About Andrew

Andrew Becraft has been building with LEGO for over 30 years, and blogging about LEGO since 2005. He's an active member of the online LEGO community, as well as his local LEGO users group, SEALUG. Andrew is also a regular attendee of BrickCon, where he organizes a collaborative display for readers of The Brothes Brick nearly every year. You can check out Andrew's own LEGO creations on Flickr. Read Andrew's non-LEGO writing on his personal blog, Andrew-Becraft.com. Andrew lives in Seattle with his wife and two dogs, and when he's not writing for The Brothers Brick, he works as, well, a writer.

Posts by Andrew

Announcing winners of the TBB Server Downtime Contest [News]

Back in March, we had a bit of a frustrating time here at The Brothers Brick, with several days of intermittent server downtime due to a software configuration issue. To have a little fun, I kicked off a brief contest. We got a number of great entries from TBB fans, which you can see in the photo pool on Flickr. Unfortunately, I became gravely ill just as the contest was ending, and I’ve been struggling to catch up ever since — focusing first on my day job (no, TBB is not actually my day job), and only then on LEGO and TBB.

With thanks to all our incredibly patient readers and contest participants (and yes, I do have a few words for the impatient and self-entitled after the jump), I’m pleased to finally share the winners of the contest categories.

TBB is Down Again!

As a techie, it was hard not to love these colorful, accurate server racks by Leopold Mao. The plumes of smoke, mice gnawing the cables, and distraught sysadmin, combined with the trans-clear bricks inside the servers, are all excellent touches. This is my pick for the top category. Congratulations, Leopold!

Chain Challenge 8: TBB Servers

404 Page Not Found

We hope our readers don’t encounter this iconic webpage error too often. Blake Foster wins this category with this simple but brilliant idea — a double-sided 1×2 plate! If only…

404: Not Found

A Lemur Did It!

Our Lemur has gone AWOL recently, but he was a frenzy of activity back in March, and some of us suspect he may have had a little something to do with the downtime. Our winning entry in this category was drawn by Sayre Blake, who illustrated an amusing scene of A. Lemur eating mangoes & PBJ while swooshing a LEGO spaceship.

Guilty A. Lemur

We actually had a number of excellent entries in this category, so in addition to the three main prizes, I’d like to extend Honorable Mentions (with a small LEGO set as a prize) to “Server Error 223 – Hungry Lemur” by IamKritch and “A. Lemur is having some trouble pulling up TBB…” by Ashton6460.

Server Error 223 - Hungry Lemur A. Lemur is having some trouble pulling up TBB...

If you’re a winner, contact me on Flickr and I’ll get your contact information to send out your prize!

Yup, I have a rant. But I’ll spare most of you and save it for after the jump…

How the West was really won

Paddy Bricksplitter asserts, “Many historians state that the continued expansion of the western frontier was driven by two main factors . The Acquisition of land and the widespread domestication and utilization of Dinosaurs.” Who am I to question history? These gentlemen have tamed themselves a pair of velociraptors, hitched one to their buckboard, and are headed across the vast deserts for greener lands.

How The West Was Won

The minifigs look to be amusing fellows, the buckboard itself is quite well-built, but it’s the placement of the whole scene on a brick-built base that sets apart this pseudo-historical vignette.

Debumoto is here to eat your babies (and drink some sake)

Huh, here’s another cool Japanese-themed something or other today. This nasty devil-guy is brought to you by Djordje, whose entertaining something-or-others we’ve featured here before.

Debumoto

What makes Djordje’s Bionicle creations so engaging is their personality. In addition to using Bionicle and Hero Factory parts — just look at the Hero Factory logos he’s used as teeth! — to build more than Toas, Moas, and other such characters indistinguishable from official sets (every one with their own unique backstory, I’m sure), each of his characters has, well, character. Check ’em out.

Nissan Fairlady Z meets your 1960’s Japanese nostalgia needs

Many of you probably grew up wishing you could own a Porsche 911 or Ferrari Countache. I grew up in Japan in the 70’s and 80’s, so one of the cars my friends and I lusted after was the Nissan Fairlady Z (sold in the States as the Datsun 240Z). Cagerrin has manufactured a highly detailed Fairlady with opening doors and a detailed interior. The gold rims and red seats add pops of color to the gray/silver car, and I love the use of buckets for the rearview mirrors.

Nissan Fairlady Z

Check out Cagerrin’s photoset on Flickr for more views, as well as digital designs.

Fully motorized M4 Sherman Crab tank

As fun as building something from your own imagination always is, recreating something from history can be particularly challenging. On top of creating a great-looking LEGO M4A2 Sherman tank from World War II at 1/18th scale, Tommy Styrvoky has added a mine flail, and then motorized the whole thing. Watch the video here to see it in action.

Tommy’s Sherman includes the following features, powered by LEGO Power Functions:

  • Turret with full 360-degree traverse
  • Elevating gun in turret
  • Two-gear transmission with electronic braking
  • Torsion bar suspension
  • Elevating flail arms
  • Spinning flail chains on drum

Lego M4 Sherman Crab (RC)

Shiny gold New Horizons probe by Stefan Schindler

The NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto feels like the most exciting space story since the Mars Curiosity rover landed on Mars nearly three years ago. It’s no surprise, then, that we’re seeing plenty of great LEGO models inspired by this historic achievement.

Like many spacecraft, New Horizons is covered in gold foil for insulation. A couple weeks ago, Iain built his New Horizons probe using yellow bricks, since finding the parts to build an all-gold probe is quite challenging. Stefan Schindler solved this with the help of a dash of gold paint, producing this beautiful gold New Horizons probe.

New Horizons

While some of our readers may balk at Stefan’s solution, picky builders looking for some “NPU” should focus instead on Stefan’s solution for the GPHS-RTG (the plutonium generator) built from tank treads.

Minions Star Wars characters are unbearably adorable

Minions are adorable. And now that we’re going to get another true Star Wars movie, we can all like Star Wars again. So what happens when Spanish builder car_mp mashes up the two? Well, Minion Yoda, of course.

MInion Yoda

And check out this Minion Darth Vader lording it over Minion Han Solo in carbonite!

Minion Vader and Minion Solo

My wife’s reaction: “I want Minion Star Wars. I’m going to cry now if I don’t get Minion Star Wars.” Sounds about right.

Back in 2011, we featured car_mp’s Star Wars + Family Guy mashup of Stewie as Darth Vader. Check it out.

Homeworld-inspired Vaygr battlecruiser by Dorian Glacet

Even though I’ve mainly been building military models over the last couple of years, I appreciate a good spaceship. And I’ve always been disappointed that I haven’t been able to play the iconic and influential Homeworld games. French builder Dorian Glacet has been playing Homeworld 2 lately, and built this great ship (actually a true SHIP at 105 studs long) with classic colors and stripes.

IMG_9608

Dorian’s SHIP may look a lot like many of the other Homeworld-inspired spaceships we’ve featured over the years, but when I looked at his photostream, I was struck by the rather innovative approach to the ship’s core, which is entirely “studs-out”:

Cayman class battlecruiser WIP 02

Dorian then attached greebles and the ship’s skin to this core:

Cayman class battlecruiser 06

Check out Dorian’s photostream on Flickr for more, including preliminary digital designs and work-in-progress shots.

10 years of The Brothers Brick – a brief history [News]

Ten years ago today, I came home from work, opened my computer, and set up a personal blog I called “Dunechaser’s Blocklog.” That blog would eventually become The Brothers Brick.

A lot has changed in the past ten years — with my own involvement in the LEGO hobby, with this blog, and with the LEGO fan community more broadly. But today I’m going to share my experience here on The Brothers Brick.

I started the blog mainly as a journal of my own LEGO models, and my first true post was a write-up of minifig anatomy that included one of the minifigs I’d built recently — the character Cloud from Final Fantasy VII in the form he takes in Kingdom Hearts. I still quite like the fig today.

Cloud

Nobody at the time was paying much attention to minifigs, to the point that many of the minifigs I saw in other peoples’ creations were pretty boring. So, even though I enjoyed building larger models as much as the next builder, I decided to focus what I posted on my blog on minifigs. Within a couple of months, I began featuring the minifig-oriented work of other builders. One of my first posts exclusively focused on the work of another builder was — not surprisingly — about the talented builder Michael Jasper.

Summertime by Michael Jasper on Brickshelf

Soon, I was featuring the work of Japanese builders like Moko. I was born and raised in Japan, and I could read the blogs, forums, and other community interactions of a thriving Japanese LEGO builder community, so I started a separate blog called “Pan-Pacific Bricks” to highlight the work of Japanese builders and provide a bit more context for the work showing up on sites like Brickshelf.

Then I started getting comments. I had a couple of readers! In February 2006, Boing Boing picked up my “Blocklog” post about my Aztec gods, and traffic shot through the roof! A few of those thousands of people stuck around, and my readership grew.

Meanwhile, I was very active on LEGO fan forums like Classic-Castle Forums (C-C) and From Bricks to Bothans (FBTB), where I’d become friends with people whose online names were crazy things like “Plums Deify,” “porschecm2,” and “floodllama.”

As I expanded from my own minifigs to other people’s minifigs, LEGO models by Japanese builders, and then ultimately anything I liked, I realized I needed help. I contacted “floodllama” and asked him if he’d like to join “Dunechaser’s Blocklog.” Fortunately, he did, and in May 2006, I welcomed Josh Wedin to the blog. With another contributor on the team, even the name of the blog didn’t make any sense, so Josh and I decided to hold a contest for people to suggest a new name.

We ran the contest for a couple of weeks (our first of many) and we chose “The Brothers Brick” from more than a hundred suggestions. The winning suggestion came from C-C member “Peppermint Pig.” Josh and I chose the name because we liked the storytelling allusion to the Brothers Grimm and the fact that it accurately represented a couple of guys with a LEGO blog.

Since I invited Josh in May 2006 and we changed our name a few weeks later, our roster has included 20 people — among them a doctor, a lawyer, two university physicists, two Canadians, an Australian, a Swede, a Dutchman, and Keith Goldman.

At BrickCon 2014 last year, eight of us got together for a photo (courtesy Justin Pratt).

IMG_1210

Left to right: Andrew (me), Josh (the original TBB minion), Caylin, Chris, Iain (always a blur of activity), Carter, Nannan, and Simon

By late 2006, we were outgrowing Google’s free Blogpsot service, and we decided to move The Brothers Brick (and Pan-Pacific Bricks) to our own website. Brothers-Brick.com launched in December. We’ve made some improvements and changes to the site since then, but all the pieces were in place for the “TBB” that you all know today.

Along the way, the lives of our contributors have evolved — children born, degrees finished, new jobs, new careers, new responsibilities… Contributors have joined and left as real life responsibilities, interest in blogging about LEGO, and even interest in LEGO itself have waxed and waned. My life has been no different. Ten years years ago, I was a writer working for a small software company. Today, I’m the director of the planning and design group for a rapidly growing software company, and I even founded the company’s Seattle office, which now employs nearly 30 people. Obviously, that leaves much less time for LEGO and for TBB than working as a writer did 10 years ago. (Other contributors have had similar real-life journeys, and I have to admit that TBB hasn’t been getting the attention our readership deserves for the last year or two — something I’m hoping to change with some fairly significant changes soon.)

My own interest in LEGO has also changed. Gone are the days of pulling out small trays of minifig parts and whipping together a batch of figs to quickly photograph the next weekend for posting to Brickshelf and sharing on C-C or FBTB. I started attending BrickCon with Josh in 2006, and BrickCon 2015 will be my 14th LEGO event or convention. Each year, I try to up my game and build something bigger, better, and hopefully both. A couple of times, I’ve been rather surprised to receive an award — as my large Stalingrad diorama did at BrickCon last year, full of custom vehicles and minifigs.

Stalingrad: Operation Uranus

I’m sad to admit that I haven’t built anything of my own since BrickCon last year, though I’m looking forward to carving out some time for our Battle of Bricksburg American Civil War collaboration (more details soon).

Me!Ten years is a long time for a little LEGO blog — many have come and gone while we’ve plugged away featuring all the wonderful models built by LEGO builders all over the world. I’m not sure what the next decade will bring, but I’m looking forward to making that journey with all of you out there, both the hundreds of thousands of you who read our blog each month to see the work of the talented builders we feature, as well as all of my fellow builders themselves. Thank you.

So, what has your LEGO experience been over the past ten years? What are some of your favorite TBB memories? Share away in the comments!