Archive for the ‘LEGO Books’ Category

The small side of life — in Space Part 2

January 26, 2013

Two more awesome creations that would be perfect for the Micro Sci-Fi Contest

Kristi “McWii” has created this iconic scene from The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still

Jason Allemann has gone old school with this tribute to the Amazing Stories magazines
The City of Tomorrow

Both have levels of awesomeness. I really like the mini tanks. And the whole retro futuristic (is that an oxymoron? :D ) look of Jason’s is very cool!

40% off All No Starch Press Books

December 4, 2012

If you’re a fan of No Starch Press like I am you just might want to head over to Nostarch.com

Yeah, we know you’re tired of all the noise about holiday sales. But in case you still need presents for your greedy relatives loved ones, for the next 72 hours, get 40% off all books and ebooks!

As always, every print book comes with a free ebook edition. Use coupon code TISTHESEASON

There’s a lot of awesome LEGO books that are available and you can’t beat 40% off. They would be a great gift for all your literate loving LEGO friends. ;)

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide Book Review

November 28, 2012

Now before I start my review, I have to post this disclaimer — If you’ve been reading me for a while you’ve probably figured out that I’m not a Technic builder. Never really have been and most likely never really will be. Sure I use Technic parts all the time. But I almost never build exclusively in Technic and with the exception of the new jewelry display racks I designed a couple months ago I hardly ever think about building with Technic exclusively.

I would like to thank No Starch Press for providing me with a copy of this book so that I could review it.

There, now that that’s over with I’ll start my review: :D

My first impression as I thumbed through this book that it was very, very in depth but at the same time it was very wordy. Now I get that Technic guys usually are engineers in training (or professional ones when they grow up) but even so, this book had almost way too many words. I suppose it comes from me being more on the artistic side rather than the engineering side, but I’m much more of a visual learner.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of pictures in the book as well. Even if I am not a Technic builder, I know all the basic fundamentals. I’ve built my share of Technic models over the years, and as I said, I use the elements all the time and I am fairly versed in their uses. So looking over this book (without fully reading it I must admit) I can tell that it really does show pretty much everything you need to know about how to do all the basics for practically every Technic technique out there.

What this book is invaluable for is for learning all the basics without having to figure them out by yourself. Learning how to create a properly working pneumatic system or a gear shift without all the trial and error is awesome.

I see this as a very valuable tool for those that are just starting to forge the waters that are Technic models. Someone who loves all things mechanical and wants to know how they work. I do recommend it for the burgeoning Technic builder out there or even those like me who have been building for a long time but who don’t know all the basic Technic do’s and don’ts.

The Cult of LEGO — Book Review

November 10, 2011

Joe Meno and the wonderful people at No Starch Press were kind enough to provide me with a copy of Joe Meno and John Baichtal’s new book The Cult of LEGO. I received the book a little over a week ago, but up until tonight I didn’t have the time to actually read through the book, so although its a little late (literally and figuratively) here’s my review.

Although I’ve heard the book being touted as a coffee table book that isn’t entirely true. There is definitely more to it than just a set of pictures. In some ways it is like a picture book version of Jon Bender’s LEGO A Love Story. Both books try to encompass the enormity of all things LEGO. It is a daunting task and one that could hardly fit into any one book. Heck, I’ve been writing this blog for over three years and I’ve still not run out of things to say, so trying to share that with the non-LEGO fan in a comprehensive way is quite an undertaking. ;)

This book starts naturally with the history of the brick. Even though the book is 304 pages long, it almost read like a Reader’s Digest with short sections briefly covering each topic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it continues to engage the reader. I read through a good half of the book and skimmed over all of it in two hours. There are chapters on everything from minifigs and LEGO conventions to Mindstorms and LEGO Art.

Pages and pages of pictures fill the book and it is beautifully bound. It is certainly a wonderful addition to any LEGO fan’s library as well as a way to show your non-LEGO friends that you are not alone in your obsession.

Like Bender’s book much of what was in this one was familiar to me. There were many familiar names and faces of my fellow LEGO friends. One of my few complaints is that there seemed to be heavy emphasis on some builders while other just as notable (if not more so) builders were completely missing from the pages. This may or may not have been intentional as you can’t focus on every great builder.

What I do like about The Cult of LEGO is that it is yet another step to bring the LEGO hobby into the mainstream. It naturally talks about the “Dark Ages” (the years a person stops playing with LEGO) that many AFOLs went through in their teens or twenties. Most of us didn’t know there were other LEGO fans out there when we were kids. We didn’t have First LEGO League, LEGO Cons, or online forums to share our passion with so many stopped when they thought they were too old or that playing with a kid’s toy wasn’t “cool.” I never had a Dark Age, but I’m the exception not the rule. Hopefully with books like this and all the outlets that are now available LEGO can be seen as a legitimate hobby.

I love how this book again shows that LEGO is not like any other toy. It may start as just a bunch of bricks but imagination, innovation and creativity ensue. Those that played with LEGO as children now are the engineers, computer programmers and rocket scientists of today. I would certainly recommend this as a great read and a window into the world that is LEGO. :)

Introducing a new contributor

September 15, 2011

As many of my loyal blog readers have probably noticed, I don’t always have time to do a daily post here like I used to. I guess its a sign that I’m getting more business, but still I feel guilty when I don’t post. :oops:

So, I’ve enlisted some friends to help. :)

I will still be the main poster, as I consider writing this blog as part of my job, but depending on time and their own interests a few of my trusted friends will add posts.

And to launch this new step forward I introduce . . .

Comic Con 2011 Recap

July 29, 2011

I do apologize for the lack of posts, I’ve been in a post-Comic Con coma the last few days and I haven’t really had the motivation to do much of anything including writing my blog. It seems that going from working 2 months flat out and getting no sleep on a commission piece — and yes, I will be posting about it soon — and then going to Comic Con for 5 days and getting no sleep tends to totally exhaust me for some reason, who knew? :D

So, back to the matter at hand, Comic Con 2011. This year was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know why, maybe it was the panels I got to see, or the movies I got to watch. I’ve been going for at least 19 years, so Comic Con is not the overwhelming monster it seems to be to first or even second time attendees.

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For me, as it has been for quite a number of years, Comic Con is very LEGO-centric. Mainly because I help out with the LEGO booth. Oh I go to the panels and watch the movies too, but Comic Con is part fun and part work for me, much like the LEGO Conventions. ;)

This year, as I’m sure all of you know introduced the new LEGO DC and Marvel licenses that will be out next year.
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I have to admit, I’m not to big a fan of the big Hero Factory like figures, but then I don’t really care that much for Bionicle or Hero Factory either. Now don’t get me wrong, I see uses for the pieces, and I know why little (and big) boys like the figs, its just not my thing.
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I also enjoyed finally seeing the Captain Jack Sparrow model in person. After seeing it online earlier this year it was nice to see the real thing.
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I was especially happy that they had fixed the hand holding the compass, as that was the only part of the model that bothered me when I saw the initial pictures.
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The play area this year consisted of a mountain of 2×4 yellow bricks. It was a fun and interesting thing to watch. Because there was only one type of brick, it was more of a challenge to create models, but it also kept little ones from fighting over the bricks. ;)
P1280300 And no, I didn’t make the Star Wars sign.

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I even had a bit of fun with the bricks. ;)

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You can see LEGO Events Coordinator Mark Fontanella literally shoveled up all the bricks at the end.

Now, I did not buy the LEGO exclusive this year, you can go check out FBTB’s review on that.
SDCC Exclusive 7958 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar - Packaging
I couldn’t justify the extra cost (it was $50), just for special packaging and a poster when the set is coming out in October. Especially when I knew I’ll be opening my Advent Calendar to do my Annual Advent Callendar Review.

I did however manage to get my hands on the exclusive LEGO Batman and Greenlantern figs. And no, just because I was working the booth didn’t automatically mean that I got one. I had to stand in line like everyone else.
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In fact, I managed to get quite a lot of LEGO swag this year.
Comic Con LEGO Swag

Some of it, like the exclusive minifigs wasn’t all that easy to get. Warner Brothers had a special lanyard you had to get stamped at 3 different booths and then take it to their booth to get the swag bag. But it was worth it, the bag consisted of a LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 Video Game shirt (the white one in the picture), a Voldemort Minifig, a Batman Arkham City Water Bottle (not LEGO), a magnet and a bandanna (also not LEGO).

The big LEGO Harry Potter bag I got when I picked up my attendee badge. The LEGO booth was giving away LEGO Star Wars minifig posters, Heroica comic books, and Ninjago bracelets. Hallmark booth was giving away a LEGO Darth Vader poster. DK was giving away a LEGO Star Wars pin, LEGO Harry Potter lanyards, and a LEGO Star Wars poster. And Cartoon Network came by the LEGO booth on Saturday and handed out Ninjago pins.

I also managed (it helps to have many friends at LEGO ;) ) to get into the special sneak preview of LEGO Star Wars: Padawan Menace that was shown in the Reading Theater of the Gaslamp District of San Diego. It was shown the day before it aired on Cartoon Network. All of us who attended got a LEGO Star Wars Padawan Menace poster, a small minifig (it’s the one that comes with the DVD when it comes out in September), and a LEGOLAND California luggage tag.

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I even got to meet the director David Scott, seen here with Minifig Darth Vader.

Outside of the convention they had a Conan O’Brien fan art museum. One of the pieces was a “Flaming C” created by Nathan Sawaya.

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I also went to the LEGO Star Wars panel on Friday. The biggest news that came out of that was that they are finally making a Queen Amidala minifigure in her red dress!
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They are also re-releasing the Tie Fighter with a new design and new minifigures. My favorite is the new R4 droid. I can see that head part coming in very handy if they decide to make it in other colors down the line.
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The tie fighter will be out in January 2012 and the Queen Amidala fig (no news on what set she’ll be in) in the summer 2012 line.

As for the cool non-LEGO Comic Con stuff I did. I got to see a preview of Captain America with actor Chris Evans introducing the movie.
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I watched the Torchwood Miracle Day episode 3 with the entire cast merely feet from me and I met and talked with Timothy Zahn, author of many books that I enjoy reading. :)

And I think that is about it. ;)

Check out my Flickr photostream for all my pictures.

BrickCon has begun!

October 1, 2010

Photo credit: Joe Meno

Although the opening ceremony doesn’t start until today, set up of BrickCon started yesterday. We also picked up our goody bags and as you can see, its pretty cool. The cup cooler, although you can’t see it, has the BrickCon logo on it. We also got a really nice figure and prototype pack from BrickArms and we all got a collectible minifig (I got a series 1, Joe got a series 2).

Unfortunately I haven’t snapped any pictures of my own, which is why I am borrowing some from Joe Meno. The main reason I didn’t do any picture taking was that my Golden Gate Bridge did not make the trip too well. I think they must have tossed my rather heavy, LEGO filled bag around like crazy to get it so beat up. What should have taken half an hour took at least four if not five hours to put together.

I did meet in person finally some very nice people that I’ve only known online. That is always the benefit of a LEGO Con. The models I’ve seen so far are pretty cool! I will be posting pics of my own hopefully tonight, although that might not happen as we are going to the Scratch and Dent sale at the LEGO store.

Photo credit: Joe Meno

Well, BrickCon officially is about to start, so I’ll get back to you with details and pics. :)

Comic Con 2010 Thursday and Friday

July 23, 2010

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Before I say anything else I have to just say — yes, that is what you think, and yes, it is real!

From my sources I got confirmation that that is an official LEGO Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean! Now if you were paying attention earlier when LEGO canceled the regular Pirates line while at the same time announcing the LEGO/Disney relationship all you had to do was put two and two together. This prototype model was leaked into the Prince of Persia display as a sneak peek of this new line. No word on when it will come out but I would have to guess that it would be June of next year, about a month before the movie will be released.

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Here you can see the built CubeDudes of the Comic Con exclusive set. The models are pretty cute, my only complaint is the $75 price and the very thin cardboard box. Angus MacLane, father of the CubeDude movement, was there today signing. He’s a pretty cool guy. I’ve met him before at Bricks by the Bay and have chatted with him online many times, but it’s always nice to talk to him in person. :)

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Not only is there a raffle to buy the CubeDudes but there is also a drawing for a custom display case with three Boba Fetts — White Boba, Gold Boba, and Silver Boba. This is the one I forgot to snap a shot of before.

Although I usually stay away from mentioning Mega Blocks at all I had to post this, their attempt at model building.
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I have seen models by them before in New York’s Times Square Toys R Us. And I was equally unimpressed with those models. The Halo fig and the Iron Man Bust seem rather blocky (pardon the pun) and about twenty years behind LEGO in design quality.

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On a totally unrelated note Joe Meno of BrickJournal had his panel yesterday. It was really well presented and well attended. Jim Foulds (LEGO), Jonathan Bender (LEGO a Love Story), Brandon Griffith, and Nathan Sawaya made up the panel.

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Attending the BrickJournal panel was Gabriel Cuevas, a huge LEGO fan and aspiring Model Builder, who created a LEGO Comic Con shirt using the brick baseplate t-shirt

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Today, with the BrickJournal Panel behind him, Joe Meno is letting himself have a little fun with the Staro mask I found for him. :D

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Another random LEGO find was the Brick Testament books at the Quirk Books Booth.

Its been a pretty crazy couple of days and there are still two days to go. Now I’ve got to go to bed so I can wake at the insane hour of 3 am to get decent parking tomorrow.

Preparing for BrickWorld

June 11, 2010

BrickWorld 2010 is just a few days away. This is my first time to this particular LEGO convention and I am looking forward to seeing all the fantastic models and the even more fantastic people that will be there. At last check, there are 795 registered attendees at this year’s convention! 8O

I am frantically doing all my final preparations for going. Although I will be bringing a few models, mainly my Golden Gate Bridge and a few Miniland Superheros (don’t worry I will showcase them on this blog soon). In past conventions I have brought a lot more models. But as I am flying to this one that limits what I will be bringing.

Not only am I going, but I am also bringing copies of my books, key chains, and many other items to sell. I will be helping out my good friends Tom Erickson and Jackie Ottinger of Bricks and Boards with their vendor table during the convention.

As a result, my suitcase is getting rather full — :eek:
Preparing for BrickWorld

I haven’t even packed all of my bridge or other items like clothes yet (you don’t really need them right? :lol: ) I may even have to bring two suitcases at this point.

Hopefully my suitcase will be much lighter on the return trip, of course I don’t know what I will find at the Scratch and Dent sale yet . . .

I really look forward to seeing all my friends and meeting lots of new ones at this convention. Any of you that are going, hopefully we will meet during the convention. :)

Depending on internet access, I will try and cover the convention as best as I can on this blog for those of you who can’t make it. Now back to packing. ;)

LEGO A Love Story — Book Review

May 19, 2010

Now I normally don’t review books on this blog, but then this is no ordinary book. ;)

When I met Jonathan Bender at BrickCon in 2008 and he said he was writing a book about LEGO I thought it was a pretty interesting idea. He even did a mini interview with me amidst the hustle and bustle that is BrickCon and all I remember thinking after it was over was “I might be mentioned in the book.”

Jonathan was nice enough to send me a copy of the book and I received it a few days before the official release date. For me reading this book was very different than it would be for someone not already inducted into the world of LEGO fans. 90% of the people he mentions are friends, former coworkers and colleagues of mine. Reading this book was like peaking over Jonathan’s shoulder over the year or so that he spent researching the LEGO conventions, LEGO company, and the AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) community as he went from a relative newbie to hobnobbing with Master Model Builders. And seeing the LEGO world through his eyes was interesting.

Like most AFOLs Jonathan had a “Dark Age” — the time period when you stop playing with LEGO as a child and then rediscover the little plastic bricks as a hobby when you are an adult. I never had a Dark Age, being one of a rare few who have played with LEGO continually my entire life. So seeing what it felt like for Jonathan to be embarrassed about purchasing LEGO sets and wondering nervously what people will think about him when they see it as his hobby was a novel (pardon the pun) experience. :)

Even with all my knowledge (some have called it encyclopedic) of LEGO, both the product and the company, I learned quite a lot I didn’t know. Of course I never really did “research” on LEGO per se, I’ve just acquired it over time. Of the various travels and meetings Jonathan went on the only thing I haven’t done yet is travel to Denmark itself. That is still an as yet unfulfilled dream of mine.

I am mentioned in the book, in fact there are a whole 4 pages that mention me (pgs 247-250 if you’re interested) and there is an obscure reference to this very blog involving the Castle Advent calendar. I only know that he’s talking about me in the book because he emailed a complaint about the daily posts of each mini set while I was doing them. :D

So, what do I think of the book? A definite read, for both you and your non-understanding non-LEGO friends and family. This isn’t really written as an information book, but more as one man’s journey to reclaim a piece of his childhood and redefine him as person. He didn’t really go into this project planning on turning into a LEGO fan, but he sure came out of it as one. Seeing what LEGO can do through his eyes might open up your friends and family to better understanding why we do what we do. ;)


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