It looks like the new LEGO Minifigures: Character Encyclopedia (through series 10) is now available for pre-order on Amazon at a pretty nice price. Ten bucks isn’t bad for a book that comes with a special fig itself (rumor is that it’s a toy soldier). I have a funny feeling that secret figure is going to be highly sought-after, and it will likely fetch nearly the price of the book on BrickLink.
Not surprisingly, one of my favorite non-LEGO blogs is the MAKE Blog, where Cult of LEGO author John Baichtel joins tech/geek luminaries like Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder to highlight everything from steampunk art cars to the latest adventures in 3D printing.
One frequent MAKE topic I’m fascinated by (though I certainly already have way too many hobbies) is Arduino. Dubbed “open source hardware,” it’s always fascinating seeing what just about anybody (especially kids) can do with these little boards.
John’s latest book, LEGO and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics, is part of MAKE’s own how-to series, and merges two logical, inevitable hobbies.
John writes in today’s Monday Jolt to introduce the book, and talks specifically about integrating the two systems, as well as how the two systems compare.
What do you get the LEGO fan who probably buys themselves all the LEGO he or she could ever need? Here at The Brothers Brick (TBB), our LEGO holiday gift guide has everything a LEGO fan is going to love — everything but official LEGO sets!
Regular readers will certainly have noticed that publishers have been furiously releasing stacks of new LEGO books lately. We haven’t been able to review all of them here (we’ll get to them, time permitting), but we definitely recommend each of these books.
The Big Unofficial Lego Builder’s Book: Build Your Own City
Authors: Oliver Albrecht & Joachim Klang.
Review: Read Tim’s review here on TBB.
The Brick Bible: The New Testament: A New Spin on the Story of Jesus
Author: Brendan Powell Smith.
Review: Read Bruce’s review over on GodBricks.
The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide (2nd Edition)
Author: Allan Bedford
Review: Forthcoming here on TBB…
The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & More!
Author: Megan Rothrock
Review: Read Tim’s review here on TBB.
And if you didn’t pick them up at the time, don’t miss two of my personal favorite LEGO books.
Soon after the LEGO Adventure Book, I found out about The Big Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Book by Oliver Albrecht (*Olly*) and Joe Klang (-derjoe-). I guess it must be Christmas or something as that left me with two LEGO books I wanted. Sensing my desire, Joe Klang sent me a copy of the book which means I am now able to review it for you all.
The tl;dr version can be summed up simply: buy this book (or from Amazon.co.uk, or in its original German) if you like great LEGO town models, great models in general, mini/midi scale LEGO models, or nice books about LEGO.
This book is a little more focussed than the LEGO Adventure Book, and arguably more tailored toward adults than children (although older children and teenagers who are still into LEGO would love it). It is mostly a collection of instructions for models at regular minifig scale (six-wide car scale for those who care), and at “midi scale” (see right) where cars are two bricks wide and everything else is scaled accordingly. In between the very, very many instruction sets, there are tips and tricks on building, mostly at a fairly advanced level.
This is a book for ‘serious’ modelling and the technical level is higher than LEGO sets. The models are of a very high quality, with a focus on looks rather than playability. Which I love but may not be for everyone. But Joe and Oliver are excellent builders so this is unsurprising.
One aspect of the book that I found very nice is that the instructions are usually presented in a very common colour (often red), and then examples are shown in alternate colour schemes. I think this is a great idea, allowing more people to build them straight out of the book, but offering more exciting variants. On the whole the instructions are very clear, and are made with LDraw, which in my opinion makes better printed instructions than even LEGO’s in house software. I found the steps pretty easy to follow too.
The English language book has some amusingly quirky translations from the original German. But it does not suffer from them (personally I like German-English) and is entirely readable. On the whole I really have to recommend this to people who are ‘serious’ about building LEGO towns, or just like to see what really good builders can do with a bunch of bricks. Be warned though, that if buying for a young child you will have to help them. Overall it’s an excellent book and I’m happy to have it in my collection and would guess that if you’re reading TBB, you would too.
You can buy it from Amazon.com and help support TBB.
I found the book to be full of very useful information. I am not an expert Technic builder by any means and when I first thumbed through the book I was overwhelmed by the amount of detail that the book offers. However, when I actually started reading the book, I found that the way Paweł presents the information made everything very clear. He starts with basic concepts and then builds upon them throughout the book in a very clear and concise fashion. I think any adult LEGO fan will be able to follow this book and incorporate the techniques into their own creations. But this book is not for young builders. Many, if not most, of the techniques are quite advanced and would lead to frustration for younger builders.
The book consists of 333 pages divided up into five parts: Basics, Mechanics, Motors, Advanced Mechanics and Models. The first three sections give you the groundwork needed to understand the Technic system and how the majority of the parts work. I found this to be very helpful. I have used many Technic pieces over the years but wasn’t clear on the functions of each and every part. These first three sections are a great reference of Technic pieces and their functions, as well as being vital in introducing the terminology used throughout the rest of the book. I highly recommend reading these sections in depth and not skipping ahead.
The fourth section, Advanced Mechanics, teaches you how to design and build transmissions, steering systems, suspensions for wheeled and tracked vehicles along with other concepts and ideas.
The fifth and final section instructs the reader in designing and planning their own models.
Overall, I would recommend this book for any adult builder who is interested in becoming more familiar with Technic and using Technic in their own creations. The book is well-laid out and the information is presented clearly. It is definitely an asset that deserves a place on the shelf.
Visit No Starch Press for this and other LEGO-related books. is also available on Amazon.com.
Not so long ago we previewed the LEGO Adventure Book by Megan Rothrock (megzter). Today we bring you a review. The tl;dr version can be summed up simply: buy this book (or from Amazon.co.uk). For reasons why scroll below the picture.
EDIT: I should mention that I received my review copy of this book from the publishers.
To judge a book by its cover, The LEGO Adventure Book: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs and more! is a very nice book. A good shiny hardback, with glossy pictures (see above), and a surprising amount of heft. And the printing quality once you open the cover does not disappoint either. So let’s proceed to discussing the content.
The book warms us up with some technically simple (as far as the book goes), but very cute builds by Megan herself. I particularly like the way she shows off a number of small models buildable by just about any kid. To warn you right off, a lot of the builds in this book do require a grown-up’s collection. It may not be the best gift for an impatient kid who just likes to have models for his/her shelf, but I know that I would have loved this book as a child. Even if I couldn’t have built anything I would have spent hours copying ideas and techniques, like I used to with the LEGO World Show brochures.
Like its inspiration, the book follows the story of Meg and her adventures in the world’s of LEGO building. The narrative is cute, with conversation bubbles used to highlight broad ideas and other extra details. Meg travels from world to world (ie. builder to builder) showing off models and sharing ideas and instructions at each stop.
As I highlighted in my preview, the book contains models from a bunch of splendid builders, most of whom have been featured here on TBB. Even as someone who finds reverse engineering of LEGO models pretty easy I spotted a wide variety of techniques and ideas (not to mention the excellent models) that were new to me. For a novice builder it would be a great kickstart into the world of advanced techniques.
The instructions in the book are very clear on the whole, albeit not as step-by-step as LEGO’s (I personally prefer the steps in this book). I particularly liked the drawn addition of brick borders to photo instructions where the seams were not clearly visible. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that LEGO’s instruction makers could take some clarity tips from this book.
Really, there’s not a lot I can fault this book on, and a whole lot I can praise it for. As far as I’m concerned this is even better than the old Ideas Books. By taking it to the fans, Megan exposes us to a wider range of styles, techniques and builds than would ever be allowed in an ‘official’ book.
Which brings me back to the beginning: if you are an adult fan of LEGO, or have a kid who loves LEGO (and is patient, or has a patient parent) then you should buy this book. Preferably from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk right now. You can find more info online: at facebook or No Starch Press.
It must be the season for Unofficial LEGO books, as hot on the heels of The Big Unofficial LEGO Adventure Book comes The Big Unofficial Lego Builder’s Book: Build Your Own City (auf Deutsch) by the talented Joe Klang (-derjoe-) and Oliver Albrecht (*Olly*). The book includes some beautiful cars and micro-city designs, along with instructions to help you build them (eg.).
I admit we’re a little late to the party with this one, but good things come to those who wait. We present an unofficial sequel to the great LEGO Ideas Books from the 80s.
With a builder’s list reading like a “who’s who” of LEGO builders (see right), and a special guest (see later) who will tickle the KFOL in every AFOL, Megan Rothrock’s (megzter) The LEGO Adventure Book looks to be very exciting for children and adults alike. The book is an unofficial sequel to 6000: LEGO® Idea Book, which any LEGO fan of sufficient age would have ogled in their younger days. I have to confess I only own one fan written book from many years ago, but plan to buy this one for myself, and my nephew and niece.
Megan says “For me and many other children who are now AFOLs the LEGO Idea Book showed us so much potential for what else could be built with LEGO bricks beyond the sets they came in. My wish is to have LEGO Adventure do the same for this generation as well as shake up the AFOL builders a little with a few challenging builds thrown in for them.” There’s over 200 pages featuring 200 models and 25 sets of instructions (yes instructions from some of the best builders featured here on TBB). Even without seeing the real book, I’d say she’s achieved her goal.
As for the special guest mentioned above… Megan persuaded one of the designers for the original 6000 book to come out of retirement and build something for this book. I’ll let you speculate on which of the builders it is ;)
Over the past decade, every poem I’ve written, every observation from a moving bus or plane, and each idea for upcoming collaborative displays at BrickCon or new classes of vessel in my ever-expanding microscale fleet has been jotted down in a Moleskine notebook. The arrival of officially licensed LEGO Moleskine notebooks combines two of my favorite ways to express my creativity.
I pre-ordered all four of the notebooks, and they arrived from Amazon.com yesterday.
- Moleskine Lego Yellow Green Brick Pocket Plain Black
- Moleskine Lego Black Brick Ruled Large Black
- Moleskine Lego Yellow Brick Pocket Ruled Black
- Moleskine Lego Red Brick Plain Large Black
Each notebook is embossed with a unique LEGO design, and has a real LEGO plate glued to the cover. I’m not entirely sold on the bit of actual LEGO, since any other LEGO I use to personalize my notebook will inevitably fall off, and I foresee the plate getting pretty banged up in my bag. Still, I think it’s a pretty cool design element — pun intended. The notebooks all come with a sticker sheet of minifigs (the same one) for further personalization, I suppose. Not really my thing, but it’s a nice inclusion for parents who are buying their little builder his or her first Moleskine.
Personally, I prefer — and recommend — the unlined large plain LEGO Moleskine notebook (the red one). When I’m not sitting in the middle of a pile of bricks, I generally do all my idea-generation with words, but I do occasionally sketch out a basic design. The plain notebooks allow you to do this without constraint, and the larger format gives you more room for drawing.
In anticipation of all the LEGO-themed Moleskinerie I expect to start seeing soon, I’ve gone ahead and created a LEGO Molekine group on Flickr, which at the moment is as empty and inviting as my new notebooks, waiting to be filled with creativity.