The Unofficial Lego Builder’s Guide 2nd Edition by Allan Bedford
$16.18 at Amazon ($9.18 Kindle)
It’s been forever (well over a decade) since I played with Legos, but my wife and I recently decided to take up playing with them again; we just finished building the Lego Creator Volkswagon T1 Camper Van. We’re planning to build a few more of the sets (I have my eye on the Tower Bridge) and then start designing our own models.
The Unofficial Lego Builder’s Guide is about doing just that: learning to design and build your own creations. The first chapter was actually the most helpful to me: putting together the Camper Van I often had trouble describing exactly what I was looking for, and this section puts names to them so that I can more easily describe them. Chapter two goes into building techniques; a lot of this is stuff that should be fairly obvious (even as a little kid, it didn’t take long for me to figure out that I needed to overlap bricks so that my walls wouldn’t fall over!) but this chapter was worth it for me just for the explanation of how to use the brick separator, which is something that I definitely did not have but could have used twenty years ago!
Chapter three covers building to minifig scale, which is what I’m planning to do; it gives the basic conversions for scaling things down. Chapter four is miniland scale, where you actually build the people as well as everything else, and chapter five covers building bigger bricks (and then building with those bricks). Chapter six goes in the opposite direction, with a discussion of how to build models that are much smaller than real life, suggesting rather than including various elements. Since I’m only interested in minifig scale, chapters 4-6 weren’t that useful to me but it’s still interesting to see what people are doing.
Chapter seven is where we really get into recreating real-world objects with Legos, as we walk through the design process for building a model of the Sphinx. Chapter eight, for the artsy people, covers building mosaics. Chapter nine is essentially a continuation of chapter seven, and we work our way through designing a model of the space shuttle (with a parts list and much discussion).
Want to show off what you’ve build? Chapter ten covers several ways to create instructions for your models so that you can share them with others. The book also includes appendixes showing a good selection of the available Lego pieces and instructions on using the (downloadable) design grids for planning out your models.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and will probably put together the example models once I pick up some more Legos (they do use common pieces, so if you’ve been collecting for a while you’re likely to have most of what you need already; my old Legos are in storage so I’m starting from scratch). I wouldn’t say this is something you’ll find yourself referring to again and again, but for someone who’s interested in getting into the hobby (or just starting to move from prebuilt sets and simple houses to more detailed designs) it’s a good way to get started.
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book.