All posts by Benjamin Flessner

I Made a Friend!

And now for something completely different! A Lego Dragon, set 3724 from 2001! After a few buildings, a couple attempts at the Death Star and even a vehicle, I thought I’d aim for something a little simpler. Actually, I did a search for 1000+ piece sets from prior to 2005 and there’s not a ton to choose from that aren’t big bins of bricks. There’s a creepy Darth Maul set that is probably built similarly to this guy, but I have zero interest in building him. but this fella looked like a fun distraction, and at 1,538 pieces, fit my search criteria quite well!

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Death Star II

This is take 2 in a number of ways. Since I’m putting the massively Complex Death Star on the back-burner, I thought perhaps the intended-for-display Death Star II would be an easier/quicker build. Yikes – was I wrong on a couple of counts! At 3,460 pieces, it’s practically the same count as the UCS Death Star. And while it did not have an overly-detailed interior, it did have angles – tons of them – which stretched my Studio skills to the max.

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Old Fishing Store

To avoid finishing all the modular buildings by the end of the month, I was aiming for something different – building the iconic Death Star and making fairly decent progress – when Studio decided to die on me and take away 8 hours worth of building work (I swear, I do save, but apparently not enough). Being too uninterested in repeating steps I had just done, I went back to buildings. But I thought I’d aim for some character and attempt a highly-detailed set that has eluded me through a couple of sales and may simply be forever out of budget: the 2057-piece Fishing Store from 2017.

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Virtual Building

After the post-Christmas deluge of new-set-building has worn down, I’ve been considering what I actually enjoy about Lego-construction. Perhaps it’s the uncontrolled dust in the house, but I’ve never been one for “displaying” models permanently. I certainly enjoy mechanical models and any type of unique movement. But many times the “spark of joy” moment in building a model comes from seeing what the designer came up with as a method for creating something unique. I’m watching my kids build Diagon Alley and enjoying all of the tiny details that go into the models even though I didn’t put them together. I realized that I might get just as much fun and as many “aha” moments by building models digitally, especially since I’ve enjoyed creating models in BrickLink’s Studio several times before.

So I did an experiment…. with gingerbread on the brain, I built the tiniest gingerbread house set I could find. It took about 5 minutes and sparked a little joy. For fun, I did a slightly larger gingerbread house. And another. Both also fun! I eventually worked my way up to 10267 – Gingerbread House from 2019. This obviously took a bit longer (and disappointingly, most of the minifigs weren’t supported) but was an absolute win. Not only did I get to see how a little rocking horse and snowblower were built, but I was challenged in getting all the odd angles of the roof segments to join (not to mention colorblind challenges with the roof colorings that I eventually gave up on – just make ’em look nice!).

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Lego “Hauls”

Big Lego reviewers are always talking about their “Hauls” – usually referring to a large Lego.com or BrickLink order they made. But the rare treasure trove is a used lot of Lego parts and sets. When I saw a Craigslist post for “20 lbs of Lego” for $50 that had some interesting looking sets in them, I jumped at it. As my daughters and I sorted through things, we quickly realized this was, indeed a “Bargain Bin” (as we labeled the lists on Rebrickable) – even beyond the typical “$10/lb” that used Lego goes for.

From sets alone we did pretty well. There were 5 different “tiny” sets (6833, 4900, 6812, 6510, and 6811) – some of which I swear I remember from my own childhood collection. On the larger side, 4022 – C21 Sea Cutter and 6265 – Sabre Island were nearly complete. 3053 – Emperor’s Stronghold, 6580 – Land Jet, and 6939 – Saucer Centurion, though missing minifigs, were completed easily from our collection & a BrickLink order. 4026 – Create Your Dreams, 4917 – Mini Robots, 8815 – Speedway Bandit, and 8024 – Universal Building Set were brand new, still in bags! The set that really caught my eye, though, was 3409 – Championship Challenge. Though missing a couple of sidewalls (and all the players), this set was fully complete with turf, nets, and launchers to create a full soccer field. Once assembled I didn’t think it was all that playable, but my daughters quickly figured out the mechanics and soon had ninjas vs stormtroopers playing soccer back and forth! Though one hilarious outcome was that after flicking the players repeatedly, they always seemed to be very interested in the turf!

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Donut Math

I’m definitely playing too much of The Simpsons: Tapped Out these days. Eventually I’ll move onto other obsessions, but since I did some interesting math (and I hate throwing anything away that can be preserved digitally), I thought I’d share the results of a mathematical solution I came up with.

Donuts are the “premium” currency in the game – i.e. they’re what you can spend real money on, and they enable you to progress through quests and tasks more quickly as well as let you buy premium items, characters, and decorations. As you progress through levels, you earn bonus donuts until you reach level 939. After that, each “level up” gives you a choose-a-door option where you can win 1, 2, or 3 donuts. You can always spend $50k (in-game currency) to open up another package if you don’t like your first option, and there have been several lines of thought as to what the best strategy is to go for here. I went for a different tack – I already had more in-game dollars than I could ever spend, and placing a few bloodmobiles (the free-donut engine of choice among high-level TSTO-ers) would bring up several of these level-up bonuses in a row. Because I know time is my most precious commodity, I set out to figure what was the fastest method of getting donuts, regardless of the price in dollars.

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40,000 Lego Technic Pieces

Someone at work asked about my storage system, and since I tend to share way too many details, I figured I’d turn it into a blog post instead.

First off – a couple disclaimers: this is not a brag post. I know there are plenty of collectors out there with walls and walls of meticulously-sorted Lego parts and I’ve (mostly) gotten over my inferiority complex and accepted that I’ll never have a massive collection like them. On the flip side, this is certainly not a prescription on how to do anything. It’s just a continually-changing work-in-progress that meets my needs right now: a cheap and easy-to-find-everything-in-reach solution for building sets and MOCs from my desk.

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20 Years of Technic – Part II

I’m quite behind on updating these, but I’ve continued building all Winter (actually, I’ll let you in on a secret – it’s actually July and I’m finally creating this article; maybe I’ll surround it with other builds; maybe it’ll be the last one ever!).

I finally got all the pieces to create the full 8856 helicopter (with proper light gray parts, not that newfangled light “bluish” gray) and put it next to a helicopter MOC I had sitting around since November. Amazingly, the “flex cable system” parts still work quite well, if a little finicky. (The joystick in the cockpit tilts the top rotors in both directions)

As a coworker just said – it’s pretty crazy comparing Lego instructions from 30 years ago to today. I had to do a lot more stud-counting and axle measurements than I do nowadays. Also, we’re now spoiled by axle-colors (evens are usually red or black, odds are gray or yellow); back then, everything was black.

After sorting out all the light-gray from light-bluish-gray pieces (especially the half-pins…. :shudder:), I may end up just leaving this one together on display. I don’t want to go through that again, and realistically, I never end up using the old studded Technic parts in new MOCs. Alternatively (hah) I really enjoy completely alt-builds, so maybe I’ll try to make something using just these parts. Who knows… maybe I’ll end up with more than 3 designed MOCs on Rebrickable yet…

20 Years of Lego Technic

Written in late 2019 during back-log review of Lego interest

The next Lego experiment didn’t cost me a dime. Well, it probably did awhile ago. One of my old Technic sets from my childhood was 8856 – Whirlwind Rescue, and when we were digging out Legos, we discovered I still had all of the rarest pieces from this set. Knowing I had built the helicopter a few times before, I thought I’d check out the hovercraft. Some of the gears are a little touchy and tend to pop off, but overall, it’s a pretty fun look and neat mechanics.

Well, the Jet Plane that was currently a shark also has a hovercraft MOC. I thought I’d build it and compare it to my old set which was originally released in 1991. They were amazingly similar! It’s especially interesting to compare the old studded designs to the now mostly-studless Technic construction. It’s also much nicer to use fat gears as turning knobs rather than smooth discs. Still, pretty fun to see two designs just over 20 years apart turn out so similar!

Local Estate Lego Deals

Written in late 2019 during back-log review of Lego interest

While I was scooping up deals on Star Wars critters, a local estate-sale company started listing dozens of Lego sets on an online auction site. I missed most of the first round, even though many lots went for $1 or $2. I wasn’t particularly interested in them, but figured if I could get them for a buck, they’d be worth it for the parts. For the second round, I was more successful, and I got a LOT of parts. Let’s dig in.

The one set I did get from the first round was the 70818-Lego Movie’s Double-Decker Couch. My kids put it together while I was on my trip and sent me this picture of Ghost Vitruvius with an actual half-eaten sucker. It is also a great set containing many minifigs. Even though I already had Emmet and Unikitty from Lego Dimensions, Ghost Vitruvius, Lord Business, and Benny were great additions. L has taken a particular fondness for having Benny operate some of my heavy Technic machinery…. but I’m getting ahead of myself…

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