In June, French artist Mat Green amazed us with a pair of life-size LEGO minifigures made of steel. Those figures, named Hugo and Pablo, were a classic minifigure and a punk rock LEGO skeleton. Mat has now finished his next project — more classics you’ll surely recognize, the pirate Sparrow and his parrot Jacquot. We spoke with Mat about his work translating these iconic LEGO figures to life-size metal sculptures.
Canadian brick artist Chris McVeigh is one of our favorite builders, and No Starch Press is one of our favorite LEGO-friendly book publishers, so their new book The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book: 15 Designs to Spread Holiday Cheer is a match made in holiday heaven.
No Starch released the book back in September, but between a lengthy overseas trip for work followed by BrickCon, I simply dropped the ball — my sincerest apologies to Chris and our friends at No Starch for the delay. But the good news is that it’s now officially the Christmas season, so I guess this is even more timely? Enough excuses. On to the interview!
The Brothers Brick: We first featured you here on The Brothers Brick way back in 2008, when you were taking pictures of chipmunks with action figures. When did you start focusing more exclusively on LEGO?
Chris McVeigh: It happened rather quickly! Pairing Star Wars action figures and chipmunks was a fun challenge, and it motivated me to do more photography of action figures and other toys. Unfortunately, Hasbro wasn’t producing any play sets (aside from large ships), so it fell to me to create my own sets and backdrops for action figure photos. This was a rather time-consuming task that ultimately prevented me from getting on with toy photography.
Did you know that LEGO finally stopped making wooden toys in 1960 when the wooden toy warehouse burned down? What year did LEGO release its first minifigure? When did From Bricks to Bothans start? What in the sacred name of Ole Kirk Christiansen was Galidor? If you’ve ever wanted answers to these and other key questions of 20th-century and early 21st-century world history, you need look no further than The Brothers Brick’s new history of LEGO & the LEGO fan community page.
The page starts in 1932 and is up to date through the end of 2016, though we’re confident that there are a lot of important dates and events we’ve missed along the way. We’ll be adding more information based on your feedback and as we uncover more sources like Dave Eaton‘s “AFOL History Project.”
We’ve also updated and expanded our LEGO dictionary of AFOL jargon, with double the entries of the previous version, including entries for the commonly used names for lots of parts and building techniques.
“Are you busy in May?”, was a question I got in an e-mail early this year from my friend Ed Diment, co-director of Bright Bricks. The organisers had asked them to build models for a LEGO event in Dubai and to get in touch with fan builders, with large collections of models they would be willing to display at the event.
The event in question was Stack and it was the first of its kind in the Middle East. I’ve been very fortunate to attend many different LEGO events in Europe and in the US, but I knew this one was going to be special.
As an adult LEGO builder and physicist, I think some people would argue that I am somewhat of a geek. One geeky thing I hadn’t done yet was attend a Comic Con. This changed last weekend, when I joined eight other members of Lowlug in displaying a wide variety of pop-culture LEGO models at Comic Con Amsterdam. Among them was Wayne Manor by Monstrophonic, which TBB blogged in July.
11-year-olds are notoriously problematic — or at least I think so, having worked with unruly preteens as a lifeguard and summer swim instructor back in the day. Now that The Brothers Brick is a tween, you never know what trouble we’ll get up to. One of the things that frequently lies ahead of the tween LEGO builder is that he or she will enter what adult builders in hindsight call the “dark ages,” that time in your life when LEGO matters a whole lot less than, well, all the other things that teenagers typically do.
The thing is, The Brothers Brick has already been through a bit of a LEGO dark ages, as real life caught up with many of our long-time contributors back in 2013 and 2014. Hey, it happens — we’re all volunteers and our families and day jobs always take priority over LEGO. The good news is that we’ve made a number of significant changes to how we run things around here, and we think you’ll agree.
After we wrapped up the Battle of Bricksburg at BrickCon in October, we recruited a cadre of 10 new contributors, from all over the world. Over the years, TBB contributors have hailed from the US, Canada, UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Croatia, South Africa, Turkey, Russia, and Mexico. We feel that it’s important to reflect the diversity of the global LEGO fan community — while we write and publish in English, there are TBB readers everywhere. A few weeks ago we even interviewed a group of LEGO builders and TBB readers in Antarctica! About only bits in the following coverage map that aren’t blue are North Korea, Eritrea, and Western Sahara. Globally, that’s more than two million people who visited Brothers-Brick.com over the past 12 months.
Bricktastic is an annual fan show held in Manchester in aid of Fairy Bricks — a charity which aims to brighten the lives of sick children by providing hospitals with LEGO sets.
This weekend saw thousands of LEGO enthusiasts descend on the show to see displays from some of the best UK builders, gawp at massive creations, try their hand at Mindstorms robotics, and enjoy some building of their own.
Here’s a short overview of some of the cool things Brothers Brick saw at the event, starting with the awesome Bright Bricks dragon which towered over the exhibition space…
It seems that wherever there are technical and creative people, there is also LEGO. LEGO has been taken into space to the International Space Station and, as it turns out, there is also LEGO on the South Pole. Recently I was contacted by Ethan Rudnitsky, who works at the U.S. Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, located on the geographic South Pole in Antarctica, with a question about building a Hercules aircraft out of LEGO, with the purpose of displaying the model at the station. Ethan is part of the crew who are spending the winter there. He told me that there are other LEGO enthusiasts on the station as well and that, as part of the last supply flight in February, the crew were sent a shipment of LEGO sets.
We’ve taken this opportunity to find out a bit more about life and LEGO on the South Pole, by asking Ethan a few questions via e-mail.
The LEGO community lost a great man this past week. Daniel August Krentz (1937-2016) was a retired set designer for LEGO, and his contributions and impact to our community are vast and deep.
Daniel began building with LEGO in college, in the 1960s. Soon, his creations gained the attention of the right people and he found himself recruited as a designer, moving from Chicago, IL to Billund, Denmark. Daniel was the first Adult Fan of LEGO to be hired as a designer for LEGO. He began designing in the 1970s, continuing until 1999.
Even if you’ve never heard his name, you know his work. You’ve played with the sets Daniel designed, as his work likely helped form your LEGO childhood. While the list of sets he designed is extensive, below are a few of the more nostalgic sets he designed:
- 375 Classic Yellow Castle
- 6067 Guarded Inn
- 6074 Black Falcons Fortress
- 6078 Royal Drawbridge
- 6081 Kings Mountain Fortress
- 6267 Lagoon Lock Up
- 6276 Eldorado Fortress
Last year, Bricks Culture interviewed Daniel. The author, Are J. Heiseldal, has kindly posted the interview online for others to read. I encourage you to take the time to read the article and reflect on Daniel Krentz’s impact on our community.
Thank you, Daniel, for all of the wonderful memories.
LEGO recently invited The Brothers Brick to their headquarters in Billund, Denmark, along with various other fan-run online groups, websites, and print media about LEGO. I was the lucky guy who got to on behalf of the Brothers Brick.
In our lives we all play a variety of roles, often without thinking. A list of mine would include (mad) physicist, prematurely grey and pasty white Dutchman, university lecturer and, of course, one of The Brothers Brick and Adult Fan Of LEGO. In the last few days, at least two new roles were added: reporter and interviewer. This is one of those occasions were being European, or more precisely, in Europe was an advantage. I’d been to Denmark once before, on a beer-fuelled student trip to Copenhagen 20 years ago, but this was going to be very different and, dare I say it, even more fun.
I arrived in Billund early in the evening on Wednesday and quickly realized that everything in this town revolves around LEGO. I passed the entrance to LEGOLAND on the way to my hotel, which was next to the LEGOLAND Village and, according to a sign on the door, was guarded by LEGO Security. No, really! After some dinner (no LEGO in that, fortunately) I took a stroll to see where I was expected the next morning, past the LEGOLAnD hotel to reach the LEGO Systems’ headquarters. Billund is very quiet, green, leafy, tidy and pleasant and it’s considered completely normal to walk around with a LEGO logo on your outfit.
A pillar of the classic LEGO Space community, Mark Neumann has emerged from myth and legend to bring us Universal Explorer LL2016. This 11-foot-6-inch behemoth of a ship is complete with giant guns, a science module, a motorized ring, interior lights, a huge cargo bay big enough to fit most official LEGO sets, and over a dozen smaller vehicles stored on board. We’ve sat down with Mark to learn a bit more about this incredible creation and Mark’s journey to build it.
LEGO’s newest Ideas set, 21305 Maze, is available starting today. Jason Allemann, the Maze’s creator, has long been known known for helping out fellow fans by providing instructions to many of his models, and this time around, Jason has put together a special Maze website which hosts instructions several alternate maze layouts, and inspiration for even more. Jason has even created a motorized miniature golf-inspired maze (video below).
We got our hands on the Maze last month and had fun reviewing it, but we wanted to know what its creator had to say. Jason was kind enough to speak with us about the Maze, his design process, and how to create a successful LEGO Ideas project.