Friday, February 1, 2019

Building a BRXLZ Football Helmet

It is no secret to anyone who knows me for more than five minutes that I am big Skins fan.
"Burgundy and Gold until I am cold" 
They are my team, through thick and through thin.
I know it is irrational, and in some ways, that makes me like them even more.

So at this year's "Secret Santa" at work, a buddy got me a gift that all but screamed "BUY ME FOR TOY MAKING DAD!" It is a non-Lego, lego type building kit of a Redskins football helmet.

Here are the facts...

  • The company name is Foco but the building system is BRXLZ
  • Maybe pronounced Bricksells?
  • Foco makes BAZILLIONS of team collectibles for all the pro leagues in the US and about 100 universities.
  • They make helmets in two different sizes as well as player figures, mascots etc for all the NFL teams.
  • They also cover sports leagues all over the world with a mind boggling array of products. Their stadium kits are pretty amazing.
  • This kit has 1589 pieces when completed.

I still have all of my Legos from when I was little and I still break them out to build the occasional battlecruiser/aircraft carrier hybrid. One thing that I don't like about modern Lego kits is how many specialized pieces there are. Don't get me wrong, the kits are amazing and bring joy to millions but they aren't my bag. I like it old school. No specialty pieces. Just building blocks.

So that was a pleasant surprise about this kit. It is all blocks. There are only three "special" blocks and they were just to hold the Skins logo on the back of the helmet in place. Everything is just blocks in 10 basic shapes or so plus the handful of special pieces.

Besides having a lot of pieces... did I mention that most of the pieces are small? I mean really, really, really tiny.

They come in five colors. This is them in order of most to least pieces included in the kit. The black and brown pieces can be a little hard to differentiate without good light and they are a little hard to pick out in the instructions compared to the red/burgundy pieces.. On thing to keep in mind is that the brown pieces are only used on the Native American face logo on the helmet. (Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, the former President of the National Congress of American Indians, helped design the logo. It is a composite of six photographs of Native Americans that he submitted. It replaced the "R" logo that Vince Lombardi introduced to echo the Packers' G logo helmets.)

The instructions are almost IKEA-esque in that there are no written instructions. It is all pictures. It shows where each block goes and the instructions are in color. For the most part, each step in the instructions (and there are 66 of them) is a layer of blocks or a sub assembly. The current layer is shown in color and all previous assembly is in gray. (Or it might be grey, I couldn't tell.)

There are a few steps that are sub-assemblies and they work just like the rest of the instructions except that they are added as one piece to the main assembly at the next step. This is part of the front of the helmet (not a Romulan Bird of Prey.) On each page there is a color call out that shows exactly how many of each block is needed for that step.

The first step was sorting all the colors. Taking the time to sort the colors was time well spent. It really helped later. You would think that it would make sense to have bagged the colors separately, but hey, what do I know.

Once sorted, I got to work. I found that the instructions were 100% accurate. I had to refer to the instructions with a magnifying glass at times, but all the pieces went where there were supposed to. My advice is to get familiar with the little plastic pry bar removal tool included with the kit. You will make mistakes. If you get to step and something isn't right, back up and take pieces off until you are definitely in sync with the instructions.

Another piece of advice - DO NOT GLUE THE PIECES!
Yes the face-mask can be a little fragile and fiddly, but if you glue it in place as some Amazon reviewers suggested, you won't be able to adjust it to fit the rest of the helmet. Be patient. You may need to adjust it a few times. Big deal.

Take your time. It's gonna take hours. Embrace the challenge. Think of yourself as a manual 3-D printer.

When I was finished there were 69 extra pieces bring the whole piece count to 1,657. These were definitely extra pieces which is a nice touch. I did notice there was one extra of each of the special pieces. So, you could probably lose a piece or two and still get by but you'd be cutting it real close.

I think I had about 7 or 8 hours in on the build and it was immensely satisfying once I was done. I know it is just following the instructions and it is a model/puzzle and not a toy per-say, but it was a lot of fun. I like how it came out and it will have a special spot on my shelf for years to come. I highly recommend it.

And now, with assistance from Kira, Teddy and Scott Joplin, I present the entire build in 3 minutes and 30 seconds...


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Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.