Monday, 4 April 2016

Book Review: Elite Weapons for LEGO Fanatics

LEGO fan Martin Hudepohl designs working guns and weapons using the humble brick (and a fair few Technic pins). In his book, Elite Weapons for LEGO Fanatics, he provides instructions for thirteen fully functional models. It is as unofficial, unauthorised book as the subject matter falls outside of what the LEGO Group consider appropriate for the brand. The builds included are clearly not targeted at children, but the more mature builder. So is it worth adding to your LEGO library?

Elite Weapons for LEGO Fanatics by Martin Hudepohl
Available: Now
Price: £17.57 / $24.99

The introduction to the book makes it clear that the author is suggesting the weapons are for fantastical realms rather than real life situations, before diving into a comic strip story that uses a mixture of photos and CG illustrations to link together the various sections of the book.

The instructions are very clear, some of the clearest printed instructions produced for a third party LEGO book.  At times there are a few too many directional arrows in one step, which takes some getting used to. By going big on the page count, it means the images are not too small so readers won’t be squinting to identify parts. The functional aspects of the models are also well explained – each model features a ‘How it works’ spread before the instructions. 

Some of the builds are quick and simple, such as the sunglasses. The plastic knuckles fall into this category and are not particularly impressive. The baton is an excellent example of the rigidity that Technic underpinning can give to a build. The helmet is a complex build and looks impressive, particularly considering it mainly utilises common Technic elements. How comfortable wearing it would be is another question entirely!

The handcuffs are (in?)appropriately named Lovelock, and present one of the best functions in the book. The gear mechanism means they can only be opened with the key, and thanks to plenty of Technic pins would be tricky to dismantle while worn. 

Things get real with the Dinosaur Superior Assault Rifle, which uses a motor to fire off a dozen projectiles in quick succession. The early trigger mechanisms in the book are impressive, but this takes things up to another level. Of course the challenge is that these are much more part intensive and more time consuming to build. 

What Martin Hudepohl has achieved in this book is demonstrating different techniques of creating motion with LEGO Technic, through the accessible action orientated medium of weapons. It’s a great way to demonstrate in a very practical way how many different varieties of function Technic can provide, with models such as the Rubber Band Machine Pistol using a completely different mechanism to the HK G3. 

The book closes out with a surprisingly thorough guide to Bricklink, which is welcome as numerous LEGO book authors express concern that readers may not have access to the relevant parts – Hudepohl doesn’t want to risk budding builders not knowing how to navigate the most necessary but confusing LEGO website. The design evolution section shows just how much thought and time has gone into each of the book’s builds.

The comic strip adventures between each build are a bizarre, trippy experience and unlike any other brick based book. The builds themselves are Technic focussed, clever and rewarding – the mix of different sized models provides different entry points. The instructions themselves are well presented on the whole as are the explanations for the functions. Some may have no interest in the subject matter, but for those who do this is a great way to learn more about Technic building and to build some real working weapons with LEGO. 

Review copy provided by Sky Horse Publishing.

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