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Team J.A.F.


Ninjago Mosaic Completed

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Dec 08 2017 · 44 views

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So this is what I've been building for the last couple of days. (Helped that Andrew sent me back some of my older mosaic plates, because I really needed to steal some pieces from them.) This is a scene from the Skybound season where Jay and Nya get back together at the end of it, which is one of my favorite scenes. However, the background in the screenshot was meh, so I swapped it out for a more unique skyscape shot of Ninjago City, including Borg Tower.

As for interesting techniques used here, I used some SNOT designs to get the eyes and mouths right on their faces. Plus, while the characters are made using bricks, the background is made using plates, which add some depth to the image. (The white wind circle is actually two plates tall.) The most challenging part of this was the medium azure background; I was able to fill in a lot with larger plates, but getting all the corners filled in took some effort and whipped out my supply of 1x2 and 1x4 plates in the color.

Anyway, I'm pleased with how it turned out, and it'll show up at Bricks Cascade in 2018. Probably won't sent it on he BioniLug circuit, since it's not quite Bionicle related, but I haven't seen too many Ninjago mosaics so maybe this'll stand out.



I Might Have Gone A Bit Overboard...

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jul 24 2017 · 176 views

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So after building a mini Boba Fett, I started to wonder if I could scale any other classic characters down... and then I went a little crazy until I pretty much ran out of the essential pieces to make any more.

(From left to right, back to front) Tarkin, Stormtrooper, Greedo, Oola, Vader, Lando, Chewbacca \ C3P0, Boba Fett, Luke, Han, R2D2, Leia, Slave Leia.

The body dimensions are 3x3x4, comprised of mainly technic, although some of them have custom builds. The arms and legs all use the short CCBS limb element. The heads are curved bricks build around a 2x2 head, three studs tall minimum... just in case anybody else wants to make more at this scale.

I like how most of the characters turned out. The Stormtrooper is a bit off... might be better as a Scout. Greedo is a pain, mostly because I decided to make him lime green because that was the best color I had to build in, but the bright color and shape just don't look right. And of course, Vader... I could not figure out a head design for him, so I tried to build for his CCBS head mold. It... doesn't quite work. Maybe it would be better if he had a cape. I wanted to make a few others from the original trilogy, like Obi-Wan and Yoda, but ran out of time and pieces. (The ones I ran out of were fists, those CCBS limb pieces, thru ball joints, and tan / brown curved sloped. The big CCBS hip piece, which is generally rare, is actually not a problem for me since I've been obsessively ordering those for the last year and have a big collection now, they're rather nice for mini builds this size.) This are currently in a box ready to ship out to BrickFair, so hopefully they'll be on display there.

(And for the record, Slave Leia's head is not connected to her body for that particular pose. My ability to work with joints isn't that good yet.)



Boba Fett and Slave I

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jul 10 2017 · 201 views

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BBC Topic!

Look at me, I made a MOC!

Since the CCBS characters came out, I've been wanting to build a to-scale ship for some of them. Lego's finally doing it with the speeder bike this summer, but that's a pretty small vehicle; I want a huge TIE Fighter and a massive XWing piloted by Vader and Poe, or something like that. The idea is doable, but a bit out of my price range at the moment.

When this contest rolled around, I thought it would be a good opportunity to do this scaled down. My first thought was to make a TIE fighter. I'd build a frame for the wings out of CCBS bone pieces and then fill it out with HF shells and other black panels. (And I guess try to avoid using too many plates and stuff, 'cause system.) But then I'd have to also design a cockpit that could hold a CCBS character. The only one I have that would fit would be Vader, so I thought I'd shrink him down, but then I didn't have access to the parts I needed and I didn't have enough panels or shells and it looked like this idea was going to flop.

Then on a whim I tried to design a mini Boba Fett, thinking that his ship would be a bit easier to make. It works out because Slave I has a lot of dark green and dark red in it (well, the official sets do) and those are colors that are abundant in Bionicle elements. For Boba, I had good success with a small head made system bricks. Since I didn't have the technic pieces in sand green or sand blue, I decided to stick with gray and green based off the classic minifig design. His body is a condensed block of technic elements that kinda worked out, but overall he didn't exceed the 25/75 system to technic ratio, so I knew if I wanted to enter him, he'd have to come with a ship.

I'm fairly pleased with how Slave 1 turned out. It's stable and can stand on it's own... although the bottom / back is exposed and a bit messy, but that's rarely going to be on the display side. The red section is not quite as solid or shapely as the real thing, but it has a certain "Bionicle" flavor to it IMO, and it's still recognizable. The green hull went together well, and I'm pleased with how the cockpit came together; Boba can sit fairly comfortably inside it. Plus, I made a small "Han in Carbonate" bit... I realize it's not quite to scale, but it does fit inside the hull. (However, there's no opening door... I kind of have to dismantle part of the hull to squeeze the carbonate block inside.) Anyway, it's fairly swooshable (I mean, it's big, and doesn't have the best grip, but it doesn't fall apart when swooshed, so that counts, right?) Plus, the wings and weapons rotate, so it can go from horizontal parked mode to vertical flying mode with ease.

I'm kind of hoping this does well in the contest, if nothing more than "Wow, look, a whole ship!" On the other hand, I have not figured out the logistics of shipping this over to Virginia. It's big and bulky and heavy, so it's going to take space and cost a lot. Plus, some of the connections are finicky at best. (This is also one of the few MOCs I've made where I've been completely frustrated with a connection point. It should've worked... I needed to line up like 8 pins into a long liftarm. But getting them to actually fit into place... more of a nightmare than I anticipated. I ended up changing the whole connection of the red section to the green section because I couldn't get the original idea to work.) Getting this to BrickFair in one piece (or easy to reassemble portions) will be difficult...

But anyway, that's the most custom building I've done since BricksCascade. So yay, entering another BBC Contest.



Lego Moana

Posted by xccj , in Lego Conventions, MOCs, Thoughts Mar 22 2017 · 475 views

So I spent 8+ hours yesterday trying to sort my loose Lego pieces post-convention, and I decided to play the new Moana movie in the background. And then thus I was inspired to write this post.

I don't think it was very apparent (because I wasn't blogging much) but I really liked the movie after I saw it last year. I had been working on one of my own stories that involved the Hawaiian goddess Madam Pele, and I was curious to see if she was references in the new movie. (She wasn't, I think they used other inspiration for the lava monster TeKa.) But I found the movie incredibly enjoyable, and the songs were great. Not just one or two of the big ones, but the entire soundtrack. I'd put it up there with my other favorite Disney movie, Aladdin. (As it turns out, both were directed by the same two people.)

And after watching all the extra commentaries they had on the movie, I am even more impressed by the amount of work and detail that went into it. I've heard a lot of complains that this was just Disney appropriating another culture, and there are a couple of glaring instances of that. But when watching the commentary, I'm realizing that the Polynesian cultures had a big role in making this movie, so it really feels like they not only gave permission but actively helped shape it. And I guess a few groups are still upset about some aspects. But that's probably because "Polynesians" are so diverse, so what was cool with one area might not have been with another. I thought the movie had a distinct Hawaiian feel to it, but they were taking more cues from Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, and New Zealand, and those are related but distinct cultures. (That's why there's no Pele, who is predominantly Hawaiian, I believe. Maui, however, is a demigod recognized in all these cultures, although with differing stories and origins.) Anyway, I suppose it's easy to be impressed by the making of a movie I already liked, but I still think it's awesome at how much of this culture they integrated in. (And I mean, it turns out there really was a thousand year period where the Polynesians of Samoa weren't voyaging, and then they just started again, and nobody knows why. So they give their fantasy explanation in this movie. I did not realize there was actually any historical significance to that.) And all the voice actors they used were actually of Polynesian descent... well except Alan Tudyk.

Anyway, the movie was great, and so I ordered the Lego Moana set when it came out. But besides the figs, I was unimpressed with the design, so that had to change...

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BrCasc 17-171 by Froggy_Fotos, on Flickr. (I'm using Chocolate Frog's BricksCascade picture cause the ones I took didn't turn out well and I haven't reassembled the MOC yet.)

I didn't like the original canoe, so I redesigned it to be a bit more streamlined, if not more mono-colored. I constructed most of it by memory, since it was really hard to find a decent reference pict of it online. Aaaand it turns out that I actually mirrored it; the float should actually be on the starboard side instead of the port. Whoops. :guilty: But I liked the rigging I was able to add to it, and I think TeKa and the rock scape turned out nicely. (And even the wave action I threw it. You can't see it, but the chicken is also floating in the background.)

I was a little irked when somebody else also brought a Moana canoe MOC in, and it was basically just a revamp of the actual set. (It has a border for the sail and was a tad bit larger, but otherwise it was basically the set.) However, most of the public seemed to recognize my MOC first, because it had the big lava monster. It was nice hearing kids point out my MOC, which is something that doesn't happen often at conventions I display at. (It didn't hurt that it was based off the recent Disney movie that was probably still fresh in their heads.) And I did make one other Moana MOC with the Maui bigfig, but most people didn't get the reference...

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Maui Raising Mata Nui by Jason, on Flickr

These are the two Polynesian inspired stories that I'm fans of, so it was obvious I was going to have to combine them together in a MOC. (Although Lego is totally guilty of appropriating the culture for Bionicle, so that's an example of how not to do it.) And since Moana's home island is called Motunui, which sounds soooo close to Mata-Nui every time I hear it, how could I not make this model? I did want to make a bigger Great Spirit Robot, like with perhaps it's upper torso and arms... but I ran out of time / pieces, so this is it for now. I shipped the head and the Gali minifig boat to BrickFair, so hopefully they'll show up randomly on the Bionicle table?

Anyway, that's it for my gushing about the movie and the sets I made from it. All said, I STILL have a lot of sorting left to do, so I'm going to have to put in a different movie now.



You Have Failed This City

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Feb 12 2017 · 269 views

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You have failed this city. by Jason, on Flickr

Lookie at me, I made a Bionicle MOC! It's been a while.

So this will fit with the BZPower colab of Super Hero characters, and I got it finished in time for BricksCascade next month. The system to technic ratio would probably put it over the limit for any BBC contests, but that's not an issue at conventions. :P Plus, the simple building façade makes use of most of my dark red masonry bricks, so yay that.



Team Lightyear

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jan 29 2016 · 420 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!"



Drop Tables

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jan 23 2016 · 560 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.)



Bionicle 2016 Mosaic: Ideas?

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Jan 04 2016 · 636 views
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.




Posted by xccj , in MOCs Sep 23 2015 · 614 views
SHIP it up, you know you should. So SHIP it!

This is my third year "competing" in SHIPtember, where you build a SHIP (Seriously Huge Investment in Parts Spaceship) which has to be over 100 studs long. So I made not one, not two, but THREE of them. (Sure, they barely reach the limit, are generally narrow, and won't win any competition... but hey they're complete, as far as I'm concerned, so that's a plus.)

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The Jade Spear: Basically an attempt to build a ship around the Ninjago spinner. It's pretty much entirely green, thanks to me buying a bunch of pieces from pic-a-brick. I made nice use of a brick separator tho.

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The Lavender-Freighter: I wanted to build a SHIP in medium lavender, but didn't really have the parts. So I stocked up on the color this summer and finally got to work on this... and still had to make a few last minute orders to get it ready. It's heavy and fragile too. But hopefully it'll stand out.

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Bulk's Silver Blade Ship: Every time I've done this contest, I thought it would be neat to make a purely Bionicle SHIP, especially since I have so many long, silver pieces. So this year I finally went through with this. (I mean, it turns out that while I have a LOT of silver weapons, I only have a few in bulk, most are just two-offs.) The final form is still a bit messy, but I streamlined it a bit compared to earlier. This thing is also fairly sturdy, made up of Bionicle and technic bits primarily. So obviously my first thought is that this thing could survive a throw, which I plan to do at least once at BrickCon. (Most SHIP builders seem to cringe at even moving their ships for fear of wrecking them. Ima gonna throw this one to show that Bionicle builds can be DURABLE! Unless it really snaps when it hits the ground, then I'll be all sadface.)

Anyway, that's it for MOCs. I might make a few more small ones, but now I need to sort my collection back into the various bins, because it's looking like I'll be moving next month... again. Cursed rent increases. :glare:




Who Has Cheese Slopes?

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Sep 02 2015 · 612 views
Oh look, I'm talking about lenticular cheese slope mosaics again.

These mosaics are hard to design, hard to make, and also quite hard on the pocket book. That's because filling up a huge baseplate with cheese slopes really adds up, and when each one costs ten cents but you need thousands... yeah, not cheap. But what if you only had to fill out a smaller section, like say a 16x16 plate?

Would anybody be interested in a collaborative lenticular mosaic design? People would only have to make smallish sections... I'm thinking 16x16 would be manageable. (Although we would need to design if the plate was a baseplate or a standard plate... I have a lot of the latter but not many of the former, and a combination of the two wouldn't work on this style of mosaic.) I'm thinking we could do some neat G1 / G2 Bionicle designs. But before I start any of this, I'm just curious to know if anybody would even be interested. Even a 16x16 plate would require 256 cheese slopes. (I mean, you can occasionally sneak in a 1x2, but only in certain situations.)

So yeah, if there's any interest, this could be something we do for conventions next year. Plus, smaller sections like that would totally be easier to transport. :sly:

Also, I found the Series 14 Monster Minifigures today / yesterday. (I mean, all my Target stores have had them for the last two weeks, but they've also refused to sell them before September 1st.) It was a 5 mile hike to get there, but I managed to get 15 and guess them all correctly. (Still short a Zombie Cheerleader, will have to continue searching for that one.) Review forthcoming.


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NaNoWriMo 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.