Sunday, 28 July 2013

So what's new in the world of brick?


Most of the time I write about building Lego Technic.  Ok, that’s not strictly true, most of the time I write about buying Lego Technic, but given that I’m pretty much up to date on the stuff that’s available, rest assured there will be considerably more on the building front in future.

In fact, I have a build planned for this weekend, of the 9392 Technic Quad Bike.  Watch this space!

But while I mostly spend my hard-earned pennies on Technic, I do keep an eye on what else is going on.  For me, the most interesting thing in the next few days will be the launch on August 1st of the co-creation model 41999.  This, as mentioned previously, is the 9398 Technic 4x4 Crawler with a re-designed body on top of the original chassis.  Limited to 20,000 units worldwide, I shall be sitting up at midnight on Wednesday to get my order in.

August 1st also sees the official release of the new Technic range, despite the fact that Tesco and a few other retailers seem to have been selling them for about a week now.  With one eye on my wallet, I’m going to wait and see if John Lewis sell them.
Anyway, I suspect I’ll be banging on about them at great length in the days to come, so enough about that now.

(Although having come back to this 24 hours after I wrote the above, the new Technic sets (along with a host of other new stuff) are now available on Lego’s site.  And some people report that they've been able to buy 41999 in the Lego stores!  There had better be one left on Wednesday night!)

But (finally) getting away from Technic, one of the most anticipated, discussed and opinion dividing sets of recent times also arrived earlier than the expected August 1st launch date.  The 21103 Cuusoo (1) Back To The Future DeLorean Time Machine, is, to anyone who went anywhere near a cinema in the 1980’s, a bit of an icon.

So why the controversy?  

Well this is the set that the team submitted as a proposal.


The original design, submitted to Cuusoo

(Image courtesy of Lego / Cuusoo)


And this is what finally rolled off the production line.



The set that finally hit the shelves this month

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


Thousands threw up and their hands in despair and said ‘What the hell have you done to the bonnet?’  I was one of those who thought that the set had fallen out of the ugly tree and had hit every branch on the way down.

But now…?

First off, I can see why they did it.  Because the set is more than just the one version.  It’s been designed so that you can recreate the three different incarnations of the DeLorean that feature in the film trilogy.  And in order to do that, you needed to be able to modify the bonnet.


And second… that photo on the box lid is bloody awful!  The shadows that are created make the bonnet look ten times worse than it actually is.  I have to say, now that I’ve seen it  ‘in the plastic’, I’m getting rather tempted…


The finished (Mk I) model

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)

However, I should have been a bit quicker of the mark.  There’s a printed tile inside the car, that should read ‘Shield Eyes From Light’, but in fact has a typo, and reads ‘Sheild...’.
This has now been spotted, and ‘a fix is on the way’.  In addition, it’s been pulled from the Lego website.

I suspect I know which will be the valuable ones in the future…

The other set that caught my eye is a different kettle of fish entirely.

For a while now, Lego have been running an Architecture line.  These are replicas of famous buildings around the world, such as London’s Big Ben (2), the Guggenheim Art Museum in New York, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and the Sydney Opera House.
I’ve looked at some of these (the Guggenheim and another of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, the ‘Fallingwater’ house, are particular favourites), and they are beautiful sets.

So when I saw mention of a set called 21050 Lego Architecture Studio, I assumed that as part of the Architecture Series, they’d made a set of a famous Architecture studio.

Not at all!

It’s a beautifully designed, beautifully packaged set.  It comes with a book that would grace coffee tables anywhere.  It consists of just over 1200 pieces, almost all of which are white.
(It’s also pretty expensive, but I’ll let that slide for now.)

But what is it?

Basically, it’s a set for budding architects.



The 21050 Lego Architecture Studio

(Image courtesy of Brickblogger.com)


Rather than me try and explain it, I’m going to redirect you to a very good review on Brickblogger.com, here.

I want one of these, very badly.  I’m not entirely sure what I’d do with it, but I know I need it.
Trouble is, I can’t have one.

At the moment, it’s only available from the Lego USA site.  I fired off an email to Lego UK, asking if it was going to be released over here, and if not, could I get one from the US?

“Can’t tell you, it’s a secret!” they sort of said, in answer to my first question.  And a flat out ‘No!” to my second.

So I’ll either have to hope it gets released over here, pay through the nose on eBay or the like, or convince Mrs Boo that we need to go to New York.

Bizarelly, option 3 is probably my best bet!



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(1) When I first heard the term Cuusoo, I had to go and look it up.  It’s a Japanese company that works with the Lego Group.  In Japanese, Cuusoo roughly translates to ‘wish something into being’.  In a nutshell, it means ‘You submit a design to the  website, the public vote on it, and if your design gets more than 10,000 votes, a Lego panel decide whether to use your idea as the basis for a production set’.

(2) Yes!  I know Big Ben is the bell.  It’s in the Elizabeth Tower in the Palace of Westminster.  But rightly or wrongly, everyone looks at the the Tower and thinks ‘Big Ben’.

Friday, 19 July 2013

It's not as bad as it sounds - honest!


Ok.  A bit of a catch-up on my Lego buying frenzy.  This is going to sound like all I do is buy Lego, but it’s not really the case.  These were purchased over three whole months!

First up. The Technic Backhoe Loader.  Looking back over the models that have been released over the years, construction vehicles are a Technic staple, and this is one of the sets that make up the backbone of the current lineup.  We were in John Lewis, and I clearly thought I needed some digging done.  8069, come on down!



The 8069 Technic Backhoe Loader - a vision in yellow

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


Shortly after that I benefitted from the kindness of (a) stranger.  Although I’ve (sort of) known him for about a decade, so he’s not actually a stranger - I’ve just never actually met him.  He is one of (as Mrs Boo puts it) one of my strange internet friends.

Anyway, over at Eurogamer, the kind soul that is ReGuRgIt8oR had purchased the LOTR game, and with it got a free 5000202 Elrond figure.

“Does anyone want it?” he asked one day, and fortunately I was the first one to say “Yes, please.”



Elrond.  Looking cross about something.

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


High five to the GuRg!

After that came the Watford Grand opening, and all the purchases that came off the back of that, but they’ve been documented elsewhere, so we shall brush over that.

Meanwhile, in the background, I’d slowly but surely been collecting Series 7, 8 & 9 minifigs.  After a while, due to the fact that the distribution of figures is not completely random, but some are more prevalent than others, it became apparent that finishing my collection by just buying more bags was going to be a long and pricey business.

By the time the penny dropped though, I’d acquired a healthy selection of ‘doubles’.  I ended up doing a few swaps, or indeed just volunteering to send someone a minifig that they needed, as Mrs Boo was getting a bit fed up with all the little plastic bags that seemed to litter the house.

So I’d sent off one such minifig to a good home, courtesy of one of the Brickset members, who insisted on sending me something in return.  Thanks to that kind gesture, I became the owner of 30165, which any Lego fan will tell you, is one from the Marvel Superheroes range, namely Hawkeye with equipment.



Hawkeye.  With some equipment.

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


By this time, March had rolled around.  Not sure what had happened on this particular day - I suspect I’d just been paid - but it resulted in a trip out at lunchtime, and I wandered back into the office about 30 mins later with the 9398 Technic 4x4 Crawler.  I wasn’t (as I’d previously mentioned) much enamoured with the bodyshell (1), but the chassis and suspension looked like a whole bunch of fun to build.


The 9398 Technic 4x4 Crawler.  It's good, but improvements are on the way.

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


A couple of weeks later, and yay, me!  It’s my birthday!  For reasons which I may explain at some point, I was 27 this year, as I have been for quite a few years now.  Anyway, fortune shone upon me, and after some none-too-subtle hinting, I received some Technic shaped birthday pressies.  Mrs Boo bought me the 9396 Technic Helicopter, and our friend Richard got me the 9392 Technic Quad bike.



9396 Technic Helicopter




9392 Technic Quad Bike.  Not, in fact, bigger than the helicopter.

(Images courtesy of Brickset.com)


I was also fortunate enough to receive some birthday money from my lovely in-laws, so that, combined with some John Lewis vouchers I had squirrelled away, and the fact that I’d been reading Sariel’s book about building your own creations out of Technic, meant that I treated myself (2) to a second 8110 Unimog, and broke it down for parts.  I have purchased a couple of plastic crates and some plastic bags, so that my parts collection stays neat and tidy (3).  It might sound a bit ridiculous, but trust me - there are people out there whose Lego rooms put my couple of crates in the shade!


The 8110 Technic Unimog.  The Biggest Technic set ever.  For now...

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


Clearly at this point I had the bit between my teeth, as I was back to John Lewis a couple of days later to pick up some more sets.  In my defence, my records show that these were both on offer, so were below RRP.  That plus staff discount equals the sort of bargain that I’d be a fool to miss! (4)

So added to the collection went the 42007 Technic Moto Cross Bike and the 9394 Technic Jet Plane. (5)



42007 Technic Moto Cross Bike





The 9394 Technic Jet Plane.  It's all a bit red.

(Images courtesy of Brickset.com)


Next up, and I refer you to a point I made some time ago :  if someone says you can’t have something, you usually find that you have a hitherto unrealised desire for said object.  And along those lines, if someone, say a member of staff in a Lego store, happens to mention that if you were thinking of picking up a 9397 Logging Truck, then you might want to do it sooner rather than later, because who knows when they might suddenly become unavailable (knowing look)… Well.  At that point I suddenly had a burning desire to get my hands on a Logging Truck.  

It’s almost like the two things were connected...

I think I ordered it from the Lego store, justifying it to myself because there was a double VIP points promotion on. (6)  Well, that and the fact that I couldn’t find it anywhere else.



9397 Technic Logging Truck.  Got it just in time, apparently...

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


A while back, I mentioned the promotion that the Sun was running.  (I hesitate to call it a giveaway, as it’s sometimes referred to, as you had to buy the paper every day.  Cheap, yes.  Giveaway, no.)  After a few weeks of waiting, a parcel dropped though the door, containing the following…



30090 Pharoh's Quest Desert Glider



30160 Batman Jetski



30131 Jack Sparrow's Boat


30110 Harry Potter's Trolley


30051 Star Wars Mini X-Wing


Not entirely sure what I’m going to do with them, but I’m sure they’ll come in handy at some point.

We move on a few weeks…

Regular readers will know that when it comes to Lego, in order to not bankrupt myself by trying to buy everything that catches my eye, I have a strict rule.

Technic only.

Well, apart from the minifigs.
And the polybags, I suppose.
And ok, the UCS R2-D2 isn’t really Technic. (7)
And the VW Camper Van. (8)

But apart from that, it’s Technic all the way.

You’d be silly, though, not to just have a look at the other stuff when you’re in the shop.  I mean, you never know when there might be the mother of all bargains.

Right?

And as a gentleman of un certain ├óge, there’s almost an obligation to check out the Star Wars sets. (9)

So back in April - this is before the UCS X-Wing Red 5 was out - there were a couple of sets.  The 9492 Tie Fighter, and the 9493 X-Wing.  The Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Supermarine Spitfire of their day.  Yin and Yang.  Black and White.  You get the idea.

Anyway.  These two sets were of a sufficient size to have a reasonable amount of detail on them, but no so big that you’d have to take them apart again as soon as you’d finished, because you didn’t have anywhere to put them.

But they were both a penny short of £50.  Obviously you couldn’t have one without the other (10), so that was £100 all bar the shouting.  Staff discount would have got it down to £75, but that was still a bit too rich for me…

But then one day the price came down, as John Lewis matched a competitors price.  It was better, but still…

Then one lunchtime I was out and clearly someone, somewhere must have been practically giving them away, because I looked at the price tag, did some mental arithmetic, and realised that our discounted price, plus staff discount meant that I could buy not one, but a pair, for the princely sum of £45.

I did what anybody with any sense would do, and bought two of each. (11)  For reasons which are explained below, those two spares can’t be sold on for a profit (or indeed, at cost), which means that I either keep them, and start building two opposing space fleets (12), or they become gifts.



9492 TIE Fighter





9493 X-Wing Starfighter

(Images courtesy of Brickset.com)


There’s a good chance that someone’s getting some Star Wars Lego for Christmas!

Bear with me - the end’s in sight!

At the beginning of May I happened to be going past our local TRU, and thought I’d stick my head round the door.  On the whole, TRU aren’t what you’d call competetive when it comes to Lego pricing, but that does have one advantage.  It means that they’ve often got EOL stock, long after other, more price-conscious retailers have sold their last box.

And so it was, that after a bit of rummaging, I found a pristine 8067 Technic Mini Mobile Crane.  And because I don’t have nearly enough Lego construction equipment, into the basket it went.




8067 Technic Mini Mobile Crane - for mini building sites.

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


While I was there, I also noticed that there were a couple of 8081 Technic Extreme Cruisers.  I’d seen these before, and I still couldn’t decide whether I thought they were very cool, or in fact a bit rubbish.  The other thing that I was (and still am) puzzled about, is that the box is marked up as being a ‘Limited Edition’.  This is the only set I’ve seen like this, apart from the upcoming 41999 Crawler mod.  And that’s expected to sell out in a matter of hours, rather than hang around on dusty shelves for months.

Anyway, the inevitable happened, and a couple of weeks later I popped back and picked one up.  And had a nice surprise when I found that the price had dropped by £5.00.

Every little helps, as a supermarket that’s not nearly as nice as Waitrose is known to say…



8081 Technic Extreme Cruiser.  The jury's still out on this one.

(Image courtesy of Brickset.com)


Which just about brings us up to date.  There was the Rescue Helicopter (mentioned elsewhere) that I picked up on our holiday in Cornwall, and I recently grabbed another 9396 Helicopter to break for parts after JL did a price match and I was able to pick it up for around half the RRP.

The only other stuff I’ve acquired are a couple of polybags, as the Daily Mail did a ‘Buy the paper, get a free Lego model’ promotion a few weeks back.  Thanks to everybody’s favourite crazy paper, I now have Gandalf At Dol Guldur, from the Hobbit range, and Little Car (does what it says on the tin) from the Creator range.



Gandalf.  At Dol Guldur, apparently.




It's a car.  It's little.  It's a Little Car!

(Images courtesy of Brickset.com)



And that’s me up to date!

Well almost.  

Had a message from a friend on Eurogamer yesterday, but more about that later... 



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(1) Roll on August 1st, and the limited edition 41999, which is the Crawler mechanicals with a much cooler body on top.

(2) I’m very good like that.

(3) Large, resealable, zip-loc freezer bags - ideal for storing Lego! 

(4) That’s my defence and I’m sticking to it.

(5) I must confess I thought long and hard about the plane.  It’s just so… red!  Something about the fact that it’s almost entirely one colour put me off.  In the end, the fact that it was a bargain, plus the fact that I knew the completist in me would demand one, one day, resulting in me paying over the odds on ebay, was what swung it.

(6) When it comes to justifying things to myself, I’m a pushover.

(7) Insomuch as it’s not Technic at all.

(8) That was a present, so doesn’t count.

(9) And by Star Wars, I’m talking about the holy trinity - Ep IV, V & VI.  That’s the important stuff.  The rest of it, not so much…

(10) Like, duh!

(11) A serious point here.  At John Lewis, if you claim discount, it has to be because the purchase is for you, or as a genuine gift.  In other words, I can’t go and buy something cheap, and then sell it.  You break the rules, you get fired.  Anyway - I’m a co-owner of the business - anyone abuses discount, that’s my money they’re stealing.  I take discount abuse as seriously as anyone in the company.

(12) Tempting, I’ll admit.