too many bricks

I love Lego.

I hate Lego.

I love Lego for the opportunities in story telling, the ways I can mix and match and build narrative. I love it for the times when people tell me I managed to show an emotion in the interaction of two minifigures. It’s marvelous and I think it’s safe to say that this is going to be in my wheelhouse for quite some time.

I hate Lego any time I try to build anything on my own. Because dammit there are just too many bricks!

I’m not a builder. I love a kit, I love the instructions and whenever I buy something new, I have a blast putting things together and seeing how I can use the finished product in a photo.

But I’m never really inspired to make the USS Enterprise out of twelve bricks or a scale model of the London Eye or whatever. I’m envious of the people who can do that and I’ll stare in wide wonder at BrickCon but I don’t feel that passion.

When I do feel inspired to design something on my own, that’s when I’m screwed. Not because of technical limitations or not having enough bricks on hand. Trust me, BrickLink is your friend when you’re searching out parts and minifigs. And their design software is a game changer. Instead of thinking that maybe there’s a brick that’ll work like so you can pull its digital copy out and play.

That band idea I wrote about last time? Well I went to play with it in and I came up with this:

The Band

Even as the pedant in me would like to point out that this is missing and that’s incorrect, I’m well pleased with this. It’ll work perfectly for The Outsiders.

So I upload it to BrickLink, get a shopping list and immediately hit a brick wall… built of 2×4 bricks in red and dark bluish grey.

Here’s the thing, folks. Lego bricks look simple and easily sorted. You’ve got bricks (self-explanatory), plates (flat pieces with studs), tiles (flat pieces without studs), slopes, arches and so on and so forth. But for every particular brick that exists as its own holotype, its own platonic ideal, there are countless others that exist with subtle variations that probably only matter to the keepers of the database.

Because those little grille pieces that make up the keys on the keyboard exist in three different forms, depending on whether or not there’s a “lip” on the bottom. One variation was used sparingly, the other is dominant. Pick the wrong one and the system will be looking for a needle in a haystack. Pick the right one and you’re done shopping in thirty seconds.

And this is what always messes me up. Always. This piece? Not available in dark bluish grey but it’s readily available in light bluish grey. This piece? Available with a lip or without a lip. Are you feeling lucky?

It’s a minor frustration, probably something I’d internalize if I actually built larger scenes and MOCs, but as a small time, small-scale dabbler I’ll just keep gritting my teeth and work through the missing bits by hand.

Stay tuned. I think this is going to be a really fun shot.