Sand Green September I: What I learned from 10228 Monster Fighters Haunted House.

 

In which I construct a building using many sand green elements. But not one that was recently released. I recall a holiday, where I purchased a LEGO set and did nothing with it for five years, almost to the day. It turns out to be designed by one of the designers behind the Ideas set ‘The Old Fishing Store.’  While putting it together, I am reminded of some techniques and concepts for designing an old house. It is fun! Now read on…

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 Five years ago, I was on holiday with my family in the UK.  This was years before any talk of LEGO® Certified stores or LEGO Land Discovery Centres opening up in Australia.  And Australian prices for large LEGO sets were quite outrageous, when compared with those in Europe. At least it felt that way.  Anyway, in early September 2012, the LEGO Monster Fighters Haunted House 10228 first went on sale.  A couple of weeks later we made it to the LEGO Brand Retail Store in Cardiff.  We were in Cardiff for various reasons. Many of these reasons may have involved members of our family being fans of Doctor Who. I was probably (and still am) one of them. But this is irrelevant for today’s story.

On the shelves, we found the Haunted house: it evoked so many great memories: the Addams Family, the Munsters – both after school and Saturday morning television staples as I grew up, as well as Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi movies.  A quick check of the exchange rate made me feel that it was an offer too good to refuse, so we bought it.  Unfortunately, the box did not survive the trip home in our luggage, and the numbered bags have been sitting in a yellow and red LEGO Store bag , in a drawer, in our LEGO room. And then, for five years, nothing happened.  Until this week.

I was prompted to think about this set because a couple of recently released sets had also entered my possession: The Old Fishing Store (21310) and Lloyd’s Green Mech (70612), from the LEGO Ninjago Movie. Both of these sets have a significant proportion of sand green elements. (Is it wrong to start obsessing over a new colour, so recently after I looked at Spring Yellowish Green? I hope not.) In researching the haunted house, I discover the designer video.  And then things started to reach a nexus: The LEGO designer (as opposed to the fan creator) of the Old Fishing Store is Adam Grabowski, who also had a hand in designing many of the Monster Fighter sets. In particular, however, he designed the Haunted house, with the first sketches existing back in 2008-2009 or so. Continue reading

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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…

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I 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.

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Since 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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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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Sorting… with Extreme Prejudice.

I have a problem.

Well, I have several, but only one is particularly relevant to you today. It is to find order amongst the chaos. Yes, we are talking about sorting the LEGO collection: mine has gotten a little out of hand.

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This topic is frequently brought up discussion groups, so I thought I would tell you where I have been, and let you know where I am going.  I know many of you have well sorted collections/resources, some are a little more…chaotic.

My current collection of building bricks has evolved from my children’s collection: started around 10 years ago.
In those early days, after graduating from one box, Continue reading

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 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

Bring your Friends to the City for Pizza, and Vice Versa

Last time, we spoke about some of this year’s Pizza related sets. One of the things I found lacking in the Heartlake City Pizzeria was a Pizza maker, similar to the one to be found in 60150: Pizza Van. It left me wondering: can I just swap my figures over?

Crossing the Streams

At a public display earlier in the year, I had a chance to talk to lots of people.  One of the ongoing topics seemed to be along the nature of LEGO® City: A lovely little place to get robbed, burnt down, go power boating, volcano exploring or monster trucking, but not so great if you just wanted to go to the mall, bakery, supermarket, hospital, recreation centre or school.  By the end of the year, Heartlake City will have had all  of these things and more.

Now, many people were a little disheartened by the Friends’ mini-dolls when they were first released: issues with body shape, unrealistic proportions, legs unable to move independently and wrists unable to rotate.  However they have now spread across a wide variety of themes… not just ‘City’, they can also be found in Elves, DC Super Hero Girls, and Disney (princess?) sets. Mini-dolls can now be found spread across a broad range of thematic material.

So, do I need to work any magic to make this set (or any other Friend’s set) work at Minifigure scale? Can I just give the mini-dolls to the children next door, and put my Minifigure in? I took my figures and situations from the 41311 Heartlake Pizzeria, and the 60150 Pizza Van to find out.

New Dimensions

Now Minifigures and mini-dolls are proportioned a little differently to each other. But what are the real differences, and how does this work out in real life?

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Minidolls tend to be taller than Minifigures.
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Mini-doll legs are approximately ‘two plates’ taller than those of a Minifigure. Also, there is no room between the back of a mini-doll’s foot and the stud behind it, compared with a Minifigure, who can stand directly in from of a plate of brick.
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Despite being shorter overall, Minifigures have a proportionally taller torso than the mini-dolls.

 

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The wrists of a mini-doll are fixed: not all handlebars are for them!

 

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Don’t forget: Minifigures and mini-dolls have interchangeable hair and headgear, even if you cannot exchange their heads.
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Mini-doll necks are the size of a 3.18mm bar.  The heads are asymmetrical from front to back, and so they are extremely unlikely to have double sided printing.

So, lets look at these two sets, and think about the alterations that may need to be made to cross them both over.

Fitting your Minifigures in Heartlake City:

In areas where the figures are standing, there is little need to make adjustments to the original model to swap  mini-dolls for Minifigures.

Most of the pizzeria works quite well with Minifigures.  The kitchen benches are around the height you would normally use with Minifigures. Even the pizza oven is at the necessary height as is the dessert bar and the cash register.  IMG_0054In fact there are only one or two things that need to be adjusted to make it feel like a city scale set:

The seating: Often seating for Minifigures  has studs to fix the figure’s legs to.  Perhaps use plates rather than tiles on the stools, or use chairs, as are used in many LEGO City sets. However the tiles provided are satisfactory, even if your Minifigures slide on them a bit.

Most of the problems I encountered were in the various vehicles, where the legs are of significantly different length. In the delivery van accompanying the pizzeria, I replaced element 6093479 (Foot, Plate) with a steering wheel, and replaced the 1×2 tile with 2 green flower elements- providing studs (because they were spare) for the Minifigure’s legs to bind to.

Fitting Minidolls into City Sets:

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© The LEGO Group 2016

There is already a precedent for the mini-dolls working in a food cart: last year’s Amusement Park Hot Dog Van 41129. As you can see in this image from shop.lego.com, Stephanie’s hips are a plate or two higher than the counter. (i.e. counter top is 4 plates above the floor). It would seem to be the same height in the food truck, with the transparent screen rising above this height, but in the name of food safety, I think this is acceptable.

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Help the minidoll to fit into the food van AND have a means to steer it

So… the food service aspect of the truck is no problem here.   As you can see, Emma fits in here quite easily, to feed the masses at the back of the van. The main challenge seems to be to securely fit the mini-doll into the driver’s seat. By tiling the seat, and placing the ‘foot, plate’, the mini-doll can fit securely into the seat.  We then move the steering wheel forward in the cabin. This is not too tricky, but does require a little modification, and a couple of extra pieces.

The next challenge is the motor scooter: the handlebars included in this set are incompatible with mini-dolls.  Hands can only clip on if they run from side to side.  Mini-dolls’ hands run at approximately 90º to this.  Motor scooters in other LEGO® Friends sets use element 98397  for the handlebars, which are designed to fit the minidoll grips.  It is compatible with minifigures, but is not the ‘go to’ motorbike handlebar in LEGO® City.  It appears to be readily available in LEGO Friends and DC Super Hero Girls sets, as well as a few other themes- especially LEGO Ninjago.

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Don’t be afraid:

If the colour scheme does not cause you concern, you can safely integrate the architecture from Heartlake City directly into your regular, Minifigure populated town layout, with minimal alterations. Every one will fit, and you will add a higher level of functionality to your town.

Likewise, it’s not too hard to move City sets into Heartlake City.  The colors may be a little more subdued, but it will allow our LEGO® Friends to get some proper danger and excitement into their life. And you can exchange hair pieces/hats.  But your city may descend into anarchy if you have no police force to maintain civil calm. (At least there are the DC Super Hero Girls?)

Myself, I am quite happy to merely ensure the figures can safely sit in the driver’s seat without excessive peril.  But, if you are bothered by the lack of interesting businesses in your LEGO city, but feel that investing in the complete back catalog of Modular Buildings is a little extreme, why don’t you take a look at the Friends sets.  Remove the mini-dolls, and replace them with random minifigures… you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Have you tried moving Friend’s Buildings into your regular city?  Have you taken them the other way, with a layout occupied by minidolls? Or are you happy to have them all live together in one big town? Why not leave a comment below.

Play Well!

31058 Mighty Dinosaurs: Enough Teasers. Here’s My Review

I have referred to the new Creator 3-in-1 Set 31058 Mighty Dinosaurs several times in the last month.  I like it. A Lot.  It has taught me about unfamiliar elements, as well as demonstrates the use of some of the new SNOT elements that have appeared over the last year or so.

img_9671The box art features a yellow border, introduced this year after a few years absence.  The feel is delightfully retro, and extends across the Creator 2017 range.  The from demonstrates the 3 main models: a tyrannosaurus rex, a pteranodon and a triceratops.  The back of the box shows alternate views of these, as well as a picture of a brachiosaurus – with instructions available on line.  The box is secured with security tape, so with a quick flick of my penknife we were in.

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