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Team J.A.F.


Mosaic 50% Completed

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jul 14 2014 · 70 views
And 50% incomplete
Some things I've learned for working on this cheese slope mosaic so far:
  • Cheese slopes are expensive for their size. Especially ones in rare colors that I just HAVE to have in bulk.
  • LEGO Pick-a-Brick walls have never had any opaque colored cheese slopes besides the olive green ones.
  • When a BrickLink store says there's probably going to be a delay, that should be a red flag. Took over three weeks to get the order (even if it was kinda large) but can't really complain cause he posted a warning. :shrugs:
  • Putting on thousands of cheese slopes onto a baseplate can give you a hand cramp something fierce. Not an issue I've had with brick mosaics, but the cheese slopes are smaller and require a bit more dexterity to get on correctly... I dunno, but it got painful after a while.
  • I underestimated my need for 1x1 light grays. I had this brilliant idea that I could save time, money, and overall piece count by purchasing a bunch of 1x2 cheese slopes in light gray, but I didn't pay close enough attention to my design. While there have been plenty of areas where these 1x2s help, there's still too many 1x1s I need to use, and I've run through my collection, so I need to order even more. *sigh*
  • (And because of the restrictions in the build, 1x2 sections can only go vertically, not horizontally.)
  • I might have also underestimated how many black 1x1s I need? I originally made the design two years ago using a mosaic program, but I have since to reinstall it on my new computer, so I've counted all the colors I need manually... which gives potential for error.
  • Having five shades of blue is nice...
  • But gold doesn't really stand in for dark tan. Olive green does, so I was planning to do a gradient from olive green to gold in the dark tan areas, but the gold might be too bright. Don't know if I want to fill it in with more olive green or actually try to find dark tan in bulk?
  • 48x96 is a decent size. It's still quite small compared to some of the iconic slope mosaics (Batman/Joker, Anakin/Darth Vader) but I think it's big enough to get some attention at shows. The last one I did was a meager 32x32 and it got completely overlooked.)
Don't quite know when I'll have time to finish it, because I'm definitely going to have to make another order, at least for the light gray, maybe for some purple, black, and dark tan elements too. The build today only took me... 6 ish hours, maybe 7 if you count doing an inventory of the orders I received. Won't have time this weekend, maybe next.




Review: Attack on Isengard

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 10 2014 · 249 views
LotR, Ent, Isengard and 1 more...
Read for another mini review? Today I look at this cool set that I picked up the other day which is clearly from Lord of the Rings. I believe it is 76020: Attack on Isengard.

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So this set is suppose to represent the scenes from the second LotR movie The Two Towers where Isengard is attacked. You get some enemies defending their mining equipment, as well as an Ent with a Hobbit companion. There's a lot to like here, but there are also a ton of discrepancies, so many that it makes you wonder if they even watched the source material!

To start out with, you've got the Ent. It might be Treebeard, but it's hard to tell, so it may just be a generic Ent. He's pretty tall, and makes excellent use of the Mixel joints for his arms and legs. He has a very intriguing hand design, which uses those new clips on a Star Wars droid body to great affect. There's also leafy printing on the brown curved slopes on his legs, which is nice because they usually force us to apply stickers here. The head / upper torso is actually all one giant piece, and while the detailing is nice, it doesn't really allow for much customization. The use of browns and dark green works very well here, but I do think they should've included some leefy greeble to make him more tree-like. Still, overall, a good Ent.

Now, the Hobbit, on the other hand, they totally missed. His outfit it totally not cannon, and there is way too much fur on his head. And what's with the tail? Hobbits don't have tails! All this detail and they still missed the furry feet. And he has this big weapon... what's with that? The Hobbits were throwing rocks in that scene, but that still looks like a weird rock. And I can't even tell if this is supposed to be Pippin or Merry. Additionally, the official set doesn't even have a way for him to sit on the Ent's shoulder, but I was able to repurpose a bracket from elsewhere in the set to sit him up there. So at least that works. Still, they could've done much better here.

The other two figures are nice and detailed, but also seem to miss their marks. One is apparently a Black Rider. It's odd since they didn't appear in this scene, but Lego's had trouble before getting the right characters in the sets for specific scenes. His robe printing could use work but it's decent. I don't know what that weapon is supposed to be, looks a little odd for a Morgal Blade. :shrugs: The other one is a blue-skinned purple-uniformed Orc. It might be a Uruk-hai, but it's a bit different from the official version, especially with the colors. For one thing, the torso and head printing seem to indicate this is a female. I know there were women stunt actors who played Orcs in the movie, but I thought all the Orc characters were supposed to be male? She does have some swords, so that fits in, even if they are katanas and a far cry from the traditional Uruk-hai weapons.

The mining equipment is a good design and fits in much closer to the movie than some of the others. There's a small pit where they store trans yellow round bricks, and a guard tower for observation. The tower is a simple but stable design, and even has a couple of features. There's a trap door on the top, and then another lever that can send the whole structure flying. This makes for great play value when the Ent attacks. Another interesting thing is the mini catapult next to the pit. Normally, these things hardly ever work, but this is situated perfected to launch a round brick into the pit beneath the tower. Like, it works, more than half the time! Color me impressed. Finally, there's also a black turret with the new spring loaded launcher. It's a decent function, but is still a poor stand in for the catapults that the Orcs utilized. Still, the launcher works.

And finally, we have this odd round blue vehicle thing. It has some nice curved sections on it, utilizing a few SNOT techniques. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what this is supposed to represent? The color scheme clashes with the rest of the mining equipment, so it doesn't appear to be part of the Orc's equipment. The official artwork shows the Hobbit in it, so it might be a makeshift prison? Lego has been known to add in random things that don't appear in the movies (see Mandarin's Flame Throwing Truck from Iron Man III) but this is just ridicules.

Overall, this is a decent set, with a fun Ent and plenty of mining equipment for him to smash. But there are many, MANY errors in this set that differentiate from the source material. The figs, while nice designs, hardly match the characters. After seeing all the detail they put into the previous LotR sets and figs, I'm sad that this one is so off the mark. Still, you get 433 pieces for $39.99, so it's a decent value. And I guess you could always just pretend this is for some other theme, like Guardians of the Galaxy. The Hobbit would make for a decent Rocket Raccoon, although it seems the Ent might be a little large for Groot. :shrugs:



Review: General Grievous’ Wheel Bike

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 09 2014 · 89 views
Star Wars, SandBlueCheeseSlope
Hey, heres a short review of 75040 General Grievous Wheel Bike. It's short cause I want to talk about the set, but am too lazy to draft up an official one for the front page.

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If you hate repetitive building, avoid this set at all costs. Like seriously, there's a lot of repetition in this build. But while its annoying, it makes sense. I mean, you're BUILDING the wheel, not just using a pre-made tire. So embrace the repetition, from the two similar bases on either side of the wheel to the four very similar legs.

Still, one advantage the repetition has is that it gives you a lot of the same pieces. Want 1x2 plates with clips or bars on em? You get twelve of each in the wheel. Those technic-snake fang pieces that showed up in a few Ninjago sets in limited quantities? There are 8 here. Want a light saber duel? This set comes with 4, plus Obi-Wans pink-gemstone friendship staff that he's trying to give to Grievous. Or how about a cheese slope in a brand new color? You get 16, plus 1 extra, in sand blue. Not to mention some classic ball joint pieces, a cool printed 1x1 trans pink tile, and an unique transparent wheel piece.

The included minifigs are Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous. Obi-Wan is apparently a unique fig with new torso and face printing, but its still pretty similar to previous versions of him. It's nice, I guess, but not quite a must have. Grievous is like all unique parts that came in a separate baggie that indicates not made in the same factory as the rest of these pieces which also most likely indicates it's from China. He's good and detailed, I guess, but it's not really a fig that I'm interested in.

As far as the vehicle goes, it kinda works. The wheel spins, and there's a fairly even split of weight on both sides that it doesn't tip more one direction all the time. The ball joint legs also allow for decent stability, but I was impressed that they don't really get in the way when rolling it around. Nice.

I'm sure theres a lot more to be said about this set by Star Wars fans. (Like, why doesnt Obi-Wan have his animal steed?) But to be honest, I bought it as a parts pack, and it delivers. The sand blue cheese slopes are awesome, and I also like the trans clear wheel (need more tho) and the fang pieces. I guess the minifigs are okay but I'm not a big fan. I'll probably keep ol Ben Kenobi (hair piece is nice) but I'd be more than willing to trade away Grievous.

So, in conclusion, this makes for a good parts pack, as long as you want a few specific parts, cause it has a lot of them. The vehicle and figs are okay, but not really a must have. So parts pack it is!

Thanks for reading, I might do more of these because it's fun to ramble but in a not-front-page-worthy way.



And I Just Went In For a PAB Cup...

Posted by xccj , in News Jul 07 2014 · 80 views

And I left the LEGO Store with the Batman Steamroller set, the X-Men Blackbird, Friends Tiger polybag (FINALLY they had it) and the TMNT Shredder polybag. Oh, and a PAB Cup with medium lavender and dark azure 2x4 plates, which was the primary reason I visited. (Also a few ladder pieces, cause why not. No horses though... they sold out of those within days, sadly.)

I was only going to buy the PAB cup... but then they had the Friends polybag, and then I wanted to get something non-girly, then I saw that the Batman set was 20% off (cause it's kinda a lame set for its regular cost) and then I realized that I was only like $15 away from the $75 limit to get the free polybag, but there weren't any $15 sets that I had my eye on, so I just went ahead and grabbed the Blackbird. And ended up spending way more than I anticipated, but these were all sets that I've had my eye on, and it's kinda a good deal on the one, and I'm getting VIP points that I can use later this year on the REALLY large sets... and I have an income but no impulse control when it comes to LEGO.

Also anybody know the worth of the Shredder polybag? In hindsight, I really don't want it, not being a fan of TMNT, so it's mostly meh to me. Maybe I could trade it for something later? I also have the Martian Manhunter fig that I was also thinking about trading for something. Don't know the something yet. Maybe a Storm or Batgirl fig... oh wait, don't need those. Maybe cheese slopes? :P

(Speaking of cheese slopes, I made an order 3 weeks ago on Bricklink and the guy still hasn't shipped em! Longest I've ever waited on an order was a month, and that was from Canada so it had to go through customs. The guy mentioned he had a back-log, and my order was pretty big... but still! He'd better get the numbers right two... another order must've just weighed the parts, and as such it came up short on two bulk items. :( )

What's that, I'm supposed to be a financially responsible adult now? Eh... maybe later.



Review: Crystal Beast vs Bulk

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 03 2014 · 64 views

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Click here for full review

Hey look another Hero Factory set review!

Just pulled an all-nighter getting this one uploaded. Partially because my internet has been off all day and only came back on around 10 PM. Like, seriously, I'm paying monthly and the Internet provider just can't give me service in the middle of the day! I called em and they said they're working on a "service issue" on their end but it's still lame. (And I've already complained about this elsewhere. A lot.) To be fair, I didn't start the coding until I could test my links, and I technically could've done it before hand... but I had lazy-ing around to do earlier!

(Also what's this about the video actually being published on June 4th, I don't know what that means, it's certainly not that I accidentally uploaded it over night and forgot to set it to private until the next morning, and in the three hours it was up it got more views and comments than some of my other reviews, no it can't possibly be that.)

Also talked about visiting Florida next month to hang out with my Dallas roommate. And I may actually be able to do that, since I got off new hire double-probation at work this week. (That is, as a new hire, I'm not eligible for stuff like vacation or medical until I've worked with them for 90 days. But I initially worked for them for my first 90 days as a "contractor" from the company that helped me search for a job, so when I got hired for real, my 90 days got reset. Not really complaining, I just find the whole situation rather humorous.)

Anyway, TO BED! With nightmares of Crystal Beast haunting my head. (Nightmares because of those AWFUL CLAWS!!)



An Unlikely Sequel

Posted by xccj , in Stories, TV Jun 25 2014 · 115 views

Gosh, I had this excellent idea for a sequel for one of my stories, and now I can't get it out of my head! The stories and characters just keep expanding in my head, allowing me to create new character dynamics while also retaining some of my originals and stuff and I'm kind of really excited for it.

The problem is... the original isn't finished.

And like, this is a story that I've been working on since... well, let's say 2000. The basic premise for it developed back then, and I didn't start typing it out until 2003, and it got expanded upon so much that it was one of my longer in-progress stories ever... until I lost most of it when my laptop was stolen in 2007. In 2009, I started the haunting task of rewriting it (to remove inconsistencies, and generally improve the writing.) I've had periods where I've worked on it ever since, but the last time I typed it up was last summer, and I haven't had time to progress on it since. And I'm only 80% finished with my rewrite of the original, which had only begun to reach the climax. I have the ideas of where I want it to go and the directions I want my characters to develop in, but I just haven't had the time and/or inspiration to sit down and type it out. (Having a job does that to you, I guess.)

TL/DR, I'm nowhere near to finishing this story even though I've been working on it for a long time.

So I should focus my efforts on the original and not the sequel (especially since I haven't worked on ANY of my stories since last summer) BUT instead I find myself jotting down plot points for the sequel. GAH.

In other news, I FINALLY got my LEGO Movie discs in. *grumbles about stupid amazon for delaying my order* And I guess it turns out if you want to watch the blu-ray movie, you need an actual blu-ray player, which my computer is apparently now. I got the EVERYTHING IS AWESOME set, so it also comes with the DVD, so I could watch that, but this DVD doesn't contain any of the special features, which I was looking forward to. (Okay, it does have commentary, but while I generally like watching a movie with commentary [see LotR] I was not overly impressed. The directors pointed out a few interesting bits, but mostly it was the voice actors just messing around.) Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to finally have it on a media where I can go frame-by-frame to catch back-ground things. But still kinda peeved that I can't enjoy the extra features yet. (Oh, or the 3D version, which I guess I need a 3D TV for.) But the young Vitruvius is great. (Yeah, so the cape isn't 100% movie accurate... it's still cool, get over yourselves.)



Online Black Hole For My Moneys

Posted by xccj , in News Jun 24 2014 · 116 views
No sarcasm here, at all
Soooo... I just probably spent too much in the span of 15 minutes, including a couple of first-time ever purchases.

To begin with, I registered for BrickCon. (This is the not-first-time purchase) Yeah, everybody else is getting excited for Brick Fair, but I'm not going and I've already sent in my MOCs that cost $20 for shipping. So there's not much for me to do but be envious. Instead, I need to start planning for my next big convention, and hopefully I'll have a cool MOC ready for it soon. And I came up with my engraved bricks: "Bionicle Fan: Deal With It" and "My Other Mask is a Miru".

Next, I actually went ahead and prepaid for tickets for a sporting event. This is a first. (It might also be a first where I paid for tickets to a sporting event at all...) It's the Portland Timbers vs the Colorado Rapids. Oh yeah, and it's soccer, but I hear that's all the rage nowadays. It's on a Friday which is technically still the middle of my work week but it's in the evening so I don't have to take time off, but I may just be a little tired the next day?

Finally, another first is that I sent some money to an online crowd-source fund-raising thing. Honestly, this one might've been a mistake. It's for this obscure fan site that wants to make more ridicules web videos. I guess I'm technically getting a shirt out of it, but I'll have to see if this goes anywhere in the end. They sure seem proud about it, I gotta give em that.

In addition to some recent impulsive (and expensive) Bricklink purchases, I'll probably be tight on money for the next month. Oh well, I'm sure my roommate could cover for me with rent... and utilities, food, transportation, ext.



Tunneler Beast

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 18 2014 · 129 views
vs Surge
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Click here for full review

I know this shouldn't be the most interesting part of the review, but I'm proudest of throwing in the word "spelunking" in the intro. :P

Also, I tried using gray baseplates as a background, to give it a more Lego-y feel. I think it works, but I could potentially see it as being too busy. Thoughts? Or lack thereof.

I also expect to get a lot of flak about my hatred of the hand design, but I stand by my opinion that they're terrible. Okay, I might not have worded my reasoning perfectly, but they're still bad. Bad bad bad!



Dragons II

Posted by xccj , in TV Jun 16 2014 · 86 views

Oh wow.

It was good. Very good. Lots of dragons, lots of good flight (and fight) scenes. Dang, it even got emotional, far more than the original. I mean, it didn't have the same awe inspiring scene like the first flight in the original... but that's a special scene, and they didn't try to replicate the first, but rather make an awesome second. I'm probably going to see it again. Yes indeed.

Not without issues. The music was great, but maybe it's because it's too much of the first? Which isn't bad, 'cause I loved the soundtrack for the original. And (I guess slightly spoilery warning) the movie was very Hiccup-centric, and most of the other kids were reduced to side characters who only got a few laughs each. Besides Astrid, I felt that they got downgraded from the first movie. But I am okay with this because the television series focused a lot on them, and their dragons. I mean, although the animation wasn't as top notch, I was very pleased with the television series, which did a good job at expanding the characters and setting of Berk.

But yeah, it was a good movie, and you should see it. And now I'm torn as to which animated feature is the best this year. I mean, TLM was great, but Dragons II is up there too. (Although if I had to choose between Dragons II and Frozen, I would definitely go with DreamWorks. There is a lyrical song in this movie, but I dunno if its catchy enough for all the kids to start singing.)



BBC Contest 68

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Jun 11 2014 · 101 views

I find it ironic that not only have I created some mechs, but I've already sent one to BrickFair! I would almost argue that it's valid, because even though it's been on the front page for three different convention photo steams, I haven't actually posted any finalized pictures of it on the forum. (But as it stands, I DID post WIP pictures in my blog, so it doesn't qualify.) Just thought it was kinda funny how that worked out. And I probably won't be able to enter because most of my Bionicle pieces and I are in a long distance relationship. (Read: I haven't actually brought them over to my apartment yet.) So sorry folks, there'll be no lousy throw-away entry to lose to your model from me.

Also it appears that Randall Munroe must be a big Animorphs fan. He's thrown in a few references to the series before, but yeah, guess I'm not the only still remember this great story. (I guess for reference, when Animorphs ended, I got hooked on Bionicle.)

Also spent my last two days off primarily playing LEGO LotR. Some would say that's two days completely gone to waste. But I'd remind them that I did manage to defeat Sauron, although I just have half of the actual game play completed. (This game is quite long, isn't it?)


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.
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Lisztomania, think less but see it grow. Like a riot, like a riot, Oh.
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Birds sing for you, you can make this blue sky blush
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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
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But even the sun sets in paradise
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Crazy how that shipwreck meant my ship was coming in
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So make now your ally, and leap before you look
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Just believe in far away, ikiru tame ni sore wa
~ Song Rider

Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly.
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