The first week of the LSB contest has flown by in the blink of an eye and unfortunately the turnout so far has been tepid at best. I do realize that it’s too early in the process to be alarmed and that most established builders prefer to wait until the very end to unveil their masterpieces. That said, 7 entries in as many days seems to be a much slower pace than the last year, when there were 17 entries after the first week. I don’t really have a theory as to why there seems to be a drop-off this year, maybe it’s fatigue with the topic, a lack of promotion on big blogs, a lack of the familiar front-man Cole Blaq, declining participation on Flickr in general, the Manifesto’s crappy prizes or even intimidation. Some of you might be thinking “Intimidation? Who would be intimidated by something as innocuous as a speeder bike contest?” but there is some evidence out there that it might be a factor. For example, Mike M. is an established builder of considerable skill who has been featured on this blog and many others. In the comment section for his entry he had this to say:
“I shy away from lego related contest, not only is the competition fierce,but I know its filled with badass builders, and I’m way outa my league I’m sure, contest not over yet!!!”
While Mike did indeed offer up a viable contest entry, I doubt he’s alone in his line of thinking. A few builders witnessed the quality level and competition last year and they appear hesitant to enter, fearing that their skill set is not up to the task, or that they will be crushed by veteran builders. Instead of rising to the challenge, they shrink or worse still, refuse to engage. Another prospective combatant, Dan The Imposter who has yet to enter the arena had this to offer in the announcement thread:
“I hope I can still be good enough to stand a chance!”
Still another perfectly able builder Deltassius had this to say:
“Not going to lie, after last year’s builds I am a little intimidated. I liked this contest more when I didn’t know any better!”
While Ted and I tried to offer encouragement from the sidelines, it would have been nice to see more voices (including the other two admins) jump in the conversation to urge these nervous Nancys to sack-up and get in the game. Plenty of great builders got their asses handed to them last year by the likes of Carter Baldwin and there is nothing wrong with that, in theory it should only improve performance in the future. I’m not sure what the solution is to the intimidation factor, but it’s a shame to lose potential participants over something so silly.
On to the bikes….I have to admit that I’ve been underwhelmed by the early crop of entries, although competent, none of them are particularly memorable. We need a hero, we need the “Ice Breaker” as defined by Ted in one of his Talks:
Guest #1: The Ice Breaker – The “Ice Breaker” is the personal hero of every contest host. They enter the contest first, and now you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Their entries offer you an early gauge of how the contest will go, and if you need to course correct if they are way off the mark. Allowing people to swap entries until the deadline also relieves much of the risk of being the “Ice Breaker”. It lets them rework their entry if a better idea happens to comes along…like one from…
I was hoping F@bz might be the Ice Breaker, when I saw him dive in early. He possesses both the requisite mad building skillz, and a huge Flickr following that might bring fresh competitors, but his offering was kind of mundane. While the saddle blanket is without a doubt a cool and clever detail and the bike as a whole is competently constructed, it doesn’t exactly bowl me over. I won’t even get into the Chinese knockoff figure.
Although there are a couple of entries that have an interesting idea or detail here and there, the only other bike worth mentioning at the one week mark is this shark carcass bike by Marcel V. Much like F@bz’ speeder, it relies heavily on a single gimmick to carry the build and the rest of it is pretty standard boilerplate. It reminds me of a La-Z-Boy recliner with a dead shark strapped to the bottom.
It’s also worth giving some love to the contest’s first digital entry, by Luke, not only is it a nice looking ride, but the builder showed that he’s able to absorb apply constructive criticism. He took good advantage of the contest’s rather liberal policy of allowing builders to improve and replace their entries right up until the end of the competition. Ted Andes mentioned somewhere in the proceedings that the unspoken mission of the event is to promote feedback between builders, and that’s great, but I think it should be very much spoken, and spoken loudly…it’s really what separates this contest from so many of it’s brethren.
Unfortunately my favorite speeder in the LSB group pool isn’t even entered into the contest, it’s apparently from a Star Wars movie that I refused to see and it looks pretty great. The builder is Inthert, and I sincerely hope he takes a crack at an official entry because he’s obviously got the mojo for it, providing of course he can break away from the pre-packaged theme. The bike did draw my attention to a sort of confusing aspect of the contest, that there are quite a few bikes in the pool that have nothing to do with the contest, which seems both odd and unfortunate to me. It made me wish that the contest existed in it’s own separate group, because I’m never sure whether or not I should comment on half the bikes in the pool. I feel more jackassy than usual offering my constructive criticism on stuff that isn’t meant for the contest. I’m also confused as to why you would post a speeder bike and not enter it? I don’t know if it’s a reading comprehension issue or lack of clarity in the rules but I see a few people who don’t seem to be putting the bikes in the proper threads to ensure their eligibility for judgement and possibly a prize.
I’m confident things will pick up in the coming weeks, but at the quarter mile post I was hoping for a little more action.