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.
Did you know that a new Star Wars movie came out in 2015, with accompanying LEGO sets? If you’ve been living in your basement working on your LEGO masterpiece and weren’t aware, one glance at TBB’s top LEGO news stories would provide a clear picture of just how much excitement has preceded what turned out to be a rather excellent movie. Like our round-up of most popular LEGO models of 2015, LEGO Star Wars stories have dominated news coverage this year — especially since the sets were first revealed in September.
The actual Top 10 list is heavily dominated by set announcements, so hit the jump to check it out.
But some interesting and important news doesn’t necessarily show up in this top 10 list. Back in July, TBB celebrated its tenth anniversary, and I reflected on what it’s been like running a LEGO blog for 10 years. I promised we would be making some changes to improve the experience for our readers, and we’ve done exactly that. After BrickCon in October, we added eight new contributors, who’ve all helped us improve our coverage of both LEGO models and LEGO news. We’ve significantly broadened our geographic diversity, with two new contributors from the UK (both Scottish, coincidentally) and one each from Russia and South Africa — adding to our existing team from the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. Our new contributors have helped to free up our editorial staff to focus more on time-consuming content like LEGO set reviews.
Meanwhile, TBB staff were also a strong presence at LEGO conventions such as Brickworld in Chicago and BrickCon in Seattle, where readers and contributors built a rather epic American Civil War display in LEGO, featuring help from a corps of volunteer dinosaur cavalry.
And in the UK at BRICK, Elspeth took on LEGO Wonder Woman.
Brothers Brick daily covers cool fan-built models and LEGO news, but sometimes we get a chance to highlight a story from the human side of our favorite hobby. This touching story by the State Journal Register, an Illinois newspaper, shows how sometimes LEGO can be more than just a toy or a fun hobby. Sometimes it can be a means for healing.
After his wife, Tricia, died in the spring of 2011, Ray Hofman was having a hard, hard time. They had been married 39 years and, understandably, Ray felt lost.
“It was two years of long, long days,” he says.
The Christmas before Tricia died, Ray’s nephew, Jason Stokes, gave him a present. It was a replica of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater home, made out of Legos.
It is on such small things life sometimes turns.
“I didn’t know much about Legos,” Ray says. “When I grew up, it was Lincoln Logs.”
But something about that gift resonated with him.
Ray discovered the joy of receiving a LEGO set as a gift, and set out to bring that delight to others. First he built and donated a Taj Mahal to a cancer treatment center charity auction, but soon fell in love with the idea of building LEGO sets and giving them as gifts to everyone around him, including those who least expected it. His postman received sets for his grandchildren, and a local restaurant owner received a Space Shuttle because Hofman knew he was a space enthusiast. His favorite though, is giving gifts to children, and Hofman’s fridge is covered with heart-felt thank-you cards from children.
Hofman has spent the last two years building LEGO sets and giving them away to friends, family, and charities. “It filled a void,” he says.
Back home from seeing The Force awakens, I’m watching Conan O’Brien interview J.J. Abrams and Harrison Ford, and was entertained to see that the UCS Millennium Falcon just made an appearance. Watch how the actor who played Han Solo carefully handles this painstakingly built LEGO set.
Heh heh. Thanks to reader Mike R. for the tip earlier in the day!
Australian LEGO Certified Professional Ryan McNaught and his workshop team have built a life-sized replica of the TARDIS from Doctor Who. Images of the LEGO TARDIS on Bondi Beach in Sydney started circulating on the web yesterday, but you can see it in person at the Zing Pop Culture Store in Macquarie Park through the 18th this month, and then at the Doctor Who Festival in Sydney on the 21st and 22nd of November.
We reached out to Ryan and the BBC to uncover some details and exclusive photos not shared elsewhere. Ryan tells us that his team of 5 builders spent 45 hours just to design the LEGO TARDIS, and then 206 man hours to build it. Everyone is sworn to secrecy on the part count, since the BBC will be holding a contest to guess the number of LEGO pieces used to build it — suffice to say it’s a fairly insane number of dark blue LEGO all in one place! Built to exacting specifications provided by the BBC archives, it stands 316 bricks high (303 cm or nearly 10 feet tall).
The front of the TARDIS features a brick-built notice and fully functional door, which will enable Peter Capaldi himself to emerge from the LEGO TARDIS at the Doctor Who Festival later this month.
The light on top works, and Ryan’s team even built a matching Sonic Screwdriver.
To enable the BBC to transport the LEGO TARDIS to various events, it incorporates an internal steel frame. As to other secret details, Ryan tells us, “It may in fact be bigger on the inside, it certainly felt like it when we were building it!
UPDATE: Ryan has added some more photos to his Flickr photostream, including this great photo of the team behind this epic build.
We’re big fans of Chris McVeigh (powerpig on Flickr) here at The Brothers Brick, and we’ve been enjoying his brick sketches for a couple of years. But Chris hadn’t tackled a self-portrait until now. Chris’s signature mustache and resplendent beard come through wonderfully with just a few plates and tiles.
A large contingent of the Brothers Brick were in Seattle to celebrate BrickCon 2015 last week. Unfortunately Tommy Williamson, our good friend and BrickNerd‘s Nerd-in-Chief, was unable to make it up from the in-bred backwards Gold Rush ghost town of Lompoc, California to join us.
The rumor was that a light mist had been reported approaching the water-starved Golden State from the North, so everyone was camped outside with their tongues out to try and capture droplets of precious moisture. In the end, it actually turned out to be a mysterious cloud of pleasant smelling smoke wafting down from the Portland area.
In an attempt to cheer Tommy up about this, and to give his hoards of adoring BrickCon fans something to throw their underwear at, we decided to create a substitute we called Flat Tommy. Flat Tommy fitted in perfectly. Most people couldn’t even tell the difference, even when talking to him, and soon enough he was put to work on various tasks:
It’s the Lemur here. Just got back to the compound after a great weekend in Seattle, at BrickCon. There were lots of tasty creations there and I was able to get my paws on all kinds of cool swag.
Caylin let me check out everything on the condition that I not break anything and that nothing got eaten. I took a few little nibbles here and there but was able to stay out of trouble, for the most part. I did accidentally clear the building during public hours, but that really wasn’t my fault. Who knew the shiny red “fire alarm” panels weren’t for public consumption? Anyway, the Fire Department responded quickly, nobody got hurt and I got to sit in a fire truck.
Paul Hetherington won “Best in Show” with his motorized Steampunk robot called “Unchain My Heart”. It kind of creeped me out but it was very well built. I even sat on its head and no breakage occurred.
To round off our exploration of the rich LEGO repertoire of Letranger Absurde, here is a charming representation of Victorian dandy Algernon Moncrieff, from Oscar Wilde’s farcical play The Importance of Being Earnest. With larger character builds, it’s less common for builders to take the trouble to construct an entire scene, but this one comes fully furnished for the period (the Vermeer painting is an especially nice touch), while the casual posing and puff of brick-built smoke breathe life into the whole thing.
From the builder: “I’m quite fond of this one. Leaving aside the fact that it’s an update to my very first character build and based on the very first play I’ve ever read and fell in love with, I feel that I’ve accomplished some things here: making a detailed scene for my large scale figs that doesn’t feel like a cheap prop and managing a pretty natural pose (most of my previous chars just felt too wooden). I’ve also experimented a bit with photography; despite the loss in clarity and quality, I think the natural low light makes the scene feel more natural.”
From the builder: “This is both a tribute to the comedy wonder that is The Evil Dead, and to Mihai Marius Mihu, the builder from my country whose work made me realize for the first time there’s more to LEGO than collecting sets. Klaatu Verata Necktie!”
Our next featured creation from Iron Builder veteran and history lover Letranger Absurde features lots of yummy dark brown and one particular example of nice part usage (can you spot it?).
From the builder: “This was built as a request; perfect opportunity for me to build an Arthurian themed MOC since I’ve always wanted to do one. The sword’s pretty much the same from the Witcher build I’ve done previously.”
Our second find from the hoard of Letranger Absurde is this cunningly crafted microscale homage to the book that first introduced the world to the concept of the alien invasion story, H. G. Well’s The War of the Worlds.
From the builder: “I’ve always been a fan of H. G. Wells’ fiction (one of the very first builds was a Time Machine / Star Wars crossover; it’s a complete mess, but that’s a different story!). So building this was always on my list. The dumbbell choice of part in Iron Builder was just the inspiration I needed to finally go ahead with it. I chose to take a more personal approach to the scene and not base it directly on any adaptation, but still wanted to keep a rather retro aesthetic for the tripod… unfortunately I’ve only had enough parts to make one.”
Welcome to Week of Wonders, a new irregular feature in which we spotlight previously overlooked creations by a particular builder that we admire. Each day we will highlight a different build, enhanced with exclusive commentary and insights from the builder themselves.
For this first WoW, we’ll be unearthing a hoard of treasures by prolific builder and TBB regular Letranger Absurde. And in the wake of the most recent wave of Star Wars mania, it seemed appropriate to begin with this perfect movie mashup. Somehow it just works. Spooky!
The Wonderful Jedi Master of Oz
From the builder: “I built this one for a mixed theme contest. Initially I wanted to use Jar Jar for the scarecrow (the only reason this build exists). But then I figured it would be out of place among Original Trilogy characters and replaced him with Han. The fun part is that this build was born from the idea of using Jar Jar as the brainless scarecrow and he didn’t even make the final cut; a fitting fate for such a wonderful character I suppose.”