Fresh from the No Starch Press comes a useful new book for Lego fans of all ages, featuring instructions for building ten vehicles including a Jeep, a Fire truck, a Muscle Car, a Digger, a Go-Kart and even a baby stroller!
The Lego Build-It Book, Volume 1: Amazing Vehicles is a collaboration between Model Designer Nathanaël Kuipers and Graphic Artist Mattia Zamboni. At first it seemed a bit odd that Zamboni was given equal billing — as a designer myself, I can tell you that it’s not the norm — but you only have to look at the front cover to see the difference he has made. The quality of the model photography is more like that of a real car brochure than pictures of toys, and having them all on black backgrounds really makes them stand out, as the do the dramatic angles. This attention to detail is carried through to the model pages too with nice close-ups, blueprint style renderings and nice info panels.
After a brief introduction from the authors, the book dives right in and tells you what you need to build the models. Cleverly, all ten models are built from the same set of pieces and there’s a list — presented in the same style that appears on official Lego packaging — showing you everything you need. Even more clever than that is the fact that if you already own set #5867, the Creator Super Speedster, then you already have all the bricks you’ll need. Now if they’d only done that using a set that’s still in production it would be perfect, but at least there’s nothing massively unusual needed. Before I began to build a model I did a quick sort through the tricky pieces, and the only thing I didn’t have a decent equivalent of was the windscreen, hence my decision to build the Jeep!
The book has a fairly low word count, but it does give a great intro to some clever building techniques that older kids will love to try out. We all know that three plates are the height of one brick, but less well known is that five plates is the same width as two studs. This can lead you into whole new directions with your building, quite literally as the “Advanced Building” pages show you how to use this “magic formula” when building upside-down and sideways.
The instructions themselves are just as simple to follow as Lego’s ones, each step showing the same isometric views of the model with a small panel showing what is needed for that step. It took me quite a while to build my Jeep, but that was mostly due to having to hunt for the right pieces or working out what I could swap for them when I couldn’t find them (either because I don’t have them or just gave up looking). I often found myself thinking things like “why would they use two 1x4s next to each other when they could just use a 1×8” and then remembering that they’re sticking to set list of parts. Of course, it’s up to you how closely you follow the instructions — sometimes it’s nice to use them as the starting point and add your own touches to the models.
As soon as I was finished, my daughter wanted the Jeep so she could use it as the family car for the minifgs she had had built bedrooms for whilst I was building it. Pretty soon after that, it was racing against her Friends Campervan and 4×4, and my Hot-Rod Hearse and (new arrival) DeLorean Time Machine. That’s the beauty of Lego, you start off building one thing, it changes during the build due to a parts shortage, then suddenly becomes used for something else entirely.
The LEGO Build-It Book, Vol. 1: Amazing Vehicles is out now with a list price of $19.99 and Volume 2 is coming in September with ten more vehicles to build, all still using the same set of bricks.
Thanks to Jessica at No Starch Press for the review copy.