May saw the launch of Project Swapfig, which we’re all sick of hearing about I’m sure. It seemed to have set a precedent, because not only have been a handful of LEGO-related Kickstarter projects since, but a number of new fan-maintained sites have popped up all of a sudden!
I know of four sites that launched in the past month, one of them being BrickTrader. Time to introduce people to the other three, all of which appeared in the last week.
The New Elementary: LEGO parts weblog
Launching as an independent weblog, my homey Tim Johnson – aka caperberry – decided to start an informative site about LEGO parts, which is a completely new concept. His site’s called The New Elementary (kudos for not falling back on “brick-this” or “that-brick”), and even though there are only four posts on there at the moment, they’re very well written and the whole thing seems to be a hit with the LEGO community.
I’m going to be keeping an eye on this one, as I’m a big fan of parts (as opposed to sets) and often have to look up part information when writing my crazy reviews. I highly recommend you get on the case as well.
Brick Owl: alternative to BrickLink
The launch of Brick Owl took me completely by surprise, and I’d suspect quite a few other people. It’s an alternative site to BrickLink that performs similar functions: the buying and selling of LEGO parts, sets, minifigures etc. From the looks of things (I haven’t had the chance to really explore it yet) it’s a faster and more up-to-date site than the aforementioned, and even more impressive is that it’s built using Drupal, which I haven’t had great experiences with. One of the two-strong team behind the site is a mysterious entity named ljames28 over on Brickset.
As mentioned before, having been disillusioned with BrickLink and its general attitude (from the users), I’ve been longing for a viable alternative so I wouldn’t have to resort to feeBay. Brick Owl looks like it’s coming along nicely, so I’m rooting for it. If a chat room as well as the forum is added… WINNER!
One of the best features of Brick Owl has to be the ability to import – and even sync – one’s existing BrickLink inventory. Hopefully they’ll have BrickStore support as well.
The LEGO Wall: alternative to BrickBuildr
Expect the name and the URL of the site to eventually change (i.e. LEGO’s stance on other sites having “lego” in the title or URL), but this site set out to solve the current problem of PAB wall information taking too long to update via BrickBuildr. On my last attempt I’d managed about three columns of parts, eventually giving up as the whole thing became much slower than I remember.
The LEGO Wall is the handiwork of Brickset member dwalton76.
I revisited the LEGO store in London Westfield (aka Shepherds Bush) to give The LEGO Wall a try. On my iFad with 3G connection it wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped mostly due to the awkward click-handling that plagues many a site. Back home on my laptop, having gotten used to how things work on the site, the process became incredibly quick. I’d say it took just as long to record information about the 18×6 wall as it used to on BrickBuildr.
As with Project Swapfig, I had thought of tackling this myself, but it’s another deceptively simple concept. One major concern would be the parts available to list on each wall, which The LEGO Wall seems to have taken care of.
The key word with these sites is alternative. I hope nobody’s been going around accusing these people of “stealing” ideas (as they have with Project Swapfig), because people really ought to cotton on to the idea of having alternative web sites. If you like X site, visit X site; if you prefer Y site go use Y site.
In any case, make sure you visit these sites and at least check them out. It’s great to see other people doing their web thing, and I think there’s enough room for everybody.