2018 LSB Contest: Week 4 Wrap Up

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)

2010: 146

2011: 122

2016: 67

2017: 340

2018: 151+

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’sTesla 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.38686454170_a5a368f1fe_o.jpgSo 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.

38 thoughts on “2018 LSB Contest: Week 4 Wrap Up

  1. Thanks for another great write-up, Keith. If this contest was “Project Runway”, you’d be everyone’s favorite mentor Tim Gunn. I’m thinking an officially designated “Contest Mentor” might be a good ingredient for any future building contests to have. Having a mentor adds that element of critique, as well as reinforcing the fact that the mentor is on their side… Perhaps rather than have the mentor be obligated to comment on everything, we could have the entrants “tag” the mentor in the photo so they know who is looking for a little guidance.

    If I remember that first 2009 contest correctly, an unlimited number of entries per person was allowed. I think next year could return to that format for a change of pace, since it would be the 10 year anniversary of that first contest. Something to consider…

    Anyway, for those that didn’t see it on Flickr… “Hot off the presses” is a picture of the custom tile that ALL ENTRANTS in the “District 18” category will receive (assuming some genuine effort was shown). Thanks to the eclipseGRAFX team for creating and providing them. http://www.eclipsebricks.com/

    LSB-BFD-18 Contest Tiles


    1. Glad to see eclipse came through for you, I had a feeling he would. The tiles look great! I like the idea about having an official mentor or panel of mentors for next year, that way the people who want extra help can get it and the people who find critique intrusive can be left to their own devices. It’s a concept worth pursuing. You should definitely spice things up for the 10th anniversary but I’m not sure unlimited entries is the way to go, as it is now you can do 3 or even more for the D-18 category. I’ll send you some thoughts about next year once the dust has settled, you’re about to become very busy. Good luck dude!


    2. I don’t know about unlimited entries, I think you’d be much more likely to get a vast quantity of mediocre, half-baked bikes than more real creativity. Personally, I think you struck an excellent balance this year, with a few categories for a manageable number of polished entries, as well as the diorama category which allows people to use all the other bikes they thought of.


  2. I’m either lazy or I have some genuine excuses, but as anyone could research and confirm, I did not enter this year. I’ve been kicking myself since week 1 for not kicking myself into gear. And to be honest, without my own investment in the competition, I haven’t dipped much into spectating and commenting, either. To be sure, I’ve been clicking on the “photos” tab and seeing what people have submitted, but overall my involvement could have been a lot better.

    Departing from that sad thought, this has been an extremely vibrant contest, and I really appreciate your effort, Keith, for giving these weekly write-ups that are keeping my lazy self in the action. I may not be eligible for the competition, but I still want to build bikes. Not having bricks has been demotivating. There’s nothing like seeing a half-built project waiting for more attention at the end of the day. I am really looking forward to getting back to my collection in April, and then maybe I’ll get to work on the idea I drew up for this contest.

    Speeder bikes seem fun, but that oft-quoted term “boilerplate” is making it harder and harder for a genuinely new concept to surface. And yet I’ve thought of a few innovative ideas myself, so perhaps all it takes is putting my own bricks together. Hopefully I can do that soon. I regret not being able to enter, and I can’t guarantee the next two years will be any better, but the more often I miss this contest, the stronger the urge to participate will become. Good luck judging Tim and any other judges who read this comment. Well done stepping up to the plate, all you competitors. Even if you made the worst speeder bike of all, you got further than I did. So good work.


    1. That’s a drag, I would have liked to see a bike from you this year but if it’s any consolation you’re in good company with Rutherford, Andrew Lee and a whole slew of dudes who have competed before but don’t seem to be around this year. Timing is everything. As for commenting, it’s never mandatory, I go through long stretches where I don’t say much either, but considering the amount of bitching and moaning I do over here about the lack of communication and critique I kind of look for opportunities to make a point. Don’t feel bad about it, there is always another contest or challenge around the corner and I’m hoping we’ll see more of you for DA3. I hope you end up building that bike you have in mind, even though it can indeed be depressing, sometimes a hiatus from the brick can be a boon for the imagination.

      I agree with you that there have been so many bikes built over the years that it’s getting very hard to distinguish yourself from the pack, when I went back to crunch the numbers for the article I took a look at most of the bikes and it’s amazing to see how many bikes from this year have been done before, just modernized as new parts have become available. Nothing is truly new under the sun. I guess it makes it that much more satisfying when somebody does break the mold. I really think it’s more about the comradery of the participants and for me, supporting the guys who take the time and effort to run the events. Hope to see more from you soon, are you able to build digital models?


      1. I do have access to building digital models. I really find digital building difficult to do with certain Lego projects though, speeder bikes inclusive. So many people love to be innovative with parts and get that NPU comment, which I actually find admirable if it makes me rethink the way a part can be used. I find that sort of thing really, really hard to do in a digital environment. It’s so much easier to feel the contours of a piece between my fingers and find fun ways for different parts to go together.

        My concept for the contest is actually an entire District, so I might make multiple speeder bikes eventually. And a couple of them are unique designs as well, but so far the prototypes I have in digital format are pretty rough. I have the ability to take a really unique idea and make it look like it’s the first time I ever picked up Lego bricks, which can sometimes be demotivator. So quality and time sometimes work against me for these contests, but I know that’s all part of the challenge. In the end, apathy took me out this year, but I’ll try harder in 2019.


      2. I’m surprised to hear that but it totally makes sense, I was laboring under the mistaken notion that digital was your preferred medium. I’m all thumbs with it myself and I can’t imagine not being able to replace that tactile quality of spinning a part or an assembly of parts around in my hands, looking for answers. I think I would suffer from decision fatigue…like most consumers I don’t seem to do well with too many choices. I can become paralyzed easily in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Your concept of an entire district sounds crazy-ambitious in minifig scale, at least within the confines of 30 some odd days. I hope you go for it anyway, but if not, I look forward to your efforts next time around. Motivation is the key, and you can count on me to give you a kick in the ass if I’m in on the action.


      3. I appreciate it, Keith! By “district” I just mean an entry into the District 18 category. I’m not quite ready to breach your home territory of large-scale dioramas*, although it does sound like brilliant fun. And regarding the digital, I’ve definitely gone through phases. It was hands-down my preferred medium until a couple years ago, after DA2, when a different project with real bricks changed my mind. Then building Newton sold me on the physical bricks, so it’s been all about building my collection and maximizing my school breaks since then.

        Can’t wait for what’s in store over the next 6 months with DA3. It falls perfectly over my 6-month internship, so I am excited to experience that phase of life with those two events happening in tandem.

        *Some day when my collection is big enough, I’d love to learn the ropes about big dios from you. At that point I’ll probably be out of school and doing life, so maybe I will swing by LV, hit you up for a beer, and talk about what goes into a project like that. 😉


    2. It’s a shame that the timing didn’t work out for you mate, but I look forward to seeing what you come up with regardless! Also, I especially look forward to seeing you on the battlefield for DA3!


  3. I think, generally speaking, I like boilerplate. Of course, there is good boilerplate and bad boilerplate, but good boilerplate is usually better than alright or even good non-boilerplate. That non-boilerplate Enforce speeder is my example. It is weird, the configuration is a bit original, but I’m not sure it is good. It doesn’t look like it is going to speed anywhere to me, just lumber along. Good is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe I’m talking more about taste. I’ve never been a big fan of NPU either. That third bike just looks like it has a big droid head on the back of it. I think maybe I just admitting right here that I’m a bit of a boring square with what most would consider bad taste.

    Anyway, thanks for the write-up Keith. I spent about an hour leaving comments the other day and barely scratched the surface. I’m sincerely impressed by you, Werewolff and Rutherford and the effort you guys went to to help others out. Thanks.


    1. I like boilerplate too, so long as it’s executed well there is nothing wrong with squaresville, I live there most of the year and I love the weather. Yeah, it’s just a matter of taste when it comes to the upper tier of bikes there is no “obvious” choice, only personal preference. I’m glad to hear you’re active over in the speeder bike pool, I’m sure people appreciate it, I know I love a good comment when I’m in the game. Thanks for checking out the article and taking the time to leave your thoughts and kudos on your own bike. I stumbled on your entry from a few years ago when I was poking around the old threads and this year’s bike seems kind of like a natural extension of the old one. Was that intentional? Either way, I thought it was cool.


      1. That was actually my intent, that is was from the same “universe” as my previous speeder bike, nice catch. Maybe someday I’ll build them a dio to hang out together in. I think for speeder bikes, if you are going to go non-boilerplate then it needs to look fast and not be huge. Those are my two big qualms. Some of these speeders are just gigantic and some look like they you might be better off walking than taking the bike. And also, it can’t have a poop theme. 🙂


  4. So much to add here, so little damn fucking time. Firstly, kudos to all that threw down this year, I’ve only been able to scan through a handful and have been impressed. Secondly, boilerplate like non boilerplate can be good or bad. We’re dealing with a nostalgic toy primarily so hitting on anything that is reminiscent in any way can tip to 51% easily. If it sucks though, then it sucks. Roll the bones. I’ve always seen boilerplate as almost respectful more than lazy in its intent, so I can give it a bit of leeway. And lastly, a huge thank you to Keith, Mike, Wolff, and all those commenters that have continued the conversation and contributed critique. It seems to have been very well received and used to better not only the bike but also the builder. That gets me excited for next year’s contest more than anything else.

    And my apologies to everyone for not being able to contribute at all, bike or comment. Especially Ted and the other judges. Your timing was great, mine wasn’t. Cheers all on a great show!


    1. Cheers Roontree, I admit that I was holding out hope that you might be one of those last second snipers who lays in a kill-shot from 2000 yards out but I suppose I’ll have to wait next year to see some art-school magic. I think you might have brought the fresh air of subversion to the category interpretations. Your participation was definitely missed, especially in the matrix of commentary, I can think of few builders who are better equipped to help out in that regard. I know time and work got the best of you, there is always next year and if you don’t build you’d be the perfect guy for that “mentor” role Ted was talking about, you have a knack for supportive commentary. As for boilerplate…it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. I’ve made an entire lego “career” out of boilerplate.


      1. Cheers Buddy, I hope to actively participate in both roles next go. And more from here on out. Crunch time and drop dead dates are passing Wednesday and the projects are ready at work, but it took more toll on me than expected as everyone else pretty much reverted to headless chicken mode in the first week. Had to take the reins AND do 80% of the work, needless to say my hands are now destroyed more than ever and my brain is mush. My back too. Aging sucks ass, I recommend against it.


  5. Yep, I’ll throw in my two cents and thank everyone involved with the making of (and monitoring/ critiquing of) this contest! I’ve had a blast, and I loved seeing the various slew of bikes come and go! It was really interesting to see how different people interpreted the concepts of District 18, especially the world-building aspect that a lot of builders incorporated into their entries.

    Regarding the whole ‘boilerplate’ term… personally, I don’t mind it. Like you guys have already said, it can be good or bad, and in the end whether you like a build or not stems totally from personal preference. However, I feel that effort should show, no matter what the build is, especially in a contest such as this one. If the design you’ve come up with is a little ‘standard’, but you’ve done the best you could and the bike still looks solid, then I reckon that’s ‘good boilerplate’!

    However, if you just throw something together for the sake of it, without much care going into it, then I’d say that’s verging on the edge of ‘bad boilerplate’. In the end, it’s like the tried and true saying goes “Do your best, whatever it may be.”

    Again, a massive thank you to Ted, Keith, Mike, Chris and everyone else! This contest has been an absolute blast, and I appreciate having had a part in in it! Maybe next year I can organise myself a bit better to actually get all my entries done in time!


    1. I know you were knocked a bit for being a yes-man with Rutherford and I in the critique-squad but in the end I’m pretty sure you hit up more entries than I did, and you did so while participating in the contest yourself so you should feel pretty good about the way the month went, regardless of the outcome with the judges. I don’t think a contest host or could ask for much more from a player, you set a great example. It couldn’t have been an easy task trying to come up with fresh feedback after Rutherford and I were done pontificating on an entry. Agreement or reinforcement has at least some value and beyond that I thought you provided some good insights along the way and above all you were always encouraging. I certainly look forward to having you as a player for DA3. Cheers Wolff!


  6. Yeah, I gotta say I felt the same way about Carter’s bike. Leaving aside superficial stuff like the thumb-murdering flex tube technique, all his bikes have the same general layout and “stance.” Ironically, I find the one he rejected last year for being “boilerplate” to be way more interesting than the Tesla one.

    Bonus Speeder

    Overall, this year feels very experimental. It’s a lot of tinkering and revising and trying new things for a lot of people, which is a good thing. I’ve said it before, but I’m not a huge fan of the theme/world restriction, but I think for the new guys it was probably a good starting point. On the other hand, I think the categories also held some people back and led to a lot of forgettable bikes, especially in Rebel and Enforce. So they’re a bit of a double-edged sword. We’ve had two straight years of hard categories now, so I’d like to see a return to “anything goes” next year and see what the fresh blood can do when they cut loose. Maybe I’ll even throw my hat in the ring instead of making unrelated bikes from the sidelines. Though I do wonder if interest in speeder bikes will drop if this continues to be an annual thing.


    1. I’d forgotten about that rejected bike, I think I prefer that one better too, especially if he took one more pass at it.

      Experimental in terms of feedback and revision maybe but I’m not so sure I agree creatively when it comes to the pool of bikes as a whole. When I went collecting the numbers for this article I took a pretty deep dive into each year’s offerings and I think there was more creativity on display in years past. Of course they had the advantage of going first and sort of establishing the boilerplate but there seemed to be a greater variety in silhouettes and shapes. I think the percentage of mediocre bikes was much higher this year and there were fewer people really pushing the boundaries design wise. I could certainly be wrong but that was my takeaway. I do agree, and I’ve said previously that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the categories, I think the Enforce category alone is a good example about how people immediately start limiting themselves. I was calling all month for people to think outside of the categorical box and try to subvert them with unexpected interpretations but the vast majority of builders retreated to the conceptual safety of well established boilerplate. Maybe you’re right and a return to the “anything goes” style would help, or maybe make the categories less thematic and more structural, have them based on size or scale or parts restrictions. I hope you throw your hat in the ring again next year, until that numbers-gathering I mentioned before I didn’t realize you’d nabbed second place for the Coelacanth, for some reason I always thought that was one of Ted’s bikes. As for LSB fatigue, it’s always possible but usually a year is enough for people to recharge their batteries. Last year had a huge turnout and this years is second best so I think the small size and small time commitment will always be attractive. For the 10th anniversary next year, it would nice to see people pull out the stops and really go for it. We’ll see.


      1. Oh yeah, I was 100% talking about new people getting into it and refining their bikes rather than the designs themselves being experimental. Last year was nothing short of fucking crazy with how many original entries there were; every other day it seemed something fresh and stunning was posted, constantly trying to one-up each other. I remember saying to Ted at the time that a large chunk of them would have blown both of us out of the water the previous year for first and second prize. But this year even the established builders played it safe, with only a few standouts in the blander categories like Enforce. I’ll agree with Kingdomview about last years categories being even more restrictive and annoying because of the specific aesthetic requirements, but despite that the contest seemed to hit the right nerve at the right time in the community.


    2. Some amount of mediocrity is a given in an open contest. If there was somewhat more this year, I think the reason is open to question. The categories were in fact much less restrictive this year than last year. The genre was not specified, only the purposes, and they were fairly vague and open criteria at that, whereas last year, the theme, purpose, and styling were defined, and all three had to be tied aesthetically for the team category. With the categories this year, one was allowed to build in four completely different styles, and I think that any speeder bike would conceivably fit into one of the categories.

      Whether entrants took advantage of that flexibility is another question entirely, and I think it’s true that they did not, broadly speaking. For example, almost everyone went with the police side of the enforce category, when military was equally allowed. For district 18, all but about three went for a cyberpunk or a pseudo-cyberpunk urban setting. I kind of regret doing cyberpunk myself now, it was just the first idea I had, and by the time I realized how popular it was, it was too late. I’m not really sure why the entries were so homogenous, I’m guessing people did the same as I and just went with their first thought. I think both more or less restrictive categories are both capable of spurring innovation, it’s so hard to predict.

      One factor to consider is that there seemed to be a lot of newer builders this year, though I’m not sure if there were more than previous years. If that’s the reason for some of the more basic bikes, then I think it’s a good thing, practice is just how we get better. I know my own initial efforts were less than stellar. New builders may be more likely to repeat tired designs as well, being less familiar with the history.


  7. I hope we see a final report from you Keith, after the results come in. These progress reports have been insightful, but it feels unfinished to end the series before the end of the contest.

    I can’t pretend I’m not a little bummed that my speeders this year leave you (and Hoffman) unimpressed. I definitely struggled to find my groove a lot more than last year, and my chassis design ended up with a lot of convergent evolution towards my builds from last year. I started with the goal of building a more motorcycle-y speeder than my entries last time, since I felt like that was my biggest failing in 2017, but the first draft you saw was far too much wheelless motorcycle and not enough speeder.

    To some degree, I think the basic shape I’ve done 2 years in a row now is simply what I think hoverbikes should look like. I’m utterly sick of the 2-pronged star wars format, but control surfaces are still fundamental and rear wings are tricky to get right without turning it into a mini-plane. IMO exposed structural struts are the coolest things on motorcycles, so I try to evoke them (while also being practical) with flex tube landing skids/superstructure. I also pulled hard from the Lego/BMW hoverbike collab to try to steer away from the heavy industrial style I went with last year, but that may not have been enough to overcome the similarities in form. And, to me at least, I think my bikes this year are way sleeker and better designed than my builds last year – but I can see how that might not excite the wider spectator, especially since freshness felt frequently hard to come by this year.

    I’d hoped my stop motion gifs would be a little more exciting than they’ve proven to be. It’s my first time ever messing with anything beyond still images, so the results were a little rougher than I’d wanted and the work involved was significantly more than expected. I was picturing smooth, sleek cinemagraphs but manually stabilizing each frame individually doesn’t really fully fix the camera shake from pressing the button 30-90 times in a row. Considering the amount of work involved and the fairly meh response to my last two bikes, I’m probably not going to bother gifing the last two.

    IMHO, the greatest limitation in the contest is simply the minifig requirement. I totally understand the rationale for requiring them, but the lack of hips and knees mean that you’re never going to have a really natural pose. I mostly try to hide everything from the waist down; others use the motorcycle chassis, but it’s a severe limitation and I believe it’s a big part of the same-ness in designs that was especially noticeable this year. My hope is that next year they’ll have a category that either doesn’t require minifigs, or pushes in a different direction like technic figs or brickbuilt drones.


    1. I really enjoyed those gifs. I’ve thought about doing something similar, a gif showing my model spinning 360 degrees, so a little different. I always get too lazy to try and figure it all out. I was impressed. I did think your Abide speeder gif worked better and that was my favorite of your three speeders. The Enforce gif seemed like it was moving too slow. I think your Abide entry in particular is a contender, but who knows what our esteemed judges are thinking.


    2. Technic fig/brick built fig bike would be brilliant! While I was thinking about designs early on, I kept going back to Technic thinking they would be perfect. Building a VV in that scale was revealing in that EVERYTHING is suited best for them; tools, brick built graphics, signage, screens, everything fits normally in their world. The only problem would be that there ain’t a whole lotta people familiar with them and there ain’t a whole lotta them figs out there for a wider contest to focus on. Maybe if the organizers offer an “unlimited” category next year that allows for it, there might be a resurgence in this scale.

      And your stop motion was excellent, not everyone can be a Harryhausen right outta the gate. Keep at them!


      1. Your last ship absolutely illustrated your point! It was so rad to see shapes and angles that made sense when seen next to the operator. And of course, it affords so much in terms of proportionality. The possibility of those technic figs is simply perfect. But it is a “larger” world when you building for those guys. Your one man fighter was one a SHIP. I think that notion, the need to build big scares a lot of builders. That and the fact that it is simply uncommon. Convention. Habit. People just are not used to seeing that scale in use. But it is exciting, what can be achieved there.


      2. Agreed roontrEe (and Carter), I think having at least a category for a large scale next year would be a great idea, I think it would be liberating for a lot of people. I know your Bushmaster opened up a lot of sleepy eyes in LA to the possibilities of that scale. You’re right about the scarcity of Technic figures but I think the build-built figure idea is a viable option.


      3. I’d love to see this go beyond mf scale as well; probably won’t attract too many entries, but it’d be a breath of fresh air.


      4. I hadn’t seen those before, Ted. I remember Nate DeCastro had a series of larger-than-minifig speeders a few years back when he was still building. I once gave it a half-hearted attempt at building one but never finished it. Could be something there, but you are going to have to give a larger trophy for that one.


    3. As for your entries this year, it’s probably unfair but with guys like you I’m definitely guilty of elevated expectations so when your stuff isn’t groundbreaking it’s sort of a letdown. Your entries were simultaneously so fresh, well executed and kick-ass last year that anything short of the same thing this year was bound to be disappointing. Again, it’s not fair but it’s also a compliment. Your bikes this year are much better than most and certainly better than I’ve produced, but you’ve set the bar really fucking high and to knock me out again you’ve got to something more striking than just improve on the old design. So it’s not so much that I didn’t like it, the bikes are awesome, it’s all in my whacked out perspective. I think there is more value in highlighting non-crony, non-veterans in wrap-ups like this. You don’t need the exposure or ego-bump, you’re already in the pantheon of great builders and you’ve attained that status that you could post a shot of a single 2×4 brick and get a hundred favorites.

      I hope I made it clear that I thought your stop-motion presentation was a game-changer…at least in theory because I don’t know if enough people would be able to duplicate the effect and have it become a consistent feature in the contest. I’d know I’d be fucked if I had to get in that arms-race. I’m a bigger fan of the first one, with the never ending tunnel, with that bitchin’ reflection in the canopy. I kind of wished you’d added just a little more detail to the background but I can understand why you didn’t, the stop motion process must have been really time consuming, and too much detail might have been problematic with the lighting? Just guessing, I didn’t review it yet because I hit the wall with giving feedback for a number of reasons, but I really liked it.

      The second one seemed a little more choppy in terms of the movement and the lighting, still miles better than what I could do, but I didn’t like it as much. It also had a vaguely comedic quality to it that I can’t put my finger on. I know it would have been even more of a pain in the ass but if just one more thing had been moving in the shot it might have looked more natural. In the tunnel shot, it was just the bike and the wall and it was super-tight. If it makes you feel any better when I saw the bike in the tunnel I breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn’t in competition with you. How can you go up against that? If you continue on that path and put more time in making them even better, you’ll have a stranglehold on the contest. Also, I don’t think the judges will be anywhere nearly as picky as I was, nor do I think they will hold it’s similarities to previous bikes against you. I’d be shocked if you didn’t win something.

      As for writing another wrap-up, I don’t think it’s in the cards. I’m really conscious about leaving the judges some space to put their critical stamp on the proceedings and I may have already muddied the water too much in my role as sponsor and critic at large. It’s not my contest and my jackassy opinion on the outcome really shouldn’t hold any water. I’m also acutely aware that if I’m not extremely careful, drama tends to follow me around (a price paid for freely given and sometimes harsh opinions) and I don’t want anything to crap on the success of the contest because my intention was to support it with prizes and encouragement to the early participants. This is Ted, Zenn and Cole’s deal, it’s not the Keith show. If Ted writes the final article I’ll have a take in the comment section but that’s about it, I think I’ve said enough about the proceedings and provided a spotlight for a dozen builders, and that’s good enough for me.


      1. I am still limited to speaking in general terms at the moment (while judging/closing out the contest, etc.), but I will add a couple thoughts here:
        – Per Keith, I will try to write a contest review once the winners have been announced, to talk more about the entries themselves, and the things that caught my eye.
        – Addressing everyone’s favorite punching bag of the contest categories… The original idea was going to be one category; building a “District 18” speederbike diorama. However, that would limit a lot of folks who just wanted to build bikes, which is why the contest is popular to begin with. We felt we had to create individual categories too. In discussions, we noticed that pretty much every bike ever made could probably be fit into one of those three categories; Enforce/Abide/Rebel (and those categories are pretty much evident in every Lego Theme too)… I’d really be surprised if these “mystery bikes” that Hoffmann and others keep mentioning (but never showing) couldn’t have easily been fit somewhere. Fitting the category could have always been expressed with the minifigure…
        …But I will concede that the categorization maybe only be evident after the fact. Starting from a clean slate and building for those categories, it might be difficult for folks to see that, or be inspired (or easily fall into the boiler-plate tropes).
        – Assuming I am still involved in the contest next year, I am definitely for one single category. It definitely makes entry logistics, judging, and prize allocation much easier (it’s also lot less fun when only one bike per category gets a prize). Probably a theme around being a speederbike manufacturer/chop-shop, and building the best concept bike they can to draw in the crowds at an upcoming trade show…


      2. My gripe with District 18 is just as much about setting as it is with categorization. I just don’t like the world that you guys put forward and imagine my bikes somewhere else. The models themselves could definitely have fit if they were shoehorned into the setting, but that’s not something I’m into. It’s like if someone asked to put one of your tech west bikes in a Star Wars display. Yeah, it could work, but it would feel wrong to me.

        But in the end that’s just an excuse for not being able to build in time and my increasing apathy towards social media and posting photos on the internet. I’m a sluggishly slow builder and anything I make takes an average of 6 months to complete to my satisfaction. Yes, even speeder bikes. One of my bike WIPs I’ve had baking since BFVA and still another unfinished one from a year ago has been a serious pain in the ass because of the minifig. In the end I think I’m just not cut out for month-long contests. I did actually have a couple ideas for this year—bounty hunter for Enforce, which I’m still shocked no one did, and school district 18—but they just didn’t bear fruit in time. The latter I don’t think I even have the bricks to do a proper backdrop/stand for. The way I look at it I’m not likely to win anyway so I’d rather just take the competition as a source of inspiration and hammer out something more polished after the fact.

        It also doesn’t help that the initial contest posts are never that inspiring to me and it usually takes seeing some stand-out entries for me to get inspired. That’s what happened two years ago when I saw Ted’s winning Trail Blazer and by some miracle I actually finished the Coelacanth inside the last week. Still flubbed the stand though.


      3. At first the contest was going to be named “Battle of City 18”, but I had it changed to “District” to open it up to more interpretations. I question that “World we put forth…” statement when the very first sentence of the category description is that “The District is yours to envision”. I tried to plant the seeds in the announcement of not only a “vibrant cyberpunk city”, but stated it could be a “remote planetary tech-west outpost”, a “post-apocalyptic ruin; YOU control the action! ” etc… Should we have listed every possibility? Bottom line: Whatever YOUR world is, we wanted to see it.

        After this year, I’m pretty much convinced that the vast majority don’t read the rules anyway. Most people gloss over them and then make assumptions based off the poster. Unfortunately, there is a lot of necessary boilerplate rules that I know bogs things down, and it would be ideal just to have the rules be maybe 10 sentences max. Something to consider for any of you future contest architects out there… (people also locked into the March 5th of the poster, making assumptions about what that meant without consideration of the deadline specified in the rules, and how it would play out in their timezone).

        We did still see a couple steampunk builds, some water world builds, and a couple medieval worlds… but vast majority went with a cyberpunk city… and I’m kind of surprised no one took a “Hunger Games” slant on the “Districts”. I know the announcement poster created a bias right out of the gate to urban, and maybe we should have made alternates in different settings to drive home that point of “your world”. Anyway, sorry we missed the mark yet again on getting you inspired to enter.


      4. “District” still comes with a long list of assumptions though, and the abide/rebel/enforce thing is still a story archetype that may not fit everything. But again, I did have some ideas for the contest and I just couldn’t get them out in time. It’s not just your rules, but most contest rules that don’t tend to inspire me; it’s not until I see what other people are building that I usually get ideas for what I can do differently. I brought up the contest from two years ago to illustrate that it’s a problem for me even when there’s no category restrictions. It’s totally a personal issue that has everything to do with me and not so much the contest itself. I’m basically just trying to rationalize and explain why I didn’t enter this year or last year.


      5. Thanks for clarifying, Christopher… Since you and I were “brothers-in-arms” during the 2016 contest, and the resulting BW16 speederbike collab, I always have you in the back of my mind when we are coming up with these contest themes, as want to see you “throw down” again. I try to make sure there is enough room for you to enter and do your thing, but alas not. That’s my personal challenge and my own personal issue – so sorry for putting you on the spot there (…it’s just that you’ve been vocal, and darn it if I haven’t been trying)… it seems like the missing ingredient is getting a entrant that can “throw down the gauntlet” early enough in the contest to get you inspired to take them on… I’ll put some thought into that next round…

        Now, I definitely consider a broad variety of other builders too when we are coming up with the themes (new vs. tenured; sci-fi vs other themes). I want to get as many people interested and engaged as possible. The “Diorama” category this year really opened an opportunity for the typical “castle/city” builders to engage, and allowing digital entries was a fun experiement (even though it seems most preferred the physical brick).


      6. Hey, I’m happy with the contest as long as it inspired me to build, even if it’s unrelated or misses the deadline. Now I feel like I have to get something past the post next year. I’ll try to get some photos up for you soon, even if it’s just a private WIP shot. Though I’ve been making promises to post for about a year now, so who knows. I’m thinking of reviving my public photostream with a genre I’m not known for first…


    4. I think you succeeded in making your entries more bike-like, that was my only gripe with your entries last year. Stop-motion is an excellent idea, there is a vast amount of untapped potential in video presentation of models. The problem is it’s just so much work to do well, so kudos to you for actually doing it.

      Regarding minifigs, I normally like the little guys pretty well, but when I’m trying to build speeder bikes that actually resemble motorcycles I really start to despise them. The motorcycle chassis works, but there’s only so much you can do with it. Personally, I don’t really care for hiding the legs either, as they are visible on nearly all real motorcycles. I really think that speeder bikes in most cases ought be at least as narrow as the fig, which means that the frame has to extend below the feet, which often doesn’t look right either.

      I don’t own any Technic figs, but I think they could be amazing for speeder bikes: larger size, legs that can separate, and KNEES! A bike is small enough that building one at that scale wouldn’t be daunting, and the larger scale would allow one to put much more detail into small bikes. Having that at least as a category would be a great way to shake things up, though having minifig categories as well would probably be better for mass appeal.


    5. I actually liked your second and third bikes a lot better than the first one (which I still really like, mind you). And I would have liked to see a stop motion for the Locust and hope you get around to it. As simplistic as it is, I do dig the background on that one and like the idea of it zooming around some giant tubular vent/shaft, shooting up the suits. The series feels incomplete without that last gif.

      The Enforce version might actually be my favorite one, but I feel like I can’t get a good look at it either in the main shot or the stop motion. I get why the main shot was done the way it was and I love the perspective in it, but at the same time I want a decent side shot, because from what I can gather from the blurry stop motion is that’s the best angle to show off it’s crazy lionfish-like shape.


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