3 from 3!

3! is a middle school teacher in Cedar Hill Texas who joined Flickr the same year I did, yet I just discovered his stuff a few weeks ago.  3! also enjoys owning gats, drawing comix and creating some very cool posters suitable for display on a Legoratory wall.  The model you see below is the one that initially attracted my attention when it popped up in the “recommended” field when I was browsing. It was remarkable because the suggestions that questionable feature usually provides are the furthest thing from inspiring.  I don’t care how well built your fire truck is, I just can’t do it anymore.  I can’t do it.  As many of you constant readers know, I’m a big fan of flying boats, both the fanciful futuristic kind and the more mundane real world variety.  I loved the Yamato as a kid just as much as the Enterprise or the Falcon and the space boat sub-genre is the only kissin’ cousin of steampunk that I’m willing to get in bed with.  The “Liberator” uses relatively basic shapes to great effect and comes across like a greatest hits package of WW2 boilerplate: conning tower, twin-tails, battleship turret, etc.  The only thing missing is some kind of nation-state graphic, nose art or giant stenciled number.  Since I’m a nitpicky bastard I will say that I don’t dig the tacked-on looking rotary engines at all, I think it would have looked better with a less anachronistic approach.  A more futuristic form of propulsion might have made it less…romantic and a little more like a war machine.

I can’t really separate my appreciation of 3’s building and his sense of graphic design, and I think the best example of this creative combination might be the right side photo of the “Vindictus“.  This is where I think he really hits the sweet spot and elevates what is a pretty simple model into something special, at least in comparison to most of the digital models I come across.  If any of you happen to know what style of digital chicanery this is, would you please educate me in the comments?  I guess this was done with LDD but it doesn’t look like the typical style, with softer edges and more cartoonish colors.

Despite some reservations I have with the name of this third model by 3!, I’m posting it anyway because I dig the old school styling and it’s a good example of the kind of work Mr. 3! is capable of with the living breathing brick.  I know some narrow-minded Lego nerds don’t seem to be able to really give the digital builders their props without seeing it realized in plastic, so here you go.  The hover car reminds me in the best way of the designs of long time crony Andrew Lee, with a full interior, pimped-out styling and a great use of train bogies.


3! calls it the “Gay Deceiver” and I’m gonna choose to think of it like “Zorro, the Gay Blade!” which is criminally underrated in my book.  You’re welcome rountRee.

Truth be told, I find 3!’s Lego offerings to be very hit and miss, but I had a lot of fun traveling down the rabbit hole of his Flickrstream.  I wish my middle school teachers were this interesting, most of them were either utterly forgettable or outright insufferable.  Never fear, it is not my intention to bore you with my personal tales of middle school hell…the coach that liked to watch young boys wrestle a little too much, the wood shop teacher who liked to burn students with overheated coping saw blades or the drunken art teacher who was fond about referring to the Vietnamese kids in our class as “zipper heads”…I think you get the idea, we all went to middle school.   Instead, I’ve decided to include an example of 3!’s other creative impulse as the house band plays us out.  I could swear my old alarm clock bore the same message on at least one occasion.


Oh yeah…since I can’t very well write a fresh post after a layoff of several months without referencing Rutherford, here is your obligatory smack.  Thanks 3!, anytime is the right time to lay down a sick burn on Mr. Fire and Forget…er…Fire for Effect.


27 thoughts on “3 from 3!

  1. Really cool stuff to look through, noticed that Vindictus shot right away along with the Travis Bickle action figure. Nice collection of pea shooters too, enough to make any Arizonan perk up their ears. And you can’t really go wrong with someone that loves racing and Ayrton.

    I saw Zorro in a double feature with The Champ, still not sure which was hokier. And I had the same teachers except the art teacher was chemistry. Good times, good times.

    Great to see ya back in action!


  2. In almost all cases, I thoroughly despise the “recommended for you” stuff that gets pushed at me from various web pages and social media. Click on one store item, or read one story about something, and the algorithms assume that’s ALL you want to buy or read about. Horribly lazy (and calling them “algorithms” is giving them too much credit)… but more and more, I begrudgingly click on what Flickr “recommends” to me. I have to admit that they have shown me more “hits” than “misses” when it comes to MOC’s I’m interested in.

    I recall coming across 3! in the past (recognized the avatar). At that time, the stuff in his back pages didn’t resonate with me or stand out much from the masses. I’m sure “digital builder bias” probably played a part too (been on both ends of that). His style definitely stands out now. He really takes those builds and presents them in his own signature way.

    This really highlights how image quality really goes a long way in how we evaluate build quality. It’s another layer to the “Dr. BadMoc” / Murmurdog conversations. How bad presentation of a good MOC, or great presentation of a simple MOC, can definitely skew the scales when making comparisons (noticed this a lot when judging competitions too).


    1. Right?! You click on one, or maybe eight or so, gay Swedish tranny midget tentacle bondage Jello wrestling sites and you’re instantly labeled. No, I don’t want to buy any more legless Russian boy-toys after the last three died in transit! jeesh. Stupid algorithms.


    2. I agree with you on the social media aspect of “recommendations” and I think it’s more than just irritating, it’s actually damaging to discourse, civil or otherwise. It just contributes to the little divisive online echo chambers that so many folks seem content to live in. Don’t let any new ideas in, don’t challenge your own ideas, just keep consuming the same thing, or things that are only cosmetically different to whatever the algorithm thinks you like.

      Why Ted, I think you’re talking about me, old chap. I tend to camouflage a fair to middling speeder bike with garish dioramas to skew the harsh scales of judgment. I do it in part to win, but also because it’s fun and it forces other people (some) to up their game. Oh and thanks for bringing up Murmurdog, I’d almost managed to forget those hideous models.


      1. Didn’t have you in mind, but I think we all can fall along that spectrum, depending on how how much effort we decide to put into showcasing our MOC’s… I wanted to find a some good examples out of 3!’s stream where he created images of the exact same 1) physical build, 2) virtual build, and 3) posterized build. Seems like he only ever did 2 out of 3 for a given MOC. Have to say the posterized version always grabs the attention, maybe because the full vision/intention is on display… the versions that are placed on the kitchen table, or are strait screencaps out of LDD not so much… maybe we just gravitate towards commenting on things where the level of care and effort appear to be high?…


      2. Damn it Ted, isn’t it clear that it’s all about me? I agree with you that the posterized versions are my versions of 3!’s projects are the most appealing, I wish more builders would dabble with that approach. I’ve been thinking about printing one out for display in my garage or possibly my legoratory, although wall-space there is a precious commodity. Effort and care does go a very long way, no matter how complex or artistic the build itself is.


  3. Cheers rountRee, I was really tempted to include the Bickle-fig, he would have been a great addition to my crew of Star Wars toys back in the day, I can picture him flying the Falcon in place of Solo pretty easily. Although without a pimptastic Harvey Keitel figure it all seems kind of empty. For my money I think The Champ was far hokier than the Gay Blade, even Elisha Cook and god damn Strother Martin couldn’t save that Smaltz-o-rama. You can put all the copies of The Champ in a rocket with all the copies of Kramer vs. Kramer and fire it at the sun and the world immediately becomes a better place.

    Come on man, how can you not love this scene even though it’s pretty offensive: Re-watching it for the first time in several decades it is amazing to me this thing was ever produced its….rough to say the least. It certainly wouldn’t fly today and that’s probably a good thing, but what a time capsule.


    1. Cheers Aaron! Hope your college experience is off to a good start. I’ve definitely opened my mind to the multimedia approach in the last few years, if anything, I think I’m getting less grumpy as I get older. Things I’m into and appreciate now, I would have scoffed at a decade ago.


  4. Welcome back Keith. I never heard of Mr. 3! before so thanks for bringing his work to my attention. I too wish more digital builders would take advantage of the medium and do more sophisticated edits like this that wouldn’t be doable with physical bricks. Changing the look of bricks themselves is not something that usually works that well with physical builds. Nightmaresquid does some nice backgrounds and so does Erik when he can be bothered, but this 3! guy is on another level.


    1. Thanks for sharing this, Keith. It’s always a risk sticking a shovel in the ground, but sometimes you turn over a golden nugget. 3! has a sense of genre and pride in his work that really speaks through the creations. Now I have some research to do, to see if this is an active member of the community that I have overlooked or a soloist with a great sense of style. It is amazing sometimes how much impact one MOCer can have on the rest of the hobby, even if they never join in the conversation. Cheers, thank you for the nice read tonight! It made my evening.


      1. Cheers Caleb! I suspect he’s more of a soloist, I don’t recall ever seeing him comment on a model or in a discussion thread. Even though he’s been on Flickr for about a decade his Lego output has been relatively low. You make a good point about the silent ones being as or more important than the gasbags like Rutherford and I, quiet killers like Brian Kescenovtiz and Brian Cooper have made a huge impact while saying very little. Damn, I need one more Brian for the trifecta.


    2. Good to be back Christopher, thanks. I just needed a little time off to build for SHIPtember and reflect on the blog a bit. I totally agree about Nightmare Squid, he’s one of my favorite digital builders, his presentation is always impeccable and I should probably get around to giving him a Manifesto spotlight sooner or later. That link to Marco’s melty creations was a good one, although I’m never quite sure whether I like them or not that approach is very unique. Generally it makes me wish I could see the model more clearly, but the Dali-esque style would make for an interesting piece of legoratory decoration. Hope to see more writing from you at some point, I loved your convention coverage.


      1. Nightmaresquid definitely deserves some love. I’m shocked he still only has 300 followers with his consistent quality output and uniquely playful take on the military genre. Cagerrin has fared a little better with his cars and sky-fi, but he’s also been around longer. Chalk it up to the stigma surrounding digital builds, I guess.

        I think I’d be more into Marozzi’s blurry, warped edits if the subject was more organic rather than a machine. I like to see clear shapes and functional details on my robots.


      2. I think Squid was a much bigger player over on MOCpages and I have the feeling he hasn’t really embraced Flickr completely. I can’t recall the last time I saw him comment on anything there, and commenting is sometimes the key to how many followers you end up with. As you say, some of it is the digital factor but his stuff is so good that it should rise above that and have statistical validation.


  5. Glad you’re back Keith! Thanks for leading my interest on 3! he has one more follower now 🙂

    Although his builds seem simple, due to the mostly basic shapes, all bricks are well chosen. I followed your steps down his stream and have to say his builds work out well IRL too. He has developed a style of simplicity – similar to Pascal still very different – quite unique.
    On the digital side his presentation is outstanding as you pointed out. 3! takes the digital build and does not try to cheat by rendering it with skills to make it look more real than real life. No Sir, he takes equal skills to perfection to show of his digital work in all its digital glory.


    1. Cheers Marco! I’m glad to see that you’re back too, I always enjoy getting your perspective on the blog. Pascal didn’t immediately come to mind but I can see it, he has the ability to do more with less. Obviously Pascal has developed his ability to a much higher degree but I can see the comparison.

      And yeah, I do like how 3! doesn’t use the technology to make the model look less toy-like, he embraces the look of the brick.


  6. While the models don’t really do anything for me, the presentation turns them into something fantastic. Everything from the edit to his drawings has a great borderlands/deponia vibe. Which is why I’m more tempted to consider this digital art rather than builds.


      1. I will consider it, but it would probably suck. I’m more suited to raise hell after someone else does the hard work. :))


  7. I wasn’t aware of 3!’s work before this article, but I am glad that I have now had a chance to get a look at it. There is definitely some food for though there, in terms of applying similar ideas to my own work.


  8. Realized that another reason why I dig those posters is that their “wire frame” outlines give me a nostalgic feeling for the days of the original Tron movie, as well as the arcade classic “Battle Zone”… Can imagine those ships battling it out, with that synthesized chase music from Tron playing in the background.


  9. I recently found these edited images by Luca Di Lazzaro. While I believe they are edited versions of photographs of physical builds, rather than being based on renders, the idea of post-processing a Lego image to present it in a stylistic manner seems somewhat similar to what 3! has done.


    Some creations of mine

    Some creations of mine

    Unless you take a pretty close look at these, it’s hard to even tell that they are based on Lego models.


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