Rick & I just dropped off our collection of Mechs & Bots at the Queens LEGO store. Both Galaxy Squad and Friends are well represented, as well as Portal 2, Exploriens, and a variety of small animals.
This was a really fun build for me. I’ve always loved mecha, but when I was growing up, the best LEGO could muster was the Spyrius (I had this one). Now, there are three sets and a polybag with “Mech” in the name being released by LEGO this year alone, and last year’s Ninjago Mechs were both great.
I’m going to go ahead and declare 2013 the year of the Mech.
THEMES HAVE BEEN the lifeblood of the LEGO Company since the late 1970’s, when it first introduced both its Castle and Classic Space sets. And it wasn’t long before the themes themselves had sub-themes, with the Space line branching off into Spyrius, Blacktron, Mission To Mars and, of late, Galaxy Squad sets. While some sub-themes have become legendary in their own right–the black-and-yellow scheme of the Blacktron 1 sets and the blue and trans-red for the first Space Police line are particularly memorable–many other sub-themes have long passed into history, almost forgotten except by the most die-hard of fans.
And that’s where I LUG NY member Blake Foster comes in. Influenced heavily by the early 90’s M:Tron line, he’s created some out-of-this-world, megascale MOCs (Ed. note — “MOC” is an acronym for “My Own Creation” and is a widely-accepted term among builders), from leviathan-like starships to planetary bases. And he takes particular pride in taking the M:Tron line’s main color–red–to extremes. We asked this Brooklyn resident to share some of his passion–and a builder’s trick or two–for our inaugural BUILDER OF THE MONTH column.
I LUG NY:Why M:Tron? What spurs your love of this particular sub-theme?
Blake: It’s part nostalgia and part novelty. M:Tron was one of my favorite themes as a child, and yet it gets far too little attention from the AFOL community. There are many talented AFOLs building Blacktron and classic-space, to the point that it’s hard to make anything that stands out from the crowd. An epic M:Tron MOC feels more unique and more memorable to me.
I LUG NY: What’s the one M:Tron piece that stands out from the rest?
Blake: Magnets were M:Tron’s signature part. Some of their vehicles carried little magnet boxes, some had magnetic cranes, and one even used magnets to carry two small buggies.
I LUG NY:“Space” builders don’t generally use much red. Does that make it easier or harder for you to find pieces, or even to build some of your MOCs?
Blake: Building in red can be an advantage, because every Lego part is first prototyped in red. Even parts never to appear in red in an official set are available, although sometimes for a price. For the most part, though, I don’t use that many specialized “space” parts. I build a lot of greebles, but almost any part that is small and complicated will do the job. Creative use of the existing parts is more important than the palette of parts available.
I LUG NY:What’s the largest thing you ever built?
Blake: My largest completed creation is the Manticore, a 180-stud long spaceship centered around a superweapon called the Destructo Beam. It took 10 1/2 months to build and contains an estimated 15,000 pieces.
I LUG NY:What was your first LEGO set?
I think it was a toy from a McDonald’s Happy Meal. I was three years old at the time, and I don’t remember the experience. However, I’ve been told that once I started building, I never stopped.
I LUG NY:I’m told you have a legendary amount of tan LEGO bricks.
Blake: My love of tan stems from the boxes and instructions of the 80’s and 90’s, which always featured tan moonscapes behind the brave Lego astronauts. I try to uphold that tradition when I build scenery. Over the past six months, I’ve accumulated enough tan to fill a dresser, and I will use much of it to build the terrain around a large-scale M:Tron project.
I LUG NY:What’s your favorite building technique? Do you have a favorite piece/pieces?
I LUG NY: I hold many techniques close to my heart, so many that it would be hard to single one out. I do love hiding studs, though, so naturally many of my favorite techniques fall under the umbrella of SNOT (Studs Not On Top). My favorite part is probably the headlight brick. I can use hundreds, or even thousands of them in a large model.
I LUG NY:Do you have any advice for someone just starting out their LEGO hobby?
Blake: First, think critically about both your own models and models built by others. Great MOCs still have flaws, and mediocre MOCs have their merits. The more you understand what makes a great model great, the better your own models will become. Second, slow down. Sure, you can slap that spaceship together in an evening, but patience will always yield better results. Take a moment to think about each new detail. How does it relate to other details? How does it affect the overall composition of the model? Attention to detail is time-consuming, but the effort always shows in the end.