Two for Tuesday: Kyle Vrieze

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Good evening constant reader, its happy hour and our bartender Lloyd is setting them up neat, just the way you like it. Tonight’s V.I.P. in the Manifesto lounge checks in from exotic Bermuda, where the triangles will wreck you and so will the Goslings Black Seal Rum.  I’m speaking, of course, of the indomitable Kyle Vrieze, whose remarkable builds you’ve been enjoying since 2004 when he made his first post on LUGNET.  If you’ve ever been to the BrickWorld convention in the last decade, the chances are good that you’ve seen one of his signature mecha and assorted Sci-Fi boilerplate in person.  You would remember Kyle because he looks like an action figure and stands out in stark contrast to his fellow Lego nerds because we tend to run pudgy or gangly, without much in between.  I’m not saying all Lego nerds are fat, that would be a cruel stereotype.  Many of us are in shape so don’t start yelling about how much you can bench in the comment section or how you run marathons.  Or maybe you should?  In my experience there are a lot of fatties in the hobby (myself included) and my point is that Kyle makes us look good when he poses in our group photos.  And dude loves to pose.  He’s got tickets to the gun-show and he’s not above firing off those guns in public.  More about the raging biceps and fashion later, let’s stick to the brick for now.

Kyle hasn’t posted anything yet this year so I had to reach back to December of 2015 to find his most recent model, the simply titled “Fighter 14“.  The silhouette is one that Kyle has revisited over the years, but each version get more refined and interesting.  There are almost too many angles to count but he somehow wrangles them into a cohesive and striking design.  Kyle manages to reign in the chaos just enough without taking off the edge and the result is a very aggressive looking war machine.  Naturally, it also sports some ‘roided out missile-pods, which is Kyle’s signature feature whether the platform is a spaceship or mecha.  In fact, the more I think about it, the missile-pods are just an extension of his ripped biceps.  This is the point in every Two for Tuesday posting when I urge you to take a trip through Kyle’s back catalogue if you’re not familiar with his work.

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For tonight’s second shot I’m inserting myself into the mix, as usual.  I met Kyle at the 2010 edition of BrickWorld Chicago, where he was generous enough to contribute a kick-ass Vic Vic Viper to the nnenn memorial formation.  He is definitely one of the nicest people you can meet in the hobby and I don’t mean “nice” in that Disney-cult, Landru, early days of LUGNET sort of way.  Kyle is always ready to talk Lego or talk smack, he’s equally skilled at both and he’s always ready to grab a sandwich if you are.  If you need any more convincing, you should know that Kyle is also endorsed by the righteous bros of Bro-LUG.  Those talented but feral youths don’t typically accept bro’s over the age of 25 or so but even they couldn’t deny Kyle membership, especially after his performance at an arm-wrestling initiation ritual that I’m not at liberty to speak of.  So if you find yourself at BrickWorld Chicago, seek out Mr. Vrieze and tell him “Keith sent me for a sandwich“.

I had the pleasure of dining with Kyle at the Mirage Hotel and Casino here in Vegas some time later and we hatched a plan for a collaboration, which brings us at last to the second shot.  The photo you see below is nothing like the idea I pitched to him over steaks and beer, I had some vague notion of an underground launch-base in mind and I asked him to build a VTOL fighter or three as the focal point.  In the end I had to shit-can the entire concept, I just couldn’t translate the idea into the brick.  So instead, I said something like “just send me what you can and I’ll figure it out”.  Four months later I finished this diorama, which features three of Kyle’s designs, including the epic mecha you see below along with a robot and a futuristic scout car.

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For this particular feature on the Manifesto I like to conclude the proceedings with a photo of the builder in question. I do this to help you put a face to the name and sometimes with the express intent to take the piss out of the builder. This is one of those times.  The photo is entitled “Sandwich Buddies” and let me tell you brother, you have not lived the BrickWorld convention experience until you’ve had a sandwich with Kyle. Traditions matter, people, they matter.  You can’t just have lunch with any random AFOL, or you may get stuck with an Aspy paste-eater or Rutherford, so choose your dining companions carefully. Meals are the rarely spoken about highlight of spending a weekend with your fellow Lego nerds.  Booze, good eats, shit-talking, shenanigans…meal time really is fun time.  Whether it’s Thai food in Seattle or Sandwiches in Chicago, it’s important to make the right choice when dining out.14715664850_cddf63e5aa_o.jpg

Please note that Simon is wearing Chairman Zhang’s brick-badge in the photo…did he just give up trying to correct people calling him Nannan?  Did he murder Nannan and abscond with his badge?  Was it a mundane trade or some kind of friendship bracelet kind of thing?  All I know is that the Chairman used to be Kyle’s official Sandwich Buddy and now it’s Simon.

Please recall that a precedent has been set in this ongoing series that we will be reviewing the fashion choices of each builder.  Kyle, as I pointed out earlier, looks like a generic action figure…of a wrestler, or a commando, or a biker.  Since you can’t go wrong with a basic black T, the verdict is an easy one.

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And Simon is here because he’s Simon and he’s ubiquitous.  At least he’s got Fry on his chest this time as opposed to that horrible Tie-Fighter tuxedo shirt.

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And now for something completely different, a couture dress made primarily from LEGO bricks.  Ashley Eckstein is the model and the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, whose face adorns the striking garment.  I can’t help but wonder what kind of noise the dress makes as she struts the runway.  Ashley participated in the Her Universe fashion show at the famous San Diego Comic Con this weekend, which is apparently now the second largest convention of any kind in the world.   The one of a kind design was created by LEGO Certified Professional Nathan Sawaya, whose work should be familiar to many of you constant readers and it features over ten thousand bricks.  The likeness of Ashoka is impeccable, the dress is form-fitting (especially for LEGO) and the colors really pop under the lights.  Damn, I’ve been watching way too much Project Runway and Drag Race.

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The construction technique is difficult to guess at with just a handful of images currently available online.  In the absence of info, I guess the LEGO elements are glued to the fabric or maybe the builder modified the bricks to allow for them to be woven together.  Even though the dress is lined with some kind of fabric, I can’t imagine it’s very fun to wear for prolonged periods of time or sit down in.  Sometimes great fashion hurts, but any discomfort is a small price to pay for the sheer amount of attention this garment draws, even in an over-saturated environment like Comic Con.  When everyone is an attention whore, how do you get noticed?  A LEGO dress is just the ticket.  Kudos to Mr. Sawaya, I think he’s found his true calling here and I hope he takes another crack at LEGO fashion in the future.  That’s difficult praise for me to dole out because I think he’s a bit of a hack, but damn…this is a cool dress and all of our fellow nerds at SDCC seem to agree.

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