Learning from our Friends: Sitting Side by Side in LEGO® City [41348 Service and Care Truck-review] [Building Techniques]

In which we take further inspiration from LEGO® Friends, by looking at Olivia’s Service and Care Truck.  We follow up by developing a modification to allow two minifigures to sit side by side in a contemporary vehicle, that otherwise only seats one.  Now read on…

Last time, we looked at a couple of Olivia’s vehicles from Friends – from 2016 and 2018.  Both of these cars have our friends sharing the two seats in a 4×3 space, allowing them to sit side by side in a vehicle that is six studs wide – within the constrains of a four stud wide cabin (so long as there window are open). Today I would like to look at another of  her sets from this year. Who knows how it might inspire us…

Looking out for her Friends on the Track: Service and Care Truck 41348

Zobo takes the Wheel

The Service&Care Truck (41348) which was released in the mid-year wave of friends sets in 2018, and has 244 parts. It seems to fit in a similar  part count and price point (AUD29.99/€19.99/£14.99/USD19.99) as Olivia’s Mission Vehicle. 

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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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Mech-Ception: What I learned about Mech Construction from 72004: Tech Wizard Showdown.

After feeling disappointed at my own ability to build a good looking mech for a LEGO Rebrick contest, I set out to examine 72004: Tech Wizard Showdown in search of ways in which I could improve my design. Along the way we discover the mech suit in a mech suit: Mech-ception!IMG_2744

IMG_2682In the closing hours of the LEGO Rebrick NEXO Knights Mech Building Challenge, I thought I would give it a go.  After all, how hard could it be? I’d recently returned from Japan BrickFest, where I had the chance to study Mechs and Giant Robots aplenty. I’d even attended a mech building workshop where some key concepts were presented and discussed. It seemed that everyone could do it. In retrospect,  this was an over simplification of the facts on my part.

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In retrospect, there are so many issues with this Mech.  In fact, I filled a paragraph with them.

I built a mech as a MOC. The final result was a bit meh. The Black and green colour scheme seems to work, BUT, I can identify a number of faults: the legs are disproportionately long, and it is quite wobbly; the shoulders look a bit weird.  The feet look like they belong belong on an AT-AT, there are way too many studs on display.  It looks like something thrown together by someone short of parts, trying to get a mech built in six hours.  Which coincidently it was.  However, it got me thinking about what would help to make it look like a reasonable Mech Model.

So I thought I would have a look at the final Mech in the NEXO Knights line: 72004 Tech Wizard Showdown. I wish I had looked at it a few weeks ago. As I built it, I learned a few important lessons in mech construction. Continue reading

Giving the Roller Coaster a Boost

Not satisfied with merely motorising my Roller Coaster 10261, I incorporate the Boost Robotics System, and then add some additional functionality. It’s all fun and games until the batteries stop running at full power…

IMG_0255There is no doubt that the new Roller Coaster 10261 is a magnificent model, worthy of a set piece in any LEGO Layout.  But driving it manually is a little tedious,to say nothing of the roughness of the ride. How can we make it so that we may have the coaster running, and share a drink with friends at the same time, while they marvel at this wonderful set?

Simple motoring using an ‘M’ motor.

Adding a Power Functions medium motor is simple: so simple in fact that you can work out how to do it in the pre release video: plug a motor over the drive shaft, and let it go.

And it goes on… and on… and on until you turn it off.  There is no break in the activity, the constant rumble of the motor.  Don’t get me wrong, this is pretty awesome, and with two trains of coaster carriages running, it can be pretty hypnotic. There is no reason that this should be any harder with the equivalent Powered Up/ PF2.0 motor, when we see it released in the future.

But I wonder if more can be done.

A Little Boost
In fact, adding simple automation to the set using the Boost Move hub, sensor and servo motor is pretty simple, and is described on the final page of the instructions. This is what it looks and sounds like.

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Forty years of minifigures: some of the changes are on the inside.

In which I explore the ever evolving structure of the basic minifigure over the past 40 years and realise that there are a remarkable number of variations on the seemingly ‘normal’ elements, that many of us take for granted. There may be some obsessive measurements taken.

The LEGO® Minfigure turned forty years old this month. You may have heard about it.  You might have purchased a celebratory Collectable Minifigure.  Or seventeen. During the course of following up on some classic sets from both my own, and other people’s childhoods, I have come across signs of possible deliberate reimagining of some classic sets in the City range.  While looking at these sets, I have found myself looking at minifigures from different eras. Much to my surprise, the differences between this figures are significantly more than skin deep.

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In this picture, there are 4 different head molds, four separate torso molds and four different leg molds. Who would have guessed?

While discussing these things with one of my suppliers, she pulled out her box of minifgure heads, pointed to some old smileys and asked ‘What do you think of this?’  If I didn’t know better, I would have said that some of these heads seemed a little more square than others. Now, BrickBunny has been around the traps a bit longer than I have, so I am not surprised that she knows about these things.

Intrigued, I returned home, full of investigational vigour, and got out my trusty loaned Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 macro lens, and realising the need to go further with attention to detail, attached the extension tube for life size conversion.  We were going in close. Really close.

Time to Get A Head

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I Just Need a Little Space/ You Light up my LEGO II

Last week I wrote about revisiting an imaginary childhood with a classic space set that I never owned, the One Man Spaceship 918.  While it has brought me great joy, I have had the feeling that it is missing something.  Lighting.

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While I have written about simple lighting solutions previously, this is likely to need something more complicated.  My vision is to provide lighting in the cabin, put running lights under the transparent plates on the thrusters and have lights on the wing tips flashing intermittently.

Over recent years, there have been a number of lighting solutions come onto the market. These feature a microprocessor controller chip, with connections for multiple LEDs. LEDs may be powered by an onboard coin cell or external penlight style AA or AAA batteries. The board itself might be enclosed within a brick sized housing, or the board might be uncovered, but dimensioned such that it can be easily built into your MOC.

A quick word on the ‘purity’ of 3rd party lighting.

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Getting back on Track: Continuous Linked tracks in 2017 LEGO Sets.

Over the last few weeks, life has been getting a bit busy, and interfering with my ability to get to the keyboard! Not an excuse. Just an explanation. And not a very clear one either! Anyway: Perhaps it is time to get back on track…

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Continuous, self propelled tracks were first conceived in the 1770’s, but it was probably not until the early 20th century that they became a method of choice for moving heavy vehicles such as tanks, bulldozers and Antarctic exploration vehicles across soft, uneven ground. The term ‘Caterpillar tracks’ was trademarked in 1911 by Benjamin Holt.  Such tracks have featured in LEGO sets or either as continuous rubber bands, since 1969 and as interlocking linkages since 1974 (Element 273). Continue reading