In response to my calling out of Tommy Williamson, from BrickNerd, he is streaming a live build followed by his response to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s starts at 12 noon PST, so check it out, along with the latest new Bricknerd episode!
As everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows, there is something about ALS and Ice Buckets making the rounds of the Internet. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is raising funds and increasing awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, as it is sometimes known. I have had two family members succumb to ALS so today I took part in the challenge and I’m calling on my fellow LEGO enthusiasts to do the same! Specifically I’m calling out Tommy Williamson of BrickNerd, Guy Himber of Crazybricks and Sean Mayo who is just plain cool. Get your ice on!
Also see the video on Flickr
EDIT: So far Tommy and Sean have responded!
It has taken almost six years and about 43,200 pictures (give or take) but Gregory Tull‘s dream of a full length (give or take) LEGO stop motion movie has almost to come to fruition. They’re in post production now editing the roughly 50 minute long movie which is set to be released early 2015 – both online and hopefully limited theatrical release if they can find a distributor.
In the mean time check out the trailer:
I’ve seen a lot of brickfilms, but what sets this apart from the rest, besides the obvious length, is the attention to detail and big budget effects – like the rain scenes. The rain itself is easy, that’s just computer effects. But the wet surface – well that is as horribly painful to capture as you might think: they sprayed the set with water, took the image, dried off all the LEGO, and did it again…. for every frame … for 3 months … but it looks pretty darn cool.
One of the unfortunate side effects of being an “old timer” in the LEGO community is the increasing list of people you have met, or would have liked to meet, who have passed away. It is thus with regret that I share the news that Heiner Berg, one of the big figures in the German AFOL community, is with us no more. I believe I met Heiner only once in 2007, but I knew his name from my early days on LUGNET. He was one of the first LEGO Ambassadors, which indicates the esteem he was held in Germany.
I will pass over to Holger Matthes (HoMa), another “old timer”, and someone who knew Heiner well to share their thoughts.
I knew Heiner for more then 10 years and he was one of the early guys forming the German AFOL scene.
Heiner is well known for his neverending hunt for yet another color variation of the iconic Blue Hopper. His website mentions more then 25 variants:
Lately he concentrated on rare colors for roofs and he knew all the existing slope elements in fancy colors and came up with a really colorful and detailed layout to present his trains and other building.
Rest in peace Heiner!
If you remember Heiner, please feel free to write down your memories below. For those of you who feel more comfortable writing in German, 1000Steine have a memorial thread.
I remember getting a used M:Tron set as a kid and discovering how awesome magnetism is, and how I wanted to learn where magnets came from. Thanks to Blake Foster and his M:Tron Magnet Factory, I finally know the answer:
Not only has Blake created an inspired M:Tron base and stunning landscaped base, but he’s added a monorail and some really impressive movement which you can see in the following video:
I was able to see this incredible creation this past weekend at BrickFair Virginia, where it took the Best Space trophy (check out the time-lapse setup video). I sat down with Blake to get the details on his layout:
TBB: With all the classic LEGO space themes or even other pop culture references why did you choose M:Tron as a theme for your build?
BF: It’s part nostalgia and part obscurity. I loved M:Tron as a kid, and yet it doesn’t get all that much attention from the AFOL community. Compared to Neo-Blacktron or Neo-Classic-Space, M:Tron is a rarity. That obscurity can be a good thing, though, because there are more opportunities to do something original. I really wanted to make something unique, so M:Tron seemed like a good theme to do it in.
TBB: With something of this size, 4 x 6 baseplates (192 x 128 studs), how long did it take you to build?
BF: I started toying with ideas for this project 4-5 years ago. I was in grad school at the time, though, and didn’t have the budget to complete it. I started working in earnest two years ago. By my best guess, it took about 3,000 hours of building, 462 Bricklink orders and I would estimate 100,00 bricks. Here is an early work in progress image of the build:
This amazing collaborative layout tells the story of the Greek hero Odysseus and his 10 year adventure home after the battle of Troy. Feel free to take the video tour of this massive Layout, courtesy of our friends at Beyond the Brick:
VirtuaLUG of course is the mega-group that brought us Lord of the Rings (2011), Alice in Wonderland (2012) and The Wizard of Oz (2013). So it came as no surprise that they took home Brickworld’s top prize (and Master Builder to boot!):
VirtuaLUG (Not pictured: Bart, Kevin, Kyle, Mark and Leo)
Have you ever been to a convention and you forgot or needed a piece? It happens to all of us, and in June it happened to Mark Larson. He realized that you could probably get any piece you needed at a convention, if you had something worth trading for it. That’s when he remembered the story about the Red Paper Clip Game and thought it would be cruel to make me play it.
With my little brick in hand, I basically went up to every single person still in the convention hall pleading to trade for something – anything – to keep the game moving. For those that were there late Saturday night you would have been treated to a sales pitch that would rival most telemarketers.
Originally the plan was to see what I could get by end of night and trade it for some food or refreshments, or if it was really neat I’d just keep it. But after finding my sales pitch lacking that emotional connection I decided I needed to a new end game:
Whatever I had at the end of the convention would be donated to the Esther Walner Memorial Charity Auction at BW2014.
Auction Item #1 Dave Sterling’s Steam Punk Rifle
This changed everything. It went from amusement of my futility by the attendees to a communal effort to see what we could trade up to. People suddenly was far more generous – often trading items orders of magnitude more valuable, people started making suggestions on who I needed to ask and talk to, people offered money and pure donations to the pot (though that would be against the rules) and it became a bit of an event where people would routinely check in to see what I had traded up to.
I’m often surprised by the generosity in the community, and you would think I would have grown to expect such things, but I was not prepared for when people were trading their MOCs, or would trade a brand new UCS set that they had just bought at auction. Sure it was always a hope that I could get something valuable to auction, but this was was crazy!
In the final trading stages I had to choose pieces that would (I hope) sell well, not to mention be something that people could feasibly take home.
And after 14 trades I got not one, but two, fantastic MOCs for this year’s auction.
Auction Item #2 Isaac Mazer’s Dark Side of the Moon
So bring your pennies to Brickworld Chicago, you’ll need them if you want to outbid me.
And a special thanks to all the generous people who traded: Mark Larson, Chris Rozek, Lee Jones, Heath Flor, Roy T Cook, Adam Myers, Isaac Mazer, Adam Tucker, Bill Bartley, Sean Jensen, Alex Taylor, Chris Rozek again, Dave Sterling, and Isaac Mazer again! You guys rock.
Last night I was able to attend a screening of Beyond the Brick at the Seattle International Film Festival. I have to say that I did not have high hopes or expectations. I have found that, at the best of times, they tend to have a skewed view of the fan community, so I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing how a documentary with LEGO’s official stamp of approval would deal with us adult fans. I am glad to say that my misgivings were unjustified. It was good, even (dare I say it?) better than The LEGO Movie itself. Go ahead, stone me in the comments, but everything WAS awesome.
So what exactly is Beyond the Brick?
In a Q&A session after the screening, one of the directors said that their goal was to create a film that not only told the story of LEGO but showed the vast community that has grown up around it. The idea was to delve into what it is about the LEGO brick that touches us and inspires us, how the system of play drives creativity and who are the people who have been changed and/or affected by LEGO. Did they succeed? I think think they did. I have been a fan of LEGO’s products for 35 years and I learned quite a few things about the global LEGO community that I never knew and was reminded of things that I had forgotten. The filmmakers were able to touch on many different aspects of LEGO and the effects it has had over the years and around the globe. Some of these included changes in the art world, new therapies with special needs children, the adult fan phenomenon, crowd-sourcing before it was a buzzword and sending minifigs into Space.
Was everything really awesome about the film?
No film is ever perfect. I felt there were some key members of the fan community who were overlooked and who could have offered insight into the concepts that the filmmakers were wanting to explore. But, in their defense, they couldn’t talk to everyone and they definitely couldn’t fit every detail into 90 minutes. There were only a few omissions that really bothered me, such as leaving out the collaborators of several projects and making it appear that the projects were built by a single person. One example of those was a minor collaboration I took part in at BrickCon. I was in the film, talking about the build but there were actually two of us there. My partner-in-crime was cut out. There were other, more important examples, involving large convention collaborations, that didn’t give full credit to those involved. But really that is my only serious critique of the film. Overall, it is a very well-crafted film that does an excellent job of showing off the LEGO community to the world. You should go see it or get a hold of the DVD when it comes out.
Check out this clip from the film, via The Wall Street Journal (Many thanks to my coworker, Brett, for sending me the link):
It’s been almost two years since we first covered the work of Polish artists Przemek and Marcin Surma, who publish drawings every week inspired by classic LEGO sets. Since then, they’ve created a whole new bunch, based on iconic sets from classic space themes of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Classic space fans should have no trouble recognizing some of their favorites from among this collection (but the original set numbers are included in each drawing, if you need help remembering).
What you see here is just a small sample – check their website for loads more.
Thanks to Nathan Dusciuc for the tip!
Just recently, Guy and I hosted the live kickoff of the latest Iron Builder competition between Siercon and Coral vs Legohaulic and Littlehaulic. Joining us were some other staff members of the blog (Chris, Caylin) and other builders (Bruce Lowell, Nick V, Andrew Lee). The video below contains the entire live-recorded broadcast, which features the following:
- The unveiling of the mystery part
- A 10 miniute build-off between the contenders
- A long Q&A session where we answered questions from the audience on anything from the state of the Lego community to whether I was wearing pants.