Wackyland . Beautiful yet ephemeral, like a rainbow or shooting star. . *sigh...*
It's a long story.
The origins of Wackyland can be found in Black Falcon's Watchtower. My niece (then three, now four), in wanting to play with it, made me realize I'd been taking a lot of building shortcuts with my MOCs -- as long as pictures of them looked good on a computer screen. Yes, Lego is a medium for creative expression, but it's also a toy, and not a lot of my MOCs would stand up to anyone actually playing with them.
So I decided I'd make a little playset to entertain my niece when she came to visit -- a few colorful, whimsical little buildings with no backs so she could move the minifigs around in them. For the most part the buildings were simple constructions, just glorified boxes, quick and fun to build... so before I knew it the planned "few" had turned into "quite a few." Then one day in summer as I was wondering what the heck I was going to bring to the upcoming BrickCon09, it hit me: make a landscape for the buildings and turn it into a playset village! At the very least it should be original, I thought, no one else there would have anything like it. And if you know me at all, you'll know that that sealed the deal.
Problem one: I came up with the idea so late in the game. It was going to be a struggle putting anything decent together in time, especially as I had no plan.
Problem two: With the number of buildings I had made, I did not have the parts to make any kind of cohesive landscape to fit them all. With some careful thought and planning I'd probably have found that I actually did... but I didn't have time for that.
Problem three: No room! My build area is a little cramped, and my build table measures 2 x 4 feet. It quickly became clear that the table was not going to be big enough to hold the entirety of my then-nameless playset village, if I managed to get everything I wanted built in time.
Undaunted, I started throwing stuff together. I scraped the bottom of my bins for green bricks and plates, and had to Bricklink more. Same with tiles in all colors. It wasn't enough. Any interesting-looking tablescrap became a candidate to fill space. I figured that as I had no shot at consistency in my landscape, enough random weirdness all mashed together might work as a whole. It was going to be silly, surreal, cartoonish -- what I seem to build best anyway.
I worked at completing things right to left, so however far I got by October 1st was what the finished product was going to be, like it or not. Here you see a very early stage in Wackyland's evolution:
Problem four: My niece is not quite old enough to appreciate all the effort I was putting into "her" playset. She likes playing with the minifigs and animals -- and as long as I was making all the silly voices for them, and letting her guys boss my guys around, she didn't care whether they had a nice Lego village to live in or not. She was perfectly happy moving them around on a bare table, a cardboard box, on the floor, on the furniture...
The playability factor took a hit as I realized this and it became "my" playset. All the trees and flowers I added were prone to being knocked over by excitable flailing four-year-old arms, but I'd switched focus -- from being a creation that would stand up to a small child's play, to what would look best when it was on display.
As I said, Wackyland was too big for my build table. From the houses on the right to the raised park with stage was all there was room for. When I'd finished that end I packed up everything to the right of the park, then slid the park complex over to the right edge of the table, and kept building out to the left. Wackyland was never completely intact in my home -- the only place it was ever together in its entirety was at BrickCon.
I did finish the layout itself just in time, but fell short in a few areas. All along I'd wanted furniture for every building -- didn't quite make it. And because I literally was still building up to the last possible second, I had (with the exception of a few scenes) no plan for minfig action going on in it. I ended up just taking my entire bin of minifig parts and paraphernalia so I could put people together at the Con. After all the time spent building, then breaking down and packing, then unpacking, and then reconstructing Wackyland, I was pretty well tired of dealing with it. Creatively burned out. So a lot of the minifigs that made it into the display just stand around pointlessly.
Since it was the only place Wackyland was going to be all together, the plan was to take all the pictures of it at the Con. But I generally have to take ten or fifteen photos to get one usable one, so a full Wackyland photo shoot would have taken hours. There were just too many cool MOCs by other people to take pictures of, not to mention folks to meet or reconnect with... And as they were hustling us out the door on Sunday, I couldn't be bothered to carefully pack the various components away like I'd brought them -- no, stuff just got tossed willy-nilly into boxes.
This gives you some idea of what I had to deal with when I got home: A ton of crap all piled onto the Blockheads' living room:
And this was what I dug out of that box to get to the minifigs underneath:
And there were three other big boxes in similar states of destruction and disarray to deal with, too. Even if I could have found the room somewhere, somehow, to rebuild and properly photograph Wackyland, the ungodly mess of it all now was enough to put me off that.
So what to do, what to do... Luckily I did get the bright idea while I was at the Con to take a few videos of Wackyland. It's far from an ideal way to present the thing, but better than nothing. Hopefully between the three of them you can get a decent look at everything worth looking at. So if you like occasionally unfocused, shaky handheld camerawork accompanied by funky music, boy howdy, have I got a treat for you!
It all started with the buildings, and they survived the trip home mostly intact. So you do get detail shots of what survived.
I think this was the first one built. Early on I was very much inspired by T-Brick's futuristic city and was going for a similar style, only simplified.
In comparing this to the early shot above you can see that I later added the purple eye tapestry thing and changed the floor pattern.
Every building has ceiling lights of some kind.
I said that my niece didn't appreciate the effort I put into all the buildings, but that isn't entirely true. She must have appreciated the "fancy house" at least, because she claimed it for her guys on every occasion we played with Wackyland.
The weird mosaic on the side (also a later addition to the initial build) is supposed to be a monkey. After seeing how much more upscale this house looked than any of the others, I thought it would be fun to subvert that a bit by giving it to the monkeys. But then I ended up putting the monkeys somewhere else.
A chandelier, and art on the wall -- yup, fancy-schmancy.
The castle (seen here minus its flags, as I have no idea what box they got tossed in) was intentionally simple, meant more to suggest a castle with as few pieces as possible than be an impressive building in its own right.
This was designed as a mostly open structure, since I was going for an overabundance of color throughout Wackyland, and the gray of castle walls seemed drab in comparison.
I always meant to change the lights in this one and ran out of time.
After these, I felt that I needed some smaller and simpler houses for the lower-income denizens of Wackyland to live in.
The smallest of the lot, but one of my favorites.
Kind of an odd one, not much else to say.
At first the checkered pattern on the sides was black and white and the roof was untiled, just the black plates. It looked more like a mechanic's shop, or a tire store, than a house. This bothered me a little... Wackyland wasn't going to have any cars. I decided that this would go on the extreme end of the layout, and if the groundwork didn't make it there in time, this one would be left out.
I had even put fluorescent-looking shop lights in the ceiling. Eventually of course, I did build out to here, and when I did I changed it to the multicolored checker pattern, which I liked much better.
I don't have a lot of purple bricks, but I had enough to build a small house. At first it was all purple, but it needed something. The white stripe was just the trick.
Now I needed a few middle-class homes -- not as nice as the first ones, but bigger than the little ones.
This one was fun, another of my personal faves. Given time, I'd have changed the floor pattern, though.
This is my least favorite. I always meant to ditch it and make a replacement (there was a windmill house in the works), but again, ran out of time. Tried the white stripe trick here as well, as it had worked so well on the purple house, but it didn't seem to have the same impact here.
Some other stuff...
The multicolored block things are maybe my favorite part of Wackyland. One of those "tablescraps to fill space" that really took off.
I like the first angle best. Anyone remember Bill the Cat? It looks sort of like Bill the Cat to me.
More filler. These could be configured in several different ways, some more stable than others. The way it was set up at BrickCon worked pretty well; I always expected to see these knocked over whenever I came by, but they stayed upright the whole time.
Detail of Wackyland's generic tree design. I don't know if it's clear, or if I can explain well, but the basic framework is just six of the big leaf pieces in a spiral, with other small leaf pieces added on to the top and wherever they were needed to fill in space in the middle.
I mentioned how I wanted to make furniture for every building and didn't quite make it, but here's what did get produced, along with a few other props:
And to wrap up this mess, the few detail pics I did take at BrickCon:
Aaaaaaand... one last video:
That's all I got. Now get out of here, I have months and months of sorting to do.