ShaydDeGrai

Eurobricks Knights
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About ShaydDeGrai

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    Moldy Expert

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    New England

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    USA
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  1. Lego Re-releases - What would you like to see?

    This is another case of those pesky magnets that would warrant a redesign rather than a reissue. The original is (mostly) held together with the old style train coupling magnets. I say mostly because I've noticed that over the years mine has started to sag under its own weight and the magnets have enough play to let large sections of the ship slip out of alignment with the whole. That said, I'd be happy to see a "modern" take on the classic Star Destroyer. The magnets aren't needed to achieve the shape these days, the same thing can be accomplished with clips, hinges and ball and socket joints and would result in a more structurally sound model in the end. I'd happily buy another UCS Star Destroyer under these terms even though I've got the original. Of course, then you'd need to reissue the 10221 Super Star Destroyer at the same scale so they'd look right sitting next to one another (and then I'd need to find somewhere else to park my car because the SSD would take up the whole garage, oh if only I were in a position to have such problems....)
  2. Your worst lego injuries?

    I have a scar on leg where I tripped, landed knee-first on a windshield part, snapped it in two and embedded a shard of polycarbonate into my leg. It wasn't anything I couldn't fix with a little superglue and suture tape (my leg that is, the windshield was toast) but it hurt like hell and when I was limping around the next day I felt pretty stupid admitting it was a Lego Injury. So far, this has been a once in a lifetime freak accident; Usually, I'm just sore from sitting too long and reaching for parts trays.
  3. I've only had time to skim things over, but my initial impression is that it looks nice and presents a lot of well organized tips to, well, being well organized. From a quick read I guess I fall into the category of owning an extremely large collection. [ I have no idea how many parts I own. I'm not very good at keeping up with my BrickSet inventory and between Pick-a-brick walls, Bricklink orders, random donations from parents whose kids (sadly) have lost interest in Lego, etc. sets are only a fraction of my collection in the first place. ] I like to build fairly sizable things from pretty small parts (my Barad-Dur used an entire K-Box of gray cheese wedges alone). My preferred organization method is sort by both part and color for most things and to use what you refer to as tackle boxes, though I opt for the Stack-On cases over the Plano due to the built in handle, curved bottom to the cup rows - and the fact that the last two dozen I got were effectively free ;-) I first started using the tackle box approach when I got the 8062 Technic Briefcase set 20+ years ago and it just seemed like storage solution for my most commonly used parts (at the time). It kept out dust and cat hair (the failure of open bins). It had a much higher packing density than a parts cabinet (and if it ever got knocked over while I'm not using them, it stayed sealed, unlike a friend's parts cabinets that had an unfortunate encounter with his dog and undid days' worth of sorting hours). They are a lot easier to get into than a plastic tub filled with ziplock baggies (though I still use this storage approach as well for bulk parts and small "family" groupings (e.g. "purple 4x plates"). I also make it a point to always have a decent size bin of unsorted parts on hand for tinkering. My collection is largely sorted first by color (with the exception of mini-figures, which just go in a bin, and Technic, which is segregated and sorted by part), and then by part - to a point. If I have fewer that a few dozen of a particular part in a particular color, say bright yellow cheese wedges, they might end up in a "misc yellow slope" baggy instead of getting their own cup. The downside to the tackle box system is that no one tray ever has all the parts needed to build something so I need lots of counter space to keep a dozen trays open (and pray that my cat doesn't knock an open box onto the floor while I'm working) One point you touched on in your book that I think people underestimate is the value of not being too organized. You mention it in the context of a small collection for young children, but I'm older than dirt and have a major collection and I deliberately keep a few thousand pieces just dumped in a tub. Granted these are mostly either sets that I've scraped or the spoils of Pick-a-Brick wall visits to my local Lego Store that are just waiting to be filed properly, but I never put _everything_ away. Sometimes you need to rummage around and build without a plan just to get the creative juices flowing. An unsorted pile of parts is great for that. I appreciate that in several of the discussions you call out "Best for" to highlight the strengths of a particular solution over the others, but it might be worth offering a deeper discussion regarding some of the drawbacks/trade-offs each storage option and organization method has (beyond just "hard to find a small part in a bin of like-colored bricks"). From my experience, it seems like the various methods _I've_ explored could be rated against several (admittedly subjective) axes, such as: speed of retrieval; space consumption; "rummage-ability"; time/effort to set-up; time/effort to maintain; extensibility (as size of collection grows); vulnerability (how easily can this system get undone by kids, pets, movers, drunken party guests, etc.); and, "MOC-ability" (the ability/level of effort to find a wide variety of parts in just the right colors for a given MOC); Parts cabinets and tackle boxes sorted by element are clear winners when it comes to speed of retrieval when you know what part you're after, but how do they compare when browsing or brainstorming what the "next" part should be? How easy is it to maintain one organizational method over another? When do I reach the point when it takes longer to take a MOC apart than it did to build it in the first place because I'm trying to be too organized and trying to put everything away where it "belongs"? Where is the sweet spot between being organized and being creative? Obviously I wouldn't expect you to have universal answers for those last few questions as, I'm pretty sure, the "right" answer varies widely from person to person. Still, I think bit more discussion of various trade-offs and their implications for the overall creative process/time management/fun factor, would help further the point that people need to develop a system that works for them.
  4. TOO OLD?

    Hi and welcome, i understand how frustrating it can be when it seems like your folks don't appreciate your passions or dismiss things that are important to you as childish or a waste of time and money. While it can be maddening to deal with in the moment, remember that at the end of the day they just want what's best for you. Every parent I know wants a better life for their child than they had for themselves. So even when you're feeling upset, angry or insulted, try to remember that what lead to that situation was born of love, not malice. I grew up "LEGO poor". Lego was a pricy toy that I loved, but we really couldn't afford to buy more than a few small kits a year. By the time I was your age, my folks were encouraging me to take as many odd jobs as I could and to save every penny I earned so I could afford to go to college. In their mind they were "encouraging" me to know the value of a dollar and to get a good education. In my mind this often came off as: stop buying LEGO and comic books; if you've got time for a hobby, you've got time for a paying job; etc. They wanted to set me up for a lifetime of success and it took some time for us (together) to find the right balance between being who I was and preparing me for who I was to become. We worked it out though, you will too. That said, Andy D is quite right, you're NEVER too old for LEGO (Yes, I'm older than dirt myself, I'm older that Star Trek and I remember watching the first moon landing siting on my dad's lap in 1969). Today, I have a Ph.D., a family of my own, a good job, a house, a sizable LEGO collection and I started this morning by playing with DUPLO blocks with my daughter. I hope she never "outgrows" LEGO. Moreover, and this is something you can share with your folks (in a polite way) to better inform them about LEGO being more than a toy. I used to be an engineering professor at a fairly elite (i.e. hard to get into and ridiculously expensive) university and I taught college-level classes that had LEGO lab components to them. I also know a professional architect who uses LEGO bricks to flesh out ideas on a regular basis. Former students of mine have told me about job interviews at places like General Dynamics, Boeing, and Industrial Light and Magic where part of the interview process included leaving them alone with a pile of LEGO bricks to see how inventive they are. A strong sense of spatial relations and a creative mind is a winning combination in many professions, and working with LEGO is a great way to tune those skills. Talk to your folks. Passion can be a good thing, but so is moderation and with a little mutual understanding, hopefully you can find a respectful, informed resolution. Again, parents usually just want the best for their kids - and we don't always know what that is, we just know we love them.
  5. Lego Re-releases - What would you like to see?

    I'm a bit of a collector and I've been at it a while now so this is an interesting question for me. A lot of the obvious choices: 3450 Statute of Liberty, 3724 Ollie the LEGO Dragon, 10181 Eiffel Tower, 10194 Emerald Night, 10210 Imperial Flagship, 10193 Medieval Market Village, 10223 Kingdoms Joust, 3739 Blacksmith's Shop, 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer, 10221 Super Star Destroyer, etc. I already own. In several cases (10193 MMV, 10194 EN, 3739 BS) I even have unopened spares (no intention to sell, I just really liked them and plan to build them again some day). So if I take all that off the list, it leaves me with: I'd love to see a reissue of the 8480 Technic Space Shuttle, one of the best Technic kits ever; feature rich, challenging to build, beautiful model, and - from a personal history standpoint - a key factor in my return from my dark ages. Those few kits that are out there are selling for roughly 4x original price. It's never going to happen though. This kit is from the days when TLG nearly bankrupted itself by not paying attention to its own costs and this set was clearly underpriced for what went into it (and, hence its popularity made it an even bigger money loser for TLG). This kit had micro-motors and fiber-optics and old style battery boxes and motors that haven't seen the light of day since PowerFunctions was introduced. I already have one, but I'd love to have another to build with my daughter when she's old enough. From a nostalgia standpoint, I've always wanted the 8880 Supercar. Sure the modern ones are nicer, but the 8880 is a classic. The one modular missing from my collection is the 10182 Cafe Corner, though like the new Millenium Falcon, I wouldn't object to a slight redesign to flesh out the interior. From the old Model Team line, I've always regretted not buying 5571 Giant Truck. I was in KB Toys; it was on clearance. I had it in my hand, but I hesitated. I changed my mind the next day, came back and it was gone. - sigh -
  6. In the interests of full disclosure I must admit I've got a closetful of decade+ old kits, but that's because I haven't gotten to them yet, not because I plan on scalping them. Probably my oldest kits in the pile are two copies of the 3739 Blacksmith Shop from 2002 at this point. I consider this a backlog, not an investment. In the past couple of years I've also been picking up various sets that I think would be fun to do with my daughter (but I'd be unlikely to buy just for myself). Right now, she's too young (but loves her Duplo) and I generally assume that the kits I'm choosing today will be discontinued by the time she's old enough to appreciate them. I concur with the majority here, the biggest losers in the re-issue game are the "investors"/scalpers and it's hard for me to have much sympathy for them (i'm looking at _you_ bricklink guy who wanted me to pay 400 euros for a "mint in box" 8880 Supercar - I could download the instructions and bricklink the parts for a dozen cars at that price). Reissuing certain kits can be a great way to give a new generation access to things they never had the chance to buy and Older-than-Dirt fans a chance to recapture that special set that came out during their dark age, or the year their first child was born, or the year they lost their job and had to cut back, etc. (sigh, if only I had an 8880 Supercar....) As for the Taj Mahal in particular, I think the biggest downside for me personally is that I already own (and have built) one. I suppose it saves me some money in my Lego budget, but I wish they'd come up with a NEW high end Creator Expert kit for those of us who got the Taj the first time 'round. I'd like a new modular, or a new landmark series kit on the scale of the Taj or the Sydney opera house, or even a new sculpture (The Thinker? Winged Victory? David?) to keep my Statue of Liberty company but with the reissue of the Taj this week, it seems unlikely they'll come out with something to compete with it any time soon. Oh well...
  7. Rebrick just ran an "ultimate trains" contest for October. Unfortunately, the contest is already closed for entries, but if anyone is interested in browsing train MOCs, they have about 280 entries (both physical and digital) to peruse. As with any Rebrick contest, quality varies widely, but sometimes it's just fun to see what other people are doing with the theme. The contest home page should be reachable here.
  8. Unsure about coming out of my dark age

    Just to echo Chriosphynx' advice: Don't feel disparaged just because you saw some awesome MOC on-line and think you'll never measure up to that. The truth is, nobody's assessments really matter but your own, and if you enjoy what you're doing you're already in great shape. It's wonderful to want to get better at something, but that's a process that happens over time. If you enjoy the process and keep at it, you _will_ get better; but that should be a side-effect of having fun, not an impediment to it. I remember being nervous before my first BrickFair, I hadn't even posted very many things online before that and here I was about to put things on public display, not just with my name on a card next to them, but with me actually sitting behind the table on display to the public as well. I kept telling myself that my landscaping was horrible, I'd seen fantastic work making water and foliage really "pop" and my best efforts were pathetic by comparison. My only hope was that I'd be able to set-up somewhere well removed from any expert Lego gardeners. Then I got to the show, saw more awesome MOCs, and then something unexpected happened. People started coming up to me asking about _my_ techniques, _my_ rock work, _my_ form language - and some of those people, I later learned, were the creators of some of the excellent landscaping i was trying not to sit next to. I'd gotten so obsessed with what I felt I was doing wrong that I didn't give myself credit for all the things other people were convinced I was doing right. In the end, I taught, I learned, I made a few friends and we're all making better MOCs based on what we shared with each other. So never get hung up on comparing your work to someone else's. If you see something you like, draw inspiration from it. Start small, figure out what makes you happy, and explore that direction until you start pushing the envelop into areas you'd never even considered before. As for selling "star wars" and "classic space" stuff, I'd say only do this if you really need the money or have truly decided that lego is not for you. Outside of mini-figures and a handful of excessively specialized pieces, parts is parts, these are only Star Wars and Space parts if you choose to use them that way. I'd look at them and think, "hey, lots of gray, black, white, blue, maybe some dark red..." That could be a shipyard, or a ship, or a cargo crane loading containers on a big shipping hauler. In a medium where people have been known to use mini-figure body parts as decorative moldings and lipstick and hot dog pieces as structural elements, don't dismiss the potential of any given part too quickly. Above all, don't be afraid to dabble, at the end of the day, it's just a hobby and hobbies are supposed to be fun.
  9. What precedes a dark ages?

    My "dark age" was, to be honest, brought on by a lack of money (and to a lesser extent time). Money was always tight growing up, but by the time I was in high school I became keenly aware of how much of it we didn't have and how much college was going to cost. I spent years saving every penny I could earn for college and then four more years working multiple jobs to try and stay ahead of my next tuition bill. That didn't leave a lot of time for building and there was zero space in the budget for new kits. While I missed the hobby initially (and occasionally dabbled with what parts I had) by the time I started college, I'd grown accustomed to _not_ having Lego be a significant part of my life. And it might have stayed that way if it weren't for a chance encounter a few years later with a Technic space shuttle while killing time wandering through ToysRUs (but that is another story) Lately, I've been trying to keep the lights on as I deal with a bit of a "dim age" (as those who may recognize my handle may have noticed, I've been rather quiet for a couple years now). Inside of one year, I lost 4 uncles, 1 aunt, both my parents, my only sister and a devoted cat I'd had for 13 years ( it was a rough time ) and was named as the executor of multiple estates. I'm still dealing with paperwork, lawyers and the IRS and let me tell you I'd rather be playing with LEGO, but life hasn't been very accommodating. On the bright side, my daughter was born in the midst of all that, and, while there aren't a lot of opportunities for _my_ "Lego fun time" I'm making darn sure she gets _her_ daily dose of Duplo.
  10. Inspiration

    Inspiration, for me, has never been the problem. The list of things I haven't built yet is far greater than my (by comparison) pathetic collection of MOCs. For me, the limiting factor is time. Now if something could just inspire me to get more done in less time at work and on the home front so I'd have more free time to devote to building, then I'd really be getting somewhere.
  11. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

    Hmmm... I worked for the Department of Defense for a decade - oh, you said "crazy" not "stupid" - my bad. I got a Ph.D. Oh wait, same problem... I built a "beer couch" (looked like a regular couch but had quarter kegs and taps built into it) and smuggled it into Spring Fling one year in college to watch "This is SpinalTap" in style, does that count?
  12. Procrastination Thread

    A big deadline for work just moved 30 days later, they really shouldn't have told me that; I came up for air and lost all momentum.
  13. Dorm Life

    Having worked in academia, I think most dorm rooms are tiny by design. I remember when they were building a new dorm and there was great debate over how many people it should house. At that time the campus average was about 65 square feet of living space per student (usually in the form of a 10x6.5 ft "closet single" or a 10x13' double. From that 65 square feet, you usually lost 9 to the swing of the door, 18 to the bed, 16 to the desk and chair, 8 to a wardrobe or closet, and 4 to a bookcase (the standard furnishings), leaving about 10 square feet open to move around in (half the time it felt like you had to go out into the hall just to get the elbow room to change your mind). Doubles often felt roomier because it was common practice to stack the beds into bunkbeds to reclaim a little space. The architects of the new dorm has allotted 100 square feet per person and when the plans were first shown to the administration, the admin people complained that the "doubles" seemed too small and there were too many "triples", because they assumed, from the size, that what the architect intended as the singles were "so big" they must be doubles, and a 10x20 foot room was surely intended to house three people, not just two. When the faculty were asked for their input, the overwhelming opinion was that if you made dorm rooms too big, it would just invite clutter, personal refrigerators, personal electronics, partying, guests crashing on floor-space, personal furniture (some of which would likely get abandoned at the end of the year and B&G would have to remove and dispose of) etc. They really pushed back hard on the idea that the space should be cramped enough that students are using the space for cloths, books, sleeping and little else. It's really hard to MOC under those conditions. You can usually get away with a mid-sized kit now and then (assuming you can ship it home when your done) and I knew people who did this, but once you got past a shoebox or two worth of parts space really became an issue for most people. Of course this was before the days when one Kindle might be replacing a dozen textbooks, so maybe you'd have room for three shoeboxes of parts these days. It's really amazing that ElysiumFountain was able to produce that MOC if his living conditions were anything like what we had.
  14. Can you ever have too much Lego?

    My solution to this has always been to say "I'm more than happy to share, let's build something together" She's never taken me up on that offer with LEGO, but since our daughter started getting into DUPLO, my wife has been more open to playing "big bricks" as a family. While not an AFOL herself, my wife appreciates my hobby (more so now that I've dragged her to a few festivals and galley showings). She's come to see it as more of an art medium when I'm working on a MOC (though it still counts as a "toy" if I'm buying a kit) and speaks openly to her friends and colleagues about my "extensive" collection and multiple awards (as opposed to cringing in embarrassment on my behalf as some former others of significance had done). If I get a new catalog or we happen to be near a LEGO Store, she'll be the first to suggest that I get myself something and "LEGO" is a line item household budget; she just draws the line at leaving my creations all over the house. I have designated work, display and storage areas and so long as I stay inside the lines we're both happy (give or take our recent exchange of: "$800 for another Millenium Falcon?!? Don't you already have three of those?" "Actually I have five, not counting duplicates, but this is an Ultimate Collector's Edition" "I thought that big one in the basement was the UCS version" "It _was_, now it's penultimate, the new one has alternate radar dish designs..." "Fine, whatever, don't forget to order more DUPLO train track for our little builder as well.") Back to the question at hand though, I don't think you can have too large a collection so long as you are using and enjoying it. If it's just taking up space with no monetary or emotional reward, it's expensive clutter; if it makes you happy, reassures you, helps you to relax after a bad day, etc., then more is better. I agree with others that the true limiting factors are really space, time and organization. I could certainly use a massive infusion of the first two; never enough space to store everything, not enough time to realize all the things I want to be building. As for organization, that's where, at least for my collection and creative process I need to find a balance. While it's nice to be reasonably organized (to the point where sometimes when I'm working on an out-of-the-box kit I'll get frustrated looking for a particular part and just grab one from my parts library because its faster than rummaging through half a dozen poly-bags) too much organization can get in the way of creativity. I want things organized when I know exactly what I'm building, but when I'm designing something new (or just randomly tinkering with vague ideas) having a random bin of parts just sitting out can be very inspiring. Too little organization is chaos, like that big "To Be Sorted" plastic tub in the corner with 10,000+ random parts from models that have lost battles to cats and gravity. Too rigid an organization scheme wastes time and squanders effort. Unlike part count, color variety, space and time, where more is always better, level of organization has a sweet spot; too little is bad, too much is equally bad and what works for one person may be completely the opposite of what someone else needs/desires.
  15. What is the story behind your profile picture?

    Mine (currently) is a shot of one half of my Argonath MOC from the Lord of the Rings. I made the sculpture many years ago when TLG first announced that they were going to do a LOTR theme. I'd been doing LOTR related MOCs since the days when I first read the books (and decades before Peter Jackson brought it to the screen) but the Pillars of the Kings statutes were really the first time I'd poured over 10,000 pieces into a single MOC. It was also one of the first pieces I ever displayed at BrickFair. ( It won me one of my first Brickees. ) More importantly though, going to a convention and displaying this work helped bring me into a larger AFOL community - I've been a Lego fan since the days of Samsonite produced kits, but it was always very much a solitary hobby. This piece was instrumental in my making a social connection with other fans and I use the image now to remind me of that.