76161 Batman 1989 Batwing Review

Reviewed by Thys Brits (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)

I have not done many reviews on LEGO® sets (in fact, this is only my second one), but I’ve read quite a few and appreciate what people who have done many of them try to put into them. Seeing as there have been so many other reviews done on pretty much every LEGO® set out there, I decided to keep it straightforward and simple. Here are the views of an avid LEGO® builder (not collector), although as a family, we have managed to build up quite a collection over the last few years.

Apart from looking great next to the earlier released 1989 Batmobile, the Batwing makes a unique display piece that can be easily wall-mounted. This set has quite a few surprises to it, from plain building fun, to very clever building techniques and hidden gems. There are also a few parts that only appear in this set.

The build starts with what feels like building a Technic set, with a very big structure to keep the model together. While building this, you already start getting the feel of the size of the final build.

After completing bag set 1, the framework is complete and the unique Batman minifigure is inspecting the build process. The minifigure is in fact the same minifigure from the Batmobile set, with the unique moulded cape and cowl.

From there on, most of the building happens with the many black parts that make up this set. If you are purely looking to build up your collection of black parts, this set will go a long way. The techniques used to get to the unique shape of the final build are as varied and unique as the model it represents. Various sideways and upside-down mini constructions are put together and then attached to the main construction. The SNOT (Stud Not on Top) technique is used a lot.

One odd thing about the set is the few odd parts that are hidden away inside the build, including a round 2×2 tile with the Bat signal printed on it.

The set does have a sticker sheet, but only a few stickers to make up details for the cockpit and of course the big display plate.

The build took the better part of a week, building two to three sets of bags per night, so as for value for money, it is worth it. Finding a place to display it will always be a problem, due to its size, so many people will be tempted into putting it up against a wall. The instruction manual has great instructions on how to do this. Purists, like with the Batmobile, will say you need to build this set with gloves, as all the black parts tend to show fingerprint smudges very easily. But for those who build this for the fun of building and having it played with, this should not be an issue. It certainly is playable. My 8-year-old son has flown it through the house quite a few times, and the build is extremely sturdy, with no parts coming off while playing with it.

The final product is amazing, and it displays beautifully next to the Batmobile. All in all, a great set. Lots of fun to build, play with, and for those who collect parts it is a great set to get a load of black parts.

Official LEGO® Images

21322 Ideas Pirates of Barracuda Bay Review

By Rakesh Gosai (SAFOLs Brick Deputy)

How much did it cost the pirate to pierce his ears? A Buccaneer!

Coming in at R3999.00, this set has 2445 pieces. Sure to please even the fussiest LEGO® Fan. A massive shipwreck island that contains the wreckage of the infamous Black Seas Barracuda. The set can be transformed to create the full, seaworthy sailing ship, inspired by the 1989 LEGO®® model, “Captain Redbeard’s Black Seas Barracuda” thus ensuring maximum bang for your buck!

Milan Madge, LEGO® set designer, really worked hard to bring the original Ideas Set “Pirate Bay” designed by Pablo Sanchez into line with the classic LEGO® Pirates world. He made an awesome feature packed set! You will notice that the Inn is named after Pablo’s father José. José introduced Pablo to LEGO® Pirates, so this was his way of paying respects and to honour His father.

Austin Carlson, LEGO® Minifigure designer, designed 8 highly detailed minifigures for this set. They are Captain Redbeard, Lady Anchor, Quartermaster Riggings, Jack “Dark Shark” Doubloons, Tattooga, Robin Loot and twins Port and Starboard for pirate role-play action, plus a shark, pig, 2 parrots, 3 crabs, 2 frogs and 2 skeleton figures.

The shipwreck island model measures 59cm high, 64cm wide and 32cm deep. The build time would be approximately 5 hours depending on how fast you build. The build is immersive and will keep you entertained as you build this highly detailed set. The ship is split into three sections, and fits seamlessly in either model i.e. The Shipwreck or The Black Seas Barracuda.

Split into 27 numbered bags, a 460 page instruction manual which introduces the key figures in its development. Pablo Sánchez designed the original submission on Ideas and is responsible for returning the pirates to LEGO®’s portfolio. There is also an interview with Milan Madge and Austin Carlson. The book also includes a backstory on the pirates, as well as an introduction to the crew.

If you owned previous LEGO® Pirates sets, you will notice that in this set, the Minifigures have aged, this was a really nice touch. The box has the yellow frame and diagonal stripe to mimic the classic LEGO®LAND boxes from the late 80’s and 90’s sets. The only missing part in the box design was the flap and clear panels to see the parts in the set, like how it was in the older sets.

I was considering going into detail about the build but I thought I’d leave the treasure for you to enjoy in detail. I love this set and it really makes an epic display set with the hidden treasure chest, palm trees, and the island is packed with details! There are crates and barrels all stacked in a haphazard way replicating a busy dock. Three cannons guard the various angles of approach and each are positioned on a different level of the structure.

From Bag 15, you will notice that there are still 50 pages left in the instruction manual. This makes it relatively easy to convert the shipwreck into a sea worthy vessel. The process should take 20 minutes BUT converting it back to a shipwreck would be a challenge as you must work backwards in the instruction manual. All part of the fun I suppose.

The sight of the red and white sails when the build is completed is sure to get any enthusiast excited.

After completing this build, how would you know if you are a LEGO® Pirates fan? You don’t! You just ARRRRRRRR!

All images are from the Official Press Release.

10270 Creator Expert Bookshop

By Rakesh Gosai (SAFOLs Brick Deputy)

Released on 01 January 2020, this is the last instalment of the LEGO® Creator Expert Modular Buildings. Do not be alarmed, LEGO® will still be making the Creator Expert Modular Buildings but I suspect that this range will change to be in line with the 18+ Range, aimed at us Adult Collectors. I am keen to see what the new designs would be! This set is slightly cheaper than previous modular buildings.

This is the 14th year of the modular buildings from the Creator Expert team and should be an exciting build. The set is split on two 16×32 baseplates and is split into 8 numbered bags. I like that with this Modular Building, you can build the two buildings separately but therein lies the catch. There is an extra wall in each building, with extra items to decorate the walls. These extras bring the part count higher.

They can be displayed separately or together and fits well within a city setup. I did find that this set was very detailed in front, but not much attention was given to the interior and back of them. The “Birch” Tree is awesomely designed in the Bookshop section and the Townhouse bricks are an amazing teal colour.

The Bookshop “Birch Books” occupies the left ground floor and mid-level. The apartment takes up the top left side. I found the interior to be lacking in both the bookshop and apartment. I built the Corner Garage last year and I was expecting similar detail but, was sadly disappointed.

On the right-hand side is the Townhouse. I enjoyed building the dining room because it has some great details like, a dinner table and fireplace. Upstairs is a small bedroom with access to the balcony. The Townhouse has some nice details but sadly it is incomplete, there is no kitchen and bathroom. I wish the designers paid more attention to the details that where included in the interior of this whole set.

The Bookshop comes with 5 minifigures, which is less than the previous sets in this range. Corner Garage came with 6 minifigures, Downtown Diner 6 and Assembly Square 8 minifigures. An Adult Collector would definitely add this to his collection despite the shortcomings, the high expectations where set by the previous Modular Buildings.

The building profile is lower and should you buy another set, you could increase the height. Should us Modular fans add this to our collection? YES, because the exterior has some really fun details, the colour scheme is on point and provides us with some interesting building techniques even though the Modular Building feels less substantial next to its predecessors.

Overall, this is a good build but falls short of its predecessors like the Corner Garage, and the Assembly Square. After building those, I expected the same detail in this set. I would rate this set 6/10 because of the interior lacking many details that we have become accustomed to.

60264 The Ocean Exploration Submarine

Reviewed by Xavier Cordeiro (SAFOLs Member)

When my sisters and I really started playing with themed LEGO® 12-13 years ago, we collected City sets exclusively, but as the years passed we slowly moved on, and by 2011 we had almost stopped buying them completely. As a result, this is the first City set I’ve built since 2011, so it’s interesting for me to see how far the theme has come in nine years. This set, along with a small handful of City sets in The LEGO® Group’s partnership with National Geographic, marks a return to the Ocean Exploration sub-theme. This has always been part of the City theme, but hasn’t had much going on for the last 5 years. When looking at a set, I like to approach it using a score system for each main aspect, so I’ll do the same here.

Firstly, the Minifigures

This set comes with 4 Minifigures, which I think is the perfect number for a set of this size. There are two Deep Sea Divers, one Explorer, and lastly, Jessica Sharpe, who is featured in the LEGO® City Adventures show, and is exclusive to this set. Many of the Minifigure pieces in this set are exclusive to the Ocean Exploration theme. The level of detail on the figures is pretty good, and what I like about two of them is that they could easily be used in other contexts. The Deep Sea Divers have dual-sided heads, showing some happy, and some more alarmed expressions. They also have rather large diving suits, with large lights, and a handful of accessories. Overall, the Minifigures are of high quality, with some nice new prints and good accessories, and I think they deserve a nifty 9/10.

Now, onto the build

The three main builds in this set are quite simple, and something you’d expect from a relatively inexpensive City set. However, they were still quite fun to build, and I appreciate the size of the Submarine, and the sea-bed cave. I particularly appreciate the different colours used. The Sub has more classic, bright colours, whereas the cave uses some more muted, natural tones. The Submarine is a simple design which looks nice all-round. I only have two small complaints with it, being that there are no studs to hold the Explorer who sits in the back half of the Sub, and the fact that the vehicle isn’t entirely enclosed. Admittedly this is difficult for a small vehicle, but it does bother me somewhat. Otherwise it’s a solid build, designed for play, but still nice for those who wish to display it. It serves its purpose well, with some minor faults, and I think 8/10 is a fair rating.

Next, “Playability”

What I like about this set is that it isn’t loaded with play features. While I think it’s a lot of fun for kids, (and sometimes adults) to have designed features, sometimes less is more, and I believe that this set shows that. A major feature is the way the glow in the dark Angler fish can pop out of the crevice in its cave, which is effective, but isn’t perfect in my mind. My problem with it is just how the clear Technic beam that holds the fish protrudes quite far out and makes it a bit difficult if you want to keep the build against the wall. The Submarine’s claws can quite easily clasp the gems which is something I really like. Its super simple, but still very satisfying, and they are quite poseable. The small vehicle clips onto the Sub when not in use, which makes it look more enclosed, and serves to prevent the Explorer from falling out through the back. The Angler Fish really does glow in the dark quite well and is more menacing than I had anticipated.

I think this set has good playability, with the only blemish being the Technic beam. I believe a solid 8/10 is justified.

A small point, but one I usually consider is packaging. The box is nice, but there’s not really much to it aside from the National Geographic label. The set comes with three instruction booklets, which I think is too much. It’s not a serious point, but two booklets are more than sufficient, although I suspect it’s to enable several builders to tackle the set at the same time. The instructions were easy to follow, and there are some images of what the real-life counterparts of the builds look like. In the end LEGO® seems to always do a good job when it comes to packaging. 8/10 is a fair score in my opinion.

Last up is the question of value

So, I thought some stats might be helpful to provide some context to this set’s value. This set retails for R550, with 286 pieces. In comparison, the Ninjago set, Jay and Lloyd’s Velocity Racers (71709) goes for the same price, with a more generous 322 pieces. The recent Star Wars Jedi Interceptor (75281) is also the same price, with a somewhat underwhelming 248 pieces. Going by this we can see that while it’s not the cheapest set out there, it’s worthwhile, and I feel that for what you get, it’s not bad at all. If it were rounded down to R500 then I’d be perfectly happy. One last point to consider is that this set uses quite a few large pieces, and some that are new for 2020, such as the sea plant piece, and of course the Angler fish. Given these points, I feel that 8/10 is an accurate judgement of this set’s value.

Overall, this set earns a favourable 41/50 in my opinion. It has a few minor faults, but it does what it needs to. The Minifigures are all great, and the Submarine is nice. The sea-cave provides some texture and colour, and everybody likes the adorable LEGO® crabs, two of which are included. I really like how LEGO® has used its extensive inventory to give the four Minifigures a lot of character, which was something that was more limited back in 2011. At the end of the day it’s an enjoyable, inexpensive set that I imagine most children, and even older fans will like very much.

6399 Airport Shuttle

Reviewed by Clive Crafford (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)

Suffice it to say I was jumping up and down like a five year old on Christmas morning when I received this set. When joining the LEGO® hobby, it doesn’t take long before you have a wish list of sets that your heart desires. And it is not every day that you get the opportunity to add one to your collection, so when I saw this, I could not let it go by. Advertised on Facebook for more than a month without selling it, I made the seller an offer nearly 35% less then what he was asking, and he was happy to take it. It was also far less than the cheapest one currently on Bricklink – and with the set in a good condition with the original box – a bargain!

The set was first released in 1990, with 767 pieces, 9 minifigures and a retail price of $140.00. The set I have unfortunately is missing one window, one minifigure and one 16 x 16 baseplate, but sure I will be able to replace those – the important (and expensive) parts are included – working motor and track. The box has some tears around the corners (as can be seen above – left bottom corner). It still holds up well though, and can be carried around with all parts inside. The box art is not faded, can still clearly see the image of the monorail car. The track layout is shown as well, and this is the smallest configuration space wise, that it can be set up in. The age range is given as 8 – 12 years, so I am a bit old for it – but the set itself is older than I am.

The box has a cover that you can lift up – revealing some images of a child enjoying the set, and instructions on how to operate the monorail. The bottom has windows so you can see the perfectly packed parts, or in my case, scattered parts in a few Ziploc bags.

The original price sticker of this set was also still visible, retailing for US $159.99 in New Jersey at Jamesway Discount Stores that unfortunately did not last as long. I bought this set from a guy that received this set from his parents back in 1990/1991. It was built and played with by him as a child, but was then boxed up and packed away for more than a decade, until he discovered it again and decided to sell it.

The first item out of the box is the manual – there are a lot of pages with creases, and also some loose pages as can be expected from a set belonging to a child that just wanted to have fun. Despite that, it is still well preserved. The majority was clear though, and I used it to build the model. LEGO instruction manuals have come far though compared to this nearly 30 years old manual, and big improvements have been made by the LEGO Group. There are times where you really have to check what parts are needed, as they aren’t always listed, or check where they go, and the page cuts them off without you being able to identify which piece it is.

The next parts are the baseplates that come with the set. There are also two 8 x 16 green baseplates, just not pictured here. The grey parts are quite discoloured here, but the green baseplates is still in an excellent condition. There is another 16 x 16 grey baseplate for this set that I did not receive, but was able to use one from my parts. Both the shuttle stations are built on these, one being a raised platform, and the other being on ground level.

Also included are the track supports, 8 tall ones, and 2 half the height, for the middle of the ramps. They slot into the monorail track easily, but still with enough gripping power to not fall out when you lift the track. They also have plates at the bottom that can be stuck onto other plates or bricks, however is preferred.

The most expensive pieces in the set are of course the track itself. With this set comes 8 quarter curves, 6 quarter straights, 5 straight pieces, 4 straight ramp pieces, 2 half straight pieces that allow you to control the monorail train and 1 half straight. Unfortunately one of the track control pieces was broken in my set, so although it works for the train to go across, it doesn’t allow you to control the train. The ratio of straight to curved sections of track was a lot better back in the day, as you got more straight pieces, which are the hard to come by and always in demand pieces.

The monorail train itself is a good size, has a sturdy design, and is similar to other train sets of the time. There is certainly room for MOC’s here, especially using pieces that are available today for a much more modern take. The motor still works perfectly, and I hope it will for a long time to come. There is space at each end of both cabs for a driver. The one on the left above only has space for two passengers as opposed to four in the other side, because of the space being taken up by the battery pack. The more recent city sets with a monorail or tram car don’t have space for more minifigures either. The sides and windshields of both cars also flip open for easy access to place minifigures inside. The on/off switch for the battery is on the battery itself, and access is gained by lifting the side cover up.

The first station you get to build is the one on ground floor. (There is one tan plate instead of a white plate.) The station itself is very simple, just a platform with a small roof overhang, and seating for two people. The cross walk extends over the road, to a bus stop, also with two seats and a phone booth. A nice touch, remembering that this set came out long before cell phones became popular. There are some flowers decorating the sidewalk – made from pieces with the same moulding we can find today.

The second station is raised about 10 bricks high. The platform has seating for two minifigures, with a staircase leading up. The stairs are completely brick built, and parts intensive, so I understand why they have the single stair piece now. There is also a hot dog stand underneath. The newer sets contain a few more details then this set, but still nice to have it included. On the opposite side has a bus stop with two seats for waiting minifigures, some flowers and two lamp posts. (One missing above.)

The set assembled completely. It is an impressive set, and takes up quite a large area, 120cm x 140cm. In comparison to train set today, it takes up more space, mostly due to the two stations that are included. I think it would be great if LEGO could do something similar again with its current train sets, including bigger stations, or at least have proper stations for sale separately. The market for trains and related products is definitely big enough world-wide to encourage this. The stickers are all intact, and still well stuck one, with just one exception.

Overall I am very pleased with this set, and feel the lack of monorail sets today. It was a great theme that LEGO surely can continue. I will be playing with it all weekend, and planning on how to incorporate it into my yet to be built city. I hope to add to my monorail track collection in the near future, and incorporate this set along with that on a much larger scale.

Creature Feature

Adults Entries:

Kids Entries:

21324 Ideas 123 Sesame Street – 1367 pcs

By Barry Kay (SAFOLs Brick Boss, CapeLUG EXCO, Batman … Ssshhhh!)

One could not describe this set better that how it has been in the official LEGO® press release.

Voted for by LEGO brick lovers all over the world, a wonderfully nostalgic new LEGO® Ideas set has been brought to life after being envisioned by an avid builder. The brand-new LEGO® Ideas 123 Sesame Street set is the latest product from the LEGO® Ideas collection, which conceptualises and produces the creative wonders imagined and voted for by LEGO® brick fans themselves.

Created with all the delightful elements of 123 Sesame Street, the new set is packed with authentic details from the famous New York City neighbourhood. From Bert and Ernie’s apartment, in which Bert famously pleaded with Ernie to remove a banana from his ear so he could hear better, to Big Bird’s nest, where the grown-ups finally met Mr. Snuffleupagus in person – builders will marvel in Sesame Street’s most memorable moments.

As they embark on their immersive build journey of LEGO® Ideas 123 Sesame Street, seasoned LEGO® fans and younger builders alike can take a trip down memory lane, passing by Hooper’s Store, Oscar the Grouch’s trash can, and many more quintessential Sesame Street locations, making it the perfect set to enjoy on your own or together as a family. Fans can even bring their favourite characters and show moments to life with the brand new and exclusive buildable minifigures which have been moulded specifically for the set, including characters such as Cookie Monster, Elmo and Big Bird.

The Box, Inside and Outside

The box presentation is the new 18+ black box with the set images brightly printed to jump out and catch your eye.

The instruction manual is also all black with the well-loved character minifigures in a row on the front and just the Sesame Street sign logo on the back. Inside has some detail about Sesame Street, the original designer and LEGO® designers.

We get 2 16×16 Light Bluish-Grey plates and 11 bags of parts.

There is also a sticker sheet with 22 wonderful Sesame Street designs, which also bring in some of the well-loved characters that were not made into minifigures.

The Build

We begin the build with the base (the street block) and then see the building emerge from the ground up.

The building has been cleverly thought out and with excellent part use in the finer details and the features of the building. There are also some hidden “easter eggs”, such as the spider on its web in the basement.

Most of the image detail come from the sticker sheet, but we have been given some nice new printed parts as well.

Once each part of the building structure is put together, we start to furnish the rooms. It is a great learning experience to see how the furniture and fittings are put together and what parts are used which one would not necessarily think of.

As the build progresses and the set comes to life, the memories start flooding back from the time spent watching these loveable teachers.

The set has been built in the standard LEGO® “Dolls House” design so that you can display or play with the minifigures in the various different rooms and outside areas.

The Minifigures

Each bag set contains one of the iconic characters supplied in the set.

Starting from first to last, we have Big Bird, Elmo, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster and lastly Oscar the Grouch in his trash can.

Elmo, Oscar, Bert, Ernie, Cookie


Although the set is very much reduced in size to the original Ideas submission, it is a real joy to build. There are no big complexities in the build, but there is a lot of fun and learning involved, which I would say is the essence of Sesame Street. I highly recommend this set to build either for yourself or your kids to have fun playtime with.

Reviewer Pictures

Press Release Pictures