Anu Pehrson is an amazing builder. This particular creation of hers, based on Paro Taktsang in Bhutan, was my favorite build at BrickCon this year. The attention to detail and the faithful representation of the original made this creation something special to behold. I found myself drawn to it over and over. Every time I stopped to look, I noticed more interesting details.
On a side note, Anu also made “a little friend” at BrickCon. I hear that he was impressed as well.
Brendan Powell Smith takes a break from biblical action with a new tome released just in time for the holiday season that features great building and a heaping helping of the darker side of American presidential history. The book is entitled Assassination! The Brick Chronicle of Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US Presidents and it is now available through the link or from the usual suspects who still cater to those of us who enjoy a hard copy. Brendan is an old crony of mine who sent me a free personalized copy of the new book knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to keep my big mouth shut about it. The first thing I noticed upon grabbing it from the mailbox was its satisfying heft and a larger format than the Brick Testament editions riding the bookshelf in my Legoratory. The book clocks in at 272 pages, features over 400 photos and retails for about $15 here in the States (depending on how you order it) and you can get a signed copy for about $20.
Brendan’s building has come a long way since the first edition of The Brick Testament some ten years ago and I think it’s fair to say he’s on top of his game in this book. Creating 400 scenes without getting burned out or taking short cuts seems like an amazing accomplishment to me so I found that the actual quality of the building exceeded my expectations. What I enjoyed most however, was the writing and the depth of information that Brendan provides on each assassination attempt while maintaining a smooth narrative flow. Being a history buff, I thought I was pretty well versed on the topic going in but in each of the 15 accounts (Lincoln, Kennedy and Ford get 2 chapters each) I definitely walked away with more knowledge on the events than I had going in. My favorite chapter of the book was actually the first one which detailed the 1835 attempt on Andrew Jackson’s life. Brendan has always had a knack for selecting just the right minfig for the right character, but never more so than with Old Hickory.
There are a couple of nit-picky issues with the book both of which are cosmetic in nature and more an issue of printing than authorship. Over the course of 400 photos, there is an occasional difference in brightness between photos that can be a little distracting and there were 2-3 instances where the white printing on the black background was faded to the point of being difficult to read. Neither issue effected my enjoyment of the book, which I rank as my current favorite among the current crop of volumes produced by Lego nerds recently. Coffee table books with pretty photos are nice but I actually feel better informed after reading Assassination! and I’m certainly better armed for any future engagements in American presidential trivia.
With a great price-point, solid building and great writing I can’t endorse this informative volume enough, constant reader and I encourage you to purchase the tome at your earliest convenience for yourself or as a gift. Perhaps the best testimonial I can give is that everyone I have shown it to has been unable to put it down without laughing and remarking about one of the factoids. If you have friends who are anything like mine, you’ll soon be refusing to loan it out. Let’s face it, people never return books.
Guy Himber recently talked with me about his company CrazyBricks and his projects past, present and future. He also sent me some of the prototypes from his current SKULLS project as well as an early version of one of the add-ons, namely the GingerDead Man. The skulls come in three varieties. The largest one is my favorite, as it is the same size and proportion as the regular minifig head and most minifig hair can sit on it fairly naturally…though there is no stud, so anything you put on it is held in place by gravity. The other two skull varieties are a bit smaller than the large skull. One has a stud and the other doesn’t. The smaller skulls fit better inside helmets and cowls. The GingerDead Man is quite nice. He is a zombie variant of the CrazyBricks’ Gingerbread Man that is currently available. The printing is exceptional, made of a combination of both regular flat printing and embossed printing. Anyway, enough from me…let’s explore the mind of a builder!
Josh- Hello Guy, thanks for sitting down with me. You are known to many of our readers as V&A Steamworks, the builder of steampunk creations. But now you have actually started a company called CrazyBricks. Tell us about the concept behind the company and the name.
Guy- Hi Josh!
I had done a number of side projects that I made available to other builders (The Big StovePipe Hats and CrazyArms) and really enjoyed the creative process. I found that as a side effect, I also enjoyed interacting with my fellow LEGO enthusiasts and sharing what I had made. These early items were all machined (versus injection molded) so there was a limit to how much I could create via this method. When the idea of Pigs vs Cows was proposed for last year’s BrickCon I decided it was time to take the next step and bring some of my ideas to market in the form of the Pig and Cow characters. Since this project went beyond my ‘hobby’ and into more of a business, I decided to form a company to sell them under once the Kickstarter project had funded and that Company became CrazyBricks – inspired by the CrazyArms I had made earlier.
When I found the online Lego community back in 2002 the undisputed heavyweight champ of the Space crowd was Chris Fazoom Giddens. Part of that reputation came from mind-blowing builds like the Slam, the Doulos and of course the genre defining Vanguard. Unlike my builds from the early days and yours, the vast majority of Fazoom’s spacecraft still hold up today despite their lack of cheese slopes and fancy brackets. Along with dozens of other builders I took direct inspiration from Chris and his Pre Classic Space theme to develop my own Iron Reich series of vehicles and minifigs. Yes, constant reader, I too was a fanboy. Along with Dan Jassim and a handful of other builders Chris had a huge impact on my early building, the way I thought about the community and ultimately my longevity in the hobby. But it wasn’t just the building that made Chris stand out from the crowd; it was his easy sense of humor, readiness to share and willingness to always embrace the new guy. I had the good fortune to meet Chris at 2004’s Brickfest in Washington D.C. and I have to admit that a small, petty part of me was hoping he’d be a jerk so I could say “yeah, I met Giddens, he’s an awesome builder but man what a tool!“, something to make him seem more human. I ran into Chris while boarding an elevator on the bottom floor and by the time we’d reached the top he had me laughing my ass off and thoroughly ashamed of myself for harboring such thoughts. We’ve been friends ever since.
Flash forward a decade and I’m going through Fazoom’s photostream, hoping to see some WIP shots of his latest project when I came across this note.
To say the least it was shocking to read that Chris has “One mean case of Embryonal Carcinoma”. After reading up on it a little I found that Embryonal Carcinoma is a relatively uncommon type of germ cell tumor that occurs both the ovaries and testes and that one fifth to two thirds of patients with tumors composed predominantly of embryonal carcinoma have metastases at diagnosis. Chris fell right into those cold hard numbers, with a lump starting in his right testicle and spreading out because by his own admission he “waited too long“. Historically, the treatment of testicular cancer was largely based on luck: if the tumor was detected when still confined, there was a high chance of cure, if not, the prognosis was very grim. In fact, in the not too distant past, the discovery of a suspicious testicular mass was a virtual surgical emergency; urologists would often operate the same day as seeing the patient the first time to not allow any time for even a single cell to escape. Testicular cancer is now considered one of the most treatable and curable cancers with a survival rate greater than 90%. The disease-free survival rate for Stage II and III cancers is slightly lower, depending on the size of the tumor and when treatment is begun. All the websites agree that early detection and treatment is the key. When I spoke to Chris about his situation the one message he kept hitting again and again was for people to “check their junk”.
At the time of this posting Chris has been through a surgery, is undergoing the always pleasant chemotherapy and will likely have follow-up surgery in 4 months and 5 years of observation. This is a long term fight, but at least the odds are in his favor.
As you might expect, our warm and embracing community has reached out to Fazoom through letters, phone calls and social media to bolster his spirits and let him know that he’s not alone in his struggle. A host of cronies have gone the extra mile, guys like Proudlove, Jassim, Sandlin, Rafert and Wood have all shaved their heads in solidarity. If you’d like to see the growing assembly of glowing pale domes, head on over to Fazoom’s Facebook page to see the rogues gallery of supporting Lego fans.
Meanwhile the building never stops, even in the face of a nasty enemy like cancer, it’s only slowed down a bit. This is a photo of Mr. Giddens latest masterpiece in progress, an untitled starship with all the hallmarks of his style: great color blocking, beautiful curves and of course greebles like no other. I can’t wait to see it finished and to see the cancer finished along with it.
I think too often we wait until somebody is gone to say all the nice things we meant to say, so if Chris or his models have ever meant anything to you why not say it now? If nothing else, as Chris says “don’t be a punk, check your junk!”. For more information on testicular cancer including early detection, treatment and prognosis, check out The Testicular Cancer Resource Center or The American Cancer Society for more information.
I will leave you with Fazoom’s own words as he slugs his way through chemo with spirit and humor.
“I’ve never taken myself seriously and mostly that’s served me well, my health, well that’s getting some more attention lately for sure. In the time’s I have taken myself too seriously I’ve fallen on my face and learned to laugh at myself. My faith and family have always been the cornerstone of who I am and will continue to be. In these things I will never waiver. You have a choice to handle stuff… I’m gonna keep moving forward. My cancer is curable and I’m slogging along to get there. My heart issue is curable too and that will be a battle I swear to win…for my wife and my boy. But, this hobby we have, this creative outlet to express our inner geek, our tormented soul, our suppressed 9 year old, or whatever means something. It’s a language. One that we may not all speak equally or eloquently, but it’s a common bond. The worst it can do is become a way to belittle and besmirch someone’s attempt at trying. The best it can do is build up and better someone to become better. Keep the standard high without the ego. I’ve seen builders support me across many lines of ideals and ideas. It’s the bond. The bond of the builder and I’m grateful!“.
As nice as the individual models that we blog are, I think there’s often something really special about collaborative builds. The collaborative display by Pennlug at Brickfair, for instance, was one of my favourite things on show and Bricksboro Beach, built by members of Brickish, was probably the nicest display I have ever personally been involved with.
Last weekend, Legoworld took place in Utrecht in the Netherlands. Even though it is the public event closest to where I live and the largest LEGO-event in the Netherlands, I could not make it there myself. This is unfortunate for a variety of reasons, including because I would have loved to see the collaborative city display by lowlug-members Erik Smit (عʈ¡ – ʇıɯs ıʇə ʞıɹə), Tijger-San, Thomassio, Mockingbird, Arjan Oude Kotte (Konajra), Neverroads, Ruben Ras (workfromtheheart) and JeroenD (in random order).
The individual elements, such as the cafe-corner compatible buildings (such as the ones by Tijger-San pictured above) are nice, but the whole display is one of those ‘whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ kind of things. You could walk around this and would keep noticing new things. If you want to get an impression of what it must looked like to members of the audience, check out Erik’s video.
While most of my fellow Brothers were having a great time at Brickcon in Seattle, I was enjoying myself immensely at the UK’s largest LEGO-event: the Great Western Lego Show in Swindon. The show is organised by Martin Long, who is the president of the Brickish Association. The show took place on Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th of October at a great location: the Great Western Railway museum, a.k.a. the Steam Museum. Most of the models on show were built by members of the association, who tend to refer to the show simply as ‘Steam’.
The models were all of a very high quality, but I want to share a few highlights with you. The first is the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 jet engine build by Bright Bricks, which is a company run by Duncan Titmarsh -the UK’s only Lego Certified Professional- and Ed Diment (Lego Monster). The model is built to half scale, weighs 350 kg and was commissioned by Rolls Royce for last year’s Farnborough Air Show. It is beautifully built and by means of an electric motor the fans actually spin, which gives it certain hypnotic quality.
Another very large and impressive model was the Tigelfáh Castle layout (We featured part of this a few weeks ago). It was a collaborative build by no fewer than eight builders: James Pegrum (peggyjdb), Harry Russell (Kǻrrde), Thomas Coleman (Malravion), Luke Watkins Hutchinson (- Derfel Cadarn -), Barney Main (SlyOwl), Colin Parry (Cuahchic), Jimmy Clynche (Invicta Bricks) and Steven Snasdell (workshysteve). It was enormous, fantastically detailed and very hard to capture in a single photo! No matter from what angle you looked at this, you always spotted a nice new detail.
One of the favourites of the public at the Steam show is the mosaic build. Members of the audience can fill a baseplate with 2×2 plates (in pre-arranged patterns printed out on paper), after which the plate is added to the mosaic. The mosaic gradually grows during the show and the end result is always spectacular.
For more pictures of these and other models at the show, check out the photosets by Andrew Harvey, Alec Hole and Drew Maughan. This was my 7th time at the event and it just keeps getting better. I know I am not the only builder already planning what to build for the show next year.
Traveler’s Tales Games just contacted us regarding new job openings in their LEGO department. They specifically thought of our readers in regards to the Junior LEGO Model Artist position. As many of you know, TT Games is the powerhouse behind the line of highly successful LEGO video games, including the various Star Wars, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones games, just to name a few. Whoever ultimately lands the job will have the opportunity to work on upcoming titles. It seems like quite the opportunity for the right person. Below is the information relating to the Model Artist position. Check out this link for details on all the LEGO-related positions, as well as the other job openings currently available. They have hired other Adult Fans of LEGO in past, namely Carl Greatrix and the Arvo brothers…you could be next!
Junior LEGO Model Artist
We are looking for a Model Artist to join our highly skilled and motivated team. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work on the ever expanding range of acclaimed LEGO titles across all major development platforms. The role available is based at our Knutsford development studio.
– The design and modeling of LEGO models and vehicles
– The design and creation of 2D texture decals
– Optimization of assets to support each game platform
Skills & Qualifications:
– Good knowledge of LEGO elements, connections and advanced building techniques
– Excellent communication and organization skills
– 3D modeling experience in Autodesk Maya & Photoshop an advantage, however training can be made available
– Practical and methodical approach to both technical and creative problem-solving
– Demonstrates dependability and commitment to projects / tasks
– Flexible approach with the ability to adapt with change
– Ability to work under pressure and to strict deadlines
In return we offer a competitive salary with paid overtime and bonus scheme.
If you’re interested in this role, please contact jobs(AT)t-tales.com using LEGO Model Artist as the Email subject.
If the LEGO Adventure Book was an unofficial sequel to the 80s Ideas Books, the LEGO Adventure Book 2 is an official sequel to an unofficial sequel. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a book filled with great models by many great builders. I won’t write much about the book (aside from pointing out it has almost 40 sets of instructions), but I will leave you with the list of builders who contributed to it: Megan Rothrock (author/editor), Mark Stafford, Are J. Heiseldal, Arjan Oude Kotte, Barney Main, Birgitte Jonsgard, Tommy Williamson, Tyler Clites, Marco den Besten, Yvonne Doyle and Daniel August Krentz.
You can pre-order from Amazon.com right now (and remember, clicking that link helps support TBB).