The Arvo Brothers (Ramon & Amador Alfaro Marcilla) have recently released their second book called Alien Project. It costs €26 + shipping and can be purchased via the Arvo Brothers website. The main bulk of the book contains detailed instructions for building their fantastic Alien figure and its base. There are also chapters explaining the inspiration behind the project and a rare insight into the development of a model of this calibre. Below is my review of the book.
File this under “ideas I wish I’d thought of first”. From Jeff Friesen, award-winning photographer and author of United States of LEGO: A Brick Tour of America, comes a delightful new book of LEGO dioramas paying homage to the work of enigmatic graffiti artist Banksy.
Inside its 9″ x 9″ hard cover, the very inexpensive Bricksy: Unauthorized Underground Brick Street Art features 84 carefully constructed and beautifully photographed scenes, each based on a different Banksy work. For reference purposes, thumbnails of the originals appear on every page, and are also compiled into a visual index at the back that even cites the original image sources.
Rather than merely trying to mimic Banksy’s works in LEGO, Jeff embellishes them and expands upon them to service his own unique sense of humor. It’s as though we are pulling the camera back from the original, and seeing it in the context of a whole new backstory. This definitely makes the book more appealing, although true Banksy aficionados may balk at such brazen reinterpretations.
As this gallery of images shows, many Banksy standards make an appearance – my personal favorite being the meat wagon “mobile installation” featured in the documentary Banksy Does New York. As you might expect, the scenes are all built to minifig scale, making extensive use of the rich array of collectible minifig components now at LEGO fans’ disposal (this book could not have existed 5 years ago). All the buildings and other background details are completely brick-built, with some skillful use of forced perspective. I also enjoyed the repeated appearance of a large brick-built rat!
Bricksy: Unauthorized Underground Brick Street Art is available on Amazon in both physical and digital formats. And it’s currently less than $10, so I recommend you grab a copy of this awesome picture book right now, to fill that spot on your coffee table next to the Beautiful LEGO trilogy.
In the last two years, my fellow Dutchmen Dennis Bosman (Legotrucks) and Dennis Glaasker (Bricksonwheels) have been working on a book titled The art of Lego Scale Modeling. It is one of a number of new titles released this fall by Nostarch Press and currently costs $21.74 on amazon (down from its normal list price of 29.95).
Both of these guys have been building scale models (primarily of trucks) for years and are long-term members of the LEGO community. For their book they have enlisted the cooperation of no fewer than 22 other builders, from all over the world, to present high-quality photographs of some of the best Lego scale models of vehicles you’ll ever see. I got my copy just before the weekend, because I was lucky enough to be able to contribute some of my own models for this title. I obviously cannot be completely objective here. Then again, no reviewer ever is.
The excellent photographs of the models themselves are accompanied by short bits of text, giving some information about the real-world vehicle, and the builds. These are interesting, but the photographs are the stars. If you are a regular reader of our blog, you will already have seen a fair few of the models, such as the Ferrari 458 Italia, by Nathaneal L.. The top-notch photography shows them in a new light.
Although there probably are other scale models out there of similar quality, the Dennises have made a really nice selection of trucks, including a few by the authors themselves, cars, motorcycles, race cars, cranes, aircraft, military models and ships. A few models were built specifically for the book, such as the wonderful Scania by Ingmar Spijkhoven (2LegoOrNot2Lego).
If you are expecting a detailed explanation of how to build models like these, this book will disappoint you. There’s a brief section on how to build them, with a few useful pointers, but a look at the biographies of the builders included in the back of the book will tell you that most of them have been at this for years, if not decades. You can’t learn to build models like these by reading a book; it takes experience. If you’re looking for instructions, you’re not going to find them either. The instructions for some of the individual models alone would be enough to fill most of the book’s 204 pages. You will find plenty of inspiration, though.
As usual with LEGO books from this publisher, the cover and binding seem pretty sturdy. The pictures are nicely printed in a matt-gloss finish and are printed on decent quality paper. This is what you would expect from what’s essentially a coffee table picture book. What I didn’t expect is the size of the book. I would have liked to see it a bit larger (it is about 20 by 25 cm/ 8 x 10 inches). This size was probably chosen to keep the book affordable. The pages are still large enough to give you a good view of the models and to appreciate most of the details, but some would definitely look even better on a larger canvas. This is a minor niggle. If scale models of vehicles built out of LEGO are your thing (and if not, why not?!), this is a title you definitely do not want to miss.
Medieval Lego is a book written by Greyson Beights that combines major events in medieval history with illustrations in Lego. Specifically, the book features condensed summaries written by experts in the subject about events that took place in England and Scotland from the 11th century to 15th century. Each chapter is accompanied by photos with content made entirely out of Lego by fan builders. This interesting combination will no doubt appeal to Lego fans and history buffs, but you don’t have to be either to find the book approachable in its simplicity. Below is a video of my review:
Beautiful LEGO: Wild! is the third title in a series of best-selling coffee table books by Mike Doyle. Like its predecessors Beautiful LEGO and Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, this edition features a carefully curated collection of LEGO creations by some of the community’s top builders.
Compared to its hefty hard-backed cousin DARK, this slimmer book is more reminiscent of the original Beautiful LEGO. Like DARK, its builder profiles are kept to a minimum and the focus is squarely on the photographs. Otherwise the format is the same, with images organized into categories and carefully labelled with info such as title, builder, year and part count.
To differentiate each new volume from the last, Mike has chosen to assign them over-arching themes. And while DARK was ambiguous enough to allow for a pretty diverse range of builds, WILD is necessarily more constrained to subject matter in some way related to plants, animals or nature. And since it doesn’t feature any of the nature-themed builds already used in the first two books, sections like the ones on bugs and dragons end up relying on some slightly less polished builds than readers of the earlier books might be used to seeing.
Brick Wheels: Amazing Air, Land & Sea Machines to Build from Legois the fourth book by British builder Warren Elsmore, who, together with his wife Kitty, is also the driving force behind the Afolcon/ Brick LEGO events due to take place later this year in Birmingham and London.
This is a substantial book, with 258 pages. It is crisply printed on sturdy semi-glossy paper and it has a flexible cover. It looks and feels like a quality product, which, given the low price point of just £12.99 in the UK, is pleasantly surprising. The US edition, called Brick Vehicles, costs only $13.
The book consists of five chapters. The introductory chapter covers such topics as names for parts, where to buy LEGO, on-line resources and sorting. This is probably mainly useful for builders who are just discovering that there are more people like them out there or as a guide for parents whose children are getting into building. The other four chapters deal with, respectively, road vehicles, trains, ships and flying vehicles. This is where things get more interesting, with pictures of inspirational models built by Warren himself and by friends of his, including about a dozen by yours truly, interspersed with pages of instructions for mostly smaller models that readers can build themselves.
I grew up with Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. hI got my copy when I was very small, and that Christmas I got one of the Wild Things, too. The one with the long red hair. It was an amazing Christmas. This book has SUCH a place in my childhood, and was one of my favorites.
Max Pointner gives us this wonderful tribute to such an amazing book, right from its pages.
There are many similarities between Europe and the United States, but yet I never feel quite as European as when I’m on the other side of the Atlantic. US car culture, for instance, is completely different from what I’m used to. Even a fairly standard American tow truck, full of little lights and chrome, can look pretty garish to me. Fellow Dutchman Dennis Glaasker (bricksonwheels), however, is totally down with US car culture. His latest creation, a pimped-out lowrider Cadillac, is downright vulgar.
I mean, just look at it! The are chromed parts all over it, it has custom printed parts, horrible gold-coloured rims and a totally chintzy white interior. The ride height is completely messed up too. Even the name is cheesy: the Fleetwood Le Cabriolet, as though using some French can save it from being tacky as hell. In other words: it’s perfect!
If scale models of real-world vehicles (from gaudy to utilitarian) interest you, the upcoming book Dennis has written for No Starch Press, together with Dennis Bosman (Legotrucks), may be just your thing. It is titled The Art of LEGO Scale Modeling and highlights models built by some of the best LEGO scale modellers from all over the world. It will be released in September and we will be reviewing it then, but you can pre-order it now.
In 1869, the Ingalls family left Wisconsin and went west, eventually settling in Kansas near what is now Independence, Missouri. Like many families moving west, the journey and new settlement was full of adventure and danger. Eventually the family went back to Wisconsin, then west again.
Laura Ingalls Wilder turned her experiences into the Little House on the Prairie, cementing herself into literary history.
SeigneurFett brings us this gorgeous diorama depicting Plum Creek from the books and TV series, which captured the hearts and minds of viewers of all ages.
I encourage you to explore the diorama and get lost again in the story!
Castor Troy has recreated the two main characters in Mario Ramos’ book, Off to Bed, Little Monster! / a La Cama, Monstruito!. I think the monster is simply too cute for words and the sense of mischief as he runs from the man is portrayed perfectly.
Gonkius has created one of the most gorgeous LEGO rockets I’ve ever seen. Those seamless curves…I can’t get over them. They are everywhere! Looking at their photostream, it would appear this is their first publicly released build. I can’t wait to see more.
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…