Ted Talks – “The sun shines bright…”

Friend of the blog Ted Andes returns with his in depth analysis of the recent BrickUniverse-Louisville fan event in Kentucky.  Without further ado, take it away Ted!

Ted Talks – “The suns shines bright…”

“…In the military you could look at someone’s “fruit salad” and judge how “salty” they were. I think me and Nate are the “bootest” of the show batch. Until I can count more shows than fingers, and get more badges, I’ll be bush league.” – Charley

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I am not a military man, so I am always leery about the “cultural appropriation” of any military jargon.  Rutherford has earned the right to use it here on The Manifesto, and honestly I’m not all that savvy with it.  However, that opening quote is the perfect lead-in to this article. Charley (No. Not that Charlie) is the man leading the charge to establish a local LUG here in Louisville, KY.  It comes from the After Action Review (AAR) of his first time displaying at a Lego convention.  It also shines a light onto an interesting paradox – the smallest cons aren’t always the best cons for making a displaying debut (or at least for your psyche).  The underlying format of those small cons can really make a huge difference for both the tenured builder and the newly enlisted AFOL alike.

Re-Con:

To call BrickUniverse-Louisville (BU-Lou) a “Lego convention” is not entirely accurate based on the expectations of most ABOL’s.  BU-Lou is just one stop of a lengthy “Lego Fan Expo” tour that roams around the country.  When wunderkind Greyson Beights came up with the format for his traveling Expo, he mentioned studying the “European-style LEGO conventions” as opposed to the ones in North America. What does that mean?  It means that the “public comes first”.  I had heard that about European cons before, from my European Flickr contacts.  It’s the reason why many European based builders travel to the USA instead to get their “builder-centric” convention fix at BrickCon, Brickworld, BrickFair, etc… 

 The overall mission of BrickUniverse was summarized by Greyson during his interview with brickfanatics.co.uk“… the benefit to the local community is threefold. First, we provide a great experience to AFOLs and TFOL with games and seminars—an experience that is seldom available on such a large scale. Second, we show families (both parents and children) the endless possibilities with LEGO bricks. They see what there can be built, how they can use LEGO bricks to learn engineering or History (Medieval LEGO!), and so much more. Third we help the local community and economy, which at times can be in a drought and could use some rain so to speak. Whenever you plough some 15,000 people in a central location over a span of only two days, you’re bound to see the local economy thrive.”

Now this “great experience” can vary from location to location. It all depends on how many AFOL’s they can expect to display at any given show. BU-Cleveland is actually one of their more builder focused conventions (with awards, seminars, etc.).  For BU-Lou, it’s still the fan-focused experience.  Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just different, and it could always grow up to be more than that.  One great thing about the public-Expo format is that it enables LEGO conventions to test the waters in many LEGO-starved markets across the country.  BrickUniverse even holds an event in the much maligned Tulsa! (…are you reading this, John Palmer?). I believe Greyson is working towards scheduling 12 BrickUniverse events across the USA in 2018.

At the smaller BU-Expos, creating a “great experience for AFOLs and TFOLs with games and seminars” translates into building challenges for the public, and giving them multiple play-brick locations.  The “great experience” for the displayers at BU-Lou was limited to an ill-timed emergency evacuation alarm during Friday’s set-up (it was due to a water pipe bursting at the KY Expo center).  So there were no mixers, no opening/closing ceremonies, and no seminars that were so hot that they set wheelchairs on fire.  That said, each local displayer was still given a coveted “Brick Universe Louisville 2018” badge brick for their “fruit salads”, and a LEGO themed book from No Starch Press; a very nice and appreciated gesture (a copy of Mike Doyle’s “Beautiful Lego” is now sitting on my bookshelf).

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The Nerd-tastic Four! – by AdamDodge

Continue reading “Ted Talks – “The sun shines bright…””

Bricks LA 2018: The Long Winded Tales of a Jaded Lego Nerd

They say that Lego blog readers don’t care about convention coverage, they say that unless you were present to join in the action personally it is impossible to appreciate the experience fully.  They even claim that people are resentful of parties they are not invited to.  While I don’t necessarily debate this sage and long-standing wisdom, I’m throwing caution to the wind to provide you with the unvarnished truth of my time in the city of angels.  It took me almost a full week to process everything that went down in order to compose my thoughts in a way that didn’t read like an embittered rant and even allowing for the interval I’m not sure I succeeded.  But I am confident you’ll let me know in the comments.  -Spoiler Alert!-  Bricks LA 2018 was in turns awkward, uninspiring and mostly boring, which is the greatest sin any convention can commit.

I journeyed to America’s second largest city in search of big-city adventure and excitement but found only regional boilerplate and the only fun was the fun we brought with us or had nothing to do with the convention itself.  For the T.L.D.R. crowd you can check out now, go back to your video game and jumbo-sized bowl of paste, but the rest of you should gird your loins and prepare for a deep dive into….mediocrity.  We’ll get into it later but this was the convention that made me realize I’ve become terribly jaded, almost incapable of enjoying the conventional traditions of our people. So if you were there and you think I’m being terribly unfair, take solace in the fact that this review may have more to do with my growing disenchantment with the very concept of conventions than the event itself.

This was Bricks LA, 2018.

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Continue reading “Bricks LA 2018: The Long Winded Tales of a Jaded Lego Nerd”

Andrew and Ace

WackLUG founder and long time crony Andrew Lee recently posted the 52’nd episode of his famously unedited, unscripted video blog and you should give it a look if you have the time because I think it’s one of the best entries that doesn’t feature me.  Old school AFOL Ace Kim of FBTB fame, is the latest victim on Brick’s & Beer rotisserie-spit and he’s got a very interesting story to tell that many older AFOL’s can relate to.   Topics include the pros and cons of collecting…Is there ever a time to downsize?…and how to deal with a bloated collection that no longer makes sense.  It’s more focused than Andrew’s typical offerings and the two have a great on-screen rapport, so check it out if you’re a fan of the program or new to it.   There is also a bit concerning one of my favorite builders of all time, Jon Palmer, and the resurfacing of one of his classic creations. Andrew does look oddly bloated, especially in the face. Feel free to speculate on the reason for that in the comments.

Remembering the King of all Swoosh Videos

The swooshing of Lego spaceships is a time honored tradition that has it’s roots (for most people) in the carefree days of childhood when nothing was better than running around like a sugared-up jackass with your favorite space fighter making engine and laser gun noises.  As teens and adults, most people limit their swooshing to hastily taken still photos where the greatest variable seems to be facial contortions and wardrobe.  Indeed, some artistic souls, like Graybandit2000 have mastered the art form to the point where it seems little innovation is possible or even necessary.  I’m not a swooshing man myself (I have a face made for radio), but I can appreciate a good swoosh when I see one.

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I’m not sure who was the first builder to apply the concept to video, but maybe one of you will educate me in the comments.  Swoosh videos became an all too brief fad a few years ago and most example seemed to be directly associated with the oft discussed SHIPtember.  Indeed, the practice became so popular that even the tribe of notoriously humorless train-guys tried to get in on the action, but as usual, they didn’t quite…get it.

By and large, swoosh videos are pretty uninspired, shaky-cam affairs that are sort of instantly forgettable.  This is sad when you take into account all the comedic and auditory advantages video has to offer.  I think the collected works of Monty Python alone would provide nearly endless inspiration to would-be directors, but most people refuse to apply the same creativity to the videos as they do to their Lego models.  Even when the creators get the music right, the results are frequently out of frame, out of focus and ultimately out of bounds.  One enterprising builder had the foresight to bring a trampoline into the mix and yet the final product still managed to disappoint.  I don’t think you can really maximize the value of a trampoline without the entire affair ending in injury or some form of disaster. Most of the videos seem to feature teenagers literally running around in bucolic settings, with a death-grip on their precious SHIPs.

For my money, the greatest swoosh video to date, is 2013’s simply titled SWOOSH, by Jacob Unterreiner.  Jacob seems to have dropped off the map in the last year or so, which is a shame because he was really hitting his stride as a builder.  Even though I’m pretty sure he and I shared some unkind words at some point (no doubt my fault), I always enjoyed his work immensely.  The model he’s clutching, PHOENIX, is worth a look too, it’s pretty rad and has some great color blocking. While we wait for Jacob’s triumphant return to the scene, let’s enjoy the king of all swooshing videos and pause to consider this underrated and underdeveloped sub-genre of the hobby.

Feel free to include your favorite swooshing still shots or videos in the comments.

 

 

“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.