This week, I decided to do some research into the world of Lego Creations. Yes, this will be another nerd post. Lego Creations are exactly what they sound like: Lego-based sculpture, pictures, objects, video games, video and other web content.
Is this the geekiest stuff I have ever encountered? Absolutely.
Do I love it? Kinda, yes.
Especially this one:
You saw right folks. That’s the enterprise hovering in front of the Borg ship. All in Lego-style! (Look closely, that the body of the spaceship is in fact a lego minifigure torso… so cool). Image by: halfbreak
Now, lego ‘art’ has actually been around for years. Traditionally it would take the form of lego sculpture, functional lego houses, lego models of famous landmarks, lego replicas of famous paintings and lego cars. Some of these creations were endorsed directly by the company itself. Not to mention the many “Lego Lands” found all over the world. While moderately impressive, I find most of these earlier creations slightly generic and a bit obvious. Like kid’s stuff or marketing ploys.
More recently, however, I have started to see some truly inspired Lego creations - like this Lego typewriter. At the same time, there has been an increase in exposure for this medium, with articles being written about Lego creations in somewhat unexpected places. Huffington Post has written about it. So has the New York Times. It may not be so niche anymore.
The entry of homemade Lego creations into the mainstream has no doubt been helped by the fact that Lego is a hugely recognizable brand and that the medium itself, consisting of simple building blocks, is so easy to use. It is proving to be a great medium to reference pop culture, to build machinery, build demos, and to shoot movies. Just take a look at the thousands of amateur Lego videos online (warning: many of these are actually quite terrible). Brickfilms, a form of stop-motion filmmaking using lego pieces, has spawned a whole community of Brick-filmmakers.
The cool thing is that the best Lego creations are almost all independently made and are not coming from the Lego company itself. Sometimes these creations take the form of hacked Lego. But most often, the creations are cool simply because they utilize Lego in new ways or for unusual purposes - like this Manhattan Apartment Staircase, made out of 20,000 pieces of Lego.
These creations can be anything from independent sci-fi/fantasy lego webseries, NES retro game recreation using lego, movies, photo contests, to flicker groups (such as the “Mi-Fi” – Microscale Sci-Fi group), websites, forums, or wikis. I personally love the custom Firefly Lego Minifigs.
And I bet you wouldn’t suspect it, but many of these sites, videos and photos are actually clocking millions of views.
So you have to wonder, what is it about these little bricks that we so love?
I know that when I first saw some of these images and videos, I felt the following: giddy, amazed, light, inspired, and a little baffled at their popularity.
Does this popularity stem from the recognizable shapes, our nostalgia, the fusions of cultural references, the act of building and the ridiculousness of it all? The stories often take the form of grown-up kids stories, in the vein of Robot Chicken. But I think the key to its popularity may in fact lie in how participatory the medium is. All you really need is some basic Lego pieces and a camera, and you are ready to go.
Here are some more neat-0 Lego creations:
Lego Star Trek Tricoder
The Lego Batman, Spider-Man, & Superman Movie (7.3 million view)
The Story of a Lego Picnic (2.5 million views)
Amazingly, even some legitimate companies have gotten into the lego game. Below is a very recent video of Rolls Royce‘s airplane turbine replica made out of Lego.
For more on this project, check out this article all about it.
And the award for the weirdest project in the genre goes to Cargo Collectors Lego Star Wars Organ. It is a giant street organ, made out of Star Wars themed Lego that plays a high pitched and somewhat distorted version of the Star Wars title song.
It is amazingly ridiculous. Yet this may be precisely where the magic comes from.
For more pics and news about the world of Lego creations, check out this very complete resource: Brothers-Brick.com.
UPDATE: The Guardian is currently recreating many of the Olympic races using only Lego! Check it out here