LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia

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  • LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded
  • written by Hannah Dolan, Elizabeth Dowsett, Clare Hibbert, Shari Last, & Victoria Taylor
  • published by DK (2015)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

I don’t even know what to say about this one. If you like Star Wars, if you like LEGO, if you like awesomeness . . . then this one practically sells itself.

The LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia is essentially a comprehensive guide to every Star Wars minifigure every produced. And since it’s a DK book, that means it’s chock full of excellent photos and goodies. Each page features a close-up, highly detailed photo of one minifigure. Surrounding the photo is a bit of flavor text, describing the character/figure; a data file identifying when the figure was first released, which set it came in, and what accessories it came with; and information about any significant variations that have been released.

It’s basically more information that you ever wanted to know about LEGO Star Wars minifigures, but it makes for downright fascinating browsing.

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LEGO Prototyping Challenge

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The National Week of Making was a few weeks back in June, and the event coincided with the National Maker Faire here in Washington, DC. The White House even joined in the fun, and President Obama called for a nation of makers. It was a pretty big deal.

In case you missed it, or in case you’d like to celebrate the Maker Movement every day, LEGO is answering that call and continuing the celebration with a national prototyping challenge. The contest is called “Are You a LEGO Maker?” and LEGO is providing “prototyping kits” to 50 makers (age 13 and up) so they can make working version of their own inventions.

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5 Questions with a Legoland Master Builder

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Jason Miller, Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND Florida.

Having previously chatted with master builder Chris Steininger, Zoey went into this interview with a bit of existing knowledge about LEGO master builders. Still, I don’t think she was prepared for what waited inside the LEGO Factory.

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LEGO 41055: Cinderella’s Romantic Castle

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Lego 41055: Cinderella’s Romantic Castle / Disney Princess

This is the biggie from the first wave of Disney Princess sets. We had held off getting this one…quite honestly because of the price point. But then Grandpa came to visit. I think you know where this goes.

Zoey jumped at the opportunity to get the castle. Within the Disney Princess line, this is the most impressive set by far. It’s not only the biggest and has the most pieces, but it also has the highest playability factor. The castle is filled with little nooks and crannies, and it’s rife with opportunities for imaginative play once assembled.

Plus, it’s an absolute must if you’re constructing a LEGO Disneyland.

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LEGO Friends Animals, Series 5

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  • LEGO 41044: Macaw’s Fountain
  • LEGO 41045: Orangutan’s Banana Tree
  • LEGO 41046: Brown Bear’s River

The Friends line was Zoey’s entry point into the world of LEGO. She still enjoys them, but she also seems to have moved on to lines such as Super Heroes and Star Wars. Still, she keeps coming back to these animal polybag sets.

For our money, they’re some of the best polybags that LEGO puts out. They’re simple sets, and each is based on one animal. Some of the animals in previous series have also been found in other, larger sets, but many have been unique to these polybags.

With Series 5, all three animals are new (though I’m not sure the people at LEGO know what an orangutan is, since that’s clearly…not an orangutan. Though I guess you could argue that it’s a baby. Maybe.)

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5 Questions with LEGO Master Builder Chris Steininger

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with LEGO Master Builder Chris Steininger.

“Master Builder” is one of those terms that you hear associated with LEGO bricks if you spend any time with them or reading about them. Especially now, after The LEGO Movie made the term so popular.

But few people really know what it means. Are they really like Emmet, Wildstyle, Vitruvius, and Batman? Do they have superpowers? Are they really able to stop Lord Business, destroy the Kragle, and save the universe?

Not quite. But they’re still incredibly cool. Case in point: Chris Steininger.

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LEGO KidsFest

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I’ve been to a lot of different conventions in my life: comic book conventions, book expos, Star Trek conventions. Until recently, I’d never been to a LEGO convention.

It was awesome.

Well, calling it a “convention” is sort of a misnomer. There’s only one exhibitor—LEGO—and it’s far more fun than your typical convention. It’s more like a huge LEGO playground. Their official marketing copy actually calls it “a hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza.” And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

LEGO KidsFest is a traveling show that’s been on tour since 2009, but it only makes seven North American stops each year. It also has a history of selling out well in advance. Therefore, if it comes anywhere near you, I highly suggest you make every effort to go.

We attended the event in Richmond, VA, which is a solid 3-hour drive for us from DC. I regret nothing.

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Upcoming: LEGO KidsFest & Giveaway

Lego KidsFest

Now here’s an event we’ve been looking forward to. The LEGO KidsFest will be held from October 3-5 at the Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, VA.

The show floor is an astounding three acres of LEGO awesomeness and will include a LEGO Model Museum, a Master Builder Academy, Race Ramps, Creation Nation, Construction Zone, a retail store, and the tantalizingly named Big Brick Pile.

Exhibits and activities will represent the wide variety of LEGO lines–Star Wars, Super Heroes, Ninjago, Mindstorms, Friends, Disney Princess, and Duplo–so there’s sure to be something for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

Richmond will be the tour’s second-to-last stop for 2014 (it moves on to Indianapolis next), and I can tell you that we’re waiting for this one with baited breath.

LEGO KidsFest tickets are $22 for adults and $20 for children, and they can be purchased online at legokidsfest.com.

Click this link and enter to win two tickets to the opening night session (4-8:30 pm) on Friday, Oct 3! Good luck, and thanks for playing!

The National Toy Train Museum

National Toy Train Museum

To coincide with my post about the Choo Choo Barn, I thought I’d just talk about the National Toy Train Museum at the same time. Both are located in Strasburg, PA, which is just a short drive from Lancaster and is filled to the brim with train-related goodies.

The two museums share a common enthusiasm (they’re both lovingly devoted to the world of model railroading), but they have different missions. Whereas the Choo Choo Barn is a presentation of what model railroading looks like, the National Toy Train Museum is dedicated to sharing how the hobby was born, presenting the history of its growth, and reveling in the obvious joy its curators take from this pastime.

Bonus: they’re only about a mile apart, so there’s really no reason not to visit both of them.

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Lego 76000: Arctic Batman vs Mr Freeze: Aquaman on Ice

Lego 76000: Arctic Batman™ vs Mr. Freeze™: Aquaman™ on Ice / DC Universe™ Superheroes

Otherwise known as Attack of the Trademark Symbols.

This was Zoey’s second set in the Superheroes line. It had been a while since we put together the first, so she had forgotten about the difficulty jump between these and the Friends and Disney Princess sets. The latter sets of comparable size and piece count are usually much easier to assemble. Still, she was up for the challenge.

It has a white Batman, which–let’s be clear–is what really attracted her to the set. Aquaman and Mr. Freeze were really just bonuses. But, in my opinion, they’re all stellar minifigures, and I want to say that Aquaman is exclusive to this set.

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Lego 41051: Merida’s Highland Games

Lego 41051: Merida’s Highland Games / Disney Princess

Another entry in the Disney Princess line. I had thought this was Zoey’s “least desired” in the line, but she came home from the store with it in hand the other day (after finding some cash on the ground!).

Specs: 145 pieces (11 extras, including a cute little cookie and a cool key); 2 bags (+ 8×16 green base); 1 sticker sheet; 57 steps over 55 pages (2 books); took the 5yo Roarbot about an hour to put everything together

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Lego 41013: Emma’s Sports Car

Lego 41013: Emma’s Sports Car / Friends

It has wheels and a cute kitty. You had Zoey at hello.

Specs: 159 pieces (just a few extras–nothing special); 3 bags; 1 sticker sheet; 42 steps over 40 pages; took the 5yo Roarbot about 45 minutes to assemble everything.

Zoey’s been a fan of the Lego Friends sets for a while now. They were her first “real” Lego, and she really enjoys the sets with animals in them.

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Lego 75032: X-Wing Fighter Microfighters

Lego 75032: X-Wing Fighter / Microfighters

Our second Microfighters set was this stubby little X-Wing. Just like the Millennium Falcon, Lego has gone for style over substance, and the best way to sum this up is: cute.

Specs: 97 pieces (4 extras–nothing special); 2 bags; 20 steps over 25 pages; and it took the 5yo Roarbot about 30 minutes to assemble

Again, like the Millennium Falcon Microfighter, there are a ton of tiny pieces packed in here. In its final form, it’s a fairly solid little guy.

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Lego 75030: Millennium Falcon Microfighters

Lego 75030: Millennium Falcon / Star Wars Microfighters

The Star Wars Microfighters line is a new line of six small sets that retail for $9.99. This is fairly pricey for the size of the sets, but they’re just so darn cute. We’ve picked up a couple so far (the other is the X-Wing, which will be along here shortly).The size of the minifigure gives a good idea of scale for the whole ship.

Specs: 94 pieces (8 extras–nothing special); 2 bags; 27 steps over 24 pages; and it took the 5yo Roarbot about 30 minutes to assemble.

After only 4 steps, the distinctive shape of the Falcon was already in place. Despite being such a small set, there are a LOT of small pieces buried inside this guy. It took longer to put together than we thought it would.

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Lego 41053: Cinderella’s Dream Carriage

Lego 41053: Cinderella’s Dream Carriage / Disney Princess

Zoey just turned 5, and this was one of her birthday presents. Last year, when I first saw the photos of the new Disney Princess Lego line, I knew it would be a pain in my wallet. I was right. Zoey started in on “real” Legos late last year, at about 4 1/2, which apparently is much younger than many of her friends who are still fumbling with Duplos, if at all.

We started in with the Lego Friends line, and she fell in love with the polybagged pets sets. We’ve gone through Series 1 and 2 of those (Series 3 is in the closet, waiting), some larger Friends sets, a Superhero set here and there, and now this. At 4, she was able to assemble most of the sets entirely by herself. Now, she’s a pro.

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