Friday, 22 March 2013

The black sheep of the family...


‘And then I bought some more Lego…’  

Looking back, that’s pretty much all I seem to have written, thus far.  ‘I bought this, and then I bought that’.  ‘And then I bought something else.’  I’d just like to point out that I’m not some sort of wealthy eccentric.  I just have an ordinary IT job, not a huge amount of outgoings, and anyway,  at the beginning of a new hobby, everybody goes a bit nuts, right?

Right?

Anyway, until the second wave of new stuff for 2013 hits around August, there isn’t anything left that I want to buy.

Well, not much.

So normal ‘Look what I’ve bought now!’ service will be resumed at some point, but for now, I’m turning my eye towards Technic as a part of the Lego family.

As a bit of a noob, it’s entirely possible that I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, but I get the impression that the wider Lego community treat Technic a bit like your dotty Aunt.  

Sure, she’s family, but, she’s a bit… odd.

The couple of forums that I’ve hung out on do mention Technic.  One, which has specific sub-forums for specific topics, has lumped Technic in with Mindstorms, and you don’t see a whole lot about it elsewhere.  The other one (Brickset.com) (1), which tends to take a broader brush to the Lego canvas, does mention it.  The topic pops up now and again, but it tends to be the same hardcore few that gather to discuss the latest mechanical wonder.

In fact, the most enthusiastic group I’ve found when it comes to Technic are the bunch who inhabit the ‘Lego Lego Lego’ thread on Eurogamer.  They seem to love it!

On the couple of occasions I’ve met up with other Lego people at the Watford store, I got into a few conversations based around ‘What are you going to buy?’ or ‘What sort of stuff do you collect?’.  When I mentioned that I’m after Technic, I usually got a sympathetic smile and a ‘Right.  No I’m not really into that…’

On the AFOL day, I certainly wasn’t fighting anyone to get to the Technic shelf space.

I can sort of see why.  If you were brought up on ‘traditional’ Lego, then Technic is a whole different kettle of fish.  In the loosest terms, with regular Lego (which I shall simply refer to as “Lego’ from now on), you tend to build from the ground up.  If you’re making a house, you put down a base, build the ground floor walls, put in a floor, build the first floor and so on.  With a car, you build a chassis and then a body on top.

But with Technic, I’m finding that you have to build from the inside, outwards.  Because the internals of a Technic model tend to actually do something, rather than just be an empty space, you have to think about what’s going to be in there and then design the creation around it.

It’s a different way of thinking, and while I’m sure that you could sit down with a box of Technic parts and just start putting them together, it appears that a bit of forward thinking brings better results.

Unsurprisingly, then, that most of the people I’ve come across who seem to like Technic are geeks.  The sort of people who like taking things apart, who build PC’s for fun and who are generally enquiring of mind.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Lego - I had years of fun with it as a child, but now, for me, the ‘plastic engineering’ aspect of Technic has the edge over the regular, ‘normal’ stuff. (2)

At first glance it’s a completely different medium, particularly given the way Technic has evolved into an almost entirely studless system.  And yet the two can be combined (for the most part) effortlessly.  It’s testament to the design, and the original ideas behind all the Lego systems and pieces that they’ve lasted as long as they have in a broadly unchanged format.

When you look at the products of today, which are constantly striving to be new and different (and as a result, usually incompatible with what went before), it’s probably Lego’s greatest strength that a brick from 30 years ago will still fit perfectly with a brick from today.

They clearly took heart from the old saying…

“Do it once. Do it right.”



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(1)  A word about Brickset.  I think I judged it a little harshly at first.  I’m used a to very laid back gaming forum where, broadly speaking, anything goes, and no subject is taboo.  I guess Huw (who runs Brickset) decided early on that he wanted his website dedicated to Lego and nothing else, and he’s encouraged that where he can, and enforced it where he has to.

At the end of the day, it’s his site, so good luck to him. 

Once you get used to the Brickset way of doing things, you find that the forum members are a friendly and intelligent bunch, and it’s a nice site to hang out on.  The database is undoubtedly the jewel in it’s crown, and certainly the aspect of the site that I use the most.

Ok, the forum has rather a lot of Americans who will insist on using the term ‘Legos’, which bugs the hell out of me (and many other people, by the reactions it tends to generate), but if that’s the worst we have to put up with, then there’s not really any cause to complain.

And don’t forget - it’s free! 

(2) Having said that, Mrs Boo bought me the 10220 Volkswagen T1 Camper Van for my birthday, and it’s awesome!  
More on that at a later date.

And I guess the UCS R2-D2 is mainly Lego...

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