Tag Archives: Interview

The people behind the fascinating LEGO models we feature here are just as interesting! Read interviews with notable LEGO builders, LEGO book authors, LEGO set designers, and many others right here on The Brothers Brick.

Simon Liu: What do you mean it disintegrated in my suitcase? – Boilerplate & Beyond Vol. 22

This week’s builder is one of those rare people in the hobby that seems to be universally loved. As hard as I tried and no matter how much money I spread around I could not dig up any dirt on Simon Liu, so either he’s some kind of “made” Canadian mobster or he really is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. Renowned for his neverending wealth of ideas, giant bag of techniques and immaculate photography, Simon has made quite a mark for himself in North America and beyond. I caught up with Simon in the cafeteria of the Adelaide Street Court House in his home town of Toronto, where I was dealing with charges of “stalking” Geddy Lee. As if you can stalk your own father. We talked about cloud particle collision hypothesis, The Oilers Vs. The Flames and the future of erotic animatronics. We also talked about LEGO.

The Build

KG: Talk about your Iron Builder throwdown, according to an interview you did with Joshua and Matthew on Beyond the Brick . Did Guy Himber really ply you with alcohol until you agreed to compete? Talk about the experience and the popular contest in general.

SL: Haha. It was true, it was at Brickworld 2012, there was alcohol and an unwillingness on my part to initially do it. The spectre of public humiliation at the hands of one of the mighty Iron Builders was weighing heavily on me. But several libations later and an impassioned “Guts and Glory” speech convinced me otherwise (though my memory is a bit hazy for some reason).

Iron Builder entry: Sleeping with the Fishes...I think what makes this an extremely popular competition to watch (now with it’s own flickr group!) is twofold: 1) It’s fun to watch – it’s a builder showdown, add in serious bragging rights and trash talk for amusement 2) the builds that come out of it are nothing short of inspired. By virtue of making the builders go at it for an entire month with the same stupid peice means you will get a lot of really clever piece usages (and yes, I’m so sick of my stupid piece).

As for actually competeing in it, it was unlike anything I have ever done, I was up against Kahan (Tadashistate) who I believe is the longest sitting Iron Builder at the time (ever?). In anticipation for my bout (and trust me, it felt like a fight!) I sorted as much LEGO as I could so that I could build with utter efficiency. The entire month was almost like working two jobs, after getting home from my fake job, I would sit down and force myself to build. Oh and Guy was right, some of my best builds I have ever done was in that very tiring month of September (see above, and some more hidden below).

KG Translucent parts sometimes get a bad rap for being of limited use but you’ve employed them to great effect. What attracts you to said parts and do you approach their use in a different way?

Pearson Class Troop Ship - Ride that C-Beam baby.

SL: I think a lot of people’s perceptions around translucent parts is dictated by the theme(s) they build in. For me, it’s Sci-Fi, which is the natural pairing for translucent pieces. If you were a town builder I could see how useless a large trans green dome would be.

But even Sci-Fi and Spacers don’t always use a lot of trans pieces – outside of obvious canopy and engines uses. With the exception of the surreal builds by Cole Blaq, I actually can’t think of many that has a really deep build portfolio with trans piece usage. I find it’s really about your own personal build style/aesthetic. I’ve always loved that Bladerunner-cyberpunk feel for cities, and I’ve (subconsciously) applied that trans glowing aesthetic to ships and other builds – almost at pointless nauseum.

It also helps that I know that there are certain tricks you can play with blacklighting and translucent pieces (thanks to Brandon (Catsy) and his pioneering work), which adds that extra bang for your buck.

So I plan some builds entirely around the use of blacklighting, such as my Ace Chemical Plant (below) where I wanted that glow from the toxic vats. Others builds the trans pieces were added as an afterthought, such as my Micro Troop ship (above) where I had completely built the ship before retrofitting it to ride that glittering C-Beam.

Enter the Joker

Ultimately I think the trans piece usage really depends on what people have in their collection, and a lot of these pieces aren’t overly common or comes in ones or twos in a set. Which results in most people having limited options unless you’re specifically buying them.

KG: You recently participated in a completion at the Toronto LEGO Discovery center with the title of Master Builder on the line. Describe the experience, and what is it like to build under pressure with an audience?

SL: It was a two day building affair, with 200 applicants building and progressing through four elimination rounds (all contestants, top 50, top 25, and top 12) with the job of the Master Builder at stake. The first round was crazy, so many builders trying to stand out and you really only had 20 minutes! Thankfully the subsequent rounds they gave us a bit more time (30, 45 and an hour). .

I’ve done some pressure builds before, from Iron Builder to “Oh we need to finish this by WHEN?” and the even more dreaded: “What do you mean it disintegrated in my suitcase?”… but this was something else, typically you’re used to YOUR bricks, nicely (or usually not so nicely) sorted and a vast array of specialty pieces. At the competition we were given unlimited amounts of roughly 10 unique basic bricks.

So in addition to unfamiliar bricks, limited time, you have a large audience watching your every move (and judges!). Some of the builders used the audience to their advantage, spending possibly more time than they should interacting with them, getting advice or taking build requests. There were other contestants that focused too much and built really spectacular builds but didn’t really interact with the kids.

But in the end it’s about the combination of the two, as the LEGO Discovery centers are an interactive park for kids, it makes sense that you need someone that can build and entertain kids. And I really think they choose the right person (go Greame!). It was also a pleasant surprise to meet many really gifted builders who just came out of the woodworks and have no realization that there is an actual AFOL community out there.

And I’m also happy to brag that three of our ToroLUG members made it to the final 12!


Read the full interview after the jump!

Cagri Yuz: We can actually make our dreams come true without too much hassle. – Boilerplate & Beyond Vol. 21

This week’s builder is a hot mess from Ankara Turkey whose clean builds and steady leadership has helped define the burgeoning LEGO fan scene in his venerable country. Cagri Yuz isn’t content being married to one theme, preferring to jump around from trains to sci-fi to micro builds of Turkey’s many world heritage sites. I caught up with Cagri at the Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia. We talked about the timeless mystery of baby shampoo, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk vs George Washington and muscat grapes. We also talked about LEGO.

The Build

KG: Talk about your recent model “Misogyny”, the inspiration, the approach and do you plan to build more models in this style?Misogyny - 02

CY: I was suffering from a builder’s block and I did the only logical thing I could do. I came up with a surreal creation which nobody could object. People ask puzzled questions about the nature of this MOC and they’re all worried that they have failed to understand the logic behind it. It’s funny to watch how insecure the humankind is when we face a slightly confusing problem. It was just a pile of bricks really, nothing else. Joking aside, it’s not an entirely meaningless creation. I wanted to point out the hatred against women among men and hence the title “Misogyny”. I may have done this somewhat brutally but it is what it is. I had a similar creation titled Reconstruction and I may build more in the future, why not? But don’t ask the secret behind Reconstruction, there isn’t any. I simply enjoyed the colors, simplicity and arrangement of parts.

KG: You didn’t need an official set to give the world some TMNT action, talk about your approach and the official line.
TMNT - 01

CY: I didn’t really know there was an upcoming TMNT theme. Ever since I saw the claws in 6866 Wolverine’s Chopper Showdown, I wanted to build myself a Shredder figure. Then came the rest of the characters. I’m quite happy how they turned out in the end. I especially like my April O’neil figure. She was my first crush as a kid and apparently I’m still sort of attached to her, even in the form of a plastic toy. I think this last one sounded a little bit weird? Anyways, I’m not particularly interested in the new TMNT line. 2012 series is quite different than the 1987 one which I’m familiar with. I didn’t enjoy the overall design of models and characters. That’s not a bad thing though, I get to keep my brick-money for other themes.

Mahmudiye Camii - 00

KG: That isn’t weird at all, I had a similar thing for Princess Ariel from Thundarr. You know, “Ariel, Ookla, Ride!” and whatnot. Moving on.

KG: Like many in our hobby, you suffer from a rare syndrome that causes you to consume LEGO in large quantities. Talk about this problem, and do you have any other issues with the brick you’d like to come clean about?

Wut !?CY: Hello, my name is Cagri and I’m a LEGO addict. I was first introduced to this menace by my parents when I was a kid and I can’t quit. It has taken all my mind and all my money. Every single coin I can spare in my piggy bank goes to this plastic addiction. I have an unstoppable impulse to build every single thing I see in the world. I loose touch with reality once I start observing things in the streets so that I can build them later on. It’s hazardous for me wander around on my own. I have been subject to many traffic accidents trying to catch a glimpse of things around me. I need continuous assistance to survive in everyday life. I admit, my LEGO problem is injurious… But seriously, LEGO gives us the power to create anything. Everyone wants to shape the world as they wish, that’s just not practical. With LEGO parts, we can actually make our dreams come true without too much hassle. I love to hold that power in my hands. I may be unable to change things in real life but once my shift is over and I go home, I can do whatever I like all night long. I keep building until I get sore eyes. I am the master of darkness!

Read the full interview after the jump!

Andrew Lee: Fueled by cheap beer and cheap Exo-Force sets – Boilerplate & Beyond Vol. 20

This week’s builder is a crony of mine going back to 2007 where I met him in a smoke-filled hotel room in Seattle, on the first night of BrickCon. I can’t quite recall everything that happened that night, or the rest of the weekend, but we ended up with matching tattoos and invitations from Seattle’s court system to come back in a few weeks for another visit. You probably know Andrew Lee from his kick-ass models posted on Flickr and his many appearances on TBB, either as a solo act or with his band RoninLUG. Part of what drew me to Andrew online and was later reinforced in person was his irreverence and cutting sense of humor. If you’re throwing an AFOL party, you need Andrew Lee on the list. I sat down with Andrew for some carne asada at his beachfront apartment in Los Angeles, California. We talked about Burning Chrome, Oakenfold vs. Tiesto and CR-Z meets. We also talked about LEGO.

The Brothers Brick is a blog by and for adult fans of LEGO. Occasionally, the people we interview talk about adult beverages and use adult language. This is one such case.-ed.

The Build

KG: Many builders have OCD when it comes to their collections. Do you have any of these traits, and what traits have you seen in others?

Senora de las Sombras

AL: I personally believe OCD like many mental illnesses is present in all people but in varying degrees. AFOLs just tend to have it manifest in a much more visible fashion. I definitely suffer from a mild to severe case of OCD – depending on how you look at it. My collection for the most part is fully sorted by part and/or color. For me it’s an efficiency thing. Builds go quicker starting from a sorted collection and I’m able to store more bricks if they’re sorted. I tend to recycle my builds quickly and keeping everything in order helps that process as well.

I’ve seen the whole spectrum of OCD in other builders. I know people who keep their new and old grays separate (a mild case) and I know people who have museum like displays of every part ever made (an extreme case).

KG: How did you build your collection? Did you have a strategy in mind and do you ever feel like you have too much LEGO? Have you ever had any weird interactions with people in the LEGO section of your local store?

AL: I, like many others, have built my collection in an organic fashion. Sets from my childhood are mixed in with pick-a-brick purchases, cracklink orders, retail deals, LUGbulk scores, comfort purchases, and secret supplier hook-ups. From a macro perspective there’s very little strategy for growth. I tend to buy parts for whatever current project I’ve got going on or am wooed by the latest additions to the parts palette. You can never have too much Lego if it’s properly managed. The tell-tale sign of having too much Lego is if it’s easier to buy a new set for a part you already own. I’m looking at you DanR.

Costa ConcordiaI try to not interact with people in retail stores period. I did however almost have a throw down with a weird collector dude over a Ninja Turtle action figure once but that’s another story . . .

KG: Do you ever build in an altered state? We both enjoy a good bowl of soup from time to time, do you think it enhances the building experience, and if so, how?

Brickcon 2012AL: I build all the time in an altered state.

Caffeine, alcohol, and loud music are all frequent contributors to my building process. I really don’t think you can quantify the risks or rewards of building in different mind states except through personal experience.

That being said I notice that I am more creative and free with the bricks when I’m chilled out.

As for soup I’d recommend going with the chicken tortilla with a healthy dose of fresh cilantro to get that mojo brewing.

The Community

KG: You are a founding member of RoninLUG. How did this LUG come to exist, describe its membership, and how does it differ from traditional LUGs. What happened with the famous “stickering incident” in SF?

AL: RoninLUG came to exist because of a common love of mecha, samurai, and cold beer. The core founding members are myself, Paul Meissner, and Fradel Gonzales who years ago started kicking it at each other’s pads and messing around with each other’s bricks. One fateful night fueled by cheap beer and cheap Exo-Force sets we formalized RoninLUG as the name of our informal brotherhood. Paul and Fradel even lived in the same place for a period of time which became the default headquarters — imagine the Ninja Turtles’ sewer lair with slightly less pizza and a ton of Lego.

BBTB 2011 CyberCity collaborative project

We differ from traditional LUGs in that we just do our own thing. There are no official meetings, no formal organization, and definitely no rules. Our membership has grown rapidly and organically since those early days but everyone involved gets the common vibe. It’s a special thing to be a Ronin.

Ah the “stickering incident of 2010” — well, let’s just say some of our younger members got a little overzealous with expanding our epic cyber city layout. It didn’t help that they stickered some crotchety train dude’s MOC with a Shepard Fairey sticker who then proceeded to throw a huge tantrum. To be honest I wasn’t even really involved in the incident itself or the resolution — I think I was out in the parking lot with a bunch of hooligans at the time.

there, I fixed it

Read the full interview after the jump!

Jim Garrett: The analog aspect – Boilerplate and Beyond Vol. 19

This weeks builder gives the people what they want, epic scale buildings with meticulous detail and a side order of architectural history. Detroit’s own Jim Garrett has an ego inversely proportional to the size of his skyscrapers and a quiet approach that deserves your worthy attention. I met Jim next to the Spirit of Detroit statue outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in Detroit Michigan. We talked about The pitfalls of urban exploration, The Temptations Vs. The Four Tops and Disco Demolition night at Tiger Stadium. We also talked about LEGO.

The Build

KG: Talk about the challenges and epicness that is your Penobscot Building, the one you couldn’t assemble all at once inside your domicile. Is that the limit of manageable size, or do you plan to push it further?

Penobscot Building modelJG: While the Penobscot is my tallest model, it is not the largest. The Penobscot Building model’s main difficulty was figuring out how to pack all of those setbacks on the upper floors and still stick with the near-minifig scale of the model. Detail was not too much of a problem since architect Wirt C. Rowland was expressing a certain modernist simplicity. The model is designed in 12 sections which, when I transport it to a train show, almost entirely fill a Jeep Cherokee including its front passenger seat. It weighs about 165 pounds and provides a small workout to set up especially since it is now usually displayed as part of my model of the entire Penobscot Block. The block has four other buildings ranging from 1 to 6 feet high that bring the total weight to about 400 pounds and requires a full size Ford Econoline van to transport. Since many people outside of Detroit are probably not familiar with the Penobscot Building, I will simply mention that this 47 story structure was the 5th tallest office building in the world in 1928 and its design may have partially influenced the shape of the Empire State Building which was built in 1931. Google it if you have to.

Construction of LEGO model of Guardian Building, Detroit, Michigan - Part 1

If I was younger, I would probably move on to a 17 foot high model of the Chrysler Building (it would have looked good in Detroit) in the same scale. As it is I will have to be content with the my upcoming model of the Guardian Building (“only” 8 feet high).

KG: Talk about your love of Detroit’s architecture that goes beyond the brick. What brought you out of your dark-age, and did you already have a list of buildings in mind before you started accumulating bricks?

Tower of Orthanc at Isengard, Middle EarthJG: My interest in architecture ironically had little to do with the ending of my LEGO dark-age. What got me back into LEGO was Peter Jackson’s LOTR and in particular Alan Lee’s design of Orthanc. After seeing “The Two Towers”, I dragged out what was left of the LEGO bricks from my childhood and tried to build a LEGO model of Orthanc. While I thought I had a large LEGO collection as a kid, it really wasn’t when you try to build a 4.5 foot high tower completely in black. I found myself purchasing new LEGO for the first time in many years. I recently replaced this, my first AFOL creation, with a more accurate 8 foot high version.

After the original Orthanc model was completed, only then did I turn my thoughts to what to do next. That is when my love for architecture kicked in and I soon decided to build Detroit. I was not able to travel much when I was younger and so the only large city that I was really familiar with was Detroit. There is something about those old Art Deco towers reaching skyward that captured my imagination. New York has all that and to a much greater degree of course but it is not “my” city.

KG: What are the biggest challenges to building on a scale that is usually reserved for theme parks. Do you employ any glue or non-LEGO support elements?

JG: Money and organization. My construction techniques are usually pretty straightforward; I use SNOT and other methods but only when traditional brick construction will not suffice. None of my buildings use glue or non-LEGO parts; paired technic beams with 2×8 or 2×16 plates above and below make pretty strong structural elements. One lesson I learned early was not to employ used LEGO bricks, since they create a “weakest link in the chain”; my first version of the Fisher Building collapsed in ruin when I tried to move it because of a few 30 year old bricks.

Read the full interview after the jump!

Interview with LEGO Classic Space designer Bjarne Tveskov on MOCPages

David Alexander Smith recently interviewed former LEGO designer Bjarne Tveskov, responsible for creating many of the iconic LEGO Space sets from the “Classic” era of the 80’s and 90’s, including favorite themes like Blacktron.

LEGO 6876 Blacktron Alienator

DS: Was the reverse engineering required to build the alternative builds considered a play element (I loved making these models just from the pictures).

BT: To some degree, yes. Mainly it was and is a question of ressources; it’s takes a lot of time and effort to create building instructions, so for LEGO play themes there were generally only one main model. But especially with the smaller sets the customers had a decent chance of reverse egnineering the B-models. I recall doing the B-models for the Blacktron Alienator, a set with a really nice assortment of elements. I still quite like this set and the alternative models are rather different from the main model. (Also like how the box design guys made the footprints on the space surface at the image on the back of the box, even though the model isn’t actually able to lift it’s feet from the ground!)

Read the full interview over on MOCPages.com.

Matt Hamann: Funky dynamic brake blisters – Boilerplate & Beyond Vol. 18

As a young Train-head, this week’s builder is a rare beast among our tribe. You may know Matt Hamann from his fine assortment of model engines and rolling stock or from his entertaining writing on the Twee Affect, but you’re about to know him much better. I sat down with Matt on a bicycle made for two about halfway through the Wabash Cannonball Trail in northwest Ohio. We talked about Los Campesinos!, Huffy vs. Roadmaster and the persistence of chain-slap.

The Build:

Corn Syrup Tanker
KG: What is the most challenging thing about building trains? Where do you stand on the classic 6 wide vs 8 wide debate, and do you also pine for exotic track geometries and 9 volt engines like so many Train-heads?

MH:  The most challenging thing about building trains is that you have to recreate something out of a building toy. When building other themes, that is not always the issue since you are working from concept art or your imagination, unless, of course, you are building a scale model of a spaceship from a space opera, or an all terrain vehicle from a movie about dinosaurs. Modern locomotives have odd-shaped details everywhere and weird angles that do not translate easily into Lego; steam engines had greebles everywhere and moving bits that the builder has to selectively compress, yet still be able to make the model identifiable, not to mention that most steam engines are matte, whereas most Lego parts are glossy, which adds another challenge. But that is not to say that one is easier than the other; it is still a challenge to simply create something that is not yet another fighter ship or pile of grey bricks with a parapet, gate, and all your minifigs lined up perfectly in the courtyard.

I build 6 wide trains. When I joined my Lego train club in 2006, it is what my club mates were building and what our layout is scaled to. Bigger trains would just look silly among all the small buildings and cars and I am not about to start my own layout, not in this decade, at least. Bigger models can also be more parts intensive, which, depending on the model’s color and what pieces you are using, can be more expensive than building a smaller models. That point is especially important to me because I am (for now) a full-time student with only a part-time job. More and more I would rather spend my money on things other Lego, like camping gear and stuff for my touring bike, so to build smaller, less expensive models lets me keep doing both of my hobbies. I also like to be able to pull about 30 train cars with just two 9v motors, on unmodified wheels and transformers. Power Functions is changing that, but with the current system, you can’t beat light weight 6 wide trains if you are going for pulling the most train cars. I won’t say that building 8 wide is any easier than building 6 wide or visa-versa, if both are done right. Building a smaller model means selectively compressing more but you have the convenience of a lot of train specific parts (windscreens, grilles, etc.) that are mostly designed with 6 wide in mind.

red centerbeam flatcar

If I had my own layout I would probably pine for a better system of track. Right now I don’t. I know for sure that my layout wouldn’t be 9v. 9v is dead. Power Functions is (supposedly) less expensive than 9v, which helps keep Lego in business, which keeps us AHOLs happy. Power Functions also does not have the connectivity issues that 9v has. Every little break between the tracks means lost current, so on large layouts, you have to have multiple power drops. If I had the resources I would probably build my layout to be in scale with 7 wide trains, since they are the best of both worlds.
KG: Many builders claim that Lego is a great stress-reliever. Do you find this to be true, and if it is, why do so many people seem to get stressed about it so easily?
MH: I am melancholic when I build. It feels great to be struck with inspiration, to solve problems, to finish a model, and to get good feedback and have discussions with other AHOLs, but, since I am so anal retentive, it can be stressful not to come up with a solution for a gap here or the funky dynamic brake blisters that GP7s and GP9s had. It can also be stressful to source the parts that you need, especially when they only came in a $50 Star Wars set from the mid 2000s and you need 20 when only 2 came in the set, in a color that Lego doesn’t make anymore. That scenario seems to happen a lot. With the financial involvement and the contrasting dogmas. it is really no wonder that people stress out.
KG: You’ve tried your hand at Steam Punk, but you failed to embrace many of its popular conventions. Talk about the theme, the good, the horrible and what direction is ripe for exploiting.
Steampunk Walker Mecha Tank

MH:The popular themes among fans draw inspiration from everywhere. Space builders draw inspiration from all the popular movies and series, train builders from the world’s trains, and castle builders from history, fantasy, and mythology. Lego steampunk seems like a giant circle jerk. Instead of looking outside of their community of practice, they have created an inbred style. That is not to say that there shouldn’t be common themes in the style, but that there should be more variety. Put away the parts from your Prince of Persia sets and your Jawa Sandcrawler and tear open those Power Miners sets that, for whatever reason you still keep sealed, and introduce some lime green to your build! Steal some of the Scala and Belville that you gave your daughters and put some light yellow and aqua your model! Look to World War One and interwar vehicles and aesthetics for inspiration. Most Studio Ghibli productions are a great source of inspiration.

Read the full interview after the jump!

Carter Baldwin: Just keep the furries out.-Boilerplate & Beyond Vol. 17

My next guest is from the post-LUGNET generation, a college-age wunderkind with a penchant for the machines of war. Carter Baldwin is an accomplished builder, collaborator and veteran of the American convention circuit who has inspired a legion of younger builders with his innovative designs. I sat down with Carter at Pat’s King of Steaks restaurant in Carter’s home town of Philadelphia at 3am PST. We talked about wine, women and song. We also talked about LEGO.

The Build

KG: I’ve read a few older builders grousing about how all the fancy new parts take all the skill and fun out of building. React to that attitude or to old cranky builders in general.

CB: I actually haven’t seen this attitude too much within the AFOL community, but I see it constantly whenever a build leaks out onto the wider internet. Invariably, there will be the ‘this is cheating, in my day we only had 2×4 bricks in three colors, and we liked it that way! there’s no creativity anymore!’  I hate that attitude. Tim Gould made an excellent graphic of all the one-use specialized parts that were available in 1980, but I can never track it down quickly enough to avoid remembering that arguing with internet strangers is a pyrrhic endeavor at best.


I’d agree that the ’90s saw a proliferation of useless parts that lead to the well documented juniorization of sets, but the past decade has been a bonanza of amazing new parts. In particular we’re seeing a lot more excellent small parts, which really boosts the fine grain detail that’s now possible. We’re seeing a lot less of the pixelation that used to define Lego builds. Fans of Lego who haven’t picked up a brick in a couple decades can’t deal with that, but I haven’t heard any actually active builders complaining.

KG: How important is it when designing a model that you employ a new technique? Does the want to use a specific technique ever drive a model? if so can you give an example.

CB: It’s become less important to me over time. When I first entered the internet community I tried to do that with every build, do something that hadn’t been tried before, or at least do it better than I’d seen it.

I think now I build shapes rather than techniques. I have enough of a library of tricks that I don’t have to worry too much about how to achieve a connection, but forcing all those connections to form the shape I want is the new challenge. My Golem Hardsuit would be a good example; I knew the shapes I wanted to achieve; the techniques I came up with to get there weren’t particularly exciting or novel.

And, in the end, I cribbed a ton of ideas from Chris and Rabadan.

KG: You recently took part in a popular and imitated Flickr Group called called World In Confict:2070. Describe this group to our readers and your experience as a participant of the group?

CB: World in Conflict started about two and a half years ago as a general repository for the various unconnected faction sorts of things that a bunch of us had floating around at the time – my own NATO faction, Craig’s South American Coalition, Forest’s amoral PMCs, Dane’s biomechanical atrocities, and others. We certainly didn’t start the trend of faction building – NickDean is probably the best known originator, but I’m pretty sure people have been building private armies for as long as Lego has had greyscale bricks.

Once we had all these factions under one roof, naturally the next step was to slug it out. We developed a complex ad hoc system that was part model UN, part wargaming, and part tabletop-style roleplaying and carved out a cyberpunk storyline that meshed with our collective vision for our imaginary universe. Since this was a long-term and long-distance group, we couldn’t simply play BrikWars in order to determine tactical prowess; instead, we built scenes to depict our movements on a more strategic scale.

Drawing the LinesAs much fun as we had with slaughtering the other sides cannon fodder and blowing up tanks/bunkers/cities, the really interesting thing that came out of the game was the storytelling. Due to the interest in the stories of the scenes we built, we created a public group for others to follow the WiC narrative, and I think it’s the persistent narrative of the game universe that inspired a number of similar groups.

World in Conflict is two years old now and starting to show signs of winding down – while the game has always had lulls in activity between spikes of conflict, this latest hiatus has been particularly stubborn and long-lasting. But fans who have been watching the storyline don’t need to worry; there are plans to end at least the current incarnation of WiC with a proper finish.

Read the full interview after the jump!

Leigh Holcombe: The masked avenger inside us all – Boilerplate & Beyond Vol. 16

My next guest destroys the long held belief in the community that a builder must always keep the proper signal to noise ratio. Although Leigh Holcombe has a stable of well built and some might say handsome models, he may be best known for his numerous postings in various LEGO related fora. Armed with a sharp wit and a willingness to use it, this keen observer of the community has made his own mark through the years. I caught up with Leigh, better known as worker201, on a barren stretch of flatland about halfway between Houston and Waco Texas. We talked about the ELF, the WTO and ELO. We also talked about LEGO.

The Build

J-Flo's Flower ShopKG: Your early builds were mostly in the sci-fi or military genres, but then you switched to chairs and a bit of town with J-Flo’s flower shop. Was there a reason behind the switch, and in a perfect world, what direction appeals to you the most? Do you think builders in general, get too locked into one genre?

LH: I think sci-fi is the geek default, because the designers in that field literally get paid to ignite the imaginations of their audience – being inspired by that genre is so easy. It’s a lot harder to get inspired while walking through IKEA, but I swear it does happen.

Chair Study #2I think this hobby is a textbook cross-section of different levels of obsession and focus – of course some builders get bogged down in a single genre, and some can’t sit still long enough to even have a genre. I’m somewhere in the middle – eventually, I’d like to build something castle or train, but I’ll probably make more spaceships too.

KG: Many young builders begin by recreating the work of builders who came before them. You, however, came in on the ground floor of the hobby or very near to it, so where did you look when you started building?

LH: When I was a kid, back in the late 70s, there was nobody else – just me, the bricks, and the back of the box. I think that’s how it was for most AFOLs. My dark age ended when the Star Wars sets first came out – I couldn’t believe how awesome that first Snowspeeder set was. Then I got on the internet and found Shaun Sullivan’s AT-ST , which was really inspirational to me. He posted instructions for it, and they helped me to remember all the techniques I had forgotten. Realizing that something so awesome was made with basic bricks attached with normal clicking techniques really flipped a switch for me.

KG: Whether it is a job, school, deployment, health issue or even a stay in prison, like many builders, you have been in a position where you want to build for an extended period of time but have not been able to. As the time goes by does it make you think about LEGO more or less? Does it change your mind-set on building, and when you do get a chance to build, does it change anything?

LH: Oh, it’s tough. Lego is a creative outlet and a stress reliever, and not having it is like trying to quit smoking. Plus, keeping up with Flickr and TBB every day puts inspirational stuff in front of me all the time, and I can’t do anything about it. I have so many hypothetical projects lined up, and I’m afraid I’ll never get around to them. The only time I really get to build is when I visit my nephew – and then, I’m mostly making stuff to impress him, like big guns and weird minifig combinations.Grasshopper Drone - 3

The Community

KG: You created a popular and polarizing fan-forum called Stajinaria when the equally popular and polarizing JLUG went down. Talk about those two forums, what they formed in a reaction to, why they ended and what they offered that was unique. Is AFOL 16+ the latest version of this tradition?

LH: I don’t know exactly what Janey and Ross were thinking when they started JLUG, but it pretty quickly became the home of community criticism. At that time, Lugnet and Classic Space Forums were dealing with censorship and leadership issues, and the people at JLUG seemed to enjoy calling out what they deemed hypocrisy and conservativism in those communities. After JLUG disappeared, a lot of its members decided that the group of people was more important than the site, so I took it upon myself to create a new home for “merry pranksters”. Someone accused JLUG once of being a ‘staging area’ where mischevious activists planned their shenanigans (not one of which was planned), which is where Stajinaria got its name.STAJINARIA

Many of the core group are still internet friends today, but the mass migration of the community to Flickr made the forum extraneous, so I shut it down earlier this year. Both sites were based on the sandbox rule – if you don’t like the rules in someone else’s sandbox, make your own sandbox. AFOL 16+ was a sandbox that didn’t allow young kids, who were becoming an increasing annoyance in the Flickr Lego group. I think it started out with a bunch of venom and righteousness, but now I think of it as just another group of people who are familiar enough with each other to kid around and be sarcastic. (I also run Lego 35+, a place where grownups can interact, but nobody ever goes there.)

Read the full interview after the jump!

Gilcélio Chagas: If you die it’s my turn. – Boilerplate & Beyond Vol. 15

After a brief hiatus the Boilerplate & Beyond interview series returns with another baker’s dozen of builders from around the planet. This time around we’re starting in Brazil with Gilcélio Chagas who brings a much needed breath of fresh air to the hobby with his diverse mix of building skill, sense of adventure, Latin good looks and as this interview will illustrate, a way with the ladies. I recently sat down with Gilcélio, rocketing across the Third Bridge towards his home town of Vila Velhas. We talked about the Treaty of Tordesillas, Pele Vs. Messi and how Vila Velhas earned its nickname “the land of green shins”. We also talked about LEGO.

The Build

Rescue vehicle Pisten bully.(snowcat)KG: A perusal of your photo-stream on Flickr makes it clear that you love building large-scale cars. How do you approach building vehicles and which vehicle has been the most challenging to build?

GC: I don’t have a rule to make my builds, I always start with the difficult part of the car, that way I expend less time if I can’t make it. Of course it’s more common for me to start from the front, that in most cases has more details and requires more attention.

The most challenging vehicle for me comes from a movie called Gran Torino, directed by Clint Eastwood, the car gives the movie its name, and every time that I see the film I get crazy to make it in LEGO, the curves gives a difficult special touch in this adventure.

KG: When working on a difficult model, how much advice from other builders to you typically ask for, or do you prefer to go it alone? When you give building advice, do you consider the builder’s feelings or try to be as honest as possible?

GC: Sometimes it is important to ask for a second opinion, who is riding puts a bit of feeling in the assembly and it ends up getting in the end result, the second opinion can be used exactly for this, take away the sentimentalism part and assess impartially.

I think I asked for advice twice, the first was the Dodge Charger that I asked the opinion of Lino who gave important tips for the project and the second time was my most important project in the island desalination that I counted on help from Nannan who was a very important aid.

LEGO 1968 Dodge Charger

Thanks Lino and Nannan.

Giving this kind of advice is very complicated without knowing the inventory of the builder. Imagine that you request to modify some point of the project without knowing if they have the required piece or not. When I’m gonna give a tip I try to be honest, of course every project must have the characteristics of the builder.

KG: You have drawn inspiration from the ultimate video game system, the Atari 2600. Is it just nostalgia that drives you to build in 8-bit style or is there something more? Also, what games would you like to tackle in the future?

GC: When I started with Atari 2600 project, I had in my mind the idea to immortalize in Lego pieces the Atari games that a lot of people have never heard before, and I couldn’t let this important part of my childhood die in this way.


What made the Atari so good was the fact that if you wanted to play with someone you had to go into the house of a friend. There was nothing online, it was all in someone’s home and that made the game even cooler this interaction and simplicity of the games. “If you die it’s my turn.”

And that’s the reason that I’ve made my projects so simple, without many resources because Atari was like that, simple and captivating.

The Community

KG: Describe LUG Brasil. How did you come into contact with the LUG and what happens at a typical meeting? Both the United States and Brazil are among the most racially diverse countries on the planet, but unfortunately most American LUGs do not reflect this diversity. Can the same be said for Brazil?

GC: The LUG Brasil is an excellent place for Lego lovers like us, we have great builds there, challenges, meets, tips, and things related with this hobby that we have in common. My contact is basically by the internet and face to face meeting when it’s possible.

We have a good diversity of the Brazilian population, here you can find all kind of races, sex, religions etc. But the LEGO in Brasil is very expensive, sometimes the price is so high as to be 4 times greater in other countries, which makes LEGO access more difficult to the people with less purchasing power.

Read the full interview after the jump!

To Go Beyond the Brick

A new episode of Joshua Hanlon and Matthew Kay’s Beyond the Brick podcast was just released, featuring an interview with yours truly. I openly acknowledge that this is a shameless self-plug, but I’m not recommending their show simply because I was on it, but rather because they do terrific work. They’ve featured tons of awesome people in the LEGO community, many of whom will be familiar to readers of this blog, such as castlers extraordinaire Sean and Steph Mayo, LEGO Community representative Kevin Hinkle, steampunk demigod Guy Himber, and cheese-slope master Katie Walker. So go check out their podcast, and hear what some fellow Adult Fans of LEGO have to say in their own words.