Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dan Jezek

It's been difficult to decide what to put up here today. Dan Jezek has died. While few (if any) of his original models can still be found online today, he contributed to the AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) community in a few enormous ways.

He was most well-known for creating and single-handedly running BrickLink, a site where LEGO parts can be bought and sold. Being able to buy groups of parts instead of whole sets in the manner BrickLink enabled allowed many of us to build wildly different things than we would otherwise. Many (myself included) have actually changed our LEGO buying habits in favor of buying large quantities of parts off of BrickLink and multiple copies of sets - since any undesired parts from those sets can be easily sold to other LEGO hobbyists on BrickLink. It's safe to say that most of us would own very different LEGO collections (and thus not be able to build many of the things we have) if not for the existence of BrickLink.

But BrickLink is a marketplace, and since the world of online commerce is restricted to those of legal age, it hasn't left as much of an impression on young people. Even though the BrickLink catalog is one of the most valuable LEGO resources we have now, the price guides and inventories aren't quite as useful or intuitive when you don't have buying in mind. If anything, it creates a sense of jealousy, since you know that older LEGO fans can just buy whatever parts they want or need to flesh out a project while kids are still limited to the parts they have on hand.

Dan Jezek's larger influence on me was from his links page. Back in the days before blogs, it was relatively common for someone to gather up a bunch of links about a topic to keep track of what webpages they'd liked and wanted to share. I originally came across Dan's links page back in the fall of 1996, and that's where I found all the other LEGO-related websites from. A newer version of that page was captured by the Internet Archive. Frankly, without having discovered that links page in 1996, it's unlikely I would have discovered LEGO as a hobby. The breadth of topics covered introduced me to seemingly every LEGO theme, and it's still common for people to tell me they've never seen something before even though I know it's been around since back then. It's hard to imagine where I'd be had I not found that links page and opened every link.

Given how much of an outpouring there's been over this, it's something of a reflex to try to round up reactions:
Model Building Secrets
Bricks in my Pocket
A Modular Life
The Brothers Brick
akunthita on flickr
SavaTheAggie on flickr

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Technic Baby Twin Otter (Seaplane) with Dizzying Amount of Features

Name of Model: Baby Twin Otter
Created by: Cpt. Postma
Found at:
Details: Apparently the most popular Technic creation at BrickCon this year (it also won a trophy at that event), this seaplane with a wingspan of nearly 5 feet (just over 1.5 meters) is modeled after a DeHavilland Twin Otter.

I'm going to try to keep this short - although this hasn't been singled out post-documentation on any blogs, much has been said about it already. Here's the list of features from the flickr set above:
Wingspan 59.5 inch (151 cm)
Length 43 inch (110 cm)
Height 28 inch (71 cm)
Weight 26.5 lbs (12 kg)
Passengers 9 (incl. 2 Crew)
Motors 5
Cylinders 6 Large, 3 Small
Compressor 6 Cylinders Total
Switches 3
Sensors 1 Touch, 2 Rotation
Power 1 RCX, 2 Battery Packs
Pieces 20 000 (estimated)

Working Features:
Landing Gear (With Main Gear Suspension & Casting Nose Gear)
Independently Variable Throttle
Independently Variable Propeller Pitch
Regulated Compressors in Engines
Regulated Auxiliary Compressor
Navigation Lights
Beacon Light
Passenger Entry Door
Sliding Pilot Seats (allowing entry)
Folding Wings

The information above is for the flickr set, but there's actually more documentation for this model spread out across a few sites. For the long write up (by a Technic expert who didn't build this personally - I've briefly mentioned his Technicopedia a few times), you'll need to look at this post on the Eurobricks forum (of all places - we actually try to avoid linking to Eurobricks because of their set-news-leaking habits). There are also photos (again, by Blakbird instead of the builder) on Brickshelf in a BrickCon 2010 directory, not to mention two YouTube videos that were made by the builder. That's the extended reading when you're done with the 59 flickr photos linked above. For extra credit, write a report on that, create an LDRAW set of instructions for the plane, or build your own that's even larger, more detailed, or more functional.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's Train! It's A Dragon! It's the Tragon!

Name of Model: Enter the Land of The Tragon....
Created by: Megs (Megan Rothrock)
Found at:
Details: This is a 9V train, coming in at an intimidating 12 studs wide (most sets are 6-wide, and that "scale" remains popular with hobbyists as well. It's also a fantastic dragon with some great colors. Lime isn't always the easiest color to work with, but this sort of thing is what that color is made for (there are some other great uses of color here as well, but I'll let you find them yourself). There's also an impressive amount of clever angles in here - this photo of the head/locomotive alone shows several great tilted sections that blend together nicely for an organic look.

This is one of Megan Rothrock's older creations. She's since gone on to work on set designs for the LEGO company and write regularly for BrickJournal magazine. Short of becoming a collectible minifig, that's as close as you can get to being a rock star in the LEGO world.

Monday, October 25, 2010

9 NXT Rover Base for LEGOWORLD Photo Bot

Name of Model: Driving test Lego Mindstorms NXT Rover Bot or Rover-under-contruction-for-Legoworld-2010 (or perhaps there's a newer name for the complete version with the camera)
Created by: Steen
Found at:
Details: In this video, this giant rover base is being run by remote control. At LEGOWORLD in Zwolle right now, it's operating autonomously, controlled by 9 NXT programmable bricks. Although the video and links above don't show the full version, they're impressive enough already and give you a sense of the sheer size of this 'bot. There's a close-up of the treads that shows that they're actually made out of hundreds (or more likely, thousands) of 3-stud long Technic beams. Another video from the event shows the completed robot driving around taking pictures from inside the crowd.

I'm guessing that we'll be seeing many more photos of this (and taken by this) model after the event is over...which I'll be rounding up here as I see them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

LEGO World Zwolle 2010 Round Up

Name of Event: LEGO World 2010
Found at:
As I mentioned last Monday, LEGO World 2010 in Zwolle is now underway. The size of this thing is a bit hard to comprehend - this event actually features a full roster of musical guests, in addition to official LEGO displays and hobbyist (AFOL, or Adult-Fan-Of-LEGO) layouts. Here's an attempt at rounding up what's out there. Since this event is still in progress, we'll keep updating this page as we find out more. We'll also be trying to cover a few individual models from the show soon.

Vincent Kessels's flickr photos
rtvoost's flickr photos
Mark's LEGO Projects' flickr photos
RobinFotografeert's flickr photos

This event is not to be confused with the other LEGOWORLD event in Denmark (I'm not sure why they haven't tried to differentiate the names more), which we rounded up back in February. We also rounded up LEGO World Zwolle 2009.

Bricking Bavaria 2010

Name of Event: Bricking Bavaria 2010
Found at:
Details: Another event that snuck under our radar is Bricking Bavaria 2010, a LEGO show in Neumarkt, Germany. I'm not sure why it has such a small online presence this time out, but here's what I've been able to track down:

alltagskunst blog post (& flickr photoset)
More event info
Lothar's webpage (photos) (videos on the same site)
An official round-up is at the 2010 page on the Bricking Bavaria website. Follow the links under the Fotos und Videos von der Ausstellung header.

Since this particular post is a bit lean, don't forget - you can always send your photos, event information, and other links in to

Friday, October 22, 2010

Modern Bed and Bath

Name of Model: A modern room design
Created by: Littlehaulic (Brickshelf) (flickr)
Found at: and
Details: Inspired by TV home design shows, these two rooms (in roughly a miniland or Belville scale) get the modern look down just right. The bed makes use of one of those odd pink-ish colors (looks like magenta to me), and sits on top of a raised floor made using plates and tiles inlaid sideways (at two different angles). Another nice touch is the blinds, which use some loose angle work and even include a rope so the inhabitants can adjust them. The pillows give great use to a number of difficult to use parts, mostly in rare colors. The lamp even uses an upside-down Scala flower pot!

The three flickr photos (one of which is shown above) are just a teaser - check out the Brickshelf gallery for close-ups of each detail and piece of furniture.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

War Has Come: A Study in Forced Perspective

Name of Model: War has come!
Created by: Skalldyr / Valentin
Found at:
Details: We've seen microscale and "nnenn scale" before, but I don't think I've seen the two combined for forced perspective like this before. The Greco-Roman architecture comes off perfectly - and as a new technique, we get to see a fire ladder used to make columns for the building in the distance. A large fire coming out of temple in the back is another nice touch. The landscaping makes use of a decent variety of plants - note the way the leaf elements are interlocked.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Little Green Man's Flying Saucer

Name of Model: LGM Flying Saucer
Created by: Repoort / Adam Hally
Found at:
Details: A little green man needs a flying saucer. As far as I know, the little green men from Toy Story don't really have flying saucers, but this design seems like it would be perfect. From above, it looks like a claw picking up the alien, just like in the movie. The skid plates on the rim (not to mention the Robo-Attack cockpit) give this a charming retro-futurist look. Then there's the technique for making this round - although it's just a simple click-hinge approach, this is one of those rare places where that actually looks good. The gaps between the 16 sides add a believable amount of texture to the ship - and the sections actually come close enough together by the cockpit. Since the cockpit appears to actually be closed, it's believable that this could contain an atmosphere for the alien to breathe while he's travelling in space. I know that LEGO doesn't prioritize that in official sets, but it really is a sign of a spaceship designed to travel (open cockpit vessels just can't get you that far - no matter how good your classic space air tanks are).

On a related note, the builder also has compiled a buyer's guide for use in keeping track of set prices and price-per-part. My printout of it comes in handy when browsing in places that sell LEGO sets for above the regular price (yes, I know there's an app for that, but some of us are too cheap for that - and for us, the buyer's guide is a godsend).

MosaicBricks Interviews Pattern Expert eilonwy77 / Katie Walker

Name of Model: Mosaic Bricks Interview! interview & mosaic
Mosaics created by: eilonwy77 (Katie Walker)
Interview conducted by: MosaicBricks
Found at: &
Details: For months now, Katie Walker has been posting a string of spectacular and unusual mosaics on flickr. Her techniques range from fanatically precise LEGO geometry with headlight bricks to impossibly patient trial-and-error with cheese slopes. She has inspired, humbled, and scared many a LEGO builder. Recently, she was interviewed for the MosaicBricks blog - to mark the occasion, she built the two mosaics of the blog's name shown here (by the way, if anyone does something like that for us, we'd totally change our header to use it too!)

I actually try to hold back from posting too much of Katie's material because most of it isn't really what most of us would consider "models". Everything is a work-in-progress, a study, or a proof-of-concept. Some of it gets worked into a larger creation later, but most of it is quickly taken apart after the photos are taken (the photographs serve as enough documentation to rebuild the designs later if they are needed). It is, though, always worth a look through her flickr photostream to see what she's been up to. As I said before, her work inspires (with clever techniques), humbles (with the fact she's using a small collection and a very small variety of pieces), and scares (with the amount of time that goes into some of the more ornate small designs). I've featured some of her studies before, but there's way more where that came from. Due to the popularity of her few finished models, I've actually backed away from featuring those here as well (out of respect for the readers who also follow other LEGO blogs, I try to keep repetition to a minimum) - but you should absolutely take a look at the courtyard and the atrium that she built for an as yet unbuilt queen's palace.

Of course, the most intimidating part is realizing that this "beginner" already knows more about how you can fit LEGO pieces together than most experienced hobbyists will ever figure out. It's a rare person who is willing to work with DUPLO and Technic alongside regular LEGO pieces, never mind actually willing to figure out these geometrical quirks. Which is why we should all pay attention here - the techniques you'll pick up will save time later and make you a better builder.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Robotics Monday: We Are Now Obsolete

Name of Model: MakerLegoBot: A Lego Mindstorms NXT 3D Lego Printer
Created by: Will Gorman of
Found at:
Details: The day has finally come. A LEGO robot is now capable of assembling a variety of LEGO models on its own, working off of LDRAW instructions generated in MLCAD. Would you like a robot like this? You can download instructions and programs for it in a number of formats, including MLCAD. That MLCAD file will be handy when a later version of this robot needs to know how to make other robots.

For now, though, this robot is limited to various 2xX sized bricks - 1x2, 2x2, 2x3, 2x4, and 2x8. This limits it to fairly simple models, but the concept has been proven. Actually, the concept, in a way, had already been proven by the robots that this LEGO 'bot was inspired by. MakerBot and RepRap can print any shape three-dimensional shape using extruded plastic. The plastic? It's frequently a type of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) - the same sort of plastic used to make LEGO bricks (naturally, LEGO uses a variation on the ABS formula that is kept fairly secret). We already knew that the possibilities were endless, this was just the variation on this sort of robot that we all wanted to see.

...and speaking of which, if you want to see this in person (without building your own or a robot that can build one for you), you can see it at LEGO WORLD 2010 in Zwolle, The Netherlands, from October 22nd to October 26th, 2010.

via Make
Apologies for the late posts the past few days - I've been feeling very sick and having a hard time focusing. Things should be back to regular speed for the rest of the week, although I'm still pretty stuffy.

MadBrick 2010

Name of Event: MadBrick 2010
Found at: ? (I haven't been able to find an official link - photos of the event can be found at the links below.
For reasons unknown to me, there have been increasingly more LEGO events overseas lately that aren't getting much of any attention on the internet. News about shows doesn't seem to be getting out as much in advance, making it a bit confusing when the photos show up online afterwards. This also poses an issue for our efforts to keep the BrickJournal shared calendars up to date - we can't let everyone else know about an event if we don't know about it ourselves.

Anyway, it turns out that on October 9th, there was a LEGO show Madrid, Spain called MadBrick 2010. Here's a mini-roundup of photo links:

MicroJavi's Brickshelf Gallery
AlIeNiGeNa's Brickshelf Gallery (if you only have time for one gallery - make it this one, it covers the widest variety of models)
legospain's Brickshelf Gallery

Congrats on a good show - just let us know ahead of time next year so that we can send our readers your way.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Caveman's Night Out

Name of Model: Meet the Parents mini story
Created by: Jared Chan
Found at:
Details: Cavemen collectible minifigures are as exciting as ever. We've previously seen a caveman in the woods, and now we see one taking his date's mother out for a drive in a Flintstones-esque car. The Hong Kong LEGO Users Group is having a 16x16 Vignette Competition, so we'll probably see a few more great little creations like this one.

EDIT 10/20/2010: There are photos of other entries in this contest on Facebook.
This is Friday's model of the day

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Microscale Maersk

Name of Model: One for the Road
Created by: legoloverman (Peter Reid)
Found at:
Details: Maersk LEGO sets have never been easy to come by. Since a special color of LEGO brick is manufactured for use in these sets, they're highly prized among LEGO hobbyists - the slightly greenish shade of light blue is useful in a variety of settings. On those rare occasions when Maersk-colored parts are available to the public, they're quickly bought up for use in larger creations. The popularity of the bricks leads to extras of the stickers being available. Naturally, the challenge then becomes finding models to use the stickers. Microscale Maersk models have been done before, but this one seems particularly realistic and compelling. The builder has a nearly magic touch when it comes to greebling on very small space vehicles.

See also: the same builder's latest Maersk spaceship.
This is Thursday's model of the day

Thursday, October 14, 2010

LEGO® Fanwelt 2010 Event Happening Soon

Name of Model: LEGO ICE 3 and S-Bahn on bridge
Created by: ICE 3 by Holger Matthes and S-Bahn by "Kai"
Found at:

Holger Matthes recently posted videos and photos of LEGO models of German ICE 3 and S-Bahn trains running around a remarkable layout in preparation for LEGO Fanwelt 2010. The models are amazing pieces of work, superb SNOT work on the overall structure with a peppering of details putting the "icing on the cake". The layout that these trains are running on is somewhat of a dream for a LEGO train fan. Double tracks sweeping over broad, curving viaducts, a massive arched bridge (based off a design by TJ Avery) and beautifully sculpted terrain come together to make a quite impressive layout. And to think that this is only a portion of what is to come at Fanwelt. In years past years attendees have been awed by models of the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, United States Capitol and Empire State Building, an exceptionally large rocket, amazing space creations, an aircraft carrier and free food. If you like LEGO and can make it to Fanwelt 2010 in Cologne, Germany November 18th - 21st, 2010, I'd suggest going. You'll be sure to have a LEGO-tastic amount of fun.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cassette Tape

Name of Model: 80's Audio Tape by LegoManiac
Created by: LegoManiac (LEGO13 manager)
Found at:
Details: This almost double-size sculpture of a cassette tape isn't entirely purist, but it is pretty clever. Technic half-pins with a stud on the end flip the direction of the studs upside-down so that the same curved elements can be used for the top and the bottom. The clear section in the middle is another interesting trick - since LEGO actually uses a mold without a center tube for translucent and transparent parts, you can use two of them (one upside-down) to create a small compartment of sorts. Inside that area, black paper is used to create the look of the actual magnetic tape. A few stickers complete the model. Surprisingly, only 100 parts were used.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Aquanauts + Moonbase = Awesome

Name of Model: AquaLAB
Created by: bort138
Found at:
Details: As I've mentioned before, there are never enough good Aquazone models. At some level, I can understand the distaste - as the first "playtheme", Aquazone looks a little like the beginning of an annoying trend to long-time LEGO fans who preferred the days of evergreen themes always being available. Alas, the days of always having Town, Space, Castle, and Pirates around are behind us, and we're now stuck in the world of themes rotating in-and-out every two years or so for the foreseeable future. In spite of that baggage, though the Aquazone theme actually was pretty interesting, and since it lasted three years originally AND has had two reboots, it's arguably an "evergreen" theme itself (a recent BrickJournal issue recapped LEGO's on-and-off habits with underwater themes).

This is not "just" an Aquanauts base, though - it's built as several modules in the moonbase standard. This was actually featured as part of the Space layout at BrickCon 2010 (which worked well as a way to open up the theme and include this in a collaborative layout). The details on this model are every bit as stunning as its size - while the vehicles around the AquaLAB look like they could be sets, every one of them is an original creation. All of the modules are fully furnished - this is one of the few bases that actually has enough amenities to function as real living quarters for its inhabitants. The modules even have removable roofs so that you can see all the interiors. True to theme, there's also a room for processing crystals.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Robotics Monday: The Duck Family and the Bad Rat (NXT Animation)

Name of Model: The duck family and the bad rat
Created by: Family Vuurzoon
Found at: and
Details: A dutch family with three generations of LEGO enthusiasts recently built this set of animals. A brilliant mix of NXT robotics and more traditional LEGO sculpture techniques, these life-size animals act out the action in the video above. It seems like there are never enough animations that use this technique instead of stop-motion. Here, we see the animals run around in a fairly realistic manner, down to the mother duck laying an "egg" (a ball from the NXT 2.0 kit, previously known as a Bionicle Zamor sphere) and the rat taking it to eat. A surprising amount of detail went into the robots here - check out the MOCpages links above to read more about them and see photos of the source material. Also of note (but I'm not aware of more of a close-up than in the video) is some of the background scenery - the life-size squirrel sculpture and duck's nest look great too.

Some tape (vinyl) was used to cover some of the NXT parts and make the NXT colors blend in well with the rest of the models. Further "cheating" was used to make the smaller ducks work with power functions motors and a battery set-up small enough to fit inside them (they're controllable through IR - which presumably is controlled by a third party NXT IR adapter). There's another video that explains how the ducks are made.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Look Inside the LEGO Idea House

Name of flickr photo set: LEGO© Museum, Billund, Denmark
Photos by: Klementina Kos
Found at:
Details: Tucked away in Billund, Denmark, somewhere around the current headquarters of the LEGO company, there's a house that was once lived in by the company's founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen. That house is currently the scene of a private museum known as the "LEGO Idea House". Although it is not generally open to the public, there are occasions when some LEGO fans are let in. Primarily a place for employees to look back at the history of the LEGO company, it also houses a variety of rare LEGO sets, prototype parts, unreleased creations from LEGO designers, and other interesting goodies. It's also been rumored (said in a recent book) that the basement is the "secret undisclosed location" of the vault where LEGO keeps (or at least attempts to keep) a copy of every set they've ever made. The secrecy related to some of the house's contents has made photos of the interior rare - for obvious reasons, photos of things like prototype elements are not something LEGO wants leaking out. The photo set I've linked to above is a peek inside some parts of the house where photography has been allowed (at least, I didn't catch anything that looked like something we're not allowed to see).

Brick Town Talk has covered the LEGO version of the house (it's been given out as part of some tours of the Idea House, so it's a very rare kit - I'm told that newer tours use different kits every time, so it won't be showing up again). If you're interested in getting in on one of these tours, check out the info on the official LEGO website.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

St. Basil's Cathedral in Microscale

Name of Model: St. Basil's Cathedral
Created by: Arthur Gugick
Found at:
Details: 20 inches by 20 inches (64 studs square) is a pretty small space, particularly if you're trying to build sprawling landmarks. It is, however, apparently enough space to capture the grandeur and distinctive architecture of St. Basil's Cathedral. Part of Moscow, Russia's Moscow Kremlin and Red Square UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, the cathedral was built in the 1500's and was secularized in the 1920's. The unusual domes - bulb-like shapes that look more like onions than anything you'd normally see on a building - are naturally difficult to capture in LEGO form (and their colors only add to the challenge). I have a feeling that the Dome Creator software wasn't able to handle this one.

Beyond the domes, there are also some great techniques used to create details on the sides of the building. The bottoms of plates show outwards so that their undersides can form the texture of the walls. Wheel wells do a surprisingly good job of providing the arch shape found on the smaller spires. Hinge plates give several places angles to create octagonal and round-looking spires. A row of plates with clips allows for fence elements to face two different directions and still be connected firmly to the structure.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Snoopy and Woodstock

Name of Model: Snoop
Created by: "BrickLove" Martijn van Bachum
Found at:
Details: I'm not sure quite how to describe this scale (it's definitely larger than minifig scale), but this Snoopy (from PEANUTS) is adorable. As some of the flickr commenters pointed out, the part selection could have been better - but that's besides the point, since this is part of the builder's attempt to build and photograph a new small model every day. It's hard enough just to write about a different model every day, never mind building and photographing a fresh one! In an apparent effort to completely show me up, the builder also pointed out three earlier Snoopy LEGO models for comparison's sake.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wind-Up Clock

Name of Model: Lego Clock
Created by: Don Rogerson (62 Bricks)
Found at:
Details: Coaxial rotation is one of those concepts that used to constantly stymie Technic fans. Specifically, those of us who likes clocks. Surprisingly, while I've blogged a working grandfather clock before, I've never pointed out how hard it is to solve this problem. Or is it? In recent years, we've seen LEGO designers make frequent use of the once-rare transmission gear to allow multiple different speeds to be transmitted on the same axle. New for 2010, we even have a bevel gear that sits loose on an axle. To build clock hands, it's particularly useful to use that transmission gear with plates with toothed ends (if you have some, that is - few molds from when LEGO liked that "toothed" system are still in production now. There were issues with the sturdiness of the parts, and the newer parts that replaced those elements are much more reliable).

Of course, all of these parts and issues from the past few decades can be worked around by using vintage parts. The earliest LEGO gears, released in 1965, don't connect firmly to Technic axles. They work with Technic axles, but these gears actually were around first. Not only do these work nicely for coaxial rotation, but since they're large enough to be used as clock faces anyway, you can also just build a hand directly onto one and use it as both a hand and the face of the clock.

That solution is clever enough, but this builder upped the ante by powering this with wind-up motors. The result is an analog clock that can really be wound. Follow the links above for video, photos, and more details (including some information on the escapement).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sand Green & White Cafe-Corner Style Modular Bookstore

Name of Model: Lego: Fancy Bookstore
Created by: cimddwc
Found at:

Usually, when I see a model inspired by the Cafe Corner set or following the modular build standard established by that kit, I write about it at Brick Town Talk instead of here (if it hasn't been blogged there already). As I was prepping a post about this model for BTT earlier, more details started to stick out to me - enough to make me realize I should feature it here as well. While this isn't quite a reproduction of the original building that inspired it (shown above right), this conjures up all the right details from the original and fits it into a layout-ready 24 studs (sure, 16- and 32-stud measurements are more common, but it's easy to fit in any multiple of 8 studs as a building width). The gargoyle-esque bits on either side of the top window are Bionicle krana in white. I don't believe we've ever seen them used in a model for minifigs before. Above that same window, we also see a ball joint element and a tooth with axle hole used as architectural details. Spires are made from 1x6 curved slopes, and border detailing makes use of many 2 x 2 curved slope pieces. All those clever bits come in before you even get to the gorgeous detailing at the windows!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reinventing Texture

Name of Model: Two Story with Basement
Created by: mike doyle
Found at:
Details: Generally speaking, there aren't that many textures that you can get out of standard LEGO pieces. Sure, you can stretch the limits by turning pieces in every direction - the bottoms and tops of pieces have different textures than what we're used to seeing on the side. Here, a combination of a large (looks like miniland to me) scale, that technique of using every side of the brick, and intentional disassembly make this house look abandoned and worn down. The close-up shots give away some of the magic: cheese slopes and front-facing tiles without bricks behind create the rustic look of the snow-covered walls, some parts (like this door) just aren't attached, and open spaces between plates give the illusion of rotting wood (the use of angled tiles in that photo is surprisingly effective too). The kicker? This is this builder's first creation since getting started as a LEGO hobbyist. Some people just have too much of a talent for this...

Robotics Monday: MindBOARDS

It's been a strange week in the LEGO robotics world. It appears that community hub is not going to be coming back online. has now surfaced as a potential replacement - and frankly, it's got enough of the Mindstorms community's "stars" involved that it should have no problem bringing in most of us from nxtasy. These new forums are tied to a SourceForge project that aims to gather information, tools, and software for use with the NXT (presumably other LEGO programmable bricks as well, but NXT is the main focus). The site is still in it's infancy but worth a look if you're into Mindstorms.

Another summary of the situation is on Xander Soldaat's blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Brickcon Round-Up

Name of Event: Brickcon
Found at:
It was Brickcon time again this weekend. As I'm writing this, the festivities aren't over yet, so expect this page to be updated with more links over the next few days (or weeks - sometimes people take a while to upload photos, but we keep compiling them). We've previously covered the new set unveiled over the weekend.
On to the photo links (again, we're still adding these - if you know of photos or other coverage that we don't, send in your tips to

Tac Anderson's flickr set
girlhacker's flickr set
from BrickJournal's Joe Meno:
Bill Ward's flickr set
redfive99's flickr set
Czar's Brickshelf gallery
Alex Eylar's MOCpages coverage
jjackowski's flickr set (accompanying blog post)
Group flickr pool
eric11blue's flickr set
Mariann Asanuma's blog recap and flickr set
SnowLeopard's flickr set
rabidnovaracer's flickr set
blakbird's Brickshelf gallery

We've also tried to preview Brickcon 2009 and round-up BrickCon 2008 and NW BrickCon 2007.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Set Announced: 10217 Diagon Alley

Name of Model: 10217 Diagon Alley™
Created by the LEGO company
Found at:
Details: A new set was unveiled this weekend at BrickCon in Seattle:

10217 – Diagon Alley™
Ages 14+; 2,025 pieces
US=$149.99 CA=$199.99 UK=£132.75 DE=149.99 €

Expand your very own wizarding world of Harry Potter™!

No need to pass through the Leaky Cauldron. Now even Muggles can shop in Diagon Alley by building this fantastically magical set that includes 3 extensively detailed buildings and 11 minifigures! Join Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger as they shop for their Hogwarts school supplies. Visit Ollivanders, Borgin and Burkes, and Gringotts Bank. Each Diagon Alley building is realistically detailed. Ollivanders offers an extensive selection of wands, storage shelves and a step ladder that allows Ollivander to gather wands from the top floor. The front desk has an “exploding” function for those inconvenient times when a spell goes awry. Borgin and Burkes includes a scary skeleton, “glow-in-the-dark” elements, a fireplace attached to the Floo Network and a Vanishing Cabinet that Dark wizards might use to sneak into Hogwarts. Gringotts Bank is an impressive two-story building with large double doors, and can be opened completely into one large building or closed to create one smaller building. The bank’s interior features a removable vault, along with the Philosopher’s Stone, a clerk’s desk, a chandelier and ‘wonky’ support pillars. Includes 11 minifigures: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, each with magic wand; Rubeus Hagrid, equipped with his pink umbrella; Fred and George Weasley; 2 Gringotts goblins; Mr. Ollivander; Lucius Malfoy (with Death Eater disguise); Fenrir Greyback; and 4 new, decorated owls.

  • Includes 11 minifigures: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, each with magic wand; Rubeus Hagrid, equipped with his pink umbrella; Fred and George Weasley; 2 Gringotts goblins; Mr. Ollivander; Lucius Malfoy (with Death Eater disguise); Fenrir Greyback; and 4 new, decorated owls!
  • Diagon Alley is made up of 3 extensively detailed buildings: Ollivanders, Borgin and Burkes and Gringotts Bank!
  • Ollivanders features lots of wands, storage shelves and a step ladder that leads to the top floor!
  • Front desk at Ollivanders has an “exploding” function!
  • Borgin and Burkes includes a skeleton, “glow-in-the-dark” elements, fireplace attached to the Floo Network and even a Vanishing Cabinet!
  • Gringotts Bank is a two-story building featuring large double doors!
  • Open Gringotts Bank completely into one large building and explore inside or close it to create a smaller building!
  • Gringotts Bank features a detailed interior with a removable vault, the Philosopher’s Stone, clerk’s desk, chandelier and ‘wonky’ support pillars!
  • Includes 11 minifigures: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, each with magic wand; Rubeus Hagrid, equipped with his pink umbrella; Fred and George Weasley; 2 Gringotts goblins; Mr. Ollivander; Lucius Malfoy (with Death Eater disguise); Fenrir Greyback; and 4 new, decorated owls!

Additionally, there's an official set of photos that was released to a few of the larger fan sites - this set seems to include a few (including minifig close-ups) that are not on the official page for this set.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Name of Model: Lego Elephant (MOC)
Created by: Wami Delthorn
Found at:
Details: Coming in surprisingly close to minifig scale, this elephant is a great alternative to the official (and now hard-to-find) elephant from a few years back. The most unusual element here, the Cylinder Hemisphere 3 x 3 Ball Turret, makes for great feet. The slopes work out just right, and all of the other extremities came out great too - the two tusks use small spike elements, a 3-long axle forms the tail, and click hinges get the proper (and pose-able!) trunk look. Did I mention that the legs are built upside-down and connected through Technic pins to create joints? That feature is shown off in some fun riding Spartan photos of this model (the cart for riding the elephant isn't bad either, but isn't historically accurate).

Minifig Scale "Hideous Zippleback" Dragon

Name of Model: This sly two-headed dragon is the largest and the most unusual of the dragon species. One head breathes flamable gas while the other head lights it by making sparks, creating lethal explosions.
Created by: Unitronus
Found at:
Details: Medium lime is one of those rare colors that you almost never see people use. It's just too difficult to gather up enough of a parts selection in some colors to really build much of anything. Today's featured model is the first I've seen rise to this challenge. Apparently based on the movie How To Train Your Dragon, this dragon's construction uses a plate with clip/pneumatic T technique to create this dragon's two long necks. That's right - a fantastic use of a rare color that only uses one part, repeatedly (quantities of obscure parts like this are usually available for sale on BrickLink).

I can't speak for how true this is to the source material (I've never seen the movie - how was it?), but I love the scene built around this dragon. The landscaping looks very realistic and the diverse plant life adds extra detail without being too distracting. Most (maybe even all) of the plant techniques have been used before, but they're used well here - I specifically like how bushes were stacked upside-down to make a tree.

This builder has apparently decided to stick to the theme of making minifig-scale models based on the movie How To Train Your Dragon; a second model has already been posted.