Stressed by the Elements: Saturn V, Tiles, Plates and the Legality of Connections.

In which I build the Saturn V Ideas set, almost lose it in a wind gust, consider the legality of the American flag on the moon and Jamie Berard helps us to establish that plates and tiles are more different than we may have previously considered…

IMG_7086I have just been fortunate to complete one of the most satisfying builds I have attempted in recent years.  The LEGO® Ideas Saturn V Rocket  21309 was released on June 1st, to wide accalaim. The Rambling Brick was fortunate to secure a copy on release day, courtesy of of the LEGO® Community Engagement Team.  Any opinions expressed here are, however, my own. The set has been subject to backorder on shop.lego.com for some time, and production continues to catch up with demand.  This may take some time.

IMG_7116Since completing the model, I have been confronted by a severe weather warning, with the possibility of destructive winds – up to 120 km/h (roughly 70MPH).  This is a shame, as the winter sun has been shining brightly today: just what you need to take stirring, outdoor shots of an amazing model.  On setting the model up outside, it became apparant that there are reasons for spaceflights being delayed due to bad weather.  I managed one or two shots before catching the falling bohemoth, as it attempted to attain equilibrium in its ongoing battle with the forces of nature. That is to say, i caught it before it hit the ground.

Perhaps I’ll try again on a less windy day.

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LEGO Boost Robotics Australian Release Date Announced

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The LEGO® Boost robotics system is now available to order in some markets, with reports of deliveries arriving starting to come in from around the world.  Australia will have to wait a few more months before the new LEGO robots arrive to take over our lives. While the global release is scheduled for August 1st,  the Australian release date has been ever so quietly announced on shop.LEGO.com.   Scheduled for release in Australia, with a limited local retail release (the definition of limited currently remains a little fuzzy) on October 1, 2017, the Recommended Retail Price is expected to be around $AU250. Or half the price of a LEGO Mindstorms EV3.

Based on the a similar hardware platform as the WeDo Educational robotics platform, Boost was announced at CES in Las Vegas back in January 2017. There was a lot of excitement at the time of the announcement, and over recent months the set has been available for preorder in other markets. Until now however, news of the Australian release has best been described as ‘a little quiet.’ Continue reading

Does The Use of Stickers Ever Compute? or Adhesive Labels – for gain or pain?

Please don’t get me wrong with the title here: I can find stickers to be as irritating as the next person.  However, after looking at Stephanie’s House last week, I came to realise that some LEGO elements are used in a recurring fashion, but that the final appearance and effect is dependent on the labels used.

IMG_7007On this occasion, I am specifically thinking of the humble laptop computer. Design number 18659.  This piece is currently available in two colours: black and medium lilac. It appeared in black in 2010, and medium lilac in 2016.

It appears simple enough: Slightly less than 3×4 studs in area when open, there are no clear system connections. No studs, no tubes, no clear handle. However, when closed, there is an indentation in the upper and lower parts of the laptop that accepts a clip type attacment such as a minifigure hand. Actually, when open, a lip along the bottom section allows a clip connection there as well.

Now, these laptops appear simple enough. But they are a little plain. I can see the benefit of only having one part, without printing it. From the manufacturing point of view: every new element – a part in a new colour – needs a new bin in the warehouse for storage.  Once you go the next step, and print on that part, each printed design has a new element ID, and therefore requires a new place to store it too. For the MOC Builder, the role of this element is not locked in: It’s a little hard to pretend that a part printed with decorative bows is, in fact, a vital tool in the war against crime!laptops friends.pngThe medium lilac laptop (Element ID 6141902) appears in three distinct sets, all in the Friends theme:  41314 Stephanie’s House, as discussed already; 41115 Emma’s Creative Workshop and 41116 Olivia’s Exploration Car.  Each set has a new sticker added to the sheet, which can (if you wish) be attached to the laptop present in the set, and allow you to give it an appearance of functionality.

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Making Some New Friends (The design drafts and review): Stephanie’s House 41314

sh 41314 drafts2.pngWhen we last met, we caught up with Fenella and Ricardo, from the LEGO Friends design team, and we spoke in part about the preliminary models from Stephanie’s house, and how some things came and went during the design phase.

Today, I thought we would put this set together, and look at some of the features that make these sets so popular with the target demographic.

This is one of the larger sets in the first wave of  Friends sets to be released in 2017.  It has 613 pieces, and a recommended retail price of $AUD99.99/£64.99/$US69.99/€69.99. It comes with 3 minidolls: Stephanie, her mother Alicia  and father James. It is laden with accessories and play features, as one would expect with a Friends set of this size. Continue reading

Making Friends, with Fenella and Ricardo: LEGO Friends’ Designers (Interview)

At the start of June, as part of the LEGO Fan Media Days, I had the opportunity to meet Fenella Charity and Ricardo Silva, who are both part of the LEGO Friends design team.  Fenella’s back ground is in industrial design, and Ricardo came to work at LEGO via the fan community. Our conversation rambled over a variety of topics relevant to the Friends line: including storyboarding the  sets and animated stories;  stickers vs printed elements; gender balance; designing Stephanie’s house and starting the trip down a slippery slope by using tan walls  in the pizzeria. But before we started on that path, I had to ask something…

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The LEGO Friends sets have be inspirational for introducing buildings around town that aren’t fire stations, banks being robbed or police stations, as are de rigour in LEGO City. But something I have been wondering… Are we going to see a police station?

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Underneath the Arches: Exploring One Stud Radius Curves.

 

One of the great things about LEGO bricks is the system: the way elements fit together and interact with each other, sometimes in unexpected ways.  Studs and tubes are easy to understand. As are minifigure hands and the way they plug into the end of a tube or anti stud, or clip over a 3.18mm bar. Every so often you come across a new set of interactions, and wonder just how far these relationships between elements extend.

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This happened to me this week: While my sorting continues, I was browsing through my holding bin of bricks with bows and arches.  Look, over there, a distraction. And before I knew it, I found myself considering the 1x4x2 arch and what I can place snugly under this arch.  Fortunately, during The Sort, most of the the relevant parts end up in the ‘bricks with a curved surface’ bin.

The arch fits nicely over the top of a window frame 1x2x2 2/3 (Design ID 30044).

The curve of this arch perfectly describes a semicircle, with a radius of one stud (that is, a length of a 1×1 square plate).  This is the same circle described by a 2×2 round plate, brick, tile or droid body.  Also the base profile of a 2×2 ‘dome brick’ officially known as final brick 2×2 Design ID: 30367. But more on that element later.

I have several other bricks that look like they should fit underneath this arch, with a studs up orientation. Those parts are a few of the bricks with arches and/or bows, including:1x1x1 1/3 with arch; (Design ID:6091); and 2×3 with arch (Design ID: 6215); brick 2×2 with bow and knobs (Design ID:30165) and 1x4x1 1/3 (Design ID: 10314).  Let’s see how they all line up after the break…

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Colours That Only Dogs Can Hear

Please do not consider this a complete color guide!

Here at Rambling Brick headquarters, there is a project looming.  Not technically an immensely secret or important project.  But I don’t wish to reveal it right now. Please don’t take it personally. It will enhance the element of mystery in weeks to come.

In the meantime, I need to be ready for it. Now, for the last couple of weeks I have been sorting elements in my spare time. My initial eight box sorting technique was a little optimistic. What was initially going to be a simple ‘bricks plates, modified bricks, slopes, plates, tiles, small bricks/plates, greebly bits and everything else’  .  I found a few extra bowls to put go through on the way: minifigures; minifigure accessories; curves and arches; round bricks; round plates, long tube like bits, profile bricks and random technic elements; I have made it through the majority of the casual boxes of broken down models and unrelated parts lying around the house.

The smaller elements seem to be in  different types: 1×1 cylinders; 1×1 cones; 1×1 square plates, square tiles, round plates, and round tiles.  Possibly a few more different colours than I would have been happy trying to fit into a fifteen compartment tackle box.  But if we double up colours in the same compartment, it should be easy enough to identify them.  In principle.

The other thing that has become apparent is the need for adequate lighting.  And reading glasses.  Some of these things are just related to normal ageing. The light is more related to sensible purchasing decisions.  Sometimes the white LEDE light panel needs to come out to help work out what I have. However, I have discovered is that perhaps I am a a little more colour blind than I realised. Some colours are a little difficult to identify on their own, without a reference. Color variations in LEGO are not unknown.  Colours that seem to be particularly inconsistent include medium blue and flame yellowish orange. Especially if medium Azur or regular yellow are close by.

This has been a challenge when sorting cheese slopes, small plates and round studs. As you can see many of these colours are pretty close together on the spectrum, and if the lighting is a little unreliable, then confusion can abound.


One colour is especially causing me problems.  When ever I see pale aqua on its own, I accidently put it in with the white parts.  Then I see it has doesn’t match, and attempt to chase it.  How is it that it vanishes to the bottom of the compartment, only to be visible out of the corner off my eye when I stop searching for it?  Any direct questing seems to result in bitter disappointment. If only my visual acuity was a little more akin to the hearing of a dog?

But was it real, or just a trick of the light? So again, I come back to this: bright, white light is certainly more important than a nice moody warm light in your sorting space. What do you use to ensure appropriate color matching in your build area.  I’m open to suggestions.  It may save a few headaches.  There are more important things to have headaches about!

Do I actually own pieces in this colour? According to the Brickset colour database, I should own some. I have a couple of sets with Unikitty in somewhere. There were some spare 1×1 plates included from what I recall.

I wonder where they went?

Why not share your colour matching challenges in the comments below, and be sure to follow the Rambling brick for casual musings, random thoughts and occasional reviews.

In the meantime,
Play well.