The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide by Allan Bedford was published in 2005, and was something of an instant classic. I have always been a fan of the iconic bricks, but have discovered a whole new world of LEGO thanks to No Starch Books.
The publisher’s motto is “the finest in geek entertainment,” and they offer numerous LEGO titles. No Starch have just issued the second edition of The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide, and it is an excellent resource.
The major upgrade with the second edition is that it is in full color. I suppose there are two schools of thought on the use of color. One is that bricks are bricks, and the diagrams remain the same no matter what colors one uses. The other (which I agree with) is that a big part of the magic of LEGOs are the brilliant primary colors of the bricks, therefore it is important to see the various projects in full color.
The 10 chapters (plus two appendices) that make up The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide (Second Edition) are presented in a step-by-step format. We begin with the basics, and work our way up to more complex designs. The first chapter is the introductory “The LEGO System: Endless Possibilities,” which features such illustrated items as “Two 1 x 1 bricks added together equal a 1 x 2 brick.” This is quite literally the LEGO equivalent of “one plus one equals two.” Things become much more interesting as we progress though, and by the end the reader will have a very good understanding of how to build with LEGOs.
The Guide is designed for builders of all ages, which I did not realize until I got a little deeper into it. I initially thought it was intended more as a children’s book, but then I realized that the author was just beginning at the beginning. I probably also had a little bit of bias, as I have read a couple of other No Starch Press LEGO titles such as Badass LEGO Guns, and Forbidden LEGO. The diagrams in those are pretty sophisticated, in fact, many of the projects in them were way out of my league. In contrast, many of the diagrams in The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide were much more suited to my level of expertise.
This is not to say that there are not some very cool, and even complex projects contained in the Guide. I particularly enjoyed “Mosaics: Patterns and Pictures in Bricks.” This is something I had never thought of before, the idea of using the bricks on a grid to make a picture. We are shown how to create objects such as birds, fish, geometric patterns, and just about anything else one could think of, and they look great.
The final chapter is “Beyond Just Bricks: Other Ways to Enjoy the LEGO Hobby,” which features some more unique ideas. One that really caught my eye was the how-to section for making games such as checkers or chess with LEGOs. I think that the “Brickopedia” Appendix is a great inclusion also, as it offers a visual dictionary of nearly 300 of the most commonly used LEGO elements.
The hip quotient of building a “Badass” LEGO gun is undeniable, but to be honest, building basic projects with my young son is even cooler. These are things that we can build together in a relatively short period of time, and have something to show for our efforts afterwards. The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide (Second Edition) is filled with such items, and is a great addition to your LEGO library.