Monday, February 19, 2018

Summary for the week Feb. 12 - 18

Well that was a productive week!  At times I felt like I was really having to push myself to work ever faster, but taking a look back at the before & after, the progress isn't half bad.  I received & unboxed quite a lot of loose pieces, but better than that is the fact that I used a lot of pieces!  In New Jang City, the port area has really come together and just needs a couple more ships and some custom vehicles to finish it up for the foreseeable future.  The big terrain feature has started to get its final layer of detail in some areas, though other parts need more foundation work.  The mine display that I just started last week is already approaching "done for now" status.

Last but not least, I snuck a few reviews into the mix to maintain variety, including the second of the two biggest Power Miners sets.

New Jang City:


Monday, February 12, 2018

Summary for the week Feb. 5 - 11

This week has been all about 1) using up parts, 2) getting more parts, and 3) returning to 1.  The land side of the cargo harbor area went from a field of plain baseplates to a 3/4ths tiled-in yard with a "done for now" warehouse and an admin/operations building.  The terrain to house my Planetary Defense Force base has very nearly reached its final height and the second (of four) layer of parts has been painted across its entire outer surface.  Oh, and I used up still more pieces setting up the major terrain features for my underground mine.


LEGO city layout plan & queue (updated Feb. 12, 2018)

The basic plan for my LEGO layout was formulated when I began in 2013.  When I moved to a new house in 2015, I gained some space and added a handful of items to the list.  Any empty space you see in any photo or video is already reserved for future build. Anything that looks incomplete is incomplete, and will eventually be completed to my specs over time.  Any official LEGO-designed structures or vehicles are only stand-ins and will ultimately be replaced by my own custom builds.

This is not a crowd-sourced project.  While I appreciate that many viewers have ideas for how they would do things if New JANG City belonged to them, this is my own personal project, being designed & built by me, in my own home. I do not use viewer suggestions for changes or additions at this time*. The number one, key, core reason for any of this to exist is for me to freely express my own personal creative interests & desires. I do not add, remove, or change anything on request.

Here's how the build queue looks as of the date in the title of the post...

I will include:

  • Metro area (with at least 4 very tall office buildings)
  • Industrial area with factories, etc.
  • Residential neighborhood with custom houses and possibly an apartment complex
  • Planetary Defense Force base (above and below ground)
  • Second elevated narrow-gauge passenger train stop
  • Small city maintenance crew yard
  • Pet store
  • Chinese restaurant
  • Dance club
  • Small underground dinosaur/prehistoric zone
  • Cars, Trucks (passenger and commercial), other normal vehicles you'll find in any city
  • People
  • Trees & plants
  • Underground "Mellemby district" area for mostly official LEGO sets, details TBA
  • There will be much more that's not on this list!
  • I do not add to this list on request -- as explained above, this city is all about my own inspiration & creativity.

Already added:

  • One skyscraper (the first of at least 4)
  • Police station (currently awaiting full rebuild)
  • Fire station
  • Shopping mall
  • Small boat marina
  • Zoo (to be rebuilt larger some day)
  • Gas station with car wash and adjacent car repair/service garage
  • Arcade
  • Ice cream shoppe
  • Bike shop
  • Musical instrument store
  • Laser tag arena
  • Two 9V standard-gauge rail loops
  • Standard-gauge rail yard
  • Elevated narrow-gauge rail loop
  • Large passenger train station with elevated rail connector
  • Second mainline passenger train station
  • Large train yards
  • Underground mining scene with some official sets
  • Stand-ins for residential area
  • Stand-in for cargo harbor including:
    • 2x piers
    • STS container gantry crane
    • 2x rail sidings
    • Level luffer crane
    • Small warehousing building
    • Harbor ops/admin building
  • Work in progress, incomplete terrain to house Planetary Defense Force (military base) 
  • Underground Minecraft overworld & Nether displays
  • Temporary Nexo Knights battle diorama

I will not include:

  • Airport.  NO AIRPORT, PERIOD!  An airport would ruin the plan for the entire city by taking up an absolutely enormous amount of space (if done to my satisfaction, and everything in my city must be done to my satisfaction).
  • Heliport.  Same as above, just smaller (but equally undesirable)
  • Above-ground parking garage.  Again, tremendous waste of incredibly valuable space (would need the area of at least 4 modular buildings to be even halfway decent).  Maybe an underground one some day, way off in the future?
  • Big ol' bland, basic parking lot. Same as for the parking garage, except even worse since a parking lot is only one level and thus an even worse waste of valuable space that could be used for an entire multi-level commercial building, residence, or at least a park.
  • Super Heroes area
  • Ninjago area
  • Chinatown or Japantown
  • Star Wars area
  • Race track
  • Minecraft End City
  • Certainly countless other things will not be built in my layout.  Stay tuned to this blog and my YouTube channel to see what I do build!

*These unfortunate disclaimers have had to be added in response to increasingly large numbers of increasingly rude viewer demands for additions to & removals from my layout, at worst numbering in the hundreds per day when major updates are posted.  The enthusiasm behind normal, casual suggestions is appreciated, but demands for changes are simply unacceptable.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Summary for the week Jan. 29 - Feb. 4

This week I got to mix a few reviews with some substantive work on New Jang City, in addition to finishing that new small passenger train (pictured above).  With countless pieces added onto and beneath my little corner mountain buildup, I find myself in that ever familiar state of needing parts to proceed.  With relevant Bricklink orders at various states of fulfillment & shipping, I've begun to divert attention towards other works in progress.  Gotta keep the momentum going!


Customs & layout related:

    Saturday, February 3, 2018

    LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle review 21313

    This evening I completed my review of this beautiful, well-constructed, practically 1:1 realistic scaled collectible display piece.

    To my utter shock, I'm seeing a lot of fan negativity towards this wonderful fan-inspired product.  While I agree that the ship in original Ideas submission looked much nicer, there were some pretty strong & inescapable factors that made duplicating it completely unreasonable to expect:
    1. Total ~1,800 pieces, which would have made it a $140+ USD set, twice as expensive and accessible to a fraction as many potential buyers.
    2. Bottle diagonal dimension of 9" (double) vs. this 4.5", and a similar (if not greater) difference in ship size
    3. Fully glued masts to cheat away the inherent instability of the design
    4. Use of numerous cut pieces (clearly illegal)
    5. Use of discontinued pieces (not available to use)
    6. Complex string rigging (completely out of the realm of allowed techniques for LEGO's techniques)
    The original looked way better, unquestionably, but LEGO can't put just anything on shelves.  They have rules, standards, and basic logic & reason to contend with.

    Regarding price, as I briefly explain in my review, the inclusion of 284 loose studs to represent water (per the fan designer's original idea) skews the overall price/part ratio.  However, if you pretend those 284 pieces don't exist at all, or have absolutely zero value, simple arithmetic generates a number of $0.10 USD/piece, the magic number that's been synonymous with good value for some years now (and probably overdue for an inflation adjustment).  There are indeed more 1x1 and 1x2 pieces in the set, but that's the case in most sets.  What's most uncommon, however, is the inclusion of four of the oversized and rare 6x6x9 double-curved panel pieces, which as of this writing have been averaging over $4.50 USD each.

    I have to begin to wonder if I simply look at the world through rose-colored glasses in contrast to the deep negativity I see directed in so many directions from so many teen & adult LEGO fans, but even deep subjective bias can't change actual hard facts.  What am I missing?  Is the old addage, "You can't have your cake & eat it" a dying concept these days?

    Thursday, February 1, 2018

    New Jang City: New terrain, new train

    Hey!  More work in progress!  My last update was pretty boring & pedestrian, covering a lot of little grunt work, cleanup & basic chores that had a subtle, but important effect on the overall appearance of the layout.  Now I've undone some a bunch of that tidiness, but mostly in the corner where the Planetary Defense Force base is going.  I've put up a lot of Big Ugly Rock Pieces with Duplo supports and completed most of the first sweep of smoothing & randomizing, with at least two more such passes to go.

    In this video I also show the "done for now" form of my latest passenger DMU train, which thankfully runs smoothly the first time out.

    Sunday, January 28, 2018

    Summary for the week

    This was a slowish week on the video side with "just" 10 videos released in 7 days.  With the transition away from release season I completed one MOC (for now), made good progress on a new one, and did all manner of cleanup & important foundational chores around New Jang City. 


    With those couple boxes of parts received from Bricklink, I've since finished paneling off my elevated rail track and dove back into the terrain work for the Planetary Defense Force corner. I hope to have more to show on that in a few days.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018

    Custom LEGO intermodal STS container gantry crane MOC complete!

    At long last, I have a functionally complete ship-to-shore crane in New Jang City!  I previously did a few progress videos, plus a few updates on Instagram, but now there's a single video to show the last additions plus the basic operations of the whole thing.


    Want to see the earliest suggestion of one of these types of cranes coming to my LEGO layout?  You'll have to go all the way back to my June 2013 city update!  Ha!!  On to the next thing, and here's hoping whatever that is won't take almost a half-decade to turn into reality.

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Something new, something blue: Animated backdrop for real LEGO

    Take a peek back, if you will, at my original undersea display that I put together in 2015.  It brought great personal joy to me, satisfying my love of underwater scenes that previously surfaced in my first LEGO city in the year 2000 and my zoo's aquarium in 2014.  Once I dedicated a whole table to this theme, though, I just couldn't stop thinking about it.  I doubled its size in 2016 and added a shipwreck in 2017. Behind the scenes, though, I was desperate for more.  I've given very serious consideration (and dedicated plenty of research) to all manner of techniques to add more depth & "life" to these displays, but it wasn't until today that I realized I should just add... a display.

    My very first flat screen TV, now over a decade old, hasn't gotten much use in the past couple of years though it still works fine, making it a nearly perfect candidate for conversion to looping video backdrop duty.  I say "nearly" because it's a fraction of an inch too tall to fit under my tables upright, thus requiring me to angle it back very slightly.  It's a small price to pay, for not having to pay for a whole different TV.

    I've wrapped my existing backdrop drapery around the back to preserve a clean backdrop for the adjacent Nexo Knights display, and I've started using some thick weatherstripping to create baffles to eliminate reflections from my colored light strips.  I've also angled the LEGO table towards us slightly to improve visibility.  The video looping on the screen, meanwhile, is a quick merge of a few stock clips with some real underwater sounds, playing from an outdated Android tablet that at least has a micro HDMI port.  

    Some further tuning is warranted, but this is a big step forward for one of my favorite LEGO things in the world, simple as it is.  I'll definitely apply this technique to the other seafloor display (since it's split in two these days) in due time, but hopefully I'll be able to resist going deeply into debt adding all the TVs to all the things.

    Tuesday, January 9, 2018

    A bit of LEGO room work

    Over the past couple of days I've been tearing apart, putting back together, and shifting around large areas of New Jang City and its adjunct displays.  Table tops have been reoriented & legs removed.  Fresh ground has been prepared for new building.  In all, I have over 350 sq. ft. of easily-accessible tables dedicated to LEGO displays, with space to add still more in the future!  For the sake of context, the last time I measured the surface area it was under 250 sq. ft.

    Time to order up some more under-table lighting and some bulk terrain parts to kickstart some of the new displays!