Deborah Higdon has made another lovely set of bookends. I love the vintage classroom vibe going on here. The beautiful desks, the stove and the map are the obvious stars here but the view out the window is a hidden gem. This makes me nostalgic for one-room school houses…
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 novella Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) is a profound allegorical study of human nature, disguised as an illustrated children’s book. And it’s the 2nd best-selling book in modern history – topped only by the Lord of the Rings series. So it’s quite surprising I’ve never come across any LEGO interpretations of this book …until now!
Hong Kong builder Andy Hung has created this clever diorama featuring the titular prince on his asteroid, surrounded by the planets and stars – all built from standard LEGO pieces (including a lot of black!).
Chris posted the first in the series last week. David is planning on having a total of eight models finished in the next six months.
This build depicts The Float, a port-side hotel, which the main characters, Cecily and Daro, frequently stay at when traveling. Just the massive size of this build is impressive but the detail for which David is known shows up all through-out. I love the shingles on the roof, the subtle tudor-styling and the outward projecting walls. The wrap-around deck on the third floor and the overhanging 4th (3rd and half?) floor really gives the building some character.
I had the honor of being a beta-reader for the book and I enjoyed it immensely. A fantasy novel, it follows the main characters, veterans of a recent war as well as husband and wife, as they are forced to find their way as a variety of people and events pull at their loyalties and attempt to use them as pawns. The characters are very believable and genuine. I was really pulled into the world and can’t wait for the story to continue. The locations in the story are interesting and unusual. Also the system of magic used in the book is refreshingly unique and doesn’t overwhelm the story or characters, as happens all to often in the fantasy genre. I’m excited for the series to continue but I’m also looking forward to rest of David’s series. David and Clare worked closely on the book, but she did the writing. They are now working closely together to plan these builds, which David is constructing. It’s quite an interesting collaboration!
This time we have reviews for the last four books from Dorling-Kindersley (DK) that LEGO sent us for Christmas. We’ll be talking about the LEGO Ideas Book, the LEGO Play Book, the Ninjago Visual Dictionary and the Batman Visual Dictionary.
LEGO recently sent us a stack of books to review and I’ve got four more ready for your viewing pleasure. They are “Architecture: The Visual Guide”, “The LEGO Book (Expanded and Revised Edition”, “The Minifigures Character Encyclopedia” and “The Chima Character Encyclopedia”. Again, if you own one of these books, please leave your thoughts in the comments!
LEGO recently sent us four Star Wars books, published by Dorling-Kindersley. They are LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia,LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary: Updated and Expanded,LEGO Star Wars: The Dark Side,and LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles.If you own any of these books, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, whether you agree with us or not!
LEGO recently sent us some books to review, so you will see more book reviews than normal pop up on here over the next month. If you own any of the books, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments!
The first two we will be reviewing are LEGO Minifigure Year by Year: A Visual History and The LEGO Movie: The Essential Guide.
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.
The Arvo Brothers published a book on their masterpiece recreation of Kaneda’s Bike from Akira. This is a unique Lego book dedicated entirely to describing one creation while including a full set of instructions. The book is available for €19.99 + shipping and is sold directly from the Arvo Brothers, whom you can reach by email at arvobrothers[at]hotmail.com. Below is my review of the book.
- Meticulous details documenting building techniques, parts selection, and references to the original model
- Includes commentary on steps in the instruction manual for an in-depth building experience
- Includes a parts list and sticker sheet
- Almost impossible to recreate the model due to lack of availability of the x-pod lids used on the wheels.
This is a well-written book centered on one of the Arvo Brothers’ most iconic and beloved Lego creations. It is obvious that a lot of work went into designing the model and producing the book. It is a good read for fans interested in the minutia of the design process of a top-tier fan model. For those wanting to recreate the model, there is a full set of clear-cut instructions with supporting commentary for an in-depth experience on the build process. However, you will be disappointed to find out that a key element of the model is out of production and nearly impossible to obtain on the aftermarket even if you have money. Because of this detail alone, I hesitate to recommend the book because the majority of its content is dedicated to the instruction set. However, if you are still curious about the design process, this is a publication that will not let down your expectations.
The Art of LEGO Design is a book written by Jordan Schwartz about ways to approach creative building. This book is the first of its kind focused on building tips. It is now available on Amazon. Below is my review of the book.
- Features interviews with builders who have iconic building styles
- Thorough depiction of Jordan’s own building style
- Content includes specific examples as well as general concepts
- Specific topics such as Fabuland and cloth accessories nudge out broader themes like train, military, Technic, Bionicle
Jordan has covered a lot of ground and touched on most major themes in Lego creations. This is a huge task for just one author and Jordan handled it pretty well. This book can be interesting to both novice and experienced builders because it offers the in-depth perspective of the author who is a jack of all trades builder along with that of about a dozen builders known for excelling in particular themes. Outside the builder interviews, the book is entirely focused on Jordan’s own views on Lego design and most models featured are his own. This is relevant if you want to look through the lens of one builder and learn the specifics of that person’s approach. It is not meant to be a reference for how to build in every major theme, but for new fans this book can be a nice springboard into making your own creations.