maandag 30 juni 2014

1000 Achievements Achieved

Yesterday I popped onto WoW for an hour or two, to (finally) start grabbing those missing achievements from the Midsummer Festival.

And that resulted in popping number 1000, now slightly putting me under the 50% mark of obtained achievements in the game.

Okay, so I`m going to force myself to grab at least all of those the coming week still, it is not that I need the festival for the Meta anymore, but it is easy money, some easy points and during the flying around I am able to grab a pet left or right that I still lack in the collection.

And it gives me another `green` on the goals list, where some things have been dropped and added over the past 6 months, but more on that tomorrow when I`ll tackle the halfway mark of 2014...

zondag 29 juni 2014

A Good Catch

Irony is a bitch that often comes back to bite you in the behind.

Days after I posted about how Belgium doesn`t have a garage sale culture and rarely any LEGO is to be found there... I had a garage sale behind my corner and found 3 LEGO sets.

They had been build, so not new, but they are complete.  Initially, the seller asked 15 euros for each of the space sets and 20 for the Time Cruisers set, but some haggling (it was a gushing rain here today), I managed to scoop them for 20.

Now, I`m not planning on actually `building` any of the sets, they will be distributed through my collection, with parts I`ll never use (the typical space things like the large `glass` dome and such) going in my curver box of, well, probably never going to be used bricks.

The first set I got was this: 6958 Explorers Android Base, starting on BrickLink in used condition for 70 USD.

Now, I would have grabbed this even without haggling (heck, I`d probably had taken them all for 50 euros anyways), because it has a grey baseplate (which I`ll need for my AoM phase 3 of Walls), and some more white parts to be cannibalised from the set.

The second set, 6959 is the Spyrius Lunar Launch Base, BL used price around 55 USD complete and boxed.

The intresting parts for me here are a bit of generics on the one hand, and `rock sides` especially.  The base plate I`m in doubt, but I think I`ll be using that as a base for when the Book 2 of Historica returns to it`s final chapter, set in Nocturnus, and build upon that.

The final gain is this one: 6493 the Flying Time Vessel, and the cheapest on BL starting around 25 USD

Now oddly enough, this was the one they initially asked the most for, but goes the cheapest on the secondary market.  I guess they where just going by the size of the box.  But for an AFOL, this set has a LOT of great pieces, with the gray ship hull, the dragon wings, the monkey etc...

All in all, a great find, worth 150 USD excluding shipping had I taken to BrickLink (even more if I went eBay-yi) and a lot of pieces to sort out now on top of a lot of pieces I still need to sort out.

The life of an AFOL is never sorted ;-)

zaterdag 28 juni 2014

The Plan - Week 20 - Minifgures Online

I did play some this week, but unfortunatly with the NDA, even in Open Beta now, I cannot say to much about it.

Now, what i can say is, get the game, it`s simple, it`s enjoyable and it runs on a tablet as well.

But the first impressions then:

My character `Bizarre Sugary Owl` (it is generated at random, you can tinker with it though a little) is actually a three character slot, so you can toggle between them.  All characters fill up the same XP bar and gain the same stars and diamonds (used for upgrading), BUT every character has a different upgrade `meter` so you will have to do them all on a one by one basis from your generic pool of Stars.

Now, I have been playing with the starter set containing the Forest Maiden, and I think the defender is a highly enjoyable character to play so far, with her AoE slower special attack and her three arrow shot that damages anything in a cone.

Of course, being a LEGO afficionado, I did get the Membership, which grants you more bags (aka characters) and diamonds, BUT the maps are also filled with `Pocket Adventures`, small short instances that yield bonus loot and possible extra minifigure bags.

However, you HAVE to have membership to be able to enter this, these small rooms are not accessible for the Free to Play gamers.  Don`t despair, you can find collectible minifig bags outside these small instances as well.

Another benefit is that you can log in and log out everywhere, you don`t have to be in a station or such as in some FtP`s to be allowed to save progress.  A minor thing perhaps, but it works.  And the minifigures are now in open Beta controllable with the keyboard as well, no longer mouse moving only.

Drawbacks?  Well, so far the only thing for me is the very high respawn rate of mobs.  Okay, you can boss them and get a lot more XP out of them like that, but your busy like all the time, no causal stroll or quick AFK unless your in a safe zone.

Conclusion so far: the game IS addictive, and for me a serious contender for WoW in those occassional `only a quick half an hour` to play moments.  It lacks so far the big raids and such, doubtful considering the target demographic those uberhaubt will come, but yes, it is a fun little game.

And one in the busy week ahead I`ll be visiting more for sure, I`ll really will have to force myself I think to do WoW and the Midsummer festival (which in luckily already have completed as a Meta).

donderdag 26 juni 2014

Ways to the fill the room with Bricks

One of the downsides of being an AFOL, is that you never can have enough bricks.  There is always that one piece you miss (I had it with a MOC just this morning), and then you go out and order a multitude of them just in case...

But where does one gets his plastic shot.  There are several ways, and in this opinion piece, I`ll be taking a look at where, how and why I use certain `channels`.

1. Main street retail

In this category, you have of course the official Lego store if your lucky to have one nearby (like I do), main stream toy stores like Bart Smit, and independant toy stores like `t bazarke to name a few in my vicinity.

Now, I do buy (often) in retail at RRP.  Mainly when it are either sets (like certain Lord of the Rings sets) I tend to build just for display, or when it is a new set like this Chima that has at least 95% of the bricks usuable for my builds, and has suitable minifigs.  resellers usually rate sets on a brick by brick ratio and minifigs are the `heavy` cost in a set, so if you can`t do anything with those, it is at times better to just order the pieces loose or from the Prick a Brick wall in a Lego store.

Main stream toy stores often run promotions like for this Galaxy Squad set I picked up 2 years ago, while independants often have `hidden gems` stacked somewhere at the back, and often at a discount like the dino set shown.

2. Outlet stores

Now, not especcially failure stores, but some retail chains like Wibra and Kruidvat often carry overstock from `end of line` or less popular sets, being overhere especcially older Ninjago or Chima sets.  For example, in the discount store I scored these two Ninjago sets for 20 euros each.

The benefit of `non licensed` lines is that they are generally cheaper, and unlike series like Pirates of the Carribean and Harry Potter, they don`t explode in price once the line is withdrawn, often popping up in such stores at about 50% of their old RRP.

Another example is this `brain bug`.  I grabbed 29 of them, and the flame and sword alone are worth the 1 euro the set was priced at (as if you grab em lose, postage comes into account as well).  Though I have no idea what to do with 29 of the beasties (well, I do, but not from a building perspective), I definitly have use for 29 of those large flames.

3. eBay and others

While it is a hard day to find a good bargain on eBay anymore, sites like do offer a good selection at often fair prices.  I scored for example once the submarine and the giant shark from the old Atlantis line for 10 euros total, that is a lot of good bricks for a cheap price.   And last week, I managed to pluck off two sets of Harry Potter still sealed to put aside for the Smurf (Hagrid`s Hut and the Quidditch Cup sets).

4. BrickLink

THE place to go for loose parts, but mind you it is more intresting if your like me in Belgium to buy within the EU to avoid tax costs and drop the sometimes sick US based shipping costs. 
But in general, for loose elements it even comes cheaper then said Pick a Brick wall, and various traders even give out 5% or 10% coupons for returning customers, dropping the price even further.

It`s also a good place to look for still sealed sets of long retired lines, and this is the place I`m going to with the money I`m trading together to get my Pearl, even though he has risen over the years to twice her retail price do to the rarity.

5. Fleamarkets and second hand shops

Unfortunatly, this is a culture Belgium doesn`t really have, garage sales and such being usually merchants with a stand.  And those blokes now what they are selling and charge premium.  Never the less, I often stroll around on those, and at very small times, I did get lucky, usually older bricks at a price for the lot (the picture here is one of my OWN boxes from my youth, but you get the idea what you can find at times over here).  But tales I often read from the transatlantic of finding sealed Star wars sets for a few dollars, are things I can only dream off.

6. Forums and Facebook

The final piece, the use of internet connections.  Sites like for collectible minifigs exchange, Facebook groups, forum sections for buy and sell... it`s the same story as with trading cards: build a reputation, and you can grab some very good deals on those.

So that`s about it, my 6 ways of feeding my addiction, all comments are as always welcome on this opionated piece ;-)  and now I got to order that single brick I`m lacking (and then some, just to be sure in the future) to finish my newest MoC...


Tonight at 9...

maandag 23 juni 2014

The Idea of Geeky Speculation part 1

It is the wet dream of every hobbyist, letting the hobby pay for itself.  It is the dream of every small scale entrepreneur, finding a niche that pays him a nice buck for a car or television set.  It is the nightmare of everyone with a live saving account since the international banking crisis...


According to Wikipedia:

Speculation is the practice of engaging in risky financial transactions in an attempt to profit from short or medium term fluctuations in the market value of a tradable good such as a financial instrument, rather than attempting to profit from the underlying financial attributes embodied in the instrument such as capital gains, interest, or dividends. Many speculators pay little attention to the fundamental value of a security and instead focus purely on price movements. Speculation can in principle involve any tradable good or financial instrument. Speculators are particularly common in the markets for stocks, bonds, commodity futures, currencies, fine art, collectibles, real estate, and derivatives.
Speculators play one of four primary roles in financial markets, along with hedgers who engage in transactions to offset some other pre existing risk, arbitrageurs who seek to profit from situations where fungible instruments trade at different prices in different market segments, and investors who seek profit through long-term ownership of an instrument's underlying attributes.

Roight, that sounded all very technical and big... and as a guy who loves numbers for some reason, I have taken those risks in the past as well.  Some where successfull, some broke even, and some went so sourthat the successes had to cover up the losses...

Now, from a geeky point of view, I have been trying to do this once or twice lately on the side, in order to fund my more expensive hobbies (the GF comes to mind ;-) , she`ll kill me if I call her an expensive hobby though, so shhhht on this post against her), and after years of finding a niche, I can honestly say I haven`t really found one.

Yes, I have binders full of `pricey` rares of various card series, trading card lines, ccg`s, promos etc... but for every card there, there are also those bulk rares you just can`t get rid off.

I follow on Facebook a group called `Lego Investors`, basically a bunch of people buying up whole pallets of kits at the -50 mark in retail sales, only to flip them over in the infamous Q4 (more on this later) at +50% retail.

Now, I must say I wouldn`t be able to get it over my heart to buy for sell Lego... I`m to much a hobbyist for that, and if there is one thing a speculator isn`t allowed to be, it`s attached to his product.

Never the less, I do intensively follow that group... as while they tell of possible finds, this also learns me which sets I better can pick up because prices are expected to skyrocket in months or years time... because they are all bought up now.  Or polybag promos.  Especcially `licensed` ones, they tend to surely go up in price post retirement, because they have very limited runs to start with, usually going only for about a month.

So Q4?  Well, for toys, this is the best selling, and worst buying moment, as everyone is looking for end of year gifts, so prices rise high.  On the opposite end sits the `summer lull` where everything drops as people look for a fast buck to sponsor holiday expenses.

Buy in the summer, sell in the winter, and preferably after sets get retired or cards for ccgs cycle out...

Or visit a lot of flea markets and try to find good hauls there, though chances are slimmer and I usually just scour it for bricks for personal use...

But enough on my beloved bricks, let`s talk that other hobby I have and which it IS worth your time to do some speculation, though the numbers are far more small scaled: Magic: the Gathering.

I have a premium on Star City Games.  I don`t copy competitive decks for trying to get those wins raked in.  I either play something pulled from the casual pile (yes, I am ready to give my Kraken of the Straits deck a go next week) or red aggro (because after studying or work on a friday, i don`t want to make to many thinky thingie plays).

Chas Anders is my number one read there.

He talks every week about speculation, finanes and the Magic market in general, and even thoug I don`t take his word as a written law, he has defined the Magic community of speculators in three big groups.

The Daytrader: the guy that works sites like Magic Card Market for the quick flip

The Storeowner: the big stock, fixed prizes kind of seller

The Long-Hauler: you and me, trying to keep a card in the binder just that bit longer in the hopes it`ll rise.

Now, I usually don`t go with the buy-inns and such, but with the Theros block, for the first time, I did invest.  I bought in on a lot of Scry Temples for around 90 euros total from an italian eBay vendor.  they where around 3 a piece, mostly the less popular staples of today`s Standard format, but all it takes for those lands to skyrocket is one decent all players deck coming out with the new sets.  And if not, dual lands are always a safe bet, they tend to pay themselves back at least in time.

But the second one IS a gamble.  I bought a LOT of Silence the Believers, at 50 cents a piece, from the same store.  The day after, he relisted them at 2 euros, but heck, mine are underway.  Why?  Look at the `Souls` coming out with M15, especcially the Ravnica (blue) and Phyrexia (colorless) ones, who can even wreck your day from the graveyard.  And then look at all those mono black players out there... 1 + 1 is hopefully a good investment...

So that is it for part 1 of my thoughts, in a while I`ll be returning to this topic when more research has been done, and more of my mental mayonaise has been turning around in my head...


zondag 22 juni 2014

F1 2014 GP of Austria review

Sorry that I`m putting this down to the typed paper a few hours later, but the Belgian national squad has just placed itself for the second round onf the World Cup with a 6 out of 6.

Well, so this time we find ourselves on the Red Bull circuit in Austria, for the Red Bull home grand prix.  Will the team of Mateschitz and Horner pull through the line of Canada?

Well... not if we have to go by the qualies, where they are nowhere, Vettel not even making the top 10.  Stranded on a 12th place, the big suprise however is on the first row.  A Williams lock out, having swept away the Mercedes cars for a lock out, and Massa claiming his 16th pole of the season, while Hamilton is only 9th on the grid.

The Start: Rosberg immediatly passes Bottas but is retaken in a few corners time by the most beautiful car in case of livery on the grid.  Hamilton makes a rocket start, and is in 5th position by turn 2, and before the first lap is over he passes Alonso to get to 4th.

Lap 2: Vettel loses drive power and chockles over the track, being lapped by the whole field.  With Ricciardo having a terrible start and in 9th, it doesn`t seem likely this is going to be a home party for Red Bull.

Lap 4: Vettel gains his power back, but he and Riccardio are told not to use the "overtake" button again during the race, meaning there are ERS issues on the RB10s

Lap 6: Both Williams and both Mercedes start pulling away from the field.

Lap 10: As Vettel is the first to pit, the expected two stop strategies start to take place.

Lap 12: Of the four leaders, Rosberg is the first to pit, followed by Hamilton.  However, Rosberg retains his position.

Lap 14: As both Williams pit, they lose their position in the lead and put Rosberg in front virtually, after Perez who still tours around not having pitted yet.

Lap 20: Gutteriez, who was unsafely released in the pits due to a not connected right back tyre, gets a stop and go penalty.

Lap 22: Vettel pits a second time as he has damaged his front wing driving into the rear end of Gutterriez.

Lap 26: Brakes failing, Kvyat hits the wall and has to retire his three wheeled car.

Lap 27: Rosberg and Bottas now pass Perez for the lead, but in the meantime Bianchi is driving in a 13th place.  Marussia really has closed the gap to the lower midfield with Lotus and Sauber, Caterham barely hanging on to them.

Lap 28: Hamilton now also goes by perez, putting Massa behind the guy that put him in the wall in Montreal two weeks ago, but luckily the mexican pits two rounds later.

Lap 34: Bottas now loses the DRS gap to Rosberg who starts pulling away.

Lap 36: Vettel is called in as Red Bull decides to retire his car from the race.  The black period for the reigning world champion keeps going on, but if it is any consolidation, Ricciardo is barely holding on to some points today.

Lap 38: Clearly better on the prime tyres then the Williams cars, bith Mercedes are upping their pace as they prepare their second pitstop.

Lap 40 - 44: One by one the leaders come in, but the positions remain virtually unchanged

Lap 45-48: A Ferrari leading a GP in 2014!!!!  Okay, so Alonso still has to pit, but it has a certain flair to finally see a Red Horse leading.

Lap 51: Kobayashi has gotten past Bianchi, now riding around in 16th but getting a minor win in the battle of the little ones.

Lap 54: Quote of the Day is given by Raikonnen.  When his engineer asks for 2 tenths extra per lap, he dryly replies `gladly, if you gave me more power`

Lap 56: The long stinters, starting with Perez, now have to come in, dropping him back a bit, but soon after he puts in the fastest lap.

Lap 61: Just like his team mate, Vergne comes in and retires due to brake issues on his Toro Rosso.

Lap 62: Alonso has even crept into the DRS zone of the Williams of Massa, but he will run out of time to place an attack as the Williams has a far higher topspeed compared to the driving skill of Fernando who makes his position by excellent cornering... on a circuit with barely any heavy corners and long straight lines.

Lap 66: Perez passes Magnussen for 6th as both Mercedes cars seem to be making themselves ready for a finale fight...

Lap 71: ... but Hamilton decides not to take to big a risk, and so Rosberg takes the win before Lewis

And we get to the end of a highly boring race on a circuit that is only intresting for it`s big nature views imho.  Hopefully, in two weeks in Silverstone, the `cradle of F1`, it`ll be a bit more exciting.

The Result

1. Rosberg - Mercedes
2. Hamilton - Mercedes
3. Bottas - Williams Mercedes

4. Massa - Williams Mercedes
5. Alonso - Ferrari
6. Perez - Force India Mercedes
7. Magnussen - McLaren Mercedes
8. Ricciardo - Red Bull Renault
9. Hulkenberg - Force India Mercedes
10. Raikonnen - Ferrari

11. Button - McLaren Mercedes
12. Maldonado - Lotus Renault
13. Sutil - Sauber Ferrari
14. Grosjean - Lotus Renault
15. Bianchi - Marussia Ferrari
16. Kobayashi - Caterham Renault
17. Chilton - Marussia Ferrari
18. Ericsson - Caterham Renault
19. Guterriez - Sauber Ferrari

All Mercedes what is it about, the only Mercedes powered car to not score points today was Jenson Button. 

Driver of the race:

Lewis Hamilton; started 9th, used his head in the closing stages, came home 2nd

Team of the Race:

In any other race, I would have put Williams here with their solid points and podium, but the truth is, Mercedes deserves this.
After not winning in Canada and not being on the front row in this GP, people already where saying their dominance was over, that their armour cracked... in the best case, there is a small scrape on it, but they shined like they have been doing all season.

And we`re getting ready...

A new page: the LEGO want list ;-)

I don`t think it will be a suprise if I tell people I enjoy LEGO, nor that it would be a suprise that like any AFOL I have a `wish list` of sets I want to grab "one of these days, some day" thing.

Now, because I am one of those people out there in the big bad world with the attention span of a gold fish, just like with the cards I collect, I`m putting up a page here to `visualise` the sets I want to collect not for tearing down and using in other builds, but for genuine display.  And in my case, that MOSTLY consists of the The Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit line.

I like medieval `high fantasy`, both to build, to read, to watch, heck, even Magic the Gathering is in a way tied to this setting.  Wizards you know...  and they just look pure awesomeness on the shelves, easily recognisable for non LEGO people that wander in the house, and they tend to look at you just a little bit less strange.  A little bit only though ;-)

And of course, having a page on a blog also helps for people asking `hey, what do you want for your birthday?` and then just handing them over the link.

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

79003 An Unexpected Gathering

Yes, this is on the top of my list, no I never gotten around to it to pick a copy up, and yes, I`m trading off stuff now to sponsor me one of those before they cycle out for good.

9471 and 9474 Uruk-hai Army and The Battle of Helm`s Deep

9472 Attack on Weathertop

79006 The Council of Elrond

79008 Pirate Ship Ambush

10237 The Tower of Orthanc

LEGO Ideas

21103 The DeLorean Time Machine

21104 NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover

Star Wars

10225 Ultimate Collector Series R2-D2

Pirates of the Carribean

4184 The Black Pearl

Of course, this page will be constantly updated if my eye falls onto something or things get scratched off the list, so feel free to hit the tab at the top of the blog to surf back to this page now and then...

zaterdag 21 juni 2014

Lego Ghostbusters ECTO - 1

From the moment this Lego Ideas set was announced at the beginning of 2014, I just KNEW I have to have it.

Ghostbusters where blockbuster comedies from my days of youth, and I loved (and still love) those flicks, they are a gigantic laugh.

The Lego Ideas (formerly CUSOO) fan program is a chance to build things out of the regular settings, and the set is a bot of a throw back to the good old days, as it doesn`t come with numbered bags for each `phase` of the build.

Like 20 years ago, you open the box, cut open the bags, toss `em all in there and start scrummaging and building.

And it has unique minifigures of course, each coming with the initials of the characters...

Another great thing is no decals.  The license plates, the power pack dials and the Ghostbusters logos are all printed onto the bricks, so no trying to center them as good as you can, and no fear of the decals coming off in a few years.

The first phase of the build is the characters and the special display stand for them.

But then we move on to the main attraction: Ecto 1 herself.  One of the most iconic cars from movie history, she is an old gravedigger car, panted over and equipped with a heap of ghostbusting materials, lights... and a very iconic siren!

The set even had a piece in it that I didn`t know existed, nor had in my collection...

Another great thing in the building instructions, is that it is riddled with movie quotes and pictures of the characters minifig equivalent.

After about an hour into the build, and time to go grab a sandwich, this is where I stood then:


Tickled by his cousins building something themselves yesterday, and the `big guy` building ECTO - 1, the Smurf finally has made the `clique` in his head to try and build by himself and from his imagination.

When we where at the table, he called me over to show HIS big car model he has been building quietly in his room, at the same time I was building this set.

I did have to `teach` him the benefits of how to stabilize and soldify the builds using longer plates and interlocking parts left or right, but it is all his own doing, my only `input` was raising the window one stud so the roof could connect, and the connection between the pull car and the trailer.

I`m actually proud of his first effort, I don`t remember mine being that big all those years ago, i`d probably would have settled only on the front car.

Back to the Ecto

I really like the way they connected the sloped side windows in this car, something (probably as a medieval builder) I hadn`t ever though about to, for example, slope my walls or roofs in my builds.  I`m definitly taking this along in my arsenal of techniques.

The final phase of the build is the roofpart...

... and then it clicks onto the car, and we`re all set and done, one big nice shiny and NOISY car (yes, I alreadt `swooshed` it, going EEE UUU EEE UUU EEE UUU).  This is such an awesome build, and I can imagine it being a typical `lure back` for young dads and moms to come back out of their Dark Ages, especcially those of my generation when the car drove around on television.

Of course, no self respecting Lego set comes with some extra parts, for this one, it is a very nice haul:

This was a great and enjoyable build, taking about 2 hours to complete from opening to drooling, and I definitly keep hoping the Ideas range will keep expanding and some more icons of the past will appear.  Now to grab that Back to the Future DeLorean one day...