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Review: Sandcrawler the best Star Wars Lego set yet

sandcrawler1Is there a better way to celebrate May the 4th than with some new Star Wars Lego? I certainly don’t know of it, which is why I went down to the local Lego store bright and early Saturday morning to pick up the brand new Sandcrawler. The 3,296-piece monstrosity is the first big, new, original-trilogy vehicle in some time, so I was naturally jazzed for it. At $349, it’s pricey, but it is one of the biggest sets Lego sells – not just in the Star Wars line, but overall. (Anyone wondering at this point why a grown adult may want to play with Lego should probably read this before continuing on).

I was immediately impressed upon cracking the box open to find 20 plastic packages of Lego, as well as a thick, 315-page booklet that resembles a car manual more than a set of toy instructions. It’s clear the Sandcrawler is something special, with a six-page introduction giving some background on how the Jawa scavengers of Tattoine use their rolling factory to collect and sell droids, plus an interview with model creator Olav Kroigaard. I’ve never seen such a preamble in a Lego instruction book before.

The first few hours and plastic packages were the most enjoyable part of the build since, with a big set like this one, you’re never really sure which section you’re starting with or why. It was obvious that the vehicle’s base was up first, but I couldn’t help but wonder why the instructions didn’t start with the tracks. This only became clear several hours later, once a strong foundation had been established upon which the rest of the Sandcrawler – including its locomotion apparatus – would depend. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 5, 2014 in lego, review, Star Wars

 

Lego Movie has a very relevant message for adults

lego-movieI’ve seen two movies in the past week that made me contemplate deepening adulthood and the phenomenon of getting older. The first was last year’s Before Midnight, the third entry in Richard Linklater’s series about Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), a pair of star-crossed lovers who first met in 1995’s Before Sunrise. Nearly twenty years and a pair of twin girls later, the couple are just as much in love as they were back when grunge was still ruling the charts. However, the rigours of time have set in and the cracks of resentment are starting to show. Amid their loving and often-hilarious natural banter, there are also bitter fights, accusations and revelations of betrayal.

I found it to be an excellent movie, despite the exhausting arguments, because it made me think of my own relationships and how they’ve grown and evolved over time. Heading into my forties, it’s a gripping reminder that even the best friendships and loves are never perfect – they always need work and attention.

The second film to inspire similar ruminations is, believe it or not, The Lego Movie. Comparing an animated kid flick to a borderline art-house film may be a stretch or even bizarre, but it did just as much to get me thinking about some of the downsides of encroaching age. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in lego

 

Google opens Pandora’s Box with virtual Lego

lego-houseIf this blog post seems a little short today, it’s because I’m busy preparing my lawsuit against Google and Lego. It seems the two companies have poached an idea I shared nearly a year ago, wherein I proposed a 3D  tool that could allow people to construct their own virtual Lego creations and then share them online.

Lo and behold, Google has launched Build With Chrome, a tool for its web browser that does exactly that. Excuse me, I think that’s my lawyer calling…

I’m only kidding, of course. As a Lego aficionado, I’m actually overjoyed that Google has done this – and I’m amazed at how well it works. In a blog post, product marketing manager Adrian Soghoian explains that the tool uses WebGL, a 3D graphics technology, to create a smooth-flowing interface. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look a lot like professional CAD software. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Google, lego

 

A million-dollar techno-community idea for Lego

Lego already has a vibrant community with Mindstorms. Why not expand that to regular Lego?

Lego already has a vibrant community with Mindstorms. Why not expand that to regular Lego?

Last week, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the cellphone, I took part in a CBC.ca discussion about how the technology has affected our lives. The focus of the discussion centered on cellphone addiction, although I did my level best to suggest that phones (or technology) are not actually the problem – we are. Put another way, it’s people who have the addiction issues, so it doesn’t really matter what you put in front of us; if we like it, chances are good we’ll get addicted to it.

Such is the case for my burgeoning Lego addiction. What started as an innocent lark, where I bought one simple little playset – I think the Lego TIE Fighter was my first – has turned into something of an obsession. I know it’s becoming a problem because I’m running out of room in my office for it, and the wife frowns on my goofy hobby expanding outside into the rest of the house.

In any event, addictions – whether they’re serious or silly – are a topic for another day. Today, I want to hash out what I think is a million-dollar idea for Lego. And yes, I hope someone from the company is reading this. If this idea does end up getting used, I’ll claim originating rights. And yes, I’ll settle for a payout in Lego. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in lego

 

Lego themed attraction finally arrives in Canada

It’s no secret I’m something of a Lego junkie, which is why I was excited to learn a while back that the Danish brick maker was opening a “Legoland Discovery Centre” here in the Greater Toronto Area. The attraction officially opens at the Vaughn Mills mall on Mar. 1, so I went and got a sneak preview.

It’s a good thing I did because – word of warning – adults without children won’t be allowed in. Officials say they’re working on setting up special nights for older Lego enthusiasts, but for now, it’s going to be kids only.

The centre is operated by U.K.-based Merlin Entertainments, in which the Lego Group has a 30-per-cent stake. Merlin operates a number of attractions, including the full Legoland amusement parks in the United States and the Madame Tussaud’s chain of wax museums, and has ambitious growth plans. Toronto’s Lego Discovery Centre, a sort of slimmed down version of the full theme park, is the first of its kind in Canada.

Here’s a video report from my visit:

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in lego

 

Me and my Lego Star Destroyer

sd13The whole concept of gift-giving around Christmas seems to get tougher with each passing year. It’s not that I have trouble figuring out what to get friends and family – that’s usually pretty easy – it’s the reverse that’s always a challenge. I’ve been pretty lucky in life, so I have most of the things I want or need. The few things I do desire are usually so expensive or frivolous that I have no business in asking anyone to get them for me.

Case in point: the Star Wars Lego Super Star Destroyer. Here’s a $500 toy that no sane adult really should be playing with, much less coveting. Yet, if you’ve followed me on Twitter at all this year, you probably know that Star Wars Lego is something of an obsession for me (original trilogy only, none of that Jar Jar-era or Clone Wars crap for me).

It turns out I’m not crazy – or alone – in having this offbeat hobby. I wrote a story about adult Lego aficionados earlier this year and, in speaking with company designers and toy industry analysts, found that the brick sets are actually pretty popular with more than just kids.

Adults like Lego for the same reason that other grown-ups are attracted to gardening, car mechanics or wood carving – it’s a physical hobby that lets you work with your hands. For those of us who deal in the digital world and stare at screens all day, it may be even more important to actually exercise our tactile capabilities. Yes, it’s nerdy, but it’s better than completely zoning into the Matrix, right?

I put all that together as my official rationalizations for finally buying the Super Star Destroyer a few weeks ago. So yeah, I’m not ashamed. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in lego, Star Wars

 

Me and my Lego Death Star

Luke and Leia about to make their perilous swing. Lego-style.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing for two major events in my life. Firstly, this weekend I’ll be getting married to my lovely fiancee Claudette down in New Orleans (we’re actually down here right now, enjoying some jazz and Hurricane drinks). Secondly, and probably considerably less important, was doing my taxes. Believe it or not, the two ended up becoming related, resulting in a Lego Death Star.

In looking at my past year’s expenses, which I track very carefully now that I’m a freelancer, it became clear to me that I’m fairly miserly. I grew up poor, which has made me a tightwad when it comes to spending money. So, with the wedding coming, I figured why not go out and buy something frivolous?

Enter the Death Star. As a $500 toy, there probably isn’t a more frivolous purchase for a grown man.

Nevertheless, Lego – particularly the Star Wars kind – is a growing hobby among adults, as I wrote about in a story for MSN (I’ll link to it once I see it go up). Many of us grew up with the toys, so it’s ingrained in our psyches. The same can be said for Star Wars. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in lego, Star Wars