Good evening constant reader, its happy hour and our bartender Lloyd is setting them up neat, just the way you like it. Tonight’s V.I.P. in the Manifesto lounge is long time crony and friend of the blog, Carter Baldwin. Just like last week’s guest, Jordan Schwartz, I feel like I’ve watched him transform from a teenager with no end of raw creative potential to a very polished and talented adult. These days Carter is pillar of the community who has his own legion of admirers and fanboys who eagerly await his next build. I got a chance to hang out with Carter for lunch at BrickWorld 2010 and looking back, that table was quite a rouges gallery of LEGO nerds: the Chairman, Jordan, Tiler Clites, Nathan Todd, Iain, Robin and even a Rubino sighting. I have the feeling I met Carter at an earlier convention but I’m old and some of those memories are more blurry than I’d like. Back when I was a Brother in 2012, I interviewed him for volume 17 of my “Boilerplate & Beyond” collection. Frankly, the interview isn’t great, I hadn’t hit my stride yet with finding the right question for the right guest, but it is an interesting time-capsule. When re-reading the interview, one of Carter’s quotes jumped out at me:
“Collaborative displays are immensely fun. I’ve always wanted to build huge displays – you don’t need the ego inflation, but it’s likely a direct result of seeing your megabuilds in my formative years. Of course, I don’t have the budget or the brick to build the massive displays that will make The Goldman feel inadequate, so the next best solution is to steal other people’s collections. Making those people build your vision for you is even better.”
He’s absolutely right you know, “Making those people build your vision for you is even better.” Over the years Carter has done an admirable job of doing just that, whether it was his often imitated Flickr group World in Conflict 2070 or the collaborative diorama Cyberpocalypse or the various combined efforts of BroLUG. When Carter raises his banner, great builders assemble to help him realize his vision. Now look at these two mechano stumble-bums, the latest weapons in Carter’s ever-expanding stable of war machines. The “Brute” Mobile Frame looks like it jumped off the screen of your favorite anime series, but without the little girls in Catholic school uniforms to make things uncomfortable. I love it when builders find a way to incorporate minfig backpacks, and Carter uses them perfectly here. The guns are good enough to be stand-alone models, although the one on the left looks a little to big and unbalanced for the frame. Constant readers of the Manifesto may know by now that I judge all mecha by their feet and although these seem a little small for my tastes, at least they look good.
I can’t very well talk about Mr. Baldwin without discussing his key contribution to my recent bloated Diorama, A Bus Stop in Bucharest. Back in 2008 I recruited Carter to help me with the equally boated Zero Hour on Highway 44 and he came through in spades, producing some of my favorite vehicles of the project. So 8 years later when I attempted a collaboration on the same scale, he was one of the first builders I turned to. Once again, Carter was not content with providing a single vehicle and sent a small fleet of beautiful Box trucks along with a pair of his classic Satyr armored cars. Like a few of the other vehicles in the diorama, the box trucks were swallowed up to some degree by the scenery and obscured by flashier super-trucks. It’s a shame because these beauties were the glue that held the whole thing together. In fact, it was Carter who came to the rescue late in the game when I simply could not produce a good concept for the toxic spill at the center of the action. I really dislike like building damaged or “ruined” models and I’m not very good at it either. So when Carter offered to distress one of the box trucks he pretty much saved the whole tamale. All I had to do was combine it with some of those weird, soft Bionicle doo-dads and everything worked out just fine. In the years between our collaborations, Carter refined his model-shipping skills too. When the models for Highway 44 arrived, they were reduced to the component level from a combination of eggshell technique and lack of sufficient bubble wrap. For Bucharest I don’t think there was any significant damage at all.
For this particular feature on the Manifesto I like to conclude the proceedings with a photo of the builder in question. I do this to help you put a face to the name and somtimes with the express intent to take the piss out of the builder. This is one of those times. Thanks to builder dasnewten for the enlightening photo below.
Please recall that a precedent has been set in this ongoing series that we will be reviewing the fashion choices of each builder. Carter is wearing standard issue convention gear for gentlemen of his age, a graphic T-shirt possibly referencing a video game or some such nerd-culture fodder and a cotton blend hoodie that probably smells quite dank. The ensemble is fashion boilerplate and entirely unremarkable. Although the focus of this week’s article is not Mr. Liu, his garment demands special commentary. A Tie-fighter emblazoned tuxedo T-shirt and a suspiciously dangling belt…I’m not sure I have the words to describe the look, but Rupaul does.