Jetro's blog

Review – The LEGO Trains Book

Summer is over and traditionally autumn doesn’t only bring the falling of the leaves, but also new LEGO titles in the No Starch press catalogue. This years the season starts off with “The LEGO Trains Book by Holger Matheson. 
I have to admit I know very little about LEGO trains. I remember having blue rails and a black steam engine with a huge battery box on a tender (one that took three C batteries) and getting some grey tracks and switches later on. I still have one of those 4.5V train motors in a bin of old parts somewhere. The world was a different place back then and while I did see some pictures of large train layouts, I knew in my heart that was well out of my reach and decided to concentrate on other things. Years later, when I came out of my dark ages, I started to look back (and around) and learned a little more about the LEGO Trains world, but – again for practical reasons – I decided to concentrate on other things.
Still, LEGO Trains are a fascinating subject and Holger Matthes an authority on the subject. He originally wrote his book in German (LEGO® Eisenbahn – Konzepte und Techniken für realistische Modelle) and it is great to see that no starch press have picked it up for publication in English, giving it a much broader audience. 

Review: 21036 – Arc de Triomphe

I’m not a collector, more of a hoarder. I also don’t have much (or any?) display space in my home. Add those two together and I’m not you’re most likely suspect for a LEGO Architecture set. Still, sometimes a set has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it stand out and catch your eye. I probably wouldn’t have picked up the set in a toyshop: I’d have had things to compare it to and would have walked past it several times before taking the “rational” decision that I don’t “need” it nor have a place for it. Given the opportunity to review it though, I accepted eagerly.

Thor: Ragnarok Brickfilm Contest

LEGO fandom isnt only about building and collecting. As you may already have read in HispaBrick Magazine 028, there is also a collective of Toy Photographers, and of course Brickfilmers.

It is this last collective of stop-motion film makers with a preference for LEGO that this particular post is targeted at. The French Brickfilmers group Brick à Brack (one of the Recognised LEGO Fan Media) is hosting a contest related to the upcoming release of Thor: Ragnarök from the Marvel Universe. Interested? This is their official announcement (in English):

On the occasion of the release of Thor: Ragnarok on October 25, LEGO contacted Brick à Brack to organize a contest about Thor, the Marvel Universe character.
LEGO will offer the winners on the podium Marvel Super Heroes sets as well as a LEGO Thor poster released exclusively for the San Diego Comic-Con.
Set 76088 - Thor vs. Hulk: Arena Clash - Set 76077 - Iron Man: Detroit Steel Strikes
Set 76084 - The Ultimate Battle for Asgard - SDCC 2017 Exclusive LEGO Thor Ragnarok Poster
Set 76083 - Beware the Vulture
Want to enter the contest? That's simple! Make a brickfilm about the "Thor" minifigure with a minimum duration of 20 seconds (do not go for a 4 hours long brickfilm, you surely don't have enough time). If you do not own the official Thor minifigure, you can build a similar one, custom and decals are allowed. Once your brickfilm is completed, you have to publish it on BàB and share it on the following contest page:
If you're using voices and dialogues in your brickfilm, make them French or English. If that's not possible, please provide us English subtitles. 
The deadline is October 29, 2017 at 11:59 PM (Paris time zone).
This contest is open to everyone around the world and the galaxy (You Loki Martians!). So don't hesitate to share it with your community !
Ready, bricky, go!
The Brick à Brack website is in French, but don't let that deter you! We look forward to seeing some great entries by the end of October.

21136 - Ocean Monument


21136boxMINECRAFT has taken become a strong theme in the LEGO catalogue and it has a large following. There is something pleasing about turning a digital sandbox into a physical experience and LEGO is the perfect medium for it. The 21366 Ocean Mountain takes MINECRAFT fans to an as yet unexplored underwater world.

The 1122 pieces in this upcoming set bring new challenges, new dangers and new colours!

There are several mechanisms and the monument can be set up in different configurations to create new play each time.

Review - 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

LEGO Ideas is about to launch the next set designed by AFOLs: the Saturn V rocket that took the Apollo mission to the moon. What I like about LEGO Ideas is the fact that it provides a space for sets that wouldn't otherwise fit into any other LEGO theme. 
The 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V is the result of a collaboration between twoAFOLs - Felix Stiessen (saabfan) and Valérie Roche (whatsuptoday) – why, interestingly, have never actually met in person. They highlight the fact that working together meant that at least one of them was always activily developing the idea and improving the model. The result is amazing and the necessary 10,000 supporters shows that many people feel the same..
The instruction book also provides some information about the LEGO designers who converted this detailed idea into an actual LEGO set. Michael Psiaki, Carl Thomas Merriam and Austin William Carlson were so interested in the model that they requested to work on the model. Their biggest challenge? Making sure the model is stable and can separate easily into stages.

10257 Carousel announced

Today LEGO unveiled the 10257 Carousel at the Time to Play Media event in NY. The new Carousel is part of the Creator Expert theme and comes as an addition to the fairground series which already includes the 10196 Grand Carouselthe 10247 Ferris Wheel and the 10244 Fairground Mixer. 

The set contains 2,670 pieces and comes with 7 minifigures. It and can be motorised, adding a Power Functions motor and battery box. The set will cost US $199.99 - CA $249.99 - DE 179.99€ - UK £159.99 - DK 1499.00 DKK. The price in Euros may vary from country to country!

Below the complete press release from LEGO:

Discover the fairground’s star attraction with the Carousel!
Experience the majestic Carousel with a wealth of delightful features, including a large textile canopy, ornate reflective rounding boards with blue and gold detailing, reflective center panels, and a 2-tier deck comprising a raised boarding platform with handrail and a main platform with 5 buildable animal rides, including a white swan and 4 moving animals. Turn the crank and see the elephant, tiger, flamingo and frog move up and down as the carousel rotates. This delightful LEGO® Creator Expert model has an iconic elegance that evokes feelings of nostalgia, romance and adventure. Upgrade with LEGO Power Functions for fully motorized operation. 
• Includes 7 minifigures: a ride operator, mom, dad, boy, girl, grandmother and a granddaughter.
• The Carousel features a large textile canopy, ornate, reflective rounding boards with blue and gold detailing, reflective center panels, two-level deck comprising a raised boarding platform with handrail and a main platform with five buildable animal rides, including a white swan and four moving animals: an elephant, tiger, flamingo and a frog.
• Also features a sturdy, buildable base for easy transportation.
• Buy your ticket at the booth, take the stairs to the boarding platform and choose your favorite animal ride.
• Turn the crank and see the elephant, tiger, flamingo and frog move up and down as the carousel rotates.
• Enjoy an ice cream, candy or a delicious hot dog as you watch the whirling carousel.
• Accessory elements include a camera, ice cream, candy and a hot dog in a bun.
• New decorated elements include printed tickets and printed storybook tiles.
• Includes lots of molded golden elements, reflective golden labels and medium-blue/dark-blue elements.
• Motorize the Carousel with the LEGO® Power Functions 8883 medium motor and 88000 AAA battery box (not included).
• Collect and build an entire fairground with the LEGO® Creator Expert 10247 Ferris Wheel.
• Measures over 12” (32cm) high, 14” (38cm) wide and 13” (35cm) deep.
Available for sale directly through LEGO® beginning June 1, 2017

42063 - B-Model

LEGO has published a press release to announce the B-Model for the 42063 - BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

This licensed model is part of the 1H2017 line-up which includes a total of 10 models. What's special about the B-Model is that it is not only quite different from the main model, but has been designed together with the BMW motorcycle team. In addition, it is the first time a Technic B-Model has had its own press release.

Below is the official press release and a few imigas of this exciting model:

Munich, February 16th 2017 – BMW Motorrad partnered with LEGO® Technic to transform one of the best motorcycles in the world into a LEGO model. The BMW Motorrad R 1200 GS Adventure model celebrates innovative design and engineering. A pure building adventure in 603 pieces. The alternative model as part of the typical LEGO Technic 2-in-1 building set is now taking this icon one step further – into the future.
In a very creative and inspirational atmosphere design teams from BMW Motorrad  and   LEGO   Technic   joined   forces   and   jointly developed the
LEGO Technic Hover Ride complete with innovative functions and the signatory GS flyline allowing all fans to rebuild the BMW Motorrad R 1200 GS Adventure into a unique design concept model that removes all limits to motorcycles and allows imagination to fly without vesting technical plausibility.
“What would happen if we designed a bike together? What would happen if we removed all limits for the alternative model? So we set the BMW Motorrad and LEGO Technic design teams a challenge, a challenge that has resulted in this amazing bike. Collaboration between our two teams was driven by passion and respect for the DNA of each other’s brands. It was fantastic to see how engaged and inspired each team was by working together, but I don’t think either of us ever imagined that this project would turn out as it did. I guess it just proves that you can create anything with LEGO Technic. Even the future”, says Andy Woodman – Senior Design Manager for LEGO Technic.
“It was a great idea and a superb creative challenge to develop a fictitious model from the parts of the LEGO Technic BMW R 1200 GS Adventure set. Our concept not only incorporates the BMW Motorrad design DNA with typical elements such as the boxer engine and the characteristic GS silhouette, it also draws on the LEGO Technic stylistic idiom”, says Alexander Buckan, Head of BMW Motorrad Vehicle Design.
The life-size model of this design concept Hover Ride will be presented today during the LEGO World event in Copenhagen and will travel afterwards to different locations in Denmark and the “BMW Welt” in Munich.
The model will retail for €49,99

LDraw All-In-One-Installer 2016-01

Want to start creating digital models of your MOCs and want a simple solution to install e erything you need in one go? Use the LDraw All-In-One-Installer and you'll be done in no time. The latest version is now available and includes the following updates:

The AIOI supports Windows XP (Home and Pro), Windows Vista or higher (all versions). On 64-Bit Operating Systems it will install in the "Program files (x86)" folder. The Installer will NOT run on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT Ver 4, 2000, or XP below SP2.

It contains the following changes:

* Update to Parts Library 2016-01 (published 31.12.2016)

* Update to MLCad.ini 2016-01

* Update to LDView 4.2

* Update to LPub3D

* Update to LeoCAD 0.83.2 - 9306

* Update to LDCad 1.6 beta 1a

* Update to Offline Parts Catalog 2016-01

* Addition of LICreator 3.0

You can download the AIOI from:

Home > Help > Get Started > LDraw All-In-One-Installer

Many thanks to all the programmers who contributed to this release.

Willy Tschager

( Content Manager) 2016-01 Parts Update

The LDraw Team has announced the latest parts update for the LDraw Library of Parts. Below you can find the complete announcement which includes links for downloading:
The 2016-01 LDraw Parts Update has been now been released. This adds 572 new files to the core library, including 475 new parts and 43 new primitives. This update also includes updated versions of the colour configuration files (LDConfig.ldr and LDCfgalt.ldr) thanks to enthusiasm of Sven v. Beuningen and the co-ordination of Willy Tschager and Magnus Forsberg.

Thanks are of course due to all the part authors who created or corrected parts for this release, including several first-time authors. The reviewers also play an important role in keeping files moving through the parts tracker and deserve just as much credit. 

You can preview the new parts in 2016-01 here, download the zip-file update or Windows install package here. Alternatively you can use the LDView menu option File | Check for Library Updates... to install the update.

Please accept our apology for this being the only parts update of 2016. 

The LDraw Team

Humble LEGO Bundle Extras

There's still a little over 2 days on the clock for the current Humble Bundle — the perfect opportunity to get a great selection of No Starch Press LEGO books for vitually no money and help a charity in the process.


Review: The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide, 2nd Edition

The LEGO book publishing business is flourishing. Hardly a month goes by without a couple of new titles being released. There are titles for every type of fan: from step-by-step instructions for just about anything you can imagine to collections of MOCs, from mini scale to LEGO MINDSTORMS.
In the segment of books dedicated to LEGO Technic there are two household names: Yoshihito Isogawa and Sariel. Both of them have not only written go-to manuals for this theme, but are also respected builders and part of the international AFOL community. Of course, HispaBrick Magazine has reviewed their respective titles. Back in 2013, we published our review of the first edition of The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide and the conclusion at the end of the review stated that this was “Probably the best Technic book for any builder, independent of their level. A must have for your collection.”
If you are a Technic builder (or would like to become one), read no further – go get your copy of this book and start studying it! If you already have the first edition of this book, let me give you a couple of good reasons why you should consider getting the second edition.
The second edition of this “bible for the Technic builder” contains 70 pages of extra material. There are several reasons for this increased page count. For starters, the second edition contains four completely new chapters. “Part I: basics” now has a chapter dedicated to wheels, which in a sense is an expansion of the already existing wheels chart on Sariel’s website.[1] It explains reasons for choosing one wheel over another and even ventures into non-LEGO alternatives..
“Part III: motors” has a new chapter about the LEGO RC system. The chapter not only explains how the system works, but also how it compares to Power Functions. Although the system was only used in a few LEGO Technic sets and was discontinued over 10 years ago, the addition of this chapter really completes this section of the book.
The final two additions are chapters 21: planetary gearing and 22: 3D printing custom pieces in part IV: advanced mechanics. Also in this case, the additional information really rounds off what is available and possible in LEGO Technic at this time.
These four chapters combined only make up 28 pages, meaning there are an additional 42 pages of new material to be found in the book. There are updates and additions to 13 of the original 21 chapters. A lot of the text has been revised and rewritten to make it clearer, adding tons of information.
A case in point is chapter 6: gears and power transmission basics, which virtually all the illustrations have been updated to make them clearer. It now also contains a table with gear ratios for quick reference. Throughout the book new LEGO elements have been included in the descriptions and explanations and there are additional step-by-step instructions for a number of mechanisms, like a small and a large virtual pivot steering system.
If you are a Technic fan or build with LEGO Technic elements (e.g. for use in MINDSTORMS), The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide, 2nd edition should be at the top of your shortlist of must-have titles.

New Humble Bundle with LEGO books

NoStarch once again collaborates with Humble Bundle, in the creating an excellent opportunity to stock up on your LEGO book collection and donate to charity at the same time: The Humble Book Bundle LEGO


The LEGO Animation Book

LEGO Animation is becoming more and more popular. There are more and more YouTube channels with stop motion LEGO stories and even recent ReBrick contests have included animation challenges. The LEGO Animation Book – Make your own LEGO movies! (no starch press 2016) was written by two outstanding LEGO Stop-Motion creators – by David Pagano and David Pickett – and provides the perfect introduction to this exciting way of using LEGO in a novel and creative way. In their own words, the aim of the book was to create a “definitive reference for folks of all ages and skill levels”. Have they succeeded? Let’s take a closer look at their book and find out.
Stop motion is a complex art that, like many other arts and crafts, takes time, patience and skill. The LEGO Animation book is very much a hands on manual and is set up in such a way that you can start animating from chapter one, with only the bare basics. The tone of the chapter is accessible and entertaining. It truly is a book written for an audience ranging from the “8-year-old YouTuber to the 45-year old AFOL”. After setting the stage, introducing the basics, each chapter digs deeper into a specific area of LEGO animation, broaching more and more complex areas of stop-motion filmmaking. 
Throughout the book, each concept is illustrated with pictures and stills from the companion film, The Magic Picnic. This example stop motion film is used to explain different techniques and the book contains a series of pictures of the sets and technical setup used to create the film. The authors of the book also turn up occasionally in the shape of minifigs, offering some additional advice and ideas. The central pages contain building instructions for the puppet used on the cover of the book. All these practical visuals make for colourful pages that are attractive to read, whether you want to dig deep into the subject or just pick out a paragraph or two.
The book not only covers “obvious” techniques like body poses and walking cycles or how to set up your studio and build a background. It goes much deeper and also covers subjects like how to convey expressions with body posture and animation or how to plan and put together a script and storyboard for a brickfilm. Last, but not least, there is lots of technical advice from what kind of software or camera to use to how to add sound and digital effects. 
Whether you have just started or already have some experience making brick films, The LEGO Animation Book is a must have tool to take your stop-motion efforts to the next level. And even if you have never made a brick film in your life, after reading through this book you will be primed to get started on the LEGO movie of your dreams.

Review - The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book

The second No Starch Press title of the season (after Tiny LEGO Wonders) is also about tiny builds, but with a completely different angle. Chris McVeigh presents a series of miniature builds that serve (mostly) as Christmas ornaments.
The book contains 15 builds. Each build starts with a nicely set picture of the model, followed by an inventory with LEGO part numbers. 
The step-by-step instructions that follow are clear and easy to follow and always on the same festive, light-green background.
The book has a contents page, but there is no visual reference to the models and I found it quite challenging to remember the difference between the Barrel, the Ball, the Bow and the Lantern, to name several of the “ball-shaped” ornaments in the list. The fact that all the pages are the same colour makes it slightly less easy to locate the start of each model.
There is really only one page with text in the book, the Introduction, which is a kind of postcard to the reader and an invitation to mix up the colours and check out the author’s website: for more ornament designs.
Of course I did, and I was surprised to find that most of the designs in the book are already available as free downloadable PDFs on the website, although for the most part with different names. Only the last three models are not (yet?) on the website [1] and they are also some of my favourites: the computer, the camera and the burger.