Thursday, May 28, 2009

Put up your dukes like a 10-year-old

Punch-out is on my game console, Transformers is in the movie theaters, and Oregon Trail is taking over the iPhone. The 80's are officially the decade of the aughts. It shows how deeply a memory is ingrained when I was browsing LEGO sets in Target and heard the theme song to Punch-out for the first time in easily 18 years and immediately thought of taking down Piston Honda. Ah, Punch-Out the racially insensitive precursor to Ready 2 Rumble boxing.

I guess it was only a matter of time before LEGO came back into my life when it seems as though the rest of my childhood was getting a reboot. The good news is that I'm a lot less competitive than when I was 12 and understand that girls might just be okay.

If you'll excuse me, I have to go hand wash my hyper color t-shirt.

Photo by **bc**.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where's Will Smith when you need him?

You had me at Robo Attack.

An oversized mechanical monster powered by Dr. Inferno dominates of the newest set released in the Agents (think James Bond) line by LEGO. With one hand that blazes fire and another that would seem to be the jaws of death, Robo Attack is easily at the top of my wishlist.

You don't realize you have a sweet spot for toys until you see a retro robot and you spend 15 minutes using the zoom function on LEGO's website to check out all of the details of the elements in the set. This is as close as I will come to taking items in the dressing room and agonizing over whether they would work in my collection.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Very LEGO Birthday

At first it was just Christmas, but now I'm starting to feel that whenever I'm stumped for a gift for a friend I should just give them a LEGO set. It turns out, like french fries and peanut butter (apologies to those with allergies), LEGO is fairly universally liked. Either that, or I tend to have the kind of friends who haven't yet abandoned their childhood.

The only debate I have is whether someone is a Star Wars-head or would appreciate the cheekiness of a Pirates set. It's like trying to use a LEGO set as a divining rod for inner geekiness. Although in the end, it's probably more of a reflection of me that everyone has come to expect LEGO gifts.

Photo by cup.cakers.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another LEGO brick in the wall

I have joked repeatedly about the altered consciousness of playing with LEGO bricks that extends to the real world. In other words, you know you're hooked when you start to see objects, vehicles, buildings, really anything, that makes you say, "I could build that out of LEGO."

I am glad to see that someone has taken my words to heart. Artist Jan Vormann is busy repairing actual buildings with LEGO bricks. After a successful street installation in Tel Aviv, he's recently begun repairing WWII-damaged buildings in Berlin.

He's also one step closer to realizing my dream of an actual house built out of LEGO bricks. Now that would be a sustainable building.

from Wooster Collective.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

D is for...

The much-delayed and highly anticipated fourth installment in the brick-based encyclopedia. For those of you scoring at home, this will cover the "D" words...

D is for... Death Star. It only seems appropriate that LEGO has released two versions of the planet-sized spacecraft. Now, if they could only get the rebels to stop destroying the prototypes.

D is for....Dino Island. A subtheme in the Adventurers line. Those ideas that burn brightest are extinguished too quickly. 2000 was the only year these were available.

D is for...Dr. Charles Lightning- the pith-helmeted, sage companion to Johnny Thunder. If anyone is ever short for a nickname, you could do worse than Dr. Lightning.

D is for...Donut, which Mitch Hedberg once informed us was not a receipt-worthy transaction.

D is for...Dwarves. The bearded and newest race in the Castle theme. LEGO has imbued them with "the courage of humans twice their size."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rock and LEGO

To those about to brick, we salute you. Dave Chatterson, you're the one who has likely earned the full brunt of this salute. And that's because you built a pretty sweet LEGO Fender guitar amp. So far, this post is reading about as genuine as the radio beer spots that tout the accomplishments of various misguided men involved in occupations on the margins. But rest assured, it's sincere.

The amp is an outstanding recreation of an amp, but it is the details that make it shine. The inner workings and control panel on the front are top notch. The only thing that makes me wonder if this is a viral ad stems from Chatterson's outstanding collection, which apparently lay dormant before he built the amp replica. I have trouble believing anybody could keep their hands off such a wide variety of parts for so long.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Moving Away From Convention

I was sorting some bricks the other evening when I came across a collection of magnetic bricks stuck together in a rectangular jumble. These are my name tags from the AFOL conventions I attended last year. It was a rare year for anybody in that I attended four adult conventions all across the country- each with it's own personality in addition to the many personalities that are on hand in the community.

With BrickWorld a little over a month away, I'm starting to miss the circuit. I never thought of myself as a conventioneer, heading to Vegas to sell washing machines over steaks or entertaining clients at boat shows. But adult fan of LEGO conventions are different. They revolve around three things: discovering how to build better, getting a chance to show what you do, and meeting a wide range of interesting people.

They're unconventional, but that's what makes them great conventions.

Photo by Captain Redstorm.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

You Should Visit "A LEGO A Day"

It's just one year I told myself. One year to play with LEGO bricks and learn about what has happened since I put them down at the age of 12. That was the idea behind the book draft I'm currently editing- just spend a year immersed in the Adult Fan of LEGO culture.

That was close to 15 months ago and I'm showing no signs of stopping. I'm like an undercover cop that got into deep. And so, I'm curious about what will happen to a blog I enjoy visiting, "A LEGO a Day..." It's one of my favorite LEGO blogs, in that it combines the finest elements of LEGO- surprise and a good sense of humor.

Today marks Day 345 of a proposed 365-day adventure where teacher and photographer Dan presents a LEGO photo a day for a year. Dan is going to hit his mark in less than three much you want to be bet he keeps going?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Live LEGO and prosper

Just as the world was unable to escape Judd Apatow two years ago, now we're living in JJ Abrams world (who will the next great J... A... director be???).

The remake of Star Trek opens today and it only seems appropriate to link to a myriad of ships and creations from the various series.

Besides there are just not as many opportunities to promote Borg-based minifigs as there once were. It's a tough economy, even for fictitious aliens based on upscaled toys.

After this post and an e-mail including the words, "set your phasers to awesome," I believe today marks an unofficial low/high into my downward geek spiral.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

No longer a Brickmaster

There comes a time when every boy has to go out into the wilderness and make a name for himself. Absent woods and a genuine desire to hunt; I'll see if I can manufacture a rite of passage in my living room.

My LEGO Brickmaster subscription has ended. I am no longer a Brickmaster in their eyes. And so I will have to build without the comfort of a purchased title. The final set arrived in the mail yesterday, a miniaturized red tow truck that is four studs wide. It's a gimme, the kind that inspires confidence in even the most junior builders.

And so from here on out; it's time to build without a net. Worst case scenario: I'll just fire up Vision Quest on Netflix.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

LEGO just the latest material for prefab housing

If somebody builds a replica of a green home using recycled products, does that make it doubly green or not green at all? Well, the case is up for debate with the LEGOsolaire exhibition- a LEGO-fied version of one of eco-architect Michelle Kauffman's prefabricated housing designs.

Regardless, it adds a bit of cool factor to the concept of LEGO construction. You can see a green roof made of LEGO plants and have your imagination tested by brown tiles representing wooden planks and grey tiles representing concrete.

If you're in Chicago, you're in luck. The house is on display as part of the Smart Home: Green + Wired exhibition at The Museum of Science and Industry. If you are not in Chicago, I suggest you start building.

Photo from the Mother Nature Network.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

LEGO depictions of torture

The power of playing with LEGO bricks comes from our childhood associations. Many of us have positive memories of playing with a tub of bricks and building spaceships, houses, or some vague animal hybrid.

And that's why the latest use of LEGO bricks to make a political statement, about the torture practices of the United States, is so disturbing. It as unsettling as when LEGO bricks were used as commentary on the Holocaust.

When toys are used to raise awareness of adult issues, it is an image that is hard to escape.

Thanks to John for the tip.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mythbusters tackles a LEGO myth

When Mythbusters meets LEGO, amateur detectives and AFOLs have finally been brought together. It's two great scientific pursuits that satisfy the inner dork in all of us. Encyclopedia Brown would be proud.

The theme of Wednesday's Mythbusters was testing Internet myths, which included this video of a guy in Indiana Jones regalia being chased down a San Francisco street via a giant LEGO ball. The show enlisted the help of LEGO Master Model Builder Gary McIntire and brick artist Nathan Sawaya in their attempt to recreate the 7-foot LEGO ball, which was advertised as 5 million bricks big.

It was nice to see the recognition that building with LEGO bricks is complicated, time consuming, and still ridiculously fun. Gary's trademark enthusiasm is on display for the entire show. The Mythbusters' promo video is here (it contains a few spoilers for those who want to keep the mystery alive).

Photo by chasingfun.