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About ShaydDeGrai

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  1. ShaydDeGrai

    Instructions: Paper vs. Digital

    These are all excellent points. The "out of the box" experience HAS to be COMPLETE. Just imagine the PR nightmare that would arise if kids are excitedly tearing open birthday/Christmas presents and the first thing they get told is that they can't actually play with it until the instructions get delivered in 3-10 business days. For that matter, e-instructions have a similar problem, "here's your toy, you can use my phone to get the instructions as soon as I'm done taking pictures of the party, but give it back if anyone calls or texts me..." Not quite the same as "here's that kit you wanted, go have fun!" On the other hand, the basic suggestion did make me wonder if there's a market for Print-on-Demand perfect-bound copies of B-Model and retired model instructions. Not everyone has access to color laser printers. Downloaded PDFs lose a lot when printed in black and white and printing something like a Modular Building or flagship Technic Model tome would run most inject printers dry. I wouldn't mind getting a nice hardcopy of certain instruction books for a modest fee. I doubt the market would be large enough to make volume printing worth while (too few paper book lovers, too many books to chose from) but a print on demand service for (otherwise unavailable) instruction books over 100 pages long might be interesting - but only as a supplement to the existing paper-in-box system.
  2. ShaydDeGrai

    Sorted by color finally finished!

    @GeorgeMendes Congratulations! I've been sorting for about 30 years now and I'm starting to think my "to be sorted" bin will outlive me. As for the age old question of how best to organize a collection, I think the only true answer is "whatever works for you." An awful lot depends on how you build, what you build and how many bricks you're talking about. Personally, I sort Technic stuff by shape and system parts by color (and usually shape as well if its a high volume color); that's because, when you're only taking about finding a 36 tooth gear, often you don't care what color it is as few will ever see it and, if you _do_ care, finding a tan piece in a bin with a few dozen gray ones is pretty easy. On the other hand, if I'm, say, working on a building and need 100 light gray 2x2 tiles I don't want to be picking them out of a bin of 5000+ tiles in 20 different colors. Much better to sort by both color and shape at those volumes. For rare colors, I find sorting by color alone is more than sufficient because if I only have, say a few hundred purple parts, its enough to "browse purple on hand" for accent parts as I'm unlikely to actually build anything that is predominately that color. But again, this is just me, this scheme works well with respect to the way _I_ build. Everyone's mileage varies.
  3. ShaydDeGrai

    Instructions: Paper vs. Digital

    My Lego hobby is my way of escaping from computers and screens (which I spend far too much time in front of to begin with) so give me a paper instruction book any day. As much as I love some of the designs, I can honestly say that I've never built a 'B' model simply because forcing me to look at a screen (even just to print off a PDF version of the instructions) rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky but I want as much separation between my building experience and my job (computers) as I can get. I don't do digital design, I don't like online instructions and, now, I'm actually holding off on buying sets that use the new Powered UP Control + App and Hidden Side kits because I absolutely do not want to Apps to be part of my Lego experience. As for the environmental impact, a printed book that's going to live for years on a shelf or in a filing cabinet actually has far less of a carbon footprint than you might think. Considering that the BTU content of a stack of instruction books doesn't produce enough energy to fully charge a single laptop or that, by weight, the environmental impact of recycling a smart phone battery vastly exceeds that of recycling clean paper, it's hard to say that having thousands of consumers spending several hours each draining, recharging and ultimately replacing batteries when they could have been reading a book by natural daylight and not burning any electricity at all is a slam dunk win for environmentalism. Ideally the books would be printed on recycled paper using soy (or other non-toxic, biodegradable) inks, but even if they are not, Lego instruction books are not like the Sunday Times that uses two pounds of paper per copy (most of which is to print ads) and most people look at all of five pages before tossing the rest in the trash. People can spend hours with an instruction book open in front of them, they read it cover to cover and when they are done, most of of the books get saved, sold or traded to others who will spend hours with them. I hope TLG never abandons paper instructions (and I wish they'd drop their fascination with Kit-App tie-ins)
  4. ShaydDeGrai

    Is LEGO getting to inaffordable for kids?

    Well, I think for some this is a perpetual condition. Every toy company has to face the reality that most of their customer base will outgrow them over time and that, to survive, they need to attract new kids to the brand on an ongoing basis. Historically, I feel TLG has done a pretty good job drawing in "the next wave" of Lego fans. While I haven't seen Primo/Lego Baby bricks around for about 15 years, Duplo is still going strong and acting a gateway to Lego Juniors/4+ and the full line of Lego System products we all know and love. There are decent, interesting and reasonably priced kits available to allow kids to "discover" Lego at any age range. Certainly we all ooh and aah over the flagship models of the line, but I bet most people's first experience with Lego starts with something far more modest. Now maybe I've brainwashed my daughter, but she really likes her Lego (and still plays with her Duplo) as one of her few evergreen toys (the others being her play kitchen and Thomas the Tank engine trains) while other toy wax and wane in popularity. At school, her classmates have access to Lincoln logs, Magna-tiles, KNex, simple wooden blocks, etc. but its the Lego they always go after and complain there isn't enough to go round. So, anecdotally, I'd say still appeals to young kids, creating the next wave of consumers. Where TLG has had much more mixed results is in chasing fads and trying to find gimmicks to keep kids from losing interest in Lego as they age. Sometimes they open an entirely new market and do really well there, like Lego Expert/Technic and Mindstorms. Sometimes, its a fiasco, like back in the 1990's when they went mold crazy to downplay the "construction" aspects of the toy in favor focusing on playing with "built" models after the fact, or Lego Galidor trying to break into the dedicated action figure market, or pushing Lego Universe to jump on the MMOG bandwagon. The latest "reinvention to retain interest" in my opinion is the new emphasis on making everything "app enabled." Gimmicks like the apps for Hidden Side and the new PoweredUp replacement for PowerFunctions undermine the timelessness of Lego. Will TLG still be updating those apps 10 years after the themes are discontinued/replaced or will it be like the Lego Studios line where you can't even get a modern driver for the camera and the software (if you can track down an old CD) strongly prefers to be running on a Windows 98 PC? My daughter plays with 50 year old Samsonite Lego that I played with as a kid and it integrates just fine with the modern stuff, but when Lego goes high tech with the software, the longevity goes right out the window. It might have _some_ short term appeal to keep kids interested _today_ but, for my money, its the one aspect of Lego that's guaranteed to depreciate over time. IMO they are the world's best construction toy and they should really focus on that rather than chasing side markets in areas where they know they've not done well, but what do I know, I'm just a consumer... And getting back to the OP, I think the "value added" of these tie-in apps just serve to make Lego less affordable than straight "bricks in a box." Families that are having trouble affording a $15 Lego set probably aren't running out to replace their smart phone(s) every two years so they may not be able to run the software in the first place, but the cost of developing and maintaining that software is folded into the product line whether you use the app or not. As for PoweredUp, just give me a damned battery box with an on switch.
  5. ShaydDeGrai

    Is LEGO getting to inaffordable for kids?

    I don't really think you can look at these things in isolation and make an absolute judgement about "Lego-then" v. "Lego-now" even with simple adjustments for inflation. I grew up Lego poor. Sets were rare and precious gifts and even then, they were almost always the lowest-end of the line or used thrift store finds. I think I was in my early teens before I got a MISB set that retailed for more than $20 US. I _did_ have lots of other toys and comic books and art supplies, in no small part because, by comparison, those things were cheaper than Lego and my folks could get me a lot more variety of things to play with for the price of a single lego kit. Now I would have _liked_ to have more Lego growing up, but even I recognized that for the price of one $10 lego kit I could get a half dozen comic books, a good sized pack of crayons, a couple action figures and a candy bar or two. Now I'm the dad looking to buy things for my child (or perhaps more often, trying to get my child out of the toy store without either buying a load of crap or risking a public meltdown) and, by comparison, I'm not seeing a lot of cheaper, quality alternatives to entry level sets. When I was a kid, comic books were twice as thick and proudly advertised "Still only 35 cents!" now they are on glossier paper and sell for 8-12 dollars per issue. Action figures that I used to get for $1.98 (I know, because I still have a couple in original packaging) are now $12 (and all look like they OD'ed on steroids). What used to be a $2 pack of crayons is now $14.50 if you get it on sale. A plastic model car kit (formerly $3-4) now sells for $20-25 (paint and glue extra). So when entry level lego kits effectively double their price over the same period of time, I actually think it still makes them a better buy than when I was growing up. Now I'm only talking about the low end kits here because, to be frank, my folks were never in a position to spend $100+ on a toy (Lego or otherwise) and even today, your average kid is not going to find a UCS Star Destroyer under the tree this Christmas. The high-end of the line are luxury items and we should just accept that and recognize that those kits aren't accessible to a lot of adults either. I'll also admit that I'm biased based on where I live. There is one MSRP for Lego across the US but the buying power of the US dollar (and household income) varies widely by region. Where _I_ live, it costs $10-15 dollars to buy a quick, unsatisfying (probably unhealthy) lunch. Head to some places in the mid-west and that same $15 will buy you a steak dinner and a cocktail. I have a coworker in Wyoming who recently bought a house for less than what I pay in a single year in real estate taxes on my place. So when _I_ look at a $30 kit, see the price and think "that's pretty cheap, just what I'd spend for parking if I drove to the office one day this week" whereas someone in Nebraska might look at the same $30 asking price and think "That's ridiculous! I could fill a bag of groceries for that!" It's all relative.
  6. ShaydDeGrai

    new VIP system

    The new VIP system works so well, I find myself increasingly focusing on sales at Amazon instead of dealing the Lego shop at all. And is it just me or has there been an increase of non-set Gift with Purchase offerings (Lego-logo bling instead of bricks) since the printed calendars went away and the new VIP system kicked in? While I could always find a use for multiple copies of a small set or or polybag, I don't need ten totes or a dozen picnic blankets or pencils or lunch boxes, between useless (for me anyway) bling and making it harder to use my VIP points for cash discounts, they are really driving away my business. Yes, I'm still buying Lego, but I have a lot less motivation to actually go to any of their physical stores now and I'm sitting around with a full shopping cart at S@H waiting for a GwP that makes buying from them worth while. Meanwhile I'm picking things up at 20% off at Amazon and saying forget the points. If the goal was to make buying direct from Lego more competitive vs online retailers, they missed the mark big time. I think they could learn a thing or two about how to run a VIP program from my favorite ice cream shop: I stop in, I buy something; I earn points that never expire; and, when I go to check out, if I've earned a reward they ask me if I want to redeem it (the reward is my choice of cash off my current purchase or a slightly larger credit (which never expires either) toward anything else they sell) Simple, clean and all I need to do is carry a bar code or tell them my email address. Come to think of it, it sounds a lot like the system Lego just retired. Sometimes I just really hate change...
  7. ShaydDeGrai

    [PRESS RELEASE] 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer

    At this price point, I kinda feel like I shouldn't have to 'fix' anything. Don't get me wrong, I have spent more than my fair share on pricy Lego sets in the past so the sticker price alone isn't really something I'm going to complain about, but the price per piece seems way off. I'll reserve judgement until we get an official weight on this thing to see if the price per weight is more in line with a licensed set with no lights or motors and just a few figures. I already have the first one from 17 years ago, that one had plenty of long technic beams and large plates and still stayed _under_ the 10 cents a part threshold (and the old one had over two dozen black magnet cylinders (about $2 each on Bricklink these days), so I'd like to see some real value added for 50% more parts and nearly 3x the price. From what I've seen so far this set is nice, maybe $500 (USD) nice, compared to its predecessor, but for me the jury is still out on "$700 nice"
  8. ShaydDeGrai

    [PRESS RELEASE] 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer

    I'm really curious to see how they hold this one together. The last one was loosely coupled with magnets (a part they don't even make anymore) and after about a decade on display it started sagging under its own weight in odd places. Of course today they've got a nice assortment of ball and socket connecters to deal with funky angles that didn't exist back then so that might be part of the solution. As I recall, the last one also was a bit tedious (lots of 10x sub assemblies and the like). I hope this one mixes things up a bit more. So I guess on the one hand, it's "been there done that" but part of me is really looking forward to this update.
  9. ShaydDeGrai

    Do kids today like Classic Space?

    On the original question, I'm afraid I can only offer a single data point. My four year old really likes my old classic space stuff, as well as Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! from the first Lego movie. She's also recently been quite taken with the new City-space kits. Interestingly, she has shown zero interest in the Star Wars stuff. She says a lot of those models look "mean" and doesn't like that the mini-figures are fleshies rather than yellow (which is interesting because she's been playing with Duplo since about 16 months and -those- figures have skin tones). She's transitioning to Creator and City sets of her own and constantly raids my collection pulling kits I'd forgotten I own off the shelf (like a 40 year old Classic Space ship), shoving more modern and detailed SW stuff out of the way to get at it. For the record, she hasn't seen Star Wars (or the Lego Movies for that matter) and I've done my best not to push her one way or the other, she just likes what she likes and classic space is fine with her but Star Wars is right out.
  10. ShaydDeGrai

    LEGO half year financial report

    Yeah, there's been a lot of propaganda about how "great" the US economy is doing (and for a small sliver of the population who control 50% of the wealth it is) but large chunks of the population aren't seeing it. They brag about low unemployment while glossing over the fact that some people are working three jobs just to pay the rent. They talk about how the _average_ household income has grown and hope that no one realizes that the _typical_ person has more than the _average_ number of legs for a human being. Meanwhile debt (personal, corporate and national) grows at a ridiculous rate. Oh well, how does that saying go - Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics... I just hope the current president doesn't realize that TLG has factories in Mexico and China - he'd probably slap a 200% tariff on all Lego products until Denmark agrees to sell him Greenland.
  11. ShaydDeGrai

    LEGO Masters Reality TV show in the US

    Oy. I've been to LA. Three days is exciting. Seven weeks is _long_ time. I suppose it wouldn't be bad if I were playing with LEGO everyday but still... It's not a bad place to visit, but I really can't say I've ever been sorry to leave at the end of any of my trips either (no offense to anyone from LA, I just find the shine wears off pretty quickly, just not my scene I guess).
  12. ShaydDeGrai

    Separating tall models

    Over the years I've become a fan of mortise and tenon joints (I used to do a lot of woodworking), but this assumes a fairly sturdy interior. Basically, I use regular lego brick to make a square shaft or cup (the mortise) to go on one part and technic bricks to build a snug fitting tenon. Having learned my lesson the hard way at various shows, I've learned not to trust the clutch power of regular brick for the tenon, but instead used technic beams (placed vertically in the interior of the tenon) and pins to hold the stack together. This technique also works to cantilever long, seemingly unsupported subassemblies. For example: My Titan of Braavos statue is made up of eight major elements that all slot together: the head; two pauldrons (or shoulder cops if you want to get technical); the sword arm; the shield arm; the torso; the legs and kilt assembly; and, the base. The two legs form an A frame with a tenon at the waist and a tenon on each foot. The foot tenons slip vertically into the pedestals on the baseplates. These are 'locked' down with a couple of long technic axles that go all the way through the pedestals and the tenons horizontally. The chest piece starts with a mortise at the waistline that sits atop the tenon atop the A frame (the break point is just above the studs out facing kilt and the internal joint extends about a third of the way up the torso). The upper part of the torso is a through mortise that goes from one shoulder to the other with additional holes in the top for the head's tenon and the two cops. The two arms each have long tenons that extend from shoulder to shoulder. The tenon for the shield arm pokes out of the armpit for the sword arm; the sword arm's tenon slots in on top of it and extends to the point of the shield arm's shoulder. Both tenons have holes in them that align with the head and cop hole mortises in the torso. The head has a tenon extending downward that locks everything together - though the top of the torso, through both arm tenons and back into the mass of the torso. Similarly, smaller tenons on the cops tighten things up where the ends of the collar bone would be. This creates an internal structure that comes apart easily, self aligns, relies on multiple technic pins and beams for strength rather than clutch power of studs. The technique works best with a straight vertical slotting, but I've also used mortise and tenons at odd angles I hope my explanation was clear enough for you to imagine what the internals look like. Unfortunately I'm at work at the moment and can't really make a diagram or post non-stock photos.
  13. ShaydDeGrai

    Unpopular Opinions about LEGO

    I'll bite, hold on while I get my grumpy old man hat... * Great sets don't rely stickers, prints or figures. If leaving off the stickers and ditching the mini-figures/mini-dolls diminishes the rest of the build, it wasn't that great a design in the first place. * Collectable minifigures and the whole blind grab-bag scheme does nothing for me. * The only use I've found for Brickheadz is as a source for SNOT bricks and bows * I really liked Exo-force * I never really cared for Bionicle - story, movies, comics or product line (but I'll give it credit for keeping the company afloat) * (With a few exceptions) Lego Star Wars stopped being fun about five movies and 20,000 kits ago, now it just seems repetitive and tedious.
  14. You probably don't have to pay 10 bucks (~9 Euros) plus tip (the equivalent of about 50 minutes work at minimum hourly wage) for a pint of Guinness either Still, Dublin's a pricy city to live in, you'd think it could sustain at least one store. Maybe it's just a function of population density, Metro-Boston has a population of about 4.7 Million, isn't that about the equivalent of all of Ireland? Getting back to the OP and sources of cheap brick: Does free Lego ever wash up on the shore there? Wasn't there a container ship in a storm incident somewhere near Britain a few years back?
  15. ShaydDeGrai

    MOC instructions being sold without permission

    There are assorted laws on the books in the US and recognized by international treaty to protect the creators of intellectual property (IP) from, what amounts to, theft. Which laws pertain and how strictly they get enforced depend on what the IP in question is. There are Patents which are the hardest to get but offer the most protection - but these are really for original, non-obvious, engineering inventions (as opposed to scientific discoveries or mathematical proofs - though the past couple decades has seen a lot of abuse of patent law by software and bio-tech companies...). There are Trademarks, which are really more for branding. And, there are copyrights which focus on more artistic endeavors. You can't copyright an idea, concept or fragment of a larger work, but you can copyright an expression of such an idea or concept provided that it is sufficiently different from prior art. Separate expressions of related art are also eligible for copyright, for example a composer can copyright a song (or technically the sheet music for a song) and a musician can (with the composer's permission) make a recording of herself playing that song and the recording is also eligible for a copyright because, in the latter case, it is the artists specific interpretation and performance that is being protected, not the lyrics or sequence of notes described in the sheet music. Original works in the US have two layers of copyright protection. A de facto copyright and a registered copyright. By and of themselves, they don't really do much, but establishing a copyright _before_ a piece of intellectual property hits the public domain gives you standing to take (or at least threaten to take) legal action later. A de facto copyright is the easiest to establish (but also the weakest from a legal standpoint. All it takes is for the author of an eligible work to openly declare who owns the IP, when it was created, and what right they choose to cede to the public. Writers do this all the time when they start a manuscript with a simple by-line along the lines of: (c) 2019, ShaydDeGrai, All rights reserved. Photographers will often do likewise photoshopping this in the corner or adding it to the metaData of the photo (if the format allows) Once the work has been clearly labeled with such a brand it is, technically, copyrighted. Some authors, for extra protection will mail a copy to themselves and when it comes back leave it unopened in the envelop so the postage mark acts as a government certification of WHEN the work was complete - but recent case law has brought into question if this is really necessary. A de facto copyright always precedes a registered one (and protects draft copies, etc.). When the author deems the work to be complete/finalized, s/he has the option of filling out some paperwork (readily downloadable on-line) and sending a copy to the US Copyright Office an a processing fee (last time I checked it was $55 USD) and they enter you into a database and send you a certificate of ownership for your IP. With copyright in hand, you now have standing to take (or at least threaten) legal action against people (and abettors - hosting web sites, eBay, etc) who violate the terms of use (which you pretty much define since it's your IP) An actual lawsuit would probably cost you more than its worth, but the threat of legal action (with proper proof of legal standing) would likely be enough to get in-house counsels at places like eBay, WordPress and GoDaddy to advise their people to crack down on specific abusers and possible get some users banned (not that they won't be back under some other name in a month) - its a copyright writ, not a magic wand. So for future documents, you might want to consider adding de facto copyright statements to your instructions (depending on how you generate the instructions this can be easy or hard. Acrobat makes it easy for PDFs. Photoshop (or tools like GIMP) can also watermark individual photos and diagrams to make it harder for people to strip off such markings. I don't know if tools like LDD or have provisions to inject copyright info (but I would have included that feature if I'd designed them, so who knows). If you think it's worth it to you, you can formally register your document for the price of a midrange Lego kit - again this step is not technically necessary, but strengthens your legal position in the long run. Once you've done that, you are entitled to sell or give away copies to whomever you like but any recipients can not, legally, duplicate and redistribute your work without your permission. They _can_ pass on or loan their copy to someone else (just like I can buy a physical book and, when I'm done with it, give it to someone else) but the original recipient has to forfeit his/her ownership (so I I mailed a PDF to a friend, I'm legally obliged to delete my copy once I know my friend got the attachment.) Of course enforcement is the big issue, but that's what lawyers are for and we never seem to run out of those. There is a thing called fair-use copyright (and this goes back to what I mentioned above about fragments of a larger work. Under fair-use any legal recipient of the IP _can_ copy _parts_ of your work for personal use (like photocopying part of a textbook for a study session, or quoting a passage in a term paper) so long as publicly acknowledge the source. You, as the copyright owner don't own every word and picture that you used in your document, you own the specific expression of the ideas that those words and pictures ad up to and that ownership needs to be expressly acknowledged as soon as an excerpt is large enough to be uniquely identified as part of _your_ work. So, let's say you used a really clever building technique in steps 34-37, someone could legally share just those steps while giving you credit (but they couldn't sell that information without giving you a cut). Now the bad news, once something hits the public domain, it's very difficult to take back (legally speaking). If your original instructions didn't identify you as the author (copyright notice, watermark in photos, etc.) or didn't require someone to acknowledge your rights prior to download, then you're on much weaker legal grounds. Hosting companies and places like eBay are far less likely to take sides if they catch even the slightest whiff that they are going to get mired down in "he said/she said" style with no hard, irrefutable (or in a digital world, un-fake-able) proof on either side. I know people who insist that they independently invented the plate-based sphere technique (often called a Lowell Sphere, or a Bram's Sphere after the guy who posted a program to generate instructions for them ) years before Bruce Lowell posed one on his website. Maybe they did, maybe it _should_ be called an Eaton Sphere or a Smyth Sphere but that boat sailed twenty years ago, history is unlikely to correct itself now (at least nobody's charging for copies of instructions they downloaded from the (free) sphere generator site).