Thursday, September 18, 2014

Some FAQs about the LUG


Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I haven't explained very well the recent news that I'm starting a LUG. Here's something of an explanation, in hopes of answering some of the questions people have brought to me so far. Feel free to send in any additional questions you may have - for now I am coordinating this from the blog's current e-mail address: legomodeloftheday@gmail.com

Why start an online LUG?

Because location-based LUGs don't cut it for an alarming amount of people. There are many reasons for this - maybe your nearest LUG is quite some time away, or has few members and never really got off the ground. Perhaps you've left a LUG because of some disagreement with other members of that LUG. Maybe someone or something in a LUG has scared you off. Maybe you're too young to meet an AFOL cut-off, or you prefer to build in themes that people near you are not supportive of. Maybe you just want to be more involved in "big things" at conventions and your LUG isn't interested in collaborative convention displays. The fact of the matter is that there wasn't a catch-all LUG that could cover everyone who feels left out of traditional LUGs, and there needed to be one.

One online LUG that has been successful is BioniLUG, which is part of BZPower. I joined that LUG some time ago and have found it to be very well-run, and an excellent way to connect fans across the world for the purposes of participating in group builds, coordinating convention activities, and the support of a LUG. The only "problem" is that it's very much a part of the Bionicle community, which unfortunately does not include all that much of the general LEGO fan community. At some level, that's a strength, but it means that BioniLUG can't be the catch-all LUG that everyone without a LUG should join (although if you do build with Bionicle elements, I highly recommend joining both BZPower and BioniLUG).

Why now?

Truthfully, this is a really bad time for me. I probably shouldn't be doing this now, when my personal life seems to be bottoming out and my main LEGO-related blogging outlet is in disrepair. This sort of LUG is something that the LEGO fan community desperately needs, and I'm very passionate about making it happen. Additionally, the community team at LEGO is in the process of rolling out improved guidelines for becoming a registered LUG. Under the new system, a LUG must be around for a full year before LEGO will recognize it and consider providing any support to the LUG. That was a major incentive for starting sooner rather than later, even if it does mean a bit of disorganization upfront.

So what's this LUG called?

That's our first order of business - figuring out an appropriate name that gets the point across without being antagonistic towards traditional LUGs. Sure, I'm launching it from LMOTD, but I'm not vain enough to make this about me (DanLUG?) or this blog (LMOTDLUG?). Other suggested names include USA LUG (too national) and ANTI-LUG (too antagonistic), but I'd like to see us settle on something a bit more neutral.

Do you have a mailing list? Yahoo! Group? Google Group? Facebook group? Some other kind of group?

That's our second order of business - deciding what to use for internal communication. I am certain it will not be a Facebook group, because many people (including myself) have very firm negative beliefs about that company's behavior and approach to the web. Beyond that, I'm not sure what we'll settle on - it'll be something accessible and easy to browse the archives of.

So how do I get involved with this nameless LUG without an internal group yet?

For now, make sure I have your e-mail address. I'll keep you in the loop as things move along. So far, you haven't heard much because things have not moved along much. You can probably help push things along by shooting me an e-mail with your opinions and advice on the name and what to use for internal communication. Until the LUG has a proper website of its own, I'll keep posting any announcements about it here at LMOTD.

Seriously, though, how will the LUG work?

There will be some form of internal communication, and some sort of collaborative build for large events (which will probably be just US LEGO fan conventions at first). There will be dues - likely $10 the first year and $5 per year after that (we're still copying ideas from BioniLUG), which will primarily cover the costs of mailing things to LUG members. That higher price in the first year will cover the cost of a pretty engraved or printed brick with the LUG name (or logo) for your name badge.

Since I'm mostly planning this as a service to the general AFOL community, expect group builds to lean (at least initially) towards existing collaborations - Great Ball Contraption, Micropolis, Moonbase, Mini Con, Cafe Corner-standard town, etc. We'll likely pick one theme per year, and then try to transport as many modules as possible to various conventions. This does mean that LUG members will need to focus on building things to be sturdy and easy to set up, but that should be manageable.

Meetings will take place whenever it makes sense to do so (maybe you'll luck out and meet other dedicated LEGO fans who are local to you), but will primarily happen at/around existing conventions.

Some sort of opt-in exchange program will be arranged to transport original models to smaller shows, to better allow individuals without the support of a local LUG to run LEGO displays (say, at their local library or a Mini Maker Faire). This will allow Joe AFOL in the middle of no where to run larger displays (augmenting his own creations with models on loan) and to advertise his/her displays as the work of a LUG instead of just being "Joe AFOL". Should a solid local group emerge from such events, members will be encouraged to start traditional regional LUGs (either instead of or in addition to being part of this catch-all LUG).

Materials given to the LUG will be distributed in as fair a manner as possible (with the exception that priority will be given to members involved with displays) - think raffles for sets and "everyone gets a bag" for loose brick. This will be handled in a transparent and democratic manner on the group's internal forum. Items will be distributed at conventions when possible, and will be mailed in other cases.

Some additional benefits for members will be arranged for but not announced outside of the group. This is partly because LEGO does not allow information about any pilot programs to be shared with the general public, and partly because offers made to a LUG are intended to support the LUG and LUG displays (and not be used for personal enrichment).

Are there any ground rules?

Not really, because we want this to be as open as possible. I guess "void where prohibited" - for instance, in the US, there are privacy laws against collecting personal info from people under the age of 13. We want this to be fun and open to as many people as possible, though, so if you're too young, ask a parent to get involved on your behalf. If there's another obstacle you know of, let me know and I'll see what I can do to help. To the extent that rules are needed, we'll firm them up as we go along. Any idea is a good idea, except for the not happy ones, right Unikitty?

We will encourage members to be active in the LUG's internal communications and strongly encourage members to get involved with displaying original LEGO creations in public settings. Understandably, not everyone is comfortable with displaying their models publicly, but running LEGO displays is the most important thing a LUG does to grow the hobby.

For the sake of tracking LUG activity, promoting events, and preventing abuse of the LUG's name, any display run in the LUG's name will need to be announced internally to members of the LUG. We'll also expect that all members will abide by the inclusive spirit of the LUG - we want to unite all LEGO fans who are not already in a LUG, and encourage everyone to get more involved with the larger LEGO fan community.

What's a LUG, anyway?

It stands for LEGO Users' Group, and if you didn't know that, you might not be ready for one. The standards for what makes a LUG are fairly loose, but generally it's a group of LEGO fans who do LEGO-related things together. Common activities include running LEGO shows, assembling group builds, and drafting out sets. LUGs often also run collaborative layouts at conventions, support individual efforts among their members, and participate in other activities to grow both the LUG and the larger LEGO fan community.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Maker Faire Orlando 2014

Name of Event: Maker Faire Orlando 2014
Found at: http://www.makerfaireorlando.com/
Details: I'm writing this from Maker Faire Orlando 2014. I'm kicking myself for not having properly announced the event in advance here - we're only open for another 2 hours or so. I figure I need to have something about it here, though, since I've actually given out quite a few LMOTD tiles today.

I'm actually scattered across two floors with a mix of old and new creations. The display I've been manning most of the weekend is my NXT Robot Band (which I am yet to properly document online). Visit the Orlando Robotics and Makers Club booth to see (and play with) my single-kit pneumatic walker. Over at the Greater Florida LEGO User Group's tables, you can see my recent Great Ball Contraption modules and even a Maker Faire-flavored version of Mini LEGO Con.

I've posted some of my photos (from Friday night setup only, as of this writing) on Flickr.

I'll update this post rounding up various coverage after the event.

There's some non-LEGO coverage on the Make website

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chris, a Life-Size, Humanized Bust of a Collectible Minifigure

Name of Model: Chris
Created by: Anthony "legonizer" Forsberg
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/legonizer/tags/LEGO_Bust/
Details: This fantastic bust made its public debut this year at Bricks By the Bay. The character (OK, the hat and colors, mostly) is based on the Baseball Player Series 3 Collectible Minifigure. The team is the Clutchers, because LEGO pieces clutch together (see what they did there?) - but the hat itself is actually a really neat build, featuring cheese slopes at the edge of the brim to round it out into the more traditionally sculpted top. The incorporation of brick-built lettering on a sculpted surface is spot-on. Don't miss the details of the face: in addition to the standard bars-in-headlight-bricks-for-the-whites-of-the-eyes trick, there's also some fantastic studs-not-on-top tricks and clever uses of slopes to get great curvature in the cheekbones and nose.

A mini version of this MOC also appeared at the Bricks By the Bay Mini Con layout.

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/
Details:
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
Details:
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
Details:
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/
Details:
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.
ExclusivelyPlastic (Caleb L.)'s Flickr photos
Bosta's Flickr photos
bhrome's Flickr photos and videos

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
https://twitter.com/KelleeAzarFox5/status/495916112291594240
https://twitter.com/KelleeAzarFox5/status/495888337677586432

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.