Lego Ideas – Curiosity Mars Rover (21104) Review

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Lego Ideas – Curiosity Mars Rover (21104): I considered briefly trying to see what of this I could source myself, but despite a rare price tag I bought the full set via eBay and I’m glad it did. (Guy even gave me a little ‘Martian’) This is something I wish Lego simply did more of. I honestly have no idea why there isn’t an ongoing NASA line (I mean my wallet is happier), but it feels like a perfect match beyond just the Lego Ideas’ program, and a Discovery channel promo. It not only makes kids excited about space (I mean just imagine a kid building the ISS set because their dad is actually planning to watch for it in the night sky later), but adults who love science get awesome set pieces.

 

Time to Knoll: 16.5 Minutes

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Time to Build: 27 Minutes

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Metrics:

  • Pieces: 295 and 43 Steps – Manual (78 Pages)
  • Price: Retired on Lego and $165.47 on Amazon
  • Weight 246 grams
  • Combo Points: (8X20X1X1) = 160 points
  • Volume (Based on Blob length/width/height): 128mm x 64mm x 38.4mm or 314.5 cm³ but add the rest and it’s 356.4 cm³

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Scores:

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

 

Spectrum:


 

What Else? Normally while there are a few things I could do about Mars (distance, how well this would hold up in the Martian gravity and wind, etc.) However I think it’s more important to fully underscore how insane the reality of this model is. Because while this looks fantastic – a real life Volkswagen size robot of this model really landed on Mars. I know that may seem blase now, but the actual mechanics of this still haunt me, and they should you as well:

 

Remix: So for this set I managed to get everything used, and I’m actually pleased despite some setbacks. With the weird mechanism for movement I wanted to see if I could translate that to a rube-goldberg machine where it would move along the wheels. Sadly I would have needed a few extra parts so while this has the spirit of my remix idea it is more of a complex slide than a true rube-goldberg machine.

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Here’s a gif of it working:

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Final Thoughts: I honestly am debating building myself a bonzai zen garden, but to slightly dye the sand and just plop this little guy inside it. For now he’ll hang out with Wall-E, but this is one of those few sets that I am just glad exists in this world.

Final Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

Lego Creator – Blue Racer (31027) Review

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Lego Creator – Blue Racer (31027): A relatively small set (although not my smallest so far actually) this is a more kid-oriented Creator set which is actually why I choose to review it. Of course Lego is for all ages, but despite the age of 6 here I feel like this a good set to give kids once they get past that Duplo-eating Lego stage.

 

Time to Knoll: 3 Minutes

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Time to Build: 5 Minutes (Build 1)

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Time to Build: 3.5 Minutes (Build 2)

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Time to Build: 2.5 Minutes (Build 3)

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Metrics:

  • Pieces: 67 and 16, 15, 12 Steps (respectively) – Manual (26 Pages)
  • Price: $4.99 on Lego and $4.97 on Amazon
  • Weight 31 grams
  • Combo Points: (5X18X1X3) = 270 points
  • Volume (Based on Blob length/width/height): 16mm x 48mm x 60.8mm or 46.69 cm³

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Scores:

  • Uniqueness: 0 out of 5 Stars – Just really not that unique.
  • Aesthetics: 1 out of 5 Stars – Or that terribly interesting.
  • Fun to Build: 3 out of 5 Stars
  • Hoarding: 1 out of 5 Stars

 

Spectrum:

 

What Else? I complain slightly in my remix that there was really a limiting factor to what I could remix – I mean what could you make with just 70 bricks or so, most of which are of a certain color scheme (and includes wheels). Of course this isn’t a new problem. Lego itself once claimed that with just 6 pieces (of a 2 by 4) you could get 102,981,500 different combinations. This of course seems really high.

Until of course some enterprising folks at the University of Copenhagen decided to disprove this. In short their paper ‘The Entropy of Lego” explains that Lego has ignored that fact that one does not need to build one piece on top of another – this brings up the number of combinations to a staggering 915,103,765 (a fact which Lego has of course since accepted)

This however is a combination of things – one it’s a great selling point that with 10 ‘regular’ pieces one literally has millions of way to rearrange them. This is actually a good way to explain Big Data (yes I am a programmer so if you are here for just Lego, best to tune out) The point being that yes – someone could spend a massive amount of computing power to take even this modest set, and create various combinations to produce the literally mind-bogging amount of combinations (as mentioned in the paper and debrief) – but such an exercise is futile.

The other reason is because while a set might be technically unique – it may not be what one would call – something. This is funny thing because you give a five year these pieces and he/she will make something that mostly likely will be ‘legible’. So for those of you who want to understand or even work with Big Data – it’s better to look at the Big Picture, and to take what seems like a massive amount of data – break it into rules and patterns. If we start with some key rulings we can identify not how many combinations we get, but how many are visually interesting and identifiable.

 

Remix: Not much to work with here, at first I wanted to actually try an make a flag given the color scheme, but there was too much blue, and not enough red. I settled then on a small vignette of a crusade watchtower on the sea.

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Final Thoughts: While this likely will get some low objective scores I am a fan of this set for one reason – in that it’s a perfect size and piece amount to get started on building your own Lego-matchbox cars. It’s a bit bigger of course, but in a choice between giving a kid some matchboxes, give them a modular car, and one that further Lego collections can improve. As a set though it’s small and mostly not that interesting, even for it’s modest price.

Final Score: 2 out of 5 Stars

Lego Creator – Power Mech (31007) Review

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Lego Creator – Power Mech (31007): Perhaps its the nature of the other Creator series I’ve done, but I am actually a bit nonplussed about how in all the other of the series – there is often 1 build which uses all the pieces, and another 2 which are more subsets. Here however even the big mech build leaves behind more than a dozen or 2 pieces. On the other hand though I am actually a big fan of how the mech works and comes together.

 

Time to Knoll: 13 Minutes

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Time to Build: 19 Minutes (Mech)

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11.5 Minutes (Helicopter)

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14.5 Minutes (Truck)

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Metrics:

  • Pieces: 223 and 28, 31, 45 Steps – Manual for Mech, Helicopter, Truck (64, 45, and 47 Pages)
  • Price: (On-sale) $9.98 on Lego and $35.80 on Amazon
  • Weight ~300 grams (I forgot to weigh before sending back, apologies) value is based on shipping.
  • Combo Points: (9X18X3X3) = 1,458 points
  • Volume (Based on Blob length/width/height): 32mm x 48mm x 166.4mm or 255.59 cm³

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Scores:

  • Uniqueness: 2 out of 5 Stars
  • Aesthetics: 1 out of 5 Stars
  • Fun to Build: 2 out of 5 Stars
  • Hoarding: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

Spectrum:

 

What Else?

To be fair I sort of see where the model was coming from – in short it’s trying to bank in on the Transformer appeal – the problem being that there are parts in all 3 types which are just not used in the other models. If you are looking for a real Transformer, check out this creation from Boyzwiththemosttoyz(about 1 minute in to see the transformation)


This is the sort of thing I wish Lego would do more of – they’ve proven very good at moveable parts, and I feel like their aversion is legal-based. However the above is only a single example of people making Lego transformers. I urge you to just take a look at MoCPages category page as there is just a bunch of great builds.

 

Remix: Well with all the nice green here my mind drifted of course to space. So at the need for wheels and limbs, and it was clear I was going to make a rover. Best of all I was able to use all the pieces in the model – and I only needed a common black circle axle – keeping well within my 5 rule.

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Final Thoughts: I feel this is more (especially with the current sale) a step to get some nice green pieces, some good limbs and bending parts – and the weird and rare corner 2×2 plate. While I do like the mech, the other builds feel kinda more tacked on as compared to other Creator builds, and I wish Lego had just release the mech on it’s own.

Final Score: 2 out of 5 Stars