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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Lego Adventure Book Review and Technic Builder's Guide Giveaway (exp 12/31/12)

I recently had the opportunity to review the recently published The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & More! from No Starch Press. They also sent along two of their other Lego titles to look at, The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide (2nd Edition) and The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guideso reviews for those two follow, also. The Lego Technic Builder's Guide book is then being offered in a giveaway, ending 12/31/12, right before the new year hits.
I never felt I was Lego-challenged, but boy do I wish I had picked up a book to help with building some time ago. Who would have known there was an actual technique for putting these together properly and building extensive structures. Perhaps the next time I build with my son, things won't fall apart so easily. Though, the dog stepping on them probably doesn't help.

First off, my five-year old grabbed the Adventure title before I even had a chance to look at it. Shame on me for leaving it out on the table for him to see. What made him so excited about the book? Apart from all the color pictures throughout the book showing successful builds and step-by-step how-to instructions, it was all the train and dinosaur models demonstrated in the book, with a sample shown here:

Look how easy it is to build a stegosaurus. There are pictures and/or step-by-step instructions throughout the title, showing 25 brick-by-brick breakdowns and close to two hundred different models shown only with a picture or two. The step-by-step guides are perfect for kids looking for new projects to build, or just for the parent who wants to help them out. Sorry, no teacher's guide for the other 200. Who created all the models? They are a bunch of expert builders from around the web, each offering their own style.

The models are varied in complexity and content, spread across 14 chapters, with topics covering race cars, dinosaurs, and trains, among other things, the last being my son's personal favorite.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Building the Idea Lab
Chapter 2: A LEGO Town
Chapter 3: Hot Rods and Cool Rides
Chapter 4: From Below!
Chapter 5: The Sky’s the Limit
Chapter 6: The Turtle Factory
Chapter 7: Starfighters
Chapter 8: Mighty Mecha
Chapter 9: Medieval Village
Chapter 10: Triassic Park
Chapter 11: Making New Friends
Chapter 12: Full Steam Ahead
Chapter 13: Steampunk
Chapter 14: A LEGO Legend

Each chapter is color coded and specific to one of those expert builders. So all the dinosaurs, for instance, are from builder Mike Psiaki. The build instructions are fairly clear when provided. Where not provided, you have to extrapolate what's in the model strictly from the pictures.

My biggest complaint about this title is the brick inventory needed to create models from the breakdowns provided, or even just the pictures w/o the guides to get some resemblance. The instructions just assume you'll have enough bricks to build the desired structures. Then again, you may have the right bricks, just not the right colors. The book does offer this "Building Tip:"
If you don't have these LEGO elements in these colors, just use whatever you have.

It is just that the diversity of bricks needed is amazing.Who has all of these? I'm really more concerned about having the right shapes than colors when building I guess.

While my five-year old loves the book for the pictures, I don't envision him being able to build much with the help of the book just yet. Most of the models present are more for the intermediate to advanced builder. I think I'd even have trouble with a few where the step-by-step instructions aren't provided, but this does give me more of a reason to play with Lego with my son. Can't wait to see what they have in store for Volume 2.

You may find some other reviews helpful, too, from more Lego-friendly sites.

The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide

By Allan Bedford, the second title is probably more of what I would be looking for in a how-to build your own Lego model book, versus the how to copy what others have done in the first title. This edition is an update to a title that first came out in 2005. It covers such topics as the best way to connect bricks, working with mosaic patterns, and an encyclopedia of bricks.

Broken into ten chapters, each chapter explores different aspects of constructing Lego models.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Lego System: Endless Possibilities
Chapter 2: Back to Basics: Tips and Techniques
Chapter 3: Minifig Scale: Oh, What a Wonderful Minifig World It Is!
Chapter 4: Miniland Scale: The Whole World in Miniature
Chapter 5: Jumbo Elements: Building Bigger Bricks
Chapter 6: Microscale Building: More Than Meets the Eye
Chapter 7: Sculptures: The Shape of Things to Build
Chapter 8: Mosaics: Patterns and Pictures in Bricks
Chapter 9: Putting It All Together: Where Ideas Meet Bricks
Chapter 10: Beyond Just Bricks: Other Things to Do Besides Building

This book will definitely help you improve your building skills. While you may like the Adventure title for its fancy full-color views, that book doesn't really teach much about building structures stronger. And, that is exactly what this book does show, as demonstrated by this sphere building instruction page.

The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide

The third title from Pawel "Sariel" Kmiec is for those interested in building better with the motorized Lego Technic system. It follows the successful approach of the The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide title but adds in the complexity of the motors, power, gears, and pulleys.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Basics
Chapter 1: Basic Concepts
Chapter 2: Basic Units and Pieces
Chapter 3: Studless or Studfull
Chapter 4: Axles, Bushes, and Joints
Part 2: Mechanics
Chapter 5: Gears and Power Transmission Basics
Chapter 6: Chains and Pulleys
Chapter 7: Levers and Linkages
Chapter 8: Custom Mechanical Solutions
Chapter 9: The Lego Pneumatic System
Chapter 10: Pneumatic Devices
Chapter 11: Building Strong
Part 3: Motors
Chapter 12: An Inventory of Lego Motors
Chapter 13: Lego Power Functions System
Part 4: Advanced Mechanics
Chapter 14: Wheeled Steering Systems
Chapter 15: Wheeled Suspension Systems
Chapter 16: Tracked Vehicles and Suspensions
Chapter 17: Transmissions
Chapter 18: Adders and Subtractors
Part 5: Models
Chapter 19: Form vs. Function
Chapter 20: Scaling a Model
Chapter 21: The Modeling Process

The book is pretty much a mechanical engineering book, but with Lego. There aren't any step-by-step guides for any of the models. Instead, you learn the principles of how to build them yourself. Great resource for the Technic builder who desires a better understanding of how the mechanics behind the models work. I wish there was more to say about the title but it is pretty much a textbook-like approach to building, as shown here.

Obviously, it is great that you can take the mechanical engineering concepts and put them into brick. This helps to reinforce the different concepts, and the author does that well.

Someone at No Starch has clearly been busy procuring authors for Lego titles, with three separate books coming out in a short time period. The first book being appropriate for those interested in building the models/patterns of others. The second book offering the average builder a kick start to something greater. The third is the most technical of the bunch since it is specific to the Technic sets which involve motors, and really only appropriate for those who own Technic kits.

All three books come with a free ebook version of the same book. If you like dead-tree books, Amazon offers these titles at prices below the suggested retail price. For beginners, you might want to start with the more basic builder's guide first. Obviously, the Technic book is for fans of the motorized sets.
And now the giveaway. Thanks to No Starch Press, one lucky reader will receive The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. You have to the end of the year to enter to win.Good luck.

Win It!

1 lucky winner will receive the book The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide
This giveaway ends on January 1, 2013 at 12:00 am EST.
Open to the US only, ages 18+.
For more details read the complete rules and disclosure.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent this product in the hopes of a review. I received no compensation for this post.


  1. My son would love these books! Thanks for a great sweepstakes!

  2. My son loves to build things with legos and I never realized you could do as much with legos as you can. After visiting the Toys R Us in Times Square, I was amazed by what you can do.

  3. I do not have had the opportunity to read any of these books

  4. I think I would like the Lego Technic book best.

  5. the unofficial lego builders guide

  6. Lego Adventure book would be our favorite!


    selinda_mccumbers at

  7. the unofficial lego builder's guide is my favorite

  8. The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & More!

  9. I think the The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & More! sounds like a good one!

  10. the unoffical lego builders guide

  11. I'm thinking this one: The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide

  12. The Lego Builder's Guide!

  13. Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide! Less is MORE! Thanks for the chance!

  14. The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & More!

  15. The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & More!

  16. THe Lego System.

  17. I like The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide - it looks to have a lot of info without being over whelming

  18. I think my husband would like the Builder's Guide.

  19. The Lego Adventure book, have to love dinosaurs.

  20. The Lego Adventure Book (Corey Olomon)

  21. the lego adventure book souunds the best to me.
    ufg8trj at yahoo

  22. My favorite is the Unofficial Lego's builder guide. My son, a lego addict would love this book as he likes to build his own projects, like a candy dispenser that works etc.
    terri.moore 30 @ yahoo dot com

  23. I think The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide is my fave because we pan to buy some Technic once the boys are old enough, and I think we'll need a guide.

  24. The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide

  25. The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & More!

  26. The Lego book with castles would be great.

  27. I like the Lego Adventure Book!

  28. The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide is my favorit. Thanks for the giveaway.

  29. The unofficial lego builders guide would be a blast for my cousins and my daughter

  30. My son would love The Lego Adventure Book

  31. The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide

  32. The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide (2nd Edition)

  33. The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide

  34. The lego builder's guide - thanks :)
    Tamar Swe RC/FB

  35. The Lego Adventure Book

  36. The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1: Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs & More! - My boys would LOVE any of them though
    -Katharine Davis

  37. The Lego Adventure Book looks more our level - but we're working our way up!

  38. My sons would like all of them, however I would probably do best with the adventure book lol

  39. The lego adventure book looks fun, thank you ,

  40. The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide sounds the best for me!

    Maggie True Armstrong
    maggie at pdclarion dot com

  41. The unofficial lego builders guide. Thanks chaselhoff at usa dot net

  42. THe unofficial Lego builders guide

  43. The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide (2nd Edition)

  44. The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide (2nd Edition)

  45. The Lego Adventure Book. Thanks!

  46. Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide
    annabella @ centurytel dot net

  47. LOVE the Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide (2nd Edition) :)

    ktgonyea at

  48. The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide

  49. The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide sounds really awesome!