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Back in the summer, we featured the work of a LEGO fan who goes by the name Bricked1980 (see: LEGO Modular Building Post Office & More!) He started out with customizing some of the official LEGO Modular Buildings, which eventually led to designing his own structures from scratch. His custom LEGO post office is a particularly popular model. In fact, it is so good, that for a while LEGO fans thought it was going to be the next official LEGO Modular Building. 🙂

The reveal of the 2019 LEGO Modular Building, #10264 LEGO Creator Corner Garage left some LEGO fans unsatisfied. (You can read more about this set here: 2019 LEGO Modular Corner Garage Coming!). While the set is nicely designed, it is clear that LEGO is moving away from the much beloved older style LEGO Modular Buildings to embrace the architectural style of the 1950s. Both the #10260 LEGO Creator Downtown Diner and the #10264 LEGO Creator Corner Garage features the curving forms, long horizontal lines, and simpler decorations of Art Deco architecture.

Art Deco is an architectural style that people either love or hate. The bold lines, distinct curves, and vivid colors are very different from the architecture of other periods. While buildings from other styles bland together well, even if they were built decades or even centuries apart, Art Deco stands out with its distinct features and can’t be ignored. Some LEGO fans love this fresh and new direction, and are even inspired to start their LEGO Modular Building collection. Others are not so happy with the changes and feel that the style and colors of the #10260 LEGO Creator Downtown Diner and the #10264 LEGO Creator Corner Garage are too different to mesh well with the previous LEGO Modular Buildings. Thus, the lovely design of the LEGO Modular post office is being discussed again.

LEGO fans have been requesting Bricked1980 to release instructions for his LEGO Modular post office, and now that it is clear that not everyone is happy with the 2019 LEGO Modular Building, there are even more requests. Bricked1980 did say that he has plans to release instructions, although he is not sure when he will have the time. For the time being, he updated the post office with Christmas decorations, and even wrote a little story for it, titled, “Twas the night before Christmas…”. You can read it below.

Twas the night before Christmas, and all the kids at Brick Square were getting excited, building snowmen and putting up the Christmas tree. The children had been busy writing their lists to Santa. They handed their letters to the postman, who was loading up his van ready for the last mail run of the day. He set off in to the snowy night with his precious cargo, but by now the snow was falling thickly. Then, there was trouble! The post van hit a snowdrift much bigger than usual. Stranded in the snow, the quick thinking postman grabbed his phone and telephoned ahead. Meanwhile back at Brick Square everything was silent and the children were feeling anxious. It was getting late and the postman should have returned by now. Just then, a friendly whistle sounded in the distance and the air was suddenly filled with the sweet smell of steam. It was Santa! He had ditched his reindeer and sleigh and instead opted for good old-fashioned steam power, courtesy of The Old Workhorse Traction Engine. (Don’t forget that The Old Workhorse is on LEGO Ideas. Please spare a couple of minutes to give it your support if you’d like to see it made as a real LEGO set. Anyway, shameless self-promotion out of the way, lets continue the story…) The Old Workhorse arrived at Brick Square carrying Santa himself and all the presents for the children. And, just in case you wondered what happened to the postman. Don’t worry, he made it back home in time for Christmas Day! THE END!

Fun story, isn’t it? And great pictures too! If you would like to see more close-up images, visit the Christmas at Brick Square flickr gallery. And, you might also feel inspired to dress up your own LEGO Modular Buildings with some Christmas decorations!

What do you think? How do you like the LEGO Modular post office and the Christmas story that goes with it? Do you decorate your LEGO displays for the holiday season? Feel free to share in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

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Brick Breakdown: LEGO Ideas Pop-Up Book

by admin on December 11, 2018

in LEGO Exclusives

(Written by William)

Before discussing the interesting building techniques found in the #21315 LEGO Ideas Pop-Up Book, let me point out that this set has a remarkably good selection of parts; a large quantity of different size dark-green bricks and a good smattering of modified bricks are what stood out for me the most. This is especially important for LEGO fans who like to build their own substantial size custom creations. 🙂

In addition, we also get some of the best looking and most detailed minifigs in a non-licensed set: Little Red Riding Hood, grandma, the big bad wolf in granny’s jammies, the Giant, and even a microfigure Jack. Overall, this set has a lot going for it, even above and beyond the amazing design.

As far as the building experience and building techniques, the brick built book looks great, the fairytale scenes feel inspired, and the pop-up mechanism is downright breathtaking. I can’t gush enough over the sheer ingenuity that went into this set. Which means, as far as techniques go, we have a lot to talk about. So let’s begin…

BUILDING HOUSING FOR A LEGO CREATION

The fairytale stories and the pop-up mechanism of the #21315 LEGO Ideas Pop-Up Book are encased in a housing – which, in this case, is the brick-built book itself. The book included two covers, a spine, and a frame of simulated pages. It’s important to note that the width of the spine will define how tall the simulated pages must be for the book to close properly. In this case, the spine is four studs wide, and since the simulated pages are built sideways, this means that there is ten plates worth of space to cover. This goes way back to our discussion on the 2 and 5 rule; for every 2 studs, there is 5 plates of thickness. With this in mind, the thickness of the pages is split evenly. Each side receives one plate, one brick, and one tile to build up the height of the simulated pages. This adds up to a total of ten plates of thickness, or five plates for each cover.

Another feature of the housing that needs to be considered is the various mounting elements that will be needed to affix the fairytale scenes. Here, we get a pinhole in each cover, a bar on the spine, some plates to aid the pinholes, and some random studs along the top edge of the book.

Finally, space needs to be hollowed out in the spine to prevent any folding mechanism from catching. This is why we see a small window frame built into the spine of the book. Although the book looks simple, as you can see, a lot of thought had to go into designing it. It has to work well in itself, and also work as the housing of the pop-up mechanism inside.

DEFINING JOINTS WITH LEGO

Now that we have the housing done, we have to make sure it can open and close properly, like a real book. For this, we need hinges. More specifically, hinges that work based on tension. Ideally, when the book is closed, there should be the least amount of tension, versus when the book is open and can apply more tension.

The primary example of this is found in the center of the Little Red Riding Hood scene. The hinges are modified with a slope to only open so far. This, in turn, gives us a defined shape and structure when opened, yet provides a method in which it can be compacted in order to fold up. The result is a very interesting mechanism. When the scene is formed, like the cottage, it has to stop unfolding due to the hinge described above. However, the book is not fully open yet. Therefore, in order to complete the action, the mechanism must either break or follow the path of least resistance. In this case, the joints on the sides of the scene continue pulling, and the only other path for the contraption to move to is to be stood upright. The result is the pop-up action.

The action differs in the Beanstalk fairytale, where the contraption is either fully extended or not. The defining joints in this scene actually help form a three-dimensional structure before the side joints finish exerting tension. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at the unique characteristics of the various expanding joints.

EXPANDING JOINTS WITH LEGO

At this point, we have the housing to provide the tension, the defining joints to build things with tension, but we still need joints to harness the tension. For this, there are two options; the joints can either be rigid or flexible. Typically a more rigid joint is used when more weight is involved, or when there is an added level of complexity. In the case of the Little Red Riding Hood scene, the side joints are the rigid expanding joints. They are locked at a specific angle to act as tracks for the scene to move along within a consistent action.

In the case of the Beanstalk scene, the action is rather simple, so it only requires a basic amount of tension. This is why a simple string is used. A string is probably the most flexible expanding joint you can possibly have, as it can only provide one of the two basic types of motion. By types of motion, I mean things can either be pushed or pulled. Push type motions are usually the most common as they are easier to design. For example, turn a gear and each tooth pushes other teeth it comes across, or move a tire and it will grip and push the floor along under it. As far as pulling motions the most common example is cranes moving objects upwards.

In general, expanding joints are used as decorative elements rather than necessary functional components. They will often look like pistons on mechs or on the backs of heavy machines. In this set, the side joints actually pull the scene from both directions thus harnessing the tension we wish to apply. By having rigid axles in their design, the side joints further limit the ways in which the scene can move. Therefore, they also act as a defining joint. But the real benefit of an expanding joint is that it can utilize and absorb movement. This is probably why they aren’t as common. Things that absorb movement tend to mean whatever you are building moves less, which is often opposite of our intended goal. Nevertheless, what is called for in this set is a way to make something malleable. For that reason, the expanding joint is perfect.

APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN

Building a housing for a model is an interesting proposition, even if you aren’t planning to make a pop-up book. Ultimately, the goal of housing is to make your creation more portable. What you need to address is how will the housing open, and whether there is enough room for everything inside.

As for defining joints, I feel that this is still a fairly new concept to explore. Most of the time, we make an action element to perform some sort of function. The concept here is that the end function is that something new is built. Some previous example we can see in LEGO sets are awnings on food trucks, and campers that unfold a bit. While they are fairly easy to build, you do need to consider whether a hinge or joint needs to be limited in any way.

Finally, we get expanding joint. The #21315 LEGO Ideas Pop-Up Book is definitely giving us a new perspective on just how handy it is to have a pulling action. I must admit that its absorbing qualities fascinate me. It’s a great technique we can use to soften the abruptness of so many action elements. The trick is designing them. For this reason, I suggest trying to play with string first, if they end up failing because they are too flexible, then figure out how to replace the action the string provides with a bit more structure. It’s not the simplest thing to even think about, but then again, this is one of the most advanced techniques we have ever talked about.

What do you think? How do you like the LEGO Ideas Pop-Up Book? Did you build it already? How do you like the techniques discussed here? And did you notice any other interesting features or techniques? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

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