Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lost licenses - a minor rant.

So I go to a large toy store, and I start to see the summer toys that are being released - and my eye wanders to some of the clone sets.

While some of the clones are pretty bad in terms of production value (Best-Lock, for one) and others are just odd (K'nex?), I do have a weak spot for looking at Mega-Bloks stuff. Not because I would buy them (I have bought a couple of sets that pretty much proved what we already know - Mega-Bloks isn't all that great), but they have sets that I really wish LEGO would sell.

Of course, if LEGO did sell them, much of their values would go down the proverbial toilet, as the sets I pine for have some kind of violent overtone - military sets, most of the time.

But the sets that caught my attention have to do with the movies out this summer. MB has sets for Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. What's interesting is that LEGO had the rights to Spider-Man (and honestly, those sets were so-so) and rights to Disney before then. So LEGO had opportunities.

To be fair, LEGO's sets for Spider-Man and Spidey 2 were nice support for  the movie, but the sets were somewhat lacking. I think that the problem that LEGO had and now MB has is that these were marketed as 'playsets' not building sets. And that simple denial of the actual toy's purpose pretty much destroyed the real possibilities of the sets. LEGO got out of Spider-Man because of low sales,  and this is possibly one of the reasons behind the low sales - kids were not  shown the possibility  of what a set could do , but how it fit the Spider-Man universe. It's a limiting of the imagination.

The MB Spiderman sets don't do anything for me - in fact they kinda suck. Spiderman Mecha sets? Who thought of THAT? And why do they all look the same?? And why doesn't Spider-Man's mech look like a, um SPIDER???

Okay, so I got that out of my system.

About the Pirates sets...I actually am saddened that I cannot bring myself to buy these sets.  But they are MB, so that makes things clear.  No buy, but look.  And I see some neat things. 

The sad things is that three movies, with possibly more down the pike, have been made, and with each release, there was an opp to release a Pirate set from LEGO. Argh! I would have bought them!! (Pirate DUPLO does not count)

But MB did sets, and they were kinda neat, but again nothing worth buying. Things got a little more complicated this year - the MB Pirates: At World's End sets are a good example of great ideas---BAD followthrough.

The minifigs they have for the characters are nice, but overdetailed to me - my LEGO bias shows itself on that:-) But Davy Jones looks cool, simply put.

Now the sets - they have a big assortment - including 2 minifig packs for 3 bucks - definitely worth considering if you want them. There's also a lot of price points to choose from too, but some of the sets are kinda odd - especially the smaller ones - they have FEW pieces and minifigs.

There are three sets that caught my eye, and each for different reasons:

1. Kraken set - this is the first item that has any rendition ANYWHERE of the Kraken from Dead Man's Chest - which really has my attention. It's built in typical MB fashion - no real parts, just a body and then attach tentacles - bleah! But a Bionicle take on this would be really cool!! And this set really needs a ship to fight the Kraken - you get a...pier? The Kraken couldn't even getthat close to land!! But it was such a cool idea - but no followthrough....

2. Flagship Battler set - ship sets that shoot and can shoot each other! Better yet, the two guns feed from one ammo 'clip' - the main mast. They shoot ping-pong balls and can shoot targets on the other ship to battle. Thats a really cool idea, but he models are only a couple dozen real building.

3. Collector's Set (TRU exclusive) - this is a three pack with a set from each movie. The set from Dead Man's Chest is pretty dull (a cannibal set), and so is the set from At World's End (a very small Singapore set). But the set for Curse of the Black Pearl is the treasure room and it has...loose treasure - cool! And it has BOTH Jack Sparrow and Barbossa in half skeleton mode - MAJOR cool! But the rest sucks....

I should point out that MB had the Star Trek: Next Generation Enterprise, and I never bought that set either - and I'm a major Trekker!! But LEGO is more important:-)

So I wouldn't buy any of this, but I can pretty bummed out with the "what ifs?" that could have happened if LEGO still had at least the Disney license...

I gotta tell y'all about a clone that has rights to the Disney parks in Japan and has done some really cool ride vignettes you can get in time!!

LEGO and Indiana Jones?

That's a strong rumor. Makes sense too.

This can be WAY cool - especially if the license extends to all the Indy movies - I would die to get the flying wing from Raiders of teh Lost Ark:

that would be really sweet!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Certified Professional stuff...

Nathan Sawaya's display, The Art of the Brick, is traveling! If you didn't see it in Pennsylvania, you can see it in Illinois in June and Connecticut next year! You can get more info here.

Sean Kenney was commissioned to  build a mosaic for Google, and you can see it here.
He's also going to be in a gallery presenting a bust of...William Shatner. Really. You an read that here.

In Canada, the guys at Brickville Designworks are at Saskatchewan Science Centre with an Egyptian themed display, LEGO: Secrets of the Pharaohs. There's some info here.

Dan Perker will be doing a LEGO Camp for kids (kindergarden through 3rd grade at Seabury School), Tacoma Washington in mid-July. There's info here.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Didier went to the Idea House!!

He's one lucky person!

You can see pics over here.

I got to see it in December (and have pics too that I need to post) of the museum in progress. It's neat (and an honor) to see BrickJournal as a museum artifact:-)!

Kelly McKiernan's presentation about the Ambassadors is also online:
here (low-res) or here (high-res)

The presentation was seen at BrickFest 2006 and ispretty good - it's a light-hearted look at what the Ambassadors do.

BrickJournal Website Objectives

So in working out what should be happeningwith BrickJournal, the media group, some thoughts have come to mind:

The Media Group will have different areas that will touch upon the hobby and the community. Each area will take advantage of the strengths of the medium - and be able to provide information leads to the other branches of the group.

There are three branches determined so far:

Printed Media
- BrickJournal the magazine and other publications. The mission of BrickJournal is to document and promote the LEGO building community and hobby with articles and photography. BrickJournal is also an avenue for interested people to find out about some of the things that happen behind the scenes with the LEGO Group. In time, BrickJournal will release books that have themed compilations of articles, such as space articles, or instructions.

Digital Media - With BrickJournal the website, there will be a platform to promote the community at a different level than the magazine - in this case, the website will be more immediate than a publication that comes out quarterly. will be able to push coverage on a new set or sets, cover an event (even with video), or post news about the LEGO Group or community. In this way, BrickJournal would be a news service, but its hallmark would be accuracy. BrickJournal wouldn't leak, but we would be first to get the news out!

Another direction being strongly considered is having a video how-to by a Space builder showing how he builds and what he thinks about while building is something I would like to see done. The same could be done with NXT building, or castle building...

Events - This is the most ambitious, and possibly the most rewarding - doing outreach events for community and public.

Footwork for all of these has already begun, but it's going to be a long road. One of the things that needs to be created is a Video Corps of peopl who take footage of events and interviews. That's a tough challenge. But steps are being taken, even if they are baby steps!

I'm not dead yet!


I have been very quiet as of late, but there are a few reasons behind the silence....

I'm getting articles and photos for BrickJournal and startingto put things together - already, there are things thathave been put int layout and already, there are neat surprises I didn't expect!

Also the events that I have gone to have swamped me with pics and now writing I get to do - woo hoo! I get to write four articles, which is a little more than I am used to writing. Wow..

There's also BrickWorld - the event that is hapening in Chicago. I'm doing a little of the planning on this convention and it looks tobe a really neat event. I plan to be there with some models (which is a new one - I haven't built in a while) and with a presentation or two.

I think that I am also a bit winded because of all this - it's not easy keepin up a pace that allows me to get  to report and edit BrickJournal. My staff helps me out, and that is very much appreciated, but it's still an effort.

But guess what! Things may get even bigger! Some nice developments have happened that I can't say just yet (bad luck to presume - best to wait).

The website needs to get worked on, so I will be devoting time to that as BrickJournal 8 gets set up. Those interested in contributing to the website can dro  me a line, as I am looking for videos and links to podcasts.

I'm also starting a new dialogue with the LEGO Group to get more information and sets up on the site and also for the magazine.