A friend on Instagram recently asked some questions about how I go about building a LEGO MOC (that’s ‘My Own Creation’, by the way). Do I design it first and then buy the bricks? How do I and other builders create such detailed scenes? I thought the questions deserved a blog post.
First, a quick back story. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and had a boatload of LEGO as a kid – mostly Castle and Pirates sets. When I turned into a sullen teenager later, I decided I didn’t need toys anymore and sold them all at a yard sale. Heartbreaking, right? The things I could do with all those old bricks …. But that’s in the past.
Most recently I started building again about three years ago, when I came across the Series 14 Collectible Minifigs in my local drug store. I started an Instagram account called @Tiny_Suicide_Squad featuring my modest collection of minifigs, and that was all it took for the bug to bite me again. That account is gone now (though you can still see the pics here on my website), but I have a new account on Instagram to showcase my work – @LegoGuacamole.
Now let’s look at some of the basic questions and problems that confront someone just starting out as a builder of LEGO MOCs.
The Red Elves dwell in the darkest parts of the forest where venomous snakes and spiders abound. They fortify ancient ruins with their wooden palisades and distil wicked poisons from the local flora and fauna. They are more than happy to sell vials of spider venom and dried boughs from the scarlet fever trees they cultivate, but let the adventurer be warned! The Red Elves will not hesitate to murder and rob the unwary, and a Red Elf witch never goes far without her escort of goblin archers.
Walking home on this post-Christmas pre-New Year’s December day, I saw:
in the bare branches of a shrub – a tiny scarecrow made of twine and fabric on a slender wooden stick, something you might use as a whimsical accent in a fall container garden
crushed in the road – a neon purple plastic spider ring like children buy for a quarter from the toy vending machines in the department store lobby around Halloween
Why did these creatures choose this day of all days to come creeping out of whatever under-baseboard secret kingdom obsolete holiday decorations dwell in? Perhaps some myopic felt Easter bunny stuck its head out of a hidden burrow, mistook the glitter of Christmas lights for the twinkling of stars, and sounded the all-clear – “Christmas is over! Come out! Come out!”
I felt sorry for the poor things, the way I feel when I see the crocuses pushing up their heads during those rare warm spells in February. “Shhhh, go back to sleep. Winter isn’t over yet.”
Professor Geryon, the occasional nemesis of The Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad, is also a contributor to some of the more . . . interesting chapters of the Rocket Family’s lives. Here he can be seen in his laboratory with his assistants, where things are getting nicely out of hand . . .
Little Robinson “Robbie” Rocket likes to daydream about being a space adventurer like his mom and dad.
In his youth, Robert Rocket explored not only the depths of space, but alternate dimensions as well. In this undated holochronograph, he and his mercenary crew can be seen recklessly discharging their ray guns in the Interdimensional Portal Laboratory of the renowned Professor Geryon.
In her younger days, Friday Rocket (née Azimuth) had occassional (okay, frequent) run-ins with the law. Here she is depicted escaping the robo-Sheriff of the desert planet Arizongo.
Is it wrong to start designing the cover art before you write the book? I hope not. These are pen-and-ink studies for the cover art of The Dragon of Iletupa, the next novel I’m working on. The first one began as studies of dragon scales and then turned into an odd little street scene with characters taking their colorful balloons for a walk. This in turn inspired a limerick entitled ‘The Droll Encounter.’
The other two managed to come out looking like dragons. Progress!
I’m home with a cold today, nothing better to do than play with Legos . . . jk, this is what I would be doing anyway. I had this idea when my sinuses woke me up at 4 am. I’ve been inspired to make interlocking Lego dungeon modules like Heroica or BrickQuest (check out @LegoGuacamole for my first example). This is a pit trap leading down to a chamber occupied by a giant spider and her babies. I had no plan whatsoever for how this might integrate into an actual Lego dungeon, so we’ll just call it a prototype. Maybe I’ll strip out the interior of my Death Star and convert it into a multi-level Lego dungeon . . .
Anyway, here’s the module:
The only way I could display this was on my bookshelf 😀 The party on the upper level is about to fall into the trap and slide down the chute.
The adventuring party. Yes, that is a 1 kg plate from my dumbbell set holding the upper level down.
I’m not happy with the white tiles or the action of the pit trap door, so off to BrickLink for parts!!
A closeup of the chute. The turny bits took some ingenuity to build, and I’m pretty pleased. I debated enclosing the chute but I kind of like it open; this way forces the player to choose between pitching off the side of the chute into the almost-certain death of the inky darkness beyond or staying on the chute to brave the almost as almost-certain death of whatever lies below . . .
The spider pit! Momma and her babies are ready for some juicy adventurer!
A closeup of the spider. I used the body of Ultimate Lavaria as the centerpiece.
My first sideways Lego build! This was inspired by Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, one of my favorite books growing up. I had to prop it against my refrigerator and lay on the floor in an awesome yoga Sphinx pose to take the pictures. The gray sky plus gray buildings and sidewalk turn the whole thing into some kind of commentary about post-industrial society I guess, but that’s only because I don’t have enough blue plates to make a proper sky.