The Penguin Arctic Roller

Penguin Arctic Roller

This gorgeous vintage looking white car is The Penguin Arctic Roller set 70911 from the Lego Batman Movie, which I picked up on sale in early January but hadn’t got to building til now. It’s very elegant with the long bonnet, sweeping mudguards and fancy headlights; dad says it reminds him of the Rolls Royce that he’d see around town as a child in the 1940s.

The first bag contains the basic structure, the chassis and internal support for all that lovely bodywork later in the build. It seemed to go very fast compared to other sets I’ve done, not sure if that’s because I’m getting more experience or because it’s very straightforward. Either way, I soon had this portion constructed, including some odd features like that upright beam halfway along the bonnet area. And of course those long mudguards, actually a piece I’ve previously noted used to construct the balloon on the Elves Aira’s Airship set. I also liked the creative use of small guns placed in clips to mimic exhaust pipes on each side.

Penguin Arctic Roller chassis and wheel arches

Several days later and it was on to bag two.

As promised, all the luscious bodywork, plus various clips and things to clip into them, including wing mirrors and fish-shaped weapons which are rather fun. Oh and the hood ornament is a small penguin, nifty cool.

The Penguin Arctic Roller, side view


There aren’t many stickers in this set, just two for grilles on the bonnet, the personalised number plates and one added to the roof to mimic the holes you’d find in a soft fabric roof. The upright beam gained a cog-wheel of all things, and then a small grey button on top – it turns out this is functioning weaponry, you press the button and two spring-loaded blue harpoons (with bulbous front ends for safety) fly out towards your enemy!

The Penguin Arctic Roller, front view showing blue weapons & headlamps

I especially like the elaborate headlamps, three sets of same, which are mainly studs and round elements and even ice-cream cones pressed into each other. The instructions misled me a little here and I thought the middle set of lights required grey circular studs rather than clear ones, and then couldn’t get the tiny elements apart so my car has extra long lamps, ho-hum.

The boot (trunk) of the car has what is clearly meant to be the spare wheel inside a cover placed on it, but it also hides a secret – inside the cavity the car carries a small get-away vehicle of some sort, likely a boat, so Penguin can escape trouble. I do like little extra touches of this kind, even if I’m not going to play with it.


Along with Penguin comes his foe in minifigure form, Batman with two face options under the mask. I’m quite glad to get a Batman, given I already have sidekicks Batgirl and Robin from the Catwoman’s Catcycle Chase set.

Batman and the Penguin miniifigures and getaway boat from The Penguin Arctic Roller set

I must have a penchant for villains as I think Penguin is much more interesting a figure with his top hat, fur collar and umbrella. Pleasingly, there is room in the car for Penguin to sit in the driver’s seat with his hat still on – likely due to the fact that he has the shorter style child legs – and the roof comes on and off easily in order to place him inside, no room for his brolly as well, however.

Overall this is a great set, easy and fun to build, lots of nice features and a very pleasing vehicle shape, the wheels (all six of them) roll smoothly and it’s an eye-catching and unusual design given the preponderance of more modern cars in Lego’s range. I want more like this!

The Penguin Arctic Roller


More purple bus making

Enlighten city sightseeing bus completed lower deck with upper viewing area

The next bag of parts for the Enlighten City Sightseeing Bus set was all about windows. Lots and lots of windows. Well, it is a sight-seeing bus so the minifigures need to be able to look out. It was quite a quick build, many panes of blue glass to click into the cream frames, as well as adding the rear doors and a weird grey upright piece which I finally realised is meant to be a handrail for the stairs (not too obvious when it’s stuck vertically like that rather than swivelled at an angle to run parallel to said stairs..

Close-up of stairs, rail and rear doors of Enlighten city sightseeing bus

The top of this section is neatly covered with tiles which begs the question of how the  upper deck will attach but I’ll soon find out when I get to the final bag to complete the set.

Enlighten city sightseeing bus front cab with upper deck viewing area and wing mirrors

The front area of the bus of course has the main windscreen for the driver in two black-framed sections which proved a right pain to get in place, each is only held on with two studs and at an odd angle, so they fell off a lot while I was trying to attach that upper viewing platform section, though once that was securely in place things settled down. I like the sticking-out wing mirror design, a bit of an odd design but certainly adds character, and this whole section didn’t take too long to build.

(I realised I should have added the various stickers going along but I’ll do them at the end instead.)

Overall the build continued well, except for finding one error in the front bumper section which is made as a sub-assembly then clipped on: the two 1 x 4 plates used on the front of the bus in the previous stage had extra rims protruding from them, which prevented the sub-assembly from actually fitting in place; I removed them, left the lower one on the chassis absent as it wasn’t really needed and replaced t’other with a standard 1 x 4 plate from my Lego stocks. Problem solved!



Enlighten Purple Bus Love

Enighten city sighteeing bus box shot

As well as various Lego sets for my birthday, I was also taken with a large purple bus made not by Lego but by Chinese(?) company Enlighten. They have in the past produced clones of Lego sets but do also have their own ranges, following general Lego themes but not actually copying (there are some fab castle sets out there for example). And a big City Sightseeing Bus which I found on Amazon for £25 and just couldn’t resist. It’s clearly aimed at the Lego Friends market given the colour palette but seems less.. insipid.. than a lot of those sets, to my mind at least. Plus I really wanted to see what a non-Lego brand could produce in terms of quality and presentation.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Enighten city sighteeing bus packets and instructions

The large inviting box had colour photographs and full details of the contents, and aping the Lego box styles of the past had an opening lid rather than the annoying “rip open the end and have a torn box” Lego have moved on to. Inside said box were 4 bags of bricks, a sticker sheet and an instruction book.

Enighten city sighteeing bus instructions

I’ve read mixed reports of non-Lego instructions so was impressed to find a large, colourful booklet with thick, quality paper and very clear images of the pieces needed for each stage and also extra details on how to assemble various elements. As you can see in the photo, substructures get their own box-out in yellow, and there are red lines showing where certain pieces should be placed. New elements to be added are in darker shades, parts you’ve already built are faded so it’s quite clear what should be placed where. Just as comprehensive a layout as any Lego booklet, to my mind. although sometimes it was tricky to see if a colour was white or cream from the image, but I’ve had that issue the odd time with Lego also.

The first bag contained four minifigures which I’ve yet to assemble, but bag 2 had all the elements to make the chassis and lower deck of the bus.

Enighten city sighteeing bus lower deck with seats

This is a pretty large model, and the base is made up of large plates, and then more large plates and then let’s add some more large plates before the purple brick sides get built up. Lego’s patented brick design works because each element grips very well to each other element, the “clutch”, and I’ve read reviews stating that other manufacturers fall down on quality control here. I’m pleased to report Enlighten are pretty good in this respect. The bricks feel a tad lighter than Lego somehow, and you do have to press them together much more firmly than with genuine Lego – several times I needed to go around the structure pushing elements back together as they weren’t as solid as I wanted. Generally though they all hold together well and there are only a few places where there are tiny gaps between.

Enighten city sighteeing bus stairs close-up

As a double-decker bus there are of course stairs to the upper deck and I really enjoyed building these, with angled tiles placed on standard sized blocks, plates, and also something that seems to be unique to Enlighten, half-height bricks. This was satisfying to build up, step by step, each given a tread and riser in a simple but effective manner.

Enighten city sighteeing bus lower deck seats close-up

The overall colour scheme for the bus is well-chosen, the main purple offset by the cream elements and then these bus seats are in a fetching shade of blue, complementing the main body colour nicely. Each seat sits on a plinth of corner shaped grey bricks, but needs to be pressed down pretty firmly.

I also appreciated the use of textured bricks along the sides, mimicking the grilles you find on the sides of real-world buses, presumably to help dissipate heat production.

The overall design is very well thought-out, fun to build, easy to follow and the bags separated out such that you get a decent amount of bus built for each. Enlighten gets a thumbs-up from me, and I’m looking forward to the next section of building.

A Dragon’s Tail

Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612 - all four legs and tail

Yay, my Mech Dragon has his tail! And looks much more dragon-like for it, compared to the more iguana-y appearance before I reached this point.

First step for bag 3 however was assembling the back legs, which were pretty much the same as the front ones, albeit smaller. Same deal with the claws on the golden toe elements and then the rick-rack joint and the ball joint.. very satisfying to construct they were:

Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612 hind leg

So both legs added to make it a proper quadruped and then the three segments  comprising the long and wiggly tail, using new-to-me hinge sections and another long pin holding the tail section onto the main body. And when I say long tail I do mean it, it feels like there are many more segments than three:

Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612 tail

This method of construction means the joints are very flexible, it reminds me of the plastic toy snakes you can get that are made up of sections, and gives a very sinuous effect as the tail weaves back and forth at random any time the model is picked up. I especially like the elaborate gold end piece there, with matching golden swords on either side, and of course more spines continuing the ones on the main body. The dragon is really taking shape now, with only one more bag to go!

This bag also had the final two minifigures in it, Master Wu with his clever paper wrap making the bottom of his robes, and Garmadon with two upper body sections one atop t’other for his four arms. There’s also a laser weapon thing which can be put on the figure’s shoulder but is rather unwieldy.

Master Wu and Garmadon minfigures from Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612 set

Chameleon and on

Lego 30477 Chameleon

Yet another cute critter in the Creator polybag range, this is the 30477 Chameleon and was another Ebay bargain. Look at that silly face, how can you not smile to see it? A quick and easy build with my favourite method of adding hinges for the legs and tail, plus the nifty tongue and suggestion of a fly just caught on the long tongue.


A nice addition to my menagerie for sure, though not quite as impressive as the larger one in the Rainforest Animals set I have been coveting for a while..

Is it a bird? Is it a -? It’s a plane.

City Race Plane 60144As a change from cars I picked up this nifty City Race Plane 60144 for not very much on Ebay and spent a happy half-hour assembling it. Er, and making more mistakes than is sensible for a straightforward design – I put the black curved upper fuselage pieces too far forward (then wondered why there was a gap) and then having thought the model completely finished noticed I had more yellow on the edges of the wings than in the photo. Had put the large angled wing pieces too far out from the body of the plane. Oops. Still, the great thing about Lego you’ve just built is taking it back apart to fix the error and set it all back up again.

The City theme is not one I’ve been mad keen on overall, not too many sets have grabbed my attention and they seem a tad blocky and childish, but I did admire this one and it uses some new-to-me elements, like the inverted slope bricks making up the undercarriage so that was interesting, also the propeller goes round (whee!) and the  landing wheels roll smoothly. Being an adult, I did not under any circumstances sit there spinning the propeller, rolling the plane up and down and absolutely did not pretend to make it loop-the-loop when showing the family. Indeed not…


City Race Plane 60144 Close up of Cockpit and figure

Moving on.. The plane is perfectly sized for the supplied mini-figure with his helmet and movable visor, over the printed aviator sunglasses detail, and also has a small joystick as controls, though no instrument panel and this level of set. The canopy opens and closes to allow the figure entrance and egress, though not catching it on the flat tile piece just in front of the cockpit is a thing, I had to re-shoot the photos as I’d not noticed the loose piece till afterwards.

This was a fast, fun build and even though there are too many stickers for my taste, the red and yellow and black combination is very attractive, and the overall design makes me think of the Red Bull Air Race though I think the engine would be a tad outclassed there. It’s made me more positive towards the City theme designs, certainly.

City Race Plane 60144 viewed from above


Half a Mech Dragon

First two sections of Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612

Yep, that’s what half a Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612 looks like, bit reminiscent of an iguana at this stage. And I’m really excited to have made a start on this set which is the thing that got me into Lego again after all these years and was my Christmas present.

Box, bags and instructions for Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612

It’s the biggest set I have and it was good to see the various elements divided into numbered bags for ease of assembly; the minifigures seem to be distributed pretty randomly within same so you build a minifigure and then it can watch over your progress. Now I’ve got the hang of building I set things up as usual, with the contents of bag 1 in the base of the tin I use to keep my Lego pieces corralled, and the lid as a working area (the lip of the tin hopefully preventing any elements going walkabout from the desk).

Preparing to start with bag 1 of the Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612

Most of the first section was straightforward, although as is pretty much normal for me, I wasn’t quite sure which part of my dragon I was building – in fact for a goodly amount of time I assumed it was the head, although the absence of eyes and presence of jet engines did eventually make me realise I had the main torso section instead. Oops!

Halfway through section 1 of the Mech Dragon

I tend to split my Lego building time, so that was as far as I got on the first day, nothing too exciting other than those nifty fold-out engines. Day 2 was more fun, with the addition of the transparent yellow slope to mimic back ridges, the curved covers and shaping and the stickers added.

Completed first section of Mech Dragon

And the nifty way the engines are concealed beneath said stickered covers which then raise up, for the engines to be folded out – so cool!


Next day I moved onto bag 2, with another minifigure (I’m not familiar with the Ninjago setting so have no clue who these figures are, must look them up at some point) and the next section which is – no, again not the head but the hips, abdomen, I don’t know, bit of a dragon heading tail-wards. And including legs, with nifty poseable claws on each foot, each leg attached with a ball joint giving a good range of movement.

ninjago mechdragon claws

This section slots onto the previous one with a long pin to hold it in place but still allow some wiggle room with two black rubbery elements (see end of main section 2 photo as well as below) preventing excess motion.

ninjago mechdragon section 2 close-up

The instructions for this part also saw the addition of big black spikes on hinge bricks, definitely looking more dragon-like now. Roll on next section which should include legs and then the tail and head!

First two sections of Ninjago Mech Dragon 70612

Harry, Hagrid & Hogwarts Hall

Great news to accompany the other sets officially revealed by Lego at the New York Toy Fair this past weekend – Harry Potter is back. As well as Fantastic Beasts themed releases we’re getting classic Potter related stuff, and the first is this amazing looking version of Hogwarts Great Hall.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall exterior

The new set will be available from 1st August this year and contains 878 pieces. As well as the hall itself, there are 10 mini-figures including Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, Professor McGonagall, Nearly Headless Nick, Professor Quirrell with Voldemort’s face hidden under his purple turban and Albus Dumbledore. Of extra interest is the new version of Hagrid whose beard and hair make him much closer to the film versions of his character than previous renditions, and also the inclusion of Susan Bones. Given she didn’t play a huge role in the books it isn’t yet clear why she was added, but Hufflepuff fans should be happy.

The child figures have shorter legs so they look like youngsters next to the adults, and Hagrid has added height (along with his distinctive pink umbrella).  And we finally get wands specially made to fit the size rather than the oversized sticks used previously.

For extra playability there are versions of Hedwig and Scabbers, and a buildable basilisk – reportedly Fawkes the Phoenix is also a buildable, but images of that have been scarce thus far.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall interior

The great hall has benches, tables and a fireplace, candles and house banners (switchable to your preferred houses) and there is a tower reached via a spiral staircase, leading up to the Mirror of Erised and even the Sorting Hat.

The set includes a boat, foodstuffs for the feasts, potions bottles and brooms, so recreating favourite scenes from the series, or at least the first few books, will be easy.

Overall the model measures 14” (37cm) high, 6” (17cm) wide and 11” (30cm) deep and seems to be designed to allow further sets to be added on at a later date.

The set is priced at £99 in the UK – time to start saving!


Let’s Go to Lego!

Lego store Liverpool One, Liverpool UK

As it’s my birthday next week I planned a trip to the nearest Lego shop, which is in Liverpool One, the big shopping centre here in Liverpool. I had worked out what I definitely planned to buy, and what sets I wanted to have a look at for future consideration – and maybe one of them would end up coming home with me as well.

Having not been to a shop before I was joyful to be surrounded by Lego, boxes, displays, a wee table for kids to have fun assembling things, and even a giant Lego Friends figure midway into the shop!

lego store liverpool friends giant figure

Not sure I want to think about how long something that big would take to assemble, it’s certainly striking, being nearly 6ft tall. And I love the wee doggy she’s holding also.

Of course, Lego is mainly aimed at children, which explains why most of the displays in glass cases in amongst the boxed sets were at kid-height. About the eye level of an 8-year-old, maybe. Being no longer 8 that meant about waist-high on me so there was lots of twisting and bending to peer into the cases, but I got to check out some of the sets I wanted a preview of, and could see at once that a couple of them weren’t as enticing in real life at all.


One thing I did love was the augmented reality 3D display screen. If you hold up a Lego set box in front of it, as well as seeing yourself and the box, it also somehow reads the details of what you’re holding and loads up an animated 3D version of the box contents, so in my case with the Turbo Track Racer that I was coveting, the blue and white car assembled itself, came “alive”, drove around the screen at a logical angle to the box I was holding, drove back onto the box, disassembled itself, turned into the fork lift, moved around then did the same with the go-kart.

box art for Lego-Creator-Turbo-Track-Racer-31070lego creator turbo track racer 3 models

If that doesn’t drive sales up I don’t know what would – I could have happily grabbed box after box and taken them to the screen but I behaved myself! Definitely a fun thing to play around with next visit though.

lego store liverpool pick a brick wall

I’ll not go into what I bought for my birthday just now, but I did visit the Pick a Brick wall (which will get its own post at a future date) and managed to fill three cups as I wanted to be sure and get the 60th birthday limited edition set

3 PAB (Pick a Brick) cups from Liverpool Lego store

I’d planned on two PAB cups and then another set but the sets I could afford I didn’t fancy, and while I’ll likely get the blue racer I admired zooming round the virtual screen, that’s for another time, so a third cup it was.

I had a great time at the store but other than the PAB wall it’s just as convenient and a lot cheaper to check out stuff and buy online. Still, I’m sure I’ll be back there, and be sure to say hello to the Friends figure if she’s still there.


A Red Truck.. thing?

One of the things I’ve found coolest about a Lego set is not being quite sure what I’m building.  I mean, obviously I know what the set contains and what the end product should be, but when you’re assembling stuff brick by brick, page by page from the instructions there’s usually quite a long wait before you can go, “oh right, I can see the axles now!” or “Ah, this is clearly the front section with headlights, nifty..” Maybe that’s just me? Anyway, this time around there were elements of that (“ooh, the seats, clever!”) but even once I’d built it, I didn’t know what I had.

Red vehicle alternate build from Lego 5867

It’s some kind of truck. And it’s red and white so I thought it was some kind of emergency vehicle, so while building it and when complete I called it a fire truck. Except a quick google showed me that a fire “truck” is just another word in the US for a fire “engine” as we call them here in Britain, the big long things with ladders on top and water tanks inside. Hmm, ambulance? No.

This is the third build from Lego Super Speedster Creator set 5867 which has a fabulous race car as the main build, a go-kart and then this one, and not much description to go on, given it’s an old set from 2010 I was lucky enough to find used but in immaculate condition on Ebay. A lot of folk have built this set over the years, and created their own MOCs from it, so much so that there are not one but *two* published books for same, so it was a must have. And the reviews I could find called it an armoured car, which I don’t think it really looks like at all, even allowing for a blocky Lego version of real life here. A friend in the emergency services reckoned it looked most like a fire chief’s truck, or maybe a fire response vehicle so I guess that’s what I’ll call it. Yes, far too much thought and attention paid to one small red Lego build, but never mind.

I really enjoyed building this. The set contains 278 parts so is the largest I’ve assembled so far and makes a very solid vehicle. The seller on Ebay had sorted all the bricks by colour which made it easy to find what I needed and I made a good start the first day. When its a set with several builds you often get the impression the designers are reaching a bit for an alternate build and best use for the various elements and this one seemed to have small slopes I’d have thought would be better replaced with larger versions, but that’s the nature of the thing. The previous car I built was the Technic Getaway Racer and I definitely prefer using standard bricks over the Technic ones when building up a chassis, even if its bulkier.

Red vehicle alternate build from Lego 5867 stage 2

Two thirds of the way through and it was really taking shape, some interesting uses of elements like the opening doors on a hinge piece, and way the grille section was built up was quite inventive, even if I kept knocking the dratted thing off every few minutes. I also found a couple of pieces missing, hence the yellow headlamp there, but with it being used I reckon it’s pretty good there were only two pieces missing altogether, I’m glad I spent time sorting my other bricks previously as finding a replacement was a doddle.

Opening doors and seats on red vehicle alternate build from Lego 5867

And finished! The moveable wing-mirrors are a nice touch, and the front bonnet section slotted in very securely, and look at those nifty doors, I’m really pleased with those.

Rear view of red vehicle alternate build from Lego 5867

The detail on this is great with the rear lights and the cabin area, though with a big back window pane like that I’d not want this to be the “armoured car” transporting any of my valuables!

Having assessed this beforehand as my least preferred of the three possible builds in this set I’ve changed my mind. It made a good, solid, convincing vehicle, was really good fun to work on and the result is nicely robust, rolls well and I’ll not be disassembling it to make the other two builds quite yet – it’s rather pleasing to look at as it sits on my bedside unit. Definitely worth looking out for on Ebay or elsewhere.

Overhead view of red vehicle alternate build from Lego 5867