Lego City 60002 and 60003 Review

In my next set of reviews of sets I recently purchased, we have two new Lego City fire sets in 60002 and 60003. Anyone who has known me since my childhood realizes that I’ve been a big Lego fire nut. My second major set in my life was Engine Company No 1, which set off my passion and lifelong hobby. While I have become somewhat delinquent in keeping up with most of the insane output from Lego, I’ve pretty much made it a personal mission to collect most of the fire sets, especially if they’re good ones.

Let’s start off by looking at Lego 60002, the Fire Truck. In some ways, this set resembles the larger fire engine from older sets 6385 and 6366, namely in what I call the “bus window” for the front. It’s got a very boxy-shaped structure, but with a surprising amount of details both in the form of a fair number of decals and tools for the fire fighters.

The rear section allows you to store all the different implements the fire fighters use for their jobs while a double sided compartment which you flip contains a tiny box for an oxygen mask and nozzle you can attach to the fire hose. The nozzle has a blue flame, which in this context means spraying water. I thought that was an interesting little use of the flame piece. The front section of the truck actually allows you to fit both fire fighters inside the truck. The last little part is a fire hydrant where a hose can connect to the tiny gray piece stick near the left side. The hydrant itself has a small gray platform that you can use to add to a side walk.

Lego City 60002 Fire Truck

Next, we come to 60003, the Fire Emergency. This set also has a hook and ladder type of vehicle, albeit slight smaller with less tools. But you also get a burning building, which I thought was an interesting original touch from Lego. Historically, most Fire sets pretty much just include the vehicles and a fire house. This is the first set, to my recollection, that has a building that’s on fire. That aspect drew me to the set as it added a new element to my town series.

The building itself is just a prop. Beyond the flames and a bucket with a sweeper, there’s not much else to this building on the interior. With the boards on the outside, it appears to be an abandoned store perhaps that managed to catch fire. I’m kinda sad in that respect because I’d like to see more detail for these prop sets. It feels like the older movie sets minus the super hero like Spiderman. But hey I’ll take what I can get.

One interesting thing is that the set does include three fire fighters, one of which is female (I use her as my driver). Considering that the truck is just a one seater, it makes you wonder just how the other two arrived. Yes, I’m being a bit critical but I’m going to lead to something in a bit.

Lego City 60003 Fire Emergency

Overall, I think these two sets are worthy additions to your fire collection. There is some uniqueness worth picking these up, especially for die hard Lego fire fans.

Now, onto my criticism of these sets. I alluded to earlier how 60003 provides three mini figures while the truck only has room for one. Now, in comparison to 60002, I found this detail a little disturbing. The trend in the past decade has been to make larger and larger vehicles. You still have slimmer vehicles, but the inconsistent scale between these two drives me nuts. I think some of the construction vehicles were by far the most guilty, having outrageous scale like the dump truck or the crane.

But why be so mad at this aspect? Doesn’t having larger vehicles imply more detail? Yes and no. I feel that a lot of the detail that goes into newer sets is pretty artificial. Most of it is just excess decals. I find the abundance of decals in sets these days to really take away the experience of a set. Not to mention, the problem that decals can slowly erode or wipe off over time.

My main issue all these years is simply the incompatibility between older sets and current sets. Scale has always been an issue with Lego but it’s easy to ignore considering it’s a toy. But I feel that, at least with town, scale should be more consistent overall. It simply looks weird and awkward having these variable sizes in a town. And where do you put some of these ridiculously huge vehicles like the crane or dump truck?

Part of it feels that Lego simply wants to charge more for the packaging than on the actual quality of the set. Having larger vehicles only marginally increases the parts count. But the box sizes are pretty ridiculous for what you get along with the price. I would be far more inclined spending money on greater quantities of sets as opposed to being picky about which sets I can afford both monetarily and in space.

Now, I never want to see the concept of Town Jr ever again. That was horrible (despite me buying into it). But at the same time, I doubt Lego will regress to the 80s where scale, quantity and price felt more reasonable. However, it is a direction I would like to see.

Lego 70705 Review

I decided to bite the bullet today and pick up a few Lego sets at Target. The first one I built was 70705 from the new series Galaxy Squad called “Bug Obliterator.” The set is actually three vehicles where one can be combined from the two Galaxy Squad sections and the other is a wasp-like hover craft of sorts.

I picked this set for the first of group as I felt that the main space craft has a nice color theme that matches closely with the older Mars Mission sets in orange and white. More importantly, without looking into detail at the set, I realized right away that the two vehicles could be united:

Lego 70705 Combined Starcraft

Before we get into this part, I want to discuss the little wasp piece. I’m not really a huge fan of insectoid creations in general. But I can see why Lego often uses them as a sort of nemesis (quite a few games do this like World of Warcraft). I suppose if anything Lego is training future fumigators for your home.

That said, the little wasp piece has a few interesting colors going for it in the Now-n-Later neon green, maroon, dark gray and black. It’s very creepy with the six claw-like legs and frontal pincers. However, the little bug guy manning the ship is the star of the craft, having a menacing head. I can’t find the antennae attached to the helmet piece so it might’ve dropped some place on my floor or desk. The main feature for this piece is the attached cocoon pod sitting behind the rider. I believe you can place abducted space men inside where the troops attempt to save their comrade. Beyond that, there’s little inspiration for this piece, although the rear tail is jointed and looks to have a cannon mounted at the end of the tail.

Lego 70705 Alien Wasp

The next aspect you get to build is the ground rover, which serves as a missile turret system. The turret can be elevated and hidden in the rear. The top section is a plasma cannon that you can remove and have the driver hold as a formidable weapon. The interesting part beyond the missile rack is the driver itself. The driver wears a pretty cool looking helmet and might actually be a robot since there is no head beneath the helmet. Underneath is a sweet little armor chest piece with two notches that you attach a pair of wings. Surprisingly, you can fold the wings up and store the driver inside the cockpit. Now, I had a slight amount of trouble fitting him inside as the wings barely provide enough room for the driver and have the possibility of sliding off with the cockpit connector just bulging above.

Lego 70705 Ground Rover
The last section of the set is the main ship. It’s a mid-sized fighter and is split into two packages. Sadly, there’s not as many moving parts as I would have liked. But I think that compromise is made up in terms of the structural integrity of the craft. It’s quite sturdy and solid overall. I think that design was kept in mind since the primary feature of this set is to connect the ground craft to this ship. The ground craft has a little bit of weight so the rear section needs to be able to reliably hold it in place. Considering that only two little joints connect the two crafts together, the design does a great job in preventing the two from splitting off easily.

Like the turret aspect of the ground rover, the space craft can hoist the cockpit up to allow the ground rover to unite. However, besides the side wings being able to swivel slightly, there’s not a whole lot else going for this set.

Lego 70705 Space Craft

Some of my chief disappointments was the general lack of playability considering the price and number of parts. The space craft has a good look but doesn’t do much. I felt that too much of the set had more details by using stickers to give it character whereas some glaring deficiencies existed. For instance, where do you place the spare astronaut after you “rescue” him? Where do the laser pistols go? There should be at least some storage unit where you could contain those pistols when the astronauts are flying around.

The other thing I’m not overly found of are the oval shaped cockpits. It’s become more standard these days but the shape make it harder to design other types of cockpits. You pretty much are forced into using that slanted design. Also, for a space craft, the shape just does not seem air tight.

Lastly, does Lego really need to add alien bug units just to create a mythical threat? The insectoid craft are quite ugly on average and look like something you would use to scare the neighbor’s cat. I find it hard to use them as parts for a different type of craft because of the make up and mentality behind those sets. For myself, I could’ve easily done without the spare insectoid craft, bring the price down a little and just have a kick-ass looking space craft.

Overall, do I feel that this set is worth the money? The space craft alone for the design is worth the money. It’s a very good looking craft and the rover aspect compliments the feeling well. I can see it fitting into the Mars Mission series stylistically and parts-wise. I probably won’t be picking every thing set in this series since the more bug oriented ones look terrible and their counterpart astronauts do not have any outstanding craft that really make me want to go out and pick them up. But this is a good start to the general space sub branch.

World of Warcraft: Quick 5.0.4 Impressions

I managed to give the 5.0.4 patch a spin tonight. Most of it was attempting to adjust my talents and figure out how to maximize the glyphs that were still available on my toons. I have to say that the talents and glyphs are practically useless. Talents overall seem more geared towards PVPers while glyphs don’t have any real function. The minor glyphs for the most part are visual effects and probably can be skipped entirely.

Originally, I was going to play my priest a bit because she is pretty close to acquiring a new trinket. When I went to the former valor point vender, I noticed that the priest trinket did not show but instead was displaying a tanking one. It turns out that they have a filter on items so this is obviously bugged. Still, the interface somewhat discouraged me from pursuing my priest’s trinket.

Instead, I switched to my rogue to give LFR a spin. Morchok was weird because my rogue took significantly higher damage than before, especially with the stomps. Previously, my rogue used some talent points to boost up her armor contributions. Not sure if that impacted the damage reception from Morchok. Damage output was higher as we seemed to slice through Morchok, etc. fairly quickly. If anything, the only difficulty was making sure my rotation still held. At least with the rogue, everything seemed okay. I did check out Noxxic to check on the rotation. There was a talent that supposedly could impact my rotation but I ended up ignoring it. Bottom line for that was the talent tree appears more cosmetic than anything truly useful.

The loot system was more frustrating though. I do feel as though I scored more money potentially, but it’s hard to say because I never sat down to calculate the exact amount. Now, just like in older instances, you get a loot bag. If you’re lucky you get an item. However, if you get an item that you don’t need, you cannot trade it as all items dropped by the bag is considered soulbound. So really you’re at the utter mercy of the cruel RNG gods when it comes to loot.

Another subtle change was only allowing people get 150 JP for a single LFG run. You can still run LFG but the payout for JP will be lower. If you’re still not 85 yet, that might hurt slightly although you will be able to purchase 397 gear with JP. As a result, it really becomes up to you with regards to effort for gearing. You could run HoT Heroics all day and completely gear up your toon with the max JP gear.

The loss of the range/relic slot was fist shaking frustrating, especially for my hunter. I managed to get the polearm and bow. But the polearm in itself was a pain to get for a while. The fact that Blizzard trivially got rid of that slot altogether is a huge slap in the face to players who grinded for months attempting to fill out all their slots.

Going back to LFG, the rotation issue surface as a result of no add on working at the moment. It was somewhat confusing having to deal with Blizzard’s piss poor base UI system in figuring out which buffs/debuffs you have. So hopefully, these developers for 3rd party add ons will quickly deploy updates. It might not be worth it though considering how close we are to the real expansion.

On the side though, I saw many guildies login briefly. It felt as though people were eager to check out the updates. However, once they saw the mutilation done to their toons, they pretty much quit. I have a feeling that this expansion will cause even more players to quit. The main problem is simply the unnecessary revisions done to toons. Honestly, why fuck around with something that was working before? It really feels like the PVPers QQ’d so much on the forums that Blizzard ended up bowing to them for an entire expansion.

I think the only way this upcoming expansion will succeed is if the content is satisfying and engaging enough to retain people’s interests. For myself, I tried the beta and didn’t see anything that really compelled me to spend that much time. The only thing I did pretty much was check out the talents (which obviously were a huge disappointment) and wandering around the new continent.

I have a feeling that the content itself won’t be that great. The only features that might be interesting are the pet battles and the new landscape. The remaining stuff is just more of the same. I feel that Blizzard is just out of touch at this point with World of Warcraft and their focus on forcing people to grind is wearing everyone out. Each expansion it feels as though Blizzard is killing its legacy and that the wrong people are running the show.

Well, hopefully Blizzard can end WoW on a more uplifting note. Right now, the future is pretty dim.

Shadow Priest Now is Level 82

I pushed right through Northrend this past week in trying to hit 85 before the expansion comes out. At the moment, I managed to hit level 82 on my Shadow Priest and am about to start the Deepholme quest chain. Once I hit level 85, it will mark my 10th level 85, giving me the full range of classes at the moment in the World of Warcraft. I decided to blog about my experience thus far in retrospect as I aim towards 85.

First, the shadow priest definitely is one of my least favorite classes in the game. Of course, you might be wondering why I even bothered leveling one in the first place if I disliked it. The point was to experience the class and see if there were any benefits to playing it. Thus far, I found the class to have been one of the least enjoyable overall mostly because other classes surpass everything the shadow priest can do.

Some may argue that the shadow priest’s damage can make them a top DPS in raids. Ignoring that aspect for the moment, I want to focus just on the play style. The class primarily is thought of as a dot class. Some compare the shadow priest to an affliction warlock. I tend to disagree. I found that the class is closer to a boomkin. You’re really just managing two primary dots on a target while racing to get 3-4 long casting abilities up. If anything, the main difference is that the shadow priest can do an AoE heal rather than just a self-heal. So perhaps in that regard, the shadow priest plays more interesting in a group setting.

However, one of the worst things I’ve found about the class is just a lack of AoE abilities until hitting level 74. Sure, we get holy nova, but that really isn’t practical. That made instance grinding a nightmare, especially when confronted with a lot of mobs. Another element that I dislike about the class is the general slowness as a class. Only at the highest levels do you start seeing some movement boosters. But compared to death knights, hunters, paladins, mages, etc. you really don’t get much and often times find yourself running desperately to catch up to the rest of the group.

Another huge problem is mana. For the most part, you’re going to be mana starved. Once again, until you start hitting higher levels, you’ll be constantly waiting around drinking. Earlier today, I was in an instance with another shadow priest. Her mana was constantly depleted and she wondered just how I managed to keep near full. My trick mostly was in one of the major glyphs, combined with a rotation that allowed replenishment. I think once my shadow priest hits 85, the glyph no longer will be relevant so I might start encountering mana problems again (then again certain talents like Dark Evangelism might solve it along with putting more talent points in reducing the cost of instant cast spells).

Next, we really have no interrupts and good CC. If you want an interrupt, you have to spec into one to gain silence. But then why should you be forced to take a dedicated spec just for a few specific encounters? And the CC for a shadow priest really sucks. We do get an AoE fear and a certain glyph will hold our enemies in place. However, we’re required to be close to our enemies in order to use that. In some encounters, that just isn’t practical, especially considering that we’re a ranged class wearing crap armor.

Of course, old school shadow priest will claim that mind control is the ultimate form of CC. Again, I think that aspect is more geared towards PVP oriented play. I have read how some people will use mind control in Heroic Cataclysm instances to manipulate healers. But as a DPS class, I am not allowed to focus on other mobs while channeling mind control. So for me, this form of CC is useless.

The only thing I do like is the Power Word Shield ability. That has saved my ass on a lot of occasions. That to me is the difference maker in many encounters. Combine that with healing abilities, the shadow priest can shine in their own light.

At any rate, I hope that by next weekend my shadow priest will be at level 85. I will try to make it before then as I would like to run Cataclysm HoTs and LFR before the next expansion comes out. My ultimate purpose though is just to get a chance to really play each class to their fullest and see how each class feels.

Watched Idiocracy

Once again Mike Judge’s social acumen on stupid rings true in this movie. While not the funniest movie nor even being that funny of a movie, the social criticism in this movie is what made me fascinated. Essentially, Mike Judge is arguing that as a species humans are becoming dumber. While we are advancing elements of technology like the internet, the vast majority of our efforts are spent towards cheap entertainment while our interactions are becoming cruder and very primordial.

It’s completely fathomable of this dystopian future that Judge is predicting in this movie. He sees humanities incline towards decadence and barbarism as the primary reasons for the fall of humanity. The first scene establishes this dichotomy where we have two couples: 1) the rationale, intelligent and extremely modern type and 2) the alpha male Jersey Shore type that you find in a fraternity or football team. The rationale intelligent couple fears the economy and prohibits having children for a while. Unfortunately, their decisions for abstinence leads towards a tragic ending for their lineage as the husband meets a fatal end while the wife continually hopes for the perfect man. On the other hand, the imbecile couple breed quite frequently, eventually creating a huge tree of people that dominate society.

Even now, we can both situations occurring. For instance, in Japan the population is in a steep decline even being threatened for extinction. The thing about the Japanese is that they’re fairly smart on average as a society but the recent economic downturn has created fears for having families. But if you check out our own society at the poverty levels, you can see mass breeding. Similarly, the women’s movement can be partly to blame for the instillation of the whole “perfect man” scenario, where those with the highest (theoretical) qualities are the ones desirable, leaving intelligent ones (i.e. those that do not possess the most physically attractive traits) to remain solo.

Beyond that, the heavily advertised and corporate run world are underlying causes for the resulting decline in civilization. The Brawndo conglomerate is seen to have bought out the FDA and other agencies that regulate our health and food systems. Because of the mass employment by Brawndo and the blind fealty to their stock prices, a deadly circular chain is erected where people are too stupid to realize how Brawndo is killing the environment and destroying people’s health.

Although the movie is fiction, you cannot deny the parallels between that aspect and corporations like McDonalds, etc. who evidently have their hands deep in the backside of groups like the FDA to allow their unsavory products and methods of production to exist.

I think one of the interesting things about the film is how Judge does not attempt to directly point the finger at any individual but at humans on a whole. Some people might attempt to knock on so-called secret societies like the Illuminati or Bilderberg group as having setup this global catastrophe. Quite the contrary with Judge where he more than likely, realistically and correctly faults human inhibition as the number one source where all these problems are derived.

In many ways, Mike is correct with where he caustically aims his sights. At the end of the day, people are ultimately responsible for their own actions. If you examine the scenes of the trial and Not Sure’s Rehabilitation scene, the entire thing is setup as a one way spectacle, a catharsis for everyone except Not Sure and behaves like a reading from Orwell’s 1984 regarding the whole 2 minute hate acts. Here, no one attempts to listen to reason and instead revert to primordial instincts of brutality to achieve their momentary relief. However, only Not Sure, as the average Joe, does something different: he accepts responsibility and assumes the blame.

To me Mike is making an overt statement that people are simply reverting to a primitive period. Self sacrifice is considered noble, similar to how in the movie Prometheus, the engineers would sacrifice themselves to bring about prosperity. This is a direct message to the average person, a plea to get off their asses and make positive changes in the world, even small ones to prevent the human race as a whole from entering into this pathetic theoretical world.

As someone who has preached for years on the need to remove myself from the masses, I certainly align myself with Mike’s vision. I already see too many parallels and it scares me. For instance, the worship of stupidity and the degradation of intelligence as being “faggotry.” Add to the self indulgence we’re not that far from this end point.