Posted in Random

Brickfest Live Review

Brickfest Live is a LEGO fan event that travels around the country and sets up for a weekend in each city that it visits. It’s not the only LEGO fan event available but the only one that I have attended in the last decade.

My husband bought me a VIP ticket to the West Palm Beach event as a Mother’s Day gift, he and the kids would have general admission which meant that I could enjoy the event by myself first, I was SO excited!

While my review is of the West Palm Beach event that already passed, from what I have read on other reviews it’s practically the same experience at every location so I decided to write this to help others that may be wondering if the event is worth it.

Based on the website there looked to be a lot to do and I couldn’t wait to experience it all, sadly some parts were disappointing so I will list each feature advertised and what I thought about it.

VIP– Thumps up
Benefits: 1 hour early admission. Lanyard with VIP badge. Bag, exclusive minifig and LEGO accessory pack.
I attended the Sunday event and there were less than 10 VIP guests on line at 9 am so I practically had the entire place to myself. Since it was so empty the organizers allowed my family that was hanging outside waiting for general admission to start to join me early. I liked having the exclusive mini figure, talking to other VIPs the figure is overall the same but the heads are different, mine has a standard face which is a slight bummer but not hard to fix since I have hundreds of LEGO heads in my house. The LEGO accessory pack was a pretty full bag with weapons and other minifig accessories.

Derby– Thumbs Up
Children have 5 minutes to build a car and then the event staff will race them for you. This is a high demand activity so if VIP, make sure to do it before general admission starts. My kids had fun with it.

Glow Zone– Thumbs up
There is a display of glow in the dark builds plus several tables for you to build your glow in the dark creation. I had lots of fun with this.

Theater– Thumbs Down
The website advertised theater and trivia but it was not available at our location.

Architecture– Thumbs up
There is a large skyscraper model with tables to build your own architecture designs. I enjoyed it but not as much as other parts.

Mascots– Thumbs Down
The website advertised this but we didn’t see a single one in the 5 hours that we were at the event

Models– Thumbs Down
The website uses a plural term for this but we only saw 1 model.

Robotics– Thumbs Down
Yet another thing that was advertised but was not at the event. It’s very disappointing because my kids love robotics and were really looking forward to this.

Floor puzzle– Thumbs Up
This was a fun part. You are given a LEGO plate and a diagram to lay out your bricks which will be part of a giant 30,000 piece mosaic for a mystery character. You can come back and do it again. Because I was there early I got to do the very first tile. Shammy and I did it about 7 times and loved it.

Build wall– Thumbs Up
This is fun free play for the kids, just bins of bricks and a LEGO wall for them to create whatever they want.

Mini golf– Thumbs Down
This was disappointing, it’s a just a very lame mini golf course that has LEGO bricks glued around the edges. It wasn’t challenging at all and not very “LEGO-y”. My son that loves mini golf wasn’t interested in doing it again after 1 round.

Jr Builders– Thumbs Up
This looked like a fun area for toddlers to play with giant soft bricks and Lego Duplos. Mine were too big so we skipped that area, if you have toddlers, this will probably be their favorite part.

Mosaics– Thumbs Up
I had more fun with this part than my kids did. There are several templates available and you use 1×1 bricks to create the picture and then place it on the wall. The variety of designs seemed limited and although there were several bins full of bricks, some colors were difficult to find.

The Brick Show Experience- Thumbs Up
This is a YouTube Lego show that had a booth at this event, we didn’t stay for the actual show but the kids got to get an autographed photo. It looked like only one of the hosts were present.

Gaming– Thumbs Down
The website advertised LEGO video games but they were not available at our location. This was very disappointing for my youngest as he loves LEGO video games and he was looking forward to trying out new games to request for his birthday.

Space– Thumbs Down
Again, mentioned on the website. Nowhere to be found at the event.

Brick Pit– Thumbs Up
Like a ball pit but with LEGO! All of the bricks were one color and you could build whatever you wanted, my kids instead made brick angels and pretended to swim, they have thick skin!

Marketplace– Thumbs Down
There were only about 7 vendors. I didn’t see any vintage sets sets and only a few custom builds. It was mostly minifigs with outrageous prices. There was a lot of variety in pricing, one vendor had a Darth Maul minifig for $13 while the vendor behind him had what looked like the same minifig for $33. So comparison shopping was a must.

One vendor had current and recently discontinued sets for either MSRP or much higher. I could have gotten the same sets cheaper on Amazon or Ebay. The only vendor that I liked made crafts out of LEGO such as bow ties, earrings, bracelets, Christmas ornaments and more. I mostly shopped from him and the bow ties are so cool that I even got one for myself.

Conclusion

This event is mainly geared for kids so if you are an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) there isn’t as much to do but it can be a fun experience. Admission is very pricey and the regular price was not worth it in my opinion. My husband took advantage of a Flash sale and Groupon deal which saved money but it still felt like a ripoff because so many of the advertised attractions were not offered.

While I had a good time, I don’t know that I would pay to attend again if it returns to my area. It does make me want to check out competing LEGO shows.

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting

Pley Toy Rental Review

This post includes affiliate links.

I was recently approached by Pley, a toy rental company offering me 1 free month of service with no obligation to review although they would appreciate that. I decided to give the service a shot since it is something that I had looking into and considered trying in the past.

As part of the sign up process I got to select which toy we wanted to receive, I was afraid of renting a LEGO set due to our experience with another toy rental company and my kids being heartbroken at having to return them so I chose a different toy that my children had expressed interest in at the store.

Order processing was super fast! I got a shipping notification within minutes of submitting the order but the shipping method used was very slow so the cross country trek took over a week.

Box opening
Box opening

The toy pieces arrived in a mesh zipper bag with laminated instructions which I like. There were no pieces missing and the kids were super excited. There was a surprise gift included for my son to keep, a silicon Lego bracelet that he could attach bricks and minifigures to, he loved it!

What I liked:

  • Affordable plans
  • Quick shipping notification
  • Toys are sanitized
  • Environmentally friendly- the website keeps track of reduction in CO2 emissions
  • No commitments, easy to cancel.
  • 500+ toys to choose from including 400 Lego sets
  • User friendly website, easy to report problems such as missing pieces
  • Free gift- my son was surprised to get a LEGO compatible bracelet to keep
  • Laminated instructions
  • Customizable wish list, select categories to be suggested toys, x out the ones you are not interested in, star the ones you want to get
  • Ability to buy the toy if the child wants to keep it
  • Pley donates a toy to underprivileged children for every new member
  • Ability to print return label from website if you loose the one included in the box
  • As soon as the return tracking is active you can choose next toy that you want which saves time in waiting for the next toy
  • Referral program.  You can earn free months of service by telling your friends about it.

 

What I didn’t like:

  • No search feature for toys, I have to scroll through pages and pages of Lego sets and can’t search by name
  • Some toys are not a good value. I saw several Lego sets that can be purchased for less than the cost of 1 month’s subscription so I recommend using this for bigger Lego sets and fancy toys to make sure that you are getting a good value
  • Despite it shipping quickly, it was with a slow method that took over a week to arrive, time is money when you are paying a rental by the month.
  • Toy purchase price was a couple of dollars higher than the regular price at several local and online stores

 

The kids were captivated
The kids were captivated

About the toy itself

We chose the Nano V2 Helix 180° toy.  This is something that the kids had showed interest in at the store so we decided to try it.

The toy instructions were practically useless, not very user friendly but thankfully the toy wasn’t hard to figure out.  Once assembled the boys had a lot of fun playing with it and customizing the configuration of the tunnels.

The bug would sometimes get stuck on its side and we had to right it before it entered a tunnel otherwise it would get stuck on the tunnel, other than that it was a great toy.  The boys liked it enough to want to keep it but we chose to return it to buy a slightly different version of the toy that offers more configuration options.

 

 

 

Pley plans
Affordable plans with no commitments

Bottom Line

This toy rental service is a great concept and fits a need in the market. This service is good for people that have limited space and don’t want to accumulate toys that don’t get played with after a while. Your child can play with the same toy until the novelty wears off and then choose something different.

It is also good for when your child wants a very expensive toy that you don’t think would be a good value long term. For example, I love building with LEGO but don’t want to spend several hundred dollars on a fancy LEGO set that I will only build once. With Pley I can rent it, build it, take pictures, play with it for a bit and then return it without such a huge hit on my wallet.

 

Disclosure
I received a free toy rental with no obligation for a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Parenting

Advent Calendar Obsession

I don’t know why this year I find myself obsessed with Advent calendars. I have given this subject a lot more thought than it deserves this year considering that I didn’t even know that such a thing existed when I growing up and it’s just now Halloween/Samhain and I’ve been obsessing for 3 months already.

For my children’s life their grandmother has taken care of it but now that they are older I have wanted to jump on the bandwagon and I don’t mean just open a little door and get a piece of chocolate.

My obsession started when I saw the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar last year but at $40 it felt like too big of an expense at a time of year when the limited funds should be going towards the main event. There is a Lego City Advent Calendar that is a bit cheaper but it’s still $30 and not as cool in the eyes of my Star Wars obsessed children.

Then add in the fact that if I do it for 1 child, it’s only fair that I do it for the other and adding a $20 Hot Wheels Advent calendar that my 3 year old would like would mean spending $50 from my holiday budget between both kids.

Pinterest has lots of ideas for creative and inexpensive Advent gifts but I always struggle with sensory overload whenever I navigate that site. I really liked this book idea.

24-days-of-books-advent-calendar-alternative

Back in August I decided that this is what I was going to do and planned on buying 24 used books for each kid, wrapping them and giving them a book a day. My plan was to visit the library sale section were they usually have books for $0.25- $0.50 over several months until I had enough.

Sadly things didn’t work out that way. With limited transportation and having the kids with me the few times I get out, it’s impossible to buy for a surprise with your kids watching your every move. I haven’t been to the library as much as I wanted so I only have 8 books with 40 to go and their sale section is always so limited that there is no way that I could find the quantity left on time. The combo of busy schedule/ lack of transportation means that thrift store and garage sale hopping aren’t an option either.

There is on-line shopping, there are many used books ranging from $0.01 to $1 but with shipping average of $3.99 PER EACH book, my $25 book budget would be gone long before I got them all, it would be worse buying new at Amazon or Barnes & Noble with my educator discount.

So what to do?

Since I still had my heart set on a Lego Advent Calendar I decided to get creative. I had heard of people buying a Lego set and breaking the build so the kid got only a few bricks at a time to build over 24 days. But then, what set would be appropriate to buy?

lego holiday trainI needed to only look as far as my closet. I recently got this limited edition Lego Christmas Train as a “free with purchase” gift; I really wanted to build it but motherhood has made me selfless so I have decided to separate the pieces per instruction page and have Shammy build it over 24 days, I think that will be fun.

Now for Zen…. I am sure that he’ll want to do something similar to his brother but at an easier level. So I have found easy instructions to build a Christmas tree.  And the good news is that I have enough pieces from our collection to build it for free!
lego advent tree

I think they’ll like it.  Now to figure out a way to package this nicely without breaking the bank….