10/31/10

Happy Halloween!


Halloween has come to the Minifig Nation, and thanks to Morgan that celebration has been all month long. I can't begin to say how much fun it's been to tune in and see what figures he created for us each day. I can appreciate the time and effort that must have gone into conceptualizing and creating each figure for 31 days. Thank you Morgan, I can only hope we'll be able to share another countdown calendar with you next year.

You can checkout all 31 days on Morgan's Flickr stream.

10/30/10

Everybody Be Cool,This Is A Robbery


Shobrick posted these work in progress pics of his bank robbers concept. I enjoy how he takes the time to really pack each fig with details, without overdoing it. These shots seem to tell a story on their own with out additional plot or narrative. I really believe these guys are ready to pull off a heist!

New Elements in 2011 LEGO City Sets

Brickset reported earlier today that ToysRUs.com has some pics of the 2011 LEGO City police sets. Big deal, right? Well...

As you can see from the picture of set 7279, LEGO City Police Minifigure Collection, there are some new elements of interest including crowbars, a backpack that can hold items, a flashlight, and a dog with print resembling a German Shepherd. All this for $9.99 USD. Not so 'meh' after all. Nice to see TLG extending the idea of 'minifigure packs' into other lines.

If you would like to see more, then head on over to Brickset or ToysRUs.com.

Inside The Customizers Studio: Hazel Tam, Part 2

Welcome back to our second day of interviews with Hazel Tam, founder and chief designer of Amazing Armory Ltd. Yesterday we discussed many of the elements behind Hazel's design philosophy and views on the custom minifig accessory market. Today we take a look at the past to clear up some confusion, while turning turning our eye to the future.

Is there a story behind the Amazing Armory name (where did it come from)? Also, what is the story with the (old) 'bullet-head' mascot?

"Amazing Armory is a name that reflects my dream. An armory that wins  through amazing products! The bullet-head came to me while I was doodling. It was easy to recognize, and that was the reason we used it in the past. It was fun, but I believe I need something more serious than that now. Amazing Armory Ltd. is a production house for different kind of products, a new logo is needed. Therefore, from now on, our new logo will replace the current logo."

I must admit that in the past it was unclear as to who was involved in the old Amazing Armory. How did the people involved with the original Amazing Armory come together?

"It takes time and experiences to search for the right people to join the team, and I have to say, sometimes I pick the wrong people. Amazing Armory start by me, the original concept was to attract people who are interested in making and designing products to join us.

I am a designer, and I work as a designer because I have a passion and a dream. Money is not what my main focus on. Some people joined us about a year ago, yet turned out to be thieves who tried to steal Amazing Armory from me. It is a shame that it didn’t work out the way I expected. But now we are Amazing Armory Ltd, I would say that this is a brand new start. With new members and a new direction, I believe we can reach a higher goal."


I understand that 'Amazing Armory Ltd.' will have a whole new series of brands underneath this banner. How can customers ensure they are getting products made and designed by your new company and not the old one?

"After the unfortunate events of Amazing Armory, I rethought the focus of Amazing Armory. To me, Amazing Armory is just the company name. Amazing Armory Ltd. is a production house with several brand names underneath, HAZEL-Fantasy belongs to this category. Nightmare System, Orrangnade, United Armory will join Amazing Armory Ltd. and continue to produce high quality products for our customers. As such, our LEGO customers shall remember HAZEL-Fantasy as the brand name for custom parts. That’s the easiest way to find the products that they are looking for. With our new website coming, customer can have a better understanding of what those brand name stand for."


Can you share with us a little bit about the new brands that will be coming out soon (Nightmare System, Hazel Fantasy, etc.)? How will they be different from each other? How will they work together?

"As I said, HAZEL-Fantasy will focus on custom parts. All of them are still designed by me, and we will have over 80 new items in 2011.

As for Nightmare System; we are trying to something new, and therefore we still need more research and insight on these new ideas. We will keep everyone updated once we have any news.

I must talk about my Japanese friend who taught me everything. He is going to join Amazing Armory Ltd. in the near future with brand new directions of products. His skill shall bring marvelous products to Amazing Armory Ltd."


You've worked with other customizers/designers like Orrange in the past. How many other designers will you be working with under the new brands?

"With new brands and new Amazing Armory Ltd, we are excited to announce that a group of very talented designer has joined our team. Our chief concept designers will be HAZEL Tam, Nakamure and John. We have 2 3D designers, 8 animators and 2 graphic designers. We will still use Flickr as our communication channel with our customers and these designers will soon join our discussion.

Also, we are opening a new co-operation project for those who are interest to join the toy design industry. Our plan is to help them create new products with smaller quantity and provide a suitable environment for them to grow their business. This is the job of Amazing Armory Ltd."

A lot of exciting things to look forward to, but you won't have to wait long. In a little over 24 hours, the Amazing Armory Ltd. website will go live. Product will be available soon after on the website or through United Armory (US/CAN) and FireStar Toys (UK/International). These three outlets are the only ones to carry these new and exciting products. If other authorized resellers come on board, we will be certain to let you know.

I want to extend a big 'thanks' to Hazel and John for taking the time to set up this interview. I'm really looking forward to all that Amazing Armory Ltd. has in store for us, as I'm certain the rest of the community is too.

10/29/10

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night....


Chris McVeigh (AKA Powerpig) uses numbers to his advantage for this great Halloween shot. Is that a custom MJ I see? (Cue the creepy Vincent Price laugh) Muwah-ha-ha-ha-ha...

(Via Powerpig's Flickr stream)

Inside the Customizer's Studio: Hazel Tam, Part 1

I am pleased to announce our third interview in the Inside the Customizer's Studio series today. We will be talking with none other than Hazel Tam, founder and chief designer of the new Amazing Armory Ltd. I'm certain many of you have been aware of Hazel's work over the past few years with his former company. I have personally been in awe of his designs and was greatly honored by his willingness to participate in this session. I must also thank JasBrick who served as the initial conduit between Hazel, John, and I. A big thanks to Jas for helping to make this happen.

I hope to communicate what the past, present and future hold for Hazel and Amazing Armory Ltd. At the end of these sessions, I'm certain you will be excited about what Hazel and company plan on bringing not only to the LEGO minifigure customs community, but also the toy industry in general.

The interview itself happened via correspondence during the time that Hazel was ramping up for the AMA re-launch. We begin the conversation talking about Hazel's design philosophy and minifig customization.

In piecing together your bio I understand that you are originally from Hong Kong but worked in Japan. Were you working in the toy business prior to getting into minifig customization or was it just a hobby?

"I was born in Hong Kong, but I studied in Japan a many years ago. I used to work with a Japanese friend, and he taught me all the skills to customize parts for different uses. We used to use these skills to make plastic models. I was a fashion designer once, about 6 years ago. I started with customize parts around 2007, for hobby at first. Back then, it was just for show.

At the beginning, I didn’t really take it serious, as it was just a hobby. When I thought about turning this into business, I had a vision that I must create a new style so people will remember my products, not just as custom parts for LEGO, but as designer toys. And that was the start of Amazing Armory, and the main concepts of Amazing Armory Ltd. 

We are not only doing custom parts for LEGO, but also have 3D design, Graphic Design and fashion Design. Amazing Armory Ltd. will become a production house with many different products and designs!"

Your designs are very different from other custom houses (i.e. BrickArms, BrickForge, etc.), you even take great care in designing the packaging for your products. How would you describe your design philosophy?

"It’s all about design concept. My job as the chief designer of Amazing Armory Ltd forces me to think about how to produce the best product for our customers. I believe we have to focus more on how a custom part can transform into other toys you buy from a local toystore. We wish to create an image for our standard packing, so our customers could instantly recognize our products. That’s one of the reasons we focus not just on the custom part, but also the packing of our products."

I've read in other interviews that video games have been one source of inspiration for your designs. What are other areas that inspire some of your work?

" I have to admit that video games are one of the major sources of my inspiration. After all, we live in a world surrounded by different kind of media and it seems impossible to escape from them. Movies are another major source of my inspiration.

Yet what I try to do is not only about making them 'LEGO' style, after all that’s not people expecting from us, but to re-create the image inside my mind."

You've mentioned in other interviews designs you've had in the works based on Final Fantasy and Lord of The Rings. Are you looking to do more in the 'fantasy' vs. 'sci-fi' area?

"Final Fantasy custom parts have been a dream of mine for over 6 years, it is a must for me to finish it someday in the future. This is something I have to do, and it is part of the reason I call myself HAZEL-Fantasy.

About Lord of the Rings, I already have some ideas in my mind. Yet, Fantasy area is not HAZEL-Fantasy focus for now; it belongs to Nightmare System. HAZEL-Fantasy is currently too busy working on sci-fi area."

Who do you see as your real competition? Other custom houses? Other toy companies?

"In terms of LEGO, I would say that the real competition is LEGO, LEGO is the ultimate winner in this, and no one can beat it. In terms of Amazing Armory, I would say that HOT TOYS is the focus of our company."

What is your dream project? What are the obstacles that stand in the way of going after it?

"My dream project? It’s hard to say. I believe it is 12” figs. I’ve been a fan of HOT TOYS for a long time and I am really interested to try out what they’ve done. Time has been my obstacle for a long time; I have lots of ideas, but each of them takes a lot of time to perfect."

There are a lot of up and coming customizers who would like to follow in your footsteps and make a career out of minifig customization. What do you believe the biggest challenge is in becoming a professional minifig customizer?

"I believe it is not about following in my footsteps. After all I am not the first one to come up with this idea of working in the customization field; however, I am glad that people see me as a pioneer in this, and I am really excited about all the new customizers. Their stuff is great! You see, the difficulty in customization is hard to understand until you pick up tools and try it by yourself.

Many new minifig customizers appear on the internet these days and it is interesting to look at how people choose their topics. You know, LEGO has been a famous brand for all these years, and it is hard to keep yourself up with that. I’ve been trying to maintain the fresh and modern image of our products, and hopefully to reach something different than the LEGO direction!

I usually think about the question like will the customers still choose to buy our products if LEGO already has something similar? As a customizer, design concept is very important. I believe if a customizer doesn’t have a clear artistic style, then he or she is no different than a designer for LEGO. There is nothing that original about them in that case."

Join us, tomorrow when we finish our interview session by taking about Hazel's previous company and what the future looks like for Amazing Armory Ltd.

Tutorial: Shobrick's Custom Holster Designs


The tutorial itself is a few months old, but if you would like to see how Shobrick creates his custom holsters you can check out his pictographic tutorial on Flickr. Never has so much been done with just a little electrical tape (wait a minute, I'm channeling Alex Eylar).

The example above was done to great effect by Da-Puma. Thanks to both Shobrick and Da-Puma for sharing.

Inspiration: Tron Legacy

Come on boys and girls, Catsy and BrickArms can't do it alone. Tron Legacy boots up in a little over month (December 17th). I'm tempted to have a contest... 

LEGO Star Wars Minifigures: Saesee Tiin


Saesee Tiin is exclusive to the LEGO Star Wars set 7931, T6 Jedi Shuttle. This will be the first time this Iktotchi jedi has been available in the LEGO universe.

Minifigure Parts and Accessories

Saesee is made up of 5 parts - a head peice resembling Iktotchi horns, head, torso, and leg assembly.

A head piece sits atop the head to resemble the horns of the Iktotchi race. This is a unique piece and new to the LEGO Universe. It is not known if the horns can be removed from the rest of the head piece, but it doesn't appear so.

The head is flesh-tone and features a new print. Based on the design of the head piece, it is unlikely that this is a dual-sided head.

The torso is brown with white arms and black hands. The torso print resembles a Jedi tunic and a belt.

The legs are brown with brown hips and no visible print.

The accessories for this figure are a lightsaber with a trans-green blade.

As with some of the other 2011 Star Wars minifigures the images in this advert do differ from the pictures seen in the 2011 LEGO catalog. In the catalog the arms were brown with flesh hands, and the minifigure sported a cape. The torso and leg assembly also appeared to be reddish brown. We won't know for certain until we receive pictures of the final sets, but we will update any discrepancies.

Saesee Tiin is an Iktotchi Jedi Master and flying ace. With the characteristic horns as the main design feature, the minifig version resembles the orginal quite well as seen in this reference photo.

Army Building Potential

The ABP for this figure is moderate. The horned head piece may be sought after in multiples, even it the figure is not. Iktotchi are a race not previously available, so one could populate sci-fi cityscapes with a few parts changes.

Big Draw

The big draw here is the horned headpiece. Ideal for custom applications and very unique many will seek this minifig out for this feature.Of course, LEGO Star Wars collectors will want to add this new addition to their growing collections.

(Pictures via KimT's Flickr stream, Eurobricks, and Wookiepedia)

Creations for Charity 2010



I wanted to mention the Creations for Charity 2010 event is going on right now on BrickLink. Many in the minifig and custom community have put forth their time and creations to make this year's event a big one. I noticed from the splash page on Eurobricks that JasBrick contributed his Tau Pathfinder. Also Legoagogo contributed a piece which is still up on the store, and Arealight contributed some of his new sci-fi helmets and jetpacks.  My thanks to everyone in the community who have contributed to this great cause.

I believe you can still participate, with creations or donations, through December 1st. If you would like more details Eurobricks has a thread up on their frontpage right now.

10/28/10

BrickLink Founder Passes Away

I'm certain many of you have seen the news today that Dan Jezek, owner and founder of BrickLink, has passed away. Dan's contribution to the AFOL community has been felt far and wide. I know my AFOL experience would not have been the same without BrickLink, namely this site would have never come pass if I didn't start the store there. My sympathy to family and friends during their time of grieving.

If you would like more information please see the announcement on BrickLink.

They Like to Move It, Move It...


This animated, excising vignette by lckelpete came to my attention via Doctor Sinister on Brickspace (it's good to see that site active once more). 

Inspired by Peter Ried and Simon Burfield's Turtle Factory from The Great Western LEGO Show, this build is powered with a LEGO power functions motor and features a couple of Series 2 Collectible Minifigures. You can see the video of this piece in motion on lckelpete's Flickr page.

(Via Brickspace)

White Bobas Seen in Oz


Austrailian LEGO Star Wars fans rejoice, Brickset is reporting that Toyworld is offering a free white Boba Fett promotional minifigure when you purchase select LEGO Star Wars sets. I believe this is the first time that this minifigure has been available in Austrailia through retail channels. It is unknown how many of these figures will be available, so take action when you can. My research suggested that only 10,000 of the figures were originally produced, but given the fact that they continue to show up across the globe as promotional items leads me to believe there may have been (at least) a second production run. Visit Brickset or the Toyworld website for more details on this recent promotion.

A fun fact for you Star Wars aficionados out there. After reading the book The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, I discovered that not only did Boba Fett appear white in Ralph McQuarrie's initial concept drawings, but it was originally intended to be a new breed of super-stormtrooper. The design was re-purposed for Boba  after the super-stormtrooper idea was scrapped!

LEGO Star Wars Minifigures: Shaak Ti


Shaak Ti is exclusive to set 7931, T6 Jedi Shuttle. This will be the first time this Togruta Jedi will be available the LEGO universe.

Minifigure Parts and Accessories

Shaak Ti is made up of 4 parts, a head piece, head, torso, and leg assembly.

The headpiece is a blue and white part resembling the adult Togruta head tails. The headpiece also gives the forehead of the minifigure a higher profile.

The head is red with print to mimic the Togruta facial markings. This is obviously a new print.

The torso and arms are brown with red hands. The torso print has low neckline with the rest resembling Jedi robes.

The legs and hips are brown with no visible print.

The accessories for this figure are a lightsaber with trans-blue blade and a brown cape.

The minifigure appears to resemble the live-action version quite well. The legs could have been replaced with a dress slope, but this would have reduced play value. Also print could have been added to the legs to mimic the belt sash and it's markings. The key design element here is obviously the head and it was done well.

Army Building Potential

The ABP for this figure is moderate. The unique head piece may be sought after in multiples as the only other Togrutian character in the LEGO Star Wars universe has been Ahsoka Tano. Ahsoka's head piece design, however, is different. The figure itself will likely not be sought after in multiples in that same way that a clone or stormtrooper might.

Big Draw

The big draw will be for the new and unique headpiece. Obviously LEGO Star Wars collectors will want to seek out this new minifig for their collections.

(Pictures via KimT's Flickr stream, Eurobricks, and Wookiepedia)

10/27/10

The Closest Thing to Maxifigs


I've gone back and forth on if these things are really relevant, but seeing them posted on Toys N Bricks made me reconsider. 

There are two LEGO Star Wars alarm clocks shaped like Darth Vader and Stormtrooper minifigs now appearing in US and Canadian retail stores. The dimensions appear to be similar to what I would envision a 'maxifig' would look like, a larger scale version of a minifig. If you can get past the clock display, then this is the closest you would be able to get (assuming you can't get your hands on one of those Target displays).

These are priced at $29.99 USD and appear to have articulation in the arms and legs. FBTB.net also states that the heads light up and serve double duty as the 'snooze' button. No word on if these will be available outside of North America.

Gareth Payne Photography BOGO Sale


There are quite a few photographers of the fig where I really admire their work. One of those photographers, Gareth Payne, is currently having a sale where if you buy one of his 11x14 prints (or smaller), you get a 5x7 for free. Orders for prints/posters 16x20 and up will receive one free 8x10. Limit of one free print per order.*

Gareth has a wide variety of Star Wars related prints, both minfigures and larger action figures, plus nature-based prints. If you've enjoyed Gareth's work in the past, then here's an opportunity to take a little bit of that home today. Act soon. The sale ends at the end of October.

*See store (link above) for full details

Reminder: New Items at Arealight Today


Just a reminder that Arealight has their new range of Star Wars inspired sci-fi helmets and jet packs up for sale right now. I placed an order at their store this morning and can't wait until these come in. 

While you are there, don't forget to check out their range of Twi'lek female heads and those famous curved female torsos. A lot to see, so check it out.

LEGO Star Wars Minifigures: Aurra Sing


Aurra Sing is exclusive to set 7930, Bounty Hunter Assault Gunship. This is the first time that Aurra has appeared in the LEGO universe.

Minifigure Parts and Accessories
Aurra Sing is made up of four parts - hair piece, head, torso, and leg assembly.

The hair piece is a brown pony tail that attaches directly to the stud on top of the minifigure's head. This is a new part.

The head is white with a female, yet alien, print. This is not a dual-sided head.

The arms and hands are all white. The torso is orange with a print that resembles a tank top design and vest. There is print on the back of torso.

The legs are orange with holster print on both legs, while the hips are brown with a belt print.

The accessories for this figure appear to be modified versions of the DC-17 short blasters with a sight now added on top. Both guns come in black.

The figure resembles the character quite well, as seen in the reference photo. A lot of nice touches on this figure with the hair piece and prints. 

Army Building Potential
The ABP for this figure is low. The figure is not on par with the clone or stormtroopers for collectors wanting to seek multiples of this figure.

Big Draw
A lot to like here. The hair piece is a given draw. I also see both the torso and legs being desirable for custom builds. The blasters, if a new version of the DC-17, could also be attractive.

(Pictures via KimT's Flickr stream and Wookiepedia)

Update: LEGO Star Wars 2011

We reported a few days ago that a few 2011 LEGO Star Wars sets had been 'bought' and made it into the European market. Inevitably images from those sets and instruction books have made it on the web. The pictures themselves aren't great (we usually wait for the hi-res set pictures before proceeding); however, I feel the pictures are 'good enough' to move forward with the guides. Given that none of these images have the 'confidentiality' watermark we should be safe to start posting these...I think.

The image to the right features rendered versions of several new figures including Aurra Sing, Shaak Ti, Saesee Tii, and the bounty hunter Embo. I believe these were taken from an advert that comes in the new sets. There are other pictures of the January 2011 sets on the Toys N Bricks Flickr page if you would like to see more.

Later today you should see the first new entry for the LEGO Star Wars guides. We will continue to post entries, as long as we have pictures of quality. Once the hi-res pictures become available we will switch them out.

10/26/10

Quick Hits: Amazing Sculpts, Cosplay Fun, and Custom House News

Another big Tuesday so far, and I haven't even had my second flagon of coffee yet! Lot's to cover so let's get started...

Tyler (AKA Amadgunslinger) has posted some wonderful sculpts like the one seen here. This is a nicely detailed recon helmet, and using Sculpy no less! Also not to be missed are his mermaid and custom hairpiece for slave Leia. Needless to say, anything I would attempt would look like a reject from the Play Doh Fun Factory. Nicely done! Tyler does have an eBay store where he sells some of his custom creations. Check it out when you have a chance.

Not only is Morgan plowing through the month of October with his inspired Halloween countdown calendar, he's also had time to produce an entry for the Eurobricks Cosplay contest. Channeling a taller Kenny Baker, Kevin Chen gets ready for his first Star Wars convention.

This week is shaping up to be big for new custom house releases. Arealight will be releasing a new series of Star Wars inspired helmets on October 27th. My Imperial head gear identification skills are a little rusty, so I won't embarrass myself. Instead you can check them out yourself on the Arealight website and their Flickr stream. It's been a while since I've visited the Arealight store but it looks like it's received an upgrade.

Woody's Minifig Customs has just put up some new designs for Spartan warrior gear on his Shapeways store. If you missed it we covered Woody in a spotlight article last week. Since then 3D printing has been in the news with a 3D printer made of LEGOs that builds, what else, more LEGOs, and Badger has been showing how Will uses the technique as part of the prototyping process for development of the BrickArms helmet line.

Roaglaan has been adding and updating decals to his BrickLink store recently. With designs ranging from military, superheroes, and medieval themes I'm sure you will find something you'll like. No sightings on the store yet of his Cobra troopers decals. Let's hope they go up soon. (UPDATE: They are now up on the BrickLink store. Search by 'newest' and today's date. Torso and face stickers are included in the price.)

That's all for now, citizens. More to come as it happens...

Cygnet
Minister of Information
Ugly Duck Command Center
Minifig Nation

10/25/10

Product Review - Tiny Tactical Panzerschreck Set

The following is the first review in a series for custom minifig house Tiny Tactical. Tiny Tactical has been storming the scene with a variety of new and innovative custom military pieces. To learn more about TT you can check out our previous customizer spotlight article on the company.

The focus of this review is on the Panzerschreck set which is composed of four parts - the rocket launcher, blast shield, backpack, and rockets. All of these items can be purchased separately or together on the Tiny Tactical BrickLink store (link below).

Panzerschreck Reference Photo
The Panserschreck was the popular name of the Raketenpanzerb├╝chse which was often shortened to RPzB. Used by the Germans against Allied tanks in World War II, their name roughly translates to 'tank terror'. Although a reusable, shoulder-fired rocket launcher, the Panzerschreck emitted a toxic black smoke after firing, giving away the operator's position and requiring them to move to another location. The shape of the weapon and the black smoke earned the Panzerschreck another nickname by German soldiers, the Ofenrohr or 'Stove Pipe'.

Backpack Details with and without Rockets
We first turn our attention to the backpack which can house up to three of the RPzBGr 4322 Rockets. The backpack is made of a brown thermoset plastic. It connects to the minifig much in the same way a standard backpack would, by a connection that fits around the head post. There are three holes near the bottom of the piece which allow the tips of the rockets to sit, and three notches where the rocket shafts can rest. The rockets to not clip into the backpack, but instead sit levered into place. The rockets will not fall out of the pack, but can move around when repositioning your figures. Steve from Tiny Tactical indicated that these rockets could be glued to each of the three notches, if desired, but then couldn't be removed easily after glued. I found the backpack to fit firm and snug on the minifigure without any issues. The thermoset plastic seemed quite nice and durable.

Rocket-Propelled Grenades in Hand
We've already mentioned the RPzBGr 4322 Rockets which can sit in the backpack housing. Each rocket is made of thermoset plastic with a carbon fiber support structure. The rockets do not attach to the Panzershreck itself and do not have a connection point at which a minifigure can 'grab'. You can rest a rocket in the minifigure hand, however, when the arms are extended horizontally as seen in the picture above. The detailing on the rockets are wonderful and resemble the real-life item quite well. Again, I didn't see any issues regarding durability of this item during the review.

Panzerschreck 360 View
We now turn to the main piece of this set, the Panzershreck rocket launcher. The rocket launcher arrived with the blast shield attached using an industrial grade glue to bond the shield in place. Both the rocket launcher and blast shield are made out of dark tan thermoset plastic. The launcher is further reinforced with carbon fiber. Both pieces are dark tan in color. As you can see from the 360 product shot above, the piece is nicely detailed, especially the blast shield, and resembles the real-life item incredibly well. I felt the piece had just the right level of detail while remaining suitable for minifig soldiers. The launcher fits firmly in the minifigure hand and extends nicely over the shoulder. A detail that I appreciated was how the launcher's two sights and the hole in the blast shield aligned.

Blast Shield On and Off
As we mentioned earlier the blast shield will come attached via glue if the rocket launcher and blast shield are ordered together. With the blast shield glued in place you cannot easily remove it for other custom applications. The attachment is firm, but care must still be taken when handling the piece. I was testing to see if the main shaft of the rocket launcher could be used as a connection point with the minifigure's hand (note that it can, but you will have to use some force to make the connection). In the process of doing this, the shield came off (see picture above). The shield remained intact and could easily be reattached and positioned; however, do keep in mind that rough treatment could cause the same thing to happen for you. I contacted another collector who bought several of these sets. He confirmed that he didn't have this issue with any of the 11 sets he purchased. Is it possible that the blast shield could unintentionally become detached? Yes. Is it probable with proper handling? No.

In summary I feel all items associated with the Tiny Tactical Panzerschreck set to be nicely detailed custom items that give your minifigure armies some historical authenticity. Rough play is not recommended, but otherwise I found the pieces to be of good quality. Overall this is a recommended buy and a nice addition to your minifigure World War II arsenal.

Additional Stats
Custom House: Tiny Tactical
Website: www.tinytactical.com
Location: British Columbia, Canada
International Shipping?: Yes (see BrickLink store for details)
Colors Available: Dark Tan (Panzerschreck Launcher and Blast Shield), Dark Gray (RPzBGr 4322 Rocket), and Brown (Rocket Backpack)
Retail Prices: Panzerschreck Launcher ($5.75 USD), Blast Shield ($2.40 USD), RPzBGr 4322 Rocket ($2.15 USD each), Rocket Backpack ($4.20 USD)

Reference pictures and historical details via Wikipedia

New BrickTW are Go!


BrickTW has confirmed that their new 2010 line-up of custom goodies will be on time for a Halloween launch! The folks at BrickTW have taken special care to make certain this latest batch of product was up to their quality standards. My hats off to everyone at BrickTW to taking the time to get these right, instead of rushing them out the door.

As you can see from our previous posts and from the picture above, that this latest batch of product has a lot to offer. So get ready to head on down to the BrickTW BrickLink store between 10/31 and 11/1 and pick out your favorites!

10/24/10

LEGO Harry Potter Minifigures: Owls


Although not minifigures themselves, I felt these minifigure-scale owls deserved a little bit of attention.

The molds for these owls are new, the former piece being part 40232. What really sets them apart are the prints that have been added as part of the 2010 Harry Potter lineup. There are three owl designs in all - A snowy white owl with yellow eyes and a ruffled feather pattern, a dark blueish gray owl with yellow eyes and a vertical feather pattern, and a reddish brown owl with yellow eyes and tan chest feathers.

There's nearly an owl in every 2010 LEGO Harry Potter set, save Freeing Dobby and Quidditch Practice. Early pics would also suggest that the 2011 set, Diagon Alley will feature at least two of the three owls.

Here's to hoping that these new printing techniques continue to be used to update many of the classic LEGO animal designs.

(Picture via FBTB's Flickr stream)

Axel is Alone in the Dark


I don't know how I missed this originally, but A~XEL's 'In the Dark' series is an inspired idea.  There are five pictures in this series over all, but Aevum, the Undead Cleric is my favorite.

The spymaster drone in charge of A~XEL's sector of Minifig Nation has been disassembled and repurposed for parts. Poor performance will not be tolerated...

(Via A~XEL's Flickr stream)

10/23/10

Reports of First 2011 Star Wars Set in Wild

Brickset is reporting the first 2011 LEGO Star Wars set has appeared in the wild (and by in the wild, we mean a French LEGO forum). The screen shot is of set 7929, Battle of Naboo. Not the first set I would have wanted to debut early, but I'll take what I can get. This likely means that the Gungan warrior and Jar-Jar will be the first minifigs to kick-off new guide entries.

If you would like to see more, head on over to Brickset or Legopirate (the French site in question). 

Oh! Legopirate also has other set pics (likely from the instructions) including a set I haven't seen, 7869 - Battle of Geonosis! Hurry though, this seems to be on the 'gray side' of if TLG will take action or not.

1000 Cinematic Ways to Die?

Alex Eylar doesn't have a lot of time, being a film school grad and all, but recently he's posted these pics depicting several key scenes in the movies Psycho, Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs. He states these are "..for a thing." I can't wait to see what exactly this 'thing' happens to be.

One of the many things that I love about Alex is that he's very open to sharing how he achieves some of his shots. All three set ups for these shots can be found on his Flickr stream (link below).

This just in...a fourth shot depicting Bond has just gone up for this mystery project! Do you expect us to figure out the mystery? "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." The plot thickens...

(Via Alex Eylar's Flickr stream)

TRU Bricktober Concludes (CAN/US)

My coverage of the Toys R Us Bricktober promotions have been nearly non-existent. I mentioned the first week of the promotion before I left and was then out for two of the subsequent weeks. This weekend kicks off the final for this promotion in the US and Canada.

If you would like to see the details of the various sales and offers this week I would recommend Toys N Bricks, who I often turn to for LEGO sales information in North America. They currently have the Canadian sales info up and will likely have the US details up later today.

What is of more interest to me are the vintage minifigure magnets that have been available each week. You are eligible to take one of these home if you spend $20 in the US and $35 in Canada (while supplies last, of course). This week's offering is a LEGO Castle Black Falcon knight. The past offers have been for a LEGO City Fire Chief, a Western Cavalry Colonel, and a Pirates Imperial Soldier.

The offer is available at the TRU website and in stores. Do pay attention to how deals stack online. If I recall correctly, the free minifig offer may not combine with other deals and require additional purchases to take advantage of both.

10/22/10

The Color Commandos Ride Again


It's been a while since I posted one of eclipseGrafx's custom creations. Let's fix that, shall we?

Victor uses a lot of trans-blue BrickArms accessories and weapons to a really nice effect. The white armor and shield from Amazing Armory Ltd compliment it well. 

The pic is titled as a 'work in progress' but I think the piece is outstanding as is. If the piece looks this good now, I can't wait to see the final piece.

Quick Hits: Cobra, The Weasleys, and Tiny Tactical


I came across a couple of things on Flickr I thought I'd share. The first is this concept for a Cobra Trooper from Roaglaan. A blue BrickArms Stahlhelm is a key piece in this concept, that and Roaglaan's decals, of course. It looks like Roaglann will have to paint one as blue isn't a currently option. Maybe Will and Badger can revisit their inner 'children of the 80s' and see to adding this color to future production runs.

The other nice piece are some blending of current and future TLG minifigs and custom pieces to bring the entire Weasley clan to minifigure form. Justin (aka Tin_7) really has some nice pieces for representing the three 'lost' Weasley boys, Bill, Charlie, and Percy. I'd argue that Fluer Delacour (Bill's wife) would round things out, but then you'd also have to add a few others due to marriage too [SPOILER ALERT]. Let's just say this is the 'immediate family'.

One last TT update before we go...I just saw on the Tiny Tactical BrickLink page that Steve will reopen today at 12:00 PST, and new items will be included. Only a couple more hours to go...

(Via Roaglaan and Tin_7's Flickr streams)

Tiny Tactical Restock Today (10/22)


I have it on good authority that Tiny Tactical may be restocking their BrickLink store today. The same source suggests that the Minifig Watches, M9A1 Rifle Grenades and Crickets will also be available. What shadowy source do I get all this information from?... 

...the front page of the Tiny Tactical BrickLink store. Where else?! If there are items you are interested in, don't delay. It's not been uncommon recently for TT to sell out.

Head on over to my Flickr favorites to also see some of the new designs Steve's been delveloping. Doesn't this man sleep?

Last bit in TT news...the Panserschreck product review should be up on the site early next week. This will be the first in a line of new TT product reviews over the coming weeks.

10/21/10

LEGO Harry Potter Minifigures: Gringotts Goblins

The Gringotts Goblins are exclusive to the upcoming LEGO Harry Potter set 10217, Diagon Alley. This will be the second time these goblin minifigures have been available with some differences.

Minifigure Parts and Accessories

Both of the Gingotts Goblins are composed of three parts - head, torso, and short legs.

The heads are light flesh and appear to be the same molds as the original minifigures. Although not shown in the picture, I would expect print to be added to these heads before launch.

The torsos shown here appear to be the same as the one which appeared on the 2010 Professor Flitwick. Again, the prints and or torso colors may change before the official launch.

The legs are the only areas of variation between these two figures. Both goblins are sporting the short leg pieces, but one appears in gray while the other is reddish brown.

Comparing these figures to the reference photo on the right, they are similar to the film versions but not quite right.

Army Building Potential
The ABP for these figures is moderate, mostly for the heads.

Big Draw
I'm guessing we have yet to really see the final variants of these pieces. I'm expecting the torsos to change and print to be added to the heads (similar to what was seen in the 2010 version of Dobby). If print is added to the heads, I would expect the heads to the the big draw here. LEGO Harry Potter collectors will also want an opportunity to have new versions of these minifigures to round out their collections.

(Pictures via FBTB Flickr stream and Harry Potter Wiki)

BrickForge Sale - Up to 75% Off Select Items

BrickForge is having a sale on some select items in brown and dark gray. Some of items include the following:
  • Battle Axe - Brown
  • Battle Axe - Dark Gray
  • Dragon Sword - Brown
  • Dragon Sword - Dark Gray
  • Elven Blade - Brown
  • Elven Spear - Brown
  • Elven Spear - Dark Gray
  • Falcata - Brown
  • Falcata - Dark Gray
Each of the above items are around $0.25 USD, 75% off of the original price! It may ultimately be easier to search their store by color to see everything.

If there's something here you like, head on over to the BrickForge store and check it out. Don't dawdle cause once they're gone, they're gone.

How Do You Like Us Now?

I've been wanting to redesign the look of the site for some time. I had a feeling many elements were being lost in the sidebar where they were often overlooked. As a result I've moved much of these key aspects of the site to the top where separate pages now exist for each. 

I plan on creating a 'customization resources' page, but until then you can find the links in the sidebar.

I have also a linked slide show to 'my favorites' on Flickr.  So you don't have to leave the site to check out all of the goodness in that neck of the woods.

As with any change there may be issues, and I"ll likely be tweaking a few things here and there. If you have any problems using or interfacing with the new design please let me know. Suggestions are always welcome, but I don't do requests...or windows.

Cygnet
Minister of Information
Ugly Duck Command Center
Minifig Nation

10/20/10

Custom Spotlight: Woody's Minifig Customs

Over the past few months I noticed a customizer on the Eurobricks forums who was sharing some unique, custom items that appeared to be produced in a novel and innovative way. I started to do some investigating and ran across Woody's Minifig Customs. I reached out to Woody recently to better understand both his interests and his approach in creating custom accessories.

Woody has been a member and contributor to the Eurobricks customization community for some time. He's also experienced in selling custom creations, recently reaching a milestone of more than 3,000 items sold.

Inspiration for Woody's creations often come from three main sources:
1. Historical items from the late 17th and 18th century
2. Input from Eurobricks and other members of the community
3. Other dedicated customizers with whom he collaborates

So far it sounds like a fairly standard approach to creating custom accessories, right? Well that's where the story gets interesting...

Woody uses a company called Shapeways to develop prototypes and products using 3D printing techniques. 3D printing is just like it sounds - a three-dimensional model is created by having the machine put down successive layers of material until the desired object is created. Sounds easy right? Well, yes and no. Woody has been working at this process for some time, and has even designed his own custom software which helps him develop the models. Let's take a look at Woody's Lobster head gear to walk us through the process.

The first step involves designing a three-dimensional computer model of the item you want to create. The model must meet certain structural specifications, otherwise the 3D printer can't create it. Woody uses two to three different software programs to accomplish this.

The file is uploaded to Shapeways where its verified as a suitable design. If the model meets all requirements, Woody can put it up on his store within minutes. The process is on-demand, so nothing needs to be created until the orders are placed.

Currently there are two main types of materials that Woody works with, a polyamide substance named 'white, strong, and flexible' and an acrylic-based photo-polymer termed 'detailed' on the Shapeways site. The 'white, strong, and flexible' option is less expensive and can be dyed in several colors, but can sometimes appear fuzzy in pictures. The 'detailed' material is much smoother and results in a nice finish. Detailed is only available, however, in white, black, and transparent. The picture below shows the Lobster using the white detailed material. Although not currently used by Woody, there is an ABS option in grey labeled 'grey robust'. The robust option is priced in between 'flexible' and 'detailed'.

Although there are still some drawbacks to this approach (i.e. not all colors are available) this can be a relatively inexpensive way to produce your own custom accessories given investment in some modeling software and learning the ropes.

Woody is looking to the future with the development of Bren light machine guns, gas masks, field caps, pilotkas, pakols, and epaulets. He's also hoping to do as many products as he can using the 'detailed' material.

If you are interested in finding out more about 3D printing, you can visit the Shapeways website. If you would like to see more from Woody's Minifig Customs you can check out his Shapeways store or Flickr stream. He also has a Facebook page for you social media savvy individuals.

A big thanks to Woody for taking the time to walk me through his process!