A Little T&A (NSFW)

I have mixed feelings about mixing Lego and erotic themes, which is nothing new under the sun, people have been combining the two since the phallic space-ships of Bonktron debuted over eleven years ago.   It probably goes back even further but that’s the first ‘adult’ series of models I can remember.  Even MOCpages, went through a prolonged stretch in the mid 2000’s when the height of humor was sig-figs sodomizing each other with hotdogs…I’m sure you can imagine the sheer hilarity of it all…  It’s not just the guys who get in on the erotic action, Janey Gunning showed us some in whips and chains back in 2006.  As long as adults have been building with Lego, there have been sexual themes.

I don’t object to the adult stuff based on any moral objections or hand-wringing over what the “children” might see.  I admit that I get a little squeamish when I see minifigs engaging in sexual situations, because of the stigma attached to us by the outside world about  men (primarily) who play with a children’s toy.  Showing minifigs boning just throws fuel on that fire and more often than not it doesn’t serve any larger scene or idea, it exists purely to be provocative. This is one of the worst examples, I can’t endorse this image in any way, it’s skeevy, and barely qualifies as a build.  In a stereotypically American way, I don’t have a problem with minifig violence, but showing little dolls having sex is not something I’m want to see. To me, minifig-sex works best when the action is more suggestive than overt.

Once you get away from the minifigs though, I don’t have any reservations at all.  I enjoy watching builders struggle with the human form and the challenge of turning plastic parts into something sexy.  My final objection is that most erotically themed builds are terrible, there is often little thought put into their construction because the builder is too busy giggling about boners or trying to decide which porno to watch next.  I’ve never seen a Bonktron ship that wasn’t absolute crap and all that sausage humor on MOCpages was mediocre at best, it was the same basic idea repeated over and over. For every Letranger Absurde, Ian Heath or Bricks Noir, there are a hundred hacks who don’t really try to make something compelling, just provocative.

All that is a long-winded way to work my way around to a builder who should be familiar to most of you, Bricks Noir.  What separates the builder from the crowd who indulge in erotica is the skill level.  This kind of SNOT work has a high degree of difficulty whether it’s built in the brick or in this case, digitally.  In Bricks Noir’s latest impressive work, “Classic Curves“, it isn’t the anatomy that interests me so much as the Mustang badge on the grill and the subtle curves of the fenders and mirrors.  Sure the lady is attractive, the legs are extremely well done, but everywhere you look in the image you’ll find some delightful detail.   If you slapped a frame on this one and hung it in a coffee joint people wouldn’t know it was Lego, even when they got up close. Sexy and scary are two of the most difficult themes to capture in the brick I can’t commend the builder enough for capturing sexy like no other.29345890883_4c3d0467fc_o

Bricks Noir is one of those rare builders who seemed to spring to life fully formed (like a Greek god) with advanced skills and no awkward initial builds.  Such instant success tends breed suspicion, especially when the builder in question is relatively quiet and provides no information in their profile.  The most clever blogger on TBB, Ian Heath, speculated last year that  Bricks Noir is a pseudonym for an “established builder” but as usual, the big blog would rather play coy about it than make a statement or even an educated guess.  I’m a conspiracy theory guy, so that makes me think it’s probably the clever blogger himself.  Heath certainly has the skill-level to pull it off, and he likes mixing butt cheeks and Lego, so until proven otherwise, I’ll go with Mr. clever.  I would love to hear your take on the true identity of Bricks Noir in the comments, or if you think there is no conspiracy at all.

I can’t help but wonder how far Bricks Noir  will push the envelope in a genre he basically owns.  Will we be looking at blow-jobs and golden showers by this time next year?  Is uncensored erotica something you want to see more of, constant reader?  Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed?  I kind of hope he or she goes in that direction because the pearl-clutching and moral outrage by the true-believer Lego cultists and the general public would be a wonderful spectacle to behold.

I went down some nasty rabbit-holes while exploring the topic for this article and it almost turned into a long-form Omnibus post because there is so much content.  In the end though, as I complained above, very little of the content was quality building and I thought it would be better to leave the focus on the incredible work of Bricks Noir.  I will leave you with two links, the first is a group (NSFW) on Flickr that specializes in all things erotica, and the second link is to perhaps the strangest thing I found in my research, a customizable Lego butt-plug (very NSFW) which may be the strangest Lego related aftermarket product that I’ve seen.

Constructive Criticism: Why not?

What do you call a person who refuses to title their models or offer a description of any kind?  A true artiste?  A lazy minimalist?  A pretentious contrarian?  Or is it evidence of pseudonym standing in for a more famous builder who doesn’t want to be recognized?  Today on the Manifesto we will be discussing the collected works of Why not?, the mysterious MOCpages builder who steadfastly refuses to engage with his or her fellow hobbyists and is content to let the building do all the talking.

Let’s begin with Why not’s most recent build, a suitably creepy monster with a large wingspan.  I was drawn in by the tilted head and skeletal wings and I lingered to examine the beautifully constructed rib cage and three-toed feet.  Although I enjoyed perusing the image it left me wanting more.  Mostly I wanted a better photo to examine, but MOCpages is notorious for butchering images and I could not find a Flickr account under the same name.  The proportions of the demon seem just a little bit off, especially the legs which  have stunted, insubstantial thighs.  I know the subject is not human and I should probably be careful applying human anatomy to a demon but it just doesn’t look right.  I also wish the wings were a little more developed, a little more bony structure would really provide additional visual impact to the model.  Likewise I think if the arms had been posed more effectively it might benefit the work as a whole and make it look a little less static.

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Why not’s back catalogue of models is strewn with very intriguing near-misses.  Take for example this  untitled cemetery scene from 2015, it’s a great concept with a unique perspective but too much of the image is dominated by the sloppy looking, studs-out walls of the grave.  My objections isn’t based on an anti-studs rant, I think studs have their place as a good contrast to the smoothness of man-made constructs like the stone cross, but I think all the studs detract from the power of the image.  Graves are not typically emblazoned with the LEGO logo everywhere and I think maybe some wedge-plates would have looked better or at least some smooth sections.  The all-black minifigs are a trademark of Why not, and they work great here to add mystery of the model, but the white sky behind them doesn’t do any favors for the presentation. I can’t help but wonder how the image would look with a gray or blue sky, either photographed outdoors or Photoshopped for that matter.

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Some of Why not’s work recall the early “artistic” offerings from Chairman Zhang, with careful and deliberate use of color (or lack thereof) to make a statement.  Take for example this vignette featuring a naked minifig on a colorful island, surrounded by a monochromatic city-scape and colorless watchers.  I’m not sure what the builder is trying to say here and that’s either the artistic strength of the model or a frustrating weakness where the viewer has to supply all the meaning without enough visual clues.  If I had to guess I’d say the vignette depicts the isolated existence of the creative individual amidst the cold gray society that watches but doesn’t understand the artistic life….but your mileage may vary.  For me, the nano-skyscrapers are not interesting enough in design and the borders where the water meets the city are clumsy.  Even if the purpose of a model is to make a larger statement, it still needs visual interest beyond iconic symbols.

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We conclude our examination of Why not, with a collection of his or her best pieces.  The more I delve into the unfortunately limited body of work by this mystery-builder, the more I appreciate it.  The subject matter is diverse and generally speaking I appreciate the minimalist presentation.  I’d rather have no written explanation than a tedious backstory any day.  Each one of these models has little details that bother me, like the low-res spider on the girl’s face and the thickness of the electric chair’s arms, but there is no denying the power of the images.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the persistent conspiracy theory on MOCpages that accuses the talented and somewhat infamous builder Deus Otiosus of being Why not. The evidence is scant and seems to rest mostly on the notion that Deus frequently comments on Why not’s models, offering an explanation for the action.  I do see some similarities in style between the two, mostly in the clever technique displayed like using wheels for restraints on the electric chair pictured above, but it’s just not enough to pin the pseudonym on Deus.  I reached out to “Big D” for a comment via Flickr and he unequivocally denied the charges.

Ultimately I don’t really care too much about the identity of “Why not?” Every builder is entitled to a pseudonym from time to time.  As long as he or she continues to build thought-provoking (if flawed) models for my consumption, I’m all in.

 

Conspiracy Theory #1: Of Brickheadz and CubeDudes

The Manifesto won’t typically be covering new product releases, at least not in the traditional sense because it just doesn’t interest me that much and I don’t have the kind of access required to scoop other sites who are better at the task anyway.  I like new sets as much as the next builder, but talking about them bores me to tears.  What does interest me is when LEGO introduces a set that bears a more than passing resemblance to a fan-made MOC or building fad.  So let’s compare, shall we, LEGO’s latest pandering to the fanboy market with their new line of superhero “BrickHeadz” to the fan-built figure “CubeDudes” craze from a few years ago by AFOL Angus MacLane.  Angus also happens to be an acclaimed director whose films you may recognize like the Pixar short Burn-E and the recent hit film, Finding Dory.  First up is LEGO, with their stubby little heroes whose design also bears a striking resemblance to the dead-eyed Funko brand vinyl figures that enjoy a large commercial following….for some reason.

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Now let’s check out the fan-made CubeDudes which really should have been CubeDudez for maximum impact with the youth demographic.  Wake up Angus!  Although new builders may not be familiar with the design, 7 years ago everyone was building Cube Dudes, it was one of the biggest fads I’ve seen in the hobby and it continues to this day.  While the Dudes lack the custom printed tiles and soft edges of the BrickHeadz, I don’t see much difference in the two designs.  Sure the Dudes have their heads rotated so a corner of the cube points forward, but that’s about it.  I’m no lawyer and I’m not making any formal accusations, LEGO is highly litigious and just might reach out to a tiny blog like mine with some kind of cease and desist bullshit.  Even if they were inspired by Angus and his CubeDudes I’m sure LEGO changed the design just enough to protect themselves.  Although I’ve never heard him say as much (Angus has been interviewed quite a bit), it’s possible that he swiped the idea from the Funko figures himself.  Hell, I don’t even know if Angus cares about the similarities at all.  I reached out to him via Flickr, but as of this posting he has yet to respond.  If he does, I will update this post.

It’s worth pointing out that Angus and LEGO have worked together before, to produce several official CubeDude sets (both Star Wars themed) that were available only at Star Wars and comic conventions as far as I know. Angus was quoted in an interview speaking about the sets: “I found the whole experience to be a total joy.” So maybe there is no conspiracy here at all, perhaps it’s another collaboration, but I have not seen Angus’ name attached to the BrickHeadz product anywhere.

Always remember that the company we are enslaved to is not your friend, it’s your dealer.  So what say you, constant reader?  Are the BrickHeadz thinly disguised CubeDudes?  I love a good conspiracy theory and I hope you enjoy this regular feature on the Manifesto.