Wednesday, December 30, 2009

LEGO Stained Glass Octopus

Ever have one of those ideas you just *have* to get out?
I was inspired to build something like this on December 22nd - took a couple of days to design it, and put the final bricks in place this morning.

LEGO Octopus Stained Glass

Click on through for higher res and other angles.

Episode 848

Read the comic here.

I tend to forget how passionate Donut is about his cooking...and then he'll remind me with a bit of dialog. Or, in this case, his suddenly serious expression in the last panel.

And, yes, Santa has a chicken leg, not Chili. He had the chili earlier. :P

Friday, December 25, 2009

Episode 845

Read the comic here.

And now you know why I went out of my way to keep from naming some of this year's advent characters.

Obscured by the word balloons is Hef, who I envision as that creepy guy at parties who just hovers and listens in on what really should be private conversations.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Episode 844

Read the comic here.

Be sure to check back tomorrow; there's a special gift for many of you regular posters.

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 24

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 24

6299 - 2009 Pirate Advent Calendar - Day 24
Treasure Chest and Pirate Booty

After yesterday's dip into evil, I wasn't sure what to expect behind the final door of the 2009 Pirate Advent Calendar. Severed LEGO Monkey heads? The rest of the skeleton from Day 23? A still-warm LEGO heart?

No, instead they gave us the alleged root of ALL evil: Money.

A treasure chest filled with Pirate Booty - a nice selection of Transparent Gems and a lump of gold ore. It sure beats the lumps of coal Santa should have brought these naughty pirates!

But for a grand finale of the Advent Calendar...this is still pretty weak. They could at least have thrown in some gold LEGO coins.

So. Time to wrap up this year's Advent Madness.

How did LEGO do with this limited-release Pirate Themed calendar?

Well, I doubt anyone will complain that it wasn't Pirate-themed enough. From Brickbeard the Pirate Captain to the lovely Mermaid Lass, LEGO found enough swag to fill the calendar.

The problem was that some of the swag was pretty weak. Consider day 10's "Barrel of Crap" and day 20's "barrel and oar": hardly impressive hauls. Considering the difficulty of getting one of these calendars and their already-high price point, I found myself going "is that it?" more than once.

On the flip side, there were some impressive mini-figures to be had. The Pirate Lass, the Castaway, the Mermaid...all had to find figures with quality decoration and accessories. (Provided you're willing to count the mermaid's tail as an accessory, anyway.)

In my role as "grumpy old man who talks about LEGO", I tally this year's calendar up as follows:

Excellent Days: 7, 11, 14
Good Days: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 21
Okay Days: 3, 15, 17, 19, 23, 24
Weak Days: 8, 16, 18, 22
Crap Days: 10, 20

Giving the overall calendar an average of +7, a solid mark higher than just "okay". That puts this year's Pirate theme firmly in the WIN column.

Way to go LEGO! That's 2-for-2 on this year's calendars!

Will we see another Pirate adventure in 2010? Will we return to the Castle universe? Or will we take a dive and explore Atlantis next winter? Or maybe...just maybe...will we explore SPACE?

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to finding out!


Episode 843

Read the comic here.

There's one last bonus strip for the year - it'll be up later today.

Today's set marks the return of a very old one - the interior of the original Brick House! Just perfect for holiday entertaining.

Whiskey's sweater is actually the torso from the Shark Warrior from the new Atlantis sets. It's a pretty cool pattern.

CITY Advent 2009: Day 24

CITY Advent: Day 24

7687 - 2009 City Advent - Day 24
Chimney, Stockings and SANTA!


They did it. LEGO actually pulled off a CITY advent calendar that didn't suck. I'm stunned.

And happy.

Oh, sure, there was that weirdness with the cop sub-theme early on. And the Janitor was kind of iffy. But overall the full calendar worked together to create a nice little pile of holiday mini-sets.

What really sold me on the win this year was LEGO's decision to have Santa hiding behind the final door. We haven't seen Santa in a CITY advent since 2006 - and today's set is a nice upgrade to that year's offering.

Looking ahead, I haven't heard what LEGO has in mind for their 2010 Advent calendar(s). Will we see yet another CITY themed countdown?

Right now, I'm thinking that might not be so bad.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 23

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 23

6299 - 2009 Pirate Advent Calendar - Day 23
Sinister Altar

I know it's a Pirate themed calendar and all, This is a pretty evil looking mini-set.

I'm not sure why a disembodied skull is creepier than the full skeleton from yesterday. The setting certainly is a factor - and it leaves me wondering what the LEGO designer who put this mini-set together was thinking.

"I know! While all the kids are dreaming about the presents they're about to unwrap, let's remind them that there's a fun secret friend inside everyone! You just have to peel off the skin!"

Well...okay. He probably wasn't thinking that.

But now you are.

Happy Holidays.

Survey O' The Moment

Help settle an important question:

Poll: Fake particles that generate sleep are... (i.e. My dog is emitting and making me sleepy!)

Episode 842

Read the comic here.

CITY Advent 2009: Day 23

CITY Advent: Day 23

7687 - 2009 City Advent - Day 23
Christmas Tree

Day three of the Lumberjack theme - and the next to the last day of the CITY Advent calendar. We can pretty much expect something Christmas-y tomorrow - LEGO has yet to fumble an Advent calendar THAT badly - so today's mini-set is really the last of the possibly-screwy CITY themed items.

But...not this year. This year we get a satisfying end to the lumberjack theme with a very nice brickbuilt Christmas tree. The build isn't very complex, but the use of 1x1 rounds as ornaments works well. Plus, the trans-neon-green wand as the star is an inspired touch.

In America these days there's an ongoing debate if Christmas trees are "better" if they're natural or artificial. LEGO neatly bridges that gap by giving us a plastic tree that, in the LEGO world, is as natural as it gets.

Looking back, 2007's Advents both ended with Christmas trees. That we're seeing a tree today just might mean big things for tomorrow's door.

(And what of 2008? Well, that CITY advent ended with a snowman and snowball throwing kid. Which, you might recall, kicked off this year's calendar. It's a little bit of cyclic nonsense that I wish I had noticed earlier in the month!)

Only one more door to go. It's almost like Christmas eve! Except it isn't. It's actually Christmas Eve Eve. Which sounds kind of redundant, so I won't bring it up.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 22

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 22

6299 - 2009 Pirate Advent Calendar - Day 22
Skeleton and Snake

He's an undead warrior from Davy Jones' locker with an appetite for human flesh. She's a slithering reptile from the depths of the amazon with a taste for Brie.


Episode 841

Read the comic here.

CITY Advent 2009: Day 22

CITY Advent: Day 22

7687 - 2009 City Advent - Day 22
Lumberjack Supplies

Oh good! Yesterday's Stephen King moment was a false alarm! Turns out our Axe Wielding Maniac was just a friendly lumberjack!

And what possible Holiday Link could a lumberjack have?

Oh, please LEGO...let my guess about tomorrow's set be on the mark...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Toybox of FAIL: Thunder Charger

Please take a moment and read the Toybox of FAIL Disclaimer. Thanks!

Thunder Charger - Jing Zhiwei Bootleg of LEGO - Box
Thunder Charger

Jing Zhiwei toys continues their run of LEGO knock-offs with a small helicopter model. A very familiar helicopter.

In fact, everything about this bootleg should be familiar to long-time FAIL readers. Why? Because other than a company name-change from BRICK, this set is identical to the one I reviewed back in March of 2009.

Take a look at the packaging:

The same part count. The same graphics. The same fonts. The same goofy log cabin in the background shot...

And remember the badly translated slogans?

Well, check out the top the new box...

Thunder Charger - Jing Zhiwei Bootleg of LEGO - Box top

"But what about the toy?" I hear you ask. "Surely it's a bit different!"

First the BRICK version:

and the latest:

Thunder Charger - Jing Zhiwei Bootleg of LEGO - toy

Thunder Charger - Jing Zhiwei Bootleg of LEGO - toy b Thunder Charger - Jing Zhiwei Bootleg of LEGO - toy a

Oh. Wait. They are different. And the Jing Zhiwei version is even crappier looking.

I would have passed up this review all together, but my photographer would have been mightily irked to have suffered through building and documenting this piece of crap for nothing. So now her suffering becomes yours.

You're welcome.

As always, many thanks to Joe from The Undiscovered Playthings for sending me this set to review.

Photos of the Jing Zhiwei Thunder Charger are © 2009 Alyska Bailey Peterson /
PointyKitty Studios

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 21

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 21

6299 - 2009 Pirate Advent Calendar - Day 21

I'll admit it. When I first saw the box art for the Pirate Advent calendar I thought there was a slim chance we'd be getting one of the super-deluxe sharks from the Agents line.

I knew it probably wouldn't happen - there's no way LEGO could cram the larger shark into the standard Advent spot...but still, I hoped.

Today's door isn't a bad consolation prize, though. Sure, it's a "Sawfish" and not a shark, but this particular fish hasn't been seen since 2002, cast in black plastic in an Agents Alpha Team set. If you wanted things in a more nautical grey, you had to go all the way back to 1997 when it was a common feature in town Diver sets. With the color change from old-grey to new dark bley, this makes today's cretaure a one-of-a-kind accessory.

Sounds like a win to me.

Episode 840

Read the comic here.

CITY Advent 2009: Day 21

CITY Advent: Day 21

7687 - 2009 City Advent - Day 21
Man with Axe

So on day three of the race theme we...hold on.

We're not due for a new mini-figure until tomorrow. So what's with the axe wielding maniac?

LEGO got their wires crossed! They were looking for holiday inspiration and ran across a family spending their winter alone in a hotel!

Sunday, December 20, 2009



I duplicated the swirl from Buzz's chin to his cheeks to mimic the SAW Puppet's decorations.

And, yes, that's Woody's leg.

Buzzkill time!


For those of you who don't recognize the image, check it out at IMDB, then go rent the film. It's one of the best horror movies of all time.

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 20

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 20

6299 - 2009 Pirate Advent Calendar - Day 20
Pirate Escape Pod

Oh, LEGO, how you toy with my Holiday Cheer.

Yesterday, you shocked and delighted me with a seemingly bonus minifigure. Today, you crush my spirits with a two-piece microset.

Oh, sure, it fits the overall Pirate theme. And both the oar and the wooden tub are uncommon parts.

But, come on. I paid how much to have this set shipped to me from the UK? And the best you can do, less than a week from Christmas Day, is two lousy pieces?

If anyone needs me, I'll be over in the corner, weeping quietly.

Episode 839

Read the comic here.

CITY Advent 2009: Day 20

CITY Advent: Day 20

7687 - 2009 City Advent - Day 20
RC Car and Race Accessories

Day 20 of the CITY Advent - we've entered the home stretch. Other than the early stumble with the Police Barricade sub-theme LEGO has been doing a good job of making this year's calendar a fun holiday experience. I have to admit: I'm impressed.

Today's continuation of the RC Racer sub-theme is another quality entry, too. What's the fun of having a RC car if you don't have anyone to race against? Today's accessories work well with any of the previous day's characters to give yesterday's kid a bit of a challenge.

Sure, the parts are all fairly common and there's not a lot of building to be done...but sometimes you don't need either of those to make for a decent accessory pack.

I do wonder where LEGO will take things for day three, though...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 19

Pirate Advent 2009: Day 19

6299 - 2009 Pirate Advent Calendar - Day 19

As expected, today's door held nothing more than a few random bricks and...

...hold on.

That's a minifig.

But we just got Officer Grumpypants two days ago. We're not due for another person until at least tomorrow.

I was all set to bitch about another low quality micro set. Um. Okay. Let's try this again.


In an amazing twist, the Officer sub-theme ends with a criminal to put into yesterday's handcuffs!

Episode 838

Read the comic here.

Answering a comment from yesterday: Both of them got their wish. They're still alive.

CITY Advent 2009: Day 19

CITY Advent: Day 19

7687 - 2009 City Advent - Day 19
Child and RC Car

I've been pretty grouchy this year about any repeats from previous year's CITY Advent calendars. I've taken the stance that CITY is a big enough theme to showcase new things - that there's no reason to rehash the same models over and over again.

But today's set leaves me in a bit of a bind. It's clearly a repeat of a previous year's 2005 we had a Kid and a RC race car. But in 2005 it took two days to get the kid and the car.
So today is clearly an improvement over 2005...but it's still a repeat.

Eh. I just can't be grinchy about this one. It's a kid and toys and that says "Holiday Theme" to me. I call today's gift a clear win.