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Vig/orama Contest reviews - Dioramas
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About this creation
This is one of the wordiest pages in the history of MOCpages, so I completely understand if you're tempted to skip directly to the review of your own entry. However, I wouldn't go through the trouble of writing all these reviews if I didn't believe I had some worthwhile insights and advice to share. I would encourage you to read every single one -- but maybe not all in one sitting.

(Disclaimer: I don't claim to be an absolute authority on what makes a quality MOC. There are, however, certain standards that everyone has pretty much agreed upon as to what constitutes "quality," such as cohesive color scheming, clear photography, inventive parts usage, etc. I may not pick your favorite as my winners, but at the same time, I don't think you'll be able to look at the winners and say, "What, is he on crack? That MOC sucked!" Judgments like this are necessarily subjective, and depend on my own tastes and prejudices. In every instance I will attempt to give a full accounting of the reasons I judged the way I did.)





That LDD Guy - Trapped by the Mistletoe!

It's not that I don't like virtual MOCs... well... all right, it is, but let me clarify. As a complement to Lego, for designing things to be built for real later, or making instructions, I think LDD and its cousins can be a valuable tool. As a substitute for Lego, no. I just don't like it. Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby.

I tried putting aside my bias and looking at it objectively, I really did. I tried picturing it how it would look in real bricks. But I just can't seem to get past the fact that it's not Lego. It's a cartoon. I realize this is unhelpful, and probably more than a little unfair, but there it is.

The closest I can come to an actual critique is to say that 90% of the MOC is really superfluous to the subject. The two characters easily could have fit on an 8x8 base. Or conversely, if you feel that the stream is the star of the MOC, have some action going on over there.

So no, you don't win, but at least I didn't ban you from the group, right?




Finn C-Q - Operation-Black oil- a U.N.E. moc

Well, first off, in the main pic, you've got a piano, some TV trays, a guy sacked out on a couch, a cat in a window... The point is, I'm no longer looking at your MOC, which you worked hard on and want people to look at. Hang up a sheet, or put it on a bare table against a bare wall, something. You don't want anything distracting the viewer from your work.

Okay. Once we move on to the creation, what do we see? Your, mech, or gun platform, overwhelms everything else, so let's start with that. Overall pretty blocky (but if that piece is the huge unwieldy Indiana Jones flying wing thing, I give you props for trying to work that in). No coherent color scheme. It looks like a case of trying to go big when you probably don't have the parts to properly do it. Bigger is not always better. Work within your collection.

For instance, in your entry here there is a little gray truck of some sort that looks pretty neat. And this is small, but it is awesome. I think you've really got a talent for these smaller constructions. If you could put together a few more of these, or something different but on par with them, combined with your army of minifigs... now we've got something.

Speaking of your army, it is impressive. You've got some blurry photos of them here, though. Looks like you need to steady the camera on something.

As for the rest, it's really hard to tell what's going on. Yes, it's a battle, and real battles tend to be chaotic and confusing, but nothing here seems to bear any relation to anything else. I can see at least three different color uniforms, plus some sort of battle droids. Who's fighting who? The random wall and random piles of bricks on the ground give us no sense of where this is all taking place.

Summing up, I think you just tried to do to much. I'll repeat: Bigger is not always better. This dio doesn't live up to the quality of build you've shown yourself capable of. For example, I found this to be Shannon Ocean-esque (which is a compliment, in case you were wondering).

Thanks for playing, keep building and improving, and you should be a force to be reckoned with in contests to come.




Ribbits M - What Happens When the Shelling Stops?

Hmm... I think "confused" is the appropriate word here. I just don't get it.

The title doesn't seem to have anything to do with the MOC. It could have been called "John Wayne Plays the Villain," or "Fido Likes the Taste of Gasoline Rainbows," and made just as much sense. In fact those might have made more sense -- an obviously ludicrous title would better fit the hectic, disjointed, Monty Pythonesque silliness you've got going here. "What Happens When the Shelling Stops?" makes me want to see the immediate aftermath of a battle.

There's nothing wrong with the MOC itself except that it's too small for the amount of action and characters you're expecting it to host. At one point you cram four R2 units on there along with your two skele-bots, and it's like watching a troupe of actors trying to perform their play in a closet. Give those guys some breathing room! To alleviate the claustrophobic feel, I'd like to see this expanded in all directions: a street in front of the sidewalk, side to side with a few more of those neat lightposts at intervals, and especially back into the mass orphan grave.

Obviously you had a lot you wanted to do here, but much like my plate at Thanksgiving dinner, the build just couldn't support all the good stuff you wanted to load onto it. The solution is to either get a bigger plate, or pick and choose what to include in this helping and leave the other stuff for when you go back for seconds. Thanks for entering, but that Lego set will be going somewhere else.




Tyler Saplan - T.A.N VS B.L.E.Y

Since, by your own admission, you "threw this together," you will understand if I put the same lack of effort into this review.

It's not a diorama so much as a few plates with some guys on them, with some sort of vehicle off to one side, and some sort of I-can't-quite-tell-what off to the other. To be a true diorama, the base needs to be big enough to encompass all those things within its bounds. The green vehicle is pretty good, easily the best part of the MOC, but it's on its own, out in space, and thus I can't count it as part of the "diorama."

I appreciate your enthusiasm for wanting to enter my contest. If you decide to enter other contests in the future, DO NOT just throw something together (at least, don't admit it if you do)! Take your time, make sure that what you're presenting is the best you can possibly make it. You seem to be a fairly recent addition to our MOCpages family, and most everyone improves by leaps and bounds once they get online, so I know you'll do better in the future as long as you keep building.




Space Pirate - Fast lane to heaven

Fast Lane, hm? Myself, I'd take the Stairway... if I wasn't already on the Highway to Hell.

This is one of those entries that made me wish I was much wealthier and/or much more generous, so I could give out multiple prizes. I really like the juxtaposition of the futuristic with the natural, because it so often seems that in Lego, never the twain shall meet -- landscaping is reserved for Castle MOCs, and in futuristic ones, nature has been completely banished.

The cow getting blown off its feet is a fun detail. The little stream is great, though the crab seems a bit out of place there -- I'd prefer a frog, myself. I like the technique you were going for on the seafoam outside the retaining wall, but I do feel the white slopes should have been bunched together a bit tighter. As it is they sort of look like teeth.

It's extremely well-built, looks cool, and takes on a unique subject matter. I only wish you'd given us as many detail shots of the landscaping and installation as you have of the ships. The ships are of course awesome, but since we get to see them without the dio, it's only fair that we should see the dio without them -- the landing pad at one end in particular.

I loved this MOC, and it was easily one of the highlights of the contest. The competition in the Diorama half was extremely tough, and this was one of the entries that made it so. It was a definite frontrunner -- until one came along that managed to top it! Thanks for entering, and much as I'd like to give you a prize for this, I just can't.




Mister Bones - Blockage 2, Revenge of the MOC Monsters!

It's not often that the sequel is better than the original. The Road Warrior is better than Mad Max. The Dark Knight is better than Batman Begins. I'm sure there are others, but Blockage 2 is not one of them.

I just get the feeling that it's incomplete, a rough draft, that you tried to stretch this bigger than your collection was willing or able to go. Whereas the landscaping in the original Blockage looked much more natural and organic, in this one those walls of LURPs and BURPs are just stacked straight on top of each other and straight across. And what's with those gaps? Your waterfall is just floating out there in space. The technique used on it is interesting and original, but it just comes out of nowhere, in defiance of all laws of nature and physics.

And the stream leading away from those falls... The water level is higher than the ground, at least on the side where the explorers are, and bounded by those gray dikes. Mama Nature doesn't work that way, and you know she doesn't! I'm the type of guy who yells at the TV when I see continuity errors and logical inconsistencies in a show or movie, so your river shocked me right out of the MOC. I literally could not believe what I was seeing.

I know all too well how parts-intensive landscaping can be. To do this scene justice would require copious amounts of bricks, plates, and slopes in green, brown, light and dark gray... it appears that you started out all right on the rock monsters side of the stream, but just ran out of Lego. When that happens you've either got to blow it up and scale back your vision, or head off to Cracklink.

I do have to give you props for busting out the old-school rock monster though, you don't often see him. It's just too bad you fell into the "bigger is always better!" trap with his dio. Thanks for playing, and I've got some lovely parting gifts... for someone else.




Mark Legorski - Rocky Showdown ....

I like the idea of rock monsters with six-shooters and cowboy hats. I mean, seriously, who wouldn't? There's a lot of potential here. Unfortunately, I feel that much of it is wasted.

The focal point is the two duelists, and they're both in one corner of the MOC. Nothing is going on anywhere else. This could have (and possibly should have) been done as a vignette.

I like how you don't just have the gray rocks on top of the tan base, you have a skirt of gray plates around. But again, this subtle bit of landscaping seems wasted. There is no variation in the topography other than those rocks -- everything is perfectly flat, including the plateau in back. What you do have built is built well, but the overall effect, quite frankly, is boring. We need details! How about some rocks or dirt or little rises or dips in that expanse of bare ground? How about a cactus or two, or that ever-present western cliché, a cow skull somewhere? How about some miners watching the proceedings from the top of the aforementioned plateau? Or, since these shootouts stereotypically took place in the middle of dusty streets, how about moving the scene into town?

It's a clean build, which in this case is not really a compliment. Brian Kescenovitz once called my dioramas "sterile" because they often lacked those little details that bring a MOC to life. Well-built, and interesting as far as they went, but sterile. He was exactly right, and I feel like I struggle with that problem in my builds to this day. Big picture is easy -- details are easy to overlook. This MOC suffers from that same feeling of sterility.

Ultimately, you were doomed as well by your reputation. Your portfolio here on MOCpages is not extensive, but what you do have shows a high level of skill. I expect to be blown away by the entry of someone who made it to the fifth round of the MOColympics! You hear me? BLOWN AWAY! So thanks for playing, but there will be no free Lego for you.




Robo Man - Rooftop Assault

I neither know nor care anything about the U.N.E. or the C.O.P. All I know is, this is a great build.

A badass attacking ship, great blood spatter coming out one guy's back, another guy getting his head literally blown off -- this is all wonderful, if familiar, stuff. Not breaking any new ground in the action genre, but the standard formula is executed well.

The rooftop is just the right level of futuristic -- the vents and exhaust pipes and doorway and everything are still recognizable. It's the near, not the distant future. The sign adds a welcome splash of color to a mostly gray scene, and the bird's nest, as so many have already pointed out, is a wonderfully whimsical detail, one of those small things that add so much to a good diorama.

The one thing I can think to improve would be to make the skylight in the middle steepled rather than flat. Other than that, I think you pretty much nailed it.

Competition was especially fierce in the Diorama category, and this is another of those entries that makes me wish I had more prizes to give away. I thoroughly enjoyed this MOC, and it was right around the top of my list. Sadly, in lieu of a tangible prize, all I can give you is my personal thumbs up and a "Great job!" Thanks for entering.




Thomas N - Brown Bear Heavy Tank and Dio

I hate to say it so bluntly since you feel it is the star of the MOC, but I have to because it is the centerpiece: I just don't think your tank is very good.

Not only have I been spoiled by the scores of high-quality Lego tanks I've seen before, it (more importantly) doesn't live up to a lot of your previous work. I like your micro stuff best, but that gets into an apples and oranges kind of thing. Your trains show a much higher level of skill than is evident here, as does your older white-liveried military faction, the Estonian Snow Corps.

The Brown Bear is boxy, with a lot of blank flat surface area. The sides of the turret definitely need something to break up the monotony, and that big panel on the back has got to go. I'm going to guess that you didn't have enough round bricks in gray or brown to make the cannon, and so used those log pieces instead as being sort of rounded... but I don't think they're the solution. The proportions of the tank seem off, a bit too short and topheavy for that beast of a gun. The color blocking is not as tight as it could be. I could go on, but you get the point.

The rubble to the sides is okay, not great -- I don't get the feeling that these were actual buildings that were destroyed, if you know what I mean. It looks like what would have been standing before were some mostly blank walls. A hint of some architecture here and there would help greatly. You do have knocked over trash cans, unexploded shells, and some broken glass, which is great, but I'd like to see that same level of detail extended past the sidewalks. The use of the baseplate bothers me because the street is so clean and unmarked compared to the utter devastation on either side of it. Some sort of brickbuilt street is definitely called for here. I'd expect a few craters, the remnants of some sort of fortification, etc.

Summing up, I don't feel that I got your best effort here. You've been on MOCpages long enough to have an extensive body of work for me to compare this to, and I know you can do better -- you have done better, and you will do better. You just had the misfortune to be off your game entering my contest. But thanks for playing.




Dennis Price - Takin' Care of the Neighborhood

Yes, good old Officer Rocks... who cares about piddling things like the rule of law and the Bill of Rights? He by god Gets The Job Done.

This may come as a shock to many of you, but I've never actually been inside a police station. (Just too darn smart to get caught! Plus, it helps to be white.) My favorite part of this one is something subtle, and may sound strange, but it's that little strip of gray at the base of the wall. Most rooms generally have some sort of molding between wall and floor, and it's often left out of MOCs -- mine included. I also like that the cop is packing a revolver. We'll have to get our resident lawman, Officer Phipson, to weigh in and tell us if he knows any old-timers on the force that still carry a wheelgun. Gives it that old school feel, and I'm all about the old school. Maybe this takes place in the seventies -- that mustache sort of suggests it -- or maybe Officer Rocks is just a grizzled veteran fed up with the system after all those years on the street watching the bad guys win...

So what we have here is the moment before all hell breaks loose. That's a good place to be in a MOC, as far as I'm concerned. However, the composition of the scene doesn't convey all the tension and drama it could. The one cop talking to the working girl seems to be oblivious, although Rocks and Goldietoof are definitely within his field of vision. If he was half out of his chair, leaning forward, arm outstretched, and we could picture him shouting, "NOOOOO!" that would add a lot. A few more people around would help in that regard too -- it seems remarkably empty for what I imagine to be a busy city precinct, which it would pretty much have to be to have a gang leader/gangsta rappa in their jurisdiction. Some civilians ducking for cover, a few other officers rushing to restrain Officer Rocks, that sort of thing.

Other than that, a few other little nitpicks are the blankness of the wall -- it needs a door, a window, more posters, filing cabinets, a water cooler, something. The bulletin board is a great touch but I'd personally change the color from dark blay to tan, or better yet, dark tan, to look more like cork. Not a big deal, just personal preference. Maybe yours is felt or something instead of cork.

I'm becoming a broken record here over the course of all these reviews, but here's my verdict again: "Love the concept, but..." In this case the "but" is that the build is merely good. Just needs a few more details to tip it towards great. Thanks for entering.




Jack Fonchezzz - Suburban Nightmares- Yonkers

You started out with a lot of strikes against you, some of which you acknowledge in your note at the end: I'm not into the zombie apocalypse genre (mostly because it's so rarely ever done well), I don't like peach figs, I don't like modified pieces or Brickarms... But you were man enough to enter anyway. Points for bravery!

The zombie apocalypse theme rarely works because it's hard. Ruins and devastation are notoriously difficult to pull off in Lego. And in depicting scenes of utter chaos, it's got to be a measure of controlled chaos, otherwise it just looks like a mess.

I'm afraid your diorama tends toward messy. There's so much going on that it's difficult for the eye to focus on any one thing. A big part of the problem is a lot of multicolored plates. You have both light and dark gray, and light and dark blay, scattered about seemingly at random. It took me ages to figure out you have a helicopter crashed into the red building because it's the same mix of grays and it just kind of blends in. What should have been a great focal point of the MOC gets lost.

So many people, when they want to depict ruins or a war-torn scene, just scatter some gray or brown bits around. Actual damage has a cause. Bombs leave craters, bullets leave holes, parts of buildings collapse and leave piles of rubble. It creates a mess, but it isn't random -- there's a rhyme and reason to it. You should be able to look at it and picture it as it was before it got destroyed. That's hard to do here.

You've got some great details like the flamethrower, the guy from the news filming the scene (although if things are this bad, who has time to watch TV?), fleeing civilians, and the sig-zombie-Young is good for a chuckle. In the end it was just overwhelmed by uncontrolled chaos. Thanks for entering.

PS - the answer is "Kinshasa." Yes, I saw! You were quick enough to delete your question before I could ban you. Another strike against you from the start...




Cody G - Clone on a Plate

Ha ha. I seriously considered banning you outright for this.

While I've done my share of bitching and moaning about things on MOCpages that I don't like, entire pages devoted to spoofing bad MOCs generally do nothing for me. Why put that much effort into purposely making something that sucks? It just adds to the noise. Some things are funny because they're true -- but I usually find these pages unfunny because they're not appreciably different from the ones they purport to make fun of.

(And before anyone calls me a big fat hypocrite by pointing to this, I'd like to point out that it was only one scene out of ten on that page, and that it was juxtaposed with something clever -- if I do say so myself -- and never-before-seen: Lego morse code. So there.)

The worst part about this is, since you did obviously put some effort into building the landscape and taking clear pictures, I now can't tell if the ship is intended to be straight or a spoof. Think about that for a second.

If you're going to make a good bad MOC, you can't pussyfoot around it like you've done here. You've gotta go all out. You have to make it so horrifically, unbelievably, shockingly bad that the trauma stays with the viewer for the rest of his life. Take a look at James Harrison's page. Can you compete with that? Hell no, you can't, the guy's a freakin' GENIUS. He's the Picasso, the Bach, the Einstein, the Jordan of crappy MOCs. Anyone else that tries to make a bad MOC is just a sad, tired hack compared to King James.

In short, you wasted my time, and you did it on purpose, with malice aforethought. If we ever run into each other in the Lego aisle at the local Fred Meyer, I think I'll give you an indian burn.




Rusty S. - Monkeys in Our Lives: Hold-Up

Monkey hoodlums in sideways baseball caps -- this is what is known, in the parlance of our times, as "pure win."

But it doesn't stop there! The coolers, Twinkie shelves, and Slushie machines are great too. Basically everything you built, is built well. My only issue is with the placement of these constructions.

I've been in many a convenience store, and I can't think of a single one that was set up the way yours is. Anyone who wants to is welcome to point me to a picture that will prove me wrong, but in my experience, the counter and cash register is always on the opposite side of the store from the coolers, facing them. As it is, anyone entering your store who goes to grab a six-pack walks behind the counter and the clerk -- not good.

Aside from that, you've got a lot of unutilized floorspace. It's a pretty roomy store, and mini-marts tend to be cramped. A few more shelves to make an aisle or two would be best, but failing that, you could have added a few more characters to the scene.

Overall very nice work, just needed a tweak here and there to bump it up to the next level. Thank you, come again!




Joshua Benjamin - Mirror Worlds

A quiet, thoughtful MOC, sneaking under the radar. People have long been fascinated by mirrors. Do they only reflect the reality set in front of them, or are they in fact a portal to some other world, if we could only go through them? If you go into the bathroom, turn all the lights off, and chant "Bloody Mary" over and over, will her ghost appear?

I really like the concept here. It has an old Twilight Zone feel. I can't help but wonder how these guys' lives will change after catching a glimpse of their negatives in the mirror world. As for the build, I can't complain about anything except maybe the design of the lamps, or the centerpieces on the coffee tables, and these all boil down to personal preference. The important thing is that once you've designed one room, you've got to make sure the other one really is a mirror image, and as close to a photographic negative as Lego's color palette allows. I look at the placement of all the furniture, the figs, and especially the objects on the bookshelf, and find that everything is mirrored perfectly.

It's all too easy to go for humor in a MOC. The philosophical ones are few and far between, and I give you high marks for going down that road less traveled. The best way to describe why I am not giving you the win is this: When I first saw your entry I nodded in appreciation and said, "Nice." But there were a few others that made me lean forward and say, "Whoah!" Spectacle trumping substance. Yeah, I hate myself a little. Thanks for entering, anyway.




Jake H. - Oseshalor Elven village


Oh, the tragedy of a great MOC sabotaged by poor photography!

I was really excited when I saw the main pic. Ooh, this is gonna be good! I thought, trembling with anticipation. And then... sadly... things took a wrong turn. You don't commit the all-too-common MOCpages sin of blurry photography, so you obviously know how to work your camera. No, your crime is in having the MOC backlit by the window. All too many of your pictures are too dim to see all the cool details I know must be there, because it's in shadow. What you want is to have whatever you're taking a picture of facing the window, so that it gets as much light as possible, and then make sure you're off to one side so you don't cast a shadow on it yourself.

I'm getting old and cranky and these eyes ain't what they used to be. I don't like having to squint and strain to see details of a MOC. If I didn't feel obligated to give it a thorough going-over because I'm judging it for a contest, I would have just shaken my head in disappointment and clicked away from the page, dismissing it entirely. How many anonymous others have already done so? It's a shame, because you obviously worked hard on this.

The waterfall, the rope bridge, this is excellent stuff. The tree with the bird's nest is great as well. The landscaping on the ground, while a little blocky as a result of using mostly bricks instead of plates, is a nice touch. Mixing the greens like that could very easily have come out haphazard and messy, but I think you pulled it off. Basically all the stuff I can see looks pretty good -- I just can't see enough of it. I hate to keep harping on that, but I really think you did yourself a disservice with the overall presentation here.

I can't guarantee that well-lit pictures would have won you the contest... but it certainly would have made my job as a judge much harder. Thanks for playing.




Awesomeness 124 - Castle Drake

Hey, way to rip off my Wackyland blocks without giving credit! And then have the gall to enter my contest! Smooth move, pal...

No, I won't hold that against you... I promise (he said, shifty-eyed).

One thing I noticed while perusing the pics of Castle Drake is that you have a lot of bricks and plates that are not pushed down all the way. It's not a crime, and it happens to the best of us on occasion, but enough of it all at once does look a bit sloppy.

Anyway, you've got some nice trees, and the guy chopping wood is a good detail, a perfectly common and mundane everyday activity for a medieval man. The little island in the water is a nice idea to break up what would be a large boring patch of blue, but it would also seem to be in the way of any boat trying to get to the dock. I also like the use of jumper tiles on the undersides of the arches over the doorways.

The major drawback is a lot of flat blank wall, otherwise known as Big Gray Wall Syndrome. The linked article goes into more detail than I care to here about how to avoid it, but suffice to say that some windows or other architectural elements to add visual interest would have helped greatly. Similarly, the interior is rather bare. There's ample room for a lot more detail and/or action inside.

All in all, not a bad foray into the castle theme for someone who isn't practiced at it, and whose collection most likely isn't geared towards it. Just not up to scratch in the tough Diorama contest. Thanks for entering, but I'll be shipping the prize somewhere else.




Brady G - Shannon's Accociation With Rocks

Ahem -- "Association." Moving on...

A couple different builds here -- you big cheater! I like the first one best, even though it's pretty much just a bunch of 1x1 studs. Good illustration of the simple magic of part repetition. If you have enough of almost any single piece, you can make an interesting structure. The stacks of trans studs look neat all together like that.

As for the temple, the color switch from tan to gray bothers me a bit. I'm trying to picture it as it would have been before falling into ruin, and I see where it could have been two-toned, but I think the transition is rather haphazard. It ends up looking like you simply ran out of tan and switched to gray. When that happens the trick is to make it look like you planned it that way all along.

Inside, you've got some nice ruins, by which I mean fallen structures that look like they once served a purpose, instead of just randomly scattering a lot loose brick around. My big pet peeve is all the studs on the floor, since I believe manmade flooring should be studless. The tiles outside the entrance would have gone better inside, in my opinion. You wouldn't even have to have enough to cover the entire interior floorspace -- it is a ruin, after all, gaps and holes in the tiling are only to be expected.

Lastly, the whole Shannon on a rock, in a rock, etc. sequence was enjoyable... but technically not part of any diorama. It was just minifigs and some props. So I can't count it in my judging.

Bottom line: Some nice builds, but not enough to get you the win. Thanks for playing.




Dylan B - Temple For Worshipping Lego God

I have to admit I felt a sinking feeling going in, fearful of who your "Lego God" would be. I thought, aw crap, it's probably gonna be Kelso or Phipson -- absolutely disgusting -- or worse yet, me -- horrific, revolting, disgraceful sucking up on your part. Thank you for proving me wrong. Phew! Since Sean Kenney created this little universe we inhabit, I'd say you made the only right choice.

Okay, on to the MOC: The things here that I like, I really, really like. The rockwork around the little pool on the right is outstanding. The fountain effect is very cool. The SNOTed steps with curved corners is simple, but looks great. And best of all, the not-quite-connected-on-one-end stacks of 1x2 bricks curving out from the base of the walls is definitely a technique I'll have to steal sometime.

What I don't like is that other aspects of the build are messy. On the railings of the wings that protrude on either side of the stairs, you have some 1x1 round bricks for texture -- all well and good, but they don't match up to the gaps above them and get out of step. Similarly, the railing along the roof gets out of kilter, and one section on the right corner has a brick beam going across that none of the others do -- what's going on there? The wall around the fountain pool has annoying gaps as well -- I heartily endorse the use of the SNOTed round slopes on the corners to echo the steps, but leaving those gaps is unacceptable. It's not like it's hidden in some corner, it's right in front for all to see!

Moving on to the facade of the temple, I think you have at least one too many motifs competing there. Technic bricks, headlight brick faces, headlight brick bottoms, random grill tiles... From a distance it looks all right, but in close I just don't get a cohesive feel. In stark contrast, the sides definitely suffer from Big Gray Wall Syndrome. This wouldn't be a big deal if we weren't meant to see the MOC from the side, but since you made the effort to include copious landscaping and greenery there, we clearly are meant to see the sides.

A few other nitpicks: Why a cross? Shouldn't our Lego God have as his symbol... oh, I don't know... a BRICK? A macroscale 1x1 red brick would be particularly appropriate here. And the trees' crowns are too small for those huge trunks. I've said it before and I'll say it again, brickbuilt trees are hard, but these are way out of proportion.

Just as a personal preference, I would have liked to see either the plain white of the courtyard extended along the paths going out to the sides, or the multicolored tiles of the paths carried over into the courtyard. Or at least a more gradual blending of the two where they meet, rather than the abrupt change. But that's not nearly as big a deal as the other stuff I've been harping on.

Summing up, I do like it as a whole, but in the end there were just too many aspects that could have used tightening up. It seems more like a good rough draft than a finished product. Like you needed to step away for a bit after construction, and then come back with a fresh eye and polish up some of those rough spots. Work out some of those stud length to SNOTed plate height ratios to a tighter tolerance. Thanks for playing, but you'll have to look elsewhere for your source of free Lego.




Chris Phipson - "A Christmocs Carol"

Wow, a parody of the Dickens Christmas classic! Never seen that done anywhere before... Bah, humbrick.

In the course of all these reviews I've done my best to focus on the builds while ignoring whatever commentary happened to go with them, because I'm judging a Lego contest and not a creative writing contest. I look at it this way: a great Lego creation should be able to stand on its own and be recognizable as such even if there was no explanation whatsoever. The build should be able to tell its own story.

I'm going to hold to that, even though in this case the MOC (actually eight different sets, by my count) was built specifically to illustrate a written narrative, and couldn't exist without it. A lot of work was involved here in a relatively short time, and hearty congratulations are in order for actually getting this tour de force up on the 'pages before your deadline. However, because you did need to do so much in such a short time, many of the sets feel unpolished to me. Nothing here sucks, but I'm haunted by the ghost of What Could Have Been. The sets are entirely adequate for their purpose -- but for my contest I wasn't content with adequate. I wanted spectacular.

It's a lot to look at, so here are some quick jabs at each set:

Kelso's studio storefront -- The K bothers me because it looks lowercase compared to the other letters, which look uppercase. Plus the fact that every other letter is squarish, composed entirely of right angles. The bare snow covered tree is a nice idea, but I don't see branches, I see big thick wedges. Have I said in other reviews how hard Lego trees are to make? Ten or twelve times already? Okay, just checking.

In the studio -- I like the system of pull-out trays on the wall, but don't like the fact that it's the same color as the wall, which is the same color as the work table, which is the same color as the (first) ship on it. It's a big mass of unrelieved dark blay.

Front of Kelso's house -- Great touch with the footprints in the snow, and I like that you're putting your inexhaustible supply of tiles to good use in a fancy pattern on the walkway up to the steps. Nice use of SNOTed LURPs, but the snow sticking to some of those vertical surfaces rather than the horizontal, as gravity would seem to warrant, is definitely unnatural.

Sheep in the shower -- no comment.

Hallway outside the shower -- In someone's house I'd expect pictures on the wall, knickknack shelves, something like that. The walls just seem a bit bare. I do like the dark red base below the white stripe, though. It's a nice combo with the light blay.

Bedroom -- The exposed open backs of the tall reverse slopes on the curtains bug me, I'd like those covered up. The bedframe is cool, the "blankets," not so much. In fact it doesn't look like there are blankets at all, it looks like a very thin bare mattress. Blankets tend to hang over the sides of a bed, and we don't see that here. While I'm at it, I'll go one further and say the use of the row of long plates there doesn't work for me at all. I'd go with some SNOTed bricks there, since the seams where the parts meet would not be so prominent, or better yet, a multicolored tile technique much like the walkway I praised earlier, to make a patchwork quilt look. And maybe some rounded slopes to make the pillows look softer. With all the practice you've had building beds, I expect masterworks in that department!

70's Kelso house -- Shag carpeting is a nice touch, I would have liked to see it cover the whole floor. Or at least one whole side of the room. Good couch. I tend to use curved slopes when I make them, but I like the square look here, I think it fits the period. It's from the early 60's, they've had it a while or got it used. Why does the checkered pattern on the floor change to squiggles when we get near it, though?

Party -- Excellent Christmasy wallpaper, again putting your beloved tiles to good use. Using 2-wide slopes for the tree at that scale seems too abstract and geometrical for my tastes, and at first glance, I couldn't see the ornaments. Something more along the lines of the tree in the Winter Toy Shop using plates would work better. Hey, did I ever mention that I think brickbuilt trees are pretty hard?

Whew! That was a lot of work just to review, so again, kudos for actually conceiving and building it all within a month. It works for what it is, a nice Christmas treat for the great unwashed out there in MOCpagesLand who enjoy that sort of thing (myself, I don't even believe in Jeebus and I can't stand the commercialism and consumerism run amok, so I pretty much hate Christmas). But for a winning contest entry, quality must win out over quantity. The same amount of time dedicated to perfecting one great creation rather than cranking out eight good ones would be the way to go. Thanks for entering, but you'll just have to be content with your thirty-seven local Lego stores for new parts.




Keith Goldman - Blue Blue Christmas

Well, you knew you weren't going to win, if for no other reason than I would have to use your own "crony rule" against you, but let's go through the motions here anyway...

I was struck by what a colossal cheat this is -- 99 percent is not so much built, as arranged. It looks like if you were clumsy or unlucky enough to bump the table or whatever it's on, your pieces of floor would scatter everywhere and your walls would come tumbling down. Now, I've built (using the term loosely) more than my share of MOCs I dared not touch, flimsy things I had to treat like nitro glycerin or a sand mandala, hoping and praying they stayed intact long enough to snap a few pictures, but it's a horrible, nasty habit and I'm trying to break myself of it. I want to see my contest entrants rise above my own lazy level, so I just can't condone this 1x1 plate arranging and tire piling as a valid building technique. All that said, it does look cool.

On another level, I'm not sure about the tire wall aesthetically. It's an interesting look, and on the one hand, it's a use of them that I've never seen before. It's always refreshing to see a part put to a new use. On the other, is it supposed to actually be tires, or just an interesting texture for the walls of evil Santa's underground lair? If the former, the napkin thread rope suspending my disbelief is nearing its breaking strain -- I'm forced to ask, how? Where? What's the ceiling made out of? Is this in a junkyard? If so, where's the other junk that should be interspersed with the tires? What are those chains suspended from? If the latter, sorry -- I just see tires. The Rule of Cool applies here, I guess. It looks neat, so don't question it.

So what we have is a MOC that is fun to look at but that I'm very ambivalent about. (One thing I can say I do like without reservation, is the girl's flashlight. Can't recall ever seeing a minifig flashlight before. Nice one.) Of course, more than any other entrant, you were doomed by your reputation. We've all been led to expect nothing less than 100 square-foot dioramas from you now. Even if you had built something solid that you could turn upside down and shake without fear of it flying apart, it would have had a hard time living up to your previous work. I liked this one, but felt sort of guilty about it. Thanks for entering anyway.




Dax Olesa - The Green Hell

Better than The Green Mile, that's for sure. There's a lot to like here. Where to start?

I guess I'll start with the centerpiece, the yellow and red Datsun. I'm not familiar with the car at all, but yours looks like a perfectly good representation of a generic 60's style stock racer to me. The one drawback, seen best in the rear 3/4 view, is that gap in the fender. I totally understand why it's there, as that wheel well piece has given me similar trouble. My solution is to use a slope to cover the gap, which has the disadvantage of rubbing against the wheel and preventing it from spinning freely. It's kind of a cheat, not an option if you're looking for play value in your car, but if the vehicle is just to be a prop in a diorama, I think it's worth doing.

The decision to pose it as "crashed" is a good one, since it would be inordinately difficult to convey a realistic sense of high speed and motion. The skid marks are great. The only thing lacking in my mind is a reason for the "crash." I keep using the quotes because it hasn't crashed into anything, not even the fence. There is no visible damage. The driver didn't wipe out going into a corner. He just screeched to a halt for no apparent reason.

The Porsche I'm not as fond of, mostly because of the straight line from the rear all the way to the top of the windshield, resulting in the roof being at a weird angle. If the roof was flat it would look a lot better. Then again, I've always thought the 911 was an ugly car to begin with, so maybe this works.

The grandstands are good, though I'd personally like to see them a little fuller. The trash below the stands is an excellent detail -- one of my favorite details out of all the entries in this whole contest, as a matter of fact. Also, nice use of the Technic half pins with bar for the supports. The different colored bits on the fence are a nice touch as well, you can easily picture these as patch jobs when sections have been wiped out by a crash. I like the speaker-things on the fence too.

Some nice minifig action, from the lady dropping her camera, to the dudes on the infield (I'd have liked a few more people on that side, it seems underdeveloped compared to the other, but at least you did put some people there), to the gawkers and cameramen rushing up to see if they can get a glimpse of any blood. The medic's pose doesn't jibe with your description of him rushing to the scene, however -- he looks more like he's leaping back out of the way of the car. He should be leaning forward, either completely over the fence and on the ground running to the car, or mostly on the crowd side, in the act of leaping over.

A few final things: I think the yellow caution flags should be square rather than fluttery pennants (correct me if I'm wrong, not a racing fan), and the white stripes along the sides of the road is a subtle detail that I probably would not have thought of myself if I'd had to make this scene. One of those things I may not have felt the lack of had you not put it in, but once it's there, I look at and say, "Yes, that's exactly right."

You did yourself proud, and I wish I could give you a prize, but the Diorama circuit was much like the track you depicted here: extremely challenging. You finished high in the standings, but out of several deserving MOCs, only one could get the checkered flag. Thanks for entering.




Lemon Tea - Tempting Void

Oh, no need to explain the symbolism... I totally get it, man. Really.

No, not really. In fact I will go out on a limb and say you didn't even intend any deep meaning behind this, you just wanted to make something sort of dark and mysterious looking. Nothing wrong with that, if true. When it comes to Lego, eye candy with no pretensions is fine by me. If I'm wrong and there is some heartfelt personal statement here, you'll just have to forgive me (along with 99 percent of MOCpages) for not "getting it."

Okay, the first thing I notice is that your pictures are generally pretty dim, which is especially problematic because you're working with dark colors. The second thing I notice is the open holes on the undersides of the slopes in your little rocky platforms. I would turn them around so that when you're looking at the MOC from the main intended angle, you don't see those holes. Alternatively, you could stick some Technic half pins in them and attach tiles to cover them up.

Your stick figures are ingenious little constructions. Their obvious drawback is an inability to stand on their own. You've got them pegged into jumper tiles, and I will readily admit that I can't suggest anything off the top of my head that would be a whole lot better, but they bother me. The figures sort of look like they have one foot encased in a block of cement. The argument could be made that that adds to the atmosphere, that that was the intent all along, but I wouldn't buy it. I'd much rather they were free-standing.

I wasn't sure at first, but after a lot of internal debate I decided the technique used for the river of blood or marinara was a good move. If I was to make that scene I probably would have had 1-wide slopes on top of a red SNOT wall, making a much deeper trench. The way you did it, the level of the red is less than a stud width (and appears to be less than the height of a plate) below the ground level. It's always nice when you can shake up the regular geometry the medium often enforces on us.

It's an interesting-looking scene. However, even putting aside the lighting issue, just not enough going on to compete with some of the heavyweights in the Diorama category. I was rather intrigued... but not wowed. Thanks for entering, but I can't award you the prize.



Nate 000 - Fury

Again with the Star Wars...

Don't get me wrong -- if you just absolutely love Star Wars, then by god you should build Star Wars. Do what you enjoy and don't let anyone tell you any different.

What you've got to understand, however, is that I value imagination and originality over all things. I would much rather see a creation based in a world you came up with completely by yourself than one that was based in someone else's universe -- in this case George Lucas's, with which MOCpages is already oversaturated. To win my contest you've got to show me something I've never seen before... and I see Star Wars on MOCpages every single day.

Doing my best to set the theme aside, let's look at the build. It actually looks pretty good. Cool effect with the stormtrooper bursting into flame. Having his gun in midair, flying out of his hand, is a nice touch, but I would remove the one trans-orange stud from the top of the clear piece. I prefer to keep the clear pieces as low-profile as possible when depicting flying or floating things, and having that stud out there away from all the other fiery bits kind of draws attention to the piece you're suspending the gun from.

The star of the MOC is obviously the 1x1 slopes on the floor. I'm not exactly sure of the effect you're going for -- shockwave from the bolt of energy shooting out of the jedi's hand? But it is distinctive and looks cool.

The extra stormtrooper seems unnecessary to me. You could have removed him and entered this as a vignette. Conversely, you could go the other way and add a few more to make the situation more dangerous for the jedi, maybe have a few dead on the ground already?

On your homepage it says you're ten years old. This is a sharp-looking build from a ten year old. I doubt any of my MOCs ever looked that polished when I was ten. If I ever run another contest, you may indeed be a force to be reckoned with -- if you can bring yourself to get away from Star Wars for a bit! Thanks for entering, but that prize is going somewhere else.




buzz droid - Rock Concert!

The very last entry, sneaking in with less than ten minutes until the contest deadline.

First off: this MOC desperately needs a bath. It looks like it was left on the side of a dusty road for a few months. And even though I'm judging on the build and not the commentary, I have to point out a glaring omission -- you didn't name the band!

Okay, the build. Not bad at all, considering. By which I mean you don't have all the right parts to do your idea justice, but you've made do with what you had. For instance, you've got white dishes for the right side speakers when all the others are gray, and clear and trans-red dishes for the cymbals on the drum set. Ordinarily I'm against going beyond what your collection can handle -- it leads to the "rainbow ship" syndrome, building something big and ugly and jumbled simply for the sake of building big, when a smaller, color-coordinated craft would be much more pleasing to the eye -- but in this case I think you largely get by on attitude. It's rock and roll, man! It's bound to be a little messy.

I like the stage lights, the mike stand, and the pyrotechnics. I don't like the stacks, the speakers should be more embedded into the box than stuck on outside. Overall the entire stage area and all the trappings are pretty good, though of course I'd like it better if it was studless. The guitar player's water bottle is a nice detail, but I think the singer would need one even more.

The tire posing as a giant afro on the rapper punk cracked me up, and the one guy getting blasted backwards through the air, no doubt by the sheer sonic power of a thunderous power chord cranked all the way up to eleven, was my favorite part of the whole MOC.

Much like your average garage band, this MOC is a bit choppy, a bit sloppy, not winning any awards... but it's having a good time. Thanks for playing, and rock on!





(Final note: Any entrant who wants to receive clarification, rebut, or respond to my review of your work, please don't do it in the comments here -- let's do that in the Vig/orama group.)





Comments

  September 14, 2013
Man, you are incredibly strict. No offense, but wow...
  March 17, 2012
Rocky showdown LOL! And who is lego god? Hmmm. . .
  April 1, 2010
were did you get the books
  February 13, 2010
HA. that is funny. I do the same thing often.
 I made it 
  February 11, 2010
Quoting Jack Fonchezzz isnt the capital of Mozambique... Maputo?
For some reason, I remember you asking what the capital of Zaire is. Maybe I was just seeing what I wanted to see because I actually knew the answer to that one.
 I like it 
  February 11, 2010
Has anyone ever told you that you are the greatest thing ever? I mean... your blunt hilarity is simply.... hilarious. Props for honesty and for taking the time to put this together. I personally thought my dio was pretty good, but it doesn't matter. You were pretty nice to me... relatively speaking. Well. That gave me a nice chuckle to start my return from my erratic vacations. Thanks for the contest and advice! P.S. isnt the capital of Mozambique... Maputo?
  February 6, 2010
Now i know you have to be strict on alot of stuff, but in my perspective, you were kinda harsh on some people. I mean dont get me wrong, i understand that as a person with a good reputation, you have some things that "push your buttons". But give some of these guys a break, i wouldnt go nuts if the MOC was messy, as long as you can tell whats basically going on. One last thing, sometimes vague and mysterious MOCs are the best ones. Even if they dont have a description. I guess what im saying is ease up next time.
 I like it 
  February 5, 2010
Wow, these reviews are pretty in-depth! I can see now why you posted this almost a month after the contest ended. Also, I'm glad that you like the fact that I took the road less traveled, because now I'm thinking of a sequel =)
 I like it 
  February 4, 2010
I got a kick in ShannY "shredding" Lee Van Cleef's entry! XD
 I like it 
  February 3, 2010
Yes! I got a thumbs up, a laugh, and a near ban! Best day ever if you ask me. But do you honestly think that your little indian burn scares me? Bring it on, Shannon, I'll noogie you until all the little eight year olds run screaming to the action figure isle! That is, once Freddy's restocks. Seriously, who wants to see a lego isle filled with megablocks? You'd think they'd get it done by a month after Christmas, but no... Anyway, I'm done ranting, hit me up if you ever want to get kicked out of Freddy's or go egg Heather's house.
 I like it 
  February 3, 2010
I officially pass the "king of the reviews" title on to you, Shannon. I cannot believe that you spent so much time writing a review for each entree. I couldn't agree more with some of the things that you stated in mine. I also read some of the other reviews and found myself in complete agreement. Thank you very much for such a great review and hosting a great contest. I'm really going to check back here and evaluate some of the things you said for builds in the future. I just hope the fellow contestants will do the same. Great advice and thanks again! -Dylan
 I like it 
  February 3, 2010
Quoting david drake what? Nobody won? I swear I read each and every line, and I never saw a winner comment.
David, there are two other posts, one with the rest of the entries and one with the winners.~H
 I like it 
  February 3, 2010
what? Nobody won? I swear I read each and every line, and I never saw a winner comment.
 I like it 
  February 3, 2010
I still have to go through the vig reviews, but I totally agree with Mark. It's the same with Keith's group, and I really hope you will do some guest reviews there. Learning from mistakes, even if not your own, is the key to improve your MOCs and with these reviews you not only point out the mistakes but also offer suggestions to make it better. What else could we ask for? - Prizes? ...as if I ever cared for that car :P
 I like it 
  February 3, 2010
It's taken me a couple of days to get through all of your reviews on both posts, but it was well worth the time spent reading them. (Although, I have to wonder how you feel about all of the time spent writing them!) Getting such a massive amount of insight into your thought processes regarding MOCs was not only entertaining, but educational. You made countless comments where I was either nodding my head in agreement, or saying to myself "I should write that down!" I now have a slightly better understanding of how you create such consistently excellent work. That may not have been your intent with posting these judgements, but there it is.
  February 2, 2010
Well, it was worth a shot. I didn't really expect to win anyways! Thanks for the review though, and thanks for hosting the contest!
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
Wow that was an awesome contest you had going there. Thanks for the review and I am glad you liked my entry. And sorry John I don't mean to
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
Curses! Roboman steals my thunder yet again.
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
Great contest -- for the record, my bulletin board is red. Your review nails it with the sparseness of the setting. I rush through things to get to the joke, which is a failing of mine I suppose. No big thing; this was fun. Thanks for hosting and reviewing!
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
This series of reviews is really nice, and yes I am ten years old.I will consider your advice and create my own sci-fi theme. If you would care I will give you a link as soon as it is posted.
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
Thanks for putting all the time into these reviews- rather stunning, really. As to MY build, I have to say I completely agreed with needing another shelf to make an aisle. The truth is though, I was stretching my collection to the limits as it was. I wasn't gonna spend anymore money and then wait several days just to add another shelf...Oh, well. My loss. As to the cash register.....I don't know what I was thinking.
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
OK, I read a lot of these, but not all of them. As for mine, you nailed it. I rushed the build, screwed up the waterfall and the river, and what's more, I knew it. The sad bit is that I have more than enough pieces to do this right and I should have used them, as well as taken my time. Thanks again for the great contest!
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
Literally bit off more than I could chew, nice reveiwing system, though. There's always next year or somthing.
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
So the virus was just an excuse to buy you some more time? :D Thanks for the review. I really tried to read through all of them...
 I like it 
  February 2, 2010
You've given some great advice that could apply to anyone, especially myself.
 
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