What to do for Brickfest?

I’m attending my first Brickfest this year. This annual convention for LEGO fans is held in Washington D.C. every summer and since we were going to go back east to visit Holly’s family anyway I finally am getting my chance to go to Brickfest!

But my problem is deciding what to bring? There are a lot of contests and building challenges being discussed on the LUGNET BrickFest forum.

Here are some ideas…

  • There are several Town / Train contests that I might want to enter. But what to bring? Existing MOC’s or new construction? If the latter I’d better get busy…
  • As for Space, they’re having an Asteroid Field Display and Contest, and of course a Moonbase display. I was thinking about building something for the Asteroid thing but I’m not sure if it will work out. I don’t know if I can transport a Moonbase module cross-country in my suitcase but maybe if there’s a micro-moonbase layout it would be doable…
  • The Great Ball Gathering & Gladiator Sumo contests – I’m not much of a Mindstorms person but I’ve been meaning to do more robotics…
  • There’s also a Micro-Scale and Vignette contest that might be more suitable for me as a suitcase-based attendee.
  • How about the Dark Room (Undersea)? I wonder how many people are building angler fish for this?

But, what can I realistically build in the next few weeks and carry in my suitcase to DC? That is the question.

Of course, I plan to bring some spare bricks so I can participate in the Dirty Buildster game, shop at the Brick Bazaar, take lots of photos and video, and meet a lot of people I only know from online.

Are you going to be there? What are you bringing?[tags]lego,brickfest,space,town,trains,microscale,robotics,mindstorms,anglerfish[/tags]

BayLUG Space Meeting June 18, 2006

On June 18, the Space contingent of the Bay Area LEGO Users Group had its first Space-only meeting.

We met on a Sunday evening at the Round Table Pizza parlor in Mountain View. They have a nice back room that you can reserve for free if you call ahead, which we’ve used for various members-only events in the past. Besides bringing our latest Space models to show off, we also had a contest and a parts draft.

My winning 'top greeble' contest entry
My winning “top greeble” contest entry

The contest was for “best greeble” and there were two categories: top greeble and bottom greeble. But what is a greeble? When they were building the models for use in the Star Wars movies, the modelers used the term “greeble” for the little bits of detail used to break up the otherwise smooth skin of the spacecraft. Read more about it on Wikipedia. Members brought examples of greebles on both the top and the bottom of their models (or looking another way, studs-up vs. studs-down). I won in the “top greeble” category!

Parts laid out for drafting
Parts laid out for drafting

The parts draft was an opportunity for us to leverage our buying power to get large numbers of interesting parts. A parts draft is where each person brings a particular LEGO set and then we sort the contents of the boxes into piles, and take turns drawing from the piles. We used Set 4881 “Robo Platoon” since it could be obtained for $5 at the local LEGO store (it sold out before the meeting was held though, so some members couldn’t get a copy), and had a lot of great parts. We limited it to 2 copies of the set per person, to keep things fair. We sorted the parts out into baggies and literally drew straws – Pizza Hut drinking straws cut to various lengths – to determine the order for selecting. Even though everyone got at least one unwanted bag (toward the end the choices were pretty limited), I think everyone was happy with what they got for their $5 (or $10 for those who brought two boxes).

The meeting date for our next Space meeting hasn’t been set yet, but it will probably be later in the summer. We did select a contest theme though – build a spaceship without using any grey (light grey or dark, old or new).[tags]lego,space,baylug,meeting,partsdraft,greeble,greebles,contest[/tags]

3D LEGO Chocolate Printer

Hey, your chocolate got on my LEGO! Hey, your LEGO got in my chocolate! Two great tastes that taste great together.

Well, one that tastes great, one that’s great to build with I guess. Anyway, this is one of the most novel uses of LEGO I’ve ever seen – and one of the most novel uses of chocolate at the same time! It is a contraption made (mostly) out of LEGO that creates three-dimensional objects using chocolate!

The tricky parts are not built out of LEGO – the chocolate is melted and the temperature is carefully calibrated so that the desired amount of liquid chocolate comes out for each “pixel.” But the “print head” is moved around using LEGO mechanisms to build objects of any shape. It creates the design one layer at a time until the desired shape is completed.

This isn’t exactly news but it’s new to me. Frankly I don’t know where I came across this first. It’s been featured on LUGNET, BoingBoing, and Slashdot.

BrickBrick: LEGO Bloggers Code

What are good ethical guidelines for blogging about LEGO? Sean Mykael over on BrickBrick has posted a proposal for a LEGO Bloggers Code to answer that question.

I read it and think I agree with the proposed guidelines. I would like to think that I’ve already been following those guidelines but if I’ve had any lapses, please point it out to me. LEGO hobbyists, like any other kind of artist, deserve to be credited for their creations. And bloggers deserve credit for finding them. So let’s all try to bear these rules in mind as we post about LEGO in our blogs…

I learned about this via The Brothers Brick (formerly DuneChaser’s BlockLog)[tags]lego,blogging,blogs,lego blogging[/tags]

Clever new SNOT technique

As I wrote recently, Unique Brick Tecniques is a great blog for discovering some of the clever ideas people have posted about.

The obvious way to connect two LEGO pieces is by putting the studs of one into the underside of another. But there are other ways. For example you can use a right-angle bracket to connect bricks at a 90 degree angle. For example, the headlights or taillights on most LEGO cars and trucks are often attached this way. In the AFOL (Adult Friends of LEGO) community, the term for this is SNOT (“Studs Not On Top”).

But the trouble with most SNOT techniques is that the bracket pieces take up bulk that sometimes you can ill afford in your model. One of the techniques featured on Unique Brick Techniques a few weeks ago is a very compact way to make a 180 degree connection between two plates. It seems to have been discovered by Brickshelf user “kerouac” (whose full identity I have not been able to find). Read more about it in the threads on Classic-Castle.com and LUGNET.


When I was a kid, Peanuts was one of my favorite cartoons. Snoopy, Woodstock, Typewriter, and Doghouse The (mis)adventures of Charlie Brown and his friends were always a treat. My father had several books of Peanuts cartoons from the 1950’s and 1960’s which I used to read over and over. So when I saw this LEGO creation I was taken right back to those days when I would lie on the guest bed in my mom’s sewing room, flipping through the old books of Snoopy cartoons.

Most really impressive LEGO models are impressive for their size. LEGO models of Snoopy have been done before, after all. But the impressive thing about this one is how small it is. As difficult as it is to build large LEGO sculptures, the ingenious use of speciatly parts such as flowers for his feet, the parts in the typewriter, etc. show even more creativity in my opinion.

The model was created by a Japanese LEGO fan named “MisaQa” There are more amazing small LEGO models available on stud-and-tube.com, the creator’s Web site (which is mostly in Japanese, but with some English too). Or just click the image for more photos from the creator’s Brickshelf folder.

Minifig scale US Navy aircraft carrier

One of the most amazing LEGO models I’ve seen has recently been making the rounds of all the LEGO blogs. And this one is no exception. It’s just that good. It’s the USS Harry S. Truman, minifig scale – complete with a full complement of aircraft!

USS Harry S. Truman in Minifig Scale LEGO


I mean really, wow!

Click the image to see the rest of the pics.

The creator is a German LEGO fan named Malle Hawking, also known as “Weebleleezer.” Lacking skills in the German language that’s about all I could find on him. Look at his Brickshelf account for a few other creations which are quite good, but not nearly on the same scale.

What I want to know is, where did he get all those grey bricks? That must represent a fortune in LEGO plates and bricks. I’m not sure I could build a ship that big even without regard to color, but all in grey? Like I said before, wow.[tags]lego,ship,aircraft carrier,harry s. truman[/tags]

BayLUG Display at Valley Fair Mall

On Sunday, May 28, we (Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group) installed our first-ever display at the LEGO Store in the Valley Fair Mall, Santa Clara, CA. BayLUG Display at Valley Fair Mall Our display, changed out about once a month, was previously at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton (such as the Microscale San Francisco in January and the Aquarium in February), but that LEGO store was closed in May and we were given permission to have our display in Santa Clara instead.

The theme for this display was “micro-scale space.” Several of the contest entries at the meeting on Saturday are featured along with a few others that were built just for this display. Participating members include Russell, Bruce, Charles, Adrienne, Jim, Justin, and myself.

We used several methods of displaying the flying models: some are taped to the back wall, some hang from strings attached to magnets, which are stuck to the underside of the shelf above, others hang from strings that are taped to said shelf, and still others are attached by wire which is wrapped around the shelf bracket above. Last time (the Aquarium) we used magnets and strings to suspend models and many of them fell down, but that was probably due to the construction in the shop next door. When this exhibit is over we’ll see which method(s) worked best.

My contribution to this display was the monorail you can see in the foreground, which commutes between an office building and a micro moonbase compatible station. The track continues off to the left out of the scene. When the display is over I’ll post an entry highlighting just that model, with photos showing how it was done, as I have done with entries from earlier store displays (TransAmerica Pyramid, Lombard Street, and Fish). I also provided the moon crater baseplates, which date back to the early 1980’s Classic Space LEGO era.

View all the pictures on Flickr or on Brickshelf (once moderated).[tags]lego,baylug,space,microscale,legostore[/tags]

BayLUG Meeting, May 27 2006

This past Saturday, BayLUG Meeting, May 27 2006 we had a Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group meeting at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto. The theme for the contest was “micro scale space” with two contests, one for micro moonbase models and another for micro scale spacecraft. The term “micro scale” refers to any model built to a model where instead of using LEGO minifigs, the size of a human is taken to be about the height of a LEGO brick, or smaller.[tags]lego,baylug,space,microscale[/tags]