Set Review: Porsche 911 GT3 RS

The last LEGO Technic set I owned was the 8860 Car Chassis. It was released in 1980 and contained 668 pieces. Things have moved on a bit since I last built a Technic set.

8860 Chassis
A classic Technic set, albeit with very uncomfortable looking seats.

I’ve always appreciated the large Technic sets from afar, never feeling the desperate need to buy one. They’re masterpieces of technical design, but ultimately display models, and definitely not minifig-compatible. Almost all of my LEGO purchases these days have the end goal of being used in my photography, and I can’t fit minifig Stormtroopers into Technic-scale sets.

However, when given the opportunity to review the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS, how could I refuse? Although this set is thoroughly modern, for me it’s a nostalgic trip back to the 80s.

It has 2604 bits in it, it’s quite a beast. It’s all very nicely presented in its slick black boxes and comes with an instruction manual that competes with epic fantasy novels in page count. It’s a quality production.

Porsche Manual
Now THIS is an instruction manual!

Putting this thing together requires some time. I don’t think I was quite prepared for what 2604 pieces look like. I would have picked a bigger table. I put it together over a couple of days at the weekend—around 8 hours in total. That’s not counting the confused minutes of searching back through the instructions trying to figure out why there were two pieces left over at the end.

Many times I found myself blindly following the building instructions without knowing what I was making. So many cogs and differentials. Only towards the end does it become obvious. I spent ten minutes putting together hinges, rods and a couple of elastic bands to create a mysterious assembly, and only when I attached a steering where did the purpose become clear! You have to be paying attention. There’s always the fear that one missed part could set you back hours (I did make quite a few errors, but they soon become obvious when the next step doesn’t work as expected). In all, an enjoyable experience.

Porsche_Steering
Now what are we making here? No idea.

The finished vehicle was much bigger than I imagined. One of the reasons I’ve never been into Technic sets is that they’re too big for me to store anywhere. I can’t imaging there are many bigger sets that this.

The car is beautiful to look at. It looks good from every angle, which is quite handy if you’re planning a bit of photography. A lot of the cleverness is hidden once you put the outer shell in place—you can no longer see the internals of the engine or the fantastically complex drivetrain, which is a shame. Removing the bodywork from the finished model doesn’t look like an easy option.

Porsche Drivetrain
The fantastically complicated drivetrain and steering assembly. It all works, unless you put a cog in the wrong place, then it doesn’t.

So does it photograph well? It does, it’s hard to take a bad shot of it. There’s no hope of including minifigs here unless you go in for some fancy perspective effects, but that was pretty obvious from the start. I don’t think most people will be buying this to use for minifig photography :-)

Porsche Trooper
Had to upgrade to a 5 inch Stormtrooper to get any Star Wars into this shot. And also a smoke machine.

I really don’t want to dismantle it, but there are some interesting new parts in there (new to me, I don’t know if they exist in other Technic sets). I have a feeling I could make a decent robot or two using some of those parts. A very orange robot.

-Mike

 

Disney Collectable Mini Figures

A few weeks back The LEGO Group was kind enough to send me a box of their Disney collectible mini figures to review. With the Stuckinplastic #Seattletoyphotosafari just around the corner, I decided to give them away instead of keeping all that LEGO goodness to myself. (If you want to see those same figures in the wild, you can follow their journey with this tag #Seattletoyphotosfari_DisneyCMF.) Well now it’s time to pay the piper, so to speak, and review this series.

I’ll confess the Disney collectable mini figures aren’t as bad as I first imagined they would be. When this latest series was announced (or leaked as the case may be) several months back, I will freely admit I wasn’t impressed. I was stilling feeling burned with not one, but two series devoted to the Simpsons TV show. I’m a mini figure photographer – not a toy collector – which means I’m looking for new characters to tell stories. I’m not interested in re-telling classic Disney stories.

Ariel with shotgun wm
Is this a thingamabob or a whatzit?

With that said, I will admit that I love the Disney universe. I grew up with all the movies and have been to their theme parks multiple times. I wasn’t sure how a series based on these beloved characters would help me in my own personal mission to tell original (and hopefully universal) stories. I mean, how can you re-invent or re-interpret such iconic creations as Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck?

The Simpsons’ mini figures with their pastel colors and sculpted heads are still fresh in my memory.  While I many not have been enamored with the specific Simpsons figures, they were accompanied by some awesome accessories. With so many great add-ons, it almost made up for those sculpted heads. As a toy photographer I approached this series, based on classic Disney characters, with some trepidation.

There are certain aspects of this new series that has me scratching my head at the decisions behind it.  While there are certainly a fair number of figures that are exciting – Stitch, Maleficent, Cheshire Cat and Ursula – I can’t help but think we’ve already seen the Alien from Toy Story (isn’t it an exact copy?) and Buzz Light Year (the original Buzz had a much better face!). While Genie and the Little Mermaid technically are new to the CMF world, they seem very familiar. Peter Pan is lovely but he doesn’t seem to be  good fit in the mini figure world. I can’t imagine Peter Pan without his arms akimbo and his legs apart – two positions that a LEGO mini figure can’t achieve unless he’s computer generated.

Accessories are a big part of the CMF sets. While there are lots of great new hairstyles in this series, several of the figures aren’t accompanied by any accessories at all! The accessories that are included aren’t new to the LEGO universe, unless of course you count hats, bows and skirts. I wonder if this is how LEGO offset their licensing costs? Or maybe the lack of accessories is a tradeoff to such great additions as Alice and Minnie’s skirts. Speaking of strange accessory pairing, why does Aladdin have a lamp? Shouldn’t he be accompanied by his side-kick Apu instead?

One cool detail in this series, is that each character is paired with a counterpart from his or her story line which allows for some awesome play and photographic opportunities, i.e.: Mickey & Minnie, Donald & Daisy, Syndrome & Mr. Incredible. Two notable exceptions are Stich and Maleficent; where is Lilo and Princess Aurora? I would love to know the thinking behind the decision to omit these characters. Is it because they’ll be in the next series? By leaving these two characters without their natural counterparts, it certainly makes a nice lead into the next Disney mini figure series.

While a second Disney series hasn’t been announced, I have no doubt there will be one. These figures have been extremely popular; the love of all things Disney runs deep. My Instagram feed is a steady parade of wonderful photos featuring these figures, plus my local toy store can’t keep them in stock. There is no doubt that Disney and LEGO make a powerful combination.

I will say that for all my misgivings, these figures photograph beautifully. It doesn’t matter if you’re a die hard Disney fan or a casual collector, these figures offer much in terms of play possibilities. If you’re a mini-figure collector or a photographer, you’re going to want a complete set of the Disney collectible mini figures.

~ Shelly

What’s your favorite mini figure from this series and why? Feel free to add a link to the best image you’ve taken using one of the figs from this series. I would love to see what you’ve been up to.

Ursala in ditch wm
“You can’t get something for nothing, you know.”

Tardis

Visiting London, exploring the Tower Bridge and enjoying the views from the shard with family and friends is one thing. But exploring the City with one of the traveling Time Lords as your personal guide and taking the TARDIS for a quick spin is a completely different experience. One I can warmly recommend when you’re visiting the capital of England. Continue reading “Tardis”