Friday, 20 July 2007

There's a Starman in the sky

You could say this has been a turbulent week for the LEGO community, the ebb and flow of Brickshelf and the colourful opinions of the users who - used - it. The current outlook is that brickshelf will be available again at a price of $5/month. While I'm not one to object to the site wanting money - I don't want to imagine the bandwidth it sucks up! - I think the price is a little steep, especially if the site is to stay much the same way it is now, i.e.: without any real features. Suffice to say, though my opinion of that site and realization of its importance to the LEGO community, I don't think I continue to use it.

However, either way we must go on. So here's some LEGO courtesy of flickr galleries. First up here is some microspace by user J5N, some glorious dark grey and green ship and a robust looking space station. The space station was a response to Mike Yoder's own Space station, however is probably a little less suitable for any sort of standard than Mike's. I'll again emphasize the robustness of the station, it looks like some sort of piece you might find in an engine. Aside from the station, J5N has a small micro Strikeforce, an Advance Frigate, and the beginnings of a light carrier. It was actually the small ship that sits along side the space station that inspired my own current freighter project. It's funny how certain builders will build with specific colours, even if just for a few projects, and then those colours become something of a symbol for their building. If you see any microscale ships in yellow, most people would probably guess Yoder is behind them. Likewise, whenever I see dark grey and green I think of those industrial and somewhat gothic angles of J5N's microspace.

Next up is a ship from Moyblik blogger Lukas. Not particularly known for microscale, he proves that he has a wicked skill for the scaled building and a nigh topped colour blocking and coordination skill. The Asclepius is essentially an ambulance for space ships, named after the Greek and Latin demigod of healing and medicine. Definitely an interesting concept and something quite original. On to the construction, I think it's one of Lukas' best builds. The pointy shaping of the stripes is by far my favourite feature and really gives the ship a better sense of third-dimension. Carefully placed antennae and greebles add to the realism without becoming messy, and the lobster claw front bay is simply wicked.

Now we have Mike Yoder's microscale capital ship the Empire Son. Measuring in a 98 studs the Empire Son is nearly SHIP classification. The long and slender yellow body is decorated with white stripes and many docking arms and turrets, a few stickers, and an emblem from the good ol' 1999 Naboo Starfighter. It's pretty well armed too, it actually made me think if any of my ship's would stand up in a fight! I should mention that the thumbnail picture on the right here is actually of an earlier WIP version, but does however link to the finished MAJ gallery, I'm just a little sceptical of brickshelf and maj at the moment, probably without reason, so I'm just going to keep all the thumbnail's from elsewhere. Mike borrows from a number of sources with this ship, a small gunboat from Nnenn, and a turret from Simon Tzidik. Over all an interesting build, taught me a few things I have or will be sure to steal in the future.

Last is a bit of microscale from Tony Barth. Built in that Ken Tucky, Soren style. There's only one picture of this so far, so there isn't a whole lot to comment on, but this has wonderful shaping and colour blocking, and that greebley section near the aft end is love at first sight. It's a wonderful example of the angled brick hull technique, which I never have been able to use quite right. Excellent model, I hope for more.

Peace out, and remember to wait out the storm before jumping ship!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Something Blue

Today on Brickshelf just one thing, one single and solitary message declaring the site discontinued. This isn't really a surprise to me, it's an event that I'm sure many of us have been expecting to occur at some unknown dark date for a long time now. Considering that B-shelf has been operating for at many years now as a free service with up only, advertisement, donations and upgraded member accounts to supplement massive running costs. Considering all that lot, I think it had a fairly good run. However, it was quite an rude and unfair move nuking the site without prior warning. A lot of history has been lost, the work of the many builders who have come and gone over the years turned into mere digital dust. This whole dilemma is going to have huge ramifications on the community, Brickshelf was at the dead centre of the vast Lego community web. What happens next is totally uncertain and unpredictable. Who knows, it might be down for good or might only be temporary the details are unknown. Best not to brood over unfortunate news or the probervial spilt milk, time for this weeks Moc sightings.

Peter Reid has built quite an interesting bot, powerful and intimidating yet also thin and frail and vunerable to the slighest breeze but oh-so gracefull. There's some awesome parts useage going on, the joint-tech is wonderful and I love the droid bodies on the forearms and you've just gotta love those deadly dexterous razor-tipped hands. Great hips too. Shame about the scrawny exposed ankles though, or the Achilles ankles in this bot's case. Not forgetting the the show off Red Vader helmets which are extremely cool and as one would guess as factory mistakes, also extremely rare.
This cargo carrying hover-skiff by Lego Kid strongly reminds me of the classic Rockraiders, albeit Rockraiders matured slightly with a greater focus on a streamlined and industrialised form. I really like the inclusion of the tail lights and the plentiful cargo storage on this but I feel that the front windscreen could be better implemented, either by removing it, refining it or removing at all together. Now that's something cool I'd like to see, Rockraiders reborn and as built by the fan community.
Be sure to check out Spook's newest Microscale creation, the Spinal Fury. It's a fantastic Alien-like microscale model that boasts a ton of character combined with a wonderful asymmetrical shape with great colouration. Not forgetting the name which is in its self is quite awesome. I particularly like the quad-pronged antenna setup. Quite unusual and attractive. Thought has even gone into the stand, it looks very sleek and elegant.

Next up two Moc cover versions or tribute versions, where the individual builder builds their versions of Moc's that have been previously built by another builder. A fantastic but rarely executed idea, it's always interesting to see the variations in individual style and technique manifested in the end result. Peter Morris has manifested this fairly nippy looking white ship which was based on Jamie Neufeld's Gunraven. It's a nice ship overall, but I'm not familiar with the original and I'm not overly sold on this remake. In both the original and the cover version I feel that in some small areas the slope work has been slightly overdone. Slopes are your friend most of the time, they can smooth things out a hundred percent or they'll just provide a poor mask for the blockyness. However on the remake, I'm quite partial to the simple but very effective rows of 1x1 slopes as heatsinks on the sides which look really good. Speaking of engines, I also like the the cones posing as maneuvering thrusters just behind the thuster. A quad thruster arrangement instead of the twin would look great, shame the Travis-brick doesn't have an inverted-stud brother so four thruster-cones could be accommodated instead.
Also from Peter Morris we have the Bat-Slam, of course based on Chris Giddens original classic model but as pimped out by Batman in his spare time. Very cool. I really like the way the wings fold down, makes me think of a dark and lofty barn in the middle of a dark and stormy night, inside; rows upon rows of these Bat-Slams hanging from the ceiling racks like bizarre Vampire-tie fighters ready for the taste of blood. (perhaps oil instead?)

Last but not least Mirandir, aka Johan Karlsson has built this fun and fast little Classic-Space style one-seater hovercraft or buzzcraft as I prefer. I like the ladder as an engine grill on this one and the landing rig on it is strangely quite cute. Nice work!

Friday, 6 July 2007

Life On Mars

Hah, just completed the in-class portion of my Driver Ed class, wow was that boring. Hopefully the in-car lessons will make up for it, though perhaps it was just the idea of attending full day classes the 2 weeks into my vacation for a whole week tinted my opinion. A great TV show finished up it's first season just last saturday and it was one of the best shows I've seen, the name for those who've not made the connection is Life On Mars a British show with the basic premise of a modern cop waking up one day in 1973, he believes he is in a coma. I also recorded and watched Das Boot the other day, I would rather have seen a subtitled version - I hate dubs. Aside from that it was an awesome movie, really depicting the harsh life aboard a U-boat. To complete this intro: I also yesterday downloaded a Turbofax16 game called 'World Championship' and man is that a riot, nothing beats retro sports games.

First up is another Neo-Classic Space model! I can just hear your joy. Of course, me and Tom would never present you with the same things over and over - and this Neo-CS model is definitely a different one. Built by none other than our skilled friend Nnenn, the Ula-kit 319 takes conventional CS shapes and throws them out the window without a thought. At first glance I thought this was some Microscale creation, but upon further inspection found that it's only Nnenn being creative with Canopy pieces - there is a classic looking pilot tucked away in there. With a distinct Japanese feel to it, the Ula-kit looks as much deadly as fragile. I'm absolutely in love with the cockpit and all it's knobbly shapes and SNOT construction. A work to be studied and admired. A warning to purists though, if you're still unaware Nnenn is famous (even infamous) for his use of clone brands and what some may consider crimes against the brick. While not a lot of this bothers me, I would hate to unintentionally offend my readers. This will however be the only warning I will give.

Next is some microscale from a builder fairly new to the CSF circuit: Martin (or is it Marcin?). At first glance, you can just tell what this is - and that's probably why I love it. Clearly from one picture I can see a hanger, a bridge with a plethora of sensors, and overall more greebs than you can shake a stick at. But as with most LEGO models, and most especially larger microspace creations, getting into the small details is where the magic is. My favourite details on the Terrestrial are the sunken gun emplacements, this is something that has never occurred to me while building and I don't really know why, it's genius! This model features excellent colour blocking and greebs to make anyone envious - and Martin doesn't stop with just sunken greeb pits, grey greebs hang off the side of the cruiser and keep it from looking even a little too plain. Bravo, and keep a watch on this one.

To finish off I've got not another model but a new flickr group (sorry tom!). Now I know what you're saying, "oh dear god(s) and all that is holy, not another flickr group" and I was a little sceptical at first about it as well, thinking that it would fade into a stale floater like the majority of Lego flickr groups do - but I think we're all making a concentrated effort to keep this fish swimming: Microspacetopia. It's name gives away a few things about the group, it's about microscale space, and everyone (except those who chose not) is an admin. The idea being that giving everyone an equal share in power would motivate them to be an active part of the group. So far the group is rolling along at a steady pace, though it is still early. Check the place out and be sure to contribute if you build microspace yourself, or if you don't - don't be afraid to leave an outside opinion.