Sunday, April 27, 2014

Slowly but Surely

Three years gone by already.

That's when I posted my last finished build to Flickr.

I've built several WIPs since then but haven't been able to finish anything.

I have REASONS.

But the ball is finally rolling again. Last weekend I took several big steps to getting things going again. Cleaned up the build space in the garage. Fixed up the table. Built a table shelf and a wall-mounted shelf. Bought speakers for my laptop and wireless mouse and keyboard...just in case. Bought a chair. The chair is just a place holder until I get some carpeting on the cement floor. Need a nice rolling chair with armrests so I have more freedom of movement and can lean into my thoughts.

This weekend I bought some cleaning materials and more bins and drawer units. Then began sorting and cleaning.

I have over three years of resorting to do. My kids completely destroyed my organization. That's what happens when you stuff your Lego into a corner and don't maintain it properly for a long period. Some of the bricks are being thrown away...it's nightmarish thinking about what my kids put some of those bricks...and minifigs...through.

Lots of dust, cobwebs, even signs of rodents passing through. After I get everything reorganized and cleaned up, then I can finally start to sort through the past three years of Lego purchases that I've built and tucked away in large bins and boxes. Pretty sure I'm gonna have to get more storage before I'm done.

I think the most difficult thing about sorting a collection of this size is trying to figure out what to do with all the parts I have no intention of using. They have become scattered across several drawers and bins and will be consolidated into just a couple but what should I do with them? I have two drawers of Bionicle parts, a bin of plants, a bin of animals and several drawers of randomness. It's a silly question, really. I will keep them and mostly forget about them just as I've always done. Because once in a while, when rummaging through those drawers and bins of random, unused part, I find something useful for a build.

Not sure when I'll actually return to building. I surely have a few weeks left of sorting and cleaning to do first. Then I need a new camera. The one I was using three years ago has fallen into the hands of my kids...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Theory Crafting: Blizzard Blocks

As everyone knows, Mega Bloks was awarded the Blizzard World of Warcraft license. It came, it went...it fizzled out? The 2014 toy fairs have come and gone with no indication of new World of Warcraft Mega Bloks sets...perhaps in the coming Christmas season? Regardless of any forthcoming sets or not, Lego fans and many Blizzard fans, wanted Lego to have this license. Was Lego even interested in it? Is World of Warcraft kid-friendly enough for Lego? Did one party or the other bulk at the cost? Was accurate detailing a defining factor?

Lots of questions and no one is talking. I've tried to research this topic several times over the past few months and I just can't find any discussion at all. The only thing I can find are release notes from the first and second wave launches and some old discussion on the World of Warcraft forums...largely lamenting that Lego did not get the license.

So I have a theory...or two.

I think Lego wanted this license bad enough that they produced prototype molds. When the deal fell through, they reused the molds in the 2013/2014 line up.

The Lego Mixels have new tiny ball joints. Those ball joints turned up in a Chima mini line called Legend Beasts, which include minifigs...mounted on the small, highly posable beasts. A bird, an alligator, a gorilla, and a couple of felines, all offer themselves up as mounts for the minifigs. And as anyone in the know is aware, World of Warcraft is full of mounts for their characters to ride.

It is interesting to note that the ball joints that make these tiny mounts possible likely didn't exists until around the same time that Blizzard decided to shop around for a building block representation of their game elements. It wouldn't be the first time that Lego used something much later than the prototype was first leaked. I remember seeing a transparent skeletal horse a long time ago, then a few years later, I saw it in Lego sets with proper coloring. It takes time for a part or set to go from conception to shelf.

So, what if Lego had developed the ball joints for a World of Warcraft line, then needed to find something else to do with them? Another question might be, which came first, the Mixel or the ball joint? Perhaps the Mixel was just the result of a brainstorm session that Lego designers attended to figure out what to do with the molds from a failed product pitch to Blizzard?

When I look at the Lego Chima Legends Beasts, I see World of Warcraft mounts.

Likewise, when I see the Hero Factory Invasion From Below monster heads, I see World of Warcraft dragon heads. I suspect that with a little more investigation, we might find more recent molds that could have fit nicely into a World of Warcraft line.

But, what's done is done. If Mega Bloks is doing well, they will continue with the line for a few more years, if they failed, then Lego and Blizzard both would translate the failure to mean that there simply is not currently a market for Blizzard Bricks.

I'm happy with Mixels and Chima Legend mounts. But honestly, what could have been...might have been really awesome.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What has Lego Done Right Recently?

A lot.

Their minifigs are more detailed than ever before and include many more accessories than in the past. Their line-up is more robust than it has been in years. There was a time if you wanted city sets you better be satisfied with either fire, or police, or construction, or...but now things are different. I don't really care for most of the fire-fighter sets that are currently available but I absolutely loved the airport fire truck and purchased it. I may even buy another one or two copies. Most of the other first-responder type of sets and vehicles aren't my cup of tea right now, although their current coast-guard lineup looks interesting. But guess what...I've purchased a few of their city-themed trucks this year and plan to buy more. Lego's city theme is robust, full of variety.

The Ninjago line is packed with futuristic machines.

Chima is full of mystical animal warriors.

The classic-space revamps are still going strong, though a little sparse on the sets. We've had Space Police/Blacktron, UFO, and Insectoids with both UFO and Insectoids being mashed up together with a Futuron revamp in the form human defense units. What's next? Classic Space itself in the current movie line-up. Not much, but enough to give enthusiasts a chance to vote with every dollar they can.

Hero Factory looks very interesting and I just bought my first sets from that line. Too many interesting things in the sets to ignore it any further. Hero Factory  minifigs..."bugs"...hope they give us more of that.

Mixels are poised to change everything about Lego's small price-point sets. Give me a line of bots/mechs/alien beasts and I will keep buying them. I even have to put up a whole separate post just to illustrate the potential of the parts in this line.

Friends...my daughters love this stuff!

Of course the licensed themes are doing well, for the most part. Star Wars still going strong, Tolkien themes still selling, Super Heroes...why did this take so long?

The Simpsons, Cuusoo, Architecture, Technic, Mindstorms, Trains, Ultimate Collector's, Cafe Corner...so much to choose from.

It's not just that I like everything Lego is doing right now, because I don't, but there's so much to choose from and so much of it is fantastic, how can you decide what to buy? I certainly can't afford everything that I want from Lego.

Years ago, Lego was bloated beyond their means. Too many licenses that weren't paying off, too much merchandising that was unrelated to the brick, too many colors to maintain, more molds than could cheaply or efficiently store and maintain...it was a mess and they almost went out of business. But this time around, they've been more cautious and at least know what to do if they start loosing money and have to pull back a little: break some molds, discontinue some colors, cancel some themes, let some licenses expire...

Lego hasn't done everything right, but recently they've done a great job and I hope they can it up.