Limited edition ANA plane

ANA has tied up with Lego for a limited edition (1000 sets) of the ANA plane.  Previous ANA editions were released in 2006, 2007 & 2008.  It’s basically 3181 Passenger Plane done up in ANA design.

Here’s the 3181:

And the pics of the ANA plane:

Credit to Lego Kei for the news.

Am I getting one for myself?  Probably not… I don’t fly on ANA and don’t understand the ANA website unfortunately.

Japanese Red Idea Book

I brought the Japanese Red Idea book to a local Lego club meet-up and quite a few members were thrilled with the pictures/MOCs in the book. 

As promised, here are some of the favourite pages from the book.  Enjoy! 🙂 (apologies for the lousy photo taking tho!)

Details of the book and link to Amazon Japan can be found here: List of Lego books I like

List of Lego books I like

Update:

  • Link to ‘The LEGO Book’ review here: Link (added on 5 Aug 2010)
  • Link to preview of Japanese Red Idea Book here: Link (added on 26 Jun 2010)
  • Link to Kinokuniya Lego-related books stocked here: Link (added on 17 Jul 2010)
  • Link to LadyBird Menace from the Deep Activity book here: Link (added on 13 Jul 2010)
  • Link to New Lego Books & Lego Harry Potter Visual Dictionary here: Link (added on 3 Oct 2010)
  • Link to Reference Books for Licensed Themes – Part 1: Link (added on 1 Dec 2010)

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This may be the 1st of a series of lists… I’m kinda inspired by one of the Lego books  to start creating lists of my own to share on this blog.  But let’s see how’s the response before I create others. 

Lego books I like

I do have a collection of Lego books and as an AFOL, I find some of these books fab in helping me to know sets from past series/years and genres that I may not otherwise find out about.  While databases of Lego sets are available online (e.g. Brickset & Peeron), there is just no substitute for curling up with a mug of good coffee and book for a relaxing afternoon… Of course, others teach me new building techniques for future MOCs. 

Disclaimer: I do not collect Bionicles, Ex0-force or Technics.  So while I’m sure great books exist for these series, I won’t write about books I don’t know much about.

Some explanation:  Where-ever possible, titles link to Brickset (except for the Japanese books that link to Amazon Japan), which has reviews by other collectors for reference.  ISBNs, dimensions and weight etc listed next so you can search for the books in your nearest stores. Next are my short take on the books (mainly positive, else I won’t waste time writing about them).  So without further ado…

1. LEGO Collector’s Guide by Michael Steiner

  • Perfect Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Schwarz Maerkte U. Figure (?)(2008)
  • Language: English, German
  • ISBN-10: 3935976526
  • ISBN-13: 978-3935976527
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • The limited edition (3333 copies) also included a collectible minifig and 2 printed bricks that are worth quite a bit on Bricklink now.  I actually have 2 copies, one limited edition (hard cover) that I’ve since re-sealed and one normal version (soft cover) version that I recently bought for reading.

    It’s not perfect though.  The rarity system rating seems a bit dodgy… no idea how the ratings are assigned, and there are some mistakes and sets without pictures.  That said, it’s still a great book that lists sets released by year from 1950s to 2008 and is a great way to find out about sets and keychains from the past if you’ve ever had a ‘dark age’. 

    It’s still available on some Amazon stores (e.g. Japan) and on the publisher’s (Fantasia Verlag GmbH) website, so if you come across one, buy it! No regrets.

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    2. The LEGO Book  by Daniel Lipkowitz; Alastair Dougall; Jorgen Vig Knudstorp 

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: DK ADULT (October 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756656230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756656232
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Released in 2009, it actually consists of 2 books in one hardcover case, The Lego Book and Standing Small. 

    The 2 books provide more of an overview of sets and themes over the year, so don’t expect a detailed set by set type of book.  Nevertheless it’s a great book for any AFOL and I’ll highly recommend to get a copy to thumb through.

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    3. The Unofficial LEGO® Builder’s Guide by Allan Bedford

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593270542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593270544
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • This is quite an old book (2005), but basic techniques don’t change that much.  It offers useful how-tos for anyone who would like to MOC such as how to make a sphere.   Link to the website for free sample chapter: http://www.apotome.com/

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    4. The Ultimate LEGO Book by DK Publishing

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: DK CHILDREN (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078944691X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789446916
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 9.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • This one is an oldie but a goodie… sort of a classic if you will.  Loads of stuff about the theme park and sculptures as well. Available 2nd-hand unless you are willing to pay premium prices for a mint copy.

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    5. LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary by Simon Beecroft, Jeremy Beckett

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: DK Publishing; Har/Toy edition (September 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756655293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756655297
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 10.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • This is a must get book for any Star Wars Lego fan.  Apart from pages dedicated to SW sets, you get a minifig of Luke Skywalker exclusive to this book. 

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    6. DK Minifigure Ultimate Sticker Collection 

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: DK CHILDREN; 1 edition (December 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756659841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756659844
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Ok, so this is really just a sticker book. But it’s still fun to play with stickers if you are an AFOL.  Or you could justify by saying it’s for your son/daughter/nephew/niece and then you just have to help them stick the stickers properly… just a suggestion, haha.  DK has thoughtfully included 2 sets of stickers, so even after you stuck all the stickers in the book, you still have a 2nd set to play with.

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    7. LEGO bookmuseum Vol.1 by 北本 水晶 (単行本 – 2003/7/2)

  • 単行本: 320 pages
  • Publisher: 扶桑社 (2003/7/2)
  • ISBN-10: 4594039979
  • ISBN-13: 978-4594039974
  • Release Date: 2003/7/2
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.6 x 0.9 inches
  • It’s sort of like a Japanese version of a cross between the Lego Collector’s Guide and The Lego Book.  In other words, it’ll be awesome if not for the book dating from 2003 (so no recent sets included) and in Japanese (which I can’t read). 

    This is the book that inspired me to want to start creating lists of my own, cos the book lists sets by theme e.g. all police stations, all fire stations, all hospitals, etc… you get the idea.  The good thing is you get to see how sets have evolved over the years and also compare which designs you like best.

    I think it’s only available in Japan and some ebay sellers.  But you can quite easily get it delivered to your hotel/apartment using Amazon Japan if you visit Japan.  As an AFOL, I would recommend getting this book despite the above mentioned faults.  Hey, it did get me started creating this list didn’t it?

    (Tip: I did not see this book in any of the many book stores I visited while I was in Japan recently, so I’ll advise you to order on Amazon Japan and save the trouble.)

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    8. 創作アイデアの玉手箱 続・ブロック玩具で遊ぼう!! by さいとうよしかず (aka Japanese Lego Red Book)

  • 大型本: 159 pages
  • Publisher: ソシム (2008/12/17)
  • Language: 日本語
  • ISBN-10: 4883376281
  • ISBN-13: 978-4883376285
  • Release Date: 2008/12/17
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Wanna have a preview of the Red Idea Book? Refer to this post!

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    9.  創作アイデアの玉手箱ブロック玩具で遊ぼう!! by さいとう よしかず (aka JapaneseLego Green Book)

  • 大型本: 160 pages
  • Publisher: ソシム (2008/4/11)
  • Language: 日本語
  • ISBN-10: 488337596X
  • ISBN-13: 978-4883375967
  • Release Date: 2008/4/11
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.2 x 0.9 inches
  • I think these are Japanese idea books.  Actually I only got the red one cos the green one was not available on Amazon when I was in Japan (and that explains why I went to so many book stores in Japan). 

    Based on the red book, there are loads of pics, some pages which gives some simple storage and building tips (again, I think, since I can’t read Japanese). My favourite are the pages of an awesome Japanese town display with lots of modular style buildings.  There are robots as well (Gundam style?) and nice pianos (many different versions) and nice looking furnitures too (Lego kitchen, desk, shelves, sink, bathtub, etc).  I am guessing the green one had to be good so that a 2nd book could be released but I could be wrong. 😛

    .

    Ok, that’s all the Lego books I have for now (not counting books on licensed themes that I bought for future MOC/scenes reference). 

    Hope you enjoyed the list and do let me know what you think using comments!  🙂

    Lego Shopping in Japan Part II

    In my recent trip to Japan, I had the opportunity to experience shopping for Lego in these stores: 

    1. Amazon Japan
    2. Click Brick (Rinku Premium Outlet)
    3. Bic’s Camera (Kyoto Station and Osaka Shinsaibashi stores) and Yodobashi (Osaka Umeda)
    4. Muji
    5. Various department stores (Kyoto Isetan, Kyoto Takashimaya)

    So here goes my experiences and some tips to share in case you are interested to shop for Legos in Japan… 

    By the way, the non-Lego related tips/experiences are applicable to Nanoblock shopping in Japan as well (except for Muji).  You didn’t think I only bought Legos did you? Haha, yes I did buy loads of Nanoblock sets in Japan, including the Himeji Castle set I so admired in my earlier post… I got the set at JPY5,800 (vs retail price of JPY8,400) from Bic’s Kyoto.

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    1. Amazon Japan 

    I made the order online just before I flew to Japan, and received the parcels 2 days later.  Without doubt, this is the easiest and most hassle-free of the lot.  So the pros and cons are: 

    Pros 

    • Able to purchase Japanese Lego books, which are great by the way, even if you do not understand Japanese like me. I bought 2 this time and will do a simple book review when I’ve some time.
    • Able to purchase English Lego books, that may not be available in your home country.  This is more for Asian AFOLs I guess, since Amazon is widely available elsewhere.
    • Not having to carry heavy and bulky parcels back to the hotel/the rest of the day.
    • Free cardboard box to check-in new toys back home (just have to buy some scotch tape to tape up the boxes).
    • Cheaper prices (for offer/discounted items) than most retail stores.
    • Some selection of discontinued items from Amazon’s 3rd party retailers.
    • As a first-time buyer from Amazon Japan, you probably qualify for the trial to have express delivery.

    Cons 

    • Hardly any Lego lifestyle items offered.
    • Mostly Japanese descriptions and instructions, but English instructions are available when setting up new account.  
    • Need to have some sort of semi-permanent abode for at least a couple of days.
    • Not sure what is the implication if there is no receptionist/concierge to accept delivery for you – perhaps can choose pick-up at a nearby Lawsons instead?

    Link to Amazon Japan  

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    2. Click Brick (Rinku Premium Outlet) 

    This is the 2nd time I’ve visited a Click Brick store (1st time was the store at Venus Fort, Odaiba, Tokyo) and overall…  

    Pros 

    • Loads of Lego lifestyle products, some seems to be only available in Japan.
    • Able to view the display models (lots in the Rinku outlet, not so much in the Venus Fort one).
    • Some older discontinued items in-store.
    • Prices are discounted from Japanese retail price.  
    • The atmosphere is great! Loads of people in the store (though this may be due to Golden Week). 
    • Play area for kids.

     Cons 

    • Having to carry heavy and bulky parcels back to the hotel/the rest of the day (though day lockers are available for rent at the Premium outlet and most train stations).
    • May not be the cheapest place to buy sets from (vs Amazon).
    • Not easy to travel to… unless you go direct from the Kansai airport (which I did), it’s a long ride out from Osaka city centre or wherever you are based in.

     Link to Click Brick website 

     

      

      

     

      

     

     

     

      

      

     

     

     

     

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    3. Bic’s Camera (Kyoto Station and Osaka Shinsaibashi stores) and Yodobashi (Osaka Umeda) 

    Apart from electronics, these stores also have a toys section, usually on the upper floors of the store. 

    Pros 

    • Prices generally seem to be discounted from Japanese retail price. Can get additional 5% discount if you exceed JPY10,000 and qualify for duty-free shopping.   
    • Convenient to get to… all the stores are located near transport or shopping hubs.

    Cons 

    • Having to carry heavy and bulky parcels back to the hotel/the rest of the day (though day lockers are available for rent at the Premium outlet and most train stations).
    • May not be the cheapest place to buy sets from (vs Amazon), but still cheaper than department stores.
    • No lifestyle products.

    Link to Bic’s Camera  

    Link to Yodobashi 

     

      

      

      

     

      

      

      

      

      

     

      

    4. Muji 

    The only reason for an AFOL to shop in Muji is to get the exclusive Muji-Lego sets that were released end-2009.  I went to nearly all the Muji outlets I could find (Himeji, Nara, Osaka, Kyoto) and strangely the Lego sets were only available in the Muji-to-go outlet in Kansai (KIX) airport.  The shop is located in public Level 3 shopping area, so if you want to get your Muji Lego sets, remember to pop by after you exit from customs upon arrival, or get the sets before you enter immigration for departure. 

    Pros 

    • Hey, it’s really the only place you can get those Muji Legos, apart from the online Muji store which is all in Japanese anyways so no idea how to order the sets online.

    Cons 

    • Those sets are not cheap.
    • Muji sets may not appeal to all Lego fans…

      

    5. Various department stores (Kyoto Isetan, Takashimaya) 

    Pros 

    • Convenient to get to… all the stores are located near transport or shopping hubs.

    Cons 

    • Those sets are not cheap, most expensive of all the other options 1 to 3 since the sets are only sold at full retail price.

      

    It’s taking a while to process photos and add links, so plain text for now, and I’ll tweak the post until I’m happy. 🙂 

    Questions, comments or updates? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

    Kyoto-Osaka-Himeji-Nara Itinerary 2010

    As promised, my itinerary for Kyoto, Osaka, Himeji and Nara:

    Day 1: Rinku Premium Outlet (including Click Brick Lego shopping!)

    Day 2: Okazaki Cherry Blossom Viewing Boat Ride, Kodai-ji Temple, Yasaka Jinja Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera Temple

    Day 3: Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Ryoan-ji, Ninna-ji Temple

    Day 4: Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Yodobashi Osaka

    Day 5: Himeji Castle

    Day 6: Nara

    Day 7: Universal Studio Osaka

    Day 8: Shopping (Osaka: Shinsaibashi to Namba)

     Details to come…

    Nanoblocks from Japan

    I was just surfing some sites about Japan, and came across these cute little blocks called “Nanoblock”.  As the name describes, these are tiny little building blocks, far smaller than Lego bricks. 

    I do remember seeing these the last trip to Japan but wasn’t too impressed until I saw this set of the Himeji Castle:

    Cool eh? Yeah, I think so too but not so cool is the price tag of JPY8,400.  More affordable are the colored bottles (each JPY714) and general blocks set:

    The ‘impulse’ sets costing JPY1,029 each are really cute too.  For instance the Happy Birthday Girl set (there is a boy set too, and a wedding couple as well – can use as a wedding cake topper?).

    Souvenirs of other key landmarks in Japan are also available, but not as nice as the Himeji Castle one:

    I may just get some to play with. Perhaps to make little things for my Lego town?  At least these seem like good quality bricks unlike those made in China types.

    Visit the official Nanoblock site if you are interested to know more: http://www.diablock.co.jp/nanoblock/

    Lego shopping in Japan

    Ok, so I did not intend to set this out as a shopping blog but I do quite… ahem… love to shop.

    So what set off this topic is that the Clickbrick 2010 catalog is out today.  It confirms many of the late 2010 sets (e.g. Kingdoms Advent) and also serves as a useful price reference for any Lego fan who is planning to visit Japan.  So thanks to the helpful AFOL from Japan who posted it on his (?) blog: http://legojapan.seesaa.net/article/148427839.html 

    Actually I’ve been keeping a lookout as I’ll be going to Japan for a holiday next week and am planning to visit a Clickbrick store while I’m there.

    Prices aren’t that exciting… though some sets are actually cheaper than Singapore after currency conversion and all…  and available ahead of Singapore, so it does make sense to go shopping for Legos in Japan, at least, if you are from Asia… However, a cheaper way to shop for Legos if you have a fixed address is to buy from Amazon Japan, which gives fairly decent discounts and free shipping (link is for sets with > 34%: discount): http://www.amazon.co.jp/lego-%E3%81%8A%E3%82%82%E3%81%A1%E3%82%83/s/qid=1272723023/ref=sr_pg_1?ie=UTF8&sort=salesrank&keywords=LEGO&bbn=13299531&rh=n%3A13299531%2Cn%3A%2113299551%2Ck%3ALEGO%2Cp_8%3A34-99&page=1

    Amazon also has a variety of Japanese Lego books, such as Lego book museum Vol 1 which looks interesting. If I do get one on my next trip, I’ll see if I can do a simple review: http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/search?ie=UTF8&keywords=LEGO&tag=legokei-22&index=books-jp&linkCode=ur2&camp=247&creative=1211

    However if Amazon is not a possibility, then I’ll recommend the Clickbrick Japan stores. http://www.clickbrick.jp/shop.html

    I went to one in Venus Fort last year when I went to Japan and got an engraved brick keychain (nice!). They also sell a wide variety of lifestyle products and some Lego apparel that are only available in Japan.  For my upcoming trip, I plan to go to the Rinku one located in the Rinku Premium Outlet in Osaka: http://www.premiumoutlets.co.jp/rinku/index.php  [remember to print out the coupons for visitors and bring your passport when you go to any of the outlets!]

    Am still trying to figure out if I should get set 7615 which seems to be exclusive to Japan? http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B001R1YRX2?ie=UTF8&tag=legokei-22&linkCode=as2&camp=247&creative=1211&creativeASIN=B001R1YRX2

    Ok, enough for today, I still need to plan my itinerary (and shopping lists) for my holiday!

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