Season 5 – Round 1: Of Water Lillies and Video Games
Looking back at the 1st round of Iron Builder Season 3 – from February 2017.
Originally hosted in the Iron Builder Group on flickr.
Looking back at the 1st round of Iron Builder Season 3 – from February 2017.
Originally hosted in the Iron Builder Group on flickr.
Who will take home the crown?
Our defending Iron Builder Champion Chris Maddison or our challenger from the North Cecilie Fritzvold?
This round’s seed part is the Tile, Modified 2 x 3 Pentagonal – in not one but three different colors! Our builders may use the colors freely and judging will not be impacted by the color(s) used in each MOC – colors will be judged with equal merit.
Wish them luck! Lets see who’s great at cutting corners!
Who will take it home? Whose builds reign supreme?
Only one way to find out! ALLEZ BRICK!
“Ready to play?
Let the games begin!”
“This will be a fun one! Looks like great minds think alike…but I much prefer the classics.”
“No time for sleep! Better stop hitting that snooze button…”
(casually crosses clock off to-do list)
“While you’ve been counting minutes, I’ve been preparing for battle.
Choose your weapon.”
“Careful with those, or the next funeral might be yours.”
“The dead do offer plenty of peace and quiet. Be sure to plan your moves carefully…might want to consider a different perspective.”
“Ok, enough quiet. It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Stereotypical American comment about FOOTBALL and SPORTS and YELLING A LOT AT THE TV goes here!”
“Thats so archaic. Reminds me of this book I found the other day….”
“While you were reading your book, I was out meeting this guy in person. He didn’t fare too well.”
Side note: points where they’re due; I was almost finished with this when I saw your dino. But hey, bonus content is always fun!
“All that digging made you hungry yet? Too bad it looks like it’s a bad fishing day…”
“Penguins? Looks like one of Cobblepot’s…I’ll follow him home and exact some Gotham-style justice.”
“Didn’t have anything to say about the car…maybe you prefer taking the train?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, were you talking to me? I was busy playing Super Mario Bros.”
“You’ve been playing for awhile. Why not take a break and go outside? You can pause the game by pressing +.”
“You Americans and your weird sports. I think I’ll just stay home and read a book.”
“Hard to stay home these days, on this side of the pond…but if you’re doing some reading, I’d suggest a lighthearted little tale called 1984.”
“Silver lining: maybe this is all just a simulation? It’d be cooler if I knew Kung Fu.”
“That would be nice, then I don’t have to feel so bad about poor Pikachu here. Hope it wasn’t yours.”
“Holy crap, is that some sort of Norwegian super-rodent?! You’ll need a big trap to catch one of those if they ever infest your house. Something like this.”
“You call that a big trap? No, if you want to catch Norwegian super rodents, you need something like this.”
“New commandment: Thall shalt not waste the good cuts of meat on catching critters.”
“Need a higher frame rate on your builds? Look no further!”
“I hope those fans can cool me down. This thing just keeps yakking, and it’s getting me heated.”
“Valentine’s Day rose. Massacre not included.”
“Roses are so cliché, have some water lilies instead!”
“Looks kinda soggy…come find some firmer footing at the market.”
“Better watch out, your market is in for some pillaging!”
“That beard’s getting mighty unruly; let me untangle my clippers and clean him up a bit.”
“Sensei doesn’t shave. But he’s telling you to get up and try again!”
“Watch out, don’t let Gramps break a hip while he’s swinging that broomhandle around. Why not find him a new hobby; tending a flower bed, maybe?”
“My Goomba is coming to stomp all over your flower bed.”
“Mushrooms go great on burgers…maybe they’d taste good on a hot dog too?”
“Pining for the end yet?”
“Plenty of time (and a bit of space) til the finish line.”
“Since I’m out here, I decided to take a walk, and found a small step.”
“Careful where you step, this is the end of the road for you.”
“Roads? Where these entries are going, they don’t need roads.”
“Do you dare to sleep at night?”
“Wow, a real life vampire?! Do you mind if I interview you?”
“I’m waiting at the cemetary.”
“You’ll have to give me a little bit…I just woke up in Vietnam.”
“If I may take a moment to be sincere, we’re both going to deserve medals after this month long battle.”
“It’s a little early to start handing out medals yet, don’t you think? The race isn’t over yet.”
“I hope you bought your ship from somewhere reputable, and didn’t get swindled into a lemon.”
“Hey bub, time to slice through this last week.”
“I got a little delayed by a massive snow storm over here, but don’t worry, I’m equipped for that!”
“I saw your tracks and thought I was going to have to hack you out of the ice somewhere.”
“Stuck in the snow, now what, stuck outside the pod bay doors?”
“The other side of the coin. You’ve been pretty quiet, so I assume you’ve either been eaten by a xenomorph, or are about to do something amazing.”
“You look like you’re in quite the pinch over there, but I’ve got just the guy to come get you out of that.”
“What a month. I hope you’ve all enjoyed Cecilie and myself duking it out.
Cecilie, you are freakin amazing and built so many things that made my jaw hit the floor. You didn’t let up for a minute, and beat me to a couple really cool ideas.
As for me, I have one last offering, directed at the audience. We’ve told our stories this month with build after build…now it’s time for you to tell yours.”
“It’s been an honor battling you Chris. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go sleep for a week… (this last one took way longer than expected…).
Now let’s celebrate that this is over by going out and grabbing a bite to eat! Maybe sushi?”
Both builders are top notch, and it’s been a pleasure seeing so many terrific models from each of them. It’s been fascinating watching similar ideas populate in both their minds, as each brought their unique visions to dinosaurs, console controllers, and both sharp metal teeth and pearly white ones.
Chris: It comes as no surprise that Chris is a world-class builder, and his entries span a wide range of genres and styles. It’s no mean feat to position the shield tiles in an angled ring as type hammers, or as delicately unfolding rose petals. Meanwhile, the simple beauty of Chris’ two hallway scenes from 2001 and Alien show that good builds aren’t always complicated.
However, some of the builds feel weak, especially in comparison with Chris’ better entries. Wolverine’s Claws is a fine idea for a model, but the execution is far beneath Chris’ talents. The Ivory Beetle Speederbike seems to have suffered in service of cramming a few more shield tiles in, and the vehicles on the Wheels and Deals car lot drag the rest of the model down, despite not incorporating the seed part.
Overall, with a few exceptions Chris’ models tend to be safe bets, with relatively straightforward techniques aside from the seedpart. Some, like the baseball diamond, hot dog stand, or Batmobile, are well executed technically but dull in scope, failing to invite the audience’s closer examination.
Cecilie: Cecilie has continually wowed with her builds throughout the competition, tackling subjects as diverse as console controllers and microscale cathedrals. She set a high bar for detail in the builds, not letting the inclusion of the seedpart distract her from the fundamentals of a good build. Cecilie’s motorized build of a sushi conveyor belt is just lovely. It’s loaded with details, from the perfect use of the Ninjago banners to the patterned floor. The fact that it actually moves is a pure bonus. The pinecone is a stroke of genius and technical ability.
Nevertheless, a few builds did go awry, such as the cemetery, which is wholly unremarkable except for the pathway paved with vertically stacked shield tiles. The Gundam is also a weak entry, though only because so many excellent LEGO Gundam creations exist that it’s hard to be either innovative or exceptionally great when dealing with that subject. The GARC racing track is a particularly weak entry, with the seed part rings employing an overly simple design. The ships are uninspired, and feel like spare-parts bin tablescraps. Finally, Dracula feels like it should be in the style of Chris McVeigh’s Brick Sketches, but it lacks finesse and seems like a very rough first draft.
Overall, Cecilie’s builds are ambitious, playing with scale, perspective, and a wide variety of styles. They’re not all successes, but the hits are big.
Chris: Chris’s presentations are largely simple, neither distracting nor detracting from the builds. Some, like the Alien and 2001 scenes or the typewriter, are wholly brick built, and are all the better for it. The setting for the mousetrap is fabulous, inviting a double take at every viewing, while the Flower Garden is perfect in its simplicity and square cropping.
A few don’t work as well, though a few drag the models down because of it. The baseball diamond’s dark outer glow around the field, placed on a white background, and paired with a sports-ish script font, all look very amateurish. Parts of the Forged for Combat scene are overexposed, then toned down in post, giving the image a washed-out feel. The obviously photoshopped text on the hot dog stand sign stands out like a sore thumb, and the build suffers for it.
Cecilie: Cecilie’s presentations are unobtrusive. While they don’t distract from the builds, they don’t add much to them either.
There are a few exceptions in both directions, however. The Stegosaurus is brilliantly presented, as is the Pinecone. Erik the Viking’s background is almost wholly brick-built, and wonderfully executed. On the other hand, the Cemetery background is too dark, and many of the details in the fence and tree are hard to discern. The Gundam’s background is clean, but poorly executed, particularly in contrast to Cecilie’s other backgrounds.
Use of the Seed Part:
Chris: Some of Chris’ seed part uses are brilliant. The simplicity of the medal is outstanding, boiling the seed part down to its bare essence and using it in the most perfect manner achievable. Using a NEXO Knights shield tile as typewriter type hammers is crazy, but it works, while using them as white picket fences is obvious but well executed. A surprising entry is the electric hair clippers, which employ the shield tiles for the metal prongs, taking advantage of the stud indents to create the nuanced texture on the blades.
However, many of the builds fall well short, employing the shield tile just for the sake of it. The chess set, mousetrap, hotdog stand, 10 commandments, or the protesters would not be significantly worse if the shield tiles were all replaced with rectangular tiles. In fact, the football field use the shield tiles in such a way that it’s hard to tell the seed part is even included. Many of the other builds incorporate the shield tile in an integral manner, but the model seems held back by their inclusion. The satellite, speeder bikes, Wolverine claws, and even the car dealership all seem to be in this category.
Cecilie: Cecilie’s has a number of obvious but brilliantly executed uses for the seed part, such as the digital numbers on the alarm clock. It’s such a perfect use for the element it’s a wonder no one had done it already. Other obvious but great uses are the Stegosaurus’ spikes and the game controller’s directional pad. The shield tiles forming the front walls of the microscale cathedral is perfectly done, and using them as fan blades on a 1:1 scale GPU definitely counts as an innovative use, especially when the finished product looks nearly real. Perhaps the most unusual use is on the pinecone, which is an unusual subject for a LEGO build regardless (and serves as a great pun in this seed part contest), but it she manages to make it work and shapes a beautiful object out of very little other than the shield tiles.
Some of Cecilie’s builds suffer from the same issue as Chris’, however, by failing to embrace the pentagonal shape in a unique way and merely substituting it for other pieces or adding them as an afterthought. Prime examples are the collapsed bridge and fishing penguin, which would be the same quality of models with or without the shield tiles.
If this is any indication of how IB will be from now on….wow.
It has been a while since I have been called into duty to judge Iron Builder. It’s something that I have a lot of fun doing, even though it’s one of the more challenging things I get to do. You may think it’s easy to look at other people’s work and then say one is better than the other - that’s far from the truth. Picking builders to go in magazine is very easy compared to this. But it’s also very enjoyable for me because I don’t get to see the best of the best in any other way. It’s a portfolio presentation of the highest order - and I get to judge.
So…..this time I am screwed. I spotted some of these on Facebook initially and was happy to see the competition back. I Saw some wonderful builds, and when I looked at the Iron Builder discussion board for this challenge, I saw even more.
Some statistics: Chris Maddison built 22 builds, Cecilie Fritzvold built…22 builds also. This is not going to be a volume-based judgement. This was literally a dueling build. The build subjects were highly varied, which is great! And use of the seed part….amazing.
Here’s a look at the builders in the IB categories:
While I have seen Chris’ builds for years, I haven’t seen Cecilie’s until now (Yes, you can boo me out out the discussion…) - or rather, I haven’t seen her work credited to her - I may have seen her MOCs somewhere. Anyways, looking at both builder’s work, the skill level is ridiculously high. The seed part had a peculiar limitation in that it was a tile - the only attachment was at the rear. As a result, much of the builds were where the tile was a visual element. However, both had a build where the tile was used in a really clever way:
Chris Maddison: His razor is very clever in making the tile an important part in making the prop recognizable, without completely revealing the part. For me, that was a place where I just smiled at the photo. Well done!
Cecilie Fritzvold: The computer fan is simply beautiful work. I had to look at the zoom to see it was a model. The builder in me fell out at the technique, the geek in me marveled at how convincing it looked.
Chris Maddison: 20/20
Cecilie Fritzvold: 19.5/20
In this competition, the photos of the MOCs were outstanding. Presentation is not only goo photography, though, but also placing a model in an environment where it it ‘fits.’ The typical MOC photo is blank background with the MOC - it’s a “Hi, I’m here!” photo where the focus is forced on you by the simple placement. A good presentation is more like a “Hi, I’m here - and look at where I am!” photo. The MOC is placed in a place where context is given to the MOC as well. There are some wonderful examples, but I will pick only one from each:
Chris Maddison: The fossil dig. Astounding. I can name many reasons why this one knocks the idea of presentation out of the park, but the best way to put it is: “this is a beautiful MOC that became the presentation area for the tiles, which are not recognized as such until you look at them in the context of the competition.” I want a postcard of this one. No, I want a book based on this illustration.
Cecilie Fritzvold: The living room scene. Again a scene where the MOC is the presentation for the part, which are not recognized until you look for them. And again, I want a postcard of this. But I don’t want a book based on this one…I want this to be the first scene of a play. You expect a minifigure to enter from the left and take a seat…
Chris Maddison: 19.5/20
Cecilie Fritzvold: 20/20
Use of Seed Part:
Here’s where it gets interesting. This seed part, as I mentioned before, has a limitation. However, it also has a distinctive shape, making fair game to be used as a visual element by itself, which is done many different ways by both builders. What I look for in this area are two things: 1. The use of the seed part in a model, and 2. The importance of the seed part in the model. I had to come with this because if not, the judging would almost always tie - yes, the part is used in each model!!
How do I judge the importance of the part? Usually it’s a matter of looking and seeing what the model will look like with the seed element. If the model doesn’t lose much, the part is a gimmick. If the model is not recognizable or physically falls apart without the seed part, then it’s important.
As with the other categories, I found one awesome example from each builder:
Chris Maddison: This is where a builder goes from a good builder to an artist. No, the MOC I picked here isn’t terribly complex - it’s actually pretty simple. His medal in a box is remarkable. Why? Take the seed part out. The entire concept disappears. With a minimal solution, Chris showcases a structurally non-functional part in a visually important context, so important, that the MOC depends on it.
Cecilie Fritzvold: The pine cone. Without the tiles, the model would probably looked like LEGO parts and nothing else. But with the tiles, it’s beautiful and framed in a perfect setting.
Chris Maddison: 20/20
Cecilie Fritzvold: 20/20
So the end result? It’s a freakin’ tie!!
Yeah, I know that most everyone wanted a winner, but I could not come up with a reason to pick one over the other - they simply are not better than each other. Some things that I noticed with the builders:
Chris is the better technical builder (he started the motorized models), but motorizing doesn’t necessarily make a model better - look at the criteria I made for seed part use. If the model doesn’t need the seed part to communicate what it is, then the seed part is not important. Which means that the chattering teeth is a more effective use of the tile than the fan. But both of those were not strong enough uses for the motorization.
Cecilie is the better artistic builder. Her water lilies need to be blurred and made into a print. She took more time building environments with the seed piece as a part, while Chris built props for photo shoots.
But compare them and their advantages and disadvantages balance out, so for me they became a “time of day” competition, as in “who won?” “well, it depends on the time of day…if I am in an artsy mood, it’s Cecilie…if I am in a technical mood, it’s Chris.”
They are both outstanding and incredible builders, and they should be honored as such. In that particular context, picking a winner only diminishes the overall achievement of the competition - to show the best LEGO building out there.
One final note:
The final builds of both Chris and Cecilie were great wrap-up builds. I have to say that Chris’ notes on his ring true for me and BrickJournal. To the AFOL builders: Tell your stories. I and BrickJournal are happy to pass these stories on, and both builders here are invited to tell their story in the magazine.
Well done with some really clever ideas and skillful use of the part. By far my favorite is the footprint. It is monochromatic, and so it is the striking shape of the angles in the imprint that draw your eye. Tied for second favorite is the satellite and the medal. Both use the part in such simple form, but are composed in such a way as to make the simplicity shine.
There are lots of great details in all the models: In the fence vignette, the flowers are nicely varied and the ring and glass nicely complement the rose. The chattering teeth that actually chatter and fan that spins, and the real shag carpet and wood under the saw are nice additional touches. Other smaller details, like an asymmetrical or SNOT base, layered landscaping, and interesting background images, make all of your models finished to the last brick.
Most of the models do an amazing job of highlighting the key part, often in its individual form. For example, the fifteen, I mean ten commandments, and the baseball diamond are very clever uses of the pentagon shape. In a few instances, you cluster several iterations together as if trying to decide how to use it and seeing that they are all good enough to use together, such as in the 4 variants of a speeder bike and the forge with axe, hammers, and sword.
The composition of the angles is clever and well thought out and the colored petals and stem show you have skill with photoshop. Black is admittedly a very difficult color to photograph, but I often had trouble seeing examples of the part in models that were either darkened or where the part is used in black. The side of the train is hard to make out as is the front row of figures in the crowd with signs. In one of the last entries where a minifig is in a black tunnel made out of tail pieces, I can’t actually be sure that the part is used because it is too dark to really see what I think are the pentagons in the top center of the tunnel.
Thank you for so many creative and clever models!
Bravo for such a widely varied sampling of models. You pretty much covered it all, from creatures, everyday objects, motorized, micro scale, macro scale, and the use of forced perspective. My favorite is by far the pine cone: it is so different from any of the other models and is a brilliant use of the part. More often than not, what makes a good model great is how the rest of the model is done- here the spiky needles and the background photo make the difference. Another example of this is in the alarm clock. Immediately you notice the numbers are made from the challenge part, but it takes careful looking to also see the clever use of the part in black as the tail ends of a book mark. And again the interior house scene- love the use of the part as books on the shelf. (And is that the death star on the top shelf? Nice!)
I also particularly liked the cemetery scene. Of course the part is clearly used as the tombstones, but as I looked at it, it seemed to me, that based on your other builds, there had to be another use somewhere. It took me a second before I realized that it was used in the path. It isn’t flashy, it isn’t obvious, but it is brilliant! Same with the Viking. I found the nose guard and the armor part usage, but it is the dragon head in the corner (as well as the sail and forced perspective mountains) that make this a fantastic build. I think it is this ability to use the key part in 3 or 4 different ways per model and as a composite of multiple pentagon shapes that is particularly impressive.
There are a couple of the builds that have similar features that overlap. For example, the two cemeteries, one micro, one minifig scale, do use the part in completely separate ways, and both have very clever parts usage, but do have the same general topic.
Thank you for such diverse models with clever multiple uses of the part.
Seed Part Usage:
Seed Part Usage:
Seed Part Usage: