Friday, June 15, 2018

One Million


One.  Million.  That's... a really, really large number.  It's so large, in my view, that in most contexts it doesn't even make sense.  Think about it for a second.  Would you ever consider counting to a million?  (One guy did it in 2007; it took him 3 months.)  How many people do you know who have or have done a million... of anything?

Somehow, this month the JANGBRiCKS channel on YouTube passed the one million subscriber mark.  That's now ten times what I originally thought I could one day earn if I worked diligently and basically did everything just right after I started taking the channel more seriously a half decade ago.  A lot has changed in the online world since then, though, with YouTube's own growth further exceeding all expectations, raising the ceiling of possibility for all of its creators with it.

So here I am today with one million subscribers, and it doesn't feel real. Alas, in many ways, it isn't.  There may be upward of a million actual people around the world who once clicked a button labelled "Subscribe" on my channel, but there are nowhere near that many actually watching my videos every day or so when I upload something new.  Due to the way YouTube works in 2018, there are nowhere near a million people even seeing my new videos in their "subscription feed" list in the first place.  Most of my videos don't get 1/10th of a million views in a month, and as of this writing, barely 2% of my videos have gotten a million views in total, in 8 years.  Another statistic that makes the whole million thing seem silly?  Nearly 80% of day-to-day viewership of my videos comes from people who are not subscribed!

This is why I didn't rush to make a million sub video special.  It would be woefully disingenuous to celebrate & give thanks for something I don't at all believe in because the thing, itself, isn't real. What I am definitely going to celebrate & give thanks for, though, are the many messages of support I've received from actual subscribers, those 100,000 or so (hey, my original forecast was accurate after all!) real viewers who repeatedly consume content that I produce. Nothing keeps me motivated like the stories of kids getting inspired to start their own LEGO cities after seeing mine, parents & their children coming together to build critical thinking skills & vocabulary through my reviews, or adults with anxiety disorders finding comfort & calm in my voice in general.  It's heartwarming and reassuring to know that many people find my channel to be a sanctuary of sorts where viewers feel welcomed & safe, even in the comments section.  I'm also relieved that many buyers have saved some hard-earned money by using my videos to help decide what products will provide the best value.

Ultimately I can only take educated shots in the dark and try to hone my aim off the echos of those that land.  Raw data from YouTube Analytics & the like has its place, but none of it even begins to approach the value of human-authored feedback directly from my actual fans.  I'm not able to individually respond to lot of it, but I see it, read every word of it, appreciate it thoroughly, and, when appropriate, act on it to hopefully make my future work better.

Thank you all, you real people, including (especially?) non-subscribers for your ongoing and even increasing support of the work that I do.  I will of course only continue to work hard to provide entertainment and information, and I hope many of you will continue to find it worthy of your time.

LEGO Friends Drifting Diner 41349 set review


Eyyy I haven't forgotten about LEGO Friends!  I have to dramatically cut back on my coverage of the line (and its offshoots) due to:
  1. YouTube's aggressively antagonistic algorithms that ruthlessly punish not only videos that under-perform relative to others on a given channel, but other videos that follow as well.
  2. The overwhelming volume of products LEGO now releases every year, forcing me to either work an unhealthy amount and review everything, or be selective and live a manageable life.
  3. A personal lack of interest in many of the past year's Friends & Elves sets.
At least #3 has been pushed to the side now with the new racing-themed lineup, so while being mindful of #2 I have decided to review at least a couple of the latest Friends products, maybe more if I get the chance.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

LEGO Creator Modular Sweet Surprises 31077 review


This is one of LEGO's smaller attempts to make a mini-modular floor & window dressing system work consistently across multiple builds & sets, and it doesn't work out to be much more useful than it was in the larger sets.  Basically the display window and door can be swapped to the sides, or the whole thing can be mostly mirrored left to right if you want.  The two alternate builds abandon the system altogether, with good results.

More LEGO 2018 Arctic Exploration theme set reviews


I'm keeping busy with a regular stream of reviews of the newest sets!

Videos:

Friday, June 8, 2018

Combining three LEGO Creator Pirate Coasters, almost works


Because I bought three of set #31084 to cover all of the official builds in my review, I thought it would be a fun challenge to make the biggest coaster possible with the track parts.  As it turns out, that's a bit easier said than done! 

I wish they had made this set a better parts pack for the many folks out there who have been wanting to make custom LEGO coasters with official parts for... generations.

LEGO City People Pack - Outdoor Adventures review! 60202


Here's the latest City minifigure "Fun in the..." style pack, this time focusing on the great outdoors with an explicitly American flavor.

LEGO City 2018 Arctic theme reviews begin


Orange vehicles with white terrain pieces have returned after a mere 4 year hiatus and I've started my coverage with the two biggest sets of the wave.

Videos:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

LEGO City Hospital 60204 set review


It's been awhile since we got a medical building made for minifigs and I am truly delighted that the comeback set has some real substance and a large number of figures instead of the increasingly common pretty, but annoyingly thin facades.  Now the question is, does the product justify the price?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

LEGO Creator Pirate Roller Coaster 3-in-1 review


It's out, it's built, and I've filmed it!  I've had high hopes for this set since the first pictures were leaked (before we even knew about the Expert coaster).  In this video I look at all 3 official build options and see how things line up against my expectations.

Release day LEGO store haul on video


This may have been my single largest, heaviest, and most expensive LEGO store checkout to date, but it's very incomplete.  It includes neither of the new trains, the big Capital City set, the Unikitty line of figures & sets, Ninjago City Docks, and anything Ninjago season 9 other than the first 5 of 6 airjitzu/dragon master packs.  Some of that stuff came out a couple weeks ago some places in Europe, some all the way back in April.  The Americas get the rest all the way out in August.

Back & forth the pendulum of LEGO fan pain & envy swings across the oceans!

I did get a fair amount of stuff to keep me busy for awhile, though.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Elevated rail stop progress so far


I've been able to do a fairly consistent sequence of MOC work this week! Strangely it's still surprising many viewers that this second elevated train station has progressed in what I consider a natural direction, from extremely rough when it first started, to gradually more polished after a week of work.  Many folks think that when something is first started, that's exactly how it will look when it's finished, a puzzling and somewhat perturbing flaw in their basic understanding of... so many fundamental things.  I've also seen a dramatic rise in decisively non-constructive feedback like, "This whole thing is awful," or "Your worst build ever you should do [what I, individual viewer want this second]," again all while things are still being changed significantly from day to day. Actual constructive criticism is something I consistently revel in and reward with thumbs up, hearts, and personal replies due to its value and increasing rarity.  However, I definitely don't need to be showered with flat-out one-sided negativity while doing something I enjoy, and I'm not going to reward destructive behavior.  Thus, reluctantly, I'm going to start disabling comments on MOC build videos until I'm done with a project.  Making custom things, whether physical or digital, is something I enjoy, and I'm not going to allow completely random, anonymous people with zero investment to even try to ruin that.

More progress soon, though!

Videos:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Second elevated rail station build kick-off


Hooray for New Jang City work!  I'm taking a short bit of time off from the mountain corner while waiting for Bricklink orders to arrive.  This leaves some space in the schedule to work on an essentially untouched block in the downtown area.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

LEGO Architecture Statue of Liberty review


That face though.

LEGO Dino Defense HQ from 2012 reviewed


For a "flashback Friday" of sorts this week I finally assembled the biggest set from LEGO's last non-licensed prehistoric animal theme.

You can find a few more of my reviews from this theme if you scroll all the way back to the beginning of my dino-centric playlist.

LEGO room videos of the past week or so


Circumstances straddling the edges of what I can control have made it extraordinarily difficult over the past couple of months for me to get LEGO work done, especially in my city.  I've done what I can, though, and am clawing my way back slowly in the direction of normalcy.

Videos:

Sunday, May 6, 2018

LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Y-Wing Starship build & review videos


This second "Ultimate" version of the Y-Wing does not have the sort of across-the-room visual punch of some of the other entries in the series, even completely ignoring the record-holding Falcon.  However, if you actually build this model, or just spend some quality time up close, it's easy to objectively understand & justify the price tag.  The question is whether that's enough, though; less tangible & calculable factors are still at play.

Videos:

Friday, May 4, 2018

LEGO Creator Expert Roller Coaster build & review videos! 10261


LEGO may have generated another round of worldwide release envy by putting the newest Ninjago sets out in Denmark only, probably months before any other place will get them, but I'm striking back at 'em with this biggest-yet amusement ride I got off eBay for a reasonable price a couple weeks ahead of schedule.  The build took a good 7+ hours and casually exposed me to some pretty advanced and humbling LEGO math.  Best of all, the finished product works every bit as well as anyone could ask for, if not better.

Videos:

LEGO Jurassic World wrap-up


There is no way it has been well over a week since my last post.  Impossible!  I've had the browser tab I'm typing this in open and I've been getting my ducks in a row to have a bit of proper downtime to catch up here... since April 25th.  Crazy!  Time flies & all that ey?

Well, here are the belated links to my last few Jurassic World/Park related videos, including the previously-unplanned display I set up to present the whole theme together:

I did the temporary diorama because I hadn't yet made any progress towards my longer-term, customized dino display (beyond basically prepping the table itself).  I figured it's best to use the space for a little while for something a lot of viewers wanted to see.  I'll switch back to the original plan when I'm ready.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two more reviews for LEGO Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom


April reviews took longer than expected for reasons none of you have seen or heard about, but they're now very rapidly drawing to a close, which means soon enough I'll back work on New Jang City yet again!  I seriously hope the Summer sets don't come out crazy early (I'm looking at you, LEGOLANDs) so I can get a top on my mountain and start roughing in the initial shape of Mellemby District.

Videos:

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Initial batch of LEGO Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom set reviews


I don't live near the perpetually embargo-breaking stores (like LEGOLAND) of Florida & Georgia and had no interest in paying the markups to buy from FL/GA eBayers, so I waited for the official April 16th release date to pick up these JW sets.  Interestingly, four days later most stores in my area still haven't put these on shelves, and some don't even have the April 13th release Star Wars sets!  Online purchase & local pickup for the win, then!

Videos:

Sunday, April 15, 2018

LEGO Star Wars Han Solo Landspeeder de-aged Mod


I had planned to make a (mostly) symmetrical "original" version of Han Solo's M68 (Ford Falcon reference) Landspeeder, but then I started looking at more realistic toys as well as official renders and one of the full-scale movie props.  As explained in this video, I realized this vehicle was likely never intended to have been symmetrical in its factory-stock form.  So, I built upon what the evidence suggested.

Two more new LEGO Star Wars sets reviewed


The end of another medium-sized release wave draws to a close for me with the coverage of the last wave 1 Solo movie set plus a nice small ESB Dagobah build.

Videos: 
Jurassic World sets will be covered once they're officially supposed to be released.  Stores in my area are all honoring the embargo dates.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

LEGO Amtrak EMD F40PH MOC


First shown on Instagram shortly after I started, this is another little piece of my childhood brought to life in LEGO form!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

LEGO Star Wars Kessel Run Millennium Falcon review! 75212


Here's the flagship set for the Solo: A Star Wars Story movie, based around the modified-to-sell-fresh-merch Falcon of 40+ year fame.  As a LEGO model, it's sensibly an evolutionary iteration on the most recent designs.  It does a few things better than the last, but also a few worse.

LEGO Minifigure Factory promotional set review 5005358


This free (with qualifying purchase) has gotten more than its share of hate for including some cardboard to increase the size of the scene, but the exclusive (and still free, with purchase) parts make it one of my favorite promotional items ever.

You Told Me What To Build yet again


This past week I did another TMWTB suggestion collection round and one of the most popular requests was a tank.  This one took a little longer than the others, but I'm happy with the result.

Video:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

LEGO Ideas TRON: Legacy set review! 21314


These aren't the Light Cycles of my childhood, but they're pretty nice regardless (and probably recognizable to a lot more of today's LEGO fans).  The minifigures and printed parts in general are very impressive to me, but let's see if the value of the entire set holds up against the retail price.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Not your average BrickHeadz: LEGO's new Go Brick Me set


And now for something, completely different! This is so much more than the expected BrickHeadz MOC construction toolkit.  It lets you build not one, but two full figures (and the second needn't be a ghost as shown above), it has a rather long and detailed instruction manual, and it provides a hefty serving of varied pieces at one of the lowest price/part ratios of all time.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series 18 full review & box distribution


To celebrate the 40th anniversary of their creation, the LEGO minifigures are throwing themselves a birthday party, costumes strongly encouraged.  This series has a literally & figuratively odd number of entrants thanks to the presence of a bonus "chase" figure, of which only one is placed in every box of 60 individual blind bags.

Videos:

New LEGO Star Wars Jedi & Clone Trooper and Solo Movie Imperial Patrol Battle Packs


Two more small sets with long names!  One of these seems to prove that no matter what LEGO does, they just can't win in the court of Internet (TFOL/AFOL) opinion.

Videos:


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

LEGO Star Wars Solo movie Imperial TIE Fighter & Han's Landspeeder reviews


I bought my first few Solo movie sets and, as a special message to LEGO Brand/IP Protection via the company MarkMonitor which falsely and illegally threatened me the last time I reviewed Star Wars sets quickly after they hit the market (resulting in the need for a public apology from The LEGO Group itself), I am reviewing these sets as a consumer who purchased the products and is using 100% of his/her own exclusively owned & produced images & video footage, as protected under Title 17 US Code section 107 and by the First Amendment.

Videos: 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Full tour of my updated LEGO deep sea diorama


I've been happy with my underwater display(s) since I first tried such a setup in 2015, but that doesn't mean I'm just leaving it alone!  Most of the space has been and still is quick & easy, temporary filler, but I keep adding more detail in small batches.  This weekend I caught a burning desire to add a noticeable amount of new life to both halves of the setup, including establishing the start of some reef-like elements.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

How I motorized the LEGO 60097 City Square tram / train


The set with this light rail tram came out in 2015 and I've kept it intact, because I rather liked its design, but I've kept it out of view because there's never been a place for it in either my current city or either of my previous ones.  Thanks to the Mellemby District project, there's finally a place for this to live for awhile, and in the last update for that layout I showed it actually rolling itself around the rail loop.  I'm sure this simple conversion has been done plenty of times by other people in the past three years, but a fair number of you wanted to see my version up close, so here it is (for what it's worth).

Mellemby viewer suggestion recap & LEGO dinosaurs



Two more New Jang City sub-layout updates went up over the past day or so, the first summarizing major takeaways from the initial idea-gathering phase for the Mellemby District.  This will likely end up being one of my most part-intensive projects ever! I have a fairly clear general direction to follow, and now I need to start to strategize a high-level plan of attack.  Similarly, I've reached the point where I'm ready to start on my fantasy prehistoric animal display.

Videos:

Friday, March 23, 2018

More progress on the train yard


This time around I slowed down a little and got the shed/shop buttoned up more correctly so I could be happier with it long-term.  I also threw down some quick desiccated foliage outside, but that'll be improved once I get some of the inner rail loop ballasted and then topographically texture the space between tracks a bit.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

New Jang City freight train yard upgrades


Over the past couple of days I tore up my fingertips some more carefully putting down more faux ballast in a way that supports the track on a completely flat (tiled) surface while providing studded texture all around. It also helps keep everything from sliding around much whilst still allowing a bit of flexibility to account for table edges being bumped & such.

Then I added this diesel shed/motive power depot/maintenance shop/whatever it's called in your local region or on the specific train-related sites you frequent :)  I realized while filming this that I had wanted this specific type of model building since I was quite young and first learned about HO scale trains.  Life goal achieved!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

[New] Mellemby opens for business, or at least suggestions


I'm taking a big risk here, but I'm hopeful that with some thoughtful & caring guidance, as opposed to an unregulated popular democracy (i.e. certain catastrophe), the collective will of the viewers can be translated into something really fun!

Monday, March 19, 2018

You Told Me What To (also) Build


The last time I turned over the floor for suggestions on what to make from the 186-piece Building Better Thinking box, a ton of you yelled "Dragon!" while another sizable number cheered for a spaceship (partly my fault for accidentally putting it in peoples' minds).  I did the dragon pretty promptly, and rather than going through another round of comment-gathering, this time I just went with the previous runner-up.  What astonishes me is that all three build videos thus far have been within 1 minute of each others' length, a completely unplanned happenstance.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A current look at New Jang City


Not a lot has happened since the last update video, aside from the addition of 16 MOCs I've covered in other videos.  There's been a little bit of work on terrain, both the big laccolith and the very flat freight train yard, but that's mostly it.

A previous cargo ship MOC, made better


Sometimes the outcome of the imposition of a set of rules fails to match the original intent.  In these cases, either changing or making exceptions to those rules is the most constructive path forward.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Nope, not a good LEGO cargo ship MOC


Alright I am definitely tying my hands a bit too much now.  The collection of non-negotiable requirements I placed on this build forced it into a fairly specific shape & layout that unfortunately could not look good.  Looking at it with the almighty hindsight I actually feel most of it was done right at a high level, with fine details always being debatable.  The problem was all in the constraints.  Without those constraints, though, I'd have a ship in official LEGO style, with the deck level area of the superstructure being 1/2 the height of a minifig, and absolutely no consideration for how figures could potentially get up to the bridge.  I have, in fact, begun to find some of the limits of what can be accomplished with LEGO, with consideration for minifigs, at a reasonable size.  Making everything much bigger would solve all of these issue, but also completely break New Jang City as I'd end up with only 4-6 buildings and 1 ship taking up the entire room! Things that make ya go "Hmm."

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The vehicle MOC streak continues!


Still three more official LEGO City/Town vehicles got kicked out of my city for good in an abbreviated building session.  One of the replacements this time is indeed a as much of a duplicate as it appears above, but it still does its job!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

LEGO Rollback / Flatbed Car Carrier Truck MOC


As promised just a day ago, here's a new vehicle recovery build to kick yet another official LEGO set out of New Jang City for good!

Mega Construx Destiny DO Hunter & FWC Titan Armory sets at last


You'd think these two small single-figure sets were made of pure, concentrated unobtanium the way they've sold for $70+ US on eBay.  They were just another pair of victims of the most exceptional of limited distribution from Mega that seems to strike every 20th product or so.  I held off making an aftermarket purchase for a long time, and thankfully many other potential buyers did too, prompting prices to start to slip down to the outer limits of reasonability.

Monday, March 12, 2018

One more official LEGO build heads to the scrapyard


I've had the tow truck from set 60132 sitting in my MOC ideas bin for over a year now, waiting to be replaced by a custom build.  Finally I've gotten around to it, and soon I'll follow up with a MOC to take the place of the flatbed carrier from the even older set 60097.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

You Told Me What To Build again


There was a clear winner in this most recent round of suggestion gathering, so I ran with it.  It was a bit more of a struggle than last time, but I don't think the result is as bad as I made it out to be.

I'll be doing another of these builds soon, but this time I won't yet need another round of comments as there was a very strong second-place finisher this most recent time and I'm ready to try that challenge straight away.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War wave 1 minifig collection


Many of you asked for a single video focusing on just the figures from all six of the IW sets and I'm happy to be able to oblige and appreciate the suggestions.  It's a larger volume of mostly good figures than I had realized and it's nice to take a step back at another valuable collection you can amass while going for all of the Infinity Stones.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

LEGO Mini Ultimate Batmobile 30526 review & combination model


Pictured above is not the build from the polybag I'm reviewing today.  Rather, it's the combination of all three official build options, made possible when you buy three of the same polybag, or if you just have the spare parts already at your disposal.  The video does cover the single-set main build, plus each of the alternates, plus the super-combo.

Tell Me What To Build #02!


The first attempt at this concept went pretty swimmingly, and now that I've completed most of the recently-mentioned cleanup & maintenance tasks (yes! yay!), I'm ready to give this another shot.