Fan Creations: JK Brickworks Ballista

Alright as you know it’s an ‘off’ week so let’s take a stab at reviewing another fan-build. This one comes from JK Brickworks – maker of the Lego Ideas Maze (which I swear I am trying to review for next week). It’s a ballista which is really just a crossbow taken to the artillery level. I love this set because it really works, and it’s surprising how much power you can get in the tension from Lego strings (enough where you could over-tighten, but it breaks off the top, I nearly debated super gluing this just to make it more powerful.)

Knoll: 6.5 Minutes


Build: 14 Minutes (note it technically did take me 14 minutes to build, but about another half hour messing around with the tension to get it ‘just right’)




  • Pieces: 119 and 21 Steps – Manual (25 Pages)
  • Price: $32.99 on Rebrickable (However it’s not the full set, you’ll need to shop around)
  • Weight 122 grams


  • Uniqueness: 5 out of 5 Stars
  • Aesthetics: 5 out of 5 Stars
  • Fun to Build: 1 out of 5 Stars (Getting the tension right makes this annoying)
  • Hoarding: 2 out of 5 Stars



Final Thoughts: My favorite part of this is just how simple and effective the ratcheting system is for holding the tension before firing. Also the fact that it fires a 2 by 4 brick is just perfect as it makes ammo for this easy to come by. This is the perfect thing to build and have in an office setting – as it looks awesome, and is perfect for inter-office warfare.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Lego City – Camper Van (60057) Review


Lego City – Camper Van (60057): Another Lego City build – this time it’s something to actually escape the city for some camping. I do really like a lot of the small touches here like the stovepipe, that subtle green stripe down the sides, and how they did the table inside the van. Overall I’m actually quite pleased with set.


Time to Knoll: 13 Minutes


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Time to Build: 18.5 Minutes



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  • Pieces: 195 and 78 Steps – Manual Part 1 and Part 2 (89 Pages)
  • Price: Retired on Lego and $32.66 on Amazon
  • Weight 224 grams
  • Combo Points: (4X10X2X1) = 80 points
  • Volume (Based on Blob length/width/height): 96mm x 48mm x 70.4mm or 324.4 cm³ and 350.7 cm³ for the rest.




  • Uniqueness: 4 out of 5 Stars
  • Aesthetics: 5 out of 5 Stars
  • Fun to Build: 3 out of 5 Stars
  • Hoarding: 3 out of 5 Stars




What Else? Long time readers of this site will recall the Beach Hut review where we delved into surf-board buoyancy. Given the gift of a shiny red canoe though we thought we’d revisit the TopBrick Water Habitat and then discuss some math.


As you see above the canoe itself can float fine, as for our tame Minifig while the boat floated it weirdly listed heavily to one side so we added some offset weights. With that it was time to begin adding weights until it capsized.


Adding 1 at time carefully so as to not weigh one side down more than the other I added 1×1 circles. In total there was around 40 or so with a weight of 10 grams. Now some say our tame Minifig weighs 3 grams giving us a total of 13 before the canoe edge is flush with the water and then capsizes.

Now buoyancy is Fb = ρgV = ρghA where

  • Fb = buoyant force of a liquid acting on an object (N)
  • ρ = density of the liquid(kg/m3)
  • g = gravitational acceleration(9.80 m/s2)
  • V = volume of liquid displaced (m3 or liters, where 1 m3 = 1000 L)
  • h = height of water displaced by a floating object(m)
  • A = surface area of a floating object(m2)

Now since we didn’t actually record the difference in water height displaced between the canoe and surfboard (and density is likely different due to blue color added to water.) we can’t calculate this out, but we can see why the surfboard sank, and the canoe was able to take more than 3 times that weight. This is because the surface area is much larger for the canoe that despite additional weight from the canoe itself (prior to us adding more) it’s perfectly capable of floating.


Remix: So this time I tried to make myself an adjustable lamp. As far as parts go I did add a single 3/4 technic pin to hold the light panel upside down inside the lamp itself. Also I normally exclude minifigs and accessories, but to hold the lamp at the base I used some minifig legs. Add the boat removal though and that’s still 3 out of 5 parts changed which I’m glad for because I really like how this came out. The wheels as knobs, that little pot switch at the base, and like the camper top the bottom base of the lamp swings out as if it was meant for batteries (actually holding spare parts)



Final Thoughts: It’s certainly an interesting set to provide a nice red canoe, and despite not being branded (like the VW van) it really is a nice piece for display. Apologies it wasn’t the new Lego Ideas Maze review this week, but some convention prep and personal stuff meant I wasn’t able to finish off the review.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Topbrick Updates Spring 2016

Hey guys! So first off the good news. TopBrick will be moving back to weekly posts. Now that won’t be weekly reviews because despite my backlog reviewing a set takes a bit longer. The in-between weeks will likely be a mix of reviews, mini-reviews, fan-builds, and a new segment I am developing to go over a certain building technique.

As mentioned in my last post – all TopBrick reviews have been updated with a Page count (which while not a true marker of complexity, is helpful to know how much page turning you need to do). I have also though added the Spectrum section which is setup for each set to easily show the coloring and pieces breakdown.

Best of all because it’s interactive, and the tooltips can show the pieces it makes our little review site a bit more special. The reason being that you can easily and quickly determine a  bunch of things. First if a set has either a wide array of color or, only a few it become much more apparent than a knoll/build picture. Also since it breaks it down by piece this really gets into the ‘hoarding’ part of a set. As any serious builder can tell you – there are certain sets where it’s cheaper to buy that set than struggle buying by part or lot in order to make a decent collection or buy for an upcoming build.

Anyway, I am currently trying to fast-track the Lego Ideas Maze review (which by-the-by is awesome), and don’t be surprised if other JK-Brickworks creations show up here (I am a fan).

Anyway I’m glad that my reviewing (and buying) schedule has aligned to make content more frequent so stay tuned to TopBrick for more Lego reviews and news.