Archive for the ‘Model Building Tips’ Category

Official Miniland scale figures in a set

March 3, 2014

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I love Miniland scale. Ever since my first trip to LEGOLAND I fell in love with the scale. And once I started working at the Model Shop, Miniland USA was my responsibility for 4 years. So naturally I fell in love with the scale. Minifig scale is all well and good, but you are limited by their very small size. Minilanders are bigger, brick built, and much more versitle than Minifigs.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this on BrickSet

Now its not the first time that there has been a miniland figure in a kit. There was one in 2003 –King (Legoland Deutschland)

And one was designed by a co-worker of mine, George Corn, at LEGOLAND California in 2006

Neither set was widely available however, which this set seems to be.

There is something distinctly “wrong” with the new set — they have no chins! Whoever designed this set clearly didn’t consult the LEGOLAND Model Builders when they created it. None of the Miniland people are built without chins, and the mom looks rather anorexic.

Here’s some samples of Minilanders I’ve designed –

Wonder Woman 3

Mini Superman 2

Segway 1

Mermaid 2

You can see more on Flickr

Now granted — some Miniland building techniques would not stand up to the rules of proper set building — there are different guidelines on what can and can’t be done depending on if you are a set designer versus a Master Model Builder. But that doesn’t excuse the lack of chins. All they would need is to add an extra jumper plate (1×2 plate with a stud in the middle) under the head. The lack of chins is a common mistake when people are building Miniland people for the first time, but surely a set designer that is right by the LEGOLAND park in Denmark should have fixed this before it when into production.

On one level I’m happy that LEGO is recognizing Miniland as an official scale outside of the LEGOLAND parks. But on the other hand, these set figures are poor representations of the scale.

Storing your LEGO

February 4, 2014

So I just recently was asked on my Facebook page about how to properly store your LEGO. What’s the best way to sort them? By part? By color? By kits? Just dump it all in a box?

Well, I wish there was a simple solution, some magical formula that I could give you that would instantly be the answer. Unfortnately, as most AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) know, there is no magic formula. And sorting and storing your LEGO will change as your collection changes (and most likely grows).

The solutions that worked for me when I was a child, heck the solutions that worked even 5-10 years ago, won’t work for me now and I will have to reevaluate it probably in another 5 years or so — if not sooner.

When I was a kid, I kept all my LEGO in one box, but early on I realized how frustrating it was to find that one particular piece, as it was always at the bottom of the box. So by age 11 I had started sorting my LEGO to a small degree.

Now, I sort and store my LEGO by part and color. My storage system is certainly on the extreme side, very similar to the storage system that I had when I was a Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND California. But I need such a system as I literally build day in and day out. I have to know where all my parts are at all times.

Most of my LEGO are in drawers like these
LEGO Room 6

And my desk looks like this
LEGO Room 2

LEGO Room 3

Now it is rarely this clean, as I tend to be a messy builder.

When I was younger I just had 4 of these “nuts and bolts” drawers (I call them that since you usually find them in hardware stores) where I stored all my little LEGO elements — weapons, feathers, food, etc. As you can see that set of 4 has grown…

Here’s a close up of the “nuts and bolts” drawers
LEGO Storage 4

I also have a fairly large collection of these official LEGO storage drawers (which unfortunately they are phasing out)

LEGO Storage 2

I like to keep one element per set of trays, its a nice way of seeing how many of what color you have.

I have a lot of the LEGO drawers and containers, as you can see in this picture.
LEGO Room 1

This is in no way all my LEGO, and I have tons that still needs sorting (which is a constant problem for me).

But enough about me, what’s the best thing for you to do? Well as most of you probably don’t have quite as much LEGO as I do, there are some steps you can take to solve your storage problems.

1) Sort by part, not color — its much easier to find a particular color in a bin than a particular element type in a sea of one color. You don’t have to have everything super sorted like I have it. You can put similar things together — technic parts, tiles, clips, etc.

2) If it is your child’s collection, involve them in the sorting and storage process or it will never work — You can have all the LEGO perfectly sorted for your child, but unless they are involved, and actively sorting the bricks themselves, it won’t work. The only reason my LEGO sorting has worked for over 25 years is that I was the one who initiated it when I was younger. My parents didn’t care how I stored my LEGO, but I did, as I took my collection seriously from a very early age.

3) Don’t keep your LEGO sorted by kit — unless you are an adult collector that wants to keep them organized this way, I highly discourage keeping your LEGO by the kits they came in. The whole point of LEGO is to mix them up. The new LEGO Movie addresses this very issue.

4) Sort them by how you build — depending on your building style, that can determine your sorting and storage system. If you are a car builder you want lots of wheels, tires, rims, etc. If you build castles you want castle walls, gray elements, roof elements, etc. Since I build anything and everything, that is why I have a super sorted collection. But the things I use with regularity — bricks, plates, tiles, etc — are in the easy to reach places while the things I hardly ever use — castle parts, technic, wheels, etc — are accessible, but not in easy reach.

5) Start your storage and sorting small — You don’t have to do it all at once. I’ve been doing it since I was 11, and my storage system is constantly changing as my collection grows and fluctuates. You can just get a few “nuts and bolts” drawers, a few containers. Then as your collection changes your storage can change.

As a side note there are a couple Flickr groups about LEGO sorting — LEGO Storage Extravaganza and LEGO Sorting

So, what do you do to sort and store your LEGO?

Barnes and Noble LEGO Architecture Building Event

July 27, 2013

DSC07427

So last night I participated in my local Barnes and Noble’s LEGO Architecture Building Event. Not as one of the attendees, but as one of the “special guests” doing the presentation. Apparently they were doing this same event across the United States — at least I assume it was only in the States, let me know if it was else where — to promote the newest LEGO Architecture Set that is now available at both Barnes and Nobel as well as LEGO Stores nationwide.

Via The Brick Blogger

From what I’ve heard from my friends in various locations around the country the event went from fair to decent to being cancelled (due to lack of enough participants) depending on where you were. Ours was actually standing room only, but I think that was mainly due to both David Parker, a local Architecture College Professor, and my (being a former Master Model Designer) involvement. It of course helps that the event was held in Oceanside, California which is literally minutes away from LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad so there are a lot of local LEGO lovers in the area.

Now as I’ve done dozens and dozens of different types of LEGO building events over the years, I feel that I can judge on how well an event is organized and run.

First off — since I was given the talking points that were handed down from Barnes and Noble corporate, I could tell that whoever wrote said talking points knew nothing about LEGO, the LEGO Architecture line, or how to run a building event. It was set up as an hour long event, which is fine and doable, but it was not set up very well.

Second off — Barnes and Noble didn’t think to get the local LEGO LUGs (LEGO Users Groups or Clubs) involved. The only reason I was involved with mine was due to my own initiative in contacting the store and saying I was interested in doing the event. I’m not sure how the in store contact got the college professor involved, but even that only sort of worked. Yes he knows about architecture, but he didn’t know anything about LEGO Architecture or building LEGO buildings, kind of a key point when you are doing a LEGO building event.

He kept trying to stick to the “script” they had for the event, which is my third off (or point) — I took one look at said script and kind of ignored it. I knew that it wouldn’t really work in the real world. Sure it sounds great to talk about scale, reference photos and modularity. But frankly, when you have over twenty kids all they really care about is playing with the LEGO bricks.

Fourth off — This wasn’t supposed to be a kids event. Now think about that for a moment and process it. I don’t know who up at corporate had the brilliant idea that this was for teens and adults only. I mean sure, the set is designed for that age group and at $150 USD its not exactly a cheap set. But really? You honestly don’t think kids aren’t going to show up?

DSC07440 David (the professor) is the tall one in the middle.

DSC07441

As you can see from the photos, our event was packed. I didn’t count, but I would guess we had at least 40 people at the event. Way more than they expected and there weren’t enough spaces for all the participants to build.

The event went pretty well, considering that David kept trying to stay on script, and I just kind of loosely did. I mean lets face it, in the script you are supposed to give the bricks to the participants after a little intro and talking about scale, then after they’ve played with the bricks for about 10 minutes we were supposed to have them focus on modular building. Well that’s all fine in theory, but once you give people bricks, they stop listening to you. ;)

DSC07442

It ended up being a fun event for all the participants, in spite of the poorly planned event, and I enjoyed doing it. One of my fellow SandLUG members showed up with some of his modular buildings, which I forgot to take photos of and another member who also runs thebrickfan.com showed up to blog the event.

For the fun of it, I actually went the day before and built a quick replica of the store front.
DSC07428

DSC07421

DSC07438

I’m pretty happy with the results, considering I had only parts available in the set — albeit more than what is available in a single set — and I did it in 3 hours. Its not perfect, but decent. I haven’t built like that for a long time. Taking only parts available from a constrained amount of bricks and free building with very little reference.

Of course I have to admit I did have a little bit of an ulterior motive to doing it — I wanted to see what parts were in the set and how they worked together. The set itself is pretty good, if you don’t have a lot of white bricks. If like me you do, the set is just okay.

Sure there are over 1200 parts for $150, which considering its part of the Architecture line is a much better value than any of the other sets in the theme. It is a major departure from other Architecture sets being more like a grown-up’s creator set.

I personally don’t need that amount of white at this time. That isn’t to say I may need it in the future, but I have a lot of white elements, so I won’t be getting this set anytime soon.

You can read a great review of the set itself on The Brick Blogger.

DSC07454

DSC07453

All in all, I had fun, got to play with the set, and help others build. A good day’s work in my book. :D

Newest Mosaic — Emerald City Comicon Logo

February 23, 2013

So you’ve probably noticed I have been absent for the past week. But as there is a little less than a week till the Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) and two weeks till BricksCascade, I’ve been very, very busy getting ready for both shows stocking up on hundreds of keychains, necklaces, etc.

I also wanted to create something specifically for ECCC. And what better than the ECCC logo?

ECCC logo mosaic

As always with my mosaics I incorporated a lot of tricks to get just the look I wanted and even invented a few new ones. ;)

If you look at the close ups, you can see parts that are upside-down and sideways

ECCC logo mosaic close up

ECCC logo mosaic close up

And though it looks like they are just stuck on, the letters do have at least one connection point. Now since this is not glued, the letters also have some double stick tape to make sure they keep in place. Especially as I travel — handy tip, double stick tape is your friend. :D

Of course I will be bubble wrapping this tightly as well. ;)

For those that are wondering, the mosaic is 2 x 2 ft square. So not on the small side. And it took me about a week to design and build.

I also came up with another Doctor Who design — his ever present sonic screwdriver.

Blue Sonic Screwdriver Necklace

LEGO Green Sonic Screwdriver Earrings

Since they revived the show there have been two variations — a blue one and a green one. Now they of course do look more different than just the tips, but when you are going for one that is only an inch long you can only do so much. For those who can’t make it to either show they are available online at my Folded Fancy Creations Etsy shop.

I find it somewhat ironic that a lightsaber handle is used for the design. Who knows, maybe the Doctor is also a Jedi. 8-)

Baby Colby

January 18, 2013

So you’ve probably been wondering why I’ve been off the radar for the past few days. Well, if you’ve been reading my blog for very long you know that when I have a project, I tend to let everything else slide.

So here’s my latest creation
Baby Mosaic 1

I have decided to start selling portrait mosaics but in order to do that, I needed a sample to show my skills. This is a picture of my friend Tiffeny’s baby Colby. Its the first time I’ve done a portrait, although my Remembering 9/11 mosaic was my first based off a real picture.

I wanted to make a smaller mosaic than my standard size of 2 feet tall, so I decided to go with 1 foot tall as I felt it was a nice size, but I could still retain the likeness of the image.

Since I know you are always curious about my process I took a picture of the brick paper design I made for this mosaic.
Brick paper Baby Mosaic

It looks like kind of a mess, but trust me, it makes sense. ;)

What I do is take the original picture, then I use Photoshop and Bricksaic to find the color values. If you are not familiar with Bricksaic it is a freeware program created by Bob Kojima. Bob is also the man behind BrickShirts. Bricksaic is a program to help you design mosaics. It can be helpful, but it doesn’t work fully for my technique. The best part of it though is that you can constrain the image to only the LEGO colors you want to use. So instead of the mosaic having weird colors in random places you only have the colors you want.

Here’s an up close shot so you can kind of see what I’m doing.
Baby Mosaic Close up

The model took my 40 hours or so to make.

Its funny, I never would have thought that I would be able to create something like this a decade ago when I started in the Model Shop. But after so many years, and so many mosaics, it was relatively easy.

I am selling them on my Etsy shop, if you’re interested, but I admit, it’s not cheap. ;)

The Tiniest of Tumblers

December 12, 2012

Batman Tumbler

Larry Lars has created what has to be the smallest Batman Tumbler I’ve ever seen. Its simply brilliant in its design. All 12 parts of it!

He’s even been kind enough to provide instructions for those of us who desire their own tiny tumbler
Batman Tumbler - Instructions

Be Brave

December 7, 2012

Brave Mereda

I made this about a week ago, but didn’t think to post it on Flickr till last night after I posted it as my Facebook picture. I was surprised to see such a huge response, both on Facebook and Flickr. Brothers Brick even posted it this morning. :)

What’s really getting a lot of people’s attention are the curls and the bow. Pixar’s Merida is known for her wild frizzy hair and I wanted to capture it as close as I could in a 4 inch figure.
Brave Mereda

I have to admit though, this technique isn’t new — at least in Miniland building — this has been a technique for creating curly hair for as long as I can remember at the LEGOLAND parks and I have used variations of it many times on several of my Superhero figures like Wonder Woman and for my Wedding Cake Topper Brides.

And of course what is Merida without her bow? I thought about using the new elf long bow from the Hobbit sets, but I realized it would still be too short. So I did the next best thing, I made one out of pearl cotton thread and a bit of copper flex tubing. The quiver might be a tad too short, but it was just to perfect not to use verses trying to design my own. ;)

If you would like your own Miniland Merida either as a figurine or a Christmas ornament, I have them for sale on my Folded Fancy Creations Etsy Shop.

Germany’s LEGO Design Contest Winner

December 14, 2011

Remember the LEGO Design Challenge I mentioned earlier? Well now we can see what the winner in Germany received.

LEGO mosaic

Brixe63′s son created this entry for the contest.
Christmas tree

What’s great about this model is that it shows you don’t have to make the model overly complex for it to be the winner. And that’s a pretty great design for a Christmas tree, whatever the age. I see a future LEGO Master Builder. ;)

BrickFair 2011 and other LEGO Cons

August 10, 2011

Going BrickFair 2011!

Well, BrickFair 2011 is over and done with. As I am still on the East Coast and in a hotel, I can’t download all my personal photos of BrickFair quite yet –trust me, I have quite a few. ;)

But I did want to at least post my thoughts on the event. This was my first time to this particular event and so far, the farthest East that I’ve gone for a LEGO Convention before. I’ve been to the East Coast before, but not to this particular area.

The thing I like about going to new LEGO Cons is meeting people that you’ve never met before. Now, it’s wonderful to see all your friends of course, in fact LEGO Cons are pretty much the only time I see them in person depending on where they live in relation to me. But I also really love making new friends. :)

Going to a convention so far from home I didn’t know what to expect. I always have fun at LEGO Cons, you can’t help but not have fun. But you never know what the area will be like, if there are good food accomidations with in walking distance, if a car is needed, or how far from the actual cities or landmarks you will be.

Now that I’ve been to 4 different conventions I’ve learned a few things. LEGO Cons can be expensive, especially when you are so very far from home. When going to a Con expect to spend betwen $800-$1000 for the whole trip minimum — and that doesn’t include the LEGO you buy. That only covers the plane ride or gas for your car, food, and hotel accomidations. If you can share car rides and/or hotel rooms do it, the trip is expensive enough without you having to pay the full price for where you will stay or how you get around.

Bricks by the Bay is the easiest for me to get to, as it is in Northern California and only about an 8-9 hour drive away. I could fly, but with its reltive closeness, I don’t see the need. So for me, I can bring my larger MOCs (My Own Creations) with out too much problems. Depending on where you live the Con may be close or very far away.

BrickWorld is by Chicago, but in the city. It is in fact in Wheeling, Illinos which is 40 minutes north of downtown Chicago. By mistake I flew into the wrong airport, there are two in the area. Fly in to O’Hare if you want to get there. The other one is just too far away any you don’t want to pay the taxi or shuttle fee.

BrickWorld does have resturants within walking distance but they run on the high to expensive side. My best recommendation is either be friends with someone with a car or bring lots of snacks from home so you don’t have to spend all your money on food.

I admit, I prefer to travel on the cheaper side. And even though I like to support the hotel that partners with the LEGO Cons, sometimes the price of the rooms are just too expensive. Its all a matter of convenience versus expense. It is really nice to just go down the elevetor to the convention, but if there is a cheaper alternative nearby and it is within walking distance or I have a car I will probably choose that option.

BrickCon is set at the Seatlle Center right in the heart of downtown. Both food and hotels are within walking distance. The first time I went I drove and stayed near by. Last year I stayed with a friend that lives in the area and rented a car. I was a little farther away, but I could still get around.

Oh, and that is another tip I have for you. If you can, come in on Wednesday to a Con and leave on Monday. I know not everyone can do this, but if you can add a day before and after the actual con, it is easier. Plus if you have any flight delays or unexpected situations pop up, you still have time to get to the Con. Staying an extra day after the Con helps mainly because if you are anything like me, you want to hang out with your friends as long as possible which means late, late nights. That extra day helps you recooperate for all the lost sleep.

I guess I’m lucky in that respect as going to LEGO Cons is part of my job. I don’t go to one now unless I’m a vendor there, because for me, I simply can’t afford it otherwise. And since I own my own business I can take that extra day or two during my trip.

In fact the reason I haven’t posted much since BrickFair ended was that I extended my stay in the area for a few days so I could actually see some of this area. I was in Baltimore yesterday and I’m in D.C. today. Getting the chance to see this nation’s Capitol was an opportunity I wasn’t about to pass up. Plus, now I’ve got much more building ideas to keep for a later date.

BrickFair itself I will cover in a later post, most likely in a day or two when I finally get back home. So for now I’ll sign off. ;)

LEGO Perot Museum of Science and Nature

July 31, 2011

I’ve been hinting since May with teaser pics and building tips for two months. And now the final model can be revealed. :)

Museum and me 1

This is a replica of the Perot Museum of Science and Nature which is currently in construction in Dallas, Texas.

My LEGO version is now on display through August 28th at Dallas CityScape at the current Museum of Science and Nature, 3535 Grand Avenue and 1318 S. 2nd Avenue in Fair Park, Dallas, Texas.

This model is one of the largest I’ve built as a freelance builder. It stands 2 1/2 ft x 2 1/2 ft x 2 1/2 ft and took two months to build.

P1270559

When I first took on the job it was a deceptively simple project. I mean, it is basically a big cube after all. But what I didn’t anticipate when I first looked at the blueprints and rendered images that I found online was that because of the large glass windows on the one corner of the building I would have to build an entire interior facade with multiple floors and angled walkways.

P1270488

Now I have to admit, there was some cutting and “cheating” involved in creating these walkways. I was going for more accuracy than LEGO purism for this model. I also used a few minifigs as models so that they could “use” all the walkways.

P1270432

P1270431

There was also the problem with a third of the second floor “floating” which I mentioned in Building Bracing 101. Both the walkways and the curved roof were engineering problems I had to solve to make the model work.

As with most of my architectural models I made LEGO “blueprints” for the entire building. This building had 5 floors, half floors with the stairways, a roof, I also had to the corner interiors for where the glass was, as well as the exterior walls for all 4 sides. The blueprints alone took 2 weeks to create!

This was one of the blueprints I used:

Building Tip: LEGO blueprints are an important step that I often employ when building a real building. It takes a lot less time to erase a few lines than build, un-build and then rebuild a model, especially one this big. I also create prototypes for trickier sections that can’t be planned as easily on paper.

Here’s a prototype of the glass roof:
P1270501

Here’s the final result:
P1270522And no, its not easy to add a pattern like the white lines to a double angled section. :D

For those who are wondering, there is plastic saran wrap on dividing the bottom section and the top section. The plastic wrap helps to keep glue from getting where I don’t want it to go. ;)

I had to make the model in two sections, three if you count the removable angled escalator, because this model had to be able to go through a standard door. At 30 inches wide (2 grey baseplates) the building could not fit unless it was in two sections that could be then turned sideways to get through a door. That is also the reason for the very visible seam on the model. All glued models slightly warp as the glue dries and it is very difficult to not have two separate parts warp at different rates on such a large model. It is a necessary evil when created a glued model.

You can see many, many more photos of my building in all stages of construction on my Flickr photostream set

It was an exhausting (literally) and challenging model to build. In fact, because of all the engineering it was the most difficult building I’ve ever built. I’m not complaining mind you, I love working on big models. Every time I make one it reminds me that I can do it. ;)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 75 other followers