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About ShaydDeGrai

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  1. ShaydDeGrai

    Preventing LEGO sets from getting dusty

    Shy of a maintaining a vacuum in a sealed display case, I think keeping dust off of Lego is akin to battling entropy itself. For those without an engineering background, allow me to summarize the three laws of thermodynamics that govern the universe as we understand it: 1) You can't win. 2) You can't break even. 3) You can't stop playing. The universe WANTS there to be dust on your Lego, you can learn to live with it, or doom yourself to a never ending battle where what few victories you think you've scored are both short-lived and bought at the price of massive defeats elsewhere. Sorry
  2. ShaydDeGrai

    Can't LEGO keep up with demand?

    With all the problems in the world today, I realize this is pretty petty by comparison but I was just over at the US lego shop website hoping to pick enough stuff to get the december promotional set (for better or ill, with my buying habits 150USD usually isn't a hard bar to reach) but I cracked open my wish list (which Lego claims has 176 items, I didn't count 'em myself) and EVERY SINGLE ITEM was either sold out, out of stock or coming soon. Sure I could backorder a lot of that stuff, but honestly, it made me wish their website had a "Shop by -> Availability" option just to give me a quick, comprehensive view of what they _were_ still shipping. At least Amazon warns me: "only 3 left, order soon", etc. I haven't set foot in an actual Lego Store since the pandemic hit, but it makes me wonder if they have any inventory there or are the retail shelves as bare as their warehouses appear to be? I _did_ visit a local, independent toy store the other day and their Lego section was full, but variety was limited; it was mostly multiple copies of early 2020 sets and a few 2019 leftovers. Presumably, with the store closed for six months, everything's just been sitting there and no new stock has come in.
  3. ShaydDeGrai

    New VIP system

    So I get the usual (multiple copies for some reason) LegoShop adverts in my mailbox this morning and dutifully click the latest offers and promotions tag to find, well, not a lot really. No sets on sale (sure minifigs, pods, and Lego branded miscellaneous stuff, but no real "sets") No gift with purchase. Double VIP points on only a couple of sets (one of which I already have, the other I have no plans to acquire) and front and center, drum roll please... a chance to enter a sweepstakes to win a pair of sneakers that would never fit me. (On the flip side, if they did offer sneakers in my size as one of the prize categories, I'd have a good chance of winning, I don't think there are that many AFOL's running around with size 16 (US) feet ). This line-up of "incentives" doesn't strike me as a offer or a deal and it certainly doesn't make me feel like a "very important person" in the eyes of TLG. But, I accept that just because I don't care about the sneakers, I think, maybe there are some redemption rewards worth having. So, I click through to the rewards center where I find posters, key rings, tickets to parks and discovery centers (the closest of which to me is still closed due to COVID 19 restrictions), and placeholders where some older GWP options have sold out; basically more crap that means nothing to me. Then I notice up in the corner my current VIP point balance, more than enough for ten $100 vouchers, but at this point I'm sufficiently turned off by the whole experience that I don't even want to bother redeeming anything if it means jumping through hoops to buy direct from Lego. So I go over to Amazon, shop their sales and deals on LEGO and save over $100 over MSRP and rack up some cash-back rewards points on my credit card instead. I have to think that when a "buyer loyalty incentives" program drives customers to the competition and makes people less likely to want to do business with them in the future (even when some of those customers have hundreds of dollars in "free" Lego coming to them), their sales and marketing team is doing something wrong. I've been a Lego VIP member since the days when they stamped a physical card at the register to record purchases and, frankly, I felt like I was getting a lot more out of the system then than I am now. Of course, their sales are strong despite the fiasco that is the VIP system so maybe I'm in the minority (or maybe they just don't care).
  4. ShaydDeGrai

    Absolutely the BEST Elements

    So many parts to pick from, especially in recent years with a virtual explosion of SNOT enablers but two pieces that really stand out in my mind are the rounded 1x2 plate and the cheese wedge. In the early days of Cuusoo (back when they were actually asking for new part submissions) I pitched a part very similar to this - actually it pretty much _was_ this part, along with a brick and tile variation as a family of hinge and curve builders) I don't know if my pitch in any way contributed to this part eventually getting made (don't really care actually, I'm not going to fight with TLG over a practical and obvious snippet of IP) I'm just glad these things are finally available as 3D printing them was more trouble than they were worth, I'd much rather just buy them in bulk. My other pick is the humble cheese wedge. At first it's hardly worth a photo, and, to be honest when they first came out I didn't think much of them. Over time, however, I've found that I go through a lot of them (I've bought entire K-Boxes of them and still run low). It's just such a wonderful little part for adding details, smoothing surfaces and even attaching inverted plates to bricks for SNOT applications. It's sort of the anti-BURP when it comes to MOC-ing. Of course an honorable mention has to go to the wonderful family of SNOT 1x1 bricks (and their cousin the Erling "headlight" brick) I honestly don't know where most of my builds would be without them.
  5. ShaydDeGrai

    Should people buy Fake Chinese PF motors?

    I think it really varies with the application. If you're just looking for a simply power source/dumb switch/motor scheme to make something spin, you're probably fine. If you're looking at more of a mindstorms application (servos, shaft encoders, electronic switching, some form of smart-brick controller, etc.) you're best off going with the genuine article. Admittedly genuine Lego stuff is pricy, but what your paying for is precision resistance load balancing (to make sure you don't hurt any electronic circuitry the device ultimately attaches to), thermal profiling (to make sure that the device won't overheat and cause a fire even under most fringe conditions) and high precision molding, crafting and assembly. That said, I used to run a Lego based robo-lab (grades K-8) and we made a lot of our "starter" motors and battery packs ourselves using cheap, uncased motors, battery holders and switches from an educational supply house. We'd found that buying third party "lego compatible" motors wasn't really worth it as the cost saving wasn't that great but the quality tended to vary (even between batches from the same supplier). We figured if we were going to compromise quality to save money we should _really_ be saving money so we ditched the "lego compatible" stuff in favor of raw parts and manual labor. We could get about half a dozen basic motors (depending on motor specs) for the price of one genuine Lego motor (and the battery holders were dirt cheap compared to the genuine article). To make Lego compatible housings for them, we'd hollow out and decapitate Duplo bricks and glue regular plates on the top and bottom. We also had a CNC machine that could bore a perfectly centered hole down the middle of a 2L technic axle to deal with the shaft. These worked fine as a "separate but equal" source of power/motion for people who were just starting out (and would occasionally do things that could damage a motor). The direct drive was rarely an issue (and gave us an excuse to talk about speed vs. torque and gear ratios), we just moved the gear box outside the motor housing and let kids build their own. We never mixed this stuff with the "real" stuff, but it worked well enough for lab and teaching purposes. Not counting labor (which, thanks to the availability of grad students was basically free), these were cheap enough to consider disposable and drastically reduced the number of genuine Lego motors we were burning through each year. Once we had confidence that someone knew what they were doing, they'd graduate to getting to work with the genuine article, but our DIY stuff was fine for the masses.
  6. ShaydDeGrai

    The One That Got Away

    This set is near and dear to my heart - I can certainly understand why someone who missed it back in the day would want one. This was the set that brought me out of my dark age and I've kept it fully assembled for the past quarter century. While a pricey set when it was readily available, it probably wasn't pricey enough - which is why I would never expect to see a set quite like this again. It was a by-product of the era when TLG wasn't paying appropriate attention to their costs and nearly bankrupted the company with excessive new molds and parts that cost more to produce than they sold for. In the case of the space shuttle, this kit had micro-motors, fiber optics, rubber belt drives and a ton of great parts that made for an awesome set that probably had a very slim profit margin (if profitable at all). Today MISB this set is ridiculously priced, but for the reasons mentioned above, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a re-release. I think this one is right up there with the Monorail for kits TLG would like to see in their rear view mirror (despite how awesome it was). And speaking of the space monorail (6990 and related kits), that would certainly be one of my picks for the one that got away. It's heyday came right in the middle of my Dark Age and by the time I really because aware of its existence it was already a collector's item. I'd love to have such a key part of Lego history in my collection, but I'm not going to enter into bidding wars with monorail fanatics to do so. My other "Regret Set" would have to be the 8880 Super Car. Unlike the monorail set, this one was still on shelves when I was coming out of my dark age. I actually had one in my hand while standing in the Lego aisle at TRU at one point (but I didn't realize it was their last copy and the set had been discontinued at that point). I decided to wait, and when I went back specifically to buy, it was gone. Tried calling Lego Shop at home ( because in those days people actually ordered things over the phone...) and they said they were all out but it might still be on store shelves but the warehouse was bare. I've got a pretty robust collection of Technic Supercars at this point, and to compare something like the 8880 with this year's 42115 Lambo Sian is just two different worlds (I could probably just build the 8880 with spare parts I already have on hand at this point), but still, the 8880 is the one that got away and I'll always remember that.
  7. ShaydDeGrai

    Should lego do Star Trek or just Star Wars

    I've seen some really beautiful MOCs based on Star Trek over the years and with over half a century of material to draw from there's certainly no shortage of ships, settings, props or characters that could be realized as kits. As a theme, it has a global following that spans generations and would no doubt attract consumers across multiple countries, age groups and demographics. Even Star Trek fans who aren't AFOLs would queue up to get decent UCS models of iconic ships. That said, however, there's a difference between _should_ TLG make Star Trek sets and _could_ they (legally speaking). I don't know the details of the current licensing with Disney, but it is entirely possible that that the agreement that allows them to make Star Wars sets forbids them from making fantasy space sets based on other/non-Disney intellectual properties. Likewise, the license to make Star Trek construction toys may be exclusive and still held by some other company (Mega blocs, Hasbro, Mattel, whomever). It may even be the case that the studio contracts with the actors did not explicitly include clauses for use of their images for construction toys (action figures are usually negotiated separately) or continued use of their likenesses beyond the actor's lifetime, so getting permission to mass produce, say, a Mr. Spock minifigure might involve direct negotiations with Leonard Nimoy's estate. George Lucas was very forward thinking when he got his original cast to sign away so many merchandising rights regarding the use of their likenesses. For those who weren't around in 1977, the merchandising of the original Star Wars was really revolutionary. Certainly it wasn't the first to have lunch boxes, vehicles or action figures, but Star Wars too it to an all new level (lightsabre dog chew toys, Death Star soap on a rope, C-3PO bubble bath, Darth Vader votive candle holder - I kid you not, I actually owned one of those (it was a gift)) an entire aisle of Kenner action figures at TRU was only the beginning. The market (and legal paperwork) was so primed by the time Lego Star Wars came out I think the only question that needed to be settled was how many non-minifigure parts needed to be in a kit to ensure that the included minifigures qualified as a "construction toy" rather than an "action figure" (a license already held by another company). I don't know that Star Trek (particularly the earlier series in the franchise) has that same sort of foundation to build from and might have more legal and financial roadblocks to overcome. I'd love to get a line of UCS models of various Star Trek ships, but I don't expect to ever actually see one.
  8. ShaydDeGrai

    Are the mosaics worth the money? ?

    Well, speaking as a former kid of modest means (i.e. there were times when putting food on the table was an issue) who grew up with Lego envy, Lego has always been a luxury item, some people were just well enough off not to realize it. Personally, I've come a long way and I reward myself by making Lego my vice of choice, but I still recognize its expensive and some sets have more intrinsic "value" than others. As I think @MAB pointed out, that "value" really varies with the nature of the consumer. Is it the subject matter? The build experience? The number or variety of parts? The play or display factor after you're done? The minifigs? Different people want different things and how much they are _willing_ to pay to get what they want versus what "the system" requires then to pay really defines "value." If I'd be happy shelling out $400 for some awesome 18+ fantastic set and the MSRP is only $325, I'm already seeing it as a great value. But if I look at a set and think "295 pieces, including two minifigs , I'd pay $30 for that" then I see the actual price tag is 33% more, I go from thinking "lego is expensive" to "that particular set is a rip off" (this, BTW was my reaction to the Cloud City Duel kit, lovely kit, iconic scene, not worth $40 bucks for what comes in the box). I do (and always have) appreciate(d) that TLG tries to pad out its various themes with kits ranging from "free" GWP polybags to flagship models costing hundred of dollars. This allows families from across the disposable income spectrum to get _something_ even if its just a small Creator kit when, under better circumstances, someone would like it to be a UCS Star Destroyer. Spreading the line over a range of price points makes set ownership feasible and accessible, but it doesn't necessarily dictate "value" and I think, more so that any debate over price, that question of "value" and the very fact that that means different things to different people, is where many of these "is it worth it?" threads are coming from. The question isn't really "is this set overpriced?" (of course it is, it's just a box of ABS and poly carb, a similar box raw materials from Megabox would only be half the price ) it's more along the lines of "What aspects of this set should I consider in assessing its 'value' to me?" and "What is it about this set that you see as 'valuable' enough to justify this price (or not)?" You bought three Siths and made the big Vader, I think that's awesome. I bet it looks really cool. I'm thinking about building one of those for myself. But I think I'll just download instructions and build mine with parts on hand because a) I appreciate the design, but think the kit is overpriced, and b) I'm lucky enough already own most of what the kit is offering in terms of parts (or at least have acceptable substitutes on hand) so, for me personally, it diminishes the "Is it worth it?" factor for me that same way I can look at my three unopened copies of the Batwing from the Lego Batman Movie, see an decent sale on Amazon for that same kit that others would jump at, and tell myself that even as raw parts I don't need another one of those. Price, quality and value are all separate things and, in many cases, mean different things to different people, but I think we can also learn from one another as we share and debate what each means to ourselves and, in the end, make more informed purchasing decisions as a result of having our assessments both affirmed and challenged.
  9. ShaydDeGrai

    Are the mosaics worth the money? ?

    This does make me think it might be an interesting exercise to weigh some of my finished models and compare them to the original shipping weight to see if a pattern emerges. Or maybe weight the instruction books versus the piece count and see if the growth pattern in the size of the instruction book is linear or something more aggressive. There will always be confounding factors (Creator buckets with little to no instructions, UCS sets with huge tombs that are collectors items in their own right, 3-in-1 models that have extra instructions for the same set of parts, Architecture models that have 20 pages of background info in six different languages before you even get to the build, etc.) but now I'm curious if there are any "rules of thumb" that would help make the price per mass metric more insightful. Oh well, maybe one of these days I'll retire and have time to explore such things.
  10. ShaydDeGrai

    Are the mosaics worth the money? ?

    I like the general idea of a price per mass metric, but you need to be careful about which mass you're using for the calculation. Some of those kits come with one or more massive instruction books and, if you're just going by the shipping weight on the box, you're skewing your results by a kilogram or more of paper and packaging. Even in smaller sets, this can be an issue. Look at some of the Architecture kits, the box and the instruction book outweigh the finished model. I think mosaics are in this same boat. Those new Technic base bricks @TeriXeri and I mentioned will likely get a good price on the secondary market, but studs and technic pins aren't worth fishing out of the dustbin when the vacuum cleaner sucks them up.
  11. ShaydDeGrai

    Are the mosaics worth the money? ?

    The PPP metric is really deceptive with these kits as the sets are overwhelmingly loaded with 1x1's which often sell for less than a penny each on the secondary market. Granted there are some rarer colors, but even those can be had separately for less than 4 cents each on average. I actually priced out what it would take to bricklink the Iron Man mosaic (even if I didn't already have most of what it would take to make it on hand). I had to make a couple compromises as those new 16x16 technic base plates that @TeriXeri pointed out throw a bit of a spanner in the works. In my brick link alternative I tried three work-arounds. In one, I just used a 48x48 baseplate. In another I used two layers of plates to create the field. In the third I tried to mimic the official design as best I could by building an equivalent to the new part out of long Technic bricks, some regular bricks and some plates (which ended up 5/3 high but, hey, close enough for government work - trust me, I used to work for the government). Anyway, in all three cases I was able to cost out the project for about HALF of the MSRP for the official release (not accounting for shipping in minimum order restrictions), so even a 20% discount over at Amazon would be a bit of a rip off in my mind. I don't know how TLG did the calculus for these sets (Maybe they are trying recoup the cost of the new Technic base brick and anticipate low production runs? Maybe they think of these as "Art" for adults and are trying to price accordingly?) I like the finished products, but I can follow the design and build one from parts on hand for a fraction of what they are charging. They didn't even need the new base brick (my technic - plate sandwich replacement part works just fine), I just don't get it.
  12. ShaydDeGrai

    Minifig collecting rant

    I can appreciate this. While I think the lines at SDCC (and other, similar venues) are ridiculous - especially when there's no guarantee of reward at the end ("Sorry, the guy who cut into line just ahead of you to chat with his friend just got the last one...") - I _do_ recall from my own experience a handful of times when waiting in the right line at the right time was an experience in and of itself (and a positive one at that). I'm old enough to recall a time before Star Wars, Harry Potter, the MCU and Game of Thrones; a time when more people had heard of Lord of Flies than The Lord of the Rings; a time when every mall and shopping center had a bookstore and Sci-Fi and Fantasy were such an obscure genre a lot of those bookstore just lumped them in with general fiction (unlike romances, westerns and spy thrillers that got their own sections). Back in the day, I'd go to Star Trek and Comic Book conventions and wait in lines for autographs or a chance to take a picture (on actual film of course). The wait was usually short; a convention could headline people like Leonard Nimoy, Jack Kirby, Ray Bradbury and Doug Trumbull and still all fit in a single function hall at the local Howard Johnson's hotel. My autograph album was something that I could be secretly proud of (mostly because there was no one to share it with who'd appreciate it the way I did; "Who's Jon Pertwee and why is he dressed so funny?" "You got signed picture of a marionette?" "Why is this Harryhausen guy posing with toys?" etc), but that wasn't the whole story. Waiting in those lines was a bonding experience. Science Fiction, Fantasy and Comics were definitely _not_ the the pop culture phenomenon they've become today, and without things like the web to bring like-minded people together, liking any of the above could be a very isolating experience. ( I recall one school bully blew up my Space 1999 lunch box with an M80 because that show was "weird" and "cool" kids have "Happy Days" lunch boxes; in a poll for my school annual in 1977-8, they asked what movie we saw that year would become a classic, I was torn between Star Wars and Close Encounters, the winning film by a wide margin: Saturday Night Fever - trust me, when you were actively mocked for liking Star Wars by literally everyone you know, it's a sign you're in a different era) Anyway, I met lots of people in those lines, sometimes we even stayed in touch afterwards. The nice thing about having a passion for something that's unpopular (not entirely unlike grown adults playing with construction toys and mini-dolls) is that, typically, when you meet someone who shares that passion, you're very accepting of that person (and they of you) despite whatever differences you may have on other fronts. Liking sci-fi in a pre-Star Wars era created a lot of fans who were tolerant (or perhaps oblivious) to differences of race, creed, gender, class, sexual preference, etc.; in a world where pop-culture made it feel like it was "us" versus "them", we weren't too picky about who made up the ranks of "us". It's kinda sad when I see fans today belittling each other as not "true fans" because one likes the "wrong" starship captain or one doesn't play the "right" video game. As the subculture became mainstream it brought with it all the biases and pettiness of society as a whole. In becoming the "in crowd" we fractured into an in-fighting, competitive, asocial mob. We use social media to carry our factions with us wherever we go and hide behind our smart phones to avoid interacting with the stranger standing right next to us, even though we must have something in common with them or we wouldn't be waiting in the same line. When I look at long lines to get some exclusive bling at ComicCon today, with people staring into their phones for hours and barely acknowledging the people around them except to get into fights when someone saves someone else a place in line and that person returns from the restroom, I wonder, is there any of the old bonding experience left? Is it really just about the mini-fig? Or perhaps not even that, is it just an ego trip playing on a sense of competition - to get something others want but don't have? Is it raw capitalism - feeding a desire to turn a quick buck on eBay by selling something you don't really care about in the first place? I don't get it; at this point, I just assume I wasn't meant to. Okay, I realize this is bordering on a "You kids! Stay off my Lawn!" rant and turned your "a bit off topic" aside from a minor tangent to a four lane by-pass - but I'm Older than Dirt, so lets just chalk that one up to senility. A bit closer to the topic at hand, I'm still not sure how I feel about mini-figs having posable arms and legs. My first minifigs were "slabbies" and when the they changed the design, I recall being rather upset (not unlike many folk here when Friends introduced the mini-doll), but that was a long time ago...
  13. ShaydDeGrai

    Minifig collecting rant

    Sad, but true. I guess maybe you have to get through a midlife crisis or two first before most people realize there are better things they could have been doing with their lives while they were standing around waiting for a few grams of ABS.
  14. ShaydDeGrai

    Sets that makes your highly emotional?

    For me, it started with one of my first sets: 603 Vintage car: A few years later I got my first "minifigures" in 485 Fire Truck: And this was the kit that brought my dark age to a close: 8480 Space Shuttle: I've enjoyed a lot of kits over the years, but these are the ones that really stand out as landmarks in my personal lego history.
  15. ShaydDeGrai

    Minifig collecting rant

    I'm kinda with @koalayummies (and, from the tone of the thread, a lot of you), I've got a big bin with a couple thousand minifigs in it that I've accumulated (but not really collected) over the years that I find occasionally useful in my MOC'ing but not something I go out of my way to acquire. My daughter loves them, but then, she's a pre-schooler and, to be honest, I'm kinda glad she prefers Lego to Barbie at this point. I don't begrudge anyone (I'm looking at you, Special Theme Forum CMF-obsessed folks) who loves and values these little guys. That's great, enjoy, but personally, I file such things away in the same bucket as roller coasters and pistachio ice cream. I recognize their existence and appreciate that some people can't get enough of them, but I'm none of those people. As for gimmicks like Mr Gold or SDCC exclusives, I really think that the way such promotions have been handled in the past tends to bring out the worst in a lot of people. So long as there is demand, there will be scalpers on eBay and other sites so that aspect of things is unlikely to change, but when I hear about people buying, raiding, resealing and returning (as supposedly unopened) sets to get rare figures, groping CMF packaging to get "the good stuff" and returning the rest, or brawls breaking out in line for a LEGO booth at a ComicCon convention (or worse yet a fan getting mugged for his SDCC bling on his way to his hotel), I have to think there's a better way to feed the beast without bringing out its feral side. I don't know what that way is, BTW, as these little guys just don't mean enough to me to care about what an "equitable" solution would look like. Though I do wonder, for example why they don't try something like having a QR code at the convention booth that people can scan (in person) and enter an on-line lottery to win one of X ComicCon exclusive give aways (to be mailed directly to your household after the fact) - no lines to impatiently stew in, no 501st person in line to be told that they just gave the last copy away, no bling (aside from the sample copy in the locked case) to lose/fight over/steal while at the convention itself. Just scan a code at your leisure, provide a unique mailing address and email and get an equal shot at randomly being selected for a prize. I see this sort of thing as trade conferences all the time for give aways like mini-drones, tablets and backpacks, I don't see why it wouldn't work for extremely rare Mini-figs. For that matter, something like a Mr Gold give-away could be managed through their point of sale and VIP system. If you're a VIP and you buy a CMF directly from LEGO (in shop or on line) between some set of dates you automatically get one entry per CMF into a contest to win some exclusive collectable. You want to increase your chances of winning, buy more units. There's nothing to grope, raid or return and only purchases that haven't been returned for some time X after the eligibility window closes count toward contest entries. If you win, TLG customer relations can send someone to your front door with a press crew and award you the prize in an overblown social media event and blog about it for all its worth. Of course this means that only CMFs bought from Lego count and only VIPs have a change to win (and in some states/counties you'd need to allow anyone to enter once without any purchase at all due to local laws on private "lotteries") but to my (largely disinterested) eye this seems like a fairer way to give away something "fun" while promoting a product and avoiding bad press from consumers acting poorly.