For first time, LEGO Ideas picks no projects to make a reality – and that’s OK

On October 30th, LEGO posted to the Ideas Blog that they had the final results of the latest round of fan-made-projects-made-reality. And the winner is….

No one.

All 13 of the projects were rejected. But I’m OK with that. You should be too – so go ahead an unbunch your panties.

Before we get into any of the specific details as to why all projects were rejected, let’s take a look at everything that was up for contention this time around:

Image courtesy of LEGO Ideas

Image courtesy of LEGO Ideas

Let’s be brutally honest – none of these are very good. Some aren’t even built as prototypes yet. And here lies the inherent problem with the whole idea behind LEGO Ideas and fan-made submissions. When you open up and create a platform for anyone to submit a project you’re going to get a lot of undeniably fantastic ideas, with an even larger amount of garbage.

LEGO attempted to put a system in place to stem the flood of shitty ideas making it to the final round by requiring a project to have 10,000 votes. And that only even got them into the review round. But in its infancy, LEGO Cuusoo (what Ideas was originally called) only had a small number of participants, and a smaller number of folks voting on projects. We were treated to amazing short-run sets like the Mars Curiosity Rover, and the ExoSuit, and Ecto-1.

Now with LEGO’s popularity explosion in the last few years, the Ideas site has turned into a platform for thousands of would-be LEGO builders to launch thousands of shitty designs. And with more people participating, there are inevitably more less-than-stellar projects making it to the review stage as they are upvoted over and over again.

I mean, seriously, I love Daft Punk’s mysterious and awesome persona music, but really – the “project” was two minifgs with a few small accessories and helmets. It’s not going to get made folks. They can be made using existing minifigs.

In fact, let’s look at the next batch of projects currently up for review for the next time:

Image courtesy of LEGO Ideas

Image courtesy of LEGO Ideas

Aside from the potential for another big modular building for LEGO City, the rest of these are either too small, far too complex & large, or just overall bad designs. Oh, also, another dinosaur that looks exactly like the one in the previous round. OK OK, the race cars are kinda neat.

I’ll let LEGO handle the official reasons why none of the projects were picked this time around (acquiring 3rd party rights, play-ability, similarities to existing or future sets already in production, etc). Watch the video of the official announcement below:

While it may be disappointing to the creators of these projects to have not been picked – I think this is a good move for LEGO. It was time to remind everyone that LEGO will decide what is best for their product line.

My only hope is this begins to make folks think more carefully about what projects they’d really like to see become an official set. Does it appeal to a wide audience? How expensive will it be? Is it playable, or displayable? Is this something that is actually really fuckin’ cool to be in LEGO, or is it something you saw in passing and thought oh hey that’s kinda neat.

And finally, how about some originality. Aside from the ExoSuit and the Birds, all the LEGO Idea sets have been LEGO-ized versions of nostalgic cultural symbols or various famous objects. I’m not disparaging them, don’t worry – I own most of them, I’m just saying – what better place to use your imagination and build something original? That’s the whole idea behind LEGO.

So don’t despair. LEGO made the right decision.

Play well.

LEGO Ghostbusters Headquarters coming in January 2016!!

My inner child is squealing with glee!

LEGO Ultimate Collector’s Series: SLAVE I

So with a whole weekend’s worth of hurricane rain keeping me inside and away from yardwork I decided what better time to finally sit down and put together this monster. It took me two afternoons and about a season of M*A*S*H on Netflix. But, let’s be honest, I wasn’t totally concentrating on putting the bricks together. A dedicated builder could easily assemble this over the course of a full afternoon and evening. So here’s a quick look at the building process and the final result
IMG_2317 IMG_2320 IMG_2321 IMG_2322 IMG_2323Despite the complexity of the build, the directions were pretty easy to follow. The interior workings of the ship are simply something to marvel at. I don’t know how these guys come up with the different ways to connect pieces to make it look like the real damn thing – but they are damn good at their jobs!

There are many, many tiny pieces in the build, so be careful when you’re pouring them out.
IMG_2325I neglected to take a photo of it, but the ‘minifig’ of Han Solo frozen in Carbonite is tucked away up inside of the ship at the top of the loading ramp. It’s a small detail that you really never see but you love it because you know it’s there.IMG_2326 IMG_2327The way the stabilizers are connected to the main body is tenuous at best, which is probably why this is more for show than for play. A nice detail is they change position on their own depending on the orientation of the ship. When you lift it to its vertical traveling position, they flop down, but tuck up horizontally when the ship is in landing mode (as you can see).IMG_2328 IMG_2329The cockpit starts to take shape and the overall shape of the ship begins to become apparent.
IMG_2330 IMG_2331The nose of the ship comes together in multiple pieces that are attached via the sticks through the holes. It works well enough and provides enough solidity.IMG_2332 IMG_2333 IMG_2334Another fabulous detail is the cockpit seat itself. It turns 90 degrees to match the flight mode of the ship (as seen in the movies).It doesn’t flop around freely, which is for the best. But once again the computer panels and overall display of the cockpit experience is top notch for being made of tiny little plastic pieces.
IMG_2335The side panels can be touchy since they are so skinny, but once they are on they’re OK.IMG_2340 Pulling the missile doors out is hard because there isn’t a handle, and when you do it pulls on the whole side panel which is only attached at the front of the ship – there is no connection to the big red drive section of the ship. So use caution.IMG_2341 And finally – finished! You can see both Boba Fett in the cockpit, and another one of the included minifigs for scale. This thing is large and in charge, and it’s fabulous. Nothing but the best for the galaxy’s most badass bounty hunter!IMG_2347 IMG_2349

The stand for this ship is better than the stand for the UCS Red 5 X-Wing – at least in my opinion. I didn’t like how that one leaned back but still gave you the option of keep it straight up and down…….if you fought with it long enough. So here’s a pic of it on the stand – again with the minifigs for scale.IMG_2351 The back side of the ship is equally as impressive. The bottom section is covered up by the stand in this photo – sorry!IMG_2352Overall, this was a great build. Sometimes the larger builds can get sort of tedious but I had a good time doing this – especially spread over two afternoons. One thing that was a little annoying was having to repeat build something reversed because of the symmetry of the ship. So instead of building a new piece – its the same thing you just built – only backwards. But, it is what it is. It looks badass though. The colors are pretty accurate, and the overall look is pretty true to the movies.

My only negative comments would be a) the gun turret nose of the ship hangs low and covers the name/info plate, and b) stickers. Goddamn stickers. LEGO, get your shit together and start printing the images specially on the bricks. There is nothing more frustrating than having this gorgeous build that is completely ruined because you didn’t quite get a sticker on straight. It drives people mad for the rest of their existence! Also, the info plate is one giant sticker that is so nerve wracking trying to put on straight I had to get up and take a walk after. Seriously; stickers are terrible.

LEGO Star Wars UCS Slave I: A+
Build time: B
Build difficulty: B
Price: C+ ($199.99)

[REVIEW] – ‘BRICKSY’ ; LEGO meets Banksy street art

51J1G8qbqZLThe folks at Skyhorse Publishing have sent along another pretty great LEGO book – especially if you’re a fan of the anonymous street artist Banksy. ‘Bricksy: Unauthorized Underground Brick Street Art‘ ($14.99 direct) brings you LEGOized versions of some of Banksy’s most famous works of vandalism – err, art.

The book itself is done up quite nicely with a vividly colored dust jacket wrapping around a good solid hardcover mirroring the art on the jacket (missing only the information on the inside jacket sleeves). The pages are laid out very nicely with some of photos spreading across facing pages. What I really liked about the book was the inclusion of the original Banksy artwork with each photo.

For the most part, author and photographer Jeff Friesen did a fabulous job recreating Banksy’s poignant whimsy. But, LEGO can only go so far when imitating life – and sometimes even less when imitating certain works of art. There are several photos where Friesen takes liberties in recreating the original version but usually the changes reflect his canvas – the world of LEGO.

See the original Banksy in the lower left corner.

See the original Banksy in the lower left corner. (Image courtesy of Amazon)

I’d suggest reading the short introduction from Friesen as he briefly dives into the pairing the worlds of street art and LEGO, and how they compliment each other.

Accompanying the pictures, aside from any prophetic words from Banksy himself, are some short quips reminiscent of my own type of LEGO photography – of which I owe my comic hero Gary Larson.

Page 11 Page 20 Page 23

As you can see, Friesen has done a fantastic job building complete worlds for each of Banksy’s ideas to live. Not to mention he’s made us of many of the new LEGO Collector’s Series minifigs which is just fun to see. Each shot is fully expanded to include the original art and built upon it – to possibly show might have been had Banksy used a more traditional canvas, and not the sides of buildings. But some are future imaginings or replies to Banksy’s original piece.

The book is rounded out with a short but insightful FAQ answering most of the questions you’re probably thinking of right now – and an index of all the original Banksy art photos (who took them, where they came from, etc). A nice, more colorful, way to dish out photo credits.

Overall Bricksy is a great little book that will appeal to fans who enjoy both subjects. However I’m not sure someone without an appreciation for Banksy art would get as much out of this – but that seems obvious.

Bricksy: Unauthorized, Underground Brick Street Art: [A]
Skyhorse Publishing
Available now. 

Review: Tuft & Needle 10″ Foam Mattress (The *NEW* version!)

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Yup, a king size mattress came in that little box. Though FedEx decided to beat up the box, the mattress was unharmed.

Hey everyone! I’m back with a new review of the new version of Tuft & Needle’s 10″ foam mattress. So many of you interneted your way to my review of the older version of their mattress they asked if I’d be willing to do another review of their new mattress if they sent one to me. Obviously I jumped at the chance. The timing coincidentally worked out perfectly because we just bought our first house and were looking to upgrade from our queen size T&N mattress to a king. As a disclaimer: though the mattress was provided for free, my conclusions and opinions are unbiased and my own. I’m happy to promote quality products, especially those made in the US. Also, I love sleep; and a comfortable mattress is divine.

This time around I did one better and made a comprehensive video review. I covered everything from some info about the company, to their 100 day sleep trial, plus unboxing, inflating, and a quick look at laying on it. Oh, and I tossed in a quick 1.5+ year update on the first T&N mattress – you’ll be happy to know it’s comfortable as the day we got it.

To learn more about Tuft & Needle mattress, please check out their website. I’ll write a little more below the video, too, including what’s changed since my first review.

Check it out!

So if you’re still on the fence about whether a T&N mattress is right for you, my suggestion would be to pull the trigger. You’ve got 100 days (that’s over 3 months!) to test sleep on it and make a decision. If your body doesn’t agree with it, just contact T&N and you can send it packing.

So what’s changed since my first review in June of 2014…

  • Tuft & Needle no longer offers a 5″ mattress. Personally, I never saw the point of such a thin mattress so I can’t say that will have much impact on anyone.
  • The foam and make of the mattress has changed a bit. The version we ordered in 2014 is no longer made, hence the *NEW* Version in this post’s title. The short of it is – T&N developed a new type of foam that would appeal to a wider
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    Slide the mattress right out of the box.

    variety of sleepers. This also resulted in a slight price increase. You can read about all the specific details about this RIGHT HERE. I think each mattress went up about $50-$100.

  • The mattress is a bit more cushy on top. To me, the older version was a more firm (which I prefer), while still being plenty forgiving. You sank into it just enough while still getting excellent support. The new foam is thicker and definitely gives more, however I’ve found that it still gives me the firmness I desire. It definitely feels different than at Tempur-Pedic – so if you don’t like how those memory foam mattresses feel then don’t worry here.
  • The trial period has increased dramatically from 30 days to 100 days.

Things that haven’t changed since my first review in June of 2014…

  • #1 rated mattress on Amazon
  • 2015 Consumer Reports Best Buy
  • Still hand made in the USA
  • Still damn comfortable
  • Still incredibly less expensive than buying a foam mattress at a mattress store. A queen size Tempur-Pedic mattress starts at $2000. The price is comparable to regular spring mattresses, and what you get here is so much more.
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The mattress comes vacuum packed. Watch it inflate before your eyes!

I think #1 complaint I hear from people whom I recommend T&N too is “how could you buy a mattress online – you can’t lay on it to test it before spending the money?!” That’s a pretty dumb excuse to not take a chance. Can you really believe that laying a 10 different mattresses in a store for 45 seconds at a time is going to tell you how it will feel during an actual night’s sleep – or after 6 months? No, of course not. You’re still gambling. I’ve slept on a regular mattress for almost all my life. I’ve slept on a Tempur-Pedic mattress a few times (I don’t care for how they feel). And I’ve slept on those god-awful monstrosities of uncomfortableness known as pillow-tops. Take my word for it – this is worth the gamble.

Poke around the T&N website for a little while and read about the company, and how the mattresses are designed and built. We did extensive research before buying ours last year and are still confident we made the right decision.

Well folks, there ya go! I hope between the video, this post, and their website we’ve helped you narrow down your choices for a new mattress. If you have any questions please feel free to leave one in the comments. Or if you’ve ordered a T&N mattress based on my recommendation I’d also love to hear about it!

First week commuting on my old Trek 820

I’ll post some pics of her up close later – I still need to re-tape the rims, switch out the grips & bar ends, and do a little maintenance on the cassette. All in all though, I think it’s definitely a keeper. I love riding on the thicker tires – so much smoother on these terrible Houston roads and paths.

What’s Old Is New (Again)