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Alright, maybe the fourth is off-camera...
I don't mind them as much as some of you do (I haven't suffered from overexposure to them yet; got my first ones this year in Nexo Knights sets), but I know that they're of the helicopter/lighthouse school of "things TLG really like to put in sets" so it was pretty funny...
Even Star Wars has only really used stud shooters in place of more film-accurate handguns and rifles in battle packs — otherwise they've been used for vehicle-mounted laser cannons or emplacement weapons.
I am not fundamentally opposed to stud shooters. As an adult I favour the more 'realistic' blasters introduced in 2007 but I often imagined blasters actually firing projectiles when I was younger and I think I would have enjoyed playing with stud shooters as a result.
Marvel uses stud shooters as personal firearms even more sparingly. The Ultron Sentries in #76029 are the ONLY characters to carry stud shooters in-hand (the more "realistic" thing for them would not be more realistic gun molds, but rather no guns at all). Yellowjacket in #76039 and War Machine in #76051 have stud-shooters mounted to their suits. Other than those three characters, every stud-shooter is mounted to a building or vehicle. Characters who are supposed to have handguns generally default to the space gun, though a few have used the submachine gun since it was reintroduced two years ago. Star-Lord and the Sakaarans are the only characters who've been given a new, source-accurate gun mold.
I'm not saying stud shooters aren't all over the place, including in Super Heroes. But Star Wars is really the only place where an argument could be made that they're being used in place of realistic/source-accurate gun molds, because it's the only theme with stud shooters that otherwise defaults to realistic guns.
It's possible that more realistic gun molds are consciously avoided in Super Heroes to keep all gunfights as "sci-fi" as possible, and thus not run afoul of the anti-warfare policy. But I don't see how stud shooters can be blamed for the Super Heroes theme's lack of realistic guns. If anything, guns in the Super Heroes theme have gotten MORE realistic since the stud shooter was first introduced, because both the introduction of the stud shooter and the re-introduction of the submachine gun happened in 2014.
Or are they sent back to the sender?
As I assume you haven't got the set as yet as it's a FOC set for review..
I would also question your comment on toeing the LEGO company line. We are sometimes critical as the situation dictates. For instance, I doubt LEGO would have been pleased to read my review of #75098 Assault on Hoth when it was published in April.
I'm not suggesting that anything should be changed, just giving my opinion on the status quo.
That's not to say reviewers shouldn't be mindful of potential conflicts of interests. But I'm not entirely convinced there is such a thing as a "fully unbiased" review.
I haven't seen anything that indicates a systemic pandering to Lego.
It's exactly like Aanchir said - when you pay for it, you are more biased... unless you've just got your first free set to review. That kind of virgin ecstasy is long gone for a seasoned reviewer though. It's not a deciding factor.
What I appreciate about Brickset reviews is their detail, clear writing, and excellent photography--and that, in general, I've found their opinions closely match mine. I haven't noticed any bias due to the reviewers not buying the sets themselves, other than the fact that themes the reviewers don't find interesting usually don't get reviewed unless Lego sends Brickset a set--and that means I'm in favor of having Lego send out the sets!
"Ah, it's free...it's not such a bad deal...except had I paid money for this..." Then, yes, it is a bad deal. Simple. Not absurd.
Out of curiosity, why is Brickset's review of the Cinderella Castle so late? I remember Huw saying that they hadn't received a copy when the likes of Jangbricks/Brickshow and few others were publishing their reviews. Isn't it also correct that Brickset didn't receive pictures after the official reveal. Was this punishment for the Assault on Hoth review? Is there consequences for not fawning over a set? Or is just one of those things.
I really do think sites such as Brickset should have an ethics policy in regard to how they handle review units - or at the very least a line stating if a product was provided for review. Ultimately it’s all about perception, and a written statement that’s clear and upfront about how they operate negates any charge in relation to transparency. I personally have no fear in regard to Brickset. My point is why would you give people the opportunity to snipe.
It’s interesting that I'm writing this here because Lego and Disney (Parks specifically) are two of my major interests and I find parallels between how they engage with fandom and a warning within. Disney now has a veritable army of paid bloggers: an army that can be counted on to be on message and sow the good news. Most of these “lifestylers” began as people with fan pages. Who started with good intentions and got noticed by Disney. Who received access and freebees and ultimately got hooked on the Pixie Dust. Now they cannot fault an operation such as Walt Disney World even though it’s in terrible shape. There are still some great WDW sites out there that haven’t sold out. You’ll also notice that these are the ones that state when they receive something gratis (rarely) or when they pay
If a set was provided to us free of charge for review purposes, our review on the home page will always say as such. If the line isn't there, we didn't get sent it.
All this debate about biased reviews is getting a little heated. I trust the contributors of Brickset to give their own opinion of a particular set. I don`t feel that they are biased because they have received a set free from Lego. All these claims that you can only truly review a set if you`ve slaved away for hours and hours to have hard earned cash to buy the set is unfair. There`s a whole spectrum of people out there who have different budgets - are we only going to trust reviews from people who have tight budgets? Lets not forget that Jangbricks, Brickset and others earn money through affiliations, advertisement etc. so are their reviews biased because they can easily afford sets? Does that mean we can trust no-one (this is crazy!)? Let's not forget that building, photographing and writing/recording, editing a review takes a lot of time, so may be the reviewer does truly get to earn the set.....
Reviews are people`s opinions and I watch and listen to a range of reviewers for a particular set. Sometimes I agree or disagree with them but I can make up my own mind on whether I like the look of a set.
My big learning experience came on reviewing a major touring Shakespeare production: it was a positive review, but people complained about it being overly critical. My impression was that this was due to the lack of hyperbolic language (either to laud or damn the production) - sometimes if you don't give people the paean or roast they're expecting, they feel you're overly biased towards the opposing view, regardless of what you've actually said.
Is it possible for a Lego review to be completely objective? Maybe, but who on earth would we find to do it? The most useful question for me is, "Does the reviewer value the same things I do about a set?" because it helps me to contextualise their response. For instance, someone might find the Fortrex clunky in appearance, but I might consider that part of its charm. If I'm buying that set for children (or, frankly, for me) I'm going to be interested in how good/varied the play features are, but some reviewers might not go into that side of it deeply. At that point, it's time to look at some other reviews, and the matter of whether the set came from TLG or was bought by the reviewer might not matter so much.
To make it fair the set should be free (and come without box), but then also be taken from the person. Then they can answer whether they would buy it for themselves honestly (as they don't already have it). It means all sets can get reviewed (no bias from the purchase) but you're not really getting it for free (no free stuff bias). To facilitate this, I am more than happy to be sent the unboxed, used once, review sets. It is in the name of fairness after all.
Ultimately it would be in the interests of Brickset and all LEGO fans for every LEGO product to be perfect but that is obviously not the case and we have greater respect for our readers than to mislead them in a review.
Exactly - and I always try to bear that in mind when writing a user review on the main site, explaining exactly why I do or don't like something but in a way that gives enough information for someone to assess whether that would affect their enjoyment. The best (IMO) of the 'official' reviews do this too which is why, though I have no interest in the Friends or Elves themes for example, I'll always read the article to see what's new (and confirm that I still have no interest!).
The other thing is that we're all fans of Lego and, as such, can often find something to appreciate in even the worst set - whether it is enough to overcome the negative points differs from person to person and, while the set might worthless in the eyes of the reviewer, it may still be a great play set / display set / parts pack for someone else. The provenance of a set makes no difference if the review is well written, and I've usually found that the Brickset ones are.
Wanting to be nice to the company that gave you the set is just one potential source of bias. Others include wanting to make the review palatable to viewers, wanting to present one's favorite sets or themes in a positive light, or only wanting to review sets you enjoy in the first place. Not to mention other subjective criteria like the usefulness of the parts or the set's play value which depend entirely on what the reviewer's perspective.
If getting the set for free means a review will automatically be biased, wouldn't the same be true of buying the set in the United States, where LEGO tends to be much cheaper than the rest of the world? Or buying the set at a reduced price in any country? By contrast, wouldn't people be biased in a different way if they bought a set in a country where LEGO is more expensive than usual? Or buying a set at an inflated price in any country? The answer, of course, is yes to all.
Looking for complete objectivity in a review is a fool's errand. At best, a reviewer can acknowledge whatever biases come into play in a particular review, and perhaps make a guess at how a person with a different set of biases (like a person who collects different themes, or values different kinds of play features, or is on a tighter budget) would see things differently. But eliminating bias from a review is never an option. Any claims that a review is "objective" or "unbiased" should be read with extreme skepticism.
This bit about unbiased vs. biased reviewing is tired. Film studios do free screenings for critics - so take everything you read with a grain of salt.
Also debatable but incites sleep: 1) How corrupt are politicians, 2) Chicken v. Egg, 3) zzzzzzzz....