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    In a LEGO castle far, far away...
  1. My recommendation based on my experience of visiting LEGOLAND Billund last year is not to go during school holidays, after school breaks up for the day or at weekends. All schools follow the same holiday schedule and school times set out by Monbusho, so it should be pretty straightforward to avoid the hordes of kids and their parents. The truancy rate is low in Japan, so you won't get many kids there who are playing hooky. And based on the crazy queues in Shinjuku for the first Krispy Kreme store in Japan, I would delay going to LEGOLAND Japan for its first few weeks.
  2. Although Asian markets may be growing faster than others, that's starting from a relatively small base. The largest markets are North America and Europe. They're considerably bigger than the others. It would be a strategic error to focus on growth to the detriment of established markets. LEGO already knows that. You can see it in the CMF line where there are references to western culture that have little meaning in most of Asia, and no examples in the line of the reverse. You can also see it in the choice of some of the licences LEGO has pursued. Lord of the Rings/the Hobbit, for example, isn't nearly as popular in Asia as it is in the west. Given that there are few universal cultural references especially historical ones, LEGO would be better off having a line that speaks fairly strongly to major markets rather than one that is equally but weakly culturally resonant worldwide. Ninjago is actually a good example of what I was saying. Sure it's a mash-up but from the start LEGO went to considerable effort (and no doubt expense) to build its cultural capital among kids through a popular game system (Spinjitsu) and cartoon. The problem with China was that the game play and the cartoon weren't that popular. A company trying to build its own cultural capital is playing a game of high risk. The reward may be worth it but only if the company gets it right. Generally, LEGO seems to get it wrong more often than it gets it right, so should probably stick to safer options. The 2013 Castle theme suffered from its thematic similarity to the LotR line: there was overlap in the time when they were on store shelves. Certainly, there were slight (and probably intentional) differences in the age ranges appealed to (LotR to older kids, Castle to younger kids), but they both featured knights on horses, castles and fantasy monsters, so were tapping the same area of interest. I suspect that there were execs at LEGO at the time who were (rightly) concerned that Castle's sales would eat into the tail end of the LotR sales, and because LEGO had already paid a lot for the LotR licence, Castle was deliberately starved of marketing oxygen by LEGO.
  3. It's not a bad thing that LEGO explores new themes, but they need to go about it in a smarter way. The ranges that do best tend to be the ones that kids, not AFOLs, can identify with culturally or that have cultural capital for kids. So popular licences for kids such as SW and DC/Marvel superheroes, girl-focused ranges such as Friends and Elves, and perennial themes such as ninjas, knights and spaceships have done well historically. The themes that don't do well tend to be ones where either the cultural identifiers are confusing for kids e.g mash-ups of space + insects or space + police, or where they have low cultural capital such as focusing on the baddies e.g. Alien Conquest, and not-so-popular licences, e.g. Scooby-Doo and Lone Ranger. There will, of course, be exceptions. But as a generality, it seems to be true. If I worked for LEGO - I don't - I would suggest a Greek mythology theme. LEGO has many of the necessary moulds already thanks to CMFs so can avoid expensive tooling and it's a theme that most kids in the west cover at school so would resonate with them. I wouldn't bother with a space theme: that's already covered by SW.
  4. Very true, see MOC below. Some of the NK bad guy minifigures are actually quite appealing to a fantasy buff like me. But if I had to choose between another theme that was only useful for one faction or a more traditional fantasy theme like Fantasy Era, I'd go with the latter every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
  5. Fishing line and the nylon clear non-stretch beading string that I mentioned before is the same thing except that the beading version comes in some of the same thicknesses as fishing line plus some thinner ones. As Vindicare has indicated, its tensile strength does not diminish over time. If the string is going to snap, it will do so the moment it takes the strain. If you think the line might not be strong enough, hover your hands just under the MOC to take its weight just in case. In the unlikely event that the string isn't strong enough, either try thicker string or distribute the MOC's weight with more strings attached to additional fixing points. I have had good results using two sets of U-shaped strings, the top of each U being fixed to the ceiling/rafter. A more likely failure is at the fixing points. Again, easing the mock into its cradle and having hands beneath it just in case should ensure there is no problem, but it's worth checking periodically that the fixing points are holding strong.
  6. If you have any MOCs of flying things (planes, dragons etc) that are structurally sound, you can suspend them from the ceiling using nylon clear non-stretch beading thread.
  7. I'm selling: 76053 Lego Batman Gotham City Cycle Chase - SOLD 70901 The Lego Batman Movie: Mr. Freeze Ice Attack - SOLD 30522 Batman in the Phantom Zone All are brand new in their factory sealed boxes/polybag. All are from a smoke-free, pet-free, mould-free, odour-free home. You can buy them separately or combined. Free UK P&P. 76053 and 70901 are £16 each (including UK P&P). 30522 is £5 (including UK P&P). And some parted out Nexo Knights vehicles and minifigures. They've never been touched. Interested in any of the above? Please PM me.
  8. That's pretty much what I did but using a LotR elf hair/ears piece. I had to recolour the ears yellow. I'm a yellowist, so exactly the reverse bothers me. Recolouring fleshy ears yellow works pretty well, but fleshy triangles at the neck are difficult to turn yellow; they always seem to retain a hint of flesh. I'm not even going to try to recolour decolletage. I'd like to do it for a Wonder Wonder minifigure but sadly I'm pretty sure it wouldn't look minifigure yellow.
  9. I got between 1 and 2.5 depending on the scoring criteria: 1 for guessing the chef 0.5? for guessing an evil elf rather than an elf maiden 1? for guessing a highwayman which is what the mystery minifigure seems to be
  10. Very nicely done! I especially like the way you did the eyebrows and moustache. As an aside, I MOCed a minifigure of the character V using a custom printed head, i.e. a real LEGO head piece but with custom printing.
  11. While I did find a couple of the minifigures and a few parts from TLBM CMFs interesting, I was disappointed that there weren't more variants of the major villains like Riddler and Penguin. If you can have umpteen Batmans in a CMF series, why not variations of the major baddies from the sets (in addition to the Joker)? I'm in broad agreement that two regular and one licensed/film tie-in CMF series per year is ideal, but I'm guessing that TLG has done the maths and found that the regulars aren't contributing as much to either the top or bottom lines or both as the irregulars. So we'll probably see fewer of the former and more of the latter. That's bad for my minifigure collection but good for my wallet.
  12. I apologise if I've misunderstood the tone of your post, but there's no "little bit" about it. There's virtually no doubt that the Battle Dwarf is based on Warhammer's dwarven slayers: please see this post for some compelling evidence.
  13. Give the vet a syringe and replace her head with the retro spaceman's and you have a vivisectionist!
  14. Totally agree! As a fellow history/fantasy fan, those three are also my favourites. The highwayman could be of interest. I'm thinking that the retro spaceman armed with a suitable weapon (maybe a trident or cutlass) would make a fine fantasy character. The rocket boy is cute. His hand drawn Classic Space flag is a nice nod to earlier minifigures/the first space theme. @Yooha, Although there are similarities between the Battle Dwarf and the representation of Dain Ironfoot in the third Hobbit movie, the concept of a bare-chested, red-bearded, red-mohawked angry looking dwarf owes its origins to Games Workshop/Warhammer/Citadel Miniatures. They came up with the idea (though white-bearded and not bare-chested) as far back as the mid-1980s (and with the red beard and bare chest by 1990): Warhammer Dwarf Slayers from 1990. Here's one of their more recent depictions:
  15. Some markers are marketed as safe for CDs and DVDs and, as speciality products, priced higher. I suspect the scare stories of regular Sharpies which don't cost so much damaging CDs and DVDs come from marker companies putting out misinformation to protect their niches. Even if it were true that Sharpie ink damages CDs and DVDs (and I doubt it does), that would only tell you about the effect on transparent LEGO parts. Like CDs/DVDs, they're made of polycarbonate. But most opaque LEGO parts are made of ABS, a class of plastic with very different physical and chemical properties. Sharpies do have a wire that feeds the ink to the tip, so there is a theoretical risk of scratching a LEGO part when you draw on it, but you would feel the wire touching the part and know to stop. I have been recolouring LEGO elf ears with Sharpies for four years and haven't noticed any ill effects.