Tuesday, 6 August 2013

My Journey Into LEGO - Part 1

      It’s been a bit quiet here on the blog front recently in terms of original content – the reason being that I have been going a little crazy with a new hobby - collecting LEGO!

      I feel that there is a lot of interesting aspects to discuss here and to attempt to explain why I find it all so fascinating. But first, here's is a brief outline of how it all started:


        Like a lot of my generation, I played with LEGO when I was a youngster. I didn’t really own huge quantities, but I did enjoy a bit of Pirate themed LEGO (interestingly this was way before the Pirates of The Caribbean franchise made it all extremely popular again) and I still have two big sets sitting (still constructed and very dusty) on a shelf back at home.
        In fact, it was these two (see images below) - the Black Seas Barracuda (6285) and the Rock Island Refuge (6273). The release dates on the database at Brickset say 1989! Wow.

       Apart from that I didn't really do much with LEGO growing up. Having played a lot of Videogames in my teens and adult years it was inevitable that I would come across the increasingly popular crossover games such as LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones. I’ve always loved the original Star Wars films, especially the design and aesthetic of the Empire (particularly the Stormtroopers) and was aware of the existence of Star Wars Lego product tie-ins, especially after the release of the ‘prequel’ trilogy. But that was about it.

       That was until a few months ago when 2 things happened.

      Firstly, my lovely girlfriend bought me a Lego Stormtrooper keyring off of eBay. It was too nice to actually put on my set of keys and get ruined by general scuffing, so I pinned it up on my corkboard.
      The second inciting incident was the opening of the long awaited new shopping centre in the middle of Leeds: Trinity Walk; and within it a LEGO shop. Now there are only 12 of these in the UK (so far) so of course I had to check it out. They had a small section with key rings – the ones I was interested in (the Original Trilogy Star Wars and Marvel/DC characters) were there and so I picked up one or two every time I popped in. As my collection of key rings steadily grew, I eventually bought a small felt board to display them on. You can see a picture of it below:

So why LEGO?

        A brief diversion: why do I like LEGO?

        Firstly, it’s the look. For me, it totally has to do with the style and aesthetic – especially in regards to the minifigures (although this can also be seen in the construction kits). I just like how a lot of LEGO is standardised and most minifigures that are newly designed often has to find a way that fits within that style and aesthetic. This leads to interesting instances of the recycling of certain pieces/accessories. A tiny stud has many different uses – a rounded tail light on the back of a car, a piece of gold in a chest, Iron Man’s hand thrusters – they are all from the same basic piece, just used in different ways.
       The design of every little piece also adds a universal interchangeability between almost everything. Want to switch around everybody’s body parts, headgears or accessories just for a laugh? You can totally do that.
        Sometimes I like to see what pieces are used in constructing a particular model just to see what common parts they have used and marvel at the ingenuity of the design.

        There are three main ways that fans of LEGO operate. Firstly: the standard idea of buying a set and constructing the contents by following the instructions. The instructions are always detailed, clear and in a way that is easy to understand by any country in the world (it's all graphical - now words needed), and being able to build a complex model relatively quickly provides a satisfying experience.
        Secondly: the collection of minifigs. Some people just like to collect minifigs and are not too bothered about the construction aspect. LEGO have been very smart in making a lot of minifigs exclusive to certain sets (eg: you cant get a ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Bane minifig without buying the whole Bat Vs Bane Tumbler Chase (76001) set which, at the time of writing, will set you back £40. As a result, there is a massive market for buying and selling solo minifigures on eBay and some large sellers even going so far as to buy multiple sets, remove the exclusive minifigs from the box and then selling them all separately on eBay to cater for the demand.
        Similarly there are also the aforementioned ‘key ring attached’ minifigs and ‘magnet’ minifigs (as due to licensing reasons LEGO are not allowed to sell them without being attached to something) that has also led to some people (myself included) researching ways to cleanly detach them. More on all this later.
        The third draw of Lego. takes the form of MOCs (My Own Creation) whether they be custom constructed models or art pieces. These take many forms, including custom minifgs, sculptures, dioramas, pixel art… there are endless possibilities. The simplicity and universality of LEGO design mentioned earlier plays a big part in people using existing pieces to construct their own creations. Again, we will take a look at some examples later.

       I have taken a particular liking to collecting minifigs mostly, but I do also enjoy the construction of certain sets (especially vehicles) - it’s just that larger LEGO sets are expensive and take up a lot of room that I frankly don't have in my house. I have also planned a pixel art piece made from a specific selection of brick sizes and colours – but more on that later. So I guess you can say I enjoy all three categories. That's why I find LEGO so damn appealing!

        Okay this is getting pretty long so I’ll split into a few parts.

Click HERE to go straight to Part 2!

5th August 2013

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