Wednesday, July 19, 2017

LEGO Creator London Bus speed build & review videos 10258

Here's the latest large-scale vehicle from the Creator line in all of its bright red glory.  Though it has nearly 1,700 pieces, its scale proportional to the source material is much smaller than most (if not all?) of its modern "advanced model" peers.


Mega Construx Halo Wolverine Charge review

The Mega Bloks Halo line, as it was then known, started out licensing designs from the original Halo Wars game of 2009.  Here we are eight years later, Halo Wars 2 is out, and Mega Construx, as it's now known, continues to cover the RTS side of Microsoft's stare sci-fi franchise.

I got something related to the LEGO Ninjago Movie!

In spite of LEGO's completely wack release schedule decisions (which I rant about at the end of this video), I have in my possession an official Ninjago Movie item!  Take THAT, LEGO!  You think you can keep 99.999% of the world's population from having a fair opportunity to purchase your merchandise when you first officially release it?  Ha! Your Grinch-like plans have been foiled!

LEGO Power Miners Thunder Driller from 2009! set 8960

It's not Thursday for a properly timed throwback, nor Friday for a flashback, but my complex video prioritization algorithm (in my head) put a set from a popular discontinued theme in the queue, leading to many bursts of nostalgia among viewers!

LEGO Creator Mini Piggy Bank 3-in-1 promotional set review 40251

It's a pig, or a rat, or a raccoon!  No?  Check out the video to see what I'm talking about.  Whatever this thing is and can be, it's a free promotional item, and it's cute & fun.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Why I'm Not Quitting YouTube

Earlier this year YouTube lost one of the nicest, most mature, genuine, & original LEGO-related channels as a result of, as I understand it, uncalled-for drama & betrayal by members of "the community."  A couple weeks ago, quite by chance, I learned of yet another YouTuber in my previous hobby calling it quits due to the never-ending tide of random anonymous commenter ugliness and an atrocious work-to-reward ratio.  Then came the whole sudden announcement of that 12 million subscriber channel owner calling it quits because, as it turned out, he had been hating what he was doing for a long, long time.

It's Rough Out There...

This kind of stuff sucks.  Especially the first example above.  There's a lot of it going on, too.  YouTube/Google itself, like nearly every company that profits off user-generated content, has done a horrendous job of fostering even the most basic semblance of humanity on its platform.  It has, however, done a fantastic job of funneling viewership away from hard-working independent producers who make quality content and towards a mix of heavily corporate-sponsored media groups and channels based on what most fully-functioning adults would consider senseless lunacy.

Staying relevant as a video-maker on YouTube today requires, on the whole, either more work or more luck than ever (or both).  It's still possible to put out low-effort and/or non-unique content and get tons of viewership if the secret algorithms magically decide they want to recommend you all over the site or to notify more than 1/40th of your subscribers when you upload a new clip.  However, there's simply no reliable way to earn that sort of privilege.

...But I'm Okay

In the face of all of the bad stuff that's so easy to dwell upon, I find myself more thankful than ever for my YouTube situation.  Viewership numbers are well off the highs of The Good Old Days (TM), but still fantastic. Bored, bratty trolls & perpetually, senselessly angry haters still exist, but my skin is thicker than ever and the overwhelming majority of commenters on my videos are cool people.  Let me just drag that last point out a little farther.  The LEGO & brick-built construction crowd is, on the whole, one of the coolest groups I've seen in my 25+ years online.  There's just a tremendous amount of what I consider normalcy, which is particularly unusual on the Internet today.  I see people who can give constructive criticism, disagree with each other with civility, and recognize that toys are just toys & not sacred religious artifacts to war over.  I see young kids, teens, and adults alike sharing their enjoyment of a hobby equally, letting their imaginations wander, being silly, and getting into character in the fanciful worlds of their favorite themes.

Balancing Multiple Balancing Acts

One of the big risks for YouTube stress comes from over-eagerness to please fans or to focus on whatever type of content will generate the most views.  Thankfully I do not suffer from either of these.  If I did, I would have a huge permanent Star Wars layout, 1/4th to 1/3rd of my city would be discarded to put in a giant airport runway, half of my videos would have titles beginning with "TOP 5," and I would shove my face in the camera incessantly while making exaggerated expressions of awe and narrating in kind.  "Awesommmmme!"  Of course I pay plenty of attention to viewer feedback as it'd be crazy to not do so, but I don't stop doing things I enjoy to start doing things I hate just because one person suggests it and a handful of others hit thumbs up.  If I find myself doing something I don't like, I just stop.

Another thing that leads to content creator burnout is acting.  Specifically, I mean acting out a manufactured, usually over-the-top persona for the sake of entertainment.  Some YouTubers enjoy acting, and I see nothing really wrong with it.  Others hate it, hate themselves for it, and hate the trapped feeling of building up a fanbase that expects you to constantly be something that you're not.  I, myself, don't have a YouTube persona.  I'm just me.  Because I know JANGBRiCKS in particular is watched by an extraordinarily wide range of ages, I do take extra care to avoid language that kids & parents alike have said they find inappropriate.  However, that's a simple matter of showing basic respect to my audience. Staying away from a word for poo that starts with a 'c' doesn't change who I am.  I don't fundamentally try to act how I think anyone wants me to.  I don't try to act "cool."  If I say something in a video that makes you cringe because it's not in line with this instant's fleeting guidelines for what people of my exact age and position are supposed to say, according to a specific online clique you associate with, well, so be it.  I guarantee I didn't say it just for that video, and I guarantee I would and do say it in real life among actual, real-life, friends and family.

Personal Demons

Speaking of friends & family, over the years (JANGBRiCKS isn't my first solo gig) they helped empower me to combat the single biggest risk to my online ventures, which is my own work ethic.  I'm what many would call a workaholic.  When I'm not doing something productive, I start to feel guilty.  I'm readily willing to sacrifice sleep and general physical & mental well-being to get a job done.  It's not noble.  It's unhealthy and unsustainable.  Thanks to my support network, though, these days I'm able to simply take a break  when I need to, without beating myself up about it.  It's a novel concept, but important.

The biggest struggle that I've not been able to overcome is a lack of enough hours in a given day.  There's a lot that I want to do that I'm not reasonably able to, and that always bothers me.  It's one problem I don't think I'll ever be able to fix, but at least it's manageable.  I might not be able to create time out of thin air, but of course I can always shift priorities around and get creative with my schedule.  When really needed, pulling an all-nighter isn't such a terrible thing, just as long as long as I don't make a habit out of it.

A Good Place

Ultimately, I'm happy with who I am and what I do, I have a lot to be grateful for, and the biggest threats to the YouTube channel you all know me for are presently well managed.  For now at least, it's full steam ahead with no major obstacles on the horizon.  Of course, I'd really appreciate it if someone could invent an affordable time dilation device, but if nobody does, I'm still not quitting YouTube.

Monday, July 17, 2017

LEGO NEXO Knights - The Heligoyle reviewed 70353

Here's something you've heard me say plenty of times in recent memory:  This is the last set in the theme, for now!  I tried to get ahead of the August 1 major release explosion by ordering NEXO sets from the UK (at great shipping expense, of course) where they actually came out about a month ago.  I've also previously and regularly expressed my displeasure over the extreme irregularity of the releases and distribution of new sets, yes?  Yes.  Okay good.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

My i-Brix wireless LEGO (compatible) lighting odyssey

Two years ago, a campaign showed up on Kickstarter promising a way to deliver lighting into and/or onto LEGO models without attaching any wires, flipping any tiny switches, or ever replacing any batteries.  Sadly, it did not receive enough backing and failed to fund, but the creator returned for a second round with a more polished product, and this time it's a success!  After emphatically pleading "help me to help you," I was able to get a two-day loan of a prototype unit, and I dedicated the entirety of those two days to nothing but testing, photographing, filming, and posting about i-Brix, because I believe in it that strongly. It was a busy & stressful couple of days, but well worth it.

You see, back I first bought my house I had track lighting installed over what would be the LEGO city.  At that time I invested heavily into expensive Philips Hue app-controlled color-changing LED bulbs to enable time of day lighting effects throughout the room.  What I didn't have a plan for was how to light the city, itself.  DIY LED lighting with countless wires having to be routed through every structure seemed like an absolute nightmare.  I tried a handful of battery-based systems made specifically for LEGO use and those were also no good for me as having to flip a ton of little switches everywhere just to capture a brief video would be a maddening chore.

i-Brix is the solution I needed, and with it, I hope I'll be able to mostly achieve my original goal of lighting up all of New Jang City.  Skyscrapers will still require some additional work, but most of my requirements will be covered.  Now I just have to wait for the funding phase to close and for the final product to be produced!

Friday, July 14, 2017

LEGO NEXO Knights Macy's Drop Bot Dragon review 70361

I feel like my opinions about this set have taken a major yo-yo ride since months ago when this vehicle/craft/creature/thing was first revealed.  One moment I'm eagerly awaiting its release, the next moment I'm completely over it.  With the physical product now in-hand, I can at last make a truly final determination.

All Mega Construx Pokemon Series 1 Pokeball figures reviewed

From what I've seen at local shops and from what I've heard online, Mega Construx's just-launched Pokemon line has been selling better than any other theme, by a long shot.  I personally contributed to this in my own small way by buying up one of each of the single-figure packs, and I decided to just review all of them in one video.