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Thursday, March 28, 2013

LEGO Minecraft Enderman Minifig sized!

A challenge I just couldn't pass up. Very much not an invitation to throw challenges at me though! Let me repeat, please, no challenges!  I have more than enough to do to last me for several months already!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My LEGO city & train layout, first public concept

I've been mentioning a full-on LEGO city (note the lowercase 'C') for awhile now, and at last I have decided upon where it will go, and that has given me an exact size, which in turn let me flesh out a possible set of details in BlueBrick.


Click the picture above to see it full-sized with some quick annotations.  Pay no attention to the finest details of what sets are depicted, where small gaps appear in the tracks, etc.  None of that is relevant.  This is a draft digital mock-up that is as good as it needs to be to convey what's going on with the layout.

This has been designed with a heavy focus on the trains, hence the reason I have two full train loops that can be run independently plus a good-sized train yard for rolling stock storage.  The skinny monorail-looking loop is a mock-up for what will be my 4-wide/narrow-gauge elevated intra-city shuttle train.

This layout has been through hundreds of revisions, and there are surely more to come, but this gives you an idea of the general types of things to expect!

Bricklink Haul March 20, 2013

Video: Bricklink Haul March 20, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

LEGO 4-wide train update

Continuing on from my first prototype, this here is my next step in creating a full PF-powered 4 stud wide narrow gauge train.  You can see that I've got the vertical motor configuration working, though the four-wheel-drive, bevel-only gearing is a very tight fit!

I've also started experimenting with different coupling techniques.  I need to use multiple styles as the engine segment needs a certain amount of weight added from the battery box to balance it and maintain traction.  For the passenger cars behind, I'm also going to consider using extra-small train wheels that fit on slotted wheel axles, instead of these larger ones with Technic axle holes.  That should help me to keep the floors, and thus center of gravity, moderately low.

I've gotten the prototype as shown above running around a test loop just fine, so there's good progress.  I should be able to make this thing IR controlled without too much trouble, though I'm still debating whether to actually go that route, or to attempt a classic monorail style of switch-based control.

Follow the trains topic to see the progression of this design over time!

Friday, March 22, 2013

LEGO Minecraft Enderman MOC!

There isn't much I can say about this one!  It is what it is!  I don't particularly plan to do more Minecraft MOCs, but then again, I didn't particularly plan to do this one, it just happened!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

LEGO System Aerial Acrobats 6345 review!

Here's another blast from the past, an airplane stunt show set from 1993.

Bricklink Haul March 17, 2013

Making it rain.... LEGO parts!  Over 2,000 of 'em this time, whew...

It's a LEGO video 'splosion!

I just realized that it's the middle of March and I have already uploaded over 100 videos to the LEGOJANG YouTube channel this year! Insanity!  When I started doing System set reviews again at the beginning of the year, I set an informal goal for myself of 200 videos by year's end.  I guess that goal is out the window now!  I'll probably reach that around the halfway point!  There haven't even been any new product releases  yet.  Wait until the "Fall" sets hit the market.  That will be epic :D

LEGO City 5610 "Builder" mini-set mini-build & mini-review!

The last of my 2008 mini-sets.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

LEGO 4-wide narrow train prototype underway

I closed my "Shortened Maersk locomotive" post with a reference to my "next challenge." Well, here it is!  In a recent Bricklink haul video I showed some 4-wide track I had picked up, and late this week I started working on a strategy to put that track to work.  Part of me really wants to use some classic LEGO monorail in my city for an above-ground, short-distance transport system, but another part is strongly philosophically opposed to the idea of relying so heavily on such an old, and also very restrictive family of parts.  So, stubbornly, I'm trying to make my own substitution with in the form of a Power Functions-powered 4-lug-wide train system.  I expected this to take days worth of experimentation, so imagine my surprise when I had this functioning locomotive after only a few hours.

I tested it, and it has sufficient speed for my tastes, and seems like it works decently well.  However, I don't think I'm going to stick with this design.  I think my biggest issue with it is that the width with side plates actually comes to 5 lugs, rather than 4.  I want to try to do just 4, at least once, even if I then revert to something wider.

I've already come up with another engine with bevel gear drive to both axles and a vertically-oriented motor arrangement.  I'm now experimenting with different passenger car lengths and figuring out where to put the IR receiver in a sample train to make it fully RC.  I could probably live with it being *not* RC controlled, but if I can go the whole way, why not?  I already have the battery box issue figured out.  I'll share pics of the new setup once I make more progress with it!

Follow the trains topic to see the progression of this design over time!

Friday, March 15, 2013

LEGO City Police Station 7498 review!

I just realized that this is the first LEGO police station I've ever touched, much less owned, after having wanted one since set 6384!

Shortened LEGO Maersk locomotive

I really did plan on keeping my Maersk train intact and non-customized, I swear!  It looked perfect to me in every way when built to official LEGO specs.  However, when I set it down on a siding in my digital layout in BlueBrick, things did not look right at all.  The locomotive was just too, too long for the small spaces in which I wanted to use it, particularly a freight transfer siding next to a harbor.

It was pretty demoralizing, and made me extremely envious of folks who have tons of space to make huge layouts.  Rather than being sad about what I couldn't do, I decided to focus on what I could.  The engine was too long, so I shortened it!  Compare the photo above to the pic from my review:

You can see that the nose is clearly shorter now, but actually the entire thing has been shrunk down.  It's around the same length as my Amtrak/Metroliner engine now, and looks significantly better (less askew) going around a tight 9V track curve.  On to the next challenge!

LEGO railroad maintenance truck, track geometry vehicle MOCs

More detail bits for my future LEGO city!  I'm enjoying keeping my road vehicles fairly small, as I know this will help me to pack more into a restricted space once I eventually do set up a full layout.  You can do a lot more with just slightly larger sizes, with a lot more detail and more realistic shapes, but I'm sticking to my guns!

LEGO City Mobile Police Unit 7288 review!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Updates! Updates!

Hi!  Obviously thus far in 2013 I've focused primarily on System sets since I finally re-opened the door to the wonderful word of actual bricks, freeing myself from the strict confines of the large action figure series. I needed to get through a lot of current & recent sets to let the world know that I'm legitimate and serious about System, and also to quickly build up a wide variety of parts to make custom creations.  I'm almost done with the most modern sets I wanted to acquire. Next, I'll be primarily digging into the recent past of City, grabbing some of the nicer & less-common sets that I missed over the past decade.  I'll also sprinkle in some recent Creator house sets to give myself practice in building residential units, while particularly getting familiar with current roof & window parts.

All of this catch-up will be over very soon (I built 3 sets today alone!), and then things will calm down to a more normal rate.  I'll still buy & review an occasional older set, but mostly focus on new releases in the City, minifig-scale Creator, and of course large action figure series.  Before and between big new LEGO releases, I'll have lots of time again for MOCs, and I'll go back & forth between System and Hero Factory themes on those!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

LEGO 4645 Harbor set review!

Here's a big boat set from not so long ago!

LEGO Galaxy Squad Space Insectoid 30231 mini-set review!

Here's a little polybag s... set... found for sale at Toys R Us.

LEGO train MOC: Diesel switcher

It hasn't been long since my first full-on custom LEGO train, and here's another already!  This was a fun build involving a ton of iterations, but it came out looking very much the way I wanted it to (which is strange, given that I didn't have a clear picture in my head before I started).  It's a tiny little thing, not much longer than the shortest you can physically make for a 9V motor assembly-powered locomotive! 

Bricklink Haul March 5, 2013

This is getting ridiculous, no?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

LEGO custom train MOC - PM A12 high-speed passenger EMU

Ahhh, dandy!  My first proper LEGO System project in well over a decade!  I've been working on this for about two weeks now, off & on, little by little, experimenting like crazy.  The end result doesn't look all that incredible, but the countless versions that were essentially discarded are responsible for the overwhelming majority of time investment!

This is a combination of my favorite aspects of the Horizon Express, most recent red City passenger train, and the previous white City passenger train.  It also solves the problems I personally had with each of those sets.

I won't call this an "end result" because I'll surely update it over time, but for a first full version, I'm very satisfied with this thing, much happier than I was with my factory standard sets!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Minifig Lottery Feb. 28, 2013

I hope to not do too many more of these, until series 10 comes out!

More LEGO orders placed!

That's right, with my review queue shrinking almost every day, I've already ordered up the next batch of stuff to throw into the mix!

From LEGO direct, I ordered 7 sets ranging from polybag to $100 size, along with another random series 9 minifig and more Power Functions items for trains. Over on eBay I picked out two vintage sets, one that I thought was an absolute smokin' deal, and another from the same seller that seemed overpriced, but that I really wanted.  I guess the two even each other out. At Bricklink I picked up 800 new parts in 174 separate lots (different types and/or colors of parts) from two sellers.  Though these orders include a really wide variety of general-use parts, my primary motivation for both was to fill in parts that I need to complete a MOC-in-progress. 

As previously mentioned, I wasn't satisfied with the Horizon Express TGV train set I built, and the recent red City Passenger Train I built had a few nagging annoyances in its design.  I decided to combine elements of both of these sets to create a one-of-a-kind train.  My hope is to end up with a high-speed commuter train that's compact enough to look comfortable on a small layout, fully outfitted with seats that you can see through transparent windows from end to end, and powered by the current line of Power Functions components.

In other news, I've been using the free PC program called "BlueBrick" to work on train layouts and made great progress this week.  It has been incredibly challenging, trying to figure out a way to squeeze everything I want to do into the space of a single room.  Here are some of the important elements I'm hoping to incorporate:
  • Two train track loops that can be used by two trains simultaneously or as a single folded figure 8, where a train can run one entire loop, cross over and do the second loop, and then return to the first loop without stopping.
  • A train yard with room for at least four separate trains, plus a custom train washing station.
  • A passenger train station with hopefully a little bit of automobile parking.
  • A freight harbor with space for a medium-sized freight ship serviced by a crane that spans one train siding and at least one truck lane, in addition to having access to a docked ship.
  • A small marina, likely attached to the freight harbor, to store custom boat MOCs as they're made.  This may need a Coast Guard hub to be integrated with it at some point.
  • A purely residential area
  • A town area with at least one full-length straight street.  This needs to include all of the typical LEGO utility structures, including a police station, fire station, hospital, and gas station, in addition to various shops. I will not be using the popular official LEGO modular buildings.
  • A central park area that can be completely re-decorated for various seasonal events.
  • At least a part of a military and/or space travel base.
I would have loved to include an elevated monorail-style commuter line, too, but I just don't think that can physically fit without reducing the main town to a tiny, cramped rectangle.

LEGO City Dirt Bike Transporter 4433 review!