Halloween and the horror of overseas travel (40203: Vampire and Bat).

IMG_2110.jpgThe Rambling Brick Family recently travelled over to Europe during the recent school hollidays, and along the way we visited the LEGO Store in Paris, located at the Forum des Halles.  Now, I find it to be a difficult challenge shopping for LEGO when travelling to Europe:  It becomes a delicate balance between retail prices, Dollar to Euro conversion, easy availability of the set and on flight luggage allowances.

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Sculptures are another great part of the LEGO Store experience.

In France, there was not a lot to gain in purchasing sets at a saving by buying it locally compared to at Australian prices back home, or indeed purchasing sets online.  The prices and exchange rate just about cancelled each other out that week.  So I looked to exclusivity.  What was on the shelves at a reasonable price, that I might not be able to pick up back home?  Would I want to pick it up through shop.lego.com?

There is something to be said for the experience of visiting a LEGO brand store.  We were there in mid September 2016, and virtually every conceivable set was on display: The Disney Castle and New Death Star ( the one only slightly different to the old one) had just appeared in the stores, and were part of the instore display. The Christmas train was being unwrapped and built at the counter. As was Big Ben and just about every other set that would make an Australian AFOL cry out and bemoan the absence of such a retail experience here.  Even the Technic Porsche was on display. Continue reading

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LEGO Rebrick: Contests with Real Prizes

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Have you visited the LEGO Rebrick recently? Previously designed as a MOC sharing site, the website was relaunched a few months ago primarily as a competition platform for TFOLS and AFOLs alike.

There have been contests for NXT, Bionicle, Porsche and Creator building. Current contests include Classic (Microscale Building – closes November 4, 2016) and LEGO Friends (closes November 21,2016).  Have a closer look at these contest pages to check out the prizes on offer.  The standard of competition is reflected by the value of the prizes.

This week, one of the most exiting competitions to date was announced: To celebrate the release of the new 10255 Assembly Square, build a room for one of the existing Modular Buildings. The full details can be found here.  Click on the link to read all about it. Make sure you read the rules properly!

The Grand Prize for this competition consists of:

  • 10218 Pet Shop
  • 10243 Parisian Restaurant
  • 10246 Detective’s Office
  • 10232 Palace Cinema
  • 10251 Brick Bank
  • 10255 10th Anniversary Modular Building: the Assembly Square.
  • If you were to purchase these separately from shopLEGO.com, they would cost over $AU1300 (Prize value varies according to your geographic region).

The competition closes on 30th November 2016 at 02:00 am AEST.  Visit the competition page through the link above to confirm the closing date and time for YOUR PART OF THE WORLD.

This competition is not visible through the LEGO Rebrick home page, but through emails sent out from LEGOShop.com, as well as links shared on LEGO Fan Media websites. Enjoy.

Play well.

Vale Mixels: Six Lessons from Five Sets.

Mixels: you either love them or hate them.

When these characters arrived, about three years ago, a lot of LEGO fans didn’t quite know what to make of them. Brightly coloured, with seemingly chaotic design initially, they have developed a reputation for disguising some advanced building techniques in what may otherwise consider a ‘weird, colour themed parts pack,’ with an attractive price tag.

img_7753Like Ninjago, Elves and Nexo Knights, I have not invested in the multimedia aspect of the series.  Mostly for time based reasons.  Other than some of the first wave, I haven’t focussed on Mixels at all in my collection.  I have picked up a few for parts, and sometimes it is obvious, looking at the parts for sale, when a BrickLink store has just broken down a new wave of these sets for stock.

So, I thought I would take a look at a random selection of characters from my local department store and see what they have to teach us.  I ended up with Tuth (41571) from wave 8, Compax (41574), Sweepz (41573), and Screeno (41578)  from wave 9. Unfortunately there were none of the Ninja inspired Wave Nine Mixel sets to be found at my local shop- having been and gone already.

Continue reading

10255: 10 years of Modular Building

In 2007, a new breed of LEGO set was released: the modular building.  The first offering, the Cafe Corner (10182) was revolutionary: the subject matter of Lego City, perhaps set in an older, simpler time, but with a scale that was appealing to AFOLS.  The design standard – specifying the placement of the technic bricks to bind adjacent models together, as well as defining the size of the footpath and alleyway at the back of the building – has inspired the theme as well as countless MOCs and LEGO cityscapes around the world.

That Very First Modular- the Cafe Corner had very little in the way of internal detail, but set a standard this has changed as the series has developed with detailed interiors for shops, homes and other miscellaneous  businesses one of the highlights of the series. In those early days, the LEGO Factory site referenced design ideas for interior design .

For me, seeing these sets at a public show is what dragged me out of my Dark Ages. I remember constructing the Green Grocer, a year or two later, and discovering new (to me) parts usage as well as special secrets that only the set’s builders would know about such as….(but that would be telling!)

As a now annual New Year’s treat, there has been a steady roll of buildings to add to the collection: Market street (10190), Green Grocer (10185), the Fire Brigade (10197), the Grand Emporium (10211), the Pet Shop (10218), the Town Hall (10224), Palace Cinema (10232), the Parisian restaurant (10243), the  Detective’s Office (10264) and the Brick Bank (10251).  The majority of these sets have been designed by Jamie Berard, who has taken on the task of assembling an homage to the entire range in this year’s 10th Anniversary Spectacular: Assembly Square (10255).

LEGO Designer Jamie Berard, pictured with all of the Modular buildings, including the newly announced 10255: Assembly Square.
Set up as three floors of shops/professional consulting suites, the businesses include: a bakery, florist and café; music store, photo studio and dental surgery and an upper level dance studio and an apartment featuring a rooftop terrace. Even at first glance, you can see some design cues taken from the older modular sets:

There are eight adult Minifigures and a baby included in this set. Like all Minifigures in the modular line, these feature the classic ‘smiley’ face. All of the mini figures have great characterisation, and there are lots of new elements to be found.  One of my favourite figures would have to be the musician, with his receding ‘Peter Venckman’ hair line.

There are also some terrific new elements to be seen in the designer video including :a

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Another exciting variation on the 1×1 brick: 2 studs on adjacent sides.
Minifigure scale printed Cafe Corner box; 1×1 quarter circle tiles (black, tan and waffle);  2×2 and 4×4 quarter circle radii tiles in light bley; a mirror (4 x 6); 2 x 2 corner tiles, with the corner cut off in white, dark blue, light and dark bley; a 4×8 , diagonal door frame in black; and an exciting element with huge potential in MOCS, and in generating confusion when placing brick link orders: a 1×1 brick with 2 studs on adjacent sides.

Recolours include a 1×1 tile in nougat; a silver 2×2 radar dish; a curved window arch with spokes in black; and a new window for the dentist’s office: “Prevent yellowing.”  Sound advice for those of you without ageing, sun damaged LEGO Bricks.

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As you can see, this babysitter is a serious LEGO Fan: she has got a boxed copy of 10182: Cafe Corner to put together. It must be super micro scale!
It is shaping up to be a huge set, measuring 35cm (13″, approximately 40 bricks) tall, 38cm (14″, 48 studs) wide and 25 cm (9″, 32 studs) deep.  The additional 16 studs of width is reflected in its piece count, and the price tag. There are 4002 pieces: that’s 1200 more pieces than the largest previous modular (The Town hall xat 2766 pieces). Priced at $US279.99/ UK£169.99 this is a significantly greater investment than previous modulars (for example: Brick bank (10251) is priced at $US169/UK£119), but you also get so much more.   It will be available at shop.lego.com on January 1 2017, and is recommended for ages 16 and up.  Unfortunately, there will not be an opportunity for LEGO VIP members to order early.

 

Read on to see the details from the Official LEGO Press Release, see some more images and read about some of the easter eggs that designer Jamie Berard has tucked away in this set for us to enjoy: Continue reading

Holidays are coming: Time to get A Round Tuit.

I have been accused of procrastinating.  That may in part be the role of this blog: to allow me to procrastinate the rest of my life.  I am always saying that I will get that job done when I get around to it.  Then one day, I was handed a round piece of plastic by one of my former science teachers.

It had four letters written on it: T U I T.

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I asked “But what does this mean?”

He replied “Richard, you always say you will do this or do that when you get a round tuit.  Now you have one.  Nothing will stop you now.”

[Please accept my apologies if English is not your first language.  This may not make a lot of sense.  “Tuit” is pronounced the same as “to it”.  So “When I get  a round tuit” sounds the same as “When I get around to it…”  This is a common delaying technique used by teenagers, procrastinators and tax evaders. Now read on.]

As an AFOL at public exhibitions, and also when spending time with other AFOLS, I meet may people who look wistfully into the middle distance and tell me that one day they will construct a MOC of their own, At least they will build a MOC when they get a round Tuit ( My Own Creation – really the natural extension of free building with LEGO Bricks). As a public service today, I would like to help you all to get a round TUIT.  And I think we should try to make it out of regular bricks.

“But wait” I hear you cry,  “Regular bricks aren’t round!”

Well, back in the day when we had nothing but 8-bit graphics to satisfy our entertainment needs, all of our favourite video game characters were made up of a collection of coloured in characters on a grid.  Even Pacman was a collection of square dots which, if we stared at hard enough, would turn into a circle, with a missing wedge. Continue reading

Taking Legography to the Next Level.

Instagram is full of people taking photographs. Some of them take photos of LEGO Minifigures. Some of the most intriguing of these involve the juxtaposition of LEGO Minifigures with the surrounding environment.  Indeed, you can find groups meeting with their Minifigures in the great outdoors spending their time together capturing images and discussing techniques.

But should images be confined to a camera? Or indeed a phone? How often do you actually generate some prints from your Instagram stream?

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 Legographer Brett Wilson, about to encourage me to upgrade the quality of the camera in my phone at the opening of ‘a BC of Bricks’, in Melbourne last weekend.

Brett Wilson, (@Brett_Wilson on Instagram, and part of the arts collective ‘100% Stuck in Plastic’) has taken his legography to the next level. Last weekend, I had the opportunity of attending the opening of ‘a BC of Bricks’ at the A Gallery in Preston, located in Melbourne’s northern suburbs . Wilson has taken some of his favourite Legography works, put them onto paper, and on display.  This show is a collaboration between Brett Wilson and Christoffer Östberg from Sweden.  Brett has discussed his journey to the exhibition on the Stuck in Plastic Blog, and it makes for an interesting read.

Simply presented, with the aid of pushpins into the wall, the displayed images take on a new life: Their subjects bursting out in the larger format than traditionally allowed by an Instagram stream on a smartphone screen.  The juxtaposition of a minifigure into the natural environment is intrinsically strange. The precise shapes and surfaces of LEGO pieces contrast with the fractal nature of the environment, and produce a dissonance that at once both amuses and disturbs one’s soul!

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In bringing his pictures up to size however, the technical limitations of telephone driven photography became apparent, and several images were reshot with an SLR.  One of these, entitled ‘Walkies’ shows a Gamorrean Guard taking the Rancor from Jabba the Hutt’s basement dungeon for a walk along the beach, just as the sun is rising in the background. The show combined serious, thoughtful images such as this with humorous delights, such as the wheelbarrow race between the Gamorreans and the Tusken Raiders, and the despair of the zombie sailor, still lost at sea.  The stories behind these pictures almost write themselves.

On the opposite wall, Östberg’s work  particularly on light and shadow, as well as a great variety of photographic techniques.  Featuring predominantly Superheroes and Star Wars Minifigures and Vehicles, some images are intriguing. These include  the AT-AT struggling though a river, and the stormtrooper covered in bubbles. Others provoke thought on what lies beneath the helmet that’s been captured through the macro lens. There is a lot of interplay between shadow and light, and I find Östberg’s images are of a very different style to Wilson’s.

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It is a small, thought provoking exhibition, in an inviting space. The two displays are separated by a table covered in LEGO bricks, to allow your personal creativity to express itself while  If legography is an art form  that interests you, there is inspiration to be gained from seeing these images hanging on the wall, rather than just looking at a photo stream on your mobile device. It would be remiss of me not to mention that there are limited prints of all images displayed available for purchase.

If you wish to meet up with others interested in this type of photography, look for a #brickstameet near you. Details for a forthcoming #brickstameets can be found at brickstameet.com.

‘a BC of Bricks’ is on display at the ‘A Gallery in Preston’, 2016 Tyler St Preston. Open 4-7pm Wednesday, Friday and Sunday through to the 23rd of October, 2016.

 

 

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Play Well.

What I learned from the August Monthly build 40215: Apple

I was quite excited when a copy of 40215: Apple made its way into my hands as a special present.  It is one of the monthly mini builds that crops up at LEGO Stores as a special event: each month, a new small set, typically given away at a VIP Build event for kids.

So… I live in Australia.  Until a few years ago, we would routinely be given a link with our LEGOShop.com emails for the monthly build.  It came as a surprise to me recently to discover that rather than using pick a brick, investigating brick link, or raiding my own collection of pieces, these Monthly MiniBuilds are presented as as a polybag, containing all the instructions and pieces required. This is unknown to us Down Under: we hear of monthly mini builds, but never see them. It’s not all bad: we do get some promotional mini builds, but these are not always easy to come by.img_1742
This set is not much to look at from the outside: the polybag has the set number on the side, and on breaking it open we find around 58 parts, and an instruction sheet.  I love instruction sheets. It takes me img_1741back to my youth, when one of the exciting things with opening a new kit was in guessing how many folds will be undone to open them right out…on this occasion there are eight.

Opening the set reveals a marvellous variety of pieces: curves, bricks with studs on the side, plates with suds on the side and even some Mixel eyes. Red is the main color, but there is a little lime green, as when as white and tan/brick yellow.img_1743
It looks like we are in for some serious SNOT work. Regular readers know I am a fan of sets teaching us things, and this is one of the smallest sets I have seen to provide a great example of how to make SNOT work. SNOT, you may recall stands for ‘Studs Not On Top’: we use bricks with studs on the side to redirect studs from their primary direction, an
d then cover them up, in this case, with the 2x2x2/3 curved plates to make up the curves of the apple. Continue reading