Book Review: The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide
LEGO® is a lot of fun, but for someone just getting into the hobby, it can also be a little intimidating. There are tens of thousands of different parts, and an innumerable amount of combinations. Beyond that, seeing a few of the amazing creations other people have put together can leave someone with no idea where to start beyond building the official sets from instructions. That’s where The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide comes in.
This guide covers the basics, and shows a newbie LEGO® hobbyist a lot of different ways for them to enjoy those little plastic bricks we all horde like greedy children. While most of us tend to build in minifig scale, or possibly in microscale,The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide helps broaden horizons a bit by introducing a few other ideas, like macro building, of miniland scale.
At a brief 221 pages, including a couple very useful appendices, the book can only really scratch the surface of any one building style. But that’s okay, because that’s exactly what it sets out to do. I can imagine people getting a little frustrated by The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide if they go into it expecting an encyclopedic directory of advanced building techniques for longtime hobbyists. It’s nothing of the sort. The book is designed for those new to the hobby, like adults emerging from their LEGO® dark age, or younger people who are just starting to explore the bricks beyond only building the official sets. It outlines fundamental building steps, and gives clear instructions and reason for doing everything. As a introductory text, it’s spot on.
The book itself is divided into ten chapters. The first couple explore the absolute fundamentals of LEGO®: how the toy actually works, and various ways of combining basic bricks. From there, it gets a little more interesting, with each chapter delving into a different building style. Each chapter has a model and instructions, and guides you through each step. Unlike official instructions, this guide often tells you why you’re doing what you’re doing. It also suggests alternative ways of building the model, which is always nice for people who don’t have a large collection.
The remainder of the book is made up of a two appendices. The first is an encyclopedia of bricks. It doesn’t cover every brick ever made, but it goes through all the ones you’re likely to see diving into an average collection. Each piece is explained, and there are notes that talk about specific ways that piece is useful. The second appendix shows how to use design grids (downloadable from the book’s website) to plan out every detail of a creation.
One great thing, and a big upgrade for anyone who has the original, is that the whole book features rich color illustrations. Everything is beautifully laid out, and most (if not all) of the imagery is pulled right from LEGO®-based CAD programs to make them look absolutely amazing.
The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide is a solid read for a beginner or someone trying to get back into the hobby after many years away. For someone who’s been into LEGO® for a while, they won’t pick up much that’s new, although they may be inspired to try building in a different style for a change.