Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Motorized Tie Rack

Name of Model: Lego Tie Rack
Created by: Matthew Sklar
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sklar/32508517871/in/dateposted/
Details: Matthew Sklar built this fully-functional tie rack motorized with Power Functions. Five carousels can hold ten ties each. Each carousel uses a large sprocket wheel surrounded by large Technic tread links, with each link holding a tie-hanging assembly (clearly visible in the bottom left photo of the collage). Normally I'd expect a problem with using LEGO pieces to hang something else, but the neckties are lightweight enough to not cause an excessive amount of strain on the parts. I'd be curious to know how long it takes for the axles to eventually show the results of wear and gravity - it could be years, but it will still happen eventually.

I should also mention the classy aesthetics of this model. Some of us tend to make LEGO creations look like they're made out of LEGO, embracing bright colors. The Batman-eqsue solid black here would be more likely to pass muster with non-LEGO people in the house. The shelf on the top is a nice touch, too, and is shown with multiple storage slots filled with tie bars, collar stays, and cuff links.

The same builder has also posted a simpler earlier iteration of a motorized tie rack. Another photo with a few panels removed reveals the classic 9V motor inside.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An Adorable Cockatoo

Name of Model: Cuddly Toys: Cockatoo
Created by: Koen
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/swandutchman/33335273716/
Details: Koen has been on a roll lately building small models based on cuddly plush toys. This particular model is an adorable cockatoo, with the distinctive crest at the top of the head made out of a pearl gold feathered minifig wing.

A few other details stuck out to me - note the use of upside-down click hinges to form the feet and toes. They're mounted on jumper plates so that they can be angled easily. The studs of the body actually face the bird's back, and some simple studs-not-on-top parts allow the head to be right-side-up and the base to be upside-down. The part with the feet and tail is pleasantly 3 studs wide, with the two tubes on the bottom of a 3021 used to handle the offset for the body.

Other models in this series of cuddly-toy based creations include a panda, a turtle (check out that shell!), a rhino, a parrot (which is a similar build to this cockatoo), a dragon (which has too red a belly to be a young Ollie), a chicken, and a tiger (with an exceptional use of minifig claws as whiskers).

Friday, March 10, 2017

A City Park

Name of Model: City Park
Created by: Full Plate / Emil Lidé
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/emillide/sets/72157679920181515
Details: This gorgeous city park has somehow gone unnoticed by LEGO fan blogs for the past month. It'd probably be worth diving into the tree techniques (both the axe tree technique and the microscale tree technique (used here for bushes) have been documented very well by the builder), but perhaps the most striking thing about the trees is the way one of them is eating a kite. Poor kid.

Rather awkwardly (for those of us who like to write about these things, anyway), all of the photos of this model are slice-of-life scenes instead of close-ups of details. You'll have to look closely to spot these, then: there's a pair of excellent benches made using Star Wars blasters for the decorative trim on the sides, a number of decorative fence posts made with well-placed brackets, and a lamppost made with a Technic ski pole cleverly mounted on a round 2x2 tile with a hole in the center. Even the minifigure posing seems spot-on - note the reactions around the kite scene, and the way the dog is casually sniffing toward the banana peel in the garbage can.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Toy Fair 2017: DC Superhero Girls Sculptures

Name of Models: unknown
Created by: Master Model Builders working for LEGO
Found at: https://www.bzpower.com/story.php?ID=9224
Details: While the first two sculptures we featured from this year's Toy Fair were out in the lobby of the convention center, there was more to see at the actual LEGO booth. Sculptures of Supergirl and Harley Quinn as they appear in the DC Superhero Girls line made an appearance (with a similar photo opportunity background) in one of the front corners of the booth. As is par for the course, there are many exciting details here - don't miss Supergirl's shoes (detailed asymmetrically), necklace, chest emblem and bracelet or Harley Quinn's mask, buttons, and hammer. One thing that caught my eye is the extensive use of plates to keep the appearance of the sculpture very high-resolution - frequently, on a sculpture this size, you'll see plates skipped in favor of trying to get the shape right using only bricks. Here, they didn't spare that effort or expense. The result pays off, making the figures look very realistic on the whole. The faces also include some additional detail.

Check out this close-up of Harley Quinn's face. Note how half-stud offsets are used extensively, the nose comes to a 1-stud-wide point, and the curvature in the lips incorporates studs-not-on-top techniques. They're small details, and they really help sell the model. Her right hand similarly makes for a study in technique (although I'd say it's less successful) - you can see the shape that the hand should take up filled with plates and bricks, but the fingers seem less distinctive. Unused space and minor changes in contour suggest the shape, and your mind fills in the rest. It's a technique that works because people who don't write blogs like this will never look at it closely enough for the illusion of a hand to dissolve.

Getting back to Supergirl, there are some clever techniques in her face as well - perhaps the first surprise is that it's not the same shape as Harley Quinn's, but a completely different build. A close-up of her lips shows jumper plates used for shaping, with some of them simply having shadows above them to suggest depth. Moving up towards her eyes, you can see that her nose is two studs wide, and that another sideways section makes up the nose-adjacent part of the eyes and eyebrows.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

When Bionicle Meets Architecture

Name of Model: "Mindphaser" Tactical AI
Created by: Djokson
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/djokson/31831398012/
Details: Recently, there was a Bionicle-based architecture contest on Flickr that seems to have slipped under the radar. My personal favorite entry is this eerie combination of a Terminator-esque artificial intelligence system and a heavily-greebled spaceship interior. For all the great Bionicle- and Technic-based details in it, the highlight might just be the rubber bands representing loose wires going through the floor.

The contest was run by -Disty-, a master of architecturally-minded Bionicle models who I've featured here before. While it didn't seem to get much attention (a shame that I'll take some responsibility for), the contest did attract some stellar entries. Besides the one I've featured here, the "physical" category also attracted an arched bridge by Ballom Nom Nom, an ionizer by bfahome, and the Zamor Energy Turbine (the winning entry) by Galaxus. That last one even made the zamor sphere cannon element look decent! The digital category also attracted a gem: the winning entry was this vast landscape by the aptly-named Victor.

Back to the main model pictured above, though: around the head in the center, there's a really clever combination of ribbed hose around flexible hoses. Then there's the mix of axle joiners and pin joiners in the floor - it's subtle, but provides more texture than you'd see otherwise. The "System" parts used here are also extremely effective - the 8x8 grill plate blends right in with the Technic and Bionicle bits, and the upside down plates (which might be free floating) in the front corner help to make the other two walls look more like corridors.

Note to everybody: build more models like this. You'd be surprised how easy it is to come across used Bionicle parts in bulk, and most parts (from any LEGO line) take on a whole new life when you have them in a large quantity.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Marking 10 Years of LMOTD

This post marks the exact 10-year anniversary of this blog. If you're reading this, you probably haven't read the very first "test post" from exactly 10 years ago, on February 27th, 2007. The first "real" post, about a brick-built Mindstorms-controlled vending machine, followed shortly after.

We have some vague plans for further celebrating this anniversary - watch this space for the next month or so as we commemorate 10 years of blogging about LEGO Models on an admittedly less-than-daily basis.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Look at the 1963-1964 LEGO Retailer Catalog for Glued Models

Name of Models: various models from 1963-1964 LEGO retailer catalog for glued models
Posted by: Olaf Blankenfeldt
Found at:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintage-lego-toys/32550323465/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintage-lego-toys/32509238156/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintage-lego-toys/32509234946/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintage-lego-toys/32397491882/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintage-lego-toys/32397486432/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintage-lego-toys/32509223536/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintage-lego-toys/32550297485/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintage-lego-toys/32170878790/in/photostream/

Details: An old retailer catalog from over 50 years ago might not sound "fascinating" to you, but hear me out: there were quite a few models in there that hold up well now (in spite of the limited part selection back then), and were positively amazing for the time. All of the models were glued and used specifically to advertise the LEGO brand and show what can be built from LEGO pieces. They include houses, boats, and street scenes, Santa with reindeer (also in that photo: more houses and several variations on models from the Doll Set), early mosaics (note the extra plates in colors where bricks weren't available yet), cars, trucks, and windmills, and planes and trains. Britain's Houses of Parliament make an appearance on the back cover. Even the ordering form is included here!

Olaf Blankenfeldt has been posting a variety of interesting historical artifacts from LEGO's past. This retailer catalog is part of a cache of materials thrown away by LEGO in 2007 (according to Olaf's comments on Flickr).

Speaking of LEGO history (and how we need fans to maintain it because LEGO doesn't do so consistently), Gary Istok's Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide will soon no longer be available as a download. He recently posted on LUGNET that this is because of an upcoming non-English multi volume book version coming out in the future. If you're at all interested in the history of LEGO, I highly recommend that you buy his guide while you still can.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Toy Fair 2017: Batman and Ninjago Photo Opportunity

Name of Models: unknown
Created by: Master Model Builders working for LEGO
Found at: http://www.bzpower.com/story.php?ID=9214
Details: We've got two exciting models to show you today as part of our ongoing coverage of this year's Toy Fair in New York, New York. These sculptures promoting The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie were pretty difficult to get close to - as one of the main attractions in the lobby (outside the show itself) when you first walk into the Javits Center, they were very popular. Toy Industry professionals and press alike wanted to get photos of these two characters.


I (Dan) was able to get a few pictures before the show opened on Saturday, and some more after closing, for a total of 84 pictures covering most of the obvious details. Some highlights in my mind: we get a mosaic of Batman's torso, minus the all-important ninth ab, the tiny gap in the fabric of minifigure capes is fully rendered in-the-brick, there's a compelling and determined pair of eyes, a few great mosaics on curved surfaces, a sculpture of the tassel element that almost needs to be seen from a distance - WAIT A SECOND - that last piece is currently only made in black! That just sounds like a LEGO Batman reference - what I'm really saying is that they may have just leaked that that element will available in dark tan once all of the LEGO Ninjago movie sets have been revealed. Now seems like a time for wild speculation. Would LEGO really make a giant version of an unreleased part if they weren't planning to release it? What's happening?

I mean, there are other interesting aspects of these models, too - they continue the trend of minifigure characters being shown in a very curved, computer-animated style. The Ninjago character probably has a very interesting internal support structure running through both the sword blade and the tassel - such a dynamic character would require some hefty bracing instead of just a beam to keep it upright. You really just want to see new sets and gossip about the new movie, though, don't you? It's OK. We understand.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Closing in on 10 Years of LMOTD

Longtime fans of LMOTD may be aware that this blog has now been around for nearly 10 years. I'm not terribly interested in doing a hefty self-congratulatory post about how great we are (or were), how great an idea this blog was when I started it (before everyone else picked up the good ideas and did them better), or in posting statistics of how popular we are (which will show that we peaked in early 2011). I know we've made an impact in the community, and I'm equally aware that this blog has been flagging for a while now, even as I get more involved with other parts of the Adult Fan of LEGO community.

What I would like to know is how you'd look back on ten years of seeing me (and my tiny team) attempt to write about a Fascinating LEGO Model each "Day". I don't know if we'll share these or not (it depends on what we receive), but I'd like to hear from you. Maybe there was an exciting technique you learned about here, an event you found out about through LMOTD, a model that changed the way you looked at LEGO, a funny story from meeting one of us at a convention, or a time you were proud of having your creation featured here. It's up to you - I've heard stories before, but this milestone seems like the right time to gather up what we've meant to you these past ten years. Send your stories, memories, compliments, reflections, roasts, in-jokes, rants, etc to legomodeloftheday@gmail.com - we've got some small prizes stashed that we will use to reward some of our favorite submissions.

Toy Fair 2017 - An Overwhelming Amount of Bricks


I'm back from my whirlwind trip through Toy Fair and I'm beginning to comb through photos and post some highlights. For this event, I (Dan) teamed up with BZPower's Andrew (Black Six) to try to capture as much of the event as possible. We still didn't get everything - not even all the LEGO-related things. There's just too much; it's overwhelming. Right now, LEGO is everywhere. You've probably seen some tie-in products related to The LEGO Batman Movie already, and you should start bracing for a similar onslaught of officially licensed products tying into The LEGO Ninjago Movie as well (note: we won't be posting any Ninjago Movie info from Toy Fair, since most of it is under embargo, and the rest of it was probably supposed to be under embargo as well). That's before we get into all the companies selling accessories to be used with LEGO pieces, all the clone brands trying to copy LEGO, and all of the somewhat unrelated brands operating in a similar space. We got in some solid market research to better understand how some of the LEGO items were currently excited about stack up against the competition.

...all of which is pretty interesting, but admittedly a bit distant from our usual tack here of focusing on fascinating LEGO models. Most of our immediate coverage will be posted over on BZPower, where a landing page will show you what we've posted so far. Most of the really LEGO-specific items will be covered fairly soon, and we'll share information about some of the more distant toys as time rolls on. Keep an eye out for some of my photos to eventually show up on Flickr (since no LEGO fan site really needs to cover every toy I find interesting) as well. We'll keep you posted as event coverage continues to come together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Upcoming Events

This is far from a comprehensive list of upcoming events, but I wanted to advertise a few that I (Dan) will personally be at. We'll cover all of these:
  • Toy Fair New York (February 18-21, New York, New York) - This famous Toy Industry Association event is not open to the public. I'll be at the event itself this weekend covering some fun and LEGO-adjacent toys. You'll be able to read about some of those fun toys here afterward. We do not expect to have access to the LEGO booth, but you know other LEGO fan blogs cover that too, right?
  • Richland Community Library's Bricks For Books (March 4, Richland, Pennsylvania) - A fundraiser for the Richland Community Library, this PennLUG show features both displays of original creations and the opportunity to win various LEGO collectibles in raffles. Open to the public from 10 AM to 4 PM, tickets are $5 per person at the door.
  • Maker Faire NoVa (March 19, Reston, Virginia) - Come see BioniLUG's LEGO display and play area (as well as dozens of other Maker exhibits, including two other LEGO-based booths) from 11 AM to 5 PM. Tickets ($13 per adult, $2 per child) can be bought online now, with "Early Bird" pricing ($9 per adult, $1 per child) in effect through February 17th.

Have A Fabuland-ous Valentine's Day

Name of Model: Happy Valentine's Day
Created by: Schneider Chung ("Schfio")
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/schfio/32898475325/
Details: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. This is the most adorable thing you will see this Valentine's Day. The characters here are Fabuland figures - but here, the original Elton Elephant and Bonnie Bunny are only used as "gifts" that the larger, sculpted versions of the characters are giving each other.

As cute as Elton and Bonnie are, the details of this model only make it more captivating. Note that the arms get thicker further away from the body to capture the curvature correctly - the "top" of each arm (actually built sideways) is made from rows of headlight bricks with 1 x 1 tiles connected to their fronts. The curved effect this creates is subtle, but an excellent use of the half-plate-thick offset you can get from a headlight brick. Clip plates hold the bunny's eyes in place and also form her eyelashes. Plates with rails fill some (roughly) half-stud-wide spaces that otherwise wouldn't look as round. The elephant's ears even achieve the difficult "cupped" effect by carefully weaving plates together in different directions - and I still can't tell how his eyes are attached. Bonnie's mouth is exquisite - a minifig cap sits on top of a precise jumper plate construction that conceals part of a set of whiskers built as a studs-up mosaic.

Schneider Chung hadn't posted on Flickr for a while before this, but he remains one of the best at building in his signature studs-not-on-top style. I highly recommend that you explore the rest of his photostream. We've previously featured a few of his adorable Easter-themed animals.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Giant Ball Contraption at BrickFair Alabama

Name of Model: The Giant Ball Contraption Machine
Created by: Phil Eudy
Found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRXL85ukplc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7oJEYf1yGM
Details: Remember the fantastic "Totally Tubular" Giant Ball Contraption featured here back in 2009? Phil Eudy is still at it, and has put a few clips up on YouTube in recent years. The latest iteration of his Giant Ball Contraption appeared at BrickFair Alabama last week. While some parts may seem familiar, the sections that are new or revised are impressive. Some highlights:
  • An EV3 is used to control a robotic arm. The robotic arm is handled brilliantly - it moves enough to make you realize that something is happening, but the actual grab/release mechanism is geared down to the point that you can't tell that it's actually moving. It subtle enough to take on the appearance of magic, an effect that really stands out in person.
  • The "gear rack" system for the robotic arm doesn't actually use the Technic gear rack element LEGO makes (which can be expensive and imprecise in some applications). Look closely, and you'll spot a pre-Technic gear (I think this one) meshing with spindled fences.
  • The Archimedes' screw tube made out of many of 4083 Bar 1 x 4 x 2 with Studs has returned in a more prominent way.
  • Two exciting features that appeared in last year's layout (which didn't get the attention it deserves) are back: get a load of the massive curved tunnels made out of ladders and the ball run section made out of 4-wide train track.
  • Back to those ladder tunnels: note that there are two of them. An NXT sends balls down two separate paths, which combine back into one at the beginning of the train track.
  • The robotic arm picks balls up out of a rotating platform that uses 4x4 Macaroni bricks to catch and hold the DUPLO balls.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Truly Building Blind

Name of Resource: Lego for the Blind
Created by: Matthew Shifrin
Found at: http://legofortheblind.com/
Details: The "Blind Build" is a popular game at LEGO conventions, but it doesn't truly capture the experience of a blind person building a LEGO set. Being blind doesn't mean only not being able to see the parts - it also means that you can't see the box or the instructions. Depending on how long someone has been without sight, it might even mean never having seen a LEGO piece. While bricks and plates are very tactile elements, most of us who experiment with a "Blind Build" as a game are very familiar with what the parts look like, and we're usually looking right at the instructions while we build. A blind person attempting to build even a fairly simple kit will need to be able to interact with all of the parts - and the instructions - without ever seeing them.

This challenge has been met by an exciting website launched recently called "Lego for the Blind". Matthew Shifrin has compiled a series of written instructions in English for a variety of popular LEGO sets (19 of them as of this writing). These instructions can then be read aloud by screen reading software. Some preparation is required (besides acquiring a set listed on the site) - a sighted person needs to sort the parts first. I suspect that that step could be skipped for a set that doesn't include the same part in multiple colors, but so far the sets the site has instructions for lean towards the larger size. Then again, having to feel through 2000+ parts to find the right shape would bring back the "goofy convention challenge" aspect...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

In Memoriam: Notable AFOLs We Lost in 2016


The biggest reason this blog got quieter in 2016 isn't actually personal issues getting in the way. It's the difficulty with figuring out how to write this post. We lost many notable figures in the LEGO fan community this past year. I'm not even talking about Carrie Fisher (Star Wars' Princess Leia) or any of the other "celebrities" the rest of the world knows. I'm saying we've lost many of our friends, our inspirations, and predecessors.

Not knowing how to grapple with that made it difficult to say something right away. Over time, I quickly started to think that more fitting and thorough tributes were required to properly eulogize and remember why these people were important. Then the terrifying realizations started settling in: people will want you to say something more meaningful now that you've taken longer to say anything. More people have died and it's not fair to any of them to compress them all into one post. Nobody else is saying anything. Wait, really? None of the big AFOL blogs noticed Seymour Papert died? Or Ed Boxer? Or Robin Werner? What kind of community are we? How little do we know about our history, or care about people who are active in different parts of the country than we are in? How many more important AFOLs has our community lost that I don't know about? What does it say about us "LEGO news blogs" in the "AFOL community" that when we lose someone important in our community, we don't say or do ANYTHING to honor the departed? Can we really claim to be a community if we don't do anything in these situations?

The guilt set in. I knew I had to write something about it, but anything I said would be too little, too late. We've disrespected our elders too much already, and even focusing on what's wrong with us as a community instead of what we loved about those we've lost is unfair to their memory. I just can't win, and it feels like most of our "community" doesn't even realize that we should be fighting to preserve our community.


Without further ado; here is too little, too late (in roughly chronological order):

  • Seymour Papert
    A giant in a few different worlds, Seymour Papert is probably best known to LEGO fans for his role in creating the LEGO Mindstorms range. He's not just a major figure in bringing LEGO into the classroom, though - he's also the major figure in bringing computers into the classroom. Before Mindstorms, he was instrumental in developing the LOGO language, he spoke at one of the earliest LEGO fan events, and he did much of the research underpinning the bringing both play and programming into education. Like I said - I can't do him justice in a short blurb.

    Further reading:
    The ACM published a thorough obituary
    HispaBrick published a short blog post about his passing, and also republished an article on his role in inspiring the evolution of the LEGO MINDSTORMS line
    The LEGO Foundation posted a brief tribute
    Wikipedia Bio
    Slashdot report and comment thread
    Bio on Daily Papert

  • Ed Boxer
    If you're a "real AFOL" (tm), you know about Ed Boxer's LEGO Castle. It was impossible to miss in the late 90s, especially after it was recognized as the first "Cool LEGO Site of the Week" (he was later featured two more times). Admittedly, he had been quiet in the community for some years before he passed last summer, but he will still be missed.

    Further reading:
    Cool LEGO Site of the Week : Site #1
    Ed Boxer's LEGO Castle as saved by the Internet Archive
    Ed Boxer's site as saved by Library of the Collective Human Record

  • Robin Werner
    Robin Werner spent was active in the AFOL community for a longer time than most, but he primarily focused on town and train layouts in his home state of Florida. He was a founder of both the Greater Florida LEGO User Group (GFLUG) and the Greater Florida LEGO Train Club (GFLTC) - and in many ways, he was the indispensable man keeping GFLUG rolling. Best known for his stunningly ambitious downtown Tampa layout, he passed very suddenly just after returning from a month-long tour of three AFOL events.

    Further reading:
    GFLUG.org (as of this writing, still frozen in time with reports of events from before Robin's last outing)
    GFLTC history (a summary of 1996-2004, which shows how important Robin was in establishing his state's LEGO scene)
    GFLTC on Brickshelf
    Cool LEGO Site of the Week : Site #120 was "Robin's LEGO® Zone", which seems to be lost to history (if you can find it, let us know).

  • Paul Quigley
    Barely a month after Robin's passing, GFLUG was still reeling from the news when we found out that Paul Quigley was gone as well. While he didn't have the travel itinerary of others on this list, I knew him as a passionate builder, friendly vendor, and devoted family man. He was a constant, active force in a LUG that badly needed the support, and it's unclear how the LUG will continue after losing two of its most active members.

    Further reading:
    Jurassic World MOC as captured by The Brick Show

  • Durrell Reichley
    A fixture at AFOL events in recent years, Durrell Reichley was a key person in running ColonialLUG, the first recognized LEGO User Group aimed primarily at teenagers. Part of a rare family of FOLs, he was often more of a supporting player for his wife (Mary) and two sons (Zane and Nathaniel), who remain active in the hobby.

    Further reading:
    Obituary
    ColonialLUG website