On the Year That Was, 2017

With 2017 drawing to a close and 2018 about to begin, I decided to take a look back at 2016 and spotlight the best (or most significant) blog post of each month.

Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: Star Trek’s The Guardian of Forever

Last year, to coincide with Star Trek‘s fiftieth anniversary, Mattel released a line of Star Trek Mega Bloks sets. A few years previous, Hasbro had a line of LEGO-compatible Star Trek KRE-O sets, based on the Chris Pine/Zach Quinto films, and I thought those were well done, even if I did rebuild the miniature Enterprise to make it more Enterprise-like. I saw the Star Trek Mega Bloks in stores last year and was curious about them but hadn’t bought any of them, so when I saw them at Ollie’s on Saturday I went ahead and picked up two, the Guardian of Forever set and the Klingon D-7 set.

I must admit to a certain wry feeling when buying the Guardian of Forever set, knowing that somewhere in suburban Los Angeles, Harlan Ellison was screaming into the night, “I gotcher Scotty right here!” with every set that was bought and built. :)

Of the various off-brand LEGO construction sets on the market, Mega Bloks has been the brand I least like working with. My niece had a number of Thomas the Tank Engine sets that I liked building with her, while my sister and brother-in-law were much less fond of, but those were in a larger-scale format. In the standard LEGO size and style, they have interesting licenses, but the bricks feel strange and don’t always fit together well. Continue reading “Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: Star Trek’s The Guardian of Forever”

Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: Olaf’s Biplane

Yesterday evening, after attending the Maryland Renaissance Festival, I found something I knew immediately I had to have — The Peanuts Movie: Olaf's Biplane construction set from Lite Brix.

Lite Brix is a LEGO-compatible building block made by Cra-Z-Art, a New Jersey company.  To tie in with The Peanuts Movie, they produced a number of products, including several LEGO-compatible construction sets.  I don't know what kind of distribution they had, as I never saw them in stores, an all too common state of affairs with off-brand LEGO.

I chanced across Olaf's Biplane (as well as Lemonade Stand) at a clearance store.  I liked The Peanuts Movie a lot, and I wanted to see what the sets were like.  Maybe I need to check out other clearance stores to see if I can get the whole line-up, especially since BanBao, another manufacturer of off-brand LEGO, is releasing their own Peanuts off-brand LEGO construction sets next year.

The box is eye-catching.  Olaf's Biplane is a 90-piece set — 77 bricks, 1 LED battery pack brick, 9 "special shaped parts," and a 3-piece Olaf minifigure.  The set requires 3 AAA batteries, hence the pack of batteries and the Philips-head screwdriver.

Continue reading “Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: Olaf’s Biplane”

Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: Fortress Tower

Six weeks ago, when I went to the Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival in Mt. Airy, Maryland, I made a stop at Dollar General on my way home. I had bought a Celtic art print at the festival, I needed a frame for it, and Dollar General seemed like a good (and inexpensive) place to get a frame. I browsed the store a bit, picked up a bottle of V-8 Splash Strawberry Banana (which I can’t find anywhere else), and in the toy section I found some off-brand LEGO that I didn’t even know existed — Hasbro’s KRE-O Dungeons & Dragons: Fortress Tower.

When I say that I didn’t know it existed, I mean that I had no idea that there were KRE-O Dungeons & Dragons sets. I knew there were Transformers sets (I have several), Star Trek sets (I have several of these, too), Battleship sets (I have none), even some city and zombie sets. But Dungeons & Dragons? No idea whatsoever.

Continue reading “Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: Fortress Tower”

On the Year that Was

With 2016 drawing to a close and 2017 about to begin, I decided to take a look back at 2016 and spotlight the best (or most significant) blog post of each month. Some months — July, quite notably — were more difficult that others; there were a few months, like March and August, where I only posted two or three times in the month.

There you have it, the year that was 2016.

An Angel Tree Package for the Office

As the company has done for a number of years, a Christmas tree was put up in the lobby and, a few days after Thanksgiving, Angel Tree stockings were hung.

I had decided long ago to participate in the Angel Tree program this year and, when I was passing by the lobby area on other business and saw they were up, I stopped and spent a few minutes deciding upon which one to pick.

I chose, similarly to last year, a boy, eight years-old. I signed my name to a sign-up sheet on the front desk, and, with a spring in my step, back to work I went.

There wasn’t any guidance with the stockings as there were with the Angel Tree tags a few years ago. Those tags indicated ideas for toys and clothing sizes. I had to operate blindly, but I was fine with that. You see, I already had a half-dozen items at home for my Angel Tree recipient. I wouldn’t say I had a plan for the recipient, per se, but I knew this was something I wanted to do, and since I knew it was something I wanted to do I saw no reason not to start buying items. And if there had been guidance, the recipient was still going to receive the things I had bought.

I didn’t have a budget. Instead, I was going to buy strategically. Like last year, I was going to do a box of stuff. If I was out at a store and I saw something that intrigued me, I would buy it. In October, then, I started buying items here and there, so by the time the stockings were hung on the tree I had a box of stuff ready to wrap.

That was my strategy, then, and when I was done the recipient would receive a wrapped box, he would unwrap it to find the box was filled with more wrapped boxes, and he would then unwrap another half-dozen interesting things. An eight year-old, receiving an Angel Tree package from the Salvation Army, probably wouldn’t be looking at the brightest Christmas. Every little bit helps.

With the Angel Tree gifts due at the office on Monday morning, Wednesday night after work I sat down and started wrapping. I gathered up the wrapping paper out of my coat closet — most of it Peanuts related — and found my Scotch tape. plugged in my Christmas tree, and queued up Christmas-themed episodes of The Thistle & Shamrock to really get the festive spirit going. Time to go to work. :)

This is a complete overview of the items I had on hand:

For those who wonder about these things, the part of my living room bookshelf you can see holds part of my Beatles library. (There are more Beatles books in my bedroom. And my dining room. I have Beatles books everywhere.) From the left, there’s Philip Norman’s Shout!, then Mark Hertsgaard’s A Day in the Life, and next to it is Bob Spitz’s biography of the Beatles. Mark Lewisohn’s Tune In is on that shelf, as is Ray Coleman’s Lennon. The missing book (seven spots over from the left) is Ian McDonald’s Revolution in the Head Third Edition as that’s presently in my bedroom; I was rereading the entries on “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” recently due to the 15th-anniversary of George Harrison’s death.

Let’s take a look at the items individually, and I will muse upon them as I go.

First up, a Rey puzzle based on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Rey puzzle

I also had a Finn puzzle. The Rey and Finn puzzles were actually the last two items I bought for the package.

Finn puzzle

One of the first items I bought was an Australian collection of Peanuts comic strips. I found this at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, and it was all of two dollars. “This is nice,” I thought, and I thought it would make a good Angel Tree gift.

Peanuts collection

Also found at Ollie’s, but not on the same trip, nor the same Ollie’s, was this Matchbox-esque car! They had all of these baseball die-cast cars, and I couldn’t find any for any team I liked. If I wanted the Phildelphia Phillies or the Texas Rangers or the Miami Marlins or the Houston Astros, they had plenty of those. Cubs or Nationals? Heaven forfend! But they also had this 2012 World Series car. “Why not?” I said. “Kids love Matchbox cars.” And yes, I’m well aware that this one is by Lionel, not Matchbox. :)

World Series Lionel car

Next up, a coloring book! I picked this up on the same Ollie’s trip where I picked up the Peanuts collection.

Justice League coloring book

Coloring books require crayons! This was one of the last items I bought. I picked these up at the 5 Below across the street from Diamond’s offices.


While I was at 5 Below, I also picked up this Spider-Man action figure. Kids love Spider-Man, and kids love action figures. :)

Spider-Man action figure

A DVD! This is the Babar movie from a few years ago. (Come to think of it, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a live-action Babar movie along the lines of the recent Paddington Bear.) When I was young, I loved Babar, so this was an easy choice. I think it was three dollars at Big Lots.

Babar movie

Kids need stuff to build with, and I was intrigued by this Mega Bloks set. This also came from Ollie’s, and it was the most expensive item in the box (at seven dollars). I got this at the same time as the World Series Lionel die-cast car.

Mega Bloks Jeep

And we need a book!

Also from the Ollie’s trip where I get the Mega Bloks set, I found a book on baseball for young readers — Michelle Green’s A Strong Right Arm, a biography of Negro League pitcher Mamie Johnson, a woman who played for the Indianapolis Clowns in the 1950s. I read it after I bought it — it’s not very long and it’s written for young readers — and I quite enjoyed it. The book talks about growing up in the segregated South in the 1940s, discovering one’s talents, and pursuing one’s dreams. Though I don’t know who is receiving the book, I saw important messages in the book for everyone.

A Strong Right Arm

And with that, my wrapping was done!

Oh, I still had the Sega All-Stars die-cast of Tails, but I had no idea how to wrap that due to the shape of the package and, as I would soon discover, I wouldn’t have had room for it in the box.

Pile of presents

Then I selected a Christmas card out of my collection and began to pen a letter from Santa Claus.

This is something I’ve done with the two Angel Tree packages I’ve done. I was inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas, and the first two I did were quite elaborate. They weren’t illustrated like Tolkien’s — I’m a shite artist — but I spent time talking about what life was like for Santa Claus.

For this card I wrote about how the elves were loading the toys in the sleigh, how the gnomes were making the final pre-flight checks, and how Mrs. Claus was shoving Santa out the door. Christmas, after all, is the one time of year he gets him out of the house. :)

The card written, I filled the Diamond shipping box, used a little bit of filler paper, taped it up, and wrapped.

Wrapped box

Again, for people who care about such things, the bookshelf to the right is my graphic novels bookshelf. It’s largely alphabetical, and you can see my Hellboy and Invisibles collection at the top (there’s a Batman shelf above it), Lucifer and The Maxx on the next shelf, and my Sandman boxed set below that. On the bookshelf to the left, there are Doctor Who books visible at the top (with a shelf of Sherlock Holmes books above that), Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books (in their Dark Horse editions) and Michael Moorcock’s Elric books (in their Del Rey trade paperback editions of a few years ago) on the shelf below that, and Fantagraphics’ Peanuts Every Sunday collections and my Harry Potter collection, with a selection of Panini’s Doctor Who collections in between.

I didn’t keep track of what I spent, but it was right around thirty dollars.

I killed one roll of wrapping paper. I had bought a new roll just in case — Peanuts, unsurprisngly — then never used it. The roll of Scotch tape was much diminished when I was finished. And I limited myself to a single bottle of Highland Brewing‘s Oatmeal Porter as I wrapped.

Satisfied with my work, I sat on my couch and listened to Archie Fisher talk about Christmas in Glasgow on The Thistle & Shamrock.

Thursday morning I took the package into the office and dropped it off with Human Resources. I had done my duty, I had brightened a stranger’s Christmas (or would, two weeks hence), and I could get on with the business of sending my publications to press.

Publishing. It is merciless with its deadlines. :)

Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: Castle Clash

On occasion, I’ve bought non-LEGO building sets.

Hasbro’s line, KRE-O, has produced some interesting — and very nice — Transformers and Star Trek sets that I’ve enjoyed building. Character Options’ Doctor Who sets were very nice and felt very LEGO-like. MegaBloks has made World of WarCraft and Halo sets that, while conceptually nice, weren’t fun to build. And the less said about the Best Lock Stargate SG-1 sets, the better.

Recently, I picked up a set at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, the True Legends Castle Clash.


I’d never heard of True Legends before. It’s an in-house line for Toys R Us — Toys R Us can be abbreviated as “TRU,” which gives you True, hence “True Legends” — made by the K-NEX.

K-NEX made Beatles LEGO-esque mini-figures, which I bought at Target a few years ago, as well as a LEGO-esque set based on Yellow Submarine. I have the Yellow Submarine set, but have not yet built it.

I saw the castle set at Ollie’s back when I was shopping for the Angel Tree package and was intrigued by it, but I didn’t pick it up then. I went back a few weeks ago, to look around, and picked up a couple of books — a biography of Woodrow Wilson, Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices, a book on a 30-day/30-city baseball road trip — and saw they still had the set in stock. Since I like castles, and it wasn’t that expensive, just thirty dollars, I decided to give it a shot.

I’ve never built a K-NEX set before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Inside the box, it looks like LEGO — bags of bricks, instruction booklet, sticker sheet. In short, it’s what you’d expect.


The instruction booklet looks like a LEGO instruction booklet.


The bricks look like LEGO, with some slight variation, namely holes through the bricks between the studs.


Up-close, the bricks look especially LEGO-like, right down to some sort of writing (which I couldn’t make out) atop the studs.


How did the bricks feel? They felt very solid. The bricks had a heft to them. They were smooth like LEGO. They snapped together like LEGO. Building with these never felt wrong in the way that buidling with MegaBloks or Best Lock did. I’d rank them on par with LEGO, just above Character Options and KRE-O.

I set to work. After about ten steps, I had a castle that looked like this.


I’ve built LEGO castles in my time, and building Castle Clash was different. The LEGO castles I’ve built have had specialized wall pieces. This set built the walls layer by layer. The gray bricks, usually 2×4, but sometimes 2×2, had slightly rounded corners, so I stacked them the castle’s walls had the look of a castle built from hewn stone. Also, because the bricks used were 2x2s or 2x4s, the walls had an impressive stability to them.

The castle gate proved to be a little problematic; it had a tendency to come apart while the base of the walls were still under construction. Once the arch was completed, however, the gate ceased to be a problem; suddenly, the gate had the stability it needed to hold together.


As I continued to build, I was impressed with how… substantial this set felt. The base itself had a large footprint, then there were two internal staircases, and then I started to build the two towers over the castle gate.

You reach a point where you can say to yourself, “You know, that’s a pretty impressive castle.”


And then, you keep going. There’s another level to build. :)


Eventually, I would tear the castle back down to this point and rebuild it in a different direction, but that’s to come later.


There’s another level to the tower to build, and before too long, I was done.


From the rear, this is what the finished castle looks like.


Done, right?


As I did with the KRE-O Enterprise, I felt the need to tinker.

I felt that what the castle needed was a crosswalk bridging the two towers overlooking the gate. I had extra gray bricks — the set also has instructions for a blacksmith’s furnace, and I hadn’t built that — and it seemed to me that between those bricks and the bricks I’d gain from tearing down the towers’ inner walls, I’d have what I needed to build the walkway and fortified wall between them.

Here, then, was my first attempt.


There was nothing wrong with it. It looked great. I didn’t feel it was right, though. For one thing, it was too high.

Remember how I said I was going to tear the model down and rebuild? That’s what I did. The reason for stripping the model down as far as I did? I needed the 2x8s at that particular level. Basically, I wanted the crosswalk at the same level as the upper layer of the towers, and I was going to need the 2x8s for things like supports and, naturally, the crosswalk wall itself.

I’m not sure how I ended up doing what I did, but it made sense to me. There were pillars and crenelation and the idea of the walls was restored; now there was a walkway between them. What I came up with felt right.


From behind, the upper towers and the walkway between them looks like this.


The result is something that I’m really satisfied with. It looks like something out of a Brothers Hildebrandt Lord of the Rings calendar. I was pleased with the standard Castle Clash build, and I’m really happy with the modification I made, though I no longer have the pieces necessary to build the furnace as they went into supports and walls and such.

For right now, the set is sitting on my dining room table, along with the pieces for the set’s siege ladders, which I’ve not yet built, either. (I may put those pieces in a baggie for some later date. I don’t see the necessity for the siege ladders.)

While the castle itself is impressive and substantial, the set’s mini-figures are borderline terrible. It’s difficult to put anything in their hands, and they look creepy. (While the patent on LEGO bricks has expired, the patent on LEGO’s mini-figures has not expired, so makers of off-brand LEGO keep having to reinvent the wheel, some more successfully than others.) I may ignore the K-NEX mini-figures altogether and simply dig out some LEGO Castle mini-figures.

Overall, I’m very happy with this set. It has over 1,300 pieces, construction wasn’t difficult, and the finished product (even without the modification I made) is a solid piece of work. If you need an inexpensive LEGO-like castle option, K-NEX’s True Legends Castle Clash is worth taking a look at.

The Itch to Build

In my closet there’s an ammunition crate, painted red.

It’s where I keep my LEGO bricks.

There are LEGO bricks in that crate that are older than some of my coworkers. No, I’m not kidding. There are some LEGO boat pieces (that float on water) that I know date from the late 1970s, and I have coworkers who were born in the 1980s. I can’t be 100% certain, In my KRE-O/LEGO Enterprise, which sits on my bookshelf at the office, but I’m sure there are a few pieces older than my coworkers. (Note: The images at that link don’t work. I need to fix them.)

Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of LEGO in that crate.

I really should do something with them. I should build with them; I haven’t really dug into the box in a year. I still have a couple of LEGO Lord of the Rings sets to build, to say nothing of a few KRE-O Star Trek sets and the K’Nex Beatles Yellow Submarine set.

Once upon a time, I’d have said, “It’s not LEGO, so it must be crap.” Then I started working with non-LEGO bricks, and I discovered there’s some quality out there like KRE-O and Character Building. (There’s also crap, like Best Lock’s Stargate SG-1 sets.) I liked Hasbro’s KRE-O Transformers sets; in some respects, they “feel” more authentic in my hands than the LEGO Alien Conquest sets did. (On the other hand, Hasbro’s older Transformers Built-to-Rule sets were crap.)

This Saturday is “Bricks and Baseball Night” with the Harrisburg Senators: “The Senators will be wearing special Lego themed jerseys presented by PSECU.” Of course I’m going to be there. I love that jersey. All the primary colors. The right typeface for the team name.

I need to get back to building. The reason I don’t is a lack of space. I’d want to build something and put it on display, but I don’t have the space to do that in my apartment.

LEGO building is an expensive and space-consuming hobby. :)

Topic taken from The Daily Post‘s “Toy Story” prompt.

Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: The Mini KRE-O Enterprise

Last summer, to tie in with Star Trek Into Darkness, Hasbro released several Star Trek-themed KRE-O sets. KRE-O is Hasbro’s LEGO-compatible building set series, and they’ve released Transformers, Battleship, and zombie-themed sets in addition to Star Trek.

I’ve built some of the Transformers sets, and I’ve liked them. The bricks may be a little slicker (in a tactile sense) than LEGO’s bricks, but they snap together and apart cleanly and, when finished, it looks like something built with LEGO. (Much better than Hasbro’s earlier “Built to Rule” Transformers sets which, frankly, were god-awful.)

I’ve had all four miniature ship sets, but I’d only built the USS Kelvin. This morning, while eating breakfast and drinking coffee, I built the Enterprise.

Here’s how it looked.


It went together quickly, and the result looks okay. But just okay. Because, unfortunately, it doesn’t look a lot like the Enterprise.

Let’s take a look from another angle.


There’s no neck. There’s a weird catamaran thing going on with the engineering hull that looks like it belongs on Captain Picard’s Enterprise. And the nacelles are mounted at the front to the pylons.

Fortunately, I have a box filled with old LEGO pieces, and I was certain that I could make the KRE-O Enterprise look more like it should.

And here’s what I came up with.


I found four flat 1×2 white pieces. Two were affixed to the nacelles in the place where the pylons would mount. Then, I attached the nacelles to the pylons one stud back of the front. The other two flat 1×2 white pieces went under the catamaran-like structure to make the engineering hull look a little more substatial.

And as you can see from that angle, I rebuilt the Enterprise‘s neck.

Here’s a better angle.


Except for the two 30% slope gray pieces, the neck is now 100% LEGO.

I found two flat 2×2 white pieces, and I mounted them atop a flat 2×3 white piece. Then I found a sloping gray piece of unknown provenance, and that became the rear of the neck. I removed the KRE-O 2×4 flat white piece that was the neck and rebuilt the neck as you see here.

I put it all together, and it looked better than what it was.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that the saucer was too small. And, really, the nacelles should have caps.

Back to the LEGO box!

First, the nacelles.

I removed the 1×2 white flat pieces I had added to the nacelles and replaced them with 1x3s. Then, I added flat yellow 1x1s and capped them with the 1×1 translucent blues that came in the set.

Second, the engineering hull.

I wanted to move the nacelle pylons back. There’s now a 2×6 flat white and 3 additional 1×2 white flats. One of the white 1x2s went behind the 1×2 translucent blue, then the nacelle pylons, and this was topped with the 2×6. Then, to finish off the engineering hull, two 1×2 whites were stacked and affixed to the 2×6’s overhang.

Finally, the saucer.

It’s now wider by one stud, and it required a great deal of experimentation. I found 2 1×6 white flats and 2 1×3 white flats. Treating these as though they were 1x9s, they intersected at the 5th stud, then 1×4 whites were added above and below to make a stable structure 2 levels thick.

The four quadrants of the saucer where fitted around this central structure. And, on the bottom, I made a 5×5 square using flat white 1x4s to brace the saucer and hold it together.

To attach dishes to top and bottom, 1x2s with a single stud in the middle were used for the one below. For the one above, a flat 2×3 was affixed roughly to the center of the saucer, a single 1×1 stud was attached to that in the exact center of the saucer, and the dish was attached to that.

Fourth, the neck had to be reworked. It was made one layer higher, a translucent yellow brick was added as impuluse engines, and the top level of the saucer was made of two 1x2s with a single stud so that the saucer could attach to it.

This was the result.


If you ever wanted to know if you can mix and match LEGO and KRE-O, the answer is yes. You can do so with impunity. The Enterprise is now roughly 40% to 45% LEGO parts, partly from additions, partly from subtractions. Other than age and grime (some of the LEGO bricks are very likely thirty to thirty-five years old — and they look it), you can’t really tell the difference.

In conclusion, with a little thought and some modification, the KRE-O Enterprise can look more like Matt Jeffries’ design than it does out of the package. :)

Adventures in Off-Brand LEGO: Stargate SG-1 Deathglider Attack

Yesterday I went to Big Lots. It wasn’t the reason I went out — I needed to go to Kohl’s to buy a new pair of shoes for work, as the pair of shoes I had was utterly blown out — and since Big Lots is in the same area as Kohl’s I made a stop.

The main thing I wanted from Big Lots was a loaf pan. But they had also started to get in Christmas merchandise, and I wanted to see what they had. They had a small selection of Christmas coffee, they had a large display of panettones, they had Christmas baking goods, they had Christmas plates and mugs. They had Christmas gift sets, and they had wrapping paper and ornaments. And they had toys. Lots of toys.

And then I saw it. Stargate SG-1 almost-LEGO from a company called Best-Lock. “That’s interesting!” I said to myself. I had no idea that anyone had licensed Stargate for building block toys; it’s a dead property these days, and I couldn’t imagine there would be much, if any, demand for Stargate merchandise. Nonetheless, I was intrigued; I have friends who love Stargate and who love building things, and I thought perhaps it would make a fun Christmas present. It wasn’t expensive, just fifteen dollars, so I went ahead and picked the set up.

Then I had an attack of sense. Would I want to give something to a friend that was possibly junk? I decided to build it myself. If it turned out to be something worthwhile, I could buy another. And if it turned out to be something awful, I could warn friends and loved ones against this product.

Inside the box, it looks exactly like LEGO. The bricks are in little baggies, there are instruction sheets and stickers. So far, so good.


Up close, the pieces look LEGO-like. More LEGO-like than Hasbro’s KRE-O, not as LEGO-like as Character Building. At a glance, without really touching them, Best-Lock’s bricks seemed close to Mega Bloks.


Then came the real test — building. There were four instruction sheets — Horus statue, all-terrain vehicle, obelisk, fighter. I chose one at random, so random that I was surprised to discover that I was building the Horus statue. And here the similarity to LEGO ended.

These pieces did not fit together well at all. Brick did not snap cleanly on brick. Bricks stacked on top of one another did not make a straight build. And because the bricks didn’t snap together cleanly, it could become very difficult to build onto something already built. This would become a frequent problem.


This is the base and legs of the Horus statue. It may not be obvious from this photo, but these legs were not lining up.


Eventually, I would have to rebuild the legs of the statue. Why? Because they broke apart when I tried to build the statue’s torso.


See the sand colored slanted piece at the top? Trying to lock that into place caused the whole thing to break apart.


Horus is done. Affixing the headdress pieces caused a number of things to break off. And you probably can’t tell, but Horus has eye stickers. The reason you can’t tell is the eye stickers are clear with black markings on them, and they go on a black piece. Brilliant design there!

I gave up for the night after building the obelisk. There’s nothing to speak of there; it’s a ten piece thing that snaps together tolerably well, though it’s not exactly straight. Getting the stickers on was probably the toughest thing.

This is the sight my coffee and I faced in the morning.


The all-terrain vehicle looked staightforward, but it wasn’t. The exhaust assembly was a pain to build; oddly, it looked simple on paper, but I had to remove it from the vehicle and assemble it, then reattach it. There are some pieces with studs on the sides that would break off if I handled the partly constructed vehicle in any way.


Oh, and one of the pieces for the vehicle’s seats was missing. I hoped that it would turn up, process of elimination style, as I built the fighter, but it never did. Nor was that the only critical piece missing from the box.


The vehicle was tricky, even when finished, for the antennas kept falling through the clips that held them. Nonetheless, it was done, and that left only the fighter left to build.

And that would get off to a poor start, because right in step one I was missing a critical piece.


Missing — one of the female wing-mount pieces. (I’m using “female” in the computer sense; it’s a piece that something snaps into. The matching piece that would snap into it is the “male” piece.) Close to the camera you can see one female piece. On the opposite side there are two. Just as I had with the piece for the ATV, I hoped by process of elimination that I would find the piece, that I had simply overlooked it. I had not.


The fighter was generally a frustrating thing to build. It was flat piece on top of flat piece, and they didn’t lock together smoothly. I had to disassemble part of the of the model to get the canopy into place. The “engine” behind the canopy was interesting to build, but it was also fragile. Also, the instructions have you put the laser cannons on early, but they kept breaking off due to handling, and later I would move them slightly because where the instructions indicated to affix them led to them breaking off constantly.


I’m used to LEGO sets having extra pieces, but this was a bit absurd. There’s no sign of the missing ATV seat or the female wing mount piece. There are, curiously, two extra male wing mount pieces.

Here it is, all done, though I would shortly rebuild the wing mounts on the fighter so that each side had only a single female-to-male joint.


My final thoughts?

Stay away. Stay far, far away.

Let me say upfront that I’m impressed that there’s a company that was willing to license a dead property like Stargate SG-1 and keep it out in front of consumers.

However, no matter how much you love Stargate SG-1, in my opinion this set isn’t your time, your effort, your money, or your sanity. If it’s what you want, nothing I say is going to keep you from buying it, but at least you’ll buy it knowing the set’s flaws. If you’re given this as a present, smile kindly and know that your loved one’s heart was in the right place. The instructions are clear, but the pieces they go with are frustrating to work with, and missing pieces, especially critical missing pieces, are a no-no.

Not recommended.