LEGO-fied: Aquaman

I finally made my way out to the movie theater, and I saw Aquaman. As many of you know, this is the latest installment in the DC Comics movie universe. Overall, it was a pleasant experience. The movie was entertaining and visually stimulating. It also continued in the same vein as Justice League in that it was more light-hearted than some other films in the franchise. It had a few moments where I questioned the necessity, or purpose of some inclusions. But, I don’t know the Aquaman comics well enough to judge if they were trying to stay true to the source material or not in those instances. In general, I liked Wonder Woman more as film. But, this was certainly a movie that I enjoyed a lot. In fact, I liked it enough to make it my next LEGO-fied project.

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The simple scene that I built for my LEGO-fied Aquaman poster.

I started by building a simple background using BURPS (big ugly rock pieces) that I have a load of in my parts collection. I didn’t spend any time making them fit nicely, or filling in gaps because I knew from the get-go that they would be faded out in the background, and such details would not ultimately be visible. I then made a slightly more detailed rocky perch for my Aquaman Minifigure. This point would be in focus, so I made sure to add details in the form of extra “rocks”, plants, and animals.

The sea life included in the end product was all individually photographed LEGO® animals. My menagerie for this shoot consisted of one shark, one turtle, one crab, one lobster, and one dolphin figurine. The killer whale in the photo was the brick-built version that came along with Lighthouse Point (click here to read my review). I photographed each one from several different angles, and used Photoshop to insert them into the image with Aquaman. The color was, of course, altered to resemble the underwater appearance of the original film poster, and the lighting effects were all added in in Photoshop.

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My LEGO-fied version of the Aquaman movie poster.

And there you have it, my first LEGO-fied post of 2019. Last year, I produced quite a few LEGO-fied posts, but I was not very consistent at it. I enjoy making them, but they are time consuming. This year, I will be trying to put one out each month. So, one month down, 11 to go!

Until next time,

-Tom

p.s. If you like the content at True North Bricks, I would love it if you followed me here on WordPress (click the “follow” option in the menu to your right), FacebookPinterest, or Twitter for regular updates.

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January 2019 Haul

It feels like it was just over a week ago that I posted my last haul article… oh wait a minute, it was… I had originally planned to wait until later in January to make another LEGO® purchase. However, this week the LEGO® Store surprised me with a unique freebie. Apparently the LEGO® Group has now opened its 100th store in North America, and to celebrate, they released a commemorative Minifigure. I had some gift cards from Christmas to spend, so I figured why not? In addition to that, I have an update on the Build-a-Mini tower for you, some other freebie info, and my haul!

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My January 2019 LEGO® Haul.

To begin with, you needed to spend $50 in store to get yourself the commemorative Minifigure. So, I spent a while contemplating just what I should get. It was a hard decision. I ended up picking up Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate (75930). I have wanted this set for a while because I love dinosaurs, the Jurassic Park franchise, and I can see loads of MOC possibilities with this set. Plus, like I said, I had some gift cards. So, I had the option of going with a more extravagant set this time around. You all seem to like Jurassic World content as well. For the last few weeks, my Jurassic World posts have been getting some major hits. So, I’ll have more of those articles and coloring pages heading your way soon.

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Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate

The second set you see in the image above is actually not part of my purchased haul, but I did get it this month. I caught up with a good friend who gave it to me as a belated Christmas present. So, since it missed the Christmas haul post, it gets a mention here. I am actually pretty excited to put this one together. One of my favorite Batman story lines in recent years has been The Court of Owls. This set, Batman: The Attack of the Talons, is based on that (Talons were assassins for the Court of Owls in the comics).

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Batman: Attack of the Talons

I also check the Build-a-Mini tower every time I go to the LEGO® Store, just to see if there are new pieces. As luck would have it, this time there was. There were some leftovers from Christmas (you could build Mrs. Claus, there was an elf hat with elf ears, and Santa hats too). But, those were out of season, so I didn’t go for them. There were other unique parts that are worth mentioning though. As many of you know, if you are patient and willing to collect odds and ends from the Build-a-Mini tower, you can eventually put together pretty good facsimiles of Minifigures from a retired series. This time around, I saw the pants and hair for the Karate Master from series two. I didn’t get those though. But, I did pick up the following:

  • the red mohawk from the Battle Dwarf seen in series 17
  • a different color variant of the backpack worn by the Hiker in series 16
  • the panda mask from series 12
  • the saw from the Construction Worker in series 13
  • the bulldog from series 17
  • torso from the Thespian in series 8
  • torso from the Motorcycle Mechanic in series 10
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Front view of the Build-a-Mini figurines that I put together.

As I mentioned with the backpack before, it is not unheard of to get different color variations of parts seen in sets or from the Minifigure series. I was particularly intrigued on this trip to find a blond version of Barbara Gordon’s hair from the LEGO® Batman Movie. Until now, that piece was uniquely seen in those sets (to the best of my knowledge). There was also two different options of two-toned legs sporting the pants and boots looks (I picked up one version). Two of my characters were made to have an oriental style of dress to go with the MOC I recently started. The third was built to have a punk look.

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Rear view of the Build-a-Mini figurines that I put together.

And now, on to the pièce de résistance… the commemorative Minifigure. This is actually a two part freebie. First, you get the Minifigure. It comes in a Comic Con-esque blister pack with a golden card insert. The Minifigure is actually a variant of the polybag that was given away at the LEGO® Store in 2013. However, this time, he comes with a front and back printed torso, and a printed 2×4 brick. The other part of the freebie is a golden poster.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, any purchase at the LEGO® Store got you a LEGO® Movie 2 double-sided poster. My LEGO® Store was even kind enough to give me TWO of these posters, so I can display both sides simultaneously!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and feel free to share any thoughts in the comments space below. More of you have been reaching out in recent weeks, and I have genuinely enjoyed the interactions (meeting new LEGO® fans was one of the reasons I started True North Bricks, after all).

Until next time,

-Tom

p.s. If you like the content at True North Bricks, I would love it if you followed me here on WordPress (click the “follow” option in the menu to your right), FacebookPinterest, or Twitter for regular updates.

DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary [Book Review]

In September 2018, DK published the DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary. This is not their first foray into an encyclopedic style book dealing with this property. In fact, this is their fourth. We have already seen a Batman Visual Dictionary, a Character Encyclopedia, and an Awesome Guide. As with most of these books, I waited for a sale so that I could get myself the exclusive Minifigure. But, let’s take a look at the book first.

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DK’s LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary cover.

To start off with, this book seems as though it was written to be a follow up to the Batman Visual Dictionary, which covered the original Batman sets from 2006 through to 2012. This volume puts very little focus on those (you pretty much only see a scant mention of them in the timeline), and picks up with sets from 2013. It is actually fairly up to date, in that includes sets that were released this past summer. At first glance, it seems like a good idea to chunk several years into one volume, like they have done. But, this book is not comprehensive enough in my opinion. One thing that I really liked about the original visual dictionary was that it included a section in the back that showed all of the Minifigs from the series in one spread. This book left that out. It also does not show all of the Minifigures produced since 2013 in its pages. For example, only Hal Jordan is shown as Green Lantern, but John Stewart and Jessica Cruz have also been produced. The book even suggests that Jessica has not been designed. She was released a month before this book even came out. Minifigures are designed well in advance of their actual release, I am fairly certain plans for her existed when the spreads for this book were made.

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A sample of a spread from the DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary.

Speaking of the spreads, I enjoyed them much more in the LEGO: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know book. These ones were a little bland by comparison. The photography was a little lacking in some cases too. The box art from many sets was used for full two page visuals. It feels like a lack of effort to me. I also miss the little comics that were included in the Batman Visual Dictionary.

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Some spreads were just re-used box art in the DC Comics Visual Dictionary.

I suppose what I liked the least about this volume was the organization. It is called a dictionary. In my mind, that means its contents should be presented in alphabetical order. The organization of this book is a little haphazard. It is divided up by heroes, villains, and a separate section for the LEGO® Batman Movie. I would have much preferred to see all Batmans (including the movie ones) in one section. You could have gone through characters and sets in that manner. It would have created a better flow for readers, and allowed them to see all versions of one character at once. There is no logical order here. To make matters worse, for some reason, they only include series one of the Batman movie Minifigures…

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Half of the DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary is cardboard.

I have griped about this before with previous book reviews, but DK needs to come up with a better way to package these exclusive Minifigs. Like other books before it, half of this book is just empty cardboard so that the cover is thick enough to accommodate a Minifigure. With that said, the Minifigure is really the reason to buy this book. I am a big Green Lantern and Batman fan. So, I really wanted the Yellow Lantern Batman included in this book. He did not disappoint me either.

The torso of this Batman is really nicely detailed, and I was happy to see that it was not just a rehash of Sinestro from couple of years back. His legs suffer from the same paint issues as the Green Lanterns before him though. Namely, the upper leg printing looks a little sloppy and doesn’t go around the sides and back. I feel like two-tone legs would have been possible here, just as they would have been with the Green Lantern Minifigs. He doesn’t come with any accessories (other than a cape), but I would still rate this Minifig at 13/15 (87%) if it came in a set.

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Sinestro and Yellow Lantern Batman side by side. The torsos are similar, but not identical.

All in all, I really like the Minifigure that comes with DK’s DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary (man, that is a mouth full that I am getting tired of writing). But, I feel like the book itself is a step backwards from the original Batman Visual Dictionary, as well as from other recent DK LEGO® books. This book was poorly organized, and would have benefited from more detail about sets and Minifigs. If they are going to churn one of these books out every few years, then they really should go with a consecutive volume format. They could even release a box set of previous volumes every time a new one comes out. This would allow them to focus on a couple of years worth of sets in greater depth, without the need to look back at what came before at all. Packaging Minifigures in a new way would also allow for more pages and content. Sadly, this book is a bit of a bust for me. What do you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time,

-Tom

p.s. If you like the content here at True North Bricks, I would love it if you followed me here on WordPress (click the “follow” option in the menu to your right), on FacebookPinterest, or Twitter for regular updates.

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Beware your fears made into light…

LEGO-fied: Forever Evil

Minifigure Monday is taking a bit of a turn this week. It has been a long time since I have done a LEGO-fied poster, and I was feeling inspired after getting the exclusive Yellow Lantern Batman that was included in DK’s DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary. This week’s posts are all actually based on this character, starting with yesterday’s free coloring page (click here to get a copy).

Now, I have never actually read the comic book where Batman becomes a Yellow Lantern. But, I loved when the Yellow Lantern skin that came out way back when I was playing Arkham City on my PS3. I am also a big Green Lantern fan. So, I decided to find out when Batman had this power ring in the comics, and recreate a scene with my Minifigures. It turns out this variant of Batman appeared briefly in the Forever Evil series from 2013-14. So, without further delay, here is my LEGO-fied version of Forever Evil #4.

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LEGO-fied Forever Evil cover from DC Comics

Be sure to check back later this week from my review of the DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary. Remember, if you like the content here, I would love it if you followed me here on WordPress (click the “follow” option in the menu to your right), on FacebookPinterest, or Twitter for regular updates.

Until next time,

-Tom

Coloring Page – Yellow Lantern Batman

I am a sucker for exclusive Minifigures… Slap one of my favs into a book or movie case and there is a pretty good chance that I will get it. That was the case with this week’s coloring page. I am a Batman fan, and a Green Lantern fan. So, when DK released their latest LEGO® DC Comics Super Heroes Visual Dictionary, and I found out that it came with Yellow Lantern Batman, I was pretty quick to pick one up. You can use the link below to download a free PDF of the Yellow Lantern Batman coloring page (it will open in a new window). Happy coloring!

Click here to download the Yellow Lantern Batman coloring page.

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This is a sample of the Yellow Lantern Batman coloring page, it is not print quality.

Coloring Page – Bane

This coloring page has been a long time coming. I have wanted to draw Bane from the LEGO® Batman Movie ever since I got the Toxic Truck Attack set over a year ago (click here to read the review). There is actually a lot of detail on this big-fig though, and the idea of drawing those cables seemed like a lot of work. Sure enough, when I actually sat down to finally draw this, it took me over a week of tinkering on and off… and most of that went to the cables… Bane himself was done on the first day. This is probably my favorite big-fig to date though, so he had to end up as a coloring page! Use the link below to download your free, printable PDF file (it will open in a new window). Happy coloring!

Click here to download a PDF of this coloring page.

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This is a sample of the Bane coloring page, it is not print quality.

Review – Joker’s Notorious Lowrider [70906]

As I write this, Joker’s Notorious Lowrider is not yet listed as “retired” on the official LEGO® Shop-at-Home site, but it is out of stock. That in conjunction with several retailers liquidating this set probably means that its days on shelves are numbered. I decided a long time ago that I would not pay full price for the Lowrider due to budget constraints. However, the Joker and Harley Quinn variants it comes with really appealed to me. So, when I found it on sale at 60% off, I decided that it was finally worth the purchase. Let’s take a look at how it held up to my expectations.

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Joker’s Notorious Lowrider box art.

SET SUMMARY

NAME: Joker’s Notorious Lowrider
SET #: 70906
THEME: The LEGO® Batman Movie
COST: $64.99 CAD
BRICK COUNT: 433
MINIFIGURES: 3
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2017

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Joker’s Notorious Lowrider box contents.

SUMMARY REVIEW: 80%

VALUE: 80% ($0.15 per brick is not bad at all.)
BUILD:
90% (Nicely designed set with only minor details lacking.)
MINIFIGURES:
95% (Excellent Minifig designs, great brick:fig ratio.)
ENTERTAINMENT:
55% (At full price, you get a great set, but not much build time.)

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Front view of Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

REVIEW

VALUE: 80%
At full price, Joker’s Notorious Lowrider costs $64.99 in Canada. With 433 pieces, you are looking at a cost per brick of $0.15. That is above the average that I have calculated for LEGO® sets released in 2017 (you can read more about that by clicking here). It is still not that bad though, and I would rate the value of the set at 4/5 (80%). As I mentioned earlier, I bought Joker’s Notorious Lowrider for 60% off, and paid a total of $26.50 for it. At that price, each brick set me back $0.06, which was an amazing deal, and would earn 100%.

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Rear view of Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

BUILD: 90%
Joker’s Notorious Lowrider is a nicely designed set. It looks good as a display piece, but also has many great play features. I was impressed by the design for the suspension on the car, which actually allows the car the bounce up and down. I have not seen that previously on a LEGO® model. It employs a Technic-style, hinged system of beams and pins coupled with elastic bands to achieve the springing action.

 

Overall, the Lowrider is well detailed. The trunk can be opened, and there is a missile launching system built in to attack chasing super heroes. The missiles are launched by a trigger set up to look like a sound system where the back seat of the car would normally be. I do wish a little more had been done to make the speaker system more realistic, but that is a minor complaint. Another little issue I have is that the dashboard has no gauges. Stickers were given for the licence plates, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to give one or two more for the dash. A printed speedometer would have been even better. It’s an easy fix though, if you have the parts.

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Trunk missiles in Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

Overall, the build is fun both in terms of design and play. My complaints with it are few, and pretty minor. So, I give Joker’s Notorious Lowrider 9/10 (90%) in this category.

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Cruisin’ in Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

MINIFIGURES: 95%
As with many super heroes/Batman movie sets, the Minifigures are one of the major draws when it comes to Joker’s Notorious Lowrider. You get Batgirl, Joker, and Harley Quinn with this set. Batgirl is nothing new. She looks like the other two Batgirls that I have gotten in this theme. In fact, she is identical to the Batgirl that came in Catwoman Cycle Chase (click here to read more about that set). Only her facial expressions differ from the “exclusive” Batgirl that I got with my purchase of the LEGO® Batman Movie (click here to read more on that). All the same, it is a nicely designed Minifigure that comes with the standard utility belt and batarangs. If this was the first time I had seen this Minifigure, she would earn 15/15.

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Front view of Minifigures included with Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

In terms of the titular character, this variant of Joker is really nice. While his facial expressions and leg printing are identical to the Joker that came in The Joker Balloon Escape (click here for that review), he has unique torso printing that, as far as I know, only comes with this set. I really like the vest and t-shirt look that show Joker’s tattooed arms. As with The Joker Balloon Escape, this Joker’s accessory is also a trick gun with a “bang” flag. This Minifig also earns 15/15 in terms of detail.

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Rear view of Minifigures included with Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

Joker’s Notorious Lowrider comes with a completely unique Harley Quinn. Obviously, her hair is the same as other variants, but she has torso and leg printing that I have not seen before. I have not collected all of the sets from the LEGO® Batman Movie, but I think her facial expressions are also unique. This is my third Harley from the theme, and the printing is new to me. My favorite detail about this version of Harley is her “Smilex” shirt, which is a reference to the Burton/Keaton/Nicholson Batman film from 1989. That movie is what really got me into Batman to begin with. Harley also comes with roller skates and a baseball bat. She easily earns 15/15 for design.

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Alternate faces of Minifigures included with Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

With three Minifigs and 433 bricks, you are looking at a brick-to-Minifigure ratio of 144:1. Super hero themed sets generally have good brick-to-Minifigure ratios, and this set is no exception. I give Joker’s Notorious Lowrider a ratio score of 4.5/5 (90%). Averaging this with the total design score (100%) brings us to an overall Minifigure grade of 95%.

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Overhead view of the interior of Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

ENTERTAINMENT: 55%
Joker’s Notorious Lowrider took me 63 minutes to build. At full price, each minute of build time would translate to $1.03. That is fairly pricey in my opinion. I would not rate that build time at more than 1/5 (20%). Luckily, I bought this set at 60% off, meaning my cost per minute was $0.42. At that price, this set would earn a build time score of 100%.

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Stereo system and missile launch pins in Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

In terms of enjoyment, this is a great set. I can see this set cruising the streets of my LEGO® city, or being displayed nicely on a shelf. Kids will probably also really enjoy this model for the bouncing suspension and trunk missiles. I am not completely blown away by this model, but I do really like it. So, Joker’s Notorious Lowrider earns an enjoyment score of 4.5/5 (90%) from me. Averaging this with the build-time score at full price earns this set an overall entertainment score of 55%. At 60% off, you are looking at a grade of 95%.

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Slightly Photoshopped Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.

OVERALL: 80%

In general, Joker’s Notorious Lowrider is a nice set, and a solid buy. You get a good price per brick, as well as excellent Minifigures. The set is nicely designed, and a lot of fun. Its main drawback is that you don’t get much build time for the price tag. For many youngsters, that will probably get balanced by play time, and even for me, photography will be fun. But, strictly from the amount of build time, it is expensive. I got Joker’s Notorious Lowrider on liquidation for 60% off, which is a price that is hard to beat. At $26.50, this set earns an overall score of 95%. Regardless of whether you paid full price, or found this set on liquidation, it is worth the purchase in my books.

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Batgirl vs Harley Quinn!

Do you have an opinion you’d like to share about Joker’s Notorious Lowrider? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time,

-Tom

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Harley Quinn from Joker’s Notorious Lowrider.