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Team J.A.F.


Last Blog Entry for 2016 (for me anyway)

Posted by xccj , in News Dec 31 2016 · 135 views
Ha Ha Im Back!
Well, so I really just kinda stopped blogging this summer. I mean, I've totally been lurking on BZPower this whole time (and played in the occasional mafia game) but I haven't really posted all that much. Primarily I've been crazy busy with work this year (between having my weekend position move from 3 people to 1 person with an increase in actual work, and having almost all our workflows change. Like seriously! :o ). But I've been busy with other things, like getting up to level 14 in Ingress (and level 28 in Pokémon Go, which is pretty much the same game but with a different skin.) Anyway, some things that I wanted to blog about for these last six months... but just didn't until now.

BrickFair VA 2016: I returned to the DC area this year for my third BrickFair, and had a blast. Got to hang out with some old friends, meet some new ones, and drive Chocolate Frogs crazy the first day when trying to play Ingress in downtown DC. :P Convention was great, and I think I had 9 mosaics on display. (Not all exclusively mine. The Onua collaboration was a success, and then there were the four lenticular Toa mosaics which I designed and got to help build too. Really pleased with how those came out.) Anyway, it was fun and I'd like to do it again, but I haven't made plans that far out yet.

Denver: Less than a month later, I flew to Denver, CO to participate in an Ingress Anomaly. Basically spent two and a half days wandering around the city staring at my phone. :P But got to know Denver pretty well, and was more impressed than I was on my last visit. Also drove down to Colorado Springs, where I had grown up in the 90s, and wandered around that town... although that walk got cut short by a thunderstorm that absolutely drenched us! It was a fun trip, but utterly exhausting, and it took me a long time to recover, both physically and mentally. (Exercising a lot on little sleep at a high altitude is apparently not the best idea.)

Of course, with two big trips in a row, I couldn't afford to make it to BrickCon this year. First one I've missed since I started attending. :(

NaNoWriMo: In November, I participated in the writing event, and got 70K+ on my story. (And it's still in progress.) It was actually about volcanologists traveling to different volcanoes around the world... but to spice it up, I threw in some gods that were trying to make the volcanoes erupt, and the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele is trying to stop them. As such, I was researching a lot of Hawaiian mythology, and so I found the movie Moana to be all the more interesting. Speaking of movies, Dr. Strange was also decent, and Fantastic Beasts, while a meh story, had stunning effects, and is one of the few movies I'd ever recommend seeing in 3D.

I also had a lot of Lego sets that I wanted to review... but just didn't have the energy to make it happen for most. :( I've prepared a few write ups on the sets I've bought this year, so maybe I'll get around to actually posting them. In short, I think Ninjago totally delivered this year; the Pirate storyline was one of my favorites, and some of the set designs have been stellar, including the Skybound Ninja figs. Elves also had a decent selection of sets, and I had to go out of my way to collect all the dragons. that said, my favorite Elves set was definitely the evil castle. I might go as far to say it was the best set of the year that I bought, but some of the Ninjago models, like the small airship or the Tiger Widow Island, are also stellar.

I also got into Lego Dimensions this last month, when stuff started going on ridicules sales for the holiday. (One of those sales was for a PS4, my first real gaming system.) The Portal, Dr. Who, and Fantastic Beasts level packs turned out to be quite fun, and I liked being able to play as the Ninja characters for once. Nya is one of my favorites for sure, but I also like flying around as Super Girl. I was hesitant to get Cragger, but it turns out he's the best swimmer, so not a bad purchase. Of course, this is turning into a huge money drain, but I think I can get by without having to purchase any more characters for abilities for a while now.

Now my main personal projects involve preparing for BrickCascade in Portland, OR this March. I'm the coordinator for Pop Culture... but that's such a wide spectrum that I'm starting to draw a blank on just how I should design the trophies. (I know what I consider pop culture, but don't have an idea of what people are going to build for it yet. Maybe my trophies should all be Dr. Who based?) The collaborative theme I'm putting together is Dimensions, with one of the ideas being that people can create vehicles like from the game and put them on a raceway. Well, I'm currently designing that raceway, making different scenery sections based on various Lego City subthemes (Arctic, volcano, underwater, ext) so hopefully it'll be interesting enough for folks. Hopefully I can get some pictures up soonish.

Anyway, thanks for reading another dusty blog entry. Happy New Year. (Although if you think 2017 will be better, then I think you're delusionally optimistic. All your favorite actors and actresses are only getting older, and the Grim Reaper needs to finalize his collections.) [/dark humor] Although some neat Lego sets coming out next year, so there's always a bright side.




Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Nov 09 2016 · 552 views

Really? America... just really. Really??

On the other hand, the local initiative to ban the sale of items made from rare animals passed. I mean, I'm kind of disappointed that it wasn't already a thing, but it's official now. Stop killing Rhinos, kay.




20 Questions G2 Edition

Posted by xccj , in Games Oct 31 2016 · 334 views
20 Questions
Let's play 20 Questions! I think you should know the basic rules; I'm thinking of something Bionicle related, and you ask questions to help narrow it down! Here are some of the more detailed rules:

1: The questions can only be yes or no questions. So "Is this your first blog post since July?" works but "Why haven't you been more active?" doesn't. (The answers are "Yes" and "Work.")

2: There can only be ONE question per post, and no double posting.

3: I will edit my answer into every body's post. You can only add a second question in your post if I have already edited in my response.

Category: Something from Bionicle Gen 2.


Onua Uniters Mosaic Update

Posted by xccj , in Lego Conventions Jul 18 2016 · 214 views
Posted Image

That's five pieces down. Unfortunately, although I have parts to spare... I don't have enough of them to do an emergency baseplate, so I hope the other contributors can make it happen. (Because if they don't... well the pieces I have are all on the edges, and really don't form a coherent picture at all.)

Black Six: Piece 3
danny316p: Piece 4
Valendale: Piece 5

I guess I do have a lot of extra medium lavender, in case someone needs help with that color.

Can't wait to see it come together at BrickFair.



Onua Uniters Collaborative Mosaic

Posted by xccj , in Lego Conventions Jul 16 2016 · 437 views
mosaic, mosaics
UPDATE: The only unclaimed piece is #6. I'm 90% confident I can make it if need be, so I'll be working on it this weekend. Next week, I'll try contacting all the participants to confirm if their pieces will be ready in time. (Unfortunately, I've been doing the corners, so if we're missing others, I can't just make a smaller block out of what I have.)

Posted Image~Posted Image~Posted Image

Posted Image~Posted Image~Posted Image

Posted Image~Posted Image~Posted Image


Piece 1: Xccj
Piece 2: Xccj

Piece 3: Black Six
Piece 4: danny316p
Piece 5: Valendale

Piece 6: Unclaimed
Piece 7: Xccj
Piece 8: Reserved for a friend
Piece 9: Xccj

Colors Used (Bricklink names)
Basics: Black, Dark Bluish Gray, Light Bluish Gray, White
Background: Lime, Classic Green, Dark Green
Gold Masks: Yellow, Orange, Tan, Dark Tan, Reddish Brown
Violet Armor: Dark Purple, Medium Lavender, Dark Blue, Blue
Eyes: Medium Blue. (Maybe stacked plates with trans blue on top of white for a different coloring affect.)

We'll go with our usual standards: Use bricks or 3 stacked plates, solid studs up (no brick studs with holes). We'll use the newer shades of grays and brown. This is intended primarily for BrickFair Virginia; if enough members want to keep it on the convention circuit, we can decide that at a later date.

If you're interested, claim the section you'd want. We have a couple of months before BrickFair, so this should give you enough time to make a parts order if you need to. (I can provide inventory lists in requested.) Ideally, I'd like at least five sections claimed. (I could fill out the other four sections; I think my brick supply can support that. At the very least, I expect to grab a couple of the ones with a lot of purple.) If you do claim, please do your best to make it, and if you have to back out, give me plenty of notice to find a replacement. (Like, seriously, giving me less than a week will put me at a rush to get all my parts together...)

Feel free to ask any questions about the design or the process... we have a lot of experiences folks who've helped before. (But major design changes will probably be resisted... since I kinda already published it.)

Anyway... yeah, here it is. Now to see if we can make this one a reality too.



Bionicle Window Decals?

Posted by xccj , in Lego Conventions, Thoughts Jun 09 2016 · 260 views

How can I make this happen??

I've seen other pop culture decals on cars and I'm thinking I would like to have the original Kanohi on the back of mine. But how easy / difficult is it to get something like that printed? (And not bumper stickers... window decals are easy to move around if need be.)

Also kinda surprised I didn't blog at all in April or May. I mean, I've been a'lurkin' but just haven't posted stuff I guess. Been busy with life and work mostly work.

And, since I guess I haven't mentioned it here yet, I do have a flight and registration paid for BrickFair Virginia this summer. Not a 100% guarantee that I'll make it, but I'd be wasting a lot of money if I cancel now.



Toa Uniters Collaborative Mosaics?

Posted by xccj , in News Jun 06 2016 · 374 views
mosaics, mosaic
Posted Image~Posted Image~Posted Image


(We still have a few months before BrickFair. I could probably do 4-5 tiles. I have engraved bricks for participants!)




Posted by xccj , in News Mar 24 2016 · 465 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-)



Nexo Knights Quotes

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Mar 20 2016 · 374 views

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

It's sooo true.



Review: 76035: Jokerland

Posted by xccj , in Review Feb 22 2016 · 305 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?

Posted Image

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.

August 2017

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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

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


Ha Ha

You scrolled to the bottom.

I now control your mind.