The Rise of Lego

Friday | February 8th, 2013

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The staycation Doldrums hit peak and the Legos came out a week sooner than planned for in December when this apocalypse of boredom was first envisioned. These box contains two Duplo sets which MIL won in some supermarket sweepstakes and gave to Meow. The sets were plopped in a box and passed to us to bring to Gyeongju. I’ve wanted to build with them ever since we hit this town, but the time was never there or the dogs were eating my play space.

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Being a Duplo set there wasn’t the flexiblity of regular Legos to build with. Most pieces were meant to go together in one of two or three ways. The first few attempts to make crazy stuff failed because of this. Then, once I accepted that I had two Duplo train sets in this box, I resigned to build a train that would follow a long track to its doom. Even this failed as I discovered that the track curves were all from an identical mold and only curve to the left with hanging teeth. So, essentially, a really cool toy was made so retarded that if I was to build a train my choices would be circle or oval. When all Lego endeavours fail, the last remaining one is spaceship (like when all stories fail, the only remaining ones are sci-fi, science fiction, and fantasy).

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My ship is a fishing trawler. It travels to water planets within various systems to get tuna breeds to satiate the growing hordes of cyber-pescetarians. The trawler’s pilot is a distinguished member of the Ginger Race, soul included (above, left). No space-fairing trawler would be complete without a massive communications array slash particle cannon on the topside (above, middle) when it becomes necessary by both consumer demand and local politics to battle for fishing territories. And any spaceship, Lego or other, must have bad-ass looking engines (above, right).

Getting the engines to mount vertically with Duplo blocks was a feat. It took hours to get them like that and lots of experimenting with the Duplo “Technic” pieces—which include an assortment of axels and gears—to change the orientation of the plugs to hang the engines. From the spec manual:

twin Rolls-Royce catalyzer singularity chambers force reactated protons through an atomic valve to produce 24,000 YJ of thrust per engine and a throttle lever in the control cabin is able to regulate the flow of reactated protons from the maximum stated thrust down to approximately ~ 2 kJ for tactical maneuvering and other ocean-based assault needs.

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It’s a known fact that interplanetary fishing is a dangerous business, so my trawler is equipped with a jump-port (above, top left) for shocktroops to drop from to secure water-based trawlers and quell local uprisings. The shocktroops are stationed next to the fish miniaturificationalizer (above, top right) which is capable of microtizing capture fish stocks up to 1020 (roughly the volume of old Earth).

Another old building trick, flipping the construction elements to supply an inverted screen, this one supplies the visage of the pilot (above, bottom both) who coordinates closely with the shocktroops and acts as field sergent on drops. The shocktroops wait by the jump-port for the go signal from the pilot.

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(Above) Captain on the bridge—literally. A big part of this ship-building business was trying to use all the pieces to 1) achieve an idea and 2) to get things working in a way that made sense. At first, a giant one-piece Duplo Lego bridge seems pretty useless … until it didn’t.

The extra track pieces as window canopy substructure slash muffler (hotrod trawler!) was a nice touch and like the engines, getting to mount vertically with oversize bricks that can’t be swallowed was a pain in a half.

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When the ship was basically done, some of it was rebuilt to add detail elements that hadn’t been considered in the initial construction. The extra wheel sets, intended to be the bases of train cars for the lame oval train track experience were the missing pieces that made up for some of the oddly matched heights in these Duplo sets (traditionally, a standard Duplo brick is stacked two standard Lego bricks high, but some pieces present here came out to 2/3 of a Duplo brick which would have only worked out well if I had lots of 1/3 of standard Lego bricks mucking around already). Here the wheel sets added much needed features to the banality of the ship’s walls (above, left). The axels and gears (above, middle) also added texture and surface features (see notes below as to what). Some of the bricks in the box had people on them, the screens were an easy and early obvious fit, but these ones with life preservers were oddballs (above, right). At the end of the building, they made great tail gunners.

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See this BIG.

For years now, I’ve told myself that I’ll fetch my Legos from a storage locker in Eugene, but each time I’m there, there are more important things to carry or I’ve got to hit Austin and NYC before I head back to Korea and dragging a monster suitcase of Legos around with me hasn’t made sense. But when I took these out and spent a day driving out an idea from my imagination, I realized that that process is far more valuable than the inconvenience of 25 Kg of Legos and that if recovering my childhood collection isn’t possible, then perhaps some money should be reinvested here in Korea on Legos.

Piling on this realization is all the supremely cool shit that has been done with Legos in the last ten years on the internet. Things like this, this, this, this, and this (watch the original if context is needed). What I’m most interested in doing at this point is taking my childhood Lego story lines and moving them from their epically endless state of battle drama in my head to actual stop-motion adventures as others have done but with a more satirical bent.

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