Meet the Newest Executive Member

Let me start by introducing myself. Some of you may already know me and some people do
not. My name is Chris Mitchell. I currently live in Corner Brook. I have been living here for
16years. I moved here to give my two girls a better life while they grew up.

I have always loved LEGO. When I was a child my parents would buy me LEGO for
birthdays and Christmas. However, I was only allowed to build the kit and then display it. I
was never allowed to play with it. Well that has changed.

Fast forward 40 years…

During the pandemic I was looking for something to keep busy as I waited to go back to
work. My first real “Adult” kit was Dom’s Charger. It took me the better part of three days to
put together. When I had finished I started to look at other kits. Mostly I would build larger
vehicles. The Harley Davidson, Land Rover and the Extreme Adventure are to name a few.
The Extreme adventure was the most difficult. This was the first advanced kit I have ever
seen that did not come with number bags.

There are many other themes that I do enjoy. Things such as the LEGO art, Ideas Kits and
the Modulars are some of the top themes that I am drawn towards.

In the last year I have moved from the standard LEGO kits to building more custom designs
and sculptures. I love to build “pop culture” related items. I find this is satisfying and
relatable to both young and old. I am currently looking to do more life-size builds. My latest
build of Thor’s Stormbreaker is the 3rd life-size build that I have done in my Marvel weapons
series.

There are also my custom underwater displays that I build inside fish tanks. In this series of
builds I use elements in ways that one wouldn’t think of. Things such as carrots , ice cream,
cheerleader pom-poms or even street sweeper brushes can be used to create beautiful sea
corals. There is no actual water involved. However, these builds do fascinate all who see
them. Lit up, these tanks will take you on a trip to an undersea adventure.

I have been a member of NewfoundLUG for approximately 2 years. I am committed to growing
the LUG here on the West Coast. I do encourage anyone who wants to join in the fun to
contact me either on FB or Messenger.

Let’s do this..
Chris

Welcome to NewfoundLUG!

Our little group of LEGO enthusiasts is continuing to grow – we are welcoming new members almost weekly! So I thought it was time to update with some things that we are hoping to accomplish this summer!

We will have a table at this year’s Come Home year craft fair at the Corner Brook Civic Centre. This will be our first public display on the West Coast and it will be a great opportunity to get our name out to the public – This will be held on July 23rd. 10am-2pm.

Additionally, we have a table at Atlanti-Con 202, Sept 23-25 (venue yet to be announced). Along with this we have been given a panel slot to answer questions as it pertains to our group, building techniques etc. There are also 3 free passes to the show for us.

Anyone looking to help or participate for the west-coast events, reach out to Chris Mitchell, our newest Executive-at-large member.

NewfoundLUG will be joining forces with the Johnson Geocentre for Blocks on the Rock 2, September 10-11 – more details to follow! Last years show was a huge success, and we hope to repeat that!

In addition to these major events, we are trying to keep meeting monthly, even if it is just to hang out for an hour or so – watch this space for updates!

LEGO Theme Throwback- Adventurers- Part 4 + Final Thoughts!

By: Matthew Zwicker

We’ve arrived at the final subtheme in the Adventurers line- Orient Expedition! Read on for an overview and my final thoughts on the complete theme.

Orient Expedition (2003)

After a two year hiatus, Adventurers made its return with Orient Expedition. To this day, I am not sure why there was a two year gap between Dino Island and Orient Expedition. Perhaps LEGO was making a foray into other themes from 2000-2003. As we know, this was around the time of TLG’s near financial collapse. Lost in the shuffle of that timeframe is one of the best Adventurers subthemes ever, and hopefully I can illustrate why.

High Adventure with Johnny Thunder. The last hurrah (Mar/Apr 2003).

The final subtheme in the Adventurers lineup was well worth the wait. In the closing chapter, Johnny Thunder and his team are off to Asia in search of the Golden Dragon. Continuing from Dino Island, Lord Sam Sinister is also back as the main villain. I’m convinced LEGO had no clue what to do with Baron Von Barron and Sam Sinister- essentially a hybrid character used interchangeably throughout the series. Their solution? Merge both them together for the final chapter- I think? It’s all still very confusing.

From left to right- Baron Von Barron, Sam Sinister, and “Lord Sam-Sinister-Von-Barron.” Does this make any sense? Images courtesy Brickset, retrieved from Bricknerd.com.

In addition to the 20 sets released (second only to Desert), the Orient Expedition line included stat cards, a die, and game board pieces in certain sets (typically, the bigger ones). As you collected and built the sets, you also received pieces to a board game, which added a unique twist on this theme. The instructions in the box showed you how the game was meant to be played.

The theme’s “Big 3” Sets-7419 Dragon Fortress, 7418 Scorpion Palace and 7417 Temple of Mount Everest, connected via board game tiles included with each set. Courtesy Brickimedia.

The board game aside, I felt as though the narrative and storyline within Orient Expedition was the strongest yet. In the story, a series of smaller treasures had to be obtained in order to unlock the secrets of the Golden Dragon and gain access to its location. The three main treasures were a Golden Sword, Golden Shield, and Golden Helmet. Each one was located in the theme’s 3 largest sets- 7417 Temple of Mount Everest (sword), 7418 Scorpion Palace (shield), and 7419 Dragon Fortress (golden helmet).

What’s unique about this subtheme is that it wasn’t confined to a single geographic location like the subthemes before it (Desert, Jungle, and Dino Island). Our heroes traversed several locations in Asia (India, Nepal) on route to the final destination in China. I think this allowed the subtheme to explore different ideas for architecture and culture and to express those ideas through the sets. We also, for the first time, got different iterations of Johnny and his mates throughout the sets.

Different variants of Johnny Thunder from the Orient Expedition sets. Images via Bricklink.

Speaking of the locale in China, Dragon Fortress was the marquee set in this line and climax of the story. It was the final battle with Lord Sam Von Barron, the Emperor, and the location of the Golden Dragon. It also happens to be one of my Top 10 Favorite Sets of All Time, but that’s an article for another day!

7419 Dragon Fortress, the subtheme’s largest and most impressive set. It contained the final treasure (Golden Helmet) as well as the Golden Dragon.

This subtheme of the Adventurers line likely resonates with me the most as I was fortunate enough to own all three of the largest sets listed above back in 2003-2005. As such, I was able to create the board game layout and follow along with the story through the LEGO magazines. It was a lot of fun at the time and cemented the theme as one of my favorites ever created by LEGO.

Conclusion

I feel as though the Orient Expedition subtheme was one of the most complete, self-contained subthemes in the entire Adventurers line. It gave us three distinct locations- India, Nepal, and China- in which to explore. Each location had a purpose, and housed a treasure that was needed to unlock the Golden Dragon as part of a robust storyline.

The final conclusion of the Orient Expedition saga via the comics in the LEGO Magazine (November 2003).

More importantly, it articulated the essence of the entire Adventurers line- one of exploration, mystery, discovery, villains, side characters, and storyline. I didn’t know it at the time, but 2004 would mark the end of the Adventurers theme. Perhaps this coincided with the other issues facing TLG at the time of near collapse, or maybe they felt Johnny Thunder had run his course after four subthemes. Either way, it’s hard to go out on top but the final Orient Expedition subtheme was arguably the most complete and fun to date. I encourage everyone to go check out the complete line of sets from Orient Expedition.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I believe the Adventurers theme was an amazing line of sets for The LEGO Group and for fans of LEGO. I think it encapsulated the characteristics that make LEGO great. It showed that adding the ingredients for the imagination to flourish is just as important a part of the puzzle as the sets themselves. I think in this way, LEGO proved it could add depth to its products and bring more than just plastic bricks to the table.

They say setting is the time, place, and circumstances in which an event takes place. If that’s the case, I think the setting for Adventurers was just right for me as a LEGO fan in my youth. 

Will there be another Adventurers line, or will Johnny Thunder make a return? It’s hard to say. A revised take on Johnny was recently done in Collectable Minifigures (CMF) Series 19. It inspired me to make a little MOC as well (pictured below).

“Jungle Explorer.” From Brickset.com.
“The Legend of Johnny Thunder” by Matt Z.

That just about wraps up my trip down memory lane! For more insight into the Adventurers theme, I strongly recommend checking out the following sites:

Miniland.nl– A site based in the Netherlands with archives of LEGO Magazines from the 90’s-2000’s.

Everything You Want to Know about LEGO Adventurers– A comprehensive deep dive article on the theme, on Bricknerd.com.

Brickset.com- A complete catalog of the Adventurers theme.

Brickmedia.com- An Adventurers Wiki website.

Hope you all enjoyed the Theme Throwback series on Adventurers. If you’d like to write for Newfoundlug.ca or want to get in touch, reach out at newfoundlug@gmail.com.

LEGO Theme Throwback- Adventurers- Part 3

By: Matthew Zwicker

After the 1999 Jungle Subtheme, the Adventurers line took a turn for the fantastical with 2000’s Dino Island. Read on for an overview of the subtheme!

Dino Island (2000)

With two successful subthemes of Desert and Jungle in the books, Johnny Thunder’s next adventures would take place on Dino Island. 

This next chapter of the Adventurers line almost represents  the “black sheep” of the overall theme. This was the first time the Adventurers theme was not based on a real world location nor were our heroes seeking a specific treasure or artifact. Dino Island is a fantasy locale where dinosaurs have been spotted- perhaps near the Jungle of the previous theme, or in a more remote part of the Pacific Ocean? Your guess is as good as mine.

Part 3- Jurassic Park meets LEGO Adventurers (Unofficially). Courtesy miniland.nl

Apart from Johnny Thunder and a new set of Adventures, the main draw to this theme was clearly the new molded dinosaurs. These dinosaurs from 2000 are really TLG’s first attempt at minifig/playset-scale molded Dinos. While sorely outdated by today’s standards, they were certainly exciting at the time and brought something new to the theme. I love how the classic green dragon’s arms were repurposed for the main T.Rex too!

As a big fan of Jurassic Park (1993), any dinosaur based LEGO is exciting on some level- even to this day. That said, there was a big gap between 1993-2000, so I’m not sure if TLG was trying to harness some of that dino-energy created from JP or not.

A few of the first molded dinosaurs produced by TLG under Dino Island.

Overall the theme was just slightly bigger in terms of total set offerings than its predecessor (Jungle) with 14 sets in the subtheme. Most sets are vehicle based (dino tracker, cars, planes, etc.). 5935 Island Hopper was particularly well received, and even today’s Ninjago theme pays homage to the set in the form of a sticker in the Ninjago Docks set. Apart from the dinos, the vehicles provided throughout the theme might be the real winner here and I’d encourage you to check them out if you’re interested.

The marquee set of the subtheme is 5987 Dino Research Compound- offering 3 different dinosaurs, and the subtheme’s main characters and villains. I’d like to imagine this set as the final battle, where Johnny and his team have corralled a few dinosaurs and are sending their observations back home, only to be disrupted by the Baron attempting to capture them for himself. The set isn’t the most detailed and in fact, I have made a few changes, like adding more research equipment and foliage. That said, it is a source of some rare parts, including the Slope 10 6 x 8 with Rusting Sheet Metal Roof Pattern, appearing only in this set. 

5987 Dino Research Compound. Retrieved from Brickset.com.

Speaking of which, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the characters in this subtheme. Along with Johnny, Gail, and Dr. Lightning, new characters called Mike, Mr. Cunningham, and Alexia Sinister (sister of Sam Sinister) are introduced in this theme. Which brings me around to Sam Sinister/Baron Von Barron himself, who seemingly survived the events of the Desert to return and wreak havoc on Johnny and the crew on Dino Island. 

As an aside, I always thought it was curious that Sam Sinister/Baron took a theme off with Jungle, only to return as the main villain in Dino Island. To me, there’s definitely some fodder here for a fan-created narrative or story. Perhaps he was reeling financially from his defeat in the Desert and had to focus on securing more money to finance the Dino Island expedition. Maybe he suffered an injury and instead, hired Senor Palomar to do his bidding in the Jungle. Nevertheless, as you’ll see in the final part of this Adventurers Throwback series, Sam Sinister/Baron continues to be the main villain up and until the end of the theme.

Rare printed slope from Dino Research Compound. Printed pieces are always preferred over stickers.

Plot-wise, I never quite understood what was happening on Dino Island. In the Desert, Johnny was after the ruby of the Pharaoh Hotep, and in Jungle, the Sun-Disk of jungle ruler Achu. On Dino Island, it would seem Johnny and his team were commissioned to investigate the dinosaurs, and perhaps research/accumulate as much info as possible- without harming the creatures. This was made challenging by the presence of the Baron, who was likely there to capture the dinosaurs and profit from their sale.

Conclusion

The third foray of the Adventurers theme will always be my least favorite of the four subthemes, and as mentioned, the “black sheep” of the bunch. It wasn’t that it was bad, I just felt it lacked that specific Adventurers DNA that we’d come to love. One could argue that it was similar to Desert insofar as it was evoking another popular franchise (Jurassic Park) as Desert evoked Indiana Jones.

All said, I think one of the most important contributions Dino Island made to the world of LEGO fandom was the piloting of molded dinosaur figures. As we know, LEGO would go on to make many iterations of Dinosaurs, ultimately culminating in the present Jurassic World sets. 

Dinosaurs and LEGO seemingly go hand in hand these days, and the ones from Dino Island perhaps paved the way for that. It was also featured in some video games as well, and there’s plenty more info to read out there about the subtheme. In that sense, it made an impact and has a rightful place in LEGO lore.

And that’s it for Part 3! Make sure to catch the final article next week, where I take a look at one of the best (and my personal favorite) subthemes- Orient Expedition!

Until next time,

Matt Z.

LEGO Theme Throwback- Adventurers- Part 2

By: Matthew Zwicker

After Adventurers made a thrilling debut on the scene in 1998 with the Desert subtheme, Johnny and the crew were off to the Jungle for their next set of adventures.

Jungle (1999)

After conquering the Desert, Johnny Thunder came back with his familiar team of heroes against a new set of foes in the Jungle. As a kid, I was not fortunate enough to obtain many sets from this subtheme at their time of release (the exception being 5936 Spider’s Secret which in itself is jam packed with cool features). That said, while there were only 10 official Jungle themed sets, I ogled them all from afar and followed them closely in the LEGO MANIA Magazines. 

Announcing Jungle Adventures in the MANIA Magazine (Jan/Feb 1999). Image courtesy miniland.nl.

Continuing the theme’s earlier tradition of dual-naming their characters, Senor Palomar (also known as Senor Gomez) was the main bad guy of the set, and the antagonist to challenge Johnny. His sidekick was named Max Villano. The sets seemed to revolve around finding the “Sun Disk”, a chrome gold colored treasure featured in many sets. The guardian of the sun disk was Achu, who appeared to be the ruler of the jungle throughout this series. This figure was particularly fantastic and well ahead of its time- its colorful headdress, amazing cape, and printed legs were major draws for fans. 

Achu. For 1999, this was definitely a breakthrough figure. Photo courtesy Brickset.com.

Along with Johnny, Dr. Lightning, and Gail Storm, their faithful pilot Harry Cane rejoined them for back-to-back adventures in the Jungle. The marquee set of this subtheme was 5986 Amazon Ancient Ruins, an utterly fantastic but somewhat rare set by today’s standards (I will touch on this later). The set used a raised baseplate which evoked some of the earlier Castle and Pirates sets. I found myself longing to own this one and discover all its play features and secrets, but was never able to get my hands on a copy in my youth. I wouldn’t actually see the set in real life until 2020. After obtaining it, I can safely say it lived up to the hype, and is proudly displayed to this day. A decade’s long itch was scratched at last!

The subthemes “big” set- 5986 Amazon Ancient Ruins. A true gem. Retrieved from Brickset.com.

I admired the reuse of some items from the previous subtheme- the adventurers cars, tools, torso printing, and certain animals like snakes. It allowed us to imagine that hot off the heels of Johnny’s success in the Desert, he packed his bags immediately for another rumble in the Jungle. Furthermore, I loved seeing the familiar weapons we’d all become accustomed to through classic themes like Castle, Pirates, and even Western. Like its Desert theme before it, we also received some amazingly rare and downright wicked printed pieces.

A collection of unique pieces from the Jungle line. Images via Bricklink.

While ultimately the story is a little disjointed, in my imagination, I like to think Johnny and his team raced Senor Palomar to the sun disk (overcoming many obstacles along the way) yet ultimately deciding that its power should remain with Achu. In turn the jungle ruler rewarded them with other treasures and allowed them to leave the Jungle alive. Unfortunately, Senor Palomar and his crooks weren’t as lucky- their fate in the Jungle remains a mystery. 

Conclusion

In my estimation, the Desert and Jungle subthemes were complete box office hits for the Adventurers line. While difficult to beat out Desert and with far less sets, the theme certainly picked up where our heroes left off, and offered amazing iconic sets that are bona fide classics today.

I mentioned above that this subtheme in particular definitely has some obscurity and rarity to it. Perhaps it was the smaller offering of 10 retail sets or limited production runs, but copies of certain Jungle themed sets are scarce in the wild- at least from my experience, and that of fellow LUG members as well. 

Interestingly, the two biggest sets in this theme (5976 River Expedition and 5986 Amazon Ancient Ruins)  are marked as “wanted” by more Brickset members than they are “owned” by Brickset members- an interesting litmus test for rarity that I’ve used over the years. But take that with a grain of salt- perhaps there are many more owners of the Jungle sets out there, existing in attics and forgotten bins waiting to be rediscovered one day. Or, like the fate of Achu and his Sun Disk, remains a mystery.

And that does it for the Jungle subtheme. Stay tuned for Part 3 of my  Adventurers Theme Throwback, where I dive into the next subtheme in the chronology- Dino Island.

Until next time,

Matt Z.

LEGO Theme Throwback- Adventurers- Part 1

By: Matthew Zwicker

Welcome to Part 1 of the LEGO Theme Throwback series, focusing on the Adventurers theme! This will be a four-part series, with each article focusing on a different subtheme from Adventurers. Enjoy!

As a kid growing up in the mid-90’s/early 2000’s, there were several LEGO themes that were important and influential to me- Castle, Pirates, Western, Harry Potter, just to name a few. In 1998, LEGO introduced a new theme- Adventurers– that would quickly become one of my favorite themes of all time.

In a pre-internet world, magazines and catalogs were the main ways in which companies like LEGO would market their products and build hype around certain themes. As a kid, I had a subscription to the LEGO MANIA Magazine, which ran from 1994-2002, before being rebranded. This magazine was essentially a kids club magazine showcasing all things LEGO- products, comics, short stories, games, contests, and more. 

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LEGO Mania Magazine, announcing the new Adventurers line (Jan/Feb 1998). Image courtesy miniland.nl.

It was through these magazines where I discovered the new Adventurers theme, making its debut in 1998. The theme was centered around the adventures of its main protagonist, Johnny Thunder (initially known as Sam Grant in the UK), Dr. Charles Lightening (also known as Dr. Kilroy or the Professor), and Miss Gail Storm (also known as Pippen Reed). To date, I never quite figured out why the characters had multiple names. Perhaps it was a regional thing or quick re-brand prior to the theme’s release in North America. Or maybe LEGO didn’t know what they wanted to call the characters yet either.

Being a fan of the Indiana Jones films, it was clear to see where LEGO “borrowed” their inspiration from- Johnny Thunder evoked the iconic hero, both in appearance and setting. It wouldn’t be until much later where LEGO would eventually get the license to produce Indiana Jones LEGO sets. So for most of us kids at the time, Johnny Thunder was our Indy in the world of LEGO.

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The Man, The Myth, The Legend- Johnny Thunder. Image via Bricklink.

Four distinct subthemes

The Adventurers line spanned four separate subthemes from 1998-2003- Desert, Jungle, Dino Island, and Orient Expedition. I like to think of these subthemes as the four different “theatres” in which Johnny and his crew played out their adventures. Each had their own storyline and characters, with a range of sets to offer.

One of the main attractions of this theme for me as a kid was the storyline. I really enjoyed how there was a background story which could be loosely followed in the LEGO Mania Magazine comics at the time. It provided just the right amount of spark for imagination and set the stage, allowing us to play out the details after building the sets. I think this did wonders for kids and really brought a depth to the theme. 

Desert (1998)

The Desert subtheme, released in 1998 was critical for launching the Adventurers line. With arguably the most direct connection with the Indy films, the theme centered around Johnny Thunder and the Lost Ruby. It also introduced the theme’s antagonist- Baron Von Barron (also sometimes known as Sam Sinister) and his sidekick Sly Boots (also known as Sam Sinister- don’t worry, LEGO hadn’t made up its mind yet). The Pharaoh Hotep was the “neutral” character protecting and guarding his Ruby.

Ultimately, it was a race against time as Johnny and his mates had to beat Baron Von Barron to the ruby, all the while avoiding the traps and surprises set by Pharoah Hotep himself. Each set contained portions of a tiled map that when put together, led to the location of the ruby, culminating in the themes’ marquee set, 5988 Pharaoh’s Forbidden Ruins (or The Temple of Anubis- LEGO still hadn’t figured out its names and the trend will continue- stay tuned). According to Brickset.com, the subtheme produced 25 sets, although some of these were polybag duplicates.

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5988 Pharaoh’s Forbidden Ruins was the “marquee” set in the subtheme. Each subtheme would go on to have a central “big/main set” where the final storyline played out (at least, in my interpretation).

In my opinion, this theme produced some of the most fun and playable LEGO sets I’ve ever owned. It introduced some amazing new pieces that are hard to come by today. A big shoutout goes to 5978 Sphinx Secret Surprise, one of my favorites from my youth and arguably a Top 10 Personal Set of All-Time!

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Printed pieces from the Adventurers- Desert subtheme. The minifigure sarcophagus cover in particular still stands the test of time in terms of intricate LEGO pieces. Images via Bricklink.

Conclusion

Although it’s hard to say, I think the inaugural Desert subtheme may be the greatest of the four in the Adventurers line, as it introduced a new story, new characters, and a new theme to LEGO fans in a big way. The climate for an Indy-inspired hero seemed perfect and the atmosphere that these sets evoked was one of mystery, discovery, and wonder- hallmarks that would go on to define the theme.

I would encourage everyone to check out the Desert subtheme sets on sites like Brickset or Bricklink. There’s still a lot to love in these sets, and they’re definitely considered “classics” by today’s standards. If you ever get an opportunity to purchase sets from this era, don’t hesitate- they’re truly awesome on display.

That about does it for Part 1 of my Adventurers Throwback series. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I tackle the next subtheme- Jungle! 

Until next time,

Matt Z.

Election Results

We’ve completed our Annual Meeting!

All positions unopposed and were elected by Acclimation:

Stephen Churchill -President

Patrick Barnes – Vice President

Geoff Stevens – Secretary/Treasurer

In addition, the motion to expand the Executive passed unanimously. We will soon be opening the nominations for 2 At Large positions to expand the Executive soon.

Lots of exciting things coming to NewfoundLUG in 2022 and beyond – Watch this space!

Annual General Meeting and NewfoundLUG Executive Elections

Every 2 years, the LUG holds elections for the voting members of the Executive Committee.  The Exec is busy throughout the year, keeping the LUG working behind the scenes.

The election this year will be during our Annual General Meeting on May 4th, 2022 at 7:30pm at the Rabbittown Community Centre.

As of April 20th, 2022 we will be opening nominations for the following positions:

  • President (Currently Stephen Churchill, elected in May 2020)
  • Vice President: Currently Patrick Barnes, appointed by Exec as per bylaws when the previous VP resigned)
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Currently Geoff Stevens, elected in May 2020)

If you cannot attend the meeting, you can still vote by allowing someone to vote in your place via proxy, or by attending via Zoom.

In addition, we will be voting on changing the bylaws to expand the Exec by 2 “At Large” positions.  If you wish to see the text of the changes, please reach out to Stephen Churchill or email newfoundlug@gmail.com.

Assuming this change passes, and in the interest of allowing nominations for these positions time to stand, we will hold the nominations and elections for these expanded roles to take place at the next meeting, time to be determined.