No Starch Press should be congratulated for providing so many AFOLs with an outlet to publish LEGO-related books. Their output is as prolific as DKs but because they are 'unofficial' books they cover a far wider range of topics and are generally more geared towards, and appealing to, adults.
The latest book to be published, The LEGO Neighborhood Book -- Build your own town, is by Brian and Jason Lyles. Brian runs Brick City Depot where he publishes instructions for modular buildings so it will be no surprise to learn that it's about how to create your own modular buildings in the style of the official LEGO ones.
It's a 200-page 20cm-square softback book, so a bit different to other No Starch LEGO books, but its shape and size does suit the contents, and in particular the instructions, well.
The first half of the book contains six chapters which cover the foundations of constructing modular buildings:
- The 'Cafe Corner' standard -- a useful reference on what exactly the modular building standard is: where the connection points go, how the sidewalk/pavement should be constructed, how high and deep the building should be and so on
- The design process -- how to decide what you're going to build and in what colours
- Bricks everywhere -- how to look at real buildings and 'see' them as LEGO parts
- The details -- how to construct windows, columns, cornices, lights, benches and so on
- The interior -- how to build internal details for houses and commercial buildings
- Gallery -- photos of the author's buildings, provided for inspiration
It contains some great practical advice, in the form of photos of parts of buildings re-imagined in LEGO, ideas and inspiration for constructing aspects that they all need, such as windows, and also instructions for stand-alone models such as park benches, street lamps, beds, recliners and so on.
I know many AFOLs already look at the world around them and think about how it could be built with LEGO. If you're not one of them, you probably will be after reading this book.
The second half of the book provides instructions for four modular buildings, or rather one, plus another one that's cleverly designed to form the basis for a multitude of others.
The first building is the 'corner drugstore' featured on the cover of the book which is, apparently, an 'icon of classic Americana'. I'll have to take the author's word for that because I've not travelled widely in the US so haven't seen one myself. It's certainly an attractive building, though, packed with details inside and out.
Next, instructions for three houses are provided. First a base model is constructed which has studs on the face of it. Then, one of three facades are added, studs-out, to it. There's a Parisian-style house, a Colonial-style building and a Canal Ring/Dutch-inspired one.
It's a clever idea that I'm tempted to use myself: once one or more base models have been built it's then straightforward to make all manner of styles of building, as long as they have the same layout of windows and doors, of course.
My only minor criticism of the book is that it's rather US-centric which is of course understandable given that's where the authors are from, although there are a few Dutch-inspired models. This won't bother most of you reading this, and the techniques discussed in the first half are transferrable to whatever style of architecture you're planning on modelling, so it's not really a big issue.
Overall, it's another cracker from No Starch. If you're thinking of making your own modular buildings but don't know where to start you'll find it particularly useful.