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.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times on the Manifesto that I don’t share the same childhood nostalgia for LEGO that many of you do. While I certainly owned a shoe box full of LEGO like every other kid on the planet, it wasn’t my go-to brand for burning away a summertime afternoon. When I think back to the carefree days of my youth I fondly remember toys like Star Bird, Micronauts and the mighty two foot tall Shogun Warriors. Not only did they look cool, they had crazy features like weapons that really fired, detachable space ship brains and wheeled feet. So when I stumbled upon the work of Marco De Bon it took me right back to 4th grade (yeah I’m old). Submitted for your approval is Marco’s latest build, “Icarus“.
I know some of you may be saying to yourselves “Uh…Goldman, this mecha is rad but it doesn’t really look like any of the Shogun Warriors.” and you’re right, strictly speaking it doesn’t look like any of the giant robots in the photo above. Nor does it look like the Manga source material that inspired Mattel’s line of toys, Mazinger Z. However, my brain instantly made the connection to the old toys and that interests me a great deal. Some of it has to do with the primary color scheme and the proportions but the more I compare the two photos I think the attitude of the pose is a big part of the link between the two. Shogun warriors always looked like they were ready to kick your ass, and so does “Icarus”. Just like a great 80’s toy it can also be reconfigured into fighter jets and stuff.
My only complaint about “Icarus” can be found on the head, specifically the white square behind Sauron’s ring. Black might have been a better choice for that area or some color other than white. You can see the corners of the white squares sticking outside the ring and it’s distracting in a way that makes my brain itch.
Obviously the toy and the mech differ greatly and the LEGO model is far more detailed. The only logical comparison exists solely inside the confines of my skull-case. Memory and nostalgia are perhaps too specific to reference in a blog article for a broader audience but hopefully you’ve come to expect a little free-association on the Manifesto. If you’re so inclined, I’d like to hear about your experience with these kinds of connections in the comments
Pictured below is “Orion” from May of this year, anther build by Marco De Bon that shares the same vibe and I like to think of him as the Raydeen of the Shogun crew. The Iron Man chest-plate has rarely looked so good and it recalls the toys, as does the forearm shield and the yellow wings. Again, it’s the pose that sells the model here, the attitude. I’m not well versed enough in mecha design to comment much about the techniques used in Orion. Whether the methods of construction are mundane or advanced, Marco gets a nice variety of dynamic poses out of the design.
I can’t finish a post that references Shogun Warriors without recognizing Mark “The Grand Admiral” Sandlin’s take on Mazinga from 2008, built with the help of Brian Cooper’s Teknomeka Instructions. It’s huge, just like the toy. You don’t get more old-school in the hobby than Sandlin and Cooper, they were already titans when I found LUGNET and started posting my own models. Sandlin is one of the few guys who was able to live the dream of designing a really cool set produced by LEGO in 2008. Cooper is a straight up genius whose builds are truly epic in both scale and functionality. Brian is responsible for one of my favorite photos of all time, taken at Seattle’s BrickCon in 2007. Watching Cooper’s famous MechaGodzilla rampage on KeithLUG’s Omicron Weekend is one of my favorite convention memories.
I’ve got a weird story about eating meatballs with Cooper, but I’ll save it for another day. This post has already wandered far enough afield, constant reader.