Archive for Downtown Disney

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.

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The 2nd Sixteen: A minifigure hunt.

Posted in Building Toys, Collectibles, Family, Miscellaneous, Saving Money, Toys with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2010 by zzyzxbryxx

15 of 16 represented. Do you know who's missing?

As I mentioned before in a previous post, I was not going to be the one with my cheese left out in the wind….for those not familiar w/the “Ferris Bueller” term, it means left behind.

I am talking about my son and I being able to find and purchase the Lego collectible minifigures : Series 2.

In my “zombie” post, I mentioned how difficult it was to locate that particular minifig and what great lengths that I had to do to locate it. Driving here and there in Orange County,Ca and making special trips to a toy/sports collectible “swap meet” and to be continually let down when I wasn’t able to find this 1.5 inch tall (or short) piece o’ Lego plastic. Not to mention the same look of disappointment on my son’s face on a repeated basis. All he wanted was a zombie and after paying 5x the original price, I was able to locate one.

Which brings me to…

….yesterday (8/31), when I called my local Lego store and asked when exactly they were to receive the second series of the Minifig collectibles and the gal mentioned to me that they started selling them earlier when they opened. My heart was racing and my head was spinning w/visions of hope and then disappointment. I asked w/a timid tone if they still have anymore, she said yes and that they’ll be selling them tomorrow as well, which made it sound like that I better get my butt in there and purchase before I “miss the boat” AGAIN.

It’s crucial that I mentioned the date that I called because I was told in a phone call that I made 2 weeks prior that The Lego Store was expecting them sometime in September. I just wanted to have the most current and exact info when these things hit to improve my chances of scoring these 16 since I totally blew the opportunity to search and buy the 1st sixteen.

I break the news to my boy.

Sebastian (age 8 ) was in the room on my PC viewing Lego stop-motion UFO films on youtube when I told him about the news. His little face lit up like Christmas, Easter and his birthday all fell on the same day.

I should mention this time around that the “flavor of the month” was the Dracula minifig. That’s all he’s been talking about, I guess to keep his lonely zombie minifig company. He also mentioned some interest in the witch too. I’m beginning to see a theme here.

Just so y’all know and just like the Series 1 release, these minifigs are packed in a shiny foil showcasing the minifigs in front w/them in some “action” poses as if they were gonna bust out of the packages themselves. Series 1 packaging was yellow while series 2 was in blue.

But those clever marketing peeps at TLG (The Lego Group) came up w/the idea of making the whole packaging, a complete guessing game. There were no distinguishable marks on the packaging w/the exception of the barcode that rests to the right of the package which is not to be confused w/the barcode on the left of the package which is the item’s SKU.

So in our case, if we were looking for “Dracula”, we would have no way of knowing unless we either bought all the packages w/the 16 different codes or had access to a “cheat sheet” that provided the codes for the corresponding minifig. To quote Ted Stryker from Airplane…”What a pisser”.

This is when I opted to purchase all 16 different packages (@ $1.99 ea.) Sebastian was more than thrilled and to be honest, I had my eye on a couple of these minifigs.

And away we go.

We hop in my Honda Fit and take to the afternoon streets of Anaheim, Ca…Lego Store bound w/me at the wheel and obeying the speed limits w/an additional 5 mph of whatever’s posted on the sign, which is how I drive anyway…but I really wanted to just get there so I would not miss the opportunity of finding these things.

Traffic wasn’t that bad considering the time of day that it was. We made it to the Downtown Disney lot in about 10 mins. w/Queen’s “Another one Bites the Dust” blarin’ on the radio. Man….I hope that was not some kind of omen.

Not-so slim pickin’s.

Sure enough, we walk into The Lego Store and we head straight for the cashier counter and asked the gal if we can look through a carton of minifigs. That was the easy part.

My casessss !!!!!!!

Y’all remember in Lord of the Rings when Gollum had possession of the one ring? That was me or so it felt like that, since I had a carton all to myself. I start glaring at the packages and immediately find all the different barcodes and place them in one pile while I have the “duplicates” in another making sure that I don’t place the dupes back in the same box. It got somewhat nerve-racking however when I have other peeps w/their proverbial hands in the cookie jar, the noise of the shopping traffic echoing throughout the store and keeping tabs on my son with his whereabouts at all times.

Well, about 30-40 mins….yep, you read right, 30 or 40 minutes of scrutinizing dozens of barcodes which consisted about 2 dozen thick lines, thin lines and all line sizes in between, I somehow managed to yield 15 different packages. Yep…..I was missing one. Because of the mystery packing, I wouldn’t know which one ’till I got home to open them all.

Barcode help.

If you noticed the first pic above, I was missing the “Spartan” which he was called based on a youtube video showcasing the entire Series 2 line-up. Suddenly, the 2 or so minifigs that I wanted, were not as important than the Spartan that I was lacking…how sad-eh?

But I’m not worried for the simple fact that I have my resources in finding out the barcode for the missing Spartan in my new collection. I went to bricklink.com and hit up the folks on the message board. Such a knowledgeable group….I got my answer within the hour of posting in a form of a link that provided the “cheat sheet” which listed the codes for all 16 minifigs found here.

Lego store???? 10AM???? We are so there.

This is my son’s last full week of summer so I allow him to sleep in….BUT NOT TODAY. “Get up dude, let’s get some Lucky Charms in ya and get in the shower.” I follow suit and we head out once again to the streets of Anahiem….this time in the AM with my little barcode that I printed out earlier in the morning thanks to the info on brickset.com. Ain’t no way I can lose out on gettin’ my hands on that Spartan now.

We pull up to the somewhat unoccupied lot and we both walk to the Lego store in a fast pace, which is funny considering that I’m in soo much pain from my workout on the Wii Fit from the previous day, especially my legs. AAAArrrrrghhhhh.

We walk in the store just minutes after opening and the only soul I see, is the store greeter in her yellow smock welcoming us as we head straight back to the rear counter. “This looks good Bubba” (my son’s nick-name that I gave him), I have my little cut-out of the barcode at the ready…now, all I need is a case to go through but not just any case.

I need a fresh case.

I was just here in the afternoon prior and I didn’t wanna look through the same cases that I went through again since I know they were full of all the duplicates of the original 15 that I already purchased.

As we approached the counter, we saw two clerks that were pre-occupied w/other stuff and one girl at the register assisting a woman that was with 2 small kids lookin’ through….yep, a case of minifigs, but I wasn’t sure if she was goin’ through the same case from yesterday or even worse…a fresh case.

I was standing in line for at least 5 minutes but it seemed like an eternity when I was witnessing the Mom going through all the bags gettin’ touchy/feely w/the packages. apparently, she knew she was looking for but she was using her hands to caress and grope the package (husband is a lucky man-LOL) much like the blind trying to read someone’s face to get a “look” at’em. I apologize if I offended any blind peeps reading this. 😉

This mom was taking her time….and honestly, I could not blame her. She’d buy a couple of packages here so her kids could open’em up to find out what they had, then she’d buy a few more to open more up, then she’d repeat this process over and over, all the while….I hear her mention that she’s looking for “The Sombrero guy”. I’m not sure if her “technique” payed off or not because she said that she was gonna purchase a few more but go through the  entire box and make her final decision after she was done molesting all the packages (good grief).

The moment of truth.

Finally, the gal behind the counter that was assisting “Mrs.McFeely” asked what she could do for me. I asked her if the case (pointing at the Mom) was yesterday’s case. The gal said no, it’s a fresh case and without further communication, she brandishes a whole new unopened case w/her trusty utility knife, cuts the opening and slides the bountiful harvest towards me.

The anxiety is starting to kick in much like yesterday’s visit. I mentioned to the gal that I was gonna slide these towards the opposite side of “McFeely” so I don’t block the sales counter and let commerce take its place, also I didn’t want to run the risk of “McFeely” gettin’ her hands all over “my” packages and screwing up my sorting process. Sounds pathetic…don’t it. LOL

What do I find?

So here I am, on my side of the counter w/Sebastian within eye and ear range and I quickly pick up packages and compare’em to the cut-out of my printed barcode which ended up being the exact same size as the barcodes on the packages themselves which makes comparing both codes a snap.

There was a cute girl (which I’ll dub as “cutie”) who was another Lego employee that was witnessing what I was doing. Picking up packages every 3 seconds and making quick judgements of the barcodes based on my cut-out. She knew I was looking for something and I happen to share w/her why I was goin’ through all of malarkey.

There are 60 packages in one carton and I was about 5 away from goin’ through the enitre box and I was telling Sebastian that I am not having any luck w/finding the Spartan code. Cutie then takes out another box and cuts it open and swings it to me and says to leave her the other packages that I took out and that she’ll put’em away while I look through the fresh box. She’s a good egg I tell ya. If ya didn’t notice, not one Spartan code was in the first box that I looked through. This was getting tense.

The pressure is building, pardon the pun.

As I’m just beginning to go through the 2nd box, I hear another customer askin’ for the minifigures. Cutie responds by telling the guy that as soon as I’m done w/the case, he can look through it. Oh man, Cutie was such a big help but I was thinking that if a manager would’ve heard that, he would’ve made it so I would have to share the carton w/the other customer, which I would totally understand but I’m thankful it didn’t because about 8 more packages that I have not gone through in the second carton, behold…

I FOUND THE CODE.

Eyes, don't fail me now.

Yep, I was in shock and disbelief and had to compare the cut-out to the package a few times just to make sure. Sebastian was all excited and Cutie was happy for me too. I went ahead and told Sebastian to hold the package while I attempted to place all the packages back into the carton. Cutie said that she’ll take care of it and began to ring me up. I thanked Cutie repeatedly and she wished Sebastian and I a very good remainder of the day.

I’m not outta the woods yet y’all. The cynical side started to creep in my head. What if the code was wrong. Then the mystical side….What if “McFeely” used some magic and stuck me w/a duplicate Ringmaster minfig instead (my least favorite). The suspense was building w/every mile closer to home.

THIS IS SPARTA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh what a feeling it is to be on inside looking out than the outside looking in which is where I found myself w/series 1. I beat the aftermarket system by only doing my research and having luck and some help from a certain “cutie”. We were discussing about the series 3 minifigs and how the Lego online community already has a  list out of what’s to be included.

I also mentioned to her  that one of the minifigs is a Ferrari F1 driver, but the  source that spilled the list is the same source that mentioned that there will be NO distinguishable barcodes on the packaging and no cheat sheets made available. Even though Europe get’s the minfigs a few months ahead of time, the barcodes won’t do any good since they differ from the U.S. market.

Sebastian already mentioned upon learning of the series 3 list, that he wants the Alien minifig. Guess that means I’ll be molesting a few packages myself at the Lego store come next January.

MOC Space Police Cell Block

Posted in Design, Inspiration, Miscellaneous, Random with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2010 by zzyzxbryxx

BREAKIN’ THE LAW….BREAKIN’ THE LAWWWW!!!!!!

At this time last year, my son and I had just completed collecting and building all of the first wave of the Lego Space Police genre. It was the genre that re-introduced me to the world of  Lego after a 20+ year hiatus, so I was constantly checking the TLG (The Lego Group) website at Lego.com for anything that had to do w/the Space Police.

As a marketing tool, TLG was in fact releasing some short vids (a few minutes long each) showing crimes being committed in space by some nefarious aliens known as “The Black Hole Gang” and how the Space Police were gonna handle the situation. I was filled w/awe at viewing all of the buildings and scenery that were put together for these vids. One of these builds was the Space Police HQ, created by David Pagano of Queens, NY. David is also the creator of the vids for Lego. For more impressive creations by David, check out his Flickr account.

I’m a sucker for detail and this SPHQ was flowing with it, but I was wondering when this set was gonna grace the Space Police section via a playset, on the Lego’s website. So naturally, I was awaiting anything new that pertained to the Space Police.

Right around Christmas time last year, I discovered 2 new Space Police sets that were being released around the following new year. This was major news for my son and I because it meant that more sets are sure to follow. unfortunately…

I’m rather impatient

….and I decided to do something that I’ve never done before even when I was playin’ w/Lego’s when I was younger; and that was to build my own Lego set from the ground up, particularily…a Space Police HQ designed by myself. All that time I was going to use the Space Police HQ featured on the Space Police vids as a starting point and something to keep me motivated on what may be a humongous task.

Another means of motivation was to periodically check the Lego photo albums via Flickr. Every single time I view these albums…my brain just goes into some overload of ideas that were in those albums. There are alot of very talented builders out there and I’m hoping some day, to be able to build some wild stuff like they have.

Another trip to the Lego Store

So, with all these ideas in my head and with motivation in toe, I head out to The Lego store (Downtown Disney-Anaheim, Ca) to see what the good ol’ PAB section had to offer. I was in shock to find these plates in one of the bins, I grabbed a bunch or should I say, whatever I could’ve crammed in the $14.99 priced cup which ended up being about 33 plates. I grabbed some other types of bryxx that I rendered useful and got the heck outta Dodge.

And now…for the groundbreaking, er…groundbuilding.

16 X 16 base build

Never before that day did I ever have the chance to have so many of these plates to play with. Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve NEVER had a single set that utilized these pieces. So I started to line’em up this way or that way, heck….I even stacked all 33 plates loosely just to see how high these plates would’ve reached. I knew ahead of time NOT to press’em together. It would’ve been a real chore taking’em apart w/the brick separator, let alone your fingertips and/or nails. Then I decided to put’em all adjacent to each other in a 16×16 base pattern and at that point, the ideas for the number of doors and other details of the cell block were starting to emerge.

Other ideas came from the current Lego City: Police Head Quarters still sittin’ in the shelves in retail. But as I got to thinking, I have four 8×8 plates resting as one 16×16. I should use each plate as a single jail cell but combine them all into one jail cell block….which meant 4 jail cell doors were needed. Luckily I had some purchased during an earlier visit to another Lego store. (Ontario, Ca.)

I still need more bryxx.

The Lego Store is great and all but it goes without saying that I leave there empty-handed more so than I leave w/what I’m looking for. It was at this time that I discovered Bricklink.com and the vast array of stores owned by Lego collectors, builders and merchants. After spending alot of hours by looking at a collective of all the different bricks that were available for purchase, I was awestruck again by the different types of bricks that I never knew that even existed, which pushed that creative and idea envelope alot further. Thanks to bricklink, my first custom build of this type was starting to take shape. The only difficult aspect of the build, was waiting patiently for the parts from several different stores to get to my hot little hands. Luckily for me, my transactions w/all my sellers were very smooth indeed.

Let’s have some features.

Front profile of cell block.

Here we have a pic of the cell block featuring 2 cell doors w/red and green indicators to show that the doors are either locked or not. What ya see on this side is exactly like the otherside, w/the exception of the camera being on the right and the cell block power transmitter on the left. On the rooftop of each cell, rests an occupancy indicator to alert the cell block officer of which cell is empty or occupied. In the center, rests the power supply for the lasers separating the adjacent cells inside the whole cell block.

View of cell block transmitter.

The light in the center resting between the 2 observatory windows, is the power transmitter for the entire cell block. I should state that obviously none of the “lights” that are featured on my build actually light, you’ll just have to use your imagination. ;). With that said, imagine that the red light is on and that the entire cell block is powered and running efficiently, otherwise …it’s just one giant pile o’ bryxx funded by the taxes of the local human and alien citizens of the sector within.

Inmate observatory windows.

Yep, we here at the forthcoming  Space Police HQ like to keep a close eye on our inmates. You’ve seen the damage of what a single certain imprisoned human doctor by the name of Hannibal Lecter can do, these freaks deserve no less privacy. Video camera is constantly streaming live footage of the goings-on in the vicinity of the cell block.

A not-so happy couple.

Maybe we’ll let’em out one day when they can learn to stop emitting their personal toxic waste in public and into the designated alien waste disposal units set up throughout the sector.Is this considered species profiling????

1.21 Jiggawatts of power.

I saved my favorite feature of this cell block for last. I wanted to show something to simulate lasers in my cell to demonstrate that this is NO jail cell on Earth. Fortunately for them at Space Police HQ, they watched enough “Back to the Future” to learn about harnessing the energy for simple incarceration instead of the physics of time travel. One should see the section of the training video aptly titled “Alien vs. The ‘Lectric Cage. DO NOT EAT WHILE WATCHING!

The next step for the cell is to actually deconstruct the entire build and to film the actual rebuild from scratch and to post the vid here on my blog. The vid will include a full inventory of parts and their respective part #’s. I plan on doing this w/all MOC’s that I show here and this will be an ongoing feature on my blog. It’s just another way to share ideas w/other Lego enthusiasts

Until then,

Brick On!

All I wanted was a zombie…and they wouldn’t sell it to me.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Musings, People, Random with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2010 by zzyzxbryxx

The 1st Sixteen

I’m gonna be honest w/y’all. I don’t really know how to start off this post in regards to these collectible Minifigs or even Lego itself. Half of me wants to kick my own hiney while the other half wants to pat me on the back. Confused????? Don’t worry. I’ll explain in full detail, but this means that I’ll have to revisit aspects of a previous hobby of mine that I really don’t miss….and that hobby was (drumroll)…Hot Wheels.

Childhood toys. 

Hot Wheel from my youth

I was born in 1971. The first toys that I can ever recall were Hot Wheels that were bought by my Dad. When I was around 5 or so, I would go outside and play w/them in the dirt by making cool dirt tracks and scooping up dirt w/hands to resemble some type of driveway or a parking area for my cars, but…I was always fascinated w/the construction vehicles rather than the race cars, muscle cars and etc, so I can make the road paths in the dirt. I would go over my cousin’s house who was 5 years older than myself and his play area for his Hot Wheels had tree stumps and large rocks encrusted in his dirt area. If you’re catching my drift so far…it meant that he had a bada$$ play area for cars. He also had the better racing track sets, better Tyco Train sets….his stuff was just …..better.

Fast-forward a couple of years later, I happen to acquire my first Lego set back in ’77 and that opened a whole new door of toy play for me because that following year, Lego released a few small construction vehicle sets. wheel loaders, road cranes…anything to do w/road construction on the LEGOLAND genre….I got it. Playing w/Hot Wheels was something I lost interest in or it might be better to say that Lego’s were more interesting to play with than the Hot Wheels. The Lego construction vehicles led to other vehicles, then small buildings, then Police and Fire stations, road plates and the next thing ya know…I have a friggin’ Lego city in my bedroom.

Now I’d be lying if I said that my entire collection at this point was nothing but LEGOLAND: City sets. I was given some smaller space sets as gifts for either my birthday or easter and even though I was totally into the city stuff, the 1st space sets that I was gifted with were pretty cool. The first space set that I recall, was the Cosmic Cruiser (set #6890) and what I enjoyed the most about this set was the fact that it opened in the back to allow a smaller craft to fit into the bigger craft. Not to mention that it was made up of blue & white bricks instead of the dull and mundane grey bricks like alot of the sets from prior years.. My Lego universe was about to go cosmic at this point

City turned into space.

Around 1984, circumstances in life made it so that my Mom, Brother and I had to move into our Grandparents house in Pico Rivera, Ca. We no longer had a bedroom of our own so my brother and I slept on the fold-out bed while my Mom slept in another in the den next room over. My rather large Lego city at my old bedroom was approximately 6’x8′ and was a permanent set up. For obvious reasons, the City was no longer to be put back toghether. So I decided to take apart every single set and box’em up and stash’em away, remembering to save the building instructions for a later day.

Now my LEGOLAND:Space collection was relatively smaller than my City sets so I kept those intact and they were stored in some upper shelves in the den. I started to purchase the sets that I really liked from the previous year (’83) but the one set that I absolutely wanted more than any other set, was the Galaxy Commander (set #6980); which I received for Christmas in ’84 (Thanks Mom :D). Alot of personal Lego “firsts” in this set which include first set landing plates, first space set that contained over 400 pieces and the first set to include yellow space minifigs.

Around ’86, I was heavily into BMX and my intrerest in Lego was diminishing rather quickly, until ’87 when Lego introduced the Blacktron series. The first ever space sets that showed the darker side of the Space Genre and I had to have every single set that came out. A stark contrast in design via black, yellow , translucent red and translucent yellow pieces. Plus the fact that the minifigs came w/blacked out visors…another Lego first. But after that, I soon lost total interest in Legos.

Hot Wheels and the world of collectibles

In the risk of losing your interest (if I haven’t done so by now….nervous laugh), I’m just gonna mention how I was thrusted into the collectible aspect of toys, and yes….the vast majority was Hot Wheels.

In 2001, I started collecting Hot Wheels. I collected everything that was Hot Wheels that I could get my hands on via retail. Within a couple of months in my new-found hobby, I discovered a place that sold the latest Hot Wheels even before they hit the retail shelves. Because of this, the cars were not $.99 like you purchased at TRU, Target and etc. Depending on the style of the car, these cars were being sold anywhere from $2 to $5 a car. Yes….I did my share of buying some of these cars and these prices.

This place was called Frank & Son’s. They not only had vendors that sold Hot Wheels, but other collectible toys like Star Wars, Transformers, comics and sports cards/memorabilia. They were open Wednesday evenings and Saturday day times and you could see me there during those days lookin’ for Hot Wheels.

This is the place where you can find vintage Hot Wheels in the 3 digit price point…depending on the style, color and condition of the piece. This went for every toy across every genre.

Gotta have it now.

My “disease” of Hot Wheel collecting lasted from ’01 through ’09. But during the early years of that time, I learned that there were grown adults that made a living of lining up at the retail stores before they opened up and ran like a pack of wild boars to a freshly killed carcass, when it came to them and the toy aisles in search of Hot Wheels, Star Wars and whatever was collectible,but mostly Hot Wheels. These “hunters” would grab the seemingly rare toys (at the time) and buy them, only to turn it around and sell’em to the vendors at Frank & Son’s or worse yet…..their own ebay stores where they command their own price for any given toy.

Now in all fairness, I’ve done the “lining up at the store before opening” thing” and participated in “the running of the bulls” (that’s what it felt like to me anyway) but it was not to “find-flip’n profit”, it was to find the car for my own collection before these “hunters” did so I wouldn’t have to fork over the elevated prices set by them via ebay or the vendors at Frank & Sons. I did this about 3 times until I saw 2 grown men grabbing the same item and fighting over it. With this vision I thought… PATHETIC!!!!! After that, I was done w/the “lining up thing” entirely.

During my “disease”, I’ve amassed a rather large collection of cars. A fraction of it is made up of some rare pieces that I’ve acquired through Hot Wheels conventions, on rare occasions-the store shelves  and yes….on even more rare occasions….ebay.

Buh-bye Hot Wheels….buh-bye.

If you’re still with me reading this….THANK YOU, you’re a trooper; and the whole minifigure relevance is coming.

In May of 2009, I was at our local TRU w/my then 6-year old son. He had some money he acquired through his allowance and wanted to see what he could find. He had about $10. I we wandered through the Hot Wheels section just to see what they had but I was not compelled to buy any cars. I’ve felt this way since the beginning of January of that year. My son has been into the whole Star Wars thing because his Dad showed him all the movies ;).   He’s been givin’ the Lego Star Wars sets by me since he was around 4, just the smaller sets mind you. So he was no stranger to the world of Lego. Thanks to Grandma and uncle, he was given the slightly bigger sets, then it spilled over to Indiana Jones and then….Power Miners.

On that day we went over to the Lego section and he let out a rather big WHOOOOOAAAAAHHHH DAD! I was lookin’ elsewhere but his eyes were fixated on this small-medium sized box of what appeared to be a little black rocket ship being driven by an alien that was accompanied my a minifig on what looked like a hovering police scooter. Then I let out a WHOA myself. Then we glanced around and saw all the sets that ended up being called “Space Police”. I haven’t felt a tingle inside me about a Lego set since the Blacktron sets back in the mid-late 80’s. Even though I had a history of Legos and I liked…ok, loved Star Wars, I could not find myself to purchase the Star Wars Lego sets for myself. There were just too many of them and I didn’t even know where to begin.

As far as the Space Police, it was the alien minifiures with their specially molded heads that appealed to my boy. So we ended up purchasing the “Freeze Ray Frenzy” set. We got home and he built it w/a little assistance from me.

With the Hot Wheels, I was good at researching everything I could about’em….so it was no accident that I did the same thing w/Lego’s. The following week after picking up the first Space Police set, I “googled” Lego Space Police, clicked on the image link and my son and I were met w/a virage of images that were not enitrely official Lego space sets.

We came across some highly detailed images of some robots or mechs. We clicked on the smaller image to see the bigger image and were sent to a Flickr account by a certain “legolover”. I almost fell outta my chair. I hollered for my son”SEBASTIAN!”, and he came a-runnin. He too was ooooohh’s and ahhhhhhh’s just like I was. We must’ve looked at that flickr account for most of the evening.

He left my side and returned to me sometime later w/his version of a mech that was clearly inspired by what we saw on that Flickr account. When he showed me what he built, I made like an AC/DC tune and was THUNDERSTRUCK. From that point on, it was very clear what I had to do. Sell all of my Hot Wheels (w/the exception of a few rare pieces and some cars that I wanted to keep) and use that money to bankroll my new-found hobby. SO LONG HOT WHEELS, HELLOOOOO LEGO’S

Within a few weeks, I managed to sell off  the majority of my collection and purchase the entire first wave of  the Space Police collection. This was possible thanks to WalMart taking back  older Hot Wheels stock in its original package and giving me store credit. But they didn’t take everything.

Back to Frank & Son’s.

It’s been years since I stepped foot over at Frank & Son’s. But I gathered what was the last of all the cars and sets that I no longer wanted and headed back to there w/several tubs full of cars being hauled in a yellow dollie. As I finished w/my transaction, I returned to Frank & Son’s to just look around. What was once a place for me to spend my time and money was now like  a huge waste of time and money and could not believe I was in some type of association w/most of these people. While I was looking around at the different vendors for what I thought was the very last time, I glanced at some of the displays and was surprised to see Lego’s being sold there. But the majority of it was of course……Star Wars Lego. We are talking anywhere between the first sets in ’99 to the present. LEGO HAD INVADED FRANKS, not just in the way of vintage sets or current sets, but the Minifigs as well. Don’t know how long this has been going on but in all truth….Does it really matter?

Finally….the Minifigs. 

Minifigure packet

In my constant search for info relating to Space Police, I happened on some article in Brickipedia written earlier this year of some minifigures that were to be released by the TLG. These were to be collectible and not released in any sets of any genre of Lego. Didn’t think anything of it since I was primarily on Brickipedia for the last of the remaining sets of the 2nd wave for the Space Police. Did you miss some key words in this paragraph just now like I did when I read the article on the Minifigures????? The words “collectible” and “not released in any sets”. Catch that? Because I didn’t. and it sort of bit me in the behind.

I’m into Lego for the sheer fun of creating and expressing myself and for sharing in the fun w/my son. Hot Wheels didn’t to that. So the collectible aspect must’ve left me totally.That’s why the article didn’t jump right out at me until Sebastian said the following words…”Dad, can we get the Zombie minifigure?” No, he didn’t read the article like I did. He saw them on youtube in a review of some kind. Curses.

Zombie search.

This was just last Friday,I’m thinking no big deal and we head over to our closest Lego Store (Downtown Disney-Anaheim, Ca). A clerk asks me if I’m finding everything ok. I told him that I was looking for the 16 minifigures that were recently released. He replies w/mentioning that they have the minifigure sets that are on magnets. No….no….no, shaking my head in dis-belief.  “I’m looking for the robot, the clown or the zombie”. He was like “Oh those came and gone within days of their release”, as if he was gonna add……”What rock did you crawl out of, buddy?” He mentioned that the only place that I could find’em would be the likes of ebay (@#?$%#*$) or bricklink (hmmmm).

Sebastian wasn’t too thrilled about the news and I know he wasn’t gonna be excited that I planned on visiting the PAB section for the purpose of looking for bricks for the Lego MOC disclaimer I wrote about a few blogs back. When I’m at the PAB I’m either there for 1 minute or 1 hour. So I bought him a 32×32 blue baseplate for his builds….I know, I’m all heart. LOL.

So I hit bricklink.com since I know that’s where I can find them but at a higher price vs. finding them at the Lego store. (Sigh) Had to find a merchant that was in the U.S. and wanted no ridiculous minimum purchase amount. One dude wanted $4.99 (not bad) but he wasn’t gonna include the accessories that came w/them when you buy them in the bag. Then another dude had one for $5 and some change, but he NEVER had a single transaction under his belt since he was just starting to sell out of his own store….no thanks….a little risky, I don’t feel like wasting money today.  Then I came across another seller that had experience and the price was just under $6. But he mentioned that he may be delayed in sending the item due to him being involved w/some large volume orders. Aaarrrghhh! The next guy wanted  $7 plus change and everything else looked good until I got to thinking. After shipping and other material handling fees, this Zombie mofo is gonna end up costing me about $10 or a little over that. Nope. I was convinced that I could find it on the street for less, so away we go.

I told Sebastian that I have a couple of places that we can check for the minifigs. Remembering that Frank’s had Lego’s at some of their vendors, I knew of a couple of stores  that had Hot Wheels in consignment (vendors not on prem that sold items in a store and received $$$ when the items sold while the store received a small percentage for commission) and maybe….just maybe some of these places were following suit w/the minifigs as well.

Well, we did find minifigs but they were…..you guessed it….Star Wars,Lego Batman,Indiana Jones and Toy Story. The ones that are popular due to their respective movies or video games. Sebastian and I are discouraged at this point and he just wanted to go home. I don’t blame him one bit. But remembering what day it was, I told him that tomorrow is Saturday….and guess what’s open on Saturday…..

Frank & Son’s (….again).

Sebastian was very familiar w/Frank’s. He’s been going there w/me since he was an infant, when I was “diseased” with the whole Hot Wheels thing. It’s been several weeks since the last time I was there to unload the last batch of my car collection. The minifigs were a certified collectible based on what I saw on bricklink.com and ebay. So we should be in a good position to find’em there.

HA!!!!!! Was I wrong. We spent a couple of hours over there rubbing elbows w/geeks of every comic, toy and sport  genre, looking for these damn things…..that’s right, I’m cursing at this point. A bunch of the same ol’ Star Wars, Batman and even custom minifigs. Nothing on the 1st sixteen. Disgusted, we started to head out the way we came in when my eye just happen to catch a Lego Logo affixed to some display cabinet that was not in plain sight. It was like a sixth sense or something that drove my attention to that particular point where I saw the most decent display of minifigs at Franks. Not just minifigs but THOSE minifigs,the ones I’ve been chasing. HE HAD THEM ALL!,except for the zombie and a cheerleader. Then I noticed that he also had the Minifigures in their original packaging. I never saw them in person before. I felt like Charlie Bucket gettin’ my impoverished hands on a Wonka bar with a golden ticket. Now here’s something that I forgot when I blew through the Minifigure article way back when; the packages did not allow you to see which minifig was inside.

When the vendor saw us ogling over the minifigs, he asked if we were looking for something in particular. I told him the zombie minifig. He said that he didn’t have anymore. I asked him that if he did, how much was he selling them for. His reply….”I’ve been gettin’ $15 for them. My inner-voice immediately kicked in…..”WELL F%@K ME W/A CHAINSAW”. The first place I have a shot of finding one and he wants above than what I saw at bricklink.We left quietly and humbly.

Having patience, Saving money.

After leaving Frank’s and gettin’ all the bad words outta my thoughts, I reflected on all the peeps that were at Frank & Son’s. Lurkers, lookers, buyers, sellers, suckers, blood-suckers, dreamers, reamers,posers,hosers, the gotta-have-its and the have-nots. Frank’s was laden w/the uninformed, gullible and the impatient w/the pocket book at the ready. Those 3 things I mentioned are what drives the rediculously high prices of comics, Hot Wheels and Lego Minifigures. It’s like a fire because there’s always oxygen somewhere. But from now on, I’ll always bring  a handy lil’ fire extinguisher w/me and use it often so I don’t get burned.

Later that day, I go back to bricklink and jump on the page where I was just a couple of days back when I was viewing all the sellers that had the zombie minifigs in their shops. I’ve noticed a few new sellers that just came into some zombies and were selling them at their stores. Found a seller that was asking for $6.95 and a shipping fee of $2.50 and had a good rep for selling so I took the plunge and made the purchase.

The formally elusive zombie minifigure

I realize that all of this could’ve been avoided if I had my head outta my ass and payed close attention in what I was reading. I’m finding out that the 2nd sixteen are to be hittin’ the Lego Stores around September. Sebastian wants Dracula (I imagine to go w/his zombie) and you best believe this time around that I won’t be the one w/my cheese left out in the wind.

Lego PAB: Cramming’em in the cup.

Posted in Economics, Environment, Miscellaneous, Random with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2010 by zzyzxbryxx

Less vs. more

I need bryxx aplenty!

Sometime last week, I found myself needing to go to the Lego Store in Downtown Disney (my local store – 10 min. drive) to purchase a bulk of black bricks if they were available. I was hoping to find some 1×8’s or at the least, some 1×6’s….but all they had at the time was 1×4’s; and not very many at that either. So I decided to grab them all lest for not being able to complete my project that I featured a couple of blogs back, my Lego MOC disclaimer.
For those that are not familiar with the term PAB, it stands for Pick-A-Brick, where you are able to fill either a small cup (pictured) for $7.99 (before tax) or a larger cup-about twice the size for $14.99 (which is a better deal depending how you stack the pieces) and load it to the fullest w/all the bins varying in color, shape, style and etc.,that are at your fingertips.

I could maybe use some of these…and these…oh, and these too.

After looking over the few dozen bins that were at the Anaheim, Ca location, I really didn’t see anything that I needed for any Lego projects that I currently have going, but this is my 5th or 6th time visiting the PAB section and far be it from me to just grab the entire available amount  of the black 1×4’s and call it full, was not an option. I gazed again and my mind was looking into the future of what I could use the pieces for. Once I knew what to do with them….it was GAME TIME!; and the name of the game was…..TETRIS!

One full cup.

Y’all remember TETRIS, don’t ya????  To fill up a horizontal layer w/the bricks that the game arbitrarily throws at ya???? Well, that’s kinda what we got going on over here. Of course, I’m not trying to have a complete horizontal layer of bricks from side to side, I’m trying to fill every gap, nook and cranny with whatever bricks the Lego store surrenders. Making stacks of 7 or 8 for the bigger pieces and 20 of the smaller orange ones. Not to mention, affixing the translucent red plates on top of the black bricks, all for the sake of space. It took just a little over an hour until I was content with what I could have crammed the cup with.

Then end result.

The lucky bunch

As you can see, not a very diverse group of my Lego bounty, but they will be utilized on up and coming projects. I know for sure… I’ll be using the orange round plates for some type of font work soon; and it just so happens that the orange ones were indeed the majority of this particular cup. The black and white brick were utilized on the MOC disclaimer billboard. Ended up w/way too many extras of those black bryxx, but it’s always better to have too much, than not enough. I’ve learned that lesson very early on in the PAB aspect of Lego .

The BIG haul

And now….the group shot. Be sure to click on the thumbnail to get the count of each brick and then… the grand total of all the bryxx that I was able to cram in the smaller-sized cup.

As you saw, I was able to turn a pitiful amount of Lego (103 black bryxx) into a hefty surplus of extras (663 bryxx total). About 6 times the amount I gathered due to some time and patience which thankfully, I had both on that day.

Price Comparisons.

So let’s get down to the low-down:

  • In purchasing just the 103 black bryxx @ $7.99 (small cup), each piece would have costed me $0.077….or $.08
  • The cost of 663 bryxx in the same cup, we are looking at $0.012…..just a tad over 1¢ per piece.

And if you’re familiar w/Brinklink.com then you also know that you won’t find the bigger bryxx in new condition for 1¢/piece; and let’s not forget about adding in  the cost of shipping those 663 bryxx to my domicile  either. However, in all fairness to bricklink, I was limited to what only The Lego store had at the time, but…I did walk away w/more than enough bryxx to finish my MOC disclaimer and have a surplus of extras that I will use in upcoming projects. I feel I just got lucky that particular day at the Anaheim, Ca location because the majority of the time I check the PAB bins, there’s nothing that I want/need and I just end up going home empty-handed, but not that day.

Ready for transport.

The cups themselves.

For those that aren’t familiar w/the whole PAB thing and to further elaborate what is said on the stickers, whenever you purchase any of the 2 sizes of cups w/the bryxx enclosed (they won’t sell the cups separately due to store policy), they keep the contents in place by affixing a couple of stickers on the lid,allowing you a discount when you re-use the cups (w/the stickers) for both sizes on your next visit but remember to BRING THE LIDS or you’ll have to purchase a new cup w/lid and that voids the whole discount altogether  You receive a 25¢ discount (before tax) on the smaller cups and a 50¢ discount (before tax) on the larger ones. A great way of Lego doing their part in keeping green w/the environment.

Personally, I rather buy the cups to fill’em w/the bryxx than to save on the discount for re-using them, because:

  • they are great for storage for your Lego, or anything else you want to store
  • they are stackable
  • they will be a collectible item in the future, just like almost anything w/the Lego name in the aftermarket arena

Finding a Lego store nearest you.

For those that would like to visit the Lego store to check out the PAB section for the kids or yourselves:

  1. Log onto lego.com (or use the link on my blogroll to the right)
  2. Pan towards the bottom and click on the “Lego Stores” link (3rd link of the four columns of the left)
  3. Click on your country’s link or the country that you’re interested in, they are just underneath the “Lego Stores” in red towards the top of the page
  4. Then click on the location closest to you that features the general information of the store itself.

All stores change the bricks in the PAB bins often, so what you see now may not be there next time. Plus, there is NO way of telling what bricks are in the bins beforehand, it is a crapshoot of what you’ll find at any given store, that’s why I mentioned about my luck of finding the pieces that I needed on that day. Like I mentioned before, there have been a few times where I go w/the intention of picking up some bryxx and I go home empty-handed. It’s all completely random and it’s all up to each individual store of what they put out, so the best of luck to you when you decide to visit the PAB section.

This was fun for me in bringing you this blog in regards to the Lego PAB. I will most definitely be posting more of my “PAB hauls” in the future w/the inventory and the amounts of what I picked up. Until then….

Brick On!