for two years. -less often, now

Two more LEGO titles from No Starch Press

I know I’ve been light on the photos lately – well, ok, for about a year. But I’m thankful to those of you who still check in from time to time. Lots going on – we just recently moved to Texas, and I’m unemployed. Seems like a perfect time to take lots of LEGO photos, right? I’ve been filling most of my time binge-watching all five seasons of Breaking Bad, job searching (which sucks) and biking.

Speaking of which, I’m starting a new blog ( but it has no content yet. It’s going to be more of a general blog for biking trips/topics/activism, teaching related articles/thoughts, and just regular randomness. It will not be exclusively cycling related – it’s just a name I liked. I will probably also post LEGO photos there as well from time to time. Check back in the next few weeks. I feel like this blog has run its course. I’m thankful for the thousands of people who followed me through the two years of the project, and had a ton of fun. The two photobooks are still available on Blurb, and my RedBubble store still has prints, cards, calendars, and iPhone cases. Those will remain as long as it’s free to have a store!

I’ve also started a Twitter account (only about 6 years behind the curve, there) so feel free to follow me @thesurlybiker.  Any LEGO photos will also be tweeted there too. Since I don’t post every article or thought I have to the blog, Twitter would be a good place to see what kinds of things I’m talking about or interested in. (Warning: there’s a lot of me being angry at the state of education!) And I promise to take more photos soon. I collected all 16 of the Series 11 minifigures, so, I’ve got some ammunition – just need some ideas.

Anyway, as the title of this post hints at, the folks over at No Starch Press have released two more titles in their ever growing catalogue of LEGO related books. One is the 2nd volume in a continuing Build-It Book series, and the other is a collection of mind-numbingly awesome creativity. Let’s take a look…

The LEGO Build-It Book Vol.2: More Amazing Vehicles

 There isn’t much to review here, to be honest. The majority of my review would be exactly the same as my review of Volume 1: Amazing Vehicles so go read that for all the details (it’s also the post beneath this one). All 10 of these builds are still created using only the bricks found in the LEGO Creator set #5867, the Super Speedster. As mentioned previously, unfortunately it is a discontinued product which makes it very hard for a lot of people to properly enjoy the fruits of these two building books. I’m sure you could pick it up on eBay or something, but you never know if you’re going to end up missing some pieces or whatnot. During the introduction, though, the authors do list several options for finding the bricks you need. Myself, I’d probably end up buying about five times the amount of each brick because I know I want to make more than just one of these models. Of course, you can always use existing bricks of your own in any color so if you have a lot of extras lying around in giant tubs look there first before spending money.

The book’s layout mirrors that of Volume 1, handy design notes accompany each build, along with useful tips and tricks for using pieces in various ways. The building steps are pretty easy to follow and are quite thorough.

I will say I’m quite pleased with the quality of the vehicles this time around. In Volume 1, I thought a few of the designs were lacking, or just useless. But Volume 2, here, has really put together 10 solid builds. I can safely say I would build all 10 of them to put in a LEGO city setting. Check them out:

So there you have Volume 2 in what I hope to be a long-running series of alternative building designs. I think my favorite part of this whole idea is how the builds use existing sets. A fantastic idea that allows people to either already have the parts needed, or know what to go get. Nicely done.

Beautiful LEGO

As you can see, the title says it all. In Beautiful LEGO, Mike Doyle has compiled a collection of extraordinary builds from some extraordinary creators all over the planet. Doyle refers to them as artists – and I’ve have a hard time disagreeing with him.  Doyle himself is a LEGO artist – having created the six-foot monstrosity of awesomeness you see on the book’s cover above, called “Contact 1: The Millennial Celebration of the Eternal Choir at K’al Yne, Odan.” Which is exactly the title I would have come up with as well.

From there, Doyle takes readers on a journey through the world of LEGO art. Chapters vary from showcasing specific artists and their creations to themed sections containing builds from many various artists. The artist-centric chapters include some excellent interview Q&A from the artists themselves: why they chose LEGO as their medium, what are their favorite bricks, how do they plan, how long does it take, and most importantly – who are they and why do they do what they do.

The great thing about Beautiful LEGO, is that it’s heavy on the eye candy, and light on the drudgery. Many LEGO fans are like me: “who wants to talk? Show me the LEGO!” But I will say reading through the interviews were very interesting. When you see the end result of creation on these pages, sometimes its equally as interesting to explore the minds from whence they came – even if it’s only on the surface. The interviews are not long, usually a few pages. I highly recommend reading them.

What’s most amazing is how LEGO as an art form can exist at almost any scale. Take for instance these:

which then gives way to

which then makes way for

The creativity at all different sizes is astounding. Some creations requires a mere handful of the tiniest bricks LEGO makes, while others, like Doyle’s Contact on the book’s cover, requires over 200,000 and 600 hours to make. If anything, Beautiful LEGO will give readers an appreciation for creativity on any scale. What it did most for me was open my eyes to how you can manipulate bricks to look like anything – and do it well. You’d never think to yourself oh how can a bunch of squares and rectangles resemble something to intricate and detailed?! Well. They can.

Something else the book does right is attribution. While I find it unlikely a book of this caliber and scope would get published without the due diligence to the original artists, in this day in age – the age of the internet where intellectual property flies around in seconds, it’s nice to see people get the proper credit. Each page is stamped with the name of the artist, the name of the build, and the year it was made. In the back of the book is a list of all the artists and their various contributions and websites for readers to check them out individually.

So there you have two more dynamite books from No Starch Press. The Amazing Vehicles book is definitely geared more toward the younger crowd as it’s merely a building book, while Beautiful LEGO places itself nicely in the coffee table book department. I think kids and adults alike will revel in the glory of the amazing feats of LEGO creation.

4 responses

  1. The latter book is AWESOME!!!

    October 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    • It really is!
      Glad to see you are still working hard on your blog as well – keep reading!!
      I followed you on Twitter, too! Have you read Ender’s Game yet? And are you going to see the movie this weekend? It’s one of my absolute favorite books and I am so excited to go see the movie.

      October 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      • I haven’t read the book yet, but the movie looks interesting. :)

        October 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm

  2. Pingback: Extreme Bricks: Spectacular, Record Breaking, & Astounding LEGO Projects From Around The World | the surly biker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 920 other followers