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LEGO Contest to Awe & Inspire: Iron Builder

One of the best way to get inspired in the LEGO hobby, learn new techniques, and sharpen your LEGO-building skills, is to follow LEGO contests. Even if you don’t participate in the LEGO contest yourself you can learn a lot and keep your hobby fresh and interesting as you watch contestants stretch their creativity and building methods.

Iron Builder LEGO Contest

One of the LEGO contests I regularly keep an eye on is called Iron Builder. Iron Builder is a contest sponsored by the Builder’s Lounge. Builder’s Lounge is a by-invitation-only group of some of the best, most well-rounded, creative, and active LEGO builders. Just to be a member of the Builder’s Lounge is a greatly prestigious position; it’s like being chosen for the Olympic Team. The Olympic Team of LEGO fans.

LEGO Contest Builder's Lounge

However once you are invited to the Builder’s Lounge based on your previous work and the recommendation of a current member, you can’t just sit on your laurels. To remain a Builder’s Lounge member you have to remain active in the LEGO hobby, churning out awesome LEGO creations on a regular basis, otherwise you will loose your membership.

Iron Builder LEGO Contest 1

One way the Builder’s Lounge encourages its members’ continued creativity is to regularly hold Iron Builder contests. At any given time there are four Builder’s Lounge members who hold the title of Iron Builders, however their position gets challenged time and time again by other members through the Iron Builder contest.

Iron Builder LEGO Contest 2

The Iron Builder contest itself is based on a simple idea; take a LEGO element (usually a bizarre, wacky, unusual one that most LEGO fans wouldn’t have any idea what to do with) and use it in the most interesting and creative ways. In Iron Builder terms this element is referred to as the “Secret Ingredient”. For the contest each of the Iron Builder contestants receive a batch of the “Secret Ingredient”, and they have one month to produce as many high-end LEGO models as possible to a panel of judges.

Iron Builder LEGO Contest 3

In each Iron Builder LEGO contest there are two participants; a current Iron Builder and a challenger. There are no prizes. What combatants are fighting for is the position of being considered the best of the best. Holding the title of Iron Builder is serious business in the world of LEGO fans; it’s like not just being part of the Olympic team, but also winning medals. Also, the winner is built a trophy by the conquered – a gentlemanly rule.

Iron Builder LEGO Contest 4

In the past Iron Builder has been a more private contest (although many of the excellent entries have been featured by LEGO fan-sites and blogs). Recently however Builder’s Lounge decided to keep their contests more open for non-members to follow and enjoy. You can check out past Iron Builder contest entries at the Builder’s Lounge Flickr Group. This Flickr group is also invitation only though, so I found the best way to keep tab of new contests and contest entries is to follow V&A Steamworks Flickr Photostream as he always announces them.

LEGO Builder's Lounge Flickr Group

One of the main reasons I like the Iron Builder LEGO contest is because it is not based on a particular theme or topic (build a castle, or spaceship, a robot, etc.), but purely on creativity. It is amazing how many completely different amazing creations participants come up with using the same LEGO element! Following this contest made me appreciate more some of the strangest LEGO elements, allowed me to look at them with fresh eyes, and helped me to improve my building skills.

Iron Builder LEGO Contest 5

Choosing a LEGO element and trying to figure out different ways to use it can be a fun challenge for yourself, or an interesting contest amongst LEGO fans of all ages. You can do it with your family and friends and see who comes up with the most creative ideas!  What would you build?

Iron Builder LEGO Contest Challenge

What do you think? How do you like the idea of a LEGO contest based on a particular LEGO element? Did you have an element in mind already that you would like to try and see what you can do with? Did any of the LEGO models featured above got you inspired? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Strider January 9, 2013, 10:12 AM

    Neat. I liked the printer and the fish was neat too. I probably wouldn’t stand a chance against an iron builder 🙂

    • admin January 9, 2013, 11:13 AM

      Strider, we may not be able to beat an Iron Builder, althought you never know… The point is that we don’t have to be part of an exclusive club or stand up against some creative giant. We can try this on our own and become more skilled builders. And who knows; one day we may be able to de-throne the current Iron Builders. 😉

      • Xiasaki March 4, 2013, 1:47 PM

        Could this blog do a similar contest? Like “Blogger Builds” or something similar. Maybe each month one of the contributers could choose a piece, similar to iron builder, or a theme, or a concept, like classic castle. I have noticed many of the other contests are either exclusive to memebers or not very often. I also like the idea of sending a trophy to the winner! I would hope to have maaany trophies haha

        • admin March 5, 2013, 10:21 AM

          Xiasaki, yes, contests are definitely fun! Please note that by law (at least in the USA) only people of legal age can participate in an online contest. That is why most LEGO fan-sites require membership and you have to be a certain age to sign up – they need that to run contests and for their own legal protection. Since TBB doesn’t require membership we can only run contests directly sponsored by LEGO or some other big company that has the army of lawyers to guide them tru all the legal hoops and loops that goes with running a contest for kids. I’m just a blogger. I can’t afford an army of lawyers or any other army for our protection. 😉

          If you are interested in LEGO contests I would suggest Eurobricks (if you are old enough to register). They run contests regularly and they are quite fun. 🙂

  • Chris of Yoda Archives January 9, 2013, 10:36 AM

    I really like this. Seeing the challenge really makes me want to build more.

    • Eric at a LEGO a Day January 9, 2013, 10:57 AM

      Yeah, this is a really great idea. Being forced to use a particular piece that is normally overlooked would REALLy make you think outside the box. Love it.

  • gid617 January 9, 2013, 10:48 AM

    I’ve followed a couple Iron Builder rounds now, it’s pretty amazing all the different ways they can come up with to use just one type of piece!

    • admin January 9, 2013, 11:14 AM

      Yeah, that’s why I like to watch the contests too! Since I have been following them I will never-ever again say that a LEGO piece is useless. 😉

      • gid617 January 9, 2013, 4:17 PM

        Yeah, sometimes I try to focus on incorporating a weird piece into a pre-conceived build (in a visible way, of course!), but it would actually be easier starting with the piece itself. Sometimes a piece laying around does provide inspiration… 🙂

  • legostuff71 January 9, 2013, 11:50 AM

    It’s good to see that the imagination isn’t dying out as some people think these days. Of course some times my challanges is still to put a difficult LEGO set together.

  • NRGkai January 9, 2013, 11:57 AM

    wen do they do these ?

    how can i follow them ?

    • admin January 9, 2013, 12:35 PM

      NRGkai, the links to follow the contests are in the article. 😉

  • Legoman640 January 9, 2013, 7:01 PM

    Woah,thats one serious contest! 😯

  • Legoman640 January 9, 2013, 7:03 PM

    Is it possible to show your creation on The Brick Blogger?

    • admin January 9, 2013, 7:45 PM

      Unfortunately there is no easy way as TBB is a blog, not a forum.

      The easiest way to share your creations is to upload them to a free picture sharing site (like Flickr, MOCpages or BrickShelf) then just simply link to it in your comment. This is something you can easily do on your own.

      If you want to embed the picture in your comment you can either give me the link and I will embed it for you, or you need to email me the picture and I can embed it. I rather not do this as it is a bit involved, but if the picture is super relevant to an article (like an update on a news item or something) I will do it.

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