Tag Archives: Book

The Brothers Brick isn’t just about bricks! When we’re not building with LEGO or writing about LEGO, we enjoy reading about it, too. Thankfully, there’s a plethora of page-turners ready for our perusal.

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide [Review]

No Starch Press recently sent us a review copy of their latest Technic offering, The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide by Paweł “Sariel” Kmieć.

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

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 Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

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 Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

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.

[Review] LEGO Adventure Book

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.

LEGO Adventure Book IRL

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.

The LEGO Adventure Book - Samples

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.

The LEGO Adventure Book - SamplesAs 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.

The Big Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Book – another excellent LEGO book

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.).

Build your own city (low res) Cover

LEGO Adventure Book

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.

The LEGO Adventure Book - Samples

The LEGO Adventure Book - Samples
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.

You can find more info online: at facebook, No Starch Press, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

The LEGO Adventure Book - Samples
Above and below are a couple of models from my usual realm of building, but if you flick through my stream you will find more great samples.
The LEGO Adventure Book - Samples

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 ;)

LEGO Moleskine notebooks out now – two of the best things ever together [Review]

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.

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.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

For this LEGO scene from The Hunger Games, Brian (Âtin) takes his inspiration not from the movie due out later this week but from what he imagined while reading the book. Effie Trinket announces the tributes from the coal-mining District 12 in “Grim Reapings.”

Grim Reapings


(I haven’t quite figured out what to think about The Hunger Games, which I admit to reading recently. Is it a classic like Lord of the Flies or another Twilight — which my wife and I read together for the lulz? Personally, I liked the characterizations and plot of the first book, and I think the overall story arc has potential within a truly unique fictional universe, but I set the trilogy aside partway through Catching Fire when one of the primary points of conflict appeared to be poor Katniss Everdeen’s tough, tough choice between two boys who like her. Team Gale! Team Peeta! Meh. Still, I’ll finish the trilogy at some point and might even consider checking out the movie.)

Official LEGO Moleskine notebooks coming in March 2012 [News]

For the past decade or so, I’ve done all of my writing in nothing but Moleskine notebooks. Moleskines have never been more than an arm’s length away, accompanying me on trips to England, New Zealand, and Ireland, capturing details and inspiration for my life on the literary fringe. Occasionally, I’d jot down ideas for LEGO builds.

With the upcoming release of officially licensed LEGO Moleskine notebooks, I’ll have a dedicated place to put my lists of micro-space ship classes, World War II vehicles, plans for next year’s collaborative display, and sketches of interstellar refueling depots.

LEGO Moleskine collection

All four are available for pre-order on Amazon.com:

I’ve ordered all four, and I’ll let you know what I think when they arrive.

The Cult of LEGO is a must-have book for every LEGO fan [Review]

With books about LEGO starting to fill up the shelves in one’s hobby room, how does the discerning LEGO reader choose which books to buy and read? John Baichtal and Joe Meno’s The Cult of LEGO is an easy choice for inclusion in your LEGO library.

When the book arrived from No Starch Press back in October (yes, I’m that backlogged), I was pleasantly surprised at how hefty it was — an unexpected contrast to the paperback Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide. For a book featuring hundreds of LEGO photos, I’m glad they released a hardback book with full-color, glossy printing.

John & Joe provide a solid overview of the LEGO hobby, from Bionicle and Technic to SYSTEM and Mindstorms, with sections dedicated to ApocaLEGO (including an appearance by Zombie Apocafest 2008), Steampunk, LEGO graffiti, and more. You’ll see a lot of the iconic LEGO creations that made the rounds of the ‘net a few years back — Henry Lim’s MC Escher LEGO, Sean Kenney’s Yankee Stadium, big LEGO battleships, the “No Real Than You Are” minifig, Hannes Tscharmer’s Jawa sandcrawler, and more.

As long-time LEGO fans and readers of this blog might infer themselves, the lists in that last paragraph support the justified critiques Nannan had about the book in his own mini-review.

Many of the featured models are the ones that merely happened to go viral on the web, not necessarily what we might consider “the best” of a particular genre. And with the exception of the sandcrawler (posted this past June, just a few months before the book’s release), nearly all of the LEGO creations in the book date to 2009 or earlier.

It’s also odd to see Brickshelf and LUGNET featured as two of the primary websites under “LEGO on the Web.” Yes, Brickshelf and LUGNET. In 2011. (And yes, TBB does make the list under “LEGO Fan Resources” later in the book.)

The Cult of LEGOBut I’m willing to forgive all these flaws in the face of lead times for printed books and the daunting task of making a niche subject like ours much more widely appealing. It was really lovely to see The Cult of LEGO on the Seattle Times’ front-page banner and included in Powell’s Books Black Friday deals as I shopped in Portland after Thanksgiving with my mom.

And for me, it’s those local, personal connections to the book that make it a must-have — seeing pictures from BrickCon, reading profiles of my friends, and thinking back to fun times with Lewis & Clark on the Pacific Coast (the late, great Mr. Pugsly even makes an appearance).

Despite all the pretty photos, John & Joe manage to weave a thread of humanity throughout The Cult of LEGO, so that in reading it you can step into this tight-knit yet simultaneously open-armed world of builders and bloggers, brick artists and LEGO engineers.

Whether you’re a casual LEGO fan or a hardcore builder, The Cult of LEGO has a lot to offer. The book isn’t so much about the unattributed pictures of viral LEGO models you’ve been sent a hundred times by relatives and coworkers as it is the diversity of real people and the community behind them.

My verdict: Find room on your LEGO shelf for The Cult of LEGO.