Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Review of Beautiful Lego

Contrary to the impression, which the title of this post may have given, I am not writing today to review a beautiful Lego set. Rather, I have in my hands the latest book offering by acclaimed Lego designer, Mike Doyle, Beautiful Lego. There are a lot of things that I could say about this book to describe it to you, the reader, yet I do not want to spoil the experience by revealing all of the contents. Thus, if you are looking for a brief word or opinion on this book, here it is: Beautiful Lego by Mike Doyle is an amazing, high quality, incredibly robust collection of some of the most awesome, and beautiful, Lego designs of this era. In my opinion, the inspiration and appreciation that this book drives goes beyond that of any other Lego book, ever.

So you want to know more? Well, to begin, the cover photo of the book is stunning. A creation by the author (see the above photo), the massive, 200,000 piece diorama showcases what is certainly one of the most beautiful Lego creations of 2013. (Side note, the name of this creation is "Contact 1:  The Millennial Celebration of the Eternal Choir at K'al Yne, Odan" and is built in a micro-scale. The full model is approximately 5' by 6'.) This cover draws the potential reader to the book, enticing them to open its pages for more amazing creations.

Picking up the book, I realize that "big and thick" are the most frank, yet best, descriptors. Truly a coffee table-style book, the fact that it contains so much content (and is paperback, nonetheless) is impressive. The organization of the book serves to carry the reader along. Interspersing sections on specific artists (and their creations) with sections of themed creations, the book never contains too much of one type of build or theme. Some of the themed sections feature multiple works by an artist, providing a contrast to other models.

I love the fact that Lego has its own sense of scale. When looking at a model, the relative size can often quickly be recognized by the bricks that are used. The photos in Beautiful Lego are well-shot, incredibly clear, and (in many cases) quite large, often filling half or whole pages, if not more. These photos impress the viewer and truly showcase the models, very well. Speaking of scale, I certainly appreciate the fact that so many scales were represented in the book. Ranging from micro-scale, such as Mike's creation on the cover, to larger-than-life animals and abstract human figures (see the seahorse, above), the models within Beautiful Lego suit nearly every preference for scale and theme of design. In addition to their relative scale, Mike has selected a good range of differently-sized models. Some of the smallest models are actually true-to-life scale, such as a collection of snails, while some of the largest models are scaled like the one on the cover. While the content of the photographs impresses the reader with its technical design, some of the models seek (and succeed) at bringing emotion or feeling to the viewer.

As part of this review, I have to share that my favorite section is the starships. Even within this section, while there are no life-size models, the creations represent a range of micro-scale to minifigure-scale. Some of the designs are simple, while others look to be quite complex. Here lies all kinds of originality and great work. The content of this book seeks to share the beauty in these creations, yet it will also inspire, so keep a bucket of Lego close at hand, while reading!

Related links
Mike Doyle's blog with more pictures of "Contact 1"
Mike's website with more information about the world of Odan

Beautiful Lego may be purchased from the No Starch Press website, here.
Photo credit to No Starch Press and Mike Doyle.
This book was provided for my review by No Starch Press.

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