Tuesday, August 30, 2011

LEGO Contest!

LEGO is asking consumers ages 6 + to design a LEGO themed postage stamp to be featured on the Late Holiday Catalogue .

For each country there will be 50 finalists selected to receive a copy of 10222. 25 will be for ages 6-14 and 25 will be from ages 15 & up. From the 50 finalists, 1 grand prize winner will be selected per country. In addition to a copy of 10222 – Winter Village Post Office, grand prize winners will have their stamp design featured on the late holiday catalog for their country along with a professionally designed and framed LEGO mosaic of their design.

Where: The US/UK/Germany. These are the only countries that mail a late holiday catalogue
When: We will be accepting entries for the contest September 1-30 and selecting the finalists & winners for each country the first week of October.
How: Consumers must simply visit shop.LEGO.com/Design-Challenge (Germany: shop.LEGO.com/Designwettbewerb) to download the official entry form. They or their parent/guardian must complete the form and email it along with their stamp design to the email address designated for their country. No purchase is required and there will be no physical entries collected.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's all in the details!

2, originally uploaded by Nebraska's MOC.

Take a look at this complete diorama, with lighting by Lifelites (Rob Hendrix). Beautiful use of lighting and building technique. The rest of this gallery shows off more of the model!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Building Thoughts: Bricks of Character

One of the things that I get to do as a sorta-journalist is watch and find out about building trends in the community. While there are constant themes, trains and space come to mind right off the bat, there are those builders that don't fit the general themes. This is a good thing overall, as no builder should be pigeonholed in a theme, unless they want to be. I started as a space builder, then wandered to micro scale, then to MINDSTORMS, and now just a LEGO builder.

Anyways, a relatively new trend is Bricks of Character. started by Iain Heath and Tommy Williamson, this is a theme that is not based on a genre or theme, like Space or Train, but based on building characters. It's a little tough to explain in words, so here are some pics:

Jack Sparrow, built by Erik Varszegi, LEGO Master Builder.

Ponyo, built by Iain Heath

Marvel CubeDudes(tm), built by Angus MacLane

Jack Sparrow and Barbossa, built by Tommy Williamson

Each one of these are wildly different building styles, from realistic life size to almost miniland scale to caricatured scale, but each has a common thread - they are all character builds.

The first display of Bricks of Character was at BrickCon 2009, and in a couple of years has grown to a major display at the event. Part of the reason behind this is that the theme allows a wide assortment of models. The models above could show up at the display, but so could miniland models of TV characters and cartoon icons. Video game figures have also appeared.

The other factor behind the popularity of the theme is that a model often doesn't have to be that big to display, making it a perfect thing to take to a convention. A miniland model can easily fit in a bag and be assembled on site in a short time.

So how do you build something like this?

Tinkerbell, by Janey Cook

Well, here are some general steps, which may be helpful.

1. Determine your scale and color. This is the most important part of the building, because it's REALLY annoying when the part you need is not in the right color at all. Scale is good to figure out the resulting size.

2. Sketch what you want to build first on blank paper, then on graph paper. The best models are not simple standing poses, except for CubeDudes. A character is partially defined by the pose, as shown in Jack and Ponyo and Tink and the pirates above.

Using graph paper is good to transfer and start figuring out building techniques. LEGO-scaled graph paper can be found here.

Things to think about while sketching: the pose of the figure and how curvy you will need to build. Curves will define much of your building challenges, so decide beforehand how will work with or without curves.

3. Build and explore. The larger the scale, the more likely the building solution will be easy to find. However, that will mean more parts will be needed. The smaller scale will also make you think of different building techniques - it's a good way to learn Studs Not on Top building.

Because this is usually exploring, the expectation of building it right on the first try should be low. One technique may have to make way for another, and colors may have to be changed for parts availability. Patience is a nice thing to have:-).

I built Black Canary over the span of a couple of nights - I had to learn how to build a stable pose for her. Once I figured out her legs, it wasn't any easier figuring her hair, which could stand another revision.

A note here: if your want to really make it complicated, incorporate curves! Put another way, the female form is probably the hardest to build in LEGO elements. Be extra patient.

If you want to look at some galleries with Bricks of Character, you can look at:

Tommy Williamson's Flickr gallery
Iain Heath's gallery
My galleries: look in BrickCon 2009 and 2008
Angus MacLane's gallery

Take a look at their work, and see what you can do. I look forward to seeing your work online or at an event!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How Specific do you Sort?

In the LEGO library, there are thousands of parts that are created for all the sets, from mini figure accessories to simple bricks. When keeping a small collection, there are only a limited number of parts to sort, but as the collection grows, so does the assortment. This inevitably leads to sorting challenges.

For most of us, we don't have the space to make room for every individual part, so we combine in some way. I combine my parts in two different ways:


With my plates, I combine colors that are distinct together - the size is easy to recognize, and color is even easier. Here, I start with 1x2 plates and go to 2 x 8 plates at the end. Larger plates are in bins under my work surface. The bottom row has my exotic colors - the ones that I probably will not use. When I need large plates or run out of a color in a drawer, I have a couple of overflow bins to search.

The bottom left drawer has all my small rounded slopes. I don't have these sorted by color either. I am not that organized:-)! I do have my 2 x bricks separated by color in bins, though.

For specialty parts, though, I use a slightly different strategy.

I group similar parts together. These are parts that have the clip handles in some way or form. The only exception is that control brick element in the foreground, which needs to be somewhere else! All the other parts are there for two reasons:

1. They are easier to find in a group than separately. This is especially applicable when I only have a few parts.

2. Grouping encourages my creativity by letting me see more than one option to a part.

Here's another example. Headlight bricks and SNOT bricks in the same drawer. The different options from sunk-in stud to studs on more than one side, give me a variety of ways to mount parts by the side, and in some cases, more than one side.

This system seems to work for me most of the time, although I am in the process of migrating the most used parts to the drawers to build more efficiently. Developing your own sorting setup and system will take a little time, as you have to see what parts you use the most to determine what goes where. Also, if you are a more precise builder, you'll probably want more specific bins and drawers. Keep in mind that this will expand your work area, though. A former AFOL I knew had an entire basement set aside for building, and his walls were lined with drawers of parts.

So how do you sort?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Going a New Direction...

The blog has been quiet for a while, and it's been bothering me. I take care of a website, a magazine, and this blog, not to mention my Facebook account. My primary focus is the mag, then website, then here...which means that the blog is often forgotten in the din.

It doesn't help that I place news on the website...that usually leaves very little here. Until I started getting requests and questions about building and other aspects of the hobby. It was these notes and a academic paper about the AFOL community that I read that made me realize that while blogs show cool MOCs and photos, there is almost no explanation as to the building methods.

As a result, I decided to make this blog a place to show building methods and how to do things with LEGO elements. Any person can become an expert builder with practice and understanding of this medium. I hope to start showing and maybe teaching here for those who are curious about how it's done.

But first, a disclaimer: any ideas and thoughts here concerning building and things associated with it are NOT definitive. You, as the reader, are allowed and encouraged to use these thoughts as guidelines to help your building. There is no right way to build, but there is YOUR way. Make that way the best for YOU.

Okay, so here goes the first subject:


Yeah, this is part of my workspace. I showed a pic of a model, and some people were impressed more with the wall in the background. It looks nice, but it needs to be changed.

Workspace sorting is a necessary evil in building. The big trick is to figure out how precise you want to be. Other factors play a part in this too, such as what themes you build in. I have seen workshops that had a million parts placed in drawers that were sorted by color and unique parts. In Billund, they have drawers that have compartments for every part, and they take up walls of space. In other places in the LEGO Group, there are walls of bins with parts. Each place has an overall plan to their organization so builders can find and get what they want easily.

For a beginning builder, the first question to answer is: What do you want to build? Building castles is different from building spaceships, so what you keep at close hand will be different. Here's some general examples of parts and colors used by different themes:

Space: greys, plates, 1 stud width bricks, specialty pieces
Town: primary colors, tan, grey, bricks 1 and 2 wide, chairs, doors, windows
Castle: greys, castle walls, bricks,
Micro: specialty parts, plates

Your theme specialty will determine what needs to be in the priority areas of your workspace. After all, you don't want to waste time looking for a part. My original plan was meant for making spaceships, so plates and detail parts were front and center. But my collection outgrew what I started with...

This is what has become of my 1 x 2 plates. Not useful for quick building, so I gotta fix this....


Shelves are the easiest way to organize. The wall behind my work area has these, and you can get them at Wal-Mart or Home Depot for under $20.

The more drawers you have, the more precise you can be. This can be very helpful - if you take a look at the shelf above, you'll see that I go from smallest to largest plates : 1 x 2, 2 x 3, 2 x 4, 2 x 6, 2 x 8. Larger plates are at the bottom drawer. You'll also notice that I place more than one color in each drawer. I'd do that to minimize drawers, or else I would have many more shelves!

Now, remember that drawer of 1 x 2 plates? You can make things much easier and faster by putting them in drawers, like so:

The most important thing in building is knowing where your parts are, and a shelf is a good start!

As you buy more parts, you're going to max out the drawers though. One thing I did was keep some Bionicle containers for storage:

That way, I can see the parts, the containers stack, and I can get the parts out relatively quickly.

Next size up is a shoebox:

I have a shelf for these beside my workspace. And after that, I have double shoeboxes, mostly for bricks :

The problem I have now is that the parts I use often are not in the shelf, but in the shoeboxes. I need to make room in the shelves I have for those parts.

I also have some plastic containers for some specialty parts. Keep in mind that you want your most used parts close and in front of you.

Questions? Comments? Builders are encouraged to talk about their organization for their elements. Everyone has a different style of building and sorting, so take note!

I'll answer these questions, but also send me questions about building. I will post the answers here. Hope to hear from y'all soon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 10, 2011

Have a contest for y'all...

I got a set of 3 Smallworks iPhone cases (transparent, black, and white) to give away, so I am doing a sorta quick building contest. What do you need to build? A phone. Or rather, what you think a phone will become in a decade. You can use real bricks, or LEGO DIgital Designer, or LDraw - this is open! Send photos of what you think a phone will become to (admin at brickjournal dot com) by January 31, 2011 and the best three will get a random Smallworks case...and if they are good enough, I'll publish them in BrickJournal. If you haven't an iPhone, I do have some other prizes that I have on hand. I'll announce those later. Questions? Drop me a line at the address above. If not - have fun and good luck!!

Notes from all around...

LEGOLAND Florida $99 Preview Annual Pass Offer Extended
from LEGOLAND Florida Marketing  

Polk County, FL (January 5, 2011) -- Due to popular demand, LEGOLAND® Florida has extended its discount on general admission tickets and Standard Annual Passes through April 2011.  Central Florida’s newest full-day, family theme park, scheduled to open in October 2011, announced the extension after a hugely successful December sales period.  Formerly expected to end on December 31, 2010 – guests will now be able to get the special rate through April 30, 2011.

Available only at www.LEGOLAND.com, general admission tickets are $65 for adults and $55 for children and seniors.  Standard Annual Passes are offered at the children’s prices of $99 with no Blackout Dates!  Plus Annual Passes and Ambassador lifetime passes are also available at the non-discounted rates of $159/$129 and $2,500 respectively.  These passes includes unlimited admission, discounts on preferred parking, special events, plus discounts on food and merchandise. (Prices do not include sales tax.)

Star Wars Invades LEGOLAND California
from LEGOLAND California

CARLSBAD, Calif. (Jan. 6, 2011) – In March 2011, LEGOLAND® California is introducing an all-new, dedicated STAR WARS Miniland area for the very first time! Guests can enjoy seven of the most famous scenes from the six live-action STAR WARS movies, as well as a scene from the animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS™  all made out of 1.5 million LEGO® bricks built in 1:20 scale. Guests will be further immersed into the STAR WARS experience as they pose with life-size LEGO models of Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Darth Vader.

Master Model Builders Stephan Bentivoglio (right) and Martin Albert (left) from LEGOLAND® Germany building the prototype of a LEGO® Millenium Falcon for LEGOLAND California’s new Miniland STAR WARS area. Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California Resort.

Following a chronological path through the STAR WARS timeline, LEGOLAND guests retrace the major events of the beloved Saga. Some of the 2,000 LEGO models will be more than 6-feet-tall. Interactive buttons will allow children to activate animations throughout the scenes. “Our guests have really enjoyed our LEGO STAR WARS Days over the years and we’re certain this new area is going to ignite the imaginations of adults and children alike,” said General Manager of LEGOLAND California, Peter Ronchetti. “We are opening this STAR WARS Miniland display just in time for spring break.”