Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Episode 420

Read the comic here.

Some folks have asked about the small front yard that travels with the Brick House. I thought the idea of a TARDIS with a front lawn as amusing...and I also didn't want to move the house off of the baseplate it was on. So I left it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pumping Iron: More Entries, BETTER PRIZES

The Entry Grid has been updated again - we're now at 35 models! (We'd be closer to 40, but you HAVE TO SEND ME AN EMAIL following the entry instructions to get on the grid. Don't just post a comment, it won't count.)

I also heard from Will at Brickarms today - amazingly, he's upped the coolness of the Brickarms prize packs!

First through fifth place, in addition to the Exo-Force prize, will now receive a

The special Brickarms Grand Prize is now a SILVER Ultimate Pack!

What are you waiting for? Go build something!

Episode 419

Read the comic here.

That model used up the last of my stash of 1x2 clear bricks.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pumping Iron: Grid Update and Rules Clarification

The Entry Grid has been updated with all models submitted so far. We're up to 30 models at the moment - and there's some really creative work in there!

I have received a few questions wanting clarification on the rules. My fault, as I wasn't very clear in my restrictions. Let me try and rephrase things:

As long as your creation looks like it's armor designed to be worn by a mini-figure (or whatever scale) you're good to go.

You don't have to build around an actual mini-figure unless you want to.

Or, to phrase it yet another way: If you were to pretend your final model was completely hollow, a person of the same scale should be able to fit inside. Like a suit of armor.

If in doubt, email me with a description of what you're looking at building and I'll give you a thumbs up or down.

In the meantime, I've posted a clarification to the rules page as well.

Remember, you have until 2:22am Eastern Time on May 3rd to get those entries in!

S-Team turns two!

Read the comic here.

I wanted to make a special post to congratulate fellow Webcomic Maestro Ian Healy on two years and over 500 episodes of fun! The Adventures of the S-Team has been a daily read for me for a long time now - I can't imagine starting my weekday mornings without it.

Way to go, Ian. I can't wait to see what the next two years hold in store.

Episode 418

Read the comic here.

Whiskey is remembering the question he asked all the way back in Episode 77. Originally I was going to make a joke about "never vacuuming", with a comeback from Donut about "the explosive decompression at the end of Chapter One not good enough?" but I couldn't get the timing to work right. Plus the link between "vacuum" and "explosive decompression" was weak at best.


I'm looking forward to the reveal tomorrow of where the Brick House ended up. Aren't you?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Buy-Me-Mizer: Parts Update!

There's been a parts upgrade at the Buy-Me Mizer, a great reason to take advantage of the Spring Sales event that ends on April 30th.

In addition to new items like the Teal TeddyBear and Basketball, I've also been able to return some classic favorites like the White Cat and the head I use on my own Sig-fig. Go take a look!

Episode 417

Read the comic here.

A good lesson for not waiting until the last minute to pass along vital information.

Originally I had the countdown as part of Donut's dialog. While putting the strip together, I realized it was much more interesting to keep the Brick House's AI involved in things.

Readers have asked if the AI is going to go all "2001 HAL" on the rest of the cast- today's strip may just give it reason to. (Oh, and if you're wondering how the AI "sounds" to me, it has the same voice as Eric Cartman from South Park.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Episode 416

Read the comic here.

More "I need to pay more attention while taking photos" sloppiness today. Or maybe the moving light on Scotch's SODA is a feature, not a bug. (Hey, if it works for Microsoft...)

I was tempted to pretend I didn't notice the glitch and not mention it, but you guys have a track record for spotting problems...

Meanwhile, Whiskey makes a surprise cameo over in S-Team. Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Episode 415

Read the comic here.

Whiskey's hair is way off-center in panel 3 - that's an error on my part, not a story element.

Can't blame Whiskey for being a bit blood-thirsty; the Brick Cola execs did lead him on a cross-country chase to find Scotch - not to mention all that nastiness with the Pirate Ninjas...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Episode 414

Read the comic here.

Blogger was really acting up yesterday - posts scheduled to go up at noon went up at nine in the evening. Not good. Things hopefully are back to normal, but we'll have to just wait and see. I'm looking into alternatives if things don't improve quickly.

As to today's strip: The flame in panel 3 isn't digitally enhanced - it was a lucky shot where to get Whiskey's face in focus I had to lose focus on the front edge of the flames...Looks pretty neat, if I do say so myself.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pumping Iron: Grid Updated

The Entry Grid has been updated with all models submitted so far. We're up to 17 models at the moment.

If you'd like the bragging rights of winning a prize in a Reasonably Clever building challenge, this looks like a good contest to enter - lots of prizes and not that many builders to compete against. (Although there are some really nice models in the running already...)

Why do so few of you share my love of Iron Man? *sigh*

Remember, entries must be in my mailbox before 2:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time) on May 3, 2008.

ETA: Sigh - Blogger not updating again. Note to self: Research MoveableType this weekend.

Episode 413

Read the comic here.

Just trying to determine the level of mayhem I can get away with, without violating any of the strips in the archive...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Serenity: Bracing

Another minor progress update. Last night I spent time figuring out how the side engines are going to mount to the larger model.

Of course, I'm going to try and follow the detailing of the movie as close as possible - but there's a big difference between a CGI model and a LEGO model that has to support its own weight...

First off, though, was building a stronger base for the plates that will make the "skin" of the engine. (Remember- it has a hollow interior to try and keep things as light as possible.)

Basically I just enhanced each 1x2 click-hinge pieces with a 2x3 plate and two 1x2 bricks - the skin will seal these blocks with plenty of strength for what they need to support.

The larger blocks with the half-stud offset also got a redesign not shown here. Rather than using the very hard to find 1x2 click-hinge plates with offset tabs, I found a way to mount things to the support beams with a common 1x2 click-hinge brick. This is key, as I still need to build a second ring at the bottom of each side engine to complete the bracing.

Speaking of bracing, here's the first part of the mounting bracket. The red bricks are a solid pillar of 2x6 bricks that connect the front and back braces. The grey 2x2 underneath is what will have to become the main support line - the "twist and turn" nature of the side engines means that when in "normal out the sides" mode, 90% of the weight is going to rest on those bricks. (The piston like brace seen in the movies is the real world analog)

I'd like to build some technic gearing to allow the brace here to rotate - allowing for real world posing. Not my strongest building area, but you have to learn sometime...

Episode 412

Read the comic here.

Scotch gets all the cool toys.

(Note: Blogger seems to be having FTP issues today. Posts may be erratic in their updates.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Serenity: Small update

Just one small picture today - the completed revised flap ring. Of course, I've run out of 1x4 gray tiles now - time for another part order or two.

It also looks like I'm going to have to find a way to reinforce the "skin". Now that I've got the plates very close to gapless, it's a real pain to fix when one pops off - and they seem to be popping off more and more frequently. I don't know if that'll mean adding a second ring of click-hinges further down or just enhancing the connection at the existing join.

Something to putter with tonight, I suppose.

Episode 411

Read the comic here.

For those of you tired of the Leia-wig, I offer you another new look for Whiskey.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Serenity: Eye for Detail

Another small update, but one that demonstrates why I have to be in the right frame of mind to work on this project.

I was reviewing my archive of source photos and thinking about those flaps at the front of the side engines and my recent attempt to duplicate them.

As you can see in these two photos, I'm not too far off...

However, there was some real room for improvement. I also wasn't overly happy with the seam/join line between the cowling and the ring of flaps. So...after another stint in the workshop...

The final of about six tries at various shapes and methods - the two flaps on the left are original, the two on the right are the upgrades. (I had no idea how much grey and blue-grey I had mixed until I adjusted the contrast on these photos. Yikes!) The shape of the flaps is much more accurate - and the new join-line helps fill in the gap between the cowling and the rest of the "skin".

The biggest challenge was finding a way to go from 2 to 3 studs in width without going more than two plates in thickness. Once I had that figured out, the rest of the design came together pretty quickly.

Next step is to replicate the new design for both copies of the engine - then get to work on that connecting bracket.

Episode 410

Read the comic here.

I like how Donut and Scotch are bonding.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Serenity: More side engine work

As requested, here's an update on the work on the Mini-fig scaled Serenity.

When last we left my workbench, I had just completed a draft of the side engine cowling. The scale was too large, however - putting things at Belville or even Mini-land scale. Too big for my target, anyway.

So...I spent several hours trying to find a way to reduce the number of fins in the cowling while still keeping a technic ring as a base for rigidity and stability. And trying to keep it as "gapless" as possible. This, as it turns out, is not an easy task.

The final result halved the number of fins, while still leaving a pretty clear "cone" effect.
(You can click on images for larger views if you want.)

Changing the scale of the nose meant redesigning the back end exhaust area - here's the new arrangement with "end cap"

Next, I decided to work on the area just aft of the front cowling. This area presented some new challenges - to create the gapless look I had to design a sequence of alternating 2 and 4-width plates attached to a ring of 2-stud click-hinges.

The advantage of that layout is that I was able to attach the click-hinge ring to the six support struts connecting the cowling to the exhaust. It's quite stable, although I'm worried about the overall weight of things, even with the hollow center. I didn't want to have to prop up the side engines with support struts, but I may not have a choice in the long run. (I suppose I could just make them stay in the down "maintenance angle", but where's the fun in that?)

Oh. There's one cool feature I built in already - as seen in the movie, the gray ring has working airfoils/vents.

The next step will be to build the mounting bracket that will eventually meet up with the side of Serenity. That needs to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the completed engine - hopefully. After that, I'll finish up with skinning the rest of the midsection.

I've been taking some pretty intricate construction shots; I'd share them here but this post is already huge. If you look in the background of the shots above you can see that I'm building two of these engines at once. The idea is that once the design is finalized, I'll have one to keep intact and one to dissect, document, and rebuild. We'll see how that works out.

The final shot for today shows the three-bears approach to building. In this shot you can see the Mama-Serenity Side engine (too small), the abandoned cowling from my first pass (too big) and the new engine as it sits at the moment (just right.)

Episode 409

Read the comic here.

Time Travel: The best excuse ever to re-use sets I've already built.

Monday, April 14, 2008

LEGO: Revised Mach-5

I spent a few hours over the weekend revising and enhancing the Mach-5 from set 8158.

I took it from this...

to this...

Click here to read about this "Work still in progress."

Episode 408

Read the comic here.

A bit of plot recap - Scotch is obviously a bit excited to be able to speak up for a change.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

LEGO: Scotch and S.O.D.A.

I wasn't sure if I should post this under "comics" or "LEGO", but since it's more about building I went with LEGO.

Anyway, I've gotten a couple of requests for instructions on how to build Scotch's new mech suit, pictured here:

There's really not enough there to justify actual instructions, but I have two "exploded" views that should answer all your questions:

The parts you'll need are:
18 Parts total.

Pumping Iron: Second Grid Update

I've just posted the next four models (#8-11) to the the Entry Grid. Like last time, I've started creating multiple pages for the entries - 10 per sheet - to help with load times.

Remember, entries must be in my mailbox before 2:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time) on May 3, 2008.

Episode 406

Read the comic here.

Can't blame Whiskey for getting tired of that joke, but he's such an easy target in that area.

I considered dialog along the lines of "Okay. Time to play 'Highlander'. If there's only one of us left, we don't have to argue over top billing." Or maybe something with Russian Roulette. But I really didn't want to have to slice and dice two cast members at this juncture...

...that's for later.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Misc: Online Puppet Generation

I keep meaning to mention this, so let me do it before it slips my mind again.

If you're looking for a fun puppet (particularly if you're in Australia), take a few minutes to play with Puppets In Melbourne's nifty on-line puppet generator.

You might notice a few similarities in the interface - I helped out a little on the application coding. The creations are all uniquely theirs, though!

And, no, this isn't a paid advertisement or anything. I honestly like these critters and wanted to point them out.

Pumping Iron: First Grid Update

I've just posted the Entry Grid for the models submitted so far. Remember, entries must be in my mailbox before 2:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time) on May 3, 2008.

Episode 405

Read the comic here.

We've been here before...sort of. I've been planning on giving Scotch a bigger (and by "bigger" I mean "speaking") role for a while now. The uber-tech of the new Brick House gave me a nice way to move in that direction.

It's a little disturbing how gleefully Whiskey talks about maiming his friend.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Episode 404

Read the comic here.

A bit more plot recap/clarification. I build on this later in the week, so it's not just wasted space.

And, well, any time I can have Donut go after Whiskey with a saw is a good time.