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Review: Lego-Muji Basic Set


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  1. Poor (7 votes [16.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.67%

  2. Below Average (3 votes [7.14%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.14%

  3. Average (12 votes [28.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 28.57%

  4. Above Average (15 votes [35.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 35.71%

  5. Outstanding (5 votes [11.90%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.90%

Is this a good expansion for TLG?

  1. Yes (25 votes [59.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 59.52%

  2. No (17 votes [40.48%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.48%

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#1 Speedy

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 04:35 PM

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Yes!  For once, I have first access to something!  Lego made a deal with Muji this year to produce four sets.  The pieces are Lego made in Denmark and Hungary, but the sets are very Muji influenced.  Muji is Japanese for "plain" or "no pattern".  They are famous in Japan as a 'no logo' company.  Personally, I use their stationary, I have a Muji sofa, and generally like their stuff.  They tend to only use white, black, beige and a touch of navy blue, so their overall style is like a low-key Ikea.  This week, the sets were released, and I picked one up to see how it is.  Shall we?  :vader:

Set#: N/A
Name: 紙とあそぶレゴブロック:きほんのセット <Lego for playing with paper: Basic set [more or less]>
Theme: Muji?
Year: 2009
Pieces: 200
Price: 2,900 yen, plus puncher, 1,200 yen, but Muji has 10% off this week if you have a cell phone ( :wacko:  that's Japan)

Muji-Lego homepage

First, let's look at the hole puncher.
The box

As it's Muji, it has a restrained box.  For Muji, this is pretty gaudy packaging.  It seems the two companies have found a balance.  The pics are sideways, but it's a long box, and you probably can't read it anyway  :tongue:  
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The contents
It's a simple but invaluable pack.  There is a puncher, a stencil, and a mini instruction.  While of course it's crap to have to buy something separate in order to use one set, I can understand that I'd be more pissed off if I had to pay for one of these things in every set.
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The puncher is essentially just a Legofied hole puncher, done in Muji white.
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You can see a line on the front and side which lines up with where the hole goes in.
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Even more efficiently is this clear plastic on the bottom.  It's easy to see the area you're about to punch out so you can be fairly exact.
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There are four sets.  One is Christmasy, which looks heavy on the paper, and light on the Lego.  Another is translucent themed, which is heavy on little pieces.  There is another basic set, which is a bit more colorful.  I almost bought it.  It is much more colorful, but the pieces looked a little clunkier.  The set I got is heavy on white, with a few other accent colors.

The box
Like the puncher, it's restrained for Lego, and gaudy for Muji.  Muji sells food sets, like curry or paella, and the package is pure white, with a photo of the dish less than 25% of the package.  So they were being flexible for TLG.  I quite like it though.  It's age six and up, but you can imagine an adult picking it up without being self-conscious about it.  Very tasteful, and wouldn't be a bad idea for a mature AFOL set, like the Medieval Village set last year.
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A full part list is shown on the side.  On the right is five pieces of paper with holes, and five with none.
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The back is 100% Muji-style.
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The warnings are cute though; 1. Be with an adult  2. Don't put it in your mouth   3. Don't ride on it    4. Don't put it near fire   5. Don't get it wet.  This is a world trend to show us the obvious  :wink:  
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The Set
The set consists of pieces, instructions, a part list, paper, and one piece that is printed.
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The printed sheet is a nice thick stock with clean printing, folded into six parts.
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This is the instruction book.  All of it.  The instructions are the little line drawings on the bottom of these photos.  That's it.  This is everything they tell you.  It is one sheet printed front and back on heavy stock, folded into six pages.
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The paper is high quality, fairly heavy stock, plus some of the paper is translucent.  I know this site isn't Europaper, but this is good quality, you'll have to trust me.  I went to art school, and learned something about overpriced paper, and this is nice stuff  :sweet:
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The Build
Here is the one I chose to do, the crab.  (I'll do more and post it, but just one for tonight)  I cut out the crab (note the misprint on one piece, the hole is missing) and thought it would be okay as is.  As it turns out, you need to cut close to the sides and can't leave any white.  For one, the legs can't swirl around the Lego piece if it's too big, and you can't cleanly punch out the two-deep holes unless you over cut the pieces in some places.  More on that later.
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According to the instructions, the four legs are put on a 2x2 brick, and the large brown placed on top.  According to the photo, it's actually six legs, and we don't exactly know where they go, since the instructions don't say and the photo is a little vague.
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Anyway, that boy is capped with another 2x2 brick (before I had to take it apart to add the other legs  :sadnew: )
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That brings us to
The Finished Product
This looks nice.  My (Japanese) wife thought it was very cute, so I think they got the market right.
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And for a little Lego-paper toy, it does float well off the table.
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It has a simple belly.
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So, this is one of, what, eight? It is paper and Lego after all, so you are expected to bring the infinite ideas.  You can see a little red on the top, since I was squeezing the paper into the puncher at that point.  There wasn't any leeway with that puncher, and if you simply cut the piece out as is, you can't punch out the inner holes.  Frustrating, and it makes the paper wrinkly trying to squeeze it in.
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<edit>
Here are some more builds.  This is definitely the most attractive of all the crafts here.  Again, I used the cut out sheets, not the plain sheets.  Maybe you're not even supposed to use these sheets?  It doesn't seem so, since they're one sided, but it's peculiar.  The pics in the instructions are of a different color, and using the plain paper.
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This is a fun little piece.
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Here I tried the cut out and making my own.  Here's the cut out bird.  The white is quite noticeable, which is why I tried a second one.
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This one I loosely traced and cut out, but just like in childhood, mine is much sloppier than original.  Still, it is much warmer in color, being actual colored paper, not a print. I definitely like it more this way.  
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If I try another, I'll mess around with the paper colors a lot more.  I can see this as being more involving when you don't simply mimic the established models.

The Final Verdict
As an AFOL, it didn't blow me out of the water, but it is a good idea, and a great way for Lego to expand in a new direction.  Rather than capturing the wrong market (ie, one could say Bionicle targets aggressive boys), it picks a market that might not be into Lego already (origami?  crafts? ) and makes them more open to the creative possibilities of the Lego system.  From the box covers, I think the other Basic Set does this a bit better, with a heavier Lego focus and less paper.  While it won't drive AFOL wild, it seems a really interesting move in the Japanese and, potentially, the world market, so it gives me respect for the company beyond what I already had.  This is the kind of thing we say Lego is, an intelligent, creative product.

Design: 8/10 There are a number of general models which are well enough designed, but the hole puncher is ingenious, and it's amazing that this is the first appearance of such a thing.  It could easily have been improved by making the well deeper.  As it is, you can only punch a hole a few centimeters deep into paper.  You won't be making any parasols anytime soon.  Still, I suspect this puncher will be much in demand in the next few years from the MOC community, and I'm tempted to buy a dozen just to sell them at three times their cost a few years from now.

Build: 5/10 I was dissatisfied with the over-simplicity of the instructions.  A little more attention to detail would have been appreciated.  It's clever, but nowhere neat ingenious.

Playability: 9/10 If I was a kid, I would have got massive play out of this set.  I loved clever crafts around the target age here (6+) and I imagine doing every one, one after the other, then building on them with my fractured imagination.  I may just have to put a set away for my girl for her sixth birthday.  

Price: 8/10 I was going to go lower, but you know the 10 cent/piece target (which no set ever hits anymore)... this is about 15 yen/piece, which is great for Japan, plus you have the paper.  This is a well priced set.  The puncher, I don't know.  But I wouldn't be surprised if a puncher cost 1,200 yen normally, and stencils are surprisingly expensive (again, I went to art school).  This isn't super cheap, but it seems super reasonable.    

Overall: 8/10 (for kids)  5/10 (for adults)  There's nothing fantastic about the pieces or parts, but the idea behind it is great, and would be on the top of the parent's choice list if it were available in the States.

This is an interesting set, one that may act as a gateway set to any who receives it.  I also can see salarymen in Japan picking it up since it's less embarrassing than regular old Lego.  Muji is a cool company; as I wrote, it's like Ikea, but it's also like the Gap, something most people are comfortable with.  This is a good thing for Lego, in keeping its brand not just strong, but growing.

Updates later as I check out the other designs included.

Edited by WhiteFang, 17 January 2011 - 03:56 AM.
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#2 Lordofdragonss

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 05:29 PM

Thaks for review! This little crab is realy cute
I hate fact that Lego makes this sets just for japan, they are awesome! But wait a minute... I have a hole puncher and paper, and even bricks! *goes to make own Muji!

Edited by Lordofdragonss, 29 November 2009 - 05:30 PM.

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#3 Speedy

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 05:53 PM

View PostLordofdragonss, on Nov 30 2009, 01:29 AM, said:

But wait a minute... I have a hole puncher...

You have a Lego brick hole-sized hole puncher?  Were they released previously?

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#4 prateek

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 06:22 PM

View Postdef, on Nov 29 2009, 11:53 AM, said:

You have a Lego brick hole-sized hole puncher?  Were they released previously?
I have a hole puncher that punches holes exactly the same size as a stud, but, unfortunately, I can't find it :cry_sad: Great review BTW. I'm kinda disappointed you have to cut out the paper by yourself and that the shapes aren't perforated :sceptic:

#5 ILikePi

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 06:37 PM

Thanks for the review def!

I personally like the concept of these paper and LEGO sets very much, but the instructions in these sets are too simple. I was hoping for ones just like LEGO sets...

I also agree with prateek, it would have been much better if the shapes and holes were already perforated for your convenience.  :hmpf_bad:
It would also be so much better if the paper was plastic instead.

EDIT: But I have to admit, these paper models do look very good! My favorites have to be the caterpillar and the turkey/chicken. They just look so cute! :laugh:

Edited by ILikePi, 29 November 2009 - 06:44 PM.

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#6 CP5670

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 01:28 AM

Nice review. This system is an interesting and very unique concept, but I think all the paper cutting and hole punching would make it tedious to build anything substantial with it.

I can see how it would appeal to kids though. I actually used to make various things out of paper and cardboard as a kid (a life-size computer and a micro machines scale parking garage come to mind), although I never really integrated them with my Lego.

Quote

The paper is high quality, fairly heavy stock, plus some of the paper is translucent. I know this site isn't Europaper, but this is good quality, you'll have to trust me. I went to art school, and learned something about overpriced paper, and this is nice stuff default_satisfied.gif

I can believe that. I got the same impression with the paper pad that came with the old 8094 set. It's thicker and glossier than your average printer paper. :thumbup:

#7 Topsy Cret

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 06:37 PM

Oh yes, this thing. I recall seeing this on their website a week ago. Neat little thing. It would prove very useful when the need to place paper between bricks arises. Nice review.

#8 tedbeard

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 07:07 PM

Can you comment more on the hole-punch? Some have been wondering if it would be useful for cutting cloth for minifig accessories like capes.
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#9 iminifig

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 06:46 PM

Any chance to get a scan of the hole template, so we can make our own?

This would be great for the kids for school diorama and the like.

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#10 Commodore Hornbricker

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 06:49 PM

Nice review but this just seems weird to me?
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#11 simonjedi

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 06:54 PM

Nice Review, it was very descriptive and tons of pics.

When i first saw it I wasn't really impressed, I thought it would be a standard hole punch with the LEGO logo on it. I'm pleasantly surprised to see its an arts and crafts sets, although i doubt i'll buy it.

Quote

The paper is high quality, fairly heavy stock, plus some of the paper is translucent. I know this site isn't Europaper, but this is good quality, you'll have to trust me.

I am a incredibility pathetic human being and i actually googled Europaper to see what if it exists.

Turns out it does.

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#12 Dadster

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 07:28 PM

That's some weird, wild stuff...  Thanks for sharing!!


#13 schioldann

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 09:07 PM

Does anyone know if it will be for sale in europe and when or does know the 'hidden' english site for muji.net?

And isn't there two hole punchers? One with one hole and one with 4?

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#14 Big Cam

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 09:14 PM

The review was spot on, every angle covered and tons of useful pics.


The set though, crap.  This is a waste for LEGO I think.  This is not the normal use for LEGO's and I highly doubt they are going to gain any new customers with this.  This may be my biased American point of view but still, I think this is a bad idea for LEGO.

#15 CommanderFox

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 10:45 PM

Nice review Def :thumbup:
They seem cool! I like the look of the hole puncher, I wish i could have one of em because then I could finally get the exact size punch for my Pauldrons. :wub:
The paper activity-things look okay, but I would just buy the puncher imo.
Great job with the Review!

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Edited by CommanderFox, 03 December 2009 - 10:53 PM.

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#16 lightningtiger

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 10:51 PM

What a great review for an unusual idea - but it's fanastic - especially those who are in it art !!!
School teachers would love to get hold these kits - it would bring a whole not angle to art and technology.
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#17 Svelte

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 11:25 PM

For those of us who love papercraft *and* Lego, I think this is an amazing concept and it looks beautifully done! :wub: I personally think it's fantastic to see Lego spreading out into other creative forms apart from sets which aren't just endless video games, plush stuffed toys or cooking accessories :laugh: At least this requires some creativity! The little models look so cute and I like the quiet minimalism of the whole package (although from what you say I bet there are a few Muji employees quietly rocking themselves to sleep at night for having betrayed the company's design principles :tongue:).

I want, I want, I want! You can bet 100% these won't be released anywhere but Japan :laugh:

If this hasn't been featured on boingboing.net you should try and get their attention - this is totally the kind of stuff they go crazy over.

#18 Speedy

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 12:01 AM

Here is some more pics of the puncher.

First, this is an actual size scan of the puncher template.
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It can be used for more than just capes!
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You can see the hole line up in the bottom.
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And lots of messy pieces are leftover.
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And you are ready to create banners, murals, flags that smoothly integrate into your Lego MOCs.
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#19 Ricecracker

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 12:22 AM

View Postdef, on Dec 3 2009, 07:01 PM, said:

Here is some more pics of the puncher.
...
And you are ready to create banners, murals, flags that smoothly integrate into your Lego MOCs.
I think that'd also be great for stickers.

#20 Svelte

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 12:25 AM

View PostRicecracker, on Dec 4 2009, 10:22 AM, said:

I think that'd also be great for stickers.

Plus, we can now have official LEGO confetti from the punched out holes :laugh: Great for wedding MOCs, etc.

#21 Grimmy

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 02:08 AM

Great review! When I heard about this I too thought it would be a regular cheap hole puncher but it's actually nice looking and has a way to stores the punched out paper and you can see through the clear part underneath to line up the hole. I really like the idea of this set. I could see it doing well in Japan. In the US, I think they would have to aim at the craft hobbies market. It could be big in that area. I don't think it would do well for young boys and I could see a lot of quick judgments like, "How lame it's just paper, who wants to play with paper, I got tons of paper, I want my figures with guns!" I think that Lego could do well to bring this product into stores like Michael's Art stores here in the US. I could see a lot of older ladies who love crafts, getting these. As well as parents with artsy children. My 6 year old niece has put some paper kits together and they were fun but when everything was done and glued that was it. With this, the fun can keep going because you can add on to your creation, take it apart latter. Your turkey and dragon can be taken apart and made into some wild monster RAWR!  :tongue:

I really like this idea because it inspires creativity with things other then Legos. Using paper materials, cutting things out, using other art tools like the puncher, is a good thing. It helps motivate problem solving techniques such as figuring out how put this and that together with mixed media.

How much does it cost in US dollars? In the US it would have to be a good buy with lots a good amount of paper. I'm sure they will also improve the product as they get more feedback such as perferating the shapes so they can be pushed out. Maybe they can have some sheets perforated then some extra sheets for making anything. That way they learn to use the kit then can cut ones out themselves.

How can I buy a set of kits if I wanted one for my niece?

Edited by Grimmy, 04 December 2009 - 02:18 AM.


#22 Speedy

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 03:21 AM

View PostGrimmy, on Dec 4 2009, 10:08 AM, said:

How much does it cost in US dollars? In the US it would have to be a good buy with lots a good amount of paper. I'm sure they will also improve the product as they get more feedback such as perferating the shapes so they can be pushed out. Maybe they can have some sheets perforated then some extra sheets for making anything. That way they learn to use the kit then can cut ones out themselves.

How can I buy a set of kits if I wanted one for my niece?

There is Muji in New York, but I doubt the license will leave Japan.  I can imagine it doing moderately well in Japan, but not worth the license in America, since Muji isn't national. (Here's their US website http://www.muji.us/store/ )

The US dollar is not doing so great at the moment.  The puncher is 1200 yen, so about $13.60, and the set I got (there are four total) is 2900 yen is $33.  I'd love to start a business exporting the punchers, but between the initial cost and shipping, there wouldn't be much profit in it at all.  I do some online auction stuff in Japan, and it's been a lot of work for little profit and my money tied up in unopened boxes.

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#23 Sinner

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 04:59 AM

What a cool idea! I'm not into this kind of stuff so I have approximately zero interest in the set, but it's still cool just the same. On the other hand, it coud be useful for backgrounds.... :tongue:

Japanese do such cool stuff!  :wub:





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#24 Princess Muttonchops

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 06:15 AM

Yay, my attraction to Japanese culture has just been increased ten-fold!  Awesome review Def, and wow, what a cool little set!  Of course, for someone as un-co as me, cutting out all those intricate little shapes would be traumatic to say the least (I used to break out into cold sweats cutting out those tiny teddy houses for the kids...brr...).  Still, that's just so insanely creative, I love it!  Eheehee (runs off to grab kitchen scissors and toy crab for modeling purposes).  :wub:

#25 Peppermint_M

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 09:16 AM

That hole puncher would be really useful for so many things. The "set" is certainly cute, I know my sister would adore it and I could find ever so many uses for paper punched to fit Lego studs.

Thanks for he review!

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