Buggy Review

Stuck In Plastic’s #sip_apocalypse challenge was great fun. I really enjoyed creating characters, stories, and pictures to illustrate the survivors of the doom. My work was appreciated by SiP’s crew and I ended as runner up of the challenge. One of the prizes I won was 70829 Emmet and Lucy’s Escape Buggy which I review below.

The Buggy

Although there is plenty of sand and dust here, Apocalypseburg is not a sandbox, definitely not a place to play. It’s the landscape after the battle. These special time and place require special vehicles, and under the inconspicuous name of “escape buggy” hides a monster, ready to run through the wilderness of the ravaged world of bricks.

Just look at its silhouette. Huge wheels on balloon tires, high suspension, which makes it possible to spot a threat in the distant horizon of the post-apocalyptic desert, a silhouette inclined like a wild, untamed beast, ready to attack. The front is protected by a menacing and powerful truss, “adorned” with a heavy chain and a sign that unambiguously makes it clear that it’s better not to block the lane of this dray [hey, there are no lanes anymore!]; ok. better not to block the way [better?]. Light of powerful headlamps cut the dense darkness of the future, bereft of the street lamps. In the back, on the warning bar even turn-signals were mounted [in case you want to show the pursuer where you are going], and the long hood lets the camera make a loooooong ride from the front of the car to the window, from which you throw threatening glances to the left and right while clenching hands on the steering wheel.

But still only few will see your fierce expression of a [non-existent] road warrior. The powerful 24 studs engine V6, the real ornament of this car, with the power of 500 mechanical bricks, makes the Escape Buggy run in the form of a smudged streak, disappearing quickly in the clouds of dust and smoke from six powerful exhaust pipes.

There is also a gear [there must be a gear!]. The passenger has at his disposal a large harpoon with a coil rope [very useful in the everyday overcoming of sharp corners on the edge of the abyss!], on the truss the mentioned heavy chain [heavy chain is always useful!]. And under the body huge gas tanks are warning with exclamation markers. Are these boosters for such a powerful engine? Or maybe it’s compressed air, allowing doing great, frog jumping over the ruins of civilization? Only the constructors of this monster on four wheels know that.

This car says with all its means: don’t mess with me.

The Users

What’s more, its users say the same [well, Emmet’s two faces say rather that HE doesn’t want to mess]. Wyldstyle/Lucy’s face, even when we turn her head with the smiling side, does not portend anything good. And the angry side is really angry. Similar with Sharkira; regardless of whether she’s scaring with teeth on her helmet or with a dubious smile under the visor. Do I have to mention that Steelbeard is furious? Who wouldn’t be, being reduced only to the chest and the noddle!

And who’s messing? Supersweet Star and Heart, who are only waiting to literally explode with love. Straight in your face.

As You can see, even the WALL-E – Weaponized Antihuman Lethal Liquidator [Eradicator class] – who brought me the possibility of winning this great set – is afraid of “Buggy”.

We also asked Danny – our crash test dummy – to check this car. I think Danny’s stare speaks volumes!

Photographing large toys – part 1

I’ve always felt quite uncomfortable when I have to photograph relatively large toys. I’m used to photographing minifig-size toys and when I need to move to a larger scale, I usually struggle. It’s completely out of my comfort zone. Bokeh is an important element of my photography and with a larger scale, it gets more difficult to rely on it. As an outdoor toy photographer, another challenge with large LEGO sets is transport.

For over a year now, I’ve been forcing myself to photograph larger toys, mostly complete LEGO sets and builds. My main goal has been to have photos of the entire build, not some close-up shot of details. (I consider close-ups as cheating as it would amount to going back inside the comfort zone.)

In this two-part blog post series, I want to look back at how I practiced photographing larger toys, in particular, large LEGO builds. Today, I will talk about how I rehearsed and trained myself. This will lead to talking next week about the story of how I ended up photographing the Disney Castle as the Ultimate Challenge. and what I learned along the way.

(And maybe there will be a third part later after receiving the new LEGO Dino…)

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The Eagle Has Landed

The LEGO NASA Apollo 11 Lunar set 10266 also known as “Eagle” has landed. It is since yesterday available in LEGO stores around the world. A good month and a half ahead of the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong being the first man to set foot on the moon. This set nicely completes last years NASA Saturn V rocket. One which got Stefan running around in Hamburg with the rocket in one hand and making woosh woosh sounds.

The Eagle is beautiful, fragile and very discreet and has a prominent place on my working desk.

One small step…

And while the detailed replica of Apollo 11’s Eagle lunar module may not be ideal to run around within the fish market in Hamburg on a Sunday morning, it is an epic nostalgic build. I replayed those magic first words of Neil a few times while holding the set in my hand and making touchdown on the Sea of Tranquility. From the iconic “Houston, the Eagle has landed” to the first step on the moon. “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind …

Now how to shoot this set?

That was the question that ran around my head for a while. First, I was thinking about taking a step back and go analog. Getting some good old film into my Hasselblad. I quickly came to the realization I do not have an analog Hasselblad at my disposal. And even if I had to, I would most probably get frustrated with the analog process of not having instant validation on the digital big screen. For those of you who are wondering what Hasselblad had to do with the moon landing, have a look at this beautiful page over at their website.

A selfie with a Hasselblad (*)

LEGO Space

And while I was contemplating how to get this set on the wet plate, Pink from Benny’s Space Squad came over and had to take some quick snapshots. After all, this felt for her like going back in time. A nostalgic moment she learned everything about in the Space Academy. And while she liked the gold touch on the helmets of these iconic men, she felt much more comfortable in her pink space suit.

Pink (**) is getting some snapshots from the Eagle.

The Golden Van Allen Belt

The Eagle has quite a few golden parts on it. When looking at them I thought that these golden parts were there to protect against space radiation. And while I ultimately was wrong in my assumption(*’), they brought me to the idea of shooting the set with a different kind of camera. An X-Ray camera.

Not the one used in space guns, but the ones used in Hospitals and Airports around the world to see through the plastic with a different lens. And so I sent the Lunar model for an X-Ray check up with my co-conspirator and operator of big cameras, and the result was special. Very special. Feel free to maximize the video below.

The Eagle for sure had landed.

(*’) The golden parts on the Eagle are not there to protect against space radiation but against the heat of the sun. Technically that is also radiation, but I was more thinking about the evil Van Allen Radiation Belt. The golden foil is actually Kapton multi-layer insulation blankets, and they act as a heat barrier to sunlight.

Worth buying?

Well, every LEGO set is worth buying of course, but this one is special and makes a perfect gift for the upcoming Father’s day (Mother’s day just happened in most countries so you were too late to get it for that occasion, but of course you can still gift it as a late present). The Eagle won’t break the bank as much as the iconic Porsche or Bugatti (another Father’s day present). It sells for a comfortable 89 EUR at the local LEGO store in Hamburg (Stefan, just in case if you want to land in the Fish Market).

The set is great fun to build and packed with nostalgic memories to a time when landing on the moon looked so easy. And with it’s grey and gold Kaplan-like color scheme it nicely fits in any library or office space and it won’t take up too much space.

And for those who are into collectibles, the LEGO stores around the world have a unique LEGO NASA patch available. Limited editions I was told.

Please note that Pink (**) and Hasselblad (*) are not included in this set.
They were added by yours truly as part of the creative review process.
TLG provided the set for review and picture taking.

Looking for Uncle Scrooge

For the Disney II minifigs review, I chose Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck and Uncle Scrooge as they have so much potential to tell stories. Also, they were my favorite characters from Donald books when I was a kid.

Continue reading “Looking for Uncle Scrooge”

75180 The Upside Down – A Review

Something Strange This Way Comes

Boom! The rumours could be heard here and there- and recently all over the place. Last night rumours became reality, when the new LEGO set 75180 The Upside Down was released exclusively in London´s Leicester Square LEGO store with a release event. Time for us to have a closer look at the set and the story it tells.

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We can live like Jack and Sally

We can live like Jack and Sally if we want
Where you can always find me
And we’ll have Halloween on Christmas
And in the night we’ll wish this never ends
We’ll wish this never ends

And in the night we’ll wish this never ends
We’ll wish this never ends

When Stuck in Plastic asked for candidates to write a review for the new Disney CMF series, I only thought about Jack and Sally, and how (or whether) they could live happily ever after.

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Working For Peanuts

Disney Series 2 is just around the corner, which means two of my favorite childhood Disney characters are in stores soon! I grew up watching old Chip & Dale cartoons and have many memories of them pestering Donald Duck! I also was a big fan of Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. Naturally then, I was delighted when Stuck In Plastic and LEGO sent me these two new minifigures to review.

Chip comes with a little acorn made of two small pieces. It looks great.
Dale comes with a small sack to hold all the nuts he finds.

One episode I always loved of Chip and Dale was “Working for Peanuts.” At one point in the episode they get painted white and trick Donald Duck into thinking they are rare albino chipmunks and that they should only be fed the best grade “A” quality peanuts. It’s hilarious, and so I decided to get some fun Chip and Dale working for peanuts shots.

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Arabian Nights

Last time, my first post about the new Disney minifigures was about relatively new Disney characters. Now it’s time to look at older characters. In particular, the ones from my childhood.

One of my favorite Disney movies, if not my all-time favorite, is Aladdin. Mostly because of its villain who fascinated me during my childhood.

In company of my brother, ready to celebrate carnival some 25 years ago.

Upon the release of the first Disney series, my disappointment was strong to see Aladdin and Genie, but no Jafar. I had no hope to see him as part of a second wave. Yet it happened. (Most likely thanks to the live-action adaptation to be released in a few weeks.)

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