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A Dark Age, Bored, or Just Getting Old?

The reason FBTB came to be. We don't forget our roots.

A Dark Age, Bored, or Just Getting Old?

Postby Staff » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:22 am

Hey, Nick here. You may have noticed that it's been quiet around the site lately. There are a multitude of reasons for that, honestly. The active staff members all have full time jobs, and currently that means we aren't always able to post. More than that, we have families and kids in school, and that sucks up a whole lot of time. Ace posted his reasons the other day, and they sound very familiar. Myself, I have a newborn son and a daughter that started school, and that has been consuming a whole lot of my free time as of late. As of late, the most I've been into LEGO is in playing with her... she's been playing with them for a good portion of her life at this point, and the picture above is the first "MOC" she made and could describe... and it was of us.

Shortly after my son was born, I started going through a bunch of my older stuff and selling off duplicates, things I hadn't used in years, etc. While I was doing it, I came to a realization... that I didn't really care all that much about getting rid of the stuff. That was really driven home when I opted to get rid of a crown jewel of my collection... my Chrome Gold C3PO. The motivation wasn't one of space or really needing the money... it was more about selling it to someone who would want it before my kids grabbed it and started playing. I hadn't used it in a display for years, to be honest... it doesn't look right next to the other figures... and didn't miss it.

That little endeavor made me realize something; in the past year, I've bought maybe a half-dozen total sets for myself. Most sets that I've purchased were for reviews, and there are several of them that are sitting in draft here on the site waiting for me to finish them (dating back to about a year, ago, sadly). Sets that I really wanted, like the Saturn V rocket and the Modular buildings, have gone un-purchased, and when it came to stuff like Star Wars, the core of this site, it was even worse.

The last time I bought a Star Wars set was probably sometime last year... the last review I did for a Star Wars set was in December with a set provided by LEGO, and before that it was nearly a year ago. Don't get me wrong... I still love Star Wars. I loved Rogue One and I'm extremely excited about The Last Jedi... I just find it hard to get excited about the stuff that's come out lately. There are some sets that I would like to get... or more accurately, some characters (looking at you, Thrawn), but I keep picking up the box and putting it back down. After selling off some sets, the reason for these changes made me realize that LEGO just honestly wasn't all that important to me anymore.

A good portion of that is on me; I've changed in the nearly two decades I've been collecting LEGO. My collection has long since become too large to be manageable, and probably less than 2% of it is on display at any given time. That's a whole lot of money to put into stuff that's sitting in boxes, bags, and bins. I was never much of  MOC builder... I liked it, but didn't have the obsessive drive that a lot of people do. Yet bins still fill my wall and go unused for the most part. When I do actually build these days, it's because my daughter wants to build, and I can use the time to teach important life lessons about why she has to keep the Barbie MegaBloks set she got for her birthday apart from the rest of it.

But I'm not going to say it's all on me. LEGO has made it exceptionally hard to be a fan in recent years. I've made more than a few snarky comments about how LEGO does their reveals on far bigger, and typically unrelated, sites. But it's really worse than that... we often get ignored for news, sets, or the like. Sometimes LEGO is nice when they want publicity, like when they sent us the LEGO Batman and LEGO movie sets. But they ignore us most of the time, even when we ask just for press releases or the like.

Outside of the press aspect of it, though, just being an AFOL has gotten difficult in recent years. I've called out price on reviews more than once, or just the flat lack of creativity that runs through the huge majority of LEGO sets at this point. It feels like a good portion of their sets are just the "stock" build they need to slap a look on between all the different lines. The jets in the Marvel lines, the stock playset like we got with the Batcave... things like that. Worse, the price of LEGO, specifically the price in the AFOL ranges, has gotten just plain stupid in the last couple of years. The new UCS Falcon is a ridiculous $800. I don't care how many pieces it comes with or the size, that is, quite simply, too much. Heck, $500 was probably too much for the first one, but at the time, it was unique.

It's not just that set, though. The last few UCS sets have been disappointing, if I'm being charitable. Sure, the Snowspeeder looked cool, but I was sick of those in the system line, and it just continued the price creep in sets. The last modular building was $280. The carousel was $200. The Saturn V Ideas set was $120 and the fishing shack was $150... together more than all of the other Ideas sets I've ever bought, combined (and I've bought several of them). At a time when i'm having trouble convincing myself to spend money on a $25 set (that should have probably been $20), seeing these prices makes me want to just walk away in disgust.

And from a creative point of view, LEGO seems to only care about their original themes or movie tie-ins. The LEGO Batman movie sets were fantastic, the Ninjago ones look cool (but I could not care in the least about Ninjago). Yet Star Wars has been mostly remakes that are less stuff for more money, or reskins of other builds that are swapped in for something else. The most recent Super Hero sets are just overpriced junk for the most part, and even someone like me gets tired of dropping that kind of money for ugly sets and a few minifigs.

I suppose looking back, a Dark Age was inevitable for me. For years, I've purchased a lot of sets I wouldn't have otherwise touched because I was going to review them. I genuinely like writing reviews and getting my snark on, and will keep doing it. Maybe I'll finally finish one of the half-dozen movie reviews that I've started (in the case of Force Awakens, I have two different review drafts for a review) and get them up here. I may also be putting up more opinion pieces... some of those are the most pride I've had in what I've written for the site. But for the foreseeable future, I'm done purchasing LEGO for myself. Much like Ace, I'm burnt out, even if for different reasons. I'll probably be working on some of the changes around the site, and maybe trying to fix some stuff.

As we open up to more stuff, perhaps I'll branch out too (though it may be a hard sell to post most of my hobbies like painting miniatures or role playing games here). I'm learning what it's like to share a hobby that was a bit part of my life with someone who's just starting out on hers, and there's something kind of magic in watching her. I don't know yet and haven't made any plans, but also knew I wanted to get a statement in too.

tl;dr... I hate the entire idea of tldr and refuse to summarize here (but I bet you can guess by the title).
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Spencer Solo » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:42 am

I had always thought the name "From Bricks to Bothans" seems a lot more all-encompassing than just Lego. I'm just getting out of a kind of dark ages that started in high school and I'm excited about a lot of the new sets and mods people are doing. But I think we can all relate to getting burned out. Excited to see how things go going ahead.
Romans 12:1
Spencer Solo
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Firespray » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:45 am

Think everyone of us goes through that Dark Age at some point, glad to hear the site isn't shutting down. (Hey I'm still here!)
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby captain sambuca » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:22 am

This is a little bit heart breaking to read.
I don't contribute much to the forums here, but want you to know that i still check the site every day. Of course we've noticed that there's been a bit of a lean period the last however many weeks or whatever. I want you to know that I like your style. I want you to know that it's all appreciated.
Reading that post feels like reading a book and discovering a character that you've grown fond of over the last thirty chapters or whatever is suddenly and unexpectedly in trouble. Bad times. It's prompted me to write something here, and I can't remember when the last time that was.
You have done something here to be proud of though- you've created a community I suppose- which is just about the coolest thing that any of us can possibly do. It's a big deal.
For my own part, I can't afford lego these days. Not for ages. Years. Ten or fifteen years ago was the last time I could afford something- save for the thirty pence or whatever whenever there's been a newspaper with a special offer. But I've loved reading the reviews of each new set. Usually I've skipped past the bits about the minifigures, but I've really enjoyed reading all those tiny details about new pieces or features or whatever. The press releases and stuff can be found in half a dozen other places, but it's your take on things that I've always valued.
I want to say two things. First: don't sweat it. Life's more important- all that other stuff that's getting in the way, isn't the stuff that's getting in the way- chances are that that's the stuff that's more important. Don't do anything you don't want to. The world keeps turning. It sounds like you're doing exactly that already. Fairplay to you.
Secondly: if you need a hand, ask. My bet is this is a community. My bet is that we're all here to help you if you need anything.
Here's the lego analogy: we're each just a piece in a bigger set. We all have a part to play- all of us. Mate- I think that we're all there for you if you need us. Email me if you ever need stuff.
Here's the star wars analogy: We can't all be Yoda, or Obi Wan, or Boba Fett if that's your thing or whatever, but what those stories tell us is that in the end friends help each other out. Han comes back, even though he's already got his reward; Lando gets on to Lobot on that crazy oversized watch of his to make that rescue attempt; even C3P0 thinks about his friends just before those stormtroopers find him ("Oh no! I've been shot!"- worst line ever?)
So yeah. Speak out. Give us a shout. You've got this- but give me a shout if there's stuff that I can do to help.
It'll be okay.
captain sambuca
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby foximus-prime » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:17 pm

Nope, Damb it! I refuse to let you quit!!! >8( You are one of the pillars of our little community here and you need to suck it up butter cup. I've gone on hiatus many times myself to "find my own building style", "had builders block" (pun intended), got busy or distracted with life, video games, got married. AND I KEEP COMING BACK ;)

But with all honesty bud, just listen to your heart! I love Lego LOVE LEGO! and I'm not always in the mood to build but it's still one of my true loves and lets face it I could never leave my lady Lego. The best advice I can give is that in time of woe Lego will never leave you, if you step on it it'll hurt your foot but never break your heart and as time passes Lego will always keep it's firm body and sweet sharp curves gladly waiting for you to it up and play with her..... lol umm kinda got carried away but what I'm trying to say is that there's nothing wrong with taking a break every now and again because when you're ready to come back to it your Lego will still be there. ;)
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Athos » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:59 pm

I can understand that. A break is good. Good luck and don't stay away too long. We'll start to miss the updates too much...

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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby jjh » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:55 pm

Long time reader, rare commenter here. Just wanted to check-in and let you know that I appreciate your site as much as any Lego site on the internet. That said, and I hope this site remains and prospers for years to come, the most important thing is this:

Do what you love to do with your time.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby etcknight » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:03 pm

Being one of the oldest members here (from wayyyy back on, I can say, "I'm right there with you, Ace." Once you have kids, work, wife, and your 40's, personal hobbies seem to go on the back-burner. Sometimes I look at my ever growing pile of parts that need sorting, and I get a little taken aback. And yet, the pile still seems to keep growing. I keep telling myself that my son and daughter will one day have an interest in Legos and will justify my every growing pile. I've acquired collections of Friends (bleh!) and Super Hero Girls thinking one day my daughter might have interest. Over time, many of my interests have been let go - Macross / Robotech, Transformers, GI Joe, Gundam, comic books, and other Japanese series. There's just too much to keep up with and not enough time or money. Typical new Transformers or Macross toys are $100-$300 retail! I still have unbuilt plastic Gundam models I keep telling myself I'll paint and build one day. *sigh*

"I'm right there with you, Ace" and I applaud your efforts to keep the fire alive. XD
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby banthafodder » Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:00 am

I've always appreciated this site and its content for the honesty of the people here. Having known you and Don through the site and various fan events, I appreciate the devotion everyone has put in. If I could make a suggestion; when the site was more active you were able to delegate items to other people to post. Once those members fell away, they were never replaced leaving the awesome burden on your shoulders. It may be time to get some more people contributing to help you out.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby onions » Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:22 am

gd you guys bring a tear to my eye.
Damp Noodle
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Chosen One » Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:51 am

What I do believe, don't let a hobby rule your life.

There are many other diverse experiences out there.

I've been there, not just with Lego, but with collecting and gaming too... looking back, a bit of regret I didn't invest some of that time in something to better my skill.

Keep well,
Chosen One
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Dendo » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:45 am

When I came out of my dark ages back in 2002, I felt a little weird about being an adult collecting Lego. Then I found this site. It was the first of other Lego themed sites that I began to frequent, but it has always been my favorite. It changed my perspective on the hobby and it made me feel like part of a community. It let me know that I wasn't alone. Weird, but not alone. I have always appreciated the humor and the honesty expressed on this site.

Now, 15-ish years later, I am having similar feelings about being burned out with the hobby and it is good to know that I am still not alone in that, though what you are going through is probably a little different than what I am. Among other things, I have become discontent with the rising prices and the constant hunt for exclusives and things like that. I still love Lego and the thought of Lego, I am just not finding much joy in it anymore. I'm sure I'll snap out of it at some point. Until then, I will still continue to visit this site and look forward to seeing the new direction.

I do appreciate this website and all that you have put into it over the years and I appreciate your openness and candor in this post. I've always said that you have to do what is best for you, your family and your happiness. Hang in there and start having fun again!
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby dWhisper » Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:18 pm

We sort of hit a perfect storm... I've been working on a very similar article to post around here. There are many reasons for my current state of Dark Age/Burnout, but the primary reason is that I have a finite amount of time and resources, and as of late, LEGO simply can't make the cut. Is what it is, and will likewise hopefully be contributing something different around here... but I've been slowly getting away from LEGO, and as a company, LEGO has certainly made it hard to be a fan as of late.
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Indy1981 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:36 pm

I too read your site everyday, and it's one I fondly share with my friends. I came late to the LEGO Star Wars party, but thanks to your reviews, I have been able to pick and choose which sets are the ones I want to spend my ever dwindling free time constructing. Your writing is very good, and because of that, is my favorite LEGO site hands down.

I also think pursuing what makes you happy is incredibly important.

I look forward to seeing how the site evolves and am thrilled to hear it will continue.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby gomek » Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:05 pm

I tried to run a blog of my own on a different topic, and it only lasted about two years before I got burned out. It happens. Unless someone is independently wealthy, it's hard to find the time to be that dedicated for that long.

I do enjoy reading posts here, so I'm kind of hoping maybe someone can step in to help. Maybe some more banner ads or something would help with the cash flow. I'm sure that wouldn't hurt.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby PurpleDave » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:21 pm

I am in a unique position to understand exactly how you feel. Back in 2001, I was asked if I wanted to start up a site, and for the next 2.5 years I ran Mask of Destiny. For much of that time, I ran it solo, and for most of that time I tried to make sure we had at least one new article per day...which meant that I was often trying to throw something worth reading together right before crawling into bed. I had days when I got home from work and spent more time than I did at work just answering e-mails from fans of the site. There were times that I had kids accusing me of plagiarism because just about anytime I broke original news with sources cited, some tyrant would repost them (with anonymous sources) on a competing site with the date rolled back so it looked like he beat me by a day. And the day we added forums to the site merely compounded the workload.

Now, I loved going to NYTF (which I got to do three times, and even met the founder of FBTB at LEGO Direct back in 2002), even though I could barely afford it at the time. I still haven't had anything I'd call a "dark ages" (unless you count being told I was too old to even buy LEGO sets, with my own money, when I was staring at the last Forestman's River Crossing on the shelf). I was able to add items to my collection that I never could have acquired entirely on my own. Technically, I've been on hiatus for over 13 years because I don't think I ever officially quit.

In the meantime, I became very involved with what would eventually become the most active LUG in the world. We've been averaging over 20 shows a year for eight years now, and I've personally done as many as fifteen in a single year. Mostly it consists of setting up really cool displays, answering the same questions so many times that I tend to rattle off the exact same answer by pure reflex, and just shooting the breeze with other club members during lulls. Occassionally it involves distracting kids from gigantic skyscrapers with a couple of tiny minifigs (that's totally my superpower). I've been doing this for about as long as you've been running FBTB, and rather than feeling burnt out I sometimes find myself wishing we had another show on the schedule if we go more than a month without one.

So, you have to do what's right for the site, and you have to do what's right for yourself. You say you're not going to quit, but if you've reached a point where you're actually posting an article like this, you mind find it takes a significantly bigger change than you're currently planning to make if you're going to avoid finding yourself right back at this point in another year or two. Maybe not. You did last at least six times longer than I did, and I think that might be ten times as long as Tim. But you still might find you need to quit, go on an official hiatus, hand off running the site to someone else, or even just bring in some fresh blood to help revitalize the site and take some of the burden off of your own shoulders.
Everything is Batman! Except Adam West.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby minimitch » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:46 pm

Thanks for such a fun time. I enjoyed the competitions the most. I'm glad we had the opportunity to meet and talk for a bit at Lego Land. I'm glad you liked my custom mouse droid.
My encounter with FBTB started when I quite smoking in 2004 I received a Star Wars Lego set 4502 as a gift. After that I became a chain builder you might say. Your web site was the best in keeping me well informed with the Lego world which became my new addiction for a long time.
In an indirect way, FBTB helped me wean off an unhealthy addiction and my family and I are thankful for that.

Thanks and God Bless,
Last edited by minimitch on Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:24 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby TeddytheSpoon » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:33 am

Young long-time reader here, recently out of a dark age. Just wanted to point out how much this site means to me as a fan (it's probably the only Lego site besides TBB that I check on every single day), and how much I enjoy reading all the articles on here. I dare say this site helped me leave my dark age.

FBTB was the first Lego site that I found and I have no idea why it's taken me so long to actually take part in the community that I've seen build (pun very much intended) up around this site. I'd love to see it continue, but you do whatever you feel is right. There are no rules here (broadly speaking anyway). You do you.

And if you do need help, just ask. The above comments are evidence enough that there's a great community here. I for one would gladly help run the site in whatever way I can, whether that's taking out the trash or making the tea (or heaven forbid write a few things) - I'm a student so I'm not exactly a busy bee.

Thanks for posting this. I'm glad to hear from you.

Big up, Ace.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby GrayMattR » Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:35 pm

Thanks for building FBTB to what it is, which was no small task! I've been here since 1999 and remember those first 4 years as a huge growing period. You took the opportunity to make things even better after the site was hacked and brought down. I can remember how excited I was when you built the new site and people signed up in a mad rush.

You took fan websites to a new level when you started to go to events like SDCC and New York Toy Fair. Nobody else was doing that when you were.

Life presents changes for everyone and you're entitled as much as the rest of us to enjoy your family and your own priorities. As I read this, I was going to say the same suggestion Banthafodder did, which is the site thrived with multiple administrators and even though they weren't replaced, now's the time to appoint new ones.
Hit me up on Instagram @LegoMinifigureDesktop or on Topps Star Wars Card Trader @GrayMattR
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby starwarsmags » Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:39 pm

Finally a word of explanation - and a strong, eye opening one! I already started to worry about you and the site! Glad you keep the site up and running! Can´t wait for your new postings, cause I love your writing style and honesty!

best regards from Germany!
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