About Matt Hocker

Matt Hocker has been an avid LEGO fan since the age of 4, when he received a box of his father's 1960s era LEGO bricks. In addition to being a builder at heart, Matt is passionate about LEGO history and has amassed a sizable collection of LEGO ephemera to provide context for the LEGO story. Matt's collection forms what he likes to call the Library of the Brick, and he lives by the slogan "building history one stud at a time." He invites you to ask him any questions you might have about the hobby or the history behind the brick.

Posts by Matt Hocker

The amethyst bonsai

Purple treeze all in the ground. Don’t know if they’re growing up or down. Is it crystal or purple ice? Whatever it is, Duncan Lindbo built a tree that’s nice. Queue Jimi Hendrix guitar solo – Duncan’s magical-looking tree is constructed from transparent purple Bionicle elements, which are lit throughout to give it a sparkly, crystalline appearance. If something could be grown from a shard of the Dark Crystal I’d imagine this would be it!

If you’d like to see more of Duncan’s work in purple, be sure to check out his loathsome worm we featured back in September.

These LEGO test bricks are fantastically photogenic [Feature]

When it comes to LEGO, Beryll Roehl is both a collector and artist. LEGO test bricks are the focal point of her collection, and she takes this hobby to the next level by beautifully photographing pieces alongside objects with similar colors. LEGO’s test bricks were produced in a multitude of materials and colors for the purpose of research and development, and they have an exciting history. To learn more about these unique relics of LEGO’s past, be sure to read our informative interview with Beryll. Since then, Beryll has photographed even more bricks like these black BASF bricks with a little bumblebee. How cute!

Black is beautiful!

See more of Beryll’s beautifully photographed test bricks

You ever driven with the devil in the pale moonlight?

Jerry Builds Bricks Returns with a stunning rendition of the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). This is Jerry’s 2nd iteration of the Caped Crusader’s ride; we featured his building instructions for the first version last year. While it features some design cues found in the first model, the latest rendition looks sleeker and meaner. This is especially noticeable in the curve of the fins and the front fenders, which consist of curved slopes on hinges instead of angular slopes.

1989_Batmobile_5

Once you’ve finished drooling over Jerry’s bat-tastic Batmobile, be sure to check out our review of LEGO set 76139 1989 Batmobile!

The beginner’s guide to collecting LEGO wooden toys, the original LEGO Originals [Feature]

LEGO hasn’t always been a manufacturer of plastic building blocks. From 1932 until 1960, LEGO manufactured wooden toys and, this year, they are celebrating this heritage with the release of LEGO Originals Wooden Minifigure 853967. As a casual collector of wooden LEGO toys, I find the LEGO Originals line intriguing because LEGO is embracing its roots in such a way that allows the public to participate. As excited as I am for the future of LEGO Originals, I thought it might fun to take a look at what I like to call the original “LEGO Originals.”

Two LEGO Ducks
1940s Quacking duck and circa late-1930s orange duck – image courtesy of Matthew Hocker
Continue reading to learn more about collecting vintage wooden LEGO toys

This tiny temple towers above the sea

As Andreas Lenander’s Temple of Qa’te demonstrates, you don’t need a ton of LEGO bricks to create a big world. Despite it’s tiny size, Andreas’ diorama has a lot of activity, from the sailing ship and waves in the sea to the temple mounted high atop a cliff. There is some clever microscale parts usage here, including white claws for the ship’s sales and plant stems with 3 leaves representing palm trees. The greenery and architectural style of the temple give off a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern vibe, making it the perfect destination for tourists escaping the winter chills.

Temple of Qa'te

We have a Hulkbuster!

If you saw our review of the LEGO Marvel Hulkbuster: Ultron Edition set last year, you might recall there was some disappointment with the figure’s appearance. John Car has come smashing though with a more faithful looking rendition of the Hulkbuster. While it uses some of the parts and stickers from the original set, the proportions feel bigger, beefier and Hulkier.

See more of this hulking Hulkbuster

LEGO reveals giant wooden minifigure as part of new collectible Originals product line [News]

LEGO is celebrating its past in a big way this year. When founder Ole Kirk Christiansen began making toys in 1932, he made them out of wood before shifting to plastic. LEGO manufactured wooden toys until 1960, always with the highest commitment to quality. The LEGO brick may have taken over eventually, but the company’s origin is rooted in wooden toys. Today, LEGO announced they are returning to those roots in a big way — by launching a new product line selling an upscale wooden minifigure: LEGO Originals 853967 Wooden Minifigure.

The giant wooden minifigure will sell for US $119.99 | CAN 154.99 | UK £109.99. in select LEGO stores and online beginning November 3rd for LEGO VIPS with general availability beginning November 8th.

(EDIT: The wooden figure is also available from LEGO in bundles including a discount of up to $30 US when combined with various other LEGO products, including one 1,500-piece Classic set.)

Click to read more about LEGO Originals Wooden Minifigure 853967

Springboard your adventure in this mechanical grasshopper

Hop around! Hop around! Hop up and up, and get down! In devising solutions for building robots, it’s sometimes best to start with examples found in nature. When Moko set out to build his latest LEGO mech, he looked to the springy grasshopper. Moko’s model is both an excellent representation of the insect and has just enough metallic bits to make it feel mechanical. Hopping power is provided by the legs’ robust hydraulic system, while the black pistol feet likely give it the ability to stick to nearly any surface.

Hopper

Preserving analog recording devices in plastic

Chungpo Cheng takes us back to early ’90s with a trio of classic pieces of recording technology, including a 3.5″ diskette, cassette tape and VHS tape. These formats are prone to degradation over time and, in many ways, are more fragile than paper documents. Chungpo has faithfully immortalized them in LEGO-form…or has he? Sadly, the bricks we have today won’t be the same forever. Case in point; those white bricks tend to yellow over time, especially with prolonged exposure to heat and UV light. Some bricks can also become brittle with age and crack under pressure. I’ll tell you who doesn’t crack under pressure, though – Chungpo Cheng, that’s who!

FD&Videotape&Audio Tape

Judging by the attention to detail, it’s clear that Chungpo respects magnetic media as much as LEGO bricks. The VHS and audio tape have reverse sides that embody the age-old Blockbuster rental mantra, “be kind. Please rewind.” Don’t forget to repeatedly hit that tracking button either.

FD&Videotape&Audio Tape

First to the flames

Fire engines are serious business, with each one being built to the specifications of the fire department placing the order. When building a LEGO version of a fire apparatus, you almost have to see it in person to analyze all the details that make it unique. Last year, Sven’s vacation in New York City landed him the opportunity to ride around in the Harlem Hilton firehouse’s Engine 69. The experience left such an impression on him that he had to make his own version of the truck and, as you can see, it is packed with plenty of detail. The proportions feel just right, as does the greebling of the gauges and switches. Finishing off the model are some phenomenal custom decals, allowing the LEGO truck to faithfully represent its real-life counterpart.

FDNY Engine 69 Harlem Hilton

Flipping the engine around reveals that Sven’s model can be appreciated from multiple angles. The only thing that’s missing are some minifig firefighters! Perhaps they’re taking a needed break from fighting fires to fire up the grill and eat some burgers.

FDNY Engine 69 Harlem Hilton

LEGO Overwatch 75976 Wrecking Ball [Review]

Earlier this year, LEGO released six sets based on Blizzard’s first person shooter video game, Overwatch. This colorful cast of characters is now being joined by Wrecking Ball and Junkrat & Roadhog in LEGO form. We will be reviewing each set separately, and this one will focus on 75976 Wrecking Ball and his transforming hamster ball mech. Wrecking Ball consists of 227 pieces and is currently available online via the LEGO shop for $19.99 USD | $24.99 CAD | £17.99 GBP

Read the rest of the review.

Sweet cyberpunk dreams at the No-Tell Motel

What do you do when you are eagerly awaiting the release of a video game, and the wait is killing you? If you’re like Jan T. and are drooling over screenshots of RPG (role-playing game) Cyberpunk 2077, you draw inspiration from your obsession and channel it into a LEGO model. Jan’s No-Tell Motel offers an atmosphere that is simultaneously gritty and colorful; dilapidated city streets and patches of rusty metal contrast nicely with the teal upper floor and purple & green graffiti. There are also plenty of excellent details to spot, including thugs & junkies, grass peaking through the concrete, a balcony supported by a Technic shock absorber, and a Technic piston acting as a flower pot. Here, the world can go to Hell and still look beautiful.

Pacifica. 2077.