23 March 2016

Build Your Own 'Spring Break on FOB Sherpa' Kit!

As part of EXERCISE SPRING BREAK 2016, Task Force Sherpa recently conducted convoy ops into the heart of AO RED BULL, vicinity Mall of America (M.O.A.), Bloomington, Minn., conducting resupply at FOB IKEA and FOB LEGOSTORE. Via a village kiosk, we discovered an additional target of opportunity in the BRICKMANIA store, and quickly moved to exploit.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Brickmania produces military-themed kits and items that are compatible with the popular Lego brand of plastic construction blocks. Under the BrickArms sub-brand, Brickmania offerings include a wide range of weapons, helmets, tactical vests, and other military equipment for Lego-style mini-figures.

The kids and I spent a few hours—and (ahem) a little money—figuring out the components to a Charlie Sherpa mini-fig. They were already somewhat familiar with my stories from Afghanistan: Media embed rules stipulated that I couldn't wear camouflage in country, so I couldn't use my old uniforms. Two of my shirts were slate blue; one was olive green. (I did laundry out of a 5-gallon bucket every couple of days.) My bulletproof vest was solid "coyote" brown. Using a stencil, I wrote "press" on the front of my light green helmet.

Here's what we came up with at Brickmania store. To make your own Charlie Sherpa, you'll need:
  • Male head with glasses
  • Lego camera and coffee mug borrowed from kids' previously purchased Lego sets
We also assembled and purchased a U.S. media escort soldier mini-fig. Originally, we were going to make her look like Sgt. 1st Class Ashlee Katz, the Public Affairs NCO from my media embed with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division in Afghanistan, May-June 2011. Instead, he ended up looking a little like Spc. Slim Cheery, a Red Bull videographer that I hung out with for a few days on FOB Mehtar Lam.

While Brickmania does make decals for Multicam uniforms, the kids and I opted to issue the mini-fig soldier some pre-made Universal Camouflage Pattern pieces, a three-color desert helmet, and some rockin' eye-protection. He also got a Plate Carrier Vest with a walkie-talkie pocket, and an M-16 with grenade launcher. Because the real Slim didn't have enough to carry, if I recall, what with the video camera and all. He was also assigned as a grenadier.

After determining that Brickmania does not (not yet, anyway) offer a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected ("M-RAP") truck kit, I successfully resisted the urge to drive away with a Humvee kit instead. I might have to go back for an Ultra-Light Tactical Vehicle, however, given that we drove Gators around Bagram.

Finally, at the the Mall of America's Lego store, the kids and I picked up a beige baseplate, and enough tan and brown bricks to make a passible hootch. We made ours a little battle-damaged, and used the brown bricks to make T-walls. Next time, we'll use dark or light gray for the blast-barriers. My daughter installed a Lego "boom box" stereo she repurposed from another playset—because troops gotta have their tunes. She also planted some Lego flowers. We further accessorized with a Brickmania footlocker we'd purchased.

Now, FOB Sherpa is always just a few clicks away!

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