With only 4 days remaining in the 2018 LSB contest the action is heating up and the big guns are starting to fire. At the time of this posting there are 151 entries (more than double the total from last week) which are still pretty evenly split between the big 3 categories. Even the diorama-based District 18 is up to 16 entries compared to just 3 last week. I was very surprised to see that the robust turn out still pales in comparison to the 2017 iteration in terms of the sheer number of entries. With just a few days to go, the total number of bikes would have to more than double to make up the difference. Quantity isn’t everything though and I’d call this year a great success regardless of the statistical outcome. As you can see on the list below, last year’s turnout was unprecedented and the numbers were bound to decline somewhat from that record high. 340 entries is madness…that’s got to be some kind of record for any Lego related contest. This year’s iteration is already the third most popular of the group and is in striking range of second place with one full weekend still to come.
2009: 207 (this is the least accurate number, many bikes/builders have been deleted)
I have to admit that I’ve fallen way off on my commenting and I’m not sure if I’ll catch up. I think the optimum window for constructive criticism has closed, there simply isn’t enough time remaining for the builders to implement feedback before the deadline. Of course the critique might still hold value to the participants regardless of the time frame, offering them something to consider for next year’s event, but my primary goal was to help out the new participants and early birds. It’s difficult for the judges to also act as hype men and I hope that my enthusiastic critique was encouraging in the early stages. This update will be my final words on the contest, I’ll leave it to our own Ted Andes to wrap up the proceedings once the dust has settled and the winners are announced. Even though I’m sure I’ll miss out on some great last minute entries, the prize-snipers don’t do much for me and I’d like to leave some room for the judges to put their critical stamp on the proceedings. Ted, as soon as you recover from the madness, I hope we’ll see an article from you and the boys.
As you might expect, the bikes are getting better as we go along so let’s get to my favorites of the week. The usually reliable ABIDE category took a dip this week and it was surprisingly easy to select my favorite bike, the “Red Devil” by robbadopdop, it was one of the few bikes in the pool that I wouldn’t change anything at all. It ticks all the boxes for me: looks like a bike, innovative parts use, looks fast, and every detail sings. I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Carter Baldwin’s “Tesla Arrowhead“, because of it’s innovative use of stop-motion that really ups the ante in terms of presentation. However, it wasn’t my favorite of the week because in the ABIDE category the bike is still the focus and I found Carter’s offering to be too similar to his entries from last year and for my money the Red Devil leaves the competitors in the dust. I think Carter might possibly have been better served holding back his game-changing background for the District 18 category where the background matters as much if not more than the bike.
The ENFORCE category remains mired in boilerplate, and my decision for the week’s best was a tough one. There were a number of very good bikes, but very few that I would categorize as great. In the end I selected the “D-18 Scout” by perig perig mostly because it doesn’t follow the standard black-and-white highway patrol model most of the participants have opted for, going instead with a pretty effective camouflage pattern. I love the insect-like shape of the bike and the unconventional orientation of the operator. The entry violates my ad nauseam complaint about stock handlebars, but the rest of it is so good that I can overlook it. I’m still quite surprised that out of the 60+ reviews I’ve left, nobody has called me out on using the same stock handlebars myself for all three entries last year. The reason I hit it so hard in my critique is because I believe every part matters in a build this small and the best piece of advice I received on my bikes last year was to ditch that particular part. I’m not saying it should never be used, but I do think builders should at least try and improve upon a detail that is so prevalent in official sets.
The strongest entries for the week all seemed to be stacked in my least favorite category and it was good to see REBEL have it’s moment in the spotlight. I was torn between a couple of bikes, there was a little something for everyone this past week, from hamster wheels to a lightning octopus to an HR Giger design , but I finally settled on the “Mole Patrol” by Tammo S. It’s just a tight build from the nose to it’s wonderfully bulbous ass. The combination of angles and textures take it over the top for me, and the curved sewer wall was a nice touch too, even if it seems a little unfinished. Much like the “Red Devil“, there isn’t a thing I’d change about this bike.
Thankfully there is finally some action in the DISTRICT 18 diorama category, although I’m a little surprised how similar many of the entries look with their 7-11 sized buildings and conventional roadways. For my selection I ended up going with an offering that perhaps has my least favorite bikes, and some custom graphic shite I could do without…but it grabs me in a way that none of the others do. I’m referring to “Decommissioned Industrial Area KT17″, by Alessandro G. I love that brown girder that runs through the middle and the gull-wing overhang. There are dioramas that are more detailed and offer better minifig action (like FonsoSac’s awesome street demolition), but I love the simplicity on display here, it’s the only entry that seems immersive to me. Sometimes less is more. I could also do without the text on the image, the font is annoying and the placement (especially in the upper right corner). This diorama hits all the right notes for me and it definitely elevates what are mostly forgettable bikes. I want to see more of this world.So congratulations to Ted, Zenn, Cole and all the participants for another spirited speeder bike throw down! I was indeed entertained. I don’t envy the job ahead for the judges, it won’t be easy to select winners from so many great entries. I look forward to getting back into the arena next year.