Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sorry for the Delay...

Sorry for the sudden gap in postings - some things I can't get out of have come up. I'll try to get caught up on Thursday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

In Memory of Arthur C. Clarke - Ships from 2001 and 2010

Name of Models: Discovery and Leonov
Created by: True Dimensions
Found at: http://www.truedimensions.com/lego/customs/2001/index.htm and http://www.truedimensions.com/lego/customs/2010/

Arthur C Clarke died this past Tuesday. Clarke is a widely-respected Sci-Fi author who is acknowledged as the first to propose the use of communication satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Clarke also wrote many famous Sci-Fi novels, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact. You can read more about Arthur C. Clarke on Wikipedia.

These models were both completed in 2004, but for some reason they only seem to be making the rounds recently. They are both phenomenal, though, and are well-worth the recent attention (and of course, they make for a fitting tribute to their inspirations' author). I'm thrilled with the information provided on these models - complete parts lists and LDraw-format CAD files. LDraw is a fantastic fan-created software program that allows for thorough documentation and instruction generation for LEGO® models (The official LEGO® CAD software, LEGO Digital Designer, does not include a life-like variety of parts, but does allow for special-ordering of parts and creations - personally, I recommend both software titles as well as MLCAD for LDraw.). Of course, the 3861 grey pieces used in the Discovery probably make this a bit difficult to try to make on your own, but you know, you could if you wanted to (of course, finding the parts could be a problem of it's own - and don't get me started on the differences between different shades of grey LEGO® pieces). The Leonov is a bit of a show-stealer, though, with motorized armature in it's middle. Oh, and apparently you can check out even more great "making of" action on these models in the first issue of BrickJournal.
These are Wednesday's and Thursday's models of the day.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NightHunter Chopper Transformer

Name of Model: NightHunter - the Autobot Transformer. I have constructed it for competition on www.doublebrick.ru This robot is transformed to helicopter KA-50 Hokum aka Black Shark
Created by: ZED
Found at: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=306587
It's tempting to try to split this into two models. I could write about how it is an amazing helicopter, with great details, elegant construction, and a decent sense of scale/proportions (which is surprisingly rare in LEGO® helicopters, especially in the official sets). I could write about how this is an excellent "mecha" robot. This is really a Transformers model, though! Which means that this thing is spectacular, and one of the most amazing morphing models we've seen in quite some time. There are some photos showing the transformation as well. Oh, and apparently this was done for a contest at the Russian-language site http://www.doublebrick.ru/ - so maybe we'll be seeing some more exciting Transformers coming up.
This is Tuesday's model of the day

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Robotics Monday: Joystick and Bulldozer

Name of Models: dozer and joystick
Created by: leggor.de (sorry - did anyone catch a name?)
Found at: http://www.leggor.de/content/dozer/dozer0.html and http://www.leggor.de/content/joystick/joystick0.html
Here's a pair of great LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT projects, with one of them controlling the other. The joystick flows quite well - I'm not sure how it was done (the description's in German), but it looks like it works very smoothly. The program on the dozer features a nice minifig-head graphic that looks like it's riding in the dozer. It's not just a charming detail, either - the head turns to face the direction that the dozer is driving. In addition to a regular steering system, the bulldozer also includes a 4-cylinder engine that can be started up without moving the vehicle. It's hard not to like a dozer that realistic. The completely-covered but studless look of the exterior is very classy too. I have no idea whether or not this is based on last year's Motorized Bulldozer set, but those treads do look like the same newer style to me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Piece of Peace UNESCO World Heritage

Name of Model: Piece of Peace UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Created by: Kazuyoshi Naoe
Found at: http://www.brothers-brick.com/2008/03/12/piece-of-peace-unesco-world-heritage-sites-in-lego-part-2/

Piece of Peace is a touring exhibit that features landmarks from around the world rendered in various scales. The blog post linked to above is a round-up of details and photos of the exhibit that the Brothers Brick put together. Most of the models are worth featuring individually (and there are quite a few pictures that are linked to from the site above instead of being immediately visible), but there's only so much time and there are so many great models here. If you're like me, you probably don't recognize that many of the locations, but there is a list of all UNESCO World Heritage Sites at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/ that can make it easier to figure the rest out. These are all very impressive - it's worth bookmarking and finishing later if you don't have the time to look at them all right away. Oh, and if you live in or near Nagoya, Japan, you can visit this one through March 24th.

Animal Sculptures at the Burlington Mall

Various Models
Created by master builders employed by The LEGO Group
Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcpiercy/sets/72157604126313985/
Photographer johnpiercy found this beautiful display of animal sculptures at the Burlington Mall in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. I have no idea how long they'll be on display, but apparently they are there now and were brought in for a "fun zone" event that ends today. It looks like there is/was a guess-the-amount-of-parts contest as well, but I have no idea if/when we'll see any of that information surface online. The koala bears in particular are excellent, and a great example of just how much can be done with newer colors like tan and stone. The leopard mosaic is another highlight, and I love the way that round 2x2 tiles were used to make paws on the young tiger.

EDIT: Apparently some of these sculptures have been making their way around since 2006.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Medieval Village Scene - Attacked by Goblins!

Name of Model: VillageAttack - A goblin invasion.
Created by: RebelRock
Found at: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=306697
This masterpiece was done as an entry to the Classic-Castle.com 2008 Battles Contest. Newer "goblin" minifigs are attacking villagers and Crown Knights - and there's an excellent detailed medieval village here too.
Some highlights:
  • Grey goblets are used in place of fences in the bridge.
  • The smooth look of the water was achieved by putting blue bricks on their side.
  • Complete landscaping - sculpted grass, slopes for rocks, and even a decent dirt trail leading up to all of the buildings.
  • Just in front of the bridge, you can see someone who jumped headfirst into the water to escape a goblin
  • White 2x2 round plates give a realistic smoke-from-a-chimney effect
  • If you follow non-LEGO weaponry, you'll probably recognize some of the unusual weapons used in the battle (I'd call that cheating, but it's not too noticeable here...)
  • A fire has started burning a building!

This is Friday's model of the day

Half-size Furniture

Name of Model: Schou teak and wicker table
Created by: LEGO® Certified Professional Sean Kenney
Found at: http://www.seankenney.com/portfolio/schou_table/
Every once in a while, someone asks whether or not it would be possible to build usable furniture out of LEGO® bricks. The answer, of course, is yes, as it's been done before. Of course, just the amount of hard-to-find tan bricks required is impressive, but this is actually a half-size scale model of the Schou furniture company's real table. There are links to two chairs that were part of the same commissioned project on the page above as well. Personally, I'm a big fan of the angle work - the legs are built at a 45 degree angle from the tabletops. The pictures don't make it entirely clear just how this was done, but I suspect that some sort of turntable component was used (LEGO has made a variety of turntable components over the years and some of them are quite small and easy-to-hide). The tabletop also uses some well-placed studs-not-on-top effects to get a teak look. It doesn't look very sturdy (those bricks appear to be laying in there closely, but not actually attached to each other), but it does a good job of getting just the right look.
This is Thursday's model of the day

Friday, March 14, 2008

Indiana Jones' Whip - In Space!

Name of Model: Rebel without a Clue
Created by: "Big Daddy" Nelson
Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigdaddynelson/sets/72157604094103365/
Here's a fun bit of whimsy - four spacemen in a small chamber, getting ready for some sort of battle. Three of the have guns, and the fourth has Indiana Jones' whip. The punchline?
Aboard the Tantive IV, Happy McNova misheard the command as, "Bring a whippin'."
The whimsy factor is fun enough, but the well-placed slopes and tiles round this out very well - it's a good application of those techniques. Those are probably 1x2 1/2 offset "jumper" plates keeping the minifigs in place, by the way.
This is Wednesday's model of the day

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Steampunk Organ (and Contest Info)

Name of Model: Steam Organ
Created by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23673573@N05/
Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23673573@N05/2303753783/ Contest at: http://www.reasonablyclever.com/lego/contest/steam/grid.html
This detailed steampunk-styled organ was made for a contest being held by the website Reasonably Clever. The contest is challenge to get people to build steampunk-themed models that use 50 or fewer pieces. The contest ends on March 15th at midnight EST, and more models entered into the contest can be seen at the "Contest at" link above. This particular model has an interesting back story and a few nifty techniques. Click-hinge parts and minifig legs flesh out the sides of the organ. I'm digging the use of small white tiles and a 1x4 cockpit component for piano-style keys too - it's a bit impressionistic but a great way of getting the right effect at that scale.
This is Tuesday's model of the day


Models for Tuesday, Wednesday, and today have already been picked out, but a few other obligations are getting in the way of posting - I promise they'll be up sometime soon though. I'll get them on here as soon as I can.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Robotics Monday: Electric Guitar

Name of Model: NXT Electric Guitar
Created by: Dave Parker at http://www.nxtprograms.com/
Found at: http://www.nxtprograms.com/guitar/steps.html
I'm not really sure when http://www.nxtprograms.com/ got started, but there's already a hefty library of easy projects you can do with only the materials in the LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT kit (and a computer for programming the robots) piled up there. The site's been getting some heavy attention the past few days - the official LEGO Mindstorms news page featured him and interviewed him, and fan-created community blog The NXT Step has added him as a contributor (which, I hope, means we'll be notified about his future projects via their RSS feed). Here's one project that caught my attention - an "electric guitar" program that uses the ultrasonic sensor to determine what chord to play. Of course, a makeshift theremin would probably be more easy/fun, but electric guitars do get more of a "wow" reaction from people who listen to "normal" music. Did I mention that a program and realistic chord samples are available on his site? Dave Parker thinks of everything. I have a feeling you'll be seeing more of him around here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

MALUG Town Layout

Name of Model: Duna Plaza Layout
Created by: MALUG members brob, Tibicsoki, Akos, GP, Gyurma77 and Matyo
Found at: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=306151
The Magyar LEGO® Users Group (MALUG) put together this fantastic layout for the Duna Plaza in Budapest, Hungary. It's on display for the rest of March. There are a dozens of photos at the link above, but every one has another surprising detail to be seen - it's one of the most complete cities I've ever heard about. There are quite a few smaller sections that would have justified entries of their own here - I'd mention some standouts but I'd surely insult something amazing by forgetting to mention it.

This being a good model for a Sunday, I had picked it out to be Sunday's model of the day, but I was having trouble finding details about where it was and if it was on public display - however, while I was off doing other things, Brick Town Talk found this city and got info from one of the builders about where it is and such. I'm sorry for the delay, but it was worth it to make sure that the builders get proper credit.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Amusement Park Rides

Name of Model: Amusement parks and buildings
Created by: kwycstix
Found at: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=240036
Amusement Park Rides present interesting building challenges. It can be very hard to build these large machines at minifig-scale. The few official models in this theme are all in microscale or done without rides. The parts demands are often too expensive for builders to finish a model - online searches turn up tons of plans for rides and buildings done in CAD software but never actually built. This particular set features a building and no less than four rides done in minifig scale - and as a bonus, one ride in microscale.

The first stunner in this set is a minifig-scale Ferris Wheel that looks like it really works. X-pods are used as the cars - simplifying the design issue of holding the weight of more complicated chair mechanisms. The colors are nice too - normally a simple color scheme makes more sense, but the bright colors are visually attractive and also hide the problem of getting enough of certain parts in certain colors. A sturdy platform and other necessary ground-level details are well fleshed out as well, making this model detailed enough to add to any town layout around too.

A small roller coaster is another standout in this layout - and this one did clearly take a very large amount of time and special parts. The one-seater cars aren't able to move on their own, but they look detailed enough sitting on the track - which is made of pneumatic tubing. The pneumatic tubing is cut into very small sections (I do NOT recommend trying this at home) and then held parallel between pneumatic-T-tubing-connector pieces. Those pieces used to be obscure, but they're increasingly used for details in a variety of LEGO® models. Combined with well-placed Technic axles, 2x2 round bricks and a variety of special parts for details, this makes for a very convincing roller-coaster track effect. Of course, the extra car and queue kiosk round things out brilliantly as well.

There are two other exciting minifig-scale rides and a building (it looks to me like it houses a set of bumper cars) in the gallery above too.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Planetary "Classic" Space Station

Name of Model: Z-9-Interstellar-Spacestation
Created by: bluetiger7
Found at: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=304821
This excellent space station mixes classic space themed parts with newer special parts to get a very unique look. There are quite a few great details here . A monorail of sorts takes a spaceman from one tower to the other. A pair of landing pads holds two great spaceships (there's some good studs-not-on-top action on both of the pads and both of the ships, too). There are a few clever staircase designs, and don't miss the landing gear! If a model like this doesn't make you jealous of its builder's parts collection, nothing will.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Short Hiatus

Taking a short blog break - will be back Monday or Tuesday (and I should be able to put some time into improving the site this upcoming week as well)