Posts Tagged ‘LEGOLAND’

Official Miniland scale figures in a set

March 3, 2014

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I love Miniland scale. Ever since my first trip to LEGOLAND I fell in love with the scale. And once I started working at the Model Shop, Miniland USA was my responsibility for 4 years. So naturally I fell in love with the scale. Minifig scale is all well and good, but you are limited by their very small size. Minilanders are bigger, brick built, and much more versitle than Minifigs.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this on BrickSet

Now its not the first time that there has been a miniland figure in a kit. There was one in 2003 –King (Legoland Deutschland)

And one was designed by a co-worker of mine, George Corn, at LEGOLAND California in 2006

Neither set was widely available however, which this set seems to be.

There is something distinctly “wrong” with the new set — they have no chins! Whoever designed this set clearly didn’t consult the LEGOLAND Model Builders when they created it. None of the Miniland people are built without chins, and the mom looks rather anorexic.

Here’s some samples of Minilanders I’ve designed –

Wonder Woman 3

Mini Superman 2

Segway 1

Mermaid 2

You can see more on Flickr

Now granted — some Miniland building techniques would not stand up to the rules of proper set building — there are different guidelines on what can and can’t be done depending on if you are a set designer versus a Master Model Builder. But that doesn’t excuse the lack of chins. All they would need is to add an extra jumper plate (1×2 plate with a stud in the middle) under the head. The lack of chins is a common mistake when people are building Miniland people for the first time, but surely a set designer that is right by the LEGOLAND park in Denmark should have fixed this before it when into production.

On one level I’m happy that LEGO is recognizing Miniland as an official scale outside of the LEGOLAND parks. But on the other hand, these set figures are poor representations of the scale.

The LEGO Movie –The Spolier Free Review

February 9, 2014

So this past weekend I watched the LEGO Movie 3 times in 3 days. I wasn’t really planning on seeing it that many times, it just sort of happened. The fact that both Regal and AMC theaters were offering a limited number of free minifigs — a different one at each theater mind you — was definitely one of the reasons.

I’m not one that has to have all the special poly bags, but I kind of liked both the figs — Emmet wearing pajamas at Regal and the DJ Robot at AMC. I wasn’t going to go for the DJ robot, but then I saw the torso, which looks an awful lot like the LUGOLA (LA LEGO Fan Group) logo and since I’m a LUGOLA member, I made the half hour trip down to San Diego to get the fig.

So, back to the Movie. When I first heard about the plans to make a full length LEGO movie about 2 years ago I was a little worried. Images of the Smurfs movie– which I still have yet to see and no desire to do so — were what I feared the LEGO movie would turn into. Sure, there have been the Star Wars mini movies, the Ninjago series and the lesser Chima series (sorry, but I just don’t like Chima). But they were different and on a smaller scale. I wasn’t sure what the LEGO Movie would turn into, and until the trailers started showing up, I wasn’t all that excited.

But then they did start showing up. And the more I saw, the more I liked it and wanted to see it. Even if I wasn’t into LEGO, I would have wanted to see it for the animation. I’m something of a movie nut — which has made me contemplate writing a blog on movie reviews, but even though I go to a LOT of movies, there are a lot I don’t go to and wouldn’t watch so a blog on movie reviews would only be the movies I like and want to see.

Now that I’ve finally seen The LEGO Movie, and seen it and seen it, I still want to watch it again — on DVD — frame by frame to catch all the cool stuff that happens so fast you miss it. There’s a lot, and I mean a LOT, going on in the background, in the foreground, or for only a fraction of a second. The LEGO Movie was everything I wanted it to be in terms of LEGO times ten! The “Everything is Awesome” song is fun, although it does stick in your head, and by the third time seeing the movie I wanted to sing along with the movie.

Is the movie one big commercial for all the LEGO Movie kits, and LEGO in general? Yes. There’s no question about that. Unlike other movies, you can literally make what you see in the movie, even if they don’t make kits for some of it, you can make it. Maybe not in all the colors — Cloud Cuckoo Land is guilty of this — but you could still build it. That’s the point. So I’m okay with it being one big commercial, encouraging more children to create their own worlds with LEGO is something I fully advocate.

To me the LEGO Movie is what I dreamed of building when I was a kid. Unlike now, I didn’t have a huge collection then. But what I couldn’t build, I dreamed about. That’s what made me want to become a Master Model Builder. I could see making a whole castle valley, with towns, forests, mermaid lagoons, pirates, the works. And this movie shows what dreaming about building can do. If you had unlimited bricks that is.

The biggest plot point is that you can build whatever you want, with whatever parts you want. It can be crazy, multicolored, and make no sense at all. That’s okay. I can’t tell you how many parents ask me what glue to use so that the sets stay together and don’t fall apart. My response is always the same — you aren’t supposed to glue it together. Its supposed to fall apart and make something else, that’s the point. If this movie can drive that fact home to all those misguided parents, then that’s great.

The characters are fun. I really like Emmet, the unexpected hero. And I love Wild Style, although she could have been a little bit more of her own girl rather than having to cling to her boyfriend — Batman. Batman was just perfect. The only portrayal of Batman that I like better was the 90’s cartoon version. Bad Cop / Good Cop was awesome! UniKitty manically cute. Vitruvius is Morgan Freeman — nuf said! And Lord Business was everything an evil overlord should be. Oh and Benny, I love Benny. Spaceship!!!

Now when I saw the trailers, I thought that the LEGO Movie looked like a child’s version of the Matrix, and without getting into spoiler territory — it pretty much is. And no, I don’t want to do spoilers, there’s enough reviews out there already doing that.

Are there some holes in the film? Yes, but that won’t stop me from watching it again. Like I said, the lack of a really strong female that can stand on her own was a tad buggy. The story could have been better, and there’s a section at the end that could have been left out without really hurting the movie at all — it almost might have been better without it in my opinion.

There were a ton of things I loved — nods to the AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) community and things that only we would get how funny or cool that they were added. One of my favorite parts, without spoiling it, is how the “Master Builders” see the LEGO world.

And no, I’m not going to breakdown the whole movie, the characters, etc. There’s already a ton of reviews out there doing that, and putting way too many spoilers in the reviews. Besides, if I do write a post with spoilers, it will be a separate post, this one is already too long. ;)

So my overall score — 9 out of 10 bricks! See it — in theaters and watch it at least twice so you can catch more of the background. You don’t need to see it in 3D, although I did all 3 times (again mostly for the figs). It doesn’t really add that much to it other than a little sense of depth. I’m not really a fan of 3D though. And if you really love LEGO like I do, get it when it comes out on DVD.

They are already talking about a second LEGO Movie, and I’ll be there at the first showing I can get to. :D

Storing your LEGO

February 4, 2014

So I just recently was asked on my Facebook page about how to properly store your LEGO. What’s the best way to sort them? By part? By color? By kits? Just dump it all in a box?

Well, I wish there was a simple solution, some magical formula that I could give you that would instantly be the answer. Unfortnately, as most AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) know, there is no magic formula. And sorting and storing your LEGO will change as your collection changes (and most likely grows).

The solutions that worked for me when I was a child, heck the solutions that worked even 5-10 years ago, won’t work for me now and I will have to reevaluate it probably in another 5 years or so — if not sooner.

When I was a kid, I kept all my LEGO in one box, but early on I realized how frustrating it was to find that one particular piece, as it was always at the bottom of the box. So by age 11 I had started sorting my LEGO to a small degree.

Now, I sort and store my LEGO by part and color. My storage system is certainly on the extreme side, very similar to the storage system that I had when I was a Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND California. But I need such a system as I literally build day in and day out. I have to know where all my parts are at all times.

Most of my LEGO are in drawers like these
LEGO Room 6

And my desk looks like this
LEGO Room 2

LEGO Room 3

Now it is rarely this clean, as I tend to be a messy builder.

When I was younger I just had 4 of these “nuts and bolts” drawers (I call them that since you usually find them in hardware stores) where I stored all my little LEGO elements — weapons, feathers, food, etc. As you can see that set of 4 has grown…

Here’s a close up of the “nuts and bolts” drawers
LEGO Storage 4

I also have a fairly large collection of these official LEGO storage drawers (which unfortunately they are phasing out)

LEGO Storage 2

I like to keep one element per set of trays, its a nice way of seeing how many of what color you have.

I have a lot of the LEGO drawers and containers, as you can see in this picture.
LEGO Room 1

This is in no way all my LEGO, and I have tons that still needs sorting (which is a constant problem for me).

But enough about me, what’s the best thing for you to do? Well as most of you probably don’t have quite as much LEGO as I do, there are some steps you can take to solve your storage problems.

1) Sort by part, not color — its much easier to find a particular color in a bin than a particular element type in a sea of one color. You don’t have to have everything super sorted like I have it. You can put similar things together — technic parts, tiles, clips, etc.

2) If it is your child’s collection, involve them in the sorting and storage process or it will never work — You can have all the LEGO perfectly sorted for your child, but unless they are involved, and actively sorting the bricks themselves, it won’t work. The only reason my LEGO sorting has worked for over 25 years is that I was the one who initiated it when I was younger. My parents didn’t care how I stored my LEGO, but I did, as I took my collection seriously from a very early age.

3) Don’t keep your LEGO sorted by kit — unless you are an adult collector that wants to keep them organized this way, I highly discourage keeping your LEGO by the kits they came in. The whole point of LEGO is to mix them up. The new LEGO Movie addresses this very issue.

4) Sort them by how you build — depending on your building style, that can determine your sorting and storage system. If you are a car builder you want lots of wheels, tires, rims, etc. If you build castles you want castle walls, gray elements, roof elements, etc. Since I build anything and everything, that is why I have a super sorted collection. But the things I use with regularity — bricks, plates, tiles, etc — are in the easy to reach places while the things I hardly ever use — castle parts, technic, wheels, etc — are accessible, but not in easy reach.

5) Start your storage and sorting small — You don’t have to do it all at once. I’ve been doing it since I was 11, and my storage system is constantly changing as my collection grows and fluctuates. You can just get a few “nuts and bolts” drawers, a few containers. Then as your collection changes your storage can change.

As a side note there are a couple Flickr groups about LEGO sorting — LEGO Storage Extravaganza and LEGO Sorting

So, what do you do to sort and store your LEGO?

Make sure to brush your teeth

January 15, 2014

I know, I know. I’ve been MIA (missing in action) here on my blog for a while. If you’ve been following my Facebook Page or my Twitter feed then you know I’ve been working on a large model. It has a head, torso, arms and legs — but that’s all I will say till after I’m finished, which should be soon. So until I’m done, enjoy this cool model. ;)

You know, for teeth!

Carl Merriam has done it again with this over sized tooth brush. I love how he gets all the details of the bristles and rubber that makes up the head.

It makes me think of the giant tooth brush that I designed at LEGOLAND, sadly I don’t have any pictures. :(

It was for the Splash Battle Ride in the Pirates area of the park. If you’ve been to the park I’m sure you’ve seen the giant shark on the ride. Well one of the models that didn’t make it, but was designed, was supposed to go on the shark. The initial concept was of someone holding the mouth open, but I thought that joke had been done too many times so my idea was to have a cabin boy straddling a tooth in the mouth of the shark with a very nervous expression on his face and a giant tooth brush in his hand.

We got as far as designing most of the model, and I made both a two foot prototype and a four foot long toothbrush model with a big dollop of toothpaste, but for some reason the final version of the cabin boy was never finished and I have no idea what happened to the model. It still might be somewhere in model storage or it might have been recycled (yes that does happen), either way, I wish I had the pictures now.

My toothbrush was in no way as detailed as Carl’s, but it was still a fun project.

LEGOLAND in Boston looking for a Master Builder

December 19, 2013

If you live in the New England area, and have always wanted to become a LEGO Master Model Builder then here’s your chance.

Via: Boston Magazine

On January 25 and 26, at the Boston Public Library, an “intense competition,” called Brick Factor, will be held to try and identify the perfect candidate to take on the job of building Lego projects for the Discovery Center Boston coming to Assembly Square in the new year.

Applicants will be asked to tackle several construction challenges over the course of two days, competing in multiple rounds to take the title. The lucky winner of the competition will be offered a full-time, salaried position from the Discovery Center, and will become responsible for constructing new features, exhibitions and models at the new attraction.

So what does it take to become the next “Master Model Builder,” a title that only a handful of other people in the United States hold?

According to Lego representatives, the perfect candidate should have “a natural love of Lego bricks…be creative,” and show that they are a skilled model builder and passionate about working with and teaching kids.

“The Brick Factor Competition is a unique opportunity to turn one lucky individual’s hobby into a dream job,” said David Gilmore, General Manager for Legoland Discovery Center Boston. “The Master Model Builder will become an integral member of the team, bringing all the incredible Lego brick models within the attraction to life. We can’t wait to put New England’s building skills to the test.”

Here’s a look at what the “Brick Factor” was like in Toronto

Tips from a former Master (me :D ):

1) Practice before you go. Do timed building tests — both free style and theme to get and idea just how long (or short) half an hour or hour is when on a clock

2) Have a portfolio of your previous LEGO models — a booklet or tablet with pics of what you have done can give LEGOLAND an idea of what you can already do.

3) Don’t just show one style / theme of building — Master Builders can be required to build anything. So you have to be able to build a building one day, a mosaic the next and then make a sculpture and a microscale model. If you just specialize in one type — Castle, Space, Mecha, etc. — and don’t diversify your building style they might not be as interested in you. That’s not to say that you won’t get hired, but it helps to be versatile. ;)

On the flip side — Remember it is a real job. Its not just playing with LEGO all day. Whoever wins will have budgets and time frames. You can’t spend months on a foot long model getting it “just so.” Its also a corporate job, no matter how creative it may be. And sadly, they don’t pay all that well. Which is part of the reason I’m not at LEGOLAND any more. So if that’s not your cup of tea, you might not want to do it.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying out. I don’t regret the 5 years I spent working at LEGOLAND California. It was amazing, life-changing and I learned to be a much, much better builder because I was there. But there were days when I didn’t want to go into work. Its a job and you work hard. I want anyone trying out to go in with their eyes wide open and not have false expectations.

So for those that do plan on trying out in January, Good Luck! And if any of you readers do try out, I’d love to hear how you do.

Man turned away from LEGOLAND Discovery Center

July 9, 2013

Via CTV News

An article on the CTV News website from Canada brought about a little known and rather stupid (in my opinion) rule of the LEGOLAND Discovery centers — “Adults must be accompanied by a child to visit the attraction.” (straight from the website).

And sure, its on the website, but John St-Onge didn’t even think about checking there before he and his adult daughter took the 3 hour drive to get to the Toronto attraction. And who would? I certainly didn’t when I was recently in Chicago for BrickWorld. I only found out when I was there that they would turn you away at the door.

I was almost curious to go and see if they really would turn me away, even though I have a Merlin Pass — which lets you into all the LEGOLAND parks and discovery centers in the US. No one mentioned this rule when they were upselling me the pass at LEGOLAND California, and of course they don’t turn non-accompanied adults away at the theme parks, they’d loose too much money. I did end up making it there, but I went with a friend and her kids, so there wasn’t an issue — for me.

Apparently to compensate for this, they have an “Adult’s Only” night once a month, but that too is rather stupid and weird in my opinion. I suppose I can see reasons for not allowing lone adults into a kid’s attraction, but still, its not like there are lots of dark corners in the tiny two story building that takes less than an hour to go through. And as far as I can tell, its only the Discovery Centers, they don’t have this rule at the SeaLife Center that is next door to LEGOLAND California. I guess its okay for adults to want to see fish, but heaven forbid they want to actually look at the LEGO models.

There is an alternative to going to the Discovery Centers — LEGO Conventions (which have many more interesting models anyways in my opinion). And I have it on good authority that Mr. St-Onge has been invited to BrickFete, Canada’s only LEGO Convention happening this weekend in Toronto. As it is an AFOL (Adult Fans of LEGO) event, all LEGO loving adults are welcome. ;)

I still haven’t made it up there yet, partially because I already go to five conventions a year, and partially because its too near to the San Diego Comic Con, which is happening next week. But from all that I’ve heard its a great show!

I feel sorry for Mr. St-Onge that he didn’t know ahead of time, so I’m posting it here — if you want to go to a LEGOLAND Discovery Center take a kid, or they won’t let you in. Not cool Merlin Entertainments, not cool at all.

Be Brave

December 7, 2012

Brave Mereda

I made this about a week ago, but didn’t think to post it on Flickr till last night after I posted it as my Facebook picture. I was surprised to see such a huge response, both on Facebook and Flickr. Brothers Brick even posted it this morning. :)

What’s really getting a lot of people’s attention are the curls and the bow. Pixar’s Merida is known for her wild frizzy hair and I wanted to capture it as close as I could in a 4 inch figure.
Brave Mereda

I have to admit though, this technique isn’t new — at least in Miniland building — this has been a technique for creating curly hair for as long as I can remember at the LEGOLAND parks and I have used variations of it many times on several of my Superhero figures like Wonder Woman and for my Wedding Cake Topper Brides.

And of course what is Merida without her bow? I thought about using the new elf long bow from the Hobbit sets, but I realized it would still be too short. So I did the next best thing, I made one out of pearl cotton thread and a bit of copper flex tubing. The quiver might be a tad too short, but it was just to perfect not to use verses trying to design my own. ;)

If you would like your own Miniland Merida either as a figurine or a Christmas ornament, I have them for sale on my Folded Fancy Creations Etsy Shop.

Monsters, Rockers and Business Card Holders

August 15, 2012

A few new sets are starting to appear. First there was the Beach Set that came out earlier this year, now there are two more offerings. Remember when LEGO Rock Band came out, I kept saying we needed a set, well this is probably the closest we’ll ever get.


They are basically the same as the collectible minifigure versions except with slight color variations and brick built instruments.

There’s also a Monster Fighter’s set that is similarly packaged.

The both retail at $14.99 USD, and are already available at LEGOLAND California. Most likely they will appear at the LEGO Stores soon.

There is also a new official Business Card Holder set. Although not as cool as the Business Card Holder I make, its still pretty awesome. ;)
LEGO Business Card Holder

LEGO Business Card Holder Parts List

Also available currently at LEGOLAND California and retails for $16.99. For me the most exciting thing is the return of the letter tiles that were last seen in 2004. I got a whole bunch of the letter tiles then, and I’ll most likely buy a good selection of them now.

Thanks to my friend Jason for letting me know about the sets and Eurobricks for the images of the two minifig sets. :)

Happy Birthday LEGO!!!

August 1, 2012

Via Brickset
Did you know its the 80th anniversary of LEGO! I did, I was still working at LEGOLAND for both their 70th and their 75th Birthday so I’ve been keeping track. ;)

So to commemorate this momentous birthday you can get this awesome slice of cake set from LEGO.com or at your local LEGO store with any purchase of $50 (not all that hard to do). From what I understand this is only in the US and Canada.

Also there is an awesome contest running through this month to promote the LEGO VIP Program

Click on the picture for more details.

If you are already a VIP member, then you’ve already been automatically entered. If you are not, then join. Its a great program and since we already buy LEGO, you might as well get points for it. :D

A trip to any LEGOLAND in the world is nothing to sneeze at! And I know which park I’d like to go to — Denmark! Where would you go?


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