Category Archives: People

LEGO fandom is a worldwide phenomenon, a vast community. Whether you consider yourself an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO), ALE (Adult LEGO Enthusiast), some other crazy acronym, a parent of a young builder, or even just a casual fan who appreciates all the amazing models LEGO builders create, there’s more to LEGO than just the models themselves. Here at The Brothers Brick, we bring you the stories behind the models, with interviews, builder profiles, and more.

President Obama interviewed regarding his LEGO obsession

Contributor Iain Heath was able to sit down with President Barack Obama during TBB’s monthly junket to Washington DC. The President himself requested the interview citing a desire to “come out of the sorting bin” in regards to his Adult Fan of LEGO status. He also wanted to make it clear that the First Lady, Michelle Obama, supported him in this decision. We look forward to covering the Commander-in-Chief’s involvement in the LEGO fan community and hope to highlight some of his creations here in the near future.

UPDATE: The original video has been partially censored to comply with some half-baked legal threats made by the organizers of an event that had been mentioned in it. Some people apparently have no sense of humor, and dealing with such people is too boring and tedious to be worth the trouble, so the video was edited to shut them up. As the old saying goes… THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS THE OIL.

BrickCon 2014 wrap up

BrickCon took place last weekend in Seattle and attracted a healthy crowd of over 400 attendees and over 13,000 public audiences. While it has been 4 years since my last BrickCon, I was happy to reconnect with a lot of people and meet new ones, however briefly, during those 4 days. Below is a summary of my experiences and my favorite displays. Our other contributors will cover some of the collaborations in more detail.

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During the set-up days of Thursday and Friday I saw a constant array of new MOCs cropping up on tables as well as bumping into familiar faces. Some of my personal favorites include Breann Sledge‘s Dino Rider featuring an elaborate Rulon’s head that uses gears for teeth. Brian Cooper‘s Teknomecha v.2.0 shows modern changes over the decade-old v.1.0. Some small models also caught my attention including Brandon Walker’s sleek and sturdy space transports or the hilariously mechanized slaughterhouse by Brendan Mauro as part of the Space Vikings display.

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I was impressed by the setting of the ceremonies inside a theater. The set that was unveiled at the opening ceremony was 75060 UCS Slave I. Here is my on-site video review of the set.

The public attendance at BrickCon is extremely high. Outsiders had to squeeze through shoulders to get a peek at the displays. Fortunately the balconies served as nice observation points. Not all the builders are able to stay near their display and tolerate the din from the crowd, but that’s what competitions and presentations were for. A life-sized RC R2-D2 and mouse droid by Shawn and Lara Steele entertained the crowd.

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My favorite creation was Paul Hetherington‘s townhouse, which features an immaculate modern design and a fully decorated lit-up interior. Paul also won Best in Show (for the 4th time) with his Mouse Guard display.

Some other things to take a gander:

Of course, there are many creations worthy of your attention that simply won’t fit in a wrap up post. You can discover them in the photos from the BrickCon group on Flickr.

Win a prize by following the Rival’s Tournament!

The folks over at Merlin’s Beard are hosting a tournament and you can get in on the fun! For some time now they have been fighting among themselves in what have come to be called “The Brawls”. Think LEGO Castle Fight Club. Now they are holding the first Lands of Roawia Rival’s Tournament and the contestants have been chosen from the ranks of the Brawlers.

“But how can I get involved since I’m not one of the Brawlers?”, you ask. Good question. You can follow the tournament by filling out their March-Madness-style bracket and posting it on their forums. The winner of the bracket challenge will win their choice of two prizes. If you want to get involved in the Brawling and perhaps be in the next Tournament, you can sign up for that as well!

Taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the Adult Fans of LEGO world!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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!

Tommy’s Video

Sean’s Video

“Bound” trailer – the full length brickfilm

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.

RIP Heiner Berg

Heiner Berg with beerOne 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:
http://www.heinerberg.homepage.t-online.de/index-e.html
http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?m=HeinerBerg

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.

The M:Tron base of our dreams: 4 years and 100,000 LEGO bricks

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:

M:Tron Magnet Factory

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:

Early WIP shot

Read more about Blake’s M:Tron Magnet Factory →

Homer’s The Odyssey – Ὀδύσσεια

Those lucky enough to go to Brickworld Chicago this year were treated to VirtuaLUG‘s story time with their incredible 300 square foot retelling of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey.

Olympus (center) by Bart Larrow 3/55
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!):

image (1)VirtuaLUG (Not pictured: Bart, Kevin, Kyle, Mark and Leo)

VirtuaLUGs Odyssey (Brickworld Chicago 2014)

Follow the story of Odysseus as told by VirtuaLUG →

Red Brick Game – BW2013

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.

Giving me a modest 2×4 red brick, he set me out on an adventure…
Red Brick Game - BW2013

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.

Lord Sterling's Blunderbuss
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.

Dark Side of the Moon
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.