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Team J.A.F.



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Ingress

Posted by xccj , in News Mar 24 2016 · 141 views

So I guess I've been fairly inactive. I can blame a bunch of it on work, but also that some of my free time has been going elsewhere, specifically into this game called Ingress.

My roommate is a fan of the game. (Like, y'know how I'm obsessed with Lego. He's at that kind of obsession level with this game.) It's a game on your phone where you go around and "hack" these "portals" that are tied to specific locations, usually pieces of art or something. It's an excuse to travel around and go on long walks (although it's totally making you the stereotypical millennial who's constantly looking down at their phone.) There are metals to win based on how many places you visit and hacks you make, and then there's also a competition between two teams in the game. (I'm on the green Enlightened team.) It also has these missions you can do where you follow a certain order of portals, and then you get this small picture icon in your profile, and some missions allow you to make a mosaic of a larger picture... anyway, it's kind of cool. And it's motivating me to go on more trips around the local area, and perhaps go to other cities and hack their portals. And there's leveling up, some of which gets you better equipment, but I'm now at the point where it's mostly prestige. (I've level 9. There are 16 in total, but they get exponentially harder to reach as they go...)

Anyway, it's been a fun game, although some of the players can be fairly weird and overly dedicated to this. (And a few who are kind of rude... I guess you get that in every fan base.) But yeah, that's what I've been putting my free time into. Gives me incentive to travel to new cities for Lego conventions, just to get more unique hacks. B-)

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Nexo Knights Quotes

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Mar 20 2016 · 125 views

"Because having an X in the name makes it cool and high tech." ~ Robin, episode 3.

It's sooo true.

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Review: 76035: Jokerland

Posted by xccj , in Review Feb 22 2016 · 105 views

To take a break from official front page reviews, I’m going to do a couple of blog review. Mostly these were sets that I was planning to review, but for one reason or another they didn’t end up making it to the front page. So here are some thoughts but without all the super details and pictures and video. (I mean, some pictures, but they’re not great quality cause I already had this on display and I wasn’t going to move it just for a photo shoot.)

The priciest Batman set last summer was Jokerland, which weighed in at $119.99 USD. It did have 1037 pieces to it, in a bunch of colors (I think all the primary colors were covered, and not just as filler either.) It came with eight figs, four models of various amusement park rides, and a Batmobile, plus a few smaller models as well. There’s a lot to it, but it is pricey, so is it worth the cost?

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The big draw should be the minifigures. You get four good guys and four bad guys, so an even lineup. However, right away there are some drawbacks, as only two of these characters are actually new in minifig form, and some don’t even have new designs. Specifically, Poison Ivy and Penguin are reused characters. The Joker’s technically new, but it’s a similar design that’s been used before, and although Batman and Robin have some updates (new cowl, duel molded legs and arms) they’re not exactly breaking ground either. Harley Quinn probably goes the farthest for a new outfit design, but it’s easy to see why there was disappointment for the others.

Still, there are two figs that are a major drawl. Beast Boy and Starfire are brand new, with recolored hair pieces. (BB reuses the elf / werewolf design with the pointy ears) Fans of the Teen Titans will surely want these two. (And bemoaning the fact that Raven hasn’t gotten a fig yet.) And they are two excellent figs... but they alone don’t make the lineup super appealing. But it worked out for me, because I didn’t have any of the other villain characters yet (given that they were previously only available in expensive sets too) so I didn’t mind the repetition. But I can see why it bothered folks.

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The first model you build is the Batmobile. This is easily the star of the set. Great use of various slopes and such give it a classic shape, and it even has a decent missile launcher mechanism. (Although, to be fair, the missiles don’t always load in properly, so that can take some extra effort.) I mean, this alone would’ve made for a great $30 set or something. It has the look and play features down; they didn’t phone in this vehicle.

Now, the rest of the amusement park rides… those are certainly weaker. On their own, I think they would’ve made for some decent cheaper sets, so this model could’ve easily been split up into five parts. But for what this set is worth, it just seems a bit underwhelming. A lot of effort went in to making these pieces tall and functional, but also sort of hollow looking. I would expect this from cheaper sets, but I think they could’ve gotten rid of a ride or two and make the others more substantial.

The funhouse mirrors is the biggest set piece, with a decent joker head on the top. The hat spins, you can rotate the eyes, and when you throw somebody through the mouth, they go down the purple slide and into the vat of spare parts. (First time I’ve actually picked up one of these new Lego slides… they work, I’ll give it that.) There’s a little room at the base for funhouse mirrors, where they use the reflective stickers nicely. (The various signs also have stickers, but they were all lame so I didn’t apply them.) There’s also a functioning cannon (which doesn’t function very well), and a brick built jokerbot, which is nice enough for its size. Still, the model looks impressive from the front, but not from the side or back. It’s like they wasted all their time designing the (admittedly cool) Batmobile.

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The next three rides feature the other villains messing with the Teen Titans. Harley Quinn can ride down a ramp and drag Robin into some fire. The design holding the cycle to the ramp works, and it even has a lever at the top to kickstart the bike and send it down the ramp. The function works, but... this thing is fragile. If you try to move it, to reposition the bike or something, the ramp (connected just via a clip) slides around or breaks off. It’s long and tall, but too flimsy.

The Free Fall ride has been taken over by Poison Ivy. The ride has some nice green pieces to it, and the stands and shell pieces in green are exclusive to this set, I believe. I do like the carnivorous plant design, probably my favorite after the Batmobile. But the seats on the ride are also well done, and while they don’t have studs, a standard minifigure will be held in place by the handlebars. The mechanism is if you hit the plant, the seats crash down to the ground, presumably without the breaking system the normal ride would have. Not sure what Poison Ivy gains from this, as she’s shown hanging from the same seats that are going to drop. All in all, with a little bulking up, this probably could’ve been its own $20-$30 set.

Finally, you have the Duckies ride. Of all the rides, this is probably the most fleshed out. It has a decent background, detailed duck cars, and a fun mechanism to spin it. (It would’ve done well as its own set... I know this because they have released a similar ride as a SpongeBob set.) Although the Penguin threw in some dynamite and some shark fins underneath it, the biggest danger for the riders is probably getting queasy as the duckies spin around.

Overall, it’s an interesting set, but quite a lot of faults that make it undesirable. A few great figs, but repeats will only appeal to those who (like me) didn’t get the originals. (I’m sure this still applies to plenty of folks, tho.) The Batmobile is excellent, and the rides all have various functions that offer plenty of play value. But I think they tried to squeeze in too many rides, and a few of them are severely lacking in heft. A lot of good parts in a lot of colors, but besides maybe the green shell / plant pieces, nothing I’d go out of my way for. This set has a few perks, and if there are enough to entice you (How much do you want Starfire and Beast Boy?), then pick it up, but otherwise, it’s still a safe one to skip.


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Review 70751: Temple of Airjitzu

Posted by xccj , in Review Feb 18 2016 · 148 views

To take a break from official front page reviews, I’m going to do a couple of blog review. Mostly these were sets that I was planning to review, but for one reason or another they didn’t end up making it to the front page. (In this case, the Airjitzu Temple was just too large.) So here are some thoughts but without all the super details and pictures and video. (I mean, some pictures, but they’re not great quality cause I already had this on display and I wasn’t going to move it just for a photo shoot.)

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The Temple of Airjitzu is one of the most expensive sets I’ve ever bought. This took a whole afternoon to build (with Hobbit making-of video in the background.) But it was certainly quite interesting, and certainly makes for a highly detailed Ninjago set.
First off, the figs. On one hand, it’s absolutely amazing that all the main protagonist characters are in the same set; it’s usually a challenge to get the full set of Ninjas, but they’re all here. I was planning on just getting this set to fulfill my Ninja collecting desire… but I did end up getting a bunch of other Ghost sets, so this will be my second full set of Ninjas. They’re all pretty cool, but then again they have all been seen before.

You do get some extras. Sensei Wu is always a nice addition, and he’s in a unique outfit here. Dareth also gets to show up in a proper set, although still without a brown ninja hood; maybe later. Clair and Jesper seem to be civilian characters; I don’t remember them in the show, and they’re basically rehashes of city characters. But whatevs, you need your civilians in Ninjago too. The Postman is a neat addition and a nice surprise, but the real deal breaker is the Misako fig. She’s played a moderate role for at least three seasons, so it’s about time she got made as a fig. And the details match the show perfectly, which is great. So if you were after this for the figs, then it’s delivers. I mean, still a bit pricey to pay $200 for twelve figs (thirteen if you count the statue) but still, they’re good.

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But the main set is also amazing, and that’s probably what drew in so many non-Ninjago AFOLs to get this set. The two smaller buildings are fairly well done and stand off well enough on their own. The Blacksmith shop has a good interior, a nice sloped roof, and a few interesting trees on the outside. The marketplace is less interesting on the inside, but they did a fabulous job using the garage door panels as the sloped roof, which also has the benefit of folding back to reveal some hidden crates.

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The overall temple tower has five main levels; the shadow theater, a tea room, a training room, a study, and a small attic. The shadow theater mechanism is build into the base and isn’t really accessible. The lever for activating the light is a bit different; it hardly has any room to move, but it turns out to be just enough to switch the light on and off, so a clever design idea. And the theater works, so very neat. Another thing that caught me off guard were the doors on the tea room level; they are actually sliding doors, and they totally work. (I expected the window pieces to go in a wall panel or something, so was pleasantly surprised with that design.) The sloped roof elements are also a neat touch, if a little flimsy at times.

The way the final product sits is angled differently than most models; it still covers about a square 48x48 base, but rotated 45 degrees, which means it can be troublesome to display. The fountain in the center is a neat touch, but I especially like the angled stairs leading to it. The bridge is also neat, but surprisingly doesn’t have a stud attachment to the main structure, so it just kind of sits in place.

There’s a lot of playability with this, from the various features in all the rooms to some of the extra vehicles. (The firework shooter has the six stud launcher, but it comes with medium azure studs, so it’s worth it. The hang glider seems like too simple of a design and I would write it off as lame... except it’s a callback to the original Ninja line, so I guess it’s also passable.) There’s plenty to role play, since you have quite a diverse cast of characters. You don’t really have any enemies, but if you’ve collected other Ninjago sets, you can have the baddies storm the temple and force the Ninjas to defend it. But it’s also a stellar piece of Asian architecture, and makes for a great display piece, which is primarily what I’m using it for. And plenty of room to showcase the figs too. (It even makes sense to put the Ninjas on the roof, because that just means they’re training.)

A great set, both for Ninjago fans and architecture fans. Good cast of characters, amazing designs, and a few neat pieces pop up here and there. (Sorry, not going to make a full list, but lots of special plates and bricks and walls that you’d expect to find in a larger structure set. Although there were four golden rings of power used in some of the pillars.) I can see why people have been praising this set, and it totally deserves it. Granted, at the price point ($200 USD) it’s not an easy buy. (Like I said, it’s tied with the Ferris Wheel as the most expensive set I’ve ever purchased.) But if you have the cash (not to mention the display space) it would be worth it.

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Team Lightyear

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jan 29 2016 · 153 views

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Everybody should know Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. But there was also a cartoon show that ran in 2000 that followed his adventures as a Space Ranger. These designs are based on characters from that show. From left to right: Booster, XR, Buzz Lightyear, Mira Nova.

I like each one well enough on their own, although I'll admit there are some flaws, and their proportions to each other are a bit off. (Mira is a bit too large, Booster is on the small side.) XR's helmet is also too small, but the new Ninjago dome just works too well, and none of the other Lego domes are tall enough.

More detailed photos are here. These should be at BricksCascade next month... and probably every other convention I go to in the next year... What's funny is I have like two other projects that I could be building for, but I got inspiration for this lot and worked on them instead.


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"XR... GUN!"

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Drop Tables

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jan 23 2016 · 177 views
get the joke?
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The Cyber Criminal "Terabyte" terrorizing the public. Little Bobby has finally snapped. What would Mrs. Roberts think?

Used up most of my masonry brick here. Of course, the build is more to make the joke and not the design of the building, which I'm going to say is at least acceptable. (I actually want to start designing more shallow buildings, with detailed exteriors that I can display figs in front of, but nothing too deep that would take up space when put on a shelf like the modular buildings.)

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Lucky Number 13

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Jan 17 2016 · 120 views
Breez Head
Almost missed my BZP-versary. I've been here for 13.

YOU JUST CAN'T GET RID OF ME.

I WILL KEEP POSTING AND POSTING.

LIKE THE ENERGIZER BUNNY, EXCEPT WITHOUT THE QUALITY PART.

I now have a spinning, decapitated Breez head under my avatar. Yay.

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Force Awakens Thoughts

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts, TV Jan 13 2016 · 153 views

Things to discuss about the latest Star Wars movie.

Spoiler


And that has been my random thoughts about nitpicky things in Force Awakens. Until next time / I think of more.

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Umarak the Mosaic!

Posted by xccj , in Lego Conventions Jan 10 2016 · 209 views
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More ideas for a potential colab mosaic for this year that's looking less and less likely...

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A couple of different variations that could be done for good ol' Umarak. He's looking to be one of the more popular sets in the winter wave, so why not glorify his might in a mosaic, eh? Plus, y'know, mask of control.

This are all preliminary designs, so there's be a fair amount of color swapping to make it affordable. (Oh, they're all 3x3 baseplate / 96x96 stud mosaics). I do realize that Umarak's glorious face is kinda wiped blank in all these variations... the comic version I use just didn't have enough detail there for the mosaic program to use, so I'll probably custom design that bit if we move forward. (I have ideas.)

I did try throwing Onua's uniter mode from the comic through the mosaic generator. It turned out... basically a blob of purple. Some of the other Toa might turn out better, but unless there are higher resolution versions of the comics, I'm less optimistic about those working out.

Thoughts, lack thereof? BOW BEFORE ME, SHEEPLE!! Oh, not quite there yet? Well it was worth a try.

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Bionicle 2016 Mosaic: Ideas?

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jan 04 2016 · 269 views
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So, like, for real this time.

Hey folks, I think it's time we start planning for a BZPower Bionicle 2016 Mosaic that can grace the various conventions. To start out with, let's finalize an idea.

I'm thinking that the best idea is to utilize images from the comics that come with the 2016 sets. The best images to use, IMO, would be the Uniter images of the Toa and Creature combinations. Each comic has a straight-on image of the Uniter character, which would be easy to mosaic-fy. Still, we would need to select which one. Gali, Lewa, and Tahu would be some of the more colorful choices, but we could do any of the six, depending on what colors people would want to contribute more of. (FYI, gold would probably be portrayed by yellow.) However, there's also potential to do Umarak the Hunter. He seems to be the best model out of the bunch, and it would be a first for us to show off a villain rather than a Toa. Thoughts?

Size-wise, I would aim for a 3x3 mosaic, so we would need 9 contributors of 32x32 baseplates. I could maybe build half of it, depending on what design we go with, but the more the merrier. If there's enough interest we could attempt a 3x4, which we pulled off last year, even if there were some stability issues at a few conventions.

Speaking of conventions, I would ideally like to have this ready by BricksCascade. But I keep forgetting that cascade is at the end of February instead of mid-March, so that may be pushing it. Otherwise, we could aim for BrickUniverse Raleigh in April. Ideally, I'd like to see this mosaic make the rounds with the BZP MOCs, making it to the BrickFairs and such, but members would have to be willing to contribute for shipping. (I paid entirely last year and it ended up being expensive.)

But of course, I also have incentive to join this year:

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I got a bunch of engraved bricks done this year and handed em out to everybody who participated on the Gali Masters Mosaic. But I have plenty of leftovers to anybody willing to ship in a mosaic baseplate again this year.

So let me know if you'd be interested in participating and what design you would like to use.

To get an idea of what we've done in the past, here is Bionicle Collaborative Mosaics: A History.

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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

I live my life in shackles, but I'm borderline-free.
~ Tove Styrke

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