You should be listening…

…to Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk. Best thing out of Canada since Alex Trebek.


Brick Wish List

Alison and I recently saw the LEGO Movie, which was more wonderful than I can possibly describe, so you should just go see it for yourself. The movie got me thinking about all the moments of my childhood connected to this toy “sophisticated system of interlocking bricks.” Some friends were discussing various sets we had or didn’t have but always wanted. We talked about the site Brickset and how many hours one can spend browsing – year by year – the sets of our youth. Looking back at these, I am lucky in that a good portion of my Dark Ages (roughly 1995-2007) occurred during a rough patch for LEGO set design, including LEGO’s own “New Coke” moment, when in it tried to replace the beloved minifig with the abominable Jack Stone.  Anyway, here are four LEGO sets I either missed during my Dark Ages or never got around to owning when they were originally released.

Metroliner (4558-1) – I never owned a LEGO train set and by the time I detached myself from my obsession with the Castle and Pirate themes, it was too late to get this Amtrak-inspired train. Over the last three years, Alison and I have taken Amtrak trains a number of times, and loved the experience.

Wolf Pack Tower (6075-1) – Minifigs from the Wolf Pack faction of the Castle Theme appeared in many Castle sets in the early and mid-90s yet this band of outlaws (whose sigil makes a great stand-in for House Stark, should you want to make any Game of Thrones tableaus) had only two sets of their own – a carriage and this tower set on a rocky island. I had the carriage and always wanted the little base from which these bandits could launch their attacks.

Medieval Marketplace (10193-1) – I loved loved loved the Castle theme as a child; my very first LEGO set was Battering Ram. Set number two – Camoflaged Outpost – followed a short time later. However, one thing that sort of bothered me was the lack of civilian sets from this theme.  In fact, I can only think of one civilian castle set from my youth – the beloved Guarded Inn.  This marketplace set filled a huge void in the Castle theme.

Victory Lap Raceway (6395-1) – My younger brother and I spent a great deal of time building massive race tracks cobbled together from our disparate sets. We didn’t need a dedicated LEGO racing set to do this (which is just one of the reasons LEGO is so cool) but many of our tracks were modeled after the features found in this set from 1988.  Pit stops, grandstands, TV cameras, emergency vehicles ready to jump into a multi-car crash – hours of racing fun!


Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtataurorarama

It takes a few chapters to really begin to understand the fantastical world of New Venice – “the pearl of the Arctic” – and its environs, but that patience pays off. Once you get your bearings, you’ll love the icy, beautiful world Valtat has created. In it, he weaves a strange but thoroughly engrossing tale of a corrupted utopia, drug wars, a surveillance state, and a simmering revolution. Aurorarama represents the best of steampunk – smart, elegant, and adventure-oriented.