Sunday, November 12, 2006

"Give Me Something to Chew On," She Said

It's been a while, blogsketeers! I've been too busy conspicuously not building to update, and this is the first chance I've had to come up for air from my busy schedule of internet surfing, online RPGs and sleeping in until sunset. Sure I may be neglecting the blog, but it's not like I'm Tim Deering or anything.

Anyways I'm thinking about entering this year's Classic Castle contest, though I didn't manage to eke anything out for last year. The competition is never that stiff, so it's relatively easy to "prize-snipe", but I'm up against my monumental lack of motivation. And even if I did manage to build a little something-something, there's no guarantee the radical anti-fantasy contingent over there would find it acceptable. So we'll see.

The first offering for today is an Amsterdam canal house by Lowlug member Patrick Bosman. It strikes me as a very uneven MOC: some of the details are exquisitely rendered, but others are lacking. For example, the baroque frosting on top of the front façade is well-done, except for the baroque curlicues in the middle. Now the belville plate serves well though it's not an oval, and the balustrades are spot-on, but the sparsely placed white plumes don't do the original justice. I do appreciate the half-stud offset, and the two-tone parquet floors are a nice touch, but the greater part of the baroque detail is bafflingly unreadable. Given that it was in a recent Lowlug show, I'm going to guess it was rushed. I can certainly sympathize, as every year before Brickfest I half-assedly scramble to (almost) finish everything that's been lying around incomplete for months. He seems to be leveling up though, so I'll have to keep an eye on him.

The worryingly prolific izzo has done up an excellent steampunk train engine, which has single-handedly given me an inferiority complex. Just look at that cow catcher. It's a little slick and black for my tastes, but damned if it doesn't have style. Concerning izzo himself, I'm a little concerned. He's been churning out MOCs at a dizzying pace, and it leads me to wonder if he's just lost a job, or become a hikikomori. Don't lose hope, izzo! Be sure to get proper nutrition!

Okay, am I the only one thoroughly creeped out by this town MOC? Tile siding, geometrically perfect roof trim, rectangular flower bed where they buried the leftover limbs? Seriously though, the flat baseplate landscape and the way the driveway just sort of ends makes you think that the world stops along with it. Like in The Others. So "matija", if that is your real name, stop kidding yourself and put a knife in that classic smiley fig chick's hand. We won't feel bad for her Gilderoy-Lockhart-coiffed hubby, who's clearly cheating on her with his secretary, never mind the fact that he takes the convertible to work and she's stuck bringing the groceries home on a bicycle.

This train by Lowlugger Rene Kok has been skulking around the Brickshelf recent pages lately, and I was waffling on blogging it, but I guess I'll put it in after all. Not that I encourage updating folders just to keep them recent; it's obnoxious and smacks of attention-whoring. About the MOC: where the hemorrhaging fuck are the driver wheels? For those not familiar with steam engines, a train without driver wheels is like the zombie you don't realize is a zombie until you see the chest cavity gaping open, all entrails dragging on the pavement. I know it's supposed to be like that, but it still gives me the willies. It seems most of the effort went into the pneumatic drive, with little left over for looks (for instance, a wing plate would have been excellent on the boiler here). And somebody please tell me he's using this Explorien sticker ironically. I hate to say it, but this is what happens when you let Technic guys out of their box.

This new train-car-I-mean-engine by Japanese Brickshelfer mumu nicely triangulates peachtree and sekiyama to form a triumvirate of Japanese town-themed bizarreness. Despite its name, nobody actually lives on the "house of train"; it merely looks "house-y". Points for incorporating that damnable Belville arch, and I really like the "spine" on the roof. I'm going to let the doors used as windows slide, but the simple slopes on the undercarriage strike me as a cop-out. I do love the engineer in front of this thing: it has no room for a diesel engine, and it doesn't have the pantograph to be a trolley, so it's clear he's not going anywhere. But he's grinning like a fool nonetheless.

Lomero (known as "sir" on Classic-castle) did up a Civil-War-era-looking steamship not too long ago, and it's cool, but got all the details wrong. First off: the green crenellations. Is it because he's a castler and instinctively put them along the edge? It would have been much easier to make it look like a proper ship hull by continuing the 1x2 curved-wall technique through to the green layer. The paddlewheel doesn't seem to be actually connected to anything, though it's a good rendition of a paddlewheel. Also, the firebox is in the pilot house instead of deep down in the ass-end of the ship where it should be, which means the poor helm was relegated to the roof. I do however have to give Lomero props for making the tile deck match up to the curved hull, and for the understated smokestacks, and for that nice little flag. Its heart was in the right place, just not its boiler. Also: why is it hauling rubble?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sitting on the Beach with Rusted Machines

I think it's too late for me now: I've turned into a full-on train geek. This adorable-as-shit little locomotive was CADded up by one Andreas Weissenburg, and I've kinda sorta become obsessed with it. Just look at the half-stud offset on that roof! However I am kind of disappointed that the windshield doesn't appear to be attached. Is this sort of behavior approved in train circles? Or is this a symptom of CAD: thinking you can get away with sketchy building? Nevertheless, I'll probably build my own version soon enough.

In continuation of tonight's theme, I've got an ostentatious dark green traincar for all you word-greedy readers. Mysterious European dagealka, whose train station I've previously blogged, has resurfaced after a few months with this latest offering. In what is rapidly becoming a signature style for this dagealka fellow, the traincar uses gratuitously byzantine schleim building techniques (surely as much to work around dark green's small part selection as to achieve the look). The schleim is so complex that I'm surprised he was still able to fit passengers. I wonder how long it would last on a train layout before shattering to bits.

"Sekiyama", Japan's freak-train impresario, has recently been playing with a rack-and-rail system for sloped train tracks. I haven't blogged any of Sekiyama's MOCs yet, and I've been meaning to: his ornate, shambling style strikes a chord with me, though I can't tell if it's baroque-y steampunk or a more organic, Wings of Honneamise-y style. His bizarre ornamentation and almost gleeful dearth of color-blocking is refreshing after being immersed in the ordered, precise western Lego community.

Sekiyama's rack-and-rail system uses the new technic motor in the engine and strategically placed technic gear racks on the train track. As he mentions on his blog, (robot translation here) there are a couple innate limitations with using just the motor with a 9v battery box. The most obvious is that it's either off or full-power, not exactly the best for navigating curves at odd angles in what looks to be a top-heavy train engine. The other flaw being that, as far as I can tell from Altavista's thoroughly pedestrian translation, the 9v battery isn't powerful enough and the six-AAA battery box is too heavy. What I don't understand is why Sekiyama didn't just use a proper train motor. It clears the technic racks just fine, and has the electric studs to hook a motor up. Bonus serendipity: the motors would both move at the same speed. He could even put it in a crocodile engine. Sekiyama seems to have thought of using the train motor, but from this phrase:

"Being if ultimately, the demon you can remodel the electricity possible wheel and 9V from the rail could supply, it does, but."

I can't tell if he was too impatient to test the model, or just too lazy to implement the train motor. However I should cut Sekiyama a little slack, as he's breaking new ground. As far as I can find out only two attempts have been made previously, one using a disgustingly non-lego solution. And Sekiyama's the first to attempt a rack-rail system with a curved track. I hope he works out all the kinks; this would be a great boon to train layouts.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Catastrophe Keeps Us Together

So I'm back to blogging after an unplanned 4-month hiatus (which coincidentally started when I figured out you could download animes off the internets. Fancy that!)


Celebrated mecha builder and official correspondant of the Mecha Hub's Japanese bureau, izzo, has once again made surfing Brickshelf worthwhile. His latest is a high mark in his industrial series of izmojuki-like civilian mechas. The new toy is a charmingly overcomplicated street sweeper, part-Lovecraft part-Snuffleupagus. The uncluttered color scheme deftly highlights the MOC's rich detailwork. That said, I'm almost disappointed that the iconic black and yellow striped tile was left out. It might have made it seem too busy, but I probably wouldn't have been able to resist its siren call. Oh, printed tiles, you control me utterly.

A far more mysterious Japanese builder, styling him/herself "sigezo" on Brickshelf, has done up a spectacular sculpture of the popular anime character, Keroro Gunsou of the anime named... Keroro Gunsou. I have caught a few episodes of the show, and it is as bizarre as it looks. The premise of the show, in short, is this: Sgt. Keroro and the frog-people make an abortive attempt to conquer Earth (or as he calls it, Pekopon), and his space fleet leaves him behind. He eventually freeloads off a generic middle-class Japanese family and collects Gundam models. Needless to say, otaku eat it right up. Good job, sigezo! De arimasu!

This next builder is so mysterious, I'm not even certain s/he's Japanese. Brickshelf's "kwi-chang" has improved rather dramatically in mere months. Kwi started from modest beginnings like anyone else, but it didn't take long for him to get good enough to rival some of the best mecha builders around. Did Kwi sell his soul for building talent? Is Kwi a secret group of builders operating under one name, like that odious coven of manga-witches, CLAMP? Well, from the way this Kwi character documents sets he bought, I'm going to guess it's pure purchasing power. Having enough brick to never have to compromise goes a long way towards making good MOCs, and Kwi has probably been steeped in the mecha otaku culture since birth, so it was probably inevitable he'd become a major-league mecha player. And so we have his new "Magatsuhi, version 1.5". The whole mech, while not colorblocked in the Mladen style, has a consistent design and solid detail. I'm also impressed with the combination of red and new trans-orange (trans-dark-orange?) as accent colors; it's a rare choice and it works well in this context. The thing I don't like? The huge, inflamed, missile launcher mecha-junk. Freudian and bad for balance? Wouldn't make it into production. Fuhgettaboutit.

P.S. Moko is colorblind. Fate can be so cruel.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Laying Low in My Tropical Hideout

Yeah, I think Niels Bugge just went there. His new Longship, well, kind of blows away everything else in the Space Vikings subtheme. It's a sleek, mean-looking marauder looking to rape and pillage your unsuspecting Moonbase city. Sure it uses clichéd space wheel engines, but they're in an interesting configuration, and they fit the design of the ship. The figurehead is a little weak, but it's made up for by the profile that so strongly evokes the seagoing longships it has replaced. Also, the anime angles always score points with me. What can I say?

Noted MichLTC "trainerati" Jim Garrett recently finished a monster of a real-life Detriot skyscraper. He has pics up of the real building, and from what I can tell, it's pretty spot-on. I suppose that makes sense, as he's had a bit of practice with the Art Deco style. Indeed, he styles himself "Deco Jim", so I would expect nothing less.

"Began adding the remaining 34 stories as the Bricklink orders started to arrive," he says. I would certainly hate to be faced with his credit card bill. Anyways, is it kosher to resent this kind of ostentatious spending? I mean, I'm no anti-capitalist, but it somehow really gets my goat. Okay, okay, i'm jealous of all that dark orange brick. I mean, look at it. Even Eric Sophie doesn't have that much. At least he showed a little restraint by using black instead of buying smoke windows.

I need to blow off some steam now. Lucky for me, Piglet of Brickshelf made the cutest little tank mecha the other day. Selective compression? Check. Prehensile arms? Check. Keg? And check. The pics are sort of washed out on the diorama, which is kind of a shame. I do think that it should have something a little more substantial than a 24-tooth gear posing as a circular saw blade to cut trees, though. What about redwoods? You'll never squish the hippies camping out on low branches if you can't cut through the trunk. What this thing needs is an oversized chainsaw. I'm serious.

Our favorite picaresque Portugese, Luis Baixinho, posted a picturesque pirate citadel. Check out his Lugnet post for a rather amusing Babelfish of his originally Portugese blog post. The MOC has a really good feel to it: The wooden shack at the base of the crag is nice and ramshackle, and the rickety airship pier endears this MOC to me immeasurably. I don't mind the unlikeliness of a pillar of rock sticking out of the sea, (after all, I'm a fan of the more-ridiculous floating rocks) but it could have looked a bit more organic. Also, the building on top seems rushed. I like how it hangs off the edge, but the roof is sort of terrible. Also, boarded-up windows could be done more charmingly with something other than log bricks. I do hope Luis is cooking up an airship for the pirates. The scene seems incomplete without one.

CSF's Jerac uses some homemade sails to good effect on this Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang-tastic steampunk MOC. The sails-cum-wings were originally made for a charming microscale solar sailer, and give this creation an inimitable pre-Wright-Brothers look. Tan is often abused in steampunk MOCs, so he scores extra points for making it look good. It would have been perfect if the wings flapped.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I've Made a List of 375 Reasons Why I Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Want to See You Again

So continuing with Kevoh's architecture postage, here's a just-surfaced and gorgeously detailed train station by who I assume to be a European, one dagealka who has a fairly empty Brickshelf gallery. This is the sort of half-timbered Tudor look many castleheads only dream of. It uses the crossbeam technique pioneered by Didier Enjary, and loads of clever little techniques I've at least never seen before. If you look closely, you'll see that nearly the whole structure is schleim construction. It's slightly dizzying to behold. This sort of marvelous find in an anonymous Brickshelf gallery makes me realize more and more that I should really start following the train scene more closely.

Continuing with the architecture trawl, here's a sweet little nugget of old news by Keith Goldman. It's vintage of last March, but as Moonbase Mastermind Jon Palmer is considering adding some badly-needed design tips to Zemi, it's newly relevant. It's nice to see some coherent architectural style in a moonbase module, and this MOC has a sci-fi style so 70's that you wonder where all the hexagons went. This MOC has all the Goldman signature moves: repetition of parts and motifs to good effect, and also making the awful Star Wars cannons not look like ass. It's totally 'core.



Another mysterious Brickshelf surfacing, this enormous Hindenburg model is the work of (European) Carsten Wagner. It clocks in at nearly six feet, (175 cm for you non-Americans) uses about a half-dozen motors, and has enough light bricks to illuminate a train display. The swastikas were tastefully left out, but it seems like every other detail was included. Look through his amusingly-translated site for a detailed description (and animated .gifs!) of all functions. Check out the terribly lazy propellors and the dirty rainbow-warrior secret of its inner frame.

Wrapping up today's post is a little mech Fradel Gonzales posted in February. I just can't get over that half-plate gap for the eyes, which adds an incredible amount of character. Some of the black detail on the legs could stand to be color-blocked out of existence, but otherwise it's a very solid mecha MOC. I'd love to see this and some of his other mechs in an urban battle scene. Maybe he could run the idea past WamaLTC. Now if only we could dissuade Fradel of the crotch-mounted guns...

Friday, February 03, 2006

You and Your Orange Sweater


There's been a good many things posted in the past week or so, and I have been adamantly putting off posting about them. But lugnet.build.mecha's Iron Mecha Contest just ended, which will need some coverage, so I figured I may as well dig in my heels and get through my backlog.

The first MOC I meant to post on the first time around, but what with one thing and another, I never got it done. Luckily FBTB's Darktide did up a second version, so I wouldn't feel lame about posting on old news. He points out the specifics of the revision here, so I won't go into them. What originally struck me about this is, of course, the wings. It's a simple enough solution, but I'm still rather enamoured of it. The beastly TIE canopy is integrated as well as it can be at this scale, so I won't begrudge him that little problem. What was a bit disappointing about the revision, for me at least, was how he got rid of the awesome obtuse angle of the wings and changed it to a safe, structurally sound 45 degree angle. As someone who also does a lot of direct-from-pop-culture MOCs, I understand the importance of accuracy, but we're talking Expanded Universe here, so there should be some aesthetic wiggle room.

Well, you knew it was going to happen: someone posts something steampunk, and it's only a matter of time until us steam fanboys here at Golden Shpleem pubicly salivate over it. This charming little omnibus is the work of Eric Druon, known to most as "that French guy who sells all his MOCs". It's mostly studs-up brick and plate construction, which gets the job done well enough. I think the cab could do with a bit of color, though. Given the many color options for those windows, I would have maybe chose red or dark purple. Or both! The undercarriage gets that spindly turn-of-last-century look down just right. The back wheels look nice with the spoked wheels in the hubs, but I'm ambivalent about the non-lego solution used for the tire. I think it's black masking tape. Be that as it may, I would have liked the front wheels to match. Perhaps it was a parts issue.

The infamous Mladen Pejic has graced us with what looks to be his biggest hexapod mecha tank yet. It is a paragon of understatement: a palette of white, grays, tan and black constitute a creation at once imposing and demure. The streamlined hammerhead is comfortable without ornament. The twin railguns, supermodel-thin, don't speak the language of limitation, but intention. Through some alchemical process, he succeds in making even these stolidly un-pretty bar fences look good. But don't think I don't have my nitpicks. The flags on the back of the main body strike me as a little weak; perhaps he hadn't yet gotten his second wind greeb-wise. This might be a little unfair, but the underside of the body could do with a bit of detail, due to the fact that ground-based enemies (tanks, minifigs, smaller mecha) would be seeing a lot of it. Aside from that, the MMP is a near-perfect culmination of years of working with large spider mechs. The prudent thing to do would be to branch out now, Mladen, before you get stuck in a monumental rut. Hopefully it's not too late.

The "other Admiral" Chris Giddens strikes a blow to spacers' core beliefs with his concept-art-inspired cargo ship, Denarius. It's yellow. It's boxy. And it's not a subtheme. It provoked a lot of soul-searching among the CSF crowd, to say the least. The consensus was, "I like the greebles". It's true, there are some really good bits in there. But I also love the shape and color. It doesn't look like a naval battleship with wings! Anyways, that recessed cockpit is nice, and the hull texture looks neither busy nor sparse. The exception is the topside, which somehow falls short of the mark. It's just a lot of stuff up there, really. It looks like Mr. Giddens was unable to resist the sinister siren song of this rubber stretcher frame thing. I can't comment on below too well, as we never got the right angle. To quote a Decemberists B-side, "All I want is a good look at your underside". But I must admit that even I have my limits when it comes to the amount of yellow. Specifically, the interior. I imagine being on a long cargo run, with all that bright sunny yellow around you... it's no wonder there's only one crew member and the captain left. Perhaps that's why the last one looks to be on a tight leash? This thing should've ideally had an interior wall in some neutral color. Between that and this quick and dirty ambulance mod used as cargo, this ship seems more like a reactionary response to the space aesthetic dialogue than a MOC he would have made in a vacuum.

Niels Bugge guilts us all about not doing our geometry homework with his new "Piranha" fighter. Done in the style of Kyle Vrieze, this slicker-than-snot ship smiles its schleim on us all. Okay, enough alliteration for me. Great form, divine color scheme, and nailed the usage of transparent green. You know, in moderation. I love the round-cornered plates as a heatsink, and I don't even mind the slope wedges on the tail. Truly, when Lego and Pythagoras team up, they hit the Aristotelian mean.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I Was a Kaleidoscope


Once again we at GS find ourselves a little behind. Alright! Here goes! Toshiaki Nishiyori, a.k.a. "Tony", put this nice biped tank mecha on Brickshelf a few days back. In a word, it's dreamy. In this new era of strong yet versatile click hinge ball joints, the focus is that much more on detail, and this is where the MOC shines. The new 1x1 slopes in clear for the window? Cute. The nose art using roofing bits? Subtle. The Quidditch hoop around the hatch? Be still, my heart! I also like the use of dish parts to round out the mecha, although I can't figure out exactly what's used on the caboose. You know, under that 3x3 dish? The machine gun's okay, but I'd rather he used Dan Rubin's. My biggest gripe with this MOC, though, is the transformation. It looks a bit forced, and it's a strong enough work on its own to not need a gimmick. Perhaps I'll email Tony about this; judging from this filename, he may know more English than he lets on.

Next up is this big bloody SHIP by Brickshelfer Odarih. Who is this masked man, anyway? It's almost criminal to post such a huge MOC and not stop in to any forums and say hello. Anyways, the ship's got a lot of detail, but it's not overpowering. The overall shape of the ship is pleasingly anime. I'm not sure I'm a big fan of this loop section, but I'll stand behind it for variety's sake. The ornately scalloped end of the hull by the engines looks almost fussy somehow. I'm getting visions of a pair of giant space-pinking shears cutting this hull out. A noteworthy feature of this craft is the attention paid to the stand. Many ships of similar size get away with minimal stands or none at all, but this looks like it was almost built off the stand itself. Now that's planning ahead.

The last MOC on our little saunter is an admirable Victorian house by Nathan Proudlove. Curiously enough, he hasn't done a post about it on Lugnet. I do hope I'm not "stealing his thunder". The MOC is distinguished foremost by its unusual part usages, so I suppose I ought to point it out to those jokers at "Unique Brique Techniques". Man, it's hard enough keeping up with one blog, let alone two. But I digress. Take a gander at that droid leg balustrade! He also justifies the existence of those grotty rubber Technic axle things by using them as tasteful architectural detail. I dig the varied roofline, but the sand-blueness of the chimney is a bit of a head-scratcher. What sort of stone is that, exactly? The spindles are a little too spindly--I would have beefed them up with some white technic pins. The lift-arm mouldings above the windows score no originality points, but they're certainly passable. Now if only it had some steampunk...

As an addendum to the previous post, Keith Goldman has posted the completed form of his "Two Pits and a Pad" display, and it's breathtaking. It leaves me full of questions: How is that landing pad staying together? Where did he get all those sand red plates? Will such a setup make it to a convention?