The Cornish beaches where Lego keeps washing up


Pile of Lego

A container filled with millions of Lego pieces fell into the sea off Cornwall in 1997. But instead of remaining at the bottom of the ocean, they are still washing up on Cornish beaches today – offering an insight into the mysterious world of oceans and tides.

“Let me see if I can find a cutlass,” says Tracey Williams, poking around some large rocks on Perran Sands with a stick.

She doesn’t manage that, but does spot a gleaming white, pristine daisy on the beach in Perranporth, Cornwall. The flower looks good for its age, seeing as it is 17 years old.

It is one of 353,264 plastic daisies dropped into the sea on 13 February 1997, when the container ship Tokio Express was hit by a wave described by its captain as a “once in a 100-year phenomenon”, tilting the ship 60 degrees one way, then 40 degrees back.

As a result, 62 containers were lost overboard about 20 miles off Land’s End – and one of them was filled with nearly 4.8m pieces of Lego, bound for New York.

No-one knows exactly what happened next, or even what was in the other 61 containers, but shortly after that some of those Lego pieces began washing up in both the north and south coasts of Cornwall. They’re still coming in today.

Lego cutlass
Lego octopus

A quirk of fate meant many of the Lego items were nautical-themed, so locals and tourists alike started finding miniature cutlasses, flippers, spear guns, seagrass, scuba gear as well as the dragons and the daisies.

“There’s stories of kids in the late 1990s having buckets of dragons on the beach, selling them,” says Tracey, who lives in Newquay.

Tracey with Lego haul on beach

“These days the holy grail is an octopus or a dragon. I only know of three octopuses being found, and one was by me, in a cave in Challaborough. It’s quite competitive. If you heard that your neighbour had found a green dragon, you’d want to go out and find one yourself.”

She says the ship’s manifest – a detailed list of everything in the containers – shows a whole range of Lego items, not all sea-themed. After all this time “it’s the same old things that keep coming in with the tide”, particularly after a bad storm.

Lego seagrass

Tracey runs a Facebook page which documents the Lego discoveries, and recently received an email from someone in Melbourne who found a flipper which they think could be from the Tokio Express spillage.

US oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer has tracked the story of the Lego since it was spilled. “The mystery is where they’ve ended up. After 17 years they’ve only been definitely reported off the coast of Cornwall,” he says.

It takes three years for sea debris to cross the Atlantic ocean, from Land’s End to Florida. Undoubtedly some Lego has crossed and it’s most likely some has gone around the world. But there isn’t any proof that it has arrived as yet.

“I go to beachcombing events in Florida and they show me Lego – but it’s the wrong kind. It’s all local stuff kids have left behind.”

Since 1997, those pieces could have drifted 62,000 miles, he says. It’s 24,000 miles around the equator, meaning they could be on any beach on earth. Theoretically, the pieces of Lego could keep going around the ocean for centuries.

Ocean currents visualised

“The most profound lesson I’ve learned from the Lego story is that things that go to the bottom of the sea don’t always stay there,” Ebbesmeyer adds. The incident is a perfect example of how even when inside a steel container, sunken items don’t stay sunken. They can be carried around the world, seemingly randomly, but subject to the planet’s currents and tides.

“Tracking currents is like tracking ghosts – you can’t see them. You can only see where flotsam started and where it ended up.”


Lost Lego Pieces

Cargo included:

  • Toy kits – Divers, Aquazone, Aquanauts, Police, FrightKnights, WildWest, RoboForce TimeCruisers, Outback, Pirates
  • Spear guns (red and yellow) – 13,000 items
  • Black octopus – 4,200
  • Yellow life preserver – 26,600
  • Diver flippers (in pairs: black, blue, red) – 418,000
  • Dragons (black and green) – 33,941
  • Brown ship rigging net – 26,400
  • Daisy flowers (in fours – white, red, yellow) – 353,264
  • Scuba and breathing apparatus (grey) – 97,500
  • Total of 4,756,940 Lego pieces lost overboard in a single container
  • Estimated 3,178,807 may be light enough to have floated

Source: Beachcombers’ Alert, vol 2. No 2 1997


But there’s also a dark side to the story, he says. If Lego is on land then it’s fun. If it’s on the ocean it’s deadly, a poison for birds. If you lose one container with 5m pieces of Lego in it, that is a catastrophe for wildlife.

Lego sea-themed items
Lego daisies

Lego spokeswoman Emma Owen says the Tokio Express incident “was of course very unfortunate, however this had nothing to do with the Lego Group activities”.

“We share an overall concern for the environment and we are very focused in our environmental efforts at our production sites to eliminate the waste that potentially could become a marine litter problem.”

Elsewhere in Cornwall, Martin Dorey of Bude is all too aware of the Lego being washed up. He runs the 2 Minute Beach Clean group which encourages people to pick up litter on beaches, and gets in touch with companies whose produce ends up on the shoreline as a result of this kind of accident.

“I know it’s not their fault, it’s the way the ships are stacked,” he says. “But while container spills are all resolved from the insurance point of view, it’s not resolved from the marine point of view.” The 2 Minute Beach Clean group has a Twitter hashtag and an Instagram page, which Dorey says allows litter pickers “to see that their work is adding to the work of others”.

Claire Wallerstein runs the Rame Peninsula Beach Care group, which cleans up beaches in south-east Cornwall. The group has collected more than 1,000 sacks of beach debris since it began its monthly collections in March last year, and one recent intensive clean up led to 576,664 pieces of plastic being recovered from a cove (including 42 pieces of Lego).


Container losses

  • About 120m containers carried on world’s oceans in 2013
  • 2011 survey by World Shipping Council estimated an average of 675 containers lost at sea each year between 2008-10
  • 2014 survey says average annual loss between 2011-13 was approximately 2,683 containers
  • Both surveys took “rare catastrophic losses” into account – losses of more than 50 or more containers in a single incident

Source: World Shipping Council

Lego dragons
Witch's broom
Lego daisy
Black Lego dragon

“The Lego isn’t a one-off thing – it happens all the time. There’s a certain type of cigarette lighter that’s from a container spill more than 20 years ago which is still washing up on Cornish beaches today.

“If you look at the washed-up Lego, it looks perfect, like it’s just come out of the box. Plastic in the sea is not going to just decompose and go away.”

This Nord Lead 3 has been sitting in a corner for a few years now.  It was abandoned by a tech that was down the hall after the client didn’t want to pay to ship it to a Nord service center for repair.  But that was a few years ago!  Now it’s possible to get Nord parts from third parties like Syntaur!  So for 20$ in parts ( a new data encoder ) and an hour of work this Nord is Back To Life!



Divergences & Contradictions of Electronic Music



“My name is Eduardo De La Calle, and I have been making music and DJing for around 15 years, playing in many cities around Europe. About two years ago, I started two labels, including Analog Solutions, a vinyl only electronic music label.

I am now developing a new Project: a documentary on electronic music called BEATZ.  The idea of the documentary came to me while travelling during one of my shows in Berlin. I realized that I had been in electronic music for so many years but I still had unanswered question and lot of preoccupations about the industry I was moving in.

This led me to buy a camera and with the help of a few friends, try to interview as many people as I Could, whenever I could. Camera on hand, I decided to find out more and get some answers from Paris to Berlin, Amsterdam to Barcelona, Tokyo to London and all the way to the island of Ibiza.

There was no money, no budget and I used the opportunity of each of my travels to DJ to meet as many people involved in this industry, behind the scenes finding out about the divergences and contradictions of electronic music nowadays.

My preoccupations and doubts have resulted in more than 150 people being interviewed and compiled in an audiovisual experience.

image 1

CARL COX                                                         PACO OSUNA


With this documentary I intend to give to the public a general overview of electronic music through the interviews of the different actors shaping the scene. From artists, distributors, shops, labels, bookers, and club and festival promoters: all the people who make this industry exist.

I hope to take viewer on a journey about electronic and techno music, from its humble beginnings to its actual state, where it is much accepted and fully part of our society. The documentary intends to tackle questions such as its impact on society, the influence of technology, the image conveyed by the DJs and the industry etc… all of this through the contributions of the people interviewed.

The documentary has been written with the help of Daniel Arasanz, writer, director and producer of “Venid a las cloacas: La historia de la Banda Trapera del Rio” which won two prizes at the Inedit Film Festival in Barcelona. (”




A rare Ebay post for me!

“The JLCooper “ChromaFace” MIDI retrofit for the Chroma was produced in the 1980s. From the product sheet:

The MIDI Chromaface is a 4 1/2 by 6 inch box that is powered by an included wall transformer. Also included is a 25 conductor cable to plug between Chromaface and Chroma or Chroma Expander. Information exchange includes: Note On/Off commands; Velocity information; After-touch (from MIDI to Chroma only, and only on newest revision of Chroma software); Pitch Bend; Modulation; Program Change; Split keyboard functions by sending/receiving on two channels. The Chromaface may be set to operate on any MIDI channel. List Price: [US] $350. Available 8/84.

See the manual for more information. A schematic is also available here.

Thanks to Christopher Now for the following pictures.”


I Found a rather in depth German article about the Dynacord ADD One drum synth / sampler.  I figured I would pop it up here in English.  These look really nice and well thought out and supposedly sound great too ( analog VCF and VCA per voie )!
Dynacord ADD one & ADD-drive

Dynacord ADD one & ADD-drive

The Dynacord ADD-one and his little helpers ADD-drive are certainly one of the few vintage equipment, which are a real find today. Both take geemeinsam Rack 5 height units to complete, and finally eight (8!) To be able to fire off samples. The complete package of two costs $ 1987 9.300 DM A steep price, the only professionals could afford at that time. There are around 1,200 euros, which you pay today for the set, almost be described as cheap.But what is the appeal of this rack monster? The answer lies hidden inside the device and reads as so often: “The complete and extensive analog synthesis, with the samples – more than in any comparable drum samplers that time – can be bent beyond recognition.

The following article was originally written by the former author January Wollnik and now due to our new series “DOC ANALOG” (see link attached) completely revised and expanded by Peter Grandl. But be careful in reading the “want to have absolutely factor” is not to be underestimated!

The main unit with analog sound generation ADD-One


The ADD-one was from June 1985 to February 1986 from a collaboration of Straubinger company Dynacord with the American designer team Fast Forward design. The designer wrought in Los Angeles was founded by Marcus Ryle, Michael Doidic (both previously with Oberheim and today Line6) and Carol Nakahara. From this come from products such as the Alesis ADAT and QuadraSynth, Digidesign Sample Cell, Dynacord ADS and ADS-K and other more. Ryle is particularly known for his work for Oberheim. He wrote, for example, the Marix-12 and Xpander. Even legends like Jean-Michel Jarre use the ADD-one.

Dynacord ADD-drive

In 1987 he moved ADD-drive, which was delivered with a RAM board. Thus, the ADD-one has an external analog-to-digital input jack or XLR in and a 3.5 “floppy drive to the external sample storage. Without this RAM board the ADD-one can be upgraded with up to three sample ROM boards.

From today’s perspective is certainly the one with the ADD ADD Drive recommendable as an ADD One with additional boards. If you’re lucky and the drive still gets a Library, which is fortunate, because at that time the drum community was already well organized and engaged in a lively exchange of sounds. Important: ADD a One retrofit with an ADD Drive is not readily possible, plus there always has need of internal memory blocks for the ADD One.


Striking about the ADD-one are the eight knobs below the 80-character LCD display (see Figure Front). It seems likely that this is the input tools after analogous manner. And you guessed it: Click this can all editable parameters of a sample clearly on four screens (see Figure Edit Pages) are processed


Optionally, can be one and the same parameters for all eight channels (Show align to eg the volume or panorama of all the drum sounds) or you can edit only one of the eight channels, but then for example, all filters or LFO parameters on a display page at the same time in access.

Live editing is possible at any time, as long as you do not overload the internal processor.Here and there, but bend the filter and bring the response to whistle, but made dar. in the test no problem

The trigger buttons in addition to the sensitivity control for the carrier inputs

Thanks to this 8 small buttons to edit the device is almost a no-brainer. Did you get used to at times the menu items, you get pretty fast on all parameters.

In addition, the trigger sensitivity controllers were housed. This set the threshold for triggering a sound in the ADD-one. The eight trigger inputs on the back of the ADD-one make this it the perfect 80s Syn Drum Machine.

On the right side of the display the buttons for all the menu functions are placed. Here you can edit the pages through stitch (see fig Edit Pages).

The buttons for the main menu

This naturally includes the main edit pages, such as sample selection and the three levels of edit sounds. As next you will find there the button for save, copy, MIDI settings and now less meaningful actions such as “chain” (important for live, similar to the program change today). The largest pot is intended for select programs.

Even a help function provides the ADD-one – conceptually ahead of its time. White not you, you press the HELP button and we explained the selected feature one (in English) in plain text. Practically.

Back of the ADD-one

The latter can be played back via toggle switch to the sum or used as direct outs. Of course, finds himself back the MIDI connectors Trio, and I go out of it, after many trials, that the ADD-one no SysEx message is understood. A pity really. Furthermore you can find on the rear panel connections for the ADD-drive as well as the trigger inputs for external pads.A connection for a cassette interface (what’s this?) Exists, but one that it can do without if you own the ADD-Drive.



The ADD-one samples used as starting material for its sounds. Among the samples fixed but are next to bass drums, snare drums, congas, hi-hats, etc. also waveforms such as sine, triangle, pulse, various noise, and more. Thus own sound creations such as the Waldorf Attack are possible.


The samples have a resolution of 12 bits and a sample rate of either 25 or 50 kHz. My preferred setting is 25 kHz, because the ADD-one then only sounds really nice full. Since you can hear the real difference to a tool such as Native Instruments Battery, whose concept seems to be borrowed in many respects to the ADD-one. Unfortunately, a voice of the ADD-one each to be fed only through a sample.

Even if the ADD-one also stand alone with the factory sounds can be used, so the full power of this power package is only completed by the optional ADD-drive.

Dynacord ADD-drive

With a (not commercial) cables, the devices are connected to each other. After switching on the ADD-one automatically recognizes immediately the ADD-drive and provides complementary menus. At ADD-drive you can about the DISK button now on ADD-one call the floppy functions (save, load, etc. – entire banks or individual sounds) or via the button REC, the sampling functions. On the front is for this purpose a microphone (XLR) as well as a line input next to a potentiometer to the input gain.

Using the ADD-drives are now also sample settings such as start and end points, loop start and end points and naming possible (see Fig Disk and Sampling Operations) – by the way, on already existing factory sounds.

It is next to one-shot samples for the drumming even create multi-samples! A normalize function does not have the ADD-one, but a gate and compressor, which can be looped during sampling. So something brutal you no longer get to the ears! With this feature, ADD-one drum sounds are never too quiet ;-)

Toll is also the precise balancing of the sampling by the bar graph on the display. Thus, the threshold is awesome easy to set and – snap! On the sample-level parameters can be around to edit the pitching: frequency, pitch bending modulated by envelope, LFO or external controller. It already following the digital-to-analog converter.


If the data of sampling unit already a guarantee for a great sound, as in the EMU SP-12 or the Studio 440 Sequential, the pure analog part of the ADD-one shoots now finally the bird from – and also provides the aforementioned cult machines loose in the shade.


Each of the eight votes passes through the voltage-controlled, pure analog based modules: filter (with resonance!), Amplifiers and Panner (see Fig parameter controls). The filter appears to be a 24 dB filter whose response is sufficient to self-oscillation. Modulating the filter as well as the parametric resonance, last but from the filter independently, first by the envelope. In addition, the filter may be modulated by the second envelope, the resonance and the LFO.


It connects to the amplifier, which can be modulated by the second external controller. The samples are variable over velocity of the MIDI keyboard in the volume. A special feature is the “Duration” parameter dar. So can later samples are played shortened without the need to be cut for it. This parameter is modulated by external dynamic trigger. Finally follows the voltage-controlled panner which can give the monophonic samples some stereo effect.

In addition to the panoramic position the sample on the second envelope or LFO can be modulated. Some peculiarities show the envelopes: the first envelope is always controlled by the velocity and can only be changed using the parameter decay. In contrast, the second envelope is constructed classic and not dependent on the velocity. When using the envelope you have to be intentions clear in advance about their own editing. The LFO has no major features: The waveform is a right vibration or a random vibration, the speed can be adjusted in the usual tracks.


Dynacord ADD-one and ADD-drive TODAY

Anyone buying today a stand-alone sampler? In Live mode, the certainly makes any sense, but otherwise? Who expires today is not the delusion to use 24-bit with a resolution of 96 kHz? What is yet an old box as the ADD-one?

Firstly: In fun because! The touch of knobs is pure fun. It’s intuitive and you hearimmediately what sounds you make. In screen-based samplers looks you just yet, which sounds you created, although music is to be actually done for the ears. This one comes to results that are unusual and individual and can on top of that work really fast. Since it is also immaterial whether the sample ROM is fully developed or whether one has the ADD drive with sample RAM.

ADD ONE DRIVE connections

Second: the sound’s sake! If you want to make samples in the computer louder and masses are mobilized to plug-in the same. All this saves you the ADD-one. The crate sounds generally just awesome and super loud. The converter of this time certainly not correspond to today’s standards, provide for the ADD-one drums a very unique coloring. This does not mean that the samples sound bad, in fact now: The AB comparison between original and copy, especially for drum and percussion sounds, even always speaks FOR the copy, so the sound that at the end of the ADD -One comes.

Not without reason are machines like the SP-12 legendary! The diverse modulations miss the samples beyond an unexpected liveliness.


 ANALOG or at least BATTERY?

Here again, a clear statement. It is not only the operation that makes the ADD-One so unique, but also the great-sounding filters, envelopes, LFOs, and just the whole analog circus, which can be brutal wonders of the samples.

Of course, the old question of plug-in or hardware turns anyway. Also, a plug-in like Battery sounds today “damn good”, gladly dirty and has pressure. Nevertheless, the sound of a ADD-one creation is different, but also the path that leads to it, is for my taste distinctly musical, intuitive and inspiring than when using a plug-in.


My conclusion from this: For drum sounds from the genres House and Techno, Hip Hop, R & B or even for the LoFi Group there is no better tool. Just a pity that the ADD-one has no sequencer. But he has just been conceived as a pure high-end studio and live tool.

The 12-bit sounds in conjunction with the extensive analog post-processing are unique.Also a SP12 or SP1200 may have a similar post, but compared to the ADD-one they can only offer a fraction of the parameters of the ADD-One in its analog section has available. It is hard to believe, but neither the nor the SP1200 Studio 440 have the option to change the resonance or even drive it to self-oscillation – the ADD-One already!

The sound as “Old School,” operated the samples with which each ADD-one is delivered.However, the sounds are adapted to the character of the 80s Chicago House Loops. The same loop, but with self-made drum sounds from the internal waveforms sine, square, triangle, and white or dark noise, shows the versatility of the ADD-one (“Older School”). If you turn slightly to the sounds, the samples sound absolutely up to date. As another example, the sound loop “Processed” shows how brutal the internal gates and compressors of the ADD-drives work: Here is otherwise unchanged sounds of the Roland TR-707!

Considering the age of the device, we may venture no comparison with today’s samplers.128 voices and a memory of 1/2 GB RAM at that time were simply not imaginable. But this is even necessary? To supplement an analog Groovebox the ADD-one is the perfect solution and receives in this context, three stars from me.


  • intuitive operation by knobs
  • simple menu structure
  • brilliant sound of the converter
  • both drum and multisampling possible
  • analog VCAs, VCFs (with resonance) and VCPs for each voice
  • very good drum synthesizer
  • professional hardware equipment (outputs, trigger ins, etc.)


  • processed no SysEx data
  • RAM and ROM is not miscible
  • RAM expansion today difficult
  • only eight votes
  • no stereo sampling


  • According Syntacheles April 2014:
  • ADD-one 800, – €
  • ADD Drive about 500, – Euro