This is a review of the book Steampunk LEGO by Guy Himber. It is a visually stimulating look at the creative possibilities within the LEGO world using the innovative theme found in Steampunk. Steampunk is a balanced mixture of Science Fiction and Fantasy typically brought together in an alternate Victorian era. The artistic process used in building LEGO objects is a perfect medium for presenting ideas on the Steampunk stage.
For those who have read my reviews in the past, you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for all that is Steampunk. I’d like to think my literary criticisms have helped influence readers new to the genre while reinforcing the devotion by those already familiar to it. In the same perspective, I’d also like to claim a sort of expertise regarding the children’s construction toy known as the LEGO. I’ve stepped on enough stray plastic pieces in the dark of night to earn a painful badge of intimacy with the product. So when the opportunity came to review a book from No Starch Press dealing with both of these creative entities together, I jumped at the chance.
Though he is an award winning LEGO builder, the credentials of Guy Himber go far beyond the medium of plastic bricks. Himber is also established in animatronics and makeup effects in many popular films including Edward Scissorhands, Stargate and Independence Day (one of my top-ten favorite SF films, I might add). So to say he knows his stuff is an understatement.
Now don’t open this book with the delusion that Himber created ALL of the works presented. This is a collaboration of many talented artists, and Himber was so kind to bring them together in a cohesive display of what outsiders might consider madness, but fans will recognize as sheer genius. This is not boasting. This is just an observation from somebody who found it difficult to put this book down.
What will you find in Steampunk LEGO? Brilliant creations that stimulate ideas of the Steampunk world and allows the reader to see deeper into the stories that make up the genre. One creation by Himber (aka: V&A Steamworks) is a “steam-powered electrical” train titled “Edison’s Bane” with an image of Tesla in the corner just to drive home the point. Sure the images of the creations throughout the book are beautiful, but stories and dedication to the overall theme is what makes this book appeal to the dedicated fans.
There are also some innovative recreations of objects not normally found in the Steampunk world, but fit nicely once the gear and cog touch are added. There are many references to Star Wars that cannot go unnoticed. “The Ambler” by Kevin Ryhal has an uncanny resemblance of an Imperial AT-AT and the steam powered “Falcon of the Millennium” is the spitting image of a ship made famous by a certain nurf herder.
There are also come classic science fiction ideas revisited by this Steampunk world that will bring back wonderful memories and maybe create some new ones. One in particular is the “Terrequad” by Florian Schwab. Billed as a mobile headquarters used by commanders as they oversee the battlefield, this tall stick figured machine is an image that could have been torn right from the pages of H.G. Wells story War of the Worlds.
Steampunk LEGO by Guy Himber is a visually stimulating coffee table book that will spend little time on the coffee table. The difficulty I had retrieving it from my nine year old in order to write this review is testament to the appeal it will have to fans of Steampunk and Science Fiction in general, regardless of age. It may not be endorsed by the Lego Group, but it is a wonderful representative of the product as well as the genre of Steampunk.