Monday, September 23, 2013

Weekly Cuusoo


A few months ago ReBrick contacted me requesting an interview and asked me to assemble a gallery of picture for them to showcase.

Probably quite to their surprise my gallery was not themed on Cuusoo but instead on one of the newer Lego conventions, run by Lego Fans, Brick Fiesta.

As with any interview a lot of it got condensed (some whole paragraphs into single words) but you can find it here.  I say a lot of random stuff in the interview but the core jist is that I was trying to get across is that Lego User Groups (LUGs) are awesome. 

Online communities are fantastic, but there are so many people out there in your own communities that love Lego as much, or maybe even more than you do.  I am constantly gobsmacked by the artistry, ingenuity, and creativity of my local community and my association with them challenges me to greater works, not to mention that it is just awesome to be able to sit down with a few other people and just talk about Lego.

There are  96 active LUGS in North America with a reported membership of 3,374 (end of 2012) and globally there are at least 150,000 registered members of LUG communities.

You can find a lot of LUGS listed here.  Please note the Europe and Asia are on the left side-bar of the page. 

Pick of the Week

Ford GT
by TMunz

Not a big surprise this was my pick of the week for a new project as I selected it for my Brickset pick of the week as well.  I have showcased new projects on Brickset before but new "picked" them.  A silly distinction perhaps but there it is. 

I hope nobody minds if I plagarize myself for the following description:

I have rarely seen a car of such complex geometry so well replicated in this scale.  This Ford GT is a maze of assorted SNOTs to the point that it reminds me of an Escher staircase.   

The level of detail is even more impressive when you realize the doors, trunk, and hood can open. 
I think this shot from the rear is actually my favorite angle. The building under the arch, off-angle plates, and use of door elements work together really well.

I have heard some accusations that this build looks a lot like one done by someone else.   My response to this would be that any pair of builds, by competent Lego crafters, of the same subject, in the same scale, even in the same color pattern, are bound to have similarities on first blush.  If you really look at details though,  insurmountable differences will often begin to surface, unique styles of the individuals will shine through.

This is certainly not a case of plagiarism, just two people building similar subjects.    

Honorable Mentions

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - Return Home

I heavily considered making this my pick of  the week.  So very close.

The set is very well developed without going too overboard.  It does not make the mistakes of so many other Cuusoo creators of attempting to recreate a building precisely instead of making a playset.  

This is definitely one of those projects that just needs to find its audience.  I think many others would have picked this project over the GT, and I would not blame them.  I have to  admit that my attachment to this film is not as strong as many people I known.

The E.T. head appears to me to be a Ninjago Skeleton head that has been photoshopped to remove the lower jaw.  Pretty clever.  I wonder if anyone has done this in real life?  

MAERSK konecrane

Very well done train element and a great addition to the Maersk line.


The King's Castle Keep
A well done Castle.  A big issue with castles however, much like your generic space craft of Cuusoo, is distinguishing yourself enough to grab people's attention.  Though there are many traditional castles on Cuusoo, Modular Castle is the only traditional looking one to get past 250 support.

My main theory on this is that the core audience for these projects are Lego Castle fans, and they are likely very satisfied with the Lego's regular offerings.

Magnum P.I.
I really appreciated seeing this set as a continuation of the 80's TV line up and I have always had a fondness for Magnum, P.I.  The figures and builds are spot on.  I am not sure how well this will translate to votes though.

I think the ideal for "Cuusoo 80's" are those that shows and movies that targeted younger audiences at the time.  Today's younger adults and parents if you will.

A great set of MOCs to be sure, I am just not sure the audience is out there.  Would be happy to be proven wrong and best of luck to the project.

Korean Famous Building in mini modular scale
by daystar
Well done and very attractive.  Three small building to represent a country is also a great idea.
Mini Eiffel Tower
by TMunz
Great scale and immediately recognizable, although some illegal techniques I imagine.  
Logging Truck
by bodumC
This type of vehicle has always impressed me and Lego has always had fun with building out the stranger real vehicles.
Giant Lego Skull
Very impressive skull.

My Tables, far from perfect but more advanced than you might realize.

Ok, so there has been a lot of comments about my tables so I figured I would write this down one place and just direct people to it.

To many the tables seem too simple or backward or some other issue and I accept that needs some explanation.

What are they not doing “right” now:

Making sense of Days: There are no vertical gridlines, requiring people to hover over (with a mouse) or touch (with a touch interface) the line to get days.   Just as bad, the days count backward instead of giving dates.

What the tables are doing  “right”:
Any table coming off my system is a near real time presentation (within 24 hours).   These charts are not static.  These charts update themselves every time you refresh the page they are on.  I have a personal database that keeps track of every project on Cuusoo and these tables access THAT data.  

So, if I want to see how project 36302 is doing, Just type this link:

              If I want to see how project 29158 is doing instead of 36302, I just swap out the id.

The table is not a static table or chart but a dynamically generated and interactive entity. 

Ok, so why do the tables not have dates and gridlines and all that good stuff

First off is the “days back.”   

That I really need to just sit down and fix the coding on.  For this I need to add a bit more code to convert the day a project started and compare it to the current date and then subtract back the days from the current one.  I can’t just move forward on all projects from that start as most projects predate my data collection.

I am not too worried about this at the same time though.  I like to be able to say "32 days ago this project has 3020 support level instead of saying...well July 5th was lets see....So, for my personal purposes it is ideal.  I understand this is not normal, just pointing out that if you are looking at support over days, well, this is an ideal view of the data.  What I will likely do is preserve this code base AND add an option for dates. 

After I get that set up, I will need to write in some code to make sure to handle days in which a critical condition resulted in data loss.  This is not crucial but the more specific the data gets, the more accurate it should be as well. 

As for the grid lines, this is due to the fact that though my systems provide the data and I have coded an interface, the actual presentation of the table is something I cannot take credit for.  This is a Google Chart.  This is a very powerful, free utility provided by Google to anyone who wants to use it.  I would post a link but as you can imagine, you can Google it for more info.

But of course, by using their tools you need to play by their rules. 

The issue with the gridlines is interpretation of data.  Humans are very powerful and realized when an leaf is a leaf regardless of size, color, variations in shape, etc….but most computers will only recognize an leaf if you tell it specifically what it is.  The same is true of data.  
Google  has two interpretations of Data, Continuous and Discrete.   The tables are technically displaying continuous data, that is, data that forms a pattern over repeating points like integral increments or daily.  With this kind of data, a chart can show gridlines as each datapoint is a known quantity, a predictable cut.  Discrete data is “whatever.”  It is a collection of datapoints taken when they are taken and technically they can be anything.  The datapoint that says "1" says "1" not because it is the first, but because I called it "1"  Because it is a collection of strings instead of a recognized, catalog able collections of integral slices, Google will, quite accurately, not accept it as continuous dataset and thus will not allow Gridlines.  

Though the actual data I am presenting is “continuous” it is currently stored and coded as “discrete.”   When I was initially coding all the system I did not see this as an issue.  But upon getting everything “working” well, hindsight is 20/20. 

So, in order to get vertical gridlines I need to go back and start coding everything to be continuous.
This is something I want to do, it just is not something I will get to any time soon as this is a one person operation balancing a lot of content, this is especially the case since the data is there, it is just an issue of presentation.  Besides I think people will get a much bigger kick out of all the other stuff I am coding right now….So far the beta testers have been very pleased at least.  

But of course, since I am doing this for fun, well, there are other things I would like to do as well, for instance, It might be fun to code up something that allows me to document and display significant dates in the projects support history to show critical events, like when the Oz project got supported by the official Oz facebook page...this might require me to keep it discreet.  Investigations are required. 

Of course, there could be something I am overlooking.  If anyone has experience with Google Chart gridlines on discrete data, I would be happy to be corrected.  
Cheers and thank you for the interest.

If you have any suggestions, questions or just plain comments, please feel free to add them to this article and I will address then when I am able. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sherlock Reaches 10k

Sherlock by Flailx just reached 10,000 supporters on Cuusoo.  This makes it the second project to do so for the Winter 2013 Review.
Sherlock was executed expertly with a great concept for the fanbase and they took the project and ran with it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Weekly Cuusoo


Legend of Korra Project Update

Last Friday my Legend of Korra project reached 1000 support.  This just so happened to be the first day of Book 2 of Legend of Korra.  This week I also opened up the project to collaboration with "Kaminoan."  

Although I was quite happy with my own designs, Kaminoan's minifigs are unparalleled, especially the skill of manufacturing.  Using their figs has also allowed me to create these excellent bending scenes.

Pick of the Week

J7 Main Battle Mech
by tgbdz

tgbdz is one of my favorite creators on Cuusoo.  They are always presenting these great advanced vehicle designs.  I think this is the best walking tank I have seen made of Lego and Not based on popular IP.

I would seriously love to see this build in real life.   


Honorable Mentions

Modular Bakery and Hardware Store
by ezzkazz

First off, these look great.

Second they follows the rules that every Modular, in my opinion needs to do, which is to have a different looking floor on each level.  To many times people make Modulars that just look like the same story repeated.

I was thinking that ezzkazz had initially overlooked the access to the second floor but it turns out that is they put it in the back (not pictured in the project). 

Check out the roofs of both buildings though.  Very nice technique for both. 

Miniature Gumball Machine

Not to be broken record, but I love dynamic Lego build and this certainly qualifies.  "Functional' Cuusoo sets are usually very unusual (like camera stabilizers or music players)  but this one is actually  viable: a display piece with a function.


Citroen 2CV series
A cute idea.  Although, as I have said before, mixing properties just seems to me to be a bad idea.  One license is hard enough, three seems nearly impossible.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Great job translating character models into figures. 
Rainbow Sock Monkey
A great playground playset
Space Launch System
nice rockets
I am never really sure what to think about these projects that ask for better electronics than what Lego is doing.

More power to them sure, but this is not just about making a new shapes out of ABS, this is electronics.  
Technic Carousel
by JamesJT
A clever project.  The individual "horses" move up and down too.
lego Cemetery
This is a beautiful MOC.  It certainly does walk the line though.  Its heavy use of religious imagery makes me surprised that it got through the publication restrictions through. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Busy, but some "Awesome" stuff on the horizon.

Hey guys,

I realize I just got to doing daily posts but I have been working on a project that is sure to be popular with the Cuusoo crowd and that is taking up a lot of my time. 

I am really excited about in and am very much looking forward to sharing it more.  It has been very popular with the test group so far and It could be very good for the FOL side of the Cuusoo community.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekly Cuusoo


Macross finally gets the Reflex Engine up and running

Macross VF-1 Valkyrie +Fast pack / Armored parts has, at 11:18 PM (CDT) received its 10,000th support and has become the first project in the Winter 2013 Review. 

Sherlock Bringing in the Fans

Sherlock has found its fan base.  It has surged from 100 support to 3000 in just a few days.
The project is quite well done.  I especially love the small table with the "tea pot" on it.
Now, Sherlock definitely pushes the envelope on Brand Fit, but if you like the concept, support it and let Lego decide on what it wants to do.  

It is always fun for me to see a project "crawl" about and then suddenly shoot up like crazy. It is not often you see a project lounge at an average of 8 support a day for 10 days, then reach 3000+ over the next three.


Personal Projects

Magic School Bus
I uploaded Magic School Bus earlier this week and it is not the fastest project I have posted but I have certainly enjoyed the comments.  The Magic School Bus has a lot of nostalgia for a lot of the regulars on Cuusoo.  I just uploaded the submarine mode too.  I hope you guys like it.  
The Librarian, An Orangutan
So, I have this "Discworld" project up and about.  It is moderately scaled and has five figures included.  I do not doubt that eventually the timeless writing of Terry Pratchett will get this project to 10k but I do wonder if the final set would include the Librarian.  Of all the proposed figs, without being the central character of any, he does lift out rather unapologetically.  So, I have this little insurance policy:  Offering the Librarian independently.  I also figure not every Discworld fan wants a tabletop turtle, but every one can probably get behind a little librarian.

Pick of the Week

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The Witch Trial

Who does not love Monty Python?  I saw these on Brother Brick a couple weeks ago and immediately posted them to Rebrick with hopes of seeing them on Cuusoo.  I did not have to wait long.

This is one of those projects you just know are going to reach 10,000, well, as long as it does not get taken down for one reason or another.  This project might take a while to get off the ground but this is just going to bounce around with some Brownian motion until it gets into the right person's ear and then it is going to blow up.

Monty Python fans are not too well organized (limited new content), but there are everywhere.  Even Ernie Cline made a big deal about the Holy Grail in "Ready Player One."   Any Python cast member could crush this project with a single tweet.  John Cleese has 2.7 Million twitter followers for crying out loud. 

My only problem is that there is no recreation of my favorite scene, the Bridge with the Three questions.

Hopefully the fundamentally religious nature of the grail does not derail this project, but Lego does not appear to mind this level of religion as it is not too dissimilar to Indiana Jones in that regard. 


Honorable Mentions


Reekardoo is one of my favorite original creators on Cuusoo.  His first project I saw on Cuusoo was the imaginative Wolfpack Castle.  He later went on to create Galaxy Command with Kit Bristro.  That has been a fantastic experiment but I think this might be my favorite work of his to date.

The Nova helmet works great with the hawk motif.  The white and gold also pairs really well and I love the wings from the front and back.  

Emotions: Autumn

This is artistry that demands presentation.  The amount of leaves used in this is redonculous and I am not sure how many people would seriously buy it but this would be one of the loveliest MOC at any con.  

Backyard Astronomy

I think this is a really solid idea.  There are a lot of backyard astronomers and they are a hearty bunch.  They also tend to dedicate a lot of resources on their hobby, sound familiar?  It would certainly be a boon for the families of backyard astronomers.  If a set based on this concept were to get produced, it would likely be the #1 give given to backyard astronomers that year.  ;)


Tesla XP-14 Corsair
by JWG258
JWG258's Neutrino Jet remains on of my favorite one figure ships since even before it was on Cuusoo.  JWG258 has a great style that is a bit pulpy and works well with Lego's design aesthetic.  I still love the over-greebled Lego ships popular with FOL MOCs but these streamlined designs are awesome too.  The tilt forward cockpit dome is a nice touch. 
Ventriloquist Theatere
Extremely clever idea.  I could definitely see this as part of the minifig line.  I love the expression MrViscom78 has created.
Lego Snooker
This is a really fun build.  The use of  hanging epaulets is awesome!