Brick City: LEGO for Grown-ups

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Brick City: LEGO for Grown-upsBrick City: LEGO for Grown-ups by Warren Elsmore is to be published in May in the UK and I've been sent a copy to review.

In the US, the book is called Brick City: Global Icons to Make from LEGO and is available already from Amazon.com.

Warren is a well known and liked AFOL based in the UK who calls himself an 'artist in LEGO bricks'. He organises The LEGO Show and AFOLCon and displays at many other exhibitions. This is his first book which, as the title suggests, is perhaps unusual among LEGO books in that it's targeting 'grown-ups' rather than kids.

Furthermore, it's been written with 'grown-ups who haven't touched LEGO since they were kids' in mind. The introductory pages cover the story of LEGO, useful bricks, where to buy bricks, building tips, building to scale, CAD modelling and LEGO colours, all of which will be familiar to most of us, but provides useful information for newcomers to the subject.

Brick City: LEGO for Grown-upsThe bulk of the 254-page paperback book (which is slightly smaller than an iPad) consists of a virtual tour around the globe from west to east, starting at San Francisco and ending in Auckland, taking in around 30 cities along the way. At each stop, landmarks and other icons from the cities are recreated in LEGO form. There are two types of model covered: those you can build yourself using the instructions provided, and larger, more complex ones that are shown for inspiration, such as the Lincoln Memorial (right). Some of the large models have been built by Warren while others have been made by builders who, I have to admit, I am not familiar with, such as Spencer Rezkalla and Arthur Gugick. Regardless, they are all superb, and are all photographed to a high standard.

 

Brick City: LEGO for Grown-upsInstructions are provided for about 60 models. They tend to be either Architecture-style models of buildings, such as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (left) which is one of my -- and Warren's -- favourites, or small models of something else associated with the city, such as a New York taxi, Bica funicular (Lisbon), or penguin colony (Cape Town).

The quality of the models varies somewhat. Many, like Sagrada Familia are excellent, but others, like the White House, are just a bit too simplistic. However they do, I suppose, illustrate what can be achieved with just a handful of bricks and a bit of imagination.

As for the quality of the instructions themselves, generally they are very good and anyone familiar with the LEGO parts palette would have no problem at all in building the models. Some are a little on the small side but I think with a bit of care and attention they could all be followed. However if you're new to LEGO, it might be more challenging, particularly if you need to identify the parts from the bill of materials provided, and then source them. Update: the parts lists are available from Warren's website, which make it much easier.

Another thing worth mentioning is that models of buildings, by their very nature, can be repetitive and thus use hundreds of the same part. The Petronas Tower, for example, needs some 700 round plates, 1 x 1, in trans-clear and 660 in light grey which might not be so difficult to obtain given they turn up in PAB from time-to-time, but 158 tan arch-windows and 158 plate hinges, 1 x 4/2 x 2, for the Colosseum might be more challenging to source!

Overall then, this is an excellent book that will appeal to fans of LEGO Architecture in particular, and to non-AFOLs who have an interest in becoming one. Even if you don't, or can't, build any of the models, it will provide inspiration and ideas for tackling your own projects and might encourage you to start modelling your own local landmarks.

You can order the book from Amazon:

20 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the review!

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By in Belgium,

You can also download all the part lists (for Bricklink) at his own blog site.

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By in United Kingdom,

Gone up £1 in price already!

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By in United Kingdom,

Strange location for it on amazon UK:

#5 in Books > Home & Garden > Crafts > Carving

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By in United Kingdom,

I've got this on pre-order from Amazon, can't wait for it to arrive!

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By in United Kingdom,

For all Bricksetters in LONDON

The author, Warren Elsmore, is appearing at Waterstone's Piccadilly (central London) to promote the book on all day on Bank Holiday Monday May 6. He is bringing St Pancras Station and other models from the book with him. This would be a great time to visit. You can even get your book signed.

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By in Slovenia,

Looks good. I will get one soon.

Is this a typo: TRAFALFAR SQUARE LION (photo 6 on Amazon.com)

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks @Covi, I've updated the article.

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By in United States,

Don't they have TFOL books?
@CCC-
Well, it's:
1. A book
2. A book about stuff that you do in the home
3. A book about stuff that you do in the home that could be defined as a craft
4. A book about stuff that you do in the home that could be defined as a craft that is similar to carving because you make a model, and the end result could possibly look like a carving, depending on how you look at it. ;)

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By in United States,

Looks like a fun book, I will have to add it to my growing Lego book library. Thanks for te review!

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By in United Kingdom,

Sounds great. Thanks for the review, Huw.

High-five and a Jaffa cake to richselby too - I shall try and get along to Waterstone's on Monday week.

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By in United States,

I saw this book in a Barnes and Noble store a couple of weeks ago. This isn't the type of building I prefer, but it's a LEGO book, beautifully photographed, and it's relatively cheap so I'll probably pick it up.

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By in Netherlands,

What's the difference between the one with the yellow block on the cover and the red block on the cover (you can see both listed at amazon at the end of review)?

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By in United Kingdom,

In the US it's published by 'Barron's Educational Series' in the UK, 'Mitchell Beazley'. Same book, different cover.

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I saw this on the shelves at Barnes & Noble (in the Kids section!) in the USA and its VERY cool! There are not detailed instructions for every model he shows, but there are many. FYI, the book is very much geared to adults and kids younger than about 13/14 will be lost with the instructions which assume many AFOL building techniques. Enjoy!

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By in United States,

Got my ship notice and went over to Amazon to look at it again. They now have a message posted saying the following:

"Item Under Review

While this item is available from other marketplace sellers on this page, it is not currently offered by Amazon.com because customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here. (Thanks for the tip!)

We're working to fix the problem as quickly as possible."

Anybody know what the problem might be?

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By in United Kingdom,

@grendelscott - I do ;-)

It's only a very small issue, but the descriptive text that Amazon had for the book wasn't quite correct (it was from a early draft and referenced one model that didn't make it into the final book). So Amazon are updating that to reflect what's actually in the book. It should be done very soon I hope.

And yes - the US / UK / Australian books are all exactly the same - just with different covers and local publishers.

Thanks everyone else for the kind words!

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By in United Kingdom,

My book arrived today. Not a review copy. Just a regular pre-ordered copy from Amazon UK. So it is out for regular UK readers.

And having just flicked through it at lunchtime, it really is worth every penny. Full-colour, high quality photos, instructions, text is good. This really is a first-class addition to every Lego lover's bookshelf.

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By in Belgium,

Purchased also a copy today. Can't wait until it will be delivered.

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By in United Kingdom,

I have just received by copy today. I am very excited to get reading through it and hopefully getting some inspiration for architectural features and bricks to use on Gothic buildings, which is what I am going for with my Arkham Asylum MOC.

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