Tag Archives: Books

The Art of LEGO Design book review

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.


Pros:

  • 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


Cons:

  • 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.

Assassination! by Brendan Powell Smith [Book Review]

Brendan Powell Smith takes a break from biblical action with a new tome released just in time for the holiday season that features great building and a heaping helping of the darker side of American presidential history. The book is entitled Assassination! The Brick Chronicle of Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US Presidents and it is now available through the link or from the usual suspects who still cater to those of us who enjoy a hard copy. Brendan is an old crony of mine who sent me a free personalized copy of the new book knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to keep my big mouth shut about it. The first thing I noticed upon grabbing it from the mailbox was its satisfying heft and a larger format than the Brick Testament editions riding the bookshelf in my Legoratory. The book clocks in at 272 pages, features over 400 photos and retails for about $15 here in the States (depending on how you order it) and you can get a signed copy for about $20.

Assassination! The Brick Chronicle of Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US Presidents

Brendan’s building has come a long way since the first edition of The Brick Testament some ten years ago and I think it’s fair to say he’s on top of his game in this book. Creating 400 scenes without getting burned out or taking short cuts seems like an amazing accomplishment to me so I found that the actual quality of the building exceeded my expectations. What I enjoyed most however, was the writing and the depth of information that Brendan provides on each assassination attempt while maintaining a smooth narrative flow. Being a history buff, I thought I was pretty well versed on the topic going in but in each of the 15 accounts (Lincoln, Kennedy and Ford get 2 chapters each) I definitely walked away with more knowledge on the events than I had going in. My favorite chapter of the book was actually the first one which detailed the 1835 attempt on Andrew Jackson’s life. Brendan has always had a knack for selecting just the right minfig for the right character, but never more so than with Old Hickory.

Assassination! sample page

There are a couple of nit-picky issues with the book both of which are cosmetic in nature and more an issue of printing than authorship. Over the course of 400 photos, there is an occasional difference in brightness between photos that can be a little distracting and there were 2-3 instances where the white printing on the black background was faded to the point of being difficult to read. Neither issue effected my enjoyment of the book, which I rank as my current favorite among the current crop of volumes produced by Lego nerds recently. Coffee table books with pretty photos are nice but I actually feel better informed after reading Assassination! and I’m certainly better armed for any future engagements in American presidential trivia.

Brendan Powell Smith

With a great price-point, solid building and great writing I can’t endorse this informative volume enough, constant reader and I encourage you to purchase the tome at your earliest convenience for yourself or as a gift. Perhaps the best testimonial I can give is that everyone I have shown it to has been unable to put it down without laughing and remarking about one of the factoids. If you have friends who are anything like mine, you’ll soon be refusing to loan it out. Let’s face it, people never return books.

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”

Kristal (part of True Dimensions) has brought to the brick one of the most beloved childhood friends, that sagacious bear, Winnie the Pooh. Pooh also has his perfectly quaint little home in Hundred Acre Wood, though I am a little disappointed that there’s no bridge from which to play Pooh-sticks; oh bother. There, are, however, instructions to build Pooh if you’d like one of your own.

House in the Hundred Acre Wood

“Mr Choo-choo train, take me away.”

It’s time to ride the rails with Ted Andes aboard the mighty land-yacht called Intrepid, an Art Deco style train built with the Steampunk genre in mind. I was drawn in by the brutality of the cow-catcher, but I stayed for the smoothed out lines and clever photography. According to the builder this model was constructed for an upcoming book by TBB regular V&A Steamworks.

Intrepid (Main)

I need to get in on this publishing frenzy, all the cool kids these days are either writing books about LEGO or being featured in them. I thought print was supposed to be dead? Good luck with the book, Guy and crew, if this photo is any indication of the overall quality I’m sure you’ll do quite well.