Friday, January 31, 2014

Random (89)

恭贺新禧   一骑当千   一马当先

Happy Chinese New Year everybody! ^^

The girl is Hakufu Sonsaku (孫策伯符) from "Ikkitousen" (一騎当千). ^^ Since this is the year of the Horse, and there's indeed a horse on the left side of 'qi' (騎) in the title of that manga/anime series, plus the festive costume worn by the character, I suppose the image is quite suitable to commemorate the start of this Chinese New Year season. ^^ "Ikkitousen" came out about 14 years ago, I wonder how many younger anime fans actually know about it. ^^;

Image is from E-Shuushuu Dotnet.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lego Creator No. 31010 Tree House Part 1

The return of Lego

Moving away from plamo kits for a while after the long series of work on Master Grade Sinanju Ver. Ka, as well as the assembly of Keropla God Keron's Dororo Robo Mk-II, and the work on 1/72 Scale Transformable VF-25S Armored Messiah Valkyrie Ozma Lee's Unit prior to that. ^^ As the second month of 2014 is coming up, a new review series featuring a hobby line that received MG Sinanju Ver. Ka-esque zero coverage last year (^^;) is coming up.

A relatively new item as compared to the three aforementioned model kits, this is No. 31010 Tree House from the Creator line in Lego, which was released last year. ^^ It's the first Lego set to be featured on this blog since the review of No. 9391 Tracked Crane from the Technic series in December 2012. ^^ So, even before going into the actual content, other features, and special gimmicks of this Lego set, the review can be considered quite extraordinary already. XD

Before finally picking it up from a local departmental store, I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to get this Lego set. ^^ Looking at its promotional images, its design is indeed very interesting, and creative, which makes it absolutely true to its series (^^), but since I prefer vehicle-type sets over buildings (especially those with minifigures included), I never developed enough determination to make the final purchase for Tree House. It wasn't until when I held it in my own hands during that departmental store visit that I finally made up my mind to get it. ^^ It's the magic of seeing the actual product that prompted me to make up my mind I suppose, but that "unexplainable force" can be quite dangerous sometimes. ^^; In situations where everything on the shelves are what you like, and are items you would want to add to your collection, a strong willpower is needed to resist that temptation arising from the ability to see, and touch those merchandises, before the sacrifice of your wallet becomes tragically imminent. ^^;

Luckily, No. 31010 Tree House belongs to the smaller-sized class in Lego sets, in which its lower part count, and simpler design also equate to lower selling price. It was on sales as well when I bought it, so it was a pretty nice bargain in my opinion. ^^ Speaking of simple design, using total part count as a measurement, 356 of this Creator set makes it seem like a midget when compared to No. 4993 Cool Convertible (648 pieces), and No. 4997 Transport Ferry (1279 pieces) from the same series reviewed in the past. ^^ Then again, its ability to be built into different models, each with a number of interesting gimmicks is quite amazing. ^^ I understand that's the special point of the Creator line, but that feature seems incredibly well done on this particular set. ^^ It's simple when it comes to size, and part count, but it's not so simple when gimmicks, and a couple of special parts included are considered. ^^

On the other hand, this is also a really colorful Lego set - definitely more colorful than the last set reviewed (Technic No. 9391 Tracked Crane). XD If the size isn't overly obtrusive, it might be a very nice brick set for display on my desktop. ^^

The main model, and another two alternate models that can be constructed from this Lego set are shown on the box art.

Images of all the models on the left and right box sides.

The top of the box shows you the piece count of the entire set.

Actual scale image of the special dustbin part in this set. ^^

Generic textual product information in different languages on the bottom side of the box.

The back of the box has pictorial introduction on all the models and their gimmicks.

Comparison with the box of Sci-fi Revoltech Iron Man Mark V to show you the relatively small box size of this Lego set. ^^

Box open.

The two large base plates are not sealed inside any plastic packages.

The plastic package containing larger-sized bricks.

(Left) The unique dustbin piece. ^^
(Right) A small paper pocket that hold a thread for one of the model's gimmicks. The thread can also be found in Technic No. 9391 Tracked Crane, but the length assigned is different I think.

Two packages containing medium-sized bricks.

(Left) The brown balcony railing part is new to me. ^^
(Right) The head piece of the minifigure, which is really... mini in size. XD

Another two packages containing small-sized bricks.

(Left) The red cap for the minifigure is spotted.
(Right) The disc-shaped piece detailed as a pizza looks really funny. ^^

Green and blue base plates for the grass, and water areas respectively.

(Left) The green plate's dimension is about 13 square centimeters.
(Right) The connector shape on the bottom face of the green plate doesn't follow conventional Lego design it seems.

Each model gets its own instruction manual.

The manual for the main model: a tree house.

A very interesting pictorial reminder on the importance of organizing all the bricks before building the models. The comic strip-like design is definitely more interesting than similar page on the manuals from previously reviewed sets. ^^

Another new design in the manual: difficulty levels assigned to the different models. ^^

The beautifully illustrated and colored pages featuring step-by-step instruction of the model's construction are consistent with manuals from previously reviewed sets. ^^

76 pages in total for the tree house's manual.

The manual for the first alternate model (designated as medium in difficulty level): a lakeside hut.

Some pages from the lakeside hut's manual.

Two dedicated pages showing a much clearer part count of the entire set at the end of the manual .

Preview for Creator No. 31012: Family House on the back cover of the manual.

Including the last two pages, the lakeside hut's manual has 64 pages.

The manual for the second alternate model (designated as fast (easy) in difficulty level): a farmyard barn.

Some pages from the farmyard barn's manual.

Preview for a couple of other sets from the Creator line: No. 31008 Thunder Wings, No. 31005 Construction Hauler, No. 31006 Highway Speedster, ...

... No. 31009 Small Cottage, and No. 31011 Aviation Adventures.

(Left) Promotion for Lego Club.
(Right) Promotion for Lego's product survey.

Including the last five pages, the farmyard barn's manual has 64 pages as well.

As usual, the main model will be assembled first, but before building anything, a bit of organization of the bricks is necessary. ^^

The bricks are categorized into three containers according to their sizes. ^^

The minifigure, the dog, and some of the accessories for the figure will be assembled first.

(Left) The wheel part for the trolley is made of soft plastic - just minorly softer than all the other usual parts to be exact, allowing it to be bent slightly.
(Right) Tampo printed details on the special treasure map, and pizza pieces. ^^

The different separable components featuring the minifigure, the dog, and various other accessories.

According to the manual, the pizza is placed inside the trolley, while the map is meant to be hidden inside one of the tree trunks. ^^

The minifigure of this Lego set - the of its kind in my collection. ^^

The cap, head, arms, and hands are movable.
The cap can obviously be detached as well.

Due to the way they are connected to the wrists, the hands don't line up straight (horizontally) when the arms are bent upward to the same position.

The trolley's arm is movable.

The minifigure's hand design mentioned above doesn't affect its ability to be posed pushing the trolley using both hands.

The minifigure's hand design is "universal" enough in allowing it to hold the various accessories included in this Lego set. ^^

The trolley can be modified very easily into a skateboard for the minifigure. ^^

Size comparison with the figure of Keroro from Keropla God Keron.

First set of parts to build up the base.

Based on their relative positions to one another on the base, more parts are added to form the bases of the two tree trunks.

The windmill-like pattern of front tree trunk is a very interesting design to me. ^^

Adding in more parts to build up the two tree trunks.
Surrounded by brown bricks that totally conceal their color, the white bricks that form the core can be regarded as "fillers" (literally) XD

Adding in smaller parts to form the pavers, and flowers.

Adding in the blue plate to form the lake area.

Green parts to decorate the lake area.

The green frog is another very interesting part in this Lego set. Despite being a tiny one-piece part, its sculpt details are clear enough to allow it to be recognized easily. ^^

Interestingly, the frog's position on the blue water area is shown to be different between pages in the construction manual. ^^

The lake area with the added accessories.

More parts are added to build up the two tree trunks.
Again, more white bricks as "fillers". ^^

An empty spot at the base of the rear tree trunk can be used to hide the treasure map. A movable flap above the hollow spot is used to hold the map piece in place.

The state of the two tree trunks at this level of assembly.

Adding in the first limb to the front tree.

Brown panels are added to the bole of the front tree. Parts are added to the rear tree to form its flat trimmed top as well.

Adding in additional limbs, and bottommost base for the playhouse.

The state of the entire model so far.

The base is relatively huge when compared to the minifigure. ^^

Will move on to the rest of the main model's assembly next. ^^