Beautiful yet ephemeral, like a rainbow or shooting star.
About this creation
It's a long story.
The origins of Wackyland can be found in Black Falcon's Watchtower. My niece (then three, now four), in wanting to play with it, made me realize I'd been taking a lot of building shortcuts with my MOCs -- as long as pictures of them looked good on a computer screen. Yes, Lego is a medium for creative expression, but it's also a toy, and not a lot of my MOCs would stand up to anyone actually playing with them.
So I decided I'd make a little playset to entertain my niece when she came to visit -- a few colorful, whimsical little buildings with no backs so she could move the minifigs around in them. For the most part the buildings were simple constructions, just glorified boxes, quick and fun to build... so before I knew it the planned "few" had turned into "quite a few." Then one day in summer as I was wondering what the heck I was going to bring to the upcoming BrickCon09, it hit me: make a landscape for the buildings and turn it into a playset village! At the very least it should be original, I thought, no one else there would have anything like it. And if you know me at all, you'll know that that sealed the deal.
Problem one: I came up with the idea so late in the game. It was going to be a struggle putting anything decent together in time, especially as I had no plan.
Problem two: With the number of buildings I had made, I did not have the parts to make any kind of cohesive landscape to fit them all. With some careful thought and planning I'd probably have found that I actually did... but I didn't have time for that.
Problem three: No room! My build area is a little cramped, and my build table measures 2 x 4 feet. It quickly became clear that the table was not going to be big enough to hold the entirety of my then-nameless playset village, if I managed to get everything I wanted built in time.
Undaunted, I started throwing stuff together. I scraped the bottom of my bins for green bricks and plates, and had to Bricklink more. Same with tiles in all colors. It wasn't enough. Any interesting-looking tablescrap became a candidate to fill space. I figured that as I had no shot at consistency in my landscape, enough random weirdness all mashed together might work as a whole. It was going to be silly, surreal, cartoonish -- what I seem to build best anyway.
I worked at completing things right to left, so however far I got by October 1st was what the finished product was going to be, like it or not. Here you see a very early stage in Wackyland's evolution:
Problem four: My niece is not quite old enough to appreciate all the effort I was putting into "her" playset. She likes playing with the minifigs and animals -- and as long as I was making all the silly voices for them, and letting her guys boss my guys around, she didn't care whether they had a nice Lego village to live in or not. She was perfectly happy moving them around on a bare table, a cardboard box, on the floor, on the furniture...
The playability factor took a hit as I realized this and it became "my" playset. All the trees and flowers I added were prone to being knocked over by excitable flailing four-year-old arms, but I'd switched focus -- from being a creation that would stand up to a small child's play, to what would look best when it was on display.
As I said, Wackyland was too big for my build table. From the houses on the right to the raised park with stage was all there was room for. When I'd finished that end I packed up everything to the right of the park, then slid the park complex over to the right edge of the table, and kept building out to the left. Wackyland was never completely intact in my home -- the only place it was ever together in its entirety was at BrickCon.
I did finish the layout itself just in time, but fell short in a few areas. All along I'd wanted furniture for every building -- didn't quite make it. And because I literally was still building up to the last possible second, I had (with the exception of a few scenes) no plan for minfig action going on in it. I ended up just taking my entire bin of minifig parts and paraphernalia so I could put people together at the Con. After all the time spent building, then breaking down and packing, then unpacking, and then reconstructing Wackyland, I was pretty well tired of dealing with it. Creatively burned out. So a lot of the minifigs that made it into the display just stand around pointlessly.
Since it was the only place Wackyland was going to be all together, the plan was to take all the pictures of it at the Con. But I generally have to take ten or fifteen photos to get one usable one, so a full Wackyland photo shoot would have taken hours. There were just too many cool MOCs by other people to take pictures of, not to mention folks to meet or reconnect with... And as they were hustling us out the door on Sunday, I couldn't be bothered to carefully pack the various components away like I'd brought them -- no, stuff just got tossed willy-nilly into boxes.
This gives you some idea of what I had to deal with when I got home: A ton of crap all piled onto the Blockheads' living room:
And this was what I dug out of that box to get to the minifigs underneath:
And there were three other big boxes in similar states of destruction and disarray to deal with, too. Even if I could have found the room somewhere, somehow, to rebuild and properly photograph Wackyland, the ungodly mess of it all now was enough to put me off that.
So what to do, what to do... Luckily I did get the bright idea while I was at the Con to take a few videos of Wackyland. It's far from an ideal way to present the thing, but better than nothing. Hopefully between the three of them you can get a decent look at everything worth looking at. So if you like occasionally unfocused, shaky handheld camerawork accompanied by funky music, boy howdy, have I got a treat for you!
It all started with the buildings, and they survived the trip home mostly intact. So you do get detail shots of what survived.
I think this was the first one built. Early on I was very much inspired by T-Brick's futuristic city and was going for a similar style, only simplified.
In comparing this to the early shot above you can see that I later added the purple eye tapestry thing and changed the floor pattern.
Every building has ceiling lights of some kind.
I said that my niece didn't appreciate the effort I put into all the buildings, but that isn't entirely true. She must have appreciated the "fancy house" at least, because she claimed it for her guys on every occasion we played with Wackyland.
The weird mosaic on the side (also a later addition to the initial build) is supposed to be a monkey. After seeing how much more upscale this house looked than any of the others, I thought it would be fun to subvert that a bit by giving it to the monkeys. But then I ended up putting the monkeys somewhere else.
A chandelier, and art on the wall -- yup, fancy-schmancy.
The castle (seen here minus its flags, as I have no idea what box they got tossed in) was intentionally simple, meant more to suggest a castle with as few pieces as possible than be an impressive building in its own right.
This was designed as a mostly open structure, since I was going for an overabundance of color throughout Wackyland, and the gray of castle walls seemed drab in comparison.
I always meant to change the lights in this one and ran out of time.
After these, I felt that I needed some smaller and simpler houses for the lower-income denizens of Wackyland to live in.
The smallest of the lot, but one of my favorites.
Kind of an odd one, not much else to say.
At first the checkered pattern on the sides was black and white and the roof was untiled, just the black plates. It looked more like a mechanic's shop, or a tire store, than a house. This bothered me a little... Wackyland wasn't going to have any cars. I decided that this would go on the extreme end of the layout, and if the groundwork didn't make it there in time, this one would be left out.
I had even put fluorescent-looking shop lights in the ceiling. Eventually of course, I did build out to here, and when I did I changed it to the multicolored checker pattern, which I liked much better.
I don't have a lot of purple bricks, but I had enough to build a small house. At first it was all purple, but it needed something. The white stripe was just the trick.
Now I needed a few middle-class homes -- not as nice as the first ones, but bigger than the little ones.
This one was fun, another of my personal faves. Given time, I'd have changed the floor pattern, though.
This is my least favorite. I always meant to ditch it and make a replacement (there was a windmill house in the works), but again, ran out of time. Tried the white stripe trick here as well, as it had worked so well on the purple house, but it didn't seem to have the same impact here.
Some other stuff...
The multicolored block things are maybe my favorite part of Wackyland. One of those "tablescraps to fill space" that really took off.
I like the first angle best. Anyone remember Bill the Cat? It looks sort of like Bill the Cat to me.
More filler. These could be configured in several different ways, some more stable than others. The way it was set up at BrickCon worked pretty well; I always expected to see these knocked over whenever I came by, but they stayed upright the whole time.
Detail of Wackyland's generic tree design. I don't know if it's clear, or if I can explain well, but the basic framework is just six of the big leaf pieces in a spiral, with other small leaf pieces added on to the top and wherever they were needed to fill in space in the middle.
I mentioned how I wanted to make furniture for every building and didn't quite make it, but here's what did get produced, along with a few other props:
And to wrap up this mess, the few detail pics I did take at BrickCon:
Aaaaaaand... one last video:
That's all I got. Now get out of here, I have months and months of sorting to do.
this is sooooo awesome i am sppechless i espicially love the cool patterns on the floor, but i absolutley love and i mean that i love the little reggae concert goin on espicially the hand drum guy u ming if i use that design
This comment was written for multiple posts so please excuse the non specific nature of it. You (or your Lego creation) has been nominated for a MOCie award this year. If you would like to write an acceptance speech in the event that you win, please feel free to do so and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you win, your acceptance speech will be used in the awards ceremony post due out sometime in June. If you are nominated for multiple entries, please be sure to write a response for each entry. Please check this link http://mocpages.com/group_conversation.php?id=11182&topicid=50162 to see if you’ve been nominated for more than one category. Thanks and good luck! ~ Chris.
Incredible job. I love the vibrant colors and all the patterned floors. The monkey mosiac is funny and the houses are great. Also, I do see the Bill the Cat resemblance. Explains your sense of humor...anyway, keep up the original work. Ack.
"So if you like occasionally unfocused, shaky handheld camerawork accompanied by funky music, boy howdy, have I got a treat for you!" You've been looking at Lee's homemade videos again haven't you? This is a wild and funky piece of work Shannon! It's also a treat to get inside your head on how you came up with the idea. Thanks for sharing on that. And I don't envy you with the sorting. That's basically how I went home from brickworld last year. Just toss it all in a big tub and sort it out later... almost done on that by the way HAHAHA. Thanks for sharing and like Lee said, hope to get you to come out to brickworld next June! ~ Chris.
I like it
November 10, 2009
Beautiful, I love this, you have some awesome building designs, I especially like the small yellow and blue one, and they all look great together. But those desk creations that you "just threw in there to take up space" really take the cake, especially that stack of blocks. I also really like how every person and animal in town seemed to be doing something, not just standing around. Another great piece from the master! ~T
I like it
November 10, 2009
The best of it all. You're on the mushroom, but you forgot the Hookah pipe. Ha ha, just kidding. It's so playable! Pirates vs. Ninjas, The chef and the cow, colorful stuff, Big Blocks, monkeys in the trees, everything is fantastic. You almost deserve the term 'Skunkworks' but it's still flattery.
I like it
November 10, 2009
I watched the whole video and am glad that I did. I always wondered how that tune ends, I usually only hear the first minute or so of it before its time to turn it off. So much for self control right? Kudos to the Rhythm Method!
It was even more impressive in person. Loved all the colours, and especially all the vigs that this MOC seemed to be made up of. Nice to hang with you again - hopefully we can get the whole old-school gang together for BrickWorld. Lee.
Fun stuff, ShannY! The freedom in this kind of subject is really appealing to me; seems like it would be a blast to just build with all kinds of colors and really "play" with shapes, compositions, contrasts, etc.. Once again, you've come up with something totally unique and memorable. Great work (as always)!
As someone with aspirations of having both a massive Lego city display and also children, I was very interested in some of the decisions you made with Wackyland and some of the lessons you learned as I had already begun thinking about how to merge my building with playing with children. You've gone into a lot more detail about how this creation evolved than some other similar posts I've seen, and that is appreciated. Spending a ton of time carefully placing your street scenes is simply incompatible with using it as a playset. I hadn't even thought of the trees and street lights being knocked over by small arms until you said it, and now I have this vision of my carefully placed and unsecured upper stories of buildings flying all over my build area. I would be very interested to see anything else you might build along this same theme, as well as how it changes as your niece gets older. I liked the houses you built with the open arch doors instead of typical doors, and the castle reminds me of Mario Bros-type ones. This is a neat build, and a nice story as well. Thanks for sharing!
I've been to Wackyland a few times and I can honestly say this is an exact replica. You can go from seeing a concert to visiting your giant rabbit friend in just a few feet. I like the artwork, the various forms of ceiling lighting, and all the small details like the alleyway where the poor guy is getting beat by the space police. Great stuff.
Probably my favorite MOC by you, and knowing how I loved the "old" ones, it means a lot ! I've always loved multi-colored shiny houses, but here you put this style to an incredible quality level. I know it's "for children" but man, it's art !
I dunno why, but I can't stop thinking of The Flintstones when looking at this layout...??! As far as I remember my houses and castles always had a detachable roof/upper floor though (in really early stages you had to imagine the roof, but there were walls on each side)...never liked the open back. Now I think it's just a way of TLC to save on bricks/money...the small yellow/blue one is my favourite here, but the whole surreal concept is great ;)
I love it! The randomness, color, minfigs; brilliant! You also nailed a half-SNOT-half-studs technique. The way you somehow managed to relate something to the next thing is also just outstanding!
I can't see the ship with all those distracting colorful buildings in the way! Seriously though, I think you pulled the "random but cohesive" thing off pretty well, which few builders can do. I give it five smiling severed lego heads out of five. Also, poor Squidman =(.
I like knowing the backstory on how this came to be. It adds to my enjoyment to know more. As do the videos. They sure made it easier to see the work as a whole. Much better than still pictures from people's con reports. Anyway. It's great. I'm fascinated by the color(s). Did you get people who just stopped and stared? Could slow a guy down, trying to make sense out of they are seeing. I'd be curious to hear what the general public said. Fun, especially the vids. see ya. garth
I like it
November 9, 2009
Now see, I need building to put my furniture in. If only we could have joined forces...Ooooh, Ninja Assassins!!! What was I talking about?
I like it
November 9, 2009
This is just amazing! I really like the pathway where the ninjas are fighting.
Oh man that was grueling! But worth it! I like the behind the build stuff... where you go into motivation and problems you encountered and stuff... although I find when I do this people are put off a moc post... ah well that's the state of all ours' attention spans, i s'po- Brilliant! Have fun sorting.
really great. i especially love the house your niece likes. it reminds me of a fast food store selling chicken. and those fluoroleccent pieces of bunched together behind the pillars with people on them are cool. what are they anyway? some local art? well on a scale of 1-10 id say 17.