The Christmas build up keeps building up: day 15 (bonus content)

‘So let you light so shine before men…’

So there is our cryptic clue, which Facebook may have spoiled for you. But there are many more examples of today’s build from recent year’s sets!

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I just need a bit of Space [Down the retro rabbit hole, with Set 918]

There is no doubt that Space exploration captures our imaginations. It can be real or imagined – the hours I spent as a kid poring over the ‘S’ issue of the Encyclopaedia of Nature and Science. Indeed LEGO® has had a reasonable amount of success with space exploration oriented sets, both based on the real world works of NASA, and in the realm of speculative works – particularly when Space, along with Castle and Town became one of the founding LEGO minifigure themes. The ongoing success of LEGO Ideas submissions based on real world space exploration is also testament to its enduring appeal.

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LEGO Worlds has let me build that space base I couldn’t build in 1979

A couple of months ago, I started to play LEGO Worlds: the not so new video game, on the Nintendo Switch.  One of the things that really taught my imagination was the Classic Space Down Loadable Content. It brought back memories of my childhood: playing with the neighbour who had all the cool sets: he had the 497 Galaxy Explorer.  I had the 885 Space Scooter and the 886 Space Buggy. We even drilled holes in his landing pad plate to accommodate LEDs.  It looked great until we melted a great big hole in it with the soldering iron.

But playing LEGO Worlds made me start to covet some of those sets that I had never had the opportunity to have as a child.  It is one thing to fly them around on a video game screen, but quite another to hold it in your hands and say ‘voosh.’ I found a copy of 918 One Man Space Ship on eBay.  I probably paid more than I should have. The trans yellow plate on the roof was cracked along one edge. But the rest was intact, along with the original instructions.

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Oldschool instructions: more pieces per step BUT easier to scan back over previous steps to see what you missed, without flicking through lots of pages

I had been trying to work out what I liked about the old instructions compared to the contemporary design. It isn’t the opportunity to miss five of the twelve elements placed in a given step. It isn’t the suggested layout distracting you the whole way as you see as you continue to build. It is the lack of page turning. Modern instructions are simple and unambiguous. But page turn heavy. I suspect this build might have had up to 50 pages. Every time I let go of the book, it would attempt to close. If things aren’t quite right here, it is easy to scan back over the last 8 steps to see what went wrong, rather than go back page by page, discovering you had a couple of pages stuck together and missed the critical element. On the third reading. I’m glad I have sorted that out with myself. It gives me a level of inner peace.

Assembling it involved 86 pieces of pure joy.  The gray was a little different to that which we are now used to. The construction techniques are relatively simple. but this is an extremely swooshable ship.  From the tilting roof on the cabin, to the aft storage compartment, construction was simple, and rapid. The red spaceman just sat and smiled. (For the record, 4.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise Units)

I ran around the living room with it, swooshing it from side to side, an idiot grin spreading from cheek to cheek. I was amazed at how much joy this simple set provided me with.  And I decided to take a couple of pictures. Not many, but I wanted to capture the spirit of ’79.  So I considered the old product shots on the box: black back drop with starfield, and perhaps a tan surface.  The full space base was going to be impractical to reconstruct. Today, I have a few other things that need to get done.

So I took some black card, and punched holes in it.  I placed it inside my lightbox, so that the light shone through the perforations like starlight.  A little fill in light, and the vision was complete. No Photoshop, no compositing. Old school physical effects. OK, perhaps I used photoshop to darken the blacks, to disguise the pedestal. I hope you like it.

It still feels as if it is missing something however, for that extra level of realism

Time to think about that.

Until next time,

Play Well.

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Do you know who your Friends are? (The official word on the new look for LEGO Friends in 2018)

The callout on the Friends Set packaging has had an update in 2018… a sign of things to come.

Recently, we have seen images of the new LEGO Friends Sets for 2018, and there have been a few interesting surprises. Not only the presence of teal, but our protagonists have had a bit of a makeover. In fact, this is possibly the most obvious aspect.

Andrea, Emma, Mia, Olivia and Stephanie.  Changing eye colour, fading freckles, altered skin tones, bigger smiles and new (or no) lipstick! Just part of the shakeup in 2018

All sorts of theories have been bandied around: colored contact lenses, eye damage due too much time in the tanning salon, extreme perms, but perhaps the most simple answer is that after five years, the line is getting a bit of a refresh…

Here is the official word from the Friends Design Team about the new looks that we are seeing in 2018:

Every year we strive to innovate and make our products even better for children all over the world. A lot of effort has gone into the development of the LEGO characters and universes across our entire product range, so it makes us very happy  when changes are noticed.

LEGO Friends in 2018 looks a bit different than what it has in the past. To be specific, the 5 main characters have a slightly different look but also the city and the citizens of Heartlake City have changed.

But what are the reasons for the change?

Firstly, we want to assure you that all 5 friends are still there in 2018.
Andrea, Mia, Emma, Stephanie and Olivia – they all still exist! Also the character’s main interests and personalities remain mainly unchanged.

What you will see in 2018 is an evolution of LEGO Friends, a progression of the story and characters to make sure children get an even greater play experience. Every year more than a million children and parents reach out to us and share what they love and what they would like to change. In the LEGO Friends range children told us that they would like even more differentiated characters and also suggested improvements to Heartlake City.

We always take great care to listen to input from children, and the LEGO Friends team has worked hard to make even more engaging and relevant experiences for children – and also make the LEGO Friends universe more true to the actual world children live in.

Taking a starting point in reality, we’ve made the characters more diverse in their appearance and have added more depth to their personality. And of course, they still live in Heartlake City. But just as the characters have changed, Heartlake City has become more differentiated and rich. There are different districts and there are other citizens that play a more active role in the story.

The changes we have made does not change the fact that previous and new LEGO Friends sets will cater for great building and play experience in 2018 and beyond, and we hope to inspire even more stories and play opportunities for children in the future.

While we can think what we like about the changes, it will add to the ongoing diversity in our characters. For the last five years, Heartlake City has been a relatively homogeneous town- it will now go on to reflect more closely on the world that the target market wish to play in. For those of you who who have a Minidoll based city layout, you have a whole new collection of faces for the town.

Personally, I like the fact that we now have vintage Friends Minidolls to collect. What do you think about the new look? Why not add your comments below, and follow the Rambling Brick for new stories, updates and random opinion.

Play well.

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Day 5 Christmas build up

This year, I have noticed a number of blogs aiming to make their advent posts spoiler free.

While I have not done this until now, I can see the virtue in this, given that in Australia we are so far ahead of the rest of the world. Eight in the morning here is still six o’clock last night on the west coast of the USA, so I shall aim to minimise spoilers until you jump past the break.

So today, I shall give you this cryptic clue:

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel.

It’s not that cryptic, but might help you guess the nature of today’s micro scale marvel

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Teal We Meet Again: In search of Stafford’s Choice

In which, on discovering the reappearance of teal in the LEGO colour palette, I go in search of “Stafford’s Choice.” Have any colours been sacrificed in order to allow teal to return? Let’s tick off the colours as we review some of the recently announced new sets for 2018…

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Stafford’s Choice:

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Teal returns in 2018. But was there a cost?

Mark Stafford is a designer with the LEGO Group. Recruited from the fan community, he joined the company over 10 years ago and has had a hand in many of the action themes over that period of time.  Themes such as NEXO Knights, Legends of Chima, Space Police 3, Ninjago, Alien Conquest, Power Miners and Atlantis, to name but a few. He also turned Peter Reid’s Exosuit Ideas submission into a set.

At Brickvention in 2014, Mark gave a talk talking about a challenge he faced in his early days as a designer:  Early in his career at LEGO he was put to work, sharing his love of mechs, on the EXO Force line.

One of the first sets that he designed was the Dark Panther – 8115. And it was here that he was given a challenging decision: The initial models left the set leaning towards one of red, orange, purple (medium lilac) and teal (bright blueish green).  If teal were to be chosen, purple would be deleted from the current colour palette; if he chose to use purple, then teal would be deleted.  Had orange or red been used then both teal and purple would have vanished from the LEGO palette for the foreseeable future. Continue reading