Getting the full picture: Upgrading the light box

In which I supersede my soft light box with a quick trip to the local hardware shop, for less than the cost of medium size LEGO set…This gives me a place to take pictures of Voltron, who has learned some new moves.

Over the last couple of years, I have used a number of techniques to light and photograph LEGO Models and minifiugres here at the Rambling Brick.

I started out using a relatively minimalistic set up, using a phone, a foldable light with baking paper as a diffuser, and a piece of white paper.

Before too long, I started using a small, reliable ‘Soft box’ – with two compact fluorescent tubes, some diffusing fabric and folding up into a convenient carry case. This has been my mainstay of LEGO® photography over the last few years. It is pretty good for most smaller, which have a footprint of less than a square foot.

A Sizeable Challenge

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Short of breaking Voltron down and stacking the individual lions, I was never going to make this set fit in this box, all at once.

Voltron 31211: this set challenged my sensibilities with regard to what I could fit in the light box. In real life, I don’t have the space for a dedicated studio, with large lights. A bit of bench space in my build room is all I have. (you can read my review here)

But it was time to revisit my photographic setup, ideally while maintaining enough budget to pick up one of the new Powered Up trains. Perhaps I will need to look at the passenger train rather than the freight train now. I took my inspiration from my friend @frostbricks, who recently shared images of his kitchen table photo studio on Instagram.

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Voltron 21311: An Idea Whose Time Has Now Come [Review]

From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the Universe comes a Legend: The Legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe! A mighty robot, loved by Good, feared by Evil. As Voltron’s legend grew, peace settled across the galaxy…. 

During this review, we will build the lions, form Voltron, consider the lessons learned and finally , compare it with a prebuilt Voltron toy… 

IMG_2751I was excited to be offered the opportunity to review LEGO Ideas 21311 – Voltron .  As I previously confessed, Voltron was not a major part of my upbringing. However, I have been catching up in recent days with the 1980’s cartoon series ( which in turn was based on the Japanese Anime ‘Beast King GoLion’). Others may prefer to take in the current Dream Works Series, Voltron: Legendary Defender, for a more contemporary tale, with a reduced serving of cheese.

After a quick revision of a parallel childhood, I felt qualified to look at the box.

It is a good sized box: similar in size to that which contained the Saturn V Ideas set, released just over twelve months ago. This box, however, contains 2321 elements, waiting to give a hefty dose of nostalgia to any child of the 80’s. In fact, you don’t have to wait to open the box for that feeling: the box art cries out 1984, with the background artwork shading from red to purple to the blue of a startled, with an underlying grid drawn in for good measure. Voltron, the giant, compound super robot almost fills the cover.  In fact, it is printed slightly smaller than actual size. The back of the box shows how Voltron is made up of the individual Lion elements, as well as highlight the sword and shield. The process of the LEGO Ideas program is also outlined.IMG_2757.jpg

On opening this set, I had a pleasant surprise. Many sets that I have opened this year seemed to have had their ‘contents settle during transport,’ with many boxes being barely half full of LEGO Bricks. This box appeared to be almost 80% full.  Excitedly, I emptied the box over the floor revealing the bags inside: all 16 of them!  These came with six manuals: One detailing the construction of each lion, and the final one showing how to build the shield and sword,  transform the five robot lions into Voltron, and provides some background information on the television series as well as some notes from the design team and the fan designer. The manuals came in a sealed plastic bag with a sticker sheet.  This sheet however, only had five stickers, for numbering the lions (as occurred occasionally in Voltron: Defender of the Universe, but not the original Japanese series). For the purposes of the review, I did not apply them. You could argue in favour of using printed elements here, but I suspect many will prefer the look without stickers.

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Nicely packed: the 6 manuals for Voltron, as well as the relatively minimalist sticker sheet.

In the cartoon, each of the lions is piloted by a human, and it is a little disappointing not seeing the pilots represented here. However given a variable crew roster, and uniforms not matching up to the colours of the lions, not to mention the relative scale of the lions to a human, a minifigure representation might not be entirely appropriate.  Indeed, there is not even space inside the heads of the lions to contain a microfigure. I’m sure someone out there will develop a creative solution.

Construction:

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Voltron: what a great idea…

21311_Front_01Back in 1984, a Tuesday if I recall correctly (lets be honest, some of these facts are lost to the mists of time), I was starting to get a little grown up. Or at least imagine that I was. Playing with LEGO® Bricks was not holding the appeal that it once did, and cartoons were starting to feel a little childish. I was on the edge of a slippery slope. As such, Voltron – Defender of the Universe passed me by. Well, not entirely: I knew it was there, but I didn’t feel compelled to dash home after school to watch it.

Fast forward to 2016, and my son sits me down in front of Netflix, and introduces me to Voltron- Legendary Defender. No longer compelled to be a cool 16 year old, I find it quite engaging, with occasional random cows.

A a couple of months before the new series debuted, Leandro Teyag (len_d69) submitted his version of the classic Voltron LEGO Ideas.   Continue reading

21314 LEGO® Ideas TRON: Legacy

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4905102-Fan_Model_-_Not_Final_Product_-_TRON-FwOzL-hb7QDPFw-thumbnail-fullIn 2010, Tron: Legacy, as sequel to the 1982 movie Tron was released. The original movie was released at a time when home computers were just starting to become relatively common, and its art style and story setting were unlike anything we had previously seen.   In October 2015, BrickBros UK – Tom and Drew – submitted a single Light Cycle, based on the movie TRON: Legacy to LEGO® Ideas. Over the next 17 months, they gained support, reaching 10000 votes in April 2017. The review start in May, with the final review being announced in November 2017. And so, less than 6 months later,  the set is now ready to hit the shelves.

The Light Cycles were iconic elements of both the original TRON as well as TRON: Legacy. The original submission featured one light cycle, with trans light blue details, carefully crafted to minifigure scale.  The final set features two: with the additional light cycle featuring trans orange details, and an additional minifigure.21314_Prod

The look of these cycles, as well as the ‘Grid’ base captures the spirit and styling of this sequence, even if the original TRON was more your thing than its sequel. Continue reading

Moments in Space: Voting Now Open

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[NOTE: Voting has now closed…]

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you news of the LEGO Ideas ‘Moments in Space’ contest: The goal is to design a set that would be appropriate for a gift with purchase, to be released next year, the 40th anniversary of the Global launch of the Classic Space theme.  Over one thousand entries have been submitted. It is now up to the public to vote for their favourite submissions.

The 25 submissions with the most votes will be reviewed by the judges, with the grand prize winner’s model being considered for development into a Gift With Purchase set by LEGO designers for release next year.

You can find a link to all of the entries HERE

Why am I mentioning this here? I don’t normally go in for discussion of LEGO Ideas submissions in progress.  In fact, I generally don’t even mention them until they are about to be released.

The Significance of Space

Classic space inspired the imagination of ten year old me to look towards a positive, cooperative future. In 2019 that will be forty years ago.  I will be turning… well you can do the maths! I think this is an important anniversary. Just as forty years of Technic was last year, 60 years of the Brick this year, 20 years of Mindstorms this year, 40 years of the minifigure this year (as well as classic Town and Castle Themes).

But with this contest, we have been asked to give an indication of what we would like to see done as part of the celebration, and I think this is an important example of the LEGO Group engaging with their fan base, on a topic about which many are particularly passionate.

This excited me enough to produce some submissions, based on Classic Space sets from 1979, and reimagine them with a contemporary parts palette, specifically that from NEXO Knights.  We have recently had news that NEXO Knights is ending its run with the current wave of sets.  I thought it appropriate to farewell this theme with a call back to my favourite era of LEGO Space sets. Let us refer to this as NEXO Classic Space…

NEXO Classic Space.

I am not an especially talented designer or builder, however I have submitted my take on the 891/442 Two Seater Space Scooter; 886 Moon Buggy and 889 Radar Truck.  The latter two were sets that we had about the house as we were growing up.

The Two Seater Space Scooter is, however, my favourite.  Conceptually, it is one of sets that led me down the Classic Space rabbit hole last year, when it appeared as part of the Classic Space DLC for LEGO Worlds: Here we have both Classic and Modern Space Explorers sharing a moment –  talking about their hopes and dreams; how things of changed over the years, and how they will change in years to come. With larger engines than the previous version, it can fly further and faster than the classic version, and with its yellow and black stripes you know there is a nod back to Classic Space.  And the model is, of course, extremely swooshable!

If you would care to vote for it, click here to be taken to the page.

While I would love to see Blue/Grey/Trans Yellow Classic Space reappear, it is not what I need.  LEGO Space inspired a generation raised during the Cold War to believe in an optimistic future, where people would work together to expand their knowledge and experience of the universe around us, striving towards a common goal. I would love to see a set which aspires to these values to be the one to win this competition.

I don’t need it to be mine.

My submissions can be found here:

While I have submitted these, that are part of a larger project, where I have been working to develop a reworking of that first series of LEGO Space sets from 1978-79 using the NEXO Knight’s parts palette. But more on that soon.

Have you submitted an entry in the Moments in Space contest? Why not share a link in the comments below.  And why not subscribe to the Rambling Brick: our publication schedule will been a little disrupted over the next few weeks, and I’d hate you to miss the next few posts.

Until next time,

Play Well.

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We will talk more about NEXO Classic Space in the next few weeks. Here is part of the finished display from Brickvention Australia, January 2018.

Ship in a Bottle (LEGO® Ideas 21313 Official Announcement) has

Don’t bottle up those emotions: After a few teases through the LEGO® Twitter feed,  the official release details of set 21313 LEGO Ideas: Ship in a Bottle (The Flagship Leviathan) arrived on the desk today.  Having reached 10000 supporters in around two months, this was one of the most rapidly supported models on the Ideas platform.

The set will be released through LEGO Retail Channels on February 1st, 2018, with NO early access for VIPs. The final model has 962 elements. It will retail for AUD$119.99 NZD $149.99 -US $69.99 – CA $89.99 – DE 69.99€ – UK £69.99 – DK 599.00 DKK

Some of the images used in the social media campaign have been produced by members of the Toy Photography Community. This one was taken at Point Roadknight, just off the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia by Brett Wilson.

More images, and the press release follow, after the break. Continue reading

Women of NASA: unsung heroes of one generation, inspiration for the next!

Untitled 8.pngThe Announcement last year that the Women of NASA ideas submission from Maia Weinstock was to be developed into a set seemed to be greeted with a combination of excitement and disappointment, from different parties. There were complaints of it just being a collection of minifigures,  only appealing to girls, not having as many elements as a UCS Millennium Falcon and being yet another NASA related Ideas set! But it is so much more than that.

Certainly with only 231 elements, it is the second smallest Ideas set to hit the market, next to the 21110 Research Institute, which was released in 2014. After the Old fishing store, however, I don’t need to have another set with a high piece count on display.

The set features several women who are notable in their contribution to the US space program in varied ways: I will discuss each of them in turn with their vignette.

This set was released on November 1st, and took a few weeks to make its way from Denmark to Melbourne. The box, like many of the Ideas  sets is robust, and designed to be kept. It is a similar design to many of the other ideas sets, as well as the boxes for the Architecture series.

The instruction manual provides a background on each of the people portrayed in the set, as well as both the fan designer and the set designers from the LEGO Group.

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