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# Wednesday, February 3, 2010

After I shared my review on Lego Ben 10 8409 (Spider Monkey) at a few forums, I got far many responses than I expected, it seems to me that a lot of people were looking forward to this new theme, but most of the feedback were not really favorable to this new Lego theme, to be fair and trying to take a second look, I opened the second box of Ben 10 set I purchased, and that, is 8519 Big Chill.

Among the Lego Ben 10 sets I saw, Spider Monkey and Big Chill look more interesting because the monkey has six limbs, and Big Chill has a pair of wings, the other sets looks simple and feel like containing only a subset of the two I chosen.

The parts inventory of 8519 looks familiar after building 8409

The head is actually made up of two parts, the screw can be removed to re-position the joint.

Honestly these characters looks scary, I don't know them and they can be good guys, but the look scared my young daughter quite a bit. The building process is really simple, so I spent time in playing with it by making a few wierd postures.

High kicks can be as good as Kung Fu masters like Bruce Lee

Kung Fu training postures, the second one is a legendary style called 如來神掌

After playing with Big Chill, I must say again that the flexibility this design provides is really impressive, the joints must be a design work of careful thinking, and if we just treat it as just another Lego product line, and as long as Lego would not "contaminate" other existing theme with this design, can we say that this Ben 10 theme does have some value as a toy? Even if it does not feel that Lego to us? Another question is, with this type of design, aren't there any existing better options than Lego?

And the responses I got from polls in Eurobricks as well as a Greater China forum is also very interesting, that would be very helpful in driving thoughts on this theme from different angles. I am waiting for more responses.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 8:22:57 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Monday, February 1, 2010

I found Lego Ben 10 sets on display yesterday in local Toysrus, despite that it was the first time I ever noticed such theme, I purchased two sets to find out what this is all about. The first thing that came to my mind was: another Bionicle?

A quick check on the web revealed that it is indeed some sort of successor to the soon-to-be-discontinued Bionicle series, a new theme based on an American Cartoon licensed from a company called Cartoon Network, while I have absolutely no idea on what this Cartoon or Company is all about, I just see some sort of Bionicle feel in it. Another interesting find from the web are some rather negative remarks about this new product line.

The first box I opened is 8409 Spider Monkey, among the 6 sets on display yesterday, this seems to be a more interesting one, I was not surprised by the content, as there were already clues on the box, this is not a typical lego set, it is indeed a new twist, big parts that can be used to build a character probably in less than 5 minutes, quite un-lego in a way to me, even Bionicle sets would contain some smaller parts as well as regular lego bricks, but this one is totally different.

I guess I can understand why Lego makes such move, the traditional market segment, which probably includes you and me, may be kind of saturated, at this times where PSP, Wii and XBOX rule, Lego needs to identify new customer sources, and I think this Cartoon series very likely has a strong loyal supporter base that will sure purchase good related products. But here in Hong Kong, I think this product will meet cold response, for around 10 minutes in that crowded store, no one except me barely care to pick up a box to check, and there is so little discussion about this in local forum (well, I may try to test water with my Chinese review later).

So is the product really that bad for me? Honestly, as far as this 8409 is concerned, it is kind of interesting, the color is nice, and the creature can be played by making different postures with a lot of flexibility, I even would imagine using the parts on future MOCs, I think the parts are Technic compatible just like Bionicle.

The standard posture of Lego 8409 Spider Monkey

I tried turning this into a Spider-like posture and it works!

The torso can actually be further disassembed! The one with multiple connector may be useful in MOC design

The monkey head and tail

Overall, getting one or two good sets from this theme is fine, even it can be a little overpriced, at this price range it is tolerable, but it is definitely not something to feel excited about, at least not for me. In fact, this kind of design concept based on big parts is very unlike the built-from-details design philosophy that I see in Lego, I hope this type of design is limited to this theme and will not spread to other themes.

Monday, February 1, 2010 2:44:32 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, January 31, 2010

I was very excited to see this impressive creation from Audi, who is a Taiwan based Lego artist. It proves again that Lego can be used to come up with Chinese style creations even if such theme does not exist yet. I know that it would take a bit of ingenuity and inspirations.


Being able to pack so much details into a 32 X 32 space is truly impressive, this work depicts the garden of a noble family in Ching Dynasty, while the pool, bridge and the guards are all nicely crafted, the roof of the small pavilion (涼亭) is particularly interesting and requires special technique to achieve.

I would seriously suggest everyone to check out Audi's blog for more details, as well as his other wonderful creations.

Sunday, January 31, 2010 10:07:53 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, January 30, 2010

When news about Lego 40004 Valentine Heart came out, some folks at a Greater China forum obviously feel envy because the product is not available at this region yet (I think it should come very very soon though), since it looks quite simple, I think it would be easy to emulate, fortunately almost all parts are available on hand (almost, except one...), I instantly give it a try.

Easy, right? Not exactly, the white dish is only a 4 X 4 Inverted while in 40004 I believe that the one used is a rather rare 8 x 8 Inverted Round Dish, so this copy is not really exact.

But nevertheness, it works, and there was a happy recipient of this Lego valentine heart.

My personal feeling is that the Lego design is a little bit plain, so I try a couple more variations, and .... what do you think of the followings?

By the way, this year's Valentine coincide with the first day of Chinese New Year, is it a good thing, may be, or may be not, it is always not easy to handle two things at the same time.

General | MOC
Saturday, January 30, 2010 3:18:37 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, January 29, 2010

With so many hot discussions around the new Lego 2010 Harry Potter sets, it reminds me of the few Lego Harry Potter sets I have owned.

Honestly I am not a fan of Harry Potter, I don't even know much about the story and never watched any of the movies, I bought a few Lego Harry Potter sets simply because of the Lego elements in them, and I actually got them only around an year ago, in reasonable pricing luckily (I would not have got them if too expensive), I think such pricing is not possible nowadays any more.

One of the set which I have actually built is 4704 - Room Of The Winged Key, it is a nice small set, the old gray parts and tan color mix well, and I would say the elements (spider and web, flames, keys+wings) all works well together. The architecture is good, nice design integrating the arch, roof, door and having the two plates hinged together nicely, which added a little playability aside from the minifigs and keys.

The minifigs are wonderful too, with wands and capes (star pattern), the all white queen minifig (if you count it) is also interesting, I think the white torso with white hands is not very common and can be quite useful (please correct me if I am wrong), the chrome silver crown is available in very few sets too.

The old sets seems to include quite a few nice extras, in the case of 4704, there are two nice small posters!

There are also a number of other useful parts in it, mainly "winged keys" of course, but I don't think I would break up this set and use the parts else where, I better keep them intact in one set, perhaps only temporarily "borrow" a few items for external deco in an MOC, and will return them to the set afterwards.

Another interesting thing in playing with this set is how to break down the built product into components that can be easily re-assembled, and keep them in the original box, usually this is difficult for most Lego sets, but this one seems to be working well.

Looking forward for the new 2010 Lego Harry Potter sets, not for Harry Potter but for the high quality lego design associated with the theme.

Friday, January 29, 2010 11:20:21 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Monday, January 25, 2010

During Chinese new year (農曆新年), a popular floral decoration is narcissus (水仙) as it symbolize prosperity, the deco would look excellent if the flower blossoms well at the right time, with some parts that I have on hand, I tried to create a Lego version of narcissus, and it looks kind of interesting to myself.

I hope you'll like it too.

Monday, January 25, 2010 2:20:30 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, January 24, 2010

I found out about this DK Lego sticker book from Brickset, and fortunately it is available at a local store at a good price, I did not hesitate to get a copy, and it looks like a good deal to me.

The book is composed of three sections:

- A 31-page booklet, on each page are spaces where you can put stickers on

The booklet pages represents 16 themes (2 page per theme except spongebob)
Harry porter
Indiana jones

The booklet pages are quite simple, but in a way it reflects what the editor feels would be the representative set of a theme, in Starwars, it is 10143 Death Star II. But I think they can actually make the booklet pages even richer.

- 13 Pages of stickers for use with the 31-page booklet, on each page there are around 16 stickers

- 19 pages of "Extra stickers, 4 of them are smaller size ones, aside from having a second set, there are 2 pages which are new (not available in the booklet related set). These extra stickers are supposed for free use beyond the booklet pages. There are 150 small stickers on each page.

In total, there are 512 regular stickers and 600 smaller ones.

The value of this book lies in the stickers, how to use them can imply a lot of possibilities, but would it be attractive to mature brick builders? I guess that would be interesting.

Personally, I have no plan to put these stickers on my stationeries, books, door or anywhere, I'll keep one copy as collection item, and is contemplating a wierd usage on the other one...

By the way, as the news from Brickset mentioned, there seems to be a Lego Star Wars version of DK sticker book coming (Lego Star Wars Ultimate Sticker Collection?), as there are some early information at borders.com.au, if that is true, the Starwars version can probably be a even hotter item!

Sunday, January 24, 2010 10:00:48 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, January 23, 2010

4996 is a very nice House based set that Lego produced, but it was on sales probably because Lego produced too many of them, but in my opinion, it is a good set that should be hot, and Beach House is a very romantic idea.

It is designed as two pieces so you can remove the top one to add amenities (or residents) to the interior, there are movable windows and doors!

Thinking about houses, I also think of the tragic earthquakes that have been causing loss in both properties and human lives, not many people had personally experienced an earthquake, I did, so I know how terrifying it can be, and poorly constructed houses can kill people. Just wish that none of this will happen again. And using 4996, I try to depict a scene on a rescue of a earthquake victim, those teams that had exerted best effort will always be able to make a difference.

Here it goes ....

The owner of this nice beach house is a pretty young lady

Sometimes she would sit on the stairway, contemplating....

Watching the street from the balcony

Looking out the window....But....

One day ..... suddenly, something strikes! - The ground is shaking terribly

And the house is breaking up!

Ceilings falling down

In seconds, the building collapsed

Rescue team rushing in! Every second counts!

Efforts paid off, this is indeed a wonderful moment!

Although in reality, not everyone can reach safety after all, but what had happened can alert people who live in earthquake zones to prepare themselves on how to get a better chance of survival when the natural calamity strikes. Well, just hoping that 2010 is a good year for all.

By the way, usually people would take photos of their Lego work in sequence when they build it, but this time I am doing it the other way around, and in the process, I found out that tearing down a Lego structure is also something to learn and practice carefully too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010 2:56:33 AM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Jedi owns a Starfighter, but must the lowly Hoth Rebel only fight on foot? In Lego, we can try to make things happen, it may not be pretty, it isn't really too powerful, but at least it flies!

The Sub Zero Aero Fighter is not a Starfighter, it is designed to operate on the planet of Hoth, mainly as a transport vehicle, to be eco-friendly, its weapon system is not explosive-based. 

Using razor blades and claws, it is designed to assist SnowSpeeders in taking down AT-AT

A proud Hoth Pilot, now he can fight back with more power

May the force be with him too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 10:53:50 AM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, January 14, 2010

First, I need to emphasize that this Lego MOC is not designed to glorify the forces of the dark side, depicting the miserable and horrible suffering of the Hoth Rebels is a way to show the sacrifices they made in performing their duties.

I am not sure if I am the first one to make use of this technique to simulate a blood stain effect in Lego in my previous Hoth MOC, but I think it interests a few people, this time I added 2 new fun features to the MOC:

Please note the head of the shot snowtrooper

Can you notice the blood stains on and below the turret, as well as blood "flowing" inside the back pack?

Another interesting thing I tried is the "flying up" speeder Bike, thanks to the new Lego 8083 and 8084 sets, they gave me this vehicle as well as low cost ways to get the needed minifigs! I have also done reviews for the 2 sets separately:

8083 review (Rebel Trooper Battle Pack)
8084 review (Snowtrooper Battle Pack)

And of course, 7749 helps, perhaps I haven't utilized it fully, and that would be something to think about for the Version 3 MOC.

Yeah, it is a little bloody, just hope that you enjoy my MOC not because of its being bloody.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 5:59:58 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)