I'm a lifelong LEGO enthusiast, and my bestselling book 'The LEGO Architect' was released in 2015. The book teaches 7 popular architectural styles using LEGO, and is available in 10 languages. (Learn more at https://brickarchitect.com/book)

To continue engaging with my readers, I created the Brick Architect website (https://brickarchitect.com). It's packed with news, reviews, and geeky articles about the most common LEGO Parts/Colors, and more.

I've also created a ton of great resources to help you organize, sort, and store your LEGO collection. (This is a particularly relevant topic right now… A lot of people who are stuck at home finally have enough time to organize their LEGO collections!)

The 'LEGO Storage Guide' is a free 8 chapter e-book that helps you understand your LEGO collection, find the best way to organize your LEGO bricks, and discover the best LEGO storage for your home and budget. LINK: https://brickarchitect.com/guide/

'LEGO Brick Labels' includes more than 1000 labels for the most common LEGO pieces, including basic brick/plate/tile, specialty parts, and a wide range of Technic parts. LINK: https://brickarchitect.com/labels/

But enough about me... What do you want to know?... Go ahead, Ask Me Anything! —Tom Alphin

My Proof: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-dYjSkJOlw/

Thank you for the amazing response to my first AMA!

I've answered almost all of your fantastic questions, but it's time to stop.

Until next time... Happy Building!


—Tom Alphin

Comments: 556 • Responses: 95  • Date: 

Killasadra392 karma

What is the best LEGO build you have ever done and how long did it take?

tomalphin484 karma

My favorite official LEGO set was #10188 Death Star, because it features most of the iconic scenes from my favorite Star Wars movie (A New Hope > Empire Strikes Back, don't get me started!)

The most satisfying model I designed was probably the commissioned model of the Really Useful Products factory, because I was able to build it live over four days and teach people about LEGO while building it. There's a great video of the project here: https://vimeo.com/293151252

Macnrayna613 karma

My son came home from kindergarten one day to inform us he wanted the LEGO Death Star. In turn I explained to him what saving and budgeting was. 😆. A few weeks later I watched him put something he wanted to buy back on the shelf and slide his money back Into his pocket. “What are you doing?” “Saving for my Death Star” he said.

A year and a half later he walked into the LEGO store and paid cash for it.

It took us 28 hours to build.

That was 7 years ago. Over the years he had scavenged parts of it. A few months ago he decided to repair it. That took about 20 more hours just to find the pieces in the thousands of other pieces and $117 on purchased bricks for what we couldn’t find. Oops. Lesson learned.

These were some of the best dad and son moments we have ever had.

Now we need to organize the rest of his miscellaneous pieces.

Thanks for the Ebooks. They should help.

tomalphin18 karma

That's amazing! I can't wait to build real LEGO sets with my son, and design and build our own creations.

(In the meantime, I'll keep building towers out of Quatro, and let him channel his inner Godzilla to destroy them.)

CrazyMoonlander8 karma

That CEO seems like a really wholesome dude.

tomalphin20 karma

Mike Pickles not only had an awesome name, he is also a really great guy. He has a ton of energy, and is a really nice to everyone, too!

Biggeasy173 karma

How do you feel about the LEGO Masters show and the quality of the builds showcased therein?

tomalphin266 karma

Naturally, some of the builders are more talented than others, but I've been extremely impressed by many of the models they built.

Modest Spoiler Alert...

I do wish the Judges showed more respect for smaller, more intricate builds... (For example: "Beneath the Surface" model by Christian & Aaron in Episode 3 was fantastic, but not well received by the judges.)

Snuffleupagus0350 karma

As a lego novice I feel like there are nuances to the builds that I am completely missing. Is this accurate? Do you feel like the show communicates what’s going into the builds and what is there, or do you think someone like yourself is able to get more out of the show?

tomalphin40 karma

I'm sure I get more out of the show because of my intricate knowledge of the LEGO system of parts, and advanced building techniques.

That said, I like how every episode has included a short aside that teaches terminology and techniques which are common amongst advanced builders, but lesser known amongst the general population.

kickbut10113 karma

I had similar thoughts, that was the one that used the diving bell/helmet right? I thought that one was super thematical and pretty

tomalphin9 karma

Yup, that's the one!

Babe_Vigoda161 karma

Thank you got doing this! My kid has about 2 dozen 400+ piece sets combined into various tubs. How much human misery would be involved in sorting through these? Do we sort by set, color, or type?

tomalphin311 karma

The Struggle is real! Unless you need to sell the sets, I strongly recommend that you leave them unsorted (or sort them only a little), and focus on encouraging your kids to keep building custom creations!

These kinds of questions are why I wrote the LEGO Storage Guide. (Based on the size of your collection, the following chapter is probably going to help you most: CHAPTER 4: LEGO Storage for Medium Collections.)

Happy Sorting!

The0nionLordsButler76 karma

Have you ever stepped on a Lego brick? If so, how did it feel?

tomalphin84 karma

I like to build small, detailed models, so most of my collection is tiny parts like a 1×1 plate which is not all that painful to step on.

(I have never stepped on a 2×4 brick, but I've heard it's especially bad if it's sitting on carpet just right so one of the corners is pointed up.)

pm_me_ur_demotape6 karma

1x1? Is that just a nub?

tomalphin10 karma

Basically, yes. They make both square 1x1 plates, and rounded 1x1 plates.

(In the popular LEGO videogames by Tt Games, they incorrectly refer to the round ones as "studs", and purple ones are the most valuable. A stud is actually just the bump on every LEGO part which sticks up and has the word "LEGO" on it.)

cj_sloan69 karma

Hey I know this guy!

So Tom, would you say you have had a lifelong relationship with LEGO? What’s your earliest LEGO memory?

tomalphin81 karma

I honestly can't remember not having LEGO, so that makes it harder to answer.

A few of my favorite childhood memories building with LEGO include:

  • Building a massive moon base, where each room was built using bricks of a different color.
  • Building a model of the 1960's McDonalds Restauraunt with the arches on either side.
    (The model was inspired by the McDonalds ad on the back of the National Geographic issue which had a hologram on the cover.)
  • Building a huge town, then filming terrible stop motion videos by quickly pressing record, then stop on a VHS-C camcorder.

P.S. Hi CJ!

manwatchingfire67 karma

What is the most rare LEGO piece of all?

How many bananas does your collection weigh?

tomalphin121 karma

Based on a very rough back-of-napkin estimate...

  1. a banana weight about 3.7 ounces, so let's just say:
    4 bananas / lb
  2. I have 15 large drawers, and a fairly typical drawer weighed 15.6 pounds.
    15 × ~15 = 225lbs
  3. I suspect the total collection is 2.5 times that, due to built models, smaller parts stored in other cabinets, etc...
    225 × 2.5 = 562.5lbs
  4. Since there are about 4 bananas per pound...
    562.5 × 4 = 2250 bananas.

My guess is that this is a slight overestimate, but either way, I can feed a lot of monkeys.

April 8, 2020: On closer look, I only have six 'large' drawers, and six ½-sized 'small' drawers.
Revised estimate: 9 × 15lbs = 135 lbs; 135 × 2.5 = 337.5 lbs; 337.5 × 4 = 1350 bananas

manwatchingfire33 karma

Thank you for your thought and consideration. With this information the world seems like a slightly less scary place.

tomalphin23 karma

At this moment in world history, that's honestly all I really hoped to offer by doing this AMA. Have a beautiful day.

DaBlueCaboose10 karma

How many LEGO Bananas do you have?

tomalphin25 karma

I will have to look in the Banana drawer. 🤔

tomalphin9 karma

Upon further examination, I do not have a banana drawer. Thankfully, I do have two bananas in my minifig display case.... (col330 is a banana, and col071 comes with a banana)

I do have a Carrot drawer, which contains four carrots, and about a dozen carrot tops.

BLMdidHarambe35 karma

Since he didn’t answer about rare bricks, here’s an interesting link.


The marbled bricks are, I believe, super rare and valuable, due to them being made unofficially with official molds.

tomalphin60 karma

I was distracted by banana math...

I don't know which part is most rare, but I can say with confidence that this is the rarest set I own:

#21038 Las Vegas Skyline (with Mandalay Bay Hotel)

worthalter7 karma

Do you think there is a warehouse where many of mint boxes of this model are resting forever? Serious question.

tomalphin8 karma

I doubt it... I suspect that the sets were destroyed. (Hopefully, the parts were recycled.)

notenoughroom3 karma

If you dont mind, how did you get a hold of one? I read that only 24 sets were ever sold and only in South Africa.

tomalphin6 karma

It's basically impossible. I'm pretty sure nobody has one that they are willing to sell at this time. (at least nobody that I know...)

You best bet is to build it digitally, or substitute some of the Pearl Gold parts with another color.

miyagi-sama67 karma

What's the deal with those "forbidden LEGO building techniques"?

tomalphin148 karma

There are a number of LEGO building techniques which "work" and are common within the LEGO Fan Community, but are not allowed in official LEGO sets for a variety of reasons. (strain on the plastic LEGO bricks, too difficult to remove the part later, etc...)

The following is the best overview of "illegal" building techniques that I've found: http://bramlambrecht.com/tmp/jamieberard-brickstress-bf06.pdf

AgentElman43 karma

Lego has a top tier of city building sets with lots of detail in the buildings, interiors, etc. But they also have plainer sets for lego city. How did the highly detailed sets come about? Have people been building like that on their own and Lego started doing it to?

tomalphin56 karma

That's right...

In the past 10 years or so, The LEGO Group has divided up their product line, with the familiar "LEGO City" line which are generally simpler sets for younger builders. They've created the fantastic "Creator 3-in-1" sets which are also aimed at younger builders, but with the added benefit of allowing you to build three models with the same pieces (a great value for parents.) Some of these sets have a little more intricate detailing, but nothing compared to the sets designed for older builders...

For older builders, there is the "Creator Expert" series, which includes the Modular Buidling series. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Berard about these products for older builders... (Jamie is one of the LEGO Masters Judge, and creator of the Modular Building Series)

LINKS: https://brickarchitect.com/2018/interview-lego-creator-expert-jamie-berard/ https://brickarchitect.com/2018/interview-modular-building-series-jamie-berard/

blindref42 karma

Have you figured out new building techniques to make your models work, or do you combine existing techniques when designing?

What is your current favourite LEGO released set?

tomalphin46 karma

I am constantly learning new building techniques from other builders, and by considering new ways to combine the many different LEGO elements. A great blog which focuses on this topic is https://www.newelementary.com/

Figuring out new techniques can also happen in my head... For example, I just saw this puzzle (by Ryan Howerter) while taking the baby for a walk yesterday... I "solved" the puzzle in my head while finishing the walk, and confirmed my solution using real bricks when I got home.

SoThenISays9 karma

Cool! How would you go about solving the said Instagram puzzle?

tomalphin8 karma

4085+20482 was my solution. There may be other solutions, too.

Bricklettuce26 karma

Tom, it’s Dave. Are you really bored right now?

tomalphin25 karma

Aren't we all? I've been "work from home" since Bricks Cascade, and I hate it!


P.S. How's life w/out a beard?

2lame4games25 karma

What are your favorite slang terms for specific LEGO bricks?

tomalphin49 karma

SNOT is probably the most fun slang term for "Studs Not On Top". The LEGO elements which allow you to build in all directions are my favorite parts, too,

One of the oldest parts that made SNOT building techniques is the 1×1 Headlight brick (part 4070), which is also called the "Erling Brick" because it was allegedly designed by Erling Dideriksen in 1979.

(Citation: https://bricks.stackexchange.com/questions/39/what-is-an-erling-brick)

toohumble122 karma

I love the labels you've created. How do get the images so clear and great looking?

tomalphin26 karma

I actually just updated the LEGO Brick Labels page last week to add a FAQ. This is what I said there...

The images were created using custom LDraw scripts that optimize the viewing angle and enhance the contrast of each part.

Ayy_2_Brute17 karma

Hey Tom,

When I was 12 my sister destroyed a whole town I'd built out of Lego. Could you scold her for me?


tomalphin45 karma


Your sister gave you an opportunity to build it bigger and better next time.

neuronexmachina16 karma

Your guides are focused on Lego, but how would they be the same/different for a toddler's Duplo collection of a couple hundred pieces?

tomalphin20 karma

As the parent of a 1 1/2 year old, this question is extremely relevant to me, too!

The obvious difference is scale - Duplo bricks are twice as big as equivalent LEGO bricks in all three dimensions (2^3=8 times larger by volume.)

(Likewise, The retired "Quatro" bricks are twice as big as Duplo)

That said, the bigger impact in building serious architectural models using Duplo are the more nuanced differences between the two systems:

  1. There are just two Duplo plates per brick, whereas there are three LEGO plates per brick.
  2. There are vastly fewer parts in Duplo... Most notably, there are no SNOT pieces so everything must be stacked vertically.
  3. Duplo focuses on bright colors which make less sense for architectural models.

For these reasons, trying to build architectural models with Quatro or Duplo is more like building pixel art, and less about integrating advanced building techniques. I tend to ignore the color of the bricks, since I don't have that much Duplo.

Good Luck, future architects!

Frothingdogscock16 karma

Do you judge when people say "legos" ?

tomalphin34 karma

Only if they're an established member of the AFOL community and should know better.

We're hard enough on ourselves..., why judge others for things that don't matter?

TrueFigure114 karma

Can you build a skyscraper with Gary Oldman in it?

tomalphin10 karma

One could...

dhenr33214 karma

How old were you when you decided that making things with LEGO would be come a career?

tomalphin37 karma

It actually hasn't happened! LEGO remains a vibrant hobby business (or "side hustle" in the current vernacular).

My day job is as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. (Specifically, I'm a Program Manager on the Windows team, focused on using Storytelling techniques to deliver better features for our customers and make our team more effective.)

crystalmerchant4 karma

Hey good to hear this! I feel like this day-job approach is a much more relatable and realistic path to remaining closely involved with Lego as an adult, as opposed to "drop everything and earn a viable income by only building Lego" 😁 (which, obviously, would be ideal)

tomalphin6 karma

It is clearly possible to make LEGO your career, but it would be a long road to catch up with my income as a software engineer. (I'm also worried that making it a full time job would diminish the joy I get from building LEGO projects.)

marcuzt13 karma

Do you have kids/family? And if you do, is it a shared interest and sharing of all the LEGO bricks?

tomalphin18 karma

I do! My wife is patient with my hobby, and my 1 1/2 year old son likes to destroy the towers I build for him using Quatro bricks. (He is almost old enough to switch to Duplo.)

Vollkorntoastbrot12 karma

What's your opinion on Lego robotics competitions like the First Lego league and the World Robot Olympiad? I myself have learned a lot from competing and got the chance to fly to Costa Rica once (and almost Thailand, Philippines and Kanada).

tomalphin16 karma

I'm enthusiastic about any program that can encourage kids to develop STEM skills and consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics.

The FIRST LEGO league didn't exist when I was a kid, but I bet I would have loved it!

TrueFigure110 karma

Can you build me a Lego Gary Oldman?

tomalphin15 karma

I do commissioned projects, but focus on architectural subjects. (so, no....)

btecFM10 karma

How does one store Lego properly? Do you just build a big cube?

tomalphin15 karma

It's generally advised to store bricks loose, as they can reduce "clutch power" when stacked.

My LEGO Storage Guide is the best reference I've got for where/how to store your LEGO collection.

ellipses779 karma

Is it an expensive hobby? I’d imagine it would be very expensive to buy all the legos you need for a project. Do you just build up your collection of legos over many years?

tomalphin23 karma

If you want to build massive LEGO models, it can be quite expensive. If you prefer to build small intricate models, it's less of a problem.

You can always build models digitally using an app like BrickLink Studio which you can download for free. (After designing the model digitally, you can always order just the parts needed to make that model for display.)

ellipses778 karma

How did you get started on more serious LEGO building?

tomalphin16 karma

While I never completely stopped building LEGO, I went through my "darker ages" in late high school & college. The first sets which really captured my attention as an adult were the earliest sets in the LEGO Architecture series. Living in Seattle, the first one I bought was #21003 Seattle Space Needle.

A few years later, the #21050 LEGO Architecture Studio set was released, which got me excited about designing my own models. My first foray into LEGO blogging was my 30-day LEGO Architecture Studio Challenge, where I created 30 personal challenges based on the LEGO Architecture Studio set.

The following year, I was approached by a publisher about expanding on this topic in a future book. I quickly landed on the idea of a book which teaches popular architectural styles using LEGO, and the following year The LEGO Architect book was published by No Starch Press! (I honestly can't believe that the book is now available in 10 languages!)

Thanks for asking!

cuddle_cuddle8 karma

Let's ask the most important question non of us lego heads want to answer:
1) how much do you spend on lego? (per year)
2) do you tell your spouse the number truthfully?

tomalphin13 karma

  1. The LEGO Group provides free sets for sites like Brick Architect which write reviews, so I don't spend very much, actually.
  2. She sees my small business expenses/income at tax time,... so yes?

tonypearcern7 karma

How do you feel about Eggo waffles?

tomalphin11 karma

Our 1 1/2 year old son prefers the fancy pumpkin spice organic waffles, but I prefer that the Eggo waffles cost about 1/4 as much at Costco.

Los1man7 karma

Im a senior architecture student and love Lego architects. Would there ever be a Lego Duomo from Florence? Definitely would be a cool project

tomalphin11 karma

While that would be amazing, it will never be an official LEGO set because they refuse to build sets based on religious structures.

So_this_is6 karma

My daughter loves legos and has built some of the larger piece sets. The problem is for when we move. We heard of several families losing their builds during a move. Without having to “kragle” the build, how can preserve her pieces without damage?

tomalphin7 karma

It's well established that Kragle is evil, so I have two ideas:

  1. Take lots of photos, and disassemble the models to build something even more awesome after you move.
  2. If you want to re-build it just the same later, build instructions for the model using the BrickLink Studio app, or similar.

cjafe6 karma

My family in Denmark has a storage box of legos bought in the '70s, '80s, and '90s that I inherited. Do I sell or keep?

tomalphin10 karma

Do you need the money?

Classical_Bricks6 karma

I had the great opportunity to attend your talk at Bricks Cascade a few years ago (I've been displaying at Cascade and BrickCon for a number of years now). I was surprised to see your name scrolling through Reddit! As a fellow builder, one of my greatest struggles is sorting my collection effectively since I'm usually really limited on time. Do you have any sorting or storage recommendations for someone who has very little time on their hands to sort but has a fairly large collection?

tomalphin8 karma

Honestly, the biggest suggestion I can give for folks who don't have a lot of time to sort is to just get started, and start simple.

Focus on the initial sorting pass, where you sort a massive pile of unsorted bricks into simple groups like:

  • Bricks
  • Plates
  • Tiles
  • SNOT/Jumpers
  • Technic
  • Minifigs and Accessories
  • Wheels/tires
  • Slopes
  • Curved
  • etc...

Eventually, everything will be sorted into those groups, and you can decide if you want to sort even further.

cuddle_cuddle5 karma

Do you use STUD.io (or some other software) to model your build before building them? Or do you go with the feel?

tomalphin3 karma

For very large models, I will use 3D modeling software to design it in advance. This allows me to order exactly the right pieces to build the finished model.

For smaller models, I tend to build using actual bricks, although I don't mind substituting parts of the wrong color while building a prototype, then ordering parts of the correct color for the finished model.

Newer applications like BrickLink Studio are pretty good, so it's easier than ever to design the model without owning any LEGO bricks at all!

Hymn3315 karma

Off topic, but what is your opinion of K’Nex? I’m enjoying building roller coasters and large structures with them.

Also, what brand & model are the storage drawers in your Really Useful factory build video? (Not the boxes which are holding up your table which are obviously Really Useful Boxes.)

tomalphin3 karma

I have never built anything using K'Nex, but the large models I've seen on displays look pretty awesome. (ex: Window display I saw for a toy shop in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho).

These are the drawers I was using in the video: https://brickarchitect.com/2019/review-really-useful-scrapbook-drawers/

DrDDSAg5 karma

Amazing work, and thank you for the resources. For someone who desperately wants to get involved in this hobby, what beginning brick sets do you recommend? What advice do you have for getting started?

tomalphin6 karma

I used to recommend the excellent #21050 LEGO Architecture Studio set, but it's become quite expensive since it was retired in 2017.

If you want to buy the same set of bricks for a reasonable price (and all of the extra bricks needed to build every model in the book), you can check out this article I wrote:

I hope that helps you get started!

piercet_3dPrint4 karma

Ok Mr. Lego storage expert, i need a new container to store my legos in. What is the best lego stoeage container available?

tomalphin5 karma

Read my LEGO Storage Guide and all will be revealed!

LINK: https://brickarchitect.com/guide

(In all seriousness, if you don't find be an answer to this question in my guide, give me more details and I'll see what I can do!)

Lovecr4ft4 karma

What do you think of the "Lego serious play" method ? Is it legit?

tomalphin6 karma

I know that The LEGO Group has invested serious time and money into their education-focused products, and has a good reputation for incorporating user research in their design process.

That said, I have not researched the program enough to offer a educated opinion, I'm afraid...

Dr_ManFattan4 karma

What are your thoughts on Mega blocks?

tomalphin6 karma

They sound impressive. "Mega" sounds big.

OriginOfEnigma4 karma

How many LEGO pieces do you approximately own? Which one is considered the rarest?

tomalphin10 karma

Someone else asked about the rarest part I own, and I'm afraid I do not know.

Without repeating the "banana math" project I tacked about an hour ago, my best guess is around 250,000 pieces.

re6344 karma

What's your favorite model you had instructions for in LEGO Architect? I got the book a couple years ago along with my LEGO architecture studio and my personal favorite is the curtain wall building, especially because I have always liked Mies van der Rohe's work.

tomalphin5 karma

My favorite is probably the postmodern model that's based loosely on the work of Michael Graves. I love that the model has a roundroof line, which is not a common shape to recreate using LEGO. That was also my favorite chapter to write, because I had a preconceived notion when I started writing the book that postmodern architecture is bad, but discovered that there are some really beautiful examples of the style and it has something of a bad reputation.

(On further reflection, my own inclination to draw inspiration from history while exploring new forms suggests that if I were an architect, I would probably would have been a postmodern architect too.)

LoneStarSirLoin4 karma

Why are LEGO so expensive?

tomalphin5 karma

A complicated combination of capitalism, marketing, and supply and demand.

In other words, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

such-a-mensch3 karma


I think you would appreciate this. Just came across it today.

tomalphin4 karma

That's amazing. (I wish our president took the time to help kids understand their part in fighting the virus.)

Using stop-motion LEGO makes it even more impactful to kids!

ItisWhatItIs3453 karma

What is your process for bringing a design to a Lego construct? Do you use a computer program?

tomalphin3 karma

I have a large enough LEGO collection so I typically prototype a new model using real bricks. (That said, I rarely have enough of each part in the desired color, so I will use a different color until I can order the correct colors online.)

Digital modeling apps have gotten better, so it's easier than ever to design using a software app instead, I just don't prefer it.

UninspiredWriter3 karma

Stupid question. I pleayed Legos most of my childhood got tons of different sets: monorails, cities, Space Police, Medieval, Pirates. I remember I saved my money to go get the airport. But when I was about 15 years old, I stopped for different reasons, so my parents gave away my full box of legos. To be honest, it's being 25 years and I miss my box.

I think about going back in the hobby but I don't know if I'm too old or where to start? What would you suggest me?

tomalphin3 karma

LEGO is great for all ages. Read some reviews, and buy a set that sounds interesting to you...

If you get more involved... most cities have adult fan communities if you want to get more involved - the communities are called a LUG, or LEGO Users Group.

geburah3 karma

What is your opinion about TENTE?

tomalphin3 karma

I had not heard of TENTE until you asked this question (and I looked it up online - it's a plastic brick toy from Spain).

I have no opinion about TENTE.

smalltalkmakesmusic3 karma

how many legos does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?

tomalphin4 karma


PrivateSmiley3 karma

In your opinion, what is the best way to upsize a LEGO set if turning it into a custom build? (In example, robots, or making bigger buildings) ((If it’s in the book I’ll just have to order it!))

tomalphin3 karma

I do not have a lot of personal experience with this, but a popular approach is to buy two or three copies of a smaller set that your enjoy, and try to convert it to match the Modular Building series. There's a lot of great examples of this online.

AdmiralAkbar13 karma

For a question about boring adult architecture, who's your favorite architect, style, or school?

tomalphin9 karma

My two favorite architects are Frank Lloyd Wright (especially for the huge diversity of architectural styles he pioneered), and Santiago Calatrava (for his unmatched marriage of Art, Architecture, and Structural Engineering).

That said, I do not want to understate the tremendous value that local architects offer to communities around the world. They are best suited to interpret the latest trends in architectural design and material science to the unique aesthetic, emotional, and environmental needs of their communities.

Lastly, I want to mention that I am thrilled by the recent enthusiasm around Adaptive Reuse! Taking an older building and creatively re-purposing it for a new generation is a great way to respect our past while reducing our environmental impact! I hope this trend continues to flourish in the years to come.


Noob_kilzz3 karma

What is your favorite brick to build with?

tomalphin3 karma

1×1 Brick w/ Stud 1-side (Part 87087)

Robobvious3 karma

How have I been storing my LEGO pieces wrong?

Also LEGO with an s... LEGO’s, LEGOs, or LEGOS?

tomalphin4 karma

  1. probably.
  2. LEGO bricks.

CryztmaticEnigma3 karma

How often do you step on legos?

tomalphin5 karma

Very rarely, since my collection is well organized.

I do step on my toddler's Duplo frequently, because toddlers are monsters.

Firebird12823 karma

Whats your favorite LEGO video game?

tomalphin6 karma

That's an easy one! The open world that they created for The Lord of the Rings game was a huge step forward for the series, and was so much fun to explore!

That said, it's hard to understate how awesome the very first LEGO Star wars game was. Not only was the gameplay fun, but it had tons of funny Easter eggs. I hope the updated LEGO Star wars game coming out later this year is even better!

Affinity4203 karma

Why does the photo say, "Buy from Amazon?"

Favorite Lego set?

tomalphin3 karma

I think Reddit stripped that photo from my website, and I don't know how to fix it.

I had the most fun building 10188 Death Star. I bought a used copy for about 200$, and it was the first really big set I built.

Jacoboline3 karma

What's your favorite Lego brick to be added recently?

tomalphin6 karma

Here are a few of my recent favorites:

  • 1×1×2/3 Curved Top (part 49307)
  • Slope 45 Double (part 35464)
  • Minifig Candle (part 37762)
  • 1×1 Bracket (part 36841)
  • 1×3 Double Jumper (part 34103)
  • I love that they updated the Minfigure Bracket with better geometry (updated part 28974)
  • 53119

nyr12263 karma

How do you feel about LegoIdeas and how tf does ot work?

tomalphin5 karma

LEGO ideas is a very cool program which allows fans to submit their ideas to a website where people can vote for their favorite ideas. If the idea receives 10,000 votes, The LEGO group will consider turning that idea into a real set that you can buy in stores, and the designer of the set receives a commission for creating the idea.

My favorite thing about the program is that it forces The LEGO Group to explore more advanced building techniques and subject matters that they had not considered previously. Some of the sets that have been produced are absolutely amazing!

aoeuasdfaoeu3 karma

What is the best way to clean old LEGO? I’ve read a lot of conflicting information online.

tomalphin4 karma

I haven't done a lot of research, but I personally put dirty/used LEGO bricks in an old climbing harness bag that has a zippered closure, and throw it in the (clothing) washing machine.

TannedCroissant3 karma

My girlfriend buys me large Lego sets (UCS Slave 1, UCS snowspeeder) at Christmas. The stands are great but the Slave 1 is far easier to display because its more upright and takes up less space. Do Lego designers consider how larger models will be displayed when creating them or choosing what to make? I understood this question may be specific to UCS models

tomalphin3 karma

i'm afraid that I'm not sure...

AceDulxe3 karma

Thoughts on the huge price increase on Lego sets we have seen over the years?

tomalphin4 karma

The biggest reason that sets have gotten more expensive is that they include way more pieces than they used to...

The price per part hasn't changed much in 30 years, although I will admit that most modern sets include a lot more small parts than older sets did. This results in much more intricate models, but probably also allows The LEGO Group to keep sets at around $0.10 per part despite inflation.

nighttimeparadox3 karma

thoughts on the lego movie series? lego movie 2 and lego batman are my favorite ones

tomalphin7 karma

By far, the original LEGO Movie was my favorite. They created a truly innovative movie that explores the LEGO hobby through the lens of an adult fan and their child. (They certainly could have gotten away with making a shameless plug for their products. I'm glad they didn't.)

whatitdosentdo3 karma

Have you been on the TV show LEGO master? If not do you want to be or have plans to be?

tomalphin3 karma

I considered applying to the first season, but it didn't make sense with my schedule and I don't have an obvious building partner in mind.

I met a ton of the contestants at Bricks Cascade in Portland, it sounds like they had a lot of fun being on the show!

cuddle_cuddle3 karma

What are you working on this quarantine?

tomalphin4 karma

I talked about this in another answer, but my work is split between my work from home responsibilities at Microsoft, and updating Brick Architect to make the resources better for everyone else who is stuck at home organizing their Lego and building awesome things. (I do have a few sets that I'm looking forward to building soon, too!)

cuddle_cuddle3 karma

Huge fan, posted so many questions here already:
I LOVE your architecture! It has started a whole new journey for me. Now I work mainly on architecture and Technic automatons.

Other than lego architecture, what else is your passion? (lego or not lego related?)

tomalphin4 karma

Many of my favorite non-architecture sets have been those from the LEGO IDEAS series, because they tend to push the envelope in terms of advanced building techniques, and subject matters which have not been explored before...

In truth, I've collected quite a few hobbies over the years and struggle to let any of them go... Most of them involve travel, photography and the outdoors (ex: hiking/camping/climbing/cycling/mountaineering/snowboarding).

(Now that we have to stay at home, I've made sure to take a long walk, bike ride, or short run every day. Being outside is a great way for me to clear my mind.)

cuddle_cuddle3 karma

How do you keep your kids out of YOUR lego collection?
(Kid have her own bucket of bricks, still snoops MY lego! )

tomalphin3 karma

it's a work in progress... Since our son is only 1 1/2 years old, right now everything is either behind a closed door, or high enough that it's still out of reach.

iniquitouslegion3 karma

Did you become the expert on Lego storage, by stepping on too many? Then you said enough, was enough?

tomalphin5 karma

Nah, I haven't stepped on them very often.

My LEGO Storage Journey began with designing the LEGO Brick Labels which you can downlaod from my website. After that, I realized that there weren't any great resources on how to organize, sort, or Store your collection, so wrote the LEGO Storage Guide (based in part on a survey I sent out to hundreds of LEGO fans from around the world.)

tamcrc3 karma

Oh, an AMA from the author of a book I own and love! Nice! I've yet to get started on your models, but I plan on doing at least a couple during this quarantine. I'm an architect and LEGO enthusiast, so your book falls right into my (large) niche!

Have you gone to BIG's LEGO museum in Denmark? What do you think about the LEGO Architecture sets? What about the big LEGO Architecture blank modelling set?

tomalphin5 karma

I love the LEGO Architecture series as a whole, and own every set so far. (I still need to build 5 of the models...)

As I mentioned to another reader, the #21050 LEGO Architecture Studio set inspired me to write the book, so it has a special place in my heart.

And yes, I have visited "The LEGO House" museum designed by Bjarke Ingels. It's a pretty amazing place, which is way more interactive than I expected... Only one floor in the basement is a traditional museum with artifacts behind glass.

spamonstick3 karma

How does the Lego community feel about 3d printed Legos?

tomalphin5 karma

I do not know how the entire Lego community feels about 3D printed parts, but I can speak for my own limited experience that 3D printing technology is not nearly precise enough yet to equal the high quality and clutch power of injection molding which is used to create LEGO bricks.

I actually designed in 3D printed my own lego-like bricks many years ago. You can check it out at http://tomalphin.com/2013/11/lego-challenge-25-redesigning-lego-bricks-tomblox.html

pwns96783 karma

Hey Tom, are you familiar with the Porsche 911 GT3 RS 42056 . I have been looking forever for it but can't seem to know anywhere that still has them in Canada.

Also, why do you think legos are suitable for anyone between the ages of 3-99?

tomalphin4 karma

The set was retired several years ago, so you will have to buy it on Ebay or similar. If you don't mind, it will probably cheaper to buy a used one.

LEGO is suitable for anyone old enough to not choke on the pieces (hence 3+ years old...). The 99-year upper age limit is the subject of many memes.

ahappypoop2 karma

Have you watched any of the LEGO Masters show? Seems like that would be right up your alley, what do you think of the judges and builds from the show?

tomalphin2 karma

I replied to this question in another thread.

Gorthebon2 karma

What's better, Galidor or Znaps?

tomalphin11 karma

That's a deep cut for serious LEGO nerds... Hands down - Znaps!

(Galidor was a product that removed the "building" element from LEGO - all you did was snap the arms onto a pose-able figure. Znaps was a quirky LEGO building system that you can think of as Technic Junior, but never caught on because of the bulky and less versatile parts.)

Gorthebon4 karma

I had to ask a question, ya know to uh, figure out how much of a LEGO need u really are.

tomalphin3 karma

Did I pass the test?

99X1 karma

Have you watch the LEGO Masters show? specifically the episode where they build a city. Thoughts?

tomalphin2 karma

I answered this in a previous question.

Tristold1 karma

Top ten sets of all time? Favourite thing to do while building LEGO? (Ie. Having in the background either a film or music). And recommendations for the above. As well as dream movie (& game) building architecture?

tomalphin4 karma

Top 10 list is hard, so I'll just mention a few:

  1. #21050 LEGO Architecture Studio (since it inspired my book...)
  2. #10188 Death Star (mentioned earlier)
  3. #21005 Fallingwater, #21018 UN Headquarters, and #21039 Shanghai Skyline (some of my favorites from the LEGO Architecture series.)

I enjoy listening to music while building, or watching a TV show that doesn't require complete attention, like The Clone Wars.

monadoboyX1 karma

Do all of the building techniques in Lego translate to real life?

tomalphin6 karma

Certainly not... SNOT building techniques would not work in real-life without additional fasteners... (Friction alone isn't going to do the job.)

That said, many folks have suggested that part of the reason that "modular" construction techniques are so popular is due to the fact that so many people grew up building LEGO.

rhettsito1 karma

As a person who is fascinated by large cities, and loves building large and complicated, intricate LEGO sets with tons of pieces, what would you say is the best city building LEGO set for a person like me?

tomalphin2 karma

I think the best place to start would be to find the model in the LEGO architecture skyline series that's based on a city that you know and love. After using one of those as an introduction, the much greater level of detailing of sets in the LEGO creator expert series is probably another great option. (It's hard to know which specific set will resonate with you most, because I don't know what interests you.)

bwahaah-2 karma

What is a good age to introduce Lego to children? Also, are they eco-friendly?

tomalphin1 karma

Duplo is great for younger kids, and from what I understand, LEGO starts making sense around age 4.

That said, don't get caught up in trying to buy brand new sets and building it exactly following the instruction. The real magic is when kids (or adults) use their imagination to build something new.

Shwagoblin-3 karma

Why are Lego kits worth more then gold ?

tomalphin1 karma

Because that's how much people are willing to pay.