Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My New Brick Addiction. by John Garcia

Like many people coming out of the Lego Movie a couple of months ago, when the movie was over, I wanted more.  I was not sure what exactly.  The story was great, and it had a beautiful ending. The animation of the toys was fun, whimsical, and satisfying.  It must be something else, and after a bit of thinking and a trip to the local Target, I started to think that it may have been the product placement. 
Fall, fall I did into the multi-colored world of Legos.  It was a ridiculously opportune time to buy Legos as Walmarts and Targets were putting their late 2013 inventory on clearance.  I’ve always known and seen this type of Lego clearance every year, and even bought a few of these giant $80-$120 sets that were slashed 66%-75% off, but I bought them as Christmas or birthday presents for nieces and nephews.  This year, that marketing bug of the Lego movie was still on my back, and while I was trying to resist it, another perfect thing aligned to seal my fate: the perfect sets were on clearance. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Lego, whether it is their licensed or in-house brands,  always have themes.  However, there is something about the Galaxy Squad set that caught my fancy.  One of them was nostalgia.  When I was younger, the only expensive toys I was able to request from my parents or “Santa Claus” were Lego sets, because they were also educational. 
Back in the late 80s, I did not get my Superion or Defensor Gift Set when I was into Transformers.   I did not get the Biorobo from Bioman, or the Great 5 from Maskman.  I did, however, for some of those years,  get  the biggest Space Lego set to come out.  One of them was still the (now-“Classic Space”) “Light and Sounds” subset’s  “Sonar Transmitting Cruiser”.  That set did not just have light and sounds as the name implied, it did what I thought all spaceships did (since I got it around the time Star Trek: TNG came out). Multiple sections of the ship disengaged and became smaller ships!  I think I was amazed more about the combining aspect than the light and sounds.  Like the things I liked, the Transformers gestalts or the Super Sentai robot,  this thing transformed and combined.  It even had the added feature of being able to carry the minifigs inside, something Superion, Defensor, or the giant robots were  unable to do.   

Whoa, that thing is AWESOME. (-Ed)

 Another year,  I found something under the Christmas tree that was even more astounding!  It was a bigger set, a Blacktron “Message Intercept Base,” which I think is the biggest Blacktron set.  It was a base that needed two full-sized baseplates.  Like the previous year, this was able to replace whatever Transformer or Super Sentai robot I had in mind, because this thing was a base that transformed, and had modular parts and vehicles. 
Going back to that 2013 Lego clearance, the Galaxy Squad set was the same shot of awesomeness.  It has a space theme, check.  It had modular and combining elements, check.  This time, however, it had ROBOTS.  There were 2-3 mechs in the set, and I liked the design of these mechs, with a uniform white color like the Classic Space sets, but with a different color accent for their specific fictional “functions.”  It also had minifig-sized robots.  It was a beautiful surge of my childhood coming to life, with better engineering and a better-established theme. 
The Galaxy Squad theme was not just a space theme, but a type of Starship-trooper-eque theme where the good guys fight bug-themed aliens.  The Galaxy Squad also had different smaller squads, each with a different fictional “function” and a color that goes with their uniform and vehicles.  I was immediately in love with that idea. It is as though they are Power Rangers.   It is like that Lego brand was distilling the things I liked.  This time, it’s not just modular and combining vehicles, but multi-colored heroes, giant robots, and evil space alien bad guys!  

That clearance sale netted me a Bug Obliterator, which goes for $80 retail, for just $20.  I also got a Vermin Vaporizer for $40 (retail $60), a Hive Crawler for $25 (retail at $70).  You gotta admit, those ARE amazing prices!  While this clearance sale got me started, I wanted more, but Legos are expensive and I had already bought three big sets. 
March came.  I thought the Lego bug would have subsided, but it did not.  I still am hooked.  I actually allocated my Transformers and Power Rangers toy money into my Lego fund. Apparently luck was on my side, and there was another Lego sale.
Target started it, but because Walmart, Toys R Us, and even Amazon.com seem to be aware of it, they lowered their prices accordingly.  I was able to get a few more Galaxy Squad sets, but that was it.  I was a bit sad, like Alexander shedding a tear because he had conquered all the known Lego world.  That was when I realized one more awesome aspect of Lego: everything is interchangeable.  The current Ninjago and Legend of Chima sets can be customized to fit into the theme and color schemes of the Galaxy Squad. 
So here I am, with a big smile and a lot well-spent hours building reinforcements  for  my imaginary Lego world, and I did not follow the instructions; I made my own world.

I changed this Legend of Chima set into a Blue Team vehicle of the Galaxy squad.  It’s not done yet.  I am still working on making a gun turret in place of that smooth blue plate on its back. It also has a launching fighter that separates from the tank portion.   

I found some spare parts of another Lego Mech and added red parts, so the Red Team of Galaxy Squad can get its own mech. (They have none from the official releases.It’s highly influenced by the Robotech Valkyrie, with its red armor and flight pack.    

I customized and added a lot of elements to this Ninjago vehicle. It was just a regular buggy with turret, but now, it has a turret and a miniature mech that deploys form its back.
That’s it for now.  That impression of the Lego movie also nudged me towards another Lego product.  Dare I say this, but next time, I will tell about how awesome and amazingly absurd the Ninjago: Masters of Spinjutsu animated series is! 

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