Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Bender’

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. 🙂

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. 😀

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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.

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. 😀

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. 😉