Sh*te Photies

REVIEW/GALLERY: LEGO Optimus Prime 10302 (2022) Over 240 photos!

LEGO Optimus Prime 10302 (2022)

After undergoing a pretty serious dental surgery, I needed something to keep my mind occupied.  I chose Lego’s new 10302 Optimus Prime set, the first fully-transformable Lego figure that you can change without having to add or remove any parts (more on that in a bit).  This set is geared to the 18 and up crowed, contains 1508 pieces, and costs $240 Canadian dollars.  That’s a price per piece of 16 cents a brick, which is not too bad by today’s standards.  Licensing costs money, we have to remember.

The set is broken up into 11 bags (two are numbered “5”) plus one bag for the tires, and a small sticker sheet.  There are only five stickers: his knees/thighs, belt and front fender, and name plate for the display.  The belt/fender piece is the only one that the instructions say to swap out for transformation.  Most people just keep in the piece they like best.  I chose to keep in the fender piece rather than the belt on my final display.  The instructions also tell you to put on the knee/thigh stickers upside down.  Fortunately it’s just a matter of flipping the piece.  Every other detail in the set, such as the autobot logos, head details, and rims are all printed pieces.  There are also some cool brick-built details such as a black arrow on the backpack.

The large instruction book takes you through the build bag by bag, with each bag corresponding to certain components such as chest, legs, or arms.  Aside from some segments where all the parts are darkly coloured and hard to see, the instructions were easy to follow.

As much as the final toy is fun and hefty to handle, the true joy came in the building process.  This was my first Lego build in 15 years, and there are many new parts and therefore new techniques as well.  Studs on the sides, top and bottom.  Interesting new curves and angles that were impossible before.  Small details and technical pieces that didn’t exist before.  Even a brand new faceplate, specifically designed for this set and since exported into other Lego lines.

You start simply, by sticking bricks on top of bricks.  Before too long, something with the dimensions of Prime’s chest starts to emerge, complete with hinges that will enable the transformation later on.  You can see where the arms will go, and you can see where other parts will attach, but it’s not even clear which side is front until you get a little further.  There are plenty of smooth flat plates so that parts can move over each other, but also just for aesthetics.  The final Prime has very few studs at the end of the build, and is mostly smooth and detailed.

As things come together at angles you thought were impossible, it’s actually quite a surprising and enjoyable process.  Your mind is constantly at work, ensuring things are in place.  There is very little tedium, as things are only repeated on the legs and arms, and only repeated once.

Prime is fairly solid, once you learn how to handle him and transform him.  Fortunately if bits fall off, you can just snap them back on.  Optimus is articulated at the head with a socket joint, at the shoulders with a full 360 degree rotation, and outward shoulder joint.  You can also butterfly his shoulders backwards, using the transformation joint.  His hips are fully articulated in and out, backwards and forwards.  His knees will not bend due to the need to keep the figure stable, but they do swivel.  His feet are also on a rocker joint so you can pose Prime with legs slightly spread, but feet still flat on the ground.  He has hands with a swivelling wrist, plus thumb and mitten movement.  You can modify the hands by removing one piece, to get all three fingers moving independently.

Optimus comes with a few accessories, which are built after the main figure.  This part is total anti-climax and really should have come at the beginning, or middle, of the process.  To come at the end is just not at all satisfying.  But you get Prime’s matrix of leadership, which fits in his chest compartment via opening windshield.  You get his excellent ion blaster, a really remarkable piece when you look at that stock and how the gray inner detail comes together. This piece attaches to his arm, while his hand appears to be holding the gun’s grip.  You get one pink transparent energon cube that you will never use for anything, and a pretty clunky orange energy axe.  This axe can be attached by removing either of Prime’s hands, and inserting a black technic bar into a ready-made hole.  Finally, Optimus Prime comes with his name plate for display, and that extra belt/fender piece that you can swap out if you so choose.

Minor quibbles aside, Prime was an excellent way to spend two days of recovering from surgery.  The final figure is large, heavy, and looks more like a toy.  He is easy to transform and works very similarly to the original 1984 toy.  His finish with printed details and silver bits looks quite high-end.  And it should, for that price.

5/5 stars

Please enjoy the massive photo gallery below that takes you through the entire build page by page.  You may need to give the page time to load.




Gallery: Mega-Mullet Magnets

We just got a new fridge and Jen is making me get rid of my mullet fridge magnets.  Which mullet did you have?

I think mine was closest to the Kentucky Waterfall.

Gallery: Hello UFO, my old friend again

We saw our UFO again last night!


Getting Ready for Canada Day

This my friends is a Japanese A5 wagyu.  The most highly prized steak in the world.  This will be going on the plate July 1.  It will be my first time cooking it.  Wish me luck!  I definitely will not be overcooking it.  Chefs recommend rare or medium rare.  I’ll aim for medium.  Chefs also tend to season simply with salt and pepper and little else, to let the beef flavour dominate.

So now that we have the food settled, we just need some fireworks and music.  What Canadian songs are your favourites?  Comment below.


Gallery: Iron Maiden “Eddie” Reaction figures — full set

Check out the photo gallery below for a gander at all 19 Iron Maiden “Eddie” figures by Super7.  This is their line of 3 3/4″ ReAction figures.  Same size and articulation as classic Star Wars.  For a little bonus content, check out the video instead.  Some havoc broke loose during the photo shoot.


Christmas gallery of goodness 2020

Sticky Note Art 2020

I started making sticky notes for live streams back in the spring.  It started with me simply writing “Are you ready for another Friday live stream?” and posting it on social media.  They got more elaborate from there.  Then I started saving them on my calendar.  Over the months, I kept some of my favourite sticky notes.  Here are some memories from LeBrain Trains over the past six months.


Gallery: A closer look at Alice Cooper and Japanese import unboxings

This week’s live show included some cool unboxings.  Here is a closer look at the three new arrivals at LeBrain HQ.

#1 Dokken – The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 Japanese import.  Old unreleased demos polished and finished for release.  This baby has a bonus track called “Going Under”.

#2 Accept – Blind Rage Japanese import.  2014 studio album.  “Thrown to the Wolves” is the name of this Teutonic terror’s bonus track.

# Alice Cooper – “Don’t Give Up” 7 inch picture disc single.  Great to finally have this new Covid-related recording on a physical format.


Gallery: Sven Gali swag, ReAction figures, and Rock and Roll Children from Live Stream unboxing

Thanks for watching last night’s stream if you did, and no worries if you didn’t.  I did some unboxings but due to the limitations of resolution, couldn’t show off my new arrivals very clearly.  Here are some photos for you to enjoy!

First off:  if you remember, back in July somebody stole my copy of Michael D. LeFevre‘s book Rock and Roll Children right out of the mail.  Michael (better known to you as 80s Metal Man) sent me a new copy right out of his own pocket.  He didn’t have to do that.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I’m happy to finally have a copy.

Next:  Sven Gali!  I won a Facebook contest and the band sent me some swag!  The guitar pick neck chain (with the late Dee Cernile’s name on the back) is my favourite.  They also sent a glossy photo (top) signed by all five members:  Andy Frank, Shawn Minden, Dave Wanless, Dan Fila and Sean Williamson.  Finally we have a new copy of their excellent new EP 3.  I played it again this week and I like it more now than I did then.  I have given my extra copy to loyal reader and friend Len Labelle.

Finally:  From a shitty Amazon seller comes Super 7’s ReAction figure for a battle-damaged T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  What’s up with the shitty seller?  They stuffed this figure in a box that was too small for the card, damaging it and making the figure fall out loose.  I was going to open him, but then I noticed he was a limited edition exclusive.  Would have been nice to have the option to keep him sealed if I felt like it.  Well, he’s open now, and ready to do battle with Autobots, Decepticons, Aliens, and ghouls.  This is a universal action figure line compatible with the 1977 Kenner Star Wars figures.  Ever wanted Ben Kenobi to take on Snake Pliskin?  You could do it now!

If you missed the show, you can stream it below.

#840: 40 Years in Photos

GETTING MORE TALE #840: 40 Years in Photos

According to Ye Olde Photo Album, we began building the cottage in the summer of 1980.  Until then we stayed in a log cabin down the road with Grandma and Grandpa.  It was a tight squeeze.  Grampa had a bunk house out back where he spent the night.  Grandma had a bedroom where Little Baby Kathryn Ladano slept in a crib.  My mom and dad had a room.  That left me to sleep on a cot in the living room.

Many of my memories of that cabin are Star Wars memories.  The Empire Strikes Back had just come out.  I remember reading the comic book and the collector’s cards by the little front windows.  My mom bought a whole box of Empire Dixie cups for the lake.  Our action figures were always there with us.  I didn’t have a Boba Fett yet, so in the meantime I used a Micronaut with missile-firing backpack.  The cabin had structural support cables running from front to back, and they were great for hanging Star Wars figures in precarious adventurous positions.

There wasn’t much room in that little log cabin so eventually we needed to get a place of our own.  My parents bought a vacant lot nearby and began clearing the land.  We had no phone, no cable TV, nothing other than what we brought with us.  That was usually our Star Wars guys and sometimes a little Fisher-Price tape recorder to play cassettes.  But all my Star Wars soundtracks were on vinyl.  My grandfather had a record player at the cottage but we didn’t play Star Wars records.  Just country!

The land was cleared, a foundation was poured, and flooring laid.  Insulation was installed under the floors and that’s when it rained.  Insulation had to be re-done, a messy job.  The construction attracted attention from local cottagers and a curious little boy named Cyril became my first cottage friend.

Cyril was not only my first cottage friend, and not only my first black friend, but also the first black kid I’d ever met in my life.  Growing up in Catholic schools in Kitchener Ontario was a very white experience.  I’d never even see a black kid before that wasn’t on television.  The picture of Cyril checking out the brand new window delivery was typical.  That was as exciting as things got.  There were always trucks dropping off mountains of lumber.  Like all other little boys in 1980, Cyril was a Star Wars fan.  We got our figures together and played.  I remember freezing Han Solo in a glass of water.  It was the best way to make a “frozen Han” back then!

Funny thing about Cyril.  He had an older step-brother.  Eight years after meeting Cyril, his older brother was my science teacher:  the legendary Mr. Marrow, one of the greatest teachers I ever had, and a guest star in my “Nothing But A Good Time” music video.  He played – surprise surprise – the teacher!  And he nailed it!

I’m not sure what happened to Cyril or Mr. Marrow as their family sold the cottage long ago.  I did see Cyril once as an adult.  He towered over me, and apparently developed a love of Phil Collins!

By 1981 we had a space we could live in.  The interior was not finished, and we used an old folding table in the kitchen.  The back yard was nothing but dirt and stones.  My mom’s ashtray and cigarettes sat on the kitchen table.  It took years to finish the inside, room by room.  The wall slats went up and the ceiling was eventually finished too.  Soon, front and back decks went on.

The next photos come from Easter of 1986, an occasion I’ve written extensively about.  Easter fell in March that year, and we spent it at the lake.  The water was still partly frozen, but a few leads opened up in the ice and we took out the canoe for a trip.  You can see my little sister hunkered down in the middle while my uncle and dad paddled.  Later on in the back yard, I could be found playing air guitar on my favourite weapon – a badminton racquet.  If there was a tape deck on the back porch, it would have been playing “Turbo Lover” by Judas Priest.  The video had just come out and I recorded it to tape so I could listen to it whenever I wanted.  Naturally “Turbo Lover” was followed by “Locked In”.  I wouldn’t get the album itself until September.

One of the most interesting things to me about the older photos is the lack of puppies.  The first Schnauzers arrived in August of ’86.  We had two to choose from – Gentle Ben and Crystal Belle.  I connected with little Ben as the photos show.  I thought he might like to listen to some Triumph on my earphones.  But we chose Crystal (I was outvoted 3-1), and she was our puppy for the next many years.  I’ll be honest and admit that the stories you’ve heard were true.  At the time, I did not want a dog.  I didn’t want a dog because my sister did, and I didn’t want her to have her way.

In a photo from fall of 1987, she can be seen looking for cookie scraps as we lounged on a hammock.  I was wearing an Iron Maiden “Trooper” shirt that I don’t even remember owning at that age.  Later that fall we went on a big hike, following the lake north.  Shortly after, I painted that black vest with flames, and it became part of my Alice Cooper Halloween costume.

During the school years, I stayed home more often.  I didn’t want to miss any WWF wresting, or Much Music Power Hour music videos.  The absence of cable TV and a telephone made it feel like you were really out of contact with the outside world.  Of course, that was the point, but when you’re in your teens that’s not a point you really feel like making.

In the winter, my parents would go for day trips while I would stay home and get into mischief with Bob Schipper.  A photo was snapped of my dad shooting one of his guns on one such trip.  I stayed home to make cardboard guitars with Bob.

Time flew – and so did we!  My dad had a good friend named Jack, who was an airline pilot.  Because of Jack, any time we were going on a flight, he could made arrangements with the pilot to let us come up to the cockpit.  I felt like the kid in the movie Airplane!, meeting Captain Oveur.  Jack was a customer of my dad’s at the bank and that’s how they met.

Jack also had a small plane over his own.  When he came to the cottage for a visit, he didn’t drive.  He flew.  Summer after summer we always looked forward to his visits.  He’d take us all up two at a time if we wanted to.  It was pretty wild being able to see the cottage from the sky.  Too bad we didn’t think to take pictures from the air.

The 80s turned into the 90s.  I’ve written extensively about the summer of 1991, and the photos show change!  The old brown back deck was never meant to be a permanent fixture.  In ’91 we designed and built a bigger and better deck.  It was my job to cut out holes for the trees to grow through and you can see this in the photos.  Or at least you can see me goofing around for the cameras in my beloved Jon Bon Jovi Blaze of Glory T-shirt.  I bought that album there, on cassette the previous year.  The “bloody” scene was caused by a bottle of ketchup, cropped out of the photo (but left in on the original print).  Neon pink was in at the time, by the way.

1991 was a special summer because it was the last summer that Bob came to stay, and the first one that my buddy Peter came for.

Seasons passed and hair grew.  I had pretty good long hair when my Aunt came to visit in 1992.  You can tell it was 1992 by the Wayne’s World shirt.  I just had to have one.  Wayne’s World was everything in 1992.  I started talking like Wayne, using words like “spew” and “not”!  The tape deck that summer was loaded with Queen, Iron Maiden, and my favourite band Kiss who was out for Revenge.  We still have those old plastic deck chairs too!

What is really amazing to me is how quickly the time has gone by, especially those early years.  It felt like ages to finish the cottage.  It seemed like the unpanelled walls and temporary furniture was forever.  Even into the 1990s, our closets were not finished.  You could find the words KISS and NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK inked into the wooden 2x4s framing our closets.  Archaeologists will be able to determine whose room was whose based on hidden graffiti.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and can imagine what it was like to be a kid at the lake, playing Star Wars, and later rocking the air guitar badminton racquet to “Turbo Lover”.  Maybe next time there I will break out the racquet for another go.