Tuesday, June 30, 2009

LED-ing the way

LEGO lights up my life and soon, it will apparently light up yours. Re:creation and LEGO are teaming up to produce a series of products that incorporate the iconic minifig and LED lights.

Although a glowing keychain or lamp is impressive, they still fall short of the Iron Man minifig I saw for the first time at Brickworld 2008. Brickmodder together with Fine Clonier Decals turned a simple minifig into a shining, robotic version of awesome.

LED lights have been behind some of the most interesting LEGO MOCs (My Own Creations) in the past several years. LifeLites are LED kits that can power the internal lights of a MOC- like Joe Meno's Bond villain ray gun. LEDs are just AFOLs doing their part to go green.

Photo via The Brothers Brick.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The business of amusement

With a baby on the way, you start to think about important things like what will be the first amusement park we visit? Thus, it's heartening to hear small tremors in the cup of water that is the Internet about the possibility of a LEGOLAND park in Florida. 

The rumor is based off a survey inquiring about a Florida locale for a new LEGOLAND park. The website, Screamscape, looks at the history of a second LEGOLAND theme park in the United States, covering the previously rumored sites in Lees Summit, MO, and Olathe, KS. 

Photo by Narwal. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, and Me

It wasn't until I picked up LEGO bricks again that I realized I might still have an affinity for toys in general. But that has become abundantly clear while trying to cram LEGO sets and plastic brick storage into the built in bookcase in my office.

A brief tour through my brick habit reveals a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a miniature shopping cart- a stuffed animal from the Museum of Natural History that I've had since the last time I played with LEGO sets. A barrel of monkeys that hasn't been opened in years- I'm fairly certain the monkeys are dead. They haven't made noise for several months.

A hula girl wobbly figure and miniature Tower of Pisa sit amongst my office supplies in an old Coke crate. A miniature ninja from a bubble-container vending machine continually appears and disappears among the spindles of a shelf. I suspect he had something to do with the monkey's demise. Ninjas are a jealous bunch, even if they hide it well. And finally, A Greg Maddux bobblehead, the closest thing that adults get to toys.

What's in your toy chest...err...office?

Photo by Krush!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rudy had dreams, so should you

My two ideas for Invent America- the grade school competition that encouraged adolescent Edisons to come up with life-changing products- were volcano ice cream (vanilla that would erupt w/ hot fudge after being microwaved) and shades with scenery that could change for people in hospitals. Someone put the second idea into production, I'm still waiting for Mt. St. Vanilla.

But word comes down the pipe via Wired's GEEKDAD, that 7-year-old Quaid Guarino has signed a non-disclosure agreement with LEGO and is in development talks for a completely new use for LEGO bricks that he has discovered. I'm always excited when children work with companies, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt helping the California Angels win the pennant.

The photo is of a maxifig poker game from the Toy & Plastic Brick Museum in Bellaire, OH.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On celebrities and LEGO

This blog has finally been overrun by celebrity driven news. We held out against the siege as long as we could. But like Helm's Deep and other dork fortresses before us, the walls have come down. I guess this blog entry will stand as a testament to what Brick Bender once was... Some would say it was inevitable. I would say is a factor of sloth.  

Megan Fox can't believe that Shia LaBeaouf won't play "LEGO Star Wars," with her. I am flabbergasted myself. 

"I tried to get Shia to play “LEGO Star Wars.” He wouldn’t even tolerate getting past Start. He has no idea what an awesome game it is," Megan told The Wrap. 

You say slow news cycle, I say poor Shia. 

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen...BrickWorld 2009

What's all the fuss in Chicago? It's not a Cubs-White Sox subway series that ended yesterday in the proper fashion with a walkoff Cubs win. 

The excitement making the city of mustaches quake is BrickWorld 2009. The first day of the adult fan convention was yesterday- over 400 attendees are expected to descend on the North Shore Westin this weekend. AFOL Bill Ward, has photos of the Serious Play session held on Thursday- the consulting arm of LEGO that uses bricks as part of corporate training and team building exercises. And Joe Meno, editor of BrickJournal, continues to take far more (and better) pictures of LEGO than just about anybody on the planet.  

If you've got a calendar, mark it for 2010 and the third weekend in June. I'll meet you there. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

For all you zombie and LEGO lovers out there

Zombies have always been catchy. Those who read books and watch movies are often smitten with the lumbering, blood-thirsty ridiculousness that once was a human being. While those actually being chased by zombies can be caught and thus, "catch" zombie-ism through a series of bites.

So, I have to believe that my zombie farmer vignette, in some way, inspired this series of zombie paintings by artist Brian Colin. Although perhaps they were inspired by these oversized LEGO zombie minifigs.

For those of you who can't get enough zombies, might I suggest BrickCon, a Seattle adult fan of LEGO convention that is expected to feature the second annual Zombie Apocafest group display.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

E is for...

Like party kids everywhere, I have neglected "E" for too long. So, here it is, your fifth installment of the brick-based encyclopedia.

E is for... Eurobricks- an international forum for adult fans of LEGO, covering everything from MOCs to building techniques to the latest sets.

E is for... Elsa Schneider, the Nazi vixen and one of the minifigures expected to be included in the Venice Canal Chase set slated for release by LEGO in August of this year. You are expected to drop her minifigure from the edge of your desk, while shouting. "Elsa. Don't Elsa. Elsa. Give me your other hand honey, I can't hold you!" as a tiny glove begins slipping from her minifig hands. Ideally you will then be saved from falling out of your chair by your dad, who suggests that you "let it go, Indiana."

E is for...Ewok- the Star Wars characters that call Endor home. These tiny cherub-teddy ruxpin hybrids are even in their own LEGO set, Ewok Attack. If you've never witnessed an Ewok attack, I'm happy for you. Trust me, they fight dirty.

E is for...EXO-FORCE. Think Manga meets LEGO. A line of sets in which humans battle robots on the slopes of Sental Mountain. Two words for you: spinning buzzsaw.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Prepare for battle men

Who would have thought the joyous battles between castle fans and space guys at adult fan conventions could have been captured so well in LEGO Battles, a game for the Nintendo DS?

Spacemen have scaled castle walls and knights on horseback from brought down moonbases as builders have sacrificed dozens of Mountain Dew cans and endured severe pinches on fingers to maneuver bricks in place. Also, you never want to look directly into a trebuchet- it is as dangerous as the sun itself. Let's just say it's best that themes have some table distance between them.

I'm just glad that disputes can be settled virtually and no MOCs will be hurt in the process.

Photo via Kombo.com

Monday, June 15, 2009

The great LEGO storage caper

I left no storage option unturned. It is time for the great LEGO reorganization that is needlessly expensive, unnecessarily agonized over, and ultimately will need to be replaced.

In an effort to confine all of the LEGO in the house to one room, it's time I got a better system of organization beyond stolen Tupperware containers from the kitchen and oversized tubs filled to the brim. So goodbye LEGO in the third bedroom and living room- you had your time to shine there, but now you must be caged and put on display like any domesticated polar bears or tigers.

In addition, you'll be separated, but kept with your own kind. I can't have a 1x4 red brick and a 2x2 blue brick, giving me a 2x3 purple brick- it's just not natural. I hope you understand.

It turns out the LEGO hobby might just be the man equivalent of scrapbooking or crafting. You need to put a series of tiny accessories into tiny compartments. I wish I was less excited about plastic tubs with adjustable dividers, but these are the facts and thus must be reported as such.

Photo by Doctor Sinister.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

LEGO of my MP3 player

Getting back into LEGO feels a bit like waking up and discovering that you entire life has turned into a White Stripes' video.

But the reality is we're one step closer to that world today with the unveiling of the LEGO digital camera, MP3 player, alarm clock, stop motion video camera, walkie-talkie, and boombox. The blocky, primary colored electronics are set to debut this fall and they had me at click wheel.

They look a bit clunky, but considering my relationship with technology, I'll take clunky any day.

Photo via dvice.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When clone bricks attack

It doesn't get better than Toybox of Fail- a review of knockoff LEGO toys by Christopher Doyle, the voice behind Reasonably Clever.

Each review is the joy of unboxing combined with a bit of LEGO snarkery. Doyle takes the time to break down each of the accessories and included structures- including great details in both pictures and written description.

The only bothersome aspect of Chris' latest review of a police truck set is that it bears a striking resemblance to the first delivery truck I built when I was coming out of my Dark Ages last year. Blocky roof? Check. No doors or steering options? Check. Unclear use of Color? Perfect. At least I wasn't asking anyone to buy my sets.

Photo from Reasonably Clever.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This week in LEGO...

When you can't find the words, why not say it with LEGO? The bricks continue to be a cultural touchstone and a reference point for people unsure how to explain a given event or project.

-Radiohead has just tipped a big LEGO box out on the floor...

-Red Bull builds impromptu airplane hangars just like LEGO in Windsor, England...

-An analysis of dew formation systems draws a comparison to the clickability of bricks...

-"The Early Show," discussed their favorite LEGO memories and the new Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture sets...

LEGO...helping people relate since 1932.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Putting the sleep in sleeper-sofa

It's a bizarre thing to wake up from a dream where you've been building with LEGO bricks. Your hands are slightly cramped and you keep wondering why you wanted to build an oversized LEGO candle. Maybe this is what Frank Lloyd Wright felt like all the time.

I keep a notebook by my bed in an effort to remember story ideas or sentences for whatever I'm writing. Ledes and transitions always seem to come in the few minutes before sleep.

Somewhere in my subconscious is the intersection of design blogs, LEGO ideas, and Flickr. The result is LEGO home goods from a conceptual brick stapler to plant holder. It's the real mid-century modern look from Denmark.

Photo by Duckingham.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Instructions for everyone

For a toy that is built on infinite play, there is something comforting in the illustration-based instructions that come with LEGO sets. Each step requires some deciphering and a bit of trial and error, but ultimately provide enough guidance for nearly anyone to complete a set.

And now word comes, via Wired's Geekdad, that LEGO has filed a patent application that would allow people to generate printed instructions for the creations imagineered online via the LEGO Digital Designer.

So in the future, someone could log on to LEGO's website- design their own kit virtually, order the parts and have a complete set with instructions delivered to their door. Or, people could begin ordering creations made by other fans, which included an illustrated guide of how that Tyrannosaurus Rex or helicopter was built.

Customized sets seem just around the corner.

Photo by Joakim Lind.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Today's goal: Build something sweet

Without goals, we'd all just be soccer players for Fulham FC. Thank you, I'm here all week...

And that is why I'm glad to have Sean Kenney- the LEGO artist responsible for the brick sculptures being displayed this week at the Microsoft Gallery to celebrate something known as Internet Week.

There's proficiency and then there's excellence. I've attained a level of proficiency (or something close to it) over the past year. Sean has attained a level of excellence. And thus, the goal is to go from proficiency to excellence. The challenge is that there are no lesson plans where I'm going.

Photo via J&R.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reunited and it feels so good

Some great partners just can't be kept apart. Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Mahoney and Hightower, space and monkeys...and now we can add Harry Potter and LEGO to the list.

In the beginning of this decade, LEGO released a series of sets tied into the Harry Potter movies and locales. There was Hogwarts and quidditch and a series of ghoulish minifigs. Fast forward to today, and the news that LEGO and Harry Potter will again be paired in the video game, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4.

I'm glad that they found each other once more, maybe reuniting at a New Year's Eve Party or accidentally grabbing for a coffee at the same time and having their hands touch briefly.

"Oh, hey LEGO...um...seems like you've been having a good year.."

"Sure, sure..but nothing like yours with the Half-Blood Prince set to come out..."

"No, come on, LEGO, you're really successful,"

"Stop it."

"You stop it."

Tickle fight ensues. That didn't get awkward.... After all, when has more Hagrid ever been a bad thing?

Photo by Rafael Sarpa.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Survival of the dimmest

I never envisioned that one day I would have to clear my toys out of my kid's bedroom. But we're putting together the nursery and that means the LEGO bricks that have been accumulating in our third bedroom need a new home. A fact that my past self could have used.

"We can just keep the LEGO bricks in there," I tell Kate.

"Don't you think they're a choking hazard?"

"No, they have little holes in the top of the minifig heads," I reply.

Kate doesn't say anything, she just waits...and waits. Closer to a minute than not a minute, my brain finally kicks on like a rattling air conditioner.

"Right, I'll move them."

I'm fairly certain I'm just going to have my wife raise our children.

Photo by myuibe.