Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Eight Huge LEGO Star Wars MOC Custom Builds

In 1999, as anticipation ramped up for the upcoming release of The Phantom Menace, LEGO partnered with Lucasfilm to create one of its most iconic lines: LEGO Star Wars. As of 2016, nearly 200 LEGO Star Wars sets have been released along with tie-ins such as the immensely successful LEGO Star Wars video game series which, like the LEGO sets, spans the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and the new sequel trilogy.

The huge crossover between LEGO and Star Wars fandoms has led to an explosion of Star Wars-themed MOC projects. For the uninitiated, “MOC” (pronounced like “mock”) is short for “My Own Creation” and refers to LEGO builds designed by the builders themselves rather than those created according to official instructions. The eight huge LEGO Star-Wars MOCs described below exemplify the synergy between LEGO and the Star Wars universe and are also amazing testaments to the creativity and dedication of LEGO fans.

  1. Millennium Falcon by Titans Creations

    Titans Creations, a Singapore-based six-member MOC team, used 10,000 bricks to create this amazing three-and-a-half-foot-long model of the Millennium Falcon. The team spent two weeks simply to create an acceptable blueprint and another two months to actually construct it. While the Millennium Falcon itself may have been “a piece of junk,” according to Luke Skywalker, this amazing MOC is truly a work of art.
  2. Ewok Village by KW Vauban

    KW Vauban, a German MOC creator, built a model of the Ewok village from Return of the Jedi that stands about three feet high. There’s no word on how many pieces it took to build this monument to MOC ingenuity, but you can bet it was far more than the 1,990 pieces that come included in the much smaller and simpler official LEGO Ewok Village set. According to Vauban, the spiral staircases that cascade up the trees were what initially inspired him to build it.
  3. Sandcrawler by Peter Brookdale

    Peter Brookdale, also known in the MOC world as cavegod, used over 10,000 bricks to build this truly gargantuan Sandcrawler, which was on display at the Brick 2014 convention in London. This model has working tracks and a ramp that opens up to reveal a detailed interior. Sandcrawlers are a popular subject for MOC creators, and Brookdale’s attempt is possibly the best of them all.
  4. AT-AT Walker by Peter Brookdale

    The Sandcrawler, though, is far from Brookdale’s only Star Wars MOC. He’s also designed a TIE fighter, a Rebel transport, and much more, and he’s made his designs available for others to recreate. Perhaps his crowning design is this AT-AT walker, which took 26 hours and over 6,000 pieces to build. That’s six times the number of pieces that are needed to create the official LEGO version of the AT-AT. This particular copy was put together by a group known as BrickVault, demonstrating that MOC-building is not just something done in isolation, but rather a way for LEGO-lovers to create a worldwide community of enthusiasts.
  5. Mustafar Separatist Headquarters by Michal Kazmierczak

    This model of the Separatist headquarters on Mustafar, as seen in Revenge of the Sith, took Polish designer Michal Kazmierczak four months to construct. It uses an astounding 60,000 bricks to represent both the base itself and the rocky, lava-ridden environment that surrounds it. Standing almost five feet tall and weighing in at 140 pounds, this enormous piece is just one of Kazmierczak’s many LEGO creations. He’s also constructed sets from other film franchises such as The Hobbit and Avatar.
  6. Star Destroyer by Jerac

    For most of us, our first introduction to the magic of Star Wars occurred as we watched an Imperial Star Destroyer fill up the screen as it raced after Princess Leia’s tiny transport. This Star Destroyer MOC was created by another Polish artist known as Jerac. Designed and built over an eight-month period in 2013-14, Jerac’s Star Destroyer is over six feet long, weighs about 110 pounds and consists of about 60,000 individual bricks, making it a fitting tribute to one of the most memorable shots in cinematic history.
  7. Battle of Hoth diorama by Martin Harris

    Although making MOCs requires serious effort, some builders like to add a little levity to their creations. American Martin Harris’s diorama of the Battle of Hoth is a good example: look closely and you’ll find Darth Vader riding a sleigh and a rebel soldier eating a giant pretzel to get his energy up for the fight in addition to many other little jokes. But it’s also an impressive artistic achievement that covers most of a very long table and includes both a detailed interior of the Rebel base and the snowy terrain outside.
  8. Death Star trench run diorama by OliveSeon

    Finally, another diorama, this one by the Korean team OliveSeon, recreates the climactic attack on the Death Star at the conclusion of A New Hope. OliveSeon has built many remarkable MOC dioramas, but what really sets this six-foot-wide masterpiece apart from most MOCs is how brilliantly it provides the illusion of motion—a real necessity for faithfully depicting a fast-paced space battle.
Have another favorite LEGO Star Wars custom build? Have you made your own that you’d like to show off? We’d love to see them. Share with us in the comments below or on social media!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How to Teach Kids Art With LEGO

At some point during childhood, most people played with LEGOs. These blocks helped many individuals establish ingenuity that continued into adulthood. Just thinking about these blocks often stirs nostalgic memories that get the creative juices flowing. This is a reason many teachers are beginning to bring LEGOs into classrooms. As they should! But did you know they can be used to teach art as well? Today we explore some ideas and activities for how to teach art with LEGO.

Artistic Encouragement

Nathan Sawaya, an amazing LEGO builder, has been sharing his creative art for many years. He has toured cities around the country with his "The Art of the Brick" exhibition. He displays life-size LEGO sculptures of various three-dimensional art reproductions, landmarks, and human beings.

His art always elicits fascination, especially among young people. Students view his sculptures and realize they can do the same things. Because LEGO blocks are a common medium, everyone is familiar with the building process. However, vision is needed to create realistic representations from objects that have distinct geometric shapes. The positive mentality from young minds is the cornerstone of entrepreneurship and is the pioneering spirit necessary for innovation. To encourage this mindset, teachers can bring LEGO blocks into their classrooms and nourish artistic skills and out-of-the-box thinking.

LEGO as Art

Besides standard art projects which include glue, paint, and paper, teachers can incorporate LEGOs into their lesson plans.

  1. Allow children to peruse the Internet for various examples of art crafted from LEGO blocks.
  2. Distribute a small bag of LEGOs to each child. Every container holds blocks of various shapes and sizes.
  3. Set a time limit for creating a work of art. The design can be anything the child envisions. There is never a wrong way to assemble the blocks.
  4. During the last few minutes of class, each student describes his or her results, the building process used, and other relevant information about the thoughts behind the piece.

Everyone will be amazed at the sculptures and the ideas behind the projects. It is important to highlight the various textures and structures and how all the artwork is unique. These pieces can be displayed around the classroom. At a future time, a teacher can return to LEGO art and watch how students' interpretations have grown.

Printing With LEGOs

Although LEGOs are used to build items, it is possible to use their unique shapes to create wall art. Printing with LEGOs is extremely fun and allows a student to develop an amazing piece. A student is only limited by his or her imagination.

  1. Place paper above a piece of felt. This provides the squishiness needed to mark the paper correctly.
  2. Grab a LEGO and rub it along a black ink pad before stamping the paper.
  3. Continue stamping various blocks to make a picture.
  4. When the ink dries, each student can use markers or pencils to fill his or her design with color.

LEGO Self-Portraits

LEGO mini-figures have been featured in numerous movies. Children will be delighted to use these forms to create self-portraits that include details which reflect their individual personalities and characteristics.

  1. Obtain a template of a mini-figure.
  2. Each student draws this figure to resemble his or her likeness.
  3. It is important to pay special attention to facial expressions and other details that make each portrait unique.

The above projects are just a sampling of how teachers can incorporate LEGOs into classroom work. They are innovative ways to encourage students to be creative and to be self-expressive. For more ideas, it is possible to turn to the Internet and discover why LEGOs are much more than mere toys.

Visit these links for more fun LEGO art activities!


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

10 Awesome LEGO Stop-Motion Animations

LEGOs have a ton of fun uses beyond standard play. They can be used to understand construction and engineering or to build models and sculptures. They can also be used for artistic projects like stop-motion animation. This is a filming technique that requires physically manipulating objects in tiny movements captured frame by frame. When edited together, this creates a continuous animation. Some talented directors and hobbyists have put a lot of time and love into such animated shorts. Today, we review some of our favorites. Here are 10 awesome LEGO stop-motion animation shorts you have to check out!

10. A Proposal – (3:12)

This cute, short film was made as part of one LEGO lover’s marriage proposal. It tells the tale of two lovers who fall for each other at first sight. While not focused on raucous fun and action like most of our selections, the story is heartwarming and unique among LEGO stop-motion videos.

9. Snakes in the Weeds – (6:30)

This film follows a man on a drive through some eerie woods that he soon learns are haunted. Along the way he encounters snakes, sharks, a wizard, and other fun characters. This film is well made despite a wild and erratic storyline. It’s slightly dark yet charmingly silly and has some great sound effects.

8. Superman vs. Lex Luthor – (2:53)

Lex Luthor attacks a peaceful town in a giant mech! Superman and Wonder Woman team up to defeat him. While this short uses some animation effects beyond what can be done with stop motion and LEGO alone, like explosions and dizzy birds, it is an engaging and well-told story. A fun story for the superhero fan, with a happy ending for the heroes and townsfolk.

7. Jurassic Park – (3:39)

This short film highlights, almost perfectly, the most iconic scenes from “Jurassic Park.” It’s a great summary of the movie that adds in some goofy tweaks and commentary for a unique, creative flair. It’s very well made, with hilarious voiceovers that sound like the actual actors might be made to sound in a professional cartoon adaptation. Made by a father, his daughter, and her friends, the creators used more than $100,000 of LEGOs to make this short!

6. Batman vs. Superman – (3:12)

Batman tries to convince Superman to fight him in this short animation. While less action-packed than you might expect from such a setup, this short film delivers laugh-out-loud comedic gold. It portrays Batman as a macho superhero with something to prove, poking fun at the premise behind the 2004 film “Batman vs. Superman.” With excellent animation, great lighting, and stellar use of camera angle variation, this short is one of the funniest to make our list.

5. Legend of the Samurai-Ninja – (14:13)

This short film is actually made up of two storylines! One is about a rogue ninja warrior exiled from his sacred dojo. The other is about a lost, dysfunctional TV crew out in the woods filming a survival show. The two stories intertwine in a hilarious twist of events that is made realistic with vivid sound effects, creative camera angles, and tons of explosive fight scenes. It may seem a little long, but grab some popcorn because it’s worth the entire show!

4. Thriller Intro – (1:14)

This is the iconic scene in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video where he reveals himself to be a monster. The entire video is created using only block LEGOs, which makes it totally different from many other LEGO animations. In fact, it’s so detailed, the characters’ facial expressions are vivid and easily recognizable, but the blocky LEGOs used to recreate them gives a striking effect. We would love to see the rest of the music video in this format!

3. Millennium Falcon Assembly – (3:35)

This short is simply hypnotic! It quickly speeds through an entire assembly of the Millennium Falcon LEGO replica and is probably the most detailed stop-motion animation in our list. It took an entire year to complete this model and another six months after that just to animate the video! It elegantly highlights what it’s like when you’re building with LEGOs and how much detail goes into different designs and their builds. Don’t forget to blink!

2. Adventure Time Main Title Sequence – (0.44)

This flawless LEGO stop-motion video perfectly recreates the intro song to the popular television show “Adventure Time.” With only a few minor exceptions, it is an exact frame-by-frame duplicate of the original. For extra fun, we suggest pulling up the original next to this video and watching them side-by-side. You’ll be amazed at how perfectly the director captured every scene! This video will please fans of both “Adventure Time” and LEGO.

1. Action Bill – (5:07)

Imagine an old-English world visited by William Shatner in a time-travelling mech to destroy William Shakespeare for ruining his acting career. Actually, don’t imagine. Watch this hilarious, brilliant short! Shatner is foiled by none other than Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard! The sound effects, explosions, and camera angles create action-film excitement, while the storyline is nonetheless as fun and whimsical as they come. We love everything about this short film and can’t get enough of the clever crossover of worlds. Enjoy!

If you have a LEGO stop-motion animation you’ve made and want to share it with us, send a link or submit below!