Category Archives: Holidays

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, the day when just about everyone in the U.S. claims to be at least a little bit Irish, which means wearing green clothing and often imbibing copious amounts of beer with green food coloring added, especially when it falls on a weekend. (There’s very little to do with saints involved.) And more to the point, images of leprechauns. Continue reading Happy St. Patrick’s Day

LEGO Nutcracker

My latest LEGO model, just in time for Christmas, is the Nutcracker, a classic Christmas icon. In fact, it was built on Christmas Eve!

LEGO Nutcracker

Inspired by the ballet by Alexandre Dumas père (an adaptation of the story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E. T. A. Hoffmann), set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and staged by Marius Petipa. My wife and I saw the San Francisco Ballet version of this last week, and I’ve been wanting to make a LEGO nutcracker ever since. I was going to make a big one, about two feet tall, but haven’t got around to it yet… in the meantime I really like the way this little guy came out.

The mechanism functions pretty well; by lifting his coattails his mouth opens, just like real wooden nutcrackers. Of course, being the size that he is, you can’t crack much of a nut with it, which is probably just as well since it would most likely fall apart in your hands if you tried – LEGO studs’ clutch power is no match for your average nut.

Nutcracker rear Nutcracker front Nutcracker mechanism

Click on any of the images for a bigger view, or go to the Flickr photo set (slideshow)

Merry Christmas!

2009 Advent Calendars

Like last year, LEGO came up with two advent calendars, only one of which was sold in the U.S. The 7687 City advent calendar was sold everywhere, but the 6299 Pirates calendar was only available in Europe. (If you’re not familiar with advent calendars, they basically consist of 24 different gifts, one to be opened on each day of Advent, the traditional Christian season that precedes Christmas, or in other words December 1-24. These days, it’s secularized – fine by me, since I’m not religious – but the name has stuck.)

Pirates advent calendarLast year, LEGO accidentally shipped a few sets of that year’s specialty calendar, which had a Castle theme, to the U.S. Shop-At-Home warehouse, and since the fans were complaining so loudly about it not being available in this country they were convinced to make them available through a special mail-order setup. But we didn’t have any such luck this year with the Pirates calendar, so unless you had a friend in Europe willing to ship it to you, there was no way to get it.

Well, my friend Holger Matthes in Germany was willing to do this favor for me, and I was hoping to get it in time for December 1st so I could post each day’s set like I did last year (each of those words is a link to a different day’s calendar from last year; days 1-7 and 24 are shown, but I bet you can find the rest). But alas, the package took a long time getting here (not Holger’s fault; he shipped it as soon as I gave him the details – but DHL took its sweet time in delivering it. Next time I’ll pay extra for airmail/express, or just order sooner. Though hopefully LEGO will have learned its lesson and won’t require me to jump through such hoops…)

If you want to see more clever coverage of the Advent calendars than I can provide, check out Chris Doyle’s Reasonably Clever blog where he’s included each day’s calendar prizes into the BRiCK House web comic.

Anyway, I didn’t get the Pirates calendar until December 18th, so I put photos on Flickr of the first 19 days the next day and have updated it today with the rest. You can see the City and Pirates sets for each day in my 2009 Advent Calendars set (or view as a slideshow).

I was surprised to see that both calendars had the days in the same quasi-random order. It made it easy to build them side-by-side; once I found that day’s door in one calendar, the other calendar had the same number in the same position. It did seem to me that all the doors were printed upside-down; the flap of the box was in the way if you tried to open the doors with the printing facing right-side-up. Last year, the direction of the printing was opposite on the two boxes, if I recall correctly.