Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Some Like It Hoth

Apologies for the neglect this blog has suffered over the last few months – unfortunately life took over (is that really so unfortunate?) and posting slipped down my list of priorities. I’m please to say though that adding to my Lego collection didn’t and a number of fabulous new sets have found themselves onto my shelves and into my cupboards, further reducing the amount of breathable oxygen my little office / Lego shrine can hold.

One of these new sets was Hoth Wampa Cave 8089. In itself it’s a great little diorama from Empire Strikes Back – the scene where Luke is imprisoned by the ice monster on Hoth and has to use the Force to retrieve his fallen light sabre from the ice – all rendered in Lego.

It was a must buy for me because, as you can see from the photos below, I’ve built up a modest Hoth diorama in the bedroom. Alas, I only have one AT-AT walker (10178) as opposed to 3 but film accuracy comes at a price! However this version of the AT-AT is motorised and does actually walk. The photos also feature the Hoth Rebel Base 7666 set and Echo Base 7749 featuring Han Solo on his Tauntaun.

Hoth diorama
Hoth diorama
Hoth diorama
Anyway, believe it or not, my wife really likes this diorama and has resisted my attempts to re-site it elsewhere in the house.

Some like it Hoth, indeed.


Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Cad Bain's Speeder

Cad Bain's Speeder 8128
This is my first purchase / build from the brand new range of Lego Star Wars sets that have hit the shops over the last few weeks. I haven't particularly got into the Clone Wars cartoons; I've caught a couple and, yeah, the quality of the animation and the storylines has been good but I can't help feeling that it's shelf life is going to be inevitably short. Lego, of course, are sponsoring the show and with good reason - it gives them plenty of opportunity to extend their best selling Star Wars range. I can't fault their marketing but one wonders how long they can keep it going when George Lucas's final film is already 5 years old. The whole range is now kept in the public interest by spin-offs alone.

And yet it does seem to be working. The Star Wars range is still Lego's best seller and the popularity of the models shows no sign of diminishing. Being a fan of the range I can see why. The models are beautifully crafted; the aesthetic targets are set high. Lego have also begun rereleasing - though redesigning would be a better word - some of the earlier classic models; giving them a revamp utilizing new Lego technology to improve on the original. Of course for collectors like me who love nothing more than being able to display a timeline evolution of the models it means I end up with several versions of the same model. A fool and his money, eh?

I'll be focusing on some of these reissues in the coming months... but for now let's savour Cad Bain's Speeder 8128. This isn't a reissue or a redesign but a brand new model which features in the second series of Clone Wars. The model leapt out at me for it's beautiful and elegant shape. Plus of course you get the relatively rare Cad Bain minifigure (the guy in the big hat) which is an obvious bonus. The build is simple and quick - nothing overly complicated and the functionality of the model is minimal: the back portion merely hinges backwards to reveal a secret storage compartment. And yet the aesthetics are spot on. It's Star Wars with a little Flash Gordon retro thrown in for good measure. A very handsome looking model.

Cad Bain's Speeder 8128

(Click on the images to enlarge.)

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Tractor Trailer 6692 And LEGO® City Truck 3221

Tractor Trailer 6692 And LEGO® City Truck 3221
A father and son timeline here (click on images to enlarge). Ironically the "big daddy" here is the smaller set - the Tractor Trailer 6692 - which Lego released in 1983. The 6692 model you see here, though complete in terms of bricks, has the all important stickers missing. If applied it would be like seeing a mini-me version of the larger LEGO® City Truck 3221 which has only just been released. Attempts to pick up an original sticker sheet have so far proved fruitless though it is possible to buy the original model from private sellers with the stickers applied. Who knows? When I have the spare cash floating about I might go for it.

The original 1983 model was a great favourite when I was a kid. Unlike it's much larger progeny it comes without cargo so I, as a budding pre-teen, had to make my own. The larger model comes with about 9 crates which all feature decals giving them the look of mini Lege sets. This set is going to be a classic I'm sure so was a must have - even without the orginal 6692 set in my collection begging for its new counterpart.

Tractor Trailer 6692 And LEGO® City Truck 3221
Although both sets feature hinged "cockpits" the larger model benefits from new Lego technology in terms of spaciousness and features. 3221 comes complete with driver's seat, mug, bed and wall mounted TV / computer. Just the thing for those long cross country hauls. At 15 inches long, LEGO® City Truck3 221 is one of the longest Lego vehicles available. Cornering on those Lego City baseplate roads is going to be a real nightmare...

"10-4 Bandit - I got Smokey all over me!"


Sunday, 30 May 2010

These Are Not The Droids You Are Looking For...

Luke's Landspeeder 8092
Few Lego models say Star Wars as much as this one - Luke's Landspeeder 8092 (click on image to enlarge). This is a cheap-to-mid price set and to be honest when I saw it in the catalogue I wasn't particularly bowled over by it, preferring the re-issued and updated Arc-170 Fighter from the Clone Wars series. However, 8092 is a classic set and when I had a spare bit of tin floating around and just happened to be taking the boys to Toys R Us anyway... I decided to buy it. More of a purchase to add value to the collection than because I liked the model.

Building it changed my opinion completely. I do find this with Lego - quite often the photography of a model let's it down. No, that's a bit harsh. It undersells it. I couldn't quite grasp the sheer aesthetic beauty of this model until I had built it and had it - 3D and real - in my hands.

Now it has become one of my favourites. The design is simple and clean and remarkably faithful for such a brick light set. And yet it's all there. The entire scene. The landspeeder has smooth plates on its underside so can skim across the terrain of your choice - carpet, tile or concrete - and the boosters at the back just help to make it "real". It's a fabulous set and if I was a kid I'd be absolutely made up to get one of these.

I know, I know, what do I mean "if" I was a kid?!


Sunday, 23 May 2010

Thanks To My Benefactress - Hypno Cruiser 6492

Hypno Cruiser 6492
Yours truly has been the humble beneficiary of yet more free Lego. Once more Lunarossa has proven herself to be a Lego friend of the highest order and has passed on an old Lego set to me rather than see it fall into the anonymous hands of a second hand shop salesperson. I can only gratefully accept with much hearty thanks and reiterate my promise to buy said beneficiary a coffee of magnificent proportions should our paths every cross in the real world.

This set came from Lego's 1996 range "Time Cruisers" which I don't think ran for very long. It's a very quirky series and I don't think it ever really caught on which is a great shame... but, of course, these were the days before Lego saw the advantages of the TV tie-in theme. Attempting to generate fanatical interest in your own made-up themes is always going to be a dicy marketing strategy and one that, in the case of Time Cruisers, didn't really pay off.

Hence I did not previously own any models from this series. I was in fact largely unaware of its existence - this despite my regular poring over the contents of the Ultimate Lego Collector book that contains details of every set Lego have any released. Naturally I have gravitated my investigations to eras and models that I loved as a kid and those new lines that attract my interest now.

Hence the 6492 Hyno Cruiser is an unexpected gift in every sense of the phrase. It's a really charming model that utilizes a very simple elastic band "motor" to spin the propellor blades and the swirly patterned discs on the side of the vehicle. It has bags of humour and character and makes for a very tongue in cheek counterpart to the Death Star 10188 beneath which it currently resides...!

The Force is strong in this one... be it only a lacky-band!


Sunday, 2 May 2010

Geonosian Fighter 4478 And Cyber Saucer 6900

Lego 4478 and Lego 6900

Sometimes you come across Lego in the most delightful ways. These two models came to me via my obsession with blogging. A kind hearted blogger out there by the name of Lunarossa found a couple of old Lego sets at the bottom of her son's wardrobe and wondered if I'd like to give them a good home.

Well, my doors are always open to Lego and though things are getting overcrowded I'm confident I can squeeze in another couple of year's worth of collecting before we either have to buy a bigger house and / or get a loft extension and / or my wife chucks me out.

The 4478 Geonosian Fighter is a real treat as it was issued in 2003, a good couple of years before the Lego bug re-bit me and I recommenced collecting in earnest. Thus anything pre-2005 is very unrepresented in my collection. I certainly didn't have any Geonosian minifigures before this set arrived through my letterbox. As you can see from the photo below, this set is the forerunner for the 7752 Count Dooku’s Solar Sailer set released last year in 2009. I'm obsessive enough to like to have timelines in my collection so to acquire the 4478 set was a real boon.

7752 Count Dooku’s Solar Sailer
The second set that Lunarossa included in her Lego-aid package (which you can see in the top picture) was the 6900 Cyber Saucer set. This was originally released in 1997 and was a curious tangent in Lego's eclectic space range - a line was simply entitled UFO. I didn't previously own any of the models from this line so to have this one makes me very happy - mainly because it is the "classic" flying saucer that the whole range was based around.

All I've got to do now is find somewhere to display them properly! Once again, many thanks to Lunarossa... and if there are any other bloggers out there who bought a Lego set for Christmas and not for life and want them adopted or fostered out, well, I make a great Lego parent. Feel free to email me via the "Lego Wanted" link on the right sidebar! ;-)


Friday, 9 April 2010

The Only Way Is Up

It's official. I have run out of room. If I don't do something truly creative soon my Lego collecting may have to come to an end.

The shot below is my "office" (click to enlarge). A last baby bookshelf has been squeezed in to display the latest acquisitions (8087 Tie Defender and 8088 ARC-170 Starfighter) but now there is no more room to house anymore display furniture. You can see my knee at the bottom of the picture. To my back is my PC desk and another wall of (occupied) shelving units.

The Office
The collection has already spread piecemeal to other upstairs rooms but it would be unfair of me to commandeer more space. I confess I'm at a loss as to what to do. I'm selling off a few unwanted sets on eBay but these are only small and have never been displayed anyway (bought as part of a job lot last year).

A loft conversion is one solution I've come up with but there simply ain't enough moolah to accomplish that.

The only workable alternative is to order extra shelves for the existing cases and see if I can squeeze more layers in...

*Sigh*

Who'd be a Lego addict?


Saturday, 27 March 2010

Imperial Flagship 10210

I spent most of yesterday building this - sat in the middle of the living room with Lego bricks scattered everywhere around me (click pictures to enlarge).

10210 Imperial Flagship
Sheer joy!

I don't usually go a bundle on boats or ships but this model caught my eye. I think it's the sheer level of detail rendered upon every facet and angle. Plus I was a bit of a Hornblower fan...

The build was pretty fiddly. Aside from the base plates that make up the hull the rest of the pieces were small. This obviously aids the level of detail that can be accomplished but makes for a lengthy build. However, as this is all part of the enjoyment who's complaining?


10210 Imperial Flagship

10210 Imperial Flagship

10210 Imperial Flagship

10210 Imperial Flagship

10210 Imperial Flagship

10210 Imperial Flagship
As you can, as always with Lego, the model contains a detailed interior. The cargo hatches on the deck open up as do all the doors, windows and gun hatches plus the deck can be completely removed to gain access to the hold. The ship features a galley kitchen and a brig with a few nefarious pirates all chained up ready for the journey back to Port Royal and a last dance courtesy of the hangman's rope. The captain's cabin features a spyglass, a map desk and - surely a nod to Pirates of the Caribbean - an organ. Davey Jones must be spitting into his clam chowder. Marvellous.

The problem now is where to put it. I may have to invest in yet another shelving unit. For the time being my Space Police models have been consigned to the floor and the Imperial Flagship has taken their place.

When I go into the office now I can almost hear the screaming gulls and smell the salty sea air.

Stand to, Mr Hornblower, French Frigate sighted from the starboard bow!


Thursday, 18 March 2010

A New Flame Has Come

My latest acquisition – and the first of the new 2010 sets – is 10211, The Grand Emporium. I built it yesterday as I had the day off work. It was a very enjoyable build, taking about 4.5 hours to complete. The most time consuming element is locating all the correct pieces and setting out the pavement design. Once that is out of the way the rest of the build goes pretty smoothly. The Grand Emporium is another example of excellent Lego design – realistic enough to appeal to architecture buffs but also inescapable Lego in its aesthetic.

One of the cuter features of this model is the backdoor where the shop assistant’s can sneak out and have a crafty fag during the shop’s quiet periods (because of course it is now illegal to smoke on business premises).

10211 Grand Emporium

The building features three furnished floors, each reached by an escalator which sadly doesn’t move (but that would have been an incredible feat of engineering if they’d managed it), a revolving door which does and a large skylight on the roof which allows you to look down upon all three floors of the model. You will see from the photos (click to enlarge) that the model also features a window cleaner on one of those electronic winch platforms. By coincidence I actually saw one of these for real in Leamington only yesterday. An act of undoubtedly benign synchronicity.

10211 Grand Emporium

10211 Grand Emporium

10211 Grand Emporium

10211 Grand Emporium

10211 Grand Emporium

10211 Grand Emporium

This last photo shows The Grand Emporium placed alongside the other Lego modular buildings that I own. It’s getting to be quite a little town. The minifigures now have somewhere to buy groceries, to dine out, to call for help should there be a fire and to buy clothes and toys. Alas what they don’t have are proper toilet facilities. I can’t see such a model being a big seller for Lego so it may have to be something that I engineer myself. In the meantime – call me sad if you must – I am getting an inordinate amount of joy from just sitting in my office and surveying my extended domain.


Monday, 8 March 2010

Ideal Homes Exhibition

Despite never being into dolls houses as a boy I did build a lot of Lego houses to give my burgeoning collection of minifigures somewhere to rest their weary plastic heads. I think I’ve mentioned before that as a child I had an endless fascination for internal and interior spaces and loved building models that featured these. I’m sure there is probably something Freudian about this fascination but I shall gloss over it here as this is neither the time nor the place...

This love of models with detailed innards has continued into adulthood and after spending weeks idly building houses for my eldest boy – which he’d duly demolish – I thought to myself: look, why not just build one for yourself out of your own Lego?

The model in the photos below is the result (click on each image to download a larger version).

My Lego House

My Lego House

My Lego House

My Lego House


Compared to the official architecturally rich models available to purchase from the Lego Company my own model is somewhat modest in comparison but does fit rather nicely with the older models sold by Lego in the seventies and eighties.

It was important to me that the inner space was easily accessible and so I hinged the back wall so that it opens outwards like a book. This gives the viewer immediate access to the interior which I ensured was as detailed as my humble collection of bricks and parts would allow. As you can see there is a dining table, a computer table and a bedroom with an en suite bathroom. Sadly no stairs exist between the floors but given the minifigure on the bed appears to be an escaped convict that is just as well. I like to think that his female bedroom companion is a therapist of some kind attempting to rehabilitate him back into Lego society... while the minifigures around the dining table downstairs are possibly planning a bank heist.

I have recently completed an inventory of my Lego collection complete with a valuation of each model. This is easy when they are store bought models. It is much more difficult to place a value on models you have built yourself. I had to order some special parts for this model and their value had to be taken into consideration too. All in all, I would place a value on this model of about £60. Sadly I do not have building instructions as I built this freehand without recourse to Lego versions of CAD. Hence it is kept well out of reach of junior demolition experts...


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Shanghai Chase 7682

It's not often that I stray away from my favourite Lego themes and sample the delights of others but these vehicles from Lego's Indianna Jones range were just too gorgeous to pass up.

I'm sure the detailing isn't absolutely accurate and the sense of scale is a little off but given the restrictions forced on the designers by the palette of bricks they had at their disposal they are amazing. Restriction, after all, breeds creativity.

Many of you I'm sure will recognize these vehicles from the chase scene in the openign vignette of Indianna Jones And The Temple Of Doom. Don't they just make you want to push them around a tabletop making car noises and emulating gun noises?

Nope? Ah well. Just me, I guess.

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188



Saturday, 13 February 2010

That's No Moon!

Lego Death Star 10188 is the biggest and most expensive Lego set that I own to date. Comprising 3803 pieces and costing £250 this was a Christmas present beyond my wildest dreams from my wife a couple of years ago (back when we had money to spend). It is the ultimate Star Wars Lego set and took me the best part of a month to build. Employment and life got in the way somewhat and I had to make do with a couple of hours after work each night once the kids were in bed. To be honest this allowed me to savour the experience.

It came in a huge box that was in turn comprised of 4 smaller boxes each containing more Lego that I had ever seen in one place before. As always with Lego I was amazed and impressed with their quality control. All the pieces were there - none were missing - and there was even the usual array of spare extra pieces.

I must say that in my many years of building / buying Lego I have only ever had one experience of pieces being missing from a box and Lego's famous customer service excellence made sure those pieces were with me, free of charge, within a matter of days.

But back to the Death Star... you will see from the photos (click for a larger version) that the set is divided into several quarter spheres on each level and each depicts a famous scene from each of the three films (original trilogy). You get Luke's duel with the emperor as well as Luke and Leia's rope swing across the chasm. You get Obi Wan deactivating the tractor beam and trash compactor scene. The model is full of them - I'm sure you can figure the rest out from the photographs.

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188

Death Star 10188

Unbelievably this is not the biggest Star Wars set available. Lego are currently selling (though they are not making any more) a huge model of the Millennium Falcon. Totalling 5195 pieces and costing £342 it is the biggest set ever. Would I like it? Hell yeah. But where the hell would I put it? One has to be realistic and let the occasional set get away.

Maybe if I win the lottery...?

In the meantime, I can dream...


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Galaxy Explorer 928

This is possibly the king of the Classic Space sets. This is the set that as a kid I yearned for painfully but never ever got. It was simply too expensive and way out of my parent’s price range – even for a Christmas present. They had three kids to provide for so I don’t blame them in the slightest. Instead over two consecutive Christmases I received the two smaller models of the fleet, the 918 One Man Space Ship and 924 Space Transporter, both of which I will no doubt review at a later date.

Released in 1979 these first Space sets designed in Minifgure scale heralded a whole new theme for Lego and the new elements created for these sets eventually bled into the Town sets of the time and enhanced building techniques and the overall aesthetic design – very much a win-win situation. I fell in love with this new theme immediately and would spend hours poring over Lego catalogues and leaflets imagining what it would be like to own such amazing Lego for real. The Christmases I received sets 918 and 924 were good ones – by then I’d amassed enough of the smaller pocket-money models to have quite a space fleet at my command – these new additions were the icing on the cake.

But 928 was the one that got away.

Hence when I restarted collecting Lego again in my 30’s 928 was one of the first sets that I set my heart on acquiring. When the set was first released I think it went for something like £25 – which was a helluva lot of money for a toy in 1979. In the mid 2000’s it was being sold on eBay for upwards of £50. Lego, for those of you who have a mind to make money, is a wise investment; it holds its value and in a lot of cases increases it. I managed to buy a complete model complete with instructions and box for about £55 in 2004 and considered it a bargain. At last the secrets of the model’s interior was mine!

It’s a great set – featuring a roomy cockpit and a compartment at the back accessed via a pair of swing doors that contains a modest surface vehicle. Finally owning it brought the memory of those Christmases back to me and I felt that I had at last realized a long held boyhood dream.

Lego


Lego
The fact that I now own two (as you can see from the photos) merely augments my enjoyment of this set all the more. I didn’t set out to buy two but one came up on eBay a couple of years ago, incomplete and in a very poorly condition. I managed to get it for a mere £25 and then spent a good deal of time sourcing replacement parts of the right age with which to renovate it. It was an enjoyable project and, checking out recent prices on eBay, a lucrative one as the model – complete – can now sell for anything up to £150. Not a bad investment.

And yes, I now own two 918’s and 924’s too – purely to balance the fleet, you understand. One has to be even handed after all.


Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Inner Sanctum

Few people get to see The Inner Sanctum. Even those of my friends who know I collect Lego have rarely gained admittance to this holy of holies. Not sure why. I'm certainly not ashamed of it. It is, however, my refuge and my temple. A place that is indelibly stamped with the things that I like. When people do get a rare chance to peek inside the reaction is usually one of shocked awe. "Oh we knew you had a big collection but..."

The photos below may give you a little idea as to the nature of the "but...". As you can see four themes dominate my collection: Classic Space, Classic Town, Star Wars and (modern) City though I do occasionally dip into other themes if I like the models - hence the new Space Police models.

Feel free to browse and leave a comment - this blog is purely for my own amusement - but all are welcome to have a look around and offer an opinion. I am an active collector so please check out the advert on the right if you have any Lego (in good condition) for sale.

Click on an image to download a bigger version.


Lego


Behind the door - modular buildings and Tantive IV.

Lego

On the windowsill - some classic Town and City buildings plus one of my own creation.

Lego

In front of the window - a hodgepodge of models: lots of Star Wars, some Classic Town and Aqua Raiders.

Lego

Another shot of the modular buildings and a hint of my depth of feeling for Classic Space.

Lego

Star Wars and Classic Space - my hardy stand-bys.



Lego

Some of the bigger Star Wars models and the gorgeous Medieval village scene plus the Christmas Shop...

Lego

More Star Wars stuff: the fabulous Dropship - one of my favourites - has pride of place atop my computer.

Lego

A good array of some of the most aesthetically pleasing Star Wars models.

Lego

Oh I do like Classic Space!


I shall be focusing on specific models over the coming months but for now this is a mere glancing overview of part of my collection - a collection currently valued at just over £10,000. That's a lot of moolah - but it stops me drinking, gambling, drug taking and (sin of sins) getting into football! ;-)