Monday, August 27, 2012

Zack, Lego Maniac

  I remember easily when LEGOs (not the scam-mail-rich city of Nigeria but the plastic interconnecting blocks) were simply a few varieties of size.  In the mid-'70s, I remember LEGO created a few characters as people, so you wouldn't have to build your own.  A space-set and a castle-set, as well as a train-set were around with specialized blocks to create a space-ship, lunar-car, train-cars, etc.  Seemed a bit over-the-top at the time, as you could build these things pretty well anyway but then.. it got out of control.

LEGO block specifications.

  LEGOs (loosely from the latin, "To assemble") started building all sorts of "sets" with specialized, one-purpose-only sets, complete with building instructions for the creatively-challenged.  I still enjoyed creating Voltron from basic design, (though I have to admit, I used a knock-off of the late '70s called "Lock Blocks" as there were tons of variants that were almost exactly the same.  LockBlocks were just oh-so slightly larger by a quarter-millimeter or less so they wouldn't fit with LEGOs to avoid lawsuit). 

This is just crazy, almost.

  LEGOs owners would make expansive playset stop-animation armature films in the '80s and now there's hundreds of playsets, video-games, and even theme-parks and small cities of LEGOs.  The playsets and sets are very expensive.  I remember a selection of blocks might have run $20 for 1000 blocks or so.  The "Ultimate Collection Millennium Falcon" LEGO set has 5195 pieces and costs a whopping $499.  That's a lot for a bunch of plastic that doesn't do anything.  Indeed, I'd be so afraid to play with it, it'd just sit on a shelf somewhere out-of-reach for all eternity.  Good luck dusting that thing, ladies (guys don't dust unless they like sausage inserts or are nicely asked by ladies).
  I partially blame Zack the Lego Maniac.  LEGOs created a character boy that was really into LEGOs, but mostly the playsets.  The catchy jingle was pretty cool to hype-up the LEGOs sets.  It was around this time that LEGOs were turning their designs to a playset-only company, because there was hella money in it.  Very wise of them, in a way.  They could charge 10 times what the actual LEGO blocks cost..


   What I don't understand is why people just don't buy a model of that ship instead of assembling a cheap-looking block version?  The model might run $25 for the same size, and look a LOT better.  Some of those model kits by Revelle are amazing, and some are snap-n-go designs for the glue-challenged.  So what is the lure here with these LEGO sets?  It eliminates the original design of LEGOs: pure creativity.

Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome

  When I was young, back in the before time, while I tell the Tell...


  So yeah, when I was like 8 years old, back in 1978, there were a scant few playsets out there.  Some LEGOs with wheels, some with some specialized shapes for radar antenna or whatever, a drawbridge for the rather expensive Castle-Set, but for the most part, there were NO special blocks.  If you wanted the Space Battleship Yamato to seek revengence against the Comet Empire with the help of the Fiery Pheonix of G-Force (narrated by Don Pardo), you had to build them from the basic 6 block shapes.  With time and effort, they'd look pretty realistic.  I remember quite a few battle royals of Voltron versus RoBeasts that were quite spectacular back then, with the occasional Starvengers or GaiKing helping out, or some Robotech action.  I built these epic adventures all with basic LEGOs and it was fun as all heck.  Note* all of these fighting robot series made Transformers look pathetic, yeah, I grew up with Japanese robot shows and Dungeons & Dragons, thanks to Darren Hennessey (a brilliant writer btw) and yes, you should click the links to expand your anime knowlegingses).

Robot battles from homemade working remote-control toys ala Rock'em Sock'em Robots in Japan

  I didn't mind it.  To create a Voltron fighting robot took about 2 hours or so from start to finish.  The thinking involved was half the fun to create it.  I learned symmetry makes stability.  I pretty much worked the upper torso separately and attached the legs later-on.  Balance was the key so it's actually stand-up solidly, and I learned about making the feet more structurally sound and wider than a single block or two.  Good fun, and I'm sure gave my parents a break as I'd quietly hum a song or two building away.
  Now, just about every LEGO creation is from a set.  It comes with all the pieces you need, then reverse-engineered for the tards that have absolute zero creativity.  Steering from the lengthy instruction manual yields horrific results, and you cannot really build other things with it lest they look like something Tim Burton would devise for a doll all deformed and patchwork.  I find the new stuff vulgar and doesn't help the creatively developmental side of children whatsoever.  Booooo.

Tim Burton's line of "Tragic Toys"

  Now I got into a debate with a few people at work.  I find most of them to be mentally underdeveloped so a debate is often difficult as they can't formulate why the sets are better than the basic generic blocks, stating, "It's just better.  You just don't understand."  They can't explain why, probably because they never had the generic blocks yielding creativity, just merely instruction.  Sad, really, these empty folk.  Perhaps they just lack speech centers of the brain?  "It just bet-ter."  Sigh.  Empty.

Stupid anime maid girl covered in goo and all happy about it.  Silly, crazy girl!  Tsk tsk!  Is that drool?

  So, I decided on my own to try to guess why it might be "Bet Ter.  Ug-n-ug!"  Since I am a super-genius, I took both sides of the argument.  Now, on my original side, it's quite obvious making designs of awesomeness by way of just basic, generic blocks stimulates creativity a lot.  No question there.  Some logic is involved as well, and a bit of structured thinking. 

Inexpensive costume at a ComiCon
   Now if you have a set, with instructions, it'd probably help you to construct IKEA-like furniture, with a tiny bit of creativity involved, but a lot of structured, follow-the-rules thinking.  You can't really stray from the instructions unless, again, you want Tim Burton toys.  It gives the kid a sense of direction, such as to follow a recipe or series of instructions for an end-result.  There's a tiny tiny bit of creativity involved, but it's a lot like in the 1970's paint-by-numbers oil-based kits.  The painting kits were for beginners, and I had a few growing up in the early '70s I must admit.  The end results were okay, but not great, mostly due to pallet offerings (I think you had only like 12 colors per-set).  These usually ran about $2 at the time with a hyper-low-quality brush or two, stunk to high-heaven with chemicals and the canvas was usually about 5x8 inches or so.  Interestingly, it never made me a better painter.  Never helped.  Nope.  I doubt it helped anyone, its robotic instruction didn't lead to intelligent design, like "connect-the-dots" didn't lead to great drawing for me either, though I have a knack for cartooning even still despite it by doing things on my own.

Being a rock guitarist never got me the girl.. sigh.

  So!  By doing the soul-less logic-thrust of "sets" by LEGO, you can probably get your follow-the-instructions down pretty good early-on in life.  You might even end-up being a good technical writer or mathematician.  By using the LEGO generic blocks, you probably will be better with art or theoretical science or programming or perhaps a musician, catering to the creative sides of things.  Ultimately, however, the sets are too cold and stoic for my tastes, and heck, the reason I myself would make things would be to make my own toys since my family was lower-middle-class when I was a kid and couldn't afford a bundle of toys for me like some parents.  The neet thing was I could then disassemble them and re-assemble a new toy the next day no problem!  

Kids can't play with ridiculous playsets that don't work.

  I find a lot of people without creativity and it saddens me, their hearts are confused of art and imagination.  Some of them take a lot of psychotropic drugs to "open their minds" to things.  Guess it might work for them, I dunno.  Shrug.  Still, I want these "LEGO sets" to go away, but it's making the LEGO company billions of dollars so I guess it helps 'em out.  Interesting there's no "Occupy LEGOs" to stop thier huge money scheme, or "Occupy Apple" or "Occupy Starbucks" for that matter.  All three companies overprice their low-quality stuff to no end.  Apple uses 16-bit audio, prevalent of the early 1990's, Starbucks uses low-quality discarded coffee beans tainted with rat-droppings then burnt heavily to kill the bacteria for cost effectiveness and homogenization, and LEGO takes a $1 plastic mess and sells it for $500.  Ah well.

Throwing money down the toilet.

Shrug.  I am ambivalent of these LEGOs.  If you have kids, buy a set or two, but also buy them several thousand free, generic blocks and show them how to build other things: a house, R2D2, God, Shirley Manson, a car, the economy, Ginger Lynn, whatever.  This way you get the best of both worlds. 

Keep building, Doozers!

Fraggle Rock movie coming in 2013 officially.

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