Chris McVeigh's My First Computer DOS Edition Review
I’ve always been a Chris McVeigh fan probably even before I got into the LEGO scene. What caught my eye was his iconic My First Computer: Byte Edition which features the The Iconic Mac. It was so much so that I own two different versions of this amazing design. One may ask, Chris generously shares high quality build guides, why would anyone want to purchase his builds? Isn’t it like bricklink-ing your own parts?
Well, here’s where I’d like to share with you the level of care and detail that he puts into each purchase of his sets, from the packaging to his designs. Chris reminds me of the late Steve Jobs in terms of detailing towards a product. Whatever you build and design, not only has to look good outside, but on the insides too - the parts seldom or never seen is just as important as what you see outside, and Chris spares no detail.
The Box Packaging
What you receive is a simple inconspicuous brown box packaging, shipped directly from Chris’s home in Canada. I’ve always received the boxes in good condition thanks to the efficient postal service.
As you lift the cover, you get an invoice and lightweight paper in black.
Lifting the black piece of paper reveals a printed thank you note, and details of where to get the guides and an email address for service contact. Mind you these are all placed strategically and wrapped to a level of care and thought put into it for the ultimate unboxing experience.
Lifting up the cover, I received a personalised note - what a surprise!!! Chris decided to drop me an extra printed part. I’m so grateful for the printed tiles, because it was one of the reasons that I purchased this, and the bonus of it all, I got a spare processor tile!
Now, this means a lot more to me than you think. Remember I mentioned about my purchase of the Byte Edition? Chris started to introduce the processor tiles shortly AFTER I ordered mine, and I was disappointed thoroughly, but this note and extra tile really MADE MY DAY! I have my processor tile to power my Byte edition machine!
Lifting out the flaps, the parts are bubble wrapped, well protected and packaged.
Unwrapping the bubble wrap reveals a bit of information on the build guide that you need to download. The reason that there is a need for this is because Chris constantly updates and improves on his designs. He fine tunes them for better aesthetics or find replacement parts that are less rare to be used for the builds.
This reminder of the "Version" you have on hand is an excellent touch as I do recall that sometimes, during the time of your your purchase and the time that you receive and build it, you tend to forget what you need! I know I'm being a broken record here, but - you could tell how much care was put into the fitting with the custom cutouts of the bubble wraps. On the flip side, a reminder of what you purchased in this case, My First Computer: DOS Edition.
On the sides, a few extra printed tiles are taped in a tiny ziplock for the DOS prompt. It contains an “A>” drive prompt and a "C:\” drive prompt. For owners of the PC XT machines, you will certainly feel like you time travelled. I can’t remember when I last saw an A> drive prompt. On the flip side, the promised additional processor. Chris, if you’re reading this, thanks a kazillion, you just won me over yet again.
Lifting out the flap, you see two beautifully wrapped bags yet again, and waitaminute, they’re numbered! Yet again, a wrapped bag with a wrap! I can’t imagine the time spent on getting all of this “just right”!
Removing the bag label, reveals a reminder to check for parts that may stick onto the plastic seal. I'm guessing it may have happened more than once to print it as a reminder.
The Build - Bag 1
The first bag basically is the build of the CPU Unit. Two drives “A” and “B” with two daughter boards and the printed CPU tile slotted in the back. For those of you who never got to own any of these machines, these are very accurately placed parts to represent the old IBM XT machines of the 80s that ran at 4.77 MHz. Or at least, that's what it reminds me of my very first encounter with a IBM Compatible PC. Yes, you read that right, we lived with 4.77 MHz back in the days.
The back view features the Power Supply fan vents with a stock Lego printed piece. Very realistic!
A closer look at the custom printed tile. Yes, its a simple design, but it just means a lot in getting the details in such a set! My guess is BRK001 stands for Brick001 processor. 68 is probably a throwback to the Motorola 68k processor? We got to ask Chris about that someday.
The CPU casing is quite well built in structure and it is what it is. From my memory, that black 1x1 plate is the power button placed on the chassis. It's actually placed there because of the Power Supply within that's placed at that corner of the PC those days.
There's a nifty little design element that keeps the face of the chassis in place. The cover has a little clip mechanism that holds it all together.
All that needs to be done now is to slot that motherboard into the case, very elegant design. At the back, the two exposed studs click into place with the chassis.
The Build - Bag 2
Bag two consist of the construct of the CGA monitor, once again, I'm calling it as what I used to own. While it supported a 16 color palette, it was only able to display 4 colors at any one time. Yes, that was the world I lived in.
Finishing the back of the frame, I was kind of perplexed at the need to build these parts.
And the final product was this block shaped construct - looking like a block engine of sorts.
All is finally revealed as it made a very interesting way to allow for the two parts of the monitor (front and back) to be easily put together and removed if need be. It does not hold tight, but at the same time, sufficient grip to hold everything in place!
The final product! (I made a mistake in the orientation of the screen, but I fixed it later on) 😃
The finished display together with the CPU. In those days, the monitors were simply placed on the CPU without any fixed mechanism or so. It just stayed there - and in this case of the build, there are no studs to hold it in place either!
Before I forget, having the special construct of the CRT monitor screen allowed me to easily replace this for the DOS command prompts.
The final part is the construct of the keyboard and attaching it to the CPU. Final install of the tile. A\> drive for me, as I’ve never owned a Hard drive back then. I did find something missing, a mouse! I somehow always had a mouse with my PC back then.
The build is complete! The finished view from the back once the 'cables' are put in place.
Final thoughts, as expected, McVeigh’s builds are always done with detail and care, and this one did not disappoint. The packaging has vastly improved over the years to the point where the only missing missing detail is an outer box art, not that it’s needed. The build inside is true time machine - I owned one of these PC XT machines back in it’s heydays and this certainly brought back memories with the countless times I had to open to meddle with the insides of these machines.
While he graciously shares all of his instructions and allows everyone to enjoy his love of the brick, I do emplore to those that can spare the change to support the artist. I’m pretty sure none of these sales actually pays the bills, but serve and encourage builders to create more. I certainly for one will look forward to more of Chris’s builds and guides.
My life is now complete. 😀