--The only blog dedicated to all things LEGO mosaics.--

A Blog by Casey M. and Katie W. | Guest writing by Dave W. and Sean & Steph M.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm off!

Alrighty fellow Lego enthusiasts! I'm off to vacation! MosaicBricks will be on hiatus for a week because I'm going to lay on the beach for a while! Time to reflect and relax, and prepare for the upcoming school year.

Special note, thanks to Bruce N H of Classic-Castle, Brick Tales, and too many blogs (hehehehe) as well as rjg173 for identifying a mosaic in the Legoland Discovery Center post as from "The Scream" by Edvard Munch. Check out the post for more details.

Be sure to read our latest interview where we catch up with Ben Caulkins, despite being not all that mosaic related, it was fascinating a ton of fun talking with him.

Anyway, See ya later people!

Interview: Catching up with Ben Caulkins (Benny Brickster)

Recently, I caught up with Ben Caulkins, who we interviewed last year. Over the course of a few days, we talked about his Halo Spartan/Master Chief armor, the Halo series, and Brickworld 2011. Let's get started!

MB: Ok, so, it's pretty much been a year since last "talking" as far as an interview goes. Catch us up on what you've been doing. In what ways have you seen your building, or your Lego community experience change and improve over the course of a year?

BC:"Well, the greatest change was made through a recent creation of mine: my Master Chief costume. Before I had even finished, it brought me a great deal of attention from the internet and LEGO fan community, and, I dare say, gave people a reason to take me seriously as a MOCist. But that just stemmed from another change, namely my tendency to build exclusively Halo MOCs. In my last interview I mentioned several MOCs that I wanted to build, yet none of them involved Halo. Unfortunately I never did actually build any of the MOCs I listed, but rather built several new Halo creations. I'm not sure why I became addicted to Halo: maybe its the angular look of the UNSC vehicles, and the contrasting smooth and reflective look of the covenant craft, but either way, it stuck with me. I don't regret it either,
otherwise I might not have ever built the Master Chief costume.

MB:Yeah, I've certainly made claims of MOCs I'll build and then never build them, and build something else. I find though it also shows me where my building priorities are.

(Moving away from Lego for a bit) Since you build heavily in Lego Halo, would it be safe to assume you grew up with the Halo franchise on the classic Xbox? Or did you not start playing it 'till later in life? Have you never played it? Overall, When did you encounter the games?

BC:"My story with the Halo franchise is actually a strange one. I never had an xbox, and I never even knew what Halo was until a few years ago, but I can remember the first time I played it. I was so young, I didn't even know what I was doing, who the bad guys were, or how to operate the controls, but I remember what it looked like: it was the level in Halo CE where you have to reenter the covenant's flagship, of course I didn't figure that out until many years later. After that, several years later, I met a guy while on vacation in Maine who I'm now good friends with. He had an xbox and Halo 2 with him, so we played that. We never actually played it to win the game, we just sort of played it. I was still pretty young, and I payed no attention to the storyline, so I had no idea what was going on. Fast forward to spring of 2010. That same friend from Maine was at my house, and we were on the floor building, and I told him, "name something you want me to build." He said, "a warthog", so that's what I did. From then on, I started to delve deeper and deeper into the Halo franchise, and then, last summer, I was again on vacation in Maine, when I went over to my friends house, and as usual, we played Halo 2, but this time we actually played to win. Its not as if we had literally agreed to play it to the end, but rather there was now a determination to finish that hadn't been there before. Sure enough, within the two weeks I had been there at about one hour a day, we beat Halo 2. Then over the course of the last year, I bought Halo CE for my computer and played Halo 3 at a different friends house, so now i can finally say that I've played the essential trilogy."

During E3, we found out during the Microsoft conference that they will be releasing two new games. Halo 4 and Halo:CE Remastered. Are you excited about these new games? Do you think they will inspire you to create more Halo MOCs? Do you think they will inspire other Lego community member as well?

BC:"When I saw the Halo 4 trailer, I was very disappointed. To me, Halo ended with the Chief floating towards that distant planet. What made it so cool was the mystery, the lack of knowledge of the Chief's next adventure. Now that there making a Halo 4, that mystery is lost. Plus, 343 industries is known to handle the expanded universe side of the Halo franchise, publishing the novels and stuff. What worries me about their taking over of the project is that they're going to try and force a personality onto the Chief as they do in the novels, to try and make him into a different character than what we all imagined. Part of what makes Halo "Halo" is that we know so little about the chief so that we can imprint our own personalities onto him. Also, how can you make a Halo game without the covenant, which is exactly what Halo 4 is going to have to do. 343 better have some big tricks up its sleeve, otherwise I'm going to pay this game no mind. As for the Halo CE re-release I am very excited. Still though, all there doing is giving the old Halo a spit-shine, nothing really all that special. As far as inspiration for MOCs goes, will just have to wait and see what new surprises Halo 4 has in store for us."

(Back to Lego!)What led up to creating a full body suit of a Halo spartan? When did the idea start the project happen?

BC:"The root for the idea I guess could be my first attendance of Brickworld last year. The things I saw there really heightened my standards of building and I realized, if I was going to get any attention at all, I was going to have to go big! It was on a walk when I was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming that I really thought of a specific thing to build: a Master Chief suit made entirely out of LEGO. Why not? Simafol had done it. Of course, it took a lot more thinking before I actually thought it would be possible."

MB:So once you had the idea, where did you go from there?

BC:"I knew I wanted to start with the helmet, so that's what I did. It took me three weeks and was an instant hit with the blogs, but that only lasted for so long before I was back to work. From that point on it was months of work constructing all of the different segments, and as I progressed I gained more experience, so some of the pieces of armor that I finished later in the process are actually of a higher quality than some of the earlier pieces. But in the end, it all came together beautifully."

MB:So, walk us through how you would put on this contraption.

BC:"I put it on from the ground up, so naturally the first that goes on are the shoes. The legs can crack in half so I can snap them on over my legs. The thighs don't form a full circle, so those are pretty easy to put on. The belt can separate into two halves, so I put one on usually which sticks using Velcro, and then attach the other half to it. The next part is pretty difficult: the torso. Those thing that loop under the armpits can come off so I can put the torso on over my head, then the armpit loops reattach. Its a pretty tight fit, but it works... mostly. Next is the most hazardous part, the upper arms. I never really thought them through all that well, so the only way to put them on is to slide them up my arm, which is difficult because they're covered in Velcro, and my entire neoprene suit sticks to Velcro. Also, I made them to small, so whoever is helping me has to push really hard in order to get them far enough up my arms. Once, in fact, one of them exploded because it couldn't fit on my arm...oops. Then the most irritating part: the forearms. They can crack in half similar to the legs, but there is a very precise place to put them on, and most of the time it ends up attached wrong, so I have to make my helper take them off and do it all over again. Afterwards comes the gloves, and finally the helmet. In the end, I feel very satisfied, and my helper is pissed at me for being so bossy, but I think he's a little satisfied too."

MB:Oooooh! So it does require an extra person...I was going to ask that. Ok, so let's move on to BW'11...

How did you like general vibe from Brickworld? Was it better than last year's or about the same?

BC:"Its difficult to judge this years Brickworld. My personal experience was very different as I was part of a group layout for the first time, so I got to meet some really awesome people. Also, I got a lot more attention from attendees due to the suit. But, as a person just visiting Brickworld, I'd say it was about the same. There was no serious leap in the total size of the convention or the quality of the MOCs in general, but I should say that the quality of the MOCs is probably beyond improvement as many of them are superb. Now that's not to say I didn't enjoy Brickworld, I did very much, but it's just more of the same from last year, which is a good thing because that formula works."

What was the public's reaction to the Halo armor?

BC:"The public's reaction to the Halo armor was overwhelming. Everywhere I went I was followed by a crowd of people trying to take pictures. I ended up not moving for long periods of time as parents took picture of me with their kids over and over again. Also, I even had a few attendees following me who I had never met, so I guess its akin to stalking. If it wasn't for Nick Jenson (Nick Brick) I probably would have been trampled by a crowd of people, as he was the one made holes in the crowd for me to pass through (also, here's a bit of shameless plugging: check out Nick's Halo weapons, they are sick!). As the man in the suit, I was constantly giddy with joy. Sure it was difficult to walk in and the crowds did get pretty annoying, but still, it was awesome to be noticed like this."

MB:You (and I) attended the advanced mosaics workshop by Roy Cook. What did you think of it? Did you find it helpful, inspiring, or interesting in anyway?

BC:"Although I don't plan on making mosaics in the future, I found the workshop very informative. I found his discussion on how he made his Halle Berry mosaic especially interesting, what with all the unique techniques that went into it."

MB:Did you attend any other workshops or presentations from this year, and if so, which ones stuck out for you?

BC:"My favorite workshop was presented by Jamie Berard (LEGO Creator designer) on what life is like as a designer in Denmark. Not only did it reveal some pretty interesting facts, but it also answered some questions that I had about LEGO product design. Plus it didn't hurt that Jamie is a really nice guy."

MB:So at one point, you were given the epic privilege of destroying this cylinder of Brickworld 2011 made entirely of 1x8s. What was that like?

BC:"To be honest, I was actually kind of nervous. I was mainly concerned with looking like an idiot in this big bulky suit. Secondly, I was worried the suit would break, which of course it did, and I have yet to fix it. When Nannan posted the video of me knocking it down, I was worried that I would look really stupid. But when I watched it, I actually think I did a pretty good job considering the limitations of the suit. The only real problem is that you may notice that part of my knee armor is missing."

^^^ My video of the epic destruction ^^^

MB:Overall, do you plan on attending next year?

BC:"Absolutely, although I don't know how I could possibly top myself next year considering the standards that I have now raised myself to. But my goal is to win some kind of award, because the last two years have been teasing me with two nominations per Brickworld, and I thought I had it this year with the suit, but Ryan McNaught's massive Loveboat bested me at that. Anyway, I can't imagine not going to Brickworld again, because getting to talk to people who genuinely get this obsession with LEGO is such a treat, and how one forget the hundred of awesome MOCs populating the display tables. Yup, I will definitely be going."

MB:Ben Caulkins has certainly made himself a name for himself. How does he top this? Got any grand schemes?

BC:"At the moment, I've got nothing. Or at least nothing on the same scale as the suit. But what I am working on is the first minifig scale Halo 3 Pelican, and I hope to follow this up with a similarly scaled Halo 3 Phantom.

To see Ben's fantastic MOCs, visit his Flickr photostream, here or visit his MOCpages account here.

Many thanks for the interview, Ben! It's always a pleasure. ;-D

And, I leave you with this photo...
^^^ Ben and I, looking epic. ^^^

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mosaics at the Legoland Discovery Center!

Ok, so I recently stopped by the Legoland Discovery Center for my fourth time because the attendees of Brickworld 2011 got free coupons (and get 10% off at the gift shop!)! Coming back with a mindset to snap photos, I got a lot of photos of mosaics! Enjoy. ;-D

So first up we have a lot of castle pictures...

These sheild heraldry mosaics were at the beginning of the dragon ride and were pretty sweet. Following with the dragon theme...

...these were mosaics that were found during the dragon ride. The first photo turned out really nicely while the other one is not so great, as you can tell. It was quite difficult to get them while riding. =) I think these were my favorite ones. The glowed quite nicely in the dark.

Continuing on...

We also found this cartoony mosaic and was pretty neat.

Moving on away from Castle...

All these mosaics were found by the bathrooms. There were 2 day camps eating lunch at this time I took them, so they didn't turn out exactly like I wanted them to, but I'm hoping they're still easy to look at.

Across from the bathrooms by the "Model Workshop" section, we had some more "artistic" mosaics.

Now I'm sure that second one is Van Gogh's Starry Night, but I can't tell what the first one is. (If anyone knows, leave a comment or email me at mosaicbricks@gmail.com). The one below is the Mona Lisa, but didn't turn out that great due to a TON of glare.

*** Note, thanks to Bruce N H and rjg173 for letting me know the first one is "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.

So, yeah! There you go! There was one extra mosaic, but it had even more glare so I figured it wasn't even worth it. The interview with Ben Caulkins is coming up soon. Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vvvrrroom! Vvvvvrooooom!!!

Still easing back into our regular posting...

Brickshelf member, mwv1970 (Bill Vollbrecht), built this great looking motorcycle. Flame on it looks great.

Bill also has some really amazing stuff in his Brickshelf folders so be sure to check all his cool models out.

Friday, July 22, 2011

House Keeping

Ok, so I'm still transitioning back into the whole Lego thing trying to give each of my sites and stuff face lifts. I've update my avatar to a new up-close shot of my sig figgy's face and I'm working on my MOCpages homepage.

You might notice that MosaicBricks has changed with two banners for the two other blogs, and a new favicon! Speaking of two new blogs!

1. A Boy and His Bricks - My personal blog so I don't keep on getting that sort of stuff in MosaicBricks. I'll be posting my creations, my thoughts, my goals, and my process of starting to become a brickfilmer. I'm going to over the next four to five months trying to re-create several key scenes from the Nolan Batman Trilogy. The contest on Lego.com ends Nov. 15 so I've got to get busy!

2. JumboBricks - A Blog coming soon. I'm not sure when I'll start it. Probably in the school year which starts around August 24th when I get my brand new spank-a-dank-in' laptop.

Don't worry there's stuff for MosaicBricks...

Updates for MB:
- Interviews on the way including a follow-up interview from Ben Caulkins!
- Part 1 of how to build a mosaic! (coming out during when I'm on vacation)
- Part 2 of Lego Logo mosaics! (Brickshelf)
- Regular mosaic coverage
- Secret updates... ;-D (WIP)

(Speaking of vacation, I'm leaving in less than a week to go on vacation so there unfortunately will not be any posts besides the Part 1 which should be enough. I'll let you know when I'm leaving. =) )

The contest we're running is doing O.K. so far. We've only gotten one entry, but with my tutorial posts and the interest we've already taken, I think we'll see a few more. Plus, using my platform on MOCpages, maybe we'll get some others as well.

Anyway, be sure to keep updated! My personal blog will also give a lot more background to this blog too.

Thanks for sticking with us!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What the Brick just happened?!?!?

Where have I been? Well that's a good question thanks for asking...

Well, it’s been a while hasn’t it. A lot has gone by on since the almost year that I haven’t posted regularly. Don't worry, I'm not dead! :wink:

In the summer of ’10 when I was very active in the community. Probably too active. I was doing wayyyy too much during that summer. I was in three contests (I placed 1st 3rd and 5th by the way!), helping out with my Lego VBS, creating MOCs, doing daily life, taking music lessons, posting on a couple different forums, and on top of that, my cousin was over for a total of 1 month that summer. I was basically the humongous Lego fanatic, and it was tiring. Towards the end of the summer, my creativity was shot and I was drained. Without getting any time to recover from the creativity drain I was sent into the abyss that is Freshman year.

I’ll be honest…I hate every school subject so that didn’t help. Over the school semester I started to fade out, just getting too busy with a lot of different classes. A family moved from Kentucky and joined my homeschool co-op and in September we started playing a game called “Warhammer”. I originally discovered that game in 2006. Things started to hit the backburner and then I found another game in November, this time a video game, called Minecraft. I’m not going to talk about how amazing the game is, because this is about Lego, but I got distracted with that too. Not to mention I had a surgery on Christmas Eve Eve and I was just getting lost. I still kept up with collecting small sets and stuff, but not posting anything or building either.

Anyway, lots of family issues that I can’t talk about happened in the 2nd semester and I started to also have more medical problems with school getting harder to keep up with. My grades started to suffer and I barely survived the 2nd semester. Not to mention that 3 of my friends have moved away this summer. My whole online life was basically decimated though.

This summer though, I did my Lego VBS again and not to mention that I signed up for Brickworld 2011 originally in December and went with my friends this summer. I met up with a couple of TFOLs I knew/interviewed so that was fun. And overall I came out with a tired, but fun experience. I’m definitely going to change the way I do BW next year, but it was very fun. We'll cover it here, in a little bit.

And…What does this mean? I’ve decided to become a “casual TFOL”. I’ve got a lot of old MOCs and a couple new ones that I want to post on my MOCpages, so I’m going to try and do that with the rest of the summer. I’m going to try and stay in, but not obsessed with the Lego community with Flickr, my blog MosaicBricks, C-C, and my MOCpages. I've started to finally realize, you can't catch everthing. Something that's so obvious. My interests have shifted a lot though. I started making Minecraft videos after being inspired and that’s doing well so I’m going to try and pursue that as well. I’ve taken a humongous interest in Brickfilming so I’m going to try my hand at that as well. Saving up to get a new webcam.

I’m going to a new private school this upcoming semester so I'm going to a new private school this next semester and I’ll get my own laptop. So yeah, I’m back and hopefully to stay. Right now, I’m trying to find balance in life, and I just wanted people to know (if they were possibly wondering) where I was.

That is also a good question. We received one entry, when I dropped off the face of the earth, and we have three prize packs to give out! I've decided to have the (Delayed) May Mosaic Madness contest! The contest will now run 'till the 22nd of September, and I'm going to try and get it out there as much as possible. I'm going to do some more interviews, as well as some follow-up ones. Normal posting will continue!

Thanks to everyone who's been reading! Even in my two month absence of posting, we hit a spike in reading! Weird huh? Oh, by the way, I'm going to start a personal blog, so look for that soon.