AND WHILE WE’RE AT IT

Luscious and I are taking a week to hit Melbourne up during January, which will include a chance for me to get my head in to Brickvention, Melbs’ fucknormous Lego display/convention/paloozarama while we’re there.

As a way of sneaking into the AFOL day that happens before the public display, I’ve volunteered to add a spaceport to a community-build Micropolis city. If you’re not familiar with Micropolis, the title should give you a bit of a hint– everything is built to a teensy-tiny scale, on standard 16×16 ‘modules’: four modules together equals a standard 32×32 baseplate. You can learn more here.

With Luscious flying out to attend a weekend of Weight Watcher’s coach hobnobbing and general frivolity over the weekend, I surrendered control of the TV to the Brattersbabes and spent Friday night, and the early parts of Saturday morning, having a crack at my first ever micropolis build.

End result: I might be a little hooked.

What do you think?

The rocket leaves its hangar and journeys to where two astronauts wait atop the gantry, watched over by the control tower behind. 
Spaceships arrive for the launch, cruising past the administration building with its memorial statue in front. In the foreground, two aliens leaves their ships and make their way to the viewing platform, while a third gets in a sneaky abduction before the festivities begin.

  

A top view of the whole shebang, showing the cars in the car park, the viewing platform, and the various tiny 1×1 people wandering about.

BRICKTOBER

For the past couple of years I’ve been blogging my annual trip to observe the Lego display staged by the WA Brick Society as part of the annual Model Railway Show at the Claremont Showgrounds. As a Lego fan it’s a wonderful occasion, but also somewhat frustrating, as the gap between “I like” and “I can do” is a large, and unless you’re a member of that group based north of the distant Swan River, exclusive one.
That’s why, when the opportunity to display at Bricktober arrived as part of my membership of the Perth Lego User Group, I jumped on it. Apart from a chance to expose myself to the disdain or otherwise of those I’d critiqued in the past (hint: didn’t happen. They’re utterly lovely fellows, one and all), it was a great opportunity to take part in a community gathering the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since SF Cons went slightly sour on me; to be one of the in-crowd, the insiders, that merry band of brothers united by a common love, and all that jazz.
So, last weekend, I boxed up my ‘Tomb of the Unknown Spaceman’ MOC after 6 month of construction, as well as half a dozen spacecraft, and took them to Cannington Showgrounds to display them at the 2nd annual Bricktober display, conducted by the indefatigable Stephen and Joanna Kendall for Ascot Rotary. And had a bloody ball in the process.
As someone who works in event management, the thing that struck me was just how well Bricktober is run, It’s a huge event– the Canning Showgrounds main hall is a big room, and while my little display just about filled half a standard trestle table (bumphed up to a full table by the addition of the stand-alone ships), I pretty much had the smallest display in the room: Rod Iseppi, the fellow two down from me, whose Tattooine display won the People’s Choice Award, overflowed 4 trestles, and still wasn’t the largest display. In total, there were something like 30 exhibitors, yet the room never felt crowded or cramped, and with more than 7000 attendees coming through over the 2 days, space was at a premium. 
Rod Iseppis’ fucknormous Tattooine display. An absolutely stunning beast of a thing, and a well-deserved public choice winner.

Staggered entry times meant that we were never overwhelmed, and the range of activities for attendees to sample– stop-motion movies, brick pit, interactive displays, crafts, technic-driving stands, and well-stocked sausage sizzle and drink stops (necessary, as both days were hotter than Satan’s armpit) were just damn fun. An appearance by the 501st Legion, Star Wars cos players par excellence, and some superhero character cosplayers, helped maintain a happy, family-friendly atmosphere. 
                   
A Stormtrooper helps keep alive my weirdly high success rate in getting photos of Star Wars characters posing with Daleks (It’s true– I have more than anyone would deem necessary) while the Liberal Party candidate for Canning presses the flesh of voters too young to force-choke.
And the crowds were, for the most part, utterly fantastic, split roughly 50/50 between kids dragging their parents from display to display and parents doing the same to their kids. My personal mix seemed to consist mainly of a) kids who loved the Daleks I’d included and wanted to talk about the upcoming Dr Who set, b) Dads the same, c) kids who loved the space ships because hey, spaceships!, d) Dads who loved the nods I’d included to the sets we grew up with when Classic Space was just Space, and e) people who couldn’t quite believe that what I’d built was entirely the product of my own imagination and weren’t a bunch of sets they’d just not seen before. Which, any way you cut it, is a compliment. Especially the guy who flat out didn’t believe it, and called me a liar when I insisted 🙂
Still, as Paul– the fellow next to me whose display was a medieval castle siege– and I quickly, discovered, being next to a gigantic Star Wars display meant that the most common phrase we heard all weekend was “Look, spaceships. Look, a castle. OH, WOW, STAR WAAAAARRRRRSSSSS!“….. Next year, I’m going to put a Dalek minifig next to a Stormtrooper minifig in the middle of the table and save myself a tonne of work 🙂
Not everybody was complimentary, of course. The really fun thing about being behind the table, as anyone who works in customer service can verify, is that you can become invisible, or even more entertainingly, a servant. And it means people develop a delightful habit of saying exactly what they mean. I’m too old, and battle-scarred, to find it anything other than funny, so the best comments of the weekend, for me were:
Not the kid who looked at my display, read the sign, looked at the display again and said “Tomb of the Unknown Spaceman? I don’t even know what an unknown spaceman is. Why would you even build that?” But his Dad, who replied “Yeah, I know,” and moved him away.
And the middle-class accumulation of crust and wig powder who spied this cute couple amongst my display:
You there! I wanna take you to a gay bar!
And told me in no uncertain terms how disgusting it was that I would think to show off such obvious gays. For Pete’s sake, can’t we even have a display of children’s toys without this sort of stuff?
Oh, those pesky gay aliens. Gay, plastic, minifigure make-believe, not-real toy aliens. Ruining our youth with their gay plastic alien vibes. 
Your Liberal voter in action, ladies and gentlemen.
Of course the best part of such comments, as anyone who works in customer service will tell you, is that the speaker has no idea how genuinely hilarious they are being. And when you’re surrounded by the excellent crew of fellow exhibitors that I was, the whole weekend was one big puppy-cuddle of camaraderie. Which doesn’t even take into account the displays. 
Oh my God, the displays. Let me tell’s ‘ee, I thought I’d done all right for myself. Thursday night, I thought I’d acquitted myself quite well for six months toodling abut and a first display. Then, by the time I’d finished setting up on Friday, I was pretty sure I was the least accomplished person in the room. Then I turned up on Saturday morning and saw what everyone else had unpacked, and knew without a shadow of a doubt that I am an embarrassment to my species.
Where shall I begin?
How about Quentin, fellow Baldivis builder, and his castle? Or The Kendalls and their insanely huge City layouts with the single-piece-by-single-piece harbour water so large I would have snapped and started my killing spree about a third of the way through? Or Dale’s pirate cove that just went on, and on, and on, with more detail than an OCD sufferer’s self-portrait? Or Ben. Young, pretty, looks-like-a-precocious-twelve-year-old-Ben. With his castle. And his brick-built dragon. And his Iron Man glove and armbands and chest rig that I thought looked so cool lying on the table surrounded by blue-prints and calipers and screwdriver and pencil and whatnots also, all, entirely built from Lego. Until ten minutes after I complimented him on how cool they were and he showed up at my table. WEARING THEM!
Skilled doesn’t cover it. These guys are artists, working in a medium with seemingly infinite possibilities. 
So, next year I’ll be back. With a bigger display. And ideas that push my design skills a bit further. Maybe the GARC finishing line and podium. Or the zombie apocalypse streetscape. A graveyard scene might be fun. Or Star Wars. Everyone likes Star Wars…… Because, godsdamnit, I may be a noob, and a cleft-thumbed idiot, but I’m competitive. I may never be the best one in the room, but I hate being the worst. 
Now, the pictures:
Quentin Slobe’s utterly amazing castle.
One of two giant City displays.
Approximately a quarter of Joanna Kendall’s harbour. Made up of 1×1 plates and wedges. One by one by one by one by one by one by where’s my bloody gun….
Dale Horsley’s immense, detailed, and utterly joyous Pirate Cove.

Ben’s castle. Talented little so-and-so.
More Ben. 

You think this looks cool, right?
I MEAN, LOOK AT HIM! I BET HE’S NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO VOTE!
Talented, talented boy. 

And what of my build? What of 6 months work, and all those pieces? Well, the thing about Lego is, as much fun as it is to put together……

Bricktover.

MOC ME AT YOUR PERIL

The world is in danger. The skies are filled with enemies. If this was the 19th century, HG Wells and Richard Burton would kick some serious arse, using only the medium of tiny little germs and a great big rock and roll orchestra.

But these are the medieval times, and Rock Opera is a mere twinkle in Rick Wakeman’s glitter-bedecked ancestor’s eyes. Thankfully, someone cares. Someone is watching. Someone Samurai…… -ey.
This is the Samurai SETI Research Station.

Whilst students confer outside, Samurai Masters ‘Tears Paper Into Strips’ and ‘Wood Sliver Beneath Skin’ ponder the Universe via the Jade Eye of seeing and the Bone Location Wheel. meanwhile, a new student known as ‘Derek’ rests, having journeyed from a land far, far away….

Samurai SETI Research Station. Making the world safe for people who fight in slow motion, and whose lips don’t quite move in synch with their words…

AND I SHALL CALL HIM…. MINIMOC

A teensy-tiny little MOC I absent-mindedly piggled together last night while watching The Deadly Assassin. 7 pieces each, which is my mini-est mini so far.

First one to call out “Walllllll-eeee” gets a pair of binoculars in the bathers area….

I think they’re kind of cute. They’re also symptomatic of the problems associated with keeping 6000 pieces of LEGO in one big tub but not wanting to sort it all out into separate boxes because you don’t want to a) stifle the kids’ creativity and b) sort the bloody things back into separate boxes when the kids invariably mix them up.

If you don’t want to make a massive clatter shifting plates large pieces around because you’re trying to watch your show, this is the sort of thing you end up with.

But I do think they’re kind of cute.

AND WHILE I’M BANGING ON ABOUT LEGO

One of the things I’ve wanted to do since I started getting back into Lego was to post a MOC– short for ‘My Own Creation– a common practice amongst the Legorati, who create all sorts of wonderful, amazing edifices and then post photos and/or plans of the construction process so that others can build the same creation. (Such as these guys and these and this and this and…. well, you get the idea) Only two things have stopped me doing so before this:

1. I’m a bit crap, and
2. Compared to guys like this, anything I might do would simply show me up for the utter noob with two left Leggoey feet that I really am. I’m also completely incapable of making up instruction sheets that look like they may have been drawn by a Lego artist with a couple of spare hours to kill before The Big Bang Theory starts. If only I’d paid more attention in Lego class…

Still, nothing ventured, nothing failed. So here’s a little ice-skimmer style vehicle I’ve whipped up and am moderately chuffed over, in wonkyphoto-a-rama! I’ve listed the relevant pieces, and their Bricklink piece number, under each pic, and in the case of rarer items, also listed the set from which I scabbed them.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

An easy start: one 2×8 white plate (3034) and two 2×8 white plates with door rail (30586), taken from my City of Atlantis set (7985-1)

Step two: Add the rails to the plate, and flip. Attach two light-bluish gray 1×12 bars with plate ends and round 1×1 plate ends (42445, taken from the Lunar Limo set- 5984-1) to a white 2×4 plate (3020), and attach to one end of the structure.

Step three: Turn the right way up, and attach one 2×16 white plate with angled side extensions (62743), taken from the Ice Dragon Attack set (2260-1)

Step four: two more 2×8 white plate with door rails.

Step five: Invert again, and buttress the overhanging plates with a 2×6 white plate (3795)

Step six: Top side up again, and filling in the single line atop the front spar with, from left to right– one 1×1 red tile with groove (3070b); one 1×2 white tile with groove (3069b). In this instance I didn’t have a plain white one to hand so just shoved the first one I found in. It all gets covered, anyway; one 1×2 modified tile with stud (3794); and one 1×2 white plate with handles (3839), or as they’ve always been known to me, front guns.)

Step seven: Another 2×16 white plate with angled side extensions (62743) goes on top, and the back end is finished with two 4×1 18 white slopes (60477) and a 2×2 white brick (3003)

Step eight: And finished with, from left to right: a 2x1x2/3 red slope 18 with 4 slots (61409) from the Seabed Strider (7977-1); a 1×4 white tile (2431); a 2×2 white tile with red warning triangle pattern (3068bp06); and at the top of the rear bricks a 1×2 red modified tile with grill (2412) and two more of the red slope with 4 slots.

And she is done.

All comments and small coin donations welcome! and if any experienced Lego builders want to contact me with any advice, please feel free.