Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lego Atlantis

Hmmm...another day another leak.

As I've written before, I love Lego leaks.

So, as the discussion goes, this blurry Lego Atlantis picture shows a three-wheeled vehicle that happens to reuse the Power Miners wheels, therefore this is a blend of Power Miners and...something.

This is not true though. As was recently shared in a New York Times article via The Brother's Brick,

"The number of different bricks or elements that go into Lego toys has shrunk to less than 7,000 from roughly 13,000, and designers are encouraged to reuse parts, so that a piece of an X-wing fighter from the “Star Wars” series might end up in Indiana Jones’s jeep or a pirate ship."

A helpful Lego designer, Nabii, (aka Mark Stafford) popped into The Brother's Bricks comments section to clarify that quote,

"...this total includes colour variations! So a lot of this was achieved by reducing the number of colours any given element is available in at any given time."

My point here is that Lego Atlantis is NOT a Lego Power Miners mash-up theme. Since designers are encouraged to share parts between themes, it makes sense that the newest large wheels in the Lego warehouse would be used again in upcoming themes.

Someone commented on the photo praising the apparent return of trans neon green. What a horrible decision! Fans are crying out for trans red, trans yello, trans blue, trans green...they want classic transparent canopy colors. Space Police, with its trans blue windshields, gave fans hope that more classic trans colors might be on their way, but apparently not.

What this means is that we are about to see a deluge of trans neon green again. In order to produce these parts Lego had to order a large quantity of the insipid color (the more bulk, the better the deal). They fully intend to use those resources. However, there are some other possibilities. This pic could be of a prototype and a different wind shield color will be used before the sets go to retail. It could also be that Lego has had some neon green parts sitting in their warehouse that they decided should be used up once and for all (one can only hope).

As for the Atlantis line itself. Well, good for Lego. I like to see sci-fi lines from them. I'm thankful that they didn't use lime for this line. The figs should be interesting and the sets will likely be fun to look at. I wouldn't expect a lot of new parts though. Since a "new" part to Lego can also mean an old part in a new color, it would be foolish to expect much more than some new minifig stuff and old parts in new colors.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Macaroni Brick

So, Lego has improved the venerable macaroni brick and, of course, panic and rioting from the fan community has ensued.

In a nutshell:

Old brick- needed to be stacked alternately for stability. If stacked vertically and held sideways, a wall of macaroni bricks would generally fall for lack of clutch.

New brick- interior has been modified to add clutch. Now bricks will be stable if stacked vertically, but can not longer be stacked alternately and leaves gaps between bricks. However, a round plate was recently introduced that can be used to secure the new macaroni bricks if a builder were to stack enough for gravity to become an issue.

My take is simple. Who cares?

I mean, really, how many builders were trying to build with these things anyway? More importantly, when was the last time a plethora of creations appeared and wowed everyone with the sheer number of macaroni bricks stacked together? Sure, they're fun to have and almost every builder I know "intends" to do something significant with them someday. First they just have to obtain enough of them.

The change to this brick is an improvement. The one problem that will likely occur is when a builder legitimately attempts to stack a bunch together only to find that the securing plate is not available in the same color of macaronies being used. This is actually a legitimate problem, the introduction of incomplete parts series into the line. It is a problem that Lego seems to have no interest in correcting.

I'm sure we'll all find a way to survive though, Lego builders are a durable breed.

Lego Company Feeling Good and Taking Risks

An article in the New York Times tells all about how the Lego company is suddenly a financial tsunami while the biggest toy companies in the world are doing nose dives.

Well, good for them!

Interestingly enough, rather than invest that new found wealth by providing more specialized parts that collectors and fans have been asking for, Lego has decided to repeat the past. The article is full of interesting information. Here are a few choice words found within:


“But five years ago, we were in the midst of a crisis, and now we’re in a growth phase. We are definitely taking bigger risks than we previously did.”

The number of different bricks or elements that go into Lego toys has shrunk to less than 7,000 from roughly 13,000, and designers are encouraged to reuse parts.

There is also some mention about how Lego has not lost any of its quality throughout its restructuring from near bankruptcy a few years ago.

I've written about the short-term memories of the Lego fan community before. The sickness also extends to the Lego company itself. There may have been a number of internal issues that helped to lead the company into financial duress, but a runaway thirst for licenses was certainly part of the problem also. Licenses are awarded based on how much a company promises to give the owner. To make up for this fee, Lego must increase the cost of the product or take a loss on it. Lego fans have often noted the higher-than-average cost of Lego Starwars sets and the even higher costs of the Lego Starwars Clone Wars line (where Lucas and Cartoon Network both likely take a cut).

So, here we are again, seeing Lego take on a multitude of licenses as soon as the money starts rolling in again. Maybe we don't need 13,000 parts again, but we sure could use more than we are getting.

I hope these risks pay off though. I also hope that Lego is very careful about how much they can actually handle. They are also branching off into other product lines once again, another nail that almost sealed their financial coffin not so long ago.

All in all, it's just business as usual, I suppose.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lego Wishes

For a few years now Lego has submitted fan questionnaires to online sites. After a few financial questions and some product reviews they ask what fans of Lego would like to see in the future.

I've been given mixed blessings via these forms.

Things I have asked for:

An anime line...they gave us Exoforce. Not a horrible line, but many of the optional models were more like what I had in mind.

Aliens...they gave us Mars Mission and space pirates. Mars Mission aliens were awful, space pirates are kind of cool. Now if we could just get a proper Space line with our aliens we'd be all set. P.S. Three years of white space sets is too much white. Please don't let there be a fourth.

An ongoing line of cars reminiscent of Hotwheels...we have Lego Racers. Early Racers had minifigs (or in VERY early cases, just minifig heads) but few of the cars were noteworthy. Now we have noteworthy cars, but not to minifig scale. Sigh.

I also asked for some sort of architectual sets. I recall that lighthouses were being discussed at the time and I thought that would be pretty cool...we have a wide range of oddities. Some houses have appeared in the Creator line. A large wind turbine was released as a promotional with a scaled down version now available at retail. We also have an actual architectual line with sky scrapers and art deco stuff.

I think that is all I asked for.

In every case, Lego almost got it right. Be careful what you wish for.

Lego Toy Story

Well, someone shared some of their pics from another Toy Fair a few weeks ago. This time it was Toy Story and Persian...something or other. The Persian thing is basically just a historical theme with a story, so nothing really special there except maybe some new parts.

So, focusing on the Lego Toy Story license, I have to say I'm a little disturbed. First though, I am pleased to see the green soldiers and hope they don't change dramatically from what was presented at the show (often, the shows are riddled with prototypes that are subject to changes before release). We also get the little alien guys. What I don't approve of are the odd proportions and sculpted heads for the main characters. We are going to be getting longer arms and legs for some of those minifigs. I have no doubt that they are going to sell a lot of these sets, but for me it's just a reminder of how many AFOLs feared that the classic minifig was going to be replaced by the Jack Stone/ 4 Juniors figs several years ago. Sure, it won't happen this time either, but I'd much rather have these memorable characters as standard minifigs with round heads. Also, if the head gear is removable, there is a chance that it will not be supported by the standard minifig. We won't really know until the sets hit the shelves. Unless a Lego rep already answered that question somwhere.

They also showed the RC car from Toy Story and it appears to represent the character well enough, but it's nothing I'll be running through the store to get. It may be a prototype however, and perhaps we'll see some new parts on the official release.

Oh, the Persian thing has some new animals and hats. Watch out progressive Lego builders, your challenge is at hand!

Inconsistency

It is just the way I am, I guess. Sometimes I can make blog posts daily for a few weeks, sometimes I have to make do with several at once after missing a month or more. Sure, it is exactly what blog tutorials tell you NOT to do, but that is what I am doing.

Sure, I have Google ads, but it's more because I wanted to go through the process as a learning experience than anything. I had, and still have, no real desire to make money off of something like this, I just figured "Why not?"

Honestly, I don't even know If I've made any money. I don't even remember where I need to go to find out. If I have made some money, would it be more than a few pennies even after all this time? I vaguely remember that Adsense pays out after a blog reaches a certain dollar amount and I have not received any checks from them, so I would assume the answer is a resounding NO.

Someday I might remove the ads and learn to place custom backgrounds on my blogs, but right now I just can't be bothered to do so.

And what about my Lego building? Have I maintained the proliferation as I wanted to? Nope, I have not. I have built a few "bots" and two starfighters and have started another ship of sorts, but it's taken me over a month to do that.

I have, on the other hand, begun to keep a sketch pad near me at all times. I've grown tired of looking for new places to find unique inspiration, so now I'm making my own. Yesterday I was supposed to sketch twenty unique designs, which would be followed up by a few more days of the same. I did twelve. Then I put the book down and played Combat Arms for an hour or so. Then I discovered some more introspective Lego blogs via twee effect. Now I've been inspired to add some posts to my own blog(s).

So, there it is, the life of an inconsistent AFOL, I guess.