- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (September 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593270542
- ISBN-13: 978-1593270544
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 182 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Unofficial LEGO Builder's Guide 1st Edition
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About the Author
Allan Bedford is a lifelong LEGO fan and builder whose most ambitious model is a 5,000-piece replica of Toronto's famed CN Tower. An avid photographer, Bedford spends his time chronicling the streets and people of his adopted hometown, Toronto.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
LEGO bricks have been engaging builders, both young and old, for decades. However, during this time, surprisingly little has been written about this unique building system and its many uses. True, a number of "idea books" have offered building instructions for a variety of projects, and thousands of printed instructions have accompanied the enormous range of products released over the years. In most cases, however, these instructions were only for one or two finished models. In recent years, books and articles have been written that supply information about LEGO robotics, virtual computer-aided designs, and even about the LEGO company and its many facets. Up to this point, a book that addresses the system itself and its greatest functionbuilding LEGO modelshas been missing from this list.
This book fills that gap by offering a broad spectrum of topics all connected by the thread of building real models with actual plastic bricks. Most chapters present best practices, tips, and techniques that you can apply to almost any building project. Woven together with these ideas is background information on such subjects as architecture, design, engineering, color theory, and so on.
I hope that this book will serve LEGO builders who are prepared to move beyond the instructions supplied with official sets and who are ready to begin making their own original models. My target audience may include younger builders who are working on their own or parents who are working alongside their children. Adult builders returning to the hobby may also find useful information they can use to refresh techniques long forgotten or perhaps develop those they never had as a young person.
I round out the book with a unique feature that I hope helps builders of all skill levels see the LEGO system at a glance. The Brickopedia (Appendix A) is a graphical reference tool that presents the most common and most reusable elements from available LEGO pieces. Although it does not contain an entry for every single piece ever produced, it does thoroughly examine the LEGO bricks, plates, slopes, and other elements that best define the highly flexible nature of this building system. I have categorized the Brickopedia using some traditional techniques but also using some newly defined criteria and classifications. I set this up intending that you use it as a stand-alone tool; therefore, it does not require a computer or Internet access to be useful.
So sit down with a bunch of LEGO bricks and get ready to build!
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Top customer reviews
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Like all the manuals, you will benefit from reading it cover to cover; then when building from scratch or from a Lego Kit, keep handy to understand how the model you work on is being assembled and designed.
While I was searching Amazon for some kind of Lego building help I came across this book.
I ordered it and started to read it as soon as it was out of the box! There were a lot of helpful sections and we were introduced the the world of Miniland figures based on this book. The building tips were pretty basic, but some tips like the using grids (some of which are provided in the book) were extremely helpful!
The most helpful section of the book has to be the Brickopedia. It is basically a visual dictionary of about 300 of the most commonly used Lego elements. It is good to have handy when you are attempting to build a model and you just need to find the right piece to create the angle you want! The history of some of the individual elements included in the brickopedia is pretty interesting as well.
The illustrations in the book are in black and white which makes the directions easier to follow, but can be boring for younger readers. The tips aren't all that advanced so some experienced Lego builders may not get too much out of the book in that respect.
Overall, this book is more for the Lego builder who is having trouble getting started building their own creations and is at least a teenager. The Brickopedia is handy for any level of Lego enthusiast and ensures that you will keep referring back to this book over and over again!
Reviewed by John Gough -- Deakin University -- email@example.com
[Published as Gough, J. (2011). "Book Review: Allan Bedford The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide", Vinculum, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 4-5.]
First of all, Lego is inherently mathematical, for several reasons. Consider, for example, the classification of parts, the counting and configurations of studs on bricks and plates, the 3D spatial orientation and connection of pieces, the 2D isometric plans, and the logical steps of construction.
Having settled that, Allan Bedford's book is -- if you are interested in Lego, or mathematical thinking -- simply brilliant!
In thirteen chapters Bedford explores the variety of pieces, the basic techniques of construction, the role of scale in creating models that are co-measurable, the making of mosaics and other 2D patterns and pictures, the more advanced pieces of Lego Technic, creativity and design, diagramming and reviewing, sorting and storing pieces, helpful tools, AND he provides a Brickopedia (pp 239-298) that lists and shows and describes almost all Lego bricks (using the word "brick" in a generic sense, as Bedford does). And he has a web-site. And he provides templates for designing and recording designs.
First, Bedford explains the elements of Lego. He begins with the "stud" -- that familiar cylindrical protrusion on top of (most) blocks. Then he demonstrates the "tube" -- the equally familiar hollow cylinder beneath (most) blocks. When studs fit into tubes, Lego blocks lock together. Bricks also need to be explained. The simplest brick has one stud, and is referred to as a 1x1 brick. Other bricks have similar rectangular descriptions, based on their upper-most array of studs: 1x2, 1x3, ..., 1xN, 2x2, and so on. Obviously, length and width of bricks is described in terms of the stud-pattern. How high is a brick? At this point Bedford presents the "plate", as the Lego block or piece that has the least depth, and explains that it takes THREE plates stacked on top of each other to make the height of a brick.
And so he progresses, through families of "slopes", which may be recognised as "roof bricks": specialised pieces: Lego Technic pieces including blocks with holes for axles, axles, cogs, and angled joints: arch pieces: tiles (these are essentially the same as plates, but their upper surface has no studs) and panels: cylinders and cones: base-plates (which are like very wide and long plates, but with even less depth than a plate): and decorative pieces, such as fencing, schematic trees, flags, and windows.
Bedford introduces mathematical terms and thinking to explain that, as a standardised design feature, all Lego bricks have a width-to-height ratio of 5:6. Five 1x1 bricks stacked in a column are as long (high) as a 1x6 brick. (This ratio neglects the extra height of the stud that protrudes at the top of the stacked column.) Similarly, each stud on the 1x6 brick represents five units of width. (Bedford uses these ratios later when making Lego mosaic patterns.)
Chapter 2 explores very basic building techniques. Obviously blocks can be stacked vertically to make columns. But unless columns are tied together, they can topple. Bedford not only remarks on this fact, familiar to any Lego builder, he presents many ways of making connections that prevent toppling, exploring patterns of overlapping, and staggering, and interconnecting walls at corners, and creating self-supporting beams that span gaps between columns. He even presents four different ways of making sturdy columns.
Then with Chapter 3 the discussion becomes really interesting" "Minifig Scale"! A minifig is a "miniature figure" -- a small Lego person, originating in 1978, and now, surely, so familiar as to be the face of Lego.
As Bedford explains: "How does a minifig measure up? In our [American] world he's only an inch and a half [about 4 cm]. In his world he's six feet tall [90 cm]". The challenge, then, is to create a reasonably detailed, realistic-looking house (with rooms, windows, doors, and furniture) that would be the right size for a Lego minifig. This takes dolls' house modelling into new territory! (It also reminds me of the classic Donald Duck cartoon, and Little Golden Book, where the two chipmunks, Chip and Dale, discover Donald's scale-model steam locomotive and outdoor train set. Angry as Donald is by the apparent hijacking of his beloved loco, he realises that Chip and Dale are the right size for his scale-models!) (Minifig scale is about 1:48 -- right?)
And there is more. Bedford considers Lego figures for other scales, such as the Miniland scale (1:20 -- where an average human is represented by a Lego figure about 9 cm tall) used in Legoland, in Denmark, and elsewhere. (What is the ratio of minifig to miniland?)
Bedford also considers making what he calls "jumbo elements": scaled up copies of standard Lego pieces. Within the Lego system, the Duplo range uses a 1:2 scale -- hence the name "Duplo". (But what is the ratio of surface areas? Or volumes?)
The Duplo block is on the left of the standard 2x4 brick.
Bedford also considers what he calls "microscale", where we might approximate the basic outline of a huge real object, such as a bulk oil carrier, or the Empire State Building, so the Lego model we make is small enough to fit on a table.
Bedford continues to show how it is possible make your own Lego model, from scratch, without having to buy a pre-made kit -- how about the Melbourne Town Hall? Or a Lego model of Sovereign Hill? And there is lots more!
I discovered Bedford's book after exploring Lego (and other building kits) on the internet. Along the way I encountered books about the history of games and construction kits, outstanding books about the history of Lego (Dorling Kindersley publish some of these -- beautifully), and the history of Lego minifigs. Meanwhile Lego has released some remarkable build-them-yourself Lego strategy board game kits, and even a Pictionary-like building game called Creationary. We live in exciting times!
Also look for James May (the long-haired man from the popular TV series Top Gear -- otherwise known as Captain Slow, but, for my money, the brains of the show) who used Lego to build a 1:1 scale house of ordinary Lego blocks, built into sturdy "jumbo" bricks, that a human could live in. May has his own TV series (now on DVD), and books, based on his adult exploration of his favourite childhood toys, including Airfix plastic scale-model aeroplanes, Meccano, Scaletrix, Hornby "OO" electric trains, and Lego!
Finally, looking ahead, watch for the 2011 Lego City Advent Calender set (or try hunting for earlier sets on the internet). As with a standard Advent Calendar, a large pictorial scene contains twenty-four small flaps: each flap opens to reveal something underneath. In this case, what is revealed is a small box containing the Lego pieces needed to make a Christmas-themed or Winter-themed model. Gorgeous!
John Gough -- firstname.lastname@example.org
It covers a lot of topics, from super mini models up to giant Lego blocks made of smaller Lego blocks. The downside to this approach is there is a lot of discussion of topics that not everyone is going to be interested in. I for one have no desire to build over-sized Lego blocks.
Still there's lots of good tidbits of information, and it reminds me as I introduce my daughter to Legos that not everything about building with Legos is self-evident.
I especially like the instructions for the train station which can be modified in lots of ways to make all sorts of buildings (My daughter and I made a pizza restaurant). I do wish there had been more of that.
Most recent customer reviews
I gave it a four star rating because it ain't a step by step guide.