“Ego is to the true self what a flashlight is to a spotlight”

During the hiatus I gave some serious thought to the topic of how to improve the blog in order to both maximize the satisfaction I get out of writing about Lego and maximize the entertainment value for you, the constant reader.  From the beginning I’ve been writing for an audience of builders, I don’t really care about the sort of boilerplate reader who indiscriminately devours nerd culture and loves the Big Bang Theory.  The Manifesto is for the hardcore, the people who do more than just idly consume the product of our benevolent Danish overlords.  With that in mind, lets talk about one topic that came up time and again when I thought about the blog, the proverbial meat and potatoes of Lego bloggery, the model spotlight.  Since the dawn of the hobby as we enjoy it today, blogs have traditionally focused on two things: new product information and giving a digital high-five to the builders who make compelling models.  The Manifesto doesn’t have the access or interest to comment on new product, that kind of news is better delivered and discussed elsewhere.  I cut my teeth doing nothing but model spotlights on TBB and I continued the tradition here during the first run, but I’ve begun to question its value.

Before we go any further I’d like to give credit to up and coming builder Tammo S. who recently posted this striking pair of spotlights that I can imagine several delightful uses for.  Each one could easily be the starting point or even centerpiece for a diorama, and I like how they are highly detailed without being busy.  You can’t go wrong with a little functionality either, although I find the gold one to be the more appealing of the two.  So check out Tammo’s work if you get the chance, I think he’s on his way to bigger and better things so you might as well find your seat on the bandwagon early.

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I’m not sure how much value the concept of the ‘MOC Spotlight‘ has for this blog in particular, at least in the traditional sense of harvesting the best recent Lego models and giving them adulation.  Let’s take Tyler Clites for example.  I’ve met the guy in person, I’ve collaborated with him and I’d put him up there with the best our hobby has to offer regardless of genre both as a builder and a decent human being.  All that said, I’m not sure how much value there is in posting Tyler’s latest model.  By the time you read my glowing opinion of his nearly immaculate creation you’ve already seen it in your Flickrstream, Facebook feed, Instagram and two or three of the big blogs.   I’ll do it here, since I’m talking about him, and it really is a kick-ass ship with an amazing interior but does it benefit anyone if I echo what you already know and has already been said five times over?  Does a guy like Tyler really need an ego bump, when everyone acknowledges his greatness already?  He’s already got a billion followers, favorites and comments.  I know he deserves them all but is it actually pushing the hobby forward or encouraging new or young builders?  I’m not so sure.

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So if I’m not that excited about posting the Top 40 hottest models, should I drop the concept entirely from the blog and stick to the other features you see in the sidebar?  Or should I focus on blogging lesser known builders who are not “ready for prime time” and give them the spotlight and in a best case scenario…meaningful critique from the commentariat here on the Manifesto?  With the diminished pace and output of the blog it seems difficult to do both.  Maybe you favor some other approach entirely, as always, I’m ready to hear you in the comment section.

Because I love to use this particular WordPress feature and the vast majority of readers won’t leave a written opinion but they might click on a poll, please consider participating in the following survey:

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Everybody, McRib is back!

McRib

Just like America’s favorite extruded, restructured pork product, The Manifesto is back from hiatus…but only for a limited time!  How limited, you ask?  Well, the blog’s initial 3-month run topped out at 103 articles and I’d like to get close to the century mark again, it has a nice ring to it.  You can expect to encounter most of the boilerplate you remember from this blog of blogs: Friday Night Fights, Fire For Effect, Constructive Criticism and of course the mundane staple of all pressed-pork bloggery…the Model Spotlight.  I will continue to give praise, criticism and smack to whatever model that sparks my interest regardless of age, presentation skill or overall quality. 

What will change is the frequency of posting, my old standard of a post a day is simply not sustainable and it is the primary reason for the extended length of the hiatus.  What I will commit to is one new post a week, in addition to the Friday Night Fights.  While I hope to post more often, your expectations of market-fresh content should be moderated, blogging (at it’s worst) is like a hamster wheel and sometimes it has to turn slowly avoid burnout.   As it always has been, the Manifesto remains open to posting the ramblings, rantings and regurgitations of YOU, the constant reader.  If you are motivated to add something to the simmering bouillabaisse here at the Manifesto, simply email me through the blog, Flickr, or if all else fails: Legomankeith@aol.com.  Yes I still have an AOL account, in fact, I wear it like a badge of honor.  There is a rotary phone in my garage too, so sue me for my antiquated outlook.  I firmly believe that the blog only benefits from additional perspectives and please remember that you don’t have to commit to an ongoing series, one-shot offerings are just as welcome.

Since we last spoke 6 months ago here on the Manifesto, I have not been entirely absent from Lego related action, I even managed to slap some bricks together with mixed results.  2016 wound down with a somewhat serious attempt at a 4×8 foot diorama, a train-centric project that I entertained vague notions about displaying at the Bricks LA convention or even a return trip to beautiful Orem Utah.  Ultimately the build succumbed to a combination of apathy, the holiday season (with young children) and that nasty scourge of many rough drafts over the years; a lack of conceptual focus.  In the majority of cases I don’t have a clear idea of how a project will look when finished, or even the central design element that ties everything together.  More often than not I leap into the fray and start building around a specific part or vignette.  Bucharest started with a simple bus bench and concrete island, Logan’s Run started with a modest section of angled-arch bricks stacked in tiers and a vague idea about a hydroponic farm and my Airbender diorama was conceived with nothing more than a determination to finally employ a giant bag of blue boat-sliders without any notion of the beloved cartoon.  In the case of the train layout you see below my motivation was a combination of a desire to use the giant hovercraft skirts that Rutherford good-naturedly pressed on me years ago, and a desire to incorporate motion in a convention-centric diorama.  I launched into the proceedings (as usual) without a clear focus of what the final product would look like, with the hope that things would “work out” and evolve into something compelling.  Instead I wound up feeling trapped, once again, by my inability to break the grid on a large-scale and the necessity for a massive eye-block along the back edge.  The WIP reached the expected tipping point about three months into the process, as all of these large layouts do, where I would have to commit to both significant Bricklink orders and  that still elusive focal point.  Even though the footprint was fairly substantial at this juncture, because of the narrow range of parts involved, sorting it back in the bins wasn’t too daunting of a task.  In the end I decided that the amount of time and effort it would take to fix the things I didn’t like about the diorama were outweighing my desire to proceed without a clear idea of what the hell the thing was even supposed to be.

The new year brought the latest iteration of the successful Lego Speeder Bike (LSB) Contest on Flickr, and it was just right palate cleanser to get the taste of the train-based failure out of my mouth.  I found a great deal of liberation within the relatively narrow confines of the contest, I didn’t have to worry about what “the thing” was supposed to be, because it was all spelled out for me.  I was also energized by the spirit of healthy competition from the field of talented builders who seemed to raise the stakes with each successive bike.  Initially I only intended to enter one category and move on, but wound up running the table, trying my best to keep up with guys like Andrew Lee, Pascal, Carter, Jeff Cross, Zach Clapsdale, and even that notorious degenerate rountRee.  In all the years of entering Lego contests I don’t think I’ve ever been party to such an entertaining and inspiring mix of behind the scenes constructive criticism and smack talk and I know my entries were all the better for it.  It was an exhausting month trying to crank out four dioramas and I was left with a newfound respect for the Iron Builder combatants.  I love Lego as much as the next idiot but thinking about it and building every day is creatively exhausting.  Even though I had some nitpicks with the way the contest was conducted (nothing new there), the LSB contest was a great representation of the best aspects of healthy artistic competition and Ted, Cole and Zenn did a fine job hosting and injected some much-needed life into the Lego-scene for those hectic and fleeting days.  If not for their efforts I might still be without a new build in 2017.  I’ve got nothing cooking in the Legoratory currently, so it’s back to rambling on the blog and looking for the next project….always the next project.

So welcome back to the Manifesto, constant reader and thanks for hanging in there during the prolonged hiatus.  The most satisfying aspect of the first run was the robust activity in the comment section.  One of the primary factors in my decision to turn on the lights again was the distinct lack of satisfying conversation going on in the usual internet haunts.  To be blunt, I think the warm and embracing community is in the shitter right now and all the available taverns where builders “gather” are not worth my time or patronage.  We seem to have retreated into small and scattered cells, conversing in tiny echo-chambers where new ideas and builders are not encouraged.  Talking about the latest Star Wars/Marvel products in 140 characters or less is about as fun as a kidney stone and I’ve grown fatigued of the banal voices mumbling their tedious rosaries and boilerplate to near-empty rooms.  Instead of grousing privately to Rutherford and other cronies, I’ve decided to re-open my own run down tavern and see if the usual stumble-bums belly up to the bar again.   At least I know the drinks won’t be watered down, and our old friend Lloyd is a great bartender.

 

 

On Hiatus

A hundred posts in seems like a good time to take a break, so I’ll be stepping away from the Manifesto for a while to recharge the batteries.  The statistics for the site continue to trend downwards so perhaps this will be a good opportunity to think about the direction of the blog, what works and what doesn’t.  Thanks for your continued interest, constant reader, I especially appreciate all the comments the Manifesto has generated to this point, the conversation has been the most rewarding aspect of the endeavor. I’m not sure how long the hiatus will be, but I’ll keep you updated.

 

 

As Cold as Ice

Grab your little conductor’s cap and a red bandanna, it’s train time!  The latest effort by Hungarian builder Gabor Horvath is impossibly cool, with inspired windows, striping and one of the most complex examples of a driver’s cab that I’ve ever seen.  The model is a recreation of the German Intercity-Express 3 train, which has a distinctive nose that must have been very challenging to capture in the brick.  The final result may not be quite as rounded as the real thing, but it’s no less stunning.  I think I like the slightly angular treatment better anyway, it looks like it cuts through the air with ease.  Being inclined to see things through the lens of Science Fiction, I couldn’t help but wonder how the nose would look on a spaceship or a train that was more stylized for the future. It’s all about that nose.

For some people it is unfathomable to spend a year on a model of this size, or any size for that matter, but the result is such perfection that I can’t fault Gabor in the slightest.  When I blogged for TBB I made it a point to diversify my interests as broadly as possible and that meant seeking out interesting trains to talk about.  Even though I don’t often build trains and I’m not really that interested in the subject matter, over the course of a year my appreciation slowly increased.  And while I can’t honestly claim to be a ‘train guy’, I still find myself looking for the next great iron horse.

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Beyond the build itself, I really enjoyed the way  Gabor enthusiastically describes his build process on Flickr, it’s both genuine and insightful.  The personal anecdote he provides is more evidence that you’re not really a builder/junkie until you wake up in the middle of the night with the perfect solution for a model and start building when you should be sleeping. Gabor also has all the technical stats and train-speak on Flickr, so if you’re interested follow the link at the top of the article and check out the full presentation.

I’m really happy, that it is ready! It took me almost a year to build and become satisfied with the result. You may know, if someone build a train, the front is the most important thing. If it’s not good, it’s unnecessary to build the other sections. Everything started with an LDD model from a front-idea. I built something in the program, but I didn’t like it. Later it came always into my mind and didn’t allow me to be calm. So I started to develope the construction. Some month later it looked nice enough to order some parts and make it in real life. It contained so many interesting and strange techniques, that it was a real challenge to put the bricks together in the program, and with real bricks it was hard, too. And the real 3D model was ugly! But I said, that it has to be possible to find out something, which makes the model better. So I made some changes, and some more, and some more, and finally I liked it, and I thought that I found the maximum! I stored the train (only the front section) and some other parts on the table in the middle of our house. And one night, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up and went out to the table to do something. And I don’t know why, but I put an element into the middle of the front. And I said ‘wow’! It was perfect (for me of course, for you, I still don’t know, but I will read the comments 🙂 )! Some gaps disappeared, some sections got new positions. That element made so big changes on the overall look, that it was incredible! I felt high, but next day I was very sleepy. 😀

I included the video because this train demands some dramatic music and it’s cool to see the ICE in action.  It’s also easier to appreciate all the SNOT work that went into the brilliant nose.  Gabor has a nice Catamaran Sailboat too, if you’re a catamaran kind of person, not everyone is…you have to have a real sense of style.

Sunday Comics: Thule’s Gold

The Manifesto is proud to present the third volume of a highly irregular series by legendary builder Karf Oohlu, created exclusively for the blog.  If you’re not familiar with Karf’s work, slap yourself twice…really hard and then educate yourself immediately.

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And the Winner of SHIPtember 2016 is…

Brama!, by Mr. Zac Lowing.  The rest of you losers can go home now, try harder next year!

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Believe it or not, this is the 100th post in the brief history of the Manifesto.  Thank you for all your views and comments, constant reader!

 

 

Friday Night Fights [Round 12]

Welcome back fight fans, to Sin City Nevada for another Jeet Kune Do edition of Friday Night Fights!  This week’s bout is an Ian Mcque inspired battle of the sky-boats, with control of international salvage rights on the line.   Without further preamble, let’s go to the tale of the tape.

Fighting out of the red corner, from beautiful Lagoa Santa, Brasil, it’s Felipe “O Touro” Avelar and his “Mestiço“.

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And fighting out of the blue corner, from fascinating Taipei, Taiwan, it’s “Jackhammer” JPascal and his “Ramona“.

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As usual, constant reader, you are tasked with deciding the outcome of this pugilistic endeavor and determine who will receive a week’s worth of bragging rights.  Simply leave a comment below and vote for the MOC that best suits your individual taste. I will tally up the votes next Friday and declare a winner before announcing the next bout.

Last Week, on Friday Night Fights….

It was the battle of SHIPtember, with the control of the outer rim planets on the line.  In the end,  Anders “The Sledgehammer” Sinding  and his “World_Eater “ scored a  10-4 victory over  Cecilie “The Samurai” Fritzvold and her “Zea’x Dauphyz“.  Anders Sinding records his first win and improves his record to (1-0) while Cecile Fritzvold falls to (0-1).

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