Monthly Archives: July 2008

The Brothers Brick turns 3 today! [Editorial]

Today marks the third anniversary of The Brothers Brick!

I believe that 2007-2008 was the year that The Brothers Brick truly became more than just another LEGO blog. All of you out there make this a community, with LEGO Ambassadors representing the tens of thousands of you who visit the site.

The LEGO fan community has seen its shares of ups and downs over this past year. We rallied together during the Great Brickshelf Crisis of 2007, and we’ve avoided much of the fragmentation I feared at the time. In addition to blogs and other online venues like The Brothers Brick, fans can now get their LEGO fix in print from BrickJournal and listen to the LAMLradio podcast on their MP3 players.

We’ve also been fortunate to add two contributors over this past year. Nannan Zhang has brought much-appreciated energy, while we look forward to columns from Keith Goldman. Thanks to Nannan, our event coverage expanded beyond my posts about BrickCon last October to include his news and highlights from BrickWorld in June.

And then there were the fads and bandwagons, proving that with great power comes great responsibility.

Looking to the future, and giving back

Advertising sucks. We added ads to pay the bills, but now we have enough traffic and so many of you are making your LEGO purchases through us (thank you!) that this is the right time to increase our transparency by sharing what we’ll be doing with the extra income.

We’ll be rolling everything beyond what pays the bills back into the LEGO fan community. It really is as simple as that. Specifically, you’ll see more frequent contests (with good prizes), giveaways (online and at conventions), and maybe even “scholarships” for LEGO fans who might not otherwise be able to attend important LEGO conventions.

All about you, by the numbers

Despite my inability to perform basic arithmetic (“100% more of zero is still zero,” as someone gently pointed out recently in response to one of our taglines), I always like sharing numbers about all of you readers out there.

  • 1,059,789 visits
  • 3,377,860 page views
  • 411,634 unique visitors
  • 1,200 new posts
  • 45,419 spam comments

Although we’ve had visitors from 181 countries (literally Afghanistan to Zimbabwe), most of our readers are from countries where English is the predominant language.

I’ve always listed the top 10 countries, but you might find the top 30 more interesting:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Australia
  5. Netherlands
  6. Germany
  7. Japan
  8. France
  9. Poland
  10. Spain
  1. Italy
  2. Sweden
  3. Denmark
  4. Belgium
  5. Hungary
  6. Portugal
  7. Finland
  8. Singapore
  9. Taiwan
  10. Brazil
  1. Norway
  2. Mexico
  3. New Zealand
  4. Austria
  5. Ireland
  6. Switzerland
  7. Malaysia
  8. Russia
  9. Hong Kong
  10. South Africa

So, what are all of your out there most interested in? And what sites are you coming from?

Top Keywords* Top Categories Referring Sites
  1. LEGO blog
  2. LEGO Agents
  3. LEGO 2008
  4. ApocaLEGO
  5. LEGO Green Grocer
  6. LEGO 7628
  7. LEGO
  8. BrickForge
  9. LEGO 7036
  10. LEGO Castle 2008
  1. Star Wars
  2. Steampunk
  3. Castle
  4. ApocaLEGO
  5. Indiana Jones
  6. Mecha
  7. Military
  8. Minifigs
  9. Building Techniques
  10. Video Games
  1. StumbleUpon
  2. Flickr
  3. The old blog
  4. Gizmodo
  5. BB Gadgets
  8. idleworm
  9. Neatorama

* Excluding variations on “The Brothers Brick”.

The top ten referring sites are only the tip of the iceberg:

Of seventy million blogs that Technorati tracks, we’re in the top ten thousand, or 0.0143%. Wow!

Our most popular posts run the gamut from the very best (and sometimes weirdest) LEGO creations of the past year, along with the up-to-the-minute news you’ve come to expect from us:

  1. Rocko summons the worm
  2. LEGO Star Wars 10188 Death Star pics reveal interior and 21+ minifigs
  3. More 2008 LEGO Castle, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars set pictures
  4. Stephen Hawking by Ochre Jelly
  5. The crazy steampunk machine
  6. Toy Fair 2008 reveals late 2008 LEGO sets
  7. Pixar animator Angus MacLane builds best LEGO Wall-E yet
  8. Nice skull
  9. First images of 4999 Vestas Windmill set
  10. Papercraft Star Wars Minifigs

Finally, stuff for the historically minded:

Pigs on the Wing winners announced

Hi all,

After heavily delayed judging thanks to the slackness of one of the judges (sorry!) the full list of winners of PotW have finally been announced. Going backwards by class we find… drumroll…

  • Class 3 winner: Crocodile Rock by Ean H
    Crocodile Rock by Ean H
  • Class 2 winner: Arctic Cave Race by Chrispockster
    Arctic Cave Race by Chrispockster
  • Class 1 winner: RedTRCTR by Polywen
    Polywen's RedTRCTR

While the special judges choice winners are as follows:

  • Brickforge pick: Holstein’s Hope by Graviton
  • Chris’ pick: Unclear on the Concept by BecTodd
  • My pick: RedTRCTR by Polywen

And I can now debut an old MOC… the special prize for my pick is the all new Petri Racer

Petri Racer prize caveracer

And I think it is time to bury the caveracing fad once and for all.

Pause Magazine covers the US opening of the LEGO Discovery Center

Pause magazine has some great coverage of the opening of the LEGO Discovery Center in Chicago. From the pictures I’ve seen of the Berlin centre this one looks to be even better and we can all hope that more of these will be rolled out (Australia… please!!!).

Incidentally I suspect most of you wouldn’t realise that Pause magazine was one of the very first AFOL resources way back in 19965 or so. It’s great for me to be able to refer to their LEGO coverage from my own little platform.

YSA interviews Nick Dean

We ought to blog more interviews, and I’m glad Jacob from Young Spacers Association took the time to interview one of the more talented TFOLs (teen fan of LEGO), Nick Dean, who is associated with creating and building the RAMM theme (examples). While there exists multiple popular fan-created subthemes, RAMM has generated controversy among builders with Nick limiting those who can build RAMM. Some denounce it as highflown elitism while others claim it as a necessary gesture to preserve the integrity and quality of a unique subtheme. Find out more in this interesting interview and see from a builder’s perspective on defining oneself through subthemes.

Apocalypse outpost

Flickr user -Pendragon- built one cool classic post-apocalypse diorama for the Picking up the Pieces Contest. Depicted is a group of survivors fortifying a rummaged building. What makes this creation stand out is the equally sized rock mountain, since natural landmarks are rarely contrasted equally with buildings in the post-apoc theme.

Lego unveils WeDo [News]

The Lego Company has announced the upcoming release of a new robotics system, scheduled to be released in January of 2009. Geared towards grade school children, ages 7-11, WeDo is designed to introduce robotics to an age group that has been previously overlooked. By building robots that remain tethered to their computer, kids can write, download and tweak their programs, giving them the opportunity to see what changes occurred immediately. While it appears that, due to its tethered nature, it may have a limited use outside of the classroom, anything that introduces young children to robotics is a good thing in my book.

In a company press release, dated June 30 2008, Jens Maibom, vice president of LEGO Education, said:

“Building upon our successful 10-year history of bringing educational robotics to middle, high school, and university classrooms with the award-winning LEGO MINDSTORMS toolset, we are excited to extend this expertise to benefit an even younger audience. With a progressively competitive global economy, we know it is imperative to provide even younger children and their teachers with curricular-relevant, easy-to-implement educational materials to spark children’s interest in all manner of subjects. After observing classroom tests conducted in Brazil and the United States, we are confident that WeDo Robotics, the first product from LEGO Education designed to serve the classroom needs of emerging markets, will inspire teachers and motivate students in classrooms around the world.”

Check out more WeDo info at the Lego Education site.

Wedo! Can you?

Syd Mead talks about his one-of-a-kind LEGO Technic Spinner

Remember BB Gadgets editor Joel Johnston’s trip to Syd Mead’s house, where he saw the Technic Spinner that LEGO built for him?

Now there’s a video, in which Joel and Syd talk about the unique LEGO creation:

What do I have to do to get LEGO to build something for me? Oh right, design something awesome that influences an entire generation of people.