Chess Set . Elbowing my way in to an already crowded niche. . Made for one of this year's April Fool's Day pranks on The Brothers Brick, where you may have seen it. As Nannan put it when contacting me about being involved, he needed a collection of "expert level" MOCs by various builders, which should not be immediately recognizable as that builder's particular style. I don't know whether I have an obviously distinctive building style, and I'm quite sure I'm not an "expert level" builder, but this is what I came up with.
There are a lot of Lego chess sets out there, both official offerings from the company, and fan-built. These can easily be divided into two categories: those which feature minifigs as pieces, and those which use more "classical" brickbuilt pieces, usually approximating the Staunton style. I decided to go the classical route for two reasons. One, I find it easier to tell at a glance exactly what the pieces are that way; and two, it seemed a better way to hide whatever building signature I might have -- there would be less personality showing through.
In hunting through Brickshelf to see what had been done before in the way of chess sets, I found to my surprise that SNOTed board surfaces were nonexistent, or at least a hard-to-find rarity. The ones I saw either used tiles if the board was smooth, or they just went with studs to stick the pieces to. To further set mine apart I used a black and blue color scheme, which I had not seen done.
King - The crown on the king piece was originally designed as the queen. But it seemed somehow masculine, and then when I made the other style it definitely looked more feminine, so the spiky one became the king.
Queen - My king and queen are exactly the same height, but the queen looks slightly taller. This is just fine with me because she's the real power on the board. Pansy-ass king, hiding behind his woman!
Rook - The first version was made with cylinders (because Staunton rooks are round) but I didn't like how it looked. Then I went with stacked 1x2 bricks to square it off -- I like the square rook, it seems a good approximation of its movement in the game -- but thought the sides looked a bit boring. Using 1x1's instead added a bit more texture to the sides.
Knight - By far the hardest piece to design. The first iteration was way too big -- my rule was no piece could be taller than the king and queen. Then began the laborious process of trying to shrink it down while still looking kind of like the Staunton horsey. Eventually I got to this design I was happy with (working in light blay) and then thought: wait, do I have that hinge plate top in dark blay? Does it even exist in that color?! The answers were no, and no. This is why the knights have "collars" of black or blue. It's still the bulkiest piece on the board -- maybe I should have kept whittling it down and gotten it to a one-wide design.
Bishop - Another fair bit of trouble to design. Staunton bishops have coneheads to represent the mitre they wear. (Strangely phallic headgear for a guy who's had celibacy forced upon him -- "This is to remind you of your real phallus, which you must never, ever use. Except to urinate. And you know that if it was possible to ban you from doing that too, we would." But I digress.) Using the cone on top in my Lego piece would make it look like a rocket, or at best the tin woodsman from the Wizard of Oz. So then I thought, I'll retain the cone in the piece, but since a bishop is a church rank (if the pope is a general, cardinals are colonels, and bishops are majors or captains), I'll top them with crosses. This would also serve to disguise me as the builder, since I have made no secret of my disdain for religion elsewhere. Like just above.
Another note on the bishops: the light blay cones used here are on loan from the Sir Nadroj collection. Let me explain...
I found I had no light blay 2x2x2 cones. I used light gray ones as placeholders, but they would be noticeable and ugly in pictures. Off to Cracklink to make a small order which included the light blay cones. This was March 9th, plenty of time for a project that needed to be finished and photographed before the end of the month.
March 16th - The status on my Bricklink orders page still says "paid," not "shipped." After an email to the store owner politely asking for my stuff that I paid for a week ago, please, they deign to ship it out. So what do I find a few days later when the package finally arrives? The two cones they sent were not light blay as listed -- they were light friggin' GRAY! Miserable bastards!
Because they sat on my order for a week, I was now short on time to get the pieces in the proper color. I did not want to make another Bricklink order. It's ten or fifteen cents worth of parts, but it's a couple bucks shipping, so I'd have to order at least a few bucks worth of stuff from the store to make it seem worth my while. And then what if they were also slow to get it out to me, or colorblind as well and I got sent light gray again?
So I sent out a distress signal at Builders Lounge asking to borrow two 2x2x2 light blay cones, which I would send back after photos were taken, or send something else back if a trade was preferable and could be worked out. Jordan immediately came to my aid, and fired the pieces right out to me. Not only is he a Lego prodigy, ladies and gentlemen, he's my hero of the day, a knight in ABS armor rescuing AFOLs in distress.
Postscript: The store had no light blay cones to make it right so they refunded the cost of my entire order, all eight bucks worth. Which, since I did manage to procure the properly colored cones in time for the scheduled photo session, I was disposed to regard as more than fair restitution. Which is also why that store gets its name mercifully withheld in this writeup. I have to admit I was pretty pissed at first, though.
Pawn - It took about two seconds to come up with that pawn design. That's all I have to say about that. After reading about the epic saga of the bishop, you wouldn't want a big longwinded thing about the pawn anyway, even if there was one.
At the base in each side you can see indentations, where there are reverse slopes: fingerholds, to lift the board up. I thought about making a base to go underneath, to store the pieces in, but didn't. That might have pushed this to "expert level."
The final irony? For someone as intelligent as I like to think I am, I'm a really lousy chess player.