Monthly Archives: November 2012

The ladies of LEGO space

We featured the LEGO-inspired artwork of the Surma Bros. back in June. Marcin and Przemek post stylized versions of classic LEGO sets every Sunday.

LEGO fans have bemoaned the dearth of female LEGO minifigs over the years. In the past, each LEGO theme usually included just one woman — a world I wouldn’t want to live in, but appealing to 9-year-old boys, I suppose. One of the Surma Bros’ latest drawings features all of the ladies of the LEGO Space themes over the years, including Classic Space, M-Tron, Exploriens, and Ice Planet 2002.

Sur m'ale Gobros (xulm) -- Space Babes!

Speaking of Ice Planet 2002, Marcin and Przemek also posted a beautiful poster highlighting this much-maligned and belatedly loved theme.

Sur m'ale Gobros (xulm) -- Ice Planet

LEGO Hobbit 79000 Riddles for the Ring [Review]

The LEGO Hobbit sets just started shipping officially today, but I have a couple more sets I picked up early locally, so to help you decide which to get right away, I’ll be posting some more reviews today, starting with 79000 Riddles for the Ring.

The Build Process

At just 105 and $9.99, this is the smallest set (excluding the little polybags) among both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings LEGO sets. There’s not a lot to the build, to be sure, but what struck me as I built the rock section where Gollum hides the One Ring is that LEGO a few years ago might have released this set with a Big Ugly Rock Piece. Instead, I found myself building a fairly intricate little hidey-hole with some nice landscaping (lots of dark gray cheese slopes) and a fun mechanism to flip the hidden ring in and out of view.

Gollum’s boat is pretty much what you’d expect — you could probably reverse-engineer it from just the one picture above — but the designers have added some bones for a nice spooky effect indicative of Gollum’s true nature.

Minifigures

The set includes Bilbo Baggins and Gollum. Interestingly, Gollum’s face print is different from the one in 9470 Shelob Attacks.icon I’m generally not a fan of single-purpose minifigs, but it’d be hard to imagine Gollum as a “normal” minifig. At least his arms are articulated and he has a stud on his back (presumably so Sam can attach some elven rope to it).

Bilbo is the same minifig as the one in 79004 Barrel Escape. As has been the case in nearly all recent LEGO sets, both Bilbo’s head and torso are printed on both sides.

Parts

Excluding the minifigs, most of the 105 parts in the set are dark gray, and there’s nothing spectacular or new in terms of selection. You also get two One Rings rather than three (something we got used to in the Lord of the Rings sets). Considering the inclusion of the two minifigs in a $10 set, this might not be the cheapest way to bulk up your “rock collection” for LEGO landscaping, but the set does include a lot of dark gray slopes of several varieties, plus some dark tan.

(BrickLink has the full inventory at this point, so I haven’t scanned the pages at the back of the instruction booklet.)

The Finished Model

Gollum’s hidey-hole opens and closes, and a rock flips up to reveal the ring.

LEGO Hobbit 79000 Riddles for the Ring

It’d be interesting to see a LEGO fan extend this idea to a full-scale underground lake, but there’s not much else to the set. Still, there’s actually quite a bit of play value in the little boat and the One Ring’s hiding place.

Value

At a time when most LEGO sets at this price point are $12 or $15, a licensed set with two minifigs and 105 pieces at $10 is an excellent value.

Recommendation

One copy is a must-buy for anybody interested in Tolkien LEGO, but I’d recommend multiple copies for LEGO Castle builders and anybody starting to specialize in LEGO models of Middle Earth (as I know some Castle builders are beginning to do) — this set is a fantastic way to bulk up on both Hobbit minifigs and landscaping parts. (Notice that I said “both;” if you’re just after the readily available gray parts, you’re probably overpaying.)

79000 Riddles for the Ring is available now from both LEGO.com and Amazon.com.

Read all of my reviews of the latest LEGO Hobbit sets here on The Brothers Brick:

LEGO Hobbit sets out now from the LEGO Shop [News]

We expected LEGO to officially release the LEGO Hobbit sets on December 1st, but they’re now available (perhaps spurred on by their early availability from places like Amazon.com). All of the new Hobbit sets are out on LEGO.com, and free shipping applies on orders over $99 through December 18.

Here’s the full list of sets:

  • 79000 Riddles for the Ring: 105 parts and two minifigs (Bilbo Baggins and Gollum). This is a nice little set — we’ll have a full review up later today.
  • 79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders: Includes 298 pieces and four minifigs (Fili, Kili, Legolas, and Tauriel). Read my review of 79001 here on TBB.
  • 79002 Attack of the Wargs: 400 pieces at $49.99, and minifigs include Thorin Oakenshield, Bifur, Yazneg, and two orcs, plus two wargs. This is another set I picked up early here in Seattle, so I’ll try to get a review posted here on TBB later today as well.
  • 79003 An Unexpected Gathering: My current favorite set of all time. With an MSRP of $69.99, Bag End has 652 pieces and six minifigs — Gandalf, Bilbo, Balin, Dwalin, Bofur, and Bombur.
  • 79004 Barrel Escape: This set includes 334 pieces at $39.99, with five minifigs — Bilbo, Oin, Gloin, Thranduil the Elvenking, and a Mirkwood elf guard.
  • 79010 The Goblin King Battle: At $99, this set has 841 parts and 7 minifigs — Gandalf, Dori, Ori, Nori, the Goblin King, a goblin scribe, and two goblins.

I know we’ve had a lot of sales news lately, but a percentage of everything you buy on the LEGO Shop and Amazon.com goes toward supporting what we do here on The Brothers Brick, from servers to contest sponsorships. Thanks very much for all your support over the years!

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide [Review]

No Starch Press recently sent us a review copy of their latest Technic offering, The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide by Paweł “Sariel” Kmieć.

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

I found the book to be full of very useful information. I am not an expert Technic builder by any means and when I first thumbed through the book I was overwhelmed by the amount of detail that the book offers. However, when I actually started reading the book, I found that the way Paweł presents the information made everything very clear. He starts with basic concepts and then builds upon them throughout the book in a very clear and concise fashion. I think any adult LEGO fan will be able to follow this book and incorporate the techniques into their own creations. But this book is not for young builders. Many, if not most, of the techniques are quite advanced and would lead to frustration for younger builders.

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

The book consists of 333 pages divided up into five parts: Basics, Mechanics, Motors, Advanced Mechanics and Models. The first three sections give you the groundwork needed to understand the Technic system and how the majority of the parts work. I found this to be very helpful. I have used many Technic pieces over the years but wasn’t clear on the functions of each and every part. These first three sections are a great reference of Technic pieces and their functions, as well as being vital in introducing the terminology used throughout the rest of the book. I highly recommend reading these sections in depth and not skipping ahead.

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

The fourth section, Advanced Mechanics, teaches you how to design and build transmissions, steering systems, suspensions for wheeled and tracked vehicles along with other concepts and ideas.

The fifth and final section instructs the reader in designing and planning their own models.

Overall, I would recommend this book for any adult builder who is interested in becoming more familiar with Technic and using Technic in their own creations. The book is well-laid out and the information is presented clearly. It is definitely an asset that deserves a place on the shelf.

Visit No Starch Press for this and other LEGO-related books. is also available on Amazon.com.

The Way The World Will End (I Hope)

Flickr user OliveSeon has built some of the most impressive large town dioramas I’ve seen. There are lots of people building cityscapes using official sets mixed in with their own creations and landscaping, but rarely are the official sets so well integrated. Additionally, he’s packed them both chock full of terrific details of his own, like a giant gazebo, full depth swimming pool and surf pool, a large factory, and lots of other fantastic stuff.

Here’s the first:

But just building a placid town wasn’t cool enough. No, on his second diorama, OliveSeon has gone for full-out apocalyptic anarchy, old-school style, with Godzilla battling a Gundam across the seaside city, turning what was already a stunning diorama into pure awesomeness. The flame effects are particularly awesome, and very reminiscent of their on-screen special effects counterparts.


Be sure to check out both of OliveSeon’s other dioramas as well, each of which are worthy of their own posts: though untitled, I believe they are Disneyland and San Francisco. A thorough perusal of all the photos will be rewarded, as there are brilliant details to be discovered in every picture.

BrickArms featured on NPR & in new book on “makers”

I’ve been a fan of BrickArms ever since Will Chapman won me over during a talk at BrickCon way back in 2006. Since then, Will has expanded his business to a new dedicated location, released more new designs than we can keep up with, and been featured in numerous publications and media outlets.

NPR logoThe latest coverage of BrickArms was on NPR today. Will explains how his son’s interest in World War II inspired him to create BrickArms, and the story covers a bit of the process Will uses to design his minifigs and accessories. You can listen to the full story on NPR.org.

Following the feature Chris Anderson wrote for WIRED magazine a couple years ago, he expanded the piece into a full-length book titled Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.

I haven’t read the book yet, but we’re told that BrickArms features prominently in the longer work as well, providing an example of how individuals and small business can incubate innovation and deliver interesting new products, without the staff and apparatus of traditional corporations.

If you’ve read the book yourself already, let us know what you think in the comments.

Fredo busts out Captain America

I always enjoy when a LEGO builder surprises me. As much as I love all of the mecha, sky-fi, and Vic Vipers that Fredoichi builds, he’s actually quite a diverse builder who’s been dabbling recently in medium-scale sculptures. His latest is an interesting bust of Captain America.

Lego Captain America Bust

Fredo accomplishes some of the detail with stickers, and says, “Stickering took more time than the actual build.” If the result looks this great, who am I to quibble with such non-purist ways?