Monthly Archives: January 2006

More Proverbs by Izzo

Bruce has posted again that Izzo has posted another batch of Japanese proverb vignettes in his gallery.

Here we go…

Japanese: Strategem 36: If all else fails, run away.
English: He that fights and runs away lives to see another day.

Japanese/English: Dead men tell no tales.

Japanese: When one god deserts you, another one picks you up.
English: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Japanese/English: Good and quickly seldom meet.
(It’s a fast-food noodle stand. Not exactly gourmet cooking.)

Japanese: Providing is preventing.
English: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
(In other words, always be prepared. Thus the Swiss Army robot.)

Japanese: A bird taking flight does not pollute the place it left.
English: It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest.

Japanese: Even dust piled up will make a mountain.
English: Many a little makes a mickle.

Japanese: The moon and a soft-shell turtle.
English: As different as night and day.

Japanese/English: The nail which sticks out gets hammered down.

Japanese/English: A near neighbour is better than a far-dwelling kinsman.

As before, check out Izzo’s if you want to see Flash versions that include the original Japanese text.

Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII

With my Final Fantasy VII characters done, the next logical step was to move on to Final Fantasy VIII. (Classic-Castle and FBTB user boses’ post of his gunblade also spurred me on.) Without further ado, here’s my Squall Leonhart minifig with brick-built gunblade:

My gunblade is by no means perfect, but I like its smallness. The perfect gunblade would attach the sabre blade directly to the end of the pistol, but that would require cutting and glue.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky Minifigs

My favorite anime director by far is Hayao Miyazaki. Although my favorite movie is Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (「風の谷のナウシカ」), I’ve always enjoyed Laputa: Castle in the Sky (「天空の城ラピュタ」). With my increasing collection of US-released Miyazaki DVDs, I thought I’d try my hand at some minifigs.

From left to right, Muska, Uncle Pom, Pazu, Sheeta, and a couple of air pirates.

Watch this blog for more Miyazaki minifigs soon!

The Flooding of the LEGO Room

Before we moved into our house back in November, I posted about how I was excited that our new house has a full daylight basement, with a rec room my wife jokingly labeled “the LEGO room.”

With all the painting, rewiring, and appliance installation we’ve been doing, unpacking stuff we don’t really need has taken a bit of a back seat. Taking a break from being a “weekend warrior” today, I tried making some Aztec god minifigs (following up on my Greek and Norse deities; stay tuned). I went downstairs to get the green snake from 4766 Graveyard Duel, and I saw that a bunch of boxes stacked against the far wall were wet near the floor. We’ve spent a good chunk of Sunday unpacking boxes we hadn’t looked in in years. I hadn’t seen my wife’s wedding dress in nine and a half years (fortunately it was wrapped in plastic inside the wet box). A box of photos with all the prints and negatives from her childhood through high school was one of the more damaged boxes.

Stupid 26 consecutive days of rain! Doesn’t matter that it didn’t rain today and the streak is broken, since there aren’t any more breaks in the rain for the foreseeable future.

Well, the good news is that most of the boxes on the bottom were the sturdiest boxes that had containers of LEGO inside. And LEGO, as most people know, is water-proof. We (mostly) dodged a bullet, but now we have to deal with lovely problems like mold. Fun!

Final Fantasy VII Characters

Last summer I made several characters from Final Fantasy VIIBarrett, Cid, Sephiroth, Vincent, and of course Cloud. (Well, actually I made the version of Cloud that appears in Kingdom Hearts. I just liked the purple cape and demon wing.)

But where were the ladies — Aeris (sometimes spelled Aerith), Tifa, and everyone’s least-favorite perky ninja, Yuffie? So I set about trying to make the non-male characters. Thank goodness my wife has one of the only two Paradisa set that includes pink legs!

From left to right: Cid (with awesome new goggles!), Vincent, Yuffie, Cloud (proper FF7 version), Aeris, Barrett, Tifa, and Sephiroth.

Check out the Brickshelf gallery for full-size pictures of each character.

Japanese Mythical Creature: “Kappa”

I debated whether to post my latest minifigure over on my minifig-themed blog, but it does require a bit of explanation, so I’ll post it here instead.

Kappa are mythical water imps from Japan. Kappa inhabit lakes, ponds, streams, and other bodies of water. If you do a little research, you’ll find that kappa are associated with some pretty nasty legends. For example, they drag people into the water and eat them.

Their favorite food is cucumbers, which is apparently why cucumber rolls are called “kappa maki.” Long ago, parents would sometimes carve their child’s name into a cucumber and toss the vegetable into water in an attempt to prevent kappa from stealing the child. Generally, though, kappa are considered mischievous creatures today. Here’s a more contemporary, “cutified” kappa:

Norse Gods and Goddesses (Updated!)

I’ve updated my Norse gods and goddesses, based largely on feedback I received from Classic-Castler The Hordesman and many others. Thanks guys!

Norse gods as LEGO minifigs

Specifically, Odin is now darker (black hat instead of blue and dark blue legs instead of regular blue), Thor is now a red-head, and Freyr the Peaceful (or something like that) no longer has a sword.

And the whole set on Flickr.

LEGO Photography

One thing I really like about Sugegasa’s blog is that he presents practical tips on LEGO-related issues ranging from organization to photography. About a month ago, he posted a couple pictures of how he takes pictures of his LEGO creations. What I noticed immediately is that he uses a fluorescent desk lamp to illuminate the creations.

Inspired by Sugegasa, I decided to try my own LEGO photography experiments.

Until recently, I’ve always tried to take my minifig pictures in sunlight. Here’s my Cloud Strife minifigure (from the PS2 game Kingdom Hearts), taken in full sunlight:

Here’s the setup I used last summer, on the back deck at our old house (nice flowers, huh?):

Those are the top of banker’s boxes left over from moving. Sunlight obviously provides fantastic lighting, but living here in Seattle, it’s cloudy more than 200 days a year, and right now we’re nearing a record for consecutive days of rain (the record is 33, and as of January 14, we stand at 27 days). Partial clouds provide great diffused light, but I just can’t rely on weather to take my pictures.

After Christmas, my wife suggested I go ahead and spend the $100 for one of those “Studio in a Box” light box kits. The idea is great. It comes with two small but powerful lights, a camera stand, a reversible backdrop (blue and dark grey), and the light box itself. According to the instructions, you’re supposed to place the lights on the outside of the box to provide diffused light.

Here’s the result following the instructions to the letter:

My camera flash obviously went off, and it totally washed out the picture.

I manually turned off the flash and tried again:

The diffused light is far too dark and way too yellow.

I tried lighting Cloud directly, with the flash turned on:

Again, the flash washes out the picture.

Here’s direct lighting, without the flash:

That’s better, but I don’t like the backdrop color choices, and I’m not using the light box, so what’s the point of the kit? I returned it for a refund and got depressed.

Then I remembered Sugegasa’s post that showed the fluorescent desk lamp he used, so my wife and I looked around for a fluorescent desk lamp. Lighting stores sold full-spectrum lamps for $100, but that didn’t seem worth it. Target had a couple choices for under $40, but they weren’t in stock.

My wife saw a “natural light” desk lamp on sale for $25 at Bartell Drugs (a local pharmacy chain), and there was much rejoicing! She picked it up for me on Friday, and said it was actually on sale for $20 instead of $25. Cool! (For those of you here in Washington, the sale runs through tomorrow, if you’re interested.)

Without any additional light sources, here’s the result:

Hurray! Check out the Brickshelf gallery for higher-resolution versions of each of the pictures I’ve featured above.

Overall, I still prefer sunlight, but the “natural” or full-spectrum desk lamp provides a great result for a very good price. If you want to improve your LEGO photography, spending $20-$30 on decent lighting seems well worth it. (Of course, you might need something significantly bigger to take pictures of your four-foot-wide castle!)