Category Archives: LEGO® News

News about LEGO® sets, set reviews, and other stuff from the company

OcTRAINber: A Short Service Announcement

This is a short service announcement for everybody that is eagerly waiting for the final results of the first season of OcTRAINber. We would like to tell of you you that we apologize for the silence from our side, but we are working on the judging as we speak. It has been some busy times for all of us after OcTRAINber ended, which kind of derailed our schedule when it comes to the judging.

We however would like to stress that this has been a great OcTRAINber and we are happy to see so many high quality entries! This obviously makes it even more difficult for us to judge, but it is a price we are more than willing to pay!

So, to keep this service announcement as short as possible: Thanks again for participating and for making OcTRAINber a succes. Our four judges (including myself) are busy judging the entries and hope to finish this as soon as possible. When we have the final results in, we will ofcourse communicate it immediately!

The Lego Trains Book by Holger Matthes: A Review

No Starch Press reached out to Brick Model Railroader recently and offered an advance copy of The Lego Trains Book by Holger Matthes. We graciously accepted the offer, and have decided to write and share some of our thoughts on it.

A very attractive book cover.

Before even opening the book, I’m reminded of the (former?) comprehensive resource book for those looking to get started in the hobby. Perhaps some of the older train builders are familiar with “Getting Started with Lego Trains” by Jake McKee, also published by No Starch Press, as far back as 2004. I remember buying that book online and reading it cover to cover more times than I can count. This book predates the end of the 9-volt era, so a new book for Lego trains has been long overdue, and there were certainly some big shoes to fill.

My own tattered copy of Jake McKee’s Getting Started With LEGO Trains.

The Getting Stated book included a solid introduction and a great review of the current market for Lego trains. At that time, the Santa Fe, My Own Train line, and more was available. There was also plenty of information on effective use and operating tips for the old 9 volt system, as well as a comprehensive list of equipment needed to start running a 9 volt layout.

There were also some instructions for those looking for an instant way to jump into 6-wide 9 volt building. While I never actually built any of the models, I definitely wanted to. They were good models because they were appealing to look at, easy enough for a beginner but complex enough to learn real techniques.

As I’m writing the introduction and background information about Jake McKee’s book, I haven’t looked through the book, save for a relatively brief skim and a glance at the instructions included. So without much more delay, let’s dive right in.

First off, I have to say the photography quality is amazing, so big points to photographer Andy Bahler. Following acknowledgements, Michael Gale (of the PFx Brick team) offers a well-written foreword, briefly discussing his lifelong fascination with trains, and growing more and more into modeling them in Lego. The introduction is also very well-laid out, allowing the reader to become familiar with the official Lego website, as well as Bricklink and Brickset. Nomenclature (set numbers, part numbers according to Bricklink, etc.) is also discussed before moving into the real content.

Holger does an amazing job describing the history of Lego trains in vivid detail, from #182 to #10233 Horizon Express, and everything in between. Train operation, track availability, parts, wheels, and more are covered for each train system. I feel the Getting Started book did not do enough of this. Holger certainly has not missed a detail, even including a summary and a look at each system from a current perspective.

An example of the Blue Rail era history.

Moving into the Power Functions era (current), each component which may be used in train building is laid out and described, even shortly describing the possibilities of building your own drive trains. Monorail and even narrow gauge is covered. In all, awesome history.

Next is a section titled “Basic Principles.” I love this section, as it contains a lot of information I wish I had several years ago. Holger describes basic part naming and shows numerous examples of each type, and also describes the studs and anti-studs system (which gives Lego the clutch power, for those unaware). He also details technic connections, and legal vs. illegal connections. SNOT techniques are covered with convenient color-coded diagrams. All of this information gives the reader a great foundation for diving right into building their own MOCs. Other cool techniques demonstrated in this section include brick-built striping and using parts to simulate different textures.

There’s even a Reverse Engineering Challenge!

The next section is titled “Designing Your Own Models,” and gives plenty of thoughtful content regarding various building scales, including the old 6 wide – 8 wide debate (as well as 7 wide, to make Andy Mollmann happy), and designing locomotives and cars to run on the track geometries on the current market.

This section also includes some hardcore Lego train engineering practices, such as trucks, couplings, pivot points, and more. There is also information regarding effective steam locomotive techniques! For those of you who have been pulling your hair out with failed steam locomotives, I recommend this section. I often describe building steam as a dark art, and it sure can be sometimes, but Holger has done a great job making a lot of potentially difficult information easy to read. Concepts like wheel quartering and basic steam locomotive components are covered here. One of the things I particularly like about the steam locomotive section is that Holger lists a few key design points to consider before or while building.

Showing the custom rods from TrainedBricks, and some good points to consider when building a steam locomotive.

Power Functions drive train basics, along with use of train motors, is included here as well. From there, the Holger moves into modeling details and key features of a particular prototype, such as colors, doors, windows, roof design, and more. Further still, track and layout design is discussed, explaining the differences in curve radius, and BlueBrick (a Lego track software).

The next section dives into case studies with very specific techniques and features. Those of you interested in reverse-engineering Holger’s Vectron electric locomotive, this section is for you. The BR10 model is also discussed in detail, and there is a link to Holger’s website for instructions.

Speaking of instructions, that’s the final section! There are instructions for five of Holger’s AWESOME models, with links to his website for his BR80 locomotive. Sorry North American builders, nothing on our side of the pond in this book. (Maybe Cale and I can fill the void sometime…?)

In all, I have to give this book a 10/10 score. There was not a detail that was skipped over. This is certainly the new Getting Started With LGEO Trains, without any doubt. The instructions may be for foreign (to me) models, but they offer a lot, not to mention the countless other photos and well-written paragraphs full of useful stuff. I would recommend this book to anyone, even myself. There’s plenty in here I haven’t even thought of.

Well done, Holger. Thank you for your amazing new contribution to the amazing LEGO train hobby. I’m confident this will be the go-to book for a long time.

Coming Soon – Winter Village Station!

The LEGO Group released an announcement today that should please fans of official LEGO train sets.  As an addition to the popular Winter Village series, the Winter Village Station will be available October 1st!The set looks like it will have tons of playability, especially when combined with the Winter Holiday Train (10254).

Winter Village Station Photo Gallery

The official press release:

10259 Winter Village Station
Ages 12+. 902 pieces.

US $79.99 – CA $99.99 – DE 69.99€ – UK £74.99 – DK 649.00 DKK

*Euro pricing varies by country. Please visit shop.LEGO.com for regional pricing.

Head home for the holidays with the Winter Village Station!

Head for home with the festive Winter Village Station holiday set, featuring a snowy railroad station with wreath adorned lampposts and clock tower, platform, mailbox, green trees, snowy grade crossing with twin barriers and lights, and a beautiful, festively decorated bus with opening doors and a luggage rack with removable luggage and gift wrapped packages. This LEGO® Creator Expert model also includes a ticket counter with a timetable and a transaction counter window with room for sliding out tickets to travelers, plus a coffee shop with a serving hatch and a detailed interior with an espresso machine, cups, cash register and a menu. Includes 5 minifigures.

Includes 5 minifigures: a bus driver, barista, grandmother, child and a ticket agent.

The festively adorned Winter Village Station features a snowy train station with a clock tower, platform, coffee shop, ticket counter, grade crossing with twin barriers and lights, lampposts, mailbox and green trees, plus a bus.

Ticket counter features a timetable and a transaction counter window with room for sliding out tickets.

Coffee shop features a serving hatch and a detailed interior with espresso machine, cups, cash register and a menu.

Bus features festive decoration, opening doors, luggage rack with removable luggage and gift wrapped packages, and a removable roof for accessing the detailed interior.

Drive the happy passengers to the station.

Raise the barriers to cross the track.

Grab a newspaper and relax with a warm espresso from the cozy coffee shop.

Man the ticket booth, serve the travelers and slide the tickets under the serving window.

Gather the family for some festive LEGO® building!

Accessories elements include buildable wreaths and wrapped gifts, plus 2 mugs, ticket, newspaper and an envelope.

Special elements include new 1×1 round plate with horizontal shaft, 4×6 roof element in dark blue, gray microphone element, printed ticket element and shield elements with printed clock-faces.

Includes 4 straight track pieces to connect with the LEGO® Creator Expert 10254 Winter Holiday Train.

Winter Village Station measures over 7” (19cm) high, 11” (28cm) wide and 5” (14cm) deep.

Grade Crossing when closed measures over 2” (6cm) high, 5” (13cm) wide and 5” (14cm) deep.

Bus measures over 3” (9cm) high, 5” (15cm) long and 2” (7cm) wide.

Available for sale directly through LEGO® beginning
October 1, 2017 via shop.LEGO.com, LEGO® Stores or via phone:

US Contact Center 1-800-453-4652

CA (English) Contact Center 1-800-453-4652

CA (French) Contact Center 1-877-518-5346

European Contact Center 00-800-5346-1111

LEGO, the LEGO logo and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2017 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.

BrickFair Virginia 2017

BrickFair Virginia 2017 was the last of the big AFOL convention I was planing to attend this year. Taking place last weekend, August 2nd to 6th, it was an awesome event filled with trains and fun. Though BrickFair may sometimes seem a little less prestigious compared to Brickworld when it comes to LEGO trains, BrickFair can no doubt draw a wonderful and diverse train presence with no less than seven clubs displaying train and monorail layouts, as well as  numerous models from individual builders. BrickFair was also host to a Train Olympics competition, run by Adny Mollmann and Nick O’Donell from OKILUG. And there were a few fan voted trains awards given out too. So let’s recap the fun.

Doug Forman’s, Vincent Hills Medical Center on the WamaLTC train layout.

Continue reading BrickFair Virginia 2017

Trains in BrickJournal Magazine

Brick Model Railroader is in issue 46 of BrickJournal magazine.

Issue 46 cover of BrickJournal. Cover photo by Cale Leiphart.

For those of you not familiar with BrickJournal, BrickJournal magazine is the ultimate resource for LEGO® enthusiasts of all ages. It spotlights all aspects of the building community, showcasing events, people, and models in every issue, with contributions and how-to articles by top builders worldwide, new product intros, and more!

For issue 46 myself and BMR contributors Glenn Holland, and Matt Hocker team up to write several articles for this LEGO train themed issue. Inside you’ll find articles on the creation of BMR, PennLUG’s train layouts, the story behind my building of Norfolk & Western steam locomotives, adding sound to your trains, and a history of LEGO train advertising. Also you’ll find instructions for building a small RR hand car. You can purchase the issue, in print or digital download, through TwoMorrows Publishing or better yet, subscribe and get all the great LEGO fan content that BrickJournal provides, delivered to your door bimonthly.

Buy BrickJournal issue 46 here

BrickJournal issue 24. Cover photo by Cale Leiphart.

While your buying BrickJournal issue 46, you can also still pick up issue 24. BrickJournal 24 is also a LEGO train themed issue. And though it predates the birth of Brick Model Railroader, a few us here at BMR, including myself, can be found within either authoring articles, or the subject of them.

Buy BrickJournal issue 24 here.

PFx Brick Returns!

The PFx Brick is back on Kickstarter!

After an unfortunate end to the previous Kickstarter campaign, the PFx Brick is back, and they’re already more than halfway there! The new goal is $50,000. The new model has bluetooth compatibility for use on devices, and is also easily customizable from the computer program. As before, the brick supports light, sound, and motor controls with ease, with a WIDE range of options and cool features. The new Kickstarter campaign also has a wider selection of backer rewards.

Long story short, the community gave their opinions, and the PFx guys listened.

Hopefully you’ll consider supporting the campaign!

Duluth, Missabe, & Iron Range “Yellowstone”

It been a while since we’ve seen a big articulated steam locomotive from LEGO® train builder Anthony Sava. But the wait is over as Anthony’s long planed model of the Duluth, Missabe, & Iron Range class M4 “Yellowstone” is finally completed.

Powerful Brute

Continue reading Duluth, Missabe, & Iron Range “Yellowstone”

**IMPORTANT** Announcement Regarding Boxcar Premium Instructions

The staff at Brick Model Railroader has an important announcement regarding the premium instructions set to be released for sale today, April 21, 2017.

We have encountered an unforeseen problem regarding the ball bearings used in the freight car trucks. Essentially, the metal Lego axles that would sit in the bearings are too large to be installed properly without ruining the bearing. Therefore, we are not able to install bearing in the Technic bricks either.

The BMR staff does not want to deliver a product that we feel does not meet our quality standards, and we also do not want to deliver a product that is not what we said we would deliver. We would like to humbly ask the Lego train community for more time until practical and workable solution is achieved.

We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and we apologize for not being able to launch the premium instructions today.

We appreciate the continued support of the community, and we hope we haven’t let anyone down.

 

Cale Leiphart and Glenn Holland

Brick Model Railroader Staff

PFx Brick Train Integration Demo

Fx Bricks has been busy uploading some videos to their YouTube channel recently.

In the interest of us train fans, they have posted a two-part video demonstration showing how the PFx brick can be integrated into a stock locomotive.

Part one shows the physical installation of the control system in the locomotive…

Continue reading PFx Brick Train Integration Demo

The Modular Track Switch System, Now on Kickstarter!

We as Lego Model Railroaders are being treated pretty well these days. After the launch of the PFx Brick Kickstarter 10 days ago (who, by the way, have just said they will include Bluetooth in the PFx Brick!), 4DBrix decided to launch a Kickstarter for a 3D printed Modular Switch Track System.

Until now, there was not really any way to obtain other than the standard L-Gauge switches for your Lego railway, unless you were into some forms of extensive modding. Thanks to the Modular Switch Track System, this will be a thing of the past. 4DBrix actually has come up with a pretty nifty system that could rival with TLC’s own ideas:

I had the opportunity to ask the founder of 4DBrix, Tom Lowa, some questions in regards to using these switches for ‘pros’ like us. Mostly, I was wondering about any anti-studs on the back of the switches, how durable 3D printed switches are, and also, why they don’t do injection moulding.

Continue reading The Modular Track Switch System, Now on Kickstarter!