Archive for March, 2011

Taking the bite out of Lego construction discrepencies.

Posted in Design, Fun, Miscellaneous, Technology, Uncategorized with tags , , on March 31, 2011 by zzyzxbryxx

Well, this has been an interesting week for me in learning about the dynamics of building with Lego and I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to blog about on the subject in the future. But for now, I’ll just share what I discovered recently.

I am near completion of  working on a project that will aid in showcasing some MOC’s to be shot on video so I can feature them here and on youtube. Yes….I know, I did mention a while back that I will be featuring video “how-to-build” of my MOC’s. Life just keeps getting in the way, but I’m just about near the point of making this whole video thing, a reality. I’m just waiting on parts for the complete assembly of my project which started to arrive yesterday as a matter of fact and I should be getting the rest in the next few days.

The gears are grinding…literally.

A grinding halt....almost.

I should point out that this is my first ever MOC that involves the use of gears and bushings and that I could not wait to develop a project where I would be able utilize these pieces. Since I was a child in the single digit age, I was always fascinated with gears, sprockets, cogs and pulleys, thanks to the board game – Mousetrap. I enjoyed watching things in motion and how they affect their neighboring parts.

The functionality of this project, relies solely on gears and how they mesh together. So one could imagine my disappointment when I was experiencing grinding and locking while the gears were in motion only after almost 1 revolution. I wasn’t sure why my project was being hampered with this problem, but then again….since I’m new to the whole Lego gears universe, I could not begin where to start troubleshooting.  After about an hour or so of getting nowhere, I decided to take a break and come to a stopping point before my own gears between my ears started to smoke, grind and come to a halt of its own.

The next morning after a good night’s sleep, I am blessed with a reassurance that I will not only solve my “gears” problem on that day,  but I will solve it in about an hour or at least an hour after my morning ritualistic cup of Sumatran Reserve. I kept telling myself that the problem was already solved and the project was just waiting for me to execute the correction.

After careful re-examining the problem area, specifically the gear that rests vertical, I begin to  remove some of the  bryxx that exposes the axle that it’s connected to. I notice a slight lift of the axle itself. It’s not very noticeable to the naked and untrained eye, but I happen to be very anal retentive and see it plain as day.

Somehow, I was remembering visions of  the bryxx that are “salt & peppered” in all my Lego bins that feature bite marks, thanks to my now 8 year old son. I started to rummage through any given bin and found a brick that would best describe what I’m about to show.

Tasty brick....needs salt.

Hopefully, by this photo, you can see the bite mark that rests towards the left of the pic on top portion of the bottom Lego plate. (Click on photo for a slightly larger pic).  As you can see, the bite mark left an imperfection on the plate itself which created a “lip” of some sort and it prevents the top plate to properly snap to the bottom plate, creatiing a rift or a raise to the top plate. Notice that the gap between the 2 plates is larger toward the left vs. the right side??? Properly locked bryxx illustrate a clean and even hairline gap from one side to the other which is clearly missing in the above photo. It wasn’t these 2 plates that were featured in my project but you can start to get the idea that any bryxx that were resting on the slightly askewed top plate, would indeed affect any and all adjoining pieces that were supported by this plate to begin with.

That’s what essentially caused the lift of the axle that was connected to the gear that laid vertical. Great! Woo-freaking-Hoo! But now the question is……..which piece has the imperfection?

The search for block.

Yep, time to get up and walk around to wake my legs up because I’ve been sitting “indian-style” for nearly 30 minutes while playing Sherlock Holmes in figuring out the culprit to my grinding gear problem. Since I’m up, another cup of joe wouldn’t be bad either. Ok….back to work. It’s at this time that I start meticulously eyeballing literally every piece of brick on the main section of my project and start looking for imperfections which only took about a minute or so. The faulty piece was resting toward the bottom of the main section, so with my trusty brick separator, I begin to deconstruct the main body and making my way to affected brick to swap it out with a newer conditioned piece.

Problem solved and a lesson learned.

After reconnecting the last piece of the main body, I test the gears by giving the crank arm that the axle is connected to, a few turns and what-d’ya-know…the sound of gears meshing and spinning continuously with no grinding is achieved. One step forward the completion of this project and a lesson gained of checking each proposed piece to be used in upcoming projects for bite marks and other imperfections, before going into any MOC from here on out. This Lego “newbie” is forever grateful of this and the upcoming lessons that I will learn in working with these wonderful bryxx.

The Lego Store Grand Opening: Costa Mesa, Ca

Posted in Current Events, Family, Fun, Random, Science Fiction, Shopping, Toys with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2011 by zzyzxbryxx

The Lego Store - South Coast Plaza

I can’t even recall the last time I ever stepped foot into this particular shopping mall; and on top of that…I can’t remember what store I even visited when I did step foot at the South Coast Plaza, maybe…the Swatch store, LOL….not kidding. I’m not the shopping mall type of guy, which is a major contrast to my youth when I would frequent shopping malls all over SoCal with my Mom and that was to hit the coin-operated video arcades. Yes, before Xbox and Playstations, we Gen-X’ers had to leave our dwellings and visit stores that housed video games that gave you 3 men for a quarter.

Well, I may be visiting this mall more frequently due to the opening of The Lego Store that quietly took place last Wednesday, but they advertised their official grand opening this past Friday, Sat. and Sunday with a lot of fanfare.

"Sorry bro, kids only".

“Let’s build a Yoda”!!!!!

The mall and The Lego Store worked together to have a building event that took place at the closest center court that was adjacent to the grand opening itself. Lego brought in an expert builder to orchestrate the event in which kids were able to sign up and assist in building the support structure underneath where a 3′ Yoda stood.

Afterwards, the kids were given a certificate of achievement for participating in the event. I didn’t have my 8-year-old with me when I was at the grand opening but I asked the gal who was issuing the certificates  if I could have one for collectible purposes and she asked if I wanted it blank. I then asked her if she could put my son’s name on it even though he was not there to take part in the event. She was nice and obliged me,  plus… I thought he would appreciate the  sentiment.

Onto the store.

Well, not quite. As my Mom, brother and I turned the corner and walked  about 30 yards heading towards the anchor store (which was Sears), we saw the yellow glow of the store entrance with the red cube adorned with the Lego logo. We were getting ready to make our way into the entrance when we saw a couple of Lego employee’s at the doorway stating that there is a line to get into the store and they directed us towards yet another employee who served as a placeholder for the unsuspecting store attendees.

So here we are, standing at the end of what seemed to be a very slow-moving line. This just about took the wind out of my sails…so to speak. I mean, I was surprised to see such a large crowd to get into a store dedicated to Lego’s. This was after all on a Saturday when we went. In disbelief, I asked the employee if it was like this the day before, he stated that the reason they had a line like the one we were in was due to the fact that they had all the attendees IN the store AT THE SAME TIME. He said that people were packed like sardines, rubbing elbows and all the descriptions you can name in describing a crowded situation.

"No cut-sies!"

So that explains the velvet rope. It also demonstrates just how much Lego is becoming more popular as the years go by. I got re-acquainted with the world of Lego almost a couple of years ago, so I missed all the hoopla of the grand opening for the Lego Store at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, back in January of 2001,  which was not far from the Costa Mesa location. Never in my childhood would I have dreamed that I could build my favorite Disney movies out of Lego or Star Wars for that matter, thanks to the licensing power that The Lego Group has amassed over the years. Not to mention the DVD movies or how could I forget….a theme park.

And what about all the photo albums on Flickr and other photo sharing websites that showcase all the various types of  Lego genres from the young and the young-at-heart Lego builders. After hours and ogling Flickr accounts, my son and I were hooked. Ok, I now fully understand why we had to wait 45 minutes to gain entry for The Lego Store. Besides, it was a whole decade before Orange County, Ca received its 2nd Lego Store.

How many pieces am I?

 

 

 

It’s raffle time.

Yesssss!!!!!!!!!! We made it in. It was crowded so you could not run yourself ragged and sucking up the newness of the store, but we were finally inside. Another way of celebrating the grand opening, was a raffle by guessing how many bryxx made up the most famous Mandalorian ever in the Star Wars universe. The prize is a $50 gift card to be used at any Lego Store location. I had made my guess based on the amount of Lego that it took to create this guy, but Boba Fett looked a little bit smaller in girth compared to the Firefighter at the Toys R Us store in Cerritos, Ca.

I chose a smaller amount, filled out the form, made my guesstimate and dropped the slip in the box. Truth be known, it was another reason for my attending the event. $50 in store credit will be very welcomed since my son has more than shared his interest in the up-coming brand new genre of  the “Alien Conquest” building sets that are due to hit retail in July.

DO NOT ADJUST YOUR MONITORS!

The Pick-A-Brick section.

When we were back in line waiting to be the next ones to walk through the entrance, we could barely see the contents of the store itself, however, what was prominent to me was the PAB display that was way in back of the store; and what appears to be a well-lit PAB display which is how my eyes caught it…all the way from the front of the store. Not sure if this is exclusive to the Costa Mesa location, but I’ve never seen lit bins at both the Downtown Disney or Ontario Mills locations. I just thought it made a great pic.

And of course, what would a trip to the Lego Store be without leaving with a cup full of Legos. I got my money’s worth and then some. For full details of my score, read here.

Something for Jr.

My son wasn’t able to join us for the festivities and frankly, he would not have done well with all the waiting in line and the crowds in the store but I didn’t want to leave there empty-handed since I had a great score at the PAB section. Plus, I had $5 in VIP points to use up….so why not?  He also had $20 coming to him from his Aunt from up North. What to get him was a no-brainer. The boy wants collectible minifigures. The problem is, I don’t know which ones and for those that are not “in the know”, they are all sealed in the same packaging with no hint to what lies inside.

In order to find out which minifigs are in the package, one needs to feel around the packaging for specific accessories that pertain to the figure that you’re looking for. I wasn’t about to deal with that noise like I did when I found Series 2, if you guys remember that, not on that day.

His Uncle picked him up a Lego coin bank and I got him a Ninjago Spinjitsu Minifigure. There were about 3 different types of  Spinjitsu’s and because of my collective nature, I grabbed the figure that was the least available hanging on the pegs. It was a black Ninja and its name  happened to share my son’s middle name: Cole, which I didn’t notice until I got home to take it out of the bag. Awesome! All in all, it was a great day had by all. I for one am glad that there are now 2 different locations in somewhat a close proximity to each other.

Lego PAB Haul for 3-12-11

Posted in Design, Fun, Local, Miscellaneous, Random, Shopping with tags , , , , on March 16, 2011 by zzyzxbryxx

Hey guys! It’s been a while since my last post. A lot going on in my personal life and things are starting to slow down around here. One of the issues was including a move from my old residence to a new one. I don’t want to get into all the details in the risk of dis interesting y’all….so let’s get to the subject at hand.

I was able to make it to the grand opening of the Costa Mesa, Ca. location of the new Lego Store at the South Coast Plaza, which I will fully disclose all the details of that trip in the next blog after this very one.

After waiting in line for about 45 mins….yep-you read right, A LINE, I was able to mosey on through the melee of the crowd to make my way to the rear of the store where the newly stocked bins with vibrant colored Lego awaited me.

Fill'er up.

The “wanted” list.

Had no idea of what was to be found in the bins since this was to be my 1st grand opening of any Lego Store, but my “wanted” list was rather simple-meaning that I only wanted white bryxx and some clear ones as well, which is usually found in the bins of any given Lego Store. One of my pet peeves of the PAB section is that there are different bins with duplicate bryxx found; and not just one type of brick, several.

I was thinking with this being a brand new store, the PAB section would have had a different brick in a different bin. This wasn’t the case, but I must say that the bin display was rather unique in terms of presentation. All the bins were cleverly filled with almost every spectrum of the Lego rainbow,not to mention that most of the bryxx were 2×4, 2×6 in size and they were individually lit. One could see them if they were even passing by the entrance to the store from the wing of the shopping mall.

Soon after being entranced by the brightly lit bins, I began to scan for white bryxx. Just a few days ago, I happen to start yet on another project. A Lego sorting bin. If you guys recall on my last PAB for 8-31-10, I picked up quite a few of the white round-corner 2×2 bryxx. Well, I finally found the best use for those pieces and it was a mere accident how I discovered to utilize them. All I needed was some key white bryxx to “fill the gaps”…literally.

The Four Horsemen.

Here’s the booty in detail.

Ok, so this is my what….3rd post on the whole PAB thing? I like sharing with you guys what I pick up and just how much I pick up to fully illustrate that with a some time and patience, you can score big savings at the PAB section at any Lego Store you visit.

The pic to the right shows what I chose to fill the larger sized PAB cups with. ($14.99 before Orange County, Ca tax) From top to bottom w/their quantities in parenthesis:

  • 1x2x5 white brick (52)
  • 1×10 white brick (36)
  • 2×6 white brick (4)
  • 1×1 trans-clear plate (554)

I started locking the 1×10 bryxx in groups of 8 which took up the middle portion of the cup. Next was the 1x2x5’s and I stacked those about 3 high and those went around the perimeter inside the cup. Next were the 2×6’s and I could only fit 4 of those in the center due to the first 3 sets of bryxx occupying the space below.

Finally, I filled every gap of the white bryxx with the trans-clear pieces by pouring a small amount into the gaps, shake the cup around to make the trans-clear pieces settled to the bottom and repeated that process until the cup was filled to the brim. That’s how I wound up with 554 pieces of the clear, bringing a grand total of  646 bryxx in all. $14.99 / 646 = $.023 cents (or more than 2 but less than 3 cents per piece of Lego).

Price Comparison: Lego PAB vs. Bricklink.com

Ok, on my last PAB post, I did mention that I was going to demonstrate the price difference in picking up the same bricks at the 2 different venues. I’m sorry to report that it was too involved in including the price breakdown for finding a single merchant on bricklink that had all 4 of the types of bryxx that I found collectively at the PAB, but I assure you that I got a way better deal in buying these particular bryxx at just a little over $.02/piece vs bricklink.com, plus….I acquired a larger size PAB cup in the process.

What I will show you in the following links are the prices on the average of the bryxx and what they are selling for at bricklink.com. If you’re not familiar with bricklink.com’s site, I ask you to focus on the 2nd column from your right and to address the “new” brick column, since that’s the condition that I purchased the bryxx in Costa Mesa.

Total of the Avg. prices on bricklink.com: $45.66. Please note that this price does NOT include the shipping and handling charges that would have been added by the prospective seller and given by the weight of this potential order, they could have tacked on another six bucks or so for prep and shipment of said order, which brings the potential grand total to roughly $52.00.

It looks like I did give you some type of breakdown of the bricklink.com prices after all, but again… those were prices based on the averages of  bricklink.com as a collective vs. the  same pieces that I purchased at The Lego Store, but it does not show the exact amount that I could have spent if I was to find all 4 different types of bryxx from the same seller on bricklink.com  due to them selling any of the 4 bryxx above or below the avg. price for each item listed above.

Group Shot.

The intent of this visit to the PAB bins was to pick up the white bryxx to see how they would work with my Lego sorting bin project. The clear ones are going to be utilized (if you can believe) another project that would include ways of creating letters of the alphabet.

I’m seeing a trend here where I do find what I’m looking for at the PAB, but when I need to finish topping off the cup, I start brainstorming then and there and end up filling the cup w/pieces that I had no intention of getting upon my arrival. That was the case with the clear pieces on this last visit.