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”

Friday Night Fights [Round 16]

*This very special edition of Friday Night Fights has a brief and arguably interesting backstory.  Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that I posted and quickly deleted an entirely different Round 16 match-up earlier today.  Because I’m lazy I didn’t notice a very important detail that gave one entry a huge advantage over it’s adversary.  Constant reader and friend of the blog Zach pointed this advantage out to me in the comments and challenged me to do better, with some obligatory rough language about my mother.  After some entirely urbane and reasonable discourse we decided to go head-to-head this week, his crony against mine, mano-a-mano.  In that spirit….

Welcome back fight fans, to Sin City Nevada for another Punch and Judy edition of Friday Night Fights!  This week’s bout will be fought on the unforgiving soil of the angry red planet, with mineral rights and access to the gravity well on the line.  Without further preamble, let’s go to the tale of the tape.

Fighting out of the red corner, under the KeithLUG banner, from Australia where a man is still free to be a man, it’s Shannon “The Savage” Sproule and his “Unity Outpost“.

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And fighting out of the blue corner, under the WACKlug banner, from the bathroom of WACKlug’s coastal tree-fort “Gwendolyn”,  it’s Brendan “The Brawler” Mauro and his “Modular Mars Base“.

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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 model 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 the runway, an erotic cat-fight between Sniper and Stiletto.  In the end, Kosbrick and his “Stiletto Heel“ stomped his way to a 6-2 victory over the hapless Redverse and his “Uslaw Haern the Sharpshooter“.   Kosbrick records his first win and improves his record to (1-0) while Redverse falls to (0-1).

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Two for Tuesday: Carter Baldwin

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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 is long time crony and friend of the blog, Carter Baldwin.  Just like last week’s guest, Jordan Schwartz, I feel like I’ve watched him transform from a teenager with no end of raw creative potential to a very polished and talented adult.  These days Carter is pillar of the community who has his own legion of admirers and fanboys who eagerly await his next build.  I got a chance to hang out with Carter for lunch at BrickWorld 2010 and looking back, that table was quite a rouges gallery of LEGO nerds: the Chairman, Jordan, Tiler Clites, Nathan Todd, Iain, Robin and even a Rubino sighting.  I have the feeling I met Carter at an earlier convention but I’m old and some of those memories are more blurry than I’d like.  Back when I was a Brother in 2012, I interviewed him for volume 17 of my “Boilerplate & Beyond” collection.  Frankly, the interview isn’t great, I hadn’t hit my stride yet with finding the right question for the right guest, but it is an interesting time-capsule. When re-reading the interview, one of Carter’s quotes jumped out at me:

“Collaborative displays are immensely fun. I’ve always wanted to build huge displays – you don’t need the ego inflation, but it’s likely a direct result of seeing your megabuilds in my formative years. Of course, I don’t have the budget or the brick to build the massive displays that will make The Goldman feel inadequate, so the next best solution is to steal other people’s collections. Making those people build your vision for you is even better.”

He’s absolutely right you know, “Making those people build your vision for you is even better.”  Over the years Carter has done an admirable job of doing just that, whether it was his often imitated Flickr group World in Conflict 2070 or the collaborative diorama Cyberpocalypse or the various combined efforts of BroLUG.  When Carter raises his banner, great builders assemble to help him realize his vision.  Now look at these two mechano stumble-bums, the latest weapons in Carter’s ever-expanding stable of war machines.  The “Brute” Mobile Frame looks like it jumped off the screen of your favorite anime series, but without the little girls in Catholic school uniforms to make things uncomfortable.  I love it when builders find a way to incorporate minfig backpacks, and Carter uses them perfectly here.  The guns are good enough to be stand-alone models, although the one on the left looks a little to big and unbalanced for the frame.  Constant readers of the Manifesto may know by now that I judge all mecha by their feet and although these seem a little small for my tastes, at least they look good.

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I can’t very well talk about Mr. Baldwin without discussing his key contribution to my recent bloated Diorama, A Bus Stop in Bucharest.  Back in 2008 I recruited Carter to help me with the equally boated Zero Hour on Highway 44 and he came through in spades, producing some of my favorite vehicles of the project.  So 8 years later when I attempted a collaboration on the same scale, he was one of the first builders I turned to.  Once again, Carter was not content with providing a single vehicle and sent a small fleet of beautiful Box trucks along with a pair of his classic Satyr armored cars.  Like a few of the other vehicles in the diorama, the box trucks were swallowed up to some degree by the scenery and obscured by flashier super-trucks. It’s a shame because these beauties were the glue that held the whole thing together.  In fact, it was Carter who came to the rescue late in the game when I simply could not produce a good concept for the toxic spill at the center of the action.  I really dislike like building damaged or “ruined” models and I’m not very good at it either.  So when Carter offered to distress one of the box trucks he pretty much saved the whole tamale.  All I had to do was combine it with some of those weird, soft Bionicle doo-dads and everything worked out just fine.  In the years between our collaborations, Carter refined his model-shipping skills too.  When the models for Highway 44 arrived, they were reduced to the component level from a combination of eggshell technique and lack of sufficient bubble wrap.  For Bucharest I don’t think there was any significant damage at all.

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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 somtimes with the express intent to take the piss out of the builder.  This is one of those times.  Thanks to builder dasnewten for the enlightening photo below.

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“Dude, for the third time…my name isn’t Nannan.”

Please recall that a precedent has been set in this ongoing series that we will be reviewing the fashion choices of each builder.  Carter is wearing standard issue convention gear for gentlemen of his age, a graphic T-shirt possibly referencing a video game or some such nerd-culture fodder and a cotton blend hoodie that probably smells quite dank.  The ensemble is fashion boilerplate and entirely unremarkable.  Although the focus of this week’s article is not Mr. Liu, his garment demands special commentary.  A Tie-fighter emblazoned tuxedo T-shirt and a suspiciously dangling belt…I’m not sure I have the words to describe the look, but Rupaul does.

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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!