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Hi there, while we hope you enjoy browsing through the site, there's a lot more you can do if you register. Some perks of joining include:
  • Create your own topics, participate in existing discussions, and vote in polls
  • Show off your creations, stories, art, music, and movies
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  • Organize with other members to attend or send your MOCs to LEGO fan events all over the world
  • Much, much more!
Enjoy your visit!

A Golden-Red Horizon


Humble Pony Bundle!

Posted by Aanchir , Nov 26 2014 · 545 views
Pony, Comics

Hey everypony! Right now there's a Humble Pony Bundle available, offering $165 worth of digital My Little Pony comics for as low as $15 (though of course, it's pay-what-you-want and a portion of your choosing goes to charity, so some people have paid $50 to $100). This is easily the best deal I've seen on digital My Little Pony comics to date so I definitely recommend it!

Included so far are:

Issues 1–23 of the main series
All ten issues of the My Little Pony Micro-Series
The first ten issues of My Little Pony: Friends Forever
The first two My Little Pony Animated volumes (comic book adaptations of the TV series, with two episodes' worth of story per volume).

This will continue to be available for a little less than two weeks, and more comics will be added to the bundle next Wednesday — but as long as you pay more than the average, those new comics will automatically be made available to you as soon as they're added! So there's no need to put it off until then.

Source: Official My Little Pony topic


Gendered LEGO Marketing — Then and Now

Posted by Aanchir , Nov 23 2014 · 726 views

Posted Image

This amazing LEGO leaflet from the 1970s has been making the rounds this week. It's definitely worth a read. But unfortunately, some people have tried to spin this as "look how much LEGO has changed" when in fact that's at odds with the truth of the situation.

Believe it or not, the 1970s were not some idyllic time before the concept of gendered marketing existed. During the 1970s, the LEGO Group had two themes which had what could be considered "dolls houses": "Homemaker" (http://brickset.com/...theme-Homemaker) and "Building Set with People" (http://brickset.com/...Set-with-People). And with few exceptions, box art and catalog images for any of these sets would show GIRLS playing with the toys. Including an admirably progressive leaflet with these sets does not mean the sets were not designed or marketed to particular genders.

In reality, what I think this image shows is how much has NOT changed. LEGO still designs sets that anybody, man or woman, boy or girl, can enjoy. That doesn't mean they won't design or market certain sets for the audience that they expect to enjoy them most. But it does mean that a child can buy whatever set they want, and then use the parts from that set to build whatever they want, even if it's not the same thing that other kids their age and gender are building.

I think it's a bit of a shame that people still can't seem to realize this without a leaflet spelling it out for them.


BIONICLE 2015 Parts Preview

Posted by Aanchir , Nov 08 2014 · 472 views

The first of two articles I wrote for New Elementary previewing the new BIONICLE parts has been posted! Check it out here!

The second post, still to come, will be focusing on the new mask and weapon pieces. And after that, expect some actual set reviews! I've already mostly finished writing the first, and I've recently gotten word that another shipment of sets is headed my way for review. I'm hoping for one of the Protector sets — I could probably spend at least half a post talking about their new blasters alone!

I also realized I never did post my second New Elementary set review here on my blog. It's a review of 70144 Laval's Fire Lion, one of this year's Legends of Chima sets. Check it out here!

It feels really good to be published, even if it's just in a LEGO blog. And I feel like it's going to help me reach more and more opportunities within the LEGO fan community. Years ago, when I was just a shoddy BIONICLE artist who wrote long, rambling posts about silly things and got in lots of arguments, I never would have dreamed of having the kind of reputation within the LEGO fan community that I have now. I still feel starstruck by some of the people I've been able to make connections with in the LEGO fan community and The LEGO Group. Hopefully some of these connections might bring me closer to my dream of actually working for the LEGO Group myself one day.



Posted by Aanchir , Oct 24 2014 · 575 views
Wow! In response to a recent news report, I got a proto energy boost, which means I've finally achieved Premier Outstanding BZPower Citizen status!

To be honest, this might not change a whole lot for me. It's not like I've been actively seeking to achieve this status, and seeing my name in orange is not a huge change. Also, I'm not sure how many people actually pay attention to a member's rank when it's not indicative of a staff position. Still, I feel like it's a significant milestone... significant enough for a blog entry, at any rate.


Daring Do Adventure Collection Review

Posted by Aanchir , Oct 21 2014 · 1,342 views
My Little Pony, Daring Do, Books and 1 more...
Daring Do Adventure Collection Review

While I was at NYCC a couple weeks ago, the Daring Do Adventure Collection arrived at home, together with some other books I had preordered earlier in the year. Yesterday I finally managed to finish reading all three books! I'm going to write a spoiler-free review.

Presentation-wise, the box set is fantastic. The box itself is shaped like a treasure chest, and has elegantly tapered sides, ornate decorations, and a sturdy design with two ribbons to keep it from opening too wide. It holds the three books and the "false book" from the episode "Daring Don't" very securely. If future Daring Do books are released, it looks like the false book could be swapped out with up to two additional books. The bottom of the box (and instances throughout) identify the books as the three newest Daring Do books, published after those mentioned in the episodes "Read It and Weep" and "Daring Don't".

The "false book" is a fantastic replica of its appearance in the show, even if its perfectly flat spine makes it hard to confuse with a real book. It has a glossy finish on the outside. The Daring Do idol figurine is just an unprinted recolor of the Daring Do figurine from the My Little Pony miniatures collections and blind bags, but it still looks very nice. It is held in a small blister pack on a dark red backing card, ensuring that it stays fixed in the center of the box, and the blister pack hinges open so there's no need to deface it to access the figurine. The box is a bit big for a single figurine, so a more cynical person might see the mostly-empty "false book" as an excuse to make the box set appear to include more than it really does. But you could easily use it to hold other My Little Pony miniatures, or other treasures of your own.

The books themselves are also elegant as far as presentation is concerned. The box set includes three books: Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore, Daring Do and the Eternal Flower, and Daring Do and the Forbidden City of Clouds. Herein lies my first real criticism — there is no obvious hint on the book covers to tell you which book to read first. The order does matter, since each book references the ones before it. Thankfully, inside each book is a list of "Other books by A.K. Yearling" which lists seven unpublished books and the three in this box set, in sequential order. But people not looking for this clue might end up reading the books out-of-order without realizing it.

The books are sturdily-bound hardcovers around 200 pages long. Each book has a differently-colored cover. The front cover features a full-color illustration mimicking the design of the Daring Do books in the show. The spine features the book title and printed clasps (I don't know if this is a proper bookbinding term) featuring Daring Do's cutie mark. The back cover features a description of the book, as you'd expect from a book of this sort. There is no dust jacket, but that's just as well because the covers are elegant enough without them.

Inside the cover of each book are some lovely endpapers featuring Daring's cutie mark, followed by yet another full-color illustration depicting a scene from the story. All the illustrations for these books (drawn by Franco Spagnolo, a professional illustrator and character designer) are extremely elegant and accurate to the visual style of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. My second criticism is that the beauty of these illustrations left me wanting more. Two illustrations per book, however elegant, felt like a bit of a tease! The illustrations are not 100% accurate to the text as far as certain colors are concerned, but they're still beautiful, and accurate to the spirit of the characters and stories, if not to all the details.

The pages themselves are decorated with motifs that suit the Daring Do adventure series, such as squiggly dotted lines and Daring's compass rose cutie mark on most of the pages, carvings like those on the edges of the "treasure chest" box at the beginning of each chapter, and Daring's face by each chapter header. The text is large enough that kids should be able to read it with ease, but the text itself is not at all "dumbed down" to cater to kids. Two pages into the first book, I came across the word "inimitable", and the same book is peppered with other complex vocabulary like "decennially", "pedagogue", and "somnambular". This means the books will also be a great learning experience for young and old readers alike, not just a fun series of stories.

In the back of each book, there is a glossary of characters, plants, artifacts, and miscellanea specific to the Daring Do stories. The back of the first book also features ten pages for the reader to make field notes and sketches from their own adventures. Like a lot of the activity pages in G.M. Berrow's other My Little Pony chapter books, I will not likely be making use of these. It pains me to mark a book that is not strictly an activity book in any way, and those times I have done so in the past have usually been followed by regret. But perhaps to others these pages won't feel quite so superfluous.

The stories are full of world-building for the universe of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and details on Daring Do's friends, foes, and previous adventures. They are not the easiest reads, due to all the lore and vocabulary, but they are exciting enough to make it worthwhile. Daring is well-written: definitely not a carbon copy of Rainbow Dash, but still a character Rainbow Dash could identify with and admire. Popular culture references (especially to the Indiana Jones franchise) and horse puns are of course present, but not so much that they become distracting or overwhelming. Best of all, the final book seems to set up for many future Daring Do adventures, which hopefully G.M. Berrow and "A.K. Yearling" will be bringing to us in the future!

Overall, I'm very glad that Little, Brown and Company has been such a fantastic partner to Hasbro. Every My Little Pony book they've published has been extremely elegant in terms of presentation, and this box set turns that elegance up to eleven. The quality of the stories is also fantastic. I thoroughly recommend this set to any fans of the My Little Pony franchise, particularly its adventure stories.

The biggest drawback is the price tag. The box set's RRP is $75 USD, an extraordinary sum for three adventures less than twenty chapters long — even in hardcover. That elegant presentation certainly isn't included for free. Thankfully, Barnes and Noble still has it on a considerable markdown, just as they did when I preordered it (the link at the top of this post goes to this site). If you still can't afford it now even at the discounted price, perhaps you might wait and see if the books are published individually or in paperback form in the future, or see if used copies become available at a lower price.

Source: Official My Little Pony topic


Some thoughts on the TTV Podcast

Posted by Aanchir , Oct 19 2014 · 897 views
LEGO, BIONICLE, community and 1 more...

Seriously, let's stop the hate. They do things fast to get content. Sure, they could've waited til the sets are released to do reviews, but they just wanted to get it out to fuel the excitement and show what the set is generally like. It can definitely be inconvenient when they get incorrect ideas out there, but blatantly hating them for it does nothing good for anyone. I wish they would be a little more cautious with how they output info, but let's relax. Rude is rude, no matter who it's being directed towards and for what reasons.

Let me make this clear: I do not hate TTV. I do not enjoy the TTV podcast (mostly just personal preference — I do not enjoy getting my news in video form when given the choice), but I respect them for what they do — and I reserve the right to be disappointed when they do it badly.

If a BZPower set review made similar mistakes, praising or criticizing features that do not exist when the set is built correctly, then I would want them to be held accountable as well. In fact, I have vocally criticized instances when I feel like BZPower set reviews have fallen short of expectations, such as when a Legends of Chima set was criticized earlier this year for a building mistake made by the reviewer, or when reviewers poorly "estimated" the piece counts of those and the summer Hero Factory sets, despite the official piece counts already being publicly available from several reputable sites.

"Fueling the excitement" is not necessarily an honorable goal in and of itself. Even excitement ought to have real substance behind it, or it devolves into tabloid-level sensationalism. But even if it were unquestionably honorable, having honorable goals does not mean freedom from criticism. People DO make mistakes, and when they make mistakes they should be held accountable. And a mistake by a well-respected YouTube channel with hundreds of viewers is not the same as a mistake by a random dude on a message board. The wider and faster misinformation spreads, the more of a mess it is to clean up.

I do not criticize TTV or try to correct misinformation originating from them because I enjoy taking them to task. To be honest, I'd rather I didn't have to. I'd like to be able to just trust them completely to keep people informed. I'd rather not feel a sense of apprehension when I see they've "reviewed" a set months before its release. But if I see them saying something untrue and see others repeating that information, I feel like I'd be amiss if I didn't correct it.

So please, if you see me (or anyone) criticizing TTV, don't assume it's because I have some kind of petty grudge against them. The fact that I have high expectations of news outlets like BZPower News or TTV means that I care about what they do, and consequently, about how well they do it.


New York Comic Con Wrap-Up

Posted by Aanchir , Oct 13 2014 · 561 views
This past week has been a real adventure for me! I have already talked about a lot of what happened but I wanted to put all my thoughts in one place for future reference. On Wednesday my twin brother and I took the train to New York City for New York Comic Con. I stayed with my mom's camp friend Carson, whom I had previously stayed with back in 2012 when I attended New York International Toy Fair. Once again, she was an extremely hospitable host.

The reason for going to New York this time, of course, was that my brother and I had won two invitations to New York Comic Con on behalf of the LEGO Group. The invitations included not only one-day admission to the show itself, where LEGO had set up a beautiful booth promoting the new BIONICLE sets and story, but also admission to two special invite-only events. The first of these was the LEGO BIONICLE panel at 1:00pm, at which the theme’s creative director, art director, marketing director, and U.S. brand manager talked about the process of creating the sets and media for the new theme and showed off some of the sets. Those wanting to see this panel in video form can see it here on BZPower News, and those just wanting to see the presentation slides in clearer image form can see them here on the LEGO BIONICLE Facebook page.

As amazing as this was for a die-hard BIONICLE fan like me, it was just an appetizer. The main course came at the second event, which was held at the new LEGO store in the Flatiron District (which didn’t officially open until the next day). Upon entering the store, not only were the sets and 14-karat gold masks shown at the panel on display, but the bins that LEGO stores normally fill with basic System and Duplo bricks for kids to play with were instead filled with parts from the six new Toa sets. For an hour and a half (an hour, in my case, since I arrived late despite my best efforts), we were free to play with the parts to our heart’s content. To top things off, we were able to keep whatever we built! I had thought even coming home with one of the new sets would have been a pipe dream, but coming home with my choice of their amazing new parts was arguably even better!

In between the two LEGO events, I had some downtime when I got to plug my phone in and upload some of the photos I had taken at the BIONICLE booth and panel. Taking so many photos (not to mention trying to keep up with Twitter while waiting in various lines) really took a toll on the battery. In the meantime, my brother checked out the Artist's Alley and got a sketch card of Unikitty illustrated by Katie Cook, one of the writers and illustrators for the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic comic series by IDW. We then got to attend the Legend of Korra panel, where last week's episode of the show was presented a day early and the creators and some of the lead voice actors talked and joked about their experiences working on the show. This was to be their last big event while the show was still airing, so in some ways it felt a bit bittersweet, but on the whole it was a great reminder why the show and its universe are so great.

Navigating New York could be exhausting. As I mentioned, my brother and I arrived a bit late to the LEGO store event in the evening. There are a couple reasons for this. First, we stopped to eat beforehand, which took a bit longer than we anticipated. Second, Google Maps very nearly directed us to the wrong LEGO store. We knew the new Flatiron District LEGO store was on Fifth Avenue, so it seemed like it was sending us to the right place. But we realized shortly before it brought us to (not) our destination that both the LEGO stores were on Fifth Avenue (but very, very far apart), and that Google Maps only knew of the Rockefeller Center store's existence since the new Flatiron District store was not technically open until the next day. Thankfully we were able to navigate to the correct store and only arrived half an hour late, which gave us plenty of time to enjoy the event.

The next couple days I had hoped to do some shopping in New York City (for instance, visiting the Toys 'R' Us at Times Square, either of the two LEGO stores, or the Nintendo World store at Rockefeller Center). But after this whirlwind experience on Thursday, not only was I fatigued from so much walking around and navigating, but I had gotten behind on following the various LEGO fan communities that were now ablaze with discussion of the new BIONICLE theme. Plus, my brother and I were already coming home with more amazing loot than I anticipated — getting MORE stuff was hardly a priority! We each had a custom BIONICLE hero built from the parts of the new sets, a BIONICLE 2015 T-shirt, two exclusive transparent BIONICLE masks, a BIONICLE Skull Spider, a BIONICLE 2015 T-shirt, and two BIONICLE posters. So I spent most of Friday and Saturday online, reporting on my experience and helping to clear up people's unanswered questions.

When we got home Saturday evening, not only did we get to show our family what we had gotten (and share some of that loot with our younger brother, who was not able to make it due to school), but also I was greeted by two boxes containing books I had preordered from Barnes and Noble earlier in the year: The Daring Do Adventure Collection by G.M. Berrow, The Legend of Korra book two art book, LEGO Ninjago: The Visual Dictionary, and "Shouldn't You Be in School", the third book in Lemony Snicket's ongoing series All the Wrong Questions. So I have those books to look forward to reading in the months to come!

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that my experience Thursday was the experience of a lifetime. Comic Con was definitely fast-paced and hectic, but getting to meet so many LEGO employees and be one of the first to experience the new BIONICLE sets and story for 2015 was more exciting than I had even dreamed. I also got to spend not quite as much time as I would have liked with a lot of the great folks from here on BZPower. I'm not quite through with this experience just yet — I'm in the midst of writing about and taking photos of my new BIONICLE parts for The New Elementary. Also, I have to get back to "real life" responsibilities like visiting the Zolo studio and putting together some new Zolo creations for their Facebook page. But throughout all of that, I will have some very memorable experiences to look back on, and many great new experiences to look forward to!

For those who want to see Thursday's events from my own perspective, I have a slightly disorganized photo gallery here with photos from the BIONICLE booth, panel, and LEGO store event. Enjoy!


On Fleas and Flick Missiles

Posted by Aanchir , Oct 01 2014 · 520 views
LEGO, Hero Factory, Sets, Weird
I was just in my room playing with Breez Flea Machine, a set that I got at the LEGO store last week. It's been on my wish list since before it came out, because I really love its design. The LEGO Group really showed great creativity with this year's Invasion from Below sets and I think it totally paid off. Generally the set meets all of my expectations.

Non-traditional design? Check. Its tripod build and heavy use of Technic really help it stand out from previous Hero Factory sets. It's also helped by its bulky leg armor and tiny feet, which give it a very nimble look (though with only three legs and such a tiny footprint, it can't hold TOO many different poses).

Great parts? Check. The Bright Yellowish Green square shell detail pieces are great. It DOES have a lovely printed shell like the other machines, though it's a different size and color than usual. The mini-heroes in general have great designs, and Breez is no exception. I'd be amiss if I didn't also mention the cool new cocoon petals!

Awesome functions? Check! At first I was a little bit disappointed with the claw, because it snagged every time I tried to flick it so I thought I'd be forced to extend it manually with the "Hand of God". Laaaaame. But then I realized that it was just the winch that was getting caught. If you unwind the winch before firing, it works like a charm! Then you can use it as a grappling hook, and the set even includes a zip-line piece that came out during my childhood, so Breez can slide down the cable to traverse a gap! It also works nicely for grabbing and retrieving the cocoon.

Plus, she even comes with a click-shooter — the first one I've gotten in a set, though I bought some from a vendor at Brickfair back in August. For those who aren't aware, these are tiny handheld shooters that fire a 1x1 round plate with surprising distance and power when you press the trigger. Considering how bulky, obtrusive, and difficult to integrate many previous LEGO shooters have been, this thing feels like a dream come true! The variations on the concept coming out next year will hopefully have similar efficacy.

But then there's something else. A regular flick missile launcher. And when I was playing with the set earlier, I couldn't help thinking this was probably one of the set's least impressive functions. Don't get me wrong, I love flick missiles! Or I did, back when they were one of the most compact, least obtrusive, and most versatile launcher designs. This year the LEGO Group introduced lots of amazing new launchers, including the click shooter. With a basic click shooter already in the set, I thought a pair of flick missiles would be kind of pointless and superfluous. It's not like they'd even work that well just slapped on the side of the set like that, right?

Well, it turns out I was wrong. Maybe I've been wrong for the past five or six years of my life, in fact. Maybe everything I know is a lie. Because just on a whim, I flicked that missile, expecting it to fly maybe eight or ten inches. And instead, like some kind of miracle, it sailed three or four meters, over my twin brother's bed, and landed in the far corner of the room. I actually thought it had misfired and gone straight into the ground before I heard it land on the other side of the room.

I was flabbergasted. Flick missiles aren't supposed to work that well. Not from my experience. Probably not from MOST people's experience, judging from all the hate I see for them in reviews. Surely this had to be some kind of fluke, right? After I found the missile, I returned it to the launcher and decided to try again. This time, I kind of screwed up. Instead of launching one missile, my finger accidentally hit both. Great, another misfire, I thought, before I heard yet another click of a tiny plastic missile hitting something hard on the far side of the room.

I found the first of the two missiles in the closet, about as far away from where I launched it as the previous launch had taken it. I still haven't found the second. Maybe I could get a blacklight to help look for it, since it does have a convenient fluorescent green tip. It didn't land in either of the trash cans over there, so it will have to turn up eventually.

But wherever it ended up, today I learned something amazing. Discounting the possibility of witchcraft, or the possibility that the last hour and a half of my life has all been some crazy dream... my flick game is surprisingly strong.