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

Diamonds and gold are a mech’s best friend

The expansion of transparent clear elements over the past decade has allowed for some intricate builds like this glittering mech by Moko, named the MF-10 Diamond Empress. While the frame of the mech is black, it is clad in transparent clear armor formed from tiles, slopes, dishes, windshields, and more. The Diamond Empress lives up to its name with a few parts in rare non-production colors, such as the 2×2 round tile in trans clear. Aside from the build itself, my favorite aspect of this model is perhaps the use of trans clear 12x2x5 tails for the skirting. Meanwhile, chrome gold and transparent red accents provide additional visual interest.

MF-10 Diamond Empress

See more of this opulent mech

Going full throttle with LEGO Creator Expert 10269 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy [Review]

When it comes to motorcycles, few manufacturers are as internationally recognizable as Harley-Davidson. Since 1903, their bikes have proven themselves on the battlefields of World War I and II, dusty roads around the world, and in countless racing events. This rich legacy now includes LEGO set 10269 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, the 2nd Creator Expert set to feature a U.S. vehicle (the first being this year’s Ford Mustang). Harley-Davidson first unveiled the Fat Boy for the 1990 model year, and the line has been in production ever since. Revealed for the first time today, LEGO’s version of the Fat Boy depicts the 2019 model with Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. The set consists of 1023 pieces and will be available to LEGO VIPs beginning July 17th and to the general public worldwide on August 1st for $99.99 USD | $139.99 CAD | £84.99 GBP


Click to read the full hands-on review

Steaming down the rails in style

Do you dream of steam? Glenn Holland not only dreams of of steam; he lives and breathes it, which is why he decided to build this sleek LEGO replica of a Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0. Glenn has been a fan of locomotive number 13 since he was a little boy, and his passion for this train is evident in the level of painstaking detail. It’s an attractive-looking engine, thanks in part to some extensive greebling, custom rods, and silver striping. You can almost hear that ear-pleasing “chug, chug, chug.”

Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 #13

As this angle suggests, it looks just as awesome leaving the station as it does arriving. The tender has received just as much attention as the locomotive, going so far as to include detailing underneath. If you’d like an in-depth look at Glenn’s model, you can read more about it in his own words on LEGO train fansite Brick Model Railroader.

Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 #13

Daisy and Donald Duck are built and dressed to impress

Disney’s Donald Duck recently celebrated his 85th birthday, and his companion Daisy is technically 82 (she was originally introduced in 1937 as Donna Duck). Koen Zwanenburg is just in time for the party with fantastic looking LEGO versions of the beloved pair. Thanks to a variety of curved and angled elements used, the sculpting of each character’s body looks spot-on. Their eyes are particularly expressive and well angled, especially Daisy’s partially closed eyelids. Meanwhile, Bionicle ball and socket joints used as legs look to be just the right size. Donald looks especially happy, with Daisy giving him a birthday kiss.

Donald & Daisy

Hi diddly ho, droidorinos!

If you plan on taking robots into war, you need a formidable assault droid. Enter the bulky, badass HUF-2 built by Marco Marozzi, complete with a massive machine gun. The mechanical detailing of the droid is impressive, and the color scheme is perfect for a robotic predator. You have your industrial grays and silvers, but you also have splashes of gold and red to warn of what’s to come…almost like a poison dart frog. There’s even an “Easter egg” for fans of The Simpsons TV show.

HUF-2 Assault Droid

See more details of Ned Flanders’ deadly droid

Kissed by a rose in a little shop of horrors

Some people think talking to plants helps them grow faster. To that, I say it’s all great until one of those plants turns into a man-eating flower bent on devouring you, green thumb and all. Unafraid of the consequences, Jayfa built this LEGO beauty of a ferocious flower. The curved stem and flower petals are cleverly formed using constraction (constructible action figure) elements, along with palm tree leaf pieces and a tan prickly bush. Fortunately, this looks like something you would find in a Castlevania game instead of your backyard, but you never know what the garden guru next door might be cooking up….

Kiss From a Rose

If you like fantastical creatures like this, you’ll also want to check out Jayfa’s colorful Rygas the Basilisk.

Chugging around the bend

I have a soft spot for collaborative LEGO train displays because they played a fundamental role in inspiring me to “build outside the box.” Because of this, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw Steffen Rau’s layout module. I love the curves of the track, mountainside tunnels, and wooded landscaping. It feels like a wonderful place to explore, especially with dozens of minifigures enjoying various camping activities.

Turning loop module 1

See more images of this carefully crafted train layout

A picture’s worth a thousand bricks: vintage LEGO photography [Feature]

When it comes to collecting LEGO items, there are plenty of avenues to pursue. While vintage LEGO sets and gear are perhaps the most obvious choices, I prefer collecting LEGO ephemera. I have spent many hours scouting out old catalogs, brochures and instructions. Out of all the ephemera I have, period photographs of children enjoying LEGO sets are among my favorite pieces. Owning a retired set is enjoyable, but images from the past help contextualize LEGO products in a way a set alone cannot do. Photographs provide a window into the past when now-retired LEGO products were new, which is why I am sharing some of my favorite photographs with you!

See more vintage photographs of children and adults enjoying LEGO bricks

A LEGO tower that stands as tall as some people

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, you can find the 51.4 m Yellow Crane Tower (黄鹤楼). The current iteration of the tower was completed in 1985, but the tower has existed in various forms since at least the year 223. Chinese LEGO fan Smoker Nie (聂汉卿) has built a beautiful replica of the tower, which took a painstaking eight months to design and 1,400 hours to build. It consists of 163,100 pieces and stands at a massive height of 158 cm (≈5.2 ft). This is made all the more impressive by the fact that this is only his second LEGO model. (His first was the Aiwan Ting Pavilion.)

EA9DC8FB-5D37-4FB0-B35A-58B235696ADD

See more images of this beautiful Chinese tower

Hey pal, where ya going?

Next to towering skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty, New York City has also long been identified with streets full of yellow taxicabs. LEGO car builder Pixeljunkie chose to represent a classic Checker cab, complete with its characteristic black and white checkerboard-style trim. While the car itself looks great, it is further enhanced by the gritty scenery which includes a knocked over trash can. Meanwhile, the irritated-looking minifig driver sitting cross-legged adds an extra dash of personality.

Mini Taxi

If you love the Checker cab, you will probably also enjoy Pixeljunkie’s chopped Model A Ford hot rod. It packs some serious muscle in the engine and behind the wheel, and the whitewall tires give it a strong sense of style.

1930 Ford Model A Pick Up Hot Rod "1 HMRD A"

Fire up your forge with the original gods of metal

If the Middle Ages taught us one thing, it’s that heavy metal is nothing new. Ben Tritschler’s lively-looking medieval forge has the makings of a metal legend. Blacksmiths hammer away, piecing together suits of armor and shaping cannonballs. Ornate-looking armor is achieved, in part, with sculpted minifig appendages like silver prosthetic legs and mechanical arms. Everything is framed within a structure that is both beautiful and rundown, and the sideways-mounted tiles for the brick floor look brilliant. You can even almost smell the smoke and hear the din of the tiny hammer.

Manufacturing 2

How to build a construction toy with a construction toy

For well over a century, BRIO of Sweden has been manufacturing high-quality wooden toys. Builder ForlornEmpire was inspired to replicate BRIO’s MEC construction toy in LEGO-form. BRIO Mec sets typically consist of wooden beams, plastic pegs, tools and more. ForlornEmpire’s concept is whimsical looking in terms of form and presentation, complete with the characteristic tan representing wood and bright colors for the plastic mallet and pins. Speaking of the pins, they make clever use of the construction helmet and 2×2 disc weapon. Modifying the BRIO logo to read BRIC is a nice touch.

Bric Construction Toys

When LEGO was making toys from the 1930s through 1950s, they were contemporaries of BRIO. In fact, it’s worth noting how the BRIO Mec construction system is reminiscent of LEGO’s BILOfix wooden construction toys introduced in 1959. Both Scandinavian toy makers were likely inspired by metal beam construction toys like Meccano and Erector.