Three new LEGO titles from No Starch Press
The folks over and No Starch Press have sent me another batch of excellent LEGO titles to write some blurbs on. These have been available for a little while – I’ve been pretty busy at school so I haven’t had a lot of extra time to look through the books and write a proper review, so if you like what you see here, head over to the No Starch website and check them out! I must say that I have been very impressed with the quality of books coming from independent publishers – especially since these books are usually developed and written by average Joes like you and me. These three books are no exception. The two dealing with general LEGO blocks and building are very neat, and while I found the third one on LEGO Technic to be well done, I’ve never been into Technic myself. But, I know a lot of you are so I think you’ll enjoy it.
The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide (2nd ed.) can be an essential piece of literature to builders of any age who are going to take freestyle building seriously. That has always been the nitty-gritty of LEGO: what can you build on your own? Sure, the sets you buy in store can be exceedingly intricate, but no matter what the Danes come up with over there, sometimes it’s no match for the imagination of a six-year old child. Or a 46-year old adult.
The second edition of the book has made the jump to full-color, making the models 100 times easier to decipher. Contained within the book’s 200+ pages are countless tips, tricks, and directions for helping even the most casual freestyle builder accomplish amazing feats of LEGO. Learn how to make interlocking walls for your buildings the right way, columns and pillars that would make Atlas jealous, and how to choose the best pieces for your project. To that end, included at the rear of the book is an index of some of the most well-known and used pieces in the LEGO catalogue. Each entry is detailed with a piece’s specifications, size, description, and part number.
My favorite part of the book is how author Allan Bedford instructs readers on how to build to various scales. In layman’s terms: how to make tiny models imitating real-life objects, jumbo sized models that could take up whole shelves, or models inviting your favorite minifigs to hop on board. This is perhaps one of my favorite things about LEGO: size has no limits. Look at LEGO-Land. Giant heads, and statues and landmarks, and football stadiums. Or, conversely, as shown in this book, an entire ocean-going oil tanker that will fit in the palm of your hand.
If you don’t already own the first edition of The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide, I’d say this is essential for any avid builder’s LEGO book library. Truthfully, I’d never thought to consult literature when it came to freestyle building, but this, and the two other books below have changed that.
The second book will line up nicely on your shelf with the book above. The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide, by Sariel Kmiec, offers readers a plethora of information about making the most of your Technic sets and pieces. The book is full color, complete with tons and tons of diagrams as detailed as you could want. Now, I’ve never been into the Technic sets, but I do know there are some amazing things you can do with them. Not to mention children who are interested in LEGO robotics can get their start here. The Technic sets offer a variety of configurations to build incredibly intricate objects, with the added bonus of moveable parts, gears, and driveshafts.
The great thing about this book is how down-to-Earth Kmiec is with his building directions. Not to mention how rich the text is. His descriptions of pieces, how they connect, and their uses shows incredible depth. The book will appeal to all levels of builders as it progresses from easy builds to incredibly complicated models including transmissions. The sheer magnitude of the information and presentation here almost mind boggling. I will say it may be a bit overwhelming for younger children, but can be thoroughly instructional for adults. But if you’re a LEGO Technic fan, and builder, this book is a must have.
Finally, we have The LEGO Adventure Book. I must say I am in love with this book. Right from the front cover, author Megan Rothrock had my attention. I mean, the subtitle is “Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs, & More!” Did you see that? Dinosaurs! There’s no way this book can be bad. But the real awesomeness comes from the fact the contents of the book, and all it’s builds, are crowd-sourced. Rothrock, a former LEGO designer herself (color me extremely jealous), has done a great job compiling some of the coolest builds from some of the best non-LEGO-employed builders from around the world.
A downfall of the book is a lack of clear, precise directions – like those found with official LEGO sets. But, then again, that’s to be expected so we can’t rack up too many demerits there. Before most of the builds, though, there are a few pictures detailing all the pieces you’ll need. Some of the quicker, easier builds just jump right into the steps. Thankfully the intervals at which pieces are added between each picture keeps it manageable. Another downside is many of the builds require specialized pieces that either need to come from sets you may already own and can cannibalize, or they will need to be special ordered. But, if you’ve got access to the pieces some really badass configurations and models await you.
While the world of LEGO seems to be dominated by boys and men, I was pleased to see Rothrock did manage to include at least one section from a female. And I’ll give a special shout out to her, Katie Walker, because she is also an elementary school teacher.
Lastly, I’d love to point out the entire book is color coded, with each section tied to its build author. Personally, I’m thrilled with nearly every aspect of this book. The LEGO Adventure Book is an excellent offering for builders of any age looking to expand their LEGO world with some new styles and models. The book is infused with plenty of silly comics that serve as introductions to the builders and the models. Most are photographed in the same way as my photos here on a LEGO a day.
Overall, these are three solid offerings from No Starch. I look forward to future building guides.