The annual Lego Speeder Bike (LSB) contest has rounded the final turn and is staring down the final straightaway to the March 5th deadline. As many constant readers know, I’m all about the numbers and week 3 of the showdown saw another impressive jump in total entries to 69 across all categories. That number has gone from 7 to 36 to 69, which one might expect as a natural expansion curve, but the number I didn’t expect is the even distribution of bikes in each category. Abide, Enforce and Rebel each have 22 entries at the time of this posting, and the Distcrict 18 category understandably lags way behind with only 3 entries dude to it’s elevated level of difficulty and requirements. A slightly deeper dive into the numbers reveals that 33 builders have entered the arena, with the number of entries per builder breaking down like this.
10 players with 1 entry.
13 players with 2 entries
7 players with 3 entries
3 players with all 4 entries
Having reviewed every entry in the pool I feel pretty safe in saying that the overall quality of the entries has increased as well, as you might expect. For most people, more time spent refining a bike means a better bike. The only thing I find troubling about the numbers is the number of people sitting on 3 entries after 3 weeks. When I competed last year there were also 4 categories and I allotted a weeks building time for each one. While I realize not everyone would adopt this strategy I do think it takes most people about a week (or weekend) to conceptualize, build, photograph and post a bike. Obviously the goal can be completed great deal quicker as the three guys who have posted in the District 18 thread prove, but the results of such a fast approach has proven to be less than stellar. In fact, all 3 entries in the diorama category are forgettable and disappointing. That may seem a harsh thing to say, but I feel a little better saying it because I left them all detail reviews days before this posting, so my objections are old news. I would also point to the relatively low numbers of favorites and reviews. All 3 entries are variations on the same theme: cop chases rebel while abider looks on. The basic premise is about as interesting as the stock handlebars featured on 80% of the bikes. Beyond the basic theme, the contestants are flat out not putting as much effort, respect or creativity into the background as they do the bikes…which while fine for the individual categories, is a poor decision for the District 18 category. I’m obviously biased because diorama is my preferred genre of building, and it probably pains me more than it should to see people going through the motions instead of trying to break through the boilerplate and give the audience a show. I want to see some dioramas like last year’s offerings from Carter, Zach, Jeff, and I’ll arrogantly attach my own name to that list. Whether the image goes edge-to-edge like the examples I just showed you or not doesn’t matter to me, so let’s not rehash that old argument about which is the better approach. The bottom line is that the 2018 competitors need to step up their diorama game, 2017 is laughing at them.
Before I get into the bike spotlights, I’d like to discuss a disturbing trend that is one example away from being the unofficial theme of the contest…poop. Maybe the builder, Nick Poncelow is right, and that I’m just not down with toilette humor but his plumber bike from the abide category really put me off. I just don’t get it…the plumber took a dump on the seat of his bike? Is that the plumber you want walking around your house? I think the idea of a toilette shaped seat is funny but a dookie? Not so much. As if that wasn’t enough, contestant GolPlaysWithLego sneaks a poop emoji into the presentation of his bike. It’s a great bike, why tell me it’s a steaming pile of shite? Am I old and out of touch with is issue? If you have an opinion on this alarming and creeping issue in the contest, please leave your crappy takes in the comments.
Now it’s time for my favorite build in each category for week 3. The ABIDE entries were a mixed bag but I really like the Downtown Ride by Faber Mandragore, especially after a couple of small but important revisions he made to both the bike and the base. I continue to be amazed by the percentage of people who are actually taking advantage of the feedback from the audience. The camera angle on this official shot doesn’t really do the bike justice, so if you dig it, make sure to follow the link and take a look at the other photos. I still think the base looks a bit generic, but it’s cut above most of the other entries who treat the vignette/stand as an afterthought. I also dig the special effects, they’re noticeable without being overwhelming or distracting.
The ENFORCE category had a couple of good entries this week but my favorite is the L.E.V. 5 by oOger, whose name always make me think of the word booger, which is unfortunate because I’m a big fan of his work. This entry checks all the boxes, clever parts use, exotic parts, good stickering and it looks cool from every angle. Many builders tend to avoid developing the bottom of the bike, but oOger goes the extra mile. If you’re going to go for the boilerplate highway-patrol pursuit bike look, you can’t do much better than this. It looks fast and aggressive and ready to intercept a rebel or an abider jacked up on meth. I’m not a huge fan of the helmet (ant man?) but I like the way you can see his eyeball through the face-mask. I’m still not completely sold on the base, although it is an unusual part choice. Even if it doesn’t make sense to me, it ultimately looks pretty cool and I suppose that’s all that matters. It certainly makes me want to see more, and I hope the builders incorporates it into his District 18 entry if he chooses to do one.
Rebel remains my least favorite category and it contains fewer bikes that I find interesting. I admit to being burned out on the Mad Max, post apocalyptic vibe, which isn’t really fair to hold against a builder but I’m going to do it anyway. This entry by F@bz was one of the exceptions, I can’t say enough good things about it, and he’s really the first competitor to take maximum advantage of the vignette/base. With the Volkswagen badge and the banana-yellow color scheme, it seems like it would be better suited to the Abide category, but the context and choice of driver helps to move the needle towards rebellion. I also appreciate the backwards cap on the driver, so many people use hair, which immediately robs the bike of any sense of movement. The background may be of the boilerplate concrete urban variety, but it’s pretty sweet boilerplate.
If you’ve been reading this series of wrap-ups you’ll know by now that my favorite aspect of the contest this year is watching builders improve their entries based on the feedback provided by roaming critic gallery. Week 3 brought so many examples of constructive criticism in action that it’s no longer noteworthy in terms of these wrap up posts. It has almost become the norm. Even if I didn’t see any more examples of builders using feedback from this point on I’m ready to call this contest a success in terms of spreading the gospel of the critical process. The number of good quality comments is increasing each week as more people seem to be willing to offer suggestions and opinion even if it’s occasionally a negative one.
With one week to go I expect to see the veteran prize-snipers take their shots and the District 18 category to finally attract some great entries. If you’re still on the fence about entering the contest you’ve still got time to get in on the action, and none of the categories have a clear winner yet. Rutherford, get off your ass and build a bike already!