Archive for the ‘Model Shop’ Category

Ghostbusters Ecto 1 Set Review

October 31, 2014

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Although I built this set a while ago, I’ve been saving this for Halloween. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ghostbusters is one of my favorite Halloween comedies, has been for years — although I clearly remember being afraid of the ghosts when the movie came out, I was 7 after all. So when this set came out it was a must have! Back to the Future just didn’t do it for me, still haven’t picked up that set, but this one, yes, I needed it. Okay, needed is rather strong. Really, really wanted is more like it.

The box art is awesome
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I love the back especially, I just wish the set came with proton packs that actually glowed. ๐Ÿ˜€

The instruction booklet is really nice with a cool pic from the movie so you can see the real life versions,
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and their LEGO counterparts.
Ghostbusters Ecto 1

The parts are pretty decent
Ghostbusters Ecto 1

Especially the set exclusives
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Okay technically the dark red 1×1 round with hole is also in Emmet’s Construction Mech as part of Angry Uni-Kitty, but its still rather rare as a part. And all the printed elements are set exclusive as are the printed torsos for the Ghostbusters.

The figs have happy faces — sorry for the dark lighting, it doesn’t capture Winston too well
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As well as scared faces when they come upon something really scary
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The build is a nice one too with some really cool techniques like the white and red trim on the back.
Ghostbusters Ecto 1

The finished model really captures the look of the movie car
Ghostbusters Ecto 1

Fun Ghostbusters related fact —

LEGOLAND California used to have a Ghostbusters scene that they put out every Halloween

One of my first assignments was to rebuild the hearse that was in the New Orleans Miniland area after the original one (that was tan — why tan, I have no idea) was stolen. As I didn’t have the original one the only way I could build it was to reverse engineer the hearse from the Ecto 1 model.

Then, several years later, right before I left LEGOLAND California I built a Halloween version of the Hearse that is still used every year for Brick or Treat.

Halloween Hearse 2

Happy Halloween every one and may the Holidays commence!

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 Experience at LEGOLAND California

February 21, 2014

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I’ve been on LEGO Movie overload ever since it came out two weeks ago. First, seeing it 3 times in 3 days, plus buying the LEGO Movie Video Game for both PS3 and 3DS (review to come later) and playing the PS3 version, and the ongoing news, reviews and accolades that the movie keeps getting from pretty much everywhere. The “Everything is Awesome” song is now permanently lodged in my brain — it doesn’t help that they keep playing it throughout the video game. And then to culminate it all, yesterday I went to The LEGO Movie Experience that made its debut yesterday at LEGOLAND California.

Warning! Spoliers Ahead!!!!

If you haven’t watched the LEGO Movie yet, and don’t want to find out one of the major spoilers, read no further. Come back after you’ve watched the movie. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Okay, now that that’s done, lets get to this.

The Lego Movie Experience at LLCAVia: Miro Dudas

Like I said when I wrote my Non-spolier review, I still have a lot to write about this movie. One thing I didn’t like that much in the movie was its biggest spoiler — entering the real world. I get that it taught a valuable lesson of creativity over keeping things just so, but I felt that it pulled you out of the story. I would have preferred if we never entered the real world. Even if remnants of it (band-aid, “kragel,”etc) were in the LEGO world.

However, if they had not added that real world element, The LEGO Movie Experience would not have been possible.

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In the movie, the “real world” is basically an Adult Fan of LEGO’s basement LEGO room. And what a room! A full town layout in the middle, castle, western, and space themes along the wall, a corner that looks very much like my desk with all the “nuts and bolts” drawers full of LEGO and various LEGO kits and creations on display. But of course Finn — the son — isn’t supposed to play with any of it. Those are all Dad’s collection — not toys!

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Sound familiar? Many of us die-hard AFOLs have LEGO Rooms of one sort or another. Our rooms vary in collection size and how much our roommates or families allow it to exist. Not all have rooms like Will Farrell’s character in the movie, but I know quite a few who do — me included.

And some have the “my collection” and the “kid’s collection.” Most who do will allow their children to borrow from them, but there is a definite line. Even my brothers (who I took their LEGO when they grew out of it) like to play with my collection (they are 35 and 27 by the way) when they visit and sometimes I bristle silently (or not so silently) when they mess up my system.

Finn’s LEGO collection
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You can see the “Magic Portal” tube in the back of the room.

But, despite all that LEGO can be, it is first and foremost a toy. If and when I have children they will definitely be allowed to play with my LEGO, and they will have their own. Of course I’ve never been one that leaves huge LEGO displays out. For one, leaving displays out permanently causes them to get dusty and color fading can happen. For another, I don’t have the room to leave large things out. I never know when I’ll need the space for a commission. I’ve been known to take over the dining room table when the project is too large for weeks. So leaving a large model or display up, at least at this point, is not in the cards for me.

As an added bonus for the grand opening, they had a special guest — Jadon Sand, “Finn” of the LEGO Movie.

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He was on hand to tell of his experience working with Will Farrell and being in the LEGO Moive. During the question and answer part, I asked him if he wanted to be a Master Builder. He said yes, he definitely does. When I got to talk with him and his mom later he said he would like to be a Master Builder, Director and Writer. I also asked him what his favorite theme was and he said he loves the Harry Potter sets. He even treated us to a rendition of “Everything is Awesome.”

I took lots more pictures, you can see them on Flickr as well as these pics by Miro.

I was fortunate enough to get in as Media, because when I emerged from the building it was to a massively long line. Some of my fellow SandLUG members were in line for over an hour and a half!

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I would have taken more pictures, but as the public came in, and it got more and more crowded, I felt it was time to leave.

One cool thing I got was a picture with Jadon that his mom took
Me and Jadon Sand 1

It was great meeting Jadon Sand and seeing the awesome models that were used in the movie.

And check out this Awesome video LEGOLAND made for the opening.

If you get a chance to come to LEGOLAND California, be sure to check this out. I’m not sure for how long this will be there, but I imagine it will be for quite a while, especially considering the popularity of the movie. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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?

Baby Colby

January 18, 2013

So you’ve probably been wondering why I’ve been off the radar for the past few days. Well, if you’ve been reading my blog for very long you know that when I have a project, I tend to let everything else slide.

So here’s my latest creation
Baby Mosaic 1

I have decided to start selling portrait mosaics but in order to do that, I needed a sample to show my skills. This is a picture of my friend Tiffeny’s baby Colby. Its the first time I’ve done a portrait, although my Remembering 9/11 mosaic was my first based off a real picture.

I wanted to make a smaller mosaic than my standard size of 2 feet tall, so I decided to go with 1 foot tall as I felt it was a nice size, but I could still retain the likeness of the image.

Since I know you are always curious about my process I took a picture of the brick paper design I made for this mosaic.
Brick paper Baby Mosaic

It looks like kind of a mess, but trust me, it makes sense. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What I do is take the original picture, then I use Photoshop and Bricksaic to find the color values. If you are not familiar with Bricksaic it is a freeware program created by Bob Kojima. Bob is also the man behind BrickShirts. Bricksaic is a program to help you design mosaics. It can be helpful, but it doesn’t work fully for my technique. The best part of it though is that you can constrain the image to only the LEGO colors you want to use. So instead of the mosaic having weird colors in random places you only have the colors you want.

Here’s an up close shot so you can kind of see what I’m doing.
Baby Mosaic Close up

The model took my 40 hours or so to make.

Its funny, I never would have thought that I would be able to create something like this a decade ago when I started in the Model Shop. But after so many years, and so many mosaics, it was relatively easy.

I am selling them on my Etsy shop, if you’re interested, but I admit, it’s not cheap. ๐Ÿ˜‰

LEGO 10223 Kingdoms Joust

October 1, 2011

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Kingdom’s Joust was just unveiled for the first time last night at BrickCon. And yes, it looks just as gorgeous, if not more so, in person as it does in the pictures. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jousting sets have a special place in my heart because one of my favorite Castle sets, Knight’s Challenge, came out when I was a kid. And yes, I know I’m showing my age. ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve always loved Castle theme, Forestmen most of all which debuted the same year — 1988. I also created a Miniland scale Renn Fair when I was at LEGOLAND California with a jousting scene.

This new set, similar in the feel and design of the Medieval Market Village, is elegant and fun all rolled into one! Now all we need is the rest of the castle to go with it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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10223 Kingdoms Joust
Ages 12+. 1,575 pieces.
US $119.99 CA $149.99 DE 119.99 โ‚ฌ UK 99.99 ยฃ DK 1099.00 DKK AU 199.99 AUD
Watch the Knights battle it out at the Royal Joust!
Itโ€™s the most exciting event on the LEGO Kingdoms calendar! Join the King and Queen at the Royal Joust as the knights on horseback battle it out for the hand of the beautiful Princess. This detailed set recreates all the majesty of a medieval pageant, from the large, 6-roomed castle with linked wall extensions, 2 knightsโ€™ weapons tents, royal viewing box, jousting fence and of course 2 magnificent jousting horses. Combine 2 Kingdoms Joust sets for a scene that is truly fit for a King! Includes 9 minifigures: king, queen, princess, lion knight, falcon knight, young squire, nobleman and 2 soldiers.
โ€ข Includes 9 minifigures: king, queen, princess,, lion knight, falcon knight, young squire, nobleman and 2 soldiers!
โ€ข Knight minifigures include armor decoration, helmet, jousting pole, shield and 2 extra weapons!
โ€ข Features castle with 6 detailed rooms with lots of accessorie and 2 knightโ€™s tents with weapon holders!
โ€ข Open back for easy access to linked wall extensions!
โ€ข Also features royal viewing box with flags and coat of arms!
โ€ข Includes 2 knightโ€™s horses with detailed decoration, weapon holder and armored headgear!
โ€ข Explore the castle rooms!
โ€ข Battle it out for the hand of the princess!
โ€ข Combine 2 Kingdoms Joust sets for a scene fit for King!
โ€ข Castle measures 20โ€ณ (51 cm) wide and 12โ€ณ (30 cm) tall!

Available for sale directly through LEGOยฎ beginning
January 2012 via shop.LEGO.com, LEGOยฎ Stores or via phone

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I love the lady in the green dress!
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So much awesomeness, so little money. Once again my wallet is already hurting from the sets I want to buy next year. ๐Ÿ˜€

BrickCon, just around the corner

September 27, 2011

BrickCon 2011 T-shirt Design by BrickShirts

There are only a couple of days to go until the last US LEGO Con of the year will be under way. I know I’m excited! ๐Ÿ˜€

As I will once again be a vendor, I’ve created a lot of fun new items to sell. I’ve also got lots of new vinyl window sticker designs, some premiering for the first time and perfect for Halloween. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have to say, my favorite is the new skeleton.

I will also be showing my Remembering 9/11 mosaic, along with an updated version of my Dreyer’s Truck that was originally designed when I worked at LEGOLAND California. There may be a couple more MOCs, but it all depends on if I get them done.

If any of you are going, stop by my booth and say hi! And for all those who can’t make it, I will do my best to cover it for you.

Now, back to packing . . . ๐Ÿ˜€

LEGO Master Builder Academy

June 1, 2011

I can’t seem to get it to link properly, but if you click on this:
LEGO Master Builder Academy.

You can check out this cool video about the new LEGO Master Builder Academy.

I’m pretty excited for this program. Its kind of what I’ve been doing and wanting to do all along. The only downside is that its only available in the US for now. Here’s hoping it will be worldwide soon.

Orlando LEGO Imagination Center

April 21, 2011

Disney and LEGO, two licences that were fated to be together. And the newly remodeled Orland LEGO Imagination Center in Orlando, Florida shows just what those two iconic powerhouses can do.

Maleficent
Yes, that’s all LEGO, and yes, it is the final battle scene from Sleeping Beauty — LEGO-fied. ๐Ÿ™‚

LEGO Knight
The Master Model Builders have created these amazing new Disney LEGO models.

Here is Minifig Snow White
Snow White and Dopey

Dwarves

And even the LEGO Family has been Disney-fied
Family at Disney
(I don’t know why you’d bring your four dogs to Disney World, but that’s just me ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

I still haven’t gotten to the Sunshine State yet, but maybe someday I’ll get there. So if you happen to be near Disney World, check out all the new amazing models.

And thanks to Michael Huffman for taking all these great pictures. ๐Ÿ˜€

Star Wars Miniland at LEGOLAND California

April 2, 2011

Thursday March 31st, 2011 marked the grand opening of Star Wars Miniland. After much anticipation and just a few teaser pictures from LEGOLAND, it was nice to finally see the finished product. I tried to get in on the actual official opening, but it was so packed that I didn’t get a chance to even get into the park until it was all over.

It is really cool, especially to see the Millennium Falcon at over 4 feet long.
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There are 6 clusters, focusing on main scenes from the 6 different movies. My only complaint was that some of the classic scenes were so far away from the viewing public (2-3 feet or more) that its really hard to see the details.
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While at the same time the scene I thought was a little boring was right up close
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Now being as I worked at LEGOLAND and I took care of Miniland for 4 years I do understand why models have to be far away. If models are too close grasping little (and big) hands can make off with models. Its happened before, in fact I had to rebuild the hearse for New Orleans as one of my early assignments due to that very reason. And even if the model is too big to be stolen, they can easily be damaged even if they are glued.

There was also a giant mosaic that was built by park guests earlier this month.
P1260031 There was a small 6×6 panel missing, but I’m probably one of the only ones who noticed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What I found almost more interesting than the finished product was the time lapse video LEGOLAND released of all the Model Makers and maintenance workers hard at work getting the Star Wars area ready. I’ve been there; working long, hard hours for weeks and even months on end to get everything ready for opening day. It is a truly unique experience working so closely with your coworkers for so long on such tight time restraints. A lot of minute details have to be remembered, all while making sure to finish it all on time.

I always enjoy seeing LEGOLAND grow, in some ways there will always be a part of me that remains at LEGOLAND with my friends and former coworkers who still work there. Star Wars Miniland is a nice addition to Miniland USA and a much better replacement than Daytona which I never really liked (even when we installed it). I have to admit, I do miss Miniland Kennedy Space Center, as I created several fun models for that cluster, but I also know that the Space Center lives on at LEGOLAND Florida, Windsor, and Billund. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have a whole bunch of pictures of the whole Star Wars Miniland area on my Flickr photostream. I was also told by one of my friends in maintenance that it looks almost as amazing at night because of all the LED lights. I’ll have to test that out when the park is open in the summer. ๐Ÿ™‚