(Written by William)
You might have noticed that there is a deluge of LEGO BrickHeadz on store shelves from every possible franchise that LEGO has an affiliation with. The sets offer some interesting printed pieces, but other than that, they appear strange, blocky, and unappealing to many LEGO fans. I must admit, I wasn’t exactly sure about them either, however I was willing to give them a try. And now, after building a number of LEGO BrickHeadz, I’m kind of addicted to the series. Don’t get me wrong, I still think they are rather clunky in appearance, but the building experience is quite satisfying. And, it is this experience that made me decide to write about the sets from the perspective of building techniques. 🙂
➡ THE LEGO BRICKHEADZ BUILDING SYSTEM
As you know, LEGO elements are within a well-defined system. All LEGO pieces can be connected in many different ways to build almost anything you can imagine. However, what is not talked about all that much is that we can create subsets of systems within the main LEGO building system.
Essentially, all that is required is to establish a list of general guidelines – usually restrictions – and you have a new system. For example, the LEGO minifigure system is used in nearly every toy line LEGO makes, with the basic rule that whatever is built within the system has to be usable by a minifigure.
Then, we also have various scaled systems. This includes micro-scale models, LEGO Creator Expert vehicles, and even full-scaled models like piggy banks and pencil holders. These systems have nothing to do with minifigures, rather they have to relate to whatever they are being modeled after. So, for example, the LEGO Architecture models must be true to their original inspiration in the given scale. There is also the mosaic system, which is essentially pixel art with a typically flat design. There are many other building systems, like LEGO Technic, LEGO “constraction” figures, and more, but let’s go back to LEGO BrickHeadz.
The LEGO BrickHeadz building system has a specific scale and also style. The overall shape must be blocky, with standard ways to form certain shapes like ears, hands, and legs. In addition, LEGO BrickHeadz have rather precise dimensions for legs, torso, and head. What is interesting is that for as simple as BrickHeadz appear, they follow more guidelines than most. This is especially made obvious when playing with the #41597 LEGO BrickHeadz Go Brick Me customizer set, where you are introduced to the rules of the LEGO BrickHeadz characters. It’s a free-building set within clearly defined parameters.
As a technique, any time you create a new system, it can serve one of two purposes. Either it can challenge you by setting up imagined restrictions, or it can help guide you in how to build something. Additionally, as a side benefit, by using a sub-system like LEGO BrickHeadz, you have a better way to compare between creations in the same system. It is much easier to see the extra effort put in one model while contrasting it with the simplicity of another.
➡ FORMING SHAPES WITH LEGO BRICKHEADZ
With all the fancy shapes LEGO offers these days, I can’t say I’ve had too much practice with the basics. If you are an older LEGO fan who grew up in an era where LEGO mostly used blocky elements, you already mastered building with basic shapes as a child. And even now, you’re sort of expected to figure out how to build with basic bricks in your younger years via the LEGO DUPLO system and LEGO Classic sets.
Putting a curved slope next to a straight slope looks interesting, but nothing you’d really spend too much time on mastering. Then, as you get older, much of your play with shapes tends to be all about modeling something you see. Gone is the exploration of building weird shapes with basic elements. Not too long ago, I built my own copy of an interesting custom LEGO model that utilizes primitive shapes in very effective ways. It didn’t dawn on me until after building that model that LEGO BrickHeadz essentially provide a master course in how to make complex shapes with simple LEGO elements.
This is most prevalent in the hair/headgear design of LEGO BrickHeadz, since this is what makes most of the characters unique. It is in the minor shaping of a bang or styling of curls where you can really appreciate how simple pieces can complement each other. Not only that, but they also incorporate sideways elements on each side, which adds to the master builder level of design.
For example, the #41588 LEGO BrickHeadz The Joker has a tremendously complex hairstyle. I also look forward to LEGO BrickHeadz sets with female characters, as they tend to have very interesting building techniques for their hair. And with LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Super Heroes BrickHeadz we get a chance to build interesting helmets.
After building several BrickHeadz, by the time I got the #41597 LEGO BrickHeadz Go Brick Me customizer set, I knew two things. First, I wasn’t going to use the included instructions to help build my own BrickHeadz. And, second, I could feel just how intimidating it could be making one of these designs without any help. For me, it was the first time I felt that I truly used my experience and skills to form intricate shapes.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
As LEGO BrickHeadz sets aren’t expensive to begin with, and they are often found in the clearance isle, it may not be a bad idea to pick up one or two sets just for the building experience. The parts alone are fairly useful, and you may also find the printed pieces attractive. If you don’t want to buy any of the sets, but you have a good selection of basic parts, you can even just download the instructions for some of the sets to learn the techniques. Once you build a few, you are well on your way to build your own BrickHeadz, and delve deeper into forming shapes with basic pieces.
Another thing worth noting is that often we focus on how nice a LEGO set looks at first glance, ignoring the value of the building and design experience. However, learning to build with LEGO is a valuable undertaking in itself that can even enhance other areas of your life. I sincerely hope that everyone can try out building at least one BrickHeadz character. I don’t think you will regret it. You can check out the current selection at the LEGO BrickHeadz section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? How do you like the LEGO BrickHeadz collection? Do you like it, or do you find it strange? Have you built any of the characters yourself? Did you learn anything interesting from the building techniques? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! 😉
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