8/31/10

BrickArms Unveils Identity Disk Prototypes

Earlier today images of the new chakram prototype from BrickArms were unveiled on Flickr. The prototype shown uses a  glow-in-the-dark core with opaque over printing, resembling the new identity disk design from Tron Legacy.

The weapon sacrifices a bladed look to allow the minifig to grip it. Will and company also claim the finished product will fit over a standard LEGO stud. No word yet on when this item will be for sale.

I'm curious to see if any other custom houses will opt for the 'classic' design from the original film.

(Via BrickArms Flickr stream)

Series 2 Collectible Minfigures Now on Sale at LEGO.com

LEGO didn't waste any time today. First they put up the new Series 2 microsite at LEGO.com, and now they are selling the figures for $1.99 (plus shipping and handling). There's a cap of 16 figures per order right now, but in my experience you buy when you can.

Hurry! These figures have been selling out soon after they are available.

(Via Brickset and Toys N Bricks)

Tutorial: Removing Minifigure Arms and Legs

As part of my Naruto Shippuden custom project, I'll be needing to interchange some of the arms and legs to achieve the look outlined in my concept. This video tutorial comes courtesy of James over at LAMLradio/tv. James shows the 'proper' way to do this to avoid inadvertently cracking your torsos during the process. Be forewarned, just as heavy play and movement of the arms in the original torso can lead to loosening of the connection, so too can frequent interchanging.

 
As for the legs, many of the comments I found online were along the lines of, "Don't do it"...which made me want to do it even more! The issue? Many felt removal and reattachment of the legs was more difficult and carried a higher risk of damage due to the smaller, more delicate pins.

Not easily deterred, I went to Morgan19 and asked if he had any tips...and he did! In the artist's own words:

"Trying to describe the process amuses me because it's hard to put into words, but here's how I'd roughly go about doing it...

1) Make sure both leg/hip assemblies you're swapping around are attached to torsos– this gives you a greater surface area to hold onto.

2) Push the right leg up so it's angled forwards, like the minifig is kicking. That'll get the leg out of your way and give you a better angle to amputate the left leg.

3) Hold the torso with your right hand. With your left hand's thumb and index finger placed on the left leg's front and back sides (the thumb sort of rests in the front indentation between the foot and round part), pull it sideways away from the hips.

4) Straighten the right leg back down, and pull it off the hips– should be easy since there's no left leg in the way.

Then it's just a matter or repeating it with the leg/hip part you're putting the new legs onto, and pushing the legs back on. The trick is to get the first leg out of the way so you have room to grip the other one and pull it off sideways, with minimal wear to the hip peg."


I actually tested both techniques with success last night, so I can confirm they work (in my case) with no damage to the figure. Does that mean you'll have no damage every single time? No. But hopefully these approaches reduce the probability of damage, while increasing chances for success.

(Via LAMLtv and big thanks to Morgan)

Traveler's Tales Next Game: LEGO Toy Story Racers

...well, almost. Oky Wan Kenobi, fresh off his mash up of Star Wars and Toy Story, is back with these adorable LEGO Toy Story Racers. Each Race car is designed to match the personality of the corresponding Toy Story character. Simple, yet effective designs.

If Oky's not careful, he's going to kick off an online trend of creating these little Racers for other LEGO themes.

Click over to Oky's Flickr stream to see more detailed pictures of each Racer (link below).

Quick Hits: United Armory, BrickForge, and LifeLites

Pedro has announced that he has a collection of new items at his BrickLink store, United Armory. A wide variety of helmets, guns, and armor all in ABS. Does this mean Hazel and Amazing Armory Ltd. are back in business?

BrickForge is unstoppable with even more product with no end in sight. The newest? Mushrooms for those forest creations! Not only that, they've produced a lot in their 'glow-in-the-dark' style. A few LifeLites and you're ready to recreate a Pandora nightscape.

Speaking of BrickForge and LifeLites, Armothe has created a little demo using The Crystal King from Power Miners and an eLite kit. BrickForge and LifeLites have also joined forces to bring you custom lamp posts that work with LifeLights LEDs. The items are not yet for sale, but do appear on the BrickForge site. Soon, you'll be able to light up those modular displays.

A lot more coming at you today. Stay tuned...

(Via Pedro-79, BrickForge, Armothe's Flickr streams)

8/30/10

JasBrick to Exhibit at Great Western LEGO Show

Minifig customizer JasBrick will be featuring his creations at the UK AFOL convention, The Great Western LEGO Show. This is a first for Jas and quite possibly for AFOL conventions in general allowing a minifig customizer to present along side brick-built MOCs.

The Great Western LEGO Show will take place on October 2nd and 3rd in Swindon at STEAM, Museum of the Great Western Railway. Details can be found on their website.

If you would like to learn more about JasBrick and his work you can check out our interview series with him here.

If you are near Swindon that weekend, drop buy and lend Jas your support. Hopefully this is just the beginning of having minifig customizers at AFOL conventions!

Disney Store Online - Prince of Persia 35% Off (US)

Toys N Bricks has announced that Disney Store Online is offering LEGO Prince of Persia sets for 35% off and up in the US. If you spend $50 or more there's free shipping with the code 'SHIPFIFTY'. The site is atrocious to navigate, so I've included the links to the individual sets below:
Do note that the Disney Store's starting prices are already marked up over MSRP, so judge for yourself the overall value associated with this deal.

I am also to understand that the UK site is offering up to 50% off! So if you are in the UK, it's definitely worth a look.

(Via Toys N Bricks)

8/29/10

General Grievous - Upgraded

I understand that some weren't too thrilled with the new, official design for General Grievous (which you can see here).

First, hopeso009 developed this version. Dramatic pose, all TLG parts (except the cape of course). All in all, very nice.

This in turn inspired yoshix to create this. The additional parts give The General more size and menace. Granted, he's not likely to fit in the Starfighter, but when you need to bear down on a few Jedi, he's your man...er, droid.

Modular Minifigure Display

Originally found on A Modular Life, this Collectible Minifigure display is quite nice. A room for every figure from both Series 1 and Series 2. A few more series and cecilihf will have to find a bigger place to live. Many more photos, including close-ups, on their photostream.

Waldo's Got Nothing on This Guy

Alex Eylar (AKA Profound Whatever) has another fantastic composition featuring a strong concept and presentation. Titled 'Camouflage' it took me a while to figure out what was going on. I wonder why that knife is floating in midair...

8/28/10

The Evolution of Vampires

Joriel Jimenez gives us the evolution of the LEGO minifigure vampire, from the studio original to the Series 2 Collectible version. He's even crafted an 'Emo' variant from the Series 2 Mime. Not sure about what the pig is doing there, but Edward's looking a little hungry. Too bad Bill and Eric couldn't make it to the party...

Coming to a Theater Near You

MicroBricks turned me on to this great vintage movie poster from Flailx featuring custom minifigures and the Series 1 Robot. I really like the presentation and composition of this piece. Makes me want to grab some popcorn and Junior Mints...

UPDATE: This poster is now for sale on BrickLink. Click here for details, and click under 'posters'.

Mooo-ve On Over to BrickForge for New Items

The march of new products out of BrickForge continues. The newest are a bit of a surprise as they are new prints for classic items.

First up is a new print for the cow with markings in a Ayrshire pattern. BrickForge cows are unique in that you can choose the gender of each with the addition of horns or udder accessories. The Forge has a wide selection of animals to choose from.

The second set of items are new scooters in tan, pink with flower print, and blue with flame prints. Had I known about the blue scooter I might have held off on my orders earlier in the week so I could pick one up.

More products are still expected to emerge from Armothe and Redbean's lair, who knows what we'll see next. Head on over to their store and check it out.

(Via BrickForge Flickr stream)

8/27/10

Guilty Pleasure Friday from ForrestFire Films

I apologize in advance and...'you're welcome'. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

8/26/10

2011 LEGO Star Wars Set and Minifigure Pictures

...now that I have your attention.

I wanted to say, "Yes, I've seen the new pictures circulating on the web of new LEGO Star Wars for 2011". However, I won't be placing them on the site until TLG officially announces them (which I have to believe will be soon).

Why, when I've posted the rumors of new sets already? Well, first there could be legal reasons, as the images in the retailer catalogs are confidential. Second releasing such images too soon could harm TLG as a business and damage relationships with licensing partners like Lucas Entertainment.

Yes, we are all very excited and I'm sure people can't wait to see the new sets. I'm also certain the reason the pictures have surfaced are due in part to the fans' love of both LEGO and Star Wars. Just be patient Padawan, and resist the temptation of the Dark Side...

Series 2 Collectible Minifigures Now at Store

I have a small collection of Series 2 Collectible Minifigures now up on my BrickLink store. Figures include The Spartan, Mime, Karate Master, Pop Star, Pharaoh, and Mariachi/Mr. Maracas.

Just as I did with Series 1, it's $2.99 per figure with accessories and stand included. I also offer flat-rate shipping*, so buy all you want.

So what are you waiting for?! Head on over to my BrickLink store now, before it's too late...(drama much?)

*See 'store terms' tab for details

Carl's Jr. Rolls Out the LEGO for New Ads

Carl's Jr. has a new Philly Cheese Steak Burger and instead of showing a :30 TV spot with gratuitous food shots, they've created three LEGO brick films to promote their product.

All three films can be seen here on AdFreak, but I have to say the Declariation of Independence film is my favorite. The ads were created by Blip.tv.


(Via AdFreak)

Catsy's Pushing All The Right Buttons

Catsy's been rather busy, as of late. Yesterday he posted these fantastic pics of brick-built gun racks to showcase one of his BrickArms collections, and today he has a customized Akira laser cannon.

The Arasaka HLR-12X Heavy Laser used the new BrickArms heavy laser cannon as a base, but Brandon decided to 'tweak' it a bit. In his own words...

"I took a Brickarms Heavy Laser Cannon prototype (with Viewfinder), drilled out the barrel and filed down the front of the viewfinder in order to insert trans-clear and trans-blue styrene rods, respectively. The battery pack is scratchbuilt from styrene, a cotter pin, insulated wire and craft ribbon. Then painted. I treated the trans styrene and viewfinder display with Future after dullcoating the entire thing."

(Via Catsy's Flickr stream)

Quick Hits: More Series 2 News and BrickCon

I lucked out yesterday and made it up to my local LEGO Store in Cincinnati. Series 2 Collectible Minifigures were in, and I managed to score 16 select items. That's right, I said 16. It appears that the figure cap was upped, likely to allow hunters to obtain a full set if they wished. I used my bar code cheat sheet from Grogall and was able to nab all the figures I was looking for (see the guides for more details).

Both the City and Castle Advent sets were also in stock. Brickset is reporting that the Series 2 figures and both Advent calendars are in UK LEGO Stores, as well.

Speaking of Series 2 availability, Toys N Bricks gives a very detailed breakdown of the distribution plans for Canadian Wal-Marts and Toys R Us. It seems that Wal-Mart may be your best bet at Series 2 goodness north of the border.

Eurobricks had debuted their Series 2 Collectible Minifigure contest. Part scavenger hunt, part raffle, entrants must comb the Eurobricks forums to find pics of Series 2 minifigures. Identify the location of all 16 and you are entered into a raffle for a random pull from the Series 2 prize box. More details can be found here.

The Brothers Brick reminds us that time to register for BrickCon is here. Earlier in the year I was hearing rumors that a few custom houses, normally not at AFOL conventions, would be selling their wares. A quick message to BrickCon admins, however, seemed to suggest otherwise. Not only that, but Armothe tweets that BrickForge won't be vending there this year. Attendees will have the BrickCon Film Festival to look forward to, however. Details at TBB.

That's all for now, citizens. More to come...

UPDATE: BrickForge has updated its featured products to include drumsticks in a variety of colors! 

8/25/10

Minifig Collector App for Android Now Updated

If I remember correctly, Huw from Brickset found the first version of this Android app for the Series 1 Collectible Minifigures. I've now been informed that Nic Jansma has updated the app to now read the bar codes for Series 2 minifigures.

Containing both the bar code info for US and EU, the app is unique in that it a little icon for each minifig you've found and collected (see screen shot).

If you have an Android smart phone I suggest checking it out (link below).

What are we going to do when these bar codes disappear for Series 3?!

(Via AndroidZoom)

The Ugly Duckling Now on Flickr

In an attempt to expand the borders of Minifig Nation, I've now created a Flickr account for the site. As we generate more original content (product reviews, projects, etc.), this is where the bulk of that material will live.

This will also be a way for me to reach out to customizers more easily through the back avenues of Flickr Mail.

I would say that we are definitely at the 'proto' stage and could could conceivably take the Flickr account in many different directions.

Feel free to drop by and make 'The Duck' a contact.

The Journey Begins: Naruto Shippuden Custom

I'm sure that many readers who are into minifig customization have often said, "Sure. Cygnet talks a mean game, but what has he really done?" Those who can customize do, those who cannot blog about it, right? Well. I like to change that starting...now.

This begins a periodic series where I'll be detailing my journey in creating a custom minifigure using many of the tutorials and resources available on the internet. My hope is not to dictate that it's 'my way or the highway', but instead to show how anyone can do this (and trust me, if I can do it you can too).

I've chosen to create a custom Naruto Shippuden minifigure. Naruto is a series of manga and anime featuring a world where Ninja nations vie for power. The main character, Naruto Uzumaki, is a bit of an outcast with dreams of becoming leader of his village. Oh, and he has a nine tailed fox demon living in his belly button. If you would like to learn more about the character I would recommend reading the manga series from Shonen Jump or look here.

Being familiar with the character myself, the next step is to identify and isolate the design features that will make the character instantly recognizable, but still retain a LEGO minifigure look. A good resource on prepping for conceptual design is authored by Readbean from his Minifig Customization Network days and can be found here.

Looking at the reference photo you'll note that some of the main design features include the orange jump suit with black highlights, the blond anime style hair, and black bandanna with Konoha insignia. If we were to capture these elements alone, I could see 9 out of 10 people familiar with the character identifying it as Naruto. Secondary design elements include the leg holster, the shoulder badge, and facial markings. These secondary elements add some additional flavor and detail to the overall design. Much beyond this and I would suspect the figure will look cluttered.

These are just a few elements to consider at the concept stage. Now to get on with working out some details of the design. I am personally more of a pencil and paper person, preferring to sketch my designs before hitting the figs. I was able to find this template of a full, head-on minifigure. Using this blank template, I sketched out an initial design. I cannot emphasize how helpful it was to do this. I originally started from memory and got many of the design elements wrong. Combining this step with several reference photos will give you a much stronger vision for what you want to try and create. I've included a picture of my sketch here.

With final concept in hand, I'm ready to move on the the next stage and delve into the depths of BrickLink and find some raw materials for the project.

8/24/10

Quick Hits: Series 2 and Custom House News

Toys N Bricks is now reporting in that North American LEGO Stores are starting to receive shipments of the Series 2 Collectible Minifigures. As before, there's a five figure limit per purchase. I say 'starting to get' as I called the Cincinnati, OH LEGO Store who stated they are not yet available there.

BrickForge has further updated their new and featured products. They now have the recurve bow, electric guitars, musket, flintlock pistol, and shepherd crook. There are still a few items left to be updated to their store, but there's nothing to stop you from browsing now and filling out that wish list.

BrickArms is showing off some Red Cross helmets in white with the crosses printed directly on the curved surface. No news as to if or when these might be for sale. Will Chapman has been experimenting with printing techniques lately. It will be interesting to see what else he has up his sleeves.

Beautiful Sculpted Heads from Vieral

Earlier today I came across these lovely sculpts from customizer Vieral. Having a wide array of custom Star Wars minifigures, the work and skill that goes into these pieces is evident.

I'm not clear on how I've missed Vieral's work before, but I'll be keeping a closer eye on him in the future.

(Via Vieral's Flickr stream)

8/23/10

Don't Blink - TRU.com Sells Out in One Hour

Toys N Bricks reported earlier tonight that ToysRUs.com had the Series 2 Collectible Minifigures up for sale in the US ($1.99 and no limits). An hour later and they were gone. If this isn't a testament as to how difficult it will be to get these figures, I don't know what is.

Your best bets? You can sign up for an e-mail alert at TRU.com if the Series 2 figures go on sale again. It may be that TRU will pulse these out over time. Your only other alternative is to call your local, bricks-and-mortar Toys R Us each day to check on availability. We also don't know what Shop at Home or LEGO Stores have planned, but they will likely have caps on how many you can get per order/trip. Aside from that, there's always BrickLink.

Perhaps if resellers were the ones to buy up all the figures, we might see an influx of supply on BrickLink bringing overall prices down.

Brick Testament Updates: Flood and Noah's Curse

Church is back in session. The Reverend Brendan Powell Smith has revamped both "The Flood" and "Noah's Curse" on The Brick Testament. I don't want to give anything away (SPOILER ALERT), but everybody dies...everybody but Noah and his family, that is.

8/22/10

Quick Hits: Custom House Updates

It's been a busy day in the Minifig Nation. Several news updates related to custom houses and those associated with them.

First off Badger's been showing off alternative uses for the upcoming white Stahlhelm offering from BrickArms. The alternate universe WWII/Star Wars trooper is further decked out with BrickArms firepower. Badger also has a custom fig of Captain Mal of the Serenity. Highlights include a bronze Navy revolver from BA and Arealight hair piece.

Next up, Pedro has some new pics of custom minifigures that can be created using parts from his BrickLink store United Armory. There's also some discussion regarding where you can buy products from Hazel, as there's been some confusion as of late. It's safe to say that you need to look for the brand 'Amazing Armory LTD'. This is the official brand of Hazel and you can buy his product at places like United Armory and Firestar Toys. There is an Amazing Armory 2010 BrickLink store; however, I understand Hazel is no longer associated with that group...and that's all I'll say about that. Hoping to get an interview with Hazel once all the details become available.

Decal maestro Roaglann has some new news. First off he has started a new Flickr group to help him manage decal requests. You can find this new group here and offer up requests. Roag has also offered up his full minifigure template files which can be found here. I think it's fantastic that Roaglann is sharing his experience with the community. If you would like to show your appreciation, and pick up some of Roag's decals, he has a BrickLink store where you can buy some of his creations.

This last item I'll leave it up to you as to if you feel its a deal or not. I received a notification that ThinkGeek is selling what appears to be a custom weapons pack from BrickArms for $9.99 USD. Originally found on deals.woot, the following items are available: Assault Phaser, M2019 Blaster, Space Magnum, Plasma Pistol, Needler, Walther P38, Auto-9 Pistol, Energy Sword, and M41A Pulse Rifle. Deals.woot also had an additional code (GEEKPUZZLER) allowing you to get $10 off an order of $40 or more. As always, buyer beware and see what shipping and handling costs might have to be paid.

That's all for now citizens, more as it becomes available...

Alien Birds and the Bees

Not to worry. You can continue to avoid 'that' conversation for a little while longer...

As originally seen on that small, unknown blog The Brothers Brick, Fat Tony reveals the colonels secret recipe for Little Green Men.

You have to check out this guy's Flickr stream. Just on the first page alone the man shows how he's designing and building an office based off the Nautilus from Jule's Verne's 2000 Leagues Under the Sea. I wonder if he likes the Atlantis theme?

Family Bricks' Gets Shiny

Family Bricks enjoyed the BrickArms chrome sword pack so much he decided to design several custom minifigures to show them off. The knight shown here was one of my favorites. It makes me think of the line from Gaston in Beauty in the Beast, "I use antlers in all of my (weapon-making)..." You can check them all out on FB's Flickr stream (link below).

He's also designed a special forces unit for the Atlantis crew utilizing several customization techniques. Check both sets out.

(Via Family Brick's Flickr stream)

8/21/10

Forbidden

Because it's Balakov (AKA Mike Stimpson) and...well...see for yourself.


"She was a promising young X-wing pilot with amazing hair. He was a simple Stormtrooper. They knew it was wrong, they knew the risks, they knew that one day she would probably help to destroy the orbital battle station on which he lived, but what could he do? Girls who like Stormtoopers are quite rare."

The Anvils Continue to Ring from the Forge...

...BrickForge that is. Armothe has been busy putting more items up on the store since yesterday. The featured items added include the following:
  • Tomahawk
  • Ranger Hat
  • Backpack
  • Ammo Pouch
  • Violin
  • Acoustic Guitar
There are still a few items scheduled but haven't debuted at the store yet, namely:
  • Flintlock Pistol
  • Hatchet
  • Musket
  • Shepard's Crook
  • Drumsticks
  • Double Plume
  • Lamppost
  • Maverick Hair
  • Ponytail
  • Mohawk
So much to choose from! I'll likely make some smaller posts once the other items come online. In the meantime head on over to the BrickForge store and browse the goods.

(Via BrickForge Flickr stream)

Omicron Declares Mortal Kombat!

Omicron of ChocoBrick Customs has created a new series custom minifigures based on the Mortal Kombat video game franchise. Each figure is great, but the stand out for me was this rendition of Goro.

Omi used a dremel tool to drill a second set of arm holes in the torso. Although Goro's legs come courtesy of a Slave Leia figure, he's all man up top (Dastan specificially). Colonel Dovchenko from Indiana Jones provides the noggin. Finally the hairpiece is a BrickForge original. The ponytail should be available soon on their store.

(Via ChocoBrick's Customs' Flickr stream)

Series 2 Roll Out - Germany and Canada

Toys N Bricks is reporting that several outlets in Germany and Canada now have the Series 2 Collectible Minifigures.

Germany has several outlets with these figures now in stock - Drogerie Müller, Galleria Kaufhof, Schlecker, Idee & Spiel, Obletter.

Wal-Mart in Canada are now putting these guys out.

Don't forget to use the bar codes in our guides, Grogall's cheat sheet, or mobile Brickset to get the guys  and gals you want.

8/20/10

The Queen is in Her Castle and All is Right with the World

Morgan19 has been making up for lost time after his recent move. He has utilized several custom techniques to achieve this Queen's Guard custom figure.

The head has been sharpied yellow to achieve that classic color (originally a 'fleshie'). Wonderful decals on the torso and arms. The rifle is from BrickArms. The hat? A Cobi (gasp) medieval helmet turned backwards (Five LEGO purists just dropped dead with fright).

Polish it off with a fantastic photoshopped backdrop and you have another Morgan original in his signature style.

(Via Morgan19's Flickr stream)

Series 2 Roll Out - You're Up UK

Huw and his Howling Commandos at Brickset are reporting that W.H. Smiths news agents are now stocking Series 2 Collectible Minfigures in the UK.

Packs are kept behind the counter, so you won't be able to use your handy bar code cheat sheet or reader.

I can't speak for the supply of minifigures in the UK, but here in the states we had to strike while the iron was hot (or at least in stock). Run out and grab yours today.

(Via Brickset)

The Forge Burns Bright - Centaurs are Here!

Updated earlier today, BrickForge now has their centaur bodies for sale in tan, reddish brown, and dark tan.

These beauties debuted at BrickFair a couple of weeks ago to the satisfaction of many. These torsos retail for $4 USD (plus shipping and handling).

So what are you waiting for?! Go to the BrickForge store and buy yours today!

(Picture via BrickForge Flickr stream)

Inside the Customizer's Studio: Morgan19 Collected

Now that our interview series with Morgan19 has concluded, I'm collecting each part into a single source for easy viewing.

These will reside on the interview page along with my interview series with JasBrick.

Again, big thanks to Morgan for taking the time. I hope everyone enjoyed the series!

Morgan19 Interviews

8/19/10

Oky Wan Kenobi Presents: Toy Wars

Originally seen on FBTB.net, this mash up of Star Wars and Toy Story by Eurobricks member Oky Wan Kenobi is just terrific. This group shot seals the deal, but there are additional pics to be found on his Flickr stream. eclipseGrafx med droid would feel right at home with this group!

He's a Maniac, Maniac, on the Floor...

Morgan19 is back with these great custom minfigures based on charachters from the 80's computer game Maniac Mansion. I never played the game myself, but I'm familiar with it.

The figure of Razor has to be my favorite. It's too bad no one's produced a 'dog collar' part for minifig heads.

One can only hope custom figures of the Edison family are not too far behind.

To the Infirmary, and Beyond!

There's been a lot of activity recently around a 10 day Star Wars minifig challenge on Flickr. eclipseGrafx has been participating and his most recent submission is fantastic. Take a look at this med droid and vignette. My eye immediately went to the droids' head leaving me to wonder, where did this part come from?

I then saw this companion pic of the figure in full. The head is actually a painted Buzz Lighyear part! The entire creation is perfectly proportioned from top to bottom

I also wanted to point out the lightsaber blades acting as a channel for the bacta fluids. Here's a use where the bubbles in the plastic make perfect sense!


(Via eclipseGrafx's Flickr stream)

Inside the Customizer's Studio: Morgan19, Part 4

Welcome to the fourth and final installment of our interview series with minifig customizer Morgan19. Today we will be debating the merits of 'green stuff' over 'sculpey'...what's that? You'd rather hear us talk about creative re-purposing of found objects and their applications in the area of minfig design?! Ookaaay, but we had some really good material on 'green stuff'...

You are very inclusive of the parts you use to customize minifigures (action figure parts, Mega Bloks accessories, etc.), and you often receive negative feedback for doing so. When did you start utilizing parts outside of LEGO in your designs? Why do you think reactions are so strong against their use?

"I don’t recall specifically, but the first non-LEGO parts I used were probably for something in the Halloween set. Although I love LEGO to death and it will always be my main building toy brand, sometimes a third-party part or a random piece not intended for building just fits the bill when LEGO’s parts palette can’t do so. Keeping my overall options open and not limiting my parts selection really helps my general creativity in that I often find myself thinking of alternative uses ('NPU!'), piece combinations, or final figures that just aren’t possible with standard LEGO.

That being said, I can honestly say I’ve never bought a full-price MegaBloks set. But finding one on sale for 90% off and challenging myself to use its pieces on a LEGO figure can be a fun creative exercise. I won’t limit working with a part just because of its name.

Sometimes the resentment towards using non-LEGO parts baffles me, but overall I think the general stigma towards them is just that: they’re non-LEGO parts and people are displaying brand loyalty to LEGO in the best way they know how. I don’t mind that opinion so long as someone isn’t rude enough to tell me I shouldn’t be using non-LEGO parts because they don’t like it. It’s my creativity – let me do what I want and they can do the same."


What is a trip to the toy store like with you? Do you often find yourself seeing everyday objects as potential fodder for minifig design?

"Absolutely, I’m constantly on the lookout for anything minifig-scale that can be worked into a figure: action figures in general have been a gold mine, but I’ve also found uses for a bizarre range of other items...Little bells from a craft store to random vending machine toy parts have all been sacrificed for a figure, though sometimes the best satisfaction can be found just using a regular LEGO part in a non-regular way, like the reflective ball from a LEGO pen .

Right now I’m brewing ideas for some figures using a Chapstick cap and those little garbage bag twisty ties..."
 

Based on my calculations, you likely spent a fair number of your formative years in the 80's and early 90's (in my opinion, the heyday of the action figure). If Doc Brown were to pull up in the Delorian right now and take you back, what action figure line would you most want to mine for parts from that period of time?

"Now that you mention it, I have ridiculously fond memories of the Battle Beasts toys. Their weapons in particular are sized perfectly for LEGO hands and could really add a nice bit of variety to a minifig’s arsenal. (Hmm, I know I’ve got a stash of them around here somewhere...) Beyond that, I’d probably go for the same type of stuff I look out for these days — GI Joe and Star Wars figures are usually good sources. Like the Battle Beasts’ weapons, those figures’ accessories are often proportioned perfectly for adaptation to LEGO."

Before we wrap this up, I want to extend a big thanks to Morgan for taking the time not only agree to participate in these shenanigans, but also to promote the site on Flickr all week. I'm really enjoying the opportunity to talk to great guys like Jas and Morgan, and hopefully you've enjoyed the series so far. I'd like to finish my session with Morgan by asking a question that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine...

What would be your dream LEGO project? What stands in your way from making this happen today?

"In all honesty, it’s the simple things... I’m looking forward to eventually having space for my entire brick collection, room to sort pieces, and a clear area to consistently work without having to pack it up each night."

8/18/10

Clean US and EU Bar Codes Now Available

Master Grogall was very kind and sent us a copy of the clean US and EU bar codes for the Series 2 Collectible Minifigures. I'll be working diligently to integrate these into the the guides in much the same way I did for Series 1.

As of now, however, I'm going to direct you over to Toys N Bricks as they have the ability to host the full pdf, which you can see here.

If people are looking to use these bar codes, please let them know about Grogall's work and direct them to many of the sites hosting them. I had heard rumors that people were selling bar code information when Series 1 launched - that's just wrong.

I also want to give a shout out once again to Huw and his Howling Commandos on Brickset. Not only will they have Grogall's sheet up soon, but they also have their mobile Brickset app which will turn your Android smart phone into a bar code reader.

So what are you doing still reading this post?! Get out there, citizens, and claim your prize.

(Once again, big thanks to Grogall for putting this together and sharing)

Minifig Customization Network Tutorials: Collected

Let me start this out by saying, "this is NOT my work". These are only links to the individual posts where the tutorials reside. I'm only collecting these here for ease of navigation.

The tutorials appear to be what's left of The Minifig Customization Network, a website jointly developed by Redbean and Kaminoan. If anyone has more on this story, I would love to hear it...

If you google the site, you're likely to end up here, but many of the links are gone. The last updates happening back in  September 2009. I don't exactly know what happened (A swarm of locusts perhaps?), but there's still gold to mine from the site's previous incarnation.

Each article contains a byline by the original author. Much thanks to those authors and the work that has come before.

Conceptualization
Decals
Modification
Molding
Painting
Cloth Accessories

      Series 2 Update: US Sighting in Wild

      Mariann Asanuma is reporting on her Modelbuilding Secrets Blog that we've had one confirmed purchase of Series 2 Collectible Minifigures at a Toys R Us in Texas.

      I originally saw Tony Sava's announcement on the BrickLink forums. He has compiled a rough bar code cheat sheet which can be seen here. Expect more refined cheat sheets to surface soon.

      Speaking from personal experience, I would find out which days are delivery days at your local TRU and call asking if the figures are in. I was only able to get some of the Series 1 figures due to a fortunate trip to the LEGO Store and lucking into the day Shop @ Home lifted the package cap. There has been no evidence so far that the US will be getting more Series 2 figures than we saw with Series 1, so be vigilant! 

      I would also recommend having a cheat sheet or bar code reader handy if you want to pick through for select figures. The success rate of the 'feel method' is rather low in my opinion. Recall that Brickset has their mobile app that can turn your Android phone into an impromptu bar code reading device.

      One piece of new news...Mariann talked to Steve Witt from TLG and he claims that figures have been designed up to a fifth series!

      Guides will be updated with relevant information once they become available.

      Inside the Customizer's Studio: Morgan19, Part 3

      Welcome back, citizens of Minifig Nation. Another day, another installment of our interview with customizer Morgan19. We pick up today discussing Morgan's involvement and thoughts on the minifig custom community...

      You've mentioned being active on the KAM forums, entering several of the contests hosted by Jared. There are other 'hang outs' for the customization community. Aside from the KAM forums and Flickr, what are other places you haunt? Is there anywhere else you are an active community member?

      "Outside of Flickr, these days I tend to limit myself to lurking and reading over posting, but in terms of community communication I try stop by Brickset, FBTB, and the BrickForge forums whenever I get a chance— but Flickr is usually a much quicker, more direct way to see what customizers are whipping up."

      Describe your best experience within the customization community? What has been your worst experience?

      "This is going to sound super-cheesy… There’ve been two instances that really stuck in my mind as heart-warming. Last year, a mother sent me a message through Flickr saying how she’d found some of my Star Wars figures while looking for birthday ideas for her five-year-old, who was a huge Star Wars and LEGO fan. It was a short message, just explaning how much her son liked them and if I minded her printing them out to use as party decorations. A second message was from an elementary school teacher who emailed me to say how she found’d my Historical figures and was using them (quite successfully) as teaching tools in her classroom.

      I sent messages back to both women, replying enthusiastically about how great it was that they and their kids were appreciating the figures. Both quickly sent messages back along the lines of 'Wow, I didn’t even think you’d respond, thank you!' It was just really cool hearing from random people outside the LEGO community and how much something I created made their day a little bit better. That was the proverbial warm and fuzzy all over.

      On the flipside, I actually had a hard time thinking of a 'worst' experience, which speaks volumes about the community itself. If anything, I’d say what stinks the most is to see kids swiping other peoples’ work and posting it as their own. The LEGO Universe website, where users can post 'their' creations, is notorious for that sort of property pilfering. Although to be fair, they do act quickly to remove stolen images once notified, thanks in large part to the Brick~Busters! Flickr group.



      Deadly like a manticore?!
      (I must admit, though, that the descriptions the swipers dream up can be wonderfully idiotic, at times— someone reposted my steampunk walker Dardenbahst as their own and somehow got it in their head that it was 'deadly like a leopard'. A leopard? Really?)" [EDITORIAL: Leopard? No. I think of it more like a lion. A lion with wings. Isn't that a manticore?!]

      Where do you see the LEGO minifig customization community going from here? What needs to change? What needs to be nurtured for it to grow stronger?

      "The number one goal I’d like to see accomplished is for custom minifigures to be granted the same respect as brick-built MOCs in the LEGO community. Too often I see comments like 'well anyone can do that, it’s only a few parts!', and I honestly feel it unfairly shortchanges the entire creative process that goes into creating a figure. I can speak from experience in that putting a really good figure together from conception to completion can sometimes take a couple weeks and go through just as many revisions as a MOC– having it brushed aside because it’s 'just' a figure is ridiculous."

      Tune in tomorrow for our last installment with Morgan where we will discuss...What's that? We didn't talk about his creative use of non-LEGO parts today?! We do have one more installment you know; however, I'm not telling you the subject. Rest assured, citizen, we won't be talking about manticores...or will we?

      8/17/10

      Onosendai's Tribute to 'They Live'

      And the award for best vignette depicting a film starring Rowdy Roddy Piper goes to Onosendai (AKA Andrew Lee). Utilizing the robot heads from the Series 1 Collectible Minifigures, he scores a spot on tribute to the cult classic 'They Live'.

      It's no secret that these heads were my favorite part to come out of series one. My 4 year-old son actually experimented with these heads in a similar way. Without realizing it, he recreated another cult film tribute when he married The Robot noggin and The Cowboy. Wanna' guess which film? Answer here.

      (Via Onosendai2600's Flickr stream)

      ABP Alert: LEGO Prince of Persia Clearance (US)

      Toys N Bricks is reporting that both Wal-Mart and Target are conducting in-store clearances on select LEGO sets of 30% to 50% off original prices. One particular collection to be on the watch for are the LEGO Prince of Persia sets.

      Prince of Persia (PoP) was well received by the AFOL community, but due to a lackluster box office in the US (although I heard it did quite well overseas) we may see some deep discounts leading up to the holidays.

      Sets like 7569, Desert Attack, and 7570, Ostrich Race, had some great minifig parts, weapons, and animals ready for customization. These sets were already affordable, but with these additional discounts, there may be real 'army building potential' here.

      You may want to call your local store to see if they still have items in stock and how low the discounts are in your area before venturing out.

      You can also see the other sets being discounted by clicking through the link below.

      (UPDATE 8/20: I personally went to my local Target and Wal-Mart last night, but didn't see any LEGO PoP on clearance. There were several LEGO Star Wars items on sale at Target, however. My Wal-Mart appeared to be re-setting their planograms and there were LEGO items on clearance. You'll have to hunt them out - the items I found were in the Lawn & Garden area!)

      (Via Toys N Bricks)

      Inside the Customizer's Studio: Morgan19, Part 2

      Welcome back to day two of my interview with Morgan19. A graphic designer by trade, I was curious if and how his work influenced his designs...

      How do you feel your graphic design training has influenced your minifigure work? How has LEGO influenced your work as a graphic designer?

      "Ask my mom and she’d attest that I’ve always been an artist in one form or another, doodling and drawing whenever and wherever I could. I would say my design background has definitely influenced the LEGO creations I make but not so much the other way around, unfortunately. As a graphic designer professionally since 1999 or so, integrating digital elements into my LEGO creations has been a no-brainer and really helps me 'complete' the creative thought of each. Pairing LEGO with graphic work is also just a really fun, creative way to unwind and let my mind wander at the end of the day while having a nice end product to show for it, too."

      If the opportunity to work with/for TLG were to present itself, would you be interested? If you were given the 'keys to the castle' what would you like to try your hand at?

      "Ahh, what a delicious subject... TLG has actually posted a few graphic designer positions over the past couple years that I’ve drooled over, but unfortunately they all seem to be in Billund and thus are far outside my geographical comfort zone.

      If that were ever an option, I’d love to work on those DK-style 'visual dictionary' books, with big, clear images of LEGO to play with. Box art for sets would be a treat to do, too, although I imagine the revision process could be as heartbreaking to a passionate LEGO designer as it is with corporate graphic design. Regardless, I’d be thrilled if that sort of opportunity ever came my way!"

      DK and TLG must of thought his work was worthy of their books. Several of his custom minifigures can be found on pages 92 and 93 of Standing Small, the minifig companion to The LEGO Book.

      If you've ever seen Morgan's brick work you can easily see how the DK guides would be appealing. Case in point. Morgan designed a steampunk mech called Dardenbahst. The Dardenbahst was a contest entry, but instead of slipping a piece of poster board behind the model, snapping a pic, and calling it a day, he photoshopped it as a schematic with context and back story. I personally refer to this as 'complete design', where several elements are brought to bear on a piece to enhance the total narrative.

      Were are half-way through our series and we haven't even asked Morgan about those pesky action figure parts yet. I guess you'll just have to keep tuning in and wait a little longer...

      8/16/10

      Arriba, Arriba! Andale, Andale!

      Orion Pax hits this one out of the park with his rendition of that Looney Tunes classic, Speedy Gonzales. Originally seen on customminifig.co.uk, what I like about this interpretation is that there's just enough detail shown in the photo that the viewer's imagination can fill in the rest. The camera angle and use of the Series 2 sombrero is fantastic.

      When you get a chance, see how Orion has used other Series 2 parts to create some 'famous' custom minifigs (Who knew 'Pimp Daddy' + 'Mime' = Samuel L Jackson?!)

      (Via Orion Pax's Flickr stream)

      Inside the Customizer's Studio: Morgan19

      A few weeks ago I was privileged to be able to conduct a series of interviews with customizer JasBrick. Fortune has favored me once again, as I've had the honor to connect with another of my favorite custom designers, Morgan19. Over the past couple of weeks we've corresponded on a number of topics related to LEGO minifigures and customization. Those talks have culminated in the series I share with you now.

      I will be sharing segments of our discussions over the next week, similar to my last series. Today we start the conversation by talking to Morgan about some of his work on historical minifigures and his Halloween series. Enjoy!

      Since emerging from your 'dark ages' and entering the online scene, much of your work has gained instant notoriety. Your set of historical figures is one of those. What is the story of how these came about and then expanded into the 90+ figures we see online?

      "Although I’ve been playing (err, building?) with LEGO for just about my entire life, I believe my Historical figures were the first group of LEGO minifigs I’d posted online, originally to Brickshelf and then Flickr.

      In 2006 I was living with my wife in an apartment that didn’t have much space for MOC-scale building, so most of my bricks were (and still are) stored over at my parents’ house. Despite that, I’d always keep my collection of figures around just to fiddle with when I had time, so I was particularly intrigued when I stumbled upon a minifig-centric contest Kaminoan (Jared, from The Fine Clonier) was hosting. The goal was to create interesting historical minifigs using nothing but 100% pure, unaltered LEGO pieces–easy enough, given that that was all I had available to me! So I thought “what the heck,” and started researching famous historical people.

      For the next week or two I’d come home from work and either immediately start picking through my minifig parts to see if anything inspired me, or go online and look for photographs that would translate well to an existing LEGO torso or face. I never intended to do 90+ entries for the contest; that was more a side effect of enjoying the entire process than anything.

      One of the contest’s rules was that each entry needed to include a link to a reference photo of the actual person. I, being quite economical, decided to utilize my 'graphicdesignedness' and integrate the photo into the figure’s image. But as I went along I realized just having a photo plopped next to the minifig didn’t look “finished” enough for my taste: the figure needed a photo, the photo needed a related background, the background needed colors to tie everything together, a title to identify it all, etc... And that’s how my chracteristic Photoshopping of LEGO figures began."

      Your Halloween minifigures all seem to have a passage from a book, a stanza of poetry, or music lyrics accompany them. What often comes first, the figure or the literature/musical reference?

      "Like the Historical figures, my set of constantly-expanding Halloween minifigs started because of another Fine Clonier contest in 2007. Beyond having the Photoshopped graphics for each, I had a simple gut feeling that I wanted to add some creepy flavor text to really push them into the next level of presentation– pairing the visual elements (figure, graphics) together with the mental elements (the feel of overall image paired with the mood of the text) to really emphasize each one’s atmosphere.

      Because I’m very much a visual person, more often than not the idea of the figure (or the entire completed figure) comes first, followed by some late-night in-depth Googling to track down a poem or lyrics that pairs with it nicely. (The same is usually true for their graphics and names– more often than not I don’t have those decided until the figure is staring at me in Photoshop. As goofy as it sounds, the figure and I sort of discover each its identity as we go.) So although they tend to be rare, there are a few instances where the text inspires the figure. 'The Shattered Maid' is a good example... I had that Evanescence song stuck in my head for months before finally coming up with a figure I was happy enough to pair it with."

      Your references are quite varied. What authors/poets/musicians do you find yourself returning to often when you look for design inspiration?

      "I wish I could say I had a tremendous backlog of conscious literary inspiration to draw from, but the ideas usually just come straight from my imagination or, more likely, long frustrating hours of staring at my parts bin trying to figure out something fun to make with parts combinations. So I’d say there’s no dedicated “pool of talent” I turn to for inspiration, but putting a creepy movie on while I’m creating or listening to some moody atmospheric music can work wonders to get the creative juices flowing. Evanescence, Within Temptation, Blackmore’s Night, or even my Celtic/New Age station on Pandora are good for that sort of thing."

      Please join us again tomorrow when I talk with Morgan about how his background as a graphic designer influences his work with the fig.

      8/14/10

      Series 2 Contest at Brickhorizon

      The good folks at Brickhorizon have announced a contest to design the next Collectible Minifigure superstar. Using all talents at your disposal, the contest asks you create the next must-have figure for the opportunity at six Series 2 Collectible Minifigures.

      There are a few rules you will need to abide by (which you can see here), including signing up before August 18th.

      What's up for grabs? The winner gets their pick of three of six collectible figs. Second place gets to pick two of the remaining and third...well, you know.

      So brush up on your customization skills then go forth and conquer.

      (Via Brickhorizon)

      Slayerdread's LEGO Space Police III Remix

      Check out these great custom minifigs of The Black Hole Gang from Space Police III. Using a combination of largely official LEGO parts these come together with great effect. I really like the boss character in the back.

      There's been plenty of discussion recently regarding the future of the Space theme. Rumors have some elements of Space showing up as a sub-theme of LEGO City next year. I'm hoping these fantasy space/sci-fi themes continue in some form.

      (Via Slayerdread's Flickr stream)