Monday, February 13, 2012

My Collossal, Unnamed Spaceship

The pictures of some of my creations included in my last entry sparked some interest.  So, the following are some more pictures of the large space ship I created back in high school (10 years agon now, wow!).  What is funny is that I could never come up for a name for this thing, to this day I think of it as "the big ship"; no name I could come up with ever seemed right.  Any suggestions?

Length: 5.1 feet long
Width: 3.1 feet at widest point
Average Width: 1.5 feet
Height: 2.25 feet at talles point

Some "Big Picture" shots:

I had always wanted to build something big enough that it
could include a monorail.  This was it.

This picture was actually taken from on my roof looking through
the window.  Model was too big to move.

This front part housed the hanger, labs, bridge and officer's cabins.

This middle section was crew quarters (the yellow section) and
connecting walkway.

The following pictures show how the model opened so that you could access the inside.  My goal was to make it 100% playable (a requirement for all my MOCs) which meant 100% access.  I succeeded. 

This shows everything opened and all the removable floors removed.
The crew quarters.
The hallway, the crew quarters were accessed via hatches in the floor
(you can see the red in the floor, those are them)
You can see the monorail dock and the rear access door here
And now a few detailed pictures of the interior.

The hanger, it was so big I could (and did) stick my head in it.

The engine room with the reactor front and center.
The mechanical room.
The greenhouse.
The first floor of the medical wing.  The hatch to the right accessed the
mechanical room and crew quarters.
Top floor of medical wing.  This was before sites like bricklink so I had to use
printed tiles for lack of plain ones.
Inside view of the hall looking from the front to the rear of the ship.
Crew quarters, 3 stories tall, sleeping was on the left and workout room
was on the right.
Officers quarters off the bridge.
The bridge and stairwell to the officer's cabins.
The model was very intricate.  Working pathways for minifigures existed throughout.  Their was a large working elevator in the hanger as well as the working monorail.  To date it is the biggest model I have ever done. 

A couple of final shots.


Monday, February 6, 2012

4 Collections

I realized the other day that I have 4 separate Lego collections that I do not mix.  They vary in size, but they are all there and each is actively growing. 

The Sets
This first collection is the longest running.  My sets span 3 decades now and constitute not only the oldest but the largest collection comprised of 283 complete sets.  Currently about 50% of them are sorted into bags waiting for assembly when my kids come of an appropriate age.  Alas the other 50% remain, despite my best efforts, parted into a variety of bins arranged in my own sorting method.  I have been trying over the past 3 years to get them all sorted into their respective inventories but 283 is a lot of sets and I have not been able to get them all done. 

The MOCing Pieces
This collection is the runner up in terms of size.  It consists of my extra pieces which are not associated with any of my recognized sets.  This collection came into being first through extra parts left over from Bricklink purchases and then was added to intentionally by purchasing Lego lots on eBay by the pound (for the record there is no more satisfying way to buy Lego than by weight!). 

A past by the pound Lego purchase!
These are the parts I use for MOCing.  When I MOC I like to keep my creations permanently so I don’t want to use parts from sets.  Ergo I have another whole set of bins, sorted in my same system, which I never mix with anything else so I know all those parts are extra.  Yes, I have a lot of plastic bins.  And yes my wife is a saint!

The Spare Parts
This is the smallest collection and also the most exclusive.  Through the years I have learned which parts are prone to breaking, wearing out (hinges!) or which ones would be disastrous to lose (whether due to exclusativity or importance).  So I have set about storing extras of these parts away in a special box that is off limits for MOCing.  A perfect example of the type of piece you can find in this collection is the door for 6195 Neptune Discovery Lab.

Photo credit:
Those beautiful blue doors are exclusive to this set alone and have been discontinued now for almost 15 years.  Should one of the clips which holds the door to the station break I would be up a creek without a paddle should I have to rely on The Lego Company to replace it as that part stopped being produced before many of today’s young Lego fans were born.  I have a wanted list on Bricklink that is populated entirely of pieces that I want to have extras of.  Every purchase I do I check for these parts before completing and add them to the order whenever possible.  Hopefully I will never need them, but in the event that I do I have a decent little bank of extra parts that I can call on. 

The Office
No I am not referring to the TV show.  My final collection is the small ensemble of sets that I keep at the office.  Technically this rotating display is counted as part of The Sets collection but since I don’t keep any other sets together outside of the three to four models I put on display on top of my bookshelf at work I think of them as their own category.  As I work at an engineering office much envy is expressed when my coworkers see certain sets.  More than once I get the response of: “You have that set!  Not fair I sooooo wanted that as a kid!”

My current office display, several M:Tron sets

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Is My Kid Too Old For Legos?

I was chuckling to myself the other day as I pushed back from the computer and surveyed my work.  I had just completed a list of the Lego sets I have acquired since graduating from college (6 years ago now).  I knew the list was going to be long but I was still shocked at its length as I passed my eyes over the finished product; it contained 50 sets.  And most of these were not small, 18 sets were over the $85 mark and another 8 (so over 50% total) were over $50.  What made me laugh though was not the fact that I have spent more on toys for myself in the last 6 years than many of my coworkers have on their multiple kids combined (is that funny or sad?) it was remembering back to 1997 and the turmoil that had engulfed my home. 

In 1997 I was 13 years old and my parents were worried.  For the previous 10 years, since my dad brought back my first set in 1987 from a business trip, I had had a single passion: Legos.  The problem was that my parents were getting worried, wasn’t I getting to be a bit old for these children’s toys?  Wasn’t it time for me to start pursuing more “big boy interests”.  As the oldest (and therefore the guinea pig as all first borns are) my parents were not sure if I would ever snap out of it and was therefore setting myself up for ridicule as I moved into middle school and high school.  To their credit they came up with a clever way to handle it.  They imposed a limit, $100 a year, which I could spend on Legos.  Their thought was that as my money from mowing lawns was freed up I would eventually explore other interests.  I was horrified when the new rule was announced.  $100 a year was one big set or at most two medium size ones.  What other interests would I want to pursue anyway?  My dad suggested I get a guitar and work on learning music (that also makes me laugh now, I am many things but a musician or even one who can pick out good music from bad is not one of them).  There was palpable tension.      

In hindsight  none of us could see what was already in the works.  As I had grown my skill with building had steadily increased.  Even as the rule was being imposed I was in the process of disassembling my collection, gathering their varied parts for some serious large scale building.  What none of us perceived at that time but saw clearly within just a couple short years was that the Lego habit, although not going away, was morphing.  What my parents were ultimately afraid of was that I would keep playing with Legos, zooming M:Tron and Blacktron ships around my room, and that my growth into a mature adult would be stunted.  For most kids they stop having an interest in playing with Legos about the age I was, so what was wrong with me?  The answer was nothing; I was losing interest in playing with Legos right on schedule but this was hidden by the fact that unlike my peers for whom no longer playing with them meant no longer being interested in them at all the nature of my addiction to those small plastic bricks that inhabited every corner of my room was changing.  I was shifting from playing to modeling.  I disassembled my sets in 1997 and only recently embarked on reassembling them in preparation for my own kids to be old enough to play with them.  But for over a decade they were parsed out into a variety of containers.  Why?  Because I needed the parts.

Over the next five years until I left home for college at 18 I embarked on a series of increasingly more complex projects.  I constructed robots and programmed them.  I built a Rube Goldberg machine for Science Olympiad.  And I modeled, first a pirate ship then an even larger and more detailed modern tanker, followed by my Mona Lisa: a colossal space ship. 

The Olec my tanker, she was finished throughout with a full working interior

At the time this was the most detailed model I had done

Every florr was finished out, this was the bridge

My pride and joy: over 4 feet long and 2.5 feet wide
This thing was so big the back of it is out of focus
She was fully finished out, this was the hanger, yes it had a monorail in it
What had been the staple of my play as a child became my respite, my detox as a maturing adult.  While my peers relaxed by playing video games or watching sports I exchanged my childhood Lego table for a work bench and shelves full of my sorted bricks.  To this day almost nothing relieves my stress better than modeling with Legos.

So I laughed because I remembered my mom and dad’s concern that I would regret all the money I had spent on Legos when I lost interest in them.  I can honestly say after 25 years of collecting Legos (and still going strong) I have never regretted a single purchase.  As I have matured the Legos roles has continually morphed but in each new stage they have found a way to remain part of my life and activity.