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.

Steampunk LEGO by Guy Himber [Review]

As holiday season approachs, No Starch Press is kicking into high gear with a slew of new titles for LEGO fans. Their latest offering is Steampunk LEGO by well-known LEGO builder, innovator and steampunk enthusiast Guy Himber. This 200 page compilation features the work of over 90 individual builders, and includes just about every notable LEGO steampunk creation of the past five years.

Physically, the book has a definite steampunk feel about it. Its blue and gold hard cover sports a full-color dust jacket (shown here) and all the pages have a high quality satin finish that enhances the sumptuous graphic design. The material is presented in the form an ornate Victorian scrapbook, complete with notelets and other trinkets mounted atop a variety of textured vintage backgrounds.

A cornucopia of building styles are covered here. And while the majority are mini-fig oriented, microscale and life-size builds are reasonably well represented. Entries are 1 or 2 to a page, and organized into logical chapters focusing on different categories such as trains, vehicles, automatons, weapons, sea vessels, airships and even floating rocks. There is also a pleasant ‘interlude’ in the center, showcasing Guy’s memorable Cabinet of Curiosities collaborative project.

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Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark by Mike Doyle [Review]

It’s been barely a year since No Starch Press released Beautiful LEGO, a coffee table book packed with carefully curated images of LEGO creations, conceived and organized by New Jersey graphic designer and LEGO builder Mike Doyle.

Unlike many of their other LEGO themed titles, which are targeted squarely at the AFOL community, the book had the potential to appeal to almost anyone with a passing interest in LEGO (ie. almost anyone on the planet). It soon started showing up on the shelves of regular book stores, and has since become one of their best sellers. So the rumors of a sequel came as no surprise…

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark replays that winning formula, with some interesting twists. The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s weightier: this version is about 50 pages longer and sports a proper hard cover. Some folks will be pleased to hear about that change, although as a coffee table book, I kinda find this one harder to handle.

Mike has also cut back heavily on builder interviews (just 4 this time round, compared to 9 in the first book). I’m sure some AFOLs will see that as a loss, but I think it makes sense for a work like this to focus on the images first and foremost. For those curious to learn more about specific builders, every image is labeled, and the Contributor index contains all the necessary URLs.

Then there’s the subtitle, “Dark”. With this book, Mike applied what he calls a “thematic filter” to the curation process, targeting specific classes of build. It’s a bold move, but gives this sequel a much stronger identity than merely “hello, here are some more great builds”. Admittedly “dark” is a rather broad theme with many possible interpretations, but I think it still pays off. The builds range from the serious, the creepy, the political, the darkly humorous, and even just darkly colored.

As for the individual builds and images, Mike delivers again with another 300 pages of gorgiously photographed creations, from over a hundred different builders, that will be appreciated by both AFOL and non-AFOL alike. Everything is organized into chapters such as “Creepy Crawlers”, “Skin and Bones” or “Future Shock”. And a wide variety of building styles and categories are covered.

To achieve a harmonious effect, some of the models were specially reworked or reshot by their creators, and Mike also re-tuned some of the images too (for example, applying neutral backgrounds). The overall effect is definitely moodier than the first book – and that means it’s literally darker. The builds in this tome also skew to the more complex/detailed end of the scale than in the first one. So you’re gonna want to read this one under a decent light!

For the sequel, Mike also chose to include a small selection of digital creations. This is definitely a controversial decision, which Mike acknowledges and explains in his Preface. But the digital creations are clearly annotated as such, wherever they appear.

Like its predecessor, Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark is a beautiful object, that shines a flattering (low wattage) spotlight on the LEGO building community, and in a way that makes that world accessible to the general public. I’d recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoyed the first book. And I really hope this becomes a series of books. If it does, I cannot wait to see what theme Mike decides to cover next!

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark goes on sale everywhere November 20th, and will retail for USD $39.95.

“Bricks of the Mouse Guard” project launched on Kickstarter

2015 may well be the year of Mouse Guard, as it celebrates it’s 10th anniversary and – as we previously mentioned here – Seattle’s own ArchLUG will be unveiling a big collaborative Mouse Guard display at Emerald City Comic Con in March. Of course you can expect some pretty amazing architecture in this display. But how are they going to recreate the Mouse Guard characters, you might ask? Simple, with Bricks of the Mouse Guard, that’s how! And you can get in on the action too.

Following on from his wildly successful Munchkin Bricks project, Guy Himber of Crazy Bricks has just launched a new project to bring you Mouse Guard themed LEGO accessories.

Backers have the opportunity to receive a set of mouse heads in various colors, and a set of matching accessories (including a flagon that looks like a must-have for almost any Castle enthusiast). And as you might imagine, there are all kinds of stretch goals that will unlock additional items in additional colors, and even a fully equipped custom Mouse Guard mini-fig with pad-printed torso. Other goodies include BrickArms crates, printed bricks and even original artwork by Mouse Guard’s creator for top-tier backers.

Rewards start at $19, and the project will be accepting pledges for the next 32 days, so back it today!

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 hasĀ 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.