Sunday, October 12, 2014

CharacterCentral Takes on LEGOLAND Billund

Photos by: PeterPanFan and Disney Dan from Character Central
Found at: http://www.charactercentral.net/B3666_LEGOLANDTripReportBillundTheTownthatLEGOBuilt.aspx and on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterpanfan1953/tags/LEGOLAND%20Billund%20Resort/ and https://www.flickr.com/photos/theverynk/sets/72157646618885782
Details: Recently, PeterPanFan and Disney Dan from Character Central made the trip out to Billund to take in the original LEGOLAND park and surrounding area. Being seasoned Disney theme park reporters (seriously, their site has more information about the various Disney attractions than I could ever make myself read), they had a bit of an advantage in knowing how to take decent photos of the displays - usually I end up highlighting features from Miniland when I blog about park photos, but these guys knew to get photos of the sign at the LEGOLAND Hotel, ceilings, detailed mice on rides, a Pick-A-Brick wall, themed characters, corporate-sponsored buildings, shopping and displays at the airport, the promo area for the LEGO house, the viking dragon, the dragon in the hotel lobby (every hotel needs one), the hotel bathroom, the Friends minidoll-scaled display, the train as it drives behind miniland, the wildlife, an arctic helicopter sculpture, DUPLO sculptures, external signage, and of course, Miniland. This isn't quite a full guided tour, but it's probably the closest thing we've seen to it. Now if only they could take more close-ups of Miniland...

Oh, they did get a few of those too. Here's a wampa from Hoth in Miniland Star Wars, some rock climbers, a Coke truck, the Acropolis (Wikipedia), an interesting angle of Kennedy Space Center's rocket garden (Wikipedia), Neuschwanstein Castle (Wikipedia), Osaka Castle (Wikipedia), Nyhavn (Wikipedia), Amalienborg (Wikipedia), and even a LEGO Truck Show from the late 90's.

I could probably comb through these photos even more thoroughly and find even more highlights, but I'm a bit short on time to keep researching this. These may be the most complete current look at the Billund park we've seen yet.

Disney Dan has 529 photos on Flickr. PeterPanFan looks to have a few hundred photos on Flickr, but I don't have an exact count since they're organized by tag instead of by album/set.

The photo featured above is this one by Disney Dan.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sign of the Times: Failure of the Fourth Estate

Name of Model: Sign of the Times: Failure of the Fourth Estate
Created by: Mike Doyle
Found at: http://mikedoylesnap.blogspot.com/2014/10/sign-of-times-failure-of-fourth-estate.html
Details: Mike Doyle has created another one of his signature artistic photos of an incredibly textured brick-built scene. This time, it's a poignant political statement about the state of mass media. Normally I'd be a bit hesitant to blog a political model here, but sadly, if you have even a passing knowledge of the LEGO world, you know that many media outlets find it extremely difficult to get even simple details right, like proper use of the name "LEGO" or terms like "LEGO bricks". It's a wonder that we trust the same outlets that very clearly can't cover simple matters fairly or accurately to give us the information we need about local, national, and world events.

That's before we get into the techniques used here - although Mike Doyle's models are only designed to be viewed from one angle, the craftsmanship involved is always top-notch. The backlit fire and smoke features some fascinating angles, most of which seem to be supported with plates with clip lights - which is not the sturdiest connection, so presumably something clever is used in the background to keep the smoke from falling over. Round plates (both 1x1 and 2x2) seem to handle most of the billowing smoke. The included part of the Times logo is a spot-on mix of various slope elements that works without any of the standard mosaic techniques. A visible piece of netting and some bar-and-clip elements hints at additional support for the smoke. The building itself looks a bit simple, but is very effective, making use of the undersides of plates, repetitive parts, and the 2:5 ratio (2 studs wide is the same distance as 5 plates tall - seen here in the window frames) to capture architectural details.

The use of color for the fire and windows may actually be the most noteworthy feature here - Mike Doyle has cultivated a very unique aesthetic based on heavy use of black and white, which makes the color here pop more than it usually would - and makes it all the more impressive that he already seems to have mastered mixing different translucent colors to get the fiery effect seen here.

In addition to reading about this model here and on Mike Doyle's blog, you can also see it on MOCpages and Flickr.

LMOTD previously covered Mike Doyle's Three Story Victorian with Tree, blog (update) and Two Story with Basement. We seem to have skipped his two books and other MOCs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BrickCon 2014

Name of Event: BrickCon 2014
Found at: http://brickcon.org/
Details: BrickCon is this weekend! I (Dan) have all of 14 hours to finish packing before I leave for the airport! Who needs sleep? There are more MOCs to build!

This year's theme is "Invasion", and that's why it's finally time for LMOTD to "invade" by making an appearance there this year. Although I actually used to live within driving distance of this convention, I never attended because I was in my teens at the time and BrickCon didn't allow anyone under 18 to participate in the full convention. Seriously, I still have the flyer from when they tried to advertise at a free event LEGO was running. Although BrickCon is still a needlessly exclusive event (seriously, why does anyone think LEGO events should exclude the people who have the most time to spend with the brick?), I've since aged to the point where I'd be allowed to attend - and more importantly, I've been convinced to go so I can see the birthplace of Mini LEGO Con. In spite of this being a smaller event (roughly 500 attendees, compared with nearly 1,000 at BrickFair Virginia or Brickworld Chicago), there are actually quite a few noteworthy builders attending, so it sounds like a promising show.

Public hours are from 10-4 on Saturday, October 4th, and 9-3 on Sunday, October 5th.

Find me there and you can get your hands on one of our 2x2 LMOTD tiles.

I'll add our usual round up of coverage of the event to this post after the event has passed. This was a great event - in spite of the smaller size, BrickCon has roughly the same concentration of talent as some of the larger conventions, so there's still plenty of great LEGO creations to take in and exciting people to meet.

Here's our round-up, still in the early phases as of this writing (10/10/2014):
My (Dan's) photos are on Flickr.
pasukaru76 highlighted Star Vikings at BrickCon 2014 (on Flickr).
pasukaru76's general BrickCon 2014 photos on Flickr
Lino's Flickr photos

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cookie Monster

Name of Model: More Cookies.
Created by: Paul "polywen" Lee
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/artpoly/15322575786/
Details: To commemorate Jim Henson's 78th birthday yesterday, Paul Lee posted this build of Cookie Monster eating a cookie and thinking of yet more cookies. Once you see it, using those Mixel eyes (printed on the ball part of a ball-and-socket joint) to build muppets seems really obvious, but I don't believe I've seen that part used that way before. I'm also loving the shape of Cookie Monster's face here - the lower cheese slopes are sideways and secured by a 1x1 plate connected to a headlight brick. The background and thought cloud (a clever if common use for curved slopes) sell the idea here - personally, I would have added reddish brown 1x1 round plates for chocolate chips, but the tan 2x2 round plates work perfectly to show Cookie Monster thinking of more cookies.

My only quibble is the proportions of the milk glass. It looks a little off to me, but I'm not sure that 2x2 round bricks (or plates) would actually look any better. That's the problem with picking one part (likely the eyes in this case) and then trying to build the rest of a scene around it - sometimes LEGO just can't quite get you the size you need, and something has to be a little out-of-scale. Fortunately, the rest of this is perfect.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Index of Brickset Bricklists of LEGO sets by specific designers

If you're anything like me, you like to keep track of who designed various LEGO sets. LEGO designers are our rock stars. LEGO set database Brickset has long been the go-to resource for information on LEGO sets, so it's only natural that their bricklists feature has become a useful tool for keeping track of which sets were designed by some of our favorite LEGO set designers. Here's a quick round-up of some designer-based bricklists that I've found - as always, you can let us know of any that I've missed by shooting an e-mail to legomodeloftheday@gmail.com

Bricklists made/maintained by LEGO set designers themselves:
Sets by Mark Stafford.
Sets by Adam.
LEGO designs by Pierre Normandin
Sets designed by Mike Psiaki

Bricklists made by LEGO fans about LEGO set designers:
Sets designed by Marcos Bessa
Sets by Jamie Berard

These are, by their nature, difficult to complete - since a finished LEGO set is the work of several different teams and departments at LEGO, it's frequently not easy to say that any particular person should have credit for a particular part of a specific LEGO set. There are also many LEGO set designers who aren't connected enough to the fan community to realize that there's a real interest in hearing about these details of their work.

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
GFLUG recapped their contributions on their 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
Rob Bender

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.