The Imperial Chinese Navy takes to the stars

I alluded to the opposing force that inspired my own microscale battle fleet, but it looks like I didn’t end up blogging Mike Yoder‘s fleet on its own. Well, this wonderful new poster created for Mike by Stijn gives me a great excuse to do so.

Imperial Chinese Navy Poster

All of Mike’s ships have a consistent design that visually places them within the same faction, while each vessel has a unique style of its own. I just love the little fighters!

2012 LEGO Friends sets bring brick-based construction play to girls [News]

Since the news is making the rounds on the web at this point, most of you are probably already aware of the upcoming LEGO Friends theme in 2012. The response has been, shall we say, mixed. Since I’m sure there’ll be quite a discussion here and elsewhere, I won’t shy away from sharing my own opinion. Bottom line for me: I’m not a huge fan of the new figures, but they bring much-needed diversity to LEGO people, and the sets themselves appear to be entirely brick-built, with some interesting new colors.

For those of you out there who’ve made statements about gender stereotyping, take a look at this photo of set 3933 Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop:

LEGO Friends 3933

That’s right — Olivia has invented herself a robot in her laboratory through the use of math and science.

The main difference is in the scale and shape of the figures, called “mini-dolls”. Here’s a comparison:

LEGO Friends vs. Minifigs

I’ve heard that the hair pieces are compatible with standard minifigs.

The buildings in the sets are built from standard bricks, rather than large, single-purpose elements:

LEGO Friends 3315

Here’s the official press release:

LEGO Group Declares New Year’s Resolution for 2012: Deliver Meaningful Play Experiences to Girls Worldwide with LEGO® Friends

Company brings classic construction play to the girls’ aisle with first-of- its-kind LEGO® mini-doll figure, three new brick colors and detailed interiors that reflect four years of research in play needs of girls

BILLUND, Denmark (December 19, 2011) – The LEGO Group, the world’s leading construction toy brand, today announced LEGO® Friends, a new play theme that tailors the iconic LEGO construction experience especially to girls ages five and up. LEGO Friends delivers on a girl’s desire for realistic role-play, creativity, and a highly-detailed, character-based world with the core values of LEGO building.

The LEGO Friends collection of 23 products ranges in price from $5.99 to $99.99 USD and the first 14 will be available for sale in select toy, discount merchandise, specialty and online stores beginning December 26, 2011 in the United Kingdom and January 1, 2012 in the United States. A rolling International launch will follow in the spring, with the remaining nine sets launching in the summer months.

“We felt it was time to test assumptions that girls aren’t interested in building and to breathe fresh air into a toy category filled mostly with pre-fabricated play experiences for girls,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO, LEGO Group. “We focused on creating a play experience centered on the joy of creation, while heeding the way girls naturally build and play. We are incredibly proud of the solution we deliver with LEGO Friends, and are resolved to build this platform for years to come.”

LEGO Friends is the first 100 percent LEGO building experience fully optimized to girls’ tastes and interests. Thousands of girls and their mothers worldwide participated in intensive research that validated the desire for more beauty, realistic details, accessories and interior building and role play opportunities in a LEGO offering.

Introducing the LEGO mini-doll figure

Anchored by the introduction of a new mini-doll figure, LEGO Friends introduces a new LEGO minifigure platform tailored to girls’ requests for a more realistic, relatable and stylized figure. Designed to the same scale of the classic LEGO minifigure, the mini-doll figure stands roughly 5 millimeters taller than its minifigure sibling, yet features similar constructability, shares the iconic “claw” hand to hold the same accessories, can wear the same hair and headpieces, and is compatible with all LEGO building sets. A total of 29 different mini-doll figures will be introduced in 2012.

“LEGO Friends is one of the most researched LEGO projects ever and is a culmination of years of anthropological research with girls around the world to understand what they expect from a construction toy,” said Nanna Ulrich Gudum, senior creative director, LEGO Group. “In talking with girls and their moms, we understand that girls really want a LEGO offering that mirrors what the boys experience, but in a way that fulfills their unique desire for remodeling and redesign, combined with realistic themes in community and friendship.”

“Unlike previous LEGO toys for girls, LEGO Friends, at its core, does not apologize for being a construction toy and delivers, for the first time, a building experience in the same scale as our classic offerings,” Nanna Ulrich Gudum continued. “What LEGO Friends does differently is deliver the beauty, details, accessories, real world themes and need for strong interior play that the research revealed would make all the difference for girls ages 5 and up.”

Welcome to Heartlake City

The LEGO Friends story centers on the everyday lives and personalities of five girls in a fictional hometown called Heartlake City. Each of the friends—Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma—has a distinct personality and interests, such as animals, performing arts, invention and design, that are reflected in the models. Building sets reflect different parts of town where the girls’ adventures take place—downtown, suburbs, beach, camping grounds and mountains.

The product collection

Half of the launch collection includes construction sets themed to introduce girls to each of the “Friend’s” personalities, including: Stephanie’s Outdoor Bakery, Emma’s Splash Pool, Andrea’s Stage, Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop, Stephanie’s Pet Patrol, Mia’s Puppy House and Emma’s Design Studio. Girls are also invited to construct the Friends’ favorite locations in Heartlake City with larger building sets, including: Stephanie’s Cool Convertible, Olivia’s Tree House, Heartlake Dog Show, Butterfly Beauty Shop, City Park Café, Heartlake Vet, and Olivia’s House. The remaining nine sets launching later in the year deliver the same range in price and theme.

Immersive brand experience

Children will be immersed in the new world they can create with LEGO Friends through a variety of brand experiences planned for 2012. In addition to providing product information, the LEGO Friends website will allow children to explore the personalities of each of the five Friends and the different spots in Heartlake City. The site will also feature an avatar creator, mini-movies, games, video building tips, story extensions, contests, news and an events calendar. Also planned are Interactive building events and road shows, promotions, magazines, digital content, a mini movie, in-store experiences, books and more. Check www.LEGOFriends.com for more information.

So, what do you think? Sound off in the comments.

Revisiting downtown Tokyo

I’m still not satisfied with my indoor, winter/rain/Seattle photo setup, so I’ve been playing around quite a bit with post-processing to make up for the less-than-optimal lighting in my recent LEGO photos. After I finally posted my completed microscale Tokyo that I’d built a year earlier, I went a little wild with this next photo. I ended up turning it into a 1960s postcard, inspired by Godzilla battling some sort of kaiju as a visiting King Kong looks on.

Downtown Micro Tokyo

The scale varies within the scene, and is wildly incorrect for the Micropolis standard I used as the base, but my tiny Tokyo has everything I remember from the time I spent there in the 70′s and 80′s — old-style bullet trains and neon-hued commuter trains, brightly colored advertising cubes atop buildings in Ginza and Shinjuku, the ever-expanding industry around Tokyo Harbor, Meiji Shrine, the National Diet, and the iconic red and white of Tokyo Tower.

Rotterdam Harbor tugboat

While the real thing plies the waters of Rotterdam, this LEGO tugboat — Smit Bison — by Arjan Oude Kotte (Konajra) makes its way into my heart. Even if the LEGO tug can’t pull 28 tonnes, it’s a chunky little beauty with gorgeous lines and lovely colors.

smit bison

 

4184 Black Pearl out

A bit belated news for some, 4184 Black Pear is out now (image link below goes to Amazon).

The highlight in this set for me is definitely the minifigs, with Davy Jones and the shark-headed Maccus. It goes for $100 (less at some big box stores at the moment) and includes 804 pieces.

– Includes 6 minifigures: Jack Sparrow with compass, Will Turner, Joshamee Gibbs, Davy Jones, Maccus and Bootstrap Bill with assorted weapons
– Features large black sails, firing cannons, pirate flag, anchor and turning helm
– Also includes opening cabin with detailed interior
– Cast the anchor!
– Steer with the turning helm!
– Build the most infamous Pirates of the Caribbean™ ship to ever sail the Seven Seas!
– Measures over 21” (53cm) long, 20” (50cm) tall and 5” (12cm) wide