Hi there! After five glorious years, I have decided to retire this blog.
Feel free to visit my Flickr or YouTube channels instead. - Ochre Jelly

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Closing thoughts

It was 5 years ago this week that I started this blog with the specific goal of highlighting great "character based" LEGO builds and bringing attention to what at that time was a relatively unexplored and under-appreciated building theme.

In 2010, my partner in crime Tommy Williamson gave the theme the name "Bricks of Character", and we introduced it as a new display category at BrickCon. The public reacted really well to the display, and we've kept it up every year since, and even introduced it at a couple of other LEGO conventions.

Since then the theme has really grown in popularity, thanks to the efforts of many talented builders who are too numerous to mention, but who have been featured many times here, as well as on other staples of the LEGO blogosphere such as The Brothers Brick. In fact, no great character build escapes the attention of Andrew's small army of bloggers these days, which is exactly how I hoped it would be.

But at this juncture in my LEGO life, I no longer have the energy or bandwidth to maintain The Living Brick at the level it once was, or differentiate it sufficiently from all the other LEGO blogs out there. I am very proud of what I did with the blog, and very grateful to all the readers that shared my passion for character based LEGO building. I feel we accomplished our mission!

Going forward I will be discontinuing this blog, to focus on my own LEGO building ...oh, and a bunch of other super-secret creative endeavors (some LEGO themed, some not). So you have not heard the last of Ochre Jelly! You can still follow me on Flickr, YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter. (I will be rebranding the FaceBook page soon, but The Living Brick will live on in the form of my LEGO related YouTube videos)



For my parting words I'd like to start the discussion going on a topic that has been on my mind for a while: DIGITAL LEGO CREATIONS.

Apps for constructing 'virtual' LEGO creations have been around for years. Typically their purpose was to augment the building experience... They allowed builders to pre-plan or visualize large builds, create instructions for others to follow, and for a while the LEGO company even allowed builders to share digital models and order the parts necessary to build them online.

But when 3D rendering tools such as POV-Ray were eventually adapted to work with these apps, a shift began away from merely augmenting the building experience, to actually replacing it. Now you could design a LEGO model and create a highly convincing photograph of it, without ever snapping two bricks together. The physical and social experience of playing with LEGO is starting to be co-opted by the ubiquitous global community of screen-addicted digital tinkerers.

Fortunately these digital fakes have been fairly easy to tell from the real deal, at least for a LEGO fan such as myself. And I made a point never to feature such creations here. For me the LEGO hobby is all about the challenges of physically designing and sculpting something, hunting and gathering of necessary parts, interacting with other builders, and wowing the general public by showing them what is possible with those innocuous little bricks lying around their homes.

However, the forgeries are getting better. See Exhibit A (which btw is cheekily even being touted on CuuSoo to be turned into a real set, with little mention of its origins). It's now only a matter of time before one of these gets picked up by the 'thing of the day' sites and mistaken for the real deal; LEGO blogs at least tend to state when a build is digital, but the larger blogosphere is probably unaware of the existence of digital building.

At this point some of you are probably pointing at the screen and screaming "purist!" or "luddite!" and arguing that digital building is just another artistic medium that people are entitled to explore. But if you really genuinely wanna explore this new medium and are not using it as a short cut to real building, then prove it and make all the studs square or something. Or better still, just go lose yourself in Minecraft's creative mode. If the goal is to create a purely digital model, why use the LEGO parts palette and connections at all, after all? Why restrict yourself that way? Yeah, that's what I thought.

"Well someone could build a real model from my digital one" I hear you say. Really? How do you know its buildable? You don't. As far as I know these tools don't ensure a model is stable enough or has the proper centre of gravity to actually stand up or stay in one piece.

But at some point LEGO conventions will probably go virtual, and then it won't matter any more...

 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My LEGO anime character can beat your LEGO anime character's ass!

Well there I was getting into the swing of posting regularly again, when a cool project idea came along... In a response to yet another Hatsune Miku build showing up on the web, I figured I'd try my hand at the "anime girl" style that is popular with a lot of my favorite builders from Asia such as Moko, MikeVd and TKH. But of course I had to do my take on the style, and depict my all time favorite anime character SQUID GIRL wailing on that crazy-haired virtual pop star! But I'll do you all a favor and not try to emulate Squid Girl's "ink-redibly" bad fish punning. (...ah, too late)


 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Moc-Moc!

Well I have to say, Matt Rowntree is really MOC-Killing it right now, at the MOC-Olympics contest currently in progress over on MOC-Pages. MOC-Click through to read the lengthy MOC-Story or to just marvel at MOC-Closeups of all the beautiful little details in this scene.


 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Land of Cuus-Ooo

*PREPARE YOURSELVES: WHAT FOLLOWS IS PURE OOO-PORN*

I guess sometimes two uppercase wrongs can make a right... Which on this occasion means taking CUUSOO (LEGO's heavily-gamed perpetual popularity contest, frequented by the most loathesome of fanboy communities) and POV-RAY (the tool that fakes digital instructions into looking like real models, for those too bone idle to click two fucking bricks together), and utilizing them together to pursue the Holy Grail of LEGO themes... No, not Monty Python, but Adventure Time!



Totally mathematical builder jazlecraz has created an extensive and gloriously detailed series of Adventure Time prototype sets and submitted these as a CUUSOO project. And last week, the project reached the 10,000 votes necessary to be considered for production! Start crossing all of your fingers and thumbs now!



Now, the original concept was a fully-playable minifig based treehouse (which was certainly more likely to get votes than the brick-built Adventure Time characters I posted a couple of years ago). But LEGO isn't able to commit to molding new parts for limited-run products, so our hero cleverly switched to micro scale (like those crafty Minecraft sets, remember?) and limited himself to available parts such as micro-figs and printed elements to prototype all the characters. Pure genius - PB herself would be proud!



What I love about these designs is that they aren't just paying lip-service to the basic themes of the show. This builder is clearly a fan and appreciates the characters, settings, and events that viewers love. For example, in the interior of the Ice King's lair you can see the drum kit he uses to entertain/torture his Princess captives. And there's even a theatre in the Castle Lemongrab set. And look at all the familiar furnishings inside Marceline's cavern cottage. It's all totally rhombic!



The design of the Lumpy-space set is particularly impressive - I had to do a double take to prove to myself it used regular parts! The combination of curved bricks and stickers works perfectly, and the use of an ice-cream brick for LSP herself is inspired!



Another thing to note, before you get too excited: Even if this project doesn't lose out to some inferior videogame derived project or other, during the next CUUSOO review cycle, LEGO would likely only build a single set initially, not the entire range.



However, I have to say, given the current popularity of this show, and the fact that I know the makers of this show to be extremely cool people, the idea of an official Adventure Time range of LEGO sets makes perfect sense to me. I mean, how long before this planet grows weary of the endlessly repetitive and threadbare Lucas franchise? (...ok, probably not until we stop manufacturing 8-10 year olds, but here's hoping).
 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Be thankful...

...that two holidays coincide this year, so we only have to go through this nonsense once.

You're gonna see a lot of Thanksgiving builds today. And many of them will be giant turkeys. In the bad sense of the word. So I give thanks that the excellent Dave Kaleta came though for us this time!



So eat, drink, be merry, argue, throw up, and sleep it off. For tomorrow... you shop!
 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

You know, for Belgians...

Well, it was going viral, so how could I not build this? If you've not seen Volvo's latest ad Epic Split, featuring the 'Muscles from Brussels' (Jean Claude Van Damme) then rush on down to your local purveyor of fine digital streaming products and watch it now.



Of course, just modelling it wasn't enough. I had to one up myself and parody the video itself as well. Enjoy...


 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Storm-TROPE-rs

Outside the building categories that I actually follow, I'll generally take a castle build over a space build (or infinity number of town builds) any day of the week. So the annual Collosal Castle Contest going on over at Classic-Castle.com certainly offers much that is pleasing the eyes.


However, in the run-up to this event it seems like a couple of new-ish TROPES have snuck into the Castle Community Consciousness over the past few months, and builders are kinda copying each-other. And this season's fashions? I call them No-Parallel-Lines Rickety Tudor and Medieval Mega-Greebles. And while Crow's Nest above by David Hensel utilizes both, it thankfully adds something extra through its clever incorporation of snow effects.
 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Na-na na-na na-na na-na BLOK-MAN!

Well, the LEGO community isn't grabbing my attention this week, it's all spaceships in the shape of rude gestures, so let's hop over to the parallel universe of Nanoblock and see what the absolute master of that medium, Chris Tan, has been up to...



Ha-ha-hah, Lucas fanboys, this awesome little Artoo will never be yours, because you don't have the necessary 1500 nanobloks. Of course, remember this is nanoblok, so the model is actually about half the width of a human hair. Actually, at a glance I'd guess its almost the exact size as my LEGO version, but rendered at a significantly higher resolution. Now I have to wonder if I've been working with the wrong product all these years!



And in an ultimate act of utter double-mockery, Chris's also brings us a nanoblok version of a Mini-fig Stormtrooper. I know, I know... an off-brand brick-built rendition of a licensed theme mini-fig. He's basically giving you all the finger. We both are.



Ok, let's switch to a selection of older stuff from Chris' extensive catalog of character builds, each of which even comes with detailed building instructions. These characters need no introduction. This is pure blok-porn.






But this one, this one is going to blow your mind...


 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lovely lady lumps

...uh-huh, uh-huh, in the back and in the front.

Created as a gift for a friend, spacer KnightFalls has done what I totally failed to do a couple of years back when I built my own Adventure Time characters... a convincing Lumpy Space Princess. Of course, now we all have bucket loads of those lavender bricks, dont' we? It figures. Ironically, as these bricks have become more commonplace, LSP's appearances in the show itself have become inexplicably rarer. What the GLOB is up with that, Frederator??


 

Friday, November 15, 2013

OMG IT'S MADE OUT OF LEGO



Ths is my tribute to the fucking awesome folks over at FilmCow, creators of Charlie The Unicorn, Llamas With Hats and The Magical Realm of Horse Man. Oh shit yeah, and these fucking awesome puppet videos too...

    OMG CRACKLIN' OAT BRAN
    OMG BISCOFF SPEAD

Keep up the fucking excellent work, guys!