THE CULT OF LEGO PDF
LEGO set database: ISBN The Cult of LEGO. The Cult of LEGO [John Baichtal, Joe Meno] on cittadelmonte.info *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. No, this isn't a book about joining some fringe cult. It's a book . The cult of LEGO has also been the topic of .. aboutus/-/media/about%20us/ docs/cittadelmonte.info?l.r2= 2.
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Introduction The Cult of LEGO tells the story of an incredible toy and the complete with step-by-step building instructions and packaging. The Cult of Lego: To some, they are nostalgic plastic bricks. To others, they are a way of life. This book takes you on an illustrated tour of the Lego community. In The Cult of LEGO, Wired's GeekDad blogger John Baichtal and BrickJournal founder Joe Meno take you on a Print Book and FREE Ebook (PDF), $
No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner and the publisher. William Pollock Production Editor: Octopod Studios Developmental Editor: William Pollock Copyeditors: Kim Wimpsett and Riley Hoffman Proofreader:
Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other: Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Joe Meno. Marvel at spectacular LEGO creations like: A life-sized Stegosaurus and an 80,brick T. Rex skeleton Detailed microscale versions of landmarks like the Acropolis and Yankee Stadium A foot long, pound re-creation of the World War II battleship Yamato A robotic, giant chess set that can replay historical matches or take on an opponent A three-level, remote-controlled Jawa Sandcrawler, complete with moving conveyor belt Whether you're a card-carrying LEGO fanatic or just thinking fondly about that dusty box of LEGO in storage, The Cult of LEGO will inspire you to take out your bricks and build something amazing.
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Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Apr 15, Melki rated it really liked it Shelves: Though I can frequently be found cursing the sharp, pointy little bricks as I extract them from the soles of my feet, I'm actually a pretty big LEGO fan. And their amazing creations are making their way into art gallerys and museums. This book does a fairly good job of exploring all things LEGO - from minifig mania to gigantic recreations of Yankee Stadium and the Acropolis.
There is a history of Though I can frequently be found cursing the sharp, pointy little bricks as I extract them from the soles of my feet, I'm actually a pretty big LEGO fan. There is a history of brickmaking, a trip to a convention, and a look at LEGO's uses in autism therapy. The book does not shy away from controversy and has an article on Zbigniew Libera, a Polish artist who creates fake LEGO kits featuring Nazi concentration camps.
His use of a toy to make such ghastly dioramas is a sobering reminder of all that can go wrong with the world. I'm left with a new respect for this venerable building toy. I'll try to remember this as I'm negotiating the obstacle course of castles, forts, and pirate ships crowding my family room floor. View 1 comment.
The cult of lego by Steven Lee - Issuu
Jan 03, Bruce Gargoyle rated it really liked it Shelves: A coffee-table sized exploration of the social imapct of LEGO from its earliest inception through to new developments and applications. When I checked this one out of the library I expected that it would be the kind of book that I would idly flick through during points of boredom, but I actually ended up reading it cover to cover.
This was no mean feat given that the book is a hefty, coffee-table sized tome, but I like to think that holding it up for long periods coun 3. This was no mean feat given that the book is a hefty, coffee-table sized tome, but I like to think that holding it up for long periods counted as exercise. Beginning at the beginning, the book takes a look at the fascinating history of the toy company that would eventually become the home of the ubiquitous and iconic Lego brick.
The company's commitment to quality, amongst other things, is clearly one of the reasons why Lego has been around for so long, and has made such an impact on popular culture. From Lego's early incarnations, the book moves on to explore the extensive world of AFOLs Adult Fans of Lego, to the uninitiated and the "cult" that has built up around the humble toy brick.
You may not be aware of this, but adult Lego fans are everywhere, with their own webcomics, literature, conventions, language, online forums and competitions and if you ever wanted to be part of a hardcore hobbyist community based around a children's toy, Lego could certainly provide your entry ticket into such a world.
As well as the world of competitive building by adult Lego fans, the book takes a look at Lego as art, Lego as architecture and the ways in which adult builders have taken Lego to whole new levels that could not have been imagined by the company's founders.
No book on Lego could be complete without a close look at the Minifig phenomenon, and these little guys play a big role in the cult of Lego, influencing everything from the scale of creations to the builders' choice of avatar in the online and business worlds. There is a section of the book devoted to Lego and robotics and this was a whole new world for me as I have never particularly dabbled in the Technic sets, let alone the Mindstorms system, which allows users to program robots for all sorts of purposes, from the aforementioned vending machines, to robots designed to solve Rubik's Cubes.
The point of difference for this book is that it takes a focused look at how a simple interconnected building toy has made such an incredible impact on wider society. At the same time, it uncovers the vast and complex subculture of adult fans of Lego and the many ways in which the brick has evolved beyond "toy" status, in the hands of grown ups with innovative ambitions.
If you are a fan of Lego, and indeed of social history, I can recommend this book as one to lose yourself in. Jan 11, Lee Battersby rated it it was ok. For such a large book, written by authors with such credibility within the Lego community, this ends up feeling somewhat slight, without a great deal of depth in each separate subject and with too many areas of the hobby barely touched upon or skimmed across with no real engagement.
Granted, this is a coffee-style book, but even so, it feels like a lot more work has been done on the graphic design than really creating content that you can get your teeth into. It's beautifully visual, but I also For such a large book, written by authors with such credibility within the Lego community, this ends up feeling somewhat slight, without a great deal of depth in each separate subject and with too many areas of the hobby barely touched upon or skimmed across with no real engagement.
It's beautifully visual, but I also felt that many of the pictures did not capture the works from their best angle, and too many felt like stock images rather than bearing a cogent, consistent look right throughout. In the end, the book felt a little too much like a quickie put together to cash in on the popularity of its topic, rather than something designed to show off the best aspects of its subject matter.
Dec 15, Tyler Kroon rated it really liked it. A cool synopsis of the world of LEGO, with a focus on the adult fan base. Content includes the history of the company, pieces of art made with or influenced by LEGO, massive and tiny creations from all ages, fan groups, gatherings, and publications, as well as how LEGO has affected the fields of architecture, design, and robotics.
A fun and inspirational book for any self-labeled "brickhead"! Apr 23, Melanie rated it it was amazing. Read Lego: A love story first, then this one.
Jan 29, Bill Ward rated it really liked it Shelves: Although the book was published last November by No Starch Press , and it's taken me a while to finish reading it I've known Joe for years; he's a regular at many of the major fan conventions on the east coast, and the editor of BrickJournal.
He also ran the BrickFest in Washington, D. I don't know the other author, however. This is a great coffee table book covering pretty comprehensively all aspects of the LEGO adult hobby. It's not a single narrative though, from cover to cover, but rather each page pretty well stands on its own in some cases the story might span pages.
This is perfect for picking it up, opening it to a random page, reading a page or two, then putting it back down again, but if you do try to read it continuously it comes off a bit jarring. I suppose as a coffee table book this is ideal, but it's not how I like to read.
The chapters or stories in the book seem like blog posts more than anything else, which is understandable as John Baichtal is a prominent blogger. It's perfect for someone who loves to come to the public day of a LEGO convention but would never attend the whole weekend. The book is full of great pictures featuring a wide variety of creations and events from all over the world, spanning the last ten years and more.
I like the fact that they don't just highlight the latest and greatest, but creations that were featured on LUGNET 10 years ago are given equal billing with something from last year, showing the timelessness of LEGO as a medium. If you have a friend or family member who doesn't understand your fascination with LEGO, sharing this book with them would go a long way toward redressing that disconnect. Combining Meno's encyclopedic knowledge of the LEGO hobby and AFOL scene with Baichtal's outsider point of view was a master stroke by the publishers, as it ensures accuracy and comprehensiveness while keeping it accessible and understandable by a non-AFOL.
It was out of date almost immediately after publication though, with the closure of DesignByMe and LEGO Universe and consequent changes to LDD, and the introduction of the new LEGO Friends line and its attendant controversies in the media being topics that were completely missed by the authors. In a rapidly evolving scene such as ours, that's pretty much inevitable, however.
None of my models were featured though. Taken from my blog entry for this review Jan 16, Claire rated it really liked it Shelves: This is an absolutely fascinating book. I will be honest though, I mainly skimmed from chapter 9 onwards Digital bricks and robotics hold no interest for me but I am sure those sections are just as interesting as the rest of the book. I am a total amateur maybe novice is a better word when it comes to Lego but I love it all the same; mainly collecting minifigures and Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean sets or will be, once I start This is an absolutely fascinating book.
I am a total amateur maybe novice is a better word when it comes to Lego but I love it all the same; mainly collecting minifigures and Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean sets or will be, once I start working again. The book is inspiring as well - I was quite taken with the Vignettes, which are small pieces that depict a specific moment e.
I think this is something I would work on in the future. The LEGO comics used in the book are hilarious! These people have real talent. So I don't understand that great debate of childs toy vs. It's LEGO - everybody plays with it. May 11, John rated it really liked it Shelves: It presents itself as something of an introduction to LEGO to people who either never played with the bricks, or else gave them up as kids and never returned to them before now.
I think it's more likely to appeal to AFOL like me who already collect and use the bricks as adults, but I suppose it might be something others would find at least worth flipping through. I do have to note that despite being published in there are already some minor bits that are out of date. There is some discussion of the LEGO massively multiplayer online computer game.
Unfortunately, that game was not as successful as LEGO hoped it would be, and has already been shut down. This just emphasizes one of the points the book brings up, which is that while the company adheres to certain core principles of quality, it is also constantly embracing change.
The Cult of LEGO, A Coffee Table Book For LEGO Fans
Two things that have helped keep it successful despite the patents on its core elements being long expired. May 21, Cheryl Gatling added it. I bought this book because my nine-year-old daughter has gotten into Lego.
I thought she would like it, and she did, especially the chapter on the minifig whose appeal is so universally powerful that it graces the cover. But this is not really a book for or about kids. This book could be subtitled, "Everything that Adults Do with Lego. The survey is thorough in its breadth, not so much in its depth, with about two pages per topic, and most pages loaded with far more photo than text.
But if any of these topics sparks your interest, there are usually websites listed where you can look up more information. If you like Lego, this will be a fun book. But why does this happen? No worldwide phenomenon involves. Part of the difference is that, unlike a lot of games, LEGO still challenges grown-ups. LEGO allows adults to create while still providing that childlike outlet. Some builders attempt to create scale models involving hundreds of thousands of bricks.
Still others build models that are very small, making city blocks that can fit in the palm of their hand. The builders have the ability to control the complexity of their builds, which makes this a different mode of building than, say, that of a model kit.
For some adults, the allure is as simple as being able to afford toys they were denied as a child. As a child, this set would have been relegated to wish lists. As adults, though, this is attainable, if the desire is there. They call themselves adult fans of LEGO to differentiate themselves from the usual toy-related fan groups.
LEGO fans come from all walks of life: They are homemakers, students, computer scientists, and retirees, among others. Most are men, but many women have taken up the hobby as well. Here are some builders you might meet at a typical LEGO convention. Mik, 34 Occupation: Elementary school teacher.
Knoxville, Tennessee. Favorite Set: Brick Color: Classic grey. Either Rush or Death in June apocalyptic folk. And it came with the black spaceman.
No music; I like to have a movie on. I get a big warm rush of nostalgia just thinking about it. I loved Ice Planet when it came out. Best Building Time: I prefer the natural light provided by early afternoon, though it means having to be careful to keep my white bricks out of direct sunlight. So far, so good. My all-time favorite. Dance and downbeat. Great price, details, and design for playability and modification. I like a mix of minifigs.
They add a nice little dimension to models and creations. Seattle, Washington. That one rustylooking color. Ask one of the other LEGO geeks. Tom Waits mostly. Erica, 25 Occupation: Information designer.
Cincinnati, Ohio. Dark grey. I tend to listen to a mix of electronic music, mainly centered around hard-style electronic. Around 30 gallons; I have no idea of the number of individual pieces. Dark orange and regular orange rock my socks in many different ways. Interpret that how you will. I also like black. And old dark grey. I took it on a vacation once precisely because I had not much space, I needed something to fill some of the time, and it had a nice variation of stuff.
When my kids are building, too. The family that builds together stays together! Just remember to check the empty pizza boxes for bricks before you chuck them out.
Magenta although which of the nine shades of magenta I could not say. Random instrumental electronic music streamed continuously off the Internet. Nathan, 32 Occupation: Full-time stayat-home dad and part-time building superintendent at my church. Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Working On: Lately I have been building a lot of cars.
I dabble in a bit of everything, though, from Space to Castle, Trains and Town, to sculpture and mosaic. The 50th anniversary Town Plan set. Getting build time while I am taking care of my toddler can be a challenge. I end up building for a few minutes here and a few there without many long build sessions. Women are underrepresented numerically but overrepresented creatively. Do grown women play with LEGO? You bet. One of the most mysterious differences between male and female fans could be their respective motivations for building.
A person looking at the phenomenon from the outside might anticipate stereotypical behavior with men competing for bragging rights with bigger and more massive models,. Holland LS Skid Steer Loader was designed to be as authentic as possible, taking into consideration such details as gearbox mechanics, center of gravity, and scale.
The truth, however, seems far more complex and a lot more fascinating. We thought it might be useful for prototyping simple mechanisms, so I decided to investigate the possibilities. While doing so, I came across the Supercar and thought it would make an ideal Christmas present, and it was that set that rekindled my interest.
She builds incredibly detailed and authentic construction equipment. Her loaders, cranes, and excavators have received a lot of exposure on the convention circuit. Clark, who has a computer science degree, taught herself basic mechanical and electrical engineering principles to help her create more authentic models. Yvonne Doyle created an incredibly detailed hospital using Belville bricks and figures, evoking a sophisticated, feminine style that the LEGO Group seems unable to master.
With this glorious skunk tail, Rhodes breaks that rule. What women builders have inspired you? How about NXT? But I have to say that nothing makes me What about adult women? Men seem point. There are women involved, for whatever purpose, the men thrill over the amazing new but they stay behind the scenes, encouraging their children inventions they can design.
On the other hand, I know many prejudice from men about you as a woman builder? If anything, I have sometimes ers, but there is definitely more of a balance. How What is your day job? Six years ago, I married a Presbyterian minister.
When the blog group decided to over 10 years ago, so when we moved to be nearer to create some models for an NXT book, Rick turned to me. Since programming. As a result, I create websites and news- least not in this area. Okay, change of subject.
What makes builders reOne father wrote to me about how much his son enjoyed create scenes from famous movies in LEGO or redo building my models.
In his letter, he said that his son was the Mona Lisa in bricks? I like to your skills progress? My next step is to come up with classroom materials that The NXT offers an opportunity for teachers and teachers can use for teaching programming for NXT-G schools to integrate the arts with science and mathemat- and also some practical activities for use with the robots ics. The arts have been squeezed out of the schools with in the NXT Zoo. NXT Zoo! No Starch Press, Organizing the Trove If you have a ton of bricks sometimes literally!
Empty nesters have converted guest bedrooms and dens into workspaces and shrines to collectables, so why not do the same with LEGO? Nathan Sawaya described his organizational style: The rows and rows of color make walking into my studio a lot like walking into a rainbow. When I build, I reach into a drawer of one color of parts in similar shapes and see which ones fit well onto the creation. But is it the best way? Have you ever cursed your iPod dock or computer case for not having the features you want?
Most people merely shrug and accept that they have little control over the consumer products in their life. The following projects illustrate the truism that necessity, and LEGO bricks, is the mother of invention. Hard Drive Enclosure Creators: Sergei Brin and Larry Page The legend goes that in the founders of Google were penniless graduate students at Stanford University.
In need of a chassis to hold the hard drives of their first server, they turned to LEGO for a building material. The original chassis is on display at the Stanford University Museum. Guitar Hero Controller Creator: David McNeely Website: Rich Warlock guitar a personal favorite of mine second only to the Explorer. The LEGO guitar controller works just as well as the real controller, and all components work correctly except for the whammy bar, whose wires need to be resoldered , from the strum bar to the buttons on the guitar.
Ordinary pinhole cameras, such as those made out of cardboard boxes or oatmeal canisters, lack the mechanical features of modern cameras. First, I wanted to make sure that the film advance knob only turned one direction. Secondly, I wanted to have a film counter in addition to the red window.
And last but not least, it would be nice to have some sort of viewfinder. Winston Chow wanted a unique case for his homebuilt PC. He took advantage of specialized LEGO elements such as hinges and ladders to complement the system bricks that formed the chassis.
Bookend Creator: Mark Palmer A useful creation need not be complicated; sometimes the needs it fulfills are simple ones: Will need something anti-slip underneath. Circuit Board Separators Creator: Windell H. Oskay Website: Tinkerer Oskay needed spacers for an electronics project. Samantha shot without a viewfinder, I made one out of seven Website: The dock also has room for her poor children worldwide by providing laptops and software to encourage and enhance learning.
Apple and Nikon D40 remotes. Remixed Bricks Another aspect of the adult Lego fan is that, no matter how many bricks a person buys, ultimately that fan has to accept that the company cannot or will not make everything. Other companies skip the plastic molding and focus on creating decals to help builders customize bricks and minifigs. In their most basic form, minifigs are utterly without personality if they lack facial and clothing details. With limited designs available from the LEGO Group, some builders have figured out how to create their own decals and stickers.
One such business, LifeLites http: Their eLite Advanced product comes with preprogrammed lighting sequences for street lights, railroad layouts, vehicles, and so on. Other companies take the LEGO kit approach, buying bricks in bulk and creating their own models, complete with step-by-step building instructions and packaging.
For example, the aim of ME Models http: Big Ben Bricks bottom right gives train fans options for accessorizing.
LEGO in Print One sign that the phenomenon of the adult LEGO fan has crossed over from a disorganized group of hobbyists to a full-blown subculture is that fans have started producing their own literature. Magazines interview notable builders and share building techniques. Here are a couple of examples.
Originally planned as a newsletter, it quickly changed to a magazine format when the articles submitted were of a much more global scale than expected. The first issue of the journal was released in summer as an online magazine, with 64 pages of articles on events, building, and, of course, the people of the community. From that first issue, BrickJournal has established a following of both fans and the general public with its readership.
Although the magazine was an online and free publication, thousands of downloads were made of each issue, and the launch of BrickJournal got the attention of Slashdot and Boing Boing, two websites that immediately contributed to the demand of the magazine. The articles also expanded to cover building and international events. In each step of its growth, though, the magazine has never swayed from its primary missions: Canadian cartoonist Greg Hyland rose to the challenge with AFOLs, a comic strip that illustrates the stories of a small group of adult LEGO builders, depicted appropriately as human-sized minifigs.
At the BrickFest fan gathering, the company gave away a page comic book with illustrations by Hyland. But for LEGO fans, it serves as a lifeline to widely scattered peers. One of the most popular LEGO fan sites is Brickshelf, an image-hosting service that allows builders to share photos of their models with other fans, inspiring casual builders to create more challenging models.
Ironically, this seeming limitation has made Brickshelf a cornerstone of the international fan community because pictures of beautiful models have no language barrier. Despite the success of Brickshelf, there is a clear need for text-based interaction in the form of discussion boards and online forums.
Similarly, MOCpages. Countless other LEGO-related websites support specialized interests. LEGO Fan Glossary Most subcultures come up with a unique mix of acronyms and slang to describe things important to their members. LEGO fans are no different. You may not find dyed-in-the-wool fans so accommodating. Here is a list of terms you may encounter:. Kid fan of LEGO. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene; the high-quality KKK: Kirk Kristiansen. Orlando, Anaheim, and the Mall of America.
Adult fan of LEGO. A disparaging term for a recently implemented Star Wars set that was released in the Ultimate bluish-grey color. A LEGO piece. A smaller scale than minifigure, in which BURP: Big ugly rock piece; a preformed LEGO rock.
Minifig scale: Usually described as being 1: Crummy ramp and pit plate; a little-liked this scale is centered around LEGO minifigures. Minifig-scale models have a tendency to become CS: Classic Space; the space-oriented sets released impractically huge when they are attempting to depict larger objects such as skyscrapers.
Dark Age: My own creation, as opposed to a creation from a set purchased from a store. A large model, typically minifig scale; often Mosaic: Non-LEGO friend. Non-LEGO spouse. Non-LEGO significant other. LEGO elements that are thinner counterparts to bricks. Three plates equal the height of one brick. Seriously huge investment of parts; a model that is unusually large. The definition comes from the amount of parts needed to be purchased to make such a model.
The online representation of an AFOL as a minifigure; basically an avatar. Knobs on the top of bricks and plates. Teen fan of LEGO. Ultimate Collector Series; adult- and collectororiented sets, with a high part count and complex construction.
Vig, vignette: At first glance, it seems to be a simple, commonsense solution to a problem: According to legend, a LEGO master builder was dissatisfied with his models. They were beautiful but lacked a critical something—they lacked humanity. So, he got a bunch of bricks and began tinkering until he came up with the very first LEGO person, a prototype that years later would be refined into the minifigure. Minifigs are unusual looking, and they embody an atypical coolness. Unlike Barbie or Bratz figures, which try to evoke a stylish look, minifigs are rather goofy looking.
It must be quite galling for them. Fans collect thousands of them. Some build armies of minifigs to show off at conventions. For those who love LEGO, there is no more perfect way to depict the human form than the minifig.
The minifig has been used to add humanity to LEGO models, to lend scale, and even as an art form in itself. The first minifig was a police officer. More than 4, different minifigs have been released since , including those with subtle differences in color, with head designs alone.
The first female minifig was a nurse. The ratio of male-tofemale minifigs is The only way to make a completely nude minifig is to use the torso and legs from a classic LEGO Space astronaut.
The popular minifigs are not without controversy. Originally, the LEGO Group sought to leave racial and gender differences to the imagination of builders by using a stylized, generic face with outfits to differentiate roles. Remember that the first minifig was a cop, and the first female minifig was a nurse. There was also a general perception that the yellow color of the minifigs actually signified a Caucasian.
Even amongst the film tie-ins, black people are extraordinarily rare, as are women. The two themes praised by Becraft—Wild West and Ninjas—both featured yellow minifigs with. For instance, the Native Americans in Wild West all have war paint, and the Ninjas figs have slanted eyes, seemingly reinforcing the perception that the neutral faces are in fact meant to represent Caucasians.
As for gender, male and female minifigs do not exhibit secondary sexual characteristics, so men and women have the same body. Instead, the LEGO Group relies on hair, facial details, and printed body contours to differentiate the sexes.
A female police officer looks just like a male cop, except for the lipstick and big eyelashes. In later minifigs, women had figures, but they were printed on the torso. For the most part, though, the default is asexual or male, depending on your point of view. Some say the minifig is a product of its culture.
LEGO came from Denmark, an extremely homogenous nation. In creating these figures, the original designers may have considered themselves exceedingly progressive for using yellow rather than specific flesh tones. In recent years, the LEGO Group has recruited more international talent, possibly leading to more genuine inclusiveness.
In any case, catering to political correctness is a no-win battle that could be never ending. Ultimately, the LEGO Group remains consistent, making licensed figures resemble their real-life counterparts, while keeping classic core minifigs the original yellow.
Still, as long as generic yellow equates to Caucasian and male to some, the debate is unlikely to subside anytime soon. Nobody should be surprised when the minifig continues to crop up in mainstream culture.
Simpsons Intro The concept of the LEGO-animated films has been around for some time—think stop-motion flicks with minifigs instead of actors. See the original film on YouTube: Graffiti The iconic minifig even appears as graffiti painted on walls around the world. This egg timer resembles a minifig head and comes in a variety of models that evoke classic minifig visages.
Ginormous Fig Bathers at a Netherlands beach noticed something floating ashore: The figure was placed in front of a nearby concession stand, and the international press responded with a flurry of articles on the event. As it turned out, the figure was a promotion for a Dutch artist who called himself Ego Leonard and whose paintings feature LEGO minifigs.
The artist, whose name suggests both LEGO and the Latin word for I ego , gives interviews as if he were actually the minifig. Read more about Ego Leonard in Chapter 6. But a LEGO-themed wedding? When two LEGO fans get married, what better way to depict the bride and groom than with a couple of minifigs? Halloween Costumes Minifig costumes always pop up around Halloween.
Usually the costume focuses on the big round head and ignores the boxy arms and legs. Although sometimes the costumes are rather slapdash, many exhibit a clear love of minifigs, with a great deal of work put into the project. The most ingenious creators come up with imaginative solutions such as yellow socks for the featureless, grasping hands.
Red-Headed Step-Figs If the minifig is so great, why tinker with it? LEGO has never stopped exploring new avenues for depicting the human shape, experimenting several times over the years with different types of figures.
However, none of these efforts has succeeded in dethroning the minifig as the ultimate way to depict a human. Six also-ran competitors to the minifigure exist: The Homemaker and Belville figure lines evoke the classic dollhouse feel: As with many less-successful lines, Belville offers some fun elements, though it mainly consists of domestic items such as sausages, turkeys, and bowls.
Speculation is that the decision to take Belville to maxifig scale was made after the failure of Paradisa, pink LEGO at minifig scale. The LEGO Group developed larger figures to go with these models, but the figures never took off the way minifigs have. As such, casual builders avoid them, while experts consider a deftly constructed miniland figure to be a sign of utmost skill. As orphans of failed lines, these figures have joined the list of also-rans, remembered mainly as unexceptional maxifigs often compared to the action figures sold by other toy companies.
Although some builders remember them fondly and a few use them in the occasional model, for the most part these figures are remembered as failures.
Joe TV show and decided that he wanted to build a miniland figure of one of the characters, Snake Eyes. He wanted to build small due to a lack of space and ended up building at a size only slightly larger than a minifig. He built about a half-dozen characters before he began sharing them online, and they were an immediate hit. To date he has built over CubeDudes, most of them recognizable figures from TV and cinema.
Some builders even add a fantasy element, showing themselves in costume or wielding light sabers. Others go the surreal route, with featureless unicolor models that look like statues.
Of course, the standard LEGO elements are finite in number, so a lot of builders include custom, third-party, and unusual elements to make their sig-figs more memorable. The minifigs also resemble their human counterparts as much as can be expected with matching hairstyles and beards, as appropriate.
Some builders take their sig-figs beyond the avatar role and actually tell stories with them. Titanic, Heather is the queen of the world, whether or not she wants to be. Middle Heather subjugates the.
Bottom Heather finds a kindred. Pimp Your Fig Minifig fans face an inevitable conundrum. And if they lack the skills to create their own gear, a plethora of thirdparty companies are ready to step up.
BrickForge http: The company got its start in manufacturing minifig weaponry and selling its weapons online. For instance, there will never be a Marines in Baghdad set, but with modern weaponry from BrickArms, you can make your own. BrickArms http: In just a few years his business has expanded to a line of 45 different weapons, weapons packs, and custom minifigs, including medieval, science-fiction, and modern weaponry.
For those lacking the means to create their own plastic castings, a simpler approach is available: The result, although not as slick as storebought LEGO elements, definitely suffices for many builders. Amanda Baldwin has a how-to on her Flickr site, describing how she used the free Windows art program Paint. NET to create dozens of castle designs. But not everybody is on board for customizing figs. How can a person working in a garage create decals as sophisticated as the designs found in LEGO sets?
Although sticklers may turn up their noses at these amateur efforts, many others willingly sacrifice quality for the ability to design their own minifig graphics. A recent development has been to print onto the minifig itself, much like the minifigs printed for LEGO Group employees. Famous People, Minisized As the number of official and unofficial minifig elements grows, so does the temptation to use those elements to make figures look like recognizable public figures.
Figs of Fiction Creating an ode to a fictional character presents a special challenge. Can you give the minifig the spirit of the original without descending to mere stereotypes?
How would you create a Robinson Crusoe beyond the leather umbrella? Creating minifigs of politicians seems easy, but there is a hidden challenge: How do you tell an interesting story? Luther King, Jr. Re-creating a writer or another creative figure in minifig form presents certain difficulties that are unlike the challenges faced when re-creating a politician or actor whose face is familiar to the public at large.
What does E. Cummings look like, really? One solution to the problem involves creating a tiny scene called a vignette. Nerds Are nerds the great thinkers of our time? It comes as no surprise that LEGO nerds like building minifig nerds. Actors and musicians are some of the most recognizable individuals in our society. Because of this, they often find themselves re-created by minifig fans. Minifig scale is a default that makes for fun and easy model building, but it also makes for some massive, nigh untenable, models that take over entire living rooms.
Just imagine the colossal breadth of a minifig-scale Starship Enterprise or Sears Tower. Many attempts have been made to build scale re-creations of famous structures, but they usually end up truncated or abbreviated in some way. The final model evokes the feel of the original, but the dimensions are off. What exactly is minifig scale? If you realize that the average minifig represents a human being about 5 feet 9 inches 1. In general, anything between 1: As with anything in LEGO, however, there is always some wiggle room.
Some builders hold 1: Truman, the world-record—holding LEGO boat model built to 1: Some minifig-scale creations are so massive they are models of patience and planning.
This begs the question, how big would a 1: No one can be sure until someone tries to build it, but we can speculate. Empire State Building Dimensions: Babylon 5 Space Station Dimensions: Get serious! How many bricks would it take to build one of these creations? The most well-known of the massive LEGO creations sport magnificent detail as well as a huge number of elements.
The first step was designing the basic structure of the harpsichord. But that was the easy part; Lim wanted the instrument to sound like a harpsichord too. For these fans, authenticity and accuracy are paramount, despite their use of a profoundly inauthentic medium. Others transform famous historical events into minifig-populated vignettes or build intricate maps out of the tiniest LEGO elements. For them, the challenges of re-creating a well-known building or vehicle come second to playing around with the plastic bricks that they love.
I was setting up a display and one of the guys I was working with grabbed a LEGO pen out of my bin to write something down with. He came back a few seconds later, we chuckled at his mistake, and he promptly grabbed a LEGO marker and left again! Architectural Re-creations As builders themselves, many LEGO fans have a passion for architecture, which often leads them to try their hand at replicating a recognizable structure like the Sears Tower or Empire State Building. Almost immediately those builders realize the difficulty of these projects.
A builder who attempts to re-create a famous structure, on the other hand, inevitably faces critics who nitpick inconsistencies and disproportions. Even if builders carefully design the model, they must still find the right bricks to achieve that vision.
Many lack the money to buy thousands of LEGO bricks whenever they want. Cleveland high-school math teacher Arthur Gugick likened his approach to a mathematical puzzle.
He simulated complex mosaics by stacking layers of LEGO with colors peeking through holes in the outermost elements. Some builders looking to re-create a famous building look to books for inspiration and research material. It garners a lot of attention. Many viewers who probably had no interest in LEGO become fascinated with this re-creation of a famous building.
When he showed off the model in Toronto later that year, it was well received, but something was missing. Instead, he chose to focus on making a beautiful model rather than an authentic duplication. The current version is 10 feet tall and uses about 5, bricks. Sponsored by Yahoo! A second exhibition began in , visiting 10 Japanese cities throughout that year. Look through a LEGO catalog or peruse the company website, and you might miss it: LEGO model trains, a product line tapping into the same demographic as traditional model railroads.
But despite the lack of marketing, LEGO trains have their fans. Train builders represent a distinct subset with their own interests and politics; perhaps most noticeable is their obsession with accuracy and detail. For the typical train builder, much like mainstream model train aficionados, authenticity is paramount. But if realism is paramount, why do train fans use LEGO when other, more authentic materials are available? Still, as train purists, surely every inaccuracy rankles.
Reading Railroad locomotive represents a level of detail bordering on obsession, and yet the engine serves as only one part of the train. Part of the joy of building with LEGO, of course, is to overcome the limitations of the medium. Some builders employ specialized techniques like SNOT, using smooth-topped plates to give the trains a more realistic appearance.
LEGO also has the advantage of not being permanent. It was a volt line, modeled after the German Deutch Bauhn, a realistic approach that helped attract crossover fans from traditional model railroading. In the company overhauled the entire product line, enhancing its control system to allow for electrically powered rail switches, signals, and crossing gates.
In the line received its most radical change yet, switching to a 9-volt power system, similar to those found in model railroading where the tracks have a metal rail that powers the trains and other electrical components. Imagine the frustration that a builder must feel after having invested in a gigantic layout, only to find out that its format is being discontinued. The most recent example of this was the adoption of a remote-controlled powering system. In , the LEGO Group made the decision to forgo the electrified tracks in lieu of battery-powered trains that used a remote-control system.
They would have to rely on garage sales and online auctions to add to their collections, and any future sets were incompatible with their layouts. Is this the way the company rewarded its faithful? No, but it is a decision that I can support. Brick Classics While train fans faithfully re-create the industrial infrastructure of another era, other builders focus on odes to the classics.
Although re-creating such works in plastic bricks may not match the genius that inspired the original artist, it does demand a certain degree of ambition. The result, if executed skillfully, attracts a great deal of attention. Ordinary people may not like LEGO the way fans do, but they can appreciate the artistry of a re-creation because they already possess the cultural understanding of the original.
However, some LEGO fans remain unimpressed, claiming that builders re-creating classics are merely riding the coattails of an established crowdpleasing masterpiece rather than conceiving a new and unknown project.
However, even skeptics must acknowledge the skill required to successfully evoke the feel of the original works. The following are some examples of re-created masterpieces.
The sexless, faceless, tunic-wearing denizens of Relativity possess so little personality that even a minifig stands out. The greatest challenge Lim encountered was creating a scene that simply could not exist. The water flows up a zigzagging aqueduct before arriving at the starting point via the titular waterfall. From that angle, the illusion held up. However, museum goers were invited to walk around the sculpture, revealing the secret to the illusion.
Henry Lim explores Dutch engraver M. While Escher had the luxury of keeping his mind benders in the realm of illustration, Lim had to rely on viewing angles to make the impossible happen.
Probably nothing like his paintings, re-created here by Marco Pece. He has illustrated many stories from the Old Testament but relatively few from the New Testament thus far, but Smith continues to work on the project. Golgotha, with non-standard arms and a rubber-band crown of thorns. Smith adds warnings to his images if they contain nudity, sex, violence or cursing. Cinematic Inspirati LEGO fans have always been eager to build the scenes and vehicles from the movies they loved.
For its part, the LEGO Group has jumped on this bandwagon with its own movie-inspired models, licensed re-creations of epic scenes from recent and not-sorecent pictures. Wall-E Joe Meno, publisher of BrickJournal and coauthor of this book, designed his version of the Wall-E animated character over a period of three months. It took just over two months of research to produce an initial model and three weeks of redesigning to arrive at the current form. The first hurdle he had to overcome was that of scale: How big should he build Wall-E?
More than 2 feet long, this beautiful model evokes the spirit of the movie monster without worrying too much about precise details. After that, I tackled a couple of other various robot appendages, tore those apart, and created the robot skull. The intricately detailed workshop has a moving conveyor belt and lights. McDonald has also created a similarly detailed Darth Vader costume.
The Phantom Menace But no laser-beam breath?
Ultimately, their accomplishments are measured in terms of their technical skill and faithfulness to the original item.
When building from the imagination, anything is possible. Some builders draw inspiration from movies, dreams, or simply conversations. Others crank up the music, grab a pile of bricks, and just create.
Still others take a more methodical approach, sketching out entire fleets of vehicles before placing a single brick. Castle typically involves concepts that arguably cannot exist and are derivative of legends and myths, including the requisite dragons, sorcery, and goblins. We may not be able to travel to other stars, visit aliens, or mine Martian ore, but we may be able to someday.
Besides their longevity, what is remarkable about Castle and Space is that as the product lines have fluctuated over the decades, builders continue to create models that fit into the basic archetypes laid down in LEGO sets.
Castle Castle first hit store shelves in Its central theme involves the epic struggle of good versus evil in a medieval land that resembles the legendary Europe of King Arthur. Wizards, kings, and later dwarves are the protagonists, while a variety of unambiguously villainous skeletons, dark knights, trolls, and evil sorcerers oppose them.
As with City products, we rarely learn the names of individual characters, and usually only leader types receive any distinguishing accessories. Buildings and vehicles are the true stars of the line, with fortifications, huts, boats, and siege machinery taking attention away from the minifigs.
For builders, though, this makes sense, because the experience of building requires structures more than minifigs. At the tamer end of the spectrum are sets like the Medieval Market Village that suggest a combination of City and Castle. Just as City offers a slice of typical European life with fire trucks and police stations, Medieval Market Village depicts a market square packed with wagons, shopkeepers, houses, and soldiers.
Notably absent are the fantastical trappings common to the Castle theme. Forget trolls and necromancers; the village could well be a real medieval town square. Space Released the same year as Castle, Space offers a science-fiction angle that has been a favorite ever since. At first, the sets followed a theme that involved rather simple but arguably realistic interpretations of what real space bases might look like: As with Castle, many of the sets could be City set in a different time period.
Astronauts were dressed in black, piloting ships with names like Renegade and Invader. Instead of just collecting crystals we are now at the same time fighting an enemy we hardly know.
Who are these aliens? Are these aliens Martians defending their homes?
The Cult of LEGO
Are they also, like the humans, invaders from another world? With few. The line offers an excellent variety of models including sleek rockets both alien and human as well as buggies, planes, and bases. Oddly, the orange-and-white human vessels come equipped with stasis tubes to hold captive aliens, but to what end? In this case, the future is one where space travel is common and, as a result, so is crime. Conflict is presented as a simple clash between good and evil, with armored police officers in white spaceships chasing after the black alien criminals.
This pirate-themed model by Kevin Fedde illustrates the imaginative possibilities of the line. Most larger LEGO sets feature a protagonist and an antagonist. Human astronauts have evil aliens opposing them. In PIRATES, the lovable but indubitably villainous buccaneers serve as the stars of the largest and most detailed sets, and their hapless opponents, the vaguely European colonial troops, barely have a presence except as foils for the title characters.
As the girl teeters above the ocean waves, her would-be rescuers struggle with pirates over a chest of booty. Interestingly, the scene may represent the first threatened execution depicted in an official LEGO product. Perhaps the popularity and clearly fictionalized nature of the pirate phenomenon allows the LEGO Group to sidestep the moral implications of its sets. Underground and Underwater Every few years, the LEGO Group comes out with an earnest, well-executed, but ultimately short-lived underground or underwater theme.
The concept seems ripe for exploitation. Imagine all the fantastic models that could be designed around submersibles, domed cities, and burrowing machines. Unfortunately, none of these themes has survived beyond a couple of years. One reason may be that the concepts occupy a kind of middle ground between science fiction and reality: Much of the technology is plausible, or at least only slightly unrealistic. Or perhaps the lack of a story line and cool characters has limited the appeal.
However, builders have always created outlandish vehicles that cannot work in the real world like mecha, the giant robots featured in comics and science-fiction tales. Imagine a robot so big that human pilots can ride inside. The LEGO Group has produced mecha themes as late as the close of the s in an attempt to cash in on the giant robot craze. This microscale mecha packs a lot of detail while using very few elements. The line offered sophisticated models that could be combined into super-robots, and it included fun value-adds such as light-up elements, internal gearboxes, and detachable drones.
The minifigs featured brightly colored bouffants, and each had its own name and history. Apparently, though, something was lacking. Builders claimed that the playability of the models suffered from poor balance and construction, and the complexity of the sets commanded higher retail prices. There are no minifigs; the robots serve as the main actors.
Giger, who designed the title creature for the classic movie Alien.
There is also a collectible aspect to the sets, with each model having a mask element available only in that set, encouraging fans to buy and trade them.
Called Bionicle Encyclopedia and written by Greg Farshtey, the book contains entries on the characters, locations, and story lines of the saga for fans who have lost track of its intricacies. I like to assemble them and then play with them until I am bored of the set itself. A gigantic black, green, and chrome dragon, Kukorakh threatens with metallic claws, fangs, and black, hose-like tendons that stretch from its lacy wings.
Could the same model have been made using only System bricks? A sinister red eye threatens anyone who would snatch food from inside. But even in those. The line includes some vehicle sets but no buildings, and all products center around the Toa-Makuta battle.
The parts are completely incompatible with System bricks, lacking the iconic LEGO studs that most people associate with the toy. I keep my parts sorted by color for ease of finding things.
I always start with the head. I come up with a base structure that moves like a skull, jaw, and neck should, and then I build in the teeth and face. From there, I will usually build the spine all the way to the end of the tail and stiffen the spine at the body hard points like the torso and hips, leaving some suppleness where flex is needed.
One of the main problems I see is getting proportions right. This gives the model a lot of texture, which I am fond of. Bot tom. Belching steam and sporting giant guns, this one-wheeled vehicle rolls at the command of a monocled gentleman. Steampunk, the combination of Victorian sensibilities and cyberpunk style, is a purely fan phenomenon.
There are no official LEGO steampunk models. Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction that has also been described as Victorian Science: Instead, steam power advanced, resulting in unusually advanced steam-based gadgets wielded by 19th-century gentlemen with top hats and monocles.
The phenomenon has taken on such a devoted following that real-world gatherings such as the Steamcon convention and Burning Man draw attendees outfitted in neo-Victorian costumes. But choosing the right elements is also important. Most builders try to depict polished brass and hand-carved wooden scrollwork in their models. Unlike many other LEGO model-building genres, steampunk often requires research.
One of the most appealing aspects of steampunk is the opportunity to re-create any story in steampunk. Some builders have depicted the Axis forces of World War II as Victorian evildoers, while others focus on redefining popular movies. Imagine monstrous Imperial Walkers belching steam and packing Gatling guns and gunpowder cannons, or X-Wing fighters as prop-driven biplanes. Most of us have a hard time defining the boundaries of art.
When does a scribble become worthy of being hung in a gallery? And, more to the point, can an assembly of LEGO bricks be classified as art? In the past decade, numerous artists have begun to dabble in LEGO art.
The Cult of Lego (PDF)
Some use the bricks as a sculptural medium, while others depict LEGO images in more traditional formats. One thing is for certain: He set up shop in the town square and poured three tons of white LEGO bricks onto a series of tables, inviting passersby to come and play for 10 days in what he called the Collectivity Project. Eliasson wanted them to build the future Tirana. Albania, the second-poorest nation in Europe, found itself cut off from the rest of the world by an oppressive Communist dictatorship lasting more than 50 years.
Furthermore, the infrastructure was in ruins, and the government was rife with corruption. Albania needed help finding its way. He saw the white bricks as a simulation of what the people of Tirana went through every day: Schoolchildren, taxi drivers, and pensioners gathered around the tables of LEGO to play, building up structures, altering them, and tearing them down.
Eliasson wants visitors to do more than simply observe art; he wants them to be a part of it and be aware of the artistic process. Who Decides What Is Art? Conversely, the artists featured in this chapter obviously disagree. Who is right? Scholars have debated the definition of art for centuries and continue to do so to this day. However, most theorists agree that art involves three criteria: He uses the following criteria: A work must typically display masterful technique to be considered art.
Surely numerous models demonstrate a high level of skill. As with any technically demanding medium, there will always be works that stand out as being exemplary. Content is the statement the piece makes or the meaning behind it. Even if this message is so obscure that only the artist can grasp it, there has to be some sort of thought behind the piece.
It seems like a given: If artists desire to make a statement with a LEGO model, they can do it. Context refers to the culture and artistic tradition into which the work is placed.
In his exhibit, Coupland takes that quixotic futurism and turns it around. In the past, this might have been depicted with a retro ray gun or spaceship. What happens if you take the LEGO iconography out of its context?
Surely a LEGO model built right from the box is not art. But what if you take those same bricks and paint them on canvas or sculpt them out of clay?
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