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About davee123

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    Rant Summarizer
  • Birthday 10/31/76

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  1. Unreleased/Cancelled LEGO Sets

    Hmm, that's been sort of an established fact for as long as I can remember-- probably since the early 2000s when LEGO Direct started communicating with LEGO hobbyists. Maybe even earlier? At the time, the design process was speeding up to be more reactionary. Specific sources, though? I'm not sure. The best sources would probably be Jens Nygaard Knudsen or Bjarne Tveskov. I took a quick look through the few online interviews that I could find, but didn't see anything directly. However, there is a photo from 1985 of a preliminary Blacktron design, which was released in the US in late 1987 (September, I think?)-- which is evidence that it's at least a 2 year cycle. We also know from an interview with Bjarne that Blacktron specifically was accelerated due to pressure from Tyco's "aggressive" 1986 lineup. So if 2 years is considered fast, it lines up with the cited 3 year cycle. But pretty sure we've heard the 3-year development cycle for many years. In fact, I seem to recall that people were still citing that fact in the early 2000s, which LEGO corrected us on, because they had since trimmed down the cycle to be quicker. I'm not sure when the transition to faster cycles happened, though. LEGO was becoming internally digital throughout the 80s and 90s. I know in the late 1990s, they were transitioning to digital instructions (source: LEGO Life Magazine), and in "ye olde days" the most expensive part of the process was the instructions (source: LEGO concept designer). They had to be photographed step-by-step, and then hand-drafted into instructions. And their digital database of parts starts at 1997, which indicates that some sort of transition was happening then. And 1998 was when Poul Plougmann started as COO (source: Brick by Brick), and probably when he was revamping the design process (he supposedly switched out a lot of designers in exchange for new ones who were from the general toy industry, rather than people who had worked for LEGO). So... I'd guess the transition to a faster design cycle was probably in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Sure-- Samsonite was notorious for doing it. In fact, there was a recent auction going for a Samsonite product that was more-or-less random minifigs who were surplus stock! But back to LEGO, they did it for the color change, definitely. For a while, sets were shipped with not only just old colors, but a mix of old and new gray. The more interesting one that I've heard suggested was for the 6018 Battle Dragon, and possibly for other Black Knight/Black Falcon sets that were in the same vicinity, but we've never gotten confirmation. It would certainly make sense, though-- LEGO started transitioning from "Crusaders vs Black Falcons" to "Crusaders vs Black Knights vs Forestmen" in 1987/1988, and they appeared to be phasing out the use of the Black Falcon torsos and shields. The assumption is that LEGO was trying to make the Crusaders the "good guys" and the Black Knights the "bad guys", and the Black Falcons didn't really have a place in there-- they were just going through stock. But that one's speculation. As was Time Cruisers in 1996, re-using things like Aquazone elements (although I'm less inclined to believe that one, since it was so close in launch date to the original Aquazone). I'm not sure why it makes no sense-- the parts between 8055 and 8054 are pretty distinct. But that doesn't really matter anyway-- I'm just throwing out a speculative explanation. I think the bottom line remains: I can't imagine it was some sort of surprise or rapid transition for LEGO from the 4.5v motors to the 9v ones, or that it wasn't planned out long in advance. I don't think LEGO developed a brand new electric system (which by 1991 was used universally in LEGOLAND, Technic, and Trains) and decided after-the-fact to incorporate it elsewhere. I think they knew from day 1 that it was the goal to replace all the other electric systems with the new one. I guess I don't see why that would strike you as doubtful. DaveE
  2. Unreleased/Cancelled LEGO Sets

    I'm not sure that would have mattered all that much. The LEGO company back in the 80s and 90s was obsessed with quality. They would (for instance) go out of their way to use advanced printing techniques that other companies couldn't replicate, even though the kids didn't really care about the result. All to get a higher quality product! Also, we know the development chain took on average around 3 years back then. In fact, for some things (like new systems like 9v) it would take even longer, since it's not just new sets, it's totally new systems that have to comply with electronics standards in many countries. Much trickier to do. They almost assuredly knew that the 9v system was going to replace 12v and 4.5v by 1989, probably much earlier. Given how long it takes to develop a system like 9v, my guess is they probably started work on it in the early 80s, probably in the 1980-1984 ballpark. They probably sat down and thought about replacing ALL their motors with 9v motors-- the only question was how to roll it out. My guess would be that competition with Tyco forced their hand. The LEGO plan of attack back then was typically to come out with higher quality stuff in order to compete. And the place where the US market was most competitive was the LEGOLAND market (space/castle/town). LEGO probably set out to include their new-fangled electronics system in those sets first as a way of competing with Tyco early. Note that in 1986, when the 9v system launches, there's no wires, no motors, no wall-plugs, no "forwards/backwards" controllers for the battery boxes. Very basic stuff. The question is, then, what would've happened if Tyco hadn't pushed them? My guess would be that you'd see a faster transition to 9v. Tyco wasn't putting out train systems (to my knowledge), and trains weren't a big seller in the US. So it makes sense that it woudl get transitioned last. But if Tyco wasn't there, maybe 9v would've happened in the train system in 1989 rather than 1991? Who knows? But my guess is that rather than transition over the course of 6 years, it probably would've been a more condensed transition, but probably would've happened later. I guess I'm not really surprised by that either-- one of the other things that LEGO frequently seemed to do is flush out old inventory by putting old elements into sets. It wouldn't surprise me if they partially did that to clean out their inventory of 4.5v Technic motors and battery boxes. If LEGO was going to churn out the 9v system in 1990 for Technic (which they did), they DEFINITELY knew that they were going to do that in 1989. Probably much, much earlier, like 1987 or 1986, even. As above, I'd argue that it was likely in their plan all along to overhaul their electronics to all conform to a standard (which they did), as opposed to before where it was a mix of different connectors, battery boxes, and voltages. DaveE
  3. For the upcoming BrickFair New England event, we had been discussing the possibility of having a Duplo train layout for the younger kids, but we realized that unfortunately there's an auto-power-off feature on the trains that turns them off after a couple of minutes. Does anyone know how to disable the shutoff and keep the trains running longer? DaveE
  4. I would hope it would require being "official", only because creating new variants is incredibly easy (with VAST possibilities), and it'd be hard to prove that you did or didn't just create the un-official figures for the record. You likely wouldn't have documented all of your odd variants, even if you "had" them (and they might have been disassembled), so I'm not sure how anyone could trust that they weren't made just for the sake of breaking the record. A quick off-the-cuff calculation shows at least 72 sextillion possible combinations, not including many print variants, neckwear combinations, headgear accessories, or footwear. Granted, even if they had to be official, it'd be difficult to make sure each was an "official" figure or variant. You could likely invent variants and they'd never know. Even LEGO hobbyists might not notice if you said something like "Fireman keychain - LEGOLAND 1985" or "Baron Von Baron variant with red strap - Shell promo 2541". Chances are slim that people would make sure that the text matched a physical minifig and that the text matched up with an official figure. You'd need to have some reliable 3rd party submit some verification along with the documentation! DaveE
  5. 10,000 is pretty small potatoes if they're not unique. I've documented at least 6,500 in my collection, and I've probably got closer to 8,000-9,000. My wife's collection from when we merged is largely undocumented, and would boost mine up -- I'd guess another 2,000 or so minifigs from her-- we might even 10,000 if you count skeletons, R2-D2s, Belville, DUPLO, Scala, etc. And we could probably MAKE them all unique given all the possible combinations of heads, bodies, and so forth. It probably wouldn't even be all that hard to do. But I know we're nowhere close to whoever would hold the record. We have a big collection and all-- bigger than most AFOLs-- but it's that small percentage of AFOLs who are over-the-top who can still put our collection to shame by a LARGE margin numerically. I would guess that you've got army builders out there with 50,000 or even 100,000 minifigures-- just lots of repeats of the same ones. Some people LOVE collecting soldiers, and probably have gobs and gobs of Stormtroopers, Crown Knights, Redcoats, Orcs, etc. However, if you go with "official" minifigs that have been released by LEGO in sets (not counting things like business-card figs, etc), then 5,000 is pretty substantial. Heck, I think BrickLink only lists just shy of 8,900 minifigures, which means there probably haven't actually been 10,000 unique "official" figures yet! DaveE
  6. Yeah, that's exactly why I was saying that it might not be a good system to implement universally at BL, since it might drive unrealistic expectations. But regardless, it'd occasionally help me in choosing someone, which is why I started record keeping. I won't personally hold it against someone if they break their trend, but if someone's consistently slow, and someone else is consistently fast, statistics will point me in a certain direction. DaveE
  7. I counted minutes mostly because I was curious. I happened to have the data in my email, so I checked, and saved the info. I had the timestamps from when orders were placed, when they were invoiced, and when I paid via PayPal. I didn't always have an email regarding when orders were shipped, but I started grabbing that from BrickLink when possible, just so I'd have that data. In the end, this is exactly the type of metric that I wanted, I just don't have nearly enough data points. Personally, I'd love to see this data maintained for sellers and buyers for when I AM in a hurry. If I have a choice between 47 BrickLink stores, and I need to make sure that the parts arrive before the end of the week, it's difficult to send a message to ALL of them asking if they can make my deadline, and then sit around waiting for them to reply, only to THEN submit my order. Sometimes, I want to know not only who's reliable, but also who's got a good record for turnaround time. Ever since I started doing this, I've decided it's probably a good idea for me personally, just in case I want to use that data later to make such a determination. Also, it sets expectations, which is a good thing. For the one self-admitted "slow" seller, I had no idea if "slow" meant 1 week for an invoice, or 3 days for an invoice. Did it mean shipping would happen after 5 days or 15 days? When should I start worrying? Etc. I can't say whether or not it would be a good metric for BrickLink to enact on all sellers, or even voluntarily-- it might be regarded as too invasive-- plus, when you DO have a busy period, it may be misleading or discouraging. If you're 2 days slower than your average, will your buyer get angry due to certain expectations? Etc. But regardless, as a buyer, it's definitely something I'd like to use when evaluating potential sellers, even if it's flawed at a broader level. DaveE
  8. Normal? Probably not. But it happens sometimes. I actually took some stats recently. For the last 10 bricklink orders with 10 different sellers, here's what my stats were: Time to invoice (them), time to mark as paid (not including time for Paypal/bank to process), time to mark as shipped (includes time to process payment). All times approximate to the nearest 10 minutes: Seller 1: 270 min, 20 min, 1040 min Seller 2: 150 min, 10 min, 290 min Seller 3: 3360 min, 40 min, 9700 min (this seller explicitly stated in their splash page that they were slow) Seller 4: 30 min, 20 min, 1190 min Seller 5: 10 min, 10 min, 860 min Seller 6: 410 min, 180 min, 240 min Seller 7: 1270 min, 10 min, 840 min Seller 8: 10 min, 930 min, 5570 min Seller 9: 40 min, 40 min, 6420 min Seller 10: 10 min, 590 min, 210 min Average: 9 hours, 16 minutes to invoice, 3 hours, 5 minutes to pay, 1 day, 19 hours, 56 minutes to mark as shipped. Most often, I think the ones who took longer to ship were waiting for payment to process through Paypal, which can take a few days. In your case, if it's been a few weeks since you marked as "paid", the payment's probably gone through, and it's something else going on. It could be that they shipped and forgot to mark it that way, or that they're busy, or that they found out they were missing something and are trying to correct the order before sending out. Or whatever. Check their splash page for any special considerations (sometimes people might take vacations or otherwise without notifying buyers, etc). If it's been more than a few days since your payment completed, and everything else is normal, send them a ping. Do that every couple of days until you get a response. The BrickLink website requires that it's been at least a week before doing anything drastic, but I'd probably wait a bit longer than a week just in case there's really a valid problem. (Once I actually tracked down a seller's phone number and called them, after they didn't reply to my messages!) Try and give the seller the benefit of the doubt! DaveE
  9. Strange bags...

    Well, there's no legal problem as far as I'm aware, but there's similarly no legal problem with me selling my Event Support brick per se. But it DOES put my LUG's status as an RLUG in jeopardy, and if enough clubs do it, may make the entire program incur more restrictions or less benefit. If you're allowed to give free brick to someone else who can then sell them, then I don't think there's anything to prevent me from "giving" my free brick to someone else with free brick (who then gives theirs to me), and then we can both re-sell. It's certainly more forgivable if one or both of us are charitable organizations, but it's still muddy water. Basically, I'd try and refrain from it as much as possible. If you're going to give away your LEGO to a charity, the idea should be to give it to a charity who will use the bricks themselves rather than sell them for their cause. Or at least, such would be my stance unless I hear differently from the LEGO Company. If this type of thing happens here-and-there, it's probably fine. But the more it surfaces, the more at risk these programs get. However, in THIS case, we still don't really know how the elements got to the donator. It could be that they work for LEGO, and weren't any obligation not to sell them, or that they received the bags without any such restrictions. We don't really know. DaveE
  10. Strange bags...

    Eh, I'd doubt it. If a game was in development, but then got cancelled, it never would have gotten as far as having elements molded for it. They'll only do runs on the parts once they know that it's going to be slated for production. Also, there are additional hints that the 1st bag was never intended for production, since it has a mix of both large and small elements (the small 1x2 cheese elements). Usually bags will have roughly similar sized elements, which I believe is due to their weighing methods. Bags with lots of small parts need more precise scales, and thus get weighed together in baggies, as opposed to larger elements that don't need such fine granularity. The pictured bag has some small parts and large parts, which is indicative of being a non-production bag. There's also a lot of repeated elements that seem... large. 1x8x2 arches, corner panel walls, and those orange 2x6 SNOT doodads. My guess is the two bags don't have anything to do with each other. The 1st bag seems to be roughly circa 2012 or so, given when the elements were in production. The 2x6 modified plates are 2012 or afterwards, and almost everything seems to have been in production in 2011 or 2012, except for the 4x4 round plate corners, which were in 2010. The 2nd bag has to be 2010, since that's when the set came out, which is probably about 2 years prior to the 1st bag. DaveE
  11. Strange bags...

    That second bag is from 3851 Atlantis Treasure. Inventory here: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemInv.asp?G=3851 DaveE
  12. Strange bags...

    I don't know formally, but this matches the style of a lot of the "bonus" bags that appear to be made from excess elements at LEGO. The contents are typically a bunch of repeated elements-- a bunch of blue 2x2 45 degree slopes (for instance), but no 1x2 or 2x4 45 degree slopes. Hundreds of left wings, but no matching right wings, etc. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we would see large boxes filled with similar breakdowns, which LEGO provided at events, or as rewards/incentives for various initiatives. They would occasionally give these out for free (or low cost) to events that were looking to incorporate LEGO in some way. My college (for instance) received about 6 cases of these back in the early 1990s, just because they asked. Early BrickFest events would get similar boxes of these through the Potomic Mills store for free-build brick. Internally, I've heard this kind of thing referred to as "play table brick". The guess is that this comes from the "end" of the packing cycles at LEGO. When a bunch of molded elements are extra, and won't fit in their bins, or if a bin is very close to running out (or even simply being retired), they dump them into big bins. They could throw them out (and it's likely that they used to do this quite a lot, given what I've heard), but instead, they just put them in big "random LEGO parts" boxes so that they can give them out. I believe that some of these elements are now making it into these small, sealed baggies like the one you have. I've received a bunch of these baggies, as well as large "extra brick" boxes (although it was never for me personally in those cases). Depending on how they were obtained, it's questionable that you were able to purchase the bag. For any such extra brick that I've received, it's come with very explicit instructions NOT to sell them. If these were given to an AFOL who sold them, they may have violated LEGO's conditions by selling it. However, as noted, you're in Denmark, where anything's possible. Sometimes, LEGO doesn't explicitly state such conditions, and it could be that the conditions were made clear, or have other reason to be ignored. DaveE
  13. How does water effect Lego bricks?

    Well, LEGO has occasionally offered snow-globes with LEGO figures inside. The figures were typical ABS plastic, with printing on them, and all the ones I've seen have been in pretty good condition, even after many years. I think the big thing is probably exposure to "living stuff". Snow-globes are kept sealed, with no way in or out-- so you're not likely to get algae or mold, assuming that you start with clean, distilled water. But if you've got a large container like a fish tank, it's probably got a very big opening where "stuff" can get in, and muck up the water. It's likely to grow mold, and gradually muck up the water over time (same with living fish, obviously). If you do that, you're more likely to get a layer of slimy stuff on your LEGO, which might make it look faded or dull. It may affect the clutch power of the bricks, too, if you ever wanted to reclaim them for future MOCs, although I'm not really sure on whether or not ABS would absorb and retain any water. It might, but it might not. Hard to say. DaveE
  14. The History...of LEGO

    A few minor nitpicks: * Ole actually worked with all his sons, not just Gotdfred. Godtfred was increasingly involved in the management of the company, and bought out his siblings around 1960, when he decided to stop making wooden toys (after the fire that destroyed the wooden toys division). Some of them has protested that making wooden toys was really the core of the company, and went into business for themselves under the name "Bilofix", with the money they got from Godtfred. * The Great Depression was actually what *caused* them to go into making toys. Sales of normal carpentry jobs were low, so they focused on smaller-ticket items like stepladders, stools, ironing boards, and... (in 1932) ... toys! * LEGO didn't really improve on the design of the Kiddicraft bricks until 1958-- for the first 9-or-so years, the Automatic Binding Bricks were essentially the exact same as Kiddicraft bricks. The only differences were that they were made metric, and the studs were made more flat on the top, but that's really about it. * Godtfred didn't really come up with the idea of a "system" of play for LEGO. The buyer he talked with was bemoaning the fact that nobody was really making "systems" of toys, and he (the buyer) was convinced that the idea would make toys be much more appealing. Godtfred was intrigued by the idea, and wondered if it could be applied to any of LEGO's lineup of toys, and realized that the building bricks were a great candidate. DaveE
  15. The earliest versions had stickers instead of printed torsos, so it didn't actually matter-- the torsos were just blank, so they didn't need the neck printing. As for whether there was some interim period where they didn't have marks, but WERE printed, that's a good question. I assume they've always had the neck-marks if they had printing (except for the newest stuff)-- but I could be wrong. I wouldn't be totally surprised if there was a manual process involved in the early torso printings, considering they did manual work for other things like filling the plastic flip-up trays (and supposedly adding on the heads?). DaveE