New Toys!

I’ve been on quite the Lego kick lately. After finishing the Chicago Skyline model I only waited a few days to buy the re-designed Burj Khalifa model and the Buckingham Palace model.

I have the first Burj Khalifa model. It is rather tiny and uses the 1×1 cylinder pieces primarily. It captures the essence of the structure – which is what I love about the Lego Architecture series. This new model is the tallest Lego Architecture and uses pieces that more accurately reflect the look of the real building.

After work today, I rushed over to Henry’s to see if they had any Lume Cubes. They had the lights but none of the accessories. So I bought a two-pack – they are charging up now.

I’ll have to get a proper hot-shoe flash kit for the camera eventually. I hope these Lume Cubes tide me over in the mean time and let me get a little more creative with lighting.

Chicago Skyline Model Finished

This marks the completion of all my Lego Architecture models. Some of my earlier models are still boxed away since I moved from Texas.

Chicago & NYC skylinesHere is the Chicago and New York City skyline models together. I cannot think of two more iconic American cities – indeed, these are the only two American cities in the skyline series.

The model showcases Big Red, the Willis Tower, the Wrigley Building and the John Hancock Tower. Also featured is the Cloud Gate (aka The Chicago Bean) and the Michigan Avenue bridge – I’ll guarantee that you have seen that bridge in movies.

I am not sure if Lego is going to release more skyline models. I hope that they do. Maybe they could re-create Toronto?

The newest Architecture model is the Arc De Triomphe. But I have older models to acquire first.

London Skyline Model Finished

I’ve been on-call at work this past week. Normally that ends on Friday at noon; however, I am covering my colleague until Sunday at noon. And a lot of stuff has been breaking at work…after hours…

Ah well. It’s what I signed up for. At least I was able to finish the London skyline Lego model!

London Skyline ModelThe main features are obviously the Tower Bridge and The London Eye ferris wheel. But the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column are there, nestled behind and beside the Elizabeth Tower  – aka “Big Ben” which is actually the name of the main bell in the tower.

The London Eye isn’t quite a nice circle. The plastic tubing frame doesn’t play nicely with physics!

I used a shallow depth-of-field again; the 50mm prime lens at f/2.5. There was some minor straightening with Camera Raw and then I used Topaz Clarity for some final sharpening adjustments.

So the Chicago Skyline remains. That looks to be a fairly simple model to build. I’ll probably buy the Buckingham Palace and U.S. Capitol models soon as a birthday present to myself.

Now if the on-call system stays quiet for the next 24 hours…

Skylines Together

Sydney, Venice & Berline skylinesI put my three newest Lego skylines under my booze shelf. I finished the Sydney skyline a few days ago but the photos I had taken didn’t turn out as I wanted. So I opted for this.

My Lego Models Flickr group also includes the New York City skyline. That image is not properly white balanced though.

I bought the Chicago model. That completes the skylines series (so far anyway). I still need to get Buckingham Palace, the U.S. Capitol and the two re-designed Burj Khalifa and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum models.

The Louvre Museum Completed

The_LouvreI finally built it!

I finished this model on Sunday evening, but waited until now to blog about it. Maybe I can set a personal record with blog posts this month!

The image was taken with the 50mm f/1.8 lens using f/2.0. I focused on the pyramid in manual mode – the first time that I have not used auto-focus actually.

As previously mentioned, the next builds will be the Sydney and London skylines. The Chicago skyline will be acquired in the near future.

More LEGO Architecture

imageBack in the middle of May, I posted about my newest Lego Architecture sets. The Louvre Museum was one of those and I still have not built it yet!

I have now added the Sydney and London skylines to my collection. I love how these skyline sets captures the essence of each world famous city.

I only lack the Chicago skyline set now.

I’ll acquire the Buckingham Palace and U.S. Capitol sets in the near future too. First, I need to get these three sets built and on display somewhere.

New Lego Architecture Sets

It has been awhile since I bought any new Lego sets. In Texas, I had an entire bedroom dedicated to my Lego and my games. I lost that room in Hamilton. Here in Etobicoke, I might get some of it back; but for the time being, I am displaying several Lego Architecture sets on my desk at work.

imageMy little-used Visa card finally built-up enough points for an Amazon gift card. So I added the Berlin skyline, the Venice skyline, and The Louvre Museum to my brick collection.

I still need to acquire the Chicago, London, and Sydney skyline sets. The Burj Khalifa has been redesigned and re-released. Buckingham Palace, a redesigned Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum  and The United States Capitol Building are also new models.

I’d better add these sets soon too! Before Lego decides to discontinue them.

I’ll upload pictures once I have built these models.

Another Book Finished & Another Started

SavingCapitalismLast Friday night, just before nodding off to sleep, I finished Robert Reich’s excellent book Saving Capitalism: For The Many Not The Few.

My first encounter with Reich’s ideas was in the documentary Inequality For All. You can think of this book as an expansion or companion to that film. Although one might think economics to be a dry subject; Reich’s writing is very approachable. The first several chapters break down the causes for today’s chasm between the Haves and the Have-Nots.

The final chapters then explore the steps that are necessary to correct the imbalance.

What struck me the most was how Mr. Reich repeatedly stressed that this is not about some conspiracy theory. The ultra-rich have not gathered in secret somewhere to pull the political strings to create this situation. They have behaved as any rational actor would. Rather like the death by 10,000 papercuts, no one person or action is responsible. Instead, many discrete events over the course of a few decades have brought this about.

Both the documentary and this book emphasizes that we have been here before. The Great Depression of the 30s and the height of the Robber Barons of the late 19th Century have close parallels with what is happening today. Corrective action was taken in order to fix what had gone wrong. We need to take corrective actions again and make capitalism work for everyone instead of just a handful of ultra-rich.

ExtremeBricksMy next book is a bit of a unicorn-chaser.

Extreme Bricks is about the LEGO fans and Master Builders who build huge models. These are often on display at LEGOLand parks or at toy conventions.

The chapters cover some biographical information about the builder and then discuss the model and challenges behind its creation. Fascinating stuff.

As much as I love LEGO and dream of having millions of bricks, I know that I do have the patience to build at scales like these. But I profoundly appreciate the passion that these people have.

Packing Up The LEGO Models

LEGO boxes ready for packing

Nothing has quite driven home the fact that I am leaving Texas and my lovely home like packing up my LEGO models.

I had dedicated my entire second bedroom to LEGO and role-playing games. It was almost a shrine to being a geek. As you can see in this photo, I kept all the original boxes for the LEGO.

The Architecture models broke down surprisingly well. Even the largest ones, Robie House and Fallingwater did not require much dis-assembly. The Sydney Opera House didn’t need any taking apart at all! The same could not be for most of the Star Wars models.

The Super Star Destroyer, Imperial Shuttle and the Tantive IV all made me cry a little as I took them apart and put them back into their boxes for packing. Rebuilding them in my new place – wherever that will be – is going to be fun all over again at least!

Flatiron Building LEGO Architecture

Flatiron BuildingHere is the latest model from the LEGO Architecture series. The Flatiron Building in New York City.

I was hoping to see this building with my own eyes this week. Unfortunately United Airlines cancelled my flight at the last minute due to “crew availability.”

One day I will get back to New York City (my family visited once over 25 years ago). Probably not this year now though.

Newest LEGO Architecture Model

Lincoln MemorialThe latest LEGO Architecture model was released at the beginning of January. So of course, I bought that as fast as I could!

I don’t need to point out how iconic the Lincoln Memorial is. Few things stand-out as more American.

One of my favourite features of the Architecture instruction booklets is the background information and trivia that they provide about the structure. I learned a lot about the Lincoln Memorial! A memorial structure was already being planned while Lincoln lay dying. When the work was complete and opened in 1922, there were hundreds of Civil War veterans present – I think it is easy to forget how recently the Civil War occurred.Lincoln Memorial interior

I grew up with the original Legoland and Lego Space series of models. However, the Architecture series is by far my favourite! It is incredible and lovely at the same time how so few bricks can still capture the iconic look and feel to a famous structure.

Newest LEGO Architecture

When I last wrote about my LEGO Architecture models, I already had the Marina Bay Sands model built. Last I checked, you cannot (yet?) buy this model from the LEGO Architecture website. Amazon displayed it to me and so I bought it immediately via Japan.

The Trevi Fountain is the most recent Architecture model to be released.

The new Flickr site is interesting, but I have not yet found a way to easily copy the URL for specific pictures that I upload. Here is my Lego Models album. I should upload more images to it since I have bought two more Star Wars models.

LEGO Architecture

I was still at Microsoft when I saw my first LEGO Architecture model in a colleague’s cubicle. It was the Seattle Space Needle, a simple model but it captured the essence of the real structure. I loved it!

For a short time, my local Barnes & Nobel bookstore featured several sets in the Architecture series. The Empire State Building. The Willis Tower. The very impressive Fallingwater. To borrow from Dork Tower; “THEY MUST BE MINE!”

Each new release was acquired as quickly as possible. I have all of them now; the most recent being the Eiffel Tower.

Soon, I’ll have a special order from overseas – I am not sure if it will be available in North America. A model of the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore. I’ll post pictures of that one when I can.

Here are a few pictures of my current LEGO Architecture collection.

LEGO_Brandenburg_GateLEGO_EiffelLEGO_Farnsworth_HouseLEGO_Imperial_HotelLEGO_UN

You can see most of the models here; alas, I did not photograph Fallingwater. That is probably my favourite of the bunch. Robie House (the red one on the top right) was the longest to build since it was made up primarily of the 1×1 and 2×1 flat pieces in order to simulate the brick facade.

Lego Star Wars: Super Star Destroyer

My first weekend back home from my vacation saw the completion of the Super Star Destroyer Lego model. This thing still takes my breath away when I look at it!

Super Star Destroyer - complete 02Just shy of 50″ long, this is the longest of the Star Wars Lego models. It totals 3,152 pieces of eternally amazing Lego bricks.

My friend Adam estimates that it took about 10 hours to build his model. I wasn’t timing myself; but I may do that for my next major build.

The next Lego purchases for me are going to the two newest Architecture series, The Brandenburg Gate and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.

Super Star Destroyer - engines closeup 01I think that my favourite view of this spaceship are of the 13 KDY engines.

Lego Star Wars Models

I have returned to the wonderful world of Lego building in a rather big way (though not nearly as big as some).

Last week I purchased the Lego Star Wars models of Darth Vader’s Executor-class Super Star Destroyer and the Lambda-class Imperial Shuttle. I have completed the shuttle and am now working on the Super Star Destroyer.

Imperial Shuttle - angled

I decided to create a Lego Models photostream on my Flickr site to show off both commercial models and my own future custom builds.

My friend Josh owns the Millennium Falcon model. That still reigns supreme as the model with the most pieces to date. Adam beat me to building the Super Star Destroyer – he already has that on display at work.

I love this. It lets my imagination run wild. In my mind’s eye I see a huge space-based assembly plant slowly bringing shape and purpose to a 20 kilometer long command ship!