Friday! The end of a long week of deadline after deadline, deadlines that hurt me physically Tuesday and Wednesday, with one more deadline and one more project to do. So, I walked into the office building, stepped off the elevator, and was greeted by…

A sign hanging on a cubicle announcing that the computer network was down
“Abandon hope all ye who enter here…”

At least it was National Donut Day, and even if I had to go to Giant to buy a box of donuts for the office. I had no idea who would be in — Fridays, even now that the office has reopened, are sparse — and I didn’t care, but there would be donuts!

No the best selection of donuts -- ten topped with M&Ms, two not -- but it was inexpensive.

Unable to do anything that I needed to do on Friday, I turned instead to cleaning my office and tossing things I no longer needed. Did I need old issues of Bookshelf? Or Panels? Who does? The mess of pens and paperclips scattered across my desk? Binder clips? Index cards? The unfiled stack of order forms dating back to last year? Decade-old corporate promotional swag? I found places for all of it, and much was thrown out.

About 11:30 there was an email that announced that the network would be down for the remainder of the day, so there was no reason to stay much longer. I placed a lunch order at Baja Fresh from my phone, then thought of how to kill twenty minutes or so…

LEGO!

A few years ago my friends in northern Virginia had a party. Model rockets were launched, there was a bonfire and s’mores and a bunch of kids, most of whom I’d never met before. One of the boys, about eight or nine, had bought a LEGO Space Shuttle at the Udvar-Hazy gift shop earlier in the day, and he and his mom were struggling to build it. I, experienced LEGO builder of no great renown, jumped in to help him build it, and we got it done in about an hour, maybe an hour and half. He later broke the tail off out by the bonfire and I had to work out how to reattach the tail without taking the whole thing apart, but that’s how eight year-olds and LEGO goes.

I have at the office a couple of off-brand LEGO sets I haven’t built. “Some time when I don’t have anything to do,” I said, though “when I don’t have anything to do” is a time that never comes. One of those sets is a space shuttle, and Friday was that time.

The set was the Laser Pegs Aircraft. I’d never heard of Laser Pegs until I found this set, earlier in the year, maybe April or May, at Tuesday Morning, a discount store on Queen Street I’d never been in before. There were a few different sets, as I recall, but it was the Space Shuttle that intrigued me. I noticed from the packaging that the bricks appeared to be translucent, and the gimmick was a glowing light brick, not unlike The Peanuts Movie sets from LiteBrix. (I built the Olaf’s Biplane set a few years ago, then tricked it out with more real LEGO.)

The piece baggies and instruction booklet on my desk

Inside the box, it looked like LEGO — an instruction booklet, baggies filled with bricks, albeit translucent bricks. I tore the baggies opened and scattered the pieces across my desk.

The first thing I noticed was how the bricks felt — smoother than LEGO, a little slicker. The real test of off-brand LEGO is how they snap together, and the Laser Pegs bricks snapped together easily and cleanly.

The wings of the space shuttle assembled

This was much simpler than that LEGO Space Shuttle a few years ago. It started with the wings, and the fusilage builds up from there. The instructions were never unclear

The cargo bay and engines are in the process of assembly

There were a few non-translucent pieces in the model in the tail, and the light brick, which you can’t see in these photos, went between the three engine cones.

I made a mistake building the nose cone. There were curved white pieces and curved black pieces, and I used the white pieces instead of the black. The white pieces were for the reaction control jets assembly on the shuttle’s tail.

Complete!

All told, it took about fifteen minutes. One interesting touch is that there’s a clear window between the crew cabin and the cargo bay like the real shuttle has, but the neither the crew cabin nor the cargo bay are accessible without disassembling the model. There was also one leftover piece; better a piece left over than a piece missing.

Completed build, with the light activated
With the light activated

Finished, I packed up my things for the day, went to Baja Fresh to pick up my lunch (a steak Burrito Ultimo), and went home. No need to waste the rest of the day in a dead office, unable to do anything.

All in all, it was a nice set and a pleasant way to spend fifteen or twenty minutes. While I won’t go out of my way to buy more Laser Pegs sets, if I see something interesting I now know that Laser Pegs is not a waste of my LEGO dollars.

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