Archive for the ‘Legos’ Category

Last year I was a bad kitty. I didn’t keep up with the blog. This year is going to be different. There will be a new structure to the blog, with three weekly articles and a bunch of revolving monthly blogs. That way things are more consistent for you, the reader.

(Hope no one is offended by the graphic below.)

BadHelloKitty

Weekly

Wednesday – Life in a Box – Talking about geeky memories and emotions.

Friday – Card Shark – Weekly card spot light. How to use it, how it’s broken, or just how it’s awesome.

Sunday – Movie Time – Reviews, coming attractions, old movies

Monthly

What’s in the box?! – What we’re doing and where we’ll be.

Casual Time – Casual games I enjoy.

Brick by Brick – Talking about Legos… and sometimes Mega Blocks.

The Sandbox – Anything at all.

Toy Box – Toy reviews

Breaking Down 2015

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Some amazing movies and games came out this year. If you haven’t played Fallout 4 yet, or Santa thought you ordered Fallout 3, you are missing out. You need to save up the $60.00 and go get it. It’s $49.99 on the Steam Sale right now. They’ve made major changes that allow you to build settlements and craft items easier. You have a home base but it can be customized. It’s also work the investment to buy the guide, which was only $18.00 when I bought it two days ago. Animal Crossing also came out with a spin off game called Happy Home. It’s fun if you like grindy games with no end. I’ll write more about these two later. Rock Band 4 came out. We’re finally getting to play it tonight… hehe.

LEGO! How could you lose the TMNT license to Megablocks? Seriously, why did your stuff have to suck so much for that franchise when everything else was amazing. ( Side note: the Back to the Future car… also terrible.) Lego did a great job this year on their Friends, Elves, Disney, City and Star Wars lines but kind of dropped the ball on a few other licenses they were holding. The Jurassic Park sets were amazing but they had a hard time keeping up with demand. This left a lot of collectors flapping in the wind. The architecture line has been amazing the past few years but this year they didn’t do their big box of all white blocks. Color me disappointed. This is a Christmas time set that they release only in Lego stores. It wasn’t release this year but they did a smaller box. I have to give Megablocks their dues though. They came out with some really great looking historical military sets and Call of Duty brand Zombie sets.

Tanto Cuore, I love you. I will never leave you… EVER. I can’t wait for OktoberFest to come out. I had the good fortune to volunteer with Japanime Games this summer. It was amazing and I can’t wait for the conventions to start up again this year. Luckily they had demo sets to show people for Pre-Orders and Previewing. The game introduces a new mechanic, beer cards, which affect your ability to play certain cards. It’s going to be a lot of fun. If you want a GOOD FUN card game for 4-5 people, keep an eye out for it. They should be shipping them out in the new year. Also, they have an associated company called Kamikaze games. They produce Barbarosa, which is an irreverant, sexy, World War 2 card game. You really have to be a good sport to play this because they base it off real battles, so… you sort of play as an invading Nazi army, featuring chibi sexy Hitler. It’s a great game though. There is a version of the game that has historical photos instead of the Ladies if that makes you feel more comfortable. ( I like the Anime version.) They also have several other new games coming out. One is called Gods Gambit, which they let me try out when I was at Kumoricon! I’m looking forward to Gods Gambit so much. It’s an Uno Style game. It will be a great fast game you can play with your buddies at a party. The art is really interesting too. I have some photos, I’ll dig out later and write about it in depth.

Cell phone games… well… If you didn’t play Alpha Bears, go work on that right now. They have made so many improvements to the game. They added a VS mode. They added a better system of replenishing coins. They’ve added seasonal, special event content. Kudos to Alphabear for listening to their users. It’s amazing. They are also developing a new game for Android in 2016.

Movies were really great this year. Do I even have to mention Star Wars? Holy Carps. Holy, holy Carps.

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Crimson Peak, Mocking Jay part 2, The Martian, Jurassic World were all pretty incredible movies. I hope Hollywood keeps up the momentum because so far all I want to see in 2016 is Civil War and Dead Pool. Hopefully, it will rev up quickly and not be an off year for movies.

That’s all for now. 2015 was a great year and 2016 is going to be even better. Happy New year!

2015

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LEGO Turtle Lair Attack

Posted: January 11, 2014 by Kane Blaireau in Kane, Legos
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We are in the midst of a massive LEGO collecting spree. In that theme, as Noccie mentioned, we ventured to Wal Mart and found nothing of value except the LEGO Ninja Turtles sets. Here is a look at the Turtle Lair Attack!

TMNT Lair 1

 

The part I call “Splinters Grotto”.

Pictured is the “left” side of the set as well as the skateboard ramp and ninja-launcher. Nice build with a great tree and slime drips. The Shredder dummy is a nice touch and turns with a little gear on the front.

TMNT Lair 2

The “tall part”. Yeah, I got nothin.

Lots of neat little sciency doo-dads on this part.  A TV with uh…color coded seats? OK, sure. Why not. Bottom level has a chalkboard with a blow away wall that pulls off with a little dial on the back. Nice little feature! Middle level has a pizza oven that flicks the pizza out. Gimmicky but…its TMNT. Had to have pizza somewhere. To the right of the oven is a skateboard rack. Problem is, the clips are actually TOO BIG for the boards to clip to! Its completely useless, unfortunately, despite being a good idea. Their is a ladder going up to the surface right NEXT TO the opening manhole street section. VERY strange choice of assembly there. The little street vignette is not bad. A fire hydrant, a graffitied wall and a lamp post. Could use a bit more wall to sell it being the surface, but good effect with the layers going down to the  sewer proper.

TMNT Lair 3

The sewer.

Overall, a nice set with lots of nice little touches. The turtles themselves are great. Splinter looks amazing. The evil ninjas are sufficiently ninja-y. Plenty of extra weapons and accessories. A few odd design choices put this in my “get it if its on sale or nothing else is striking your fancy” pile. Worth it for the little characterful touches and the minifigs.

Good Guys Always Ride Plastic Horses

Posted: January 10, 2014 by Noccie in Legos
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Kane went a little nuts… He bought me three sets from the Lone Ranger for Christmas. We have four Lone Ranger sets total though. We managed to get a poly bag set just before Christmas, before I knew what he had purchased me.

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The three sets he bought me are the Stage Coach (79108), Constitution Train Chase (79111) and Cavalry Builder Set (79106). The first two are pretty big sets to put together. The train alone took me 3-4 hours. The Stage Coach took me about 2 hours. They have some interesting peices I would like to talk about at length later.

Here is the Poly bag set. The white and gray plates didn’t come with the set. I used that to attach it to our Lego Christmas tree.

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The Minifigures are funny, each set came with Tonto. We keep joking about recreating the scene from Pirates of the Carribean, on the boat in the afterlife with Tonto.

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I respect the train set immensly. Growing up my Brother was a train nut. He would build the models and go out to take photos of real trains. He went to the conventions too. Since he was going, my parents were going so I was dragged along as well. Good thing I thought it was all fun! The set makes an Engine, Coal Car, Flat Bed with a gun and box car. The set also came with a set of rocks and a water tower. I don’t have room on the able right now to set up the tracks, but it came with a ton of track too!

The engine for the train has a really cool build for the body. Here is what it looks like before you add the green curved plates.

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I honestly haven’t seen the movie. All my friends say it’s truely horrible, which is sad because Johnny Depp was involved. The Lone Ranger was awesome during the black and white days. Where I grew up they showed the old serials on TV on Sunday.

Almost every section of the train has something that “explodes.” They set up sections with switches you can hit. Doors fly off, the water tower flys back and the rocks launch. The train wheels were actually really well set up with metal axels. The train cars have magnetic connectors that have a curiously strong magnet enclosed by plastic.

One funny thing, they use robot arms to make the bell on the train engine.

The Coal Car actually opens up and according to sources online, has enough room to house a real engine. You could really turn this into a running training. I’m very tempted to do just that.

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The Stage Coach was a cool model but there were parts of the instructions that were confusing. I think the book was not quite right. The diagrams just weren’t proportioned quite right so I had a few issues constructing it. Altogther though, it was very educational. This was the first real vehicle I’ve built. Setting up the inside of the coach was fun, figuring out how to set up the frame so you can actually have characters ride inside. They have cool doors made for this kit as well.

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They also have you build a safe, that you can open. They give you a silver bar to put inside the safe. If it’s attached to the vehicle though, you can’t open it. The door opens too wide and it hits the rails on the roof. Basically, you make a box and set it on a bottom part that looks like a boat hull. Where I had trouble was fitting the bottom part to the retangular frame of the actual stage coach. The pictures just didn’t make sense. Turns out I need to fit those dark red seat peices in wards one more space. Otherwise they sit to high and you can’t fit that to the actual body of the stage coach.

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 Once I had it together, I was surprised by how good the model looks. The wheels also seem a little flimsy but are quite sturdy once they are attached to the steering frame. wpid-20131225_181953.jpg

I love all the components used in this set. It has a numver of rare peices, like the long curved parts that are used for the bottom of the stage coach. All of the parts used to attach the wheels, axels and the steering components are really useful in general builds. Kane is already eyeing some of the parts for his WWII trucks.

If you have a chance, pick up these kits before they are gone. The sets have already made “retired” status for Lego. That means stores will be trying to get rid of them but rarely do they mark down sets this big. Get them now! They still have decent prices on Amazon. Another reason you should get these sets are for the Civil War peices. Lego has rarely produced sets for Civil War period scenes. They are a great addition to anyone interested in making historical dioramas.

Those are my two scents. I love them. Looking forward to the other Lego sets we bought and gifted!

LEGO Mines of Moria

Posted: January 8, 2014 by Kane Blaireau in Kane, Legos
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The holidays brought a plethora of nerdy goodness. With the holiday spoils, we ordered a copy of the soon-to-be-discontinued Mines of Moria LEGO set. It looks good on the box, but rather small in scale for how expensive the set is.

LEGO Mines BoxBox art.

Have just put it together, I have to say the scale is MUCH bigger than it appears. It looks to be a bit over a foot long counting both pieces. The pieces are about 6 inches tall as well. The Cave Troll looks about twice the height of a minifig in the pictures, but in person, it is MASSIVE.

LEGO Mines 1Hobbit’s eye view.

You can see a few nice detail bits that are added as stickers on the bricks. They give it a nice touch without going too overboard. Their are some great little brick details as well leading to a nice overall look.

LEGO Mines 2The Fellowship vs. Moria Goblins…and friend!

You can kind of see the action features in this shot. The big door behind the Cave Troll opens and includes a long axe to bar the door with. The sarcophagus  top comes off with a skeleton “launcher” built into it. The pillars have levers that knock them over. The treasure chest slides out from below the walkway. Not all interesting, but enough good action features that it still ends on a high note.

Overall impression is that the set is WELL worth the asking price. The LotR and Hobbit sets have been consistently high quality and include interesting techniques that are new to me. Definitely recommend if you like the LotR LEGO sets!

The Lengths We Go For Legos

Posted: January 7, 2014 by Noccie in Kane, Legos, Life in a Box
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The last Christmas gift Kane and I received was from my Brother. He sent us a gift card to use at Walmart. In the past, Kane and I received these and just let my parents have them. They would give us cash in exchange and we would be all good. We aren’t really near a Walmart. Seattle is just sort of like that. We have a Target, Ross, Macy’s, another Target and all kinds of other things but not Walmart. The closet one is in Renton. This is not a place I like to go but the lengths we will go to for Legos can be a little crazy. Normally Kane and I don’t go further than SeaTac or in the most extreme, Lynnwood. My parents decided they would take us out to a Walmart.

Mapping the trip, we found one in Bellevue. Turned out, that Walmart was just a grocery store. So we went to Renton. Pulling into the parking lot was not as easy as it seems. There were a lot of people going there and all the lanes of the lot were packed with people waiting for other people to pull out of their spots. We parked in the back 40, so to speak, so we could avoid these people. The drivers were all a little crazy. As we got closer to the front of the Walmart, we noticed TWO police cars parked out front with two police officers each. They weren’t there for any particular reason just on duty there. They were parked right outside the front door on the stone landing. All four of us were like… um… what did we just get ourselves into.

I’ve been in Walmart plenty of times. When we lived in Montana, Walmart was the only thing open at 2 am but there were big differences between this store and the one in Montana. The part of Renton this Walmart is in can’t be described as either a good or bad neighborhood. Maybe let’s say, it’s on the edge. I was really surprised to see the cops there though. Once we were inside it was apparent we were in a different world. I’ve never been in a Walmart quite like this because it was actually quite small. The shelves were short and everything felt a little dirty. The toy section was only a few isles and looked picked clean from Christmas still. Most of the store looked pretty barren actually. I’ve never seen a Walmart so poorly stocked. Finding the toy section, they didn’t have much of anything but they did have some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets and Ninjago sets. They had one set for the Lego movies. We were hoping for some LOTR or Hobbit sets so we looked at the Skylanders and My Little Pony items first. They were even thinner. We decided get the two TMNT sets and get out of there.

Something about the place put me on edge. The people were all a flurry of activity and the lighting was harsh. The store was a mess and the presence of the police outside made me nervous. We hurried out of the Walmart, went through the Self Check out to make it out faster. We practically ran to the car because people were acting crazy and driving like idiots in the parking lot. Once we were back in the car it felt much better and I am happy with the two Lego Sets we purchased but man… I hate going to Walmart.

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LEGO : The Video Game Series

Posted: December 5, 2013 by Kane Blaireau in Kane, Legos
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LEGO LOGO

LEGO entered the video game world years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that the name has come to be a reliable brand for quality licensed titles. The turning point was LEGO Star Wars by Traveler’s Tales. This game, released in 2005, was not only the best LEGO video game at the time, but arguably one of the best Star Wars video games as well.

LEGO Star Wars

The game supported two players and minimal penalty for “dying”. Your character would lose some Studs (the games currency used to by extra characters and other add-ons) and you would re-spawn. This made it great for not only younger players, but for people who didn’t necessarily play video games very often. The comedic approach also made the whole thing more approachable and accessible in comparison to most “hardcore” gaming titles then or now. The familiar Star Wars trappings did nothing but favors to the whole proceeding. Kids and adults could enjoy interacting with some of their favorite characters in familiar locales told in a comedic fashion with no voice-work, just pantomiming and general grunts. Win all around!

LEGO Star Wars 2

Of course, success, especially in the video game world, always breeds sequels. The followup, LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy followed the story of the original movies and refined the formula subtly. No large changes were made, but the formula was still fresh and it still worked. Good thing because it didn’t change through Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Batman and Indiana Jones.

LEGO Batman

One thing that remained consistently entertaining through all of these early titles is the sense of humor. For example, Batman feels like Adam West trying to be Micheal Keaton. The silliness was enough that we had to stop to laugh at the game several times in the first level. You are given special suits for environmental puzzles. Batman makes himself a glide suit. For Robin…magnetic shoes. That look like trash can lids. Yeah. This kind of silly humor is all over the series and makes it very much worth playing through the back catalog.
The first innovation in the series after this point didn’t come until LEGO Indiana Jones 2, the 6th game in the Traveler’s Tales LEGO series. This was the first title to support split screen play. Early games relied on fixed camera and players were forced to stay within a fairly close proximity. The split screen shifts and adapts to the characters position relative to each other on the map and lets the players explore individually while still being able to figure out where they need to go to get back together. This allowed for larger levels and more exploration leading into the Harry Potter games and Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Each of these follow ups added a more extensive and interactive hub area where the players could unlock items and select what levels to play next. Harry Potter focused more on exploration, the levels all branching out from a central hub in the middle of Hogwarts school. Pirates of the Caribbean had a dock area with two extensions where there were further puzzles to play with and being a hub for all of the unlock-able characters to play in. Some unlocked characters were even required for some of the hub puzzles!
The next innovation was added in Star Wars III: Clone Wars. It was the first LEGO title to include voice acting in addition to the pantomimic comedy of the early titles. Batman 2 followed and is considered the first fully voiced LEGO title.

LEGO LOTR

Following on that was Lord of the Rings. This one stretches across the whole trilogy and includes voice samples from the movie in addition to the usual pantomiming. You would think that something so very dark in subject would be difficult to make funny, but you would be very, very wrong. The other thing that Lord of the Rings added was a fully realized over-world. You travel all over Middle Earth and interact with towns that have their own puzzles and unique interactions. That is broken up by the more action oriented scenes from the movies in their own scene that then leads you back to the next part of the over-world. This is (according to Wikipedia) the first “open world” game in the series and I would not disagree. This open world has lead into the latest game in the series; Marvel Super Heroes which (I am told) also features a narrator in many parts in addition to the voice-work.

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Once these games get their hooks into you, they stay there! You want desperately to unlock every hidden gem. They become engaging on a level that most “kid oriented” games do not. Noccie and I just recently beat the story mode of Pirates of the Caribbean (review coming soon!) and are still going back to finish of those missing bits we missed. It simply has not gotten old yet. We are also working our way through the first Batman title and first Harry Potter. Highly recommend all of them to anyone who has kids or is in touch with their inner kid. Thoroughly enjoyable and a TON of fun!

Lego Therapy

Posted: November 3, 2013 by Noccie in Legos, Noccie
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Kane and I are on a Lego binge. We’ve been collecting sets and also collecting second hand Legos. We’ve been very lucky to find a bunch of Legos at our local thrift stores. There are two Lego stores near by one in Lynnwood and the other in Bellevue. I prefer the one in Lynnwood at Alderwood Mall though. The store was a lot calmer and the employees were super nice and knew what they were doing and seemed to enjoy their jobs.

I, personally have a very stressful day job. When I come home sometimes I need a meditative activity to relax. Getting on the computer when I get home stresses me out because I am on the computer all day at work. I can also think about logging on remotely if it’s been a really hard day. Putting Legos together is very relaxing. It’s a creative activity and you can do whatever you can imagine.

Most of the time I start putting blocks together without any plan for my structure whatsoever. Every once and I while I have a vague idea of what I want to build. By the end I am usually in a much better frame of mind. The only thing I can liken it to is sand mandalas. This is my form of sand mandalas. The Buddhist monks make these elaborate mandalas out of sand and then at the end, they brush them away. The act is a practice that shows impermanence. It’s beautiful to watch. There is no urgency or need for structure when I am building. I just start putting blocks together and let them take me to a conclusion. My brain is still working but it’s not worried about the next five steps. There is something comforting in knowing there is no pressure to complete the structure. There is no pressure to have it formed in a certain manner.  That is what I need in my life, more doing and less thinking about the pressure and stress of the day.

My husband has also called what I do Lego sculpture. Some of the structures I make have more form than function. They are an art form for me. I try and see what I can do and if it resembles something at the end, I am ok with that. What can you see in my art?

Here is my gallery.

Kane and I went to the public hours for Brick Con. We have been very into Lego’s lately.  My favorite moment of the day was walking into the hall and seeing so many people. There were armies of children and adults all milling around excited for Lego’s.

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The tables are set up by themes. They had Castles, Sculptures, Battle, Vehicles, Light up, Portraits, Moving, Space, Pirates and other random stuff here and there. There were so many things to see, I took around 300 photos. I am not going to post them all here. I am setting up a Flickr later. Next year we want to go to the four day convention to see what goes on.

Everyone who knows me well knows how much I love Tolkien. Right in the door, off to the left of the Space Needle, in the castle section, was a huge set of Lord of the Rings scene. Then around the back was a model of Hobbiton with a full sized Bag End. The pieces were from all different sets, including some of the Star Wars sets. They came together to make Lothlorien, Rivendell and Hobbiton.

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Here is Miley Cyrus and Robin Thick.

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Here is the crew of the Enterprise from Next Gen and a few impressive Borg.

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Someone made a fantastic Gamorra, Mothra and Chuthulu.

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We found Ecto 1 and Slimer in the vehicle section. Then the guys and the fire house were in the micro block section.

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The space section had two gigantic starships from Star Wars, the Millenium Facoln.

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There was Sputnik.

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The Aurora was amazing. There were scenes inside and out.

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Here is a space octopus.

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This is Red vs Blue.

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This is a scene from the new game, The Last of Us.

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World War 2 Russians, note Santa is in the distance. I guess he’s a Red.

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In Monoland, they had the Disney Carnival Cruise ship.

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The battle section had a WWII vs Zombies scenario going on. The custom minifigures were pretty impressive. They are very expensive though. There was a booth selling them.

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The Tiger’s Nest Monastery was impressive. The builder is scene in a few of these photos. She was amazing; I didn’t get any shots with her name though.

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Next to the Tiger’s Nest was Lhasa. It’s much smaller but also very impressive.

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Facing the monastery was Hogwarts. They built the full castle, quiddiche fields and everything. Parts of the buildings would open to show different parts of the book.

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Easter Eggs were included in most of the big scenes. There were several obelisks with monkey’s, Santa’s and Doctor Who’s included in various scenarios. There was a ship in a bottle in the Pirate section. I was so confused by how this was made.

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Here is the Doctor Who section. They had a Dalek.

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Patrick was dressed up as Slave Leia in this scene. Very disturbing.

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