LEGO and lighting have been wired together for decades. From early 4.5V lighting sets, via the 12V and 9V eras, to the latest LEGO LEDs, a huge range of sets have been enhanced by the addition of light over the years.
Of course it took third-party companies about five minutes to figure out that for a niche group of builders, there was demand to go well beyond LEGO’s own lighting offerings. Cue Game of Bricks, Lightailing and others, who have created some fantastically intricate, fully programmable lighting products designed to bring official LEGO sets to life.
But building with LEGO isn’t just about official sets. The best models are those designed and built uniquely, using scale, techniques, and themes that could never be packaged into what is at heart a children’s toy.
These are the models we publish here of course, many of which have an even greater potential to be brought to twinkly life by in-built illumination. Now Brickworld Coordinator Brian M. Williams and the excellent No Starch Press can show you how. This is The Lego Lighting Book.
Available in digital download or hardback, The LEGO Lighting Book is the latest in No Starch Press’ ever-expanding catalogue of brick-based titles. Combining LEGO history, step-by-step building instructions, example images, and a few not-quite-purist approaches to wiring lighting into LEGO bricks, Brian M. Williams’ runs to around 180 pages, with production and printing as lovely as we have come to expect from No Starch Press publications. That said, it is worth noting that whilst most images are super sharp, a few look like they were taken in the dark on a camera phone in 2009. Probably because they were.
The book begins with a brief background to lighting at Lego shows, and a history of LEGO’s own range of lighting components, before moving on to applications, step-by-step instructions, and – interestingly – a bit more physics and electronics than we were expecting.
Whilst rather detailed, the author makes good use of imagery, layout and white space to ensure The LEGO Lighting Book is easy to follow and engaging, exemplified by high quality building instructions that both demonstrate how to build – and then illuminate – example creations, and also create brick-built electronics components, which is something of a niche within a niche.
Not all of the instructional builds will be suitable for everyone however, with the steps of a few involving ‘double-sided tape’, ‘soldering’, and one beginning with “drill holes to create a path for the wires”…
This degree of LEGO modification – and a requirement for third-party electronics – won’t suit many builders, however we suspect more casual LEGO fans are not really who The Lego Lighting Book is aimed at.
Rather, Brian M. Williams’ exploration of lighting Lego models illuminates a path for those wishing to take their brick-based artistry to the next level. The components to choose, how to place them, how to modify pieces, diffuse, direct and colour light – all can be learned via The LEGO Lighting Book, with step-by-step instructions and a nod to the physics behind it all helping readers along the way.
If you’re looking step your creations, and their presentation, into the very top-tier, The LEGO Lighting Book could be your guiding light.