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SlyOwl

The BrickGun Book - Review

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Looks like DLuders pipped me to this, but hey-ho.

Review: The BrickGun Book

Book Information


Name:
The BrickGun Book: Build the World's Most Realistic LEGO Handguns

Author: Jeff Boen

Publisher:
No Starch Press

Release:
May 2013

Pages:
232

ISBN:
9781593274900

Price:
US $29.95
|
US $23.95 (E-Book)

Links: Amazon ~ No Starch Press ~ Brickgun.com

BrickGun


The author Jeff Boen's first Lego pistol went viral when he posted it on LUGNET in 1999 - and since then has created his own website, selling CAD instructions (and even kits) for various Lego guns. He claims they are "the world's most realistic Lego handguns" - and they invariably feature functional triggers, hammers and so forth. BrickGun has now published its first book, in collaboration with No Starch Press, well known for their geek-books, including an ever expanding range of Lego titles. The BrickGun Book contains instructions for five of Jeff's most popular models.

Given the controversial nature of the book's content, it's worth the caveat I'm reviewing this from a builder's perspective, not a gun aficionado's. I'm not entirely comfortable building realistic guns - but at the same time, my mates thought they were cool (and very... playable) when they saw them.

I was expecting the guns to actually fire (bricks or rubber bands) when I first saw the book - so was a bit disappointed that they don't, but actually rather liked it in the end.

The Book


brickgun01.jpg

The book is as high quality as I've come to expect from No-Starch-Press. The cover is matt, soft-backed - and is showing a few signs of wear and tear after having it in my rucksack for a week's holiday... The book is very clear throughout, black text on white/grey pages, with the majority of images created in LDRaw.

It begins with a warning about the dangers of functional weapons (the only one here which actually fires is the MAC-11 rubber-band gun) and not to take them out in public without attaching an orange tip to the muzzle. Which is very sensible.

There's a brief introduction to the book, followed by a set of helpful building tips. Some are insultingly simple ("ensure that pieces are completely and firmly attached"), others more useful ("use a pencil tip to attach rubber bands"). There's also tips on how to read the instructions - which may be useful for people not familiar with Lego. Finally, there's some useful websites recommended (Bricklink, MOCpages, LUGNET, LDraw) - and a history of Jeff's development of the five BrickGuns in the book, along with some design considerations.

The rest of the book is simply five sets of instructions for the different guns:

BG22 with magazine (22-series pistol)

92FS (Beretta pistol)

Desert Eagle

1911 (M1911 pistol)

MAC-11 rubber-band (machine pistol)

(at least that's what I can work them out to be - Jeff seems to have his own naming system, BG presumably standing for BrickGun)

The Instructions


These follow the same format for each gun.

  • Written parts list - quantity, part #, colour, description - I imagine this is for buying parts if necessary
  • Pictorial parts list - very clear, I used this for picking out the parts needed
  • Set of instructions, typically lasting 80 steps or so, using 200-300 parts. They follow a logical format, nearly identical to official Lego instructions, with similar arrows, parts-boxes, call-outs, sub-assemblies etc.
  • A demonstration of the functions of the gun. I found this quite confusing, as I didn't know what each part was supposed to represent - some text here would have really helped.

The Build


I built the Desert Eagle and MAC-11. The MAC-11 is significantly different from the rest in terms of design and function, but the other four seem relatively similar.

The build typically follows a handle-mechanism-barrel-details pattern, with various large sub-assemblies coming together around 2/3 of the way through the build.

The techniques used are generally straightforward - there is some SNOT, offset building and Technic in there, but nothing at all complicated. Each gun mainly consists of bricks and plates, with a handful of Technic parts and a fair few slopes/tiles/decorative parts, almost entirely in black and grey. I found I had 95% of the parts in the right colours, but was able to easily sub in a few parts when I didn't have the right ones. The parts feel very 90's (especially the Technic parts) - they're all well established parts. Both finger and click hinges are used, though I subbed out the latter as I didn't have them.

Desert Eagle


I built this first, as it was the only gun I'd actually heard of:

" And the fact that you've got "Replica" written on the side of your guns. And the fact that I've got "Desert Eagle .50" written on the side of mine, should precipitate your balls into shrinking, along with your presence. Now f*** off!"

bg.deserteagle01.jpg

As above, it's mainly bricks and plates. I swapped in some light grey for black so I had the right parts. Apparently these guns come in all sorts of colours, so I felt free to chop and change.

bg.deserteagle02.jpg

First, we build the handle, nothing fancy here. The mechanism comes together easily, and is sturdy from the off.

bg.deserteagle03.jpg

Et voila. Took about 30 minutes to build once I had the parts in front of me. It looks fairly good, fits in the hand well. The grey stripe down the side is my own addition.

iwi_classic_desert_eagle-tfb.jpg

Compared to an actual Desert Eagle, it doesn't entirely live up to its claim of being "the world's most realistic handgun" - I'm sure I could do better given a bit of time - though the techniques and parts would get more complicated...

bg.deserteagle04.jpg

This part slides back, and the Technic beam flips up to lock it in place. I imagine this is some kind of magazine...

bg.deserteagle05.jpg

The hammer at the back can be pulled back, which will be released by pulling the trigger. It makes an unsatisfactory click - perhaps I needed stronger rubber bands? The safety catch at the top prevents the trigger being pulled.

Final thoughts on this build? It was fairly fun, looks passable and the parts move realistically, I'm sure. It's a bit on the fragile side - the macaroni brick section and back of the hammer tend to fall off - as does the handle under moderate shaking. So not for playing with in a bellicose manner.

MAC-11 Rubber Band Gun

I chose to build this as it was very different from the other guns in the book. I also have made semi-automatic rubber band guns in the past, and was interested to see how this would compare.

The build is again fairly straightforward, though it feels more like a 90's Technic model than a gun at times. There's some neat stuff going on in the handle using brackets, to allow the magazine to slot in.

bg.mac01.jpg

I think it would probably look better all in black - again, I had to swap some grey bits in. It doesn't feel as cleanly finished as the other builds - mainly as the top is built upside-down!

bg.mac02.jpg

The magazine is held in by friction - it slides in and out very satisfyingly. The bullets are a nice little detail.

bg.mac03.jpg

It takes up to five rubber bands easily - though I tried it with eight and it just about managed. They don't shoot all that far or with that much power compared to others I have built - but then again, they are not stretched over a very long distance over the barrel. It works with a simple escapement mechanism - though one would probably need to add another band or two to the trigger restoring part, as it tends to stick in place when loading. The mechanism seems strong, and was pleasantly surprising to see it all slot together so neatly: I didn't have particularly high hopes.

bg.mac04.jpg

View mid-load. It can be a bit fiddly to get the rubber bands onto the rotating bar at the back.

Final thoughts? I enjoyed building this, it works fairly well - the magazine in particular is great. I was impressed.

Final Thoughts...

This isn't a book I would have bought: I'm not into guns, I like to build my own thing - and it's not all that cheap.

That said, if you're looking to build realistic Lego handguns, this is a good starting point - they'd be easy to modify to look better (tile the tops...). I think it would make a good present for the right friend - or as a handy way of filling up an hour or two on a rainy day.

The book, presentation and instructions are all top notch - kudos to No Starch Press.

Barney

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