Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's gift!

I have been packing for the Big Trip, and so have been focused on rounding up clothes and stuff that will be used, such as cameras and video. What used to be a small pile of things to take has become a large array of press stuff, and it's not light.

It was during this time of going back and forth getting ready that I got a package from the neighborhood postman. It wasn't something I was expecting - it was an box that came from...Japan? Well, that stopped my packing.

I opened the box with a little care, and found a red bag filled with...books. The red bag was interesting because it was red with a graphic of a LEGO cow on it and the title of "CATTLE" under it. The other side was black with brick outlines screened on it. Taped on the bag was as an envelope. "for Joe"was written on it in ink.

Inside the envelope was a Christmas card and a business card for a website: The card came from the head of the site, Nathan Kayo Bryan, and was actually a LEGO card. He congratulated me for launching BrickJournal and sent me the package as a gift! The books were copies of a LEGO book I know of in Japan by Saito Yoshikazo, Volume One and Volume Two - I only recently learned about Volume Two!

I also got a yellow bag  with the same pattern - it turns out that 2009 is the Year of the Cow in Japan and their LEGO stores (ClickBrick) have a range of products to celebrate, as well as sticker sheets. And last but not least, there was a keychain.

I was very surprised and delighted by the package, to say the least. Thank you, Nathan - this is all very much appreciated!

Right before the New Year...

and I am getting ready for a Big Trip. I'm off to do a story in the Middle East! I'll say more after it's over.

In the meantime, it's a good time to look back at things and see how much has changed. This was the Year that Things Changed for me. BrickJournal was launched as a print magazine, and things have not been quite the same. 

Now, deadlines are tighter and less forgiving, and having a lead time makes gathering news a little challenging - whatever comes in the mag is at least one month after it happened. The page count is smaller than the online versions before print because well, we have to pay for it. 

But the result of the printing has been nothing but positive. BrickJournal showed up in newsstands and comic book stores, and online orders for been steadily growing. In the current economic climate, the big surprise is that the mag has been steadily growing in sales. You can find issues in the LEGO stores in the US, and also at LEGOLAND California. 

Stories and articles are coming from all around too, from Hong Kong to Germany to the US. Conventions and events in Europe and US have been covered, from Brickworld to Frechen to the MINDSTORMS celebration at LEGO Headquarters!

It's been a great year, and many thanks to all those who have become part of BrickJournal. I wish the best for everyone in 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To all of my friends far and wide,

Happy Holidays - may they be filled with good cheer and the company of family and loved ones!

I wish the best for everyone on this holiday!

Friday, December 19, 2008


STX Europe invites everyone to build innovative ships – with LEGO bricks!

STX Europe will launch on 19 December a competition called the BlockDocker. The web based contest can be entered at

The competition consists of two series: Innovative and Oasis. The target is simple: In the Innovative series, the aim is to design a cruise ship of the future, keeping in mind the demands of tomorrow, i.e. eco-friendliness and entertainment innovations.

The Oasis series challenges the competitors to build a replica of the Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise vessel in the world, currently under construction in STX Europe's shipyard in Turku, Finland.

The catch is that you are supposed to design both of the models using an online design tool provided by LEGO.

The winner of the highly challenging Innovative series will fly to Miami, and supervise his/her model being constructed in the Miami Seatrade Cruise Shipping event March 16-19, 2009. The winner of the Oasis series will be rewarded with an Oasis of the Seas engraved Apple iPod music player, as well as three models of his/her own Oasis LEGO design in a gift pack. The winner model of the Oasis series will be used as a corporate gift by STX Europe.

The competition starts on 19 December 2008 and ends on 9 January 2009. The winners will be announced on 19 January 2009.

See for details.

Note: There is a budget constraint on both contests, so read the rules carefully!

Two places at once...

So I have been traveling for the past few weeks - mostly family things, nothing too terribly exciting.

I have been paying attenition to some things that are going on in the community, and it's been interesting.

The LEGO Group posted a survey for AFOLs a couple of weeks ago. I took the survey and was a little struck by some of the questions - under the "statements I agree with" there are comments about color quality, production quality, and of course, 9volt trains.

What's funny for me is that these are all things that have been brought up before, so why is there a survey to seemingly confirm this?

My position is pretty clear - LEGO is free to do what it wants, and I as a customer, have a right to buy or not buy it. If I support a product, I will buy it. If I don't support it, I don't buy it. This doesn't guarantee that what I want will always be available, as what I buy reflects my tastes and bias. But it does indicate what I want in a very direct way.

My purchases are through the LEGO Store and then Target and then TRU. TRU overprices their sets, so while they have the largest selection, I tend to wait until I go to a LEGO store. From time to time, I will buy through Bricklink parts, usually of quantity.

For those who think I get free sets because of BrickJournal, you're wrong. For the most part, I buy my sets - there are review sets that are sent to me and other staffers I assign, but they are few and far between. And I am happy with that.

So what does that make me? I'm a person that buys sets at retail when they strike my fancy. If asked, I will point out what I would want if the opportunity was available. But I also respect the LEGO Group for what they have done.

What would I want?

1. Reworked monorail system. Make it such that it can use 1x bricks with tiles on the top for track, so anyone can make a loop with parts on hand. Power functions would be great for this!

This goes into another request from the LEGO Group - they asked the Ambassadors about new themes for kids - (10-14, I think) and for the community's input.

Best theme idea I have seen so far is Lego Zoo. Minifig scale zoo. I would buy sets in a heartbeat.

But that's me.