Tag Archives: lego

Traditions – where do they come from?

Elves

Phil: Every year, when the Christmas decorations come out, I open a box and build a pair of Lego Elves.

I’ve done this every year, for, ohh, four years.

Yes, it’s a tradition. Just not a very old one. My annual trip to London for beer with some mates usually left me with spare time before we met up and once I accidentally ended up on the Lego store. There, I thought it would be nice to buy a Crimbo decoration, and the first was the Elves.

Since then, a bauble with Lego presents in has joined the tradition, and another small Santa who looks a bit creepy. Each is dismantled after the season and made up again in December. Sadly, Covid has put a stop to beers, but the elves continue.

The world is full of traditions. La Nolan always watches Nativity in the run-up to the season. Others drape themselves with greenery or go out singing carols at inocent people.

Traditions quickly take hold and you are told “This must happen, it’s traditional.” That’s why officials in the House of Commons wear weird clothes.

Of course, all these traditions had to start somewhere. They weren’t traditional once upon a time. I suppose, like my festive Lego, they provide something familiar in an ever changing world. A comfort blanket perhaps.Christmas is especially full of tradition – and every family has their own, from who gives out the presents, to the food served at different times to the post-lunch games (or not).

Me? I like harmless traditions. To which end, I decided that if I can’t go to London, I can still add to my festive Lego collection.

 

Santa_500

Well, it’s traditional – innit!

Sidenote: This is our 900th blog post. While the writing might have taken a bit of a back seat recently, we keep plugging away with words. Practise makes perfect after all.

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You’ve gotta be in it to win it

WinPhil: Radio 2 are running their annual 500 word short story competition for 4 -13 year olds. A story writing competition has got to be a good idea and I wish it had been around when I was young enough to enter.

As a child, I loved writing stories. I quite liked illustrating them as well. Somewhere there is a Mr Men story complete with drawings in a notebook by P.Parker. However, much as I enjoyed writing (something that all children have beaten out of them by school English lessons) I wonder if I’d have got beyond the “nice idea” stage of entry?

Little Phil loved building with Lego. Really loved it. You know how much time kidz nowadays spend hunched over video games? That was nothing compared to me and Lego.

An opportunity presented itself one day. The local toy show ran a Lego building competition. The rules specified the size of baseplate but after that you were on your own.

I knew this was my time. I was the greatest Lego builder in the world. Whatever I did was going to be brilliant and I’d sweep away all others with my magnificence.

Building started. I can’t remember why but I’d decided to build a dolphinarium. There would be a pool, a stand for the crowd and a couple of performing dolphins.

I had decided that to be extra special, the pool would be full of real water. Also, since tiny dolphins were impossible to make with bricks, mine would be made of Blu-tack. It was going to be brilliant.

Sadly, Lego pools aren’t waterproof and I quickly had a wet bedroom carpet. Blu-tack isn’t very good for making strong dolphins either, at least not strong enough to stand on their tails as though leaping for a fish.

Unable to solve these immediately, I lost interest and before you know it, the closing date had passed. I looked at the entries in the shop window and knew that I could have done at least as well, if not better. The difference was that they had entered and I had only dreamed of it.

The good news is this is a lesson learned. We’ve launched our book into the world simply because it will never sell if we don’t. By last summer we were both fed up with being nearly authors. The world is full of people like that. Those who think they would like to write a book. We had written one and just needed to get over the line with a final push.

OK, we aren’t selling millions, but then Harry Potter took a while to take off and there is the Nolan marketing battleship yet to be deployed. It doesn’t matter, with the book out, things might happen. If I’d actually removed my dolphinarium from the soggy bedroom and taken it to the toy shop window maybe I’d be a professional Lego model maker by now.

So, if you have a child young enough to enter 500 words, get them writing. If they don’t enter, they can’t win.

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I always wanted my own figurine

Candice: Re-reading Phil’s post from Tuesday (written as favour as my Monday was a bit of a nightmare) he’s touched on two things than have been close to my heart.

One: Lego/Playmobile and all the other toys like that you can now get.  We’ve got Happy Land toys in our house too as that seems to be the new Playmobile.

I loved playing with all of these things growing up – I used to build whole words in Lego until my Dad gave half of my bricks away to some one else.  Funnily enough we have been ranksacking my parents loft recently for my boxes of bricks and can’t find them anywhere.

Two: Having a model of me.

Its the big thing that pop artists or franchise stars talk about – that moment when they get so famous they have a fully representative model made.  Phil’s already been working at this with 3 D printing but I’m not sure we are at the point yet where we could actually sell some.

I do like the idea of having our book made into to some kind of movie – be that ‘Lego vision’ or panavision but I’m not sure I want to be the doll that people take home.  Its got to be Barbie and Ken versions of our protagonists Kate and Dave where you can play ‘will they or won’t they’ get together.  In fact a board game might even be better.

‘Can you navigate the KOD team through the pitfalls of closing a company and help Kate find her man? Available soon from Hasbro.’

Anyone know a company that might bite?

 

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Silly promotional ideas

NolanParker in LegoPhil: On Tuesday, Candice mentioned that the Lego Movie is whopping the backside of the latest vampire film and this gave me an idea.

We’re trying to think of promotional tricks to raise our profiles ahead of firing stuff at publishers and agents. If you are famous in some way, getting in to print is a heck of a lot easier.

While Mrs Marketing Brain is working, I’ve also been pondering some ideas. Since I know nothing about the “correct” way of doing this, I’m thinking of silly things. The first of these was to film some of our book using the ever popular plastic bricks.

Technically, this is easy. I made my first stop-frame animation film when I was 9, on proper Super 8 film, none of this computer stuff. I learned a lot, especially that it’s a good idea to come up with the story before you start filming, not half way through a ruinously expensive roll of film. Even some serious editing didn’t entirely hide this but I did my best.

Nowadays, the process involves a still digital camera and dropping the frames in to some software that plays them one after another. Editing doesn’t involve cutting strips of film up and sticking them back together with lovely smelling film cement, just dragging and dropping scenes around the timeline.

A bigger problem is that our book opens with a woman crawling along a slippery roof and trying to communicate with a man dressed in a cabbage costume. Lego may be wonderful stuff but as far as I know, they don’t make any vegetable shaped figures. As a Lego traditionalist, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of green blocks to make my own either. Even if I did, he’d be much bigger than the lead player so it would look all wrong.

Worse, she is wearing designer gear and Lego definitely don’t do that. Using the Minifig creator, I did my best to make miniatures of us and while I’m wearing jeans as usual, efforts to make plastic Candice fashionable failed utterly, hence the gym bunny gear.

BillySLegoAnyway, would a Lego version of our book, even if it went viral, sell it to the intended market? Probably not.

More thinking required obviously.

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