JMBricklayer Mechanical Parrot Building Block Set review

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REVIEW – JMBricklayer has released several sets in their Fantastic Idea line, like the chameleon and the panda, often with creatures that are part animal and part machine.  Their latest addition is a mechanical parrot.  Though the manual for this one doesn’t provide any backstory, I bet his robotic half is a smart device capable of hooking into my home automation system.  While the bird delights my family with his antics, the machine keeps a careful watch over my house and records anything suspicious that it sees.  Whatever its capabilities could be, let’s dive in and see what JMBricklayer has created.

At the end of the review, there are instructions you can follow for a chance to win a mystery gift from JMBricklayer.

What is it?

The JMBricklayer Mechanical Parrot is a building block set (model 70154) that is compatible with LEGOs.  It’s part bird and part automaton that perches on a small wooden stand.  This set contains 688 pieces; half are in bright blues and orange and half are mechanistic.  The pieces are small, and just a few are compatible with LEGO Technic. JMBricklayer’s motto is “Joy Makes Brilliance,” and they “invite every builder to join us in building a world that is full of fantastic ideas.”

What’s included?

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The following items are included:

  • 688 building bricks
  • A light brick
  • A brick separator
  • A 32-page manual

Design and features

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When it comes to the design of LEGO alternatives, there are a handful of questions that always need to be answered:

Are they compatible with LEGO?  Yes, this set is 100% compatible with LEGOs.  Everything connects just as you expect that it would.

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Are they of the same build quality?  They are close, though not quite identical, to LEGOs.  I noticed some gaps between the bricks that wouldn’t be present on authentic LEGO bricks, like those between the blue pieces in the picture above.  Even so, they are good quality bricks and would be a worthy addition to any kid’s collection.

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Do they fit tightly, or do they come apart easily?  These bricks are super tight; there’s no chance that they will fall apart on their own.  They were quite consistent.

Are they cheaper in cost than LEGO?  One of the advantages of buying LEGO alternatives is that they are often less expensive.  I compared the price of the parrot with three creature sets from LEGO with a similar number of pieces.  Cooper’s C-Rex is 8.7 cents/piece, the Yellow Tusk Elephant is 9.5 cents/piece, and the Mandrake is a whopping 12.1 cents/piece.  (Harry Potter licensing fees must be a bear for LEGO.)  In comparison, the Parrot is a svelte 3.6 cents/pierce.  It’s a good deal.

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How do the instructions compare?  I’m very happy with these instructions.  The bricks came in two bags labelled 0 and 1.  The inside cover of the manual let me know that bag 1 was for the parrot, and bag 0 was for spare parts in case I had any missing pieces.  There are several shades of blues and oranges, and I was concerned that it would be hard to tell them apart in the manual; happily, there was no problem at all.  On each page, the bricks added in the current step are highlighted with red.  All the steps were clear and easy to follow, and I never had a problem.

Assembly, installation, and setup

The Mechanical Parrot came in a surprisingly small box, but I suppose it should not have surprised me, as there are only 688 pieces, the smallest set that I have built from JMBricklayer.  The first thing I noticed is that the person who designed the box didn’t talk to the person who designed the manual.  The manual doesn’t fit into the box, but they shoved it in there anyways; after pulling it out, the edges were ripped and torn, and the spine never laid flat.  This is the kind of rookie mistake that LEGO doesn’t make, but at least it didn’t impact the build.

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I opened bag 1 and found 12 smaller bags inside.  I think JMBricklayer could have divided these into a bag 1 and a bag 2 to make it easier to find the bricks.  The bricks are almost all very small, and I was happy to find none of the large molded pieces that, in my opinion, plagued other sets, like the chameleon.

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After opening all the bags, I sorted everything by color, which helps me to find pieces faster.  I then jumped into building.

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As I began building the lower part of the bird’s body, I quickly discerned three features that are typical of these Fantastic Idea sets.

  • One, they make great use of the SNOT technique, finding lots of clever ways to get the studs pointed in all directions.
  • Two, the animal side of the parrot was layered in smooth pieces, hiding the studs; this made for a polished look.
  • Three, the core of the build is very dense.  The central part is solid pieces, even though many of them won’t be seen when the parrot is completed.

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As I began to add the mechanical pieces, I appreciated how intricated and detailed it is.  There are tubes, gears, handles, knobs, and other mechanized parts.

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Although the parrot has some fierce-looking claws, it’s good to see that it will be connected to the stand using a pair of axle rods.

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The right side of the bird is the living half, and it was smooth — no studs showing — and very colorful.

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The left side is the machine half, and like a few of the other Fantastic Idea creatures, it features a small amount of lighting.  This one has a small light box into which a clear tube is inserted.  When a gear is turned, the tube lights up with a green color.  It’s a nice little touch, though not on par with the lighting in a Funwhole set.

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The wings are held in place with a ball-and-socket and thus are adjustable.  I love the detailed feathers in the wings.

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The stand is its own structure, and you can see where the axles from parrot go to hold it in place.

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I was pleased by how stable the final product is.  It’s a little bit wobbly, but not too bad.  It will easily survive on my shelf without any threat of falling over.

What I like about the JMBricklayer Mechanical Parrot

  • Colorful mix of bird and machine
  • Cute and fun results
  • Good pieces and good instructions

What needs to be improved

  • Nothing

Final thoughts

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The Mechanical Parrot is small but welcome addition to JMBricklayer’s line of Fantastic Idea animals.  I enjoyed building it and look forward to displaying it on my bookshelves.  The instructions are clear and the build was easy; the box says it’s for 14 years or older, but I think it could easily be done by someone younger.  The only challenge is getting the many small pieces in the right places, though this attention to detail is one of its best features.  The animal side is so bright and vibrant and colorful that I found myself liking it more than the mechanical side.  Overall, this was a fun build, and I recommend it to anyone wanting to add a parrot to their LEGO display.

Price:  $24.99
Where to buyJMBricklayer’s online store (save 15% with code: VIPGAD15) and Amazon (save 15% with code: JMBJAM15)
Source: The sample for this review was provided free of charge by JMBricklayer.  JMBricklayer did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

You can win a JMBricklayer mystery gift!

Three fans will receive a mystery gift from JMBricklayer. Just leave a comment between now and 5/19/24 at midnight EST. We will randomly select three commenters (no geographical restrictions) to win on 5/20/2024.

To enter this contest, leave a comment below!

3 thoughts on “JMBricklayer Mechanical Parrot Building Block Set review”

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  2. I haven’t built any Lego-like items, but I’m wondering if this would be doable by someone with hand tremors. My wife bought another type of model to assemble but I’m thinking she will be frustrated by trying to glue it together – seems like snapping blocks would be easier.

    1. I think any LEGO set would be easier than something that you glue together, because if you miss or put a brick in the wrong spot, you can try again without any consequences. This set does have a lot of smaller pieces, so that might make it more challenging for someone with hand tremors.

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