Although The Brothers Brick has always been committed to diversity and inclusion in both the LEGO builders we feature and our own team members, ranging from the builders in Asia that we specifically featured on Pan-Pacific Bricks or our longstanding commitment to including LGBTQ+ staff on our team, we know that we can do better. During our interview with Ekow Nimako last month, we recommitted to ensuring that our own team better represents the real diversity of the LEGO community we’re a part of. The specific roles we’re looking to fill from members of the community are Contributor (Writer) and Social Media Manager.
Happy Pride Day! This week I shared with you my experience as an LGBTQ+ LEGO fan and later in the week we heard from members of the LGBTQ+ Facebook group, GayFOLs as they shared their experiences. This year, GayFOLs hosted its 2nd Annual Virtual Pride Parade where group members from all over the world can build Pride-themed MOCs and share and they are compiled into a slideshow.
The first one was last year and premiered at BrickWorld Chicago. In the time of COVID, virtual meetups are de rigueur, so in a way GayFOLs was ahead of its time in more ways than one! Enjoy the parade and once again, Happy Pride 2020!
Contributors: Aaron N., Alan V., Angela B., Ben A., Brad B., Cameron W., Carol N., Christopher M., Danni F., Glen C., Jimi C., Joe W., Justin B-J., Lukas E., Mitch M., Oscar S., Phillip B-J. Pixy B., Ryan M., SJ M., Stacy L., Teddy L., Timothy A.
Happy Pride Week! Today we continue our celebration of diversity within our LEGO community by shining a light on some previously unheard voices. In my last article, I spoke of what it’s like being an LGBTQ+ LEGO fan from my perspective. As I mentioned then, I am not the representative of the LGBTQ+ LEGO Community nor do I want to be. What makes us great is that we all bring different experiences to the table. One of the biggest online groups for LGBTQ+ LEGO fans and their allies is undoubtedly GayFOLs. A thriving online community on Facebook, GayFOLs is currently home to over 850 members form all over the world. I asked its founder, Bruce H., to tell us a bit about his experience and how and why GayFOLs came to be. I also reached out to members to hear what their experiences have been like in the hobby. Below are their stories, lightly edited for flow.
Happy Pride week! While we usually celebrate Pride all month in June, this particular Pride Month has been quite fraught and politically difficult. For the last several weeks, many LGBTQ+ people have postponed their month-long celebrations of Pride to make room for other marginalized voices, namely Black Lives Matter. I think that’s important and I stand by this stance myself. So now it’s time for us to join our voices with the national conversation.
Disclaimer: For this story I am speaking from my own experience as an LGBTQ+ LEGO fan that has risen to a bit of prominence in the LEGO world due to being on LEGO Masters. I don’t claim to speak for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole or even for the whole LGBTQ+ LEGO community. All I know is what I have experienced, heard and observed in my time with this hobby and this is what I share with you now.
Due to the tragic murders of George Floyd, Manuel Ellis, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and far too many other African-Americans, racial injustices that Black people experience every day have come to the forefront of white consciousness once again. We’ve been examining how this very real-world issue affects the hobby we participate in, not just for a moment in time but on an ongoing basis. Earlier this week, we sat down with Canadian artist Ekow Nimako, whose LEGO work we’ve featured several times, including his stunning Flower Girl sculpture and wonderful Beasts from Bricks book.
Our conversation with Ekow covered his experience growing up playing with LEGO, interactions with the LEGO hobbyist community, the Afrocentric and Afrofuturist themes of his artwork, and how LEGO communities such as The Brothers Brick can operate more inclusively.
We ask you to watch the full video before reacting with comments. While the reaction from some quarters to recent statements we’ve made that Black Lives Matter has been dismissed as “political” and some reactions have been outright hateful, by and large the response from the LEGO hobbyist community has been empathetic and supportive. Nevertheless, there is much more to be done. A number of our readers have rightly pointed out The Brothers Brick’s own contributor list as one area where we can improve, asking us to work harder to recruit a more diverse team while highlighting more non-white builders and highlighting the LEGO creations of people of color. As I committed to during the video conversation with Ekow, one of our next steps will be to kick off a new round of contributor recruiting to improve our own diversity and better represent the community we are a part of.
Last week, we showed you more of Beryll Roehl’s wonderful LEGO test brick photographs. Today, we’re going to look at Norwegian collector Fabian Lindblad and his equally enjoyable snapshots of marbled bricks. Marbled bricks are named such after the swirls of different colored plastic they contain. Some elements are intentionally marbled for sets, while others are the result of changing over the plastic in a mold from one color to another. In the past, LEGO employees occasionally took them home to share with their children. Today, the standard procedure is to recycle them so they don’t leave the building. However, if you are really lucky, you might just find a marbling error in one of your latest sets.
Last week, LEGO announced the biggest set yet in the Jurassic World license, 75936 Jurassic Park: T. rex Rampage. While most of the LEGO Jurassic World theme has centered around the new films starring Chris Pratt, this is the second time LEGO has revisited the 1993 Spielberg classic film, following 75932 Jurassic Park Velociraptor Chase last year. With 3,120 pieces, this new set banks on scale with a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex and Jurassic Park gate, which are much larger than minifigure scale. In addition to our usual review, we also had the chance to speak to LEGO Senior Designer Mark Stafford about the set. T. rex Rampage will retail for US $249.99 | CAN $299.99 | UK £219.99 beginning June 19th for LEGO VIPs, with general availability beginning July 1st.
A LEGO Star Wars fan since before Star Wars was a LEGO theme, Mark Chan has spent the last 40 years trying to create the perfect LEGO model of an X-wing fighter. We at The Brothers Brick think he’s done a pretty good job, so we caught up with Mark to get the story of his journey.
May the 4th can be an exciting time for Star Wars fans, thanks in part to sales and promotions going on. Unfortunately, this year’s festivities have taken on a somber note because, on April 30th, the 7’3″ (2.21m) Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew died at age 74. With only barks, grunts and growls, the occasionally belligerent but always lovable Chewbacca became a pop culture icon. Kale Frost built this heartfelt tribute to Chewbacca and the towering British-born actor who donned the iconic fur costume to play him. With tools in hand, his back to the viewer and facing a bright light, this composition conveys the message nicely.
Peter Mayhew had a form of gigantism that can cause crippling joint pain and poor blood circulation. In 2011 he and his wife Angie started the Peter Mayhew Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering, and the financial toll brought on by life’s traumatic events. Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, said that Mr. Mayhew was “a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character.” In a statement, George Lucas said of him, “He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature.”
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars, I recently sat down with Jens Kronveld Frederiksen, the Director of Design for the LEGO Star Wars line. Jens has been with LEGO for more than 20 years, and shares his insights on how he joined the company, what lessons he’s learned over the years, and how LEGO balances input from both kids and adults. Read through to the end to learn a really cool detail about the movie Millennium Falcon Jens saw during a visit to Pinewood Studios during the filming of The Force Awakens!
The Brothers Brick: Just about every LEGO builder’s dream is to become a set designer. How did your career as a designer begin?
Jens Kronveld Frederiksen: A little bit of a weird story and coincidence. LEGO has been a great part of my life for as long as I remember. I really, really loved LEGO but I was never thinking of it as a profession or a career to be honest. In 1998 I was participating in a model building exhibition. I have a hobby building plastic model kits, which mainly is of World War II stuff. At that event in Copenhagen, there were some LEGO people there, and they were looking to hire designers not for model builders but for making new prototypes for new elements, and well I was of course interested in that. And then before I started on that, I saw a job application for a permanent position as model builder and I got the job. That’s how I got into it.
The LEGO fan community is mourning the loss of kindhearted and prolific builder, Arthur Gugick of Ohio. On March 30th Arthur and his significant other, Barbara Becker, were tragically killed in a car accident. If you ever attended North American fan events like BrickWorld Chicago or BrickFair VA, you may have run into Arthur before. At these events, you could catch a glimpse of his elaborate architectural builds and mosaics. Arthur was featured in the Winter 2008 issue of BrickJournal magazine, and he was even contracted to recreate his model of the Taj Mahal for the Australian independent film, Taj (2011).
In addition to being an avid LEGO enthusiast, Arthur taught math at Beachwood High School. He was passionate about his job and had a knack for harnessing his creativity to make math fun for his students. In an interview with ABC News 5 Cleveland, Ed Bernetich (who had been responsible for hiring Arthur) commented:
I was very sad because he is one of a kind. He’s a total unique individual. There are many great math minds, but sometimes they don’t relate to other people very well. And here we had a guy with a mathematician’s brain who also was extremely skilled at reaching kids.
Arthur’s death has been a difficult time for Beachwood School District staff and students, whose lives he has touched over the years.
Ever the mathematician, Arthur approached his LEGO models from a mathematical angle. Some of his structures utilized calculus, and he even wrote his own software for building domes like the one on his Taj Mahal. According to Arthur, “I look at my buildings as more an exercise in mathematics than necessarily an art form, which might be a little different of a take than other people do, or maybe it’s the same… For me it’s a puzzle” (BrickJournal – Winter 2008).
One of the most incredible things about LEGO is that you can truly build anything you set your mind to. A good builder can take a pile of squared-off pieces and create something that looks organic. Sometimes a LEGO artist (because that’s what they really are) has that extra stroke of genius that takes a build to the next level and gives it life. If you don’t know about Alex de Jong, you should, because he’s proven this point with his stunning tribute to Disney’s Tinker Bell. We were fortunate to communicate with Alex throughout the build process, and he has been kind enough to share with us exclusive details about the project.