Monday, August 26, 2013

Spanish Mission and Shattered House

Spanish Mission
Sorry that it's been a while since I've posted. Maybe I should just work out a schedule and stick to it, huh? To make up for it, here's two creations to share for MOC Monday. While perusing some of the latest creations posted, two in particular caught my eye, and they happened to be created by the same guy, Jorge Barros. The first is an adobe style Spanish Mission as seen in "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly". The use of the curved blocks to form the back and the front around the bell and cross are spot on. I also like the ceiling beams that are sticking out of the front face of the building. To complete the western feel, there's a cactus, wagon wheels, and, of course, a cow skull.

Shattered House

The second creations is titled Shattered House. The house also appears to be a western style or maybe even Mediterranean type house, but in a dilapidated state. I particularly like the missing bricks on the corner and how random blocks are strewn about. The reddish brown bricks in the middle of the white wall give off the impression of stucco or adobe falling away. With the architectural highlights like the red tile roof and the diamond accents, and great use of color, I kind of wish I could see what the house looked like before it fell into disrepair.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Adventures in LDD: X-Wing 10240

I had some free time, so I fired up Lego Digital Designer and thought I'd try my hand at duplicating the Red Five X-Wing, the newest Star Wars Ultimate Collector set to come out. As I've mentioned before, the best way to learn the program is to download one of the instruction manuals from Lego's website and try to build the set in the program. You'll learn a lot about what the program can and can't do. Here's the results after a little work, rendered in POV-Ray.
POV-Ray Rendering of LDD model
Looks pretty nice, in my opinion. I had to make a few allowances to get it looking like this. For one thing, that windscreen is not the one used in the actual set. In the actual set, a new piece (it's one stud longer) was created and has custom decals on it. LDD doesn't have that piece available so I had to use the closest approximation. The other allowance is that it's missing 4 of these pieces.
Technic shock absorber
The picture is a screenshot from LDD of a shock absorber piece often used in Technic sets. It has a spring and the black part telescopes in and out of the white piece. On this set, it would be used to make it easier for the mechanism to open and close the wings to work more smoothly. However, in LDD, it's basically one solid piece of a fixed length. So you can't really adjust it to fit perfectly on the set like you would in real life. So I just left those pieces off. By the way, the 10179 UCS Millennium Falcon I did in LDD is FULL of shortcuts and pieces that were left off because of just how complicated that monster is.
Based on this build and others I've tried in the past, here's some of the things I've learned. Don't bother trying to build anything with a lot of Technic elements. A few Technic blocks, lift arms, and axels are fine, but once you add more than a few gears, the Hinge Tool and Align Hinge Tool start to slow down or give you really wacky results. The same goes for moveable parts like hinge plates or rocker style plates. The more of those that are in the model, the harder the program has to work to rotate them. Sometimes it's easier to break the model off into a simpler sub section to get all the rotations right, then add that sub section into the rest of the model.
LDD is perfect for building static, mostly stud-on-top models like the sets you see in Architecture, City, or those Modular buildings that are popular with the adult collectors. It's not as great for complicated Technic sets or anything that uses a lot of "unorthodox" building techniques. For example, one limitation is that LDD will only let you place bricks either on the gray building plane or on a suitable attachment point. For instance, you can place a sword on the ground, or in a minifigs hand, but you can't put it inside a barrel as if it was dropped there. This means you wouldn't be able to dump a bunch of clear studs in an empty space so that it looks like water as some AFOLs might do.
Where LDD really shines, is if you're making a model that has a lot of repetition like a mansion with a ton of identical windows or columns. In real life, it would take a while to build each individual feature and add it, but through the computer magic we all love, you can just copy and paste those bricks again and again.
Once you figure out what LDD can and can't do, it will really help you understand the possibilities of the program and give you an idea of what kind of models it would be useful for designing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

HUGE Star Wars Ewok Village coming soon

I'm starting to see a lot of buzz for the new Ewok Village Lego set that will be coming out in the near future. At close to 2000 pieces and 16 mostly exclusive minifigs, it's a monster. FBTB does a great preview with plenty of pictures, so give it a look. I'm pretty excited about this set for several reasons. For once thing, it looks like the designers put a lot of work into it. And the 16 minifigures is staggering. However, the one thing that strikes me about this set is how similar it looks to another Star Wars toy from my past. It bears a striking resemblance to the old playset from the Star Wars toys of the 1980s. It even has the net, the fire spit, and the ramshackle divan used to carry C3PO around. The Lego set has added a bunch of new features such as catapults, secret passages, and (best of all in my opinion) greenery. But the similarity is pretty noteworthy.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Project 10179: 27%

A couple of updates on my efforts to collect the pieces necessary to build the monstrosity that is LEGO's Ultimate Collector Edition of the Millennium Falcon. I now have a total of 1454 pieces, which puts at just over a quarter of the way to my goal. I've started picking up a little speed lately, due to some decent sales on eBay. Part of my goal with this project is to get all the pieces I can as cheaply as possible by buying and selling used Legos via Craigslist and eBay. Also, we're heading into warmer weather, so that means yard sale season! I can usually make a little money this time of year, and there's always the occasional Lego set to be found in the neighborhoods.

In slightly related news, I closed down my BrickLink store. I continue to use BrickLink as a buyer to procure the pieces I need, but selling was just a little too time consuming for me personally. It took forever for me to list any inventory that wasn't a part of a set. I find it much easier to sell bulk lots of Lego on eBay. That probably makes me a bit lazy, but oh well. However, having a BrickLink store for a little over a year gave me a new respect for the BL store owners that have been around for a while. I'm certainly glad those guys are out there and continuing to put inventory up. Thanks to you all!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fun with Craigslist

I don't use Craigslist ONLY for Lego stuff, but it is pretty essential to finding cheap Legos. A lot of people are a little skittish about using Craigslist, but as long as you use some common sense, you'll be ok. The crazies that show up on the news from time to time are definitely exceptions. I've met a lot of cool people and made a lot of great deals.
Case in point, I stumbled across a table customized for playing with Legos. I'm sure those of you that search for Legos on CL are aware that those little kid play tables are all over the place. People are constantly trying to get rid of these things for ridiculous prices (usually because they paid too much for what is essentially a tiny table with a Lego baseplate glued to the top). I thought this one was the same thing, but it turns out some enterprising dad bought an old table and glued a border to the top to keep the bricks contained. He then screwed a few plastic containers to the side for sorting. The leaves fold down, too. And the whole set was $35. He (sadly it seemed) needed to clear up some space and his kids had outgrown Legos. As I'm sure you know, I totally disagreed with him on that point, but at that price I'm keeping my mouth shut.
I brought it home, put it in our bonus room, then dumped all the random Lego bricks into the top and turned my daughters loose. Already I'm seeing less stray bricks in the carpet for me to damage my bare feet on. Since there's a much wider surface area than the plastic tub I usually have the bricks in, it's much easier to rummage around and find pieces you're looking for.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The King's Riverside Fortress

I seem to be drawn to the complicated castle type builds. This is a particularly colorful build by Thoy Bradley called the King's Riverside Fortress. In addition to the greenery and lovely water, he seems to be using a combination of European and Eastern Asian style in the build. Be sure to visit his MOC page as it has TONS of pictures!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Modular Pharmacy & Doctors

I really like the modular designs that seem to be gaining popularity in the Lego community. As a result, some great MOCs have been coming out that are built around that theme. This particular creations, Modular Pharmacy & Doctors, was created by Andreas Grogel. On the outside, it has a very old timey, big city architectural feel to it. Teh accents over the windows and along the corners are wonderful.  On the inside, he has created the pharmacy on the first floor complete with blue and white tiles, and the doctors' offices are on the second and third floor with a lot of details including an exam room and x-ray machine. Under the dome on the fourth floor, there's some shady business going on, but I won't spoil the surprise. You'll have to see for yourself.

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