Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Classic Space Rover

I don't build a lot of MOCs these days, but when I do, it seems that I build Space MOCs more than anything else. The first MOC of 2013 was no exception:

Made mostly of new light gray, this six-wheeled "Moon Rover" was inspired the fig driving it. He was the main reason I purchased 850423 Minifig Presentation Boxes while at the LEGO Store last--that and the fact that the set was on sale. Although Classic Space was well before my time, I am by no means immune to their charm and I have yet to come close to "having enough." I'd actually been thinking for some time about building a Space rover, partly because my bucket of wheels and tires was growing no smaller and partly because I'd been spending some time on Flickr's Classic Space Rovers set. The arrival of the little blue spaceman seemed like the perfect time.

The rover is not a particularly complicated build. It's a basic studs-right-side-up construction with no particular effort put into achieving studlessness. Mostly it was just an excuse to use a bunch of light bley pieces (a colour I have abundantly in small quantities...) and to give this spaceman a fun ride.

The crate or storage container in the back is lifted, still somewhat intact, from the safe that was Day 19's item in the 2011 City Advent Calendar.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Aquazone Breakfast News: 137

In The Hobbit, Fili and Kili do not actually have a named father--no one does but Thorin, though Balin and Dwalin, sons of Fundin, and Óin and Glóin, sons of Gróin, will have their fathers revealed in the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings. Fili and Kili are the nephews of Thorin by his sister, Dís, but from what we know of Dwarven custom, they would not have introduced themselves as "Fili son of Dís" but as "Fili son of Fili's father." In naming this father "Jari," I am following Tolkien's practice of giving the Dwarves names from the Dvergatal (the list of Dwarves in the Old Norse Völuspá), picking one that he never used.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Aquazone Breakfast News: 136

So all yesterday evening I had the feeling that I was forgetting to do something online, and I just couldn't think what it was...

Also, the "dramatic lighting" is mostly just really bad photography--something I didn't catch until after I no longer had access to my camera and LEGO (we're out of town right now). Oh well...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012: A Year in Review

Last January, I made a year-in-review post and today I'm going to do that again. So here was my 2012:

LEGO Set of the Year:

In 2011 the top set that I acquired was unequivocally Medieval Market Village, and in 2012 I acquired its immediate successor, 10223 Kingdoms Joust, which is an equally impressive set, and taken set-by-set was probably the most impressive or iconic set that I acquired in 2012--but I don't think it was the Set of the Year for my collection. That distinction belongs to 9472 Attack on Weathertop.

As I blogged about when I first got it, Attack on Weathertop was my first Lord of the Rings LEGO set, and I was deeply impressed with it--more impressed than I expected to be before I opened it. It's well-designed, has excellent minifigs, a great parts selection, and best of all (from a Tolkien fan standpoint) it's set in Middle-earth. Although if you told me to pick one set only, I would probably take Kingdoms Joust simply because it is so much larger, it would not be without a longing backwards glance at Attack on Weathertop, and within the context of 2012 being the year the Lord of the Rings LEGO was first released, it is a worthy Set of the Year.  

LEGO Theme of the Year:

Last year the Collectible Minifigs were my Theme of the Year and on the basis of simple volume, they would make a compelling case again this year. The Dino and Monster Fighters themes that came out in 2012 were both excellent original themes on LEGO's part, though I have but a single set, with a single minifig, between them. NinjaGo continued to be a major presence in the LEGO world as well, but was barely a blip on my radar. All that I bought this year in any sort of quantity were Collectible Minifigs and Lord of the Rings LEGO. Part of this was due to financial considerations. What with the expenses of getting married and then waiting unemployed to get my green card, I did not have the disposable income for most of the year to spend on LEGO. A Collectible fig here or there, and a few VIP points-fuelled Lord of the Rings sets were all I could afford. (The Kingdoms Joust, referenced above, was a very early purchase indeed--all the way back in last January.) And with that in mind, the clear champion theme this year was the Lord of the Rings.

When LEGO announced that it had acquired the license and was developing sets, I feared the worst, which is to say sets as forgettable as the entire Pirates of the Caribbean line. What I got--and yes, this may have something to do with my status as a Tolkien fan--was another Star Wars line, and I daresay I said enough good things above when talking about Attack on Weathertop to explain my decision for naming the Lord of the Rings my Theme of the Year.

LEGO Minifig of the Year:

 Last year I declined to name a Collectible Minifig as my Fig of the Year, and I'm going to again this year, but it's worth noting that there was no real stand-out minifig addition to my LEGO-verse this year. It did not change drastically this past year due largely to the fact that "REAL LIFE" things kept a focus on the story side of LEGO to a largely background position. Among those that did get some sort of attention was the Black Falcon knight (redux), who comes with Kingdoms Joust.

MOC of the Year:

This is a new category, and one that I think I may not have included last year due (among other things) to the fact that I haven't made a lot of MOCs over the past few years--and certainly haven't posted many online. But I make a few this year, and even managed to post a couple. The one that says "2012!" more than any other was not a complex MOC; indeed it was quite simple... but I made 75 copies of each half.

Other Thoughts...

In general, 2012 was dominated by becoming an adult. I graduated with my Masters degree, I got married, and my wife and I went through the wranglings of getting my Green Card. All of this kept LEGO to the sidelines--but the sidelines are where LEGO has been in my life for years, and it's a comfortable place. LEGO had a chance to be centre-stage as favours. at my wedding and was there as part of solace during the long wait for my work permit. In general it was a Castle/Lord of the Rings sort of year. I've always been a Castle fan first, but this year there was little room for anything else, and the fantasy angle had the opportunity for a lot of attention with the new Middle-earth lines, attention that I foresee persisting into the next year as more Hobbit sets come out and find their way into my collection. That was my 2012 in LEGO... what was yours?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

3931 Emma's Splash Pool

For twenty years--or twenty-one consecutive Christmases now--LEGO has been a major part of the Christmas present experience for me, ever since I got my very first set, 3654 Country Cottage, as a Christmas present in 1992. And while there have been nudges away from a primary focus on LEGO over the years, I continue to look forward to Christmas as a time to add to my LEGO collection. Thanks to the fact that my in-laws all know of my LEGO habit, this year was no different. Slightly overshadowed in size among my "take" was a stocking-stuffer Friends set, 3931 Emma's Splash Pool. Ever since Friends came out, about a year ago now, I've been defending the theme as "not reprehensible" to my wife, who has since softened her hardline stance of "pink toys for girls is always bad stereotyping" approach to the theme. Nonetheless, Emma's Splash Pool is the first Friends set in our house, and including it in my stocking was a subtle joke on my behalf. Nonetheless, I rather love the little set--though possibly not for the reasons its designers intended--and I'm glad to have it. As a younger builder, I always wanted to have "at least one set" of each theme LEGO produced, a goal that has been mostly left to the wayside in more recent years, though it remains a subconscious factor in my desire to pick up small sets in themes outside my chief areas of interest.
For what it is (little more than an impulse set), Emma's Splash Pool is a reasonable collection of parts. Other than Emma herself, there isn't a single piece in this set that comes close to being a single-use part, and I am a public fan of the colours now more widely available as a result of the Friends line. Nonetheless, without getting a much larger collection of Friends-generic pieces, some of these pieces (most notably the azure "macaroni" bricks) will be difficult to integrate into other creations, due to a general lack of other pieces in the same colour. The extent to which this is something to fault LEGO for is something I do not have a firm opinion on. I also adore Emma herself more than I expected to. Her more limited articulation vis-a-vis a regular minifig (no rotating wrists or separated legs) remains one of the (if not the) strongest complaint against the design of the Friends line, but there is no getting around the fact that the Friends-figs are CUTE! Since I do not subscribe to the "pointed ears" camp of Elf-fans, I was able to re-equip Emma to be even cuter:
Note that this is not an original idea to me. At the very least, my brother did it before me. It works much too well to pass up.