Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Return to the Ice Planet

Name of Model: Exo Suit IP-09
Created by: Deus Otiosus
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/deus-otiosus/14991388075/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/deus-otiosus/14804786388/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/deus-otiosus/14804699339/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/deus-otiosus/14968394536/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/deus-otiosus/14991019332/, and https://www.flickr.com/photos/deus-otiosus/14804687509/
Ice Planet 2002 is one of LEGO's greatest space themes. Kids these days call it "classic", although it isn't quite the same as the light grey/blue/trans-yellow classic space years. I've been saying for years (probably since 1993) that I'm going to build more in the blue/white/trans-neon-orange color scheme of the classic Ice Planet sets, but I've never gotten too far with it. Other popular space themes have had some level of revival at LEGO fan events in recent years, but it never seems to come together for Ice Planet fans. Fortunately, we seem to be at the beginning of an Ice Planet renaissance now, with several fantastic creations having been published online in just the past few months. There's even a Flickr group for Ice Planet models now. One of these days, we'll have enough of us building neo-Ice Planet models to actually do a collaborative layout.

First up, we have a fresh take on the Exo Suit concept that mixes the grey mechanical look with the Ice Planet color scheme. Although inspired by Peter Reid's LEGO Ideas set, this one actually is an entirely new build and not a modified version of the set. Perhaps my favorite bit (although not particularly visible in this photo) is the giant trans-neon-orange chainsaw. It's very difficult to build in trans-neon-orange because so few parts have been made in that color. This particular build relies on the headlight brick, which was only available in trans-neon-orange in 5 sets between 1995 and 2000. The non-functional use of pneumatic tubing is also very effective, and the inclusion of icebergs and a new "turtle" build is a nice touch. Even the printed pieces thrown in work - the "60" tile used as a house number in the 80's makes a neat "09" here.

Name of Model: Ice planet apartment complex
Created by: Cecilie Fritzvold
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cecilihf/sets/72157644454538754
Next up is the Ice Planet apartment complex by Cecilie Fritzvold. Built for the Eurobricks "Home Sweet Home" contest, this model is heavy on landscaping but captures the feel of the surrounding artwork from the Ice Planet theme in the brick. The tracks in the snow behind the vehicle really sell the model, and the placement of trans-neon-orange windows is perfect. Make sure you check out all the photos - you don't want to miss the interior.

Name of Model: Ice Inspector
Created by: Chris Perron
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebrickbin/sets/72157642419723285
Finally, the last model that is too good not to blog (even though you've likely seen it elsewhere - normally most of us LEGO bloggers try to avoid covering things everyone else has already covered, but some things are too good to skip): Chris Perron's Ice Inspector. Borrowing the shape of 6989 Mega Core Magnetizer, it's the giant Ice Planet vehicle we all wish we could have had the whole time. The main reason that few people try to build something like this is that LEGO didn't make that style of wheels in that many size/color combinations. Here, that problem is solved by simply building new wheels out of a massive quantity of wedge and slope pieces. The rest of the model actually keeps up that same level of brick-built detail. It's hard to grasp the sheer scale of this model - the trans-neon-orange cockpit uses the same panels as the large base in the series and the top of the apartment complex.

Friday, August 15, 2014

BrickFair Virginia 2014 Round-Up

Name of Event: BrickFair Virginia 2014
Found at: http://www.brickfair.com/
This was an absolutely fantastic event this year - as always - and I'm going to probably write much more about it over the next few months. I'm still recovering from what was an amazing and exhausting 7 days (yes, 7) at BrickFair Virginia. It could take weeks for me to process everything that happened there, and I could write pages of thank yous to everyone involved who helped to make it a magical experience.

I recently finished uploading my photos to Flickr. There are fewer than 4,000 this year, which we should all consider a scandalous disappointment. Personally, I love this event too much - between the giant exact-map Mini Con layout and the 4 games/seminars I was in charge of, I spent most of the event running around setting things up. I didn't have time to photograph everything, and I actually never properly worked out where I needed to add an additional magnet to my badge (I ended up not wearing it much because I needed to make sure it didn't fall off).

The photo to the left is from Joe "Unhalfbricking" Miserendino of this year's Micropolis collaboration, after the invasion of some Exo-Suit sets. Micropolis is always a large fixture at BrickFair Virginia, but the decreasing popularity of the micropolis standard at other events means that BrickFair Virginia now represents the largest ongoing Micropolis display at a convention.

As always, if you have or know of photos or other coverage of BrickFair Virginia 2014 that I don't have here (I'm sure there's something I'm missing - I'm starting with fewer links than usual in the interest of not putting this off any longer), feel free to mention it in the comments or send an e-mail to legomodeloftheday@gmail.com so that we can add it here.

my (Dan's) Flickr photos
JustJon's Flickr photos
Black Six's Flickr photos
Kreativ Snail's Flickr photos
Bob Hayes' Flickr photos
ajfeist's Flickr photos
TJJohn12's Flickr photos
DJ Quest's Flickr photos and videos
Official BrickFair Flickr group (goes back to 2008)
AgeOwns.com's Flickr photos
ajfeist's Flickr photos
BrickFair 2014 Flickr Group (130 photos as 9/1/2014)
ToaMeiko's Flickr photos
Brickset posted about the event shortly beforehand.

Beyond the Brick's Joshua Hanlon finally made it out to BFVA and BTB actually have published their own playlist of videos by made Beyond the Brick at BrickFair VA 2014 - but before they went, Josh and Matthew interviewed the event organizer (Todd Webb) and a frequent volunteer who plays a role in coordinating some collaborations (John Rudy).
Interview with Todd Webb
Interview with John Rudy
Beyond the Brick Guided Tour (2.5 hrs)
playlist of shorter on-site videos (including 12 more that I haven't singled out here)
Beyond the Brick's Flickr photos

EDWW day_dae (esteemedhelga)™'s Flickr photos are split into multiple sets this year:

The Fox 5 videos seem to be a bit better this year, although their anchors still keep trying to put an 'S' at the end of LEGO and pretend that's a real word. My understanding is that there were four segments aired live Sunday morning, although only two appear to be online:
7:20 AM: Mini Con interview with Mariann Asanuma and Daniel Pikora (hey, we know those two!)
8:40 AM: Charity minifigures interview with Ben Spector
6:24 PM: Evening recap

Fox 5's Kellee Azar also gave BrickFair some positive coverage on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KelleeAzarFox5/status/496374700570705920

We also rounded up coverage of BrickFair Virginia in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. I'm not sure why 2012 was skipped - I still intend to catch up on BrickFair 2013.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Brickworld Chicago 2014 Round-Up

Name of Event: Brickworld Chicago 2014
Found at: http://www.brickworld.us/
Details: For the second year in a row, LMOTD made it out to Brickworld Chicago. Technically speaking, back in 2013 we were still trying to merge with Beyond the Brick, so we skipped rounding up coverage last year in favor of video work (Matthew) and behind-the-scenes efforts for the aborted site (Dan). I may try to do a proper round-up of BW13 at some point, but for now I'm focusing on 2014.

In the interest of being competitive, I did not take enough photos to beat my record from last year, but I did seem to take more than any other individual. I don't know if that counts as winning, but it's a start. It's weirdly satisfying knowing that I ended up missing a few of the MOCs because I was too busy enjoying rare opportunities to catch up with friends from previous events. Another nice thing for many of us is that the amount of high-profile people who showed up this time around and don't always make it (the west-coasters in particular had a huge presence this time) turned this into more of a networking event than in prior years - it was great getting to meet many of you that I previously only knew from online.

Pictured to the left: the spectacular Micro-GARC Brickworld Grand Prix was not just a highlight of the event, but perhaps the most successful online community collaboration ever, with dozens of excellent models being put in a side area because of overwhelming participation. Usually you see group layouts find creative ways to work around low participation - this was the first time I've ever seen extra space required to fit excess models. This photo of part of the layout is by Cale Leiphart.

As always, if you have or know of photos or other coverage of Brickworld 2014 that I don't have here (I'm sure there's something I'm missing), feel free to mention it in the comments or send an e-mail to legomodeloftheday@gmail.com so that we can add it here.

My (Dan's) Flickr photos
Brickapolis (Matthew)'s Flickr photos
Beyond the Brick's Flickr photos (most descriptions have links to their videos on YouTube, including the keynote address and a tour, as well as interviews - which they're actually still editing and uploading)
Nick Brick's Flickr photos: day 1, day 2, World of Lights, day 3, & day 4.
Kevin Hinkle's Flickr photos
CEE Team Blog Event Recap
RedCoKid's Flickr photos
Cecilie Fritzvold Flickr photos
hinckley39's Flickr photos
Joe Meno's Flickr photos: setup, World of Lights, 1, 2
Bill Ward's Flickr photo album and (blog post)
Cale Leiphart's Flickr photos
The official Brickworld Flickr pool
SavaTheAggie's Flickr photos
blackpony72's Flickr photos

We also rounded up coverage of Brickworld Chicago in 2010 and 2011.

Some housekeeping sidenotes: Yes, we still intend to round up coverage of other events, in particular BrickFair Virginia 2013, BrickFair Alabama 2014, and BrickFair New England 2014, because I (Dan) loved all of those and continue to be active with BrickFair as an event volunteer (please join us in Virginia later this month!). Also, I've decided to back off of trying to keep track of the official Flickr jargon - from here on out, we'll just refer to a grouping of photos on Flickr as "Flickr photos" (rather than "photoset", "set", "collection", or "album", since these seem to change).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gorilla Train Engine

Name of Model: Gorilla Train- Alternate build of 70008
Created by: MasonKH
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/61974423@N06/13537166385/ (there are 7 photos total: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7)
Details: MasonKH came up with this clever build using only parts from set 70008 Gorzan's Gorilla Striker. The uses of the large curved elements (even that really stylized vehicle mudguard element) get a surprisingly believable shape for a train locomotive. Some of the details weren't possible to do too well, but were still a valiant attempt (such as the simple running gear). I tend to avoid minifigures when making alternate builds, but the Gorilla driving the train is adorable. That's what Chima characters are supposed to be, right?

This was originally designed for the BE THE SPECIAL - THE LEGO® MOVIE REBRICK COMPETITION (which has since ended) hosted by LEGO's ReBrick. We haven't previously covered ReBrick, but it's an interesting service LEGO currently runs that can be thought of as "tumblr for LEGO fans". In recent months, they've taken to using fun activities like this to get more fans interested in the site. Considering my penchant for alternate builds (or really, anything that forces us to be clever instead of throwing a large LEGO collection at an idea), I'd expect to see more entries from this contest pop up here over time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Miniature Husky Sculpture

Name of Model: Miniature Husky
Created by: Quy Chau
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nxtquy/sets/72157644934079871
Details: This is one of those rare models that is technically interesting, aesthetically pleasing, and documented in freely available instructions. While the availability of specific small pieces and studs-not-on-top elements has meant that most people can't easily attempt this style of building, the reality is that it can be quite tricky to get the geometry to work out just right - it isn't easy even with all the right pieces handy. Having instructions (for something more complex than a Lowell sphere) is a great place to start, and should get more people trying this out (even if only to build other dog breeds).

There are some other nice details in the model as well. Note the use of 1x1 plates with teeth as claws and Bionicle ball joints as eyes. The "SNIR" (Studs-Not-In-a-Row) approach to the eyebrows is a clever way of filling in a gap that requires getting away from 90 degree angles, and a similar problem with the ears is solved by having them attached to Technic half-pins (which have a stud on one side and will allow anything attached to that stud to swing loosely). While a bit simpler, I'm a fan of the collar as well - it's a detail that makes the finished result more believable, and the studs-not-on-top geometry makes the cheese slopes look perfectly believable as a round surface.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

More Site News

We have some more news to share:
  • We (Dan and Matthew) made it out to BrickWorld Chicago this year. I'd like to put together a proper photo roundup at some point, but for now, you can watch the photos I'm still uploading to Flickr. Some of you who saw us may have gotten your hands on some of our promo tiles we've been giving away, if not, you can try to catch us at BrickFair Virginia in a few weeks. I (Dan) will be there co-leading the Mini Con layout - if you're a registered attendee bringing MOCs to display, bring a miniland-scale version of yourself and a mini version of your MOC to display. Matthew and Seth should also be around for some of the event, but can't keep the sort of crazy hours I tend to keep at LEGO conventions.
  • We are starting a LUG! Most of the details are still To-Be-Announced, but the idea is to provide a stopgap for people who want to be involved in the LEGO fan community but aren't already involved in another LUG (this will be primarily an online LUG with meetups at conventions). If you want to be involved with this, you can shoot me an e-mail at legomodeloftheday@gmail.com
  • Our first set giveaway will be starting soon! Our friends on LEGO's Community Engagement & Events team have very generously given me a few goodies that we will give you a chance to win in the near future.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Mini LEGO Con

Name of Model: Mini LEGO Con
Created by various people, see below
Found at (semi-official Flickr group): https://www.flickr.com/groups/2318936@N22/
Details: As I hinted at earlier, there's a big project I've been involved with for a while now that I am really excited to share with everyone. That project is Mini LEGO Con - in short, a miniland scale model of a LEGO convention. This is a massive group layout that you can expect to see at many LEGO conventions (and other conventions, too!) in the years to come.

Mini LEGO Con was first displayed at BrickCon 2012 by Steve Oakes (BrickCon Microscale coordinator) and Mariann Asanuma (former LEGOLAND Master Model Builder). Mariann brought Mini Con to other events throughout 2013 (BricksCascade, Emerald City Comic Con, BrickWorld, BrickFair VA, Bricks by the Bay, BrickCon). After BrickFair VA, BrickFair coordinator Todd Webb decided to make Mini Con a part of BrickFair going forward, and purchased the parts required to assemble the layout at future conventions. Most notably, Todd decided to change the layout from being a caricature of a convention to being an exact match - at BrickFair, the baseplates and tables are set up in the same layout as the convention itself.

Back at BrickFair Alabama 2014, I (Dan) assembled the miniland-scale (roughly 1:20) tables, chairs, and stanchions for use at BrickFair events, the next of which will be in Manchester, New Hampshire, this upcoming weekend (public hours are May 10th & May 11th, 2014, 11:00am - 4:00pm, we'd love to see you there!). If you've registered to participate, you should make sure to bring a miniland-scale version of yourself and microscale versions of the models you're bringing (BrickFair provides the bare bones of the layout, so you shouldn't need to pack your own mini tables and mini stanchions). If you're attending as public, you're in for a real treat, as this enormous layout will completely match the map of the convention (and should be filled in even more than the layout in Alabama earlier this year).

Can't make it to New Hampshire next weekend? BrickFair will also be in Virginia (July 30th-August 3rd) and New Jersey (October 30th-November 2nd), and similar, smaller layouts (without BrickFair's backing) should be appearing at BrickWorld Chicago (June 11th-15th) and BrickCon (October 2nd-5th). We're hoping this catches on more generally as a theme and a building standard for group layouts at LEGO events (like moonbase or the Cafe Corner standard).

I've started a Flickr group to make it easier to find ideas, inspiration, and displays related to this theme. For blogging purposes here, we're mostly talking about LEGO conventions, but these displays are also a hit at Comic and Sci-Fi conventions (think: minilanders in costume as their favorite characters) and I intend to expand to Maker Faires this year as well. The Flickr group discussions include an attempt at a list of all Mini Con events.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Name of Model: Banjo and Kazooie
Created by: Sir Nadroj
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sirnadroj/13911243670/
Details: I regret that we don't see as much from Sir Nadroj as we used to, but whatever he builds never fails to amaze. I'll admit to never playing the game(s), but I am familiar with the characters and they are captured perfectly here. Particularly amazing to me is the way Banjo's brow is handled, surrounding those ball socket eyes perfectly. Not an easy task with a part easier used in even goofier-looking creatures. The paws deserve a shout-out too; I didn't even know you could use that technique with the 2x2 slope pieces.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Another Blog You Should Read: the LEGO Community Team Blog

Name of Blog: Community Team Blog
Created by the LEGO company's Community Engagement & Events team
Found at: http://ceeteamblog.com/
Details: If you've been following our coverage of LEGO-related events over the years, you've probably come across some interesting examples of official visitors to these events and official support for these events from various parts of the LEGO company. This is something that has been in flux over the years as LEGO tries to determine how unofficial events can be of use to the LEGO company and how best to support unofficial events. Those constant changes can make it hard to keep track of what LEGO does and doesn't do for the fan community, but all of the official efforts are managed by LEGO's Community Engagement & Events (CEE) team, which (since November 2012) has a blog to help you stay in the loop. It won't tell you everything (because some community support programs are relatively secret pilot programs), but it's a great resource and will show you many fascinating aspects of the LEGO fan community and the LEGO company.

We really can't thank the CEE team enough - they're out there trying to keep track of every LEGO User Group in the world, listening to a ridiculous amount of concerns from LEGO fans, and constantly answering the same questions (even though most of the answers are as follows: "No, we can't confirm or deny anything about the future or upcoming products", monorail/old grey/Bionicle/9V trains are not coming back, LEGO does not have the license to make that, and no, we can't supply you with free LEGO pieces for your personal projects). I don't know how they do it, but they are fantastic and do an excellent job of being our voice inside of the company and representing the company to the larger community of LEGO hobbyists.

Full disclosure: Senior Community Coordinator for the Americas Kevin Hinkle is a "somewhat awesome" friend-of-the-blog who has previously featured my work on the CEE team blog (see screenshot above) and may or may not secretly be on our payroll. Those may be excellent ways to get my attention, but I'm still not above razzing Kevin for not making it to every LEGO convention in the world.

Further disclosure: We don't actually have a "payroll" and much of this blog's relationship with Kevin (and his team) is based on our previous relationship with Beyond the Brick. Beyond the Brick recently interviewed Kevin in his Enfield, Connecticut office and Kim Thomsen, Community Coordinator for the EU, blogged about that video.

I'll be disclosing more (about a project I've gotten involved with that has indirectly received support from LEGO) in the near future.

L3-G0 - Life-size Motorized R2-D2

Name of Model: L3-G0
Created by: Shawn & Lara Steele with help from Nikita Steele, Laurel Lee Steele and Hosik Lee
Found at: http://l3-g0.blogspot.de/
Details: Sure, this isn't a purist LEGO model (it uses both non-LEGO electronics and non-LEGO mechanical parts), and its status as a still-evolving model sort-of violates my own rule of not covering Work-In-Progress (WIP) creations, but this is too exciting not to cover. I think it's safe to say that most of us who have displayed our LEGO creations at events where members of the R2-D2 Builders Club are also displaying their astromech droids have wondered if it would be possible to combine the two. You can stop thinking that's a clever and original idea now, because it's been done, and done very well. Interestingly, the builders of this 'bot actually joined the R2-D2 Builders Club and borrowed ideas from that community, but ultimately had to design a unique internal structure to compensate for the LEGO portions being thicker than most of the materials typically used for building astromech droids.

This model has already appeared at BrickCon 2013 as a mostly stationary model (this still involved head movements, lights, and sound), at Emerald City Comic Con 2014 as a functional moving radio-controlled vehicle. You can see it at BrickCon 2014, with additional not-yet-built features. I don't usually like to speculate (it can be hard to find time to get big projects working right), but judging by how ambitious and successful this has been so far, I think by BrickCon it will fit into a matching fully-function X-Wing Fighter.