Sunday 2 January 2011

So Where Do I Put This One?

So after previously bewailing the lack of display space in my "office" you have to wonder at the wisdom of one of my recent acquisitions - the 10212, Imperial Shuttle.

It is the second largest Lego model I have built, only being beaten both on size and brick content by 10188 Death Star. The Imperial Shuttle contains 2053 pieces and took me approximately 6 hours to build. This is pretty good going considering the Death Star took approximately 17 nights / 26 hours to construct!

As you can see from the photo above the model has been rendered at full minifigure scale resulting in a model that is nearly 1.5ft tall - not including the landing / display gantry.

The second photo above hopefully does the size of it more justice. My wife thinks it is not the most beautiful model that I own but I must confess to liking the clean and austere lines of it. Plus, as any Star Wars fan will tell you, this model is a pretty accurate portrayal of the ship that transports Luke Skywalker from Endor to the half constructed Death Star II in Return of the Jedi, there to experience his final encounter with Darth Vadar and the Emperor.

Despite the number of pieces the build was relatively easy though not for younger enthusiasts. The wing sections and, indeed, mounting the wings was very fiddly. It is also essential that you get the internal gears lined up and assembled correctly: you really don't want to have to dismantled the model to correct it all later. Take your time and get it right first time is my advice.

At over £200 this is a very expensive model - something of an executive toy - and though surprisingly sturdy is not really designed for play. It's a display model. Something for grown men to go "ooh" at and for children to covet.

And something for me to scratch my head about and wonder just where the hell am I going to put it?

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.

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

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.

(Click on the images to enlarge.)

Sunday 6 June 2010

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.

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...

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

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

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.

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 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...


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).

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?

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).

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.

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.