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.

Grade: 4 zombies heads out of 5



Silver Fox

I checked this out from the library last month and I enjoyed looking through it. I found myself comparing it to the 1st Year subscription of the LEGO Master Builder Academy.

Economics wise, it’s worth getting this book if you find the Official MBA subscriptions too high. It’s on a list of books I’m plotting to get at some point.

Design and terminology wise, I do prefer the MBA subscription. And with the MBA subscription, this book does feel a bit dated, but to repeat myself, I still want this book to add to my collection and did find it well worth looking.


I’ve been tempted by that MBA thing, but it’s just a little too spendy for me. I love the look of it though. Too bad I can’t convince LEGO to send me review samples.

Silver Fox

It is expensive. I got the 1st year subscription as a combined birthday present from several family members and friends who chipped to pool money that year.

The 2nd year, I haven’t gotten and I’ve a birthday card that promises I was to get it. But a lot of financial things have come up and I’ve been patient this far… so I’ll wait a bit longer.


Yeah, I think a lot of us are being patient with the financial stuff. Hopefully things are getting better out there.

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