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

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Smooth Rolling With NEXO Knights Year 2 [What I learned from Lance’s Twin Jouster 70348]

NEXO Knights has been a theme with a mixed reception amongst the AFOL community: its a fantastic mashup of castle and space elements, but at the same time it is not quite either in the purist form.  The geometry is fascinating, as I have previously discussed.  However, due to so many different things happening throughout the year to distract a LEGO Fan, I have not really spent much time with the theme until now.

There are a couple of stand out changes that I have seen this year.  One is a change in the primary aesthetic of the models: The Knights’ vehicles released in 2016 were had a palette which was primarily bright blue, stone grey,  transparent bright orange with a few earth(dark) blue elements as well as a couple of trim elements, colour matched to the knight whose vehicle it was.  In 2017, the transparent orange is still there, but there is a much larger amount of earth blue and bright orange  compared to the stone grey and bright blue. We have also seen more prominent trim in the colours of the knights, demonstrating the new tile designs quite nicely.  In fact, you may almost be forgiven for thinking “There is a lime green, bright red, azure, white or bright yellowish orange vehicle.”  The Classic space vibe which might have been felt with 2016’s models been reduced this year, in return for the ‘Knight Motif.’ There there is the obligatory change in the villainous team, moving from the Lava monsters to non so molten Rock Monsters.

I should also mention the stickers, because while there are plenty of stickers to apply, those designed to be applied to transparent orange elements have a transparent clear background, making them useful on all surfaces.

Here is a quick ‘Face to face’ of this year’s $AU30 Lance’s Twin Jouster 70348 (212 parts) with the 2016’s Macy’s Thunder Mace 70319(200 parts).  I would consider them both occupying equivalent places in the range, both priced at $AUD29.99.

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On the left, Macy’s Thunder Mace, sporting the greys, silver, blues and trans bright orange of the first year of NEXO Knights.  On the right, we see a typical year 2 vehicle, sporting the colours of Lance Armstrong (white) on top of the dark blue and trans orange.

As well as the colour scheme, the play features have also developed on this year’s set.  I personally found the Thunder Mace a relatively mundane build.  The cockpit felt a little incomplete and the windscreen did not feel properly supported underneath. The only feature I found particularly inspiring was the mechanism that rotated the mudguards, to reveal the hidden weaponry beneath! Admittedly, this is pretty addictive.

 

But are the changes just cosmetic?

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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…

IMG_7086I 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.

IMG_7116Since 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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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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