Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Updates and such

For those of you waiting for this week's updates...you might have a bit longer to wait than usual.

I'm in the last minute stages of prepping for CONvergence, and we leave for the convention tomorrow.

I'm working on a last-minute LEGO project that I hope to display, along with Tom, Crow, the Forrester Mural and some other things. I'm bringing several cameras, so there should be some interesting stuff showing up my Flikr Stream if you want to keep an eye on it.

I'm also finishing up sets for the next arc of Brick House - hence the delay there.

Anyway, I'll be back in town, and hopefully back on track, by next Tuesday.

In the meantime, check back occasionally - I'm bringing my laptop so I should be posting *something* over the next few days.

Finally, for those of you who are grumpy about all the recent interruptions to your free entertainment - after this con I'll be officially out of cash for a few months, so I'm more likely to be around and working on the site.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Episode 712

Read the comic here.

Observant readers will note that this puts all our hero groups into "Plot Device Drive" at the same time.

That can't be good...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Brickworld Photos on-line

I got a chance to upload the rest of my Brickworld 2009 photos to Flickr.

me and crow

Click on the pic to go directly to the set!

Episode 711

Read the comic here.

Donut's dialog in the final panel is a tribute to an old "Ren and Stimpy" short about the History Eraser Button. Go watch it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Toybox of FAIL: Soldier

First time here? Please take a moment and read the Toybox of FAIL Disclaimer. Thanks!

I've got a good one for you today. A single bootleg that manages to cross several corporate lines - creating a sickening mish-mash of a "toy", poised to shatter and cut your fingers at the slightest provocation.

It only makes sense that such a violent bootleg would carry a militaristic name like "Soldier."

Before I show you today's fail, though, I thought it best to familiarize you with the main toy that's being ripped off.

This is LEGO Bionicle set 4878, Rahaga Bomonga. Yes, it's a goofy name.

Have you taken a good look at this set? Are you ready to move on to the FAIL?

I sure hope so.

Yes, it's the return of our "good friends" at BRICK. There's really no attempt to hide the LEGO origins of this toy - from the matching typefaces on the logos, the color schemes, the base toy itself, to the duplicate instructions for the toy's flying disc feature, there's giant heaps of copyright infringement everywhere.

Oh, sure, there are little differences. The background art is (slightly) different. The line name is different.

And, oh yeah, there's the strange fact that Solider has a DARTH VADER HEAD.

Before we look at that, though, here's some fun-to-read text from the top of the package:

Modern design.
Superior performance.
Skillful manufacture.
Perfect in workmanship.
High standard in quality and hygiene.

I was buying it up until they brought up high standards of hygiene.

Instead of including an instruction sheet, this time BRICK just printed the build on the back of the box. The fun begins when you notice the "check the size to make sure you have the right technic beam" illustrations are not printed to scale. In fact, the pictures are so tiny that they're nearly illegible. Way to go, BRICK!

Here's the base toy - it's a direct duplication of the LEGO build and parts. The plastic used is super brittle - and many of the joints and parts are defective. (Not enough plastic in the mold causing gaps or too much plastic preventing things from seating properly due to overruns.) The flying disc is there, but the gearing doesn't work, rendering that part of the toy useless.

But let's take a look at the real FAIL of this toy - the replacement of the Bionicle head with Darth Vader's helmet.

In person, this toy is almost cute in that "I'm going to tear off your toenails because that's all I can reach." way. You know. Like a rabid hamster or something.

Here's a detail of the face. It's not 100% Vader, but I don't think they were trying for anyone else. I guess they just didn't have a correctly-scaled Vader Mold lying around the factory to re-use.

Flipping the head over you can see the technic mount at the neck. Some poor worker was forced to carve this thing. Or maybe he volunteered for the task. I don't really know which would be worse.

Anyway, if you know anything about Bionicle, you know that LEGO loves to release six sets with basically the same parts cast in different colors. Take that knowledge as a bit of foreshadowing as to five other reviews that you'll be seeing in the near future.

Oh yes, the pain has just started.

Many thanks to Joe from The Undiscovered Playthings for sending me this set to review.

Episode 710

Read the comic here.

Yes, this is something I set up years ago. For those of you who want a mild spoiler, you can click here. Otherwise wait and the context will be revealed in-strip.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Toybox of FAIL: Flying Disc

First time here? Please take a moment and read the Toybox of FAIL Disclaimer. Thanks!

Good news for you LEGO bootleg enthusiasts - I just received another shipment of FAIL from my good friend Joe of The Undiscovered Playthings blog. Until I can get them scanned and photographed, though, here's a little bit Summertime FAIL to whet your appetite for destruction.

Looks pretty innocent, doesn't it? Just your typical dollar store Frisbee.

Or is it...?

Flip it over and you find that you've bought yourself a poly-bag full of FAIL!

Yes, it's not just a Frisbee clone - it's a High Performance Gyroplane! But who's that in the logo?

Sky Sufer?

What the heck is a "Sufer"? Whatever it is, here he is.

Hmmm. This reminds me of something....

Oh. I bet they meant SURFER.


They do look similar, don't they?

Nah. It's probably just my imagination.

Episode 709

Read the comic here.

Here's a quick link back to Episode 431.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

I just got done rebuilding Crow's nest at Brickworld. Came back to the table to find it shattered. This is why we can't have nice things.


Edited to add: Turns out the cleaning crew bumped the table. They let the convention staff know, and they passed along an apology when they saw me.

An accident like that is completely understandable - it's much better than my suspicion that it had been some stranger playing with the model, breaking it, and then sneaking away.

Brickworld: Day 2

New Shirt

I'm having a great time here at Brickworld. Haven't taken that many photos (yet) but you can watch for updates in my Flickr Stream by clicking the image above.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

LEGO: My Micropolis Module

Just in time for Brickworld, I've finally gotten around to building my own Micropolis Module. It's a 1/2 block showing LEGO mining in downtown Micropolis.

LEGO Excavation

Most of the action takes place below street level, taking advantage of the four-plate-workable-depth of the base. Features include a wee little crane, bull dozer, and security checkpoint. (Click on the photo to go back to my Flickr photostream for more.)

Maybe not the most original work in the universe, but not too bad for a first attempt. If you're at Brickworld, see if you can find my module in the big collaborative display.

Episode 705

Read the comic here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Toybox of FAIL: Canadian Batman Paratrooper

First time here? Please take a moment and read the Toybox of FAIL Disclaimer. Thanks!
Until I get my hands on some more recent offerings, it's time to dive deep into the cobweb-filled corners of my basement in search of the bootleg toys that I kept for some stupid reason.

Sure, if you've taken the time to look at the old Island of Bootleg Toy archives you might recognize a returning friend or two. Nearly ten years have passed since I wrote those reviews, though, and it's time we took a fresh look at them. If nothing else, the new pictures won't be limited to early 2000's super-compressed thumbnail JPGs...

After the recent run of fairly high-quality bootlegs from the Little White Dragon company, I thought it was time to remind everyone just what a FAIL is supposed to look like.

Yes, this is the FACE of FAIL.

Say hello (again) to Batman, the Canadian Paratrooper.

In some ways it's good that this is a Reheated Review. The packaging for this toy consisted of nothing more than just a clear plastic bag with the figure stuffed into it. No header card, no hints as to it's origin. If it weren't for my old review to remind me that he came from Canada in the nigh-forgotten year of 2000, I would have had to make up an origin story for him.

A story, no doubt, focused on illegal Canadian Gene-splicing and toxic waste creating a foul beast that roams the night, gliding quietly down from the trees to feast on unsuspecting children.

But, no, we know this bootleg Batman isn't nearly that cool.

There's no question that this figure is meant to be Batman. The logo, although woefully off-center, is identical to the DC comic's version. The mold the figure was cast from appears to be scaled up from a Kenner Batman movie-styled action-figure. Articulated at the shoulders and hips, he's made of waxy plastic. At this point he rattles when you shake him, suggesting some internal plastic has broken loose from the joins.

The rest of the figure also suffers from a poor amount of quality control. Take a look at all the excess plastic around his feet.

From behind, we see Batman comes complete with a cape. Of course, it's not much of a cape.

In fact, it seems to be nothing more than a section of a glad trash bag with a hole cut in it for the figure's head to slip through. Quality workmanship.

Batman's parachute hasn't weathered well over the years - whatever rainbow-hued toxic paint was used has stuck to the plastic (and itself) and smeared into a tie-dyed mess. I was hoping to take some "action shots" of Batman at the park tomorrow, but when I found his 'chute was more of less stuck together I abandoned the idea.

Here's a close-up of the parachute and the disease-riddled paint job. It's almost as bad the paint job on Batman's face.

What? You've forgotten how bad that was already? Here. Let me show you again.

Look closer.



Can you smell the cheap whiskey on his breath? Can you feel his rough plastic stubble rubbing against your skin?

Canadian Batman looks deep into your soul and finds you wanting.

I wouldn't worry about it, though. He's just a scummy bootleg.

New Blog Functionality

As I keep mentioning, next week I'll be at BrickWorld. Since I'm not sure how much net access I'll have, I'm setting up some features to let me remote-post to the blog from my various mobile devices. If you see some test posts pop up and then disappear, that's what's going on.

I'll also be setting up as much content as I can to auto-publish. We'll see how that goes.

The downside will be comment moderation. I'm not comfortable turning things back to unmoderated, but there's going to be some serious lag-time on things unless I do. Oh well. I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.

Episode 703

Read the comic here.