Reflections on 2010 – Part 1

Now that we are just over a week into 2011, I thought I’d share my opinion on the best and worst of 2010.

Best new theme of 2010
– Atlantis. I was very impressed with the amount of effort that went into Atlantis. A lot of great pieces and minifigs. The thing that impressed me the most was the amount of back story that went into Atlantis, up to and including LEGO Atlantis, the movie, and the larger variety of sets that cover all of the major prices. It was nice to see a much more thought out underwater series that went above and beyond Aquazone and Aqua Raiders, with a bit of Power Miners thrown in (to the point of a crossover minifig with Brains/Dr. Brains). I know there are still a few more sets to be released, including 7985 City of Atlantis, and there is a bit of a new storyline with the “Quest For the Golden King” arc, but I thought it was a mistake to change some of the colors with the transparent pieces/divers, because the 2011 sets look out of place when placed with the 2010 sets, but that’s the AFOL in me speaking. I’m also aware of the rumors that it will be discontinued in 2011, or will be shelved for the time being. LEGO’s lineup is very crowded, and and I’ve seen (and bought) Atlantis sets that have been on heavy clearance, even sets that were released just the past summer. I hope this series continues in the future. It would be odd to put that much effort into it and then drop it, but it seems like that’s what is happening.

Best theme revival of 2010
– Harry Potter. I don’t have that much to say – I like all of the sets, and while many of them are updates (or downgrades in some cases depending on your point of view), I thought they were done nicely. It gave people a chance to get into the Harry Potter LEGO sets who didn’t the first few times around. I thought it was nice that 10217 Diagon Alley would be released this year (2011), since it seems to be targeted towards AFOLs, similar to the 10210 Imperial Flagship. Would like to see that happen more often. Would loved to have seen an Atlantis set with a similar brick count/price to Diagon Alley and Imperial Flagship.

Best themes that ended in 2010
Indiana Jones. Not much to say – I liked the series for the most part, but I’m not upset it ended – it was never going to be as big as Star Wars, especially without a decent movie to keep it going. There is only so much room in the LEGO lineup. I have heard that it might be revived in the future depending on future Indiana Jones movies. Most people might say Pirates, but I had a clue that with the Disney licensing agreements, that we’d be seeing Pirates of the Caribbean, and that is going to happen here in a few short months, so I don’t necessarily see that as an ending of a theme, especially since Pirates is a theme, similar to City, Castle, Space, etc., that is always being discontinued and retooled and brought back in a new form. You might consider Space Police III to be discontinued in 2010, although I believe technically it will end in 2011. If you consider it to have ended in 2010, then I would put that as a tie with Indiana Jones. I really liked some of the Space Police sets. I would have liked to have seen as much effort go into the back story of Space Police III as went into Atlantis.

Read more

Review: LEGO 7977 Atlantis Seabed Strider

As some of you readers might already know, some of the 2011 LEGO Atlantis sets are out, including Atlantis sets popping up at your local LEGO store, if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby. In this article, I will be reviewing one of the three 2011 sets that I’ve seen come across, the Atlantis Sea Strider.

LEGO 7977 Atlantis - Seabed Strider

The Sea Strider is a two-legged mech that transforms into a little underwater exploration speeder. This set is sort of like the little brother of the larger LEGO 8080 Atlantis Undersea Explorer in that they both transform from vehicles to mechs in their search for the lost underwater city. Transformation is quick and easy; just flip the legs back, and it’s ready to outswim the Guardian of the Deep…maybe! Armed with grabber claws and powered by two aluminum propellers, it should have no problems carrying out its mission. The Seabed Strider is a simple set to construct (105 pieces, some stickers), and is reasonably priced ($9.99 USD).

By the Numbers:
Set: LEGO 7977 Atlantis Seabed Strider
Year of Release: 2011 (Available late 2010)
Type: Atlantis vehicle that transforms
# of Pieces: 105
# of Extra pieces: 7
# of Minifigs and what kind: 2, human diver, Atlantis monster
Stickers? Yes, 11
Price: $9.99
Available: Amazon.com
Ages: 7 – 14
Time to Complete: 15 minutes or less.

Read more

LEGO at Barnes and Noble

I’m always interested in how LEGO is portrayed and sold in other stores outside of the official LEGO retail stores. I’m lucky enough to have had a LEGO retail store open up in my area in the past year, which means no more sporadic trips to the LEGO stores in Houston or Dallas when I’m visiting family and friends there.

Now of course, I’ve got plenty of Targets, Wal-Marts, even Sears, in my area, with plenty of LEGO sets to choose from. I can’t forget Toys R Us as well – have a couple of those.

There is one place that has quite a few LEGO sets available, as well as some nice displays, that often gets overlooked, and they happen to carry LEGO-related items that the other non-LEGO retail stores don’t necessarily carry.

I’m of course referring to Barnes and Noble. I visit the one in south Austin occasionally, and this time around I decided to take some photos of their LEGO sets and displays, because I don’t think most people realize what all they have – they aren’t just selling books, magazines, food and movies/music. They’ve been adding a toy and hobby section, and the one I visit has quite a bit of LEGO-related items. The store I’m referring to, they obviously have put some effort into the LEGO displays – I’m not familiar with other stores, but I am impressed with this one.

Some notes/observations:
* The main LEGO display was fairly prominent – it had it’s own little dedicated section in the middle of the toys and hobby section.
* The LEGO alarm clock/flashlights were in another part of the toys & hobby section.
* The LEGO games and the LEGO Architecture displays were next to one another, however they were off in the game section of Barnes & Noble and weren’t near the main LEGO display. They were still easy to find.
* I did a really poor job of taking photos of the LEGO Harry Potter and LEGO Star Wars stuff!

LEGO items and lines I saw:
* LEGO Architecture – Empire State Building, Sears Tower, John Hancock Center, Fallingwater, Guggenheim Museum, White House
* LEGO Games – Pirate Code, Robo Champ, Magikus, Minotaurs, Ramses Pyramid, Creationary, Race 300, Dragon, Harry Potter/Hogwarts
* LEGO Accessories – flashlights, nightlights, alarm clocks, pens, keychains
* LEGO Books – Minifig stickers, Star Wars Visual Dictionary
* LEGO Atlantis (a nice mix!)
* LEGO City
* LEGO Creator
* LEGO Kingdoms
* LEGO Star Wars (both original and Clone Wars)
* LEGO Technic
* LEGO Toy Story
* The beginner LEGO tubs
* Duplo

Anyways, here are some photos of the various LEGO displays in our favorite B&N. I apologize for the poor picture quality – I’m not using a flash in a store, and I’m not the steadiest of hands when it comes to photo taking. You can click on any of them to take you to a larger version at flickr.

LEGO Displays at Barnes & Noble (South Austin)

LEGO Displays at Barnes & Noble (South Austin)

Read more