woensdag 30 november 2016

The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun - J.R.R. Tolkien

First published in 1945, this book has been made available again to the public after 61 years, and of course I ran to my local bookstore (Standaard Boekhandel here in Mortsel, as it's ran by a fellow BeLUG member) to reserve my copy.

So when it arrived a few weeks ago, I sat down and thoroughly enjoyed this work by Tolkien, which has nothing to do with Middle Earth... or does it.

The Lay is a poem with 508 lines, and was written during the time Tolkien delved into the Breton mythology.  It is based in Brittany (France), and the Aotrou and Itroun aren`t names, but titles (Lord and Lady) in the language back then.  It deals about a childless couple, where the Lord strikes a deal with a Corrigan (witch / faerie) to get children.

While they do receive two children because of this, it comes at the ultimate price for the parents.  The book also includes two shorter poems, Corrigan I and Corrigan II, and for all the stories the necessary notes and remarks are included, both on the terms used as from where the tales originate.

It ties in with his Middle Earth masterwork in how the forest of Bereliand came about, and how he envisaged all forests to be places of myth and magic.

Mind you, this isn`t "light reading" but a nice work none the less!

Classic Lego Build: 6612 Fire Chief's Car

Another one of those small 80s boxed sets that would appear nowadays as a polybag, 6612 Fire Chief's Car is a small little vehicle from a big subtheme.

Numbering a measly 25 pieces, this isn`t something truly spectacular, but it comes with a nice little figure in the form of said Fire Chief.

The build itself is a pretty basic affair.  The chassis is a combination of some small plates to form the base.

Red plates are used to build up the sides of the vehicle.

A tile with the fireman symbol is added as the engine cover, and the seat is put in the driver area.

All that has to be done then is adding the wheels, and we`re done:

Nothing to fancy as I said, and honestly not much of a looker either.  Not everything that is vintage is great looking after all, and Lego has since released far prettier fireman cars.

dinsdag 29 november 2016

Classic Lego Build: 6624 Delivery Van

Every City builder, no, every AFOL should have a copy of this set.  

Why?  Because we all get nervous when we get a delivery note when our orders arrive and it`s already 3 minutes past that estimation of course!

So what better then to "toot toot" this little 1983 delivery van over our desk, until the liberating sound of the doorbell appears?

This little set, containing about 35 pieces and a minifigure of a delivery guy, isn`t the hardest of builds, and easily available on BrickLink and the likes.  The figure is really basic, without any printing on it`s torso.

The van itself starts on the old black chassis parts, and a raised mudcap piece goes at the front.

Installing the steering wheel, we start adding the red of the van itself.

The windscreen is added, and the cargo space is made up of stickered panels.

Hinge plates are used for both the roof, as the backdoor of the little van.

All we have to do is add the wheels and some details, and this little car is ready!

Well, like I said, even if City isn`t your theme, this is just a MUST HAVE for any AFOL who is honest with himself ;-)

maandag 28 november 2016

Inspirational Lego # 98

A freezing morning today, as winter is coming very close now it seems, but let's keep those spirits up with some more amazing builds I came across on the internet.

And to put those warm smiles on your face, let's start with something cheerfull and colourful with this Friends settlement.

Build in a Castle themed style, it's a superb blend of colours and "seriousness" in a sort of way.

Next, we have something completely different with this japanese SkyFi plane.

The Mouseguard bravely sail out on the back of a duck, while crabs are closer investigating the tower in the back.

A little Harry Potter vignette, as Harry breaks through the cloud cover to capture the golden snitch in Quidditch.

The Swape is a lovely military style build patrol boat.

While Rosberg became champion in Formula 1 yesterday, his Mercedes looked nowhere near as fine as this 1930s racecar.

From Guilds of Historica comes this pretty Avalonian blacksmith shop.

Iron Blooded Orphans is back on the screen since a few weeks, and this is a great build of the Gundam Barbatos, in his "Lupus" configuration.

This dragonfly is really detailed and almost looks like the real deal.

The final build this week is this firebird, or phoenix.  The use of the shields for his side is pure genius imho.

And there we have it, a fresh selection of builds to bring some warmth inside I hope, and see you all next week again!

zondag 27 november 2016

Classic Lego Build: 6522 Highway Patrol

With this mid 80s set, we're going to build our own Lego CHIPS team it seams, as we get two bike driving officers as the centrepoint of the set.

A small set at 22 parts, you can imagine as such that there isn`t to many things to build (just a phone booth), but it was a cool little set when I was a kid, and a readily available "source" for motorbikes.

The set comes as such with two police officers, still sporting the old style helmets.  Back then, torso printing was rather basic as their badges where just plain white.

And their faithful iron steeds...

These are dressed up and ready to be mounted, including lovely "police" tiles.

The phone booth sports another one of those police elements, as we build up the base of the booth first.

A telephone printed slope is added to the top for the people to call.

The glass sides are then build up, and as we put a roof on the booth, the little set stands completed:

Nifty little set, and as I said, for a 10 year old in the pre-internet and pre-BrickLink days, the ideal set to get his hands on motorcycles ;-)

Is Lego worth more than Gold? The Test part 2

The first month of this experiment has passed by now, and I must confess I already am cursing some of the choices I made in the "buy-in" part.

A trend seems to be emerging already, and I can already see that some parts of the buy-in will require short of a miracle to even get break even.

Now, those used, complete sets where an awful mistake, as they move nearly next to nowhere, and I`m refraining from adding more of them to my portfolio anymore.  They turned over a measly 34.40 USD over the whole month, leaving me woefully short for recuperating the initial 300 USD assigned to them.  I guess I know now why they are easily available everywhere...

On the other hand, the whole "loose parts" are going like a train.  They had already recuperated a goo portion in the previous month, and continued to run smoothly during november, recovering another 90.01 USD.  I already reinvested in a whole lot of them, like on this video below, and spend 74.10 USD on fresh elements.  Adding in the loose minifigures that came out of the lot, and they are over 2/3rds of breaking even.

Set wise, the currently available ones are going slow, but I have been looking for promotions and the likes with the past Black Friday sales to top up the portfolio, and hopefully flip them over in the second half of 2017. 

I made myself a mental "table" on how much I`m willing to spend, at which discounts, and that resulted in this.  Not sure if it`s viable, or if I`ll find a gigantic amount of sets, but above those margins, I`m not buying in anymore

-50% : Creator, Ninjago, Technic, Nexo Knights, Superheroes, City, Friends
-40% : Star Wars, Jurassic World, Scooby Doo
-35% : Large Technic sets, Architecture, Disney Princesses
-25% : Exclusives

Now, a bit of clarification on some of them perhaps, but on the contrary to some, I`m a firm believer in the Disney sets, wether it being the minifigures, the castle, of the minidoll populated sets.  To many people in my opinion are jumping on Star Wars, and the market is really inflated on those.  Still, it being Star Wars I`m giving them more leeway then the current lines.
The same goes for Architecture sets.  Of all the ranges Lego produces, those are perhaps the most interesting ones from a non-Lego fan point of view.  I`m talking the smaller sets even, like Big Ben, the skylines, the small Eifel tower... sets anyone who loves those places can place on their mantlepiece of office desk without problem.
Time will tell, but those are things I`m definitly keeping my eyes open for.

The Numbers

So there we are, time for crunching some numbers after the first full month.  Starting with the good news, my ROI this month was 202.26 USD, meaning I`m only currently 769.86 USD "in the red".  That isn`t something to panic about, and at this rate I should be able to start making some profit in half a year time.  That also means the villa with swimming pool is still far off.
Adding numbers from last month, the reinvesting and all included, I need to recover the following as such:
Used parts still need 70.55 USD out of their initial 200 to break even, something I halfways expect to happen before long.
Used sets, as I started with, is turning out to be a hopeless case.  No less then 265.40 USD needs to be recuperated, and if those don`t start moving soon, I think I`m just going to part them out and go at it that way.

With all the buying I did in current sets, that still needs 157.27 USD to reach the break even mark, but the older sets, who already went in the green last time, kept rising and now already are 126.95 USD above their breaking even, so they are partly compensating the used ones. 
The Exclusives at the end did really well again, but it`s harder and harder to buy into them, especially with the holiday season at the door.  270.16 USD is what`s needed for them to go totally in the green, but I don`t think that will be a problem in the end at all.
My BrickPicker brickfolio is putting my stock out currently at 1769.71, and that would mean that in theory the doubling is possible, but we will have to see about that in 11 months time!

Well, that`s it for a few numbers and impressions for this month, the next episode will be coming somewhere between christmas and new year, so hopefully until then!

zaterdag 26 november 2016

Star Wars Rebels season 2

Even though the third season is currently running, I finally caught up with season 2.

I liked the original season, and I must say the second one didn`t really disappoint either... though the "helicopter lightsaber thingie" of the Inquisitors is just plain stupid.

The season expands it's focus.  Where the first season laid the seeds of small rebel groups in the Empire, they are getting together know in the second season and start to get organised.  With Asokha joining the cast at the end of season 1, she gathers some of her old friends around her to strengthen their effort, including Commander Rex, an old Clone Trooper friend.

While the rebel fleet builds up "Galactica" style, they are on the look out for old and forgotten bases from the Clone Wars era to settle themselves in.  This also leads to the answering of some old questions from the prequel era, like what happened to the bug like Geonosians.  Other, familiar faces are slowly reeled into the Rebel Alliance as well, like Leia.

But it all leads to a way to defeat Vader, and this puts Ezra under the influence of none other then Maul.  He is looking for a way for his revenge, his dark story beginning all the way back in the Phantom Menace and spanned the Clone Wars series... and this leads to the ultimate confrontation between Vader (Anakin) and Asokha in a really epic finale to the season.  Choices have been made, and I wonder how they will play out further in season 3...

Rating: 7 / 10

The Haul Report # 57

Another week has gone by, and it has been one with a lot of nice items and hauls.

And some flipped really quick.

For example this Agents set.  I bought it before the weekend, it already arrived on saturday, and it flipped for a small profit over BrickLink on monday.

Another really cool find are these two copies of the NHow hotel.  I`m keeping one for my own collection, the second one is going in my trade pile to compensate the price for both of them.

During last weeks meeting, some Simpsons series 2 minifigures have been handed out, and I obtained these 4 for the collection.  I`m actually a firm believer in the Simpsons range for future investments, compared to many.

Talking investing, these 5 copies of the small Disney set came at over 50% off.  While most tend to grab Star Wars, I`m putting my eggs in the Disney basket for the coming year, but more on that in the test result tomorrow.

Another Good Morning Bilbo found it's way to my hoard, and I only payed a measly 4.5 euro for this one on eBay Belgium!

Finally, I got this pile of loose bricks... but it has a sad tale attached to them, so watch the video to find out...

And that's it for this week, next time I got another big heap of elements, but as they only arrived this morning I'm still in the process of splitting the lot in "keepers" and BrickLink material... as I urgently need to start exchanging for a LOT of small green plates.

Work in Progress: The Shire

Today I`m sharing a bit of work in progress on one of currently 4 Tolkien MOC's I'm building on, as I can slowly progress on each one when I come across some usefull elements during the never ending sorting story.

Now, while the other three are "pure" moc's I plan to complete in 2017, this one is one of the "Display builds" I love to make, to show off the existing Tolkien range sets.

Now, at first with only Lord of the Rings, The Shire was limited to only the Frodo's Cooking Corner polybag and the small Gandalf Arrives set - which also was the first set I bought after my dark ages.  With the first wave of The Hobbit came the excellent Bag's End set into the range, and around this I will be building the display.  Two more limited edition Bilbo's appeared afterwards, being the pyjama version with the videogame, and the blue coated one that is only briefly seen in the beginning of the first Hobbit movie came with the Battle of Five Armies Blue-Ray.

The build is based on a 48x48 baseplate, which is layered and reinforced as I tend to do.  Using regular bricks for the first layer, then Technic bars on top.  The engraved The Shire brick came from Mijn Blokje as usual.

I then laid down the plates for a small stream to show the rustic feel of The Shire, and I`ll be adding a fisherman or so there, as well as the first part of the road for the cart of Gandalf to travel on.

This road will bend off the plate again, on a raised level.

Bag's End is 'tested' on where it has to come.  I then attached small plates underneath to attach it to the base, and raised it in height by circumventing it with Technic bricks as well.

It`s then placed alongside the road, and the covering up of the build could begin.

Alongside Bag End a small "pit" will be created where the Cooking Corner will be placed.

The front and sides are slowly closed off, and these will be slightly elevating green knolls, to which afterwards details like fences, flowers, bushes and trees will be added.

The cooking corner is then placed in the pit, right in front a small green elevation on which another tree will be build afterwards.

The build as it stands now can be seen in the very first picture of this post.  Next I`ll be closing up the front first, then add extra texture everywhere before building and detailing the plate...

See you next time!