I Can’t Believe It’s Not LEGO: Playmobil, in Competition or Comparison?

I haven’t only played with LEGO in my life.  Back in Christmas 1974 we received our first Playmobil Knights sets.  We were frustrated by the legs being locked together, and I managed to give one of our figures independently moving legs.  It took quite a bit of force!

First Generation Playmobil Knights c. 1974

I hadn’t ever really considered Playmobil to be a competitor with LEGO as I grew up.  One was for building with, one was for role play/ setting up dioramas. That was easy in 1975, before mini figures with silly faces and moving limbs existed. And that seems to be how it has been culturally in Australia.  LEGO is available in most toy shops and department stores, and large retailers (Thinking target, Kmart, Big W)  While Playmobil has almost exclusively been in the domain of the smaller, independent toy shop.  We have continued to pick up the occasional playmobil set, especially for Grandma and Grandpa’s holiday house, where our children would often play with them.  With the exception of a nurse in 1978, be have basically stuck with variations of the medieval theme.

I knew Playmobil had continued to be a thing, but I hadn’t really worried about it.  Then coming home through Belgium in 2016, I saw an orange Porsche 911 on the shelves at the Duty Free Shop in the airport.porsche

This struck me as a little too coincidental. Continue reading

Whatever happened to the 2 x 4 Brick? Minecraft: The Ice Spikes 21131

The humble 2×4 brick.

If any element over the years has been used to represent the concept of the LEGO® system of play, this is it.IMG_5070

One of the original elements in the LEGO brick parts palette, it is the first piece that springs to mind when many of us think of LEGO® Bricks.  The favourite element of many large scale builders, if you have enough of them, you can build almost anything!  It is one of those pieces that brings memories flooding back to those of us raised on basic sets back in the early to mid 1970’s.  Before the advent of the minifigure, this brick was the cornerstone of LEGO construction, being a significant component of the Basic/ Universal Construction Sets that were commonly played with in this era. IMG_5066While allowing an incredibly versatile method of construction, there is no doubt that that they contributed significantly to the chunky aesthetic that is associated with LEGO® design and construction in my childhood. When your parents say “In my day, it was just bricks,” this is what they are talking about.  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 more often 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

The LEGO Batman Movie Sets: Seeking Moderation in the Interests of Balancing the Household Budget.

Or how I decided to curb my spending, in the face of conflicting desires.

I love LEGO® Sets.

LBM-Wallpaper1440x2560-.jpgI love what I have seen in trailers for the LEGO® Batman™ Movie.
I love the look of the LEGO® Batman™ Movie Sets.

The first wave of sets have recently arrived on the shelves here, and I have found myself trying to work out how to balance my LEGO® Batman™ Movie needs (favorite characters and vehicles) against my other LEGO® desires (Elves with goblins; some classic sets and possibly even the Boost robotics system) and my basic human requirements: food,  coffee, deodorant, etc…

I have added up the retail prices of all the currently available LEGO® Batman™ Movie Sets (70900-70911) – excluding polybags, as they are rarely available here – and added in the not yet formally announced(70912-70917) with speculated Australian pricing.  This came to a total of approximately Continue reading

Why would you ever buy LEGO at full price from the LEGO store?

Double VIP points.

Free Gift with Purchase over $AU120

Free Shipping on purchases of $AU200.

This is what I was hearing from the shop.LEGO.com banner ads as October 2016 got underway. Should these statements affect whether or not I go to the online LEGO store? I sat down to work out a solution to this conundrum, and who knows, it might just influence my behaviour in the future…

[Editors note: the principles of calculating the best value time to purchase from shop.LEGO.com, or your local LEGO store are consistant, however individual thresholds for shipping and the value of special offers vary between markets. You should always make your own decisions regarding your own money.  The LEGO Group is sure to release something else that you wish to buy in the future, so don’t worry if you can’t spend all of your money at once. Now read on…]

IMG_7931.jpg
Conscious that I had not place a shop.LEGO.com order for some time, the LEGO Group offered this bonus gift with purchase over $120.  My will crumbled instantly.

The shop.LEGO.com promotion for October, if ordering from Australia, was the London bus set (40220).  Initially revealed around the same time of the ‘Big Ben’ Creator set, it instantly appealed to me.  Decidedly smaller than minifigure scale, it reminded me almost instantly of the sets available in my childhood.  In those days, many ‘LEGOLand’ vehicles were 4 studs wide, whether they were a go-cart, family car, a fire truck, and earthmover or a semi-trailer. This is a set that I was terribly keen to get my hands on.

And it got me thinking: What should encourage me to make a purchase from shop.LEGO.com, when many of my local major retailers regularly offer 20% purchase price? Continue reading

Living with DiverCITY: changing depictions of gender roles with LEGO minifigures in the post-Friends era.

This post has been a while coming.  It’s a bit long. It may take a while to read…best get a drink.

Sorry about that!

 

When I was a boy, and we rode dinosaurs to school, life was a little more simple than it is today. When the first LEGO mini figures were introduced, they were people.  Not really men or women, just people.  Their faces all looked the same: depicting the now classic smiley face.  The only attempts to define gender, in terms of appearance, came in the form of the hair piece they had on if they were not wearing a hat!  In that first year there were four ‘female’ mini figures released: they had hair with pigtails. If they were wearing a hat, you could quite happily identify that knight, policeman or astronaut as male or female as you should choose.

series1minifig
The designers have only attempted to define the gender of one of these minifigures.

Two of these ‘people with hair, defining their gender as female’ came  as the only figure in their sets, along with vehicles: one an ambulance (606) and one a ‘Red Cross’ car(623). Another worked at the service station (376) and the final one came with a home (377). There was also a female passenger with a railway carriage. in 1979, the first classic ‘male’ minifigure hair appeared. In this first year, printed torsos were still a year or two away, and defining your minifigure’s identity came down to the sticker that you placed on the torso piece.

Continue reading

Reboots, Reissues and Rampant Speculation

The recent unveiling of a new LEGO Death Star has led to much discussion about  sets being reissued, and the effect that such reissued may have have on speculative resale values.  Reissues of LEGO sets are not new, and have been occurring for years.

Today, I am going to look at some of the recent reissues, and address some of the controversy that has arisen.  This article does not constitute investment advice, and I am not qualified to offer you any.  Talk of future sets should be considered to be a figment of my wild imagination, and nothing more.  If any of it comes to pass, it’s through good luck rather than inside information.

Some times sets get re-released because of an update in pieces, colour palette or building techniques.  Sometimes it’s because of a reinvigoration of theme. Sometimes, however, the whole theme’s source material gets rebooted, leaving the  sets ripe for a reissue. So why is it $AU30 more expensive for an equivalent set, on sale in parallel with the original sets.

Continue reading