Tonight the LEGO Store in London’s Leicester Square hosted the midnight launch event for the stunning new UCS Millennium Falcon – the largest LEGO set ever made. Fans queued outside for hours to be amongst the first to purchase the new set, and the atmosphere as the doors opened was something akin to the air of hysteria which might accompany an iPhone launch. The patient fans were welcomed inside at midnight by a pair of Imperial Stormtroopers and the unforgettable opening fanfare of John Williams’ score.
Those first in line were greeted in-store with rounds of applause from the gathered LEGO staff, and a wall of brown cardboard boxes – perhaps visually uninspiring, but a reassuring signal regarding stock availability for those further back in the queue.
Happy purchasers saw their sets signed by designers from the LEGO Star Wars team. Even those who had waited longest in line said they’d had a good time, genuinely delighted as they wheeled their massive sets off into the darkness. The entire event was a testament to the continued power of Star Wars, and the enduring appeal of a really, really big box of bricks.
Director of Lego Star Wars Design Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, left, and Design Manager of Lego Star Wars Michael Lee Stockwell
Prior to the midnight opening, the Brothers Brick joined other members of the press to meet with the lead designers for LEGO Star Wars – Jens Kronvold Frederiksen and Micheal Lee Stockwell. They shared some of the challenges of building such a large model, and their thoughts behind some of its features…
Click to read the interview with the set designers
Today we’re sitting down to talk to a rising Russian superstar builder, Timofey Tkachev. He has been in the online LEGO community for quite a few years, but the past two years have seen his spectacular creations gain increasing traction. Each of Timofey’s new builds improves upon those before it, but even with a sizable Flickr following and regular activity in the Russian LEGO User Group RFFL, there are many who haven’t yet discovered his work. Time to find out more about him!
Back in 2012, filmmaker Justin McAleece used Bricks by the Bay as a background to film scenes for his independent film Brick Madness. Five years later, the director has shared the first official teaser trailer for the mockumentary, which is scheduled to premiere publically in September.
Brick MADNESS teaser trailer from Blare Media on Vimeo.
One of the really cool real-life aspects of the movie is that Carl Merriam designed many of the models used by the actors in the movie back during filming, and now Carl works full-time as a set designer in Billund.
LEGO memes are in abundance, but not many of them surface more often that the idea that stepping on a LEGO brick is painful. One of the best-known iterations of this meme is a comic that’s been making the rounds on the internet for years featuring a brick-general giving training to other brick-soldiers gathered around a plan of attack diagramming the human foot.
If you’re a fan of LEGO, chances are good that you’ve seen it at some point in time and probably even had it shared with you more than once. But did you ever stop to think, who created this? Well, perhaps I’m more inquisitive than most, but that’s what piqued my interest. So let me share with you the journey of discovery that I took…
The online LEGO community is an all-around friendly place and quite open to newcomers, with very few exceptions. What few realize is that this comes at a high price; the comments exchanged by builders are friendly and positive — and often that means only positive. And here lies a potential pitfall, because honest critiques and (seeming) negativity tend to be avoided for fear of creating awkward situations. Additionally, not all builders want to receive constructive feedback. The end result is that most creations gather a plethora of dry comments that do not really help the builders improve much. I have been passively raising awareness to this problem for years now, but never have I gone to such lengths as Aaron van Cleave, who has made a series of bad creations as a social experiment.
While in Billund earlier this month, we had an opportunity to chat with LEGO designer Carl Merriam. Carl is still an active AFOL within the LEGO community, although he is now a professional LEGO set designer. Most recently, Carl Merriam co-designed 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V and has been working on LEGO Boost that has just been released for pre-order.
We sat down with Carl at LEGO headquarters to chat about how he became a LEGO designer, along with some of the LEGO projects he’s worked on since joining the company.
Read the full review with LEGO set designer Carl Merriam
Our continuing adventures led us to track down and interrogate Amado Canlas Pinlac (aka AC Pin). Amado was born in Angeles City in the Philippines, and works in the Information Technology field with previous employment with overseas airlines. He has called East Brunswick, New Jersey home for the last fifteen years, where he lives with his wife Marleth and their three sons, Milton, Marlowe and Myreon. Amado credits the support of his wife for being where he is today!
TBB: Can you tell us how you got into LEGO?
AC: First and foremost I’ve been a Star Wars fan/geek way before LEGO introduced the SW line, as I collected the Star Wars action figures, vehicles, and sets. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who’ve known me over the years that I love to build Star Wars dioramas. In fact I’ve done Action Figure dioramas and was affiliated with various SW fan sites which featured them before I even started with LEGO. One of the problems/drawbacks that I’ve had to contend with the Action Figure dioramas was there was very little or none of the re-usability factor. Around that time, when I was growing disinterested with Action Figures, LEGO started producing the first SW sets.
This week we headed up to our great neighbor to the north to track down Tim Schwalfenberg. Tim lives in Canada, is 21 years old and is currently studying Materials Engineering at his local university. He also likes to publicly smash his LEGO builds too, but more about that later.
TBB: Hi Tim! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your relationship with the Brick?
Tim: Sure! I have found LEGO to be a great creative outlet when I need a break from all my calculus or physics courses. While I’ve been building almost as long as I can remember, it wasn’t until my first year of university that I started to look at LEGO with the intention of making anything beyond the rainbow-warrior spaceships of my earlier years. Through a combination of some inspiring creations I stumbled upon through MOCpages and finding myself with too much free time on my hands, I decided that to try out this LEGO thing more seriously. Thousands of pieces and hundreds of creations later the LEGO hobby has become an incredibly important part of my life. The itch to build has become a constant companion that is easily rewarded by long hours tinkering away on a table-scrap covered table.
This week our travels take us to South Bohemia, in the Czech Republic. There we tracked down František Hajdekr, a builder known for his small builds of big vehicles and equipment of all kinds. František lives in the town of Bavorov, with his wife and three sons. He is 39 years old, teaches high school and runs his own Youtube channel, which is loaded with lots of “how-to” LEGO videos. Let’s explore his mind a bit, shall we?
TBB: Hello, František! How you got into LEGO and what was your first set?
František: My first set was the classic Town 6621 Fire Truck from 1984. And for a long time it was the only set that I had. Lego was not so available in my country, so I built mainly with different building blocks – Seva or metallic Merkur (Czech made).
This week we got to sit down with British builder Jeremy Williams (aka “Bricking It”). He lives in Leicester with his wife and two young sons (ages 5 and 6). He travels frequently, consulting for accounting firms and training their accountants. However, I was able to catch him between road trips and pick his brain. Come explore the mind of a builder with me!
TBB: Hey Jeremy, can you tell us how you got into LEGO?
Jeremy: Sure – I got into LEGO as a kid, and Classic Space was my era. I spent every evening building and playing with spaceships! I also got slightly into Technic, but never Castle or City. I then abandoned LEGO as a teenager and only picked it up again six years ago after my first son was born. I figured I had an excuse again!
This week we talk with Aran Jitsukawa-Hudson (AKA Cole Blaq) about his art, philosophy and his life. Aran was born in Great Britain and grew up in Germany. He lives in Düsseldorf with his wife and three kids, is a cancer survivor, and attended university as an Art History student. We interviewed him 6 years ago here on The Brothers Brick, but there’s a lot to catch up on since then. He is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to publish an art book based on his Enter the Brick series. Let’s go explore the mind of a builder.
TBB: First of all, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? What got you into LEGO and what kept you there?
Aran: My real name is Aran Jitsukawa-Hudson, as some might know. My alter ego as an artist is Cole Blaq, which is a reference to a comic character and an adaption to Hip Hop language.
I am British by origin but mainly grew up in Germany. With my wonderful wife being Japanese, we’re a rich blend of cultures! Now I live in Dusseldorf, Germany, which is located at the river Rhine, north of Cologne.
We recently had the chance to sit down with Johan Alexanderson (LegoJalex) to discuss his building style and approach to the hobby. A part-time web developer, as well as a free-lance illustrator and comic book artist, Johan is 35 years old and lives in Sweden. Come with us as we explore the mind of a builder!
TBB: So how did you get into LEGO building?
LegoJalex: I started building about 5 years ago, after a “dark age” of about 15 years. I had a stressful time then and I really needed something to relax with, so naturally I started to build again. Building with LEGO has so many great memories for me and I really like the creativity involved. I think there are similarities with my interest in drawing and illustrating, where in both you have to think in a creative and artistic way.