Thursday, 2 July 2015

And the winners are....

Many thanks to all of you who entered the recent Gimme LEGO competition to win a copy of the limited edition Jurassic World Dr Wu polybag below. As shipping costs weren't going to be such an issue this time round I was able to open up the competition to Gimme LEGO readers regardless of their location, and it was great to receive entries from as far afield as Australia, Malaysia, the U.S. and Singapore as well as from closer to home.

In order to win you had to tell me upon which island the original Jurassic Park was located, and if you identified Isla Nublar as the correct answer then your name went into the hat for the prize draw. I then asked my wife and my visiting in-laws to close their eyes and pick out one name each, so if you didn't win then you can blame them....

The three lucky winners are:

  • Andrea Reynolds from Leicestershire, UK
  • Chester Ng from Singapore
  • Oliver Donlon from Massachusetts, USA

Congratulations, you guys - a new, sealed copy of the Dr Wu poly will be winging its way to you shortly.

Thanks again to everybody who entered, and thanks also to LEGO's PR folks at Norton for donating the prizes.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Jurassic Perk

Last week's release of the Jurassic World movie and the launch of the LEGO Jurassic World videogame provided the backdrop for a family-oriented LEGO Jurassic World launch event which was held in London's Hyde Park on Saturday 6th June. Mark Guest, editor of Bricks Magazine, was good enough to sort me out a couple of invites so I attended with my son who didn't need any encouragement to come along when he heard about the heady mix of LEGO, dinosaurs and videogames that we'd be checking out.

The event took place at The Lookout (above), a sizeable, self-contained eco-sustainable building in the middle of London's Hyde Park. On what turned out to be a pleasant, sunny day we took a tube to one of the nearby stations and after a 5-10 minute walk through the park we were greeted by event security who ushered us through. The Lookout is located within a fenced compound and surrounded by a number of walkways; these pass alongside small rockeries and water features and in some areas cut through thick undergrowth. Traversing the walkways was therefore the perfect start to the event as it wasn't difficult for anyone familiar with the Jurassic Park movies to suspend belief and pretend that prehistoric predators might be lurking in the undergrowth.... At the top of the walkways was an area of wooden decking, alongside which was the imposing sight below.

Refreshments and snacks were available on the decked area, as were a couple of skilled face painters who busied themselves decorating attendees with a variety of dinosaur-related designs. It was heartening to see so many adults getting in line with their kids and partaking in the face painting experience, although some folks such as myself opted to get other body parts painted instead (my arm, in case you're wondering....) with designs such as the diplodocus below and patches of colourful dinosaur skin.

The main space inside the venue was loosely split into two halves. One half contained a number of gaming stations running the LEGO Jurassic World demo, of which more later, while the other half was laid out with rows of seating and a large screen at the front connected to a laptop; this was used by one of the team responsible for the design of the LEGO Jurassic World game who at set times throughout the day gave attendees a brief presentation on the making of the game and demonstrated various gameplay features. A number of perspex display stands such as the one below were dotted aound the room; these contained the completed builds from the various Jurassic World retail sets. Having already built and reviewed a number of the Jurassic World sets, for instance here, I was obviously familiar with them but this didn't appear to be the case for some of the attendees who seemed to be encountering them for the first time.

One of the highlights of the event from my son's perspective was a dinosaur egg hunt. Prior to the arrival of the attendees a number of LEGO dinosaur eggs (below) had been hidden around the venue. Children, aided and abetted by their parents, were tasked with exploring the compound and finding the eggs, with prizes of Jurassic World LEGO retail sets and polybags on offer for the successful sleuths. Cue a mad scramble through the undergrowth to try and locate the eggs. I'm pleased to report that my son found one of the eggs, no thanks to his hopeless dad who managed to find absolutely nothing.....

As previously mentioned, a number of stations kitted out with a screen, a Playstation 4 and a pair of PS4 controllers were available for attendees to play on. The stations were running the LEGO Jurassic World game demo. LEGO Jurassic World is the latest in a long line of LEGO-themed offerings from developer Traveller's Tales including a number of LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Indiana Jones and LEGO Batman games amongst others. Having completed some of these games cooperatively, my son and I are pretty familiar with them, and after spending some time playing through the LEGO Jurassic World demo stages at the event both cooperatively and individually, I think it's fair to say that that the latest game sticks to the tried and tested formula with few obvious detours. It predictably looks great running on the PS4, and the gameplay seems very similar to that of previous TT LEGO releases. The demo levels we saw thankfully included scenes from the original Jurassic Park movies as well as Jurassic World rather than just focusing on the new movie.

Apart from the designer presentations and egg hunt the day was relatively unstructured, with attendees free to wander around both inside and outside the venue, help themselves to refreshments, make use of the gaming stations and chat to other attendees; I didn't recognise many of the people there. although it was good to catch up with Richard Hayes from Brick Fanatics and chat to Christina from the LEGO Press Office while my son burned his way through the LEGO Jurassic World demo levels.

All told my son and I spent an enjoyable  2-3 hours at the event, and when it was time to leave we were handed a goodie bag. As a collector I always look forward to digging through the contents of these bags after events to see if there's anything unusual within and I wasn't disappointed. Pride of place goes to the Dr Wu polybag below which carries the set number 5000193818. In addition to the Dr Wu minifigure the poly also contains a trans-orange 1 x 2 crystal printed with a black mosquito pattern. As far as I can tell the Dr Wu minifigure is identical to that which appears in Set 75919 Indominus Rex Breakout (you can see the minifigure here), as is the trans-orange crystal, but I'd not previously been aware of this particular polybag. My understanding is that a free Dr Wu minifigure is available from some retailers with orders of the LEGO Jurassic World game, although I have no idea if it's packaged in the same way as the one below.

Other freebies included a LEGO Jurassic World sticker sheet (you can see a scan of this below), a couple of LEGO Jurassic World postcards, an A3-Sized poster, a press release providing information on the LEGO Jurassic World sets, and a copy of Set 75915 Pteranodon Capture, all contained within a Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group cloth bag.

I'm well aware that I'm not the only collector who likes to get their hands on interesting LEGO-related items, and I'm therefore pleased to tell you that Christina gave me a few extra Dr Wu polybags for readers of Gimme LEGO. If you'd like one of them, please e-mail the answer to the question below plus your name and full address to me at; I'll draw a few names out of a hat, and those people will get a poly each. The question is as follows:

On which island was the original Jurassic Park located?

You can enter the competition regardless of which country you live in and I'll cover the cost of posting out the prizes. Only one entry per household, please, and the decision of the judge (that's me) is final. Entrants must agree to their names being announced on Gimme LEGO if they win. Closing date is midnight GMT on Tuesday 30th June 2015. Good luck, folks!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Raising the Roof

Having spent the last few weeks reviewing the largest of LEGO's new Jurassic World sets (here) and checking out TIE Fighters new and old (here and here respectively) in excruciating detail, not to mention taking some welcome holiday, I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms from my newly-resurrected LEGO City Layout. I was therefore delighted to find some time to work on it over the past week or so.

At the time of my most recent update (here) I'd pretty much completed the walls of the lower level of the layout (picture above) with only the front right section of wall needing to be finished off. This was therefore the obvious place to jump back in, and as you can see from the pictures below I completed the straightforward job of building the walls of the front right section up to the required height fairly quickly.

Having reached this point in the build I figured that it would be as good a time as any to briefly pause and take stock of my parts usage to date. According to the original rough sketch I put together on LDD which I've followed reasonably closely, I've used around 500 light bley 1 x 1 bricks, 670 light bley 1 x 2 bricks, 240 light bley 1 x 4 bricks, 800 light bley 1 x 6 bricks and 810 light bley 1 x 8 bricks so far; the total part count currently stands at approximately 5,600 bricks, which seems a lot given how little there is to look at yet....

Having completed the walls of the lower level it was time to finish the job of enclosing the lower track loop by building a roof over the top of it; for those of you unfamiliar with the intended design, the roof over the lower track loop will form the floor of the planned upper track loop, thus providing a double-decker arrangement.

Covering the straight sections of track with a sturdy roof (pictures above and below) was a quick and simple task - the roof over these sections only has to span 15 studs so I was able to efficiently complete the job using a combination of dark bley 6 x 16 and 2 x 16 plates. The only real discomfort was financial - the 96 dark bley 6 x 16 plates needed to cover just the straight track sections alone don't exactly come cheap....

Although putting a roof over the straight track sections was simple enough, the corners required a little more thought as covering the curved track sections would necessitate spanning an area 34 studs square. My first thought was to use a 32 x 32 baseplate for each corner and support it at the edges, but because I wanted the corner roof sections to be at the same height as the straight roof sections this wasn't really viable. I therefore needed to use standard plates, but there obviously aren't any plates remotely large enough to span a 34 x 34 area on their own. I consequently needed to come up with a 'mosaic' of plates which would cover the area while providing at least a modicum of structural rigidity so that the roof wouldn't cave in under the slightest pressure. In the end I went with the arrangement below; the dark bley roof sections, again predominantly a combination of 6 x 16 and 2 x 16 plates, are supported underneath by a light bley 16 x 16 plate and a few smaller plates. The use of the large 16 x 16 plate turned out to be key, conferring an unexpectedly high degree of strength and rigidity.

It didn't take long to construct three more assemblies similar to the one above, and you can see the layout with all four corner roof sections in place in the pictures below. Time will tell whether this corner roof arrangement will prove to be sufficiently robust; a section of curved track will run over each corner, so the roof will need to support the weight of trains running over it, not to mention me accidentally leaning on it now and again.... Having tested the corner roof sections under modest weight-bearing, however, the early signs are that they'll do the job OK.

So that's the visible part of the lower level now pretty much done apart from the subway station, then. I still of course need to build the structures which will support the upper level, though, and I also need to figure out a way of rescuing stricken trains from the lower loop in the event of a breakdown; at present I can access the subway train through the arches, and the large opening in front of the subway platform is just about big enough to squeeze the train through when I need to remove it, but it's fiddly and not ideal.

Because I designed the lower level such a long time ago, I've predictably come up with a whole bunch of new ideas during the intervening period to tweak and potentially improve it. I'm going to do my best to keep a lid on those tweaks for now, though - having already taken the best part of 4 years just to get to this point it's high time I moved on, put the lower level to bed for the time being at least, and started to focus on the upper level so that's what I'm going to do.

With the lower track loop now fully enclosed I figured it was high time to power up the track and get the subway train running. You can see a brief video clip below of my modified 7938 Passenger Train running around the lower track loop at about 2/3 speed; click here to view the clip on YouTube if you can't access the embedded video on your device.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Old School TIE

Given the recent release of the Ultimate Collector's Series TIE Fighter (you can read my review of the set here) I thought I'd mark the occasion by going back to the early days of the LEGO Star Wars theme and taking a fresh look at the first non-variant TIE Fighter that LEGO ever produced, Set 7146 TIE Fighter from 2001. Interestingly, LEGO had already released two TIE variants by the time that Set 7146 appeared on shelves - Set 7150 TIE Fighter and Y-wing from 1999 included a TIE Advanced, while Set 7181 TIE Interceptor from 2000 was one of the very first Ultimate Collector's Series sets that LEGO ever produced.

The box measures about 7.5" (19 cm) wide and 11.5" (29cm) tall, with a depth of approximately 3" (7 cm). The front of the box (above) is dominated by an image of the TIE Fighter complete with motion blur, superimposed on what I assume is the surface of the Death Star. The 2001 LEGO Star Wars logo can be seen top right, although it's unfortunately partly obscured by the price label on my copy (£18 from The Entertainer, if anybody's interested). The set's two minifigures can be seen alongside the TIE Fighter's display stand bottom right; the TIE Pilot looks surprisingly jovial considering that he's about to go into battle in a ship without a shield generator..... The two minifigures make a further appearance on the back of the box (below) where they're shown building the TIE Fighter and also piloting a couple of alternate builds.

The box opens by way of a pair of thumb tabs. In addition to the 171 pieces needed to build the model the box contains a single folded instruction booklet and a pair of folded advertising leaflets. The set doesn't include a sticker sheet.

The instruction booklet is A4-sized which means it has to be folded in half in order to squeeze into the box. It's 16 pages from cover to cover, with a full 3 pages taken up by advertising for a host of Star Wars sets released between 1999 and 2001. You can see an example below, with the rest available to view on the Gimme LEGO Flickr stream here.

In addition to the 3 pages of adverts in the instruction booklet, my copy of the set, which was bought from new back in 2001, includes a couple of advertising leaflets. One of the leaflets features a Star Wars 2002 teaser on one side which you can see here and advertising for other 2002 themes plus assorted bits and pieces on the reverse, while the second leaflet features advertising for LEGO's short-lived Life on Mars theme on one side (picture below) and a mixed bag of LEGO themes, video games and on the other.

The set contains two minifigures - a TIE Fighter Pilot and a Stormtrooper. The version of the TIE Fighter Pilot included in this set can only be found in one other set, Set 4479 TIE Bomber from 2003. Time really hasn't been kind to this minifigure - the helmet's features are extremely poorly defined, so much so that I wondered whether my copy of the minifigure had somehow melted in storage.... Compare and contrast with the most recent version of the TIE Fighter Pilot here from Set 75095 TIE Fighter which picks out the helmet's features via use of silver print. Beneath the helmet there's an unprinted brown minifigure head which has only ever appeared in 3 sets. The torso, which isn't back-printed, has graced a number of TIE Fighter pilots, TIE Interceptor pilots and even a TIE Defender pilot, until as recently as 2012. The legs are unprinted and generic.

There have been many different versions of the iconic Stormtrooper minifigure. The version included in this set has also appeared in 3 other sets. The helmet looks like the same basic element as the TIE Fighter Pilot helmet albeit in white, but the black printing makes a huge difference to the definition of the features. There's an unprinted yellow minifigure head underneath the helmet. The back-printed torso has appeared as part of numerous different Stormtrooper minifigures - 13 according to Bricklink - while the unprinted white legs with black hips have been a part of literally hundreds of minifigures.

Once the minifigures have been assembled its time to get to work on the TIE Fighter itself. The cockpit and wing struts are assembled first. It's pretty tight in the cockpit - there's barely room for the pilot in there and no flight stick, but at least there's a printed control panel. The trans-black printed windscreen is fairly uncommon, having appeared in only 6 sets including this one. The windscreen lifts up via a hinge plate in order to provide the pilot with access to the cockpit. The cockpit roof is covered by a dark grey printed 4 x 4 inverted dish which has only ever appeared in 3 sets in this colour.

The wings are next to be built. These feature crude blue detailing on the outer surface which is supposed to approximate the spokes radiating out from the central hub to the edges of the wing. I've never understood why LEGO used blue elements for wing detailing in this and other early TIE Fighter sets; thankfully they switched to light grey in more recent sets which seems to be a much better reflection of the subject matter. The central wing hub features a light gray round 2 x 2 tile printed with the Star Wars Imperial logo which has only appeared in a total of 5 sets in this colour.

The wings attach via pins protruding from a pair of modified 2 x 2 bricks on the wing struts which insert into the base of an inverted 65 6 x 6 x 2 quad with cutouts on the inner surface of each wing. This forms a reasonably robust join, certainly strong enough to tolerate some fairly enthusiastic swooshing.

A display stand (below) completes the build. The centrepiece of the stand and the element which takes the weight of the TIE Fighter is a dark grey 2 x 2 x 10 vertical support girder which has appeared in a total of 7 sets in this colour. A light grey 12L flexible hose with tabbed dark gray ends provides some nice decoration at the front of the stand.

You can see the completed TIE Fighter resting on its stand in the pictures below. Like its pilot, time hasn't been particularly kind to this model which looks a bit crude and untidy, with more than a hint of BOLOCs about it.... The blue detailing on the wings is particularly nasty. That having been said, it's all very well being critical 14 years after the set was released, but I don't recall having been too disappointed when I first got it. Life, and LEGO, moves on.

As is the case for the UCS TIE Fighter, the ship is perched on the display stand rather than attached to it. There's a 2 x 2 round tile on top of the stand which slips into a shallow recess on the underside of the TIE cockpit. This allows the ship to rotate on the stand, while still supporting it reasonably securely. You can see the finished model on its display stand below accompanied by the two minifigures.

I photographed Set 7146 with the recently-released Ultimate Collector's Series Set 75095 TIE Fighter to try and convey a sense of scale (picture below). There's clearly a substantial size differential, although it's still hard to believe that the Ultimate Collector's Series version contains fully ten times as many elements as its baby brother. The jarring blue detailing of the smaller set stands out like a sore thumb against the UCS version - honestly, what were LEGO thinking?

Set 7146 TIE Fighter contains 171 parts and was released in 2001 at a recommended retail price of £17.99 / US$ 20.00. It's long since been superceded by a number of superior versions, notably 2012's Set 9492 TIE Fighter, so it isn't really a "must have" unless you're a collector. Prices are modest - at time of writing you can get a pre-owned complete, boxed example of the set from Bricklink for as little as £25 plus shipping, and a new, sealed example can be had for not much more than that. They also come up fairly regularly on eBay so you shouldn't have any trouble tracking one down should you decide to take the plunge.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Leaps and Bounds

Having posted an update on my MOC City layout last time out (you can read it here if you missed it) I'm willing to bet that there are a few sceptics out there who predicted another 2 year wait for the next installment.... I can't really blame you, to be honest - my track record on this project has been pretty abysmal - but on this occasion I'm delighted to prove you wrong. Truth be told, I actually couldn't wait to start working on it again, and despite a busy last few weeks since I last wrote I still managed to carve out a few evenings to dive back in and make some progress. OK, so perhaps not exactly leaps and bounds, but tangible progress nonetheless.

The obvious place for me to focus my renewed construction efforts was the front left corner of the layout which was looking decidedly bare, consisting as it did of just a bunch of dark bley baseplates held together by a few lengths of 9V track and a sprinkling of 1 x 2 and 2 x 2 dark bley tiles. As you can see in the pictures above and below (click to enlarge) I started out by finally completing the job of boxing in the track loop with light bley bricks to a height of 3 bricks. While this might not seem like a significant milestone, given my pitifully slow rate of progress to date - almost four and a half years to get to this point - it's still probably worth celebrating....

That minor milestone having been achieved, I continued to lay down successive layers of light bley brick, increasing the height of the inner and outer walls on the left side and front left corner of the layout to 7 bricks. It was a repetitive task but therapeutic nonetheless; people talk about being 'in the zone', and so far as building with LEGO is concerned I reckon that simple building tasks like this are about as 'in the zone' as it gets - you rapidly slip into autopilot and it feels almost hypnotic at times. Certainly the time seemed to pass very quickly.

The volume of brick needed to build on such a scale is considerable and easily underestimated, but having initially sketched out the design on LDD I already knew what would be required and had long since sourced the necessary elements - you can see some of them bagged up and ready to be pressed into use in the pictures above and below (click to enlarge).

Encouraged by my progress I pressed on and eventually got as far as raising the whole left side of the subterranean level of the layout up to full height (below - click to enlarge) before calling it a day. All that's left to do now is finish up the right side and then cover the lower track loop with a roof and the visible sections of the subterranean level will be complete. That'll be another milestone worth celebrating as at that point I'll finally be able to start work on the upper level where most of the action will be.

I've also now finished up the left side of the underground platform, thus completing the platform section adjacent to the tracks. I'm clearly not going to be able to fit many minifigures on it, but that having been said, there's probably about as much space on there as on some London Underground platforms so maybe it's more realistic than I'd anticipated....

One thing I've tried to remain mindful of is the question of portability. Sure, a 288 x 160 stud LEGO layout built on two levels is never really going to be truly portable, but I'm nevertheless taking the view that there's no point in just building something which will forever reside in my study unseen by anybody but me and readers of Gimme LEGO.... It's always been my intention to build with a view to eventually displaying the finished layout at events, and so to this end I'm trying to address potential portability issues as they arise rather than trying to figure it all out at the end.

A good example of this is provided by the underground station platform above. I figured that this would need to detach from neighbouring sections in order that it could be safely transported. It soon became evident however that the way I'd designed it in LDD would necessitate me literally breaking it apart for transportation and then having to rebuild it at my destination. I therefore needed to devise a different way of joining the sections together which would enable the platform to detach in a non-destructive fashion and I arrived at the solution below (click to enlarge).

As you can see from the picture above, the main platform section is attached by way of Technic pins and detaches with a minimum of fuss. The arch overhanging the front of the platform is part of the inner wall enclosing the track and will eventually help to support the roof and the structures above. When the platform section is attached, the lower aspect of this arch rests on a 1 x 1 tile which is part of the outer wall of the detachable platform section; this will help to support the weight pressing down on the arch while still allowing the detachable platform section to be easily removed.

So now there's finally somewhere for the minifig residents of my City layout to catch the train; my minifig alter ego seems to have missed this one, but there'll be another along in a minute....

Friday, 20 March 2015

Back on Track!

Long-time readers of this blog might recall that ages back I posted a number of entries about the design and construction of my own LEGO City Layout. The first time I posted about it (here) was way back in November 2010 when, while suffering from LEGO withdrawal after a few days away from home, I'd fired up my laptop, loaded up LDD and started to play around with a possible design. As described in that initial post, what I had in mind was a city layout on two levels, with a subway train running below ground and a cityscape on the upper level featuring an outer oval of railway track enclosing a central area. The central area would be filled with roads lined with modular buildings and hopefully some structures that I'd designed myself, plus some railway sidings and a small railway tunnel running through a LEGO rock formation. The upper level would be landscaped so that it didn't just look like a bunch of baseplates chucked together with a few buildings on top, and the icing on the cake would be to make the whole layout modular so that it was feasible to deconstruct, transport and reassemble it for the purpose of displaying it at events.

Over the subsequent weeks and months the basics of the design gradually came together in LDD as you can see from the June 2011 LDD screengrab above (click to enlarge); many of the original concepts, such as a train layout on two levels and a tunnel on the upper level running through a rock formation, were included in the LDD design. I also started to think about how I might integrate my modular buildings into the layout as you can see below (click to enlarge).

As the design continued to take shape it was time to turn my attention to the question of where in my house I could build my layout. I wanted it to be a permanent fixture that I could work on over time and enjoy, and ideally it needed to be in a location where it would remain undisturbed and unmolested when I wasn't working on it. I eventually identified an area of around 1.25 metres x 2.5 metres in my study; suitable tables were then identified, purchased, constructed and installed in the designated space (picture below), at which point the process of sourcing the necessary LEGO elements to build the layout really began in earnest.

LEGO elements for the layout soon started to arrive from Bricklink sellers and elsewhere, at which point building could begin. There were predictably a few changes of plan along the way; I toyed, for instance, with the idea of linking the upper and lower loops of track (more details and video here) but quickly discounted that notion when it became clear how much space that would require; I also decided to ditch road plates for brick-built roads to save on space and because I thought brick-build roads looked a lot better (details here); finally, I decided to electrify the subterranean track loop using LEGO's 9V train system when it became evident that I wouldn't be able to control trains remotely on the enclosed lower loop using a Power Functions remote control due to an absence of 'line of sight' (details and video here). Slowly and painstakingly, my layout started to materialise as you can see in the picture below.

There was a problem, though. If you compare the earlier photograph of the empty tables taken in June 2011 with the picture immediately above which was taken in April 2012 you can see that the area around the layout was gradually filling up with LEGO sets as all my available LEGO storage space had become exhausted. And as you can probably imagine, as my collection expanded further, the problem worsened, with more and more floor space taken up by LEGO sets. It consequently became harder and harder to physically get to the layout to work on it, and eventually all available space around the layout, and indeed on the tables themselves, became filled with sets piled one on top of another. It was obviously impossible to continue, and thus all building ground to a halt until a storage solution could be found. This really wasn't as straightforward as it might sound, and I soon realised that for the adult LEGO collector who's in it for the long haul, storage might just be the biggest, and potentially most expensive, challenge that they'll face in respect of their hobby. Suffice to say that the complete lack of progress on the project since the last update I posted in April of 2012 is entirely down to me grappling with the storage issue.

Challenging though the problem was, I had no choice but to get to grips with it, partly because I wanted to continue building my layout, but more importantly because my wife wasn't willing to tolerate my LEGO collection taking over the whole house, which it eventually would have done. So I had to bite the bullet - I identified an external storage solution, came to terms with the associated costs, and commenced the task of sorting through all my sets. Those sets which I considered to be the core of my collection - Star Wars and a few other licensed themes such as Indiana Jones and Harry Potter, modular buildings and other Exclusives, space-related sets (vintage and more recent), plus a variety of other favourites - remained at home while everything else was carefully catalogued, packed into numbered, double-walled boxes and placed into secure storage over a 6 month period. What I'll do with all the stored items is another important question, of course - if our much-discussed house extension ever materialises then it'll all come back home, but otherwise..... Even so, one step at a time - the task of identifying non-core items and duplicate sets, cataloguing, packing and storing is now nearly done, and it feels good. For the sake of posterity I'm a little frustrated that I didn't take pictures when things were at their worst and the layout was completely inaccessible, but I at least remembered to take the "work in progress" picture above - better late than never; admittedly much of the work had already been done by that point and I was on the home straight, but at least it gives you a flavour of how things were. A few weeks on from then and I'm finally organised and ready to crack on, as you can see from the picture below.

So, the wheel has gone full circle and I'm basically back where I was a couple of years ago, albeit better equipped to accommodate any further expansion of my LEGO collection but also definitely more restrained on the aquisitions front.... And to all those patient and intrepid souls who've continued to e-mail me since my last update in April 2012 and ask when I was going to post a progress report, I salute you - those reminders definitely helped to push me along, and I hope that this post provides an explanation of sorts.

So now we're all caught up and it's high time to get building again. Next time I post there'll hopefully be some real progress to report on this project, so stay tuned!