Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Andy Warhol-themed Mosaics and Sculpture

Name of Models: 3D Tide Box, Campbells Soup Can, and Marilyn Monroe (Medium Blue and Dark Pink)
Created by: David Haliski
Found at: http://www.legomosaics.com/
Here's another exciting new site from a great builder. The photos are all in flash-based widgets, but all three models are excellent. These are also based on works by Andy Warhol, which adds another neat element to these projects, I think. The size of these - particularly on the Tide box and the Campell's Soup can - are great for making the resolution interesting and well-suited to the bricks. I'll leave it at that - there's a full write-up at the link above.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ex-Wing (Spooky Star Wars Contest entry)

Name of Model: The Ex-Wing
Created by: daveexmachina
Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daveexmachina/sets/72157608395678726/

This clever entry into the Reasonably Clever Spooky Star Wars Contest is spectacular. Skeletons on a spaceship seems obvious enough, as does breaking a ship into a minimalistic frame or "skeleton" of the ship - but I'd say that actually making the ship into a bizarre, bone-like structure is reasonably clever. I thought about trying to enter this contest with a wreckage of a ship - but a premise of "Not everyone who didn't come back from the Battle of Yavin...didn't come back"? Brilliant. I'm also loving the Bionicle-ized weapons and the astro-ghost droid "RBoo-DBoo". The pilot, of course, is a rebel fighter with an evil skull head. Oh, and in case you didn't get this, this is based on the X-wing Fighter™ from Star Wars.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Hearse

Name of Model: Halloween Hearse
Created by: modelbuildingsecrets
Found at: http://modelbuildingsecrets.wordpress.com/2008/10/23/halloween-hearse/
Here's an exciting new blog: Modelbuildingsecrets's Weblog features tips, ideas, and creations by a former LEGOLAND Parks master builder. This particular model is timely for Halloween - and visible in the Miniland New Orleans section of LEGOLAND California through the end of the month. I think both the car and the skeleton may be easy to try out in other themes, but I'm not sure if those jumper plates (also known as off-set plates - they're the 1x2 plates with only one stud on top) are actually available to the public in clear. Occasionally, you can spot parts in LEGOLAND parks that haven't actually ever been sold in a kit - sometimes when the professionals need a certain part that isn't available, they can request it (and then the company makes a large enough run of it that the builders for the parks will have it for quite some time after that). They make a great windshield there, though.

It's fairly common for LEGO to do Halloween-themed "easter eggs" in the parks and in video games. There are also "Brick Or Treat" promotions at LEGOLAND parks - you can probably find information about events at the parks at the official LEGOLAND parks website.
This is Wednesday's model of the day

Monday, October 20, 2008

TCBX Show in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA

EDIT 10/20/2008: This event is now over. Garth Danielson has written a wrap-up of the event and sent along a link to his photos from TCBX on Brickshelf

EDIT 10/25/2008: There's another great write-up, courtesy of Dave at BrickPlayer.com

More photos can also be seen in bisonfuehrer's flickr photostream right now.

The Twin Cities LEGO® Users Group, Greater Midwest LEGO® Train Club, and other LEGO fans in Minnesota are putting on a show later this month. Here's their announcement:

"Twin Cities Brick eXpo (TCBX) will be held in Bloomington Minnesota on Saturday,
October 18th, 2008 from 10am to 5pm. See www.tcbx.org for more info or e-mail
me directly at gmltc_stein@yahoo.com.

This will include display of the GMLTC train layout, Dan Siskind's models and
diarama's to be featured in his forthcoming book, the TwinLUG 'Micro city', the
Washburn watertower from All about the Family, Judy, Bill and Owen Paynes Duplo
train layout, and may other displays by TwinLUGers, TCLUGers, GMLTCers and other
MN AFOL's. Let me know if you would like to be a displayer.

We will be running a few contests for models that you build ahead of time and
bring. Each contest entry fee will be $5 all of which will support the MN FIRST
LEGO League. See the web site for more details and rules.

Admission is FREE."

Event website: http://www.tcbx.org/


I just found out that Monday's post is not showing properly in the RSS feed. For those of you watching the feed, some photo links were added to the TCBX show entry. In the future, I'll have to remember to write fresh posts for event wrap-ups. I didn't realize that I could update a post and change the date for it to appear first on the site without the RSS feed updating properly. Sorry about that.

Thanks for all of your comments and e-mails lately - I've always thought that a blog has "arrived" when it's readership is large enough to answer questions that the blogger asks. I've been impressed by and humbled by the amount of people reading lately (in spite of my delays in posting), and I am grateful to be hearing from some of the builders I've featured about details I've overlooked or been unsure of when writing here. I've been trying to keep up with these by editing the relevant posts (the updates to the posts do generally show up in the feed, but they won't show as unread again if you've already read the posts - at least in Google Reader, anyway).

As for tomorrow's (Tuesday's) post, I have to pick a model from the e-mail pile yet. I have a feeling that it'll be fairly late in the evening before I finish writing about one, but I'm looking through some models right now.

For those of you who have been able to attend some of the great LEGO-related events out there, I'd like to hear from you. I'm not happy with how long it's taken me to get some event wrap-ups done, and I'd like to get more first-person reviews of events on here. By "events", I mean fan conventions, public displays of any size, FIRST/LEGO Robotics events, contests - anything, really. I'm interested in hearing from both people who are behind-the-scenes and people who are just attending. To send in a guest post about an event (whether as an announcement beforehand or a wrap-up after-the-fact), write whatever you have to say in an e-mail to me at legomodeloftheday@gmail.com - and include the URL of where pictures/videos are if they are available. I'll format and edit a bit to make it fit in on the site (mostly I'll just be filling in links and checking for language). This is also a chance for those of you who aren't interested in maintaining a regular blog to speak up about what you've been doing in the LEGO fan community (or even just with your friends).

Lastly, if you want to find an event to attend or let LEGO fans online find out about your event, take a look at the new, improved, Google Calendar-driven BrickJournal Calendar. Separate overlays for contests, conventions, displays, fan club events, and Mindstorms/FLL events make it easy to find particular types of events. I need to get more involved with that calendar and to update my previous posts about finding LEGO events to mention it, but I fully expect this shiny new calendar to quickly become the "standard" calendar for most LEGO fan sites on the internet. If you're running an event, you should let BrickJournal know first and then announce it in a few other places, such as regional websites, websites for the featured LEGO themes (there are quite a few of these out there with various angles on covering the hobby), LUGNET (adults only - although many adults are happy to help out at events aimed at kids), offline bulletin boards in the same area of the event, and here at LMOTD. I'll continue trying to plug events here that I've seen mentioned elsewhere as well.

Thanks for reading,

BrickCon Wrap-Up

The weekend of October 2nd-5th was BrickCon (formerly NWBrickCon) in Seattle, Washington. I wasn't able to make it this year (I've actually never made it, even when I lived nearby), but there are tons of photos to look at from this year's event. The big headline was the awesome new set that the LEGO company announced there (already covered here), but there were tons of great models to see as well (and countless more fun things for attendees that aren't available to visitors - as far as I know, no one was recording any of the speakers, and there's no way to show online what some of the fans-only events are like).

Below are a bunch of links to photos. I should warn you, though, if the phrase "violent zombie apocalypse" sounds scary or unfamiliar to you, you might want to just skim some of these. One of the more adult-oriented blogs for LEGO fans coordinated a truly unique exhibit that combines Cafe Corner-style town buildings with horror/fantasy storylines - and since the layout is filled with (along with clever models and techniques) violence, movie references, video game references, and other silly in-jokes, much of it went over my head.

The place to start looking for pictures is the Official flickr pool for NWBrickCon (which includes photos from previous years if you dig far enough).

In the interest of not delaying this post any longer, I'm posting this now and adding links to it as I get to them.

More photos at:
Memory's BrickShelf gallery (Space and Mecha only)
joshh's flickr set

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Sorry for the delay - today's entry (a minifig-scale focused wrap-up of NWBrickCon) will be up on Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Detailed Human Sculptures (for a Cafe-type Scene)

Name of Model: Two short orders
Created by: Sean Kenney
Found at: http://www.seankenney.com/portfolio/two_short_orders/
Sorry if this is a little too political or close to home, but I just had to cover these amazing sculptures. I'm not entirely sure what scale these are at, but they are amazing - the faces have all sorts of studs-not-on-top trickery in them to increase the resolution possible with the bricks, and the food counter and newspaper are fully detailed with more special parts. The egg carton is brilliant, and the newspaper just looks amazing - I have no idea how that weight is held up, but it looks like there's just hinges in there! The pictures speak for themselves, and my only gripe is that there aren't more of them.

EDIT: Sean left a comment filling in some more details:

The newspaper is supported solely by the hands... The hinges on the fingers hold it upright... But in the back, the paper leans inward a bit and touches the thumbs and palm, which support the bulk of the weight. (Just like reading a real paper!)

It's about 1:3 scale; The figures are just under 2 feet tall.

There isn't a lot of studs-not-on-top (SNOT) in their faces... mostly just jumper plates (1x2 plate with one stud) for half-stud offsets. I did use some SNOT for their nostrils (heh). In the case of the businessman, this necessitated building the cheeks sideways as well. The eyes are just 1x2 technic bricks with a 1x1 round plate set into the hole.

It looks like I overestimated how much was built sideways around the noses, but it's still a great effect. All those jumper plates must have thrown off my sense of proportions a bit - if you think of bricks as having a width:height ratio of 5:6, then sideways bricks have a ratio of 5:5, and a pair of plates have a ratio of 4:6. The jumper plates add in multiples of 2.5:2, which can be a bit harder to spot at first glance. If you're really good at these things (like all the LEGO-Certified Professionals are), you can make these odd measurements line up in all sorts of great ways. Those cheeks, for example, line up perfectly with the plates and tiles that are right side up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

X-Files Building in Microscale, X-Files Characters as Minifigs

Name of Model: The X Files
Created by: rh1985moc
Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rh1985/sets/72157606760835252/
Another movie-based model (just a coincidence!) - this time a microscale version of the building from the X-Files. I know we've all seen nice microscale buildings before, but this is an interesting choice of source material, and I honestly can't recall ever seing a microscale building that can light up before. I'm not entirely sure if the lights used in the "at night" shots are done with LEGO lights or just ordinary lights, but either way, it's a great effect. Last time I featured a model by this builder, LED lights were used to illuminate a microscale ship - perhaps that's how it was done this time as well (it's mild cheating, but it's hard to argue with how well light-emitting diodes generally work). I'm also liking the way horizontal hinges were used to angle the walls here - I don't think I've ever seen that pulled off at this scale before.

For extra fun, a few interior shots of the building and characters were done at minifig scale (those pictures are in the same flickr set).

EDIT: Once again, we have an update from the builder (three for three this week!):

Hi. I built this and for the record I used LED's instead of the lego lights. I chose them because it was easier to fit them into the building, are brighter and tend to last longer.

The building is meant to be the FBI building, its name being the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

Mulder's office was in the FBI building as far as I could tell. When his office caught fire in one episode alarms could be heard from Skinner's office so I assumed it was inside, even if it was in the basement.

The building does have an open courtyard. Thanks to Google Maps for that one.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Follow up to Monday's Model

Over the weekend while I was writing today's post, I had a few questions (and apparently a few mistakes as well). I sent some questions about how many motors, programmable bricks, etc were used along to the builder (who submitted it himself), and here is the response:

There is only one LEGO Mindstorms NXT servo motor for the mouth movement.

The lighted eye is controlled by a LEGO Mindstorms NXT Light Sensor.

Originally, I was going to cram a "power Functions Light brick" from LEGO set 4998 and another LEGO Mindstorms NXT servo motor to control the Light brick, but as I began learning more about LEGO Mindstorms NXT (and modern LEGO pieces), I realized that the LEGO Mindstorms NXT Light Sensor had its own light source!

As for brick techniques, one fun one is that the transparent inner eyeball is made up of these 4 pieces (via peeron.com):

1. a clear Minifig Accessory Helmet Modern (2446)
2. a TrOrange Minifig Head with Hollow Stud (3626b)
3. a TrRed Plate 1 x 1 Round (4073)
4. a TrOrange Brick 1 x 1 with Headlight (4070)

The skull itself can be controlled by only 1 programmable brick which coordinates the control of the light sensor for the eye, the servo motor for the mouth movement, and to playback the uploaded sound files.

The cheap lazy susan I found to spin the head is controlled by another programmable brick that controls either 1 or 2 LEGO Mindstorms NXT servo motors.

For this talking skull, only one servo motor is sufficient to spin the head, I have 2 LEGO Mindstorms NXT servo motors in the videos so that it looks symmetric.

In case anyone tries to make the spinning platter just by viewing my videos may run into some problems - to keep the tires of the motors on the rim of the platter, unseen LEGO Technic spring shock-absorbers provide upward force to the backend of the motors which are mounted in a simple inverted first class lever design.

I guess that only 2 Mindstorms sets were necessary (I actually opened up 6).

I don't know how many pieces I used and I'm not sure where each piece came from, though I probably can trace the odd ones back to their respective sets.

I built the skull first, then went on a few LEGO shopping sprees for newer pieces in colors I wanted, additionally, I broke down my ancient LEGO Expert Builder sets, and integrated some second-hand LEGO pieces Mom purchased years ago.

Everything is genuine LEGO, absolutely no glue was used, no piece was forced into a compromising position, and no Technic Pins with Friction were used (I don't like the way they potentially widen the holes of technic beams).

The skull is completely modular, everything quickly comes apart in multiple modules by pulling bushes and cross axles.

Thanks to w at thinkingbricks.com for clearing those things up on such short notice (this was sent in a few weeks ago and I only had a chance to look at it this past weekend).

Robotics Monday: "Terminator"-style Robotic Head

Name of Model: Talking LEGO robot skull reciting movie lines
Created by: w at thinkingbricks.com
Found at: http://thinkingbricks.com/1/terminator/terminator001.html
This brilliant LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robot actually talks! It says lines from the Terminator movies. I believe that that would make it a robot from the future, and we should go with it if we want to live. There are videos, photos and quite a bit of docmentation at the site above. I'm not sure how many NXT units or motors were used to do this, but the amount of motion this head has is impressive. It's not easy to get all those angles in, either - making something like this sturdy is definitely a feat for Technic builders. Most surprising, though, is that the sound files played by the NXT programmable brick (bricks?) were recorded and programmed at the syllable level - this isn't just a simple playback of movie clips, we're actually hearing the NXT string the sound files together to simulate speech. Another neat trick - the light used are not the ones from the Educational Edition of the NXT kit - it's actually the light brick from the 4998 Stegosaurus kit.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Terminator movie franchise (they are rated R, after all), the movies are action/sci-fi flicks about a man who invents a network of robots - and the robots that travel through time to try to control him as a kid (before he builds his inventions).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brick Town Talk

I'm planning on covering some group layouts later this week as the minifig-scaled model, but today I'm mentioning another model (since I've already written about it elsewhere).

As a big fan of the Café Corner kit and original models made to work with it, I've long been a fan of the blog Brick Town Talk, which features news and models related to these incredibly detailed town models. Brick Town Talk has a different format from this site - here, I focus on models and builders and a general tone, but Brick Town Talk just documents all the great things going on in that one theme with a quick link or two, not usually going into commentary. The idea is to show other hobbyists (primarily adults) what ideas are being used elsewhere in the world.

Considering how busy I've been lately, it might surprise you to hear that I've recently joined the Brick Town Talk team and started posting there. However, that format - one with no rules on variety or content, and with considerably less links and commentary within posts - takes much less time to post in. Since I have most of my recent LEGO news and creations set up to load automatically in Google Reader, it's not too hard to find models. It takes only a minute or two to provide that one link that Brick Town Talk requires, but it can takes about 15 minutes to an hour for each post here (since for LMOTD, I have to skim through photos for objectionable content, track down details about who built it and where he/she posts his/her models, write commentary, queue it up for a time when we haven't seen many other things like it recently, keep track of holidays, resize photos, moderate comments...)

Earlier today, I wrote (in addition to a post for tomorrow for LMOTD) about an old-fashioned building facade for Brick Town Talk. That post still has a bit of commentary a la LMOTD, but most posts there don't. Think of this one as a bonus model-of-the-day.

I probably won't cross-post to both sites very often, since that niche should only show up here once every month or so with my current posting schedule (and of course, it's now my only outlet for excellent town models with disturbing things happening inside). It is likely that I'll (when the work isn't duplicated) post about models here and then copy the commentary to the other site - with scheduled post publishing here and no schedule on BTT, it's possible things might show up there before they appear here (which was also the situation before).

While BTT is aimed primarily for adults, I do think it's fairly kid-friendly - and it's certainly a great way of finding new town ideas to try, regardless of how many parts you have or how old you are. If you're interested in the hobby and town buildings at all, it's essential viewing. They have an RSS feed and two posts per week (on average - there are no rules for how often to post there). Be warned that occasionally something uncouth might come up, but it is a great blog and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in detailed town models.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Castle Set 10193 Medieval Market Village Coming in January

Name of Model: Medieval Market Village
Created by the LEGO company, including LEGO employees Matthew Ashton and Nick Groves
Found at: http://brickjournal.com/news/2008/10/4/brickcon-special-report-keynote
In the 30 years since the first LEGO castle set came out, we've had knights, kings, dragons, the occasional queen or maiden, and even trolls and dwarfs - but never a decent set with common people (never mind common women). Now, at long last, they've introduced a kit that shows commoners, an aging man, two women, and even a child in a traditional marketplace. The marketplace is beautiful in its own right - two gorgeous buildings that are comparable to sets like the Cafe Corner in terms of detail (in terms of scale, they're more in league with other Castle sets). It's very hard not to think of this set in terms of rare parts as well - fish, cows, a whole roast turkey, a new water wheel, Fabuland barrels, bricks in tan and medium blue, a staircase, windows, food, new fire/feather elements, a new table leg/telescope element, and a variety of detail pieces in rare colors.

Please read the full article on BrickJournal's website for more details about this exciting new set (if only we could order it before January!)

I'd like to say more about BrickJournal. Since they're now fairly large (within the LEGO fan community) and available in print, they're starting to pursue bringing LEGO news to a wider audience and getting some decent scoops directly from the LEGO company. I've written here about most of the news stories on their site, but I encourage you to cut out the middle man and add the BrickJournal News Articles webpage to your regular online reads - pretty much every post on there is must-read for anyone with any interest in LEGO (they have an RSS feed and post one news article per week on average). While BrickJournal editor Joe Meno is aiming the magazine towards adult hobbyists, he is making sure that it's accessible and appropriate for all ages - so I'd highly recommend getting a subscription for your kids, family, school, library...you get the idea. I can't say enough good things about the magazine, and I think anybody interested in reading this blog would be interested in reading it (or at the very least, the online news articles on the magazine's website).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Laptop is Back!

My laptop finally came back with a new motherboard this evening. I hope this means that I can rejoin the land of the living in the near future. I'm actually really excited about getting back to blogging - at least covering some of the recent LEGO news. It's been a very big few weeks - we've had a few major shows, some exciting new models posted online, and the company leaked info about an amazing new set. I don't know how many reader submissions or models from my backlog will get posted up here right away, but I'll definitely try to get some news posts up here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Old-Fashioned Town Buildings on the Cafe Corner Standard

Name of Model: Buildings following the Cafe Corner modular standard
Created by: Aliencat
Found at: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=341894
A BrickShelf user by the name of Aliencat has built a variety of excellent Café Corner-style models recently. The techniques are very interesting - many bits are adapted from the sets in that series, and others are new and quite clever. The brilliant use of color stands out right away - The Town Hall is the best mix of dark grey and dark stone that I've ever seen, and I never would have thought to use dark red or sand green that way either - and nearly all of these models get quite far with rare new colors. If you follow Brick Town Talk, you've already seen this builder's town/castle hybrid layout before too (and that's a great layout too).

Be warned, there are quite a few great photos here - with this site's old format, this would have been a Sunday post (I figure we should come back with a bang, though, since this is the first post after a lengthy break).