Thursday, June 30, 2011

Collecting Figs: Collectible Figs

Although my limited LEGO fund has been chiefly occupied of late with the Bricklink quest to restore my stolen figs, I have taken the opportunity to acquire a few more collectible minifigs.

All three of these historically-minded figs are from the most recent series, the fourth. I was initially looking for a Musketeer (my personal favourite from the fourth wave), and I felt my way through almost every bag in the store (Chapters, in Red Deer) before I found one. In the process, however, I recognised both the Viking and the Geisha, and decided that I ought to have one of each.

The Viking is little more than a rehash of the minifigs that came with the 2006-7 theme, but his prints are new, his pearl-gold horns are new, and his exquisite shield is completely new. I doubt he'll retain his three-studs long shaft to his axe for very long, but it will be nice to have all the same.

The Geisha is also very well done--indeed, of the Series 4 figs, she is the one I am most impressed with in terms of detailing.

Which leaves the Musketeer, who is actually the most under-whelming of the three, for all that he is the one that I was looking for. It's not that there's anything BAD about him; he is, in fact, a rather excellent fig, but he's not extra-special. It's just the simple fact that he's a musketeer that makes him awesome.

Also, I'm not a fan of the ball-point rapier. Part of me suspects that they're planning on coming up with a fencer in a later series, hence the reusable mold, but in the meantime it takes the edge off the Musketeer's coolitude--though I have to admit that it's growing on me. The more I play with it, the more adorable it appears.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


As I mentioned in this post, my van got broken into in Boston, and the handful of figs that I was planning to take back to Canada were stolen (together with a bunch of other non-crucial, but annoying-to-lose items). So far, I've made 7 Bricklink orders, which seems like a lot, and certainly I'm spending a lot more money rebuilding than the thieves are likely to get for them--assuming they didn't just dump their takings somewhere. However, it's not that my Bricklink orders have been terribly expensive so much as I'm having to order from a plethora of sellers, in order to reconstruct the unique constituency of figs that I lost.

The picture below shows the completed minifigs that have arrived thus far. One will note that my Brickster no longer has Elf hair (at least until I get back to Boston):

It's also worth noting that when I start scripting and photographing new Aquazone Breakfast News (this week completes the backlog I had going), these figs are on a shorter-than-usual list of figs likely to be featured.

Monday, June 27, 2011

6125 Sea Sprint 9

In my attempt to restore some sort of blogging regularity, it made sense to start with something fairly simple, like a set review. Given that I have pretty only brought my Aquazone sets with me from Boston, you can expect that they will appear here over the course of the summer. In case you didn't deduce that from the punchlines of some of the Aquazone Breakfast News issues, I don't have a large Aquazone collection. Indeed, of the sets that I own (as opposed to piecemeal-acquired Aquazone elements), the following set is in contention for the largest one I own:

Yes, that is 6125 Sea Sprint 9 (apparently called Aquanaut Octopod in some places), and yes... it was the smallest set in the original 1995 Aquanaut release. The thing is, though, that EVERY Aquazone set I have (for the purposes of this post, I am *not* counting the 2007 Aquaraiders or Atlantis sets as "Aquazone," though I normally consider them as belonging to broadly the same theme) was the smallest in its line--or smaller (in two cases, I acquired a polybag set that was released later and trumped the original for small size).

I originally acquired Sea Sprint 9 in the fall of 1996. I no longer remember whether I bought it or whether it was a gift (or a bribe), but I think I bought it. It was my second Aquazone set, after 6115 Shark Scout, and my first "good guy."

I suppose that if one looks back, this set was one of the first steps in the direction of eventually producing Aquazone Breakfast News. Not only was this my first Aquanaut, but it established the Aquanauts as my favourite Aquazone theme. Years later, when I acquired another copy of this set for $3.00 as an add-on to a larger Bricklink order, it was a significant step in the direction of acquiring the medium-sized Aquanaut army that was the direct cause of setting my comic strip underwater. Because the wider Aquazone theme is one I used hardly at all, and because I like Aquanauts and wanted to acquire lots but couldn't justify them in that context, they were the perfect fit--or the perfect misfits, one might say--to host the comic.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 022

I've been back in Alberta for close to a week, but it's been a whirlwind week, between adjusting to being home and having to adventure northwards for my Grandma's funeral. This weekend continues the whirlwind, but things should settle in once Monday arrives. Hopefully I'll get back then to updating this blog with more than just Aquazone Breakfast News--enjoyable as they are.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 021

Updating early because I'll be on the road all day tomorrow between Sudbury and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

That being said... it is depressingly close to Friday already. I think it's bedtime.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 020

Yes, my girlfriend (well, fiancée now) does have a yellow fig: this guy.

Twenty comics! That's not a half-bad run for a weekly attempt, and it's not done yet. Here's to the next twenty!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Time-Travelling: A Storytelling Paradox?

The last week has been kind of crazy--I was out of town with my fiancée for the weekend, and although I was supposed to leave for home in Canada right after that, I've been delayed due to an attempted break-in on my van. Fortunately, precious little was taken (though I've been on Bricklink for a week hunting down replacement parts to the handful of figs I was taking back to Canada), but in attempting to hotwire the van, they damaged the ignition, and I've had to wait for parts to get that fixed--not a hugely expensive job, thankfully, but a week's delay. Meanwhile, it's been in the upper 90 degrees Fahrenheit (so the 30+ range Celsius) and humid in Boston, which has utterly drained me of the desire to do a whole lot of anything.

Consequently, I've spent a whole lot of time on TV Tropes, and this has recently got me thinking about LEGO stories, and why I write the way I write. To start this off, I've posted a map below of my LEGO world, as it appeared in 2003 or so, back in the days of my old "LEGO Books." It is not the world of Grandfather's Tale or even Aquazone Breakfast News, but it is still more or less valid for the ongoing mental legendarium in my head that derives from the old LEGO books.

The first thing that you should note about this map is that you have Castle realms on the top, separated from the "Wild West" by a chain of mountains (the "Wild West" is actually in the northeast), which is north of Legoland (Town and related themes), with the Ninja in a landlocked region in the centre, and the Pirates on the southern coast. The Aquazone are offshore to the west, and although the Space themes have no part in this map, they are part of the same world--only millions of light-years away on other planets.

The reason for this mass-smushing together of themes is the fact that I used to like having games where figs from one theme could interact with another. Adventurers were particularly popular for such games, but the Xtreme Team, Alpha Team, Arctic Adventurers, Wild West cowboys, Space explorers, and many others all partook of this at one time or another. What's more to the point is that I could never quite bring myself to use time-travel as a means to do this.

"But wait, Formy!" says the sharp-eyed reader, "isn't there a Time Mountain on your map? What's that about?"

Well, actually, that's about the Time Cruisers--who were incidentally another frequent inter-theme visitor... they just rarely got to time-travel. While I had no real problem using the Hypno-Disk to transport the Time Cruisers from Legoland across the continent, into outer space, or even into a completely different world (I recall they went to Narnia a few times), I just couldn't bring myself to use it to travel through time--at least not very often.

The issue, I think, is that even as a twelve- or fourteen-year-old, I had a conceptual problem with the idea of time travel, and after having acquired a degree in Philosophy, I still have a problem with it. Why this was a major problem for me playing LEGO is more difficult to explain, but I was that sort of kid: I didn't have the slightest problem with 2 Black Knights taking out a 15-man Fright Knight/Bull Knight alliance, or with Wild West cowboys crossing the mountains to find the Black Falcons--to say nothing of imagining the Aquazone as an underwater civilization fuelled by hydrolator crystals--but I couldn't do time travel.

The funny thing is that time travel stories are among my favourite ones in science-fiction (or, as they like to call it more broadly, "speculative fiction").

At the heart of my problem with time-travel is the fact that I have a fairly strong conviction that humans have free will. This follows logically from being a Catholic, and even as a thirteen-year-old, I knew that "if we have free will, then the future is not determined." To put this as a logical argument:

A. If we have free will, the future cannot be determined.
B. If the future cannot be determined until it has happened, it cannot be visited until it has happened.


C. If we have free will, time travel is impossible.

Well, time travel to the future, anyway... but while it might be less thoroughly reasoned out on my part, it always seemed to me that if you can't travel forward in time, it makes little sense to be able to go back. Part of this intuition no doubt has to do with the fact that most time travel stories tend to depict travel in both directions--but unless there is some sort of "meta-time" time going on, then if you can't travel to the future from the present, you can't travel to the present from the past, since from the past's perspective it would be the future.

And that, in a nutshell, is why you can swim the LEGO River from the land of the Townies to walk to the Imperial Armada, and why the Hypno-Disk can cameo in last week's Aquazone Breakfast News as a trans-LEGO-verse zapper, but will never function as a time-travelling device.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CCRP: A LEGO Story-Telling Retrospective - Part 2

Earlier this week I delved back into my initial history as a member of the Classic-Castle Roleplay, and a look at my original main characters. Today I want to run through the main characters that cropped up over the following years (with an eye to whether and how they might appear in Grandfather's Tale).

For the first few months, my characters stuck to themselves, with some light interaction with the other players. The first "local" characters to introduce themselves were Dragon Masters. Elbadar was one of these:

Elbadar was definitely the Dark Horse candidate to become a major character among the ensemble that was my CCRP cast. He was a minor character, second string to another Dragon Master (played by another RPer) who had command of the Dragon Master regiment that the Sorcerer-King acquired. As such, he ought to have been a bad guy, but he turned out to be a wily, mostly honourable character who formed a real friendship with Bernard Quorandis--aka "the guy with Elwen in this picture:

Bernard Quorandis, Captain-General of the Imperial Cavaliers and Viscount of Quoran, was introduced into the plot with the idea that he would eventually be Elwen's love interest. However, he was soon swept away into the massive black hole of a plot called The BloodVaine Epic, which also swallowed up Sir Dractor, Elwen, Elbadar, and most of my characters, completely derailing my original Sorcerer-King/Old Man plot for over six months. This was for the best, though, because Bernard Quorandis and Elbadar would never have become friends otherwise, and it is unlikely that Elbadar would have surprised me otherwise, and become the near-hero he ended up as.

There was also a third new character who joined Elwen and the Sorcerer-King on their quest for the Wizardsbane: Sir Jayko Falconensis:

The CCRP started in 2004, the same year KK2 was released and thus right during the maelstrom of ridicule that line received on Classic-Castle as a result of juniorisation and rainbow-coloured knights. Jayko, as the "baby blue" or "barbie blue" knight--and as the canonical protagonist--came in for what might have been the most criticism. My decision to include him as a character at that time meant that he was a rather buffoonish character--at first. It took over a year, but Jayko was to eventually have a "redemption" plot. This was partly underway when the CCRP collapsed, and would have eventually seen Jayko and Elbadar's plots intertwine as my chief secondary plot (secondary to that of Sir Dractor).

All three of these characters have yet to appear in Grandfather's Tale, but it is safe to say that if I ever visit their factions in any detail in that story, they will soon appear. Jayko, in particular, because he already exists as an official LEGO minifig, will certainly appear if KK2 does--the only question is whether KK2 will appear. Elbadar is likely to appear as one of the marshals of the Dragon Master army, although I don't know when; and Sir Bernard has been the unofficial general of my Classic LEGO Castle armies for years.

In the next CCRP update, I'll look at the second generation of heroes.