Ask a LEGO Fan

Building sets from a mixed lot

Posted in Inventories, Sorting, & Storage by lfanquestions on November 24, 2009

Joao writes:

Hi,
I have a bag full of bricks from my childhood and for which I don’t
have the assembly instructions anymore. Is there a way to find old
assembly instructions for LEGOs? I don’t seem to be able to find them
in the official website.

Also, it has been so long that I can’t remember all the sets that are
in the bag, apart from the big ones (airport, police station, some
technics for example). Is there a database that I can plug in what
bricks I have and it will tell me what sets I can build with them?

Thank you,

Joao

 

Dear Joao,

Archives of old Lego instructions are hosted in two locations online:

http://www.peeron.com/scans/

http://www.hccamsterdam.nl/brickfactory/

The second site current is inoperable and looking for a new home on the web.

Search these sites by set number or year to find the instructions.  If you remember the set is in a certain theme (ie: Town) you can see all of those sets on an archive site:

http://www.brickset.com/

http://guide.lugnet.com/set/

http://www.bricklink.com/browseTree.asp?itemType=S

http://www.peeron.com/cgi-bin/invcgis/setsearch?PagerSortDir=f&PagerSortCol=ID

You can create an inventory of all of your elements on www.peeron.com Creating the inventory will allow you to see which Lego sets can be built out of your elements.  This process can be time consuming so you may want to take my alternate advice below:

The first step is to build the sets that you know.  This will lower the amount of bricks in your bag.

Next, look for unique elements or minifigures.  Look up the element on BrickLink or Peeron:

http://www.bricklink.com/catalogTree.asp?itemType=P

For example the 1x4x2 Fence element can be seen here: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=3185

This page lists the colors and numbers of sets the element appeared in.  By clicking on a color it will show you the sets that element appeared in: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemIn.asp?P=3185&colorID=6&in=A

I hope this information is helpful to you.

Sincerely,
LFan

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Questions Thread: November 22nd – 28th, 2009

Posted in General Questions by lfanquestions on November 23, 2009

Please send in your Lego related questions to receive answers.  You may reply to this post or send us an email at lfanquestions@gmail.com  Thanks!

Sincerely,
LFan

Getting Started as an AFOL

Posted in General Questions, LUGs (LEGO Users Groups) by lfanquestions on November 19, 2009

Matthew writes:

Dear LFan,

You might be the best person to ask.  I just recently got really back into Lego bricks and as an adult wanted to know what I can do.  I see the websites of MOCs but my skill level (and budget) is not there yet.  Also Lego Groups website about activities for adults and even the certified/ambassador programs leaves me more questions than answers.

How can I become professional/certified/ambassador status?  Or at least..what would the first step be?

Thank you for your time and your quick response.

Matthew

Dear Matthew,

Getting involved in the Adult Fan of Lego (AFOL) community is a great idea.

First you should check and see if there is a Lego Users Group (LUG) near you.  Check out the map here:  http://www.lugnet.com/map/ Lugs hold regular meetings where you can join other fans to share creations, build new sets, and discuss everything Lego related.  They also have public displays several times a year.

Next you should look into online forums and sites for Lego fans.  Most themes have fan sites.  Take a look at the following communities and join the ones you are interested in:

www.fbtb.net – Star Wars

www.classic-castle.com – Castle

www.classic-space.com – Space

www.forbiddencove.com – Pirates

www.classic-pirates.com – Pirates

www.trains-n-town.com – Trains and Town

www.bzpower.com – Bionicle

The third step is to attend a large fan festival.  I recommend attending the convention that is near you.  Check out information about the North American Fests here:

www.brickfair.com – East Coast in Washington, D.C.

www.brickworld.us – Mid West in Chicago

www.brickcon.org – West Coast in Seattle

Lego Ambassadors represent lugs and online communities by giving fan feedback to the Lego Company.  Certified professionals build large models on commission for companies and individuals.  Both groups represent a small niche in the community.  I hope you have found this information helpful.

Sincerely,

LFan

Rare Bionicle Masks

Posted in Collecting Bricks & Sets, Marketplace, Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on November 16, 2009

The Lego Obsessionist writes:

Dear LFan,

As a active bionicle fan I can tell you where most any given bionicle element comes from.  This is not to say the brickopedia in my head is flawless- every once in a while I will be baffled by an odd piece.  But across the web I have seen an abundence of odd- colored Mata and Nuva masks- for example, white Mirus or red KauKaus.  These masks are not in any set, Toa, Matoran, Rahi, or otherwise (I checked).  Where did these come from, and where might I get some?

Thanks,
The Lego Obsessionist

Dear Lego Obsessionist,

Rare colors are usually in house prototype pieces that were not intended for public release.  It is a safe assumption that most elements have been produced in a wide variety of colors in house.  Fans view these elements as rare and collectable.  Designers do not share this opinion.  They think of how they can use the pieces in new sets.

There are several ways elements like these have made their way into the secondary market.  Rare colored elements and occasional prototype elements have been sold at LEGOLAND theme park Pick-A-Brick walls in the past.  Other mold test elements, such as the red ghost, were not properly disposed of and made their way into circulation.  Finally, some employees must be giving out elements to fans.  Certain BrickLink.com sellers have a wide variety of rare elements that they would not be able to sell without a reliable source.

In order to find these parts, I would suggest reviewing the available Bionicle elements on BrickLink: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?v=1&pg=1&catString=235&catType=P

Sincerely,

LFan

The Future of LEGO Pirates

Posted in Set Design by lfanquestions on November 16, 2009

Robin writes:

Hello LFan:

Great job with the blog as always. I grew up as a fan of the original Lego pirates and was ecstatic when I saw that the theme made the return.


Unfortunately, I thought the new pirate sets were far less impressive than their old counterparts in the late 80s and 90s. The current sets don’t even compare to the old classics like 6276/6277 and 6285/6286. It seems TLG did not put much emphasis on the theme like it had back when it introduced the line. There were more pirate sets released, better design (imo), and more pieces than are now.

There certainly seems to be a good following for the pirates line so I am not sure why TLG seemed to pull back from a theme that has had a significant following over the years.

What do you think?

PS: While the Imperial Flagship looks impressive, it is not part of the main set theme.

 

Dear Robin,

Designers in the 1980’s had three years of development time before a line was released.  This was an obvious factor in the strong design, art direction, and new elements for Pirates in 1989.

In my opinion, the new line of pirate sets are much stronger for their theme than Knight’s Kingdom 2 was for Castle or Mars Mission was for Space.  This is due in part that two of the original designers who worked on Pirates still work for TLG.  Usually it takes new designers several years to produce high quality sets in a new theme.

The original line benefited from elements such as raised baseplates for forts and hulls, rigging, and masts for ships.  Many fans feel that the new versions of these elements are not superior to the old elements.  Better elements would have improved the hulls and yardarms of BrickBeard’s Bounty.  A raised baseplate would have made the Soldier’s Fort more of a fort than a dock.

According to sources the new theme sold fairly well.  Hopefully, TLG will put more faith in core lines such as Pirates in the future.  Instead we have one year revolving themes lines like Atlantis, which we all know is just Aquazone III.  The key for TLG is to view Pirates as an evergreen theme and not a one-year theme.

Sincerely,

LFan

Lego Sold by Weight

Posted in Marketplace by lfanquestions on November 13, 2009

Jacky writes:

Dear Lego Fan,

I just started getting back into Lego Collecting and Building after see all these great creations from The Brothers Brick. I am amazed by what people created and want to be part of it. Currently, I am collecting pre-designed sets such as Green Grocer and Cafe Corner. But soon, I want to start designing and building my own models, but I don’t want to tear down those great creations as they inspire me.

I remember in one of the Ask a Lego Fan Q&A you suggested that buying bulk lots of bricks from Garage Sale, Ebay, etc to expand our collection. I found lots of brick for sale on Ebay, some are sold in lbs and some are sold in pieces. Is there any guideline on how many bricks average per lb? I know it varies based on sizes, but is there any rough guide on that?

Also, what would is the average price per lb or per pieces for such bricks? I found that some Ebay shop are selling 500pcs Lot for about 30 USD while I found a brand new box of 650 pcs box for 29.99 (http://www.amazon.com/LEGO-4545429-LEGO%C2%AE-Basic-Bricks/dp/B001T52V98/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1257952780&sr=1-7). Does that mean Amazon has a better deal on build pieces?

Thanky you
Regards,
Jacky

Dear Jacky,

A good price range for bulk used Lego is five to seven dollars a pound.  Of course a pound of old light grey bricks is worth much more than a pound of Jack Stone sets.  Due to the wide variety of Lego elements produced, knowing the amount of bricks in a random lot is difficult.

Auction sites can be good sources for sets and small lots of elements.  Many bulk lots on eBay have already been “cherry picked” for the rare elements, minifigures, and accessories.  Bricklink.com or new sets should be used to increase your collection of building elements.

New bulk brick boxes from Lego offer a variety of basic bricks for a low price.  The set you link to has a 4.6 cent price per piece ratio.  Any new set which has a price per piece ratio of 10 cents or lower is a good buy.  Check out sets in the creator line for affordable and useful elements.

Sincerely,

LFan

Legality of Custom Elements

Posted in Marketplace, Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on November 12, 2009

Joe writes:

LFan,

I understand that selling LEGO items can be a sticky situation
legally. My question: under what conditions does LEGO allow sales of
custom-made LEGO-related items?

Thanks,

Joe

Dear Joe,

The LEGO Group is very protective of their iconic bricks (ie: red 2×4).  They do not like custom, clone, or competitor elements that have studs which match the same size as LEGO products.

This appears to be somewhat hypocritical since they originally copied the 2×2 brick size, studs, and stud location from Hillary Fisher Page’s Kiddicraft Bricks ( http://www.hilarypagetoys.com/ ).  They did not buy out that company until over a quarter century later.

Producing true LEGO Company innovations such as the “tube” design under the bricks and the minifigure would certainly lead to legal disputes even though the copyrights on some of these elements have expired.

A majority of current “custom” elements are minifigure accessories such as modern weapons, castle fantasy elements, historic weaponry, and headgear.  Elements such as these seem to be tolerated since they would not be produced by the company anyway.  Of course fans need to be very clear that their products are not affiliated in any way with TLG.

I believe that most fan innovation is a positive influence.  Dan Siskind and other fans created large custom sets in the early 2000’s.  Now TLG produces a variety of large exclusive sets for AFOLs.  Jeff Byrd of Little Armory Toys created blasters from a galaxy far away.  Later TLG added appropriate blasters to the Star Wars licensed toys.  The guys at BrickForge created pigs, sheep, and cows that fans love.  Soon thereafter TLG made cows and a line of farm sets.  BrickArms sells army figures, modern weapons, and military helmets.  Preview pictures of one Toy Story set for 2010 includes four green army men with helmets.

Sincerely,

LFan

LEGO Technic Rumor

Posted in Set Design by lfanquestions on November 12, 2009

Kyle writes:

I noticed that the 2010 page on Brickpedia states that the Technic line will be discontinued next year. I wasn’t able to find any other mentions of this on the web. Is this “real” or “rumor”? What does this mean for the future of technic parts if true?

Thanks in advance,
Kyle

Dear Kyle,

Tormod Askildsen of the LEGO Group confirmed that this rumor is false.  Unfortunately, a fan with easy access to a wiki page decided to spread a lie about the theme.

Sincerely,

LFan