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Team J.A.F.



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2018 Bio-Cup Entry: Elemental Duel

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jun 26 2018 · 163 views
Tahu, Onua, MOC
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Full Album


Honestly, I was not aware of the Bio-Cup competition, but then again I'm not exactly in the Bionicle MOCing community on Flickr. Honestly don't know if this model stands a chance. I'm really pleased with my Onua and Tahu models, and the stone hand turned out nicely. But the fire phoenix was kinda thrown together... and it features prominently in the entry pict, so... Anyway, I hope the image conveys more of a scene with some motion than you'd normally get. But I've seen some of the other really awesome entries and I'm not too sure I'll "progress" to the next level. But, eh, I entered.

Also...

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"Tahu, you should really seek out..." "The Mask of Levitation, I know."

:music:


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Review 10261: Roller Coaster - Night 04

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 13 2018 · 138 views
roller-coaster
Aaaaaand done!

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Bag 10 builds up the rest of the left side, including the large pole tower with the angled supports. As precarious as it is, the geometry on the angles is impressive. Honestly, I don’t know how I could MOC my own Roller Coaster; I was not keeping up with the various brick heights to get the math just right. I did have one column that wouldn’t fit on right… and lo and behold, it was because I forgot a single 2x2 round plate in the stack. You start off Bag 11 by building the roof over the loading docks, which has an interesting SNOT design and utilizes the circular cutout plate in brown, which is a fairly useful element. The sign also has a bunch of signs showcasing the various things that you can’t bring on the roller coaster, namely a camera, a mug, a popsicle, a baby, or a dog. While it seems fairly obvious that these items shouldn’t be taken on the ride, the signs also look like something President Business would post. (Now I want to make a baby invasion with the no baby sign above them.)

Bag 11 continues by connecting the two halves together and then building a bunch of supports to really lock them in. I suppose it would still be easily to separate them with a little dismantling, but they do get locked together pretty well. You also build the double track contraption, which allows you to store a second train (or slide it out to add the carts to the track in the first place.) You also put together the six carts and… the chain. The small chain links have been around before (for a while, I was having trouble finding them because they were relatively rare, only appearing in the occasional Technic set) but I believe that this is most that ever appear in one set. There are 203+ of these that you need to individually link together… the process maybe took me 10 - 15 minutes and was far more tedious than building all the columns. But you know what they say about the weakest link.

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Getting the extra-long chain in place is another troublesome hassle. Basically, you need to feed the chain through the various holding mechanisms, but some of them are difficult to access behind the support beams. (Especially if your hands are somewhat clumsy like mine.) There is a rubber band powered stopper that’s supposed to cut down on the slack of the chain… but it works only moderately well. My chain also catches a lot when I use it to drag up the trains; perhaps there are some pieces that are not flush, but I notice the chain tends to wobble a bit and not remain central along the track, so I may also need to adjust the length. But I’m careful about putting too much force on the lever when rotating the chain; I’ve had it break twice already, and to fix it you basically need to rethread the entire system. It’s a bit disappointing that the wheels on the top of the curve are basically powered by the chain, which I think adds extra stress to the chain. It might’ve been better to build a separate system that goes up the columns and spins those wheels without relying on the chain, but that would’ve complicated things and wouldn’t be as intuitive as just having one system that powers the whole thing. I haven’t attached my motor in yet, so I don’t know how problematic that would be to have the chain in constant motion. I fear the trains would get caught on something, the motor wouldn’t relax on the stress like I’ve been doing by hand, and then the chain would snap and I’d have to put together the whole system again.

Oh, and also I haven’t been able to get the braking system to work; the carts blows through so quickly that it just pushes past the wheel if it’s extended. The only way it works is if I’m manually pulling it out, and I don’t think that’s the intention.

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So while the lift mechanism is less than desirably... once that train starts dipping down the track, it moves along quite smoothly. And it’s awesome and totally worth the giant set... well, mostly worth it. Basically, it’s the same kind of mesmerizing movement out of a Lego set that I’m used to seeing in Great Ball Contraption, which has always been something that I’ve never felt qualified to build for. But motors today are far cheaper than they were ten years ago (and I also earn more money) so it’s always a possibility for the future.

As for the trains, you get two cloned designs with different shades of blue. The first cart also has a longer nose that covers the clip, so the other two need a different design to easily attach to each other. The three cart limit seems ideal for the lift mechanism, although I have had some trouble with the first cart getting attached to the chain at the bottom, forcing me to give it a manual push. You can attach all six together, but the carts tend to snag when they reach the top curve, as they’re moving with the side wheels and the chain. When I’m doing it manually, I sometimes had to back up the chain to get something to hook before I could get it moving forward again. (Still, it’s fun seeing the six carts together rush down the track.) Despite the warning signs, the young child is capable of riding by just standing in the cart, so realistically it’s not a deal breaker. (Although when I made it so her feet were loose on the studs, she did get thrown off on the curve after the first big drop... so safety first.) Ironically, it’s the taller minifigures who could be in more trouble, because they’ll hit the sign at the top of the climb. (Batman’s mask, in particular, is just over the limit, so Batman cannot ride the Roller Coaster. Bruce Wayne, maybe.)

The final product is actually sturdier than I would’ve expected. While the individual beams and columns are still wiggly (the far left tower in particular) the inclusion of the tracks actually help lock everything in more than I was expecting. And it’s strong enough that you can lift the whole thing by grabbing onto particular sections (or just the baseplates.) All together, it’s not that heavy, since there’s a lot of opened space between all the bricks. So, despite taking up twice as much shelf space as the Ferris Wheel, I’d say they weigh about the same.

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The last bag gets you three more civilian figs, bringing your total to 11. They include some interesting pieces, but nothing particularly noteworthy. Above is the full collection of figs from the set. Overall, some of them have uncommon hair pieces, and lots of them have alternate facial expressions that work nicely with the Roller Coaster, so it’s a fun lot. Most of the torsos appear to be generic City styles, although I recognize more than a few from the “Fun at the Park” minifigure pack from two years ago. Plus, the two park employee yellow torsos are nice, and have the Lego logo on the back. (And Batman doesn’t actually come with this set, but let’s be honest, you didn’t know that at first. :sly: )

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This is my most expensive set I’ve ever purchased, and it’s also probably one of the largest too; the foot space is about the combination of Ninjago City and the Ferris Wheel. But in terms of height... well, the other two beat it. The top section only comes up to the top of the third Ninjago City level (not entirely visible here, since my Ninjago City has been modified with an extra level) but the sand green tower would still beat the Roller Coaster. However, the Roller Coaster only gets up to the midpoint on the Ferris Wheel, which continues to hold the title of tallest Lego set (in my collection.)

The final question of is this set worth it is... a challenging one. The $379.99 price point is insanely high. Luckily, they’re releasing the Creator Roller Coaster at a far more affordable level. (I mean, $89.99 isn’t exactly cheap, but it won’t break the bank either.) Plus, the track pieces are appearing in other sets too, either as part of a coaster or trolley system, or just as decorations. (The pieces do have some use. In fact, the ones angling upward would be place side by side and make for an interesting Golden Gate Bridge design. I’m not taking apart my model to test it out, but it could be done.) The only exclusive track piece is the vertical climb track, and we’ll inevitably see that again. Sure, it would be problematic to motorize your own mini Roller Coaster, because you’ll need to track down the chain and build the lift mechanism yourself. But honestly, if that’s what you’re going for, you might as well go big and get this set which includes all you need to pull that off. (Well, you need to supply the motor and battery pact, but there’s an easy connection point already built in.) Or you could go insane and buy three copies of the set and build a monstrous Roller Coaster with a full vertical loop! (I mean, you'd be spending $1,139.97, but it would be worth it, right?) Besides the high price, this set also takes up a lot of space; you’re going to want to keep it on a hard table. (Building it on carpet, like I did, is not recommended.)

So really, I wouldn’t recommend this set for the average builder; you need to have a certain level of dedication to invest time, money, and shelf space into this set. And even then, I’m still not very impressed with the chain lift system. That said, if you are the kind of dedicated builder this set is targeted towards, you probably know. In that case, the high price point would be the major deciding factor for whether you should get this. For the same price, you could get 19 Toa or Star Wars CCBS figures, 4 of the Creator Roller Coaster, Ninjago City and the Fire Mech, or a little less than half of the big Millennium Falcon. Or also the cost of two months’ worth of lunches, more than half a month’s rent, or a plane ticket to go to BrickFair Virginia (but not quite enough to also cover the ticket back.) The point is, it’s expensive, so I recommend that you take financial consideration of the purchases. (To be fair, I did this and still bought the set anyways.)

I might put together a short video review showing off the set in action, but honestly I don’t have the setup to make it any good; I barely have the shelf space for this!

:music:

Edit: I've tweaked the chain and added the motor, and it seems to be working alright.


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Review 10261: Roller Coaster - Night 03

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 12 2018 · 125 views
roller-coaster
Yeah, I skipped a night, sue me. And then sue me for this... SMOKE BOMB! :rollaway:

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Today I got through bags 6 - 9. 6 build the base, 7 added more columns (ugh), 8 added the ticket and fruit stands, and 9 built the gearbox beneath the loading zone. Overall, I've probably put in 5-6 hours of build time into this, but splitting this up across multiple days does make it seem like a less monumental task. (I have two bags left to go, so I'd estimate another hour and half of building time left.) It's going a little faster than Ninjago City, which has more small pieces to put together, despite costing less. But it's taking longer than the Ferris Wheel, which I believe I pulled off in a single 6 hour sitting. The building here is honestly less enjoyable than Ninjago City. That model had clever building techniques crammed in in every available space. The Roller Coaster, instead, is built more for functionality, so while there are some interesting designs, there's a lot of repetition required for structural integrity. I did include the "Coaster" sign in the picture since I built in with this batch, and it has been one of the more clever designs; I like how they created the letters in a new style.

That said, there are a few nifty builds on this half of the track. There's a little path leading to the ride's entrance and exit, and reminds me of the meandering queue lines I used to build in Roller Coaster Tycoon (man, that was an older game that I played way too much.) Funnily, the path forms a loot on the interior of the plate; I get that people are supposed to enter and exit on either end of the ticket stand, but there's not much room there and no colored plates, so I just image that some riders are forced into a constant loop of riding over and over again. Anyway, some of the little details include a small pond, another tree, a fruit stand, and a ticket / photo booth. The latter is impressively fitted on a single stud, but the clips on the top attach it to the curved track and hold it in place nicely.

There are also a couple of technic contraptions built here. The first is the mechanism for the chain lift on the far end, which includes various gears and a neat wedge that looks like it will pull out any slack on the lift chain. (Not looking forward to putting together those links, and that's one of the very last steps too.) Even more complicated is the gearbox beneath the loading platform, which has a few interesting placements for the gears. The far right lever reaches across the baseplate and it used to manually work the lift chain, for those who forgo buying a motor. The bar on the far left is the break; it pulls in a time that's supposed to stop the cars at the loading dock. The middle lever then spins that wheel, allowing you to "start" the ride. Meanwhile, the bar can be pushed back so that the cars don't stop when the ride is going fully automatic when you plug the motor in. However... at this stage, the bar doesn't like being pulled out far enough to catch the cars. I've double-checked the build and it's all correct, and I don't think there's anything else added to this later that makes it more effective... so I dunno. It would be lame if you have to manually pull it out to catch the cars as the zoom into the station.

This set doesn't have any new figs until Bag 8, so I guess they decided against dispersing the figs equally. In Bag 8, you get an employee to man the ticket counter and other to work the fruit stand. Bag 9 offers you the ride operator and two riders. There are a few rare parts, like the white female hairpiece and the long brown female hairpiece. Two employees get a fancy yellow jacket to show that they're ride operators, so that's fancy. As for new pieces, you get a few nice curved tiles in light yellow with the fruit stand, and also the 2x2 triangle tiles used beneath the ticket stand, the latter of which I can see being very useful. The gold roller skates, Ninjago City ornate fences, and BrickHeadz glasses are also nice to have. There's also the new rock element, which is modestly rare too, and it's my first chance at getting this piece.

One thing that I've started to notice about this set is that it's skimping on the extra pieces. Normally, when a bag contains a small element, it includes an extra of it. But then you have sets like Ninjago City, which reuse the same small element multiple times across multiple bags, so you essentially get an extra of the piece for every bag it shows up in. Well, this set doesn't appear to do that for me; I'm getting an extra of the small elements in the first bag they appear in, but if they show up again later (like the white 1x1 plates) the extra doesn't show up. And that's not the only penny-pinching this set does; it asks you to save a rubber band from one bag to use later on in the build. I swear they use to just include an extra rubber band later on instead of this whole "remember to use this rubber band a hundred steps from now" deal. I wonder if this was a conscious decision on their part to limit the number of extras... I mean, is sparing a couple of 1x1 studs really that big deal when the set is already costing $379.99? The running tally for this set is just at $0.09 per part... but that also includes 280 of those small links, so that bloats up the part count, and then you have the specialized track parts that probably cost more. But... come on, this is not a licensed set and is already uber expensive, there's no need to get cheapskate-y.

Anyway, I have more column builds to look forward to. :bored: And there's also putting together all those links. Still, although the build is less enjoyable than some sets, I'm eager to finish it and start playing with a motorized Roller Coaster! The car's been fun to test out on the track, but it still needs to go the full loop!

:music:


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Review 10261: Roller Coaster - Night 02

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 11 2018 · 310 views
roller-coaster
And the building continues...

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So tonight I finished bags 3 - 5. Well, mostly; I left out the sign bit to do later, and I jumped to the end to build one of the cars (literally the last bits you build for this set.) But in general, the right half of the Roller Coaster is finished.

The build was tedious, to say the least. If I wasn't building more columns (which had enough slight variations that I had to pay attention to each one) then I was building one of the supports. The whole thing is modestly sturdy; I wouldn't bet on any stress tests, but it'll hold it's weight for the most part. The most precarious design is the angled bits on the front (where Batman's standing) which is essentially a base for the tracks being held up by two clipped support beams, which is currently not sturdy at all. (But upon closer inspection I realize the sign bit would lock the bases of the two angled beams, thus creating a full triangle.) So it would probably be sturdier if I accurately followed the instructions. There was a bit of technic building on the top, consisting of the gearbox for the top of the chain and the wheels that pull the cars around the top curve. A few clever designs there, but I'm sure nothing a Technic fan hasn't seen before.

This is about as tall as the structure will get... and it's tall. It's not quite as high as the Ninjago City tower, but it definitely reaches the top of the third level with the sushi table. There weren't any actual new figs built here, but there were a couple of new pieces I found interesting. One was a 2x3 plate with a bar underneath which has shown up in a few sets, but is new this year. It's not exactly versatile, but I'm sure it'll be useful for some designs. More interesting is the 1x2 curved brick which is not only brand new but exclusive to this set at the moment. (Alas, it only contains two.) This element would be extremely useful, although I didn't test how the curve compares to similar bricks. Hopefully it starts making a wider appearance in cheaper sets, but it has a very specific use in the chain gearbox for the Roller Coaster, thus requiring it's creation, because I don't think any other bricks could pull off the same design. Getting to add in some of the track pieces was fun too, and the little car glides easily down them.

Looks like I'm back to building the base tomorrow, but there's the more complicated loading platform to make, as well as a few of the stalls, so hopefully enough to keep me entertained. Although I do get to build the sign; I was saving that for when I'm not burned out; I need a break from building more supports. :annoyed:

:music:


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Review 10261: Roller Coaster - Night 01

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 10 2018 · 358 views
roller-coaster
So I caved in and bought this. It's now the most expensive set I've ever purchases, beating Ninjago City by about $80, and it's definitely looking to be the set that takes up most of the shelf space; it will be taking over the display space where I previously had Ninjago City and the Ferris Wheel. But it just looks so cool that I couldn't NOT get it, right? Now, this does kind of kill my Lego budget for the rest of the summer, and there are some cool sets still coming out, so I am going to have to show a little more self control over my purchases for a while...

But anyway, while I get started building this, I'll do a short documentary in my blog. Not a full on review because, well, I don't have THAT kind of time.

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So Night 1 got me through the first 2 bags (although each number really includes two or three bags a piece, but this is the terminology I use for smaller sets, so I'm sticking with it here.) Basically, it builds the base and first level of supports for the right half of the full set. Now, I thought the Ferris Wheel had some tedious builds, but I have a feeling I'll be sick of constructing all these white columns after a while. That set, the design technique for using clips on the base really holds them together, although the various support beams look like they'll be only partially effective. It's cool how they're using Mixel joints to create some angled beams on the end, but I feel like it's more for show than true support. Seeing at this set is supposed to get three times taller than this, I think the top might be more rickety than I'd prefer, but I'll make that judgment when I get to that point. And one thing that I haven't seen stressed in other reviews is the hazard for pinching yourself while trying to snap these columns together. Maybe it's just due to my hap hazardous building style, but I got pinched a couple of times and actually drew blood once... so now I am being a tad more careful.

There are a couple of small builds that fit in with the base. The cotton candy cart is a neat design; nothing super impressive, but it works. (I would've liked to see a gear mechanism to spin the inside of the machine... but how one could pull that off at this scale, I do not know.) The beehive piece as cotton candy (or, as I learned from another British review, is called candy floss in the UK and fairy floss in Australia) is quite ingenious, and I'm kind of disappointed that I only get two of them here. The tree is another nice design for it's size. It's simplistic but manages to work, mostly thanks to various newish plant molds. Even the park bench (not quite visible in the photo) is a neat design, using a new spoiler element to build the backrest.

As for the figs... well, let's be honest, these theme park sets just create a bunch of standard city figs, which are useful but not exactly a reason to get these sets. The first bag includes a young girl (too small to ride the coaster, unfortunately), a cotton candy vendor, and a grandpa. The vendor's blonde hairpiece is new, I believe, but not exclusive. I guess points could be had since this set actually includes more female characters, which is a trend not often found in Lego sets. (Six ladies to five men.) Honestly, I'm going to use this Roller Coaster to display some of my more unique figs. Since the Marvel characters have taken over my Ferris Wheel, I'm thinking the Roller Coaster will go to DC, and Batman's already swinging in to claim his spot!

I'm not going to look into parts too specifically, because I don't plan on scrapping this for pieces, ever. But I mean, if you want white or gray plates or tiles, or if you're really hurting for some 2x2 round bricks in white... well, this set would have you covered. I haven't gotten to the new track pieces yet, but I've looked through the bags that contain them, and they look like they'll be fun. (For the record, outside of some spare track from the Black Panther set, this will be my first Roller Coaster set, so I won't be comparing it to the Batman set because, clearly, I don't own it.)

Anyway, expect more ramblings on this tomorrow when I get to build a little more after work. Maybe when I finish I'll do a short video review, but maybe not, since people generally aren't fans of my talking. (I'm not sure they're fans of me writing either, but if you got to this point in this entry, then you've got a lot of time on your hands. :P )

:music:





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Blog Subtitles

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

Silver Lake, Mercury Mining, This Mistake, No Silver Lining.
~ Alkaline Trio

Always a Pleasure, Never a Chore
~ The Wombats

:music:

Ha Ha

You scrolled to the bottom.

I now control your mind.

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