Posts Tagged ‘Model Building Tips’

Ghostbusters Ecto 1 Set Review

October 31, 2014

20140913_224925

Although I built this set a while ago, I’ve been saving this for Halloween. ;)

Ghostbusters is one of my favorite Halloween comedies, has been for years — although I clearly remember being afraid of the ghosts when the movie came out, I was 7 after all. So when this set came out it was a must have! Back to the Future just didn’t do it for me, still haven’t picked up that set, but this one, yes, I needed it. Okay, needed is rather strong. Really, really wanted is more like it.

The box art is awesome
20140913_224940
I love the back especially, I just wish the set came with proton packs that actually glowed. :D

The instruction booklet is really nice with a cool pic from the movie so you can see the real life versions,
20140913_225113
and their LEGO counterparts.
Ghostbusters Ecto 1

The parts are pretty decent
Ghostbusters Ecto 1

Especially the set exclusives
20140913_225458
Okay technically the dark red 1×1 round with hole is also in Emmet’s Construction Mech as part of Angry Uni-Kitty, but its still rather rare as a part. And all the printed elements are set exclusive as are the printed torsos for the Ghostbusters.

The figs have happy faces — sorry for the dark lighting, it doesn’t capture Winston too well
20140913_230218

As well as scared faces when they come upon something really scary
20140913_230254

The build is a nice one too with some really cool techniques like the white and red trim on the back.
Ghostbusters Ecto 1

The finished model really captures the look of the movie car
Ghostbusters Ecto 1

Fun Ghostbusters related fact –

LEGOLAND California used to have a Ghostbusters scene that they put out every Halloween

One of my first assignments was to rebuild the hearse that was in the New Orleans Miniland area after the original one (that was tan — why tan, I have no idea) was stolen. As I didn’t have the original one the only way I could build it was to reverse engineer the hearse from the Ecto 1 model.

Then, several years later, right before I left LEGOLAND California I built a Halloween version of the Hearse that is still used every year for Brick or Treat.

Halloween Hearse 2

Happy Halloween every one and may the Holidays commence!

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?

LEGOLAND in Boston looking for a Master Builder

December 19, 2013

If you live in the New England area, and have always wanted to become a LEGO Master Model Builder then here’s your chance.

Via: Boston Magazine

On January 25 and 26, at the Boston Public Library, an “intense competition,” called Brick Factor, will be held to try and identify the perfect candidate to take on the job of building Lego projects for the Discovery Center Boston coming to Assembly Square in the new year.

Applicants will be asked to tackle several construction challenges over the course of two days, competing in multiple rounds to take the title. The lucky winner of the competition will be offered a full-time, salaried position from the Discovery Center, and will become responsible for constructing new features, exhibitions and models at the new attraction.

So what does it take to become the next “Master Model Builder,” a title that only a handful of other people in the United States hold?

According to Lego representatives, the perfect candidate should have “a natural love of Lego bricks…be creative,” and show that they are a skilled model builder and passionate about working with and teaching kids.

“The Brick Factor Competition is a unique opportunity to turn one lucky individual’s hobby into a dream job,” said David Gilmore, General Manager for Legoland Discovery Center Boston. “The Master Model Builder will become an integral member of the team, bringing all the incredible Lego brick models within the attraction to life. We can’t wait to put New England’s building skills to the test.”

Here’s a look at what the “Brick Factor” was like in Toronto

Tips from a former Master (me :D ):

1) Practice before you go. Do timed building tests — both free style and theme to get and idea just how long (or short) half an hour or hour is when on a clock

2) Have a portfolio of your previous LEGO models — a booklet or tablet with pics of what you have done can give LEGOLAND an idea of what you can already do.

3) Don’t just show one style / theme of building — Master Builders can be required to build anything. So you have to be able to build a building one day, a mosaic the next and then make a sculpture and a microscale model. If you just specialize in one type — Castle, Space, Mecha, etc. — and don’t diversify your building style they might not be as interested in you. That’s not to say that you won’t get hired, but it helps to be versatile. ;)

On the flip side — Remember it is a real job. Its not just playing with LEGO all day. Whoever wins will have budgets and time frames. You can’t spend months on a foot long model getting it “just so.” Its also a corporate job, no matter how creative it may be. And sadly, they don’t pay all that well. Which is part of the reason I’m not at LEGOLAND any more. So if that’s not your cup of tea, you might not want to do it.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying out. I don’t regret the 5 years I spent working at LEGOLAND California. It was amazing, life-changing and I learned to be a much, much better builder because I was there. But there were days when I didn’t want to go into work. Its a job and you work hard. I want anyone trying out to go in with their eyes wide open and not have false expectations.

So for those that do plan on trying out in January, Good Luck! And if any of you readers do try out, I’d love to hear how you do.

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

Bring on the Minion

July 23, 2013

minion2

Car_mp created this cute minon from Despicable Me. I’m certainly a fan of the little yellow guys and have been meaning to build my own.

Using basically the same technique he also created a cactus

cactus3

I think that’s what I love about LEGO. You can take a technique and build both a Minion and a cactus. :D

Even LEGO “trash” can be used in a model

March 15, 2013

Chapter 026

I don’t fully know what’s going on here. I do know that this picture is part of a set called Twisted Tales by Bart Willen. But what caught my eye was the vines on the building.

Most of the vines consist of the “trash” sprue that comes on this part.

If you have the part you know what I mean. There is a sort of triangle ring that holds all 3 leaves together and protects them from bending or breaking quite as much until you build with it. I’ve kept mine for years but never really knew what to do with them until now.

This may not be the first person to do it, but I’ve never seen it before and I like finding new ways to use old parts. :)

The whole set of pictures has some really great building techniques in them and I recommend reading the story as well. ;)

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


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 76 other followers