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Team J.A.F.


Spikels Mixels Review

Posted by xccj , in Review Aug 18 2014 · 83 views

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Click Here For Review

Probably not the first review of the new Spikels, but gosh it's gotta be one of the first. (Not that it really matters, I know most people barely read the reviews anyway.) Still, I am happier with these three than a lot of the others! Lots of character here!



Tired All The Time

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Aug 17 2014 · 73 views
complaining, again
I can't say my life is bad, since I've managed to secure a bunch of the essentials: a college education, a regular job that actually pays for something that I'm fairly good at doing (but don't ask me to explain it), an apartment that is mildly tolerable even without air conditioning, and enough money that I can buy Lego without an overbearing sense of budgetary guilt.

But as of late, it's seemed very... basic. Work has been interesting, but I'm usually quite burned out by the end of the day, and usually resort to napping or watching shows. I've done a little bit of building, but not as much as I would like. And despite all the great plotlines in my head, I haven't touched any of my stories since last November. Oh, and no social life to speak of. At all. Mostly, it just comes down to me not having the energy to do it after a full day of work.

I've always been under the assupmtion that I've lazy. A procrastinator. Unmotivated. An ungrateful leech. (Or so I've been told.) How else could my lakc of drive towards school and socialization and such be explained?

Unless it turns out I have sleep apnea. In which case when I try to get a full night's sleep I don't... and instead I'm tired all day. And don't have energy for non essential things. Like friends. Or stories. Or game ideas that I've had for years. Or for exersise at that gym where I'm totally paying each month for membership but hardly going to. Arg.

I kinda-sorta have plans to go get tested for it, but just getting that takes up so much energy! <_< But if that's not the problem then something else must be reeeeeally messed up with my outlook of life. And my only other solution is to just keep buying new Lego sets to ease the pain away...

Tl/DR I'm complaining about life. Want to take a nap now.



Recommend Me a Book

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Aug 10 2014 · 150 views
Imgonnaregretthis, probably
So I have a cross continental fight at the end of the month, for like 9 plus hours both ways. It’ll be a red eye on the way out, so hopefully I can try to get some sleep, but it’s going to be middle of the day on the way back. Just my experience two years ago with airplane rides was that my electronic devices won’t hold a charge long enough to provide ample entertainment over the full course of the trip. As such, I need an old fashion, non electronic form of media. Y’know, like a book. But I haven’t read any new books in years now. (I read plenty of online stuff, so not illiterate, but just haven’t had the chance to really settle down with a book.) I don’t particularly want to reread something, so I’d thought I’d ask for suggestions.
All the while knowing there’ll probably be a deluge of recommendations from the BZPower bookworms.

So here are some of my preferences:

Genres I would prefer would be science fiction. Not particularly fantasy, it’s not the same as sci-fi even if it’s in the same section at bookstores. I guess I would also be down for adventure or mystery, but not something that’s too gritty. I want something fun. And preferably something that’s not part of a trilogy or a tetralogy or whatever; is it too much to ask for a story with a full beginning and ending in a single book?

I dunno, I have particular tastes, and sometimes books can just be hits or misses. So, go ahead and make suggestions, but ones that clearly violate one of the above points will be crossed out and publicly shamed. :P

Oh, and um thanks! (Unless I scared everybody away at this point.)




Posted by xccj , in TV Aug 03 2014 · 108 views

Man, it was more of an adventure getting to this movie than I'd like to admit but will love to brag about. Between timing, troubleshooting at work, Max trains not running, and a distance of about 0.5 miles from the station to the theater, I only just got in as they finish the credits at the beginning. But man, was it worth it. Great movie, and I have just one thing to say about it! (But beware, may contain spoilers.)



That is all.

(Gosh now I need to buy The Milano Spaceship Rescue set)



Ordering a Rare Color

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Aug 02 2014 · 103 views

Isn't it great to spend a hefty amount (in two different orders) on Bricklink to get some useful pieces in a rare color... only to finally receive the packages and realize that it's actually a different color.

See, I saw that they had 2x2 dishes, ribbed tubing, and some clickits elements in trans medium blue, the kind that glows under a black light. The tubing and dishes turned out to be in light blue. (Well, the dishes, anyway. The tubing appears to be some unique color between trans medium and light blue, but in the end it doesn't glow under a black light.) The clickits pieces do glow, fortunately. However, that's still $15 that I thought was going to be spent on a rare color only to realize that it was not the color I thought it would be. (Again, the tubing wasn't a complete rip... it seems that bricklink in general has misclassified that color. The dishes... I have sent my complaint to that store owner.)

And this isn't the first time this has happened to me with this color. :annoyed: Next time, I'm asking the stores to look at their parts under a black light BEFORE shipping them to me to confirm.



Buy from Lego Online Now!

Posted by xccj , in News Aug 01 2014 · 101 views

Except in the span of me starting to write that front page article and posting it, shop.lego.com decided to just crash.

It happened in the middle of verifying my order too! So I don't know if I'm getting the Exo-Suit or not.

It seems that the hype for the new sets (likely the rumored-quite-a-bit-to-be-a-limited-release Exo-Suit) may have crashed the site? They posted an unusual error report on the shopping cart page, saying that we can't use express shipping or VIP points and that they'll add all the perks (free shipping, free polybag) later if they qualify. Also that it could take 24 hours to process your order, oh, and by the way, availability might not be up to date, so that limited production set that we totally say is available is actually sold out... sorry sukkah!

I see this for potential to reeeeeeally screw up orders. "Oh, sorry, we forgot the free polybag?" "What's that, we charged you for shipping when you qualified to get it for no cost?" "Instead of LEGO sets, your package contained a bobcat? Odd." I've had good experience with Lego customer service a few times in the past, so I'm sure they could eventually help work it out... but yeah I still could see this going badly.

Or worst of all, my order might not have gone through at all, and by the time I realize that the Exo-Suit will have sold out. :( I don't want to risk dropping more cash to redo the purchase on the off chance that it did fail... especially when they mentioned that there will be a delayed response. But if it goes over 24 hours, I might redo my purchase.

(My purchase, to note, was a Exo-Suit, 2x Research Institutions [an extra for a potential gift maybe?], Breeze Flea Machine, discounted Dragon Bolt, and Aquaman parts pack that also contains Batman.)

But, all in all, not the smoothest release of new sets from Lego, not by a long shot.



Posted My Lenticular Mt St Helens Mosaic

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jul 28 2014 · 42 views

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Lookie here, a topic in SBC!

So I guess the phrase "lenticular" is the one to use, since "cheese slope mosaic," besides being a mouthful, can also refer to some other styles of mosaic-ing.

I do need to take some better pictures, but my issue is A: bad lighting in my apartment and B: no backdrop large enough to fit the full mosaic. I also need to get a stand for it, and maybe somehow reinforce the back because it's rather flimsy, especially compared to classic brick mosaics, which hold up remarkably well. This will probably show up at a few conventions, cause I'm not planning to take it apart any time soon.

Also, anybody know a decent was to advertise this? :P I put it in a mosaic flickr group that, apparently, turns out to be dead. So fail there on my part. (Maybe the whole "take better pictures" thing also needs to come into play here.)



Cheese Mosaic Update

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jul 20 2014 · 77 views

Okay, so posting this week means even less likely for somebody to read it with all the traffic... but like that's not a huge change from 1 to 0 on the grand scale of things, so I'll ramble along anyway.

I got my mosaic completed... mostly. I was fretting over if I would have enough elements in white, light gray, black, blue, dark tan... and then the color I ended up coming up short on was dark gray. >.< I'm only a few short, so I'm thinking of replacing te empty bits with dark brown, which legitimizes my purchase of the brown Mixels just for those slopes! I also ordered some dark tan slopes (apparently a lot came with the Sydney Opera House, so someone was selling them for not-super-expensive) and it makes a good color replacement for gold. I did use some medium lavender... because I sent in a set for a draft specifically for that element. It's not the best shade (a little too bright compared to the rest of the model) but it works. Also, my purchases of the Grevious Bike and GotG $20 set were worth if for the sand blue and dark blue cheese slopes, respectively.

I only have the one half with me, so I haven't seen what the whole thing looks like together. Hopefully it'll be of a decent enough size that it'll stand out at conventions. (I dunno if I'm ever going to take this one apart, even if it does take up a majority of my cheese slopes. So it might make it to multiple conventions.) I'm excited to take pictures of it tho. It did end up being a rather expensive project; based on just the individual parts I ordered (including the baseplates) I would say it cost about $300. And that's not taking into account various sets that I picked up primarily for the cheese slope elements. I know my submarine project from a few years ago clocked in around $150, and that produced two and a half SHIP length subs. This just proves that, once again, cheese slopes are extremely expensive for their size.

Anyway, picts to come soon.



Review: Batman: The Joker Steam Roller

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 16 2014 · 68 views
Batgirl!!, Batman and 1 more...
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Let's look at set 76013: Batman: The Joker Steam Roller. I was able to snag this set at 20% off at the Lego Store. They had a sale on a bunch of the winter DC sets, basically all the ones that were kinda lackluster. I've had my eye on this one for a while, but it never appealed to me enough to go out and get it. But this sale made it worthwhile, so I spent the money. But now how does it add up?

I don't normally mention the boxes; I do in the official reviews just to cover everything but don't really care for the packaging too much myself. However, this box seemed exceptionally thick. Maybe it was because of the wheel pieces or something, but it's just like an extra large box. Odd.

I'm not going to lie; I wanted this set for the figs. And sadly, not even for all the figs, but primarily for Batgirl. I'm not a huge Batman fan, so I can't said I've been wanted her to appear as a fig since the theme began... BUT I did like playing as her in the original video game, and I thought it was a terrible cop-out that there wasn't a real fig verson of her. But now there is, and the detailing on her face and mask is excelent. Plus, a purple cape!

Batman is more of the same, although I guess this is my first all-black one, so he'll fit right in with my Lego Movie character lineup. Short Robin (forget which verson he's supposed to be) is okay, but I'm not a fan of his facial expressions. (Eh, he'll probably die tragically or something later.) Joker is decent, but not a must-have, especially since I personally prefer some of the older versions. I guess the henchman is good for army building, but I found him kind of bland anyway.

The Steam Roller is a very decent model. It's big, bulky, and detailed. The best design is, of course, the mouth on the front, but the back side also has a lovely tractor look. There's a fair amount of SNOT here, and a decent hinge joint to control the roller. The bulkiness is mostly attributed to the large roller and wheels, but it's still a hefty enemy vehicle. What's also interesting is the use of color: there's purple (back wheels), red (mouth), orange (front rollers), yellow (side highlights), lime (back engine), and green (roof). They just need to throw in some blue and it will be a full rainbow! (Blue technic pins don't count.) Although there is a LOT of color, it seems to be fairly well balanced so I kind of like it. One bit of a fail is the flick fire balloon launchers, which don't have a secure connection in their holders like normal flick fire missiles. (Although the face printing on the rounded cone piece is a plus.)

The Bat-Plane, on the other hand, looks awful. It has a fun little function, where the wings snap forward to grab onto the Joker or smash his head in. And the function is creative and it works! But it doesn't look good. They have a lot of curved edges as they try to round out the vehicle, and those curves are sharply contrasted by the straight edges on the inside of the wings. It doesn't look iconic or even very areodynamic. Even the function is kind of hard to pull off because there's no real way to hold onto it as you set it off; if you push in on the front "bumper" then the wings snap in on your hand, and depending on the speed it could be painful. Plus, the construction has you build the two wings at the same time when they're only connected by one 1x4 brick, so the construction kept falling apart. Generally Lego seems to have these builds done independently and then added together at the last minute, so the instructions here just seemed odd.

In conclusion, I can see why this set is on sale. The minifigures are good, but only Batgirl is great, and the rest have kind-of been done before. The Joker's Steamroller is an excelent design, but the Bat Plane not so much. I think the problem with the plane is that too much effort went into creating its function, which does work, but greatly at the expence of its overall look. If you wanted a bat vehicle, there are better options out there to choose from. The pieces are decent (and there are 486 of them, which is good) but nothing is exceptional or unique (except for the purple and orange wheels.) I wouldn't recomend this set unless you reeeeeeally want Batgirl (guilty) or this has some parts that meet you needs. Even then, keep an eye out for a decent sale first.



Review: Arctic Helicrane

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 15 2014 · 86 views
HUSKIES, Arctic, Helicrane
And now I continue on with my non-official front page reviews that take much less time to make...

Some people were excited to see the return of Arctic sets this year. Arctic was one of the last system themes I got really excited about back in 2000, right before I got consumed by Bionicle for the next 7 years. The explorers and parkas and snowmobiles and polar bears... it was a great theme. I only ever got two sets from it, but the mobile outpost one was definately a highlight. With that said, this year's theme had a lot to live up to.

And it lives up to it by including the one thing the original theme didn't cover; dog sleds!

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I picked up the 60034 Arctic Helicrane last month primarily because it was the cheapest set to get the team of huskies with. Jumping straight into that, the dogs are a lovely new mold with excelent face printing and great two-toned color. Better yet, the shading of the gray on the back varies, so each dog looks unique. The actual sled is fairly basic, but works, and the use of the Friends handle bars to hold onto the dogs is ingenious. I would've love this on its own to be the cheap set instead of the snowmobile, but I guess they'd rather use it as incentive to purchase the bigger sets.

And the bigger part of this set is the helicopter. I couldn't tell you if it is based off a real life helicopter, but IMO it looks a little bare bones. There are a lot of big, bulky pieces here, especially with the cockpit cover, making me feel cheated out of a more intricate build. (But that's just my complaint, I'm sure it's fine for a younger audience.) Basically, it feels like a long stick in which you attach the propellers, side legs, tail, and cockpit. In theory, the empty belly would get filled up with the storage device that's lifted up by the winch, so there's a very good reason it seems so empty in the middle, but the simplicity of the build still bugs me.

There are good parts about it. There's an ingeinous design for the trusters that uses click hindges to achieve a nice SNOT angle. They also use the 5L propeller beams as essentially 5L plates to hold down the larger propellers, so that's a nice trick. (And you get 10x of those 5L propeller beans.) The winch is also securely worked into the design, and although I'm not a huge fan, it works. Plus, you get 6x of the new ski pieces on the end of each leg and bottom of the cockpit. Speaking of neat pieces, the classic rock element appears in trans light blue here. (Last time they had trans light blue meteors, so that's a slight change.)

Parts wise, there's nothing exceptional besides the huskies. There are a few decent elements in orange. While orange makes sense as a safety color, I do kind of wish they had more of the blue color scheme of the original theme, but that's again just personal preference.

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The minifigs are nice, although neither is exclusive to this set. Still, like with the huskies, this is the cheapest one to get them in. I suppose the pilot is technically unique (according to Brickset) but none of his parts are. He has a classic brown jacket with some nice orange safety highlights to fit him in with the rest of the crew. I was surprised that the explorer was actually female; she seems to be in most of the sets as the huskies, so she must be their caretaker. She has a unique torso and face printing, as well as the new blue parka head piece. Again, I'm disappointed that the explorers don't come in various colors like they did in the original theme, but the consistant orange and blue scheme does make them all look like part of a team. And honestly, it's cool to see a female explorer who's not (only) in the most expensive set of the year.

This is a hard set to reccomend. The figs are good, and the huskies are excelent, but the actual helicrane is a little too basic for my tastes. It does have some decent parts, but only 262 for the cost of $39.99 is a pretty bad value. And while this is the cheapest way to get the figs and huskies, they do appear in some of the larger sets, so if you can afford those, I might go that route instead. But if you like the design of the helicrane, then there's plenty of play value to be had as you explore the arctic. (Next year I want the team to go to the Antarctic so we can get more penguin molds!)


August 2014

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Aaron Is Awesome

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He Totally Is.



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Is that the light at the far end of the tunnel, or just the train.
~ Owl City

Lisztomania, think less but see it grow. Like a riot, like a riot, Oh.
~ Phoenix

I took a sip of something poison but I'll hold on tight.
~ Foster the People

Birds sing for you, you can make this blue sky blush
~ Oh Land

On the other side of the street I knew, stood a girl that looked like you.
I guess that's Déjà vu, but I thought this can't be true
~ Train

But even the sun sets in paradise
~ Maroon 5
Crazy how that shipwreck meant my ship was coming in
~ Train (Again?)

So make now your ally, and leap before you look
~ Nothing's Carved In Stone
I'm just too much a coward to admit when I'm in need. 
~ Passion Pit
Just believe in far away, ikiru tame ni sore wa
~ Song Rider

Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly.
~ One Republic


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