Tag Archives: No Starch Press

Build a LEGO Mustang | Book Review

Lego-building legend Sariel has appeared here multiple times over the years. He’s part our our ‘Become a Pro‘ series, is the author of some excellent Lego books, and his beautiful fully remote controlled Mustang GT350 is one of the the finest models we’ve ever published.

Today we’re privileged to share a piece of work that combines all three of the areas above, as the awesome guys at No Starch Press sent us a copy of their new book written by Sariel; ‘Build a LEGO Mustang‘. And not just any Mustang either, it’s the same glorious 1960s GT350 fastback that first appeared here almost two years ago, with remote control drive and steering, LED lights, a 2-speed transmission, opening doors, hood and trunk, and a V8 engine. So, what’s it like?

Firstly, as with all the No Starch Press Lego products we’ve reviewed, ‘Build a Lego Mustang’ is a very well published book. High quality, glossy, and with excellent full colour imagery throughout. Unlike previous publications though, ‘Build a Lego Mustang’ is not coffee table art, a Lego history, or varied model showcase. Instead it’s an instruction manual, detailing the 420 steps required to recreate Sariel’s Mustang masterpiece.

Running to 110 pages, Sariel’s book provides the building process to create his amazing Ford Mustang GT350 for yourself, using a presentation and process that will be familiar to anyone who has built an official LEGO set. Like LEGO’s own instructions, ‘Build a Lego Mustang’ includes a complete parts inventory at the start, followed by the traditional ‘spot the difference’ steps that turn a pile of bricks into a complete model. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The LEGO Trains Book | Book Review

The Lego Trains Book

Thump. It was just before Christmas, and a brown package slammed onto the hallway floor of TLCB Towers. A dozen TLCB Elves immediately ran towards it, but thwarted by its weight were unable to make off with their prize. A lot of post goes missing here.

Fortunately this TLCB writer is considerably bigger than a TLCB Elf and thus was able to pick up said package and, with some Elves still attached, retreat to the TLCB ‘staffroom’ (an ancient sofa in the corner of the office).

Usually heavy packages received here at TLCB Towers are ‘Cease and Desist’ notifications wrapped around a breeze block from The Brothers Brick, but this time we had a present! No Starch Press; we like you!

The Lego Trains Book

No Starch have been in the Lego book game for a while, consistently churning out books about our favourite plastic building blocks for some years. Their latest publication is this, the 230-page ‘The Lego Trains Book‘ by Holger Matthes.

In compact landscape format and produced in No Starch’s usual glossy high quality form ‘The Lego Trains Book’ really is surprisingly heavy, but does the content live up to the cover?

‘The Lego Trains’ book begins, after a brief Forward and Acknowledgements section, with a chapter detailing the history of LEGO’s official Trains line, following the range from its beginnings in the 1960s, through the battery era, live rail era (this writer’s favourite), to the latest remote control Power Functions sets. It’s a comprehensive compilation of the LEGO Trains history and one that’s sure to be of interest to anyone who loves the theme, although it is perhaps a bit too in-depth for the more casual Lego builder.

The Lego Trains Book

Chapter two is entitled ‘Basic Principles’, and it’s brilliant. Detailing building techniques and parts ratios it’s perfect for any builder of any theme (not just Trains) looking to create more advanced Lego creations. Utilising well-chosen digital depictions the author makes even the more complex techniques easy to understand, and whilst these aren’t quite as high quality visually as LEGO’s own they are good enough to make for useful teaching-aids.

Chapters three and four build upon these techniques with practical application, detailing the considerations and choices available when designing your own train models. This is a very thorough chapter offering insights into a variety of scales, how to ensure models can handle tight corners, how to connect carriages to one another, how to create realistic steam train mechanisms and such like.

It’s a gloriously nerdy section and as such Holger includes links to third-party products and design software that can help a builder reach the utmost level of realism. This may be a bit too in-depth for most builders (ourselves included), but it’s usually better to have too much information than too little.

The Lego Trains Book

The final chapter, which at 100 pages long makes up nearly half the book, is where ‘The Lego Trains Book’ comes alive. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Last Chance to Win!

TLCB LEGO Set Reviews

The Lego Car Blog Set Review Competition has just a few short weeks remaining! We’ve asked you, our readers, to join us to add even more LEGO sets to the Set Review Library, and those that made the grade have seen their words published here reaching over a million readers annually!

If you’d like to add your own set to our Set Reviews and be in with a chance of winning some awesome prizes then get in touch via the comments – but be quick as the competition closes December 31st!

Still up for grabs are several superb Lego books from the great guys at No Starch Press, including the 5-star rated Tiny Lego Wonders, and the brilliant Manner-Spielzeug Mad Max Interceptor set, making a prize pot worth over $130!

You can read all of the Set Reviews submitted so far, as well as those written by our in-house reviewers, by visiting The Lego Car Blog Set Review Library here, and we’ll announce the winner (based on a combination of views and a judges’ vote) in early 2017.

Lego Set Reviews Prizes

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Review – The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder’s Guide – Second Edition

This review must start with a disclosure. The lovely, kind people at the No Starch Press sent us a copy of this book for free. The weighty package from the USA, dropped through the letterbox of TLCB towers and caused great excitement. So much so, that all of the 32⅞ Elves in the office were given a Smartie each to celebrate. This was followed by a short, sharp blast from Mr. Airhorn, just to show them that we weren’t going soft. So a big “Thank you” from The Lego Car Blog and some well fed Elves too.

ultbg2e_cover

For this particular reviewer, Paweł “Sariel” Kmieć’s first edition was published at exactly the right moment. I had emerged from my Lego “Dark Ages” and was enjoying building again. As kid I’d enjoyed building both space and Technic models but now beams had no studs on them and apparently they were called “liftarms”. Connections were all via pins and axles and specially shaped pieces that were undreamed of in my teenage years. These new parts and techniques opened the doors to building things that were either too bulky or too structurally weak in days gone by. The opportunities were immense but also bewildering.

The light in the wilderness was the first edition of “The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder’s Guide”. My copy is bent, dog-eared, coffee stained, tear stained and much cherished. The second edition is bigger, at just over 400 pages but still small enough to keep handy on your bedside table or read in the bath. If you don’t own a copy of the first edition and have any interest in Technic building, the new book is a must buy. It is presented in a clear visual style, well written and has a good index. At around $35/£25 the book is great value too. But if you already own the first edition, is it worth buying the new version? Let’s take a look inside.

ultbg2e_370-371

The second edition uses the same style as the first. The pages are packed with information but are easy to read, with text and illustrations placed well. The font is the same, comfortable to read font as the first edition. The author is a graphic designer by profession and it shows through in this product. This is a very technical book but it doesn’t have the feel of a school science textbook. Although most of the illustrations are the same as in the original book, many have been changed for subtle upgrades that are visually clearer. There are also many brand new illustrations.

The second edition is 70 pages longer than the first. One of the ways that these are accounted for is in additions to the early chapters that cover the parts range of Lego Technic. It’s amazing to step back and reflect on quite how many new Technic pieces have been created by Lego since the book’s first edition just three years ago. There are also additions to the definitions of technical terms and “Tricks with Bricks”. Chapter 5 is a brand new chapter on wheels. It starts with defining what a wheel is, in Lego terms and finishes by covering the up-to-date topic of using RC car tyres on large Technic cars. As you carry on leafing through the book you spot more upgrades. There is a tabular version of Sariel’s famous online gear calculator. The “Pneumatics” chapter includes the V2 version of Lego’s system and like the “Pulleys”, “Building Strong” & “Motors” chapters, the pneumatic “Devices” chapter has been slightly upgraded too.

ultbg2e_262-263

The one big disappointment for me in this book is that the chapters on “Levers & Linkages” and “Custom Mechanical Solutions” are unchanged. These were one of the most inspiring chapters in the first edition, making me want to revisit my old engineering text books and try building some of the mechanisms in there. It would have been good to have seen some extra ideas here. These sorts of things are extremely useful for landing gears or feed mechanisms or kinetic sculptures. Overall the book is very focused on Lego vehicles, which is what you’d expect coming from a famous builder of Lego vehicles of all types. Lego Technic forums tend to be focused on vehicles too, so this book is spot on with its content for the market. However, it would have been nice to have had a bit more about the creativity, engineering and Lego techniques which go into things such as Great Ball Contraptions or kinetic sculptures. Then again, Lego produces model vehicle sets, the market is about cars & lorries and things that swoosh along are more fun than a static model. Oh, and we’re car blog, so we’d best not go on about this for too long… Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: