75317 The Mandalorian and the Child Brickheadz Review

By Rakesh Gosai (SAFOLs Brick Deputy)

The Mandalorian was released in 2019 and my two favourite characters are in this set. The Mandalorian and The Child aka Grogu aka Baby Yoda.

Din Djarin, aka “the Mandalorian” or “Mando,” was a Mandalorian who worked as a famous bounty hunter during the New Republic Era. With his Mandalorian armour, IB-94 blaster pistol, Amban sniper rifle, and distinctive beskar helmet.

Beskar, also known as Mandalorian iron, was an alloy used in Mandalorian armour, notable for its high tolerance to extreme forms of damage. The metal was durable enough to withstand a direct blaster shot and could repel light-sabre strikes.

Like previous LEGO BrickHeadz sets that have included multiple characters, the parts for each character are packaged in their own numbered bags — in this case, two sets of bags to separate the parts for The Child [Labelled 1] and The Mandalorian [Labelled 2].

Upon opening the bags, I really enjoyed the few printed parts. I was amazed what detail they brought to the build.

The Child sits inside the hover-pram, featuring an enormous head with big ears and two tiny arms which rest on the sides of the hover-pram. The hover-pram has been simplified in relation to the series, keeping to the usual BrickHeadz scale, The scaling between these two characters is not correct as The Child is too large, although that does not matter because BrickHeadz scaling is rarely consistent.

The Mandalorian’s armour appears immediately recognisable here, taking inspiration from his early appearances during the series. His chest and shoulder armour is reddish brown, complementing the tan and dark tan attire underneath.

The Mandalorian and The Child is certainly among my favourite BrickHeadz models because I love these characters! The Mandalorian appears rugged, featuring an impressive helmet and armour components.

My favourite must be The Child, the hover-pram distinguishes this model from the other BrickHeadz models. The designer has done an excellent rendition, this is the way he designed it!

76394 Fawkes, Dumbledore’s Phoenix Review

Reviewed by Riëtte Badenhorst (SAFOLs Member)

Set number 76394
Theme Harry Potter
Pieces 597
Age 10+
Released June 2021
Cost (Lego SA) R 829.99

Disclaimer: I’m not used to building sets with a lot of Technic™ pieces and some of the gear placements I found a bit tricky but my son built the Hedwig set on his own at age 10 and this set has the same difficulty level, so that could just be me!

Build Process

The set comes with 4 bags and the instruction booklet.

Bag 1 contains mostly the base and the central pedestal structure around which the bird is built. First up is old Dumbledore and his Fawkes of course who would patiently keep an eye on the build.

This part of the build was straight forward but the turning mechanism used in the wings’ motion proved a bit of a challenge to me with the gears and such to get them aligned and in place. I would not rush this build as I did at times and then had to reverse some steps when I realized things weren’t lining up correctly, but was still easy to follow if that should happen.

The Fawkes plate is printed and not a sticker. (sigh of relief)

The rest of the build focuses on the phoenix itself. The wing structure is quite intricate, and looking closely, it seemed odd how it was designed that way. When you look at the build as a whole, it is really beautiful and truly makes the mechanics work.

Here is what it looked like from the top after bag 3.

Once the build was complete, these were the spare pieces left over. Subject to change of course.

Pros:

I liked the challenge of building something different from modular buildings and at the lower price point it was a financially forgiving alternative.

The displayability (that is a word now) of the piece is great, especially to pair it with Hedwig. I’m not a collector/builder of Harry Potter sets in general but these two can be displayed without being too heavily “HP” themed.

It’s a beautiful set with bright colours that will surely be an eye-catcher when displayed.

The wing-motion works very well but I would treat it carefully so you don’t have pieces flying off.

Cons:

As mentioned I struggled a bit now and again to keep gears and other technic pieces in place.

A strange thing that happened a few times was that pieces would dislodge themselves from elsewhere as I tried to put sections in place. It was as if some parts’ ‘click’ didn’t ‘grip’. The wing pieces that connected to Technic™ parts also had to be treated with patience at times.

Under Pros I noted that the set is bright. It is VERY bright which might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I might have preferred a slightly deeper red and orange.

Final Thought

I’m very happy with my Fawkes. I had a company registered as Red Phoenix as I identify personally with the phoenix because of my life story. Getting it was an absolute no-brainer. I truly hope Lego will make more sets like these to display together.

10266 Apollo 11 Lunar Lander Review

Reviewed by Malcolm Keevy (SAFOLs Member, CapeLUG Member)

LEGO® has made several memorable real life space sets over the years, but the first one I ever bought was the IDEAS® Saturn V set, which was a combination of such an iconic machine and an amazing LEGO® set. Then the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander (10266), in addition to the obvious link, has that same status – an instantly recognizable and historically significant vehicle.

That comes through from the start with the instructions, as although it is a CREATOR® set, the instruction manual looks more like the IDEAS® range, with a few pages of history and images from the Apollo missions.

The Build

The first bag is the base. It is not a particularly exciting build, with a single crater in the middle. The purpose of the circles becomes apparent later. The one lovely detail is the light grey layer underneath that are the footprints.

The lander has a difficult octagonal shape to achieve which requires some interesting building techniques, using ball and sockets to join the intermediate sections, and then once it is all finished off you still have the details of the tanks tucked into the base. Once it is one the base it is already a cool model.

The module is built in a few different directions and has some cool techniques. It almost starts with the panel stickers and builds out from there, as the internal space it tight and cramped to fit the two Minifigures in, which made it difficult to fit my big fingers in but reflects the actual size.

Final Thoughts

This is a great model. It was an enjoyable build and overall makes a great display piece. It does have quite a few stickers, but at the finished product is superb. For fans of the other space sets it is a must-have addition to the Saturn V and space station.

10281 Creator Expert Bonsai Tree Review

By Joanna Jezewska (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)

Is there such a thing as too many pink LEGO® frogs?

LEGO® set 10281 Bonsai Tree from the Botanical Collection sets out to prove that the answer is no, there is no such thing as too many pink LEGO® frogs.

Presentation

LEGO® Bonsai Tree embarks on bringing the long-held tradition of growing miniature trees, which originated over 2000 years ago in China, to the world of LEGO®. It does so in a sophisticated manner, embracing its new 18+ adult focused branding (read: plain black background means this is surely not a toy for kids anymore!). If the aim was to entice not only the avid fans of LEGO®, but adults looking for an interesting creative outlet and something that would not look out of place on an office desk or coffee table, then I personally feel that LEGO® succeeded with its presentation. The instruction booklet which comes with the set, continues the 18+ branding, but I am happy to confirm that when it comes to the actual set building part of the instructions, the background is a light greyish blue, making the steps easy to understand and follow.

The Build

The set gives the builder an opportunity to build various components of a bonsai tree.

The actual black bonsai pot build is simplistic but cleverly utilises rubber tyres as its feet for the pot ensuring that the bonsai tree will not slide around too easily on any table or display shelf.

The tree itself was a fantastic build full of interesting part usage and unusual techniques. It plays around with differing shades of brown and shapes to create an organic looking bonsai trunk complete with roots, twisting vines and bending branches.

Once the tree trunk is inserted into the bonsai pot, 200 one stud sized round tiles meant to resemble pebbles are used to fill up the bonsai pot. These tiles are placed in four different coloured bags of 50 tiles which are meant to be opened and mixed before being placed into the bonsai pot. A word of caution be careful when you open these packets as picking up a lot of small pieces off the floor adds significant building time to this set!

Lastly, we are spoilt with two different types of foliage for the tree. The first foliage incorporates three different green plant elements to build a more traditional looking bonsai tree, with the slightly darker and smaller leaf pieces meant to look like juvenile shoots. This part of the build was also quite simplistic and given that each branch was built the same way, it was also quite repetitive. Where the LEGO® Bonsai Tree set really shines, in my opinion, is the building of the cherry blossom foliage. It is a mad mixture of white leaves, dark pink flowers and 100 light pink frogs, which when combined bring colour, height, drama, and texture to the Bonsai tree that just feels so organic. LEGO® designer Nicolaas Vas has developed a reputation for loving to insert frogs into the sets he has designed, but with his design of this set, it never feels like a gimmick but rather a necessity. 

To encourage a quick change of foliage, the set is cleverly designed to easily unclip the clusters of leaves and insert the different foliage. Additionally, LEGO® Bonsai Tree encourages endless customisation and creativity with the instructions even showing some of the LEGO® designers’ own ideas for bonsai tree designs ranging from other realistic looking bonsai to truly fantastical creations. The sky (and your LEGO® budget) is the limit for what you can do with your creation.

Lastly, you have the option to build the bonsai pot stand which, with its reddish-brown long tile pieces, resembles a wooden slate stand often used to ensure proper drainage for bonsai pots (note: watering of this bonsai is strictly optional and not encouraged!). The stand is also an uncomplicated build and nicely completes the set.

Coming in at a retail price of R999.99, is LEGO® Bonsai Tree worth it? Some of my thoughts around the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • I love the customisation potential of this set. When building mine, I was inspired by the daffodils I saw blooming around us and added extra leaves and yellow flowers. I cannot wait to change it up every season;
  • Interesting build techniques for the tree itself and the cherry blossom foliage;
  • An excellent set to display and really looks organic and beautiful; and
  • The large green leaves, smaller white leaves, and brown root pieces are part of LEGO®’s “Plants from Plants” program intended to replace plastics made from fossil fuels with more-sustainable plant-based materials.

Cons:

  • At 878 pieces, do not be fooled into thinking this is a large set. With 200 pebble pieces and 100 pink frogs (plus 1 brown one used in the tree trunk design) the actual set pieces come in at under 600 pieces. While it is not a tiny bonsai tree by any means, LEGO® Bonsai Tree can be built under an hour or two. Some may feel short-changed by the price given the actual time spent building;
  • Speaking of pebble pieces, the inner perfectionist in me hates that the pebble pieces do not all face smooth side up. Somehow, I don’t think many people will be bothered with this;
  • Not enough green foliage is given to really flesh the green traditional foliage out and create enough texture. To give perspective, I added quite a lot of smaller leaves to fill out the bonsai tree when I added the yellow flowers; and
  • At times, the build is repetitive, but luckily not Taj Mahal level repetitive so it’s still enjoyable.

Given the huge worldwide demand for this set, and the number of times I have seen this set out of stock at various retailers, LEGO® Bonsai Tree certainly is proving to be popular. I could not wait to buy mine, and minor gripes aside, I loved it. It was well worth the hype and wait. With its customisation potential, this is a set that can be displayed and inspire creativity for many years to come.

71738 Ninjago Legacy Zane’s Titan Mech Battle Review

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

LEGO® is celebrating 10 years of Ninjago. With this they have recreated some awesome sets from previous years. Each set comes with a 10 Year anniversary Golden Minifigure of one of the main Characters. Each minifigure has exclusive torso printing.

This review looks at 71738 Ninjago Legacy Zane’s Titan Mech Battle with is a recreation of 70737 Titan Mech Battle from 2015 but only Zane’s Ice Mech, bigger and better. The set has 840 parts.

The box is designed with the usual Ninjago flair. The Mech posed on the front and an image of the Golden Minifigure that comes in this box. This set comes with a Golden Jay.

The back shows a posed battle scene and Mech movement / articulation images.

Inside the box there are six numbered bags, a sticker sheet, and the instructions booklet.

The Build

As with all Mech builds, we start on the torso. It is a solid build with great use of gold bars to make the spine and six pack of the Mech. Other great parts used are pearl dark grey beehives used as thrusters on the Torso, a pearl silver shuriken blade on the right arm and gold sword blade on the left arm.

The movement of this mech has been taken to the next level. Using a combination of ball and ratchet joints which makes the mech really solid and stable when posing in all different positions. It has adjustable elbows, shoulders, hips, and ankles. The truly amazing addition are the knee joints. The articulation gives the same style of movement as an actual human knee. This is achieved by using Technic 3-ball steering arms which is genius in my opinion.

On either side of the head there are two spring-loaded missile launchers for a bit of fun when playing. The cockpit where the Zane minifigure sits, is situated in the top part of the torso, just below the head. The one issue is, to get Zane in securely you must practically take the front of the torso off in order to be able to try clip him in to hold onto the steering sticks. You will also need to take off his back sword sheath. For quick play you will probably just pop him in and let him rattle around the cockpit.

The Minifigures

All the four minifigures are exclusive to this set. With dual faces and popping colours, these minifigures are really something to look at. They consist of Legacy version of Deepstone Zane, Ghoultar, Soul Archer and of course the Golden Jay Legacy Minifigure.

Conclusion:

The finished build is a spectacular sight at 26cm in height. The colours used all fit very well together.

The playability and possibility are phenomenal. This is a must for any Mech lover.

Selling at R 1,199.99 it is real value for money and highly recommended.

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