Archives for category: Lego

In the past I have written about my love of Lego. Now as a parent I get to share that passion with my son (AKA The Pok). Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of visits that we used to have at the annual Lego show that would be hosted in one of the big department stores. For whatever reason (probably the Lego company nearly going bust with the advent of the games consoles) they stopped hosting these. But in Sydney the local AFOL (Adult Friends of Lego) club have decided to host a Sydney Brick Show. This year the venue was at the Sydney Town Hall and I grabbed a couple of tickets for my boy and myself, knowing that my wife would not want to come. I grabbed a few other tickets for our friends W and his two boys J & S. So the five boys descended onto the Town Hall for some brick craziness.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-01

This event has become so popular that the tickets were being issued by time over a 4 day long weekend. As we lined up to enter the boys were getting excited. There was a guitarist entertaining the queuing crowd and of course his instrument was clad in Lego.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-02

The entrance hall was lined with Lego portraits of all the James Bond actors – pretty cool. This image is only of the last four, sorry to all the Connery fans.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-03

The Town Hall exhibition space was manic and heaving with exhibitors and displays. We started with an artist who made images using Lego bricks. Here is his Joker (from Batman) portrait.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-04

He was creating another image with a stack of bricks and a computer tablet. I had a quick chat to him and asked him about how he pulls the images together. He explained that he designs the image in a spreadsheet and then uses the conditional formatting capability to determine how many bricks are required and where they go. His next image that he was creating in front of us was one of Boba Fett from Star Wars.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-05

Right next to him was a huge Lego diorama of The Simpsons town of Springfield. It was very accurate with characters and action happening everywhere.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-06

Not much further was a massive scale model of the Sydney Opera House. This is far more detailed that the current Lego set that is available.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-07

What surprised me was that on the reverse side was a fully detailed interior model of the Opera House with minifigures galore. There was all sorts of shenanigans going on in the model with Peter Allen playing the maracas on stage, Jabba the Hutt looking on from one of the booths, and even Buzz Lightyear and Emperor Zurg resolved their differences to watch the show. My son was enthralled with the detail. This was designed and built by the Brickman, Ryan McNaught, and here is the link to his website.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-08

One of the builders made a diorama of Back to the Future 3 complete with rail bound Delorean.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-09

Some of the exhibitors built creations on much smaller scales, but the ingenuity was there regardless. This creator invented his own Lego robots with inspiration from many other science fiction creations.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-10

He designed this ship to. I had a quick chat to him about where he pulled his inspiration from and what came next was a long list of science fiction films, tv shows, cartoons etc. The fact that I knew most of them is no doubt a homage to my own nerdiness.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-11

I watched in wonder as my son was enthralled at the different dioramas. This pirate island had him glued to the table as he examined all the detail. It was then I remembered childhood memories of Lego people in their little Lego worlds that I created for myself as a kid.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-12

One of the most impressive displays was a MASSIVE scale model of the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. This measured easily over 10m long and not a single bit of glue had been used. Most impressive. That is the builder there in the photo (back to us) talking to a couple of Lego Fans.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-13

My boy was more impressed by the oversized Lego railway diorama that had many sets of trains running around simultaneously. As a child who has grown up with Thomas the Tank Engine and Chuggington, it was quite difficult for me to drag him away from this exhibit.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-14

My favourite exhibit was this mechanical contraption with descending balls on rails. I think I liked it the most because of the combination of Lego, computing, mechanics, physics, and all thrown in with a bit of play.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-15

It was my favourite because the builder had rigged the whole thing with Lego NXT computers to determine the path that the blue and yellow balls would take. The kids (and some adults) would take a coloured ticket and pick up their corresponding ball. Then they would release it down a ramp where the blue and yellow balls were sorted into different gutters.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-16

Then the balls would travel on their convoluted journey, dodging errant red balls, while returning to their original queue. Awesome.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-17

Sometimes the dioramas were repeated with varying detail to show what life would be like in a land of Lego. Here is a lake house in Summer and Autumn…

Sydney Brick Show 2014-18

And then in Winter and Spring…

Sydney Brick Show 2014-19

All in all it was a manic and crazy time with the boys and they loved it. I loved it too, and look forward to next years show. Hopefully they will find a bigger place as the venue was a little too crowded for my liking. But at lease I was able to be a big kid again, in public, and not feel ashamed about it.

Sydney Brick Show 2014-20

 

My little man, The Pok, likes spending time with his Dad (me 🙂 ) scheming and building grand constructions. Well he does have an equally playful “child” friend in me for his indulgence in grand designs. A couple of weekends ago, he dragged me from my lazy Sunday on the couch to insist that we make a grand construction – a bridge for his trains.  We live quite close to Sydney Harbour’s other great bridge – the ANZAC Bridge, so this was going to be the inspiration for our creativity.

ANZAC_Bridge_Sydney

Material of Choice – Lego Duplo

Th Pok is enjoying getting stuck into building stuff more and more (he also enjoys destroying stuff – but that is another conversation), and the material of choice for this construction would be Lego Duplo. The blocks were laid out with meticulous planning. The Pok had great fun arranging all of them before construction began. In that respect my little boy is displaying tendencies to compulsiveness about how all things should be done. I also think that he is a bit bossy – which he doesn’t get from me.

The first part to construct would be the deck and we wanted to build big and to scale. We started in the middle working our way out. I would do one side and I would ask the Pok to match the bricks that I had connected. It was a symmetrical bridge after all.

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The deck of the bridge was quickly consuming bricks.

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We soon realised that this was going to be a big bridge, and were quickly running out of blocks.

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The I reinforced the bridge deck near the tower foundations. It was starting to get heavy and like any real-world bridge would have to primarily support its own weight.

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The Pok tested the width of the carriageway for trafficability. It was wide enough for a single lane.

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The towers were to be constructed next and were proving difficult to source a sufficient bricks in quantities of four. But after a few variations we were able to come up with something that we would be able to duplicate on the other side while still looking vaguely similar to the ANZAC bridge.

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Of course The Pok wanted to check for water clearance in the best way he knew how.

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Meanwhile, the Mother of Pok fabricated a road deck to overcome the grade of the bridge deck. Cardboard and scissors were put to good use to achieve the result. Testing of the road deck was required.

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At over a metre long, The Pok was sufficiently happy with the Grand Design. It didn’t have the cable stays, and in truth The Pok would have done his best impersonation of Godzilla if I had installed them.

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Mini-Thomas the Tank Engine was happy too.

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The next Lego creation will have to be The Eiffel Tower made out of Lego Duplo to celebrate the Tour de France.

OK – first thing to set straight – I LOVE LEGO!

Good that is out of the way. Even now as an adult, I achieve the same sense of wonderment from a simple set of plastic bricks. For me it is like building a puzzle, but with no set form and untold number of possibilities (and the most phenomenal statistic that I uncovered was that for 6 – 6-sided 8-stud bricks, the classic Lego brick, there are 915,103,765 possible 6-brick combinations – I have found that statistic out on How Stuff Works).Left to my own devices I could build and build and build, restricted only by the time commitments of being an adult and father.But I have not gone down the path of master builder as this would also probably be the path of divorce for me.

6 Lego BricksBut with the birth of the Pok, I have a new reason to play Lego! I probably pushed it a little too early, buying him way too much and constructing a lot of it for him when he couldn’t possibly interact. I do remember him sitting there in his first year watching me as I built him towers and cranes whose arms rotated above his head. We are not playing with Lego proper just yet, more Duplo, but it is great fun nonetheless. Below is our latest incarnation of a tower building, our Lego rendition of the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) – not quite the match that we would hope for, as we are stuck with the 90 degree angles that Duplo blocks push you towards. Obviously, the real thing is the one on the right.

Lego Duplo Burj Khalifa - for PokBurj KhalifaLego Duplo Burj Khalifa - Helicopter ViewWhat is funny is that the civil engineers who design these buildings do so to account for huge wind loads. We have to contend with apocalyptic Godzilla like attacks from none other than the Pok. Which shouldn’t really be much of a surprise given that there are not many real play opportunities for a big tower made of plastic bricks after it has been built. Hmmm… maybe a Lego Duplo Godzilla may be next on the cards – Pok would love that.

Lego Duplo Burj Khalifa - CrashHmmm… notice how he looks innocent again?

As he has been growing, I have waited patiently for him to connect two bricks together. You can imagine my joy when I saw him for the first time connecting the bricks, and then over and over again as he discovered a new found dexterous ability. But now our plotting and scheming is lifting up a level in our creations. The Pok has become quite interested in all things mechanical, and Lego is a great avenue for this. We were watching Cars 2 the other day and saw Mater become a secret agent with all sorts of gadgets. That gave me an idea, how about we make a cannon! But not just any cannon, a proper cannon that can target anything in the room. Below is the creation we landed with.

Lego Duplo Turret CannonYou cannot believe that amount of cheeky giggles that we have got out of this contraption. First target of course was Mummy of Pok. We sat on one couch and shot at her on another – 100 times. The beauty of this little contraption is that it has a full 360 degree arc of fire in the horizontal axis and 90 degree arc of fire in the vertical axis.

Lego Duplo Turret Cannon - Trajectory arcs of fireNow he is probably too young to learn trajectory physics just like a little Napoleon.cannon_trajectoriesI will wait until he turns three years old before I teach him this. The creators of Lego Duplo would probably have a heart attack when they found out that one of their customers was building mini projectile weapons systems from the pieces of the Agent Mater set (the cannon), The Deluxe Train set (the blue struts), both the Play with Numbers and Play with Letters (the support bricks for the bridge), the Stone Quarry set (the turntable to support the base platform) the Car Wash (base platform), and the Big City Zoo (the tiger log bridge which rotates on its supports).

Some people would probably call me a bad parent, but I think that every boy (big and small) needs an outlet for these militaristic tendencies. Hopefully I am nurturing a young engineer, let’s hope he doesn’t turn into a fiendish weapons manufacturer – like Tony Stark.

Lego Duplo Turret Cannon - manned by the PokPlus, he has his mother to teach him about cooking, music, and all of that stuff. 😉

Sometimes, it is too much for the little man and he has to do his own thing. More creations another day.Lego Man pondering and Pok asleep

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