Sunday, July 29, 2012

Whitening/Brightening Lego

In my last post, I showed how easily the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser took out pen, sharpie and all sorts of other marks on Lego (and almost everything else in your house).

But it's powerless against the yellow discoloration of Lego from constant sun (UV) exposure.

No worries though, where the Magic Eraser leaves off, hydrogen peroxide picks up.

I've been reading up on how to "un-yellowify" Lego bricks and everything pointed to H2O2. So I picked up a few bottles (3%) at the drug store (about $1 each) and poured it into a large glass casserole dish. I placed a sheet of aluminum foil under the glass and parked the whole thing next to a sunny window.

Then I went through some of my older bricks and found a few volunteers.

This is the underside of a white plate that was so deeply stained in a few places, it looked like it had a bad cigarette habit. I thought for sure this one was beyond salvaging.

White Lego plate before the Hydrogen Peroxide bath

And these bluish grey wedges had a clear delineation of where the brick was exposed to the sun.

Bluish grey Lego wedges before the Hydrogen Peroxide bath

I threw everything into the hydrogen peroxide mixture and let it sit for a day, occasionally stirring things around.

Hydrogen Peroxide bath


Completely impressed. Here's the same plate a day later:

White Lego plate AFTER the Hydrogen Peroxide bath

And the blue wedges after only 6 hours:

Bluish grey Lego wedges AFTER the Hydrogen Peroxide bath

Here's a side by side comparison of the before and after for the white plate. 

Hydrogen Peroxide: Before and After

A few things to note:

1. Your container has to be glass - use a jar or a casserole dish, something that lets the sun shine through. The aluminum foil is not necessary but definitely speeds up the process and helps reflect the sunlight to the underside.

2. Mix/stir things around every few hours and try to keep it in direct sun as much as possible. I moved the dish around a few times to different locations in the house to maximize the time in the sun.

3. 24 hours is a minimum for deeply stained white bricks.

4. For colors, I recommend a much shorter period. It will depend on the level of discoloration but I advise taking out the bricks every few hours and letting it dry thoroughly before inspecting the color. I made the mistake of putting those bluish grey wedges back in the glass for another day - although the yellow disappeared, the bricks took on a cloudy, whitish appearance. So it is possible to "bleach" it too much.

5. If you have a small cut on your hands (oooooh, I don't know... like a paper cut!!), use a spoon or something to stir the Lego around because hydrogen peroxide stings like a son of a bitch!

6. Halfway through the experiment, I was already getting great results but I decided to throw in a tablespoon of Oxy powder. I can't really tell if it made an improvement or not.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Magic Eraser Is Magical

I love the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Love it. It's the only thing that gets scuff marks off paint without removing or discoloring the paint. I use it for everything.

And I discovered its ultimate purpose. Lego + Sharpie = garbage. Most of the time. I tried scrubbing off marks with a kitchen sponge but all that did was scratch the plastic. I also tried a few other chemical approaches but they never got the Lego completely clean.

Until I tried the Magic Eraser. It was effortless.

My trusty assistant helped me with this video - as you can see, he's not scrubbing hard (but he did have trouble holding the brick steady - I should have used a bigger one) and it only took a few seconds.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Bag End

So, I have a confession of sorts. I'm a huge fantasy and science fiction fan (no, that's not the confession part). Yet, I've never read any of Tolkien's works. Oh, I loved the Lord of the Rings movies and of course, obsessive about the Lego versions but the books... err... not so much.

I can blame it squarely on The Hobbit. If memory serves me correctly, the first few pages began with a description of their huge, dirty, hairy feet and toes...and I stopped reading. And never went back.

Instead, I went merrily on my way, reading Jordan, Eddings, Martin, Howard, Anthony, et al. Always skipping the father of them all, not missing anything to my knowledge. When the movie trilogy was released, I was immersed in a world that was at once strangely familiar and completely foreign. The concepts were well known - a tried and true fantasy formula (yes, yes, I see the irony): a group of travelers, a quest/mission, an untested hero ... all coming together to battle a great Evil against overwhelming odds.

I think I was lucky. It could have been like so many other book to film adaptations but almost everyone who read Tolkien agrees that Peter Jackson did good.

The Hobbit is being released later this year and LEGO gave us a sneak peak of their new LoTR sets, starring Bag End. If the movie is half as amazing as this set, I'm sold.

And thus all roads lead to Lego.

Bag End

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Festival Of Play


There are no words to describe how much I love this. I wish I were in Australia. If you are, check out the Festival of Play.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Minfigure Display Cases: More Ideas

There are a lot of great ideas for displaying Lego minigures. Brickblogger put together a nice compilation of ideas so no need to repeat those.

Here are a few more suggestions.

Clear Acrylic Cases:

This is from Brickdancer. I forget exactly where he picked up this case, but you can find something similar from Joanns, Michael's and The Container store. Pretty much any hobby store.

I really like this tiered case from LegobrandonCP:

Which is similar to this case from the Container Store - plus it's only 9.99.

Here's another great version from Notenoughbricks:

LEGO Collectible Minifigures Series 3 in Display Case

The cases he used were from AC Moore but unfortunately, it doesn't look like they make them anymore.

Golfball/Shot glass Display Cases:

Very convenient for displaying a select number of minifigures. The best part is that these cases are "minifigure" ready so there's absolutely no work to be done.

Here's something similar from Michaels.

There are lot of creative solutions out there (just head to Flickr and search for Lego Minifigure display or something similar). It's just about finding the one that fits your aesthetic, space and budget.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Show Me Yours!

A while back, I wrote a tutorial on how to build Lego Minifigure display cases. And was shocked at the popularity of the post.

 Lego Minifigure Display Wall: 99% full

I got asked a lot of questions (ie what if I don't live in the States and don't have access to the same stores?) and then got to see the fantastic versions people came up with...

This one is from Brickdancer.

He used the same materials (frame and shelves) but laid his frame out in landscape mode instead of portrait. An added bonus to this method - you can get all 16 of each CMF Series on each row! Love it.

From JayLego.

Unfortunately, JayLego found out the same way I did that not all Michael's Shadowboxes are created equal. Even though they have the same size and manufacturer name on the label, you must always, always measure. After a few false starts, he finished his case.

He also used a slightly different approach to building his side Lego supports:

I used (from the bottom): (6) 3x1 bricks, (1) inverted slope 2x2, (1) inverted slope 1x2, and capped it off with (2) 3x1 black tiles. If I did it again, I would use only (5) 3x1 bricks and (1) 3x1 plate because the top row is slightly smaller than the other rows.

My total cost for the 1x3's was $4.80 from BrickLink. I bought 80 of them so my individual cost was $0.06 for each 1x3 brick. It looks like you might be able to get them for $0.04 or $0.05 from some international stores, so you're looking at $4 or $5 with a few dollars for shipping.

From Woony2.

He used an Ikea Ribba Frame which was a great idea! Not only are Ikea frames inexpensive but the company is international. This is easily doable in the US, Europe - basically wherever there's an Ikea. Here's his tutorial on building the actual shelves:

Cut 2 shelves to the correct length from 25mm x 6mm strip wood. I used pine but you could do it with plywood or mdf to avoid any potential warping issues. Warping shouldn't be an issue in the smaller 25 x 25 frames but could happen in the larger 52 x 52). 

Cut each piece of shelving to fit as the inner frames provided by Ikea are not all the same, so don't assume both shelves will be identical lengths. Pilot drill the holes for the screws. Screw positions are shown in pic2. It is easier to use screws than nails as trying to nail through a stapled together MDF frame will only cause it to fall apart.

Once both shelves are in place and you're happy with them, use matte black paint to spray the shelf assembly and the back board. Let it dry fully (the boring part). Then attach the CMF bases to each of the shelves.

From TyoSolo. 

TyoSolo also used the same Ribba frames although slightly larger.

I used a 50 x 50 Ribba frame from Ikea, with shelves spaced at 8cm intervals (top shelf 8.5cm). The shelves were made from 25mm x 6mm pine stripwood, and sprayed black in satin finish (the stripwood is only £2.88 per 2.4m length). I tried using screws but the pine kept splitting.

In the end, I used my staple gun to drive brad-nails in, and tapped them flush to the inner frame with a hammer. It worked a treat. I followed up by using black felt on the backing board to finish.

Once finished, I was able to house 6 rows of 14 CMF's.

It's a good thing I'm finished or I would seriously be tempted to re-do my cases using some of the ideas above.

I think we all put a few hours into this project but the end results are more than worth it. Good luck with your version!

Monday, July 02, 2012


Let me explain.

I grew up in the 80's - the decade of permed, feathered, and teased hair. Not only was it normal, it was everything I wanted my hair to be. I wrote about my love of wavy, curly hair and the yearly perms.

It's been super straight for the past few years and I finally had enough. Sorry, James.