It's Not Quite Tiny Plastic Oprah, But It'll Do!
February 3, 2009 5:15 AM   Subscribe

I Lego NY is a nifty column about the plastic free-association possibilities in New York City.

This is an article from the NY Times today that I found fun and made me think of my Lego days as a kid. I'd like to hear more about what Mefites built with their Lego sets also, especially if you grew up without the ultra-specialized sets like I did.
posted by Lipstick Thespian (21 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
With the possible exception of Bionicles, the "ultra-specialized" Lego problem is largely a myth of the "back in my day" variety. I have accumulated a large amount of Lego with dates ranging from 30 years ago to a couple years ago, and very little of it can't be used in multiple ways.

Anyway, these are really great.
posted by DU at 5:35 AM on February 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

You just beat me to this one, I was about to post it. You're right, it was quite fun. Good stuff. I especially liked this one.

As for Legos I didn't have any actual tiny Legos until late in my childhood. But I can never forget Duplo blocks and their various knockoffs which I morphed into fantastical bases for my G.I. Joe figures.
posted by IvoShandor at 5:37 AM on February 3, 2009

Is this something that maybe appears once a week? Like one photo a week in the magazine or something? It's pretty cool though.

Surely the plural of Lego is Lego?

Or maybe it's one of those differences like 'Sport' and 'Sports' between the UK and the US. I've never heard anyone call the bricks Legos.

posted by ClanvidHorse at 6:00 AM on February 3, 2009

The Lego corporation would have you refer to them only as "Lego building blocks" due to various laws regarding how trademarks can be lost if they become too generic.

That said, in the vernacular, they are Legos, much like the wooden building toys of log shape are called "Lincoln Logs." Now hand me a Kleenex and go get the Hoover. Someone spilled a Pepsi brand Coke on the floor.
posted by explosion at 6:08 AM on February 3, 2009

I've never heard anyone call the bricks Legos.


It's technically wrong, but I've rarely heard them referred to any other way except by weirdos (including myself).
posted by DU at 6:21 AM on February 3, 2009

N.Y.C.'s worst building, indeed. When will those corporate tools figure out that they are just engendering ill will with their awful sign?
posted by bitslayer at 6:25 AM on February 3, 2009

As a child, I didn't really build much with the very few Legos I had. At some point in grad school, I realized I could buy as many as I want. I bought a lot. Then my mother decided to buy me a lot more for a gift, but accidentally ordered double what she thought she ordered, and I ended up with a crapload of Legos.

One of the first things I and my roommates built was an approximately 1:12-scale model of a Lego Minifig, complete with removable helmet and moving joints (I didn't have many Lego joint pieces, so a lot of that was approximated using wheel and axle pieces that didn't stay together very well).

Later, when I had figured out the ratio of stud-width to brick-height, I made a 6-sided pipped die. This satisfied me greatly, so built an 8-sided numbered die. I did the calculations for the shape by hand and then decided that to build anything more complex would require some assistance. I wrote a script in Maple (it's what I was using at the time) to return a matrix of Lego-brick heights for any surface function z=f(x,y). I first built a tetrahedron mostly just to test the program, but I didn't put any numbers on it. I've always found the 4-sided die numbering hack dissatisfying. (Why not just number an octahedron twice?) Eventually, I started building a dodecahedron. About halfway through, I realized it was working, shoved it in a box, and forgot about it for a couple years. Eventually, I built a virtual model and printed out a line-rendering of each of the surfaces so that I could plan out numbering. Then I built it. It's about the size of a basketball. It's hollow, but the surface is very thick to provide stability. You can actually roll it on a carpeted surface; however, I recommend that you avoid doing so if anyone is barefoot in the room.
posted by ErWenn at 7:14 AM on February 3, 2009 [5 favorites]

Great post!

Oh man, I was going to post this.
posted by grouse at 7:21 AM on February 3, 2009

These are totally adorable. The taxis are my favorite.
posted by lunit at 9:28 AM on February 3, 2009

I love Christoph Niemann. Previous mefi post here. His post about his subway obsessed sons is one of the loveliest things I've read and I really think it should be a book.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:32 AM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

What is the worst building in New York?
posted by grouse at 9:36 AM on February 3, 2009

My friend Scott and I used to built entire arcologies out of our kits. Our we'd build enormous starships with cutaway views. We'd spend hours talking about the interiors of our designs as much as how cool they looked.

This is what happens when you read Dune at the same time as playing Legos.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:42 AM on February 3, 2009

For those of you who really enjoy LEGO creations, I suggest trying to visit one of the public conventions/displays that happen yearly in various parts of the country. They all have public day displays, but if you really want to participate they have private convention days as well.

Brickfest, Portland, OR, March 29 2009

Brickworld Chicago, IL, June 20, 21

Brickfair Washington, DC, August 22, 23

Brickcon Seattle, WA, October 3, 4

Adult hobbyists are building some really incredible things. It's worth a look if you're near enough to one of the conventions.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:53 AM on February 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

What is the worst building in New York?

V For Verizon
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:54 AM on February 3, 2009

Not to be confused with a plastic-free association.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:03 AM on February 3, 2009

Oh, yeah. In my rush to post about my Lego exploits, I forgot to mention: great post.
posted by ErWenn at 3:15 PM on February 3, 2009

Ok, the tiny plastic bag on the tree kind of made me want to shoot myself in the head.

I think that's the fault of artists that try to be "deep" and that over-played scene in American Beauty though and not the Legos. Still, ruined the series for me. Except the one where there's a man stepping in poo. Nothing can ruin that.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:29 PM on February 3, 2009

These make great one-panel cartoons. And as much awe as the large-scale Legos can invoke in me, I've never drooled when looking at those like I did when I saw the one with the tuna sushi.
posted by not_on_display at 7:24 PM on February 3, 2009

I had one of the weirder first jobs I've ever heard anybody mention: I worked for Lego.

With that said, I can authoritatively state that the official, preferred Lego phrasing is "Lego bricks."

Imagine this being said in a slightly nasal Danish accent (note: dear Danish Mefites, no offense intended) by a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nordic type.

Pro-tip: things have changed at Lego since I worked there but I have to say that the pay for being a Master Builder is an insult. Photographing random Lego creations for the NYT or (for those of you with children) designing Lego villages with your kids ends up being much more satisfying in the long run.
posted by librarylis at 9:14 PM on February 3, 2009

Aw. Adorable.

Being a pretty prototypical geek, my list of ideal employers has been something along the lines of: Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Google, RIM, Disney.

And librarylis just added another one to the lineup - Lego!
posted by Phire at 12:20 AM on February 4, 2009

why did I say prototypical when I meant stereotypical? I've never used it before in my life. I hadn't even heard of it till two days ago. urgh. nts: preview moar.
posted by Phire at 1:07 AM on February 4, 2009

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