Tag Archives: Valve

Zombie Apocafest 2009: After-Action Review

Zombie Apocafest 2009 has come and gone. The undead have been blown up, shot up, and mulched to oblivion. The humans stand victorious among the ruins of their civilization. Fortunately, that civilization was, by good fortune, built from LEGO, and it can be rebuilt, brick by little plastic brick.

LEGO Zombie Apocafest 2009 combines

Check out the full gallery of Zombie Apocafest 2009 photos in Thanel’s photostream on Flickr.

The display this year was more than double the size of last year’s, with 17 tables covered in all manner of buildings and vehicles, ranging from little mini-tanks to a fig-scale tanker. Once again, we had the organizational genius of LEGOLAND Master Model Maker Gary McIntire laying out the city, with major contributions from other LEGOLAND staffers, including Ryan Wood (Port ChiefLUG) and Joel Baker (awesome zombie head).

As announced before BrickCon, we had four prize categories. Here are the winners:

A huge “Thank you!” to BrickArms for their awesome contributor’s weapons packs, and to Valve for a batch of wicked Left 4 Dead 2 T-shirts!

So, how do these things work? What does it take to pull together a collaborative LEGO layout that covers a couple hundred square feet of display space? What have we learned after running a display at a LEGO convention for two years? Off we go…

It’s not as easy as it looks

Soliciting “cornerstone” LEGO creations, recruiting lots of good builders, and working with sponsors and partners is hard work. Similarly, planning for enough space with convention organizers takes time.

Know your audience

Despite my rather chirpy online persona, I have a subversive streak a mile wide. This manifests itself in my political vignettes and the occasional snarky comment. Before BrickCon 2008, a large-scale collaborative display of undead LEGO minifigs overrunning a Cafe Corner city, built by the adults who read The Brothers Brick, seemed like a reasonably subversive idea. I think last year’s display worked so well because that’s precisely what it was.

As cool as I think this year’s display turned out to be, it was a little spread out, and it was rather heavy on the small vehicles with spikes and ladders. The world really needs to be a nicer place than the purely ironic perspective some espouse, but really, some measure of self-referential irony would’ve been welcome.

I’m not a parent, and I don’t judge others’ parenting styles (okay, I do, but only a little bit). But it’s hard for me to imagine encouraging interest in the hyper-violent world of flesh-eating zombies and brain-smashing survivors. The subversive and ironic aspects of a zombie apocalypse built out of LEGO are likely lost on the 11-14 set.

A good idea is better than free stuff

Let’s be honest: The kiddies like the BrickArms, and will do just about anything for prototypes.

We’re big fans of the high-quality custom accessories produced by Will Chapman and his team, and can’t believe how generous they are. Will donated 35 packs of weapons for contributors, including hand-produced cricket bats at our request. Wow.

Nevertheless, we’ve all seen the “wil U trad wit me? kthxby” mentality on display in recent months, and I have to admit that the display this year seemed to attract a bit more interest from the 11-14 set than I’d anticipated.

In fact, there were at least two kids who leaned over the barricades during the public hours, asked to put one minifig on the display and asked for a contributor’s pack. Seriously, kids? The answer to both questions was — and will remain — a firm “No.” (I did let them take a picture of their figs on the display. I’m not a total jerk.)

Overall, I’m happy about how things went with Zombie Apocafest 2009, but it will be the last Zombie Apocafest, and I don’t plan for us to repeat themes from year to year. I’m even happier to report that we’re changing things up for next year. We’ve run our BrickCon 2010 display idea by a few attendees, and we’ll be announcing next year’s theme shortly. Plans are already underway…

Your entire life has been a mathematical error

I promise, we are not in fact contractually obligated to blog all Portal or Valve-inspired LEGO creations. But this Spontaneous Portal Generator Prototype II (aka Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device) by Neaku (also on Flickr) definitely caught my eye:

Via BioniBlog, where Ean has a nice overview of the latest Bionicle Building Contest over at BZPower.

“This chamber has been replaced with a live fire course designed for military androids. The Enrichment Center apologizes for the inconvenience and wishes you the best of luck.”

I am admittedly a Valve fanboy, and I especially love Portal, the acclaimed puzzle game originally bundled with The Orange Box. When I saw this vignette my Mister_007 featuring one of those child-like (and lethal) turrets, I had to blog it immediately. And remember, the turrets don’t hate you.

The Weighted Companion Cube cannot speak...

…but I think we’re legally obligated at this point to blog all LEGO creations inspired by Valve’s Portal.

Victor Vitale‘s contribution to the genre includes the best Portal gun yet:

Previous Portal love on The Brothers Brick:

But c’mon people — where are your LEGO Left 4 Dead creations? Get buildin’!

Zombie Apocafest 2008: Children, avert your eyes!

Zombie Apocafest 2008 just wrapped up at BrickCon, and I spent about an hour taking pictures.

Front and center in the display was Ryan Wood‘s beautiful watchtower:

Josh, Nannan, and I awarded “Best Zombified Building” to Paul Hetherington‘s “Casa Baron”:

Paul’s building has a full interior, including comfy chairs and a working elevator. We loved the art deco details, many of which incorporate organic shapes:

The similarly unanimous choice for “Best Zombified Vehicle” was Andrew Lee‘s awesome truck:

In addition to the Zombie Defense Weapons Packs donated by BrickArms, the good people at Valve (the studio that brought us Half-Life and Portal) sent along a bunch of Left 4 Dead T-shirts and a great billboard:

Valve even invited a bunch of people to tour the Valve office on Friday night, where Lonnon Foster posed with Gordan Freeman (photo by Don Solo):

The LEGO zombie display wouldn’t have been possible without the organizational genius of LEGOLAND California model maker Gary McIntire — who even spent the plane ride up to Seattle creating custom zombie heads.

At least 35 participants contributed nearly 30 original buildings, dozens of vehicles, and hundreds of minifig zombies and survivors.

LEGO Certified Professional Dan Parker contributed a super-detailed mall, complete with a LEGO Store, baby store, Spencer’s Gifts, and food court:

Will there be a Zombie Apocafest 2009? Undoubtedly.

In the meantime, check out the full Zombie Apocafest 2008 photoset on Flickr.

Team Fortress 2 Sentry gun in LEGO by Steve Barker

We were certainly impressed with Brendan Mauro’s Team Fortress 2 minifigs, but Steve Barker rightly says of his Sentry gun (also inspired by Team Fortress 2), “I think I am more proud of this MOC [my own creation] than any of my others so far.”

Justifiably so, Steve, justifiably so!

Via Kotaku, with a hat tip to many readers, including Peter and Jack.