Monday, December 26, 2011

6546 Slick Racer

After getting a reasonable haul of LEGO for Christmas yesterday, it seems appropriate to look back at a Christmas set of yore: way back in 1997, 6546 Slick Racer became the very first LEGO set I received in my stocking. It was not the first LEGO set I'd received for Christmas--that set was five years old by the time Slick Racer came into my collection--but it was the first set I received in my stocking, a sign of the fact that LEGO had definitely become the central toy of my childhood, presaging the growth of my collection to come. Indeed, if I were to pick a time when I went from having LEGO a child to buying LEGO with all available funds as a slightly older child and teenager, I'd have said 1998 was the first year of the new era. As a result, Slick Racer is poised on the cusp between my very early LEGO era and my Golden Age.

Despite an abiding interest in LEGO race cars as a child, I never acquired more than three or so in my collection, and Slick Racer was the earliest of the three. The others were 6519 Turbo Tiger from the year 2000's rather paltry line-up, and 2963 Extreme Racer from 1998's eXtreme Team. Slick Race was also my favourite of the three, the perennial winner of any race. This favouritism was due, in part, to its status as the earliest racer in my collection, and also because of a bias towards Octan.

Octan looms large in my LEGO Town imagination, despite the fact that this set and a handful of torsos were all that I possessed that were connected to that venerable logo. They were a multi-business corporation that manufactured cars, sold gas, sponsored races, and produced millionaires. Looking back, I would say now that they were a strange juxtaposition of greedy mega-corporation and squeaky-clean Town company in my LEGO games.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 068 (Advent Day 24)

And that wraps up the Advent Calendar! Aquazone Breakfast News goes back to a weekly, on Friday, schedule.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 062 (Advent Day 18)

Weird... I couldn't log in to Brickshelf today. I'm not sure why--the site seems to be running normally. Fortunately, I can upload pictures straight to Blogger--but it's weird.

EDIT: Okay, so it's not so fortunate as I thought. The full-size image is accessible, but you have to right-click on the image itself and then hit "View" to get it full-size. More updates as things change...

2nd EDIT: On second examination something *is* gimpy with Brickshelf, which is more relieving than it ought to be: a problem with the whole site is more likely to be fixed than if it's just my log-in.

3rd EDIT: And Brickshelf is back to normal!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lord of the Rings and LEGO - Part Three

When I wrote my first two posts, several months ago, about The Lord of the Rings and LEGO, I did not expect to be writing a third, but breaking news in the last couple days has changed that.

Coming 2012, the LEGO Company is releasing a new line of minifig-scale sets, based on the upcoming Hobbit movies and their decade-old Lord of the Rings predecessors. This is probably the biggest news in LEGO licensing since Star Wars LEGO came out in 1999, because more than with any other work of literature or film, LEGO fans have spent spent the past decade either bemoaning the fact that LEGO hadn't acquired the LotR licence or arguing that such a licence was unnecessary, and possibly even undesirable.

Well, the debate about whether LEGO should get the licence has just taken a completely new turn, and a lot of people, LEGO fans and otherwise, are excited about what this means. For myself, however, I am at best cautiously interested. I am not excited, probably because I was always on the side of feeling a licence was unnecessary.

As a Tolkien fan, I don't think that LEGO sets based off the already-derivative movies are going to be the be-all and end-all of the LEGO experience. I have problems with some of Peter Jackson and Team's decisions in portraying The Lord of the Rings, and even where I don't, I feel that his interpretation is only one among many possible interpretations--and I'm not a big fan of making it into "the" interpretation.

Secondly, as a LEGO fan, I'm not a big fan of licensed themes. I don't like flesh-toned figs in place of yellow figs (though there are moments when the variety is nice), and I don't like the overpricing that comes from purchasing the licence--an overpricing that is often associated with mediocre or weak set designs. Not always--some Star Wars and most of the Indiana Jones sets were really well done... but I cannot say that same for Pirates of the Caribbean.

Does this mean I don't see potential here? Of course not. I am excited about the likelihood of new weapon moulds, new Castle-valuable parts, and lots of foliage. Even if the product is less-than-Tolkien, it should still add a lot of interesting new parts to my Castle collection. In all probability, I will acquire more of these sets than I have of many themes of late, simply because everyone knows me as the LEGO guy *and* as The Lord of the Rings guy. But I'm not getting overly excited ahead of time, and I'm definitely not getting my hopes up.

Aquazone Breakfast News: 061 (Advent Day 17)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 056 (Advent Day 12)

I realised, as I put this together, that this is actually my very first LEGO Police Station. I discussed my longtime love of Police LEGO--and the fact that, despite this love, I don't have a Police station--back in this post. I guess it's not true anymore.

Sigh. You want your first time to be special.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 055 (Advent Day 11)

Yeah... I'm not really enthused about the police station--not originally and not now that it's ongoing. I suppose I'm glad that LEGO has put something in the calendar that will build up to something bigger than a one-day item, but the police station lacks any wow factor. I'm also glad that they didn't put all the section together in some dreadful week-long drudge... but that means that we get another section intervening today.

On a positive note, I'm kind of excited about the blue 1x6 arch.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 052 (Advent Day 8)

It's getting to be winter-cold, but there's natural sunlight I can use again!

Also, I did not expect on Day 1 of this Advent Calendar that hot chocolate and marshmellows would be such a prevalent theme.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 051 (Advent Day 7)

For the first time in rather a while, I've had to take today's comic pictures indoors and, sadly, the difference shows. Hopefully, there'll be a moment or two of dry weather tomorrow while I'm home...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day

In the midst of focusing on the Advent Calendar in my daily labour of Aquazone Breakfast News comics, it's easy to remember that it's Advent, the liturgical season that prepares for Christmas. Less easy to remember is that today, as December 6th, is a gift-giving religious holiday of its own.

St. Nicholas is well known, of course, for being Santa Claus, via his Dutch name of Sinterklaas, and it is on his feastday, December 6th, that Dutch children traditionally received presents, not Christmas. As a Dutch Catholic on my father's side, I belong to a family that made an effort to commemorate the day over the years. We never did anything too fancy, but we would get one medium-to-small present, and it usually marked the approximate time for putting up the Christmas decorations. It had the added bonus of helping satiate our desire as kids for presents, and at an age when Christmas seemed YEARS off from the start of Advent, it was a welcome moment of rest during the long wait.

As such, it was the third most prominent LEGO-receiving day during my childhood, after Christmas and my birthday. Not that I got LEGO every year, but even with a total of three or four years, that was more than Hallowe'en, Easter, Valentine's Day, Canada Day, or Labour Day could ever say.

The first LEGO set I ever got for St. Nicholas Day has already made an appearance on this blog. Sixteen years ago to the day, I got my first Aquazone set--and in light of the Breakfast News strips running, it's kind of amazing to see how I've had Aquazone for sixteen years. If my Aquashark were a child, he could get his driver's licence.

Other sets I got over the years included my only set of Town roadplates, my second Star Wars set, and two Creator buckets.

Aquazone Breakfast News: 050 (Advent Day 6)

And Aquazone Breakfast News puts out its 50th edition!

It's also St. Nicholas Day, which as someone of Dutch-Catholic extraction has some Christmas-y significance.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Aquazone Breakfast News: 047 (Advent Day 3)

It is more than worth acknowledging that my inspiration (and the inspiration of anyone doing a LEGO Advent Calendar comic) comes from Chris Doyle and his comic, The Brick House. This is the fourth year? fifth? that the Advent Calendar has featured into the main storyline of his comic, which is one of the best (and my personal candidate for flat-out "best") LEGO webcomics out there. You should go there and get his take on the Advent Calendar, if you aren't already.