Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Geekbook: Build Your Tiny Kingdom

Recently, LEGO (the most widely recognized building block company on the planet) announced that they would be releasing a line just for girls ages 5 and up. The resounding response from older female fans was "LEGO already has a line for's called...LEGO!" On the strength of this statement, I can assure you that building kits still make an awesome gift for your children age 16 to 40. Today, there is such a variety of subjects to choose from between the three companies making these toys, you can't go wrong. Here's a quick run down of some of their more exciting licenses...

LEGO: Star Wars, DC Super Heroes, LEGO City, Ninjago, Alien Conquest, Pirates of the Caribbean..and next year, Lord of the Rings!

MEGABlocks: HALO, Dragons Universe, Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, Moshi Monsters, Smurfs, Marvel Comics and Movies..and in 2012..Warcraft and Starcraft!! (i like to think I had some input on those last 2..or I delude myself on this at the very least.)

With LEGO taking on Marvel as well in 2012, I suspect MEGA will stop making theirs, which is a little sad considering how much people love their single figure mystery packs.

...and new to the brick battle is KRE-O, who are currently only doing Transformers, but since this is a Hasbro in house project, we drool at the prospect of G.I. Joe sets in 2012! I suspect they'll fold some girl licenses in their as well after LEGO's girlie-announcement, so don't be surprised if you see blocky My Little Ponies on the shelves as well. February is so close now, and with it comes TOY FAIR, so look out for our coverage there and all will be revealed.

UNTILL THEN...we have EYE CANDY!! On tap...

Kre-O sets for Jazz and Sentinel Prime: Each kit features Kreons; little LEGO minifigure like guys that are really the most sought after part of any kit on the planet. Considering these Kreons embody the style of the Generation 1 cartoons we were raised on, you could see why Transformers fans have been eager to crack open these sets. Jazz comes with a mini Jazz and a Race Car Driver while Sentinel Prime (who is an Optimus Prime variation and should not be confused with the movie version. Robots with facial hair. Maddness.) comes with mini Sentinel Prime, Soundwave, Thundercracker and a Fire Chief. Since I am a huge dork, I instantly ditched the human figures in favor of shooting your favorite bots. Would you have done any less? I think not.

The kits were fairly easy to assemble (but of course I had assistance from my ace builder Eileen), though I will point out both kits had a minimum of two missing pieces. Since these were not integral to the completion of our task, they get a pass. Time was of the essence, so we stuck to robot modes and found the posability fairly good, but the joints are so loose, trying to get them to stay put in any pose beyond standing straight up is a risky situation. That moment where your new creation begins to topple over is akin to watching your fragile toddler sized child slip off the couch. Obviously, I have no kids. My only other gripe would be Jazz's hooks for hands, which make for great campfire horror stories but not much play fun. Over all, I can see kids digging these kits and even adults flashing back to their youth while building their favorite Autobot or Decepticon (and more likely snatching out the Kreons immediately to put on a shelf), but Transformers toy fans will miss the actual transforming aspect.

MEGABloks HALO UNSC Falcon with Landing Pad: I was in a comic shop the other day where some kids were talking about how awesome LEGO is. They posed the question "does MEGA make anything cool??" Eileen, from across the room yelled "HALO!" Indeed, HALO is a title that attracts fans across the globe to my Flickr account to slobber over all the images from last year's Toy Fair. The UNSC Firebase alone has drawn 10k views! With countless vehicles, environments, weapons of mass destruction and a legion of figures to charge into battle, it's no wonder why fans await every release with wiggly, feely fingers and eager wallets.

The Falcon was assembled in one night (by Eileen, natch), with no missing pieces, easy to follow instructions, and two little Spartan soldiers to pilot the ship and man the side mounted heavy machine gun. What's not to love?! The cockpit opens, the blades rotate, the guns swivel and you can do all this without the damn thing falling apart every two seconds. Amen for the little thinLinkgs, yea? Adding a landing pad is one of those things were you say "they didn't neeed to put that in there, but I'm very happy they did." It's a nice, class final touch that makes the ship sparkle on your shelf. The downside? MEGA has 3 kabillion more HALO kits out there, and after building the Falcon, you'll be hooked. It's like crack I tells ya. Eileen is still in recovery. Those blind packaged single figures are particularly hard to kick.

Speaking of plastic crack...

LEGO MINI FIGURES!!! : Both the light of my life and bane of my existence. Each figure comes single packed and are available in more retail stores that carry toys with prices ranging from $2.50 to $3. Since the bulk of our readers are casual fans of toys (as in you love the idea of them but you probably don't buy many), you may balk on the $3 price tag (as do we all), but considering a 6 inch figure has sky rocketed to $16, it makes some sort of twisted sense. You'll find series 5 in stores at the moment with characters including Fitness Instructor, Lizard Man, Lumberjack, Gladiator, Small Clown, Egyptian Queen, Evil Dwarf, Boxer, Ice Fisherman, Graduate, Royal Guard, Cave Woman, Detective, Snowboarder Guy, Zookeeper, and Gangster! Looking for a Zombie? Series 1 has it. Need a Rapper fighting a Samurai Warrior? We direct your attention to series 3. Desire a Disco Stu? HE LIVES HERE!!

Now here's the maddening part. IF you hate the idea of blind packaged figures, assuring that you will score no less than 3 Tennis Players in your lifetime, then you Google "LEGO Mini Figure Codes". The first couple of series had two bar codes, one of which allowed you to scan with your smart phone (since we live in the future) and reveal who you were getting. Later, the evil overlords of LEGO decided to make it more difficult and instituted a dot code system. On the bottom of each package you'll find little round indents. Look verrrrry closely. The placement of these dots tells you who is inside. Of course, if you are ace Minifig master Matt Booker, you can feel up the package and know who it is in seconds, but not everyone possesses such groping powers, so there we stand in the isles of Toys R Us, phone in hand, struggling to find the dots that will reveal an Evil Dwarf. Pray for us.

CLICK HERE to score a Sentinel Prime, but keep in mind he was just on sale for about half the price, so keep watch!
CLICK HERE to nab your HALO MEGAbloks Falcon with free shipping!

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