Sunday, August 31

How to Add a Rare Color to Your Palette

Color is very important for making striking builds. Sometimes frustratingly so, considering how poor and random part selection can be within a color. But, the important thing when trying to work in a new color is to acquire a decent number of parts in that color. If the parts are tough you can still make a good MOC in your color of choice, and that limitation can help you make something unique. So here's how to acquire that minimum number of parts to break into a new color. Let's go.
Say what you will about the archaic Bricklink interface, but it certainly has some cool hidden features. To start, go to Bricklink.Com, then click on the Search tab and select Find Stores. Now, click on the --- All Colors --- dropdown menu and select your color of choice. If you're planning a smaller order and are looking for a color that isn't overly rare, you may want to limit seller location to your country of residence. Except for you, lonely Bricklink user in Fiji.
After hitting Show Stores you are welcomed with this glorious list. In the case of my example color, Bright Light Orange (AKA Keetorange) it's not too rare so I would probably forgo the foreign stores. The two top American stores are pretty much tied, so I'd most likely order from Pooh's Corner since I've dealt with them before.

If you can't figure out the specific color you're looking for, or just want to find something really rare, take a look at Bricklink's color list. Personally I recommend Dark Azure, Magenta and Bright Light Orange.

This was just a quick tip which someone shared with me a couple years ago and I've found useful. Let me know if there are any other advanced Bricklinking type tutorials you guys would like to see!

Saturday, August 30

Hillside Villa

Oscar Cederwall (O0ger on Flickr) designed this small but impressive villa. I've seen modern-style houses built with LEGO before, but I've never seen one at this scale that was this this well done.

It was originally built back in April for Eurobricks' digital design contest, and Oscar has recently converted it into physical bricks.
What impressed me the most about this MOC is the attention to detail. The use of the 1x2 grill slopes for steps and the 1x2x1 panels for the deck is inspired. And while I'm sure it took some extra work, the fact that the house is angled relative to the base makes it that much more impressive.

The Battle Rages

Nooroyd knows how to stage a battle. There's a lot of action in this scene, from the dramatic minifigs and the tachikoma, to the surreal black objects and shattered terrain. I love the idea of hanging giant objects from outside the camera shot, it really makes this a striking composition.

I do feel that the white background sabotages it a little bit, but it's a very difficult scene to photograph. Dark blue would probably be the most viable background color, considering the importance of black within the scene. I also think it's important to use color to differentiate factions, it's been an important visual element in many historical and fictional battles.

The little spider drones deserve their own spotlight for their unique silhouette and deceiving simplicity.

Thursday, August 28

A-Frame 2D Geometry

A-frames have been around for awhile now, but I don't think people have adequately explored their possibilities yet. I just got a ton at BrickFair, so let's see what they can do. A-frames are 45° angles, as proven by this stylish octagon. The first example on the left is just two A-frames attached together, which is pretty cool. A similar assembly, with hinges bent at 135° degrees, is sturdier, still rigid and more aesthetically pleasing. They have some quadrilateral type tessellation possibilities as well. Adding a third A-Frame maintains rigidity and opens up a lot of possible tessellations, with hinges at 165° and 15°. A fourth A-frame loses rigidity and is pretty terrible by itself. But, the 45° hinges allow the addition of a layer of four more A-frames at an offset, which restores rigidity and looks awesome. I'm not sure what practical use it is beyond the standard abstract space applications, but I'm sure there are others. The shape also tessellates in a couple different ways. Some classic triangle tessellations! Always exciting to me, personally.
I have to do some experimenting with 3D A-frame assemblies, but so far I haven't had much luck. Hinges are really better for 3D shapes.And I think I need to buy more A-frames.

What epic A-frame uses have you found or seen? Link them in the comments! EDIT: Just found this surprisingly similar post over at Dagsbricks. Some cool stuff that I didn't think of, it pairs well with my post.

Wednesday, August 27

The Starfighter Telephone Game

Zane Houston has come up with another awesome starfighter, built as part of the Starfighter Telephone game. For the uninitiated, the game is a Lego building take on the old fashioned game of telephone. So one person builds a model, and ships it to a second builder who then makes a new model inspired by the previous one. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Zane's models was directly inspired by Chris Maddison's Reckless Abandon. The similarity might not be immediately obvious, since Zane figured out itwould be more interesting to flip the ship around 180 degrees and built a backwards version. I highly recommend you take a look at the full progression in the Team Mongol Squadron thread. I'm playing the game on the team Intergalactic Amazons, and I hope I do as well on mine as Zane did on his!

Also, don't forget about the Small Starfighter Building Contest, the submission period ends August 31st.

To WIP or not to WIP...

Following up the post about Moko's recent Gundam sculpture, and how interesting it is to see the building process, today I'm going to use Julien Andries as an example.

After a two year long hiatus, Julien posted the floor plan of a church that he planned on building.

Church Scale 1:42

Not only has he been making good progress, but he's been posting WIP shots of pretty much every stage of the build.
The latest one can be seen below.


There's many schools of thought on posting WIP shots of a build. Some people hate the idea, preferring to see the completed product in one fell swoop, while some people love seeing a build progress in leaps and bounds over the span of months/years.

What are your thoughts on WIP shots? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, August 26

Travel Enduro Motorcycle

František Hajdekr came up with this awesome motorcycle design, and included awesome features in the classic Technic tradition. It really requires a video to show this kind of stuff off, and he was savvy enough to include one. I think that most MOCs would really benefit from at least a 360 spin video, and I'd love to see that become more common practice.

Awesomeness & Believability

Bermudafreeze knows how to balance the two. He takes some cues from the look of heavy duty construction machinery, and then cleans it up a little and uses it to build mechs. There are a lot of aesthetics which you can pull out and use pretty easily, both from the real world and from movies or video games. The important thing is to be consistent within your build, and to be confident in your design choices. Also remember that reference material is your friend.

Sunday, August 24

Document Your Work!

 The prolific Moko has finished up another major work, DRAGONAR-1. And it's incredibly stunning. He took a lot of work-in-progress pictures and was kind enough to post them on his Flickr. I used them to put together a quick timeline; it's pretty cool to see his process.




He seems to have a definite skeleton and cladding based approach, starting with solid bones and joints before adding cladding.

There are a ton more pictures over on Moko's (Japanese language) blog, definitely worth your time. Moko has to be one of the top three builders at the moment.

Saturday, August 23

Sleek Space Design.

I had the chance to play the GARC boardgame at BrickFair this year, which is one of the most well though out, and well designed games I've played in a long while.

Not content to stick to making awesome boardgames, Josh Derksen, AKA Armoredgear7, has created this beautiful, and heavily modified ship from the Star Wars universe, known as the IG-2000.

Brilliant shaping and sleekness aside, what really caught my eye on this ship was the use of inverse slopes over the top of an angled plate next to the main cabin window. I've always been a bit flummoxed by brickmath, and that one example (of many), is enough to make me want to see the interior structure of this ship.

Goats in solitude

Tim Schwalfs latest moc demonstrates the he can quite effectively build a scene with an atmosphere to it, as he has done so here. this MOC portrays a lonesome shepherd tending to his goats. The barren landscape, goat pen, color scheme and controlled amounts of figures really brings out a solitary mood to the build, which is what I believe Tim was trying to achieve. The rockwork, although a bit gappy, is super effective and really defines the kind of boulder-y landscape from a massive slab of rock like many builders would go for. Those angles really make it something special, and  must've been a pain to assemble... not to mention that roof! definitely a few things in here that I'll be trying out in the future!

Compact Swooshability


Another entry to the small starfighter contest currently going on, Bricksky (Tyler Sky) brings us this wonderful addition, "Solomon Blaze's Starfighter". There's a lot to like about this, like the compact bubble cockpit. Those thrusters are what really attracted me to this build, the use of treads makes for some of the most intricate greebles for a fighter this scale and really is what gives it that 'this was built by a boss' quality to it. Now to go build my own to swoosh around!

It's More Than Just Building

HJ Media Studios is reminding everyone once again how much other disciplines can bring to a build. Graphic design, 3D rendering and character design are all showcased here. What skills do you have that you could use, or already use in your builds? I know about graphic design, anatomy and (some) concept art. I've also studied visual storytelling, and I'd really love to use that more effectively in my own builds. Thanks to HJ for making something unique!

Thursday, August 21

There's No Way Not To Blog It

LEGOLIZE IT MAN hits another homerun with his new MOC, North Front. Restrained colors, clean construction and adept sticker usage. It's an arctic mech, and he really sells it as such with the photography, graphic design and the supporting micro builds. Also the mitten hands, those are extremely effective. I know I'm reaching for it, but if I had to give a critique to this MOC it would be about the mixture of curved and angled parts within the dark blue color. I absolutely love the angled parts, but I feel that the curves sabotage it just a little bit. I tihnk concept artists call that kind of thing "form language" and it hasn't quite made its way to Lego yet. [Thanks to Simon for the tip!]

Wednesday, August 20

In Russia, Spaceship screams you.

Comrade Benny's Mini Космический корабль! Космический корабль! КОСМИЧЕСКИЙ КОРАБЛЬ!

Some builds are amazing for building skill, and some are amazing for the pure and simple joy that they evoke.
This falls into the latter category. The build itself is good, very simple, but good nonetheless. The idea though, that's another story. The idea behind this build brings so much happiness to me, as nonsensical as it is. The thought of Benny screaming "SPACESHIP!!!" in a thick Russian accent is pure gold, that I would gladly pay another ten dollars to see on the big screen.

Tuesday, August 19

The Monkey King

The Deathly Halliwell strikes again.  The head of this is amazing to me, it's the kind of thing that I would never have the confidence to even attempt. But seeing this kind of build really increases my confidence in the medium, even if the skill behind it is intimidating. So next time I consider building something like this, I'll know that it can be done; it's just a matter of skill, resources and dedication. AKA building like a boss.

The De-escalating Conflict

It started yesterday, with Grant Davis' tiny but elegant castle. All was peaceful until a somewhat foolhardy comment by Spider-Fish, "And also, I hereby challenge someone to build a smaller castle then this!" Simon took the dare very seriously. Cam M showed up. And Tyler came in and things suddenly became very dangerous. Simon had the last word. So far. Spontaneous builds are a really fun way to interact with other builders, and a fun, casual challenge.

Monday, August 18


Mihai Marius Mihu is known for his demonic 'bust's, never ceasing to create some of the creepiest builds in existence in some of the most beautiful ways possible, and his latest build is no exception. This Emperor Nero bust, or as titled by Mihai, "Civitatem et Flammes" is full of amazing details. He's used 'snot'ed plates, slopes and arches to create the fantastic shaping, especially around the eyes. The depth of the build really brings it to life. The clever monochromatic color scheme enhances the build by adding to the chilling look of the tyrant Nero; and not only looks burnt but brings out the crown and flames at the top. And then those microscale buildings are just gorgeous, the cherry on top, only in this case it's a depiction of rome burning to the ground...

be sure to check out this, and Mihai's other works, on his flickr!

Orient Expr...AT-AT?

Currently there are several builders taking on the challenge of mixing vehicles from the ever-famous 'Star Wars' franchise and mashing them with steampunk. One of my favorite builders, Rolli, has been a part of this craze and his latest piece is quite a stunner! It takes a certain level of skill to build a nice looking facade, but when that facade also has a fully decorated interior, that's something else. Personally I will sacrifice interiors to enhance the exterior aesthetics, but Rolli manages to pull off both beautifully with his AT-AT - All Terrain Aristocratic Traveler. The gold accents also compliment the beautiful steampunk SW mash-up a lot.

Be sure to take a look at Rollis' photostream!

Simple Terrain is Important

Mark of Falworth has been doing landscaping for a long time, and he's gotten really good at it. A big part of becoming a good builder is making similar things over and over. Now that Mark is an expert at landscaping (and has the necessary collection) he can quickly add an awesome setting to anything he wants to build. This is a skill that's useful for pretty much everything from a Star Wars base to an Apocalypse collaboration. And it's also very useful for the MocAthalon.

Saturday, August 16

rongYIREN's Crab Mecha

rongYIREN strikes again, this time sharing an awesome crab mecha with a slightly silly vibe. I love how well he conveyed the insectoid legs, they're clean, posable and they actually hold up the MOC! The eyestalks are also an important part of crab anatomy which really helps sell the build.

rongYiren has a good understanding of what parts of the build are important for selling it as a crab. He then focuses on building those things cleanly and solidly. It's a great, practical way to build, and I think it's how Lego designs sets. I'm going to take a minute to look through his stream again; I need to build more like his style.

Friday, August 15

Model Design for the Lego Movie

An interview with the head model designer for the Lego Movie was recently posted on Lego.Com. It gives some cool insight into the development process, including photos of some concept models that didn't make it into the film.

I'm pretty sure that when a fairly experienced Lego builder watches the Lego Movie he sees a very different movie than your average viewer.  I honestly spent the entire movie trying to figure out if the models had the same pieces before and after transforming. It was a pretty overwhelming experience, the awesome models combined with. the scale and level of detail in the scenery.

Wednesday, August 13

And then there's Moko.

LEGO DUO MOKO is by far one of the most unique and varied builders within the online community.
With builds ranging from four foot tall Gundam, to adorable animals and Bionicle, an in depth study of Moko's stream is sure to satisfy your craving for awesome.
The build seen above is a great example of his creative diversity and skill. Building a Bionicle that looks good is one thing, and building a Bionicle that's posable is another. Building a Bionicle that's posable AND looks downright amazing is something that very few people can pull off.

It's never a dark day when Moko posts a new build to Flickr, that's for sure.

Lock 'n load

Flickr member Nooroyd brings us his "T.E.F 7 EXPLORER", a creation he built with a friends collection on holiday without any idea of what it actually is. Personally I'd say it's intimidating, not something I'd want to come across any day for sure!
He's kept the setting fairly simple and clean, effectively drawing attention to the brilliant... (turtle? they seem to be a craze at the moment), which he has done a superb job on adding a great amount of detail and greebles without going overboard. the small hints of blue and dark orange are very effective, and the combination of common system pieces and bio/HF parts (alright to be honest I'm not sure what they're from, I'm a system conformist) is always something to love.

While we're looking at Nooroyd I'd also like to make a note of his previous build appropriately named "Rainy streets", which I think really highlights just how much lighting and an effective angle can really bring a MOC to life.

If you havn't already, be sure to check out his photostream here!

Tuesday, August 12

Arkov, a Builder Profile

Micah, AKA Arkov is an awesome builder. Like most of us, Micah has had periods of hardly building at all and other times when he builds all the time. I'm glad to see that he seems to be in the latter of those stages now. It's a real pleasure to see his work come up in my stream.

He comes from a Bionicle building background, and his freestyle perspective gives a cool look to his system builds. He really has a good view of parts, he mixes system and technic with no prejudices.

Micah is a founding member of Team Jigsaw, my group of friends who compete in the MocAthalon every year. He's disturbingly good at fast building, and his concepts are awesome. Throw in a great attitude and you have one scary MocAthalon player.

Note the billboard in the photo above. Micah doesn't mind going the extra mile to make something look better.

He's now a highly experienced builder, and he builds with a good mix of fun and dedication. I hope this building streak continues, and I look forward to his next offering. Take a look through Micah's stream if you want to see more.