Monthly Archives: November 2012

Double-decker London Routemaster bus

Ralph (Mad Physicist) is assembling a fleet of British vehicles for displays he contributes to as part of the Brickish Association in the UK. His latest is a Miniland-scale Routemaster, better known as the double-decker London bus. Ralph captures the iconic curves wonderfully.

Routemaster (1)

I never got the opportunity to take a ride on one while I was in London a few years ago, but oddly, there’s one that a local garden center uses as a greenhouse up the road here in Seattle…

Sailing the skies aboard Luis’s other-worldly Volare Onerariis

Airships with houses on them are just plain fun — implying a life of endless adventure among the clouds. Luis Baixinho has created this delightful vessel for his own OutroMundo theme. I love the nets tying down the cargo, but my favorite detail is the tile roof of the cabin.

Volare Onerariis (1)

Luis has been creating the people, places, and vehicles of OutroMundo since 2004, so be sure to check out lots more good stuff on Flickr.

Police fire on developmentally disabled man waving LEGO gun

In news that proves again that taking your life-size LEGO guns outdoors isn’t such a great idea, a sheriff’s deputy in Woodinville, Washington (near Seattle) fired on a man waving what appeared to be a gun.

Here’s the AP story in its entirety:

King County Sheriff Steve Strachan says he’s grateful a deputy did not injure a man who waved a gun made of Lego toy building bricks.

The deputy had responded to a report of a man waving a gun at passing cars Thursday in Woodinville. The man raised what appeared to be a gun at the deputy who fired several shots.

The suspect dropped to the ground unhurt. Deputies discovered the gun was a toy and the man was a resident of a nearby home for developmentally disabled adults.

Via The Seattle Times.

Another Times story adds, “The man, who deputies have encountered before, has a ‘fascination with guns’ and had made the handgun out of black Lego blocks.”

Thankfully, this story ended without injury, but this type of situation is why the Seattle Police Department influenced the absence of realistic LEGO guns at BrickCon…

UPDATE: Local TV station KOMO has an updated story with pictures of the gun.

Photo by King County Sheriff’s Office

Get a jump on Black Friday deals with free shipping, free holiday set & more [News]

Today only, members of the LEGO VIP Programicon get early access to “Brick Friday” sales.

10% OFF + FREE Shipping + Exclusive Holiday Set.  Valid 11.23.12 - 11.26.12

  • The free shipping amount has been lowered to $49.
  • At $99, you get this year’s exclusive holiday set for free (which can’t be purchased separately).
  • At $149, you get 10% off your whole order.

And since we haven’t mentioned it yet, the LEGO Shop now has a Retiring Soonicon page that highlights LEGO sets for which production runs will not be renewed, and so whatever LEGO currently has in stock is all that’s left.

Chief among these is the classic LEGO Castle set 10193 Medieval Market Village, unveiled at BrickCon 2009.


Don’t miss the rest of the Retiring Soonicon sets on

Pop-up LEGO Todai-ji opens to reveal Giant Buddha

Back in 2009, the Internet marveled at Japanese builder talapz‘s mind-boggling pop-up Kinkaku-ji pavilion. Now, he’s at it again! This time, he’s built Todai-ji, a temple in Nara, Japan that houses the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha.

Nara was one of Japan’s first capitol cities, before Kyoto and Tokyo. Todai-ji and the Giant Buddha (Daibutsu) are part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, encompassing treasures from the period of ancient Japan (AD 710-794) that shares the city’s name.

For those of you inclined to try building your own pop-up Todai-ji, there is hope! In the second half of the video, talapz provides step-by-step instructions (449 steps) to build your own pop-up Todai-ji temple from a parts list — complete with Bricklink IDs — of 8816 LEGO elements. Good luck!

Hillel Cooperman’s BrickCon keynote video now online

Since BrickCon 2010, we’ve been treated to Hillel Cooperman‘s hilarious opinions about the world of LEGO fandom. This year’s keynote address is now online, and gives you a flavor of what it’s like to get in a room and laugh together with 500 of your closest friends. This year, Hillel shares a lovely retrospective of the first 10 years of the longest-running LEGO convention.

Warning: This is an uncensored video at a convention for adult LEGO fans. Expect the occasional four-letter word…

Massive LEGO Fairplay 33 tugboat

Arjan Oude Kotte’s (Konajra) Fireplay 33 tugboat is a stunning creation that combines large-scale sculpting with advanced detailing techniques. The model contains more than 20,000 pieces and took more than 250 hours to design and build. All that work should warrant a visit to the gallery on Flickr for more pictures!


LEGO Hobbit 79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders [Review]

I suggested yesterday that 79003 An Unexpected Gathering might be the best LEGO set of all time. I wasn’t kidding (it’s definitely my new favorite), but I don’t think all of the sets in the new Hobbit line are the stuff of legend.

79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders isn’t the worst set of all time, but I can’t really recommend it for anybody but completionists.

The Build Process

This set felt too much like many other “trees on bases” sets we’ve seen over the years. Worse, the spiders are basically scaled down versions of Shelob, and you spend about a third of your build time making two identical arachnids.

Unlike the brilliant window in Bag End, I didn’t encounter any ingenious building techniques, and the play features are what you’d expect — pull a pin and the tree falls down.


The minifigs are certainly the highlight of the set — an elf named Tauriel (not from Tolkien’s book), Legolas (who’s not in the original book), and the dwarves Fili & Kili. In a mostly black set, they bring about the only color, further emphasizing how much the spiders and trees feel like background for the four minifigs.

Legolas has his longer bow, while Fili & Kili have the older-style LEGO Castle bows. LEGO must have a surplus of time-traveling daggers left over in their warehouse from the Prince of Persia sets, because Tauriel gets two of them. They sort of work as elven weapons, but they’re a bit jarring if you know their LEGO origin…

79001 Escape from Mirkwood SpidersEdit: Fili & Kili have a hairpiece that might be the first long hair that allows the minifig to also wear a quiver for arrows underneath.

I’d break my self-imposed rule and post a picture of my own, but I’ve already packed this set away due to some flooding in my basement, so here’s a good photo from our friend Huw over at Brickset (who liked this set a lot more than I did, according to his review).


As you can see from the inventory pages, there’s a whole lot of black in this set. The two highlights are dark red leaves and printed tan mushrooms (2×2 radar dishes).

79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders (1) 79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders inventory (2)

Edit: I forgot to mention the two little cloth bags that the dwarves go in when they’re all wrapped up by spiders. I don’t build with capes, rubber bands, or ship’s sails, so I think I subconsciously dismissed them without a second thought. They’re new, and certainly add some play value to the completed set. But I still stand by my original assessment that this is an overpriced fig/battle pack.

The Finished Model

This official photo is a pretty good representation of what you get when you’re done building — four minifigs, two spiders, and two bases with trees on them.

79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders


For $30, you get 298 pieces and four minifigs. That works out to almost exactly 10 cents per part, I know, but that’s a whole lotta black! (I just don’t find black a particularly useful or interesting color.)


Pass. I suspect this set might be the only way you’ll be able to pick up Fili & Kili for the time being, but the build is repetitive, the elf minifigs are non-canon (though they are elf minifigs), and the part selection is lackluster.

If you want a complete dwarf crew, wait for this set to go on sale.

UPDATE: This set is now available from and

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