The LEGO Company is well-known for its excellent customer service. The products are generally high quality, and when errors occur they are quick to issue replacements. However, we recently encountered an unfortunate scenario that left a bad impression. While many of the products we review are provided for us by LEGO itself (which doesn’t mean, of course, that we always give them positive coverage), just like most of you, we also buy a lot of LEGO through regular retail avenues. That’s where I come in. My name is Chris Doyle, and I’m a contributor here at The Brothers Brick. Frequent readers may also recognize my name from the LEGO Art super hero mosaics I’ve been building lately. It’s fair to say I’ve spent a lot (a lot a lot a lot) of money on LEGO mosaic kits and related parts over the past year. When LEGO announced their new 40179 Personalized Mosaic Portrait kit, I quickly found an excuse to buy it. But what do you do when the 6,002-piece set you order arrives and it only has 4,502 pieces? Somewhere along the way, LEGO substantially changed the number of pieces included in this set. Here’s my experience.
Brothers Brick contributor Chris Doyle is back with another heroic pop-culture mosaic in the LEGO art style. Completing his “Trinity” of retro DC superheroes is Batman as portrayed by Adam West. Because of course that’s the version he’d build.
The 1960’s Batman was a far cry from the grim and gritty versions on the screen these days. This was a Batman who was always looking for the best in people, who was always quick to lend a helping hand, and who’s level of violence was limited to “Biff!” and “Pow!” and the occasional “Splatt!” This is the Batman who I’d want to see in my dream Justice League, along with the Lynda Carter version Wonder Woman and Christopher Reeve’s Superman.
Thanks to the LEGO Art sets, I’ve been on a real mosaic building kick lately. My last two (Wonder Woman and Kinga Forrester) were collaborative builds, but for my next effort I wanted to do one that was just by me. For a subject I decided on Christopher Reeve’s unforgettable role as Superman. Why? Because this is the sort of superhero the world really needs these days. The total build is around 5,400 parts (5,376 1×1 plates/tiles in the 48×112 stud image).
Once again I made use of the LEGO Art Remix web site to generate several different sets of instructions. My first attempt was…well, let’s be charitable and just say “it didn’t quite work out as planned.” But once I settled on a better alternate image things went together pretty quickly. (It took the same time to build as it takes to watch Superman, Superman II, Superman II: The Donner Cut, and Superman III. I was worried it might stretch into Superman IV territory, but not quite.).
One of my favorite escapes from reality is Mystery Science Theater 3000. People riffing on bad movies just makes the world seem less bleak, somehow. The best part, though, is that my wife Jennifer is also a big fan. She’s usually more of a “build a LEGO set” person than a “make something new out of LEGO” person, but I was able to tempt her into collaborating on a LEGO Art style mosaic of the latest MST3k head-honcho: Kinga Forrester. (As portrayed by a Felicia Day.)
The techniques we used were very similar to the ones I helped develop for my Wonder Woman collaboration. We bought a couple of LEGO art sets (Beatles and Warhol this time.) We used the LEGO Art Remix site to create several prototype images. We threw away our first few attempts, and combined at least three different versions of instructions for the final image. And then hand-built all the fine details anyway.
A little while ago, Alyse Middleton and I (Chris Doyle) shared the process behind our Wonder Woman LEGO Art mosaic. We didn’t have the time (or parts) to finish our vision then, but as promised we’ve returned to share the completed project – a 48 x 144 stud tribute to Lynda Carter. Consuming over 7000 pieces, (6,912 of them 1×1 round plate/tile), this has the same form-factor as the giant Darth Vader and Iron Man “Ultimate” builds.
Once a year, my long-distance partner Alyse Middleton and I, Chris Doyle, try to take a week of vacation together. With the realities of life in the USA in 2020 limiting the potential destinations, this time we opted for a “Quarencation” at my place. Kind of a bummer, but staying here kept us within easy reach of my LEGO workspace…and that paid out some nifty results. We were able to take an idea we had been kicking around all the way from concept to physical model. Working in the style of the new LEGO Art sets, we created a mosaic of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.
I’d built a number of mosaics in the past, so I had a few ideas on how we could approach making a new one. And while that experience was helpful, we ended up taking a very different route to reach our goal. Come along with us on our journey of highs, lows, seemingly endless moments of “I guess we’re starting over again“, and, yes, eventual triumph.
So, let’s start by putting things into context. One of my most vivid childhood memories is lying on a thick shag carpet, watching Battlestar Galactica, and being super frustrated that the clone brand LEGO that my parents had bought for me didn’t have the fine detail I needed to build Colonial Vipers. I remember swearing to myself that if I made it to adulthood, I would buy enough LEGO to fill a room. So, eventually, I did.
But a collection like this comes at a cost. And I don’t mean just that official LEGO product is on the expensive side. It eats up space, and time, and quite a few additional purchases just to keep things organized. So, in a vain attempt to justify this non-trivial investment, let me show you around and share my sorting process. C’mon. It’ll be fun!
You’re trapped in your home, and you and your roommates have no choice but to watch bad movies.
Sound familiar? No, it’s not just a good guess as to what many of our readers might be doing at this particular moment in time. It’s the plot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 – the story of a man shot into space and forced to watch cheesy movies with his robot companions. It’s one of my (TBB contributor Chris Doyle) favorite shows to binge-watch. Oh, and to build in LEGO. I’ve previously shared a build of the first subjects of this movie-watching experiment, Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot. Thanks to being trapped at home myself, I’ve had time to build the other two sets of castaways.
Pretty much every time Batman gets a new movie, he gets a new Batmobile. From the 1960’s family-friendly two-seater to the 2000’s militaristic Tumbler, there’s a version for just about every taste. And if you can’t find what you want on the big screen, you can always turn to LEGO builders to give you an alternate take you probably wouldn’t find elsewhere. And if that search fails you, then you can look to LEGO builders like Chris Doyle (that’s me by the way) to take things to a purely ludicrous level.
Every now and again, the LEGO community will be overtaken with a slew of builds in a common theme. The Baby Yoda builds are slowing down a little, but you can usually count on a new take on a Batmobile to surface every week or two. That’s understandable, what with the hype around LEGO’s UCS version of the 1989 Tim Burton design. I’m no different; I love the Batmobile in all its myriad designs. I didn’t think I could bring anything particularly new or interesting to the already amazing fan-builds that we’ve seen, though. So I took things a different (some may say “wacky”) direction. It’s probably safe to say you haven’t seen a Batmobile like this one before…
Yeah, I mashed the Burton Batmobile with the Unikitty! theme. It just seemed like the right thing to do. My first intention wasn’t to build this scale. In fact I had somewhat bigger plans. But, for now, I have both a minifigure and microscale version to share.
Some may call it a creative rut. I prefer to think of it as “finding my groove.” I had a blast building characters from the TRY Channel, and thought MST3k would be a great theme to continue with. It’s no secret that I’m a huge nerd when it comes to LEGO versions of MST3k things, and when a table-scrap of Tom Servo “just happened”, I knew it was too late to turn back. And, soon enough, Joel and Crow T. Robot had joined him on a stage based on the Season 2(ish) Satellite of Love.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a LEGO convention, but years ago, after the public went home, there were all sorts of “unsanctioned, after-hours” events for attending adults. Of those, “drunken speed building” was always a fun time. Or at least, I think it was a fun time. I honestly don’t remember a lot of details. Possibly because I was participating in drunken speed builds. Ah, youth. Anyway. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, drunk LEGO building.
Recently, the TRY Channel featured a bunch of Irish comedians getting drunk. Pretty common video topic for them. But immediately afterwards, they challenged the same folks to try their hand at building LEGO sets. I’ve already shared my LEGO-versions of two of the sets of TRYers. Today we finish up the series with Jamie Jay Car and Shannon Keenan‘s attempt to build set 75946 – Hungarian Horntail Triwizard Challenge. Like the other folks in the video, they do their best, but success wasn’t really in the cards for them. Shannon was pretty frustrated with the set from the get go, even “accidentally” tearing up the instruction book. Jamie gave it an honest go, but eventually just gave in to the chaos and started putting stickers all over his face. Good times.
I wanted to bring some new elements to this set of characters. Jamie’s shocked expression meant leaving behind the Mixel eyes I’d been using on everyone else, and going with 2×2 radar dishes. And black hot dogs for his eyebrows, because sometimes 1×2 tiles just aren’t enough. Shannon’s ash-blonde hair was a challenge for me, as no shade of LEGO brick really captured it right. I went through a couple of variations before giving in and ordering the parts I needed in dark tan. The torn instruction booklet is the insert from a Harry Potter collectible mini-figure. Sometimes, sacrifices must be made.
I’m looking forward to an excuse to build more members of the TRY channel in this format. At my age, it’s safer than getting involved in drunken speed builds of my own. Maybe. (When’s the next convention again?)