first time I can remember seeing this and results in a much sleeker look.

The car is also a one seater which is interesting, I really like the two 1×2 tiles on either side of the seat.

But ultimately what makes the car so great is it’s overall profile and the “contour” of the body from front to back, punctuated by the rear spoiler. This is one sleek driving (and hovering) machine. I give this set high marks, I think I’ll give it a 7 since it’s got a great vehicle, a crucial minifigure in Nick Fury and a pretty good villain. This also makes it a good stand-alone set. Even better, it’s been on a permanent 25% off sale for sometime now. I’d get one before they disappear – it’s currently only $14.79 on Amazon: LEGO Super Heroes Spider-Cycle Chase 76004

The only thing I would change is the name. Instead of Spider-Man: Spider-Cycle Chase (and I”m not a fan of the colon usage in sets to get the Super Hero name in there anyway) I’d call it Nick Fury and His Awesome Car.

A new Batman film is coming out – Lego Batman!

Forget Ben Affleck. At NYCC, it was announced that there was going to be a spinoff of The Lego Movie featuring the Will Arnett Batman. I’ll be interested to see how it does. The Batman character was hilarious in The Lego Movie, but mostly a punchline. Can you make a Batman movie where Batman is the punchline? However I see little downside to this other than a bad movie. The upside is a possibly funny movie and more importantly, several more Lego Batman sets! Maybe we can get a good vehicle? The film is not scheduled to come out for a few years, you can read more via The Hollywood Reporter.

Lego Classic Thursday – 5918 Scorpion Tracker

There’s another scorpion rattling around somewhere with my old sets.

What a great set. Part of the Lego Adventurers line, which was a pretty obvious Indiana Jones impersonation. (“Rip-off” is too harsh a word.) This set came out in 1998, 10 years before the Indiana Jones licensed theme debuted. It starred Johnny Thunder – see him below in all his glory.

Say what you will, but Indiana Jones’ hat brim doesn’t fold up on one side.

The jeep that comes with the set is also wonderful. Ok, the jeep is the set. There is a special sliding place for the 2×2 map tile and a 1×2 tile on the floorboard that has various vehicle gauges. The seats are molded into one big rectangular piece, but they look like real padded seats – quite wonderful.

They don’t make ’em like they used to.

This set consists of 35 pieces and sold for $4. Four bucks! It was and is worth every penny.

Review: Lego 60019 Stunt Plane

Pieces: 140  Minifigures: 2  Retail Price: $19.99  Price I Paid: $9.99+tax

Here’s another small City set, though not as much fun or innovative as the Fire Truck. I bought it because it was on clearance and was a plane.

It comes with two, rather plain, minifigures.

Have you noticed how much more popular overalls are in the Lego world compared to the real world?

The plane isn’t really anything special either – I do like the checkered stickers on the rudder.

And finally, the other figure comes with a little cart with various tools for repairing the plane obviously. He’s got the new headphones/ear protection that attaches to the top of the hat which was a nice Lego innovation. I wish we could get more than one helmet so that Astronauts, Race car drivers and pilots didn’t all wear the exact same helmets. In the end, I’d rate this set about a 4. Even if you’re really interested in City sets, there’s just not that much to it and nothing much unique about it.