Posts Tagged ‘LEGO tips’

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?

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Barnes and Noble LEGO Architecture Building Event

July 27, 2013

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So last night I participated in my local Barnes and Noble’s LEGO Architecture Building Event. Not as one of the attendees, but as one of the “special guests” doing the presentation. Apparently they were doing this same event across the United States — at least I assume it was only in the States, let me know if it was else where — to promote the newest LEGO Architecture Set that is now available at both Barnes and Nobel as well as LEGO Stores nationwide.

Via The Brick Blogger

From what I’ve heard from my friends in various locations around the country the event went from fair to decent to being cancelled (due to lack of enough participants) depending on where you were. Ours was actually standing room only, but I think that was mainly due to both David Parker, a local Architecture College Professor, and my (being a former Master Model Designer) involvement. It of course helps that the event was held in Oceanside, California which is literally minutes away from LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad so there are a lot of local LEGO lovers in the area.

Now as I’ve done dozens and dozens of different types of LEGO building events over the years, I feel that I can judge on how well an event is organized and run.

First off — since I was given the talking points that were handed down from Barnes and Noble corporate, I could tell that whoever wrote said talking points knew nothing about LEGO, the LEGO Architecture line, or how to run a building event. It was set up as an hour long event, which is fine and doable, but it was not set up very well.

Second off — Barnes and Noble didn’t think to get the local LEGO LUGs (LEGO Users Groups or Clubs) involved. The only reason I was involved with mine was due to my own initiative in contacting the store and saying I was interested in doing the event. I’m not sure how the in store contact got the college professor involved, but even that only sort of worked. Yes he knows about architecture, but he didn’t know anything about LEGO Architecture or building LEGO buildings, kind of a key point when you are doing a LEGO building event.

He kept trying to stick to the “script” they had for the event, which is my third off (or point) — I took one look at said script and kind of ignored it. I knew that it wouldn’t really work in the real world. Sure it sounds great to talk about scale, reference photos and modularity. But frankly, when you have over twenty kids all they really care about is playing with the LEGO bricks.

Fourth off — This wasn’t supposed to be a kids event. Now think about that for a moment and process it. I don’t know who up at corporate had the brilliant idea that this was for teens and adults only. I mean sure, the set is designed for that age group and at $150 USD its not exactly a cheap set. But really? You honestly don’t think kids aren’t going to show up?

DSC07440 David (the professor) is the tall one in the middle.

DSC07441

As you can see from the photos, our event was packed. I didn’t count, but I would guess we had at least 40 people at the event. Way more than they expected and there weren’t enough spaces for all the participants to build.

The event went pretty well, considering that David kept trying to stay on script, and I just kind of loosely did. I mean lets face it, in the script you are supposed to give the bricks to the participants after a little intro and talking about scale, then after they’ve played with the bricks for about 10 minutes we were supposed to have them focus on modular building. Well that’s all fine in theory, but once you give people bricks, they stop listening to you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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It ended up being a fun event for all the participants, in spite of the poorly planned event, and I enjoyed doing it. One of my fellow SandLUG members showed up with some of his modular buildings, which I forgot to take photos of and another member who also runs thebrickfan.com showed up to blog the event.

For the fun of it, I actually went the day before and built a quick replica of the store front.
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I’m pretty happy with the results, considering I had only parts available in the set — albeit more than what is available in a single set — and I did it in 3 hours. Its not perfect, but decent. I haven’t built like that for a long time. Taking only parts available from a constrained amount of bricks and free building with very little reference.

Of course I have to admit I did have a little bit of an ulterior motive to doing it — I wanted to see what parts were in the set and how they worked together. The set itself is pretty good, if you don’t have a lot of white bricks. If like me you do, the set is just okay.

Sure there are over 1200 parts for $150, which considering its part of the Architecture line is a much better value than any of the other sets in the theme. It is a major departure from other Architecture sets being more like a grown-up’s creator set.

I personally don’t need that amount of white at this time. That isn’t to say I may need it in the future, but I have a lot of white elements, so I won’t be getting this set anytime soon.

You can read a great review of the set itself on The Brick Blogger.

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All in all, I had fun, got to play with the set, and help others build. A good day’s work in my book. ๐Ÿ˜€

Batman has never been cuter

December 4, 2012

“Cute” and Batman rarely go in the same sentence, but with Bruce Lowell’s newest creation, that’s the best way to describe this LEGO version of Funko’s POP! Heroes Batman

LEGO Batman (POP! Hero)

Once again Bruce has raised the bar when it comes to LEGO building. To make Batman in all his smooth goodness Bruce had to employ a lot of different SNOT (Studs not on top) techniques and a good deal of curved slopes.

LEGO Batman (POP! Hero)

I think my favorite part is how he built the arms and legs. Its a perfect use of the hinge brick and cheese slope combination. ๐Ÿ™‚

Germany’s LEGO Design Contest Winner

December 14, 2011

Remember the LEGO Design Challenge I mentioned earlier? Well now we can see what the winner in Germany received.

LEGO mosaic

Brixe63’s son created this entry for the contest.
Christmas tree

What’s great about this model is that it shows you don’t have to make the model overly complex for it to be the winner. And that’s a pretty great design for a Christmas tree, whatever the age. I see a future LEGO Master Builder. ๐Ÿ˜‰

LEGO Life of George

September 29, 2011

A little while ago George popped up on Facebook.

As he was supposed to, at first it was hard to tell if he was even officially affiliated with LEGO. But also as he was supposed to, George is starting to go viral. And now LEGO has offically annouced their new interactive game.

This is a combination of a smart phone app and a LEGO set that will be available through LEGO stores and lego.com.

LEGO Group Unveils First Fully Integrated Digital-to-Physical
Gaming Experience

– Combining physical building with a digital gaming application, LEGOยฎ Life of George invites builders to test building skills in a race against time-

BILLUND, Denmark, September 29, 2011 โ€“ The LEGO Group today announced LEGOยฎ Life of George, its first product to combine digital and physical play for a hands-on LEGO gaming experience. Featuring patent-pending brick recognition software, powered by EyeCue, the game challenges players to build models, and place them on a play mat that acts as a โ€œgreen screenโ€ to capture the image and receive a score based on accuracy and speed. Beginning October 1, 2011, players can purchase the LEGO Life of George set for $29.99 from LEGO Stores and shop.lego.com and download the free Apple iOS compatible gaming application.

LEGO Life of George is a 12-level game that can be played in novice or expert mode. Each level showcases an adventure from George, around whom the game revolves, and is comprised of models of varying difficulty based on the number of bricks needed and the building techniques required to replicate them. Builders are challenged to physically recreate the virtual models from Georgeโ€™s photo album using the LEGO bricks included with the game; once they have successfully completed all 10 models the next level will be unlocked.

In addition to Game Mode which can be played alone or against one competitor in a pass-and-play format, a Creation Mode called โ€œMy Lifeโ€ enables users to design and capture their own models in the appโ€™s virtual scrapbook.

โ€œWe understand consumersโ€™ powerful connection to casual gaming, and we have seen how successfully the LEGO brand can translate to a virtual experience, so we pursued development of a fun way to combine both physical and virtual play into one product,โ€ says Paal Smith-Meyer, head of new business at LEGO Group. โ€œLife of George is a result of our desire to provide an innovative way for existing and new fans to play with LEGO bricks and interact with the brand.โ€

Who is George?
George is a software engineer by day and adventurer by night. His main hobbies are travel, photography and numbers, and has a fun storyline for players to follow and engage with via his Facebook page, I Am George. Fans can expect to see updates and photography from George on his travels as well as hints to new game levels and app updates through his posts.

Unfortunately it is only available for iphone, something that is seriously lacking in my opinion and hopefully will be available for other phones like android soon. But even so it is launching LEGO into a new era of the smart phone. ๐Ÿ˜‰

BrickFair 2011 and other LEGO Cons

August 10, 2011

Going BrickFair 2011!

Well, BrickFair 2011 is over and done with. As I am still on the East Coast and in a hotel, I can’t download all my personal photos of BrickFair quite yet –trust me, I have quite a few. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But I did want to at least post my thoughts on the event. This was my first time to this particular event and so far, the farthest East that I’ve gone for a LEGO Convention before. I’ve been to the East Coast before, but not to this particular area.

The thing I like about going to new LEGO Cons is meeting people that you’ve never met before. Now, it’s wonderful to see all your friends of course, in fact LEGO Cons are pretty much the only time I see them in person depending on where they live in relation to me. But I also really love making new friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

Going to a convention so far from home I didn’t know what to expect. I always have fun at LEGO Cons, you can’t help but not have fun. But you never know what the area will be like, if there are good food accomidations with in walking distance, if a car is needed, or how far from the actual cities or landmarks you will be.

Now that I’ve been to 4 different conventions I’ve learned a few things. LEGO Cons can be expensive, especially when you are so very far from home. When going to a Con expect to spend betwen $800-$1000 for the whole trip minimum — and that doesn’t include the LEGO you buy. That only covers the plane ride or gas for your car, food, and hotel accomidations. If you can share car rides and/or hotel rooms do it, the trip is expensive enough without you having to pay the full price for where you will stay or how you get around.

Bricks by the Bay is the easiest for me to get to, as it is in Northern California and only about an 8-9 hour drive away. I could fly, but with its reltive closeness, I don’t see the need. So for me, I can bring my larger MOCs (My Own Creations) with out too much problems. Depending on where you live the Con may be close or very far away.

BrickWorld is by Chicago, but in the city. It is in fact in Wheeling, Illinos which is 40 minutes north of downtown Chicago. By mistake I flew into the wrong airport, there are two in the area. Fly in to O’Hare if you want to get there. The other one is just too far away any you don’t want to pay the taxi or shuttle fee.

BrickWorld does have resturants within walking distance but they run on the high to expensive side. My best recommendation is either be friends with someone with a car or bring lots of snacks from home so you don’t have to spend all your money on food.

I admit, I prefer to travel on the cheaper side. And even though I like to support the hotel that partners with the LEGO Cons, sometimes the price of the rooms are just too expensive. Its all a matter of convenience versus expense. It is really nice to just go down the elevetor to the convention, but if there is a cheaper alternative nearby and it is within walking distance or I have a car I will probably choose that option.

BrickCon is set at the Seatlle Center right in the heart of downtown. Both food and hotels are within walking distance. The first time I went I drove and stayed near by. Last year I stayed with a friend that lives in the area and rented a car. I was a little farther away, but I could still get around.

Oh, and that is another tip I have for you. If you can, come in on Wednesday to a Con and leave on Monday. I know not everyone can do this, but if you can add a day before and after the actual con, it is easier. Plus if you have any flight delays or unexpected situations pop up, you still have time to get to the Con. Staying an extra day after the Con helps mainly because if you are anything like me, you want to hang out with your friends as long as possible which means late, late nights. That extra day helps you recooperate for all the lost sleep.

I guess I’m lucky in that respect as going to LEGO Cons is part of my job. I don’t go to one now unless I’m a vendor there, because for me, I simply can’t afford it otherwise. And since I own my own business I can take that extra day or two during my trip.

In fact the reason I haven’t posted much since BrickFair ended was that I extended my stay in the area for a few days so I could actually see some of this area. I was in Baltimore yesterday and I’m in D.C. today. Getting the chance to see this nation’s Capitol was an opportunity I wasn’t about to pass up. Plus, now I’ve got much more building ideas to keep for a later date.

BrickFair itself I will cover in a later post, most likely in a day or two when I finally get back home. So for now I’ll sign off. ๐Ÿ˜‰

LEGO Jambalaya

October 22, 2010

Have you ever heard of LEGO Jambalaya? LEGO Jambalaya has nothing to do with the edible version. In fact its more of a Round Robin, but LEGO Jambalaya sounds more interesting. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, what is LEGO Jambalaya? Basically it is when someone makes up a bag or box of LEGO elements that they are willing to trade. The bag or box can be whatever shape, but a good size is a gallon-sized bag or a medium US priority mail box. So, the first person, who also acts as a moderator, gathers a small group of friends, no more than 10 (or it will take too long), and they all agree to join the Jambalaya. Person number 1 then hands off or mails, depending on distance, the box to person number 2.

Upon receiving said box, the second person can then take out whatever parts they want from the box. Once they have made their selection that person then puts in an equal or if they choose greater amount into the box and sends it off to the third person and so on.

I am currently participating in one so I will show you both what I took:
What I took

And what I put in:
What I put in

Once it has gone through all the people on the list the first person gets the box back from the last person (#10) and he has a whole new box of parts to play with.

Now of course doing something like this requires a lot of trust. Usually you have to know at least some if not all the people you are trading with so that you can trust them with that much LEGO. It also helps if the group is on some sort of online forum or group (local or otherwise) so that they can know that it will get around to all the people participating.

But, if you are willing to try it, it can be a fun way of getting a whole bunch of fun new parts and also giving away some parts you are willing to trade. ๐Ÿ™‚

Super Sorting

September 6, 2010

Super Sort

Over the last few days I’ve been doing something I’ve been dreading for a while — a super sort. Normally when I get a LEGO set I build it and then I sort it. But mainly I sort the bricks, plates, and common special elements and put them away properly. All of the elements I don’t use quite as much I put in a box to sort later. Well that works for only so long and I haven’t sorted out all these extra parts for a few years so I had boxes and boxes of unsorted elements.

From the picture, the mixed elements don’t look that bad, in fact for some, this may the equivalent of their entire LEGO collection. But I have boxes and boxes remember. This is just a fraction of what I’ve sorted in the past few days.

The main problem with not sorting out all these parts and having them stuck in a box is that I don’t use them at all this way, unless I need that specific part. But then I have to dig through all those parts . . . Its a viscous cycle. The only remedy for this is sorting, but because I haven’t done it in so long, the problem just got bigger.

Now for those who don’t have quite as many LEGO parts, they probably don’t have this problem. In fact they most likely wish they had this problem. ๐Ÿ˜€

When I worked at LEGOLAND, we didn’t have this problem. LEGO comes presorted. So you all you have to do is go and get what you need. But as a freelance LEGO artist, that doesn’t happen when I buy sets. As building with LEGO is my job, sorting is a necessary evil.

So what is the message behind all this? If you do sort your LEGO to any degree, sort it as you get it. Don’t leave boxes of unsorted LEGO getting dusty in corners. ๐Ÿ˜‰

BrickWorld — Thrusday Recap

June 18, 2010

Hi all! I know I’ve been a little lacking on posts lately, but bear with me, LEGO conventions have a tendency to do that to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

I arrived in Chicago on Wednesday where I met Beth Weis the one and only female LEGO Certified Professional. She was nice enough to pick me up from the airport. Although we’ve been Facebook friends for quite a while, we had never actually met.

In fact I’ve been having a lot of that this trip, lots of my online friends I am meeting in person for the first time. Beth and I hit it off from the very start and I had a great time spending the evening with her. It was nice to get in a day early and kind of work my way gradually into BrickWorld.

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Although BrickWorld still hasn’t officially started, I already have been doing quite a lot. They had a full round of presentations yesterday, but with all the set up and talking I do the only one I managed to go to was my friend Arthur Gugick’s presentation on Art and Architecture. He did a great job at showing off his creations and talking about the process he uses to create them. I even learned a little bit, I found that Arthur and I have very, very different approaches to making a model. Arthur, who is a math teacher by profession, uses many mathematical calculations to come up with his builds. I on the other hand, although pretty good at math myself, go from a more intuitive and artistic approach. Don’t get me wrong, I use math too, to figure size and scale but I don’t go as far as algebra and calculus to do it. ๐Ÿ˜€

As for the rest of the day it was mostly talking with friends (old and new). I was fortunate enough to go to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center — a topic I will post in detail after BrickWorld. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Okay, I will have much more to post, but for now I’ll have to sign off. There’s lots to do and see. ๐Ÿ™‚

LEGO A Love Story — Book Review

May 19, 2010

Now I normally don’t review books on this blog, but then this is no ordinary book. ๐Ÿ˜‰

When I met Jonathan Bender at BrickCon in 2008 and he said he was writing a book about LEGO I thought it was a pretty interesting idea. He even did a mini interview with me amidst the hustle and bustle that is BrickCon and all I remember thinking after it was over was “I might be mentioned in the book.”

Jonathan was nice enough to send me a copy of the book and I received it a few days before the official release date. For me reading this book was very different than it would be for someone not already inducted into the world of LEGO fans. 90% of the people he mentions are friends, former coworkers and colleagues of mine. Reading this book was like peaking over Jonathan’s shoulder over the year or so that he spent researching the LEGO conventions, LEGO company, and the AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) community as he went from a relative newbie to hobnobbing with Master Model Builders. And seeing the LEGO world through his eyes was interesting.

Like most AFOLs Jonathan had a “Dark Age” — the time period when you stop playing with LEGO as a child and then rediscover the little plastic bricks as a hobby when you are an adult. I never had a Dark Age, being one of a rare few who have played with LEGO continually my entire life. So seeing what it felt like for Jonathan to be embarrassed about purchasing LEGO sets and wondering nervously what people will think about him when they see it as his hobby was a novel (pardon the pun) experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

Even with all my knowledge (some have called it encyclopedic) of LEGO, both the product and the company, I learned quite a lot I didn’t know. Of course I never really did “research” on LEGO per se, I’ve just acquired it over time. Of the various travels and meetings Jonathan went on the only thing I haven’t done yet is travel to Denmark itself. That is still an as yet unfulfilled dream of mine.

I am mentioned in the book, in fact there are a whole 4 pages that mention me (pgs 247-250 if you’re interested) and there is an obscure reference to this very blog involving the Castle Advent calendar. I only know that he’s talking about me in the book because he emailed a complaint about the daily posts of each mini set while I was doing them. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, what do I think of the book? A definite read, for both you and your non-understanding non-LEGO friends and family. This isn’t really written as an information book, but more as one man’s journey to reclaim a piece of his childhood and redefine him as person. He didn’t really go into this project planning on turning into a LEGO fan, but he sure came out of it as one. Seeing what LEGO can do through his eyes might open up your friends and family to better understanding why we do what we do. ๐Ÿ˜‰