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 the only lawyer I know who also has an art degree, proving he may be one of the few who posesses a soul. Of course I’m talking about long-time crony and member of KeithLUG, Dan “Happy Weasel” Rubin. Dan has quite a long and distinguished Lego fan-resume: he’s a senior contributor TBB, he’s been a multi-term Ambassador, he’s run a prominent forum, he’s been a theme coordinator for a major convention, he’s an OG member of WAMALUG and he’s won multiple convention awards for his building prowess. I’m sure the list is actually much longer, but those are the highlights. I’ve had the good fortune to hang out with Dan at three conventions and we’ve collaborated a couple of times over the years. We’ve also experience the kind of bonding that can only be achieved through the low-budget convention experience. We crashed on basement floors and shared cramped hotel rooms with very weird fellow Lego nerds, to include one dude who thought it was cool to hang out in the hotel wearing nothing but a pair of tight red booty shorts. I’m no prude but I am a believer in timing, and being able to judge a room. They were Kodak moments. Magic moments. And Dan was there for more than one night of convention shenanigans and when I think about my early convention experiences, Dan always comes to mind.
Mr. Weasel and I came into the online hobby at roughly the same time, when LUGNET was still the community hub, but the end was near. We both had our own second tier sci-fi factions, which was the trend du jour back then, following the examples of guys like Sandlin and Giddens who popularized the idea with PCS and 3vil. Dan’s faction was called the Galactic Inquisition and for our first shot we’ll go back to 2004 and this VTOL gunship called Rapier. I’m pretty sure Dan was the first builder to come up with the rotary cannon design you see on the nose and it was frequently copied. I still think those antenna bases on the nose are terrible, but the build still holds up quite well after 12 years. Those big chunky intakes and engines are a hallmark of Rubin’s style, whether it was built for a faction or not. Dan was also one of the first sci-fi builders to really embrace the color tan, which was only recently available in any usable variety of parts. If you like this style, Dan has a great stable of Galactic Inquisition builds, and the Emissary series might also be of interest, just follow the links and immerse yourself in some old school grooves.
For the second shot, I could have gone with one of the annual BrickFest layouts Dan produces along with his partner in Lego crime, Nick Kappatos. They collaborate on a large sci-fi diorama each year, with names like “Total Eclipse of the Xenogenetic Heart”, “Faded Giant”, and “Days of Plunder”, while operating under the guise of 3LUG. There are only two builders in 3LUG, it may seem confusing but the 3 is actually a sideways nut-sack, so it should, in fact, read as “BallsLUG“. Ultimate I could not choose between 3LUG’s many award-winning dioramas, so instead I went with the bold colors and shapes of the Mephistopheles Courier Service – S36 Lapin. I think it provides a nice contrast with the Rapier and shows how Dan has developed as a builder.
Once I rediscovered this gem from 2009 in Dan’s photo-stream, I couldn’t resist it. Again you see the chunky intakes, but it’s the color scheme that gets me every time I look at it. It’s times like this where Dan’s art background shines through, most people would not combine these colors and they are perfectly blocked. Dan says the colors were inspired by a pair of sneakers, which is the kind of thing you don’t hear every day. There are 5 years between the two featured models and you can see that Dan was committed to keep improving right along with the parts selection available to us. That cockpit is so very….Matango!
Mea Culpa, constant reader, I have a nasty habit of fucking with my friends at conventions by hiding their models during public day, and Dan is no exception. Most builders, understandably, don’t like interacting with the public and they tend to wander off during public hours for meals, conferences, local attractions and the like. This makes for the perfect time to hide a model and it seems to plant the notion in the builder’s head that the responsible party must be a member of the unwashed masses and not another AFOL…and certainly not Goldman. In fact, Dan provided the best reaction I’ve ever seen in nearly a decade of pulling the same boilerplate prank, and it really cemented a tradition. So Dan is out to lunch on one of the public day’s for BrickCon 05′ and I swipe a starfighter he was quite proud of and put it in an empty box under the table where my stuff was displayed. When Dan comes back from lunch he immediately spots the theft and starts looking around in surprise. That surprise slowly turns to irritation, then sadness and finally anger as he starts pulling over everyone in arms-reach to tell them about the theft. It was like watching somebody go through the grief process at an accelerated rate. Then I watch as he goes to convention management to report the theft, and at this point I’m feeling a little bad because I really didn’t set out to waste the time of the convention organizers whose event I was so greatly enjoying, but the guilt didn’t last long.
I let Dan stew for a while, then I borrowed a local builder’s phone and called Rubin, while crouching under my display table. In my best disguised voice I told him; “If you ever want to see your spaceship again, you better meet me in stall number 3 at 2 o’clock. Be ready to pay.” So Rubin rounds up a posse of his buddies (including me) to go and confront the thief in the bathroom. Rubin’s AFOL sidekick Fradel even kicked in the door for dramatic effect, to find the stall empty. Originally I planned to leave the ship inside the stall, but too many standard issue Seattle homeless dudes with obvious mental health issues used the main bathroom for a variety of reasons, including eating bread and painting the stall with fecal matter, so I couldn’t bring myself to risk it actually being stolen…or violated. Instead I produced the ship from my pocket and waited for him to notice. Fortunately for me, Dan reacted well to the joke and everyone had a good laugh. While not every case has been as hilarious, it never fails to entertain and I finally got Rutherford this year in Utah. With his typical focus on his own ego, Rutherford was actually proud that someone took his model, that it indicated a certain level of quality.
You may be asking why I’m divulging my secret and won’t it be more difficult to pull it off nest time? I wanted to tell the Rubin story and doubt I’ll ever get caught with or without this admission. In a way, it’s a tribute to our hobby that people just don’t expect their models to be stolen at a convention. It happens occasionally with small builds and minifigs but they are very much the exception. And when it does happen, they blame the public, never their fellow builders.
Now…just between us girls, I would never do this kind of thing to a random convention attendee or someone I just met, but anyone else is fair game…especially dudes who dress like this…it’s your legal counsel, Dan Rubin!
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. Please recall that a precedent has been set in this ongoing series that we will be reviewing the fashion choices of each builder.
Dan has a large collection of cool nerd T-shirts I could have picked but I deliberately went for this one. The reasons should be obvious, it’s a polo shirt…a polo shirt. The standard uniform of shitty service jobs and golf courses. I’d rather wear a bowling shirt or a sports jersey than a polo shirt, and that’s saying a lot. Polo shirts should be collected and destroyed in a polyester fueled bonfire. I know pink is a perfectly acceptable color for men’s clothing, and it went through a brief fashion trend when it was considered “gangsta”, but this particular porcine hue isn’t doing Dan any favors, it makes his skin look pink. Dan’s skin isn’t crayon pink, but it looks like it here. Also, I like a stylish watch, but I can’ really evaluate it fairly from this angle, so no points for that. Dan looks like he’s dressed for a company lunch at El Torito, on a special “team building” day when the “home office” stooges come in and make everyone nervous.
Dan, burn that shirt, it’s stealing your soul…even when you’re not wearing it. Do it now! Even if you decide to keep it, I’m afraid your fate is sealed…now…