Archive for the ‘Pirates’ Category

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.

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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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜€

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. πŸ˜‰

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.

BrickCon 2012 is around the corner

September 11, 2012

This is the last week to register for BrickCon and be guaranteed an engraved brick badge and all the goodies in the swag bag. This is the last full LEGO Con of the year and one that I look forward to going to every year.

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You can bring a model to display on its own or join one of the collaborative displays like last year’s Cube Dude display.

If you’ve never gone, this is definitely one of my favorites and the largest one on the West Coast.

Hope to see you there! But for all of you who can’t make it, I’ll do my best to cover all the BrickCon fun.

LEGO FriendsHats and other thoughts

January 13, 2012

The controversy over LEGO Friends continues to rage. Although I try to stay out of it for the most part, not commenting on other blog or Facebook posts that are clearly misinformed or just plain wrong, I can’t help but feel that certain groups have taken an innocent toy and superimposed their political views on top of it. LEGO has even gone as far as issuing a press release about it.

One of the biggest misunderstandings with the new LEGO Friends figs is that they aren’t compatible with regular minifigs. Its as if these unimaginative people can’t see the building potential. They don’t see Friends as an addition to all of the other products that LEGO produces but more of a “this or that” toy. Like the children can only like LEGO Friends or like “normal” LEGO. But what is “normal” LEGO?

Friends is just a new form. Before 1978 there were no minifigs, before 2000 there were no Bionicle, before last year there were no LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean — do you get my point? LEGO is constantly evolving, changing and growing. Friends is just a new type of LEGO figure.

While the figures themselves can’t easily interchange with Minifigs, all the Friends hair can be worn by minifigs and vice-versa. And that goes for the accessories too.

This great video by LDM showcases the headgear.

And the customizing of LEGO Friends has already begun. Check out these custom Friends figs:
G.I.Julie

Haircut

Punkrock Girl

And “Wrist articulation: achieved”
Wrist articulation: achieved

I even decided to change my Facebook picture in support of LEGO Friends
Friend Sig Fig

And yes, as a LEGO Artist, I really use power drills, wrenches and all manner of tools daily. I have to use math — fractions and geometry especially — to create my models. Because of LEGO not only was it a wonderful, ever changing toy that was only limited by my imagination as a child but it has allowed me to achieve two of my dream jobs — LEGO Master Model Builder and Writer. It has given me not one, but two careers and endless hours of enjoyment.

Like I mentioned in my previous post I was skeptical of LEGO Friends at first. But the more I see of the sets and the things that are already being done with the new figures I like them more and more!

LEGO Friends — Controversial or Cool?

January 9, 2012

If you’ve been paying attention at all to the buzz around the internet, you’ve probably seen at least on or several posts or articles about the LEGO Friends line. When I first heard about a new girl theme coming out over a year and a half ago at the LEGO Conventions I kept hearing “It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.”

My reaction, like most AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO), was — we’ll see.

The first low-res pictures didn’t do much to sway my cynical opinion. It looked like a rehashing of older themes. Once I finally saw good quality pictures, I thought it looked a lot like Polly Pocket. And it does. But so do a lot of other toys geared towards girls.

Unlike previous girl LEGO lines, LEGO Friends was widely promoted by the company. And almost before the first press release got out, the backlash started.

“LEGO already has a LEGOs for girls — they are called LEGOs” one person touted (and I apologize to all who cringe when an “s” is added to LEGO).

This comic posted on FBTB.net showed another side of it.

But what a lot of those who are complaining don’t know, or don’t care to research. Is that this is hardly the first time LEGO has made girl sets. They’ve been doing it for decades. Ever since the first Homemaker sets in 1971, LEGO has made sets clearly geared towards girls. That’s over 30 years people!

So why now? Well part of it is just because these naysayers can. Part of it is because LEGO didn’t promote previous incarnations like Belville and Scala as strongly as LEGO Friends. So all of these people who never really paid attention to LEGO themes before are taking sides over LEGO Friends. There’s even a petition to stop LEGO Friends.

A petition? Really? Don’t we have anything else to worry about?

I admit, Belville, Scala, and Clickits were never my favorite lines. I felt and still feel that they were an insult to my intelligence. There were no difficult builds and the figures looked like Barbie for LEGO — especially Scala. The only girl lines I liked were the Homemaker line which is a little bit before my time, and Paradisa.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I’m not a girly girl. In fact I took over my brothers’ LEGO bricks when they grew out of them. Something I never did. So even though I like Paradisa, it was too girly for me. I much preferred Castle or City — before it was populated only by cops, firemen, and robbers. I grew up in the golden age of LEGO when some of the truly great lines came out. I was just as into space and pirates as my brother (my little brother was a little too young at the time).

So when Scala and Belville were finally available in the US — they were originally only available in Europe — I was already a die-hard LEGO fan. These sets annoyed me and I ignored them. I refused to buy them because I didn’t like them. But what I didn’t realize was how many cool accessories there were. Food and cooking elements especially. So as I got more building savvy and started looking as sets more like parts packs and less like sets, I started to purchase Scala and Belville.

So what do I think of LEGO Friends? Well I wanted to wait until I had gotten some before I gave my opinion. I was getting more and more excited as I saw all the fun elements. And now that I have a couple sets I really, really like them.

Even with the images I’d seen of Friends to Minifig scale comparisons, I didn’t really appreciate how very small they Friends dolls are. They are tiny! Which naturally makes them cuter. They won’t replace my love for the Minifig, but they won’t be relegated to the back of the LEGO box either.

When I saw the sets in the stores I wanted to buy all of them! Okay, maybe that is my girly side coming out, but I am a girl, so that’s okay. πŸ˜‰

Lots of non-LEGO people are complaining about the pink. But there is actually very little pink in the sets. And there are all these great new colors and parts! There are just as many, if not more, male AFOLs wanting these sets because of the accessories.

So in short — after this long rant — I like LEGO Friends. Is it exactly what I would have wanted as a child? No, but that’s what Modular Buildings are for. I do want all of the sets, if not multiples. I love the new accessories and colors. The MOC (my own creation) potential is very high! And I will be recommending them to everyone. I hope they come out with more. My opinion — Cool. πŸ™‚

The Black Pearl

October 24, 2011

I try my best to visit Target, TRU, and even Costco’s Lego aisles as much as I can, which can be difficult as I also make myself all too known at the Lego stores. Just Saturday I ran into friends at the Lego store in Costa Mesa because I needed a sandwich for lunch… Anywho…

Costco has the new Pirates of the Caribbean Black Pearl for only $80 ($90 on Costco.com). I try to call my friends Paul and Mariann the second I see a good deal, but now that Mariann asked me to post stuff on here, I thought you would all like to know as well! There are deals at Lego for free shipping and double points and free Lego goodies but if you have other Lego to buy during these incentives, the Costco deal is pretty nice.

So thats my 2 cents for now…

Tiff

Comic Con 2011 Recap

July 29, 2011

I do apologize for the lack of posts, I’ve been in a post-Comic Con coma the last few days and I haven’t really had the motivation to do much of anything including writing my blog. It seems that going from working 2 months flat out and getting no sleep on a commission piece — and yes, I will be posting about it soon — and then going to Comic Con for 5 days and getting no sleep tends to totally exhaust me for some reason, who knew? πŸ˜€

So, back to the matter at hand, Comic Con 2011. This year was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know why, maybe it was the panels I got to see, or the movies I got to watch. I’ve been going for at least 19 years, so Comic Con is not the overwhelming monster it seems to be to first or even second time attendees.

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For me, as it has been for quite a number of years, Comic Con is very LEGO-centric. Mainly because I help out with the LEGO booth. Oh I go to the panels and watch the movies too, but Comic Con is part fun and part work for me, much like the LEGO Conventions. πŸ˜‰

This year, as I’m sure all of you know introduced the new LEGO DC and Marvel licenses that will be out next year.
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I have to admit, I’m not to big a fan of the big Hero Factory like figures, but then I don’t really care that much for Bionicle or Hero Factory either. Now don’t get me wrong, I see uses for the pieces, and I know why little (and big) boys like the figs, its just not my thing.
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I also enjoyed finally seeing the Captain Jack Sparrow model in person. After seeing it online earlier this year it was nice to see the real thing.
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I was especially happy that they had fixed the hand holding the compass, as that was the only part of the model that bothered me when I saw the initial pictures.
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The play area this year consisted of a mountain of 2×4 yellow bricks. It was a fun and interesting thing to watch. Because there was only one type of brick, it was more of a challenge to create models, but it also kept little ones from fighting over the bricks. πŸ˜‰
P1280300 And no, I didn’t make the Star Wars sign.

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I even had a bit of fun with the bricks. πŸ˜‰

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You can see LEGO Events Coordinator Mark Fontanella literally shoveled up all the bricks at the end.

Now, I did not buy the LEGO exclusive this year, you can go check out FBTB’s review on that.
SDCC Exclusive 7958 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar - Packaging
I couldn’t justify the extra cost (it was $50), just for special packaging and a poster when the set is coming out in October. Especially when I knew I’ll be opening my Advent Calendar to do my Annual Advent Callendar Review.

I did however manage to get my hands on the exclusive LEGO Batman and Greenlantern figs. And no, just because I was working the booth didn’t automatically mean that I got one. I had to stand in line like everyone else.
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In fact, I managed to get quite a lot of LEGO swag this year.
Comic Con LEGO Swag

Some of it, like the exclusive minifigs wasn’t all that easy to get. Warner Brothers had a special lanyard you had to get stamped at 3 different booths and then take it to their booth to get the swag bag. But it was worth it, the bag consisted of a LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 Video Game shirt (the white one in the picture), a Voldemort Minifig, a Batman Arkham City Water Bottle (not LEGO), a magnet and a bandanna (also not LEGO).

The big LEGO Harry Potter bag I got when I picked up my attendee badge. The LEGO booth was giving away LEGO Star Wars minifig posters, Heroica comic books, and Ninjago bracelets. Hallmark booth was giving away a LEGO Darth Vader poster. DK was giving away a LEGO Star Wars pin, LEGO Harry Potter lanyards, and a LEGO Star Wars poster. And Cartoon Network came by the LEGO booth on Saturday and handed out Ninjago pins.

I also managed (it helps to have many friends at LEGO πŸ˜‰ ) to get into the special sneak preview of LEGO Star Wars: Padawan Menace that was shown in the Reading Theater of the Gaslamp District of San Diego. It was shown the day before it aired on Cartoon Network. All of us who attended got a LEGO Star Wars Padawan Menace poster, a small minifig (it’s the one that comes with the DVD when it comes out in September), and a LEGOLAND California luggage tag.

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I even got to meet the director David Scott, seen here with Minifig Darth Vader.

Outside of the convention they had a Conan O’Brien fan art museum. One of the pieces was a “Flaming C” created by Nathan Sawaya.

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I also went to the LEGO Star Wars panel on Friday. The biggest news that came out of that was that they are finally making a Queen Amidala minifigure in her red dress!
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They are also re-releasing the Tie Fighter with a new design and new minifigures. My favorite is the new R4 droid. I can see that head part coming in very handy if they decide to make it in other colors down the line.
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The tie fighter will be out in January 2012 and the Queen Amidala fig (no news on what set she’ll be in) in the summer 2012 line.

As for the cool non-LEGO Comic Con stuff I did. I got to see a preview of Captain America with actor Chris Evans introducing the movie.
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I watched the Torchwood Miracle Day episode 3 with the entire cast merely feet from me and I met and talked with Timothy Zahn, author of many books that I enjoy reading. πŸ™‚

And I think that is about it. πŸ˜‰

Check out my Flickr photostream for all my pictures.

POTC Chrome Gold Replacement Parts

May 20, 2011

I know we were all disappointed when we saw that the “chrome” parts on the box weren’t actually chrome. It certainly put me off from buying that set. 😦

The lean towards the pearl gold elements always bothered me, its like the quality of their golden parts has gone down. The plastic may still be high-quality, but that lack of the electro-plated golden chrome sheen just doesn’t get me excited to own any of the pieces.

So, when I saw the box art for the new Pirates of the Caribbean sets I thought “Finally! They brought back the chrome!”
Then I saw the sets actually built and I was truly sad. The box shows chrome and you get pearl gold? Very, very disappointing!

But as posted by both FBTB.net and a fellow LUG member, we can do something about this. πŸ™‚

If you call and complain to LEGO they will replace your parts with actual chrome elements! I know what you’re probably thinking — “Yeah right, I’ll believe it when I see it”

Well, here you go —

New Gold Elements