Missing out and optimism: Not quite the 40252 Mini VW Beetle

Over Christmas I built the Creator Expert VW Beetle, and found it to be a most enjoyable thing to take to the beach. So,40252_alt2
I was quite excited when it was announced that there would be a small version of the model available earlier in the year (40252).  Decked out in Dark Azure, just like 10252 (I sense a numbering pattern), I knew I was going to want to get it.  I also knew it was going to prompt me to place a shop.lego.com order when it became available.

And so April came.  Free gift with purchase over $60 was announced.  I was excited. And then the triple VIP points were added.  This period of the year coincides with school holidays in many states of Australia, and many of our major retailers have LEGO® Sets reduced by 20%.  Some stores were excluding Collectable Minifigures,  Some excluded The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Sets, and one excluded The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Collectable Minifigures.

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Technic Telehandler 42061: Leveraging For Maximum Purchase.

I made a decision a few weeks ago to collect the sets required to allow me to put together the 40th Anniversary Technic Model: the reimagined 8860.  As I have mentioned recently, LEGO® Technical sets (as they were called back in the day) were my introduction to building mechanisms, and they changed the way I thought about building with LEGO Bricks until I entered my Dark Ages.

IMG_1066.jpgI managed to obtain this set, as well as the BMW Motorrad Adventure Motor Cycle, for $10 at a major department store in Melbourne, thanks to the accrual of Credit Card Loyalty points.  Important purchasing tip: do you accrue loyalty points? Frequent Flyer points?  I also use the QANTAS frequent flyer store as a way to purchase LEGO.  It took me a while to recognise that I have never been able to properly take advantage of Frequent Flyer schemes to receive actual flights, so I am chipping away at my supply of points to obtain LEGO.They also have some recently retired sets – I managed to pick up the Constructable General Grievous figure. Continue reading

Carousel 10257 Coming Soon: Reimagining an Investor’s Classic.

boxes.pngAround eight years ago, shortly after I emerged from my Dark Ages, I visited LEGOLAND 10257_Front_02_1California with my family. The Aussie Dollar was running at 90US¢ to A$1: the best exchange rate in years.  We got to the store.  What followed is a bit embarrassing, but suffice to say it included  Cafe Corner and the Grand Carousel 10196.  Despite currency fluctuations, the pricing model used meant we could afford these 2 sets, and some more, as well as some luggage to transport them home, and still come out in front.  Unfortunately, this involved unboxing these sets prior to returning home.  Once the box is broken, you might as well build them, don’t you think? If I knew then what I know now, I would have also picked up a Millennium falcon UCS, and transported them home in fur-lined gold plated shipping container instead.  Aah: hindsight. It gives me 20-20 vision.

The Grand Carousel had a huge footprint with a 48 square, green baseplate. It had an interesting 16 sided construction and rotation was afforded by a spring-loaded wheel turning the outside – just like the real carousel’s that would tour country Victoria going to annual town fairs.  Not only did it rotate, but the horses bounced up and down as well.  And then there was the sound brick ,providing the joyous sounds of a Calliope, and invoking a nightmare flashback in any kid scared by carnival clowns.  This set has appreciated significantly over theirs, with new sticker sheets selling for more than $70 on Brick link, and the sound brick for more than $200!

fairground past.pngIn more recent years, the Lego Creator Expert team have been producing exceptional sets based on Fairground rides, providing a challenging building experience and great play and display features. In 2014, we saw the release of the Fairground Mixer 10244, followed up by the Ferris wheel 10247 in 2015. Last year it was the Friends turn, with a whole sub theme.  The Amusement park Roller Coaster41130 was a highlight for many here! Builders have not been content with with merely adding motion to this to these rides. Lighting has also become popular, with some spectacular third party lighting kits now available especially for them. But I didn’t stop writing this post for the purpose of becoming over whelmed with nostalgia, continuing to chart my descent from a regular human being into an Adult Fan of LEGO, but rather to present the announcement of the latest fairground set, at Play-Time in New York today.

The press release: more pictures and discussion follow . Continue reading

Sign up for LEGO House news to enter the draw for opening day tickets

Win family tickets for the LEGO House opening day on 28th of September 2017!

50 families will win tickets to enter the LEGO House Experience Zones on the opening day – and take part in the public celebration on the terraces of LEGO House. The only thing you have to do to be in the competition is to sign up for the LEGO House Newsletter. This way you will also receive the latest news about all the great experiences at LEGO House.

Sign up here: https://www.legohouse.com/en-gb/info/newsletter-signup

Play well

Retcon Rehash: 76044 – Clash of the Heroes

I’ve been waiting for the LEGO Batman Movie to pass before stepping back 12 months to revisit a set I purchased last year: 76044 Clash of the Heroes.  Born out of the disappointing cinematic experience that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, this set was exciting because for less than $AUD20, you could get both Batman™ and Superman™ minifigures.  And Batman™ had an armoured suit just like in the finale of Frank Miller’s grim epic, the Dark Knight Returns. (*Note: individual definitions of ‘just like the one in…’ may vary!) One of the highlights of the movie, in a movie containing so few, this armoured suit helped Batman™ give Superman™ a run for his money. Softening him up for the fight against Doomsday.  Many know how that ended.  Some don’t.  I won’t state the final outcome here…If you cared enough, however, you would have seen the film at some stage in the last nine months.  Fun Fact: BvS:DoJ opened in Australian the day before the US opening.  I don’t think we deserved this any more than the delayed release of The LEGO® Batman ™ Movie!

While this set is still in shops however, something has changed.

One of this pictures is a little bit different…

Just as any comic story that becomes too complicated, things may get rewritten, to create a retroactive continuity: to change the way things have always been.

This appears to have happened with the contents and art for this set.  When I first picked this set up, Batman looked like this on the box.  He has a cape in his Battle with Superman, and is wearing a cape in the picture of the figures from the side of the box.  And the box had punch out tabs to open it…

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Retro Reconstruction – 852 Helicopter 1978

LEGO Alive!

So, last week I wrote about my memories of my introduction to LEGO Technic, which was way back in 1978. Over the recent Easter weekend, I had the chance to visit my childhood LEGO collection.  I found some Technical set instructions in the mix: 8860-Car Chassis, and 856Bulldozer.  But not for my original helicopter.  Then I found the sheet you see here: preserved after 40 years.  Not the instructions for the Helicopter, but for the B-Model airplane. I turned them over, and on the flip side were blueprints for the helicopter, at a 1:1 scale.IMG_5385

Now, we ended up owning a fairly broad collection of LEGO for the 70’s-80’s: lots of regular bricks, ancient wheels and parts from 3 significant technical sets (as well as some supplementary sets).  I thought to myself: there is a high probability of locating enough parts to put the helicopter together. Perhaps not colour perfect, but structurally so.

And so I set to work…

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Melbourne’s LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is now open.

The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Melbourne was officially opened this week, after a weekend of previews, and a soft launch of the shop last week.  My other job meant that The Rambling Brick was unfortunately unable to attend today’s grand opening, however I do hope to get there in the near future, and provide an insight into the centre from an AFOL’s point of view 

However, I got to the shop last week and was duly impressed by the range, as well as the emotional roller coaster that was the Pick a Brick Wall.  

I would like to highlight the description of the Discovery Centre…

 the Ultimate Indoor LEGO Playground!

It is a children’s play centre. There will be evenings for Adult Fans to gather and enjoy the Centre, but during regular hours adults must attend with children (and won’t be admitted without them…).  

Early reports from preview openings confirm that the venue is well suited to children who enjoy their LEGO, but parents who are not so engaged may wonder what all the fuss is about. I am personally looking forward to seeing the completed Miniland display, with many of Melbourne’s icons made of LEGO. It was partially completed when I had the opportunity to visit earlier in the year, and shaping up to be fantastic.

In the meantime… here is the official press release:

 LEGOLAND® DISCOVERY CENTRE MELBOURNE OPENED ITS DOORS TODAY
THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE’S FIRST ULTIMATE INDOOR LEGO® PLAYGROUND OPENED TODAY IN MELBOURNE

The highly anticipated LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Melbourne officially opened its doors today. A first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, the multi-million dollar attraction is filled with more than 2 million LEGO® bricks and 13 family friendly attractions, making it the ultimate indoor LEGO playground.

The centre was officially opened today, when The Hon John Eren MP, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, as well as Creative Crew members Grace, Ruby and Tyler, conducted final checks of the centre before the general public came flooding in to join the LEGO fun.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne General Manager Drew Grove is thrilled that the much anticipated centre is ready six weeks ahead of schedule and is now open for LEGO fans to enjoy: “We’re so excited to have officially opened our doors to the first LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in the Southern Hemisphere and now the real fun begins. This Australian-first LEGOLAND Discovery Centre taps into the LEGO vision of fostering creativity through play, and will offer everything from rides and 4D movies to education programs for schools to encourage free play in the minds of kids,” he said.

The Melbourne attraction is the 18th of its kind worldwide and gives LEGO fans a truly bricktastic experience, with a LEGO Factory Tour, MINILAND Melbourne, with more than 1.5 million bricks, three exclusive LEGO-themed movies in the 4D cinema, and two rides; Kingdom Quest and Merlin’s Apprentice. There is fun for all ages with the LEGO City Soft Play Area as well as educational programs at the Creative Workshop, which fosters creativity and assists children with constructing their own bricktastic creations.

John Jakobson, Chief New Openings Officer, of Merlin Entertainment has seen the success of LEGOLAND Discovery Centres around the world and is excited to launch the first Australian centre in Melbourne: “LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne is an exciting, innovative attraction we’re thrilled to bring to Australian shores and add to our portfolio of family entertainment. After the global success of LEGOLAND Discovery Centres we are proud to offer this incredible attraction to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to local and international visitors in the most liveable city in the world,” he said.

The centre is located in Australia’s leading shopping centre, Chadstone – The Fashion Capital which has more than 20 million visitors annually. The joint owners of Chadstone, Vicinity Centres CEO and Managing Director Angus McNaughton, is thrilled to welcome Melburnians and visitors from around the world into the attraction: “The Southern Hemisphere’s first LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will see Chadstone continue to lead the way in Australia with an unprecedented entertainment experience and reinforcing our position as Australia’s number one destination for shopping, dining and entertainment,” he said.

LEGO loving families can head to LEGOLANDDiscoveryCentre.com.au to secure their admission into the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre,

● Individual Admission tickets $32.50, and annual passes $81.00

● Trading hours vary from 9.30am – 7pm

#LEGOLANDDiscoveryCentreMelb #LEGO


Any questions? Feel free to ask below, and I will endeavour to find out the answers.

Play well!

Ode to the Pick-A-Brick Wall: $44.98


The Pick-A-Brick Wall: A Poem

I walked on in, the lights shone brightfinal (4)
The buckets hung on walls of white.
Inside were parts of every type
But was the trip really worth the hype?
I picked up a cup, and scanned the wall.
What should I take, I want it all.
Over one hundred different parts
Just where does one begin to start?

The choice is hard, my brain went wild.
So hard to calm the inner child.
I looked for tiles: that was my dream,
First I found the white ice cream.
Regular bricks: red, pink and blue
I left them be, but what about you?
Left wing, Right Wing in Light Stone Grey.final (13)
Some jets complete it: what more to say?

Turntable bases caught my eye
I stacked them up, two hundred high.
How to use them? To decorate
a wall to make my next MOC great.
The garden, too, could stand to gain
Some bamboo and flowers if its all the same.
Clips and bars: grey and yellow
And those small flames, well hello!

So many parts in green of sand:final (15)
plates, clips, curved slopes all come to hand.
And telescopes, what about those?
I could use them to make an amusing nose
I stack my cups with bricks so bright:
Yellow and pink, a sherbet fright.
And then trans clear – slopes and bricks
When stacking up became quite thick.

IMG_5295But careful as you scoop parts up,
for if they fail to reach your cup,
Before too long they reach the floor,
and to step on them is sore.
Someone said, I don’t know who,
“It’s best to wear a safety shoe”
Its good advice, from someone kindfinal (9)
to give an adult piece of mind.

Another plan then sprang to mind,
with another project close behind.
As I filled the cup with different bits,
I knew my wallet would feel the hit
of expenses incurred with each cup,
as I moved along to fill them up.
One Large, One Small – enough today
But in the future: who can say?

The range was good, selection fun,
but I wonder if I jumped the gun?
A better plan to go and shop
for parts but to know just when to stop.
I’ll come again in three months time,
when the pieces change – that will be fine.
An autumn day, sky full of sun
made this LEGO store a bit of fun!

The retail store located at the new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne opened its doors this week, ahead of the of the Official Ribbon Cutting Next Week.  

If you have seen a LEGO Store before, you probably know what to expect.  

If not: there are LEGO sets at retail prices (10% off for annual pass holders), small exclusive sets,  lots of gear and books that you will not normally see conveniently located all in one location.final (14)

And a Pick-A-Brick Wall.  I have seen Pick a Brick walls before.  I have even selected bricks from them previously. Even though this one is operated by Merlin, PAB at the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne is charged by the cupful ($14.99 small; $29.99 Large), rather than weight (Hooray!) But it’s a little different when you have a little time, in your own city and go to visit it for the first time….it didn’t quite drive me to song.  

You do not need a ticket to the Discovery Centre to enter the store.

Except on dedicated AFOL nights, adults must be accompanied by a child.  This is an international policy in LEGOLAND Discovery Centres. It is a play centre, after all…

Play Well!

Technic: Embarking on a Nostalgia Road Trip down Memory Lane

 

Christmas 1978: Monday Morning, 5 am.

I’d like to tell you story.  Like all good stories, it is possibly a little long winded, and feels a little irrelevant until you get to the point. This may or may not be a good story.  I’d be curious to know your opinion. But bear with me. It was Christmas Day, 1978. A Monday.  I was 9 years old. We were staying in Ballarat ( regional Victoria) with my Aunt for Christmas.  As I mentioned, I was nine.:Christmas was exciting,  even more so at five in the morning when you wake up with an exciting new form of seasonal insomnia. Monday morning at five o’clock is not a time that comes naturally to me these days, but on Christmas day as a child, it represented a definite sleep in!

Our personal family record occurred in 1977, when my brother and I got up at 3:40am on Christmas day, ten minutes after our parents had gone to bed. He proudly went in to excitedly inform our visiting relatives that he had been given a bicycle, and it was all red! Oddly enough, our relatives did not share his enthusiasm at this time.  The story however is presented on a semi annual basis to this day. But I digress.

872-1
The labelling on my box was a little less French!
But back to 1978. I had asked for a LEGO Technical set.  I don’t recall being particularly fussed about which one. When I woke up early, I selected a box, and gave it a rattle. It wasn’t an especially big box, but it was all I was allowed to open before a civilised waking hour.  This set was number 872: Two Gear Blocks. I had no idea what this set was intended to do. And I had to wait until a civilised hour before Dad would explain that it was to slow down the rate of rotation of a motor.  This upset me a little, as the only motors I had belonged to a train set that I had received a year or two earlier. I cannot recall if it was the above Christmas, or another occasion.

870-1So, I was encouraged me to open another package. ( I suspect other members of the family had opened some presents by this stage.)
This one was a similarly sized box, that did not seem to rattle as much as the previous one.  This set had only twenty-two pieces, and was #870 – the 4.5V Technical Motor.
After assembling that battery box and connecting the wire, I was a little taken aback: this motor seemed to be spinning at a rate that rivalled even a dentist’s drill.  The role of the gear blocks became apparent. Finally, I got to the Big Box. It rattled in a most mysterious way.  Tearing off the wrapping paper revealed the  852 Helicopter set.  The box had a flip top lid, revealing all of the parts sorted into their own compartments.  The set contained a mere three hundred and sixty four pieces. As for the instructions: this was the first set where I remember using an instruction book rather than a single sheet. 852-1The 16 page manual included both the Helicopter and alternative Airplane build, as well as inspiration for installing the motor. The helicopter featured a massive 20 instruction steps. This was the greatest LEGO Challenge I had ever faced. [Editors note: The link back there will take you to a scan of the manual at Peeron.com.  This is a great resource for sourcing the instructions for LEGO® sets released prior to 2000- after which the majority of instructions appear on the customer support section of LEGO.com]
One of the best things about going away for a Family Christmas meant there was plenty of time for discussion, menu planning, basting, food preparation, cups of tea, cooking, pudding completion, meat roasting, and gravy making by parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and extended family.  By the time Christmas Lunch was ready, it was close to four o’clock in the afternoon.  But I didn’t mind.  I had completed the Helicopter.  I enjoyed spinning the rotors with side mounted steering wheel. And the blades had variable pitch, with the aid a a lever in the cockpit.  I don’t think I even noticed that Lunch was running a bit late.

IMG_5265
Who needs Christmas Dinner, when you can build a brand new LEGO® Technical Helicopter and demonstrate the maximum rotor pitch. Thank’s Dad for taking this picture,  thanks to my daughter for unearthing it while visiting her Grandparents!
By the end of the Christmas holiday, I had built the ‘B’ Model – a monoplane, with a propellor that spun as you pushed it along the ground, rebuilt and motorised the A model, and finally put together an unstoppable, motorised shunting vehicle that attempted to clear Granny’s finest china from the dining room table. After this I was invited to do some reading… Certainly I was hooked with building using my Technical Sets, which were undoubtably very ‘system brick’ oriented in its style.

Why am I telling you this?

8860-1
The instruction book from 8860: Image Source – Brickset.com
While I was delighted to receive the helicopter, the most coveted set that year was in fact the Technical Flagship Set: The 863 Car Chassis.  With over 600 pieces,  rack and pinion steering and a front mounted engine, this was the pinnacle of LEGO sets in this era.  I never received that set and I am thankful for this.  It was at least another 18 months before I received my next Technical set.  That set was 8860: Another Car Chassis, with a rear mounted flat four engine, all the previous bells and whistles, a variable slip differential, a two speed gearbox and rear wheel suspension.  This set was, by all accounts a great improvement over the previous version. I performed the standard 10 year old builder’s modification of increasing the gearbox to accommodate a third gear, and developing an understanding as to why the designers had decided not to include it in the first place!

This set remained in the LEGO Catalogue up until 1987.  An epic eight year run!. The next Technic Car Chassis did not appear until 1998’s 900 piece epic:  8865: Test Car.  Over the years, these sets have evolved: losing the brick and plate construction that was par for the course at this time, to a beam and panel construction style.  I am still coming to terms with the new vocabulary for working with these pieces. In 2016 we saw the release of the Technic Porsche 911 with 2704 pieces and a price tag to match.

40th Anniversary 8860 with the Modern Parts Palette

With 2017 representing the 40th year of LEGO Technic, a celebration of the 8860 is underway.  Using components from 42057 (Ultralight Helicopter); 42061 (Telehandler) and 42063 (BMW R 12 GS Adventure), you can revisit 8860, using contemporary Technic construction techniques. The construction style is quite different to that of the 1980’s – and the final model looks as if it will be a little smaller than the original 8860, but I took the first step back towards visiting Technic sets this week.

42057 Ultralight Helicopter

The Ultralight Helicopter is a small, inexpensive Technic kit, with 200 pieces – around two thirds of the original helicopter I received all those years ago.  It took around an hour to build. As an ultralight, the top rotors spin and drive the thrusting rotor, and the 2 cylinders in the engine move up and down as they do so.  The pitch of the blades do not change, but there is a lever that allows you to turn the rudder.


For me, this is a good introduction to the current crop of Technic Elements, which have certainly evolved since I last gave them a serious look (35 years ago) and includes a 40th anniversary Technic beam: it was reasonably simple and leaves me looking forward to investigating the Telehandler and BMW R 1200 Adventure Motor Cycle.  I just need to find a good way to get them cheaply.  In reality, I consider $AUD 170 a little expensive for the sake of nostalgia.  I found the Ultralight Helicopter for $AUD22 (RRP $AUD29.99).  In the current season of Easter/ School Holiday Toy Sales, I suspect I can get a better deal.  I also think completing the project may take a little time. In the mean time…



Play well

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light up your LEGO #1

There is no doubt that adding lighting to a LEGO model will enhance it’s appearance – it adds a degree of life to it, enhancing lines, lightening shadows and highlighting features which may otherwise be a little obscure.  LEGO have offered lighting for at least 50 years, originally in the form of a light brick, with the options of a filter, and more recently with power functions, providing a pair of LED lights.  We now also see self-contained light bricks in recent sets.IMG_0691-2.jpg

While earlier  LEGO® sets used standard filament bulbs,  more recently builders have been able to look to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to provide versatile lighting solutions. Recently,  LEGO builders have been incorporating lighting into their builds more often than ever before.

The systems used vary from simple ‘bulb and battery’ solutions, through to custom solutions for individual LEGO Sets.  There are also sophisticated, microprocessor controlled solutions available, providing preprogrammed sequential lighting patterns.  Miniaturisation of  LEDs means that they are now able to be incorporated in LEGO builds, with minimal rebuilding required for wiring.

Today, I would like to present a couple of simple options for cheap and easy lighting solutions, that can enhance your models.  In the future, I will present some examples of other, more sophisticated lighting solutions. Continue reading