Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bumble Bee Sculpture

Name of Model: Bumble Bee
Created by: Nathan Sawaya
Found at:
Those of you who follow the gossip rags probably heard earlier this week that a certain celebrity commissioned a LEGO® sculpture for his bride. It turns out that that story is completely true, and E! Online has confirmed it with Nathan Sawaya, who built this sculpture, which will be delivered to the newlyweds early next month. The bee looks adorable and cartoonish, but I'm enjoying the construction more than anything - it's built at a 45 degree angle instead of being built straight. This makes it much easier to have the two wings be flat and sturdy, and also gives the bee's body an enhanced rounding effect. I do hope that he made sure that the bride actually likes LEGO before he spent the money!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Empire State Building in Microscale

Name of Model: Empire State Building
Created by: Sean Kenney
Found at:
LEGO-Certified Professional Sean Kenney continues to bring awesome sculptures to the world. This one was built on-commission for the new gift shop of the Empire State Building. Since that gift shop is on the observation deck, that makes this the highest LEGO® sculpture in the world. The details of the windows are probably my favorite part, but microscale fans won't want to miss the cars and people at the base. Half of the street is included in the scene, including all sorts of taxis busses, and cars. Of course, when your building is in microscale, a minifig-scale monkey is suddenly able to become King Kong (or Little Kong, as Sean's apparently taken to calling him). I like most of the other details by the top, too - the use of lighter-colored bricks as windows is a good idea, and mixing in black bricks to show windows in rooms where the lights aren't on only enhances the effect. If you're planning a trip to New York City, make sure you make it up to the observation deck to visit this model in person - it'll be on display for the indefinite future.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Hold of Wyhrt Quoip

Name of Model: The Hold of Wyhrt Quoip
Created by: remyth
Found at:
First things first: it's pronounced "Wee-ert Qu-oip". Of course, that's not what really was done first that makes this surprising - the lack of a baseplate is the real shocker there. The finishing touches are excellent too - the architectural details are beautiful, and the studless look of the castle itself is continued on the rocks on the side of the peninsula. Where the little LEGO logo on top of the studs can be seen, it's worked in with the foliage. Carefully placed plates with clips add a perfect but hard-to-see trim to the tower. The sides of the walls are surprisingly intricate too. I'm really loving the tiled steps, which feature some great angle work (it looks like an inverted version of the technique in the Market Street set. The details above the front entryway, though, are a real piece of art.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1966 Four-Door Cadillac Convertible

Name of Model: 1966 cadillac four door convertible
Created by: monsterbrick
Found at:
This Cadillac is easily the most stunning car I've seen in a while. The shape is beautiful, and there's no messing with the racing stripe either (bright green!). There are perfect handles for every door - made with Harry Potter keys. Then there's that front, with that excellent grill that looks like it happened almost by accident. The windshield is a great example of working in a "useless" part from the Belville line. The siding work is perfect, and the interior is flawless too. There are 6 photos, but all of them are just so beautiful.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mian Situ (Colassal Space-ship Mash Up)

Name of Model: Mian Situ
Created by: Mark Kelso
Found at:
A few months back, this site featured Mark Kelso's large rendition of the "Invisible Hand" ship from Star Wars. It turns out that during a break while working on that project, he started a smaller project that's also quite large. This model is loosely based on a few Sci-Fi spaceships that the builder liked. The two main inspirations (the Colonial One from Battlestar Galactica and the Imperial Shuttle from Star Wars) for this model both can be spotted here if you're familiar with the source material. To be honest, I wouldn't have noticed the elements that look like those ships if it hadn't been mentioned to me - although this does a good job of mixing those two inspirations, it also stands up as a great ship in it's own right.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Robotics Monday: NXT Book Resource

Website: know, I know, I'm slacking on Robotics Monday again. This is just as worth-the-time though as the robot of the week usually is, and it's a good resource to use when deciding which books to buy on the topic of building robots. Also, most of these books do include at least one set of instructions for building a robot, so in theory, they could all count as a "model of the day" (OK, fine, I'm stretching it). The site includes a thorough listing of all NXT-based books and includes very brief descriptions of each book as well. Even Japanese-language texts are included! It looks like the website will be updated regularly to include new titles (in fact, an upcoming FIRST LEGO League title is already mentioned there). I, for one, had no idea just how many books were in this genre - I have some catching up to do!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Desert Fortress

Name of Model: A Calrissian outpost
Created by: RebelRock "Rocko"
Found at:
Esteemed Castle builder Rocko has decided to take a break from the usual entertaining castle scenes to build this fortress in a desert. His regular sense of humor shows through, though, with Star Wars cameos and a woman being chased by spiders. The fortress itself is gorgeous, if a bit castle-ish, and the mosaic walkway and sculpted desert around the fortress are both excellent. I'm not sure what I think about using BrickForge animals though - BrickForge is technically off-brand, but since they only make special components and are themselves LEGO fans, most people make an exception to the "rules" when it comes to BrickForge elements. The fort itself, though, is particularly awesome - I can't remember the last time I saw a studless castle building.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Super Mario Mosaic

Name of Model: Super Mario LEGO Mosaic
Created by: Dave at
Found at:
There's a new mosaic up at BrickPlayer - and this time it's of video game protagonist Mario. Mario is shown flying in his "super" state. Of course, the theme is cool, and the technical detail of the good resolution in here on just a 15-inch square (48 studs square) baseplate is great too. I'm still back on those colors, though - a great example of how newer colors open up many new possibilities. Look at those tan and medium blue bricks! They're almost an exact match for the game - I think. I'm pretty sure that instead of buying Super Mario Bros in color for my Gameboy, I bought another LEGO set. This mosaic was also partially based on a cross-stitch pattern available at - and there are few other Marios on that site too.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pirate Ship

Name of Model: Aheron mini
Created by: ShooteR
Found at:
There are a ton of great Pirate ships out there, but most of them are done with a custom base instead of the official parts for building ships. This one, on the other hand, looks to be made from several of the wide ship base parts that came out back in 1989 and have been increasingly hard to find ever since. It's also a particularly elegant display piece - if it weren't for the little pirate flags at the top, it would look like one of the good guys. The extra cannons that are actually just sideways 1x1 round bricks look great too.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Official Ads - Now at LMOTD!

I'm taking advantage of a relatively slow week here to get in some posts in advance and catch up with some much-needed site maintenance. One of the things we're now doing is displaying ads from LEGO Shop at Home's website. Some of these will be text or photo ads similar to the Amazon ads I've been running, and others will be promotional banners. Of course, this doesn't imply any endorsement or relationship between me and LEGO - I think I'd have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to precisely describe the situation - but long story short, I get 3% commission on sets sold through LMOTD. I'll be adding links to some existing entries, including them in new entries, and adding some graphical ads to the layout, but that's all that'll change around here for now.

While I wouldn't mind people stopping by here before heading to the online LEGO store, I also feel the need to point out that there are plenty of other excellent sites out there that you can also support by using their sponsored links to the LEGO shop at home site. Peeron and Brickset are both great resources to LEGO fans and you can support both of them through similar links as well. There may also be other blogs that you follow that could use your support too. As much as I like the money, it's worthwhile to support all the online LEGO-related resources we use.

Of course, the ads aren't really for you diehards who know probably know all these things already - they're really more of a way to get people who don't follow the hobby to think about perhaps picking up a few sets.

If you want to try this out, here's one of our new links: Find the LEGO bricks you need at The Official LEGO Shop!

EDIT 5/28: I have now added a banner ad to the RSS feed footer.

Chip Shop / High Street

Name of Model: Chip Shop (from High Street)
Created by: Mad physicist
Found at:
One of the difficulties of maintaining an "of-the-day" blog is that I wind up holding off on many great models for the sake of trying to keep a good variety on the front page. This is actually the second time this week that I've picked out a model that really is best looked at as a sequel to an older model that I just haven't had a chance to blog about yet. If you want a look at the older model (a curry house) first, you can see it in the same gallery. Together, these two excellent buildings are called High Street. It's anyone's guess if/when I'll get to featuring the curry house here, but I'm told that there are plans for more buildings in this style...

This style is actually a unique mix of popular English architecture with the Café Corner format of town models. As with the previous building in this series, there's an excellent sign with lettering, but this one goes a bit further by also having fish and sandwich signs. The bottom two floors of this one also have interiors. I'm particularly jealous of the bay window though - those 1x4x2 windows are rare parts and they work very well here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

1960 Chevy Impala Wagon

Name of Model: Solar Flare
Created by: Lino M
Found at:
There is a group of diehard Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOLs) that is devoted to building cars. They call themselves the LUGNUTs - a clever mix of "nuts" as in nuts and bolts with LUGNET, which is a popular site in the adult LEGO fan community. Last month, they did a building challenge called Night and Day, which yielded a number of interesting pairings of cars. There were a number of interesting submissions, but this one is my favorite of the bunch. This "Solar Flare" is the "day" to the "night" of proudlove's "Lunar Eclipse". I don't think I need to explain why I like this one - it really shows a love for the original car and some great building techniques. My favorite detail is probably the windows-as-taillights.

EDIT: I somehow managed to screw up Scheduled-Post-Publishing today, so enjoy the unusually early Wednesday model. With any luck the rest of the week will show up at the correct times...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

6x Scale Sized-Up Horse and Rider

Name of Model: 6 Scale Horse
Created by: gizmocom from Scaled-up LEGO Bricks
Found at: and
There is a lot to like in this one great horse - the fluid look of the legs, the use of texture to capture the mane, the brown plates for the harness, the perfect eyes the use of studs-not-on-top methods to give the sculpted sections a high-resolution look, the use of tiles to make those sections blend in...really this whole thing is a masterpiece. There are even nostrils on the sides of that face! I highly recommending looking at the very large picture to see the construction details. I don't think any of the side-by-side comparison shots really show just how good of a likeness this is of the original minifig-scale horse - this is one of the best up-sized sculptures I've seen.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Robotics Monday: NXT / Bionicle Jousters

Name of Model: Lego NXT Warriors
Created by: srobot
Found at:
For obvious reasons, LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT kits generally inspire people to build fairly complex robots. However, there are some awesome things that can be done with ridiculously simple programs as well. The program is essentially "wait 5 seconds, then go forward for 5 seconds" - the appeal being that after the program is started, you have 5 seconds to aim for your opponent and then 5 seconds for the two 'bots to go on the attack. It's kind of like a castle-themed video game, but with Bionicle figures instead of virtual violence. Of course, with an NXT intelligent brick and 2 motors in each horse, this isn't exactly a cheap little game, but it looks like lots of fun.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pirate Ride

Name of Photo Gallery: Different sculptures from the Pirat-Ride
Created by LEGO-employed Master Builders
Found at:
Now for something completely different - a gallery of photos from the LEGOLAND Billund Pirate Ride. Captain Roger, shown in the thumbnail to the left, also made an appearance in LEGO magazine many years ago. There's a delightful human element to this set of sculptures - they look like real people, and they have some good non-swashbuckling scenes in here. The fiesta, for example, features more women than the entire Pirates line of sets did (LEGO has made an extremely disproportionate amount of male minifigs). The uniformed soldiers featured here suggest to me that the sculptures in these photos were made in the late 1980's or early 1990's - when similarly-colored soldiers were "the good guys" in the Pirates sets. Of course, the nature of a ride like this is that there are tons of little things hidden in there - many exciting details aren't clearly visible in the photos. I bet most people don't even spot the hanging bats while on the ride.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Taj Mahal

Name of Model: Taj Mahal
Created by: Arthur Gugick aka torgugick
Found at:
I've featured Arthur Gugick's awesome work before, but he just keeps getting better. This time out, he has redone an earlier model of his in a unique way that will allow it to be used as a prop in a film. One scene in the movie involves the table that the model is on falling over - and it is important to the producer that the model falls apart in a predictable way. Of course, some special methods were used to do that, but there are plenty of other exciting things going on here too. The reflecting pool is actually a mosaic. The largest dome is sculpted and positioned at a 45-degree angle. Gorgeous angle work makes a cylinder below that (and a similar technique is used on the corners too). The smaller domes are done with perfect studs-not-on-top technique, and the use of a variety of very small (1x1 brick or smaller) parts on the walls of the building makes the architecture convincing. I wasn't able to figure out who the producer was (apparently the producer had creative control and overruled the builder on a few details), but of course he/she deserves credit for putting this whole project together, finding an excellent builder to work with, and for whatever design details were his/her ideas. The movie Taj is still in production, and I have no idea if/when it will be in theatres, but I'm definitely interested in seeing it now!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Mega Core Magnetizer in Other Themes

Name of Models: 6989 Mtron Mega Core Magnetizer. Who loves this set from 1990. I DO. Here are versions of this renouned set built up as Classic Space, Blacktron 1, Blacktron 2, Space Police 2, Ice Planet 2002, Futuron and of course the original.
Created by: bdarrow
Found at:
Going back to yesterday's rant, magnets and the "M:Tron - The Power of Magnets" space line are awesome. You know what else is pretty awesome, though? Other official Space lines. I mentioned my love of the "Ice Planet 2002" sets yesterday, but actually, most adult LEGO® fans are a bit older than me, and as such remember how great the "Futuron", "Blacktron", and classic Space sets were. Of course, there were also a few more great lines out when I was little, too - the second generation of Blacktron and the second generation of Space Police (the first Space Police line came out in 1989 and was promptly forgotten). Ever wonder what would happen, though, if the Mega Core Magnetizer was made in all of these popular lines? Well, you'd end up with a set of vehicles like this (not to mention more magnets than an entire train layout). All six of the original color combinations look great, and of course, we already knew that the set proper was amazing. Personally, I had no clue the that large translucent panel was made in so many colors. All of these color schemes came out well, and there are even a few nice surprises in there where other parts from the various Space lines were worked in.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Discontinuing a 28 year legacy of Magnets

There is no model of the day today - I didn't pick one out beforehand and I'm in no mood to look through models after the insulting announcement from this morning.

The LEGO company is discontinuing the standard magnets that they've been making since 1980, and they've announced it in a disturbing and unreasonable way.

Let me start at the beginning - a certain awful off-brand that makes a knock-off of LEGO bricks decided to go after another brand a few years ago. The MEGABLOKS equivalent of the magnetic toy line they were knocking off is called "Magnetix". Magnetix is a toy system that features a variety of magnetic rods and shapes made with very strong magnets, and those magnets can be connected to each other directly or through little metal balls. The toy system is surpisingly robust considering MEGABRANDS' history of making lousy products - the magnets are extremely strong and the pieces are fairly sturdy. This past weekend, while out in search of used LEGO sets at yard sales, I came across a Magnetix collection, and not realizing that it was manufactured by The Evil One, I decided to buy it. I was disappointed that the polarities weren't marked, but I was impressed by the sheer strength of the magnets - when positioned the wrong way, they would repel so strongly as to fling parts off of the table. I always look up my purchases online to look for interesting ways to use things I'm not familiar with - and not surprisingly, there are a few sites discussing things patient adults can make with Magnetix toys. Since the MEGABLOX MAGNETIX magnets are super strong and the toy is recommended for three-year-olds, it's little wonder that the things were recalled last year. Sure, occasionally very young children will choke on or swallow things that they shouldn't put in their mouths - but with such strong connections between parts, it's also possible that many older children will try to disconnect the parts with their teeth and wind up in an awful situation. With Magnetix parts being as strong as they are, you could probably rip out your insides just standing in the same room as another Magnetix part after swallowing one.

Toy recalls inevitably lead to paranoia among parents, and that leads to stronger child-safety laws in toys. The EU is famously overzealous with their CE laws, and the US (particularly the state of California) is actively working to be just as over-the-top in banning toys and plastics.

The LEGO company is generally a pretty smart company. Their lawyers know a thing or two about staying ahead of child safety laws, and it's perfectly understandable that they would react to the Magnetix toy recall the way that they did.

This is 2008, though. The LEGO company has spent most of the last 10 years trying to prove that they are an enlightened company that appeals to educators, adults, and hobbyists. There's been tons of buzz in the LEGO adult fan community recently about Jake McKee's presentation about LEGO changing, and BrickJournal magazine going into print, and the new phase of the LEGO Ambassador program. Apparently none of that matters, because they're not going to use these new channels of communication anyway.

There is of course, no need to discontue the old parts - they are perfectly safe, and the company is clearly just preparing itself to better survive the onslaught of paranoia on both sides of the Atlantic. The magnets LEGO makes have never been particularly strong, they've always been easy to seperate, and they've been used for nearly 30 years without any publicized complaints. They've added immense play value and hobby value in a large variety of sets. I can't vouch for the refridgerator magnets (they sold out before I could buy some), but there is no reason to worry about the magnets sold in M:Tron, Trains, Spyrius, Exploriens, Star Wars, UFO, Insectoids, Aquaraiders, Aquasharks, Hydronauts, Stingrays, Ice Planet 2002, Aquanauts, etc. sets.

I really thought that the company had learned after bungling the new colors in 2003 - that they would notify people in advance of these things. In 2003, we were at least able to purchase extra gray pieces and build a stockpile while the new sets with the new bluish-gray pieces were phased in at stores. We don't have that luxury now, because the first sign that something might be changing was the sudden removal of the older parts. Rather than be proactive and explain the situation, the company kept ambassadors in the dark as fans complained. Now that the LEGO company has finally come clean about the changes happening, they've published an announcement that is insulting to those of us who have been active fans of magnet-based Space and Aquazone lines.

They're mixing the remaining magnets in with sets being packaged through August. It apparently hadn't occured to them that those sets could end up in stores after a law was passed, or that those magnets might be in demand by fans. They've announced a new solution for the train fans, but for those of us who like other magnet-heavy themes, there's nothing.

I was born in 1987. When I was little, stores were full of M:Tron and Train sets. Most kids my age and younger love the magnet components. As someone who shops at yard sales frequently, I've noticed that M:Tron are disproportionately likely to show up the toy boxes of younger kids - little kids can't resist the opportunity to play with their older relatives awesome space-and-magnets kits. I've grown up seeing these magnets used in a variety of exciting ways.

The magnets have been appearing in train sets since 1980. They were largely used for trains until 1990 (and it wasn't until the early 90's that the higher-end train sets started appearing in stores anyway). There have also been a number of magnet accessory packs over the years.

1991 brought us the M:Tron line, a series of red-black-and-trans-yellow astronauts sold with the tagline "The power of magnets". The magnets were used for holding a variety of containers and were the focus point of the line.

1993 brought us the Ice Planet 2002 line, where the magnets were used for giant robotic arms that moved rockets back and forth from launching bays. We also saw more small ships held magnetically in larger sets that year.

In 1994 the Spyrius theme introduced small boxes for magnetic arms to lift.

In 1995 nearly all of the Aquanaut sets and Aquashark sets had magnetic arms and boxes - they were essential to the crystal-gathering storyline of the series.

1996 brought the Exploriens line, which features the magnets alongside new magnetic sticker elements - this made it possible for small magnetic arms to pick up tiny 2x2 tiles with a "decoder" theme.

The UFO line in 1997 used magnets to allow parts of ships to seperate - like in Star Trek.

1998's Insectoids took magnetic stickers a step further by attaching them to small energy orbs, which could be picked up directly.

A newly redone Aquazone line that same year also used magnets heavily for modularity and crystal-searching.

Also in 1998, we saw an Adventurers kit use it to hold treasure in place.

The largest Rock Raiders set used magnets to transport materials and vehicles.

The MINDSTORMS robotics line got magnets in 2000.

In 2002, the magnets appeared in the Star Wars line, holding boxes, holding together large sets, and allowing for removable prison chambers.

Magnets were being introduced in new sets for arms and boxes as late as 2007.

Post-9V train sets use magnets too, and all supplemental train car sets have used the magnets as a universal way of connecting to larger train sets.

Today marks the end of an era, and it's a shame that the last accessory pack to feature magnets is already sold out. The younger adult LEGO fans of today are very much the kids of the past few decades, and you can bet many of us would love to introduce these sets to our kids if we were able to make sure extra parts would be available if a magnet got lost. The company owes it to the fans to warn us of these sorts of changes and to allow us to purchase extra parts to go with our existing sets while the parts are still around. At least, that's what all of their "communication" efforts of the past few years seemed to be promising.

Multi-level DUPLO Train Layout

Name of Model: A unique duplo train tower. It uses bridge halves to raise the track up more than four levels, around at the top, and down again.
Created by: Jeremy Wedel
Found at:
Yes, DUPLO models do count - LEGO has always been the manufacturer of DUPLO bricks (and they're also to blame for that "LEGO Explore" rebranding initiative a few years back - what were they thinking?). I've recently been looking into the world of DUPLO trains as a way of getting the little kids more excited about the displays my local LUG (LEGO Users Group) puts up. Surprisingly, there's actually a "programmable" train kit for young kids that's easier to work than the nearest adult solution (apparently when this came out in 2003, you could buy the DUPLO train motor for $55 dollars (to work with track not included in the set - a set with track could be bought for $100) but if you wanted similar control over a regular LEGO train at the same time, you would have had to invest in a 9V train set ($100+) and a MINDSTORMS RIS kit ($200+) - not to mention having to work out the programming yourself). Of course, I missed my chance to get any of the DUPLO train motors at a good price, but this one builder has taken it upon himself to create a resource for the people who did manage to get the parts. The site above has a complete hacker's guide and a variety of exciting layouts - this is just one highlight out of the bunch. The track from the more affordable Thomas the Tank Engine line works the same way as the more expensive track, so if you have some Thomas tracks you can try some non-motorized versions of his layouts at home. The tunnel and bridge pieces aren't comparable to anything in the "big kid" train lines (OK - I think that the very hard-to-find monorail sets might be similar), so it's pretty much impossible to build layouts like this one with non-DUPLO track - but that only makes this more awesome.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bionicle Horse

Name of Model: BionicleHorse (I need to build four legs creature.)
Created by: LOVEJOINT
Found at:
This gorgeous horse sculpture is made entirely with Technic and Bionicle pieces - it looks like there might not be a single stud in it. The dark red color scheme isn't exactly a natural color but it works well (and shows off a sizeable collection!). I would have preferred a longer nose, but that probably would be very difficult to add. I love the way that various "tentacle" elements were used to create a mane. The reins, tail, and legs all look great, but the perfect touch is definitely the horseshoes. Stuff like that just proves that the naysayers are wrong about the amount of detail you can get in a model made with Bionicle parts. If you're into this model, you'll also want to check out the rider made by the same builder - which can ride this horse or a few different motorcycles. No word, though, on how long it will take to line up the ball-and-socket joints to get a front-legs-in-the-air money shot of the horse and rider.
This is Tuesday's model of the day

No Monday this week

OK, so over the past few days I've lost a lot of blogging time searching for this awesome set of NXT-related bulldozer tread ideas. I'm pretty certain that the blog post I wanted to link to has been taken down - I've checked everywhere where the link could have been (I had starred it in Google reader but if the post was edited to no longer include what I wanted to link to, it won't save the content). Obviously I'm not happy about this, and I'm sorry it's happening - but I'm giving up on finding the links for this in favor of getting some models picked for the rest of the week.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Flower Bouquet

Name of Model: Flower Bouquet for a raffle
Created by: dh34154
Found at:
Happy Mother's Day! Surprisingly, there aren't all that many good Mother's Day themed models out there. Here's a reasonably-scaled bouquet of flowers (and flowers always make a great gift). The vase they're in is a Pick-a-Brick cup. The design itself is pretty simple and doesn't look too sturdy, but it is an excellent likeness of flowers. Of course, finding enough 1x1 round green bricks and 1x2x3 inverted slopes to build these yourself could be a bit difficult, but you could probably try out some other ideas for flower-building too.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Amtrak EMD F40PH (for National Train Day)

Name of Model: EMD F40PH AMTRAK
Created by Christoph Eisenring who posts models on MOCpages and Brickshelf
Found at: and
For obvious reasons, I couldn't let National Train Day here in the states go by without posting a nice Amtrak engine. Of course, one of the classic 9V LEGO® train designs was 1992's Metroliner set, but train buffs often complain about the inaccuracies of the design - although it's pretty and immediately recognizable, it doesn't truly resemble any particular train and the nose shape is reminiscent of European trains (which is, for obvious reasons, wrong on an Amtrak train because "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of "American" and "Track", and Amtrak is a quasi-governmental company in the United States). This engine, on the other hand, is based on a specific Amtrak design and gets in plenty of accurate details. A few stickers were used, but surprisingly no printed parts from the Metroliner set appear. There are some interesting building techniques at play - the cockpit windows are done with clear bricks and studs-not-on-top trickery, and the rear of the engine makes good use of Technic steering elements (circa late 80's early 90's), panels, studs-not-on-top elements, switches, and minifig-scale steering wheel bases. Two 9V motors are used in the wheels to provide extra power (and thus the ability to drive more train cars at a decent speed). It's worth noting that the engine looks great in the 7-studs-wide scale ( clearly visible from the front) - builder Christoph Eisenring definitely made the right choice when picking that scale!

I don't know if any LEGO Train Clubs are involved with National Train Day or not, but if you're in the states and can make it to one of the events today (Saturday May 10th), I'm sure it'll be fun. Personally, I'll be sitting it out, but I'd love to hear about it if anyone reading this goes.

New Record-Setting Tower

Name of Model: Record-breaking Tower in LEGOLAND Windsor
Created by attendees of the LEGO Club event
Found at: see links below
We've all seen glamourous record-breaking towers before. There was the Canadian record-breaker last August, and the far more popular Pirate-themed ship's mast tower last June, but they are both a good metre below this one in height. The structure of this one looks a bit more sturdy too, but they decided to use support cables (just in case, I'll say). Variations on the The Daily Mail's coverage have been making their way through the blogosphere, but this was actually broken as news the previous day by a blogger who was displaying some of his own LEGO models at the same event. I like the miniland-scale flags and character on the top in the Daily Mail's photos, but since it looks like they take down their photos over time, I'm featuring the Tabletown coverage for the photo above. The animators at Paganomation win the "perspective" award here, though, for digging up an article from the Winter 1990-1991 BrickKicks magazine that discusses the early days of the record-breaking-tower tradition.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Contortion

Name of Model: The Contortion
Created by: Nannan Z.
Found at:
This clever abstract sculpture tries an unusual twist on the many-angled-bricks-can-make-a-curvy-line trick by using 2x2 corner plates to make minifig-scale paths. Some supports are used for sturdiness, but I suspect that similar designs with solid tops wouldn't need supports. Hmm, I guess I sound silly talking about these things before sharing my own similar models. It should suffice to say that watching your center of gravity while trying these techniques can lead to some surprising freestanding results. Of course, there are some other things here I haven't tried, too - making a curve switch directions, and the use of black Martian-arms pieces for the spindly curves near the center (for those of you only familiar with the current "Mars Mission" line, there was another Mars-themed line with an unrelated storyline called "Life on Mars" a few years back, and that's where that part was introduced. Of course, that part has since gone on to do a variety of surprising and awesome things, but they were fairly boring arms when they first came out). Using one of those clear mosaic baseplates to make the bottom look like it's not really the end of the paths was a good idea, too. Oh, and if you don't mind poking around on YouTube, there's a panaromic video too. Beyond that, though, all 15 photos that are appearing on the various photohosting sites are the same ones posted at the MOCPages link above.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

David Stott Building

Name of Model: David Stott building, 1929, Detroit. First 3 stories displayed at GTE 2006. Completed as a 31 story skyscraper for NMRA 2006. Completely rebuilt in April 2008 to make it more accurate with 37 stories.
Created by DecoJim, Flickr: Brickshelf:
Found at: and
That picture to the left really is the model and not the life-size building. I think it's safe to say that when you take a model this size outside and find a camera angle that good, you're probably as much of a photographer as a builder - not that this looks like it was easy to build at all, but you know what I mean. Obviously, quite the dark orange collection was required here. It looks to me like a half-stud offset for the windows and inner archetectural elements, and those windows look solid black to me (which isn't a technique I'd think to try, but it looks good here - although those could just be smoke-colored windows too, which do occasionally appear in sets). While the scale is a little bit lower than many other minifig-scale models I've seen (6 bricks high per floor versus 7 in most sets or 10 in Cafe Corner), this is still technically minifig scale. The life-size David Stott Building in Detroit, Michigan, USA, is 133.1 m (437 ft), while this LEGO® model stands 2.286 m (7.5 ft) tall. This is one of several buildings featured in the Flickr gallery above - the whole gallery is a beautiful representation of what must be some of Detroit's finest buildings. The Brickshelf links above include work-in-progress pictures. This is the second version of this model - it was first built for a show in 2006, but this April 2008 revision features some improvements in scale and accuracy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Geminated Ruby spaceship

Name of Model: Geminated Ruby
Created by: Zach Moe
Found at: and
This spectacular spaceship is based on some unique angle tricks that have been discussed recently at the Classic Space forums (The "classic" LEGO® Space line came out in the late 70's and was around through the 80's. It remains one of the most popular LEGO® themes and there's an entire fansite devoted to its discussion and to new original models based on it). Perhaps more notable than the unique shapes, though, is the rare parts and colors used here. The UCS X-Wing windshield (or whatever they're called in space) is put to good use on the cockpit, a variety of interesting parts in various shades of gold show up, there are a few parts I don't even recognize, and a Cafe Corner was parted out for those dark red slopes and curved parts. I really like what he did with the flaps too. Don't miss the modified Exo-Force sticker either. I asked about some of the special parts and colors featured in this model during my appearance on this weekend's LAMLradio podcast - surprisingly, none of the special parts or colors had to be ordered specially.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Minor Delay

Sunday and Monday's models have already been picked, but I'm still trying to dig up some links for them, so they might be showing up a little late. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Scooby Doo, The Mystery Machine, and Those Meddling Kids

Name of Model: Scooby Doo and the gang.
Created by: Proudlove
Found at:
Sometimes the colors and parts you have handy really dictate what you should try to build. In this case, the builder's wife saw the colors he was sorting, noticed the familiar "Mystery Machine" color scheme, and suggested he build it. Proudlove wasn't familiar with Scooby Doo before trying this, but the model still came out really well. To make it possible to do all the people accurately, he used the same "miniland" scale that is used at the LEGOLAND parks. The only problem is that he didn't build an enemy to deliver that famous line to them: "...and I would've gotten away with it, too, if not for you meddling kids!"

Friday, May 2, 2008

Cave Racer: Sea Turtle's Mate

Name of Model: Cave Racer: Sea Turtle's Mate
Created by: Shadow Viking
Found at:
While I was away last week, a new building craze based on cave racers set in. Cave racers are underground race vehicles that apparently have no relation to the official Rock Raiders theme. A more thorough discussion of the origins of the Cave Racers can be found on flickr. My "don't post the same theme twice within the same week if you can avoid it" rule means that it could be quite a while before I get properly caught up on the theme, but you can check out the Cave Racers pool on flickr for more fun in the same theme. Personally, I like the color scheme and clever engine on this one. These are all a bit small, so it can be a bit hard to really do something distinctive (I doubt many of these top 50 pieces). There are, of course, a variety of other surprising, clever, and colorful models in the pool too, but you only get one a day here - unless you click the pool link, in which case, there goes 200 photos and more of your Friday than you want to admit.

Robots for Blogging Against Disablism Day

Since there's already a partially new model up for today, and I thought it would be fun to try jumping on a blog-on-a-specific-topic-day bandwagon, here's an interesting report about how the University of Alberta is working with St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to help severely mobility impaired children express themselves. Of course, what makes it relevant material for this blog is that the robots used as assistive technology in this school are (like many robot prototypes that are built to allow for easy on-the-fly changes) built out of LEGO® MINDSTORMS components. While the technology here is cool, and certainly something I'd like to hear more about, the important thing here is that this is really making a difference by helping someone to have more control of their own life. Too often, disabled people who don't have access to assistive devices like these find that other people are trying to speak for them and make snap-judgments about how capable they truly are. This type of technology is really important because it lets people speak for themselves - and let the world know that they really are "in there" as much as anyone else.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

UCS Slave I update

Name of Model: UCS Slave I
Created by: Junsier
Found at:
I had highlighted this Ultimate Collector Series-style model in January, but apparently a newer version has been built and the links to find the UCS Slave I have changed. Thanks for giving me a heads-up on that, Junsier! There's also a flickr gallery that I believe is entirely new. The current Brickshelf link is , and you can still catch up on Star Wars at Amazon.

Trophy (with instructions!)

Name of Model: Big Trophy
Created by: Dave at
Found at:
Here's a good one for all of the college kids in the midst of finals season - a victory trophy sculpture. I like the version shown in the instructions, but the partially translucent one built for the winner of a contest looks even better. Both this large trophy and the smaller trophy have complete building instructions posted at the site above. There's also a parts list in addition to the directions. While the translucent parts can be hard to find, this project should be pretty easy for anyone to try in slightly different colors - those are all basic bricks in this one (not even any plates!)