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    [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

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    [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby vynsane » Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:14 am

    Name: Exo-Suit
    Number: 21109
    Theme: LEGO Ideas, unofficially Classic Space
    Release Date: Reportedly August 1, 2014
    Piece Count: 321
    Minifig Count: 2
    Age Rating: 12+
    Cost: Reportedly $34.99 (US)

    So far, the LEGO Cuusoo/Ideas platform has unleashed upon us a selection of 6 sets with one tenuously unifying theme - they are all based on a previously existing thing, be it a movie (Back to the Future, Ghostbusters), a video game (Minecraft) or a real-world scientific exploration craft (Shinkai 6500, Hayabusa, NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover).

    With the seventh offering from this still-fledgling branch, we have a set that stands apart. While naturally influenced by the original Classic Space LEGO sets as well as the sci-fi genre in general, 21109 "Exo-Suit" is primarily born of the imagination of one man - Peter "Legoloverman" Reid. No rabid "outsider" fan base swooped down upon the LEGO Cuusoo site and crushed their servers under the might of their support, as is the case with many of the proposals based on intellectual property that required licensing. No, "Exo-Suit" took just a little over nine months, from March 28th, 2012 when it was submitted until January 9th, 2013, to steadily make the climb to 10,000 supporters, chiefly those from the AFOL community. It would take yet another year and a half to come to fruition as an official LEGO product.

    Now that the release is imminent, The LEGO Group and the Community Engagement & Events team have seen fit to grant us at Toys N Bricks a sneak-preview copy to review for our community, so let's all thank them for the opportunity and get on with the review!


    Packaging

    The box is your standard fare tabbed, hinge-top box that we've come to expect from LEGO Cuusoo/Ideas, similar in style to Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine, NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover and, most recently, Ghostbusters. I honestly can't speak for whether or not the others share the same box type, as I don't have them. Over-all, the box has a dark, midnight-blue tone to it.

    The front artwork features the Exo-Suit itself, the M364 Turtle, and the additional minifgure on a desert moon setting next to some sort of craft or structure.

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    The back artwork features all the pieces that come in the box, including those displayed on the front, joined by the small 8x8 platform and two yellow barrels. I frankly prefer the back design to the front.

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    The side displays the Exo-Suit logo on the midnight-blue background with some stars.

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    The top features a 1:1 scale representation of one of the minifigures and the product origin specifications. Components are made in Denmark, Hungary, Mexico and Czech Republic, for those interested.

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    Parts, Bags and Instructions

    There is one perfect-bound instruction booklet, four unnumbered bags, one loose Silver Metallic 19M Flexible Hose and one loose Dark Stone Gray 8x8 Grid Plate.

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    The instruction booklet cover feels less stiff than previous Cuusoo/Ideas sets, and bends under its own weight a lot more, though still a lot less than your standard staple-bound booklets found in most LEGO products.

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    The instruction booklet features a "Designer Spotlight" section about proposal creator Peter Reid and official set designer Mark Stafford. This is repeated in English, French, and Spanish translations.

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    Then there is a little narrative about the characters included in the set ("Pete" and "Yve"), their M364 Turtle, and the discovery of the Exo-Suit itself. This, too, is presented in English, French, and Spanish.

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    Notable pieces include, of course, the two green minifigure torsos emblazoned with the Classic Space logo, the accompanying airtanks (mine actually came with three, though I'm not certain this is standard), the four Medium Stone Gray minifigure heads (used for the legs of the Turtle), the 2x2 inverted tile with rocket exhaust printing, four Medium Stone Gray 2x2 inverted domes, one Silver Metallic 3x3 "Parabolic Reflector" Dish, and the two Metallic Silver 7-spoke Wheel Covers.

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    Minifigures

    There are two minifigures, one grumpy-looking male (Pete) and one happy-looking female (Yve), wearing green spacesuits adorned with the Classic Space logo.

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    Compared to my two original Classic Spacemen, aside from their helmets/visors and Pete's grim look of determination/consternation, they fit right in!

    Image

    Benny's ecstatic to have even more buddies to hang out with. Comparatively, Pete doesn't seem very happy to see him.

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    Build: Accessories

    After the minifigures themselves, the instructions continue with Peter's signature M364 Turtle, built around the Silver Metallic 2x2 "Parabolic Ring" Plate.

    Image

    It's not an overly-complicated build, but effective in its simplicity. It's also absolutely adorable, even when adorned with a pair of "defensive blasters".

    Image

    After the Turtle, a quick little vignette featuring two yellow 2x2 barrels on the 8x8 Grid Plate lends an air of Sci-Fi-ness. It's good to note how simple it can be to build an effective background piece that looks "futuristic" enough for a Sci-Fi scene. with two barrels at three pieces each and a platform comprised of 13 pieces total.

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    Build: Main

    With the ancillary pieces out of the way, it's onto the main event. The build starts with a solid foundation of bricks and plates in the torso.

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    Here you can see the trans-yellow that's smattered throughout the torso build.

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    Once this portion is complete, we have a solid base to build upon. Most of the techniques are relatively straight-forward studs-up design, but there are a few studs-out portions as well as the angled control panel.

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    From here on out, we build in pairs - first, we start to build up from the bottom, beginning with the feet. They are so intricate and cool-looking, they could easily double for micro spaceship builds themselves.

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    Making our way upward, the legs are primarily constructed out of Technic connectors and ball joints/receptacles upon which clips and pneumatic T-bars are strategically placed.

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    In all, each leg is built of three ball-jointed segments and a foot, with the top portion of each leg being more complex than the previous two.

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    The legs are now finished and adequately greebled. Each segment features some sort of adornment that effectively conveys the look of some sort of linear activator, though they are only each connected hanging by only one point.

    You can also see the range of articulation in this comparison shot of one leg bent as much as possible, the other extended all the way.

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    We can now attach them to the torso that was previously built. Note I was actually missing one Technic half-bushing for the right leg.

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    Image

    Compared to the legs, the arms are a bit less complex and comprised of two segments each. Here, of course, we have the much-divisive 2x2 barrels. I, personally, am not bothered by them - in Dark Stone Gray they take on a much different quality than they do in Dark Reddish Brown, obviously. I'm actually more bothered by the 3M Technic connector used in the elbow, and find it a bit distracting in blue. It's easy enough to swap this out for black, which would be a lot less jarring.

    Here you can see the full range of motion for the arms. The pneumatic T here is used as a 'stop' to make sure the arm isn't hyper-extended, but it unfortunately prevents the arm from extending fully straight. Not a huge deal, but it's a limitation in poseability.

    Image

    We do not yet attach the hands, but add the arms as they are to the torso. Now the suit is really taking shape. We also add the greebles to the front of the shoulders. This assembly is particularly fragile. Somehow, the "3L Bar with clip" included in this copy of the set were particularly lacking in clutch power, and the color was slightly off, so be cautious.

    Image

    The hands are constructed upon another pair of Metallic Silver 2x2 "Parabolic Ring" plates with five fingers each. The four 2x2 inverted domes are used as the wrist joints, hiding the 4M "lightsaber" bar in Brick Yellow inside.

    Image

    Final product

    Once the hands are finished, they are attached to the arms, the pilot is added and the rollcage attached. I realize I neglected to take pictures of the rollcage assembly, made out of a pair of "Friends" 90-degree handlebars at opposing angles between two 1x1 Metallic Silver cones, and a pair of "telescope" bars. The rollcage looks great, and appears far more functional than on the original, which would have decapitated its pilot had it toppled over. Is there no SPACE OSHA?

    While the instructions have you place Pete in the suit, I've opted for Yve instead. Honestly tell me, if you had the opportunity to pilot a piece of machinery such as this, would your face look like Pete's or would you have an ecstatic smile on your face like Yve? I know my cheeks would hurt for days. Therefore, grumpy-puss has to man the walkie and hang out with the turtle, while Yve has all the fun. Maybe that's why he's so upset, because he hasn't gotten a turn yet?

    Front:

    Image

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    Front 3/4:

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    Side:

    Image

    Rear 3/4:

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    Rear:

    Image

    Aside from the barrels in the arms, the one other complaint has been surrounding the pair of greebles sticking out of each shoulder. While I'm not particularly bothered by them, they do feel a bit stuck-on compared to other, more functional-looking greebles. It's easy enough to push them down towards the back, where they take on the appearance of smaller linear actuators for the shoulder joints.

    Image

    The arm-span is impressive when fully open.

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    The Whole Package

    All told, the 312 pieces form a cohesive whole - the Exo-Suit, the platform, the two figures and the M364 Turtle all look great together!

    Image


    Size comparison

    Comparatively, while the Curiosity Rover (with 295 pieces) is more stout, the more spindly Exo-Suit towers above it. They are pretty even in terms of mass.

    Image
    "What are you doing here???"

    Metalbeard and Yve can see eye-to-eye.

    Image


    Ratings

    Design: 8/10
    While significantly different from the source material due to numerous restrictions that MOCs don't need to satisfy, the end result is not only a great-looking add-on to any Classic Space collection, but a faithful translation of the heart of the original.

    Build: 7/10
    Some fun techniques and inspirational greebling, particularly for Mech builders, but some of the pieces are quite fiddly and can have a tendency to fall off, particularly the pieces attached to the front of the shoulders.

    Minifigures: 9/10
    The only thing that would have made this better (aside from maybe honoring Pete's design with flesh-colored heads) would have been if the heads had reverse-side printing.

    Playability: 8/10
    There's a lot of stuff to play with here, but points get knocked off for fiddly greebles that can be knocked off pretty easily.

    Parts: 8/10
    Mostly standard fare, but the rare pieces here are really quite rare, most notably the 2x2 inverted domes which appear to be exclusive to this set thus far.

    Price: 8/10
    While the price isn't confirmed, the quoted price of $34.99 is in line with other sets of this size from Cuusoo/Ideas, though it's comprised of a lot of small pieces for greebling. It would be a great deal at $29.99, but it's a fine deal at $34.99.

    Overall rating: 8/10

    Let us know what you think!
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby vynsane » Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:30 am

    Re-posting this here, for higher visibility:

    The r/LEGO subreddit thread about the reveal has some interesting Q&A with Mark "LEGO_Nabii" Stafford, the designer in charge of modifying the original submission into an approved official design and availability. Some highlights:

    On the design process:

    [–]abrahamalincoln 22 points 1 day ago

    Been waiting form this one! It's interesting to see how different it is from the original build. It looks like they changed literally changed every component. I understand why many of the changes were made but it removes some of the nice details. If you never saw the original, this set would be the coolest thing ever but having studied the original for many months, it's a bit of a bummer seeing the changes. Now I'm not saying that I'm super stoked and won't buy four of them, it's just a bit more change than I wanted.

    [–]Lego_Nabii 135 points 1 day ago*

    Sorry, I stuck as close as I could. Pete's original is fragile as hell. built with parts that don't exist anymore, are only single stud connections being asked to carry too much weight or are connected in 'illegal' ways and it requires some skill to pose.

    This one had to be stable and this necessitated many changes, my aim was to keep as much greebling as possible while maintaining the feel, look and scale of the original.

    [–]abrahamalincoln 14 points 1 day ago

    No, I know. I knew that it would never make it to production in its fragile state. I think you did a great job given the circumstances and like I said, I will buy four of them and enjoy the hell out each set, greebling and modifying with the mindset of a mad scientist! I also didn't expect my mild ranting to be addressed by the creator but since your here....a couple of questions for you.

    When you guys take on theses projects there's obviously a lot of things to take into consideration: build, stability, price and playability to name a few. How many of your decisions are based on economics or the bottom line? Do you try and use as few pieces to get the needed effect to keep the cost down? What kind of rules come from the top brass? How many iterations do you do before you reach the final build? So many more questions!!

    Also, thanks for checking in to see what we think. I think that's awesome!

    [–]Lego_Nabii 21 points 23 hours ago

    Lots of questions!

    Every single LEGO element has a production cost that is known. When we start a model we are given a total production cost that our model should come in under. Apart from that it's entirely up to the designer/design teams to get the model looking good, stable and polished. (So we have a total cost the pieces should all up to less than.) I never try to reduce the number of pieces I try to get as much into a model as I can with the budget available, but the budget must be stuck to.

    However with Ideas (ex-Cuusoo) I was given an expected retail price - told I know what sort of total that should be and asked to just make it look right. So I pushed it. First took about 5 full loops (and 20 smaller ones on various bits) to sort out the mech, was told the price was okay, so added a second figure, still okay, added the turtle, still okay, added something that you'll probably see when they reveal the back of the box, still okay! Added even more - told I was too expensive, what was going on with this model? So I took that extra thing out (a bit of Pete style wall greebling) refined what I had and called it a day!

    Rules from the top are on legality of building and making sure the final model can be played with without too many bits falling off. Pete's original mech lasted about 3 seconds. The final set is pretty sturdy, though a few of the greebles are prone to unclipping when played with and the antenna pings off far too often! Apart from that it might have made it into an 8+ playtheme like Agents or Galaxy Squad without too many more changes.



    On Green spacesuits

    Thank you for the official explanation, the original did look really fragile and, as you said, used techniques not deemed legal for official sets. Whoever had the idea to make the classic space figs green is also a genius.

    [–]Lego_Nabii 14 points 23 hours ago*

    Given the limitations (the 'assembly' of the minifigure torso had to already be in present production with the same colour body, arms and hands, and I could add a new print) there were three possible choices for this classic spaceman colour: blue, because of Benny, this seemed too obvious, black, due to numerous minifigures (Darth Vader etc.) but that blended in to the mech too much, or a new colour, green, thanks to ninja-turtles.

    Pete has had a green decal CS man he made himself for years and I always liked it, so I suggested we go for green to him. He was all over it! So we both pushed for the green.



    On availability:

    [–]SachielMF 1 point 1 day ago

    Thank you for the insight. May I ask how many of them are going to ship upon release? Demand seems to go through the roof (though the internet isn't the best scale). It seems like LEGO chose this for production because so many people are expected to buy more than one. So, surely they're trying to meet the demand, right? If you are allowed to talk about that stuff of course.

    [–]Lego_Nabii 6 points 22 hours ago

    This is currently a single production run - I'm not sure of the figures - but if you see it and you want it then buy it, at the moment when it's gone it's gone for good. Don't be disappointed. (Not trying to do a hard sell here, this is currently the plan!)

    [–]404_11 2 points 17 hours ago

    Ho my, well, if the demand is ultra-mega-super-high (like the minecraft one), will it be produced again for another round?

    please say yes, please say yes, please say yes....

    [–]Lego_Nabii 2 points 23 hours ago

    At the moment the plan is for a single run. Don't dawdle on this one! (sorry.)



    On color choice:

    [–]imtootiredforthis 1 point 1 day ago

    I think it looks amazing as is. Would your preference have been to have pretty much the entire suit be light gray like the original, or are the barrels the only part you would have liked to be able to change from the color they are in the final set?

    [–]Lego_Nabii 7 points 22 hours ago

    No, I wouldn't have done it all light grey even if I could have - it would have given a horrible building experience, even with adult sets we can't include certain parts in the same colour as other very similar parts, the finding and accidentally placing wrong parts process become far too annoying! However I would have liked to change maybe three or four more parts to light grey or silver - and one of the light grey parts to dark grey!

    Though I should point out though I love Pete's grey greebles, I also have my own style which is much more colourful and there might be some personal preference coming out!

    [–]imtootiredforthis 1 point 20 hours ago

    Thanks for the explanation. I guess I'm partial to the lighter gray since I grew up with the early classic space sets that were all light gray and blue. Any chance we'll ever see your ideally-colored version posted online sometime after the set is released? It would be interesting to see the differences. Actually, I was thinking of ordering a couple of the barrels in light grey so I can check out how it looks once I have the set.

    [–]Lego_Nabii 2 points 13 hours ago

    My personal preference would have been to bring in blue and make this much more of a classic blue/grey space colour scheme, but both Pete and the Ideas team objected! Pete because this is his baby and he wanted it a grey as possible - and the Ideas team because that's what people had voted for and I had to respect that!

    I'll probably build my perfect version at some point. It'll turn up in my Flickr stream.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby JustBrickin » Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:38 am

    Has The LEGO Group given TnB preview sets before? I think that's cool! And the set has LOTS of intricate details. Thanks for the review!
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby Mantisking » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:01 am

    Excellent review. I can't wait to see what price point this is finally released at.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby vynsane » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:36 am

    JustBrickin wrote:Has The LEGO Group given TnB preview sets before? I think that's cool! And the set has LOTS of intricate details. Thanks for the review!


    Yes, we've had preview reviews before, notably Creator Expert 10243 "Parisian Restaurant" and Architecture 21020 "Trevi Fountain". 70816 The LEGO Movie "Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP!!!" was also supposed to be a preview but it took a little too long to arrive and it had been available in the wild earlier than the supposed "street date", anyway.

    Mantisking wrote:Excellent review. I can't wait to see what price point this is finally released at.


    Thanks! I don't anticipate it being more than $34.99 (US) honestly, but doubt it will be $29.99.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby vynsane » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:57 am

    [Review updated with some comments on the packaging that I forgot to add.]
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby sterlingice » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:26 am

    That comment about one run moved it from "I'll get it when they eventually have a monthly bonus that I like" to "when does this come out again- I'd better get one now!"
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby Mantisking » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:29 am

    sterlingice wrote:That comment about one run moved it from "I'll get it when they eventually have a monthly bonus that I like" to "when does this come out again- I'd better get one now!"

    Yeah, I feel the same way. I'm not thrilled with the price but it's too cool to pass up.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby vynsane » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:42 am

    sterlingice wrote:That comment about one run moved it from "I'll get it when they eventually have a monthly bonus that I like" to "when does this come out again- I'd better get one now!"


    Yeah, I don't want to incite panic, and hope that they have plans to extend the production run. That quote is from the designer of the set, but he's not privy to the business angle, and only knows the basics of availability.

    For now, though, if you desire it and know you will be disappointed if you miss out, you'd best be ready on the first day of release. I would think a large demand would be cause for extending the availability, but that's not how it worked for Curiosity - I'm still rather sour about how that product was handled, and I was able to get one at MSRP! I can't imagine how the people who missed out and/or resorted to inflated secondary market prices feel! At least this time around, it's not being released right after the time of year where most people haven't just spent a lot of money! ;-)

    With the popularity of Benny from TLM, however, I think they'd be foolish not to give this one a long run. Only time will tell.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby lordoflego » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:54 am

    Personally, I hope it will be one, short production run- as mentioned earlier.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby Legobrandon » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:10 pm

    Fantastic review, Vynsane.

    I am not normally a science fiction guy, but I will definitely be picking a few of these up for display. They look way too awesome, especially the green minifigures.

    I learned the lesson the hard way with the mars rover, so I wont hesitate buying this set on release day. I can already see LEGO imposing a set limit per customer, most likely 3 per person.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby vynsane » Tue Jul 08, 2014 3:27 pm

    Legobrandon wrote:Fantastic review, Vynsane.


    Thank you, sir!

    One point I neglected to touch upon in the review of the build process is that there is just SOOO much gray that it does take a while to find the pieces you need without sorting by the type of piece. I didn't take the time to sort, but in retrospect I probably would have saved time in the long-run if I had. Then again, building fast is really only a concern when you're trying to take pictures in the early evening, losing the afternoon light, and a thunderstorm is rolling in... If I didn't have a time-crunch I might not have thought twice about how long it was taking to find certain pieces - particularly those Technic half-bushings! They just disappear!
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby dr_spock » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:05 pm

    Good review. Those green figs must have.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby legohunter » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:30 pm

    This is a great review indeed. Thanks. What is the release day though? August? This is a must-buy set, hope to get it soon.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby MrVEP » Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:53 am

    Great review.

    I'm have not bought an Idea project yet, but this one seems to be destined to become a "classic".
    This one maybe my first.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby vynsane » Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:21 am

    Kevin Wise, an employee of a LEGO Store who is active on Flickr, has confirmed $34.99 USD and August 1 launch date in the comments of this pic. A teaser image from the German LEGO Store calendar also confirmed August 1 for Europe. No word on price in Euros or Pounds, though the Eurors and USD price are generally the same.

    EDIT: I just noticed that Huw has kindly linked to this review from part 3 of his! If you've not already done so, check out part 1, part 2 and part 3 over at Brickset!

    On a personal note, his pictures make me realize I really need to get a light-tent setup. A white bed sheet on my front porch will only get me so far, particularly in the event of a thunderstorm interrupting the photoshoot, as previously stated. :sad:
    ALL HAIL THE BLACTRON EMPIRE!

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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby Legobrandon » Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:30 pm

    $39.99 CDN is a bit more than I would like it to be, but I'm still planning to get two of these babies. $29.99 USD and $34.99 CDN is my preferred price point.

    vynsane wrote:On a personal note, his pictures make me realize I really need to get a light-tent setup. A white bed sheet on my front porch will only get me so far, particularly in the event of a thunderstorm interrupting the photoshoot, as previously stated. :sad:


    I've tried taking photos with white poster board and fidgeting with my white balance, but the picture's white background is never pure white.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby vynsane » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:05 pm

    ^ If it follows suit with DeLorean Time Machine, which is $34.99 USD, $44.99 CAD is most likely your price.

    As for photography, the only way to really blow out a white background is in post-processing via Photoshop or Lightroom (which I use). If you rely on WB settings on the camera to make a white sheet appear gleaming white, the picture will be over-exposed because a naturally lit "white" background is actually about a 15% shade of gray to the naked eye.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby dulait » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:58 pm

    vynsane wrote:^ If it follows suit with DeLorean Time Machine, which is $34.99 USD, $44.99 CAD is most likely your price.


    $44.99 is too much for a non licensed set, green space man, woman or not. Was going to pick one up but having second thoughts if it is in fact $44.99 CAD.
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    Re: [TnB Preview Review] "Exo-Suit" 21109 LEGO Ideas #007

    Postby dqfritzke » Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:38 am

    I agree $44.99 would be too much but that is the price I am expecting for us in Canada. I heard Aug. 1 is release date, is that confirmed?
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