LEGO Creator Family House #31012, Part One

Naturally, when LEGO came out with another Creator House, I had to buy it. #31012 comes – as do all Creator products – with three different designs. At least, they give you instructions for three different designs, an ‘easy’, a ‘medium’, and an ‘advanced’ build. Depending on your creativity, there are a million different designs.

Creator Family House 31012

I started with the ‘easy’ build – which they call a ‘small factory’. It doesn’t seem like a small factory to me, more like a one-man shop, and the equipment they provide was less than specific. What could this place be? A motorcycyle repair shop? An auto-body shop? A carpenter’s shop? There were no tools provided.

#31012 "Small Factory"

I decided that one piece of equipment looked a bit like a metal-stamping press.

Metal Stamping Press?

And another piece of equipment looks like a small forge.

Small forge?

And why the heavy security camera out by the door? Well, I came up with the idea that my minifigs might be metal artists, and the security camera is there to foil any would-be art thieves. So here is my couple with their latest creations, getting ready to load them on the truck and go to a showing. The sculptures are titled, “Losing My Direction”, “Warrior”, and “Out to Get You.” Enjoy!

Artists' Creations

Question: Do you have any other ideas for this small factory?

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LEGO Town Hall Build, Part Two

The upper floors of the Town Hall also offer opportunities for play. On the second floor is the mayor’s office and an open space for gatherings. So, I decided the open space would be great for a gathering of law enforcement people. Why would they gather? DONUT DAY! Meanhwhile, in the mayor’s office, a couple of burglars are making off with some cash. Why would the mayor have so much cash on hand in his office? Hmmmm.

Donut Day at Town Hall

The top floor of the Town Hall is a board room. It makes me think of the board room where I work and a meeting I attended a while ago. This is my take on “As usual, the office staff can’t agree on the Christmas party.”

Once again, the office staff can't agree about the Christmas Party.

And once the building was completed, I wanted to elaborate on the exterior, so here’s my view of the Town Hall, NOT squeezed in on either side with other modular buildings, but freestanding, as is the town hall in a town near me. I have parking on one side, and a small park on the other. Doing the landscaping was fun. Some day, I’ll have enough extra bricks to be able to elaborate even more, but for now, this will have to do. On the roof, I have a couple of secretaries getting some sun during their lunch break, while Uncle Orvie, the janitor, does a little silent longing of his own.

The Town Hall, Expanded

Small Town Park

Parking Lot on the other side of the Town Hall

Up on the Roof

I recently read a blog by another LEGO fan, Buried in Bricks, who talked about the problems of making MOC’s – what do you do when it’s finished? Unless it’s really huge and detailed, worthy of showing at some brick festival, the MOC is going to just sit there. I don’t have room to display them, and who would I show them to anyway? So this blog is partly a way to show off my MOCs until I tear them down. Which I’ll be doing to this one…beginning today. Kind of a bummer, but hey, I’ve got a new Creator house arriving soon.

Question:If you build MOCs, where do you show them?

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LEGO Town Hall Build, Part One

The Town Hall, from the Modular Series, is the largest LEGO set I own (so far), and a lot of fun to build, with its movable elevator, design elements, and imposing appearance. (Lookin’ good on Main Street!)

Thing is, it’s not really set up for play. The upper floors lift off but the ceilings are high enough that once you complete each floor, you really can’t reach down to move minifigs around in it. Since it is a complete 360-degree building, you can’t reach in from the back (as you can with the Haunted House, #10228), so once it’s built, you’re pretty much done.

Having built it once already, I decided that this time, I would have a bit more fun with it. First of all, I do enjoy setting up to build. I like to release my inner OCD and line everything up neatly. There’s something very satisfying and calming about this and, in fact, I generally work with my LEGO creations first thing every morning after breakfast, before I start my day, because it gives me a certain zen-like serenity. Everything is orderly, much unlike the rest of my life. So, here’s my set-up, with all the bricks laid out to begin building the first floor, and how it looks once I’ve built that far.

A little OCD.

A little OCD.

LEGO Town Hall Build, Partly Done

Before I finish the first floor, before the walls are all the way up, I have a little fun with the tax office. Professor Snape, from the Harry Potter sets, is my favorite mini-fig, partly because he looks so crabby, partly because I totally have a crush on Alan Rickman, who plays Snape in the HP movies. (If you like him too, be sure to see the movie “Truly, Madly, Deeply”.) So, here we have Snape paying his property taxes, and quite irked about the whole deal.

The clerk has never seen galleons before. Nor anyone as scary as Snape.

The clerk has never seen galleons before. Nor anyone as scary as Snape.

The first floor of the Town Hall also features an auditorium, so once I had it partly built, I tore it down again and created the scene, “The Hearing on Illegal Aliens Goes Awry”. Self-explanatory!

Can't get the photo otherwise.

Can’t get the photo otherwise.

That little alien on the right is one of my fave minifigs.

That little alien on the right is one of my fave minifigs.

After I completed the first floor, with its grand front façade, I added a wedding scene. Lo, the happy couple and their parents!

See the happy couple and their parents.

See the happy couple and their parents.

More on the upper floors of the Town Hall next time.Question: Is anyone reading this blog?

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Going to the LEGO Store

There are lots of ways to purchase LEGO. Almost any store that carries toys will have various LEGO sets, from WalMart and Target and Toys ‘R’ Us, to local hobby stores and, of course, the official LEGO stores (which, by the way, are scattered all too thinly across the country). You can also buy through the LEGO.com website, through Amazon, and through E-Bay, where sellers offer brand-new still-in-the-sealed box sets as well as used sets and miscellaneous bricks. There are websites devoted strictly to the sale of LEGO by-the-brick, such as http://www.brickset.com and http://www.bricklink.com.

You can sometimes get lucky and find LEGO at yard sales, or hear of someone who’s getting rid of their old sets. I know people who’ve made great hauls through craigslist, buying bricks by the pound. You can locate old instruction manuals online, and pretty much any specific set or individual brick you’re looking for can be found – for a price.

I pretty much do all my buying through LEGO.com, Amazon, or the LEGO store itself. Going to the LEGO store is a big deal. For one thing, it’s an hour’s drive, to a shopping mall I never otherwise frequent. And then, no matter what I’ve told myself that the purchases should be limited to, once I get in there, it can be a little overwhelming. (I have the same problem in a Barnes & Noble – big bookworm here.) The store walls are filled with shelves of box after box of sets. They have a ‘ribbon’ of displays (mostly at kid-height) showcasing some of the newest sets, and in the center of the space are additional displays of the large sets or multiple sets within a particular theme, plus a large play station for kids to experiment with loose bricks, and a display where you can build a minifig, choosing from a selection of torsos, heads, legs, hair-or-hat pieces and an accessory.

A big draw is the Pick-a-Brick wall. This is usually at the back of the store and features see-through barrels full of different types of bricks, a very colorful display. You can fill a cup (they come in two sizes) full of whatever bricks you want and it’s usually a very good bargain. I’ve seen whole tutorials on YouTube about how to get in the maximum number of bricks. I recently went to the LEGO store and here was my haul. The magazine and calendar were freebies. (I sent them to my cousin’s son, who’s a big LEGO fan.) Walking out of the store, toting that big yellow shopping bag, I’m always filled with a sense of glee. Being a grown-up isn’t usually this much fun.

Lego store haul

Lego store haul

Contents of the Pick-a-Brick Cup

Contents of the Pick-a-Brick Cup

Contents of the Pick-a-Brick Cup

Question: What is the best haul you’ve ever had, buying LEGO?

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LEGO MOCs

Anyone who has spent much time building LEGO creations eventually thinks about personalizing them. Whether it’s a case of dramatizing scenarios from Harry Potter or Star Wars, or maybe making a larger version of the Fire Brigade, or designing a whole LEGO town, you’ll probably want to build a MOC (My Own Creation).

There are tons of these on the internet. One of my favorites is a huge layout that includes a tsunami about to hit a nuclear plant, a prison, Dexter doing in a victim, streets of houses and shops, construction projects and even a group of kids visiting Santa. It’s incredibly detailed and a lot of fun. I think it’s my all-time favorite MOC.

I don’t aspire (yet) to such a large MOC, but I’ve begun having fun with some small ones. Mostly they are creations that start out being a traditional set, and then I do a variation on it. Other times, I raid my sets for bricks and start fresh. Many of them feature Professor Snape, such as Snape’s Apartment in the previous post.

Snape Goes to the Gym

Snape Goes to the Gym

Snape Goes to the Gym. He doesn’t enjoy it.

Snape Goes Hiking

Snape Goes Hiking

Snape Goes Hiking. He doesn’t enjoy it.

Snape Goes Kayaking

Snape Goes Kayaking

Snape Goes Kayaking. He doesn’t enjoy it.

I have more photos at MOCpages and Flickr.com, if you’d like to check them out. I’m just getting started doing MOCs, using photo-posting websites, and writing a blog. Don’t know if anyone’s reading this but, so far, I’m having fun.

Question: Have you ever posted photos of your MOCs?

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Lego Room, Part 3

Displaying your LEGO.

Once you’ve completed a set, or a MOC, you want to be able to admire it a while. Some people never tear down a set they’ve completed, but keep them on display forever. Myself, I enjoy the act of building more than the display, so I’ll tear them down and rebuild again and again, but even so, I still want to display the finished product at least for a while.
Even more, I want to be able to display quantities of LEGO productions. The whole street of Modulars, the whole Winter Village, a row of Creator houses. The trouble is, where?
Since I still somewhat keep my LEGO obsession under wraps, I don’t want them in the living room, for the most part. The one exception was last Christmas when I put the Winter Village on display on my mantel. I figured, lots of people display miniatures at Christmas time, if they’re Christmas-related, so why not? But, of course, the display came down when Christmas was over.

Entire Winter Village

Entire Winter Village

Once, when my cousin and his family were coming over, straight from Legoland, I set up the whole collection of buildings I had at the time on the big worktable in my storage room. They barely fit and made quite a sight. But the storage room turned out to be an impractical place, because, well, we STORE things there and need to get at them. And in the process, we seem to inadvertently bump into the display and send things flying. I say “we” when I really mean my husband, but let’s not go into that!

Full Table!

I’ve seen some really beautiful display arrangements online, such as this collection of trains, and this LEGO Boulevard, not to mention gargantuan displays that are set up at Brick Conventions, such as this ultimate Hogworts castle. I don’t quite aspire to something like that, but I do want my creations to live for at least a little while.

So, for right now, they live in a cupboard. And they live in my photographs, which aren’t the best – I don’t have the right camera or lighting – but at least it’s a memento. This is my most recent MOC, Snape’s Apartment, using mostly pieces from the Hogworts Castle, #4709, plus stray pieces from other sets. The photos are one way of displaying my builds while not taking up any space in the house. More later.

Snape's Apartment

Question: How do you display your LEGO creations?

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LEGO Room, Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous blog, having room for your LEGO collection means having work space, storage space and display space. Today I’ll write about storage space.

I keep my LEGO bricks in their original boxes. Since I mostly build sets exactly as they come, and then adapt or modify them for vignettes, this works best for me. Many LEGO fans who do a lot of MOCs break apart their sets and store the pieces according to size, color and type. Either way, we have storage issues.

Since I keep the sets in their original boxes, it means I have to find space for those honking big boxes that the Modular sets come in. Some go in a closet.
Closet

Some go in a couple of different cabinets.

Cabinet #1

Cabinet #2, Upper shelves

Cabinet #2, drawers

Inside the boxes, I have the bricks sorted into plastic bags in whatever criteria seems convenient. For example, for the Modular buildings, the parts are sorted by which floor they go on. With the Creator series, since there aren’t as many bricks per set and since you can build the sets in different ways, I have the bags sorted by the color of bricks.

I also have some bags that hold specific parts of a set – such as the tree for the Medieval Market Place, all in one bag, and the outbuildings and animals in another. Since I often raid one set for pieces to use in a vignette featuring a different set, I now separately bag up the things I think I’ll want, such as pieces of furniture.

Lola keeps watch.

Lola keeps watch.

Storage space is also a crucial issue for works-in-progress (WIP). I’ve made room for WIPs in a cabinet, so long as the WIP is not too large. I also have all my minifigs together, where I can find what I want quickly. As much as possible, I try to return everything to where it belongs once I’ve finished creating and photographing a vignette or series of pix, such as one I recently completed entitled “Snape Takes a Vacation”.

WIP, Snape Takes a Vacation

My minifigs
At this point, less than a year after my LEGO obsession began, I’ve gotten to the point where it takes two large cabinets and part of a closet to store my collection. I don’t have that many ‘loose’ bricks yet, and I store them in plastic food storage boxes. But I can see that collection will be growing. What will another year bring?
Loose bricks in storage.

Question: How do you store your LEGO?

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