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. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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?)
You know what isn’t supposed to mix? LEGO and booze. But sometimes it does. And wow, can it be a lot of fun to watch. Recently, I shared my tribute to the TRY channel’s drunken LEGO building. It featured one of the three pairs of TRYers who attempted to build sets while smashed out of their gourds. The people I depicted enjoyed my creation, but it didn’t end there. One of the other people in the video, Mary-Claire, asked if I could build her and Lolsy Byrne next. So…here we are.
MC and Lolsy’s attempt at building Yoda’s Hut (75208) didn’t quite go as smoothly, but I think it’s fair to say they had a great time anyway. Even if MC was momentarily confused if their set was from “Sky Wars” or some other franchise… (To be fair, she was really drunk!)
I ran into a couple of challenges in making recognizable likenesses. Lolsy’s nose ring (made from a minifigure gold ring) was difficult to position. Luckily the 2×1 curved slope of her nose has a notch that allowed for the ring to sit on the top of a 1×1 Technic brick built sideways off of her lip. That allowed enough of an offset to have at least almost half of the ring “exposed” below her nose, and flush with the rest of her face.
Mary-Clare’s mouth also gave me a bit of trouble. Eventually I found a combination of 1×2 and 2×2 plates for her lips and a 1×2 rounded plate for her teeth that worked. The mouth assembly is “studs down”, so the connection point on the underside of the 2×2 plate creates a nice suggestion of a tongue…an unexpected but welcome side effect.
I also wanted to add a little something extra to this second build, so I decided to animate a bit of the video. (From about the 6:00 mark). At that point, Lolsy has a few choice things to say to anyone who has a problem with their Star Wars knowledge…click on through to see her LEGO avatar in action!
In these dark times, I find a lot of comfort in watching silly YouTube videos. In heavy rotation for me (builder Chris Doyle) is The TRY Channel. There, a bunch of Irish comedians react to odd foods and activities. It’s really funny. Sometimes the challenges involve a lot of alcohol, and thus feature drunk Irish comedians. This, to me, is even funnier. Imagine my delight then, when TRY released Drunk Irish People Try Building LEGO Sets. I’ll give you a quick recap of the episode: It doesn’t go particularly well for most of them.
Two of the TRYers, though, Dermot Ward and Bláithín de Burca, manage to get through more than two-thirds of the build of the 76119 Batmobile set. I felt really bad for them when time ran out and they had to stop. So, being the sort of person who builds with LEGO myself, I thought I’d make a little alternate-reality ending for the video where they did finish.
This was one of my first times building characters in the likeness of “real people”, as opposed to robots or super-heroes. I think they turned out pretty recognizable. Dermot likes to joke that he has an oversized head, so there are a few extra bricks in his forehead. His mostly-unbuttoned plaid shirt, though, was a real pain at this scale. I used a combination of headlight bricks and 1×1 tiles to get a suggestion of the pattern. Creating a version of Bla had some challenges as well. I used rubber bands for the straps on her top, and digging into my sticker stash to find something to use for the decoration. A pair of chrome grill tiles and some Brickheadz glasses complete her look. I also built a tiny Batmobile, Batman, and Joker. Because context matters.
The best part of this build for me was when the TRYers reacted to it. It’s super gratifying when a bit of fan art gets a big thumbs up from the people depicted in it. And Mary-Claire wants me to work up versions of her and Lolsy next. That sounds like something I’m going to have to…Try. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)
When we last left Chris Doyle, he had just finished building his latest replica of Tom Servo from Mystery Science Theater 3000. All that was left was to take photos and write up the summary article. Simple, right? Well, if you’ve read the previous installments, you know things rarely went according to plan throughout this journey. Why should the last few steps be any easier? When things go disastrously wrong during the final photo shoot, Chris will find himself questioning if getting back into LEGO building was the worst idea he ever had.