Stranger Things Have Happened: [Review: 75810 The Upside Down]

With the third series of Stranger Things ready to drop on July 4th 2019, there is still time to get hold of this set and put it together while catching up on previous episodes… here are my scattered thoughts and photographs.

Back in 1983, I was fourteen years old. Going to school, riding my bike around to catch up with friends, playing the occasional game of Dungeons and Dragons. But nothing happened to me in a way that would be as weird as the goings on in Hawkins, Indiana, at that time, during which the first series of Stranger Things was set.

Stranger Things…Really?

When I first heard rumours about this set, I was sceptical. Why would a LEGO set based on program with supernatural content be reaching the market months before the arrival of an in house range, also featuring a supernatural theme – Hidden Side. It felt a little like LEGO was trying to compete with its own market, until I realised that the two lines are aimed at very different demographics: Hidden Side is aimed at younger, digitally focussed children, and focusses on game play. The Upside Down, on the other hand, brings highlights from an adult focussed series: that exploiting the nostalgic feelings we have for a not so bygone era, a metaphorical and literal shadows and soundtrack heavy on analog synthesiser. For many of us, that might have merely been our own childhood.

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Back to basics with Stuck in Plastic

Sometimes life just gets in the way. Over the last year, I think I can count the number of times I have headed out to take photographs on one hand. I could make any number of excuses, but in real life I just hadn’t felt like it. Work has been busy. Writing and reviewing has been taken a little more energy than I expected. And I just haven’t felt in the mood.

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News from the LEGO Ambassadors Network

Another day where Too Many Things arrive in the inbox in Rapid Succession. These include a Star Wars Fan Event at the LEGO House, a Survey about LEGO stores and two new Ideas Contests (replacing what was once known as Rebrick). These have all arrived via the Ambassadors Network, an online community where recognised Fan Media, and Recognised LEGO User Groups Gather… read on for further details.

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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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Dig a Dinosaur: Stygimoloch Breakout [75927]

In which I revisit dinosaur nostalgia, realise I missed a lot of LEGO® Dinosaurs, before finally getting on the band wagon with the Jurassic Park Fallen Kingdom sets.  We breakout the Stygimoloch, and take her out into the wild.  Then, we look at the latest ‘Iconically Jurassic’ contest over at LEGO Rebrick.

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I was once, it will come as no surprise, a 6 year old boy. Like many such creatures, at one point I developed a fascination with dinosaurs. They consumed my waking hours, my conversations and dominated my visits to the local library.  I could draw and spell them all by heart.  If I wanted to watch dinosaurs on television, I was limited to watching Valley of the Dinosaurs (a 1974 Hanna Barbera cartoon where a whirlpool in the Amazon transported a teacher and his family into a land that time forgot)  or Land of the Lost – from the crazy team that brought us HR Puf’n’stuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. For me, The Flintstones didn’t really cut it for me: it was really just a sitcom wearing animal pelts.

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My favourite book of this era, the Ladybird Book of Prehistoric Animals and Fossils, was a favourite. Portable and sturdy with its yellow hard cover, there was always room for it in my school bag, or clenched between my knees when we went for a drive to the shops. It was a long night when I accidentally left it at school.

I read this book time and again, able to recite portions off by heart.  The final pages offered sage advice: If you have enjoyed this book, why not look further afield to continue expressing your interest – why not go searching for fossils or build a model kit; perhaps try making a paper mache diorama of a prehistoric landscape.  Put a small lizard in it, and pretend it is a massive dinosaur.  (to be fair, some of these ideas may have come from other books of this era).

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Series 18 Minifigures: Welcome to the Party

This month sees the 40th Birthday of our favourite plastic persona, the LEGO® Minifigure. The Series 18 Collectable Minifigures celebrate this occasion with a costume party, and we see some of the best costumes for our figures yet.  I am yet to track down the Policeman: a printed modern representation of the policeman that came with set 600, one of the first Town Sets released back in 1978.  As part of the ever circling self referential tips to the past ( in a year when too many historical references are barely enough…), the policeman has a printed tile, with the box of set 600 printed on it.

By now, I suspect you have located a ‘feel guide’ to help identify each figure inside its foil bag, and read the opinions of others about this great series.

Every set has its highlights and lowlights. For this series, I have presented an image of every figure that I have, along with the highlight of the figure for me.  There will be things you prefer.  That’s okay. Who is your favourite?

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I love many of the accessories and head pieces included with this series, but my favourite would be the tile that comes with the young boy: it is printed with as small a representation as you could come up with to be a representation of the packet that the series one figures appeared in years ago. Also up there would have to be the balloon animals. As for my favourite figures? it is a toss up for me between the cowboy, the dragon and the two figures dressed up as LEGO Bricks!

What about you? What do you love about this series? Who is your favourite?  If you could only choose one element from this series, what would it be? Why not leave your comments below.

Now to see if I can find a policeman.

Until I do,

Play Well!

You light up my LEGO – let it glow!

IMG_9977-2One of the great things about the last few months has been sunny weather, and the chance to build outside during the day, rather than just inside at night (Quick reminder for northern hemisphere readers, it is summer here, and holidays finished only a couple of weeks ago). What became apparent is that when building under sunlight, the trans fluoro reddish orange elements (also called Trans Neon Orange on bricklink) tend to become brighter in the sunlight, with an eerie glow. This was not obvious when working under an incandescent lamp at midnight. It turns out that these transparent fluorescent colours are, intact, fluorescing.

What does it mean to demonstrate fluorescence? Continue reading