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Showing posts with label Pick A Brick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pick A Brick. Show all posts

LEGO Finds - Calendar Week 40

Just a small mish mash of big things this week.  A complete Endor IV planet, a small Pick A Brick cup, and a couple of DUPLO pieces.  Pro-tip: In a pinch, a 4x12 LEGO brick will suffice for a 2x6 DUPLO brick.

Then there were these other pieces that I finally decided to grab.  After some interweb-surfing, they appear to be DIABLOCK.  Is that Die-A-Block or Dee-A-Block?

LEGO Techniques - Stuff it, Horse!

This is a guest post by DagsBricks reader Greentree.  Greentree contacted me after reading about how I got 384 1x2 bricks in a small PaB cup.  She was also inspired by these photos.  Since horses were now on the wall, I was encouraged to do a blog post about stuffing horses into a cup.  I posited the following theories with no horses on hand:
"According to BL, it will sell for around $3 each in better than 6 months time.  The horse is 2 bricks wide and I guarantee 2 could fit flat in the bottom of a small cup.  Perhaps the legs would be intertwined a little.  Based on the 2 brick width, I could probably stack the horses 4 high.  So that's about 8 horses in the cup for a resale of $24 on a $9 cup.

The biggest cup has a smaller diameter base.  I don't think you could lay 2 horses (or even one horse) flat in there.  But I have no doubt that you could slide them in upright fitting at least two in the bottom.  Then I imagine you could slide 4 in the next layer.  By that time the cup diameter could be big enough to lay a couple flat.  So lots more room for other pieces but still the same number of horses."
Later that day...
"My friend rushed to our local store, and in a hurried 30 minutes before work, was able to get 14 horses each in two cups.  After he came home, the two of us combined techniques and were able to get 20 horses in a cup with the lid firmly on. 😁

I will admit, I used your idea of laying the horses flat. 😉 We also tucked the heads and legs in tightly to bundle each horse as small as possible.

The second photo shows the key technique we found to start: 4 horses stacked to match the curve of the cup (only showing 3 in the pic stack), and two horses head down standing upright. That's because there is the "stud" in the bottom of the cup, and so my friend found by inverting the two horses so their heads were in the trough, we then had a flat bundle in the narrow bottom of the cup.

The next two layers have a stack with 3 horses on the side, and another 3 flipped and stacked opposite them; this puts the horses so their backs are to the side of the cup. There is then room to place one horse upright in a resulting space that creates a "V".  So 6 horses in the bottom layer, and 7 each in the next two layers = 20.

Anyway, I am very sorry your store is limiting customers to 5 horses, and you yourself cannot have the fun of trying, let alone get some inexpensive stock for your store. Oh, and I still doubt that one guys claim of 19, because we can see so many of the horse inverted. Trying to put them in like that we were only able to get about 15 in the cup. *shrug* Who knows.

We are going back to our store on Sunday, to see if we can increase our haul to 40 horses in two cups. We're doing it just for the puzzle challenge of course. 😊"
I was all set to go and try it for myself but then I read that my local LEGO store was limiting customers to 5 horses.  I could have gone, stuffed, taken photos, and emptied the cup, but what would have been the point if I couldn't have taken them home?  YMMV at your local store.  The irony is, if they are limiting horses then there will probably still be stock in the bin, however you will not be able to use this method and bring them all home.

All thanks to Greentree and her friend for testing the horse in the cup and reporting in.

LEGO Techniques - PaB Wall Pick a Brick Cup

I seem to be having more PaB wall lately.  That means I'm going to the LEGO Store more often than before.  At least my wallet is lighter.  I mean, shoot, that thing was so heavy...

A commission that I've been working on required a bunch of dark bley 2x4 filler and a bunch of dark red 1x2 bricks (among other parts).  Both of these were amazingly in the PaB wall.  Armed with a large cup and the knowledge that I could snap the bricks together (since they weren't for resale) I tested some 2x4 packing.

First layer was the 1x2 in the bottom rim of the cup.  Next I built a big block of 2x4 and test fit it.  There was enough room in much of it to add more 1x2 to the outer edges.  Some tan 2x8 plates made for good edge filler.  I then put a second larger block on top.  Finally, I had enough room to add one more 2x layer.  I figured some of the 2x2 bley bricks would be helpful and built a block with a few them and a bunch more 1x2.  With each layer I dumped in, shook, and used a 1x8 tile to shove down as many 1x1 trans clear plates as possible.

In the lid I was able to get a few extra pieces to friction fit.

Total count:

108 dark bley 2x4
14 dark bley 2x2
93 dark red 1x2
8 tan 2x8 plate
2 red 2x4 brick
2 white 2x2x2 65° slope
2 light bley 2x2 tile
2 light bley 1x2 tile with handle
302 trans clear 1x1 plate

Total street value of about $41.  I've had better but that's not terrible for a $16 cup.  Off to build!

LEGO Finds - PaB Wall

A little test of jamming 2x2 into a PaB cup without connecting them.  I had one of my kids with me and couldn't neglect some of their little brick desires as well.  I tried to pack it all in and was thankful that they wanted mostly 2x4 (which went well with the experiment) and smaller filler pieces (which again went well).

Final count:
  • 1 red 2x8 brick 
  • 6 red 2x4 brick
  • 7 blue 2x4 brick
  • 8 green 2x4 brick
  • 9 pink 1x2 brick
  • 104 dark bley 2x2 brick

In total this works out to 155 2x2 bricks per PaB cup plus a bunch of little filler. Could have gotten 7 more 2x2 in the lid but I just... didn't...

LEGO Finds - PaB Wall

No finds this week.  Here's a little PaB interlude.

I made the inconvenient trip to the LEGO Store for the express purpose of getting myself one of the LEGO Movie Accessory pack polybags.  While I was there I decided the Wall of Bricks was worth a grab.  Mostly due to 1x2 trans clear plates.  I filled my cup most of the way and then added a few more handy pieces.  Total count, 74 other pieces and over 400 trans clear plates.  At $7.74 for bringing my own cup back in, that's under 2c per piece.  Hard to beat that on a Bricklink or BrickOwl store.

As far as techniques go, the 2x8 tan plates nestle well against the side wall of the PaB cup when clutched on one edge but not the other.

LEGO Finds - PaB Wall

Since the free LEGO has been extremely hit and miss, I'll add in my occasional PaB wall hauls.  According to, I recently expected to find quite a few parts.  Apparently the week before Christmas is not a time of slow PaB wall turnover.  I found parts somewhat mixed, some of what I wanted, not enough of other stuff I wanted, and some parts missing from the roster altogether.  I had expected to fill 2 small cups and spend $75 to get a holiday box.  Lo and behold, after spending an hour trying to spend my $75 wisely, I discover that they ran out of the boxes the day before.  Ah well, I put some stuff back and kept the bill under $20.  And only one small PaB cup.

At one point I turned around and Mrs. DagsBricks and the kids were gone.  I made my purchase and then wandered the mall for a half hour before finding them in a kids clothing store.  I separated my cup into our stuff and stuff for sale and sat down on the floor to let the kids build.  Here's some of what they came up with.  The 7yo built a submarine.  The 6yo built a tree.  The 2 yo built a truck.  It's all there, can you find it?  I saw 2 olive green cheese slopes and grabbed them.  They don't hardly take space and I couldn't let them be alone.

The majority of the cup is made up of black Travis bricks, lots of them.  Also some grass (the last of it) and flowerheads.  The landscaping may go the girls but I'm delighted to have so much SNOT on hand.  I thought and hoped I had about 200.  Turns out there's only 152.  Instead of filling the cup halfway and shaking, I should have put small handfuls in and shaken after every drop, especially making sure to fill the groove at the very bottom of the cup.

Seller Review - Bricks and Pieces

About 6 months ago I threw a little curveball to these reviews by adding The LEGO Company's online Pick a Brick to the mix.  The review was OK but it's not my first choice.  Sometime afterwards I learned about Bricks and Pieces which is the formal name given to the missing parts service.  If you receive a new set and the headlight brick is cracked or the print on a wedge is smeared or a 1x1 light bluish gray plate is just plain missing, Bricks and Pieces can help you replace it.  What you won't be able to purchase are any pieces that are considered licensed, such as Super Heroes weapons, Star Wars torsos, or Krusty Krab menus.  Many pieces that are currently in production can be found here.  The prices are not set per part in 5c increments like PaB either.  I recently purchased some pieces that were 16c each while an acquaintance spent 67c on another particular piece.  So far all reports are that shipping is a flat $2.95.  And this coming from Denmark.

Seller: Bricks and Pieces
Feedback (at time of writing): n/a
Feedback Ratio: n/a
Location: Denmark
Prices: Vary.  Can be higher or lower than 6 month average.

My Order
Order Size: 1 lots, 200 pieces.
Condition: 100% New.
Shipping Charge: 1 part or 1000 appears to be $2.95
Extra Fees: None
Final Cost per Part: $0.17

Order Date: Sep 20
Invoice Date: n/a
Payment Date: Sep 20
Shipping Date: Sep 20
Delivery Date: Sep 28

Order Details
Why this store: Needed a bunch of some rarer parts.  Wanted to give this service a try.
Packaging: Much like online PaB, all dumped into one big baggie and shipped in a bubble mailer.  A packing slip was included.
Part condition: Like new
Communication: Quick and professional
Feedback left: Positive
Odd telltale signs: None
Issues: Three extra pieces.  Must be using a slightly buyer-favored counting scale.

Using this service is a little bit hands on.  You choose your parts online and then receive an invoice via email.  You then have 2 weeks to call in and pay for the order.  If you decide you don't like the prices, ignore it and you'll have no further obligation (as I did on another order).  Otherwise you give your payment info over the phone and voila, parts on their way.  The online system will allow you to select up to 200 copies of any given element.  Not sure how to get around this other than asking the customer service rep to increase it.  I see no reason why you couldn't.  In fact the email I received encouraged me to add to my order over the phone if I couldn't find what I wanted.  So I guess I could have ordered 400 or 10,000 of the same pieces if I had the need (and thick enough billfold).  Shipping time was way better than expected for a postal package from Denmark to the US, only about a week.  And WAY better than an online PaB order which goes via DHL.  While I could ignore PaB and not miss it, I think the replacement parts service is a much better way to get what you need with fairer prices and faster service.  Be warned though, when talking to the rep it helps to know your 6 and 7 digit codes.  Pull up Brickset to have on hand if needed.

LEGO Techniques - System Sizes Wrap-up

Over the past several weeks I've been taking a look at different sizes of LEGO sub brands and comparing them to the System standard.  From little to big those have been Modulex, DUPLO, Quatro, Primo, and Tubs and Cups.  Unfortunately my collection is devoid of any Jumbo Bricks or Soft Bricks.  When and if I can get my hands on some I'll be sure to post about them.  From what I've seen on the interwebs, Jumbo is between DUPLO and Quatro in size while Soft Bricks are about the same size as Primo, stud notwithstanding.  Want to score mega bonus points with me?  Send me a yellow 2x2 Soft Brick and I'll gush about how wonderful you are in your very own blog post.

Some of these systems are immediately compatible with each other, some take a little more tinkering and ingenuity.  If you need a little help with size comparisons and what might fit where, take a look at the handy-dandy chart I created and made public.  If you have definitive dimensions to help fill any of the voids please feel free to share.  Jumbo Bricks and Soft Bricks could use the most help.

I feel like I did a good job of hitting all the sizes.  What else did I miss?

LEGO Techniques - Tubs and Cups

After our recent discussions on DUPLO, Quatro, and Primo, there is one even larger size of stud to consider.  Did you realize that The LEGO Company has made and continues to make pieces with a stud diameter of approximately 48mm or 10 times larger than a standard LEGO System stud.  "Where can I get these pieces!?" you may ask.  Unfortunately you can't buy these pieces by themselves.  You generally have to buy a bunch of other pieces to get them.  These pieces are the older studded tubs that LEGO sets used to come in (I make this assumption as I haven't seen any on store shelves in a while) or the Pick-a-Brick cups.


LEGO in their inherent genius has made even these large elements stackable.  The studs on top have a slightly more pronounced graduation to them which is why I said approximately 48mm.  The bottom of the stud is 50mm wide and the top (just before the bevel) is 48mm.  The very top not including the bevel is about 44mm.  The bottom of the PaB cups are also indented (much like a wine bottle) to allow other cups to stack on top.  This gigantic anti-stud is of course also graduated.  These conical contours are based on the necessity for compact stacking of the cups next to your local PaB wall.

So what can you do with these studs?  The first answer is obvious.  You could get a bunch of 2x3 tubs and stack them to make a life-size fort.  Use the PaB cups to top off your ramparts.  Of course the clutch power is worse than a MEGA-blok so the only defense you have is to push it over on your attacker once he's at your wall.  Game over.

And you can't even stack the cups side by side.  Pro-tip: The bottom older tub is designed for 44m studs, not 48mm.

The second answer would involve finding some sort of piece that could step these fatties down to System size.  Being 48mm wide, the studs are the same size as a 6x6 round plate or dish.  Given the looser tolerance of the cups, the only place a 6x6 round will fit snug is to the inside of the lid stud.

 For once though I am flabbergasted on a missed opportunity.  As noted in my previous post on PaB cups and holiday boxes, the small cups are precisely half the VOLUME of the big cups.  However the small cups are slightly LESS than half the height of a large cup.  Were the large cup to be a touch girthier than the problem would be solved.  As it is, the small cups are 78mm tall and the tall cups are about 170mm tall.  This is just shy of 8-1/3 studs and 18 studs high respectively.

Could you build with them?  Well, sure.  But you're limited to 2x2 and 2x3 bricks and 1x1 round bricks that aren't quite the same height.  Adding another lid or two on top may get you there but at that point, why bother.  Just go get some Soft Bricks.  84 elements for $500?  I'll take a 6-pack, please...

Seller Review - LEGO Shop At Home Pick a Brick

Okay not Bricklink but maybe a comparison with the Bricklink process would be kind of fun.  Could you imagine if TLG sold on Bricklink?  I guess if they became a vendor on Bricklink that they would only do it with a no competition clause.  So Bricklink would cease to be.  Maybe not such a good idea.  So far all of my reviews have been great to passable.  How does The LEGO Company's online Pick a Brick stack up?

Seller: The LEGO Company
Feedback (at time of writing): n/a
Feedback Ratio: n/a
Location: Strykow, Poland
Prices: Generally higher than Bricklink's 6 month average though there are some anomalies

My Order
Order Size: 10 lots, 640 pieces
Condition: 100% New
Shipping Charge: None for orders over $75 (limited recurring offer)
Extra Fees:
Final Cost per Part: $0.15

Order Date: Apr 10
Invoice Date: Apr 10
Payment Date: Apr 10
Shipping Date: Apr 11 or Apr 18 based on postage label vs. when charge was made to my card.
Delivery Date: Apr 22

Order Details
Why this store: There wasn't much to crack open my wallet even with the free shipping offer.  I threw a few things in the cart and then remembered PaB could top it off.  So I took a looky and started comparing prices between PaB and Bricklink.  In many cases the prices on S@H were a few pennies higher but I was essentially unlimited in the quantity I could buy.  On BL many sellers only had a handful of particular parts.  By the time all was said and done I had spent $99 on parts and I probably could have gone higher.
Packaging: Every last part dumped into the same baggie.  One large lot had it's own baggie.  Both baggies were then packed loose in a small but sturdy box.  *rattle* *rattle*
Part condition: Brand spanking new
Communication: None
Feedback left: n/a
Odd telltale signs: None
Issues: Every lot was on average about 3% over on the count.  This tells me they must be using a counting scale rather than a physical count.
Issue Communication?:
Issue Resolution?:

Even though the parts are factory fresh there is a huge time frame for delivery.  Many of the parts run a few pennies to whole silver pieces above Bricklink's 6 month average.  There are a handful of parts that are much cheaper but they are few and far between.  Since I found one huge disparity I was able to save $79 over buying the same order via Bricklink based on 6 month average prices.  This would assume the same seller would have shipped the 18 oz order for free (vs ~$6 for priority shipping).  From time to time compare prices between S@H and BL.  It might end up being a good deal especially during free shipping.  Otherwise you're probably better off with Bricklink.  It also helps to know your colors.  Bricklink uses a somewhat different system then TLG and confusion can ensue.  Such as what Medium Stone Grey is and why I bought 80 pieces of them in the wrong color. :-/

LEGO Tips and Techniques - Holiday Pick A Brick, My Haul

Back at the end of February I discussed the size and LEGO capacity of the Holiday Pick A Brick box.  I finally got around to filling the box.  Unfortunately my local store did not have the best selection of what I needed but I did what I could to fill the box.

By way of reminder, the box is 11x11x9 1x1 bricks in size.  This is precisely 3267 1x1 plates.  The pyramid lid brings this total up to about 3500 1x1 plates.  I'll be judging my performance based on the amount of 1x1 plate equivalent I was able to fit into the box.

The first thing I did was build a fat 4x8x9 block out of 1x4 tan bricks.  In retrospect I should have built it at 4x7x9 or 4x11x9.  Oh well.  I built the same size block out of 1x2 and 1x4 reddish brown as well as some 1x4 green.  Each of these blocks would be 864 units (4x8x9x3) for a total of 1728.

I then made 5 stacks of black 1x4 bricks, 9 high.  These total to 540 units.  Eleven yellow 1x6 bricks add 198 units.  Between 45 blue and yellow 1x4 plates I added another 180 units.  Blue and yellow aren't really my colors but by the time I got to those I was a bit desperate to fill space.  I also stagger stacked them for ease of use later.  I lost 1 unit for each one.

Fourteen 1x2 45° slopes count for 4.5 units each for a total of 63.  Some 1x2 single finger click hinges (for micropolis detailing) would be about 2.5 units each though you'd be hard pressed to pack them in to that density.  Nonetheless the 13 of them add 33 units.

One of the best grabs was a slew of black, white, and blue 1x8 tiles.  I made little effort to line them up perfectly but they did fit into a smaller area so I feel like I got a fairly good use of space.  There were 57 in all for a total of 456 units.

By this time it was 12:30p and I was getting shaky from too much coffee and too little food.  I threw 6 dark bley 4x4 plates in the top staggered a bit to fill the pyramid.  These gave me another 96 units.  Finally I chucked a small handful of flower sprues in just before closing the lid.  How do you quantify the relative size of these?  At first glance they seem like about 5 each but I'm going to bump that to 7.  The flowers are a bit bigger in diameter than a 1x1 plate.  Nine sprues add a final count of 63 to the total.

In all there are 1728 + 540 + 198 + 180 + 63 + 33 + 456 + 96 + 63 = 3357 units.  Out of 3500 available I got 3357 / 3500 = 96%.  Some of you will be amazed while others of you will say, "That's all?"  Like I said, caffeine shakes as well as poor variety of parts I really needed kept me from optimizing the box.  Nonetheless it was a free LEGO pieces so I can't complain.

How well did you do on your box?

LEGO Tips, Tricks, and Techniques - Holiday Pick A Brick Box

Those of you who made a purchase of $75 at a LEGO store in November or December may remember that you received a gift box with your purchase.  You don't?  Uh-oh, better go find that thing.  It's worth free brick, after all.  Or maybe you don't care because the thing is so small.  I've read a lot of information on several forums about how big/little or great/meh the Holiday Pick A Brick box is.  Before it's too late to use it (the deadline is March 31st, YMMV), let's do some empirical measurements.  Look out kids, this is SCIENCE!

Let's examine the standard Pick A Brick cups.  There are two sizes, small and large.  I filled a measuring glass to 250mL and filled this small cup 2 times.  The water line came right to the top, therefore, this cup is 500mL even with the recess in the bottom.

The large cup is listed on Bricklink as being one liter in capacity.  I poured the contents of the smaller cup into this larger one and then proceeded to add two more units of 250mL.  Again, the water meniscus was right to the top.  I suppose this could have been more scientific had I done it on a scale as well so that I could measure the weight of the water.  But, good enough.

The lid has some volume too that is not counted in the size of the cups.  I filled my measuring glass to 100mL but was only able to get half of it into the stud.  So in total, there is 550mL and 1050mL of volume in each of these cups, including the lid stud, with the lid snapped on tight.

At my last visit to The LEGO Store, I was able to get 382 1x2 bricks in the small cup including filling the lid.  This was due partly to the fact that my local LEGO store allows overfilling of the cup.  As long as the lid doesn't sit more than a brick off of the cup, they'll tape it down for you and call it good.  So I was probably able to get 600mL of brick and air into the cup.

You can see my mad packing skills here.  All bricks were loose, not attached to each other, and very carefully placed so as to be tight but not cause scratching on their neighbors.  I spent at least an hour doing this and chatting with the staff and other customers.  I think when I went back for tan bricks I did something slightly different and got 384 pieces.

A LEGO 1x2 brick has dimensions of 7.8mm x 15.8mm x 11.3mm with the stud.  This translates to 1.393mL per brick.  Multiply this by 384 bricks for a total of 535 mL.  Since my cup was about 600mL with the raised lid, we get about 89% efficiency.  This will go down for larger bricks, and up for plates.  That is, assuming you have the patience to stack 1x2 plates in this cup.  O_o

As for the Holiday Pick A Brick box, it's a cube, much more amenable to cubically shaped LEGO parts.  The inside of my box measures as follows:

88mm x 88mm x 88mm which is equal to a LEGO brick that is 11 x 11 x 9.  That's one fat brick.
Cubic volume of the box is 88 x 88 x 88 / 1000 = 681mL.  However the top, when folded shut is a pyramid in nature.  This pyramid is about 28mm tall at the peak.  The volume of a pyramid is given by the equation V = 1/3Ah where A is the area of the base and h is the height at the peak.  In our case the volume is 1/3 x 88 x 88 x 28 / 1000 = 72mL.  Add this to the previous cube volume and we get a total of 753mL.  If you look at it intuitively, you can see rough amounts of 500, 750, and 1000 for the small cup, box, and large cup.  This places the box square in the middle of the cups for volume.  In fact the box is approximately 753 / 550 = 137% the size of the small cup.  However this is a cube so there should be more efficiency.

Let's assume that my previous cup was packed with 1x1 bricks at the same volume, therefore, 768 1x1 bricks could fit in the small cup.  However I overpacked it.  There are 85 bricks at the top level and if these were 1x1, we would assume 683 bricks would fit with the lid snapped tight (85 fewer 1x1 bricks).  The Holiday box can fit, as previously mentioned, 11 x 11 x 9 = 1089 pieces.  Through the magic of AutoCAD, I determined that you could safely add another 58 bricks into the pyramid.  Based on these numbers, the box has 1147 / 683 = 168% the efficiency of a small cup.  So even though it's only 37% bigger, it's 68% more efficient than the small cup.  But unless you're filling it with horses, you'll likely get 95% or better packing efficiency.

The slope of the pyramid is about 32°.  The 33° slope is actually 27° on the brick itself and 31° when stacked.  The lip of the slope alters the overall slope slightly.  If you want to aim for 99% packing efficiency, you'd be lucky to find some of these slopes.  My local store more often has 45° slopes but if you can find some cheese slopes they are close to 30°.  You could fill the rest of the space with flowers or 1x1 plates or levers.  Maybe you could slide some window glass down the sides too.

So by not filling your Holiday Pick A Brick box, you're missing out on at least a cup and a half of free ABS goodness.  If I STILL haven't convinced you, then just send me your box and I'll take care of everything.