When the zombies come, a damp cellar is like a palace

While not luxurious, it is definetely the desire of any apocalypse survivor to find somewhere like this cellar to hunker down. This particular “palace” by Gareth Gidman was built for the Brrraaaaaaaiiiiinnnssss!!! contest on Eurobricks. The cellar section looks very lived-in, with weapons and sustenance positioned so it looks filled, but not cluttered. I should point out the use of broken tiles; while not purist, it is good that the builder found a way to still use his ruined pieces. On the ground level we see some well-built decay with a broken window, overgrowth, and cracks in the walls. Some nice minifig action makes for a well-rounded scene.

The Hideout

(As a side note, I have seen brown pieces break much more often than other colours, and seeing Gareth’s broken brown tiles, I am more convinced that this is statistically relevant.)

1 comment on “When the zombies come, a damp cellar is like a palace

  1. Purple Dave

    I’ve had experiences with bad batches of a single element in the past. Back during the original run of Bionicle, the black rubber bands were horrible. As soon as you stretched them once, they went from glossy to very dull black, and within a week they’d be showing deep cracks that would eventually cause them to fail altogether and finally crumble into dust. Now, I have the exact same style of cut black rubber band (as opposed to the molded Technic bands) from some old Aquazone sets, and they’re all in great condition, but everything from 2001 seems to be garbage.

    Around the same time, I had about half of my white Technic saddle joints crack out on the “+” end where the plastic is really thin (ironically, the crack would also form a “+” shape, right in the center of the curved part). I needed several of them, and by the time I got done building the stuff I needed them for, every last copy I owned was either used in a model, or had been put in the discard pile because it had broken. I had exactly the number of good ones that I needed for my project and not a single unbroken copy left over. And just like with the rubber bands, I have pulled this exact same part from sets more recently, and have never had a single problem with any of them. But all the ones that were breaking were pulled from sets that were probably bought between 2001-2002.

    One of the guys in my LUG was just talking about this sort of thing at the last show I did. He had a bunch of 1×4 reddish-brown tiles that he’d used in a project, and when he started peeling them up (by lifting the short end), the opposite end would just snap off. Even being very careful, and switching to peeling them up from the side, he still lost at least one or two dozen. I just checked with him to get the specifics, and he said he got them all from PAB, and he thinks it was about a year after NMRA Grand Rapids, which would put it around 2013 that he bought them. So, if any of you people who have had reddish-brown parts break remember buying some of those parts from PAB around 2013-2014, in all likelihood it was just a bad batch of plastic. I never bought them at PAB, and don’t remember buying any on Bricklink. I also haven’t noticed any of my reddish-brown parts breaking. But I also don’t build with it very much.

    The only other recent issue I’m aware of with parts breaking is the early cheese wedges. That was happening across pretty much the entire range of colors, and I think I heard they switched to making them in a different material. Based on all of that, I’d say it was more a structural flaw with the design (the low end does get so thin that they had to carve out a pocket to accommodate the stud, which is right where the crack starts to form) and not likely to be the result of a bad batch of plastic.

    There are a few major reasons that you can have plastic start breaking predictably. Your plastic supplier may have screwed up the recipe (shorted you on one component, added too much of another, or let a foreign substance into the mix). If the plastic supplier uses reground material, they might have put too much in your batch of plastic (as plastic is recycled back into more plastic, the molecular chains on non-crystalline plastics get progressively shorter, which makes it much easier to mold but the trade-off is the result is very brittle compared to 100% new plastic). With ABS, you might have run it wet (ABS absorbs moisture and needs to be above the boiling point to be molded, and water expands 1000x when it converts to steam, causing little bubbles to form in the plastic). If the machine is running too hot, it could be scorching the plastic, causing some molecular breakdown. There’s also a component added during the molding process for modern LEGO bricks, through the in-line coloring process that they switch to. They could get a bad batch of a particular color that introduces one of the aforementioned problems, but if they consistently have a problem with a single color over a long period of time, across multiple molding machines, and different elements, I’d say there’s a strong chance that it’s tied to the color.

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