Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Curiosity Rover Revealed: January 1st Release Date

As stated on the Cuusoo blog:

"Hailed by NASA as a “miracle of engineering” when it landed on Mars in August, 2012, we’re thrilled to present a LEGO set based on this historic spacecraft. The fifth LEGO CUUSOO set, 21104 NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, will be available in the LEGO Shop online for $29.99 from January 1st, 2014."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Builder Interview: Jon Hall, Master of Dieselpunk Aircraft

Jon Hall is one of those Lego designers who basically "own" their chosen subject, in this case Dieselpunk aircraft.  Nobody can get even close to the quality, creativity, and variety (25+) that Jon has accomplished in these sub-genre of alternate history war planes. 

Each vehicle is a pleasure to behold and showcases the heights that Lego can accomplish as a medium for actualizing ones imagination in a real world model.  Jon goes the extra mile for that final touch and creates a custom pilot for each vehicle, proving that his artistic talent matches his building skill.

 The Spirit of Freedom

Jon Hall recently published on of these many fantastic works, the Spirit of Freedom to Cuusoo.  I think he is one of those rare talents, like Peter Reid with the raw imagination, bricking skill, and imaging mastery to take a totally unlicensed idea all the way to production (with of course 9400 more votes).

Make sure to check out his array of great design at JonHall18

The Interview

"I first became interested in Lego bricks as little boy in the 70s. I owned some of the sets that are now regarded as classics – the famous “yellow castle” and quite a lot of the classic space sets (there, now I don’t need to tell you exactly how old I am!)

It was only when I had my first child that I was exposed to Lego again. We were visiting my parents house and they got down my old Lego from the loft for him to play with. They still had most of my original instructions so we built my old train set (7740), put in on the tracks, switched on the power and… it still worked! My son was very keen on this “new” toy so we started buying him current Lego sets for his birthday and Christmas and I helped him assemble them. Then I started building things for him to play with (like the Mars Mission base I created as we didn’t like Lego’s official set!)

He loved it, but I had the bug then and wanted to build more stuff and that’s where it all began.

I’ve always made stuff that’s for kids (or immature adults!) in my day job too. I started my career in animation, then progressed to computer games, and currently work for a major UK publishing house as a graphic designer. I work with Lego, Lucasfilm, Disney, Pixar and Marvel to name but a few, doing licensed books of their IPs. I designed the Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary (and its soon to be released update) amongst other things.

My process of making an MOC is almost always the same - I draw lots and lots of ideas on paper, as little thumbnails usually, and then I choose one that I think are the coolest or most interesting and then start thinking about how I’d make it from Lego, what colours it will be etc. I very rarely just start building with bricks. It can take me a long time to actually finish a model though as I don’t actually have a lot of time to build, as I have two small children and a full-time job! I usually do all my building very late at night in my shed!
My Lego vehicles have been categorized as dieselpunk – a label I’d never heard of until after I’d already started building my planes. But it a useful label insofar as people who search for dieselpunk on the net can find my stuff. Dieselpunk is one of a series of sci-fi genres which started with cyberpunk in the 80s, then came steampunk and now there’s lots, some would say too many, genres with “punk” at the end. Dieselpunk is basically anything fictional that inhabits a world with 1920s-1940s technology, so the steam engine in steampunk is replaced with the internal combustion engine. It often harks back to Art Deco design, American pulp fiction, and World War I and II style vehicles and settings.

I started building imaginary planes in Lego as an experiment. When I first started exploring the Lego community online I noticed there were lots of people building spacecraft, and starfighters but I didn’t want to do that, mainly because what was already out there was so good, but I thought I could take some of the ideas of starfighter design and change them just enough that they would work for imaginary aircraft. No-one seemed to be doing that and I thought it would get me noticed in the community quicker – plus I found it interesting myself. I thought I’d explore that particular niche until I ran out of ideas and then would move on to something else – but I haven’t run out of ideas yet!

I’m very new to the Lego Cuusoo community. Several people over the last year or so had said I should submit one or other of my models to Cuusoo but I wasn’t sure at first. This is my first submission and I have absolutely no idea if it will reach 10,000 votes, but I’m a na├»ve optimist - If I thought it didn’t have a chance I wouldn’t have submitted it! I chose the Spirit of Freedom as it’s my most popular model on Flickr and also one or my personal favourites, the wings in particular were very hard to get right but I’m quite proud of the final result.
I get my inspiration from all sorts of places – concept artists, comics, films, animation, as well as other builders of course. I’m a big Hayao Miyazaki fan and love all his films and books. I love looking at concept art too –there are so many insanely talented people out there making this amazing art – I wish I could draw and paint half as well as some of them! One of my favourite illustrators is Jake Parker, he's a great cartoonist, very imaginative. As for builders, there are so many that I admire and am friends with that I feel rather reluctant to name anyone - it’s so hard to single anyone out, so these are just a few of my favourite builders I hope I don’t offend anyone I’ve left off: (Flickr names) LEGOLIZE IT MAN, Fredoichi, Pierre E Fieschi, Cole Blaq, Legohaulic, Legoloverman, Red Spacecat, Ted @ndes, Orion Pax, Vince Toulouse, 2 Much Caffeine, all their stuff is consistently amazing. Looking at great builders models can inspire you in so many different ways – from an idea for a whole model to a technique you might want to “borrow” and use as the starting point of a new moc. You can also learn a lot about use of colour, and lighting and how important good photography is to present your work, which reminds me, I need to get a better camera…

I have several work-in-progress mocs at the moment including a large dieselpunk walker, god knows when it’ll be finished but I’m not going to shoot it until I’m happy with it and as I’m a bit of a perfectionist that could take a while!"

Sample Gallery

Monday, December 16, 2013

Set Review: 70808 Super Cycle Chase (Part 1)

I have been changing up the format of this site a bit.  Now that I have Cuuscomp out of the way I am playing around with Rebrick and a few other features but I have more time to dedicate to the "journalistic" side of the house.

With that I have started interviewing my fellow FOLs, for instance this interview with Mike McCooney, creator of the Iron Man posable build and Jon Hall of the Spirit of Freedom.   I have more interviews on the way but I have also decided to start adding review to this sites repertoire and I am going to start this of with a bang: 70808: Super Cycle Chase!

So during the holiday crunch time I have only been able to get to the first bag, the second half of the build will hopefully be quick in coming but the fist bag is pretty much a complete set in itself!

The Figures 

The whole set includes Two good guys (Emmet and Wyldstyle) and Three robot super secret police.  The first bag for today's review contains the good guys and "Robo SWAT."


Lego really nailed it with Emmet. He has the universal appeal of the common minifig but has just enough unique features to make him stand out.

The face options are a self confident smirk and extreme panic. The smirk is pretty common, not quite the Han Solo, but the panic is perfect for the rocketing Super Cycle.  These faces are great choices on Lego's part as pretty much anyone can did up an old basic head for a standard smile if they feel the need but Smirks and Panic with the old dot style eyes are much more uncommon.

I love how Emmet's headgear is at once classic and novel.  There are deep hair lines in the piece and a tuft of hair that sticks up in the back.  Emmet's name tag, which is on his leg, bears his name.  I am on the fence about this.  I mean, it is a nice quality, and I am sure it reflects the movie model, but the pretty muck locks these legs down and Emmet's legs, no question about it.

When I first saw Emmet in the trailers I was very curious about how the red "backpack" brick worked...well, it's dead simple.  It is a brand new part with a square recess.


I absolutly love this figure.  Where Emmet is classic nouveau, Wyldstyle is ultra modern and style and technology: prints on the arm, prints on the hair, even prints on a brand new custom hoody all with a rebellious asymmetric color splash on only one side ala Two Face.

Both of her expressions carry a edge that fits the rest of the figure like a glove with slight variations of an almost Mona Lisa-esqe smile and...I am going to say, concentrating. The concentrating look goes best with the Cycle by far as it looks like she is paying attention to the road ahead of her, dodging some obstacle, not harried or rushed, just in the zone and making her move.

On a personal note, I must admit a bias towards this fig as it bears a shocking resemblance to my Ballroom dance instructor...granted she did not have a pony tail but she does have the shock of color.


What we have here is a solid "baddie"  The red robot eyes make it clear this guy is up to no good.  The rest of the body is standard fare for any security guard.  The flack jacket is very nice but the printing on the back makes its usage very specific.  The night vision goggles (soon to be found on Ghostbuster mocs everywhere) are the real take away from this guy and I can see the Legs getting a ton of milage.

I think the "gun" looks pretty cool but I expect that where it will really make headway is as a greeble element.  This has hi-tech clip-on written all over it, especially with all the connection points: top clip, handle, barrel, and "pump."

Super Cycle

Most Lego sets are designed to model a specific subject (fictional or real) or they are designed to be compelling while working within a play-theme.  The Super Cycle is an exception to this traditional design methodology.

The Super Cycle was designed for the Lego Movie to showcase to a broad audience what Lego is truly capable of building, to break down preconception about what you can do with Lego (or at least that is what my instincts tell me).  In that regard Luis Castaneda, the sets designer really nailed this one.    

The vehicle looks amazing in its own right:  Very unique and eye catching, just the kind of thing you would think a character named "Wyldstyle" would be using to burn up the pavement.  You can feel the speed coming off of it.  In addition to the raw attractiveness though is an exceptionally well crafted piece, expertly integrating traditional brick with technic while also introducing some basic greebling and advance snotting techniques.  This model is a ton of fun to build.

The "seat" and rocket element of the Cycle are made of more traditional Lego elements while six trusty 10247s (the professional's choice for system/technic interface) connect the technic element creating the front and back wheels.  

My favorite aspect of the Cycle is the four slope curved 4 x 1 No Studs on full 90 degree snots and hinged 2x2 plates.  Everything fits together so snug that any serious designer should be taking notes! 

Sound effect?

It is hard to tell if this is intentional or not but the back wheel is made of a set of treads enclosing a large gear, so there is just a little bit of give.  One of the effects of this is a that when you roll the Cycle you get a clacking/chugging noise that if you are in the right mindset is somewhat reminiscent of a powerful motorcycle.  


I do have a few, minor issues with the model.  They pretty much all stem from a style over performance expectation.  That might sound confusing but let me elaborate:  

This Super Cycle looks fast and it looks awesome and it is built with great techniques, but it really does not roll very well at all.  The front wheel sometimes won't spin and the back wheel is a set of treads so there is a lot of friction.  But if you want something that rolls like a racer, I recommend a Speedorz.  I can actually respect this tradeoff just fine.  When I buy a Lego space ship I expect it to look cool, I  don't expect it to fly well.  That being said, my son once got a "toy car" that did not roll at all and that pretty much broke his world view for the day so, fair warning. 

Now I would usually only apply swooshability to an air/spacecraft of some sort but it is worth mentioning that the Super Cycle has an awkward swoosh factor.  It is hard to explain this but you will notice it as soon as you pick it up.  There really just is not a good place to hold it while "swooshing" right above a surface (you know, like you would with a car).  The back is just too much of a handful and if you hold it by the middle, well, you can't see the figs.

The spoilers (wings clipped to those little gun type elements) tend to pop off when you adjust them but I am totally going to be stealing the technique for my next build.

(Interesting?) Observation

In posing the build for photos I encountered an interesting quality of this build.  Emmet and Wyldstyle, as I alluded to earlier have these awesome expressions for the build.  Wyldstyle with this look of concentration and Emmet loosing his bricks.  Well the figs are as close as you can get minifigs to be in the Super Cycle and Wyldstyle has this giant ponytail coming off the left side of her head.  This means that a lot of poses you might come up with for the build will have Emmet's head totally blocked by Wyldstyle's hair, but only on the port (left) side.   Thinking on it, I actually find this endearing rather than problematic.

Road Block

The last feature of bag one of the playset is this nifty road block.  It is very similar to the concept used in set 60007 High Speed Chase.  The difference with this version though is that it comes with a nice little gimmick where you roll up the treads and then flip a technic arm to unfurl it.

It is a fun addition to the build but it can be surprisingly difficult to get the hang of it.  


The figures are awesome as is, some of my favorites but opportunities for kitbashing are pretty limited .  The cycle is a blast to build, looks great, and can teach a lot to both novices and advanced builders but if you are looking for something that rolls like a race car then you will be disappointed.

I will add a link to the second half of this article when I review the Super Secret Police Vehicle.

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Guidelines and Letters from Cuusoo

In line with the new guidelines over 200 projects have been removed from Cuusoo likely many more have received notice to remove custom elements, references to playthemes, and variations on the Lego logo.

Attached here I have the emails that I have received which I pass on to inform the community on how this is being handled between the project creators and Cuusoo.

I received the Playtheme, Part based Project, and Fig based project emails.  I would appreciate anyone also passing me along a copy of a Custom Element in a set or a Lego Logo email. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cuusoo announces changes to Guidelines, House Rules, and Terms of Service

Cuusoo just posted an update to their Guidelines, House Rules, and Terms of Service.
There is a lot to go through, and I will post with more details later,  but for FOLs who have often complained about the type of projects allowed on Cuusoo the highlights are these:
  • Brick Based Set Projects ONLY -  Translation: No more parts, programs, apparel, tape measures, etc
  • One Project = One Set - Translation: no more "this is a new series of Lego sets" projects
  • No Minifigure Series or "Battle Packs" - Translation: No MORE requests for Star Wars and Super Hero figs without sets!
  • No Company Logos or Team Mascots - Translation: No more Purdue Petes or Android Bugs
  • Only Use Authentic LEGO Parts - Translation: No more custom minifig elements (This could be very bad news for the Muppet project.)
Looks like Cuusoo is putting into practice some hard lessons it has learned.  We will have to wait and see what happens to current projects that are in violation of these new restrictions.  My guess is that Cuusoo will allow "series projects" to taper down but all the other concepts are too specific to be salvaged.  These other projects may not get archived any time soon, but it is now clear, they will not make it to production.

Top Fifty Analysis

Looking at the top 50 projects based on support we can see the impact of these rules:
  • 12 projects are sets that demonstrate the use of custom elements
  • 8-10 projects indicate a series of builds
  • 1 project is for a "non-brick set" (LDD on the DS)
  • 0 new part proposals
  • 0 minifigure only projects
  • 0 Logos

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Builder Interview: Mike McCooey a.k.a "mmccooey "

Here is the first of I hope several interviews of serious Lego designers.  I am not sure what I will find along the way but I do hope to reveal a bit more about the amazing people I have met in the Lego community.   

MMccooey is an extremely talented Lego craftsman in a rarely ventured field of design: Large ScalePose-able Figures.  Rare enough in fact that I don't think I have ever seen another do it and talented enough that his Spider-Man was picked as one of this weeks Cuusoo Staff Picks.

MMccooey has used his talents to recreate a variety of heroic characters including Deadpool, Symbiote Spider-man, Batman, and my favorite of his builds: Iron Man

The detail and articulation of these builds would certainly cause a crowd anywhere they would be displayed.   
As for Cuusoo, well, mmccooey's subject matters are already licensed to Lego, but I think mmccoey's proposals are treat the IP in a fantastic manner totally divergent from Lego's current practice and stand are exemplary examples of bringing something new to Lego's table.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekly Cuusoo


Been a while, three weeks in fact.  Holidays and big projects getting in the way, especially the Assault on Wayne Manor project.

DarthKy and I have been very happy with the response to this themed modular project.  It currently has more support per day than any other project on Cuusoo and has reached the top 1.5% of all projects in the three weeks that it has been published.

Pick of the Week

Future Cities - FI-02 Police Furtive Interceptor S

Talebuilder has been posting sci-fi vehicles to Cuusoo for over a year now.  He stands out by using very unique shapes for his designs and I think this latest offering  "FI-02 Police Furtive Interceptor S" is my favorite of his works to date.

I love the snotting of the quarter saucer elements and the half pikes.  The side shields around the trans-blue dome.

The ship has a great combination of bulk and sleekness.  Great work and deserving a lot more support than it has achieved to date.  In my experience, sci-fi has a distinct disadvantage getting votes on Cuusoo.  My theory on this is everybody has their own opinion on what "sci-fi" should look like.

Honorable Mentions

Modular Apple Store Regent Street London

Personally I am not over the moon on all the Apple Stores on Cuusoo but I can appreciate that they appeal to their own crowd.  That being said, this one has engaging architectural elements

Chastiser the Police Car
by Ssorg

Ssorg is one of Cuusoo's most respected project creators (even though they have, quite saddly not gotten to 10k yet).  This police car is a divergence from his usual style of minifig scale vehicles but does not lack any of the quality.

by GRusso

This is a real fun design.  It is very nostalgic, for me at least.  It feels like a combination of neo-classic space, fanciful NASA, and a touch of realism.

I really like the sideways dome for the cockpit, never thought of that before. 

Lego City-Scaled Cargo Truck

I just like this one.  It looks like a solid build 


Iron Man Igor armor Mark 38
Igor is turning into the Tumbler of the Marvel Universe, this being the eighth one published.

I like this design independent of  Igor but it is just way out of scale for Igor
Winter Village Train Depot
One of the better Winter Village builds but I have a hard time believing any of these are going to get built.

Winter Village is such a specific line: Dark Colors with some snow and festive decoration.  Best of luck though, its an amazing build.   

The Adventures of Tintin - Seaplane
by Hogh
Tintin is one of the most used / least supported subjects on Cuusoo.  12 projects and none have passed 200 support.

This one does have a fantastic plane though.  I Love the use of axe blades for fins.  A Tintin won't get produced without a snowy though. 
Mini Mechs
A very nice Mecha template
mecha troopers project
by ms1300p
A very fun, real brick design.