Thursday, July 30, 2009

Build Events This Weekend (US and UK)

Two very different events this Saturday, both being featured here on frighteningly short notice. I'll be following both projects to see how they turn out - both present unique engineering challenges.

In the US, in Washington DC, we have From Spark to Click: Celebrating National Inventors' Month hosted by the American History Museum. From the blurb above (which has all the details except for how long this model will remain built and accessible to the public), it sounds like this is being co-sponsored by the company and will be similar to the build events occasionally held to promote LEGO stores. The light bulb being built at this event is a very unusual choice for such an event because of the balance issues involved.

In the UK, in Dorking, Surrey, England, Top Gear presenter James May is attempting to build a 1:1 scale model of a house - and then live in it for a few days afterwards. This has been something of a media frenzy in some areas over the past few days, but it appears to me that the BBC has the definitive article on the event. The engineering tasks here are obvious: plumbing is not something LEGO is made for (trust me, no matter how hard it may seem to separate a pair of bricks, it's still not waterproof).

...I have a feeling it will take more than one day to build a full-scale house, but I guess we'll have to see how many volunteers pitch in (and how well said volunteers can build!)

EDIT 8/3/2009: Surprisingly, neither of these models is currently visitable. The light bulb was taken down shortly after completion, and James May's house has had its LEGO chunks set aside so that a concrete foundation can be poured (I don't think I need to explain that concrete is not made by LEGO and thus is technically a form of cheating). From what I gather, both events were quite busy. You can send in your first-hand accounts from these or any other events to to be shared on this blog.

When Life Gives You Train Tracks...Build A Spaceship!

Name of Model: LL-301
Created by: OptimalControl
Found at:
If you're like me, you've picked up a few partial LEGO sets over the years that cannot be used in the intended way because of the amount of parts missing. One group of elements that has caused this problem for many a thrifty LEGO fan over the years is the train track designed for the non-powered and 4.5V battery-operated trains that LEGO sold from the late 60's through the 1980's (and yes, true LEGO fans know that some of these elements have appeared in sets again fairly recently, even in variations that aren't useful with the original track ties - and European fans would probably further note that the 12V electric system relied on these tracks as well). This builder found a decidedly spectacular use for a large quantity of the inner curve element for these train tracks - and the rest of the ship features some great details too.

This model was also featured as part of the Neo-Classic Space project taken on by LEGO fans to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Space line. Surprisingly, only one other model from that spectacular project has been featured here thus far.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Another Blogger You Should Read, volume 2: Mariann Asanuma

Continuing on my thoughts from last week, here's another blog I think you should be reading in addition to this one: Mariann Asanuma's Model Building Secrets. Mariann is a former LEGO Master Model Designer who wrote the book "Building Secrets from the Masters volume 1: How to Build a Round Ball with Square Bricks!" - but lately, we've gotten to know her through privately commissioned LEGO work, her spectacular blogging and engagement with the LEGO fan community, and her contributions to BrickJournal magazine. Her unique perspective and knowledge of parts and techniques makes her a must-read. These past few days, however, she's been a great source for news on Comic-Con (you know, that huge comic fan convention LEGO was at last year that I should have mentioned here by now). She's still writing more posts about the event, but for now, check out her Bionicle mosaic built on-site, her Giant Comic-Con logo mosaic and her recap of the LEGO, BrickJournal, and WB booths. It's been a big event (and one I probably should have covered here over the weekend), but Mariann's got it covered.

You can also view her other website, where she promotes her book and her skills as a LEGO artist for hire.

...and if you want more San Diego Comic Con (perhaps you're not just a LEGO fan), you can check out Joe Meno's flickr photostream for more photos than you'll know what to do with.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

MORE Classic Video Games as a BrickFilm

Name of Model: Lego Arcade
Created by: MlCHAELHlCKOX
Found at:

It turns out that in Wednesday's post, I featured the wrong video - the guy behind this one (which is the one I meant to share) managed to churn out a second one (which was what you saw Wednesday). They're both spectacular videos worth sharing, but I personally have more experience with this one's selection of games.

Foosball Table

Name of Model: LEGO Coffee Table Foosball Table
Created by: Mt.Dew Monkey
Found at: , , and
Every once in a while, my putting off doing a post for a day pays off when somebody posts something amazing during the day and I get to share it right away. Such is the case today, with this spectacular foosball table. While the use of swords may be technically be "cheating" to fans of the sport, Wikipedia's entry on Foosball sure makes it look like we're allowed to have multiple players on the goalie row (and hey! I had no idea foosball was such a complicated topic, or that there were so many names for it!)

To make LEGO fans like myself happy, there are some great details and parts usages - note the "useless" handle element making it's appearance on all the rods (which are themselves an impressive collection of Technic axles and axle extenders, completely in black), the use of Knight's Kingdom head on one side of the table, and the colorful team choice - swashbuckling Pirates vs Castle Knights!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Classic Video Games BrickFilm

Name of Model: Lego Arcade 2
Created by: MlCHAELHlCKOX
Found at:
Words fail. These classic games were captured here so well (through the art of LEGO mosaics and stop-motion animation). I was particularly impressed by the small area used for these mosaics - in some cases, the intuitive parts to use to create the characters wouldn't have fit into the space used.

argh my Flash installation got messed up since I first set this video aside to be blogged - I can't re-watch it now. I remember it being quite awesome, however. I'm afraid that's all I can say for today, though.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another Blogger You Should Read

Ever since things have started getting slow here, I've been thinking a bit about the various other LEGO-related blogs out there that my readers may not know about. I hate to leave my readers in a lurch, and while no other site uses the same format as this one, there are quite a few other blogs by LEGO fans worth reading (particularly if you're an avid fan up for more than just one model per day). Yesterday's rush of moon-landing tributes brought out some nice blogging on all four blogs by this one blogging wunderkind I know of in the online LEGO fan community. The blogger I speak of is BrickTales, an admin at the website and the author of MicroBricks (a microscale-themed blog), VignetteBricks (a minifig vignette-themed blog) , GodBricks (a blog on LEGO and religion), and MinilandBricks (a blog on the "Miniland" scale used at the LEGOLAND parks). All four are excellent niche blogs and certainly worth following - not to mention their uses as libraries of models in their particular themes. Bruce's writing is aimed at adults but generally all-ages friendly, and his surprising command of both LEGO and larger issues means even the potentially controversial subject matter of GodBricks is always handled in an intelligent, inclusive and inviting way.

For a sampling, check out these posts from yesterday about the moon landing:
Moon Mission (MicroBricks)
Happy Moonday (MinilandBricks)
From the Earth to the Moon (GodBricks)
One Small Vig For Man... (VignetteBricks)

...and yes, I just posted that instead of a model for today. It was worth it, though!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon Landing

Name of Model: In celebration of landing on the moon July 20, 1969. LEGO Lunar Lander 10029.
Created by (see below)
Found at:
Yes, I know it's the end of the day and you've probably seen quite a few moon landing tributes already - but bear with me for a LEGO fix I've seen blogged surprisingly little lately. Back in 2003, LEGO released a set illustrating the first moon landing in minifig form. That model is the bulk of today's scene - a clever "mod" (short for "modification" - LEGO fans refer to sets enhanced with parts from their personal collections as "mods" to set them apart from regular sets or completely original creations) that adds a lunar surface to the set. The kit itself was already a fitting tribute, and a highlight of the short-lived "Discovery" line of LEGO sets, but the landscaping (moonscaping) built by HotToadsToys brings this official kit to life.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fireworks Vignette

Name of Model: Fourth of July
Created by: sam(us)
Found at:
This model pretty much speaks for itself, but in the interest of making this post searchable, a few reasons why it's awesome: Clever night sky technique (plates held up by headlight bricks), a fun firework technique (clever use of 1x1 round plates and various sizes of radar dish), and finally, an excellent (and economical) foreground of minifigures and simple landscaping.

Usually I try to stay a bit more on top of holidays than I have been lately, but this goes out to everyone who wanted fireworks to commemorate Canada Day (July 1st) or American Independence Day (July 4th).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Test Post

Doesn't it figure that just as I'm getting a fresh start at blogging here, we suddenly start having weird RSS problems? I'm on it and hoping to have it under control soon (it looks like it might delay getting things back on track for a few days, though).

Transformer Apple Power Mac G4 Cube

Name of Model: Transforming LEGO Apple Power Mac G4 Cube
Created by: Thinking Bricks
Found at:
Here's a frightening new idea - using casings from existing electronics to build Mindstorms-based transformers. It starts off looking like an ordinary appliance on your desk, and seconds later, it's off driving around. Rather than ruin the surprise for you, I have to ask that you check out all the videos at the site above (the fourth in the series shows a bit more of how it was done).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

LIke Fathers Like Sons

Name of Model: LIke Fathers Like Sons
Created by: fallentomato
Found at:
It's hard not to get my attention when you're mixing scales in a clever way. The Technic figures (which originally came out in the late 1980's, surfaced occasionally in LEGO sets over the years, and then were widely available in the late 1990's, until they started with the Bionicle characters...) work great here, but their unusual scale - pretty close to Belville, just a little smaller than Miniland 0 makes them hard to work into models most of the time. The temptation would be to use Belville or miniland characters as children, but the minifigs work surprisingly well here. The best part? The minifigs are details to match the Technic figs as much as possible, using sunglass-clad heads and even a Dr Inferno arm for the cyborg kid. This is apparently just one module for a collaborative display at BrickWorld (which ended over a week ago...) so we may see more of these soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Let's Hear it for the Original Space Police!

Name of Model: SPa
Created by: roguebantha_1138
Found at: and
Yes, I know it's 2009 and that the company just released a third Space Police line, this one with aliens who are all treated as criminals (chew on the xenophobic political connotations of that one for a minute). There were, of course, kinder, simpler times, when we could spot the bad guys by their matching outfits and association with the Blacktron. When it comes to modern crafts for keeping the Futuron safe (and seriously - what's a Space Police line good for if you don't have civilians to protect?), this is as awesome as it gets. Proper prison pods (not of the hit-to-release variety, but of the well-built 1989 variety - the SP1 do not have any "escape" to worry about) are included too, because SP1 mean business!

Is that enough SP1 v. SP3 trash-talk? Do I really need to explain how clever the wing connections are here, or how that roof piece angles things further than the hinges? At some level this wins for using rare parts, but the amount of parts that have been discontinued (or otherwise become hard-to-come-by) since they first appeared in the original Space Police line is frighteningly large (translucent red just hasn't done too well in recent years - even the Alpha Team kits didn't include much of the color). I guess that's what we get for having a ton of exclusive translucent parts and lots of great printed bits instead of stickers (again, sorry kiddos - but hey, you may have missed the 80's, but you have the Internet! There were no blogs back when the SP1 line came out! Get off my lawn - oh wait, that's already in the instruction books for these new kits without boxtrays, isn't it?)

Where was I? Oh yes - this model is awesome, and there isn't nearly enough continuity in the LEGO Space world these days.