Versa Bricks Review

As promised, here is my review of the recent Kickstarter for Versa Bricks. If you are not familiar with Versa Bricks – it began as a decent Kickstarter for some 3D printed parts with the goal of being able to bridge parts from Lego, Hotwheels, and K’NEX. So then first to break this down, let’s abstract this into seeing how Versa Bricks works with each type on it’s own, then a whole.

Works with Lego:

lego

All pieces actually do fairly well here in terms of fit, but it sadly does lack that classic snap that Legos have. Despite being the same kind of plastic, it feels like snapping something hard into something a bit more chewy. The size is right though, and there’s no looseness or play.

 

Works with K’NEX:

knex

Here I think is where Versa Bricks doesn’t do enough. The holes mean the only K’NEX connection is via a pole, which means that the other types of connections have no play here. Also the holes on the lengthside of the brick have a tough fit, yet widthwise it’s loose and spins – meaning you need to use the Lego to stabilize. Also this does not work with the latest KNEX which also has a smaller version, and while you can interop between large/small K’NEX to avoid this- it’s a slight.

 

Works with Hotwheels: 

hotwheels

This works with 3 out of the 4 connections, and despite the change Hotwheels made to their connection system to stabilize connections (The tracks are still compatible with the old hookups) they work with the new tracks. However the main failure here is that the piece meant to fit the outside of the track actually scrapes the new tracks if you slide it on, and bends trying to snap/unsnap. As I have two connections I can confirm it might be the track, but the pieces are not.

 

Overall Score:

combo

I will admit that understandably the rating here isn’t as painful – right now there is nothing that can cleanly combine these three systems like this. However this is the first production run from the company, and the first of it’s kind. As such I can only hope that further usage will provide a superior product, and possibly something that’s even more versatile.

Lego Architecture – Big Ben (21013) Review

bugbenlego

Lego Architecture – Big Ben (21013): This build is actually a bit more special for me as it’s one I’ve actually seen in real life. While the Architecture line is meant to be a showcase of buildings, my main gripe with this particular model is that it’s not just surrounded by an equally scaled London with other buildings like the Shard and Cheese Grater with the Thames running through it. I see this, and I just want a mini London (begins planning side-project)

 

Time to Knoll: 9.5 Minutes

knollbigben

Time to Build: 25 Minutes

builtbigben

 

Metrics:

  • Pieces: 346 and 52 Steps – Manual (40 Pages)
  • Price: $29.99 on Lego and $48.42 on Amazon (Because it’s currently Out of Stock on Lego)
  • Combo Points: (12X57X1X1) = 684 points
  • Volume (Based on Blob length/width/height): 48mm x 80mm x 64mm or ~245.8 cm³

bigben_blob

 

Scores:

  • Uniqueness: 4 out of 5 Stars
  • Aesthetics: 3 out of 5 Stars
  • Fun to Build: 2 out of 5 Stars
  • Hoarding: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

Spectrum:

 

What Else?

So I think we’re all familiar with this iconic finale of V for Vendetta. Here we see Big Ben and the Buildings of Parliament being blown to pieces very spectacularly. They use a train to explode the building in the movie, but it begs the question of how much explosive force would we need to use to blow up our miniature building.

Now of course a very very small amount of high explosives or C4 could do the job, but since we want a showy explosion let’s use gunpowder. Because we also know (thanks to 3d printed firearms) that a 5.7×28 rifle cartridge contains enough explosive force to destroy ABS plastic of something of about the same size let’s use one of those. (If we got fancy we could even pack  our own bullet and add some other chemicals such as Barium Nitrate or Lithium Carbonate to make it more showy)

Based on dimensions of the bullet from Wikipedia we know a few things. First even if we don’t take the casing off – the bullet has a diameter of 7.9mm meaning it’d happily fit in a 1 wide Lego train interior! However because it’d be 40.50mm long we’d need to have a train car interior be 6 wide to fit the whole bullet (we could then try to fit a firing mechanism in another train car behind it)

Of course since I don’t have a gun license (although apparently most anyone can buy ammo), and a desire to blow up some of my Lego set. I’ll leave a physical demonstration to some enterprising soul in the comments.

 

Remix: So then as is usual with my reviews I’ve chosen a remix, and this time I decided to use the nice tan blocks and made a sort of whirlygig airship. I’m particularly pleased with the misshapen sides that look like boards thrown on clearly showing airgaps to give it a more rustic look. Happily I was able to use all pieces and didn’t even need to add any keeping well within the remix rules.

bigben_whirlygig

 

 

Final Thoughts: Like I said, this is a great model to have, but I want a mini London to use like a Dresden-style Little Chicago. And for those who want some nice clock pieces as well as a bunch of tan bricks it’s a good buy (wait until it’s in stock though and at a normal price)

Final Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

Lego Minecraft – Crafting Box (21116) Review

crafting

LEGO Minecraft – Crafting Box (21116): I have long been a huge fan of Minecraft so much so that I consider myself not a fan of Minecraft, but 2 years clean. I was one of the few to be able to purchase this set this year (Amazon has it at a premium and Lego is out of stock currently), and while I had buyer’s remorse seconds after purchasing (I mean paying 2 and a half times what I paid for the game!) but once I had it in hand, I can say I’m rather pleased.

 

Time to Knoll: 28 Minutes – I love knolling, but if this was not a review, I think I’d almost just separate pieces by the way it’s given to you in Lego’s bags – there’s just too many unique pieces with not enough of them to warrant knolling.

mckern

Time to Build: 8 Minutes for the common build parts. Then I had a dilemma – this is an 8 in 1 – so do I just choose one, or do a I build them all because I feel that’s a full review. Kidding I did them all. (Click to Enlarge)

Prep: 8 Minutesprebuild

Config 1: 19 Minutes

build1

Config 2: 27 Minutes

build2

Config 3: 27 Minutesbuild3

Config 4: 20 Minutes

build4

Config 5: 22 Minutes

build5

Config 6: 24 Minutesbuild6

Config 7: 27 Minutes

build7

Config 8: 25 Minutes

build8

 

Metrics:

  • Pieces: 518 and a variable number of Steps (due to manual(s) offering 8 configurations) And oh yes there are 2 manuals, 1 for the main setup, and another for sections. Also be aware, configurations often leave many pieces behind (up to 100+). (80 and 56 Pages)
  • Price: $89.99 on Amazon, and $49.99 normally on Lego (but out of stock)
  • Combo Points: (29X78X2X9) = 40,716 points
  • Volume (Based on Blob length/width/height): (minifigs not included) 64mm x 128mm x 144mm or 1180cm³

blob

 

Scores:

  • Uniqueness: 5 out of 5 Stars (Since it’s kinda very up to you)
  • Aesthetics: 4 out of 5 Stars
  • Fun to Build: 3 out of 5 Stars
  • Hoarding: 5 out of 5 Stars (Just so many earthy tone pieces)

 

Spectrum:

 

What Else?

I like the sections, but I do have an issue with them, they are just too flimsy when connected. I really like the modular construction idea (which shows in my remix), but on it’s own I can’t lift the set up without it falling apart. So I decided to make my own variant (it’s Minecraft for pete’s sake) and posted that here. But as a treat it’s here in Lego, and in actual Minecraft.

mymc

mymcback

mcbuild-Minecraft

However despite the nature of this build, I did try and do a proper remix, and decided on a modular space station (inspired a bit/lot by Spacebase DF-9) Which let me change enough that it doesn’t feel too much like just MC in a different way.

Remix:

IMG_0926

Keeping with rules of the remix I’ve not included the bread and carrot (as this is a slightly larger scale). Note this doesn’t have minifigs as those are exempt from remixes (and the scale again would be wrong)

 

Final Thoughts: While I saw the vignettes, and the micro worlds for Minecraft before – in truth the second I heard there was going to be a Lego set based on the game, I wanted this crafting box. It’s not perfect, and I think it owes a lot to Minecraft’s desire to make things in your own image (a lot of the things they show in the set kinda violate MC’s ‘physics’) It’s a great set to have, and for me its benefits mean my friends (read: jerks) can mess around with the set when they visit putting things out of place.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 Stars