Small LEGO Chess Set

January 31st, 2008

After completing the first two Giant LEGO Chess Pieces, I realized I would need to build something smaller if I wanted to have a full LEGO Chess Set any time soon.  So, I set out to build a chess set sized so that would fit entirely on a board made from an X-Large Gray Baseplate 48 studs (15 inches) square.

There are 64 squares on a chess board, so some quick math told me this meant each square would be 6×6 studs.  It also meant each piece would need to be no larger than 4×4 studs if I wanted the chess pieces to be able to sit on the board without touching each other. I wasn’t sure I could get enough detail in such small pieces, but I decided to give it a shot and see if I could design within these constraints and still have identifiable pieces.  Shown below is a picture of the result.

Small Chess Set Full

I was able to stay within my design constraints with one exception. In order to get the shape I wanted for the Knights, I extended a small portion of the design to 5 studs, but centered it within the 6 stud square, so two Knights can still face another on the board without touching. READ FULL ARTICLE »

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DUPLO Towers

January 31st, 2008

LEGO building has been a huge hobby of mine for over 25 years, so naturally I was eager to share this pastime with my children. I got my start with LEGO bricks around my 9th birthday, so as a child I was never too interested in DUPLO Bricks, which are the larger version of LEGO bricks for young children.

However, being anxious to introduce LEGO building to my kids, I loaded up on DUPLO bricks when they were toddlers so I could begin building with them at a young age.  My older kids are now 8, 9, and 10 years old now, so our DUPLO bricks have been put away for several years – until recently.  My youngest daughter is now 18 months, which means the time has arrived to dust off the DUPLO bricks and start building with them again.

DUPLO Six Story House

A few weeks ago I did just that, and since then we’ve been building almost daily. She loves them and can easily attach them together, often building brick stacks of 10 or more bricks. Pictured above is a six-story house we built together. (OK, so I did most of the work!) READ FULL ARTICLE »

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LEGO Mosaic Maddie Howie

January 27th, 2008

This was my first attempt at a large photo realistic LEGO Mosaic. It is of my two older kids, Maddie and Howie. I am pretty happy with how it turned out, especially being my first try at this. I did a lot of tinkering with the design before I started construction, which was time well spent, because once you start attaching bricks changes mean starting construction over again.

LEGO Mosaic Maddie Howie Compare

See if you can guess by the background where it was taken. This will be challenging because in order to get as much detail in the kids faces, I’ve only left a small amount of background visible. The source photograph, below, should help a little. I will post the answer in comments after a few guesses. READ FULL ARTICLE »

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Giant LEGO Chess Pieces

January 26th, 2008

Over the years I’ve seen a few different LEGO chess sets. A year or two ago LEGO introducted a Castle Chess Set featuring pieces which were primarily based on minifigs. Eric Harshbarger built a larger one with an innovative board that included bricks lying down to form each square. I’ve even seen a very tiny set built using microscale-like techniques with pieces around one inch in height.

The set I’m working on is much larger. In fact, so much so, that I’m not sure I’ll ever build all 32 pieces. But eventually I hope to build at least one piece of each type. So far I’m about half way.  I’ve completed a Pawn and Castle, shown below and I’ve started working on a Knight.  That makes me 2.5 / 6 or almost 50% completed.  (I haven’t started on a King, Queen, or Bishop yet.)

LEGO Chess Piece Sculptures

I’ve included a couple items in frame to help with visualizing the size of these sculptures.  The Pawn is 13 inches tall and the Castle is slightly taller (one row of bricks to be exact).  Even though they are somewhat hollow, they are still pretty heavy with the Castle tipping the scales at 8 pounds (imagine a gallon of milk).

I built the Pawn first. Like most LEGO sculptors, I’ve built quite a few spheres in varying sizes, so the top of the pawn was pretty simple. The hard part was building a chess set that had the ‘classic’ look I wanted to achieve. I found that chess pieces come in every imaginable design and most of them are far more stylized than I was looking for. What I wanted to build is a replica of the cheap platic chess set I played with growing up. Of course I no longer have that set, but I did eventually find some good images online to use as a starting point.

Below is the Pawn alone (OK not quite alone, the soda can is still there with him.) READ FULL ARTICLE »

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Luke Skywalker LEGO Sculpture

January 24th, 2008

Over the past few years I’ve built a bunch of 10X scale LEGO brick sculptures. Scaling up LEGO Bricks is great introduction to brick sculpting. In fact, I used it as an introduction to brick sculpting for my kids. I will do a future article showing off some of the bricks and more complex LEGO elements (like fences, and specialty bricks) I’ve built as part of a series on getting started with brick sculpting.

After scaling-up progressively more complex specialty bricks I arrived at, perhaps, the most complex and diverse LEGO element of all – the minifig. Through the years LEGO has introduced hundreds of different minifig designs, including unique types for each theme of sets being sold.

Lately, Star Wars themed LEGO Sets have become very popular and there many mini-fig styles to be found in these sets. I decided to push my LEGO element sculpting to the next level and build a 10X scale minifig. Below is my 10X version of Luke Skywalker with a Light Saber.

Luke Sculpture

On Luke’s head is the small version of the mini-fig, with a US quarter included to help with relative scale. Luke stands 18 inches tall to the top of his hair and is 11 inches wide. He weighs about 6 pounds.

It’s worth noting that, like the small mini-fig, Luke’s head is removable, as are his hair and light saber. His feet are the proper scale size and spacing to fit on 10X scale bricks. He can also hold any 10X scaled LEGO elements in his hands.

Below is a close up of Luke’s head which provides a better view of Luke’s little version too. READ FULL ARTICLE »

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Starbucks Coffee Mosaic

January 23rd, 2008

Recently, I was looking for an idea for a medium-size solid color LEGO Mosaic project.  I didn’t have to look very far. Sitting directly in front of my keyboard was a Venti Cafe Americano from Starbucks. I noticed the logo and thought it would make a great subject for a mosaic project. Furthermore, most people who know me are well aware of my love of Starbucks, so this would be a very fitting decoration for my home office.

Over the past couple years, I’ve built up a healthy supply of green bricks buying bulk tubs from LEGO Shop at Home. I rarely use many of them in my projects, and luckily the shade of green is very close to that of the Starbucks logo.  Aside from green, the only other color bricks I needed were black and white which I always have in abundance.

Shown below is the finished project, which is 30 inches in diameter, exactly two X-Large Gray Baseplates each direction.

Starbucks Logo

I built this mosaic one brick thick in a studs-out arrangement. I prefer studs-out vs. studs-up for mosaics because the final product is immediately identifiable as LEGO Bricks. In addition, it is faster to build, uses less bricks, and is simple to attach to the wall using LEGO technic plates.

As with all mosaics I’ve built, I start by digitizing and scaling a picture of my subject. In this case, I got the Starbucks logo by doing a Google Image search and selecting a high resolution source image. However, unlike photo-realistic mosaics, this mosaic required considerable hand cleanup. First, to ensure everything would be completely symmetrical, and second to properly show all the single brick-line elements of the center image. By the time I was satisfied with my digital building plans I had redrawn a considerable portion of the logo.

Shown below is the mosaic with the printed plans I used to construct it. READ FULL ARTICLE »

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Elmo Sculpture

January 20th, 2008

Finally, I’m posting my first entry about an original project of my own. This Elmo sculpture is my most recent LEGO project, which I just completed. I had been looking for an idea for a medium-size sculpture to build. I wanted to build something new, which isn’t easy since sites like MOC Pages and Brickshelf include projects of almost every imaginable character and subject.

However, I found my inspiration in my 18 month old daughter’s favorite character, Elmo. This Christmas was an Elmo Christmas for her. Under our tree, Santa had graced her with Tickle Me Elmo in addition to several Elmo Books, DVDs, and even Elmo slippers. With our home already buried in almost everything imaginable Elmo, it seemed like a natural idea for my next project. A quick scan of the web seemed to indicate this was a new idea, or at least others with LEGO Elmo sculptures were not sharing them with the world yet, so I was excited to get started.  Shown below is the completed sculpture, which stands 20 inches high.

Elmo Full

 As with most projects like this, when I started, one of the first things to determine was what scale to build the sculpture to.  Since first seeing the beautiful sphere sculptures pioneered by Bruce Lowell a couple years ago, I had build several of them, and have since wanted to include one as part of a larger project.  Using them for Elmo’s eyes in their original 6.8 stud width turned out to be almost ‘life size’ for Elmo, which was the determining factor for how large I would build this sculpture.  Plus, Elmo’s round eyes are one of his defining characteristics, so having high accuracy in this part of the sculpture would be a key design decision that would really bring Elmo to life.

Finding a way to meld two of these spheres together and expose a suitable connecting surface on the bottom was a bit of a challenge, but I was pretty happy with the results, shown below. READ FULL ARTICLE »

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Museum LEGO Exhibit

January 20th, 2008

Today I experienced some of the most impressive LEGO brick creations I’ve ever seen.  My kids, Dad, and I made a visit to the Fox Cities Children’s Museum in Appleton, Wisconsin. In addition to a wonderful set of permanent attractions which my kids throughly enjoyed, was a special exhibit by Nathan Sawaya called The Art of the Brick.

I had been on Nathan’s Website, so I was already familiar with his work.  However, the website images don’t begin to do justice to his amazing creations.  Seeing this collection of sculptures and mosaics in person is somthing any true LEGO fan should not pass up given the opportunity.  This exhibit is traveling to many locations throughout the country spending 2-3 months at each location.  It is only in Appleton for 2 more weeks, so if you live in Wisconsin, your window of opportunity is closing quickly.

Below is a picture I took of my favorite piece, titled Reflection.


I was very impressed with how Nathan captured the ever changing contour of the human forms.  His exhibit featured many human bodies and large hands.  Below are three human form sculptures titled simply Yellow, Red, and Blue. READ FULL ARTICLE »

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Hooked on LEGO Bricks

January 18th, 2008

It was the summer of 1979 and I was 9 years old. I was spending part of the summer with my grandparents in Butler, Alabama.  I owned a few LEGO sets, a couple small vehicle sets and one of the old flip-top cover Universal Building Set. (Those sets with the clear plastic tray organizer.)  At the time I was more interested in Star Wars Figures than LEGO Bricks, but by the end of that summer I would be hooked on LEGO bricks for life.

It all started with my Grandparents buying me my first major LEGO set, the Police Station (Set #381), pictured below.

1979 Police Station Set

I still have this set, with the exeption of one rare missing brick, the antenta.  I’ve seen this part for sale a few times, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to pay $10 for one brick to complete this set.  Eventually I’ll probably break down and buy it though.

Over the next year, I spent all my money and asked exclusively for town sets and road base plates for any gift-giving occasions. Pictured below is the full set of 1979/1980 town sets which I collected during that time period. READ FULL ARTICLE »

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January 18th, 2008

Welcome to the new BrickPlayer website!  My goal in creating is to share information about: LEGO building projects, building tips/tricks, LEGO product/company news, and whatever other LEGO related topics come to mind.

I am also planning to eventually use BrickPlayer to sell LEGO brand bricks and custom sets/projects.

Thanks for visiting.  Please feel free to post any comments or suggestions.

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