Archive for November, 2012
You are currently browsing the The Brothers Brick weblog archives for November, 2012.
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!
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…
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).
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.
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.
Read all of my reviews of the latest LEGO Hobbit sets here on The Brothers Brick:
LEGO sets for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey aren’t officially due out for another several weeks, but a local retail chain here in the Pacific Northwest has been putting the new sets on their shelves over this past week or so. I picked up 79003 An Unexpected Gathering (Bag End) today, and I can honestly say that this may be my favorite LEGO set of all time.
Side note: The build process itself is part of the joy of a new LEGO set, so I’m not going to spoil the surprise or ruin the story (if you will) by sharing under-construction photos or shots of each minifig’s second face. Where’s the fun in that? The official photos are better than anything I’d take anyway, so read on…
The Build Process
What impressed me most about LEGO’s rendition of Bag End is that the designers frequently used brick-built techniques where a prefab part might have sufficed. The ramshackle fence in front is a gorgeous example of this, complete with gaps. Each section of fence uses 9 or 10 pieces where another set might have had a single prefab fence piece.
Before seeing any pictures of this upcoming set, I wondered how LEGO would handle all the round windows and front door. They succeed by a combination of a new 4×4 round plate with a 2×2 round hole in the middle in front of “normal” windows, an ingenious brick-built window that made my jaw drop (I won’t ruin it for you), and a large round tile with printed boards on it for the door.
Speaking of printing, the front door and a letter are the only printed (non-minifig) pieces in the set. There is a small sticker sheet for fence boards, the cover of Bilbo’s book, and three maps of Middle Earth on 2×2 tiles. I skipped the boards, but my only disappointment with this set is that we didn’t get printed maps of the Shire, Mirkwood, and the Lonely Mountain. The good news is that the stickers are clear, so you could put them on whatever you want (as I do with sci-fi stickers on all my spacecraft).
Another wonderful detail in this set is that the interior color isn’t just the same color as the exterior — green. There’s a layer of tan that encloses Bilbo’s quarters against the green hillside. And the hillside itself isn’t a uniform green; LEGO included both regular and bright green, and the little spots of bright green add excellent highlights. (Also, cheese slopes in both greens? Yes, please!)
It would be silly to expect that this set would contain all 13 Dwarves (plus Gandalf and Bilbo), so with realistic expectations for a set of this size, six minifigs is quite nice — Gandalf the Grey, Bofur, Balin, Dwalin, Bilbo Baggins, and Bombur (left to right in the photo below).
LEGO has begun dispersing its minifigs throughout the build experience, so you don’t get all of them until you open the fourth bag. By then, I was too excited about Bag End itself to care much about the minifigs, but like all the recent figs, they’re actually quite nice.
Nearly all of them have double-sided printing on both heads and torsos — Dwalin even has tattoos on the back of his head. For castle / medieval / fantasy builders, they’re a treasure trove of unique hairpieces, belted tunics, and grumpy old man faces.
My favorite minifig is probably Bombur, whose hair/beard piece has both a bald patch on top of his head and a rotund tummy beneath his beard. In the set, he’s given a pot and a large red sausage rather than weapons. Awesome!
Based on the quality of the dwarf minifigs in this set, I can’t wait to complete the rest of Thorin Oakenshield’s crew.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time going into all the individual parts in the set, but for those more interested in the set as a collection of its parts, I’ve uploaded the inventory pages:
The Finished Model
When the set all came together, I had the hugest grin on my face and couldn’t wait to show my wife all the cool details I’d built — I felt like a 9-year-old. First, the roof comes off for easier access to the complete interior.
Inside, Bilbo has a kitchen, writing desk, shelves, and a table laden with more food than I’ve ever seen in any other LEGO set (including a new pretzel). In a nod to The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo already seems to be working on his book, and Sting is displayed on a shelf. Back out front, there’s a lovely garden, complete with planted carrots and a bench on which to blow smoke rings with your favorite wandering Wizard. The overall rounded shape carries over from the door and windows, and looks exactly like a Hobbit hole should — a green door in the side of a hill.
Bag End is by no means a large-scale modular building, but thanks to all those thick walls, it has a heft to it that makes letting a child or younger sibling play with it not as tragic as with fiddlier sets. It’s also wide enough to look quite attractive on a bookshelf or mantle.
Neither LEGO.com nor Amazon.com list the new Hobbit sets yet, so I’m not 100% sure what the MSRP is going to be for this set. I paid $70 at Fred Meyer, but I do see the set listed on some reference sites at $60. Either way, at 652 pieces and six minifigs, the set is within the magic 10 cents per part range that many LEGO fans look for — 10.7 cents at $70 and 9.2 cents at $60.
(Rant: A ridiculous and outdated standard, if you ask me. What, is LEGO going to stay the same price for these past 10 years as the price and scarcity of petroleum go up? What exactly is ABS made of, again? And how does it get transported to your house? Get real, people.)
At full price, I’m not sure I can recommend the set as a pure parts pack for landscape builders, but it’s a pretty good value for a licensed set. On discount, I’d even recommend this to non-Castle fans just for all that green, brown, and tan.
At any price, this is an absolute must-have set for every LEGO Castle and Middle Earth enthusiast. These days, isn’t that pretty much everybody?
This is probably the most iconic set of the line, so expect it go go fast when it’s out. We’ll let you know when the sets are officially released.
Read all of my reviews of the latest LEGO Hobbit sets here on The Brothers Brick:
No, we’re not done yet featuring all the great LEGO creations debuted at BrickCon 2012 last month! Michael Kuroda (madoruk) just posted his massive map of Hyrule from the original Legend of Zelda.
Each LEGO stud represents 16×16 pixels on the in-game map, and the overall LEGO map is 256 studs wide by 88 studs tall!
One of the things I really like about Michael’s work is that he builds in a lot of different genres, so be sure to check out his photostream for lots more good stuff.
It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about a new LEGO video game (after so many years of … consistency), but I’m definitely going to be picking up LEGO Lord of the Rings, which was just released today on multiple platforms.
The new game apparently features full voice acting and a bit more open-world exploration than previous LEGO games. I’ll be interested to see what changes the good folks at TT Games have made to their venerable LEGO games franchise, and may share a review here on TBB.
LEGO Lord of the Rings is available on the following platforms:
- Xbox 360
- Nintendo Wii
- Playstation 3
- Nintendo DS
- Nintendo 3DS
- Playstation Vita
You can help support The Brothers Brick by grabbing it from Amazon.com.
If there’s one thing we don’t see enough of in Castle building, it’s middle-eastern architecture, especially of the fanciful sort. Flickr user Robuko is doing his part to fill in that gap, though, with his awesome Temple of the Mad Monks. It’s a fantastic mash-up of ancient world styles, combining minarets and pyramids and even a giant golden dish (Archimedes’ mirror?).
I actually avoided featuring Nick Trotta’s (tardisblue) model over the weekend and hoped one of my cohorts would do it first…I simply didn’t know how to properly express how cool this build is! But they didn’t so I guess I can nolonger avoid it.
So instead of trying to put it into words, I will simply make note of some of the descriptive words that were posted on the photo:
Beautiful, Spectacular, Perfection, Gorgeous, Mind-blowing, Fan-freakin’-tastic, Wonderful, & Zowie!
And perhaps, Fredoichi summed it up best:
“Best of show, period!”
When it comes to catching someone’s eye with a LEGO model, the initial WOW-factor of the presentation obvioulsy has a lot to do with it. With Victor Vercesi’s (Bricksbeard) M299 Utility Vehicle, the first impression is most certainly WOW! The bright colours and contrasting background makes this model jump right out at you.
Based on the M299 Utility Vehicle from the anime series Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Victor took some creative liberty with the design to make it his own. At first glance it seems quite straight-forward, but you really can see lots of great techniques and efficient use of pieces and detailing.
It is also cool to see some models based on the unsung heroes of anime series…so often it is the fancey spacecraft and mechas that get all the limelight ;)
Not so long ago we previewed the LEGO Adventure Book by Megan Rothrock (megzter). Today we bring you a review. The tl;dr version can be summed up simply: buy this book (or from Amazon.co.uk). For reasons why scroll below the picture.
EDIT: I should mention that I received my review copy of this book from the publishers.
To judge a book by its cover, The LEGO Adventure Book: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs and more! is a very nice book. A good shiny hardback, with glossy pictures (see above), and a surprising amount of heft. And the printing quality once you open the cover does not disappoint either. So let’s proceed to discussing the content.
The book warms us up with some technically simple (as far as the book goes), but very cute builds by Megan herself. I particularly like the way she shows off a number of small models buildable by just about any kid. To warn you right off, a lot of the builds in this book do require a grown-up’s collection. It may not be the best gift for an impatient kid who just likes to have models for his/her shelf, but I know that I would have loved this book as a child. Even if I couldn’t have built anything I would have spent hours copying ideas and techniques, like I used to with the LEGO World Show brochures.
Like its inspiration, the book follows the story of Meg and her adventures in the world’s of LEGO building. The narrative is cute, with conversation bubbles used to highlight broad ideas and other extra details. Meg travels from world to world (ie. builder to builder) showing off models and sharing ideas and instructions at each stop.
As I highlighted in my preview, the book contains models from a bunch of splendid builders, most of whom have been featured here on TBB. Even as someone who finds reverse engineering of LEGO models pretty easy I spotted a wide variety of techniques and ideas (not to mention the excellent models) that were new to me. For a novice builder it would be a great kickstart into the world of advanced techniques.
The instructions in the book are very clear on the whole, albeit not as step-by-step as LEGO’s (I personally prefer the steps in this book). I particularly liked the drawn addition of brick borders to photo instructions where the seams were not clearly visible. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that LEGO’s instruction makers could take some clarity tips from this book.
Really, there’s not a lot I can fault this book on, and a whole lot I can praise it for. As far as I’m concerned this is even better than the old Ideas Books. By taking it to the fans, Megan exposes us to a wider range of styles, techniques and builds than would ever be allowed in an ‘official’ book.
Which brings me back to the beginning: if you are an adult fan of LEGO, or have a kid who loves LEGO (and is patient, or has a patient parent) then you should buy this book. Preferably from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk right now. You can find more info online: at facebook or No Starch Press.
Please excuse the bad pun of a title but my goal is to get this out sooner rather than better. Patrick Bosman has posted a stunning fantasy castle Querceto Castle Island based on the architecture of Tuscany, and the Castello di Querceto in Pisa. And it’s truly a beauty with no solid grey walls to be seen.Stunning work and inspiring for castle and non-castle builders alike. And did I mention it has animated features?
There are a lot of zany Vic Viper designs out there, but it is really nice to see a good ol’ classic design every now and then. Uspez Morbo has produced one such spacecraft with his BP-8272 Stealth. It is a perfect example of how you can stick close to a design while still giving it a personal twist. The colouring, sleek lines, and overall girth make this one beautiful looking starfighter…the little hits of red really make it pop for me!
Uspez is no stranger to large scale starfighters, as this wonderful trio shot showcases!
Be sure to check out the full photo set for all the details including working landing gear and smokin’ hot engines!
I’m not sure whether words can add much to my latest series of LEGO creations, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
First up, Abraham Lincoln on a Velociraptor.
Next, Benjamin Franklin astride a Triceratops.
Third — and possibly most impressive to 18th-century English troops — George Washington on a Tyrannosaurus Rex (future AC3 MP DLC, anyone?).
Finally, Teddy Roosevelt swoops in on a Pterodactyl to defend our National Park System.
That is all. For now…
There’s 3 weeks left of Creations for Charity, and there is an unprecedented number of custom Lego creations currently for sale thanks to the numerous donations that have been coming in from the fans. With $5,000 raised so far, there’s a good chance for achieving a new record this year. Take a look at Creations for Charity’s store (where you can commission a life-sized bust) or Indiegogo campaign.
Don’t forget there’s still time to donate a creation!