THE NAME’S VIPER. VIC VIPER.

I was chatting with Luscious Lyn yesterday, as is my wont, and the subject of hobbies came up– pure hobbies, done without any need for achievement or motivation, but simply undertaken as a means of play. It had occurred to me that she doesn’t have one: there was a time when writing fulfilled that function for both of us, but writing has taken a back seat for Lyn in recent days, and anyway, it’s been going on a decade since either of us wrote anything without thinking of some form of publication, and that’s not the nature of a pure hobby.

Two hours at Spotlight yesterday and that particular oversight was corrected. She’s on the couch, watching youtube tutorials on blackwork cross-stitching techniques as I type this…
My hobby, these days, is Lego. And for me it’s just that: a chance to play without judgement, to roll my imagination around a different set of concepts and use a different array of skills to produce something entertaining for myself. Or not. It doesn’t matter. It’s just me, playing. But I’m also aware that there’s an enormous community of others who take it far more seriously than I do, and every now and again I’m struck by just how much fun it would be to hang out with some of them: join the clubs, have the conversations, take part in the groups displays, etcetera, etcetera and so on. Then I think about how much time it would take, and I have a stiff drink and a lie down, and everything goes back to normal.
Still, every now and again, even I am the recipient of someone else’s enormous love and dedication to what is, for me, my silly little play hobby. Bricklink, that wretched hive of scum and villainy that makes my Paypal account balance look so consistently tiny and feeble, was the personal mission of the late Daniel Jezek, a Lego fan who took paying it forward to an amazing level. You get guys like Jess Gibson, author/director of the highly entertaining film AFOL: A Blocumentary, a film I watch probably once every three months just for the checkitoooouuuuuutttttness of it. They’re all over the place, and consistently doing something amazing.
And earlier this week, during a period of steam-letting, I took it into my head to work out what the hell the fuss was all about with the Lego community’s seeming fascination with something called The Vic Viper. They’re all over the place– little twin-pronged spaceships of all shapes and sizes, all to the same rough template. They’re cool, but they’re also ubiquitous, and it’s a wee bit odd. So, a bit of research:
The boring bit is that it’s a type of spacecraft from a bunch of games in the early 80s which I didn’t play and don’t recall. 
The interesting bit is that they were the favourite building style of a gentleman named Nate ‘nnenn’ Nielson, who died in a car crash back in 2010. Before my time in the hobby, but if you’d like to see the kind of esteem he was held in, try these out for size:
  • A eulogy posted on the AFOL site The Brothers Brick, which describes him in ways that make we wish I knew the man, or
  • The fact that at Brickworld 2010, hundreds of Vic Vipers were displayed by scores of builders in a missing man formation to mark his passing, or
  • Perhaps most tellingly, that Lego itself not only included a Vic Viper in one of its recent sets, but, well, check out the insignia….
And lastly, as an ongoing commemoration, the AFOL community has dubbed November Nnovvember, a month where Vic Vipers are built, and displayed, and seriously shit-hot cool maps are created and stuff.
Cool guy memoriam. Spaceships. A sense of community.
I’m in.
So I’m giving it a go. I’ve got three days off this weekend, the kids are down south with their grandparents, and apart from writing, it’s a kickaboutalazboutapalooza. Lyn’s cross-stitching, Aiden’s minecrafting, Halo4ing, and Assassinscreeding. I’ve got 13 1/2 thousand pieces in a tub just screaming to be laid out all over the living room floor…..
As a handy guide, here’s a little sign that someone worked up to tell me exactly what is and what isn’t a Vic Viper, with the kind of detail even I can’t find confusing:
I’ve carved me out some interesting pieces from the collection.
I think I’ve got the general shape sorted out
I’ve got this cool funky biplane kind of arrangement going on.
And this is where I was at come bedtime last night
I’ll keep posting pics of the work in progress over the weekend, but in the meantime, if you;d like to have a gander at a bunch of really really really supercool VVs by guys who prove that I have a little playtime hobby while they are creators of stunning imagination and mad brick skillz, check out this Flickr Hivemind.

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