Sunday, August 19, 2012

Not Your Usual Plastic Guns

LEGO Heavy Weapons: Build Working Replicas of Four of the World's Most Impressive Gunsby Jack Streat. No Starch Press; 368 pages; $24.95 and £16.02

It's no secret that Americans love guns. With the National Rifle Association boasting a staggering 4.3 million members, there are certainly more than a few gun enthusiasts scattered throughout the country. Whether it's hunting, personal protection, competition, or something else – nearly every gun owner has some sort of justification to “pack heat”. However, real guns are often quite difficult to come by (especially outside of the United States). Whether it be their cost or legality, it is often prohibitively difficult to get your hands on a real life bullet spewing hunk of metal. A weekend at the shooting range to actually use your beloved gun of choice, you ask? As anyone who's watched the movie Donnie Brasco would say - "forget about it"!

LEGO, on the other hand, seems to be more and more widely available with every passing day. It's certainly America's favorite building toy, most likely the world’s too. It's everywhere. Found in most corner pharmacies, at the toy store down the street, and no doubt filling multiple shelves and more often than not boasting its own dedicated isle at the local big-box mart – LEGO is omnipresent. Everyone's favorite Danish building block has no doubt won over the hearts and wallets of many with its vivid coloring, robust geometry, and ability to provide endless hours of entertainment. If you're reading this right now, there's a good chance that you have more than a few of the special little blocks in your house too. Tired of building skyscrapers and spaceships? Lost your enthusiasm for finishing that burgeoning train layout? Looking to build something that actually moves or shoots something for a change? LEGO Heavy Weapons by Jack Streat might just be the answer that you've been looking for.

In Mr. Streat's inaugural effort, (which is understandable since he was but a mere 17 years of age when it was published) readers are treated to the complete instructions necessary to construct four replicas of the "world’s most impressive guns". Included in the book are instructions to build a Desert Eagle handgun, a AKS-74U assault rifle, a Lee Enfield sniper rifle, and an SPAS combat shotgun. In addition to being given instructions to construct each gun, one will also be pleased to find a parts listing for each gun that lays out graphically all of the LEGO bricks necessary to construct the weapon in question. If your collection is anything like mine, you’ll likely be able to construct a large portion of any weapon with parts on hand – the only parts I found myself lacking sufficient quantity of were the odd Technic piece here and there. A quick trip to (click here to download an XML BrickLink parts list) or LEGO’s online PAB, a couple of days wait, and the solution to your woes and the necessary pieces to complete a LEGO weapon of your own a la Mr. Streat should be sitting pleasantly in your mailbox or at your front door.

LEGO guns are an oddity, a rare sight in the world of LEGO. Perhaps it’s the difficulty involved in designing and constructing one out of LEGO. Sure it's easy to build a LEGO "gun"... but, designing a LEGO gun that actually works is a different story. Designing and building a gun that actually projects objects at an accelerated rate of speed towards a target, that’s really quite a feat. While there might not be as many LEGO gun fans as there are regular ones, LEGO Heavy Weapons is doing its part to change this. This isn’t just another book to put on your shelf and never look at again. This is an instruction manual, something to be pored over until every direction contained within its pages has manifested itself into something that you can physically handle. With all the directions needed to build four marvelous LEGO weapons, it’s likely that the pages of this book will be left open for many a day. LEGO Heavy Weapons is more than just a good read, it’s a good build.

More information about the models in this book are available from the author at the MOCPages page for LEGO Heavy Weapons.

No Starch Press provided LMOTD with a copy of LEGO Heavy Weapons for this review.

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