LEGO Minifigures Series 14

*Disclaimer: I’m a functional adult, husband and father in his 30’s…. keep that in mind during the following total nerd-out and try not to judge.*

Now before I get into the review, allow me to give some background on what led to finding all of this Minifigure series….

Minifigures are one of my favorite collectibles. No one can pack as much charm and character into a 1 1/2 inch package like LEGO. My favorite LEGO site, The Brick Fan, first reported the rumors of the monster-themed Series 14 way back in January and from then on I eagerly awaited their arrival. I’m a lifelong fan of LEGO and horror/monster nut…. how could I not be excited?! My sprawling collection of 120+ unique LEGO minifigures was ready to grow.

A few days before the scheduled September 1st release date, I got a call at work from my son. He excitedly told me how the Walgreen’s around the corner from our house was clueless and put the figures out too early. They each grabbed one, unsure whether or not they’d be able to complete the purchase (The Simpsons Series 2 appeared early in Target but the register blocked the sale). Fortunately for us, the Walgreen’s employee couldn’t care less. He displayed a remarkable level of patience for an almost 8 year old and waited for me to get home before cutting the blind bags open. Prior suspicions were confirmed – Series 14 had to be the first of the minifigure series where owning all 16 was a must.

Collecting comics, toys, etc has always been a personal vice. As my son grew old enough to prefer DC over Marvel and LEGO over everything, he turned collecting into a father/son activity. Sure, it would be easy to order everything online… but where’s the fun in that? For us it is about the hunt; looking for some exclusive item then the geeky glee when we succeed. The Series 14 hunt lasted two weeks. Two long weeks of blind package-fondling later and all 16 figures are finally in my possession!

My actual collection as they are displayed on my wall.

My actual collection as they are displayed on my wall.

I planned on ranking all 16 by everything-is-awesome-ness but my wife pointed out how impossible that was. The truth is that they are all great! Never before has a minifigure series been so entirely perfect. So instead I will rank my top 5 favorites starting with fifth and ending with my number one. <drum roll please>

5th Favorite – Zombie Businessman

Photo courtesy of http://www.thebrickfan.com

Perhaps it’s because I’m a corporate drone myself… or because I love zombies. Regardless of the reason, this minifigure is fantastic. It is one of the few in the series that rings true to the classic minifigure design. Many of the 16 have spectacular custom molds so this familiar design stands out in its own way. His appearance embodies the way I feel at my desk on Monday mornings while the “BRAAAINS” headline on his 2×2 newspaper plate acts as the icing on the cake. It’s all so good that the Zombie Businessman will most likely be replacing the Mr. Burns minifigure that currently presides over my cubicle.

4th Favorite – Gargoyle

Photo courtesy of http://www.thebrickfan.com

The Gargoyle is the only ‘short’ figure in the lineup with a non-jointed leg piece. It’s this short stature that sets this figure apart and puts it in my top 5. His hairpiece horns and rigid wings provide plenty of presence to stand with the other monsters in Series 14. The stonelike printing gives him that extra touch that brings back fond memories of watching Gargoyles as a kid. He deserves to have Keith David’s voice!

3rd Favorite – Monster Scientist

Photo courtesy of http://www.thebrickfan.com

This figure is a standout from his extra-tall bald head to his kooky eyes. He’s the only ‘human’ representative in this series of monstrosities yet you can see how he ties them all together. The bald head piece is nicely done as it fits seamlessly enough to appear as one molded piece. His goggles and crazy eyes are perfect for any mad scientist. I also like how his arms have a touch of shiny black to seem like thick rubber protective gloves. This figure is a nice companion to The Fly Monster because of the purple beaker emblazoned with a tiny black fly logo.

2nd Favorite –  Plant Monster

Photo courtesy of http://www.thebrickfan.com

I love the Plant Monster because he’s just plain goofy. The panicked look on his face is the perfect reaction to the absurdity of the minifigure. A bright contrast of colors along with the wild shape make him an eye catching standout on the minifigure shelf. Pictures definitely don’t do this figure justice because I initially put it pretty low on my priority list. In reality, the handheld plant pieces mesh with his hands very well to truly give the appearance of arms mutated into vines. Best of all – the headpiece is very easily identifiable through blind packaging.

1st Favorite – Banshee

Photo courtesy of http://www.thebrickfan.com

The Banshee is perfect. Her design is so unlike any minifigure I’ve personally encountered. Unlike the Spectre, her ghostly leg piece is unencumbered by other components. Coloring and facial expression match the character brilliantly. Even her hair is translucent to give the Banshee a total effect of some tortured brick spirit. Over the years LEGO has persistently raised the bar on quality, variety, and detail of their minifigure designs – the Banshee floats well above that bar! If you’re a collector, it is worth your time to feel this one out when you see Series 14 displays. There are only 3 banshees per box so get one before someone else does!

My rating of LEGO Minifigures Series 14 is 10 out of 10.

10 out of 10

If you’re not into minifigures then this could serve as a gateway drug. Do you agree with my ranking? Vote below for which of the 16 monster minifigures you like best!

WYTCHES by Scott Snyder & Jock, Volume 1

I was already a big fan of Scott Snyder and Jock from their individual work and their prior partnerships (BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR is incredible). This collaboration somehow slipped by my radar completely. It was my wife who heard about this one and tracked it down at our local Barnes & Noble. After reading it in about one sitting, she strongly insisted I bump it to the top of my reading list so we could talk about it….. Must she ALWAYS be right?? Yes, apparently she must.

WYTCHES by Scott Snyder & Jock, Volume 1

Scott Snyder and Jock go together like peanut butter and jelly. Their envy-striking talents complement one another in a duet of visual story telling. It is really hard to write a review of WYTCHES without stinking it up with spoilers. I think part of my enjoyment came from the fact that I went into it with literally zero prior knowledge. What I can say is this volume boasts a multifaceted brilliance that gripped my attention from the front cover to the back. It’s not perfect (because no story is perfect) but it is pretty damn close.

The idea is fairly original in the graphic novel world. Imagining an ancient evil lurking throughout the woods that thrives on the inevitable qualities mankind possess is downright unnerving. Jock’s spindly, monstrous interpretation of Snyder’s idea will remain in your thoughts with every shadow or around every dark corner. The horror link is supported by imagery and relatability rather than simply showing gore or violence. Connections between characters feel genuine; parents especially will experience an extra element of tension as the pages progress.

I also really enjoyed Scott Snyder’s musings at the back of the novel. His explanation of the story’s personal origin made me want to jump right back to the front to read it again. Knowing how his own experiences and the relationship with his own children helped inspire WYTCHES gives it a rare depth that your average Superhero story lacks.

My rating of WYTCHES, Volume 1 is a rare 9.5 out of 10 because PLEDGED IS PLEDGED!

9 out of 10

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Scott – I was already a fan of your work…. Now I’m a fan of your work that wants to buy you a drink and give you a hug. Thanks for sharing your visions with the rest of us!

LEGO Ant-Man Final Battle Set

When I first heard about the movie adaptation of Ant-Man I was skeptical. I wasn’t very familiar with the character (being the DC loyalist that I am) so it was far too easy to dismiss. Compared to the previous cinematic behemoths, Ant-Man seemed ill-suited to meet the standard established by the highly successful MCU. Likewise, this LEGO set didn’t catch my eye.

Then the buzz started for Ant-Man after its overseas release. Little by little, I realized my preconceived notions about the property were most likely way off. Several weeks after the US premiere I took my family to see it in IMAX 3D. What I fantastic film! Seeing it in 3D was well worth the higher ticket price. It was the most fun I’d had with a movie in the theaters since Guardians of the Galaxy.

After that I was sold – the LEGO set had to be added to my collection. Whenever I receive a book royalty check I always do two very grown up things with it: take my family out for something fun and BUY LEGOS!

LEGO Ant-Man Final Battle Set (76039)

I loved all 183 pieces of this clever set. I’ll highlight the points I found most appealing:

Difficulty – the design itself comes off as complicated, however, its implementation is actually quite simple. Some of the connections reminded me of the LEGO Ideas Exo Suit but with more durability for play. My 5 1/2 year old daughter easily helped with constructing the red and yellow ‘bricks’.

Minifigures – these are always the best part of any set and the Ant-Man figures were no exception. Yellow Jacket’s weapons/rocket pack makes him very top heavy so I used the super jumper piece as a stand. I’m glad this included the Hank Pym character in addition to the regular Ant-Man. There’s enough of a contrast between the two to keep it from being a simple copy; Hank looks older and even more frail just like his character in the movie. I also like that the helmets are designed with translucent eyeshields to show the painted eyes underneath. It’s a level of detail that has become synonymous with the LEGO brand.

Price – this could be the best quality because $19.99 is an absolute steal for what’s in the box: three unique minifigures, a display-worthy final product, and an accurate portrayal of the source material. LEGO could have charged $30 and I’d still rave about the value.

My rating of the LEGO Ant-Man Final Battle Set is a perfect 10 out of 10. Much like the movie, this set is absolutely worth your time and money.

10 out of 10