Some of the best builders are the ones who are constantly trying to push the envelope of what LEGO can do. And arguably, some of the best builds are a tale of two parts. When you get two great builders together, there is no telling what innovative works of art they might come up with. Shinmizu Village by the brother-sister duo of Geneva (Kai NRG/Geneva) and Isaiah (Robert4168/Garmedon)is a great example of such a creation. At first glance, it’s a beautiful little village on a cliff. But there is more to the story! According to the builders, it’s a mash-up between Venice and Japanese design. And apparently, achieving the angles of the layout was quite a feat!
The good folks of KC Bricklab have come a long way since they started the Kansas City-based LEGO club five years ago. Their most recent exploit is an incredible journey through the half live-action, half-animated feature film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The 1988 Robert Zemeckis film is filled with hairy escapades, quick humor, and more than a bit of weirdness, and at 8 by 16 feet, KC Bricklab’s display brings it all to life.
The display was a collaborative effort by 19 members of KC Bricklab, and contains the zany mainstreet of Toontown, the huge Acme factory warehouse, and a bit of psychedelic forest among other scenes.
KC Bricklab began planning the build in December of 2016, and had it completed in time for display at Chicago’s Brickworld LEGO convention in June. Although the club meets monthly, most of the planning was done virtually, and the finished display for the convention was the first time the builders got to see the full layout assembled.
While VirtuaLUG is currently the undisputed king of collabs at Brickworld, that may change soon with this rising crop of young builders…
At Brickworld 2014, the so called “ChiLUG+ImpLUG+Friends” group unveiled their Princess Bride Collaborative build, based on the classic 1987 movie. This group consisted of: Philip Bernston, Daniel Church, Casey McCoy , Ben M Merrill, Lee Muzzy, Matthew Oh, Max Pointner, Ian Spacek, and Paul Vermeesch.
As always our friends at Beyond the Brick have a great video highlight of this layout:
This amazing collaborative layout tells the story of the Greek hero Odysseus and his 10 year adventure home after the battle of Troy. Feel free to take the video tour of this massive Layout, courtesy of our friends at Beyond the Brick:
VirtuaLUG of course is the mega-group that brought us Lord of the Rings (2011), Alice in Wonderland (2012) and The Wizard of Oz (2013). So it came as no surprise that they took home Brickworld’s top prize (and Master Builder to boot!):
VirtuaLUG (Not pictured: Bart, Kevin, Kyle, Mark and Leo)
It was my distinct pleasure to attend the 12th annual BrickCon in Seattle last weekend along with about half of TBB’s contributors, hundreds of talented builders and thousands of slack-jawed public hours gawkers. While I’m sure you’ll be seeing and reading more about the convention from my Brothers, I’ll be focusing this post on a collaborative sci-fi project I took part in called Hub 14 that featured 23 builders from Brazil, Canada, Germany and a U.S. contingent that included both Alaska and Hawaii.
Hub 14 was a sprawling 4ft by 12ft slice of alien landscape that included an air-traffic control hub, landing pads and swampy terrain that provided a stage for dozens of VTOL spaceships, mecha, minifigs, monsters, hard-suits and personal conveyances of every variety. Although it apparently won a category award of some kind (I didn’t actually see it happen) Hub creator Michael Rutherford claims that no trophy was actually distributed and if there was he had no specific knowledge of such an artifact. The real value of the Hub was the camaraderie enjoyed by its participants and the shared effort to bring the diorama to life. Clear evidence of the spirit of the Hub was the exchange of VTOL’s by many of the builders at the end of the convention, with nobody being more generous than Simon Liu, who basically gave everything away. Everyone pitched in from set-up to tear-down and I think I can safely say that a good time was had along the way. My favorite aspect of the project was meeting and working with some of my favorite builders that I’ve somehow missed in my convention travels, people like Pascal, Gilcelio, Nick, Sam, Chris, Aaron, Adam, Evan, Ryan, Simon and Will. While it’s great to work with beloved cronies like Mark, Breanne, Bram, Josh, Ian and Ley (to name a few) there is a special thrill adding new blood to the mix. I learned a great deal about collaboration along the way and I feel like I’m a better builder as a result.
But there was also a dark side to the shenanigans occurring at Hub 14, most notably this truly disturbing and deadly embrace shared by Michael Rutherford and Ryan Wilhelm. While this borderline cosplay only lasted a brief 3 and a half minutes to get as fellow Hubbite Simon Liu put it “Just the right shot“, it seemed to most observers that time was slowed like Neo stopping incoming bullets in The Matrix. I like to think I’ve been to my share of conventions and seen some odd behavior out of my fellow Lego nerds, but this was a whole new level of strangeness….at least in the on-site venue. I still wake up screaming, thinking about this terrible soul-kiss…and yes constant reader…there was tongue.
Although my final anecdote is only superficially related to Hub 14, it is without qualification, the best. No doubt as a result of his association with the Hub, the eternally effervescent Nick Trotta was approached by Lego’s own Keith Severson (Sr. Manager of Community Support) about taking Nick’s “Solar Sweeper” starfighter back to Billund to be displayed within their innovation studio. Apparently it will be set up in an area for LEGO designers to regularly see and take some inspiration from what our awesome building community is up to. In Nick’s own understated words “Wow!“. After meeting Nick and his long suffering (and much funnier) wife Adelle, I can safely say it couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more humble dude. So keep hope alive constant reader, if you have the requisite skills you might just get “discovered” at a convention.
So many thanks to the hard working and hard partying international crew of builders that was Hub 14, you guys (and gal) are the best. The project would not have been possible without the generosity and logistical assistance from TBB’s elder statesman Andrew Becraft who not only allowed me to ship 10 boxes to his domicile but also moved them to the venue and shipped them back without so much as a complaint. Thanks also to Wayne Hussey and team for another fabulous BrickCon! If you are interested in the specific contributions of each member you can follow the links throughout the article or head on over to Ryan Rubino’s photostream for additional action. Due to post-convention hangover disorder (PCHD), some of the contributors have not yet officially posted their models to Flickr, so stay tuned to your stream for more details. There is a public Group Pool for the Hub, but again, because of PCHD it is still in its infancy.
I’ve been told by experts in the know that this sort of coverage isn’t well loved by our audience and usually results in a downward spike in statistical interest, so thank you for your indulgence. If you have a thought you’d like to share on the topic of convention coverage I’d love to read about it in the comments.
A few weeks ago, Brother Andrew took us on a trip through Cyberpocalypse as it was presented at BrickWorld Chi-Town. A few weeks later the diorama was presented in its entirety for BrickFair Virginia, and it is my distinct honor to bring you extended coverage of what is without a doubt my favorite sci-fi diorama to date. Carter Baldwin and BroLUG manage to accomplish what is perhaps the most difficult aspect of collaboration; the seamless merging of diverse builders into a cohesive scene. When looking at convention-driven collaborative projects in person or online it is typically very easy to tell where one builder’s work stops and another begins, but such is not the case with Cyberpocalypse.
The influences for the project should be obvious to any fan of the genre; William Gibson, Blade Runner and Akira to name just a few, but I was surprised to learn that BroLUG also cites Kowloon Walled City as a major inspiration. Who knew the Bro’s were so literate and talented at beer pong too? Instead of me rambling on about the wonders of collaboration, I will provide excerpts from the Cyberpocalypse exit interviews conducted earlier this week.
Carter Baldwin is the somewhat reluctant Captain of BroLUG, a non-geographical club which seems to be equal parts RoninLUG, KeithLUG and a high-school Lacrosse Team. Carter (he’s the one in the photo with the nerdy Firefly shirt) was still loopy from the weekend’s shenanigans but with a little coaxing he was able to focus long enough to share his thoughts on the whole cat-wrangling endeavor.
“Throughout this project there were three things I found indispensable; concept art, caffeine, and noise rock…This display was definitely the most ambitious Lego project I’ve ever undertaken. Considering how poorly it could have gone, I’m beyond pleased at how well it all turned out. As much as I like to think that I run the show the real stars are all the contributors. I want to give particular props to Nate Brill and his builds inspired all of us to push our boundaries.”
A new style of collaboration was introduced to the Flickr Lego community when a group of builders (myself included) simultaneously posted creations depicting a tribe of polar bear warriors. Check out our creations on the Flickr group and learn how to build your own polar bear.