Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Authentic Cafe Corner

The next creation we want to spotlight is one that we built together: What we call the 'Authentic Cafe Corner'.

A few years ago LEGO released a set called the Cafe Corner. While the set is great (and chock full of good parts), it infuriated Alice (and to a lesser extent Roy) since it looked more like a New Orleans brothel than a cafe. As a result, we decided to build our own version of a Cafe Corner, based (loosely) on the Place du Molard in Geneva, Switzerland.

The first version, which won Best Town Layout at Northwest Brickcon 2007 in Seattle Washington, consisted of building facades on two sides of the street, with a mosiac in the background depicting the famous Jet D'Eau spraying up out of Lac Leman.
We tried to cram in as many details as possible. Particularly notable is the cobblestone street. A number of years back LEGO changed the formula for their grey bricks (both light and dark grey). Many fans were furious, since new bricks in these colors didn't match the older bricks in their collection, but we try to look at them as just two separate colors. In particular, mixing old and new dark grey tiles (or dark grey and dark 'bley', in aficionado terms) provides a particularly nice effect here.

In our second version, which was nominated for best building at Brickworld 2008 in Chicago (but which didn't win), we eliminated the mosaic background and replaced the facades with full buildings. This version consisted of a full block of buildings:
We were actually quite happy we didn't win this one, since we had originally planned on doing two blocks, but time caught up with us, and we didn't get the second set of buildings finished. (I was particularly happy with the brick effect I achieved on the black and white building, although Alice is right in pointing out that it doesn't really fit the neighborhood we are modeling this on. Thus, cool as it is, it might not survive into future versions). The next version will have three blocks of buildings plus a tram station at one end and some nice landscaping at the other.

Roy and Alice

Little Birdy with a Bite: The Grey Gosling

This is another spaceship I built, and it is Alice's favorite of the bunch. It inspiration lay in my obtaining a huge amount of the tiny arches in light grey (you will see lots of them on the back of the ship). Anyway, here are a few photos - nothing much to tell about this one other than I think it is pretty cool too!
Oh, one other comment - the cool background on the photo above was done by yours truly in photoshop - see, I'm a man of many talents!

Homba 7033: Immensely Swooshable!

Okay, back to posting about our favorite creations. Although I am probably most well-known within the LEGO community for my ambitious mosaics, I have also been building a lot of spaceships. I have been trying to develop a retro/art-deco style of spaceship, with lots of curves and 'modernistic' details. The Homba 7033 is, I think, the first successful ship I have constructed in this style (after a number of 'learning experiences'). Here it is (this photo taken by Derek):
I will give an imaginary prize to the first person who correctly identifies the source of the name 'Homba' in the comments.

Anyway, the Homba 7033 has retractable landing gear, hatches that open to expose engine components, and a cockpit that slides open. Here is a shot of the front of the ship, showing off all of the chrome cannons (six large on top, plus four smaller underneath) as well as the missile bay holding two large missiles.
This last shot, from behind, nicely shows off the racing stripes and other styling details:
This creation won a best spacefighter contest on, the European website for adult (and teen) fans of LEGO.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pissing People Off: My Online Rant on LEGO and Art

Well, as anyone who is reading is aware, Alice and I are still playing catch-up on this blog, trying to get all of our old stuff covered. Nevertheless, something quite cool occurred today, so I thought I would post about it.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I have given three talks on LEGO as art, and also written a draft of an article, currently under review at Brickjournal, the magazine for adult LEGO enthusiasts. In addition to all of this, however, I was recently asked by the bloggers at The Brothers-Brick (by far the most popular, and most influential, blog covering the interests and activities of adult LEGO enthusiasts) to write a guest editorial on the topic.

The editorial is located here.

As of this posting, the editorial has only been up a little over an hour, and already it has garnered some strong opinions in the comments. The next few days should be fun!


Monday, August 4, 2008

Aayla Secura

The other notable creation that traveled to DC with us for Brickfest 2006 was Aayla Secura. As mentioned in an earlier post, this was the mosaic I created using my 'pointillist' style - basically, increasing the resolution dramatically by making each pixel consist of the side of a 1 x 1 technic brick with a 1 x 1 round plate (in a different color) attached. This is definitely still my favorite creation of all time. Without further ado, here she is:
Here is a close-up, to give a better idea of the technique:
Just in case you were not sure, Aayla Secura is a green-skinned Twi'Lek Jedi Knight who appears in the more recent Star Wars trilogy. I have had one person mistake this for the Girl with the Pearl Earring, but for the most part people seem to be able to recognize the character.
Well, as a final note I'll just point out that this won Best Mosaic at Brickfest 2006, which was pretty cool.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Toilets within Toilets within Toilets...

The first of our Brickfest 2006 creations worth noting is the Cosmic Loo. The Cosmic Loo is a moonbase module that serves as the public restrooms for the minifig inhabitants of the moonbase.

Moonbases are space station type structures that are built to a certain standard - the 'moonbase standard', appropriately enough. The idea is that any LEGO enthusiast can build a moonbase module, and then (if you follow the standard correctly), they can all be hooked up to make a massive moonbase. The details of the moonbase standard can be found on
Anyway, the idea for the Cosmic Loo came from thinking about science fiction movies too much. It dawned on me that so many of the characters in Sci Fi films are human beings, and thus have the same biological needs as we do - they have to relieve themselves somewhere! I started wondering about what the toilets in the Millenium Falcon looked like, and at the same time I was trying to decide on what sort of moonbase to build for Brickworld. Like a bolt of lightning, the foundation of the Cosmic Loo was born.
The actual moonbase, from the outside, looks like a toilet (one of those modern ones without a huge tank in the back):
The 'seat' can be lifted, however, revealing the interior of the moonbase. In essence, it is a public restroom where minifigs can go to deal with whatever urges might need dealing with. There are three sections, a male restroom, a female restroom, and a droid restroom (where one imagines droids spewing dirty oil and the like). As with almost all public restrooms, there is a line for the women's room!
Here is a close up shot of the interior, showing two fearless space adventurers using the urinals, and some appropriate graffiti on the wall (a greedo minifig is actually in the stall just off the photo, clutching a bottle and lying on the floor in a puddle of transparent green Greedo vomit!)
This is still one of our funniest creations, and one of the most fun to build. It was also the first build that I was seriously involved with in more than an advisory capacity. I am kind of sad that we took it apart, but the moonbase standard seems to be falling out of style. Maybe we will rebuild it someday anyway.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Brickfest 2006

Our next big LEGO event was Brickfest 2006, which was held in the Sheraton Premier conference hotel in Tyson's Corner, Virginia (a suburb of Washington D.C.).

I gave my second talk on "Lego as Art" at this event (the first one was at Brickfest 2005, which I forgot to mention in earlier posts), concentrating on what sorts of characteristics make a LEGO creation an artwork.

In addition, I was asked by the organizer, Joe Meno (who is also publisher of Brickjournal Magazine) to do a mosaic recreating the Fairfax County, Virginia logo. The mosaic was presented to an official from the county who had been extremely helpful in assisting in the organization of the event. The actual logo appears at the top left corner of the Fairfax County website here. Unfortunately, the best photo I could find of the mosaic is this (I didn't get a chance to take photos myself - again, it was a project that was still being built in the wee hours of the morning before we left for the con!):

Yep, that blurry guy on the far right is me. I got paid in trade for this creation - Brickfest covered the cost of our hotel room, which was just about right in terms of covering the cost of the bricks used in the mosaic.

Alice and I took a bunch of creations to this show (we were lucky in that we hitched a ride with Jim Foulds in his parent's van, and as a result didn't have to worry about fitting our creations into suitcases and having them fall apart as a result of airport luggage handlers). The two main creations of note, however, were the Aayla Secura mosaic, and the Cosmic Loo moonbase. The next two posts will detail each of these creations.