LEGO fans take many shapes. Some enjoy building official sets, while others dive into their imagination. Still others take great pride in hunting down every minute variation of 2×4 brick, or in capturing beautiful images of minifigures. For some, though, LEGO is a career path. Aaron Newman has been building with LEGO all his life, and has successfully navigated the dream that many fans have: not just building with LEGO, but getting paid to do it. Aaron has been on a rocket trajectory, moving from fan to full-time LEGO artist and then to a contestant on LEGO Masters Season 1. We’ve interviewed Aaron before about his work as a fan and on LEGO Masters, but now he’s moving to Denmark as the LEGO Company’s newest designer, so I caught up with Aaron once more to learn about his journey and how he approaches building.
There’s never an easy way to share the news of the loss of a friend. On June 2, David Frank passed away after an unexpected medical emergency, leaving us shocked and heartbroken. David was not only a marvelously talented LEGO builder whose work we’ve featured many times, but also a personal friend to several of us here at TBB here in the Seattle area. David leaves behind his wife and three children.
No words can ever do justice to someone’s life, but if there’s one word that anyone who met David would use to describe him, it’s “kind.” Although he had the physique of a bodybuilder, David was softspoken and had one of those personalities that sticks in your mind as modest, utterly sincere, and simply filled with the child-like joy of sharing a hobby. I first met David about 10 years ago in the BrickCon exhibition hall when he walked in to start setting up one of his castle creations. We struck up a conversation as he started to unpack his boxes, and he told me he was still new to building his own creations rather than sets, and not to expect much of his builds. He then proceeded to set up what was not only the biggest LEGO castle I’d ever seen in person, but also incredibly detailed, a sprawling layout filled with dragons and knights. David’s building skills only grew from there, and he frequently built massive dioramas of locations from his wife Claire’s novels along with other things he was passionate about, like Starcraft. Many LUG meetings and hangouts later we even discussed auditioning for LEGO Masters as a team. But as incredible as David’s LEGO skills were, it was never his priority. David’s family always came first, and he loved sharing the company of friends even more than he loved building. David, you will be sorely missed.
2020’s breakout reality show hit, LEGO Masters is back for a second season beginning June 1st! Last week, The Brothers Brick sat down for a series of video chats with some of the show’s cast and crew including the series’ returning host, Will Arnett.
Funny and charming as always, Arnett answered an onslaught of questions from several news outlets and even some former LEGO Masters contestants, Boone Langston and Flynn De Marco (that’s me!). The interview covers a wide range of subjects from the differences between seasons to puppets and aliens, so let’s dive right in, shall we?
Last fall, LEGO held a vote to let fans pick the topic of its next adult-focused book. The Secret Life of LEGO Bricks, written by Daniel Konstanski, emerged victorious and has been available for pre-order via the crowdsourced publishing platform Unbound ever since. The book will not be available via normal distribution after the Unbound campaign, so with just one week remaining for pre-orders, we caught up with Daniel to find out what he’s been up to for the last nine months working on this book. Of course, we haven’t read the book yet, so we wanted to know a bit of what to expect from the finished book. Daniel says he’s been allowed full access to The LEGO Company’s archives—an unprecedented level of access—and has been delving through more than 600 pages of transcripts from interviews he conducted with LEGO employees.
He was able to share with us some exclusive sneak peeks, such as the dinosaur tribe that almost made it into the Legends of Chima theme. The Secret Life of LEGO Bricks will be published in 2022, though only available to those who backed the project on Unbound by May 31, 2021.
LEGO builds of movies and TV are kind of a big deal. Everybody builds something from their favourite media, be it a character, vehicle, location, or a whole scene. Some people do it so consistency and with quality that their creations become icons in the community. This is where builder and LEGO Masters Germany contestant Alex Jones (Orion Pax) comes in. I recall seeing his numerous Transformers builds as early as ten years ago. Since then, he has graced us with a wide variety of wonderful vehicles from movies and TV shows. Not only that, he also built replica objects from the ’80s. And now, Alex shows them all off on his brand new website.
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.