Arc de Nanoblock

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I had a little time to tackle a nanoblock kit I picked up quite a while ago.  I put it aside to procrastinate about other things.  I finally decided to tackle it.

The kit had a few unique pieces.

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The instructions were clear.  I especially like being told what pieces will be used in each step.  It is a logical and useful way to proceed.  Despite my big hands, with the help of tweezers, I was able to construct this one without too much difficulty.

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I like the overall look of it, but I wish that nanoblock would come up with some better trees.  I know it would mean another tooling and a new part, but I think they could use them in many kits, or sell them separately so people could retcon their old kits.  If you buy one of their deluxe kits, you’d want some pretty cool trees, wouldn’t you?

What’s left over when it is all done is pretty much at least one of every piece in the kit.  A good policy, I believe.

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Musee Du Louvre in Nanoblock

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After quite a hiatus from building nanoblocks, I decided to spend some time on this lovely labour day putting one together.  Having purchased two French landmark kits, previously (see here).  I chose to tackle the Musee Du Louvre kit.

Here’s what’s in the box.

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A quick look at the instructions reveals a basically symmetrical kit, with a few unique pieces.  It seemed straightforward, so I jumped in.

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It was a pretty enjoyable build, despite my hands being unaccustomed to such detail work–it has been a while after all.

Here is what it looked like around step 5.

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The most interesting step featured those unique parts–which I had seen when I built the space shuttle.

Hey, look, those mini figures finally have faces.

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Here is what’s left in the box (and a few brown transparent blocks I hadn’t put into the box (sorry).

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They rank this at a level 3 in difficulty.  I would have to say that it was much easier than that.  I like the unique crystal pyramid, and the faces on the “people”, but nothing else stands out for me.  On the back of the box it is noted that using the nanoblock LED pad, you can light this up.  The pictures of this look spectacular.

The interesting thing not noted in the instructions is that the placement of the pyramid is noted on the baseplate.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I built the whole thing and got it backwards.  It is no big deal as it is not seen–but if they went to the effort of doing that, they should have noted it in the instructions.

I give this one a 6.5 out of 10.

 

 

Hello Kitty

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As I reported in my last post, I was given a nanoblock kit that was purchased at Dollarama.  Today was the day I decided to make it.  I undertook this task as I had quite a few free minutes.  It took hardly any time at all.

At 110 pieces, this is among the smallest kits I have built.  A quick perusal of the instructions revealed it to be a rather straightforward build.

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Here’s what comes inside the kit

 

I am not a huge Hello Kitty fan, but I like that there are many different things you can build.  The product should appeal to many people and since there are a large number of Hello Kitty fans, it only makes sense.

It seemed to have turned out well and there were quite a few leftover pieces to go into a future build.

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As usual….nanoblocks rock!

Nanoblocks at the Dollar Store

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Can you believe it? Nanoblocks at the dollar store?

I was rather sceptical myself, I thought that it might be untrue, but here is the photographic evidence. After getting them, I was curious as to how they ended up at the dollar store.  Maybe they were fake?  Maybe the package had a misprint?  I have checked the package out and everything seems legit….if you spot something let me know?

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That would be pretty cool if I could get a bunch of sets for cheap at the dollar store and build something else. We will have to see.  I checked my Dollarama, but there weren’t any there.  I asked the person who bought them for me, but she said they only had that model and only at that particular Dollarama.

I don’t know what to make of it, but I am curious. I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

2013: A Year in Hobbies

The most popular place in Tokyo to spend New Year’s Eve–in Nanoblocks (fitting isn’t it)
 
 
Despite what people might think, Christmas is not necessarily the greatest time for hobbyists.  Yes, Christmas brings the potential of much wanted presents for the hobbyist.  It might also bring a good boxing day sale (as it did in my case) but that doesn’t mean there really is time to actually do anything.  Christmas is so full of stuff that the real hobby season may not begin until the start of the new year.

I know there are people out there who had planned and executed their Christmas shopping and preparation by September.  Those people probably have had lots of time to play with trains or build model cars.  Based on what people on my favourite train site are saying, there seems to have been lots of time to improve their models and run quite a few trains.

I have not been blessed with too many vacation days–yes, I am that guy.  They guy you see marching off to work like some lemming every morning while you are still in your PJs enjoying that first cup of coffee.  While this may sound like sour grapes (and at times it is) I was still better off than the people around here who didn’t have power until Christmas day.  Even if those people had the day off, they couldn’t have run trains or powered an airbrush.

 

The new year is upon us, and I should take stock of the –in terms of hobbies.  Life has been pretty full, but I’d rather focus on what this blog is supposed to focus on.

  • I have enjoyed blogging and while this blog’s readership has been growing slowly, the blog that I set up to help my students’ English has done remarkably well.  I have even done a good job of preparing and working ahead, so I don’t need to panic the day before a lesson is supposed to be published.
  • I have reconnected with the Nscale.net website and have enjoyed their advice and stories as part of my effort to build my n scale train layout.
  • I have built and painted several models, and can feel good about my improvement in these areas.
  • I have spent time running trains and have reignited my passion in this area.
  • I have come to love Nanoblocks, but hate that they aren’t as readily available as their big brother Lego.  While they are popping up at toy stores, they soon sell out and restocking seems to take months.
  • My passion for reading allowed me to read 44 novels this year.  While this is by no means a record for myself, I think it isn’t too bad since for a quarter of the year I had my head buried in ESL methodology books.
  • I found time to do a few Jigsaw puzzles, but wonder what to do with them after they are built.
  • I have watched far too much YouTube, but I am happy that the few things I have posted have seemed popular.  Though, honestly, I am not sure why unboxing the Statue of Liberty Nanoblock kit is so popular.  Maybe one of you could watch it and let me know.
  • It hasn’t been a stellar year for practicing Japanese, but I still feel good about my ability.
In my next blog, I will look ahead to the coming year and what joy it may bring.   Thanks for reading.

 

 

Competition Has Arrived

 

I would have to say it is official.  Nanoblocks have become a force to be reckoned with.  Why do I say that?  Surprisingly, it is not because there is a big push on them for the Christmas rush–though I did see them available at a store that had never had them before.  Instead, I give them credit because they have inspired some competition.

Micro Blocks, produce by a company called Loz, are now available.  They don’t seem to be available here in Canadayet.  This might have something to do with a bit of a conflict with the people who brought you Mega Blocks.  This company (based in Canada I believe) uses the name Micro Blocks for the blocks that share the same size with Lego.  Sounds complicated doesn’t it?

They seem to be competing in the same space as Nanoblocks.  They offer lots of architectural themed kits of world famous buildings.  This should appeal to adult builders as well as kids.  It also seems to have a broad international scope, so it should be easy to spread.

I am all for competition.  More tiny blocks equals more fun.  The other thing is that more block producers mean more designs and creative ideas.  It might also mean more interesting pieces.  I wonder if the two sets are compatible.

I don’t know if either Nanoblock, or this new Micro Blocks company will every dominate the space that Lego has, but I am interested nonetheless.  I know as a Canadian I will have to wait a long time before I see them, at least I can think good things about 2014.

Lamenting the Lost

I happened to pass this building today, and felt a little melancholy.  Another hobby business packed up and left.  I don’t know what happened really.  Maybe they moved somewhere else, or maybe the idea just didn’t fly.  A lot of hobby related businesses just don’t succeed and whenever they close, I feel a sling twinge (or pang) of sadness.

While out for a walk I came across this
 
I cannot really say I was part of the solution.  I avoided going into the store because I didn’t really want to start another hobby, and this one seemed really tempting.  Lego and robotics….. Had I gone in, my paycheque might have been a memory.  Despite having some advertising on this sight, I am a long way from having it generate any kind of hobby budget.

We live in a great time for hobbyists, but perhaps not such a great time for people running a large hobby business.  I would guess that running a home hobby business (I imagine somebody making flatcar loads at home, or building train layouts, or designing replica buildings) would be possible.  It would require a great website, a great idea, a spare room or two and probably easy access to a post office.  Running a business with a store location would require the same things, but would also mean renting out a store–and I imagine that it would cost a lot of money.  I am impressed by anyone who does it because it must be hard.  Taking that risk must be pretty scary.

I would hope that Lego had a stake in this enterprise, and therefore nobody lost their shirt trying to run this business.  However, a short portrait in the very local newspaper seems to indicate otherwise.  A brief bit of googling hasn’t brought me any answers.  If you know something about it, please post it here; for my curiosity and others.  I would also appreciate any thoughts on how your local hobby stores are doing.

On a side note, at the bookstore, there still seem to be quite a large number of magazines about hobbies still being published.  Flipping through some of them, I can see that they are making an effort to go digital, but still seem to be publishing.  Feel free to comment on this as well.

Cyber Punks Revisited in Lego

I just had to share this with you.  I love early cyberpunk novels by William Gibson, and of course Bladerunner (and I have been to Japan) so you will clearly see how this appeals to me.  While I have a nanoblock addiction, I am not nearly as creative as these people.  Check this out if you have a chance.  It is pretty cool.

 http://www.unfinishedman.com/the-ultimate-cyberpunk-lego-city-cyberpocalypse-at-brickfair-2013/

Latest Nanoblocks

My most recent Nanoblock adventure involved the Empire state building kit.  It seems like I am pretty addicted to these things.  I have built quite a few of them now and I am hoping they continue to put out new sets regularly.  Of course, if they gain the same kind of fame that Lego has, with their small size they could put out some amazing things.

At first, I wasn’t attracted to this kit.  I had plans to tackle the Big Ben kit or the Itsukushima Shrine kit first.  Unfortunately, those kits have not appeared in Canada yet. I have seen them for sale on the US Amazon site, but being shipped from Japan they have a heavy price tag.  That being said, I am not sure how long I can resist the urge to buy them.

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Having had a bit of time to think about it, I decided to go back and reconsider this kit.  I like architectural models, and the building is quite iconic….. so after a short deliberation I decided that I would build this kit.  I am glad I did, because it turned out quite nicely.

It wasn’t particularly difficult, and actually since most of the floors are identical it got a little monotonous at times.  However, it was good building fun.

If you haven’t tried Nanoblocks, you should give them a try.  The small parts make it challenging sometimes, and the results are usually quite good.  I also suspect that there are going to be some amazing kits released in the near future.

I included this one because I liked the shadow

Ghosts of Christmas Past (part two)

 
One of the coolest kits (which was also quite educational) that I received for Christmas many, many, years ago was Capsela.  This toy was so cool that I have never been able to part with it, and the photos from this blog contain the actual kit I received on that cold (and possibly snowy) Christmas morning of my youth.

After checking Wikipedia, I found out that Capsela was created by the Mitsubishi Pencil Company.  So, surprise, surprise, another cool toy came from Japan, though this one came from an era when Japanese toys were more pedestrian.  It beat out Tamagochi by at least 2 decades.  Apparently, these days, Bandai from Japan has re-released these toys and they go for staggering amounts on EBay, or ship from far away places in Asia.  I had seen them at a science store–but that store is now closed.

Capsela was a rather unusual toy.  It was a motorized toy that didn’t come in traditional shapes and forms.  I think its science fiction look also was part of it’s appeal.  In addition to that, there were things you could build for the bathtub–and nothing could be cooler than that (add some superfoam, a few boats, and you had the making of a fantastic sea battle–probably better than that Battleship movie.)
the back of the box–detailing the parts included

The toughest part of the toy was understanding gear ratios.  Trying to build beyond the instruction booklet was rather difficult.  You couldn’t put things in any order you wanted, because it just wouldn’t power everything correctly.  Having only one set, and no internet bulletin boards for help, I really couldn’t stray from the instructions (though I tried many times).  These days, things would most likely be different.  Looking back on it, I had probably been too young when I got the present to really understand that, and could have saved myself some frustration.

There must be cool things like this today, but they are probably more geared toward use with an iPad, rather than a stand alone construction toy.  At least, I hope there are toys these days which are about building and operating.  I know there are still RC helicopters and cars, so besides Lego, there must be stuff like this–let me know what is out there.  I’d love to know.

It was definitely a cool toy.  Someday I will check out the new version, and that will probably be pretty cool too.