Thursday, July 31, 2008

Galidor Mecha

Name of Model: Full Sized Mecha
Created by: bigfatslob
Found at:
I don't think that there are any failed LEGO themes that I truly hate. Galidor is one of the most despised pre-Bionicle action-figure themes. A true Galidor creation will, by definition, look ridiculous. However, you can take a few parts from that theme at a time and build them into other things well. This bluish pod thing in the middle was apparently a spaceship originally, but now it's the driver's seat of a mecha. Of course, that part is pretty huge and useless - you really need to look at a few of the close-up photos just to get an idea of the scale of this thing. I also love the irony of using other "useless" Technic parts - mostly Bionicle ones in fact - to revive the ridiculous Galidor theme.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hoth Rebel Base Kits on US Shop-At-Home Site

Hoth Rebel Base
icon (7666) is currently available on Shop at Home in the US. A quick look at BrickLink reveals that the minifigs in this set are so expensive and popular with collectors that the other 500+ parts are pretty much free once you factor in the people.

This was supposedly a limited-edition - no word on whether or not this is a re-release or if it's still a rare item. If it really is limited, expect it to sell out quickly.

Additionally, Toys-R-Us locations that participated in the Clone Wars event this past weekend may have a few of these in stock as well - but be careful, some of them are charging $10 more for it (bringing the price up to $60 from $50).

Wooden Labyrinth Puzzle

Name of Model: Move through the labyrinth using the handles
Created by: AndersPaludan
Found at:
It really is made out of LEGO parts, I swear. This is simply a perfect sculpture - the colors match the original woodtone, the studs-not-on-top work that makes all the details of the puzzle work is brilliant, and the way that it actually works like the real thing is pretty clever. I'm pretty sure it's an original mechanism used inside, and not just a straight LEGO reproduction of the original motion technique. At first glance, the surface of the puzzle looks like it's just a flat wall, but you really need to look more closely - there are arches going in multiple directions to make holes, carefully aligned edges and paths, and far more cleverly-placed 1x1 Technic bricks than I've ever seen in one place before. Of course, I don't know if you'd really want to play this instead of the original wooden game - I'd be a bit worried about scratching up pieces. I know I've featured models with no studs showing before,
I know this is a second day in a row of real posts, but I am still considering this blog to be on hiatus. It looks like it will be returning at the regular pace around August 10th-15th. In the meantime, I'll continue posting occasionally, but I can't promise daily posts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

HALE Update

I previously featured the Mindstorms-based High Altitude LEGO Extravaganza - as the day of the event draws near, the NXT Step is posting comprehensive coverage of some of the payloads. Be warned, they're not "your daily fix" size like most of the links I feature here - this is truly in depth coverage. Which is a good thing, but you might want to save this for later if you don't have the time to really focus on it. I think they're going to keep adding to this too - so if you're into Mindstorms and not subscribed to The NXT Step yet, you really should add it to your feed reader now.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Golden Brick Offer from LEGO Shop-at-Home

This link's good for the USA only, but I think they're running the promo in a few other places too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blog Hiatus

Sorry for putting this off for so long, but I kept trying to convince myself that I could keep up here while some other stuff gets a bit more complicated. This blog is now on temporary hiatus. Partially for some other LEGO stuff, but mostly for "real work", which, of course, I'm already being distracted from by some other LEGO stuff. I might post a model from time to time in the meantime, but regular daily posts are out for at least a little while.

HKLUG's Olympic-Theme Layout

Over at (the Hong Kong LEGO Users Group blog), there's some great info on their new Olympics-themed layout. There are also more photos in their Brickshelf gallery and on FlickR. Last time someone told me about the Hong Kong group, I was assuming that they really meant the Malaysian group - but no, these guys are a different group and very awesome too. There are lots of great techniques in this layout too. It'll be on display at the Grand Century Place in Mongkok, Kowloon through August 31st.
This is Sunday's model of the day. Don't ask me where Friday and Saturday went.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fantasy Fighter Craft

Name of Model: Pigstorm Fighter
Created by: brainbike.rider
Found at:
The first thing I noticed here was the excellent techniques used. Lots of fun parts, lots of clever studs-not-on-top stuff going on. It turns out that this actually wasn't an intentional thing - the parts selection was set by building out of exactly too sets - kits 7991 and 7990. OK, so the minifig comes from elsewhere, but is that really a problem? This is just an excellent spaceship. I, for one, would love to see building instructions to figure out just how some of the angles were done.

Putting off putting proper set links here for now - I have "real work" to do and there's still not a model picked out for Sunday yet...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bionicle Tribute to Ollie

Name of Model: untitled
Created by: monsterbrick
Found at:
Here's an interesting sculpture of Ollie the dragon, made from Bionicle parts. Lots of clever uses here, but when nothing is used in the traditional way, it's kind of hard to point out just a few in particular. Ollie is an unusual character herself - a somewhat apocryphal part of LEGOLAND folklore. I'm not clear on where she (he?) came from, but apparently Ollie can be found in various incarnations at every LEGOLAND park and at most other official LEGO displays - regardless of theme. Bizarrely, when Ollie did finally show up in a set, she was simply called "LEGO Dragon". Since the inspiration for this one is itself an enigma, I'll let it slide that there's only two photos of this one instead of a regular photo gallery.
This is Friday's model of the day.

A Request: Large Sculptures

For the sake of following my own rules on featuring a variety of models here, I like to feature a large sculpture roughly once a week. Non-traditional sculptures are allowed (it's not required that most parts are bricks) but sculptures made for the LEGO company are discouraged.

I already know about Nathan Sawaya, Sean Kenney, Eric Harshberger, Henry Lim, Dave at, and the (dormant?) Scaled-Up Bricks blog. I'd like to feature more builders instead of just mining the same few websites over and over again when sculpture time arrives.

It's also important to me to get decent coverage of the model and the builder. Although many models are featured in newspapers, it's very rare that a newspaper reporter actually covers a model in a respectable way. I have some info on what makes a model featurable on the FAQ page.

My e-mail address is - please send along any links you might have to builders' write-ups of their work. Of course, I accept nominations of any sort of model, but I'm specifically running short in this department.

Gryhnt Piro

Name of Model: Gryhnt Piro
Created by: remyth
Found at:
You know the drill by now - somebody else builds a castle, I point out how awesome it is. I usually have a surprising amount of things to say (especially when you consider how rarely I actually build castles), but today I think I'm just going to point you to the photos. It's bad enough that this is my pick for Thursday and it's going up on Saturday, but this was actually built and added to my "feature this soon!" pile in May. This castle building does, of course, have perfect landscaping and architectural details - the builder even tiled the upper walkway! There's no arguing with that water and wooded walkway either. I really don't give enough credit to Castle builders - I think us non-castle people get used to seeing the same extreme attention to detail in these models that we lose perspective on just how difficult it is to build these. Just look at that gargoyle! It's also way to easy to forget the vignette element to these - did you see the guy chasing after his boat?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fan-Created Space Sets - Space Skulls and Star Justice

Names of Sets: Star Justice and Space Skulls
Created by: Chris Giddens and Mark Sandlin, respectively, and now sold by the LEGO company.
Found at The Official LEGO Shop!LEGO Shop at Home
Sorry that this post is going up so late - I simply ran out of time before the day's work got started. I don't expect that tomorrow's is going to be up any earlier, so I'm featuring two sets today just in case I don't get to one tomorrow.

Anyway, these two kits each feature four models. They are the latest in a series of fan-designed models available through the LEGO company. Of course, the LDD software means anyone can design a set, but it gets to be substantially less expensive if the company actually manufactures the design instead of putting the parts into the box by hand (yes - LDD Factory orders are really done by hand - I've verified this with someone who's seen them do it). Of course, LEGO now takes the first few weeks that something is out so seriously that many sets are on clearance before many people have even heard of them - and these two sets are among those that are at bargain clearance prices even though they're still technically new and exciting (30% off, putting them at $70 each instead of $100 each, as of this writing). Both of these are exclusives (so you have to order them through Shop-at-Home or a LEGO store), but they're both pretty cool, too, in terms of parts. The basic premise for both of these is that they're supposed to go in a timeline somewhere between the "classic space" sets and the Launch Command-type sets. OK, I'm showing my age - "Space Port" or "Mars Mission" are probably what those would fall under now. These two fans had actually created enormous themes of their own with hundreds of ships, but they each only had four models chosen to appear in sets.

For some more info on these, I highly recommend the reviews of these over at BrickJournal. The bottom of that article also has links to non-set models in both of these themes.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Robotics Monday: 62-part Great Ball Contraption

Multi-builder display at fanabriques
This is what you do when you have 62 builders all get together after each building one module of a great ball contraption. I don't really have any commentary here, the video's long enough.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ontario Brick Builders' Space Layout

Name of Model: LEGO Space layout at the Spring Toy, Train and Doll show
Created by: Ontario Brick Builders
Found at: and
On April 27th, 2008, the Ontario Brick Builders in Ontario, Canada, put out a public display at THE TORONTO TOY, TRAIN & DOLL COLLECTORS' SHOW (which has no website from what I can tell). The reason why I'm featuring video of this show instead of photos is that they took advantage of the opportunity to try out some exciting new ways of moving models. A Technic/Mindstorms-based mechanism lifts up a classic spaceship while a rover is maneuvered on the ground by a system of magnets. Custom-designed train and monorail cars are circling the layout too. Did I mention that this is CLASSIC Space too? I know some of the parts I see are newer, but the color scheme and many of the sets are pure 1978. If you're interested in seeing their other layouts, there are more links at

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Hall

Name of Model: Philadelphias Independence Hall
Created by: Arthur Gugick
Found at:
This has been a pretty lousy week in terms of keeping up with holidays. I didn't post anything for Canada Day on the first or for Independence Day on the fourth. I do hope that all of the Canadians and Americans reading this enjoyed their respective holidays. This model of Independence Hall ought to help fill in for skipping holiday-related models earlier in the week. Although Arthur Gugick is widely known as a microscale builder, this one looks like it's substantially larger. At long last, we can see some good minifig-scale techniques from one of the most famous landmark-builders! Of course, this is an older one of his designs - the Taj Mahal is the most recent (and also awesome).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Clever Cafe Corner-Style Bank

Name of Model: Corner Bank
Created by: Dave Sterling
Found at: and
The links above do a very good job of explaining this building's background and even providing entertaining commentary - so I'll stick to discussing the building techniques. Café Corner fans have much to enjoy here - the perfectly-matching proportions are the first thing to stick out. It looks like those floors could be directly swapped out for the ones in the Cafe Corner.

On the first floor, the terrace makes great use of tan, dark tan and dark red tiles to give the grounds a distinctive look. I love the use of official stickers for the studs-not-on-top sign over the door. If you've ever tried building in this style, you know how it easy it us to run out of windows, so the method used for stretching them out here is worth noting - Green Grocer wall segments are put in the middle, and the windows themselves are at a half-stud offset from the rest of the wall. I agree with the builder about that helping to capture the Gothic look. Finally, the row on the top makes use of 1x1 studs-not-on-top headlight bricks to make a row of plates face outward. My first reaction was that this must take a ridiculously large amount of parts. However, if you look more closely, you can see that there are actually four 1x4 plates and one 1x3 plate on each side - and those only have the headlight bricks on each end. I've always hesitated to try this because of the gaps it can cause, but I think that using this technique at equal intervals and with black bricks behind them actually makes a great effect here.

The second floor has more of the same excellent techniques - offset windows, CC- and GG- styled wall sections, and studs-not-on-top detailing. The wheels in particular were hard to figure out - note how there are no visible Technic pins there. I believe that the wheels have been attached to round 1x1-plates that are connected to large studs-not-on-top brackets (by placing the round plate in between the studs on the bracket). The decorative elements on the angled portion are great, too - I generally think of the bars as a fence piece, but that really works here. On the top of the second floor, I'm loving the railing - the technique is nothing new, but it's more widely used on trains than on town buildings.

Don't ask me what's under the windows on the third floor - I'm still not sure what I'm seeing there (I'd love higher-res photos, but I'd take a good explanation for what that part is too - for now I'm guessing that they're some sort of hinge part). The window offset is a bit deeper, but it works pretty well. I think that using angled parts instead of angling parts was a wise choice for the front corner - not to mention a good excuse to use an odd space part in a town building. The Basic 3+ windows might just be my favorite feature, though - they're pulled off here just as well as they are in the Cafe Corner, and the slope bricks used here are much more readily available then those wheel-well elements are. The roof line is classy and very similar to the Cafe Corner, but there are some new details there too (and of course, they're all excellent).

Long story short: my kind of town building. Of course, if you're really into crazy town techniques and working Technic and Space elements into "normal" buildings, it's worth taking a look at my DGXPO photos where you can see a few crazy ideas I've tried out but not blogged about yet. I love seeing these sorts of techniques, because it requires a good deal of cleverness and imagination, and also gives an explanation of why various bizarre LEGO® sets are worth buying. My parents are always asking me why I buy some of these things, but they're usually impressed when they see how many bizarre parts can be used in fairly "normal" contexts. Of course, that's a topic for another day...

Giant DUPLO Train Turntable

Name of Model: Trains and Grapes
Created by: Ciaran
Found at:
Details: Here's an idea that I had thought of trying before, but hadn't thought of trying with DUPLO. As with many DUPLO projects, the larger bricks provide more sturdiness and generally allow you to rev up the scale without requiring as many parts. This two-train system is a great way of using existing elements to build a large custom turntable - and many LEGO fans have been looking for ways to build larger turntables for years. I get the idea that LEGO never thought that we'd be trying to build so many large things that would require huge turntables. A second video at the website above reveals that this is actually a panoramic camera stand. That comes second, of course, to it just being awesome.

This way of doing embedded video is new (to me), but with any luck it'll work:

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Apparently this is not going to work - please visit the site listed above to see the video.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Baa-Baa Sleepy-Time Express

Name of Model: The Baa-Baa Sleepy-Time Express
Created by: jedimasterwagner
Found at:
Although I have previously mentioned the Cave Racer craze, I somehow managed to not mention the Reasonably Clever Pigs on the Wing Contest where people were challenged to build cave racers piloted by animals. Be warned, not all contest entries are kid safe. Although there are many possibilities still not explored even after this contest (which ended yesterday), there are also a ton of very clever entries into this contest. My personal favorite is this one, where a counting sheep rides a cave racer that appears to have once been a bedroom set. Oh, and did I mention that two minifigs are still trying to sleep in that bed? They look pretty terrified, but at least they're LEGO® people, so it's not like their lamps aren't sturdily attached to their nightstands. I was actually surprised that this model still included all of the parts required to meet the contest's standards for cave racers, but they're actually all in there. This is also a computer-generated image (probably done in LDraw), but I do believe that this could actually be built too. Of course, the details here are as excellent as you'd expect for a model of the day - don't miss the goblet-and-rocket-booster lamps or the clever design of the sheep.

Clone Trooper Army World Record Continues LEGO / NAS Partnership

Name of Model: LEGO staff set a new Guinness World Record
Created by: The National Autistic Society and LEGO UK (a division of the LEGO company)
Found at:
I'm sure that if you read a blog like this, you probably already think LEGO and Star Wars are both pretty awesome. I have a new reason to be proud of LEGO today, though, because I have just learned about their partnership with the United Kingdom's National Autistic Society. As an autistic adult living in the USA, I've been furious over the past few years as anti-autism hate groups increasingly dominate the conversation over autism. It's become a matter of course to learn that yet another company, celebrity, or politician has decided to align itself with some crazy organization that's out to exploit or eradicate people like myself. However, there are legitimate groups in the US that do help autistic people of all ages to get the services we need (the services any given person may need vary widely, since autism is a very broad category), and there are plenty of other places where autistic advocacy groups have been more successful. Surprisingly, in spite of the infamous research of Andrew Wakefield, the UK is one place where the situation is much better for autistic people.

The LEGO company is one of the few major corporations who have been responsible enough to team up with an organization that's generally interested in self-advocacy and fair access to services. I don't think it's possible to express how grateful I am that they took the time to find such a great group to be involved with. LEGO UK has made the NAS their charity partner for 2008-2010 and they are donating products to schools and helping to raise money for services and for a playground at a school founded by the National Autistic Society.

This sponsored record attempt looks to me to mostly be a publicity stunt, but there's no doubting that it's excellent as publicity stunts go. I haven't seen any numbers on just how much money the world record attempt is making, or how the details of it worked out, but I'm happy with it nonetheless. Hey, it gives me an excuse to plug an official LEGO show I didn't know about and do some activism that I really care about at the same time! I, for one, am extremely grateful to hear about an autism advocacy group getting such high-profile sponsorship, and I hope that spreading the word about LEGO UK's efforts will help to raise money for the cause. It's also comforting to know that a company that I've cherished over the years is doing the right thing where so many other companies have made terrible mistakes.

If you are in the UK, you can see the LEGO roadshow this summer (click here for dates). This 50th-anniversary roadshow is called "Follow the LEGO® Brick Road", and 50% of the proceeds from LEGO products bought at the show are going to support the NAS. LEGO Roadshows are always excellent, but I don't believe that the record-setting army will be at these. Still, if you can make it to one, you really should.

If you want to support the NAS, they have links for donating at their website, which is at . If you live in the US and would like to support similar charities, please visit the Autism Self Advocacy Network website at . To hear some more honesty about autism, visit (which, by the way, is also a great place to donate to).

Whatever you do, do not even consider supporting Autism Speaks or anyone who works with them. Their degrading rhetoric, offensive ads, and counterproductive campaigns have been a serious detriment to autistic people in the US, and AS neither helps autistic people nor allows autistic people to be heard in their organization. They are a disgusting source of stigma and bigotry, and their abuse of everyone and everything they can get a hold of is seriously of cartoon-villain proportions here in the states. The thing is, though, that there's nothing cartoony about them - in fact, the past few months have been a frightening time because it looked like one of the major US political parties was going to nominate an AS-backed Presidential candidate who spread neo-Nazi propaganda about "preventing" autistic people in her Presidential campaign (in the interest of fairness, said bigot has since dropped out and endorsed a pro-neurodiversity candidate with a strong record on autism issues, and the pro-neurodiversity candidate is now the presumptive nominee and likely our next President - we dodged the bullet!). Most major American media outlets didn't even find the candidates' drastically different views on autistic people to be worth news coverage, preferring instead to make jokes about biases against women while ignoring actual minority rights issues.

In a world where those sorts of awful things can happen, it's truly amazing to hear about a company as mainstream as the LEGO group taking a stand for what's right. Many companies have tried to jump on the autism bandwagon by doing fraudulent "awareness" campaigns, but this is the first time that I've heard of a global corporation that was willing to put money towards actually helping autistic people to maintain their rights and obtain whatever services are necessary. Thank you, LEGO. I know this is just the UK sub-company of the LEGO group, but it's still an amazing show of solidarity for a cause that is extremely important for the world's large population of autistic people.

Oh, and if you want to see more photos of the awesome Clone Trooper army, Gizmodo has them (warning: I generally try to avoid linking to Gizmodo since they're not really a kid-safe site, but they do have a scoop today, and what the heck, it's not like autism rights politics is generally a kid-safe topic anyway).