Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Acquisitions: May, 2012

It's been a long time since I posted about getting any new LEGO, and although my posting frequency has slipped the sad fact is that I haven't acquired much in the past few months. This is due more to financial reasons than anything else, as the simultaneous jobs of "grad student" and "groom to be" are equally wage-deficient. Nonetheless, the two of them in tandem did not fail me completely, for upon the completion of my Master's Degree a couple weeks ago, some of my hippest in-laws-to-be sprung a surprise trip to the LEGO Store on me last weekend and gifted me with 9472 Attack on Weathertop, my first Lord of the Rings LEGO set, and one that I might otherwise have had to wait quite a long time before acquiring, my status as a LEGO and Lord of the Rings fan notwithstanding. However, I will not talk about that amazing set today. It merits its own post, and I shall give it one (hopefully in the next week or so). Meanwhile, let me talk about the other LEGO I acquired this weekend.
The five Collectible Minifigs in the picture all belong to the currently-reigning Series 7, and are the first Collectible Minifigs I've added to my collection since November, when I picked up the last Series 5 minifigs I wanted. Now, I consider it a good thing that I have not been bitten by the collector's bug, with the need to acquire EVERY Collectifig out there, but it is something of a shock to realise that Series 6 has been passed over completely--and there were a few desirable minifigs in there, most notably the Roman Legionnaire and the Scottish Highlander. Even more than monetary stingyness, however, the lack of Series 6 minifigs in my collection no doubt reflects the difficulties of reaching a store where they are sold in my local territory. Even the LEGO Store in Braintree, which reflects an hour and a half, one-way, commute on public transit, didn't have any in stock the two times I visited in January and February. With that in mind, I'm glad to note that I was able to pick out the five Series 7 collectifigs that I most wanted to add to my collection. Not that there is a lot of chance involved, since I am pretty much all/all for correctly identifying the minifigs in the bag by touch (to the amazement of my uncle-in-law-to-be), but it was luck that there was still one of each of them in the box, as that is not always the case. Indeed, I went over every bag, and only found the one bagpiper, and I wouldn't have minded more of him. Of the five minifigs here, my chief disappointment is that LEGO did not give the Viking lady's shield any detailing. After having done it for the male viking in Series 4, and with a decalled shield on two of the other figs I picked up in the same batch, it feels a little plain. That said, I'm not going to protest too much, since I will admit that an unadorned dark brown shield has its uses. On the same day, I also acquired a "collectible minifig" of another sort:
The regular minifigure-sized Hulk has been a promotion of LEGO's the past few weeks at LEGO Stores and online for orders (in the United States) of $50 or more. By happy chance, this meant that my Attack on Weathertop came with a freebie Hulk. I have to admit that, by myself, I would have been unlikely to ever acquire him, since I am not much a comic books person and consequently have not felt the need to expand into LEGO's new offerings in that field--and I'm not knocking comic books or LEGO's new DC and Marvel themes. On the contrary, there are some excellent sets there; I'm just glad that, with all the OTHER awesome LEGO coming out these days (Kingdoms Joust, Lord of the Rings, Monster Hunters, etc, etc) it hasn't become yet another theme I want while having to guard my wallet. That said, The Hulk is a rather attractive collection of minifig parts, not least because he is a little-used colour. Like many "non-regular set" minifigs, he's not the highest quality plastic, but I feel that the difference in my Hulk is less egregious than in some past instances. And, for a freebie, I'm not really entitled to complain.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Problem Minifigs: More on Johnny Thunder

Over a year ago, I posted (linkie!) about Johnny Thunder as a minifig, calling him a "problem minifig." The particular definition that I was going for was that, although he's an attractive minifig by himself, he's a difficult fig to assimilate in multiple copies to one's collection. This is a problem with hero, villain, or other "character" minifigs because they've been designed to stand out, unlike "soldier figs," who are conducive to army-building by their very nature. As far as problem minifigs go, Johnny Thunder is by no means the most problematic. The post from last year showed how I've incorporated the five Johnny Thunders of my collection into new forms; this post will go further and deal with other "Johnnies" I've had to deal with. These other Johnnies come from two sources: Soccer sets (3420 and 3406) and the Knights' Kingdom (2) chess set, 678. Before I get to the fates of these eleven minifigs, however, I'll deal briefly with a duplicate Johnny head that entered my collection via Bricklink last summer. It may be wondered why I ordered a Johnny head at all, when these posts show that I have more Johnny heads than I need; the answer is an illustration in the economy of Bricklink: in order to replace a minifig that was part of a stolen bag last summer, I needed a Johnny torso, and it was more expedient for me to buy the whole fig than just the head. The discarded extra head, however, did not stay discarded long, and soon found a job on the police force:
It will be noted, at least, that this redundant Johnny is at least a Johnny 2.0, of which there are fewer in my collection--not least because the 11 Johnnies-that-did-come-as-a-Johnny are all the original versions. Eight came as Shadow Knight pawns in the chess set; the other three are members of soccer teams. Here is a group shot of the 11 duplicates, in their new roles:
It is easy to see here how Johnny-heads are not useless, despite being something of a "problem." Four of them--the four in the back--retain, more or less, the identities they possessed when they arrived in my collection: three soccer players and a Shadow Knight--though there have been some trades in the Soccer league. The major difference is that I did not keep the other seven Shadow Knights as they were. Three have joined other Castle armies: Dragon Master, Royal Knight, and Shadow Knight. Two more have joined other historical themes, Imperial Guard and Wild West cavalry. Joined with three of the extra Johnnies in last year's post who were added to historical (Castle and Pirate) themes, this shows an overwhelming preference for using Johnny's be-follicled face for minifigs who predate modern razors. They don't work uniformly well--I don't think the Dragon Master wears his mustache quite so well as the Imperial Guard, for example, but they do work. In much the same way, Johnny's face can be used in science fiction settings, such as the Aquanaut and Blacktron (1) figs shown here. I don't think Johnny works quite as well in a futuristic setting, but it isn't completely incongruous, possibly because Johnny's facial hair is well-kept and not overly lurid--though maybe more lurid would work better, if one went for more of a "large ham" and less of a "Starfleet" sort of look. Meanwhile, what does the Shadow Knight army look like these days?
Well, in keeping with the original Shadow Knight and with the Johnny-Shadow Knights of the Chess Set, there is a strong tendency towards facial hair among this newer, more diverse cast of soldiers. Nor is this quite the entire army--just the eight soldiers who more or less take their origins from the Chess Set pawns. Coming someday... what about Johnny's shirts? Johnny's hats? Other Shadow Knight heads? The list of Problem Minifig examples are endless, and I'm sure will be discussed again.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Aquazone Breakfast News: 089

...and that wraps up the Town-trip-that-was-not-to-be storyline. Tune in next week for a return to the long-missed yellow walls of the AqBN studio!

You may call me... Master.

Yesterday's Aquazone Breakfast News never made it to air due to the fact that I was at my Master of Arts graduation ceremony, the after-celebrations of which went a bit longer than usual. I'm afraid I can't blame the low posting rate of the last few months on school or graduating, but Aquazone Breakfast News, at least, should be back on track now. Yesterday's episode will be posted later today.