Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Cleaning Old Lego

As an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) the quickest way to start building your collection of bricks is to buy used LEGO in bulk.  Often this LEGO is old, dirty and sometimes yellowed from being displayed in front of a sunny window.  So how do we clean and restore old LEGO?  

There are many suggestions out there, so as a new AFOL, I decided to try them out for myself and I thought share my results here.  In this video I try:
  • 0.08 - LEGO in a pillowcase in the washing machine
  • 1.03 - LEGO in the dishwasher
  • 1.30 - Handwashing LEGO in dish washing liquid
  • 1.54 - Handwashing LEGO in Vanish / Oxy Powder
  • 2.32 - Handwashing LEGO in Steradent (false teeth whitener)
  • 3.20 - Bleaching LEGO in Hydrogen Peroxide solution

My verdict since trying all of these out is that cleaning LEGO in the dishwasher probably gives the best results, but I don’t really like doing it as I only feel confident of putting my bricks in the cutlery tray, and that doesn’t hold very many pieces.  My preferred method is a pillowcase, half filled with LEGO, in the washing machine.  If the LEGO is really dirty, hand washing is a must.  I love the results from bleaching with peroxide but can only do it on sunny days.  (Warning, please wear gloves and glasses to protect your skin and eyes, don’t leave it unattended and don’t let children do it unsupervised, if at all)

Do not forget to watch Jangbricks’ video on restoring old LEGO , he gives the definitive instructions on how to bleach LEGO with peroxide and you may also want to read Blocks Magazine’s article on cleaning LEGO in issue 6. 

Please share any thoughts or comments with me below, did I miss any good cleaning techniques out?

Sunday, 12 July 2015

LEGO Free Build - Parrot - Set 40131 - July 2015

Every month the LEGO store holds a free build where your children (ages 6 to 14) can go in and build a small set and get to take it home!  We missed last month's build and this month I wasn't allowed to film in the store so here is a video turntable of July's free build; 40131, Parrot which ties in nicely with LEGO's Pirates theme

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

LEGO Free Build - Star Wars TIE Advanced Prototype - Set 30275 - May 2015

Every month LEGO holds a free build where your children (ages 6 to 14) can go in and build a small set and get to take it home!  It is so kind of LEGO to do this but it works in their favour because you can't go into a LEGO store without buying anything, can you?  In our local store, the free builds usually begin at 4pm and end at 6pm or until supplies last.  A new model is available every month and is often themed to that month, like May's Star Wars TIE Advanced Prototype (set 30275).  Here's a video of the event and a turntable of the finished product, but oops, can you spot the build error, leave if me a comment of where it is thanks!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Yorkshire Brickshow 2015 Report

Last week LEGOBrien attended the 2015 Yorkshire Brickshow at the National Coal Mining Museum for England in Wakefield, Yorkshire.  Having previously only attended one Brickshow before (at Tanfield Railway in April) it is still a new experience for this AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO).  

The format of the show was timed slots to view the LEGO displays and freedom to take part in the LEGO activities, buy at the marketplace and see the museum.  Day tickets cost a bargain of £6.50 with under 3s free and were only available on pre-order.  

We parked easily in an overflow car park that was a short walk to the venue.  External signage was a bit lacking, we tried to get in at the entrance to the show but were redirected to another entrance to pick up the tickets, not all of our tickets were in our envelope but this was quickly resolved.  On entrance, we were greeted by the friendly Bricks and Bricks Culture guys who have just launched two thoughtful, beautiful magazines that they’d brought with them. LEGObrien had already subscribed to them on their launch!  Bricks also provided a treasure-hunt activity to spot some minifigs in the display with poly bag prizes.

The display room was well-laid out to direct the flow of viewing and it felt busy but not overcrowded.  We were able to see everything and it was very entertaining with a mix of official LEGO new and old sets, modular buildings, MOCs (Make your Own Creation) and dioramas built by the Yorkshire LUG and Northern Brickworks.  There were activities such as a creating a giant mosaic for the charity, Fairy Bricks, Bricks 4 Kids paid building sessions and free play bricks.  The marketplace was well-stocked by Cora’s Creations, My Precious and Minifigs & Bricks among others and priced to the current market, so there were not many bargains to be had but there were some discontinued sets there if you were after them for your collection. 

I’d definitely recommend this show to LEGO fans and families and hope to attend next year. Here’s my video of the Saturday:

Further Viewing:
A report by Luc Byard for Brick Fanatics 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

General Election Day - Voting Vignette

It's polling day today and I am grateful to the Suffragettes for giving me my right to vote!

Here is my first attempt at a LEGO vignette (a scene built on an 8 x 8 baseplate):

#GE2015 LEGOBrien votes

Sunday, 3 May 2015

AFOL? What? You Like LEGO? - LEGOBrien's Introduction to becoming an Adult Fan of LEGO

Hello, my name is LEGOBrien and I am an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO).  How did that just happen?

LEGOBrien, my 'sigfig'

About three years ago my partner (P) started buying bargain LEGO sets whenever he found them.  ‘What for?’ I thought, we only had one child then and he was just a baby, and he probably was not yet even able to put two Duplo bricks together.  P reasoned that our son would love LEGO when he was older and that was why he was buying it now, when it was cheap.  I was a bit irritated at the expense and the frequency but P was right our son (and now his brother too) loves LEGO, and those bargain sets have served us well as presents for a few Christmases, birthdays and treats.  LEGO is a great toy, it is educational, artistic and fun!  

One night, while sorting through some of my boys’ many LEGO pieces, I did not expect to fall in love with it myself.  What is the attraction to LEGO?  Apart from the obvious possibility of playing/building anything only limited by your imagination and ability?  I can only speak for myself, but here are some suggestions:

The Bricks
As soon as you hear the sound of running your hand through a box of LEGO bricks, you get a huge wave of nostalgia.  It is a lovely, familiar sound.  One of the first things you think as you start building with it is that there are so many different, new bricks compared to when you were a child.  I say bricks but they are far from square.  As a child, we only had bricks, plates, slopes, wheels, windows, doors and trees, I’m sure.  And the only colours we had were red, blue, yellow, green, grey, black and white.  There are so many more beautiful colours now.

A recent second-hand LEGO haul

If all the LEGO in the world was shared equally, there would be around 62 bricks per person (source).  That is not much to your average LEGO fan, like most things you find a multiple number of, massing a collection becomes a mission.  LEGO comes in boxes of assorted bricks intended for imaginative building and play but mainly it comes in themed sets with its own instructions to be built with very few bricks left over.  These sets are meant to be played with or displayed with other sets from the same theme.  Original set themes include LEGO City, Ninjago, Legends of Chima, Friends and Elves, but most of the sets are themed on popular franchises such as StarWars, Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, The Simpsons, Marvel and DC Superheroes.  These themes make these sets collectable not only by LEGO enthusiasts but also fans of those franchises.  Every LEGO set has a finite production run, so when a set is retired that makes it more collectable too.


You can buy LEGO direct from the company online and it has its own amazing stores located internationally. In the stores you can pick-a-brick from a wall of LEGO pieces and turn up for fun events and promotions. Becoming a VIP member is a must for the LEGO fan.  But you can pretty much buy LEGO everywhere; online, brick and mortar toyshops and even supermarkets.  It is not cheap though, new or used, so the best time to buy is when it is discounted, Amazon do a lot of deals.  There is a massive second-hand LEGO market that can be accessed via eBay, Gumtree and charity shops (if you’re lucky enough to find it there first).  eBay is useful for finding complete sets but it is often expensive and there are lots of clone bricks out there that you need to beware of.  A fair priced source of LEGO to buy, sell and/or trade is this friendly Facebook group.  Adult LEGO fans who make MOCs (make your own creations) often buy LEGO by the brick from websites such as BrickLink and Brickowl. I get the most pleasure from finding bargain second hand ‘hauls’ both out and about and online.  A fair price to pay for used LEGO in the UK is £10 per kilo.  For your reference, a supermarket carrier bag holds about two kilos.

The flip side of buying is selling. Different outlets are better for different sorts of sales.  For making a profit on sets and collectable minifigs you would probably sell on eBay.  Some people invest in collectable sets (such as StarWars ones) to sell new, in mint, sealed condition at later date when they are retired.  Some sets are worth more when they are ‘parted out’, that is sold brick by brick on BrickLink and Brickowl, especially sets that contain new sorts of LEGO bricks that are desirable by serious builders.

Sorting and Storage
As soon as you start amassing LEGO you need to store it somewhere.  LEGO makes some fun storage but as soon as you outgrow these you need something more built in and sorting it for easy access becomes a necessity.  I have found that there is a peculiar pleasure in sorting LEGO.  There are many options you can sort by brick type, by colour, by size.  There is a whole nomenclature of LEGO bricks, in fact the official terminology for bricks is ‘elements’. Just as every LEGO set has its own set number, every LEGO brick has its own part number! This helps with buying the parts you need and for creating an inventory for selling or for entering into Rebrickable, a website that shares LEGO instructions that you could make with the bricks already in your collection. 

There are actually over 9 million different possible ways of combining six, regular 2 studs x 4 studs bricks in building arrangements.  Practically everything has been recreated or built from scratch in LEGO.  I have some ideas for some MOCs that I am working on and I have set myself some ground rules for them.  I can only use my own bricks, not the kids’ and I must start by prototyping them from small to large, starting in one colour first.  It is really difficult to think of something that no one else has built in LEGO before, but that’s what I want to do, if I can.   

The Community
LEGO has a really friendly community.  I was surprised to find out that the place to hang out with LEGO fans and see their marvellous creations is FlickR!  Not Facebook nor Twitter.  Perhaps it is because LEGO is very visual.  I’ve also noticed there is some great photography of LEGO displayed there so I’ll be needing to brush up on my DSLR camera skills.  YouTube is a great source of reviews of LEGO sets and Brickfilms (stop-motion videos made out of LEGO).  In real life, there are LUGs (LEGO User Groups) where AFOLs meet and share their hobby interest, I have yet to go to one but will blog about it if I do.  A great way for anyone to get a taste of the AFOL scene is to go to a Brickshow, there you will find displays, activities and marketplaces.  If you’re not feeling sociable you could always just read about it in some of the magazines available such as Bricks, Blocks and Brick Journal.

My video of the Tanfield Brickshow 2015

So there you have what I’ve learned so far about being an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO).  I’m sure there is so much for me to get to know.  If you think I have missed something important, please comment below so I can check it out.  Thanks for reading!