Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Some Interesting Ideas

News


I have two additional articles that might be of interest to FOLS this week.

  • An interview with Alatariel, the creator of the Research Institue.   We discuss her history with LEGO, her experience with the project, and her thoughts on LEGO Ideas.
  • An in depth review of The LEGO Neighborhood Book.  I would recommend this book to any FOL, but especially to those trying their hand at a modular on LEGO Ideas.



Pick(s) of the Week

This is one of those rare weeks where I could not decide between two great projects.

Concorde Display Set

The Concord is one of those modern marvels that, like manned moon missions seemed to be the start of something new and spectacular, a new era,  but unfortunately stands alone (well, nearly alone) as a singular front runner. 

I think, like the DC-3, that these detailed aircraft builds could be a way for the classic non-LEGO model building community to transition to the interlocking bricks that the kids are much more into these days.  Additionally LEGO could bring aviation geeks or avgeeks (their term like our FOL) that don't have the time or skill to build classic models into the LEGO fold as well due to the ease with even a complete novice can execute a LEGO set.

As for the model itself, I like it a lot.  The heavy studding of the wings is a bit of a negative but there is really not much you can do about that.  The addition of the Bristol Olympus engine is a great touch to set this apart.

As usual ABStract expertly executes the presentation of the main image with an attractive model, background, and titling.

As for the audience, although this is an retired aircraft this is a pretty good choice.  You have this transcontinental appeal (North America, UK, France, and even Barbados), you have an in with avgeeks, and as an engineering marvel you have a lot of engineers that identify with the craft.  


Little Red Schoolhouse
by tdh-br

If you are a serious LEGO fan, make sure to really check this project out.  At first I was not expecting much, but as I really examined it, it went from notable, to honorable, to a shared "pick of the week."  Like the Food Truck, this project really exemplifies the subtle excellence you expect in an official LEGO model.

Excellent model at the perfect scale that really nails the image people have of the tiny red brick schoolhouse.  The roof is also extremely well done and quite efficient with part usage.  I love that the structure is off angle as well, though there are more officially acceptable ways in which to execute it.

I really love how the project basically nails all the critical points without excess.  That is extremely difficult for even experienced FOLs to pull off.   At the same time there is attention paid to even simple part placement.  For example, the pillars are turned 45 degrees off standard to give them a bit of a pop.

The Bus is a nice accent and gives us that vehicle that nearly every LEGO set needs.

The only problem is I am not sure about the global appeal of this image of an "old school" school.  I think of it as very "North American" image and not just because of the U.S. flag integrated into the project. 

Honorable Mentions

Steampunk Betty (Emerald Night Redux)

A fun build that leverages a classic set.  Very clever.  I like how the mecha is clearly embracing the train motif, not just using parts from the Emerald Night but also trying to evoke the design itself.

I think the legs fail to live up to what the rest of the build is delivering.  I also think this project might be the ignominious winner for "most tags on a single project."

Versailles 1668
by Djeaser

This build is not quite so huge as a first look might imply.  Micro scale on a grand scale!  Not quite sure where I would display this but it is simply gorgeous.

Pictorial Map of The United States
by mmbace

Love this for all the same reasons as the European model.

As someone who grew up in Wyoming I feel inclined to give my two cents: Add a reference to Yellowstone, perhaps Old Faithful.

 

Notables

Project Voltes Five (Voltes V)
Only vaguely familiar with Voltes but this project has done a great job of accessing the subject fan base.
Lego Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
With all due respect to Konrad Keska and the project supporters, I must admit that I am not too impressed with this set concept.  It would make a mind blowing MOC, and I certainly appreciate the work, but it falls flat for me as a product.

First off, the structure in the main image, is large and thin with no minifig play value other than, well, going through the entrance.

If it was by itself I could see it working out okay as a display model propped against a wall, but still the whole structure only gets a few minutes time in the movie and it only serves as the entrance and exit to the movie's last sequence, in other words, it is a lot of bricks and volume to display something, though assuredly pretty, is technically irrelevant to the film and story.  I feel the same way in regard to the Lars homestead.  It is a desert igloo where that whiny kid Luke lives before all the cool stuff happens.

But, despite the main image, there is actually a long sequence of traps and such from the movie attached to the back of this build.  So, you have this inherent setup problem.  Where are you going to put this thing.  When you are considering a design you hope to market you need to do a thought exercise where you try to picture where someone is going to put the set to showcase it.  Generally people only have a few location in their home that are appropriate and they tend to only have one good viewing angle.  So in order to see the sequence of traps, all you see is the back of this really tall, thin, wide structure.  If you display it with the pretty wall face out you end up with this awkward facade hanging out in space with a thin, long hard to see structure pushing it out from the wall.

Now, on to the "action sequence."  This is also problematic.  This structure is basically a canyon build.  It is long with two sides, the problem being that everything of interest is inside the canyon.  This obstructs the view and lighting and  is an impediment to general playability.

As a comparison lets look at the action sequence set from Raiders.   


You can see that one side is open.  The circumstances of the sequence are the same: Characters going down a long tunnel of traps and challenges, but in this case, LEGO has created an open diorama.  This has a much wider angle of playability, and view and has a very photogenic view angle. 

King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table
Well presented and executed.  The figure count does seem a little high though but I would like to think that fans of the project and LEGO would be receptive to scaling down a project of this nature if that was required.
Music School and Instruments Music Store
by max78tn
An interesting concept and fairly well executed.  I think you need something really astounding to warrant a four story modular.  This could easily be condensed.
Huckleberry Finn Diorama
by mpoh98
Beautiful.  I would not know this is Huckleberry Finn though if you didn't tell me.  This one certainly deserves an image title.
The Hobbit: Troll Barbecue
by saabfan
Similar to the Huck Finn one above, at the scale of the thumbnail for this project I might not have realized this was the troll sequence from The Hobbit.  However, with the integrated image title, this is much more likely to get fans to click through. 
Hogwarts Castle Micro
A nice reboot of Scorpius's earlier version.
Modular Bank Robbery
Clever idea to have a story integrated into the modular.
Lego | Arkham Knight | Batmobile
Not too familiar with the Arkham Knight Batmobile but the design here is very compelling.  Glad to see the use of text in the main image stress the subject matter.
Santa's Sidecar (featuring Rudolph Red Nose 5)
I really love the X-wing Reindeer in this. 
White Lake House
A well executed design of modern architecture. 
Kenworth W900 Road Train
An impressive truck.
The Hobbit - Halls of Thranduil
I like this build.  It has a lot of unique character, especially the "antlers" on the throne.

I don't care for how the pictures for the project are sorted though.  The first six images are for a much larger, over the top, "Canceled" version that detracts from the quality of the more elegant project.  I don't exactly mind that they are included, but I think it would send a more consistent message if the "cancelled" images were after the main concept.

Turtle CS-1 and the Space Guys
While I love the turtle on this Ideas has specifically prohibited "Battle packs" or sets that are predominantly figures. 

I therefore find it quite surprising that Ideas confuses the issue by allowing a project that actually refers to itself as a "battle pack" in the text.
Spaceship
by Sevalgo
A great design magnified by an excellent presentation.
Rolling robot - PALLA
Personally I love this.  But I don't see much point for it to be LEGO.  By its very nature it is a sphere.

I love dynamic projects that I can figure out how to change into something different while leveraging the animatronics that the build introduces.

Adding anything to this sphere will basically break its function.  So, awesome concept, but I can't see a way to leverage the design.
Gym Equipment
A lot of well designed equipment.    
Corner Doughnut Shop
I like the concept of a Doughnut shop and the internals are well done.  The outside is impressive and well structure but I would like to see some more color for a doughnut shop.
Aria Space Station
This is an impressive build.  It is unfortunately sullied by spam tags: Star Wars? Star Citizen?  Piano?    
HMS Romulus
The right background and some basic rendering help a space ship stand out.
Batman Beyond Project (75 Years of Batman)
An impressive build of the future batmobile.
Robinson Crusoe
A great example of an impactful main image.  The right render and custom figure could would have made this stunning.
The House
A lot of detail and surprisingly impressive builds hidden behind a low-rez render and a horrible background.
Stage for Rock, Jazz and Metal Band
Your main image is critical to selling your project.  This project offers so much more than the main image implies!