“I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.”

Yes, yes!  A thousand times yes.  We thank you VAkkron, for this video delight, starring the disembodied head of Isaac Newton.  I have not laughed so hard at a Lego related clip in a very long time.  Not only is the bust a great build, but there is something wonderfully low-budget about the presentation, it reminded me of the old music video for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer” or the opening sequence of MST3K.  I was one of the lucky ones to see this build take shape and I must congratulate the builder on his ability to embrace constructive criticism, even in the face of a catastrophic drop and the necessity to completely re-work the entire facial structure.  After all the talk on the blog about the value of criticism, it was nice to see a builder really embrace it with a trusted crew of homies who had no other interest but seeing the builder succeed.  It was fun to be a tiny part of that process and watch the model develop.

Isaac Newton

Although I had some early access to the model, there was no indication that a video presentation was in the works.    I think I’ve played it a half a dozen times already and I keep imagining it with other songs; it must have been difficult to settle on just one.  Don’t get me wrong, VAkkron made a fine selection, but indulge me for a moment, and try it with a little Sledgehammer in the background, you won’t regret it.  It’s just the video for now, but photos of the build will be posted soon to the usual haunts.  Isaac Newton is far and away VAkkron’s most challenging work to date and it’s always great to see a builder really lean in and take on a challenge. I hope the metrics ultimately reflect the quailty of this effort.  I’m all about the numbers…I’m shallow like that.

A Modern Cure for Insomnia

Can’t stop tossing and turning?  Big day tomorrow at work and you need your precious sleep?  Well have no fear, constant reader, because Italian Builder Gabriele Zannotti has just the tonic for what ails you.  Simply press the play button below and you’ll be nodding off in no time at all.  Instead of counting sheep or pounding the hard stuff, why not drift away to the soothing sound of this minimalist printer?  David’s animation is as flawless as the build itself and I hope he continues to explore in this relatively uncharted territory.

In his Flickr profile Gabriele also offers his considerable rendering services to his fellow digital building AFOLs.  I’m not sure if it’s free or there is a charge involved, but if you’re in the market for that kind of thing you might reach out to Mr. Zannotti for more info.

What a tool!

It’s time for a little D.I.Y. action at the Manifesto and we need the right tool for the right job.  Even though we just occupied this stately mansion a month ago, already the roof is leaking, the floors are buckling and the foundation is cracked.  Fortunately we have Czech handyman František Hajdekr to help us with the repairs and he’s brought a toolbox full o’ thrills.  Each implement features Power Functions, for that added bit of motion and realism that is sorely lacking in many builds.  These 1:1 scale reproductions are beautiful to behold and they demand to be picked up and used.   These reproductions are so faithful, they might just fool the average consumer if you left them on a Home Depot shelf. The average American consumer is a dullard though, so I suppose that’s not saying much.

 

Although the angle grinder is the latest weapon in the home improvement arsenal, the builder also has a working chainsaw, perfect for cutting down the dead trees in the back forty or chasing off unwanted visitors. Not content to simply build and share these outstanding models, František Hajdekr also goes the extra mile by providing handy break-down videos so that you can build your own tool collection.  Just try not to cut your appendages off, constant reader, beer and chainsaws don’t mix…unless you live in Kentucky, then it’s just called Tuesday.  If you like big-red, you might also enjoy his little brother, Orange Joe, he’s tiny but he gets the job done.

 

 

We complete our examination of František’s work with a staple of everyone’s toolbox, the versatile cordless drill.  I really dig how the Power Functions unit looks just like one of those lithium-ion batteries that never seem to have a charge when you need it. Hopefully we will see more of these outstanding 1:1 scale models in the future, it is one genre that hasn’t been explored nearly enough.

 

I Hate These Things (or) rowntRee is wrong-tRee

I can’t believe it was only a month ago that I was strolling the convention floor at the BrickSlopes LEGO fan event accompanied by famous bon-vivant Matt rowntRee.  Since it was a relatively small convention, we were afforded the opportunity to evaluate just about everything the attendant AFOLs had to offer.  Not content to just smile and nod, we enjoyed a running commentary that was equal parts praise, smack and non sequiturs.  I estimate we were in violent agreement about 90% of the time when it came to constructive criticism, with only a few models that we couldn’t come to a consensus on.  There was however a single display that sparked a spirited debate and made me question the sensibilities, judgement and perhaps even sanity of our good friend rowntRee.  I don’t want to skewer the responsible builder, because that would be a jackassy thing to do (even for me) and the blame-finger shouldn’t be pointed in his direction, but rather towards a hipster German advertising agency.  In 2012 the Jung von Matt agency out of Hamburg released a minimalistic ad campaign for LEGO. The “Imagine” series features iconic cartoon characters from American pop culture represented in simplistic stacks of 2×2 brick and plate.  I have no idea who these particular stacks are supposed to represent, but you get the idea.

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That’s right, its just a stack of bricks and plates….nothing more.  It isn’t clever, it isn’t interesting, it’s a slick ad campaign at best and moronic over simplification at worst.  I understand the point they are making about taking the most basic LEGO parts and turning them into something iconic, but that doesn’t make the end result any less lame.  This is the artistic equivalent of drawing stick-figures or making a friendship bracelet.  Watch the video, constant reader and just “imagine” how pretentious the good folks at Jung von Matt can make these stacks of brick seem.  This reminds me of a Saturday Night Live parody commercial it’s so dumbed down and could the narrator possibly sound more British?

Now “imagine” a bunch of sweaty mankinder decide it’s actually cool and they go out and cover entire convention tables with stacks of 2×2 bricks. We even give them uninspired names like “Block Buddies” and “Brick Buddies” because everything needs to have “brick” in the title if it’s associated with the hobby: BrickLink, BrickJournal, Bricks by the Bay.  If I was thinking straight, I should have called this site the KeithBrick Manifesto for maximum marketability.  Now, “imagine” those same sweaty Mankinder rushing to be the first to stamp their names over all the familiar fanboy franchises.  because if you can be the first to slap your watermark on Brick-Buddy Harry Potter, just “imagine” the kudos that will rain down upon you and how much credit you’ll receive.  Now, “Imagine” how terribly boring it all is, even when the builders break the simplicity of the “standard” altogether and start adding appendages and accessories.  You just can’t put lipstick on a pig and the more the standard morphs the worse it becomes.  Can you possibly “Imagine” how much this fad makes me want to slit my wrists.

Now “imagine” we’re back at the convention and Matt rowntRee defending the table full of row after row of stacked columns of 2×2 brick.  I’m pretty sure he used words like “clever“, “iconic” and “endless variation with a limited palette“.  He also seemed to think it was cool that the display was interactive, that public day attendees would love to play a game called guess the stack of bricks?  Is that black stack of bricks Blade or Darth Vader?  I didn’t hang around the table of Brick Buddies during public hours so I’m not sure if that’s a thing or not, but it sounds dreadfully boring.  Listen Matt, just because I can identify roughly half of those 2×2 brick stacks on the table doesn’t make it clever, it just means I’ve been programmed to identify Robin, especially when he’s standing in between the Batman and Wonder Woman.

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Of course, the first builder that popped up when I searched “Brick Buddies, Justice League” was Simon Liu.  Get out of my head Liu, I can’t take it anymore!  Once again, it’s six degrees of separation with Simon. I should have known he’d be down with Brick Buddies.  This photo has over ten thousand views!  I don’t get it.

So go ahead rowntRee, defend your patently crazy viewpoint in the comments section.  Tell me again how this is actually genius level art and I’m too dismissively highbrow?  Just “imagine” that I’m open-minded enough to consider your nonsense counter-argument.

I anticipate the following reaction from many of you: “who cares, let them do their thing” or “I think it’s cute“.  Yes, it’s true, everyone has the right to build whatever they want, I acknowledge that to be self-evident.  However, it doesn’t stop the Brick Buddies from being tragically, irredeemably lame and when we fill our tables with them at conventions it makes us all look like a bunch of simpletons.

 

Omnibus: “Not a bird, not a plane, I’m just a mean old night owl”

The always plush Omnibus is leaving the station, constant reader and you’ve got a window seat for all the action.  There is a snow owl airbrushed on the side of the bus, refreshments have been provided and “Fly By Night” is blasting from the speakers.  So grab the last empty seat next to Rutherford and we’ll take a short tour of Owl country.  We will discover together what our warm and embracing community can do with the beloved nocturnal bird of prey, in its many inspiring forms.

Our first stop is in Canada, to view the rarely seen owl in flight.  One look at the the photo and you can tell you’re not in the company of the average paste-eating mankinder.  This is the work of renown Montreal LEGO artist Ekow Nimako.  You can read a pretty informative  interview with Ekow here, which profiles not only this “Silent Knight” commission from 2015 but also his earlier work and background. I dove into his catalogue of pictures and didn’t come out of the trance for about 20  minutes.  You can expect an article on more of Mr. Nimako’s work somewhere down the line, for there is indeed much to explore.  For now enjoy two of Ekow’s investigations of the common barn owl, which are anything but common, including a construction video of Silent Knight.

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Let’s stay off the perch and in flight with good friend of the Manifesto, Jordan Schwartz and his “Owlet” from 2010.  At the time of posting, the use of non ABS LEGO products like cloth capes and Ewok glider-wings was very unorthodox and drew many exclamations of N.P.U. from  appreciative viewers.  The eyes and banana-beak are very striking and somehow the build still looks fresh 6 years and 10,000 hits later.

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Now let’s switch gears entirely and examine some mechano-owls like this eye-catching “Cyber Owl” from the ever reliable and always original, Mihai Marius Mihu.  I love the builder but I hate the name, it’s just too difficult to say and impossible to type from memory.  In my head I call him “Miti Mata Mulu”, which isn’t too cool.  The build is very cool though, the trans-clear plates on the chest were a brilliant choice.

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Continue reading “Omnibus: “Not a bird, not a plane, I’m just a mean old night owl””

Live…From Fabulous Las Vegas, it’s Bricks & Beer!

The Manifesto is proud to cross-promote my appearance on Andrew Lee’s entertaining and always unedited Bricks & Beer! video series.  Mr. Chrome himself was in Vegas for a marathon bachelor party that ended with a little recovery time at my legoratory.  Considering how baked I was, I think it turned out pretty good, well except for my nasally voice.  This is a half hour of your life that you’ll definitely want back!

I suppose I should offer a NSFW warning, we drop a few F-bombs here and there, it was entirely unavoidable and somehow essential to the experience.  Andrew has been an O.G. member of KeithLUG since we met at BrickCon in 2007 and he’s been a great friend over the years.  For my money Andrew is the ultimate Iron Builder, his bouts with Simon and Jimmy are the stuff of legend.  Stop by any time Chrome,  you’re always welcome in the wasteland!

I know the feeling…

I think most builders who have undertaken a large, time consuming LEGO project can relate to this Brick Barossa convention video posted by Michael Smith.  It features the demise of a rather nice and certainly inoffensive rendition of the historic Ayers House by Michael Burdon.  The Australian mansion is located in Adelaide and it is named after Sir Henry Ayers, the five time Premier of South Australia and wealthy industrialist, who occupied the stately building from 1855 until 1897.  If the builder is anything like me, he was so sick of looking at his long-term project (it’s been around for a couple of years) that the only solution was a violent end at a convention, to the delight of the crowd.  I can tell you from personal experience that putting your fist through a pain in the ass model can be very satisfying indeed.

The Brothers of Destruction

I’ve seen models dropped from stairs and slammed against a wall, but I’ve never seen a builder throw objects at a diorama with the intent to destroy.  Typically the models slated for destruction at conventions are Star Wars related official sets so it’s refreshing to see a scratch-built diorama get the rough treatment.  Nobody really cares that much if a giant official set gets wrecked, but the vibe is more intense when you watch a creator demolish his creation.  I can’t quite make out what the projectiles are, but hurling them at the model results in some very pleasing shrapnel.  The WWE style table slam at the end is a nice touch too: well played my Australian homies!  I’ll leave you with a video of the Ayers House before it’s destruction, since Mr. Burdon doesn’t seem to have an account at any of the usual sites.  If you’re into this kind of LEGO related disaster porn you can also check out the MandRproductions34 YouTube channel, where you can watch him smash a wide variety of official sets.