Month: June 2018

Building Worlds: An Interview with Felix Mezei

Building Worlds: An Interview with Felix Mezei

During my visit to Brickenburg’s Ethnologia Galactica I got a chance to met and chat with Felix Mezei, a passionate, and very straightforward, builder who specializes in recreating historical buildings in LEGO. From time to time, however, he builds huge displays and, as luck would have it, his latest one was Ninjago (Movie) themed! We talked about his work at length and he agreed to do an interview for BrickSamurai. Our very first!

The diorama itself is quite huge, and, as expected, full of Ninjago goodies. Not only that, a part of the display is actually the world’s tallest train spiral, of which you can watch this trippy 360 video. Make sure you watch until the end so you get a good look of the city itself. But don’t let me spoil too much – let’s give the author a chance to speak as well.

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? Where are you from? How did you get into LEGO?
I’m 43 years old, born and living in Baia Mare, Transylvania. I’m an engineer, with a career of 18 years in sales. In 2012, I decided to finish my career and not to work anymore as a sales director nor be employed in Romania, and to leave the country. I received an offer to work in an embassy abroad (but the offer fell through) and ended up waiting for 2 years. During this period I was thinking what to do because I had all the free time in the world so I started to buy and build official LEGO sets.
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Posted by Robert in Ninjago, 0 comments

You Meet the Sawerman Only Once

I remember seeing this piece a long time ago, on ArtifexCreation’s Youtube channel. They used to commission Ninjago builds and then make review videos of them – naturally I frequented them a lot. I, once more, came across this MOC while I was looking for images of the stone army. It was created by the very talented Jerac, whose builds, I’m sure, you saw before.

Stone Army "Sawerman"

Right of the bat you can tell that this is no mech to mess with. It looks so menacing. The torso and shoulders are built quite interestingly with marts going in many directions. I wouldn’t call the techniques use them quite LEGO approved, but the end effect is quite striking. Their combination looks a lot like a scorpion as well, bringing the whole build to a completely new level. The builder did a wonderful job and deserves our praise. If you’re wondering how this MOC was build, you can find out by watching this video.

Posted by Robert in MOCs, Ninjago, 2 comments

Bus Fit for a Serpentine King

As you, I’m certain, all recall one of the main powers of the antagonists of the first season of Ninjago is the ability to animate all kinds of vehicles. It was even one of the main “gimmicks” of the theme’s second wave. In the wave we got a lot of serpentine-ified vehicles, like a car, a motorcycle, a walker, a helicopter and even a crane with a wrecking ball! There was even a prototype of a train at some point. Of course, the TV show had one more vehicle, so if you wanted to complete the collection, you’d have to make it yourself. That’s exactly what JCNM did.

Lego Ninjago Serpentine Snake Bus MOC

The source of inspiration is quite obvious – it’s the serpentine bus that Lloyd snuck onto. It’s not a perfect likeness, but an artist is always allowed a little bit of leeway. It, however, is a pretty good representation and even, in some ways, better than the original. The scales (horns?) on top of the build are excellent and much more interesting than in the cartoon. What I miss is the serpent eyes. If you wish, you can visit JCNM’s album dedicated to this MOC in order to see progress pictures.

Posted by Robert in MOCs, Ninjago, 2 comments

BrickSamurai at Ethnologia Galactica 2018

Last few weeks, for me, has been truly crazy busy! Two jobs, apartment renovation, and, most importantly, two big LEGO exhibitions! Hopefully, LEGO will soon start using no-need-to-sleep plastic in all their sets. Getting back on track – we already wrote about the first exhibition, and now it’s time to give you an inside tour of this year’s Ethnologia Galactica.

Ethnologia Galactica is the largest LEGO exhibition in Romania, organized by the largest Romanian RLUG – Brickenburg. It’s held in Cluj-Napoca, the unofficial capital of Transylvania. (you bet we took this chance to visit some castles!) This year was a big jubilee for this exhibition – it became 10 years old, meaning that it has a longer tradition that most. Even thought it’s practically next door, this year was our first time visiting but it definitely won’t be the last.

Ethnologia Galactica - Logo

This exhibition is a bit different than most others I’ve been to. It has a really relaxed schedule, which I enjoyed quite a bit. It lasted a bit over a week (28th May – 3rd June), but you could set up your display at whatever date you choose to. This proved to be a blessing for us, since we weren’t able to come on Monday because we had our own big exhibition on the week before. Others came on different dates but the (huge) exhibition hall never felt empty because members of Brickenburg always had most of the tables/displays filled with their own creations.

Ethnologia Galactica - lower venue hall

Ethnologia Galactica – one of the rooms

During the week we had a lot of free time, which we used mostly to get to know the exhibitors a bit more, but also to explore Cluj a little. Most days had at least one event. On Thursday we meet with a representative from LEGO Office Romania. On Friday we went to visit a LEGO store (I managed to snag Ninjago City Docks!) and also visited Turda Salt Mine, which was, surprisingly fun to visit – never thought a mine could be so interesting! Saturday was reserved for a speedbuilding contest for children, while on Sunday an open air RC car contest was held. Sunday was also when the tear-down happened.

Ethnologia Galactica - Blacktron

Ethnologia Galactica – Blacktron display made by Tony Tocaci

Interestingly enough, each evening had a small AFOL dinner, where we got to talk about non-LEGO related stuff. Of course, there was also the “main” AFOL dinner, held on Saturday – which was also a bit different than the ones I’m used to. All the competitions for AFOLs were held during the dinner, which meant that we had a lot of (non-adult) undistilled fun. The first competition was a team speedbuilding contest, which is 5 times better than a regular speedbuilding contest, and all other exhibitions that have these should consider making theirs team based as well. The other competition was a MOC competition where the goal was to turn a polybag into a MOC. One of my RLUG mates wob this competition, and rightfully so, he’s one of the best MOCers I know.

If you didn’t get it from the tone of my writing – it was a lot of fun. We meet some of the kindest AFOLs around (although it seems AFOLs are universally kind). The builds were amazing and, due to the fact that LEGO released excellent Ninjago Movie sets, a lot of them included Ninjago in one way or another. Sadly, no MOCs (other than the ones we brought) were directly Ninjago-themed. Be that as it may, I definitely saw some very interesting techniques (the MOCs were positively brimming with interesting part usages) that will definitely help me enrich my own works. Certainly – I learned a lot. I even got a chance to practice my Hungarian. Hopefully next year I get to practice my Japanese.

Ethnologia Galactica - the Village

Ethnologia Galactica – Destiny’s Bounty village

Posted by Robert in News, Ninjago, 0 comments

30547 – Dragon Hunter Polybag – review

A few weeks ago we wrote about a brand new Ninjago polybag. I quickly called it my new favorite polybag, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I found it (or actually my girlfriend did – not really sure how I missed it) at a kiosk! It was my first time seeing a LEGO polybag bundled with a regular newspaper. Apparently, in Romania, it’s quite common since I saw several different polybags included with different issues of newspapers. In any case, I still find it quite strange, but I’ll have to be on the lookout for these bundles in the future. Just for reference, here’s how it looked like:

30547 - Dragon Hunter - bundle

The packaging

The packaging is quite standard – nothing stands out. The front shows a dragon being attacked by a dragon hunter. The scene itself looks quite nice and well put together. The position of the dragon hides its, in my opinion, flaw quite well. The back shows all the legal stuff LEGO is obliged to put there.

30547 - Dragon Hunter - packaging

The parts

Considering this is a polybag, the selection of parts is quite nice. It comes with two 1×2 rounded plates, which are a new part, three nexo swords in two different colors, quit a few ballpoints and, my personal favorite, the white boomerang piece. Naturally, there are many more pieces included, but these are my favorites.

30547 - Dragon Hunter - parts

The build

Ah, yes, the build. It’s everything I imagined it would be! The dragon itself is done very organically and fluidly and it can very easily represent a living creature in a bigger build. Shape of the front legs is done via 2×2 corner plates. While they do look nice, it’s a shame they’re not more articulated. Hind legs use 1×1 round hollow plates, 1×2 rounded plates and 1L bars with clip in order to make them more bulky and natural looking. It’s a technique I’m sure I’ll use. The head is also done marvelously, although not quite up to LEGO “standards” since the slopes on the sites are only attached to the 1×1 round tiles and then slanted. I’ve also mentioned one flaw – it’s the body’s bulkiness. To me, it doesn’t go well with the rest of the build. However, I’m quite certain LEGO won’t be making 1×2 plates with 2 ball joins for quite a while, so it can’t be really helped.

30547 - Dragon Hunter - build

The minifigure

I’m not really impressed with the minifigure. It’s quite plain. I don’t have any of the other dragon hunter minifigures so I can’t really compare them, but I assume they all use the same colors and motifs. The minifigure’s printing somewhat reminds me of Barnyard Commandos, one of my favorite cartoons growing up, so it’s a nice nostalgia trip if nothing else.

30547 - Dragon Hunter - minifigure

Conclusion

Overall, I’m quite satisfied with this polybag. The build itself it very nice and also comes with a villain minifigure. It’s both my first Ninjago: Hunted set and an additional dragon in my dragon collection so I’m quite fond of it.

What are your thoughts?

Posted by Robert in Ninjago, Reviews, 4 comments

AFOL 2018 exhibition of RLUG “Skockani”

If you recall, last year, I wrote about my RLUG’s first international exhibition – more specifically about my contributions there. It’s hard to believe that almost a year has passed since then. This year’s exhibition was even larger and better than the last one – mostly owning to us learning from our mistakes. I’m certain that next year will be even better. Just like last year, my contributions had a lot of Ninjago references in them but, sadly, no Ninjago diorama this year.

Skockani AFOL exhibition - logo

Logo of Skockani AFOL exhibition

Setup began on Friday, which gave us plenty of time to do it properly. Of course, we stayed until early in the morning to make sure everything was ready for the opening. The exhibition itself started pretty low key – from 10am to 6pm the exhibition was closed for visitors and only AFOLs were allowed in. This is something I strongly suggest other exhibition organizers incorporate as well. It truly gives a wholly different experience to the exhibitor, making it a lot more relaxed.

Winter Village @ Skockani AFOL exhibition

Winter Village – one of the displays at Skockani AFOL exhibition

During Saturday many different events, competitions and presentations were held. Yours truly even managed to win one of the competitions (speed building). This was the first for me so I felt quite proud. The venue was open to the public at 6pm and after weathering the rush of visitors we had a well deserved break in the form of a AFOL dinner. During dinner we were given small gifts, which included the obligatory 1×8 white event brick with the first image of this post printed on it. I like getting these and I’m quite happy that we decided to have them this year.

The last official AFOL day was Sunday. We had a really nice tour organized around the town – we learn a lot about the history of the town where the exhibition was held – Sremska Mitrovica. We even visited the well-preserved ruins of Sirmium (ancient Roman city). The rest of the day was quite relaxed so we had a lot of time to talk, mostly about the various displays since most of them were build for this exhibition specifically. In the evening our guests picked up their displays and we brought in replacements.

Micro Temple of Airjitzu @ Skockani AFOL exhibition

Micro Temple of Airjitzu – part of Silly Town (Micropolis) – built by yours truly

The exhibition itself lasted for another week, but there weren’t any AFOL events, but rather playrooms, competitions and other events for the visitors. Like last year, I had a really nice time participating in the exhibition. Hopefully, we will organize it every year and, maybe, some of our readers will join us as well.

Lastly, I’d also like to brag a little bit about one of my builds, I’m immensely proud that I was able to pull it off, but I am certain that you will enjoy it as well:

Moving micro train

Moving micro train – part of Silly Town

It’s a moving micro train! Any ideas how to make it more “Ninjago”?

Posted by Robert in News, Ninjago, 0 comments

Ninjago in the Summer of 2018 Catalogue

Before I started frequenting LEGO news sites January and June were my favorite months. I still remember the daily visits to my town’s only official/unofficial LEGO store to check whether they had the latest catalogue. These days, I know most, if not all sets, that will appear in them well before their release, but some of that charm of discovery is still there. You find out which themes are gone, you get to see some surprises in the themes you don’t follow and, all in all, it’s plain fun to see the “story” the arrangement of sets is trying to tell. This year is no exception, as you can see for yourself:

Ninjago: Hunted

The Ninjago section of the catalogue is, of course, dominated by the latest sets that represent various buildings and vehicles in Ninjago: Hunted. The background, and arrangement, is quite nice, and I’d say, quite a bit better than the one for Sons of Garmadon. It’s nice to see all the minifigures next to each other – makes is easier to compare them.

LEGO 2018 Summer Catalogue - Page 72

LEGO 2018 Summer Catalogue - Page 73

LEGO 2018 Summer Catalogue - Page 74

LEGO 2018 Summer Catalogue - Page 75

Ninjago: Sons of Garmadon

Naturally, Sons of Garmadon sets are also in the catalogue – they’re still stocked on shelves and, as others have pointed out – they’re still pretty much actual due to the fact that Sons of Garmadon, the gang, have an active role in the next season.

LEGO 2018 Summer Catalogue - Page 76

LEGO 2018 Summer Catalogue - Page 77

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Ninjago Movie’s line up has been considerably reduced – which, in my mind, all but confirms that we won’t be getting any more additional sets after Ninjago City Docks.

LEGO 2018 Summer Catalogue - Page 78

If you wish to check out the entire catalogue, you can do so here.

Posted by Robert in News, Ninjago, 6 comments