Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Toy Fair 2017: Batman and Ninjago Photo Opportunity

Name of Models: unknown
Created by: Master Model Builders working for LEGO
Found at: http://www.bzpower.com/story.php?ID=9214
Details: We've got two exciting models to show you today as part of our ongoing coverage of this year's Toy Fair in New York, New York. These sculptures promoting The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie were pretty difficult to get close to - as one of the main attractions in the lobby (outside the show itself) when you first walk into the Javits Center, they were very popular. Toy Industry professionals and press alike wanted to get photos of these two characters.


I (Dan) was able to get a few pictures before the show opened on Saturday, and some more after closing, for a total of 84 pictures covering most of the obvious details. Some highlights in my mind: we get a mosaic of Batman's torso, minus the all-important ninth ab, the tiny gap in the fabric of minifigure capes is fully rendered in-the-brick, there's a compelling and determined pair of eyes, a few great mosaics on curved surfaces, a sculpture of the tassel element that almost needs to be seen from a distance - WAIT A SECOND - that last piece is currently only made in black! That just sounds like a LEGO Batman reference - what I'm really saying is that they may have just leaked that that element will available in dark tan once all of the LEGO Ninjago movie sets have been revealed. Now seems like a time for wild speculation. Would LEGO really make a giant version of an unreleased part if they weren't planning to release it? What's happening?

I mean, there are other interesting aspects of these models, too - they continue the trend of minifigure characters being shown in a very curved, computer-animated style. The Ninjago character probably has a very interesting internal support structure running through both the sword blade and the tassel - such a dynamic character would require some hefty bracing instead of just a beam to keep it upright. You really just want to see new sets and gossip about the new movie, though, don't you? It's OK. We understand.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Closing in on 10 Years of LMOTD

Longtime fans of LMOTD may be aware that this blog has now been around for nearly 10 years. I'm not terribly interested in doing a hefty self-congratulatory post about how great we are (or were), how great an idea this blog was when I started it (before everyone else picked up the good ideas and did them better), or in posting statistics of how popular we are (which will show that we peaked in early 2011). I know we've made an impact in the community, and I'm equally aware that this blog has been flagging for a while now, even as I get more involved with other parts of the Adult Fan of LEGO community.

What I would like to know is how you'd look back on ten years of seeing me (and my tiny team) attempt to write about a Fascinating LEGO Model each "Day". I don't know if we'll share these or not (it depends on what we receive), but I'd like to hear from you. Maybe there was an exciting technique you learned about here, an event you found out about through LMOTD, a model that changed the way you looked at LEGO, a funny story from meeting one of us at a convention, or a time you were proud of having your creation featured here. It's up to you - I've heard stories before, but this milestone seems like the right time to gather up what we've meant to you these past ten years. Send your stories, memories, compliments, reflections, roasts, in-jokes, rants, etc to legomodeloftheday@gmail.com - we've got some small prizes stashed that we will use to reward some of our favorite submissions.

Toy Fair 2017 - An Overwhelming Amount of Bricks


I'm back from my whirlwind trip through Toy Fair and I'm beginning to comb through photos and post some highlights. For this event, I (Dan) teamed up with BZPower's Andrew (Black Six) to try to capture as much of the event as possible. We still didn't get everything - not even all the LEGO-related things. There's just too much; it's overwhelming. Right now, LEGO is everywhere. You've probably seen some tie-in products related to The LEGO Batman Movie already, and you should start bracing for a similar onslaught of officially licensed products tying into The LEGO Ninjago Movie as well (note: we won't be posting any Ninjago Movie info from Toy Fair, since most of it is under embargo, and the rest of it was probably supposed to be under embargo as well). That's before we get into all the companies selling accessories to be used with LEGO pieces, all the clone brands trying to copy LEGO, and all of the somewhat unrelated brands operating in a similar space. We got in some solid market research to better understand how some of the LEGO items were currently excited about stack up against the competition.

...all of which is pretty interesting, but admittedly a bit distant from our usual tack here of focusing on fascinating LEGO models. Most of our immediate coverage will be posted over on BZPower, where a landing page will show you what we've posted so far. Most of the really LEGO-specific items will be covered fairly soon, and we'll share information about some of the more distant toys as time rolls on. Keep an eye out for some of my photos to eventually show up on Flickr (since no LEGO fan site really needs to cover every toy I find interesting) as well. We'll keep you posted as event coverage continues to come together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Upcoming Events

This is far from a comprehensive list of upcoming events, but I wanted to advertise a few that I (Dan) will personally be at. We'll cover all of these:
  • Toy Fair New York (February 18-21, New York, New York) - This famous Toy Industry Association event is not open to the public. I'll be at the event itself this weekend covering some fun and LEGO-adjacent toys. You'll be able to read about some of those fun toys here afterward. We do not expect to have access to the LEGO booth, but you know other LEGO fan blogs cover that too, right?
  • Richland Community Library's Bricks For Books (March 4, Richland, Pennsylvania) - A fundraiser for the Richland Community Library, this PennLUG show features both displays of original creations and the opportunity to win various LEGO collectibles in raffles. Open to the public from 10 AM to 4 PM, tickets are $5 per person at the door.
  • Maker Faire NoVa (March 19, Reston, Virginia) - Come see BioniLUG's LEGO display and play area (as well as dozens of other Maker exhibits, including two other LEGO-based booths) from 11 AM to 5 PM. Tickets ($13 per adult, $2 per child) can be bought online now, with "Early Bird" pricing ($9 per adult, $1 per child) in effect through February 17th.

Have A Fabuland-ous Valentine's Day

Name of Model: Happy Valentine's Day
Created by: Schneider Chung ("Schfio")
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/schfio/32898475325/
Details: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. This is the most adorable thing you will see this Valentine's Day. The characters here are Fabuland figures - but here, the original Elton Elephant and Bonnie Bunny are only used as "gifts" that the larger, sculpted versions of the characters are giving each other.

As cute as Elton and Bonnie are, the details of this model only make it more captivating. Note that the arms get thicker further away from the body to capture the curvature correctly - the "top" of each arm (actually built sideways) is made from rows of headlight bricks with 1 x 1 tiles connected to their fronts. The curved effect this creates is subtle, but an excellent use of the half-plate-thick offset you can get from a headlight brick. Clip plates hold the bunny's eyes in place and also form her eyelashes. Plates with rails fill some (roughly) half-stud-wide spaces that otherwise wouldn't look as round. The elephant's ears even achieve the difficult "cupped" effect by carefully weaving plates together in different directions - and I still can't tell how his eyes are attached. Bonnie's mouth is exquisite - a minifig cap sits on top of a precise jumper plate construction that conceals part of a set of whiskers built as a studs-up mosaic.

Schneider Chung hadn't posted on Flickr for a while before this, but he remains one of the best at building in his signature studs-not-on-top style. I highly recommend that you explore the rest of his photostream. We've previously featured a few of his adorable Easter-themed animals.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Giant Ball Contraption at BrickFair Alabama

Name of Model: The Giant Ball Contraption Machine
Created by: Phil Eudy
Found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRXL85ukplc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7oJEYf1yGM
Details: Remember the fantastic "Totally Tubular" Giant Ball Contraption featured here back in 2009? Phil Eudy is still at it, and has put a few clips up on YouTube in recent years. The latest iteration of his Giant Ball Contraption appeared at BrickFair Alabama last week. While some parts may seem familiar, the sections that are new or revised are impressive. Some highlights:
  • An EV3 is used to control a robotic arm. The robotic arm is handled brilliantly - it moves enough to make you realize that something is happening, but the actual grab/release mechanism is geared down to the point that you can't tell that it's actually moving. It subtle enough to take on the appearance of magic, an effect that really stands out in person.
  • The "gear rack" system for the robotic arm doesn't actually use the Technic gear rack element LEGO makes (which can be expensive and imprecise in some applications). Look closely, and you'll spot a pre-Technic gear (I think this one) meshing with spindled fences.
  • The Archimedes' screw tube made out of many of 4083 Bar 1 x 4 x 2 with Studs has returned in a more prominent way.
  • Two exciting features that appeared in last year's layout (which didn't get the attention it deserves) are back: get a load of the massive curved tunnels made out of ladders and the ball run section made out of 4-wide train track.
  • Back to those ladder tunnels: note that there are two of them. An NXT sends balls down two separate paths, which combine back into one at the beginning of the train track.
  • The robotic arm picks balls up out of a rotating platform that uses 4x4 Macaroni bricks to catch and hold the DUPLO balls.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Truly Building Blind

Name of Resource: Lego for the Blind
Created by: Matthew Shifrin
Found at: http://legofortheblind.com/
Details: The "Blind Build" is a popular game at LEGO conventions, but it doesn't truly capture the experience of a blind person building a LEGO set. Being blind doesn't mean only not being able to see the parts - it also means that you can't see the box or the instructions. Depending on how long someone has been without sight, it might even mean never having seen a LEGO piece. While bricks and plates are very tactile elements, most of us who experiment with a "Blind Build" as a game are very familiar with what the parts look like, and we're usually looking right at the instructions while we build. A blind person attempting to build even a fairly simple kit will need to be able to interact with all of the parts - and the instructions - without ever seeing them.

This challenge has been met by an exciting website launched recently called "Lego for the Blind". Matthew Shifrin has compiled a series of written instructions in English for a variety of popular LEGO sets (19 of them as of this writing). These instructions can then be read aloud by screen reading software. Some preparation is required (besides acquiring a set listed on the site) - a sighted person needs to sort the parts first. I suspect that that step could be skipped for a set that doesn't include the same part in multiple colors, but so far the sets the site has instructions for lean towards the larger size. Then again, having to feel through 2000+ parts to find the right shape would bring back the "goofy convention challenge" aspect...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

In Memoriam: Notable AFOLs We Lost in 2016


The biggest reason this blog got quieter in 2016 isn't actually personal issues getting in the way. It's the difficulty with figuring out how to write this post. We lost many notable figures in the LEGO fan community this past year. I'm not even talking about Carrie Fisher (Star Wars' Princess Leia) or any of the other "celebrities" the rest of the world knows. I'm saying we've lost many of our friends, our inspirations, and predecessors.

Not knowing how to grapple with that made it difficult to say something right away. Over time, I quickly started to think that more fitting and thorough tributes were required to properly eulogize and remember why these people were important. Then the terrifying realizations started settling in: people will want you to say something more meaningful now that you've taken longer to say anything. More people have died and it's not fair to any of them to compress them all into one post. Nobody else is saying anything. Wait, really? None of the big AFOL blogs noticed Seymour Papert died? Or Ed Boxer? Or Robin Werner? What kind of community are we? How little do we know about our history, or care about people who are active in different parts of the country than we are in? How many more important AFOLs has our community lost that I don't know about? What does it say about us "LEGO news blogs" in the "AFOL community" that when we lose someone important in our community, we don't say or do ANYTHING to honor the departed? Can we really claim to be a community if we don't do anything in these situations?

The guilt set in. I knew I had to write something about it, but anything I said would be too little, too late. We've disrespected our elders too much already, and even focusing on what's wrong with us as a community instead of what we loved about those we've lost is unfair to their memory. I just can't win, and it feels like most of our "community" doesn't even realize that we should be fighting to preserve our community.


Without further ado; here is too little, too late (in roughly chronological order):

  • Seymour Papert
    A giant in a few different worlds, Seymour Papert is probably best known to LEGO fans for his role in creating the LEGO Mindstorms range. He's not just a major figure in bringing LEGO into the classroom, though - he's also the major figure in bringing computers into the classroom. Before Mindstorms, he was instrumental in developing the LOGO language, he spoke at one of the earliest LEGO fan events, and he did much of the research underpinning the bringing both play and programming into education. Like I said - I can't do him justice in a short blurb.

    Further reading:
    The ACM published a thorough obituary
    HispaBrick published a short blog post about his passing, and also republished an article on his role in inspiring the evolution of the LEGO MINDSTORMS line
    The LEGO Foundation posted a brief tribute
    Wikipedia Bio
    Slashdot report and comment thread
    Bio on Daily Papert

  • Ed Boxer
    If you're a "real AFOL" (tm), you know about Ed Boxer's LEGO Castle. It was impossible to miss in the late 90s, especially after it was recognized as the first "Cool LEGO Site of the Week" (he was later featured two more times). Admittedly, he had been quiet in the community for some years before he passed last summer, but he will still be missed.

    Further reading:
    Cool LEGO Site of the Week : Site #1
    Ed Boxer's LEGO Castle as saved by the Internet Archive
    Ed Boxer's site as saved by Library of the Collective Human Record

  • Robin Werner
    Robin Werner spent was active in the AFOL community for a longer time than most, but he primarily focused on town and train layouts in his home state of Florida. He was a founder of both the Greater Florida LEGO User Group (GFLUG) and the Greater Florida LEGO Train Club (GFLTC) - and in many ways, he was the indispensable man keeping GFLUG rolling. Best known for his stunningly ambitious downtown Tampa layout, he passed very suddenly just after returning from a month-long tour of three AFOL events.

    Further reading:
    GFLUG.org (as of this writing, still frozen in time with reports of events from before Robin's last outing)
    GFLTC history (a summary of 1996-2004, which shows how important Robin was in establishing his state's LEGO scene)
    GFLTC on Brickshelf
    Cool LEGO Site of the Week : Site #120 was "Robin's LEGO® Zone", which seems to be lost to history (if you can find it, let us know).

  • Paul Quigley
    Barely a month after Robin's passing, GFLUG was still reeling from the news when we found out that Paul Quigley was gone as well. While he didn't have the travel itinerary of others on this list, I knew him as a passionate builder, friendly vendor, and devoted family man. He was a constant, active force in a LUG that badly needed the support, and it's unclear how the LUG will continue after losing two of its most active members.

    Further reading:
    Jurassic World MOC as captured by The Brick Show

  • Durrell Reichley
    A fixture at AFOL events in recent years, Durrell Reichley was a key person in running ColonialLUG, the first recognized LEGO User Group aimed primarily at teenagers. Part of a rare family of FOLs, he was often more of a supporting player for his wife (Mary) and two sons (Zane and Nathaniel), who remain active in the hobby.

    Further reading:
    Obituary
    ColonialLUG website

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas with a Reindeer Mech

Name of Model: LEGO Mech Reindeer
Created by: Mitsuru Nikaido
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142497481@N02/albums/72157676942777796
Details: This year, Santa's got a new ride. Someone ought to make a movie about this model and use that as the tagline.

There's lots to love in this modernized interpretation of Santa's sleigh and reindeer, but even with all the space-y greebles and twists, it's still faithful to the sleigh-and-reindeer formula. Santa's throttles (in place of reins) round out his one-seater carrying a bag of toys - which also seems to have a thruster of its own beyond the reindeer pulling it. At this scale, a few long Star Wars blasters make for great antlers, and a pair of pearl gold 1 x 1 round plates with holes mounted on what looks like minifig handlebars make for excellent eyes.

Other great details include the use of wheels as hooves, a white Technic wheel to represent the fur around the neck, a minifig ski for the top of the reindeer's head (not to be confused with the larger skis used for the front of the sleigh), and a plate with a tooth for the gold trim on Santa's sleigh. Make sure to check out all of the photos - the Reindeer Mech can be posed in a surprising amount of ways (probably more than are shown).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

LEGO-related Charitable Opportunities

There are a few exciting LEGO-related charitable opportunities currently going on: