Monthly Archives: May 2010

Indy bignettes by Brian Williams

Brian Williams posted two new Indiana Jones bignettes (big vignettes). As with his works, I’m really impressed by the presentation, both the photography and the creations themselves.

The Rocket Escape is composed of four standard 8X8 vignettes. The construction of the rocket is elegant for such a small scale. After staring at the large image, I still can’t figure out how it’s made. The Beersheba scene features great use of the Prince of Persia parts, but my favorite detail is the octagon base edged with rubber bumpers.

More use for Ben 10

Cole Blaq has taken the torso from one of the new large Ben 10 figures, and used it as a jumping off point for a ship. He’s managed to fit the piece (which is just behind the canopy) into an overall flowing armor.

The Ben 10 piece dictated the use of the sand green color, which is a great looking color, with a very limited parts palette. I think that my favorite part of the coloring of this ship is the the black and yellow striping used throughout. The striping is prevalent enough that it goes beyond merely being an accent, and really adds something to the color scheme of the entire ship.


Dave Shaddix: I say it’s time to gas the nest – Boilerplate & Beyond Vol. 13 [Interview]

For our 13th installment, we join Keith Goldman as he interviews Dave Shaddix, usually one of the first to comment on these very interviews. As with Soren, Dave uses a few words that our more sensitive readers may find offensive. Once again, you’ve been warned. Take it away, Keith!

LEGO Papa Roach in concertUnlike previous entries, this week’s builder isn’t a crusty 10-year veteran of the hobby, media magnate, self-stylized reverend or even Australian.

Instead I bring you an everyman from Anytown, U.S.A, who might be known better for his quick wit and devil-may-care attitude than for his growing library of great models. Dave Shaddix isn’t exactly a noob, but he also hasn’t been around long enough to be as jaded and rigid in his way of thinking than many of us gray-beards.

I sat down with Dave 2 miles from the US/Mexico border in Dave’s home state of Arizona. We talked about the Gadsden Purchase, Sabbath with Ozzie vs. Sabbath with Dio and what really happens to all those tourists who go missing every year in the Grand Canyon. We also talked about LEGO.

The Build

Keith Goldman: Like many builders out there, you’ve got a long term project going on. How long has your Papa Roach stage been in production and what are the challenges of a long term build from a relative newcomer’s perspective? Is your cousin and Papa Roach front-man Jacoby Shaddix involved in the process?

Dave Shaddix: I’ll first define ‘relative newcomer’ so that we’re all on the same page as far as timelines are concerned. I started building again about nine years ago with my oldest son; yeah it’s the DUPLO brick that brought me out of my dark age. As he grew, I started buying and building more age appropriate sets with him which eventually led me to the internet where I quietly trolled sites like Brickshelf and MOCpages from around 2006 to 2008 when I started posting on MOCpages. Arizona’s first LEGO retail store opened in the summer of 2008 and our LUG formed up immediately after. In short, 2008 is the year I became an actively-engaged AFOL who was fully out of the closet. Now that we have my own private definition of ‘newcomer’ out of the way, let’s move onto the question.

I started planning the Papa Roach project in October of 2009. It was pretty vague at the time and I was heavily leaning towards minfigure scale. I realized that the project needed to be all about the motion and mood of a live concert early on and I decided on a scale that is about 2x miniland. I began putting bricks together around October when I started building the band members.

The more I worked on the project, the more I learned and the more I had to build. Project creep started taking its money-draining grip on me and before I knew it I was looking at a structure that is more than 150 studs in width and almost 70 bricks tall and making whirlwind trips to Los Angeles to talk to the band and get detailed photos of them, their equipment, and the crowd. Given the scale of this project, you can guess that money plays a huge role and has slowed me down considerably. I guess the biggest obstacle that I will need to overcome is how to decide when enough is enough.

Dave and Jacoby ShaddixAs far as the guys being involved in the project, they’re busy men and I try to leave them alone to do their jobs. That being said, Jacoby, Jerry, Tobin and Tony are some of the coolest guys you’ll meet and have answered every call and question I have asked. Whether you like their music or not, they are a kick-ass band and incredibly down to earth. I am lucky to have what little of an inside track as I do. I was given full access to the stage during sound checks to photograph the equipment; I mean I actually got to sit at the drums. When they were touring with Motley Crue, I was actually given a ‘Crue Skag’ for my birthday. Skags aside they are pretty excited about the project and want to see it finished as much as I do.

KG: I think it is fair to say that everywhere except LEGOLand (who just refuses to get on board) the all powerful minifig, and minifig-scale rules both the product line and the hobby in general. As the outspoken leader of the anti-minifig movement, would you care to outline your patently ridiculous stance?

DS: Anti-minifig, Keith? How could you do this to me? Twist my words… I thought we were friends! Saying I am anti-minifig is like saying that someone who is pro-life is anti-choice. I love those little dudes as much as the next guy! And I really like seeing the new diversity LEGO seems to be finding with its torso types and new flesh colors. I’ve done more than my fair share of vignettes like my armed robbery and ‘LifePod 23” and minifig only posts, ‘Blackstronauts’, “Boy Band” and even a concept for your ‘Fear the Black Planet’ contest. There is really a lot more fun to be had with the minifigure, and I am not going to count myself out of that action.

My gripe with the community is how much they seem to embrace minifig scale and none other. And even then, I think they have the scale all wrong. LEGO is a great medium and it often seems a shame to me that the majority of builders out there limit themselves to the worship of a little plastic doll. I would love to see more miniland scale MOCs and more sculpture produced on a regular basis.

More of Keith’s interview with Dave after the jump: Continue reading

LEGO: A Love Story by Jonathan Bender [Book Review]

LEGO A Love Story by Jonathan BenderI recently read Jonathan Bender’s book, LEGO: A Love Story, released at the beginning of May. The book chronicles the personal story of an AFOL’s plunge from his Dark Ages into the LEGO subculture. The narrative delivered in 262 pages highlights the diversity of the hobby and the author’s own transformative experiences. All the while, the story takes place on a real life stage as Bender reconciles his image as an AFOL amidst forging a stronger relationship with his wife through building LEGO sets while trying to conceive a child and start a family.

As a LEGO fan, I am delighted to read the first book that describes the LEGO subculture. Jonathan Bender came out of his Dark Ages in 2008 when he received a LEGO set on his 30th birthday. Whether you doubt someone with two years of experience in the LEGO community can write a book about the hobby, you may be impressed by the author’s research and experiences in this short time.

The book chronologically depicts Bender’s experiences in LEGO. He has traveled to conventions, seen the collections of AFOLs and Bricklink sellers, visited LEGOLAND, and toured LEGO’s headquarters in Denmark and North America. Each experience is told subjectively and accompanied by the author’s own feelings and thoughts. The tone of Bender’s writing is very lighthearted and honest, and humor is present in each chapter. Although I have never heard of Jonathan Bender, I feel like I know him well after reading his book.

Depending on your LEGO background, the book has different things to offer. For those unfamiliar with LEGO beyond their childhood experiences playing with the toy, you may be inspired by the diversity of the hobby for adults and consider buying a LEGO set or two. For experienced LEGO fans, you’ll recognize many names mentioned in the book. At the same time, there’s still quite a few gems for you to discover and new things to learn.

The book is not without deficiencies. First, only a few ordinary photos are presented in the book. A black-and-white picture heads each chapter while twelve color photos are included in the middle of the book. Since LEGO is a visual medium, the lack of pictures may frustrate those who are unfamiliar with certain sets, elements, people, or places described. Second, while Bender captures many diverse aspects of the hobby, it is impossible to comprehensively cover every realm of the hobby. For instance, two major areas including the online communities and non-US fan communities are not mentioned in great detail. Lastly, certain individuals are given extensive coverage in the book, which highlights their opinions and personalities regardless of whether they represent those of the majority.

Overall, I recommend LEGO: A Love Story to all fans of the hobby and those who are new to it. It is the first book to give an answer on what it means to be an AFOL. At the same time, the narrative does not seek to impose a set of views. Rather, it presents the hobby without glorifying or criticizing it and lets you form your own conclusions.

There are additional reviews of the book by LEGO fans Mariann Asanuma and Bruce Heitbrink. You can download Chapter 16, “A Guest in LEGO’s House” as a sample. The book is available on