After attending a LEGO camp recently, my son returned excited about LEGO Technic sets and pieces. Having near-zero knowledge about LEGO (let alone Technic), I looked for an introductory book to classic LEGO and picked up the 2nd edition of The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide by Allan Bedford.
Helpfully, the book first deals with the vocabulary. What I generally referred to as bricks are actually pieces and they can be bricks, plates, slopes, arches, tiles, panels, cylinders, cones and baseplates. Those knobs on top of the pieces are studs and the tubes underneath lock with the studs to lock the pieces together. There are lots of general stats in the book that can be useful while building: for example, 3 plates when stacked equal the height of a brick.
There are various ways to connect bricks: stacking, overlapping, or staggering. The author also shows how to strengthen structures by bracing using beams and columns.
LEGO structures can be built at many scales. The most common is the minifig scale, where structures match the world a minifig would live in. A larger scale, used in creating LEGO cities in exhibitions, is the miniland scale. Surprisingly, you would need to create Minecraft-like humans from pieces at this scale. The biggest is the macroscale, where you essentially create gigantic pieces from the original pieces and build with those. Something more practical seems to be microscale, where you go smaller than minifig scale to approximate large real-world structures in just a few pieces.
The book also introduces various other creative ways to use LEGO, to create facades, or sculptures or mosaics. There is also a brickopedia at the end which provides part numbers, uses and historical information about the most commonly used 300 pieces. I was quite surprised to see that the original sets from 1958 had all the pieces we typically use even today!
This book is from No Starch Press and it had their typical stamp of great quality, beautiful illustrations, photos and 3D renders of models and pieces. The book being unofficial, gave the author the freedom to speak from his experience and clearly share pros and cons of techniques, pieces, sets and such. This book was great to read along with my son and we both had a blast formally learning all the basic vocabulary, techniques and possibilities of the LEGO classic pieces and sets.