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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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

If things don’t change, they just stay the same: SNOT Techniques in 31058- Mighty Dinosaurs

Last February, I looked the 31045 Ocean Explorer Creator Set, and particularly the techniques used for ‘SNOT’ building. These building techniques help models made of LEGO® bricks gain an extra dimension as studs and bows move in different directions. As a reminder, when AFOLs and TFOLs talk of SNOT, they are referring to ‘Studs Not On Top’.  As a follow up glossary hint, AFOL and TFOL refer to ‘Adult/Teen Fan Of LEGO®’.

New SNOT Bricks

On the meantime, there has been a widening of the palette for SNOT components.  
Introduced early last year is the modified brick, 1x2x1 2/3 with 2x2studs on the side. Making its debut in the modular Creator Expert 10251 Brick Bank, its use has dramatically increased this year. For example, twelve these bricks form the basic ‘skull’ of the new BrickHeadz character sets.  Exploiting the measurement of 5 plates thickness=2 stud plate length, this brick has a square profile.  this allows bricks on the side to bind with studs on the side of adjacent bricks, although, as can be seen below, spacer bricks are required to bind with ‘regular’ bricks with studs on the side that are attached to the top of this part.

Another new piece, announced late last year as part of the 2017 modular building, 10255 Assembly Square, is the modified brick 1×1 with 2 studs on adjacent sides. This piece is just perfect for sitting in the corners that the ‘Travis’ brick- with studs on four sides- will never fit.

As you might imagine, these pieces are likely to revolutionise SNOT techniques, making them for more accessible to the average builder.

Today, I would like to look at the way in which these components are used in 31058- Mighty Dinosaurs.  Compared to the way in which SNOT components were used in last year’s Creator Sets, we have quite a different style to look at this year, affording create versatility and strength.

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Its new to me: stiffening the joints with Element 74261/6106472 (Element Exposition)

Ball Cup, High Friction with Rubber.

elementAt least, that’s what Brickset and the LEGO Group call it. The name is a little awkward. And a little suggestive. Bricklink refers to it as a Hero Factory Arm/Leg Extender with Ball Joint and Ball Socket. Neither of these names is particularly catchy.

I first encountered this piece when putting together the new Creator set 31085: Mighty Dinosaurs. While this is the first Creator set to feature it, it is by no means a new piece.

Appearing initially in 2012, this piece has featured heavily on the constraction figures, with themes such as Hero Factory, Bionicle 2: the Rebirth; Star Wars; Chima and DC Superheroes.  More recently is has appeared in several Ninjago sets and a couple of NEXO Knights sets, particularly those involving dragons or mechs, as well as the ClayFace Splat Attack (70326,70327,70593,70595,70627 and70904).  It was also present in 75156 Admiral Krennic’s Shuttle Craft, from Rogue One.  Having little experience with buildable figures such as Bionicle and the like, and having not put together the mech sets and large dragons from Ninjago, I was unlikely to have encountered it until now. Continue reading

Vale Mixels: Six Lessons from Five Sets.

Mixels: you either love them or hate them.

When these characters arrived, about three years ago, a lot of LEGO fans didn’t quite know what to make of them. Brightly coloured, with seemingly chaotic design initially, they have developed a reputation for disguising some advanced building techniques in what may otherwise consider a ‘weird, colour themed parts pack,’ with an attractive price tag.

img_7753Like Ninjago, Elves and Nexo Knights, I have not invested in the multimedia aspect of the series.  Mostly for time based reasons.  Other than some of the first wave, I haven’t focussed on Mixels at all in my collection.  I have picked up a few for parts, and sometimes it is obvious, looking at the parts for sale, when a BrickLink store has just broken down a new wave of these sets for stock.

So, I thought I would take a look at a random selection of characters from my local department store and see what they have to teach us.  I ended up with Tuth (41571) from wave 8, Compax (41574), Sweepz (41573), and Screeno (41578)  from wave 9. Unfortunately there were none of the Ninja inspired Wave Nine Mixel sets to be found at my local shop- having been and gone already.

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Holidays are coming: Time to get A Round Tuit.

I have been accused of procrastinating.  That may in part be the role of this blog: to allow me to procrastinate the rest of my life.  I am always saying that I will get that job done when I get around to it.  Then one day, I was handed a round piece of plastic by one of my former science teachers.

It had four letters written on it: T U I T.

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I asked “But what does this mean?”

He replied “Richard, you always say you will do this or do that when you get a round tuit.  Now you have one.  Nothing will stop you now.”

[Please accept my apologies if English is not your first language.  This may not make a lot of sense.  “Tuit” is pronounced the same as “to it”.  So “When I get  a round tuit” sounds the same as “When I get around to it…”  This is a common delaying technique used by teenagers, procrastinators and tax evaders. Now read on.]

As an AFOL at public exhibitions, and also when spending time with other AFOLS, I meet may people who look wistfully into the middle distance and tell me that one day they will construct a MOC of their own, At least they will build a MOC when they get a round Tuit ( My Own Creation – really the natural extension of free building with LEGO Bricks). As a public service today, I would like to help you all to get a round TUIT.  And I think we should try to make it out of regular bricks.

“But wait” I hear you cry,  “Regular bricks aren’t round!”

Well, back in the day when we had nothing but 8-bit graphics to satisfy our entertainment needs, all of our favourite video game characters were made up of a collection of coloured in characters on a grid.  Even Pacman was a collection of square dots which, if we stared at hard enough, would turn into a circle, with a missing wedge. Continue reading

What I learned from the August Monthly build 40215: Apple

I was quite excited when a copy of 40215: Apple made its way into my hands as a special present.  It is one of the monthly mini builds that crops up at LEGO Stores as a special event: each month, a new small set, typically given away at a VIP Build event for kids.

So… I live in Australia.  Until a few years ago, we would routinely be given a link with our LEGOShop.com emails for the monthly build.  It came as a surprise to me recently to discover that rather than using pick a brick, investigating brick link, or raiding my own collection of pieces, these Monthly MiniBuilds are presented as as a polybag, containing all the instructions and pieces required. This is unknown to us Down Under: we hear of monthly mini builds, but never see them. It’s not all bad: we do get some promotional mini builds, but these are not always easy to come by.img_1742
This set is not much to look at from the outside: the polybag has the set number on the side, and on breaking it open we find around 58 parts, and an instruction sheet.  I love instruction sheets. It takes me img_1741back to my youth, when one of the exciting things with opening a new kit was in guessing how many folds will be undone to open them right out…on this occasion there are eight.

Opening the set reveals a marvellous variety of pieces: curves, bricks with studs on the side, plates with suds on the side and even some Mixel eyes. Red is the main color, but there is a little lime green, as when as white and tan/brick yellow.img_1743
It looks like we are in for some serious SNOT work. Regular readers know I am a fan of sets teaching us things, and this is one of the smallest sets I have seen to provide a great example of how to make SNOT work. SNOT, you may recall stands for ‘Studs Not On Top’: we use bricks with studs on the side to redirect studs from their primary direction, an
d then cover them up, in this case, with the 2x2x2/3 curved plates to make up the curves of the apple. Continue reading