Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Posts Through April 29th

Sorry for the sudden interruption this week - some "real" work had been piling up and is requiring most of my attention right now. Regular posts should resume next Tuesday, April 29th - assuming that nothing else comes up.

Ice Ionizer (Spaceship based on early-90s themes)

Name of Model: Ice Ionizer – Ice Planet MOD of M:Tron Particle Ionizer
Created by: Ronan Dragonov
Found at:

This is an interesting mix of too "classic" space themes - it's a model from the 1990 M:Tron line redone with the colors and pieces from the 1993 Ice Planet 2002 line. Oh sure, the 90s don't really count as Classic Space (which most people agree ended in 1986), but in these days of only Star Wars and silly "Martian" themed lines, everything before 1997 suddenly looks really good. I'm not sure if this really counts as an original model, but if it helps on that front, a few minor changes were made to make the older design translate to the slightly newer parts. Peeron has some info on the original for those of you who are unfamiliar with it (by which, of course, I mean those of you who hadn't been born yet. We know that those of you who were alive at the time still have the catalog). My only complaint is that we don't have a photo of the Ice Planet version from the same angle as the box art of the M:Tron version.
This is Tuesday's model of the day

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Robotics Monday: New FTC Kit

It's been a strange week in terms of LEGO® robotics - there haven't been many exciting robots built this week, but the FIRST Robotics World Festival event was quite the public showcase for many teams of young roboticists, and for the hobby aspect of robotics as well. The big news, though is the New FTC kit. FTC stands for FIRST Tech Challenge; in past years, VEX kits have been used instead of LEGO kits. I'm not sure who's manufacturing the new aluminum parts, but this is apparently a whole new system that works with the Education Edition NXT kit. This is a big deal, because the VEX kits were really remote-control toys and not preprogrammed autonomous bots. A new blog devoted to FTC has more details about this hybrid kit.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Town Hall

Name of Model: Town Hall built in 2 weeks for 1000steine event August 24th - 26th, 2007
Created by: LEGO® designer Jamie Berard
Blog: Brickshelf:
Found at:
I've been thrilled to see over the past few months how much involvement LEGO® designer Jamie Berard has had with fans. He has become famous recently for designing popular sets like the Café Corner, but he also has made numerous appearances at events and been interviewed by a number of publications. Today's model is a town hall that is compatible with the Cafe Corner modular building standard. It was built over two weeks in 2007. Of course, some of the details point out advantages of working for the company - check out the windows made from hard-to-find garage door components. Also visible in that photo are some studs-not-on-top details using both bricks and a large amount of the 1x1 cheese slope pieces - and if you take a close look at the window frame, you'll notice that that's mostly done with studs facing outward instead of upward too. Other techniques, though, explain why they don't make sets like this. For one thing, there's the use of transition brown colors to get a realistic wood tone on the outside of the building (in 2003, the LEGO® company decided to change the color brown from the traditional shade to a new shade called "red-brown" or reddish brown. The newer color is molded in a different way that took a while to perfect - and in the interests of keeping costs down, LEGO decided to release thousands of brown pieces with small differences in shading. Some people are upset about this for obvious reasons, but using these pieces together with the older brown pieces and the final version of the new red-brown color does give a nice wooden effect). For another, this is enormous (15 inch / 48 stud square baseplate) and would be cost prohibitive. The columns are an excellent touch, and don't miss the gargoyle (an owl and a pair of biscuits in front of two wheel wells) or the bell (a "Mayan" coin, 1x2 tiles, and inverted 2x2 dish, some black studs-not-on-top pieces and two black rounded elements) either. My personal favorite technique, though, has to be the trick for the second-floor balcony overlooking the meeting room. It looks like a few tiles are extending the floor outward a little bit, and two of the round fence piece's post are latched onto by space robot arms.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Clever Techniques in a Locomotive

Name of Model: BR52 Rev 02 of a German 1940s Steam Engine
Created by: sullis3
Found at:
This spectacular locomotive makes use of some unusual techniques to get incredibly round details. I'm not entirely sure how the internals of this work, but the outsides of the rounded portion are done with a large amount of those fairly new 1x1 "cheese" slopes. Take another look at the tender, too - a good portion of that is built sideways too. The smaller details look very good. My favorite has to be the use of special Technic components to hold up the headlights. I'm pretty sure that some of the wheels here are third-party wheels made for hobbyists, but from what I understand, train builders don't consider this to be "cheating" because it allows for more accurate scale models. In any case, this is an excellent model, and I have to figure out how the rounded part was done.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Halong Bay

Name of Model: The Mad Scientist is now settled in a new secret base. His lab has been built inside a huge rock of Halong Bay. He continues to snatch tourists in order to transform them in zombies. In case of emergency he can escape with his submarine. Be careful...
Created by: cbolego
Found at:
This unique big vignette (or "bignette") has an enormous sculpted rock coming out of a block which holds the rest of the action. My personal favorite part is the way swimming minifigs are captured - their heads are above the (sand green!) water while their bodies are represented by cleverly-placed plates. The shark and submarine are admittedly pretty awesome too, but it's not easy to compete with that land mass or those swimmers. I probably would have gone with a more common color for the water (blue comes to mind) but the sand-green looks great and is a sure way to catch the envy of other builders.

War of Pirates

Today's (Thursday's) model pick has been taken offline by the builder. Apologies for the inconvenience

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A pub inspired by one in Cambridge

Name of Model: A pub inspired by one in Cambridge
Created by: aj-ml
Found at:
You've seen plenty of unique models made with parts from the 4954 "Model Town House" kit before, but this one stands out because of how closely it resembles the life-size building it is based on. There were a few changes made (presumably to keep this from needing multiples of special parts), but the overall effect is still there. A custom sticker was used to print the logo on the side of the building, but the rest of this is all done with LEGO® parts. If the lamps on the front look unusual, it's because they're made with sextant tools for minifigs - this technique is getting to be pretty popular and has started showing up in official sets recently. The lamp on the side, though? That's done with a minifig's metal-detector tool. Now that's a clever new technique!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bionicle Elephant

Name of Model: BBC42--Horatio / What a cute baby elephant. Co-Winner of BBC42.
Created by: T08
Found at:
This adorable elephant is a winner from a Bionicle-Based Creation building contest at BZPower (I'll be featuring more entries into these contests in the future - it's an oversight on my part that you haven't seen more awesome Bionicle stuff here so far). It's not hard to see why - it's one of those few Bionicle creations that is immediately recognizable as something from outside of the Bionicle world. I think the colors used here include both dark stone and dark gray, but they blend together pretty well here. For those of you not into Bionicle, those are balls from ball-and-socket joints for eyes, Toa heads for feet, head elements from smaller Bionicle creatures for ears, and a Toa leg-piece for a tail. They did have to use a few of the "normal" LEGO® pieces near the top to flesh out the rounded back, but in my book you get extra points for reminding people that all the parts still work together.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Robotics Monday: Double-Duty FLL Video

Name of Model: Lego League 2 Board Run! 2:30 minutes! Brothers Keepers
Created by: Brothers Keepers, FLL team #2710 , from Michigan, USA
Found at:
Do you remember the Power Puzzle Theme of the current FIRST LEGO League competition? Well, an innovative robot that emerged this past week is a jarring thought experiment. After finding a way to quickly get a perfect score 3 months ago, the team decided to see if it was possible to have a robot jump over the wall and solve their competitor's "Power Puzzle" as well - all within the original time alloted. Surprisingly, they pull it off amazingly, and are able to do the entire thing with only the 3 motors in the LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT kit. It does look like they used additional parts for the various modular frames that are added on for the various missions.

I'm pretty sure I've figured out the tricks here: They're using a light sensor to enhance a dead reckoning steering system by recalibrating when they hit darker spots in the competition mat. A number of large liftarm frameworks are used to actually do the specific tasks. Beyond the two motors used to move the robot around, a third is used to move an axle with two sets of three liftarms coming off of it. One of those liftarm sets connects to the visible large frame, but the other two are shorter and just there to "grab" the frames that move things. It's an interesting approach to modularity, but I can't help but wonder just how sturdy the whole thing is - would it work in situations where you need to go more than a few feet? In any case, this is impressive.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Alonso de Chaves - A New Approach to Building Giant Boats

Name of Model: Alonso de Chaves
Created by: joaquin
Found at:
If you're familiar with any of the official boat sets, you probably already know that they're not really to scale - most boats are much larger than that. Of course, building a fantastic ship out of LEGO® parts can be pretty difficult and expensive because of the sheer size of these things. Today's model uses a novel approach to get around this: only building half of a ship - and then using the open cross-section as a way to show off complete interiors. Rather than focus on building a huge exterior, joaquin did tons of details in the middle of the ship. I don't know if the engine room or workers' quarters are actually based on the life-size Spanish sea vessel or not, but they look pretty good. The rescue vessel that this ship was apparently based on was named for 16th century navigator/cosmographer Alonso de Chaves - but surprisingly, it's hard to find a good link to compare with.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Star Trek Enterprise

Name of Model: NCC1701 The Original Series Enterprise
Created by: legoman34
Found at:
Yes, I know that the thumbnail does not look even remotely like something made out of LEGO® parts. Open the full thing though, and you'll see that this isn't a model being used for inspiration - it's actually built out of LEGO® parts and custom stickers. I'm not generally a fan of custom stickers, but they really sell the two Star Trek ships. What's really surprising is the scale of these things - some of the important angles are done with 1x1 "cheese" slopes. Which, of course, explains why this hasn't been done sooner - most of us still don't have access to this many cheese slopes, curve slopes, and click hinges in the right colors. By the way, if you're wondering about the top - that's a wheel element. The thing that the torpedos come out of (I'm not that much of a trekkie) looks like a chrome lamp cover to me. If you're really into Star Trek, make sure to check out legoman34's larger Star Trek directory which includes a few more excellent Star Trek models at various scales (at least, I think they're not to the same scale - anyone know their ships well enough to be sure?)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Parfait Sundae Sculpture

Name of Model: It is a Jumbo Parfait stuffed with fruit. - Sundae -
Created by: Sachiko
Found at:
This beautiful sculpture of a parfait-based Sundae is quite a feat. The minifigs with the giant (built) scoop are really just a distraction next to all of the colorful and perfectly-done fruits on the top. The bowl is also built entirely out of clear bricks - I'm guessing that a bit of ordering special parts had to be done here. Don't miss the use of slope bricks in black and white to show mixed chocolate and vanilla flavors.
This is both Friday's model of the day and our first Scheduled Post Publishing (a new feature which should make updates more regular in the future) test post.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

More Downtime

Just a quick heads-up: this site will be going unmaintained for at least another week.