Monday, December 31, 2007

Robotics Monday: First LEGO League Power Puzzle Info

Name of Model: First LEGO League
Created by: various (I'm not sure who's in charge of designing the challenges, and I'm pretty sure extra models were used for the animation)
Found at:
Details: This clever little animation is a fun way to get a feel for the various challenges in this year's FIRST LEGO LEAGUE competition. Although LEGO® Robotics kits (either the original Mindstorms kit with the RCX or the LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT), this animation shows minifigs solving the challenge with vehicles you might find in any LEGO® town.
The theme of this year's contest is "Power Puzzle", so most of the tasks for the robot to do have a power-saving or power-generating theme. FIRST and LEGO have been teaming up for these tournaments for several years now with the goal of getting kids (of roughly junior-high age) into robotics. While most of the kids choose to navigate the challenges using dead reckoning, they do get hands-on experience with programming and learn a few things about constructing a sturdy robot chassis. In any given year, there are a few teams that rise above the pack, trying out more complex robotics ideas out and solving all of the challenges in that year's contest. You should be able to find out if there is an open tournament in your area at , but most of the local level tournaments have already passed.

Visit for a more thorough (and serious) discussion of the FLL challenge and tournament.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tower of Brothers

Name of Model: Tower of Brothers
Created by: Noddy
Found at:
Oh sure, it's just a minifig-scale Castle model. Look again, though. There are brilliant details, more brilliant details, and yet more brilliant details. This tower is actually quite large, and it features more details than some entire town layouts do. The photography here is top-notch too - and you could get lost in the sheer amount of clear photos of this one. I'm still not done browsing through all the nooks and crannies of this tower. Since I'm not linking any highlights (I'd feel really silly if it turned out I missed something awesome), feel free to post about your favorite parts of this one in the comments.

Surak MkII Spaceship

Name of Model: SNOT SHIP - Surak MkII
Created by: psyop
Found at:
When you get to a certain size of wall made out of 1x2 bricks, you get to have a bit of flexibility that doesn't seem like it should really be there. You can kind of cheat the regular geometry of LEGO® bricks and make things curve a bit. Naturally, making that wall longer will eventually make it possible to make a wall in the shape of a circle. If you're really skilled with this sort of thing, apparently it's possible to brace a large circle well enough to make a sturdy and impressive large spaceship. This exceptional model also uses some more studs-not-on-top parts to make all of the edges of the longer part smooth.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Early Batmobile

Name of Model: Batmobile 1930's
Created by: Watson K13
Found at:
All of the comic book buffs out there should recognize this model as the original batmobile from the 1930's. This early version of Batman's famous batmobile did not have any bat-features, and is actually red and not black. There are still plenty of curves to capture, though, and Watson K13 did a great job of capturing them with arc-pieces and slope-pieces. The grey stripes here show the details of the original picture well too (yes, a reference photo is provided for us batman-neophytes). The best photo might just be the one with the official Batman character standing by it's side.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

BayLUG Display (Town Layout)

Name of Model: BayLUG Display at MoAH now through January 6
Created by: BayLUG
Found at:
Normally I try to save big layouts and other models with a hefty deal of photos to look at for the Sunday edition (like a newspaper, get it? I crack me up), but this layout is currently on display and will only be up through January 6th - so I thought I'd post it ASAP so you could make plans to see it if you wish. This display is primarily town-oriented and was assembled by the Bay Area LEGO Users Group.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Name of Model: Snowman
Created by: blackbulb creations | LEGO® creations and designs by nicholas foo (a LEGO-certified professional in Singapore)
Found at:
This gorgeous snowman was made by one of the lesser-known LEGO® Certified Professionals. Oh sure, Sawaya and Kenney are all over the American media outlets, but Singapore's Nicholas Foo is just as talented (even if more of his creations don't rely on sheer scale to catch people's attention). The Snowman is notable for the great details and the studs-not-on-top snowballs, but was also commissioned as the centerpiece for a charity event.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Present Factory

Name of Model: Father Christmas present factory
Created by: Jaudeau
Found at:
It took me a while to find the perfect model for Christmas day. I found this gem on Brickshelf - it's a fully exterior/interior decorated Christmas present factory. The outside is decked out in snowdrifts - including one cleverly applied to the roof. Inside, we can see Santa in his office getting ready to make his trip around the world. A lower level of the inside shows many "elves" (actually just an army of matching minifigures) assembling toys. The details are worth watching here - there's a kiln for pottery and porcelain, and right in front of that you can see a Star Wars R2 unit helping assemble toys. Perhaps the most festive feature, though, is the lit vines made with green castle leaves and various small translucent parts.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Robotics Monday: NXT-enhanced Christmas carols

Name of Model: NXT Christmas medley
Created by: organfairy
Found at:
Details: This model is a modified version of a robot from the LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT kit - it has been fitted with jingle bells and programmed to play percussion to accompany the builder as he plays Christmas carols on the organ. The overall thing is quite festive. There's also a second video at watch?v=Er2vLWMQZIg&feature=related - featuring "Jingle Bells".

Miniature Advent Calendar

Name of Model: Advent Calendar 2007
Created by: MisaQa
Found at:
This advent calendar has been posted to Brickshelf one day at a time, with each day having a new microscale building. Since the advent season is almost over now, most of the buildings are now available for you to have a look at. (Feel free to let me know if you think I should have mentioned this sooner so you could've followed along). There's a good variety of locations rendered in the small scale - most of the feature some rather innovative uses of parts (and there's even a good variety of parts from different themes used). I think a few of these might be straightforward enough to try making, but they all look great. The thumbnail to the left is just the cover image for the series - the actual models are at the link above. EDIT 12/24/2007: Now that this is complete, a group photo has been provided - we are now using that thumbnail instead of the other shot.

Holiday Train Set

Name of Model: Holiday Train
Created by: LEGO® (this is an official set)
Found at:
Yeah, it's too late to try to order this for Christmas if you wanted to, but it's also too late for the whole 9-volt train line anyway. For those of you who don't follow LEGO® news, the 9-volt train line is being discontinued entirely. They're planning on releasing a new train line next year. I'm not really clear on what the exact details are, but apparently the days of being able to hook up a Mindstorms kit to a train set to automate it are behind us. The reason why they're suddenly discontinuing this line that has been so popular with children and hobbyists alike is that they would need to buy completely new machine now to continue manufacturing many of the pieces, and they're worried about being able to offset that cost by selling new sets.

So the holiday train, which they make both with and without the 9-volt motor, is really the last train set in what many of us will always see as the glory days of LEGO® trains. It also happens to be a nice set, with plenty of green parts, a flatbed car full of gifts, another flatbed car full of trees, a passenger car, a nice caboose, and a well-detailed engine and tender. The holiday color scheme is done really well - you'd think more red than just trim would be better, but this is just right.

Normally when I plug a set, I just link to Amazon (since I do have an associate's account there), but this set is apparently available at half price in limited supply from the LEGO Shop. Amazon has it for $75 (%25 off) - but it's definitely in stock. Either way, if you want this one, get it now while you still can.
This is Saturday's model of the day

Christmas Ornaments

Name of Model: LEGO Christmas Ornaments
Created by: NCLUG
Found at:
This series of LEGO® Christmas ornaments was designed by NCLUG for a holiday tree they decorated recently. Complete building instructions for these four ornaments are available at the link above. If you're interested in seeing the rest of NCLUG's Christmas tree, it is on display at Tinsel Town in Cary, North Carolina's Booth Amphitheatre through December 31st.
This is Friday's model of the day

Friday, December 21, 2007

Converse Sneakers

Name of Model: converse
Created by: monsterbrick
Found at:
This ode to sneakers is brilliant. This is made entirely out of LEGO® parts - those specialized bits are really put to great use here. The starfishes used on the sides are probably my favorite, but the whole thing is really surprising. Some pictures of the original sneakers are provided for reference too. Personally, I think the sculpture looks better, but I don't think we'd be able to make anything like that wearable.
This is Thursday's model of the day (Apologies for the delay, but we should be catching up and good ahead fairly quickly now.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Paint it Black" vignette

Name of Model: Paint it Black
Created by: mijasper
Found at:
This absolutely incredible vignette tells a complete story and acts as a virtual tutorial of interesting building techniques. There's only one photo for this one, but take a good look at the non-thumbnail version so you can have a good look at what's going on. Some things worth noting:
  • The woman's purse is made with a clip-plate and a flower.
  • The fence is built upside-down at the bottom, and a bunch of tops from 1x2 hinges are used to make a unique design that includes some studs-not-on-top effects. Plates that show the older paint color and the new paint color can then be placed on top of that fence design (I'd have to try this myself to see if it connects sturdily, but it sure looks great).
  • Note the use of a "two-face" torso on the minifig who was accidentally painted! Also, the loose bit of dripping paint on the ground is a feather (I believe from a Pirates set).
  • The dog (trying to steal the woman's purse) is made with two clip-plates, a modern click-hinge (I'm afraid that you won't recognize that unless you've followed LEGO® in the past few years...), and two round 1x1 plates.
  • The woman in this scene has one foot under a "dress", which is made with a special piece instead of the standard minifig legs. Her "crutch" is a wrench accessory upside-down!
  • The painter's pallette is two 1x2 tiles (one plain, one with a grooved top) on top of the top of a 2x2 turntable.
I'm having a hard time seeing the paint brush, but does that look like another standard minifig tool with a 1x1 round black brick attached to it to you?

Iron Man

Name of Model: Iron Man
Created by: The Arvo Brothers
Found at:,, and
The famous comic book hero Iron Man has been done at a fairly sizeable scale by the Arvo Brothers. You may recall that we've featured their incredible models cars before, but this is really the first major fictional character they've done (they have done some smaller characters that I haven't featured yet, though - you can check those out in their Brickshelf gallery.) So far there are only those three photos of this one online, and they're all in the same pose (so we don't know yet if this Iron Man is moveable or not yet.)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another short break

So much for making a go at this again. I think I'll try to start again next Tuesday (and with any luck, I'll be back for real at that point).

Also, regarding my last post about Amazon, I have just been informed that the free "Super Saver" shipping that's free if you spend over $25 is only guaranteed for Christmas delivery through next Monday (December 17th, 2007). So you'll be spared hearing me shill for some of the cool current sets to be under your Christmas tree this year (of course, there's nothing stopping you from picking up something anyway ;) ...)


Name of Models: Snowflake 01, Snowflake 02, Snowflake 03 and Snowflake 04
Created by: "Big Daddy" Nelson
Found at:
When you have enough white-colored leaves, you can build snowflakes. Sadly, as far as I know, there isn't actually a set where you can get a bunch of these for snowflake making, but maybe we'll see that next year. The builder claims that these are sturdy enough to hang. They look amazing - I'm really wishing I had enough large white leaf pieces to try this out.
This is Thursday's model of the day

Smooth Ice Cream Truck

Name of Model: Bedford Ice Cream Van
Created by: steven1980
Found at:
This impressive ice cream truck has no studs showing on the outside. The inside is also completely detailed. The stickers are a bit of cheating, but it's worth it for the effect here. Other things to catch: the inside floor has long tiles all going one direction to give the impression of a painted wood floor, slopes of blue and yellow are alternated to get the patter on the outside, wall fans were made for the inside with turntable bottoms and grooved 1x2 tiles, curves are used to round every edge (presumably with studs-not-on-top techniques underneath), and a variety of specialized parts have been repurposed to provide detailing on the outer edges of the truck. Finally, one of the pictures shows that the truck has working independent suspension behind each of the wheels.
This is Wednesday's model of the day

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Apocalyptic Diorama

Name of Model: After the Apocalypse
Created by: carterbaldwin
Found at:
Here's an interesting new way of building that has become quite popular among older LEGO® fans. The basic idea is to put the standard minifigs into an apocalyptic mess - often with zombies and such. This particular model also forgoes baseplates entirely in favor of building a mount out of smaller LEGO® plates. Have a close look at the phone pole, too - a mix of barrels from Pirates sets and 2x2 round bricks give it a real wooden look. The string and well-placed 2x2 grey radar dishes give it a very realistic look, which makes the otherwise fairly dystopian landscape much more convincing.
This is Tuesday's model of the day.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Robotics Monday: Automating Another Machine

Name of Model: Lego assisted I-cord knitting machine(update4)
Created by: TheDude
Found at:
Kids, don't try this at home! This project was started as a way to motorize a crank-powered cord-making machine, but TheDude decided to build a full LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT robot around it to fully automate the process. Although there isn't a picture of just what was done to make a beam fit into the place that the crank came out of (the website says something about "fil[ing] a lego sleeve", which qualifies as dangerous cheating if you ask me), there are plenty of other photos at the link above. There's also some documentation of the challenges involved (such as the rotating output of the original machine that the robot was built around).
This is Monday's model of the day

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Amazon sale through the end of today is having a great LEGO sale through the end of the day. It's buy 2 get 1 free on select sets. I recommend the mosiac kits and the Eiffel Tower, but I don't know how long they'll have those still in stock. There's a decent selection of Mindstorms NXT sensors and Technic sets included in the selection too. They're still running free shipping if you spend over $25 - and that applies to this offer too.

Of course, any purchases you make on Amazon after clicking on a link from this site helps support this site and keeps me posting about LEGO® models.

I'll try to post proper models for Monday and Tuesday tonight.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Largest Known Mosaic Image

Name of Model:
Created by guests of the Bellaire Historic Society
Found at:
This record-breaking image is the largest LEGO® mosaic ever made. I believe that Guinness is still investigating this but it may appear in their next record book. They have video of the big build on YouTube:

EDIT 2008/01/15: They got their Guinness approval letter this morning.
This is Sunday's model of the day.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pathfinder Spaceship

Name of Model: Pathfinder
Created by: Grey Scott
Found at:
Details: This large spaceship took over a year build. The inspiration for this model was a challenge to include interiors in a spaceship. You can lift all of the roof panels to look inside and see the minifig crew. Great pictures and some more details on the scale are provided at the link above.
This is Saturday's model of the day.