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Cardinal sins with LEGO bricks... opinions sought (please!)

If I could borrow the Brickset hive mind for a few mins I'd be grateful. Just a bit of research for a blog post.

What, in your opinion, are the no-no's as far as physically affecting LEGO pieces are concerned?

Glueing pieces always elicits a sharp intake of breath, and taking a knife or a pair of scissors to something seems beyond the pale.

But which is worse?

Any what else? What about painting a piece a different colour? Or adding some detail with a permanent marker.

Don't need an essay, just any thoughts anyone has would be gratefully received.





  • plasmodiumplasmodium Member Posts: 1,956
    I would never glue a model unless it was for permanent (outdoor?) display (like the Legoland ones), and that's just a matter of practicality.

    As for glueing/cutting/painting bricks in order to make a piece that Lego doesn't, the artistic conscience in me thinks that you should try harder to create a solution with Lego's own bricks (I kinda feel it's cheating otherwise).

    That said, if done very well, custom decals and even dying bricks can create quite an effect, but I don't think I'd do it myself (not a matter of artistic conscience this time - I'm just too lazy).

    I look down on permanent marker-decorated pieces as a bit childish (probably from seeing too many Sharpied clone troopers on MOCpages). Mostly because it's incredibly difficult to make it look professional and tidy, I think.

    But it comes down a lot to artistic conscience, so it varies from person to person. I lean mostly towards purist, but as I may have said, if it looks really good (aesthetically and professionally done), I could probably accept it.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Member Posts: 4,260
    As @plasmodium says, I'd only ever glue a model if it was for permanent outdoor display.

    Likewise I consider cutting, drilling or otherwise modifying elements to be almost 'cheating' - part of the challenge to me is to find a way of doing what I want with the elements that are available.

    I don't mind custom decals, although I frown on STAMPs (I don't like them in official sets either). Painting bricks is, to me, also cheating - find a way to do what you want with the official elements!

    Mixing LEGO bricks with non-LEGO bricks is a cardinal sin to me.
  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    Personally, I don't like mixing Lego bricks with anything. I've seen a lot of people use carboard/tagboard to make backgrounds or "streets" underneath their sets. The same can be done with Lego, so I consider that to be a sin :)
  • akunthitaakunthita Member Posts: 1,038
    edited December 2013
    Nice topic! I look at it in another way though. For me LEGO is an articistic medium like paper, clay, wood, canvas, etc. It is mine to shape, color and mould it any way I want. Having said that, I do agree that few can do it with professional results. But the idea behind all modification of LEGO has to do with somebody having a creative spark and they act on it. I think it is worth following the spirit of creativity...(c:

    However it is also fun to stay within the system at times and consider LEGO as a puzzle to solve. It really depends on the individual and there is no right and wrong way. There are many very talented customizers who have taken LEGO to a whole new level, and in fact there are indications that LEGO is watching them and even takes inspiration from them.

    BTW, I have heard from someone who worked for LEGO as a designer that one of the questions asked when you apply for a job at LEGO is "Are you okay with cutting LEGO?" The right answer is "Yes". If LEGO designers would have always stayed within the current system we would have never gotten new LEGO elements and we would still be building with 2x2 and 2x4 bricks...(c;

    The same is true for gluing. LEGO designers and Master Builders do it all the time. For the artform of large sclupture building from LEGO it is neccessary. Again; art first, medium second. It is fun to work with any artistic medium and also continue to stretch its limits and possibilities. At least that's my take on it, but I'm an artist, so I'm biased in that direction....(c:
  • akunthitaakunthita Member Posts: 1,038
    edited December 2013
    As far as cardinal sin? I have read a feedback on Amazon on the Lone Ranger Stagecoach set that someone bought it, was disappointed that it was made of lots of small elements and threw the entire set in the garbage.

    Exact comment: "Pieces too small and very hard to put together. We threw it in the trash. Buyer beware." Link:

    That is just awful. I have read the comment a couple of weeks ago and I still think about it....)c:
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    edited December 2013
    If they are your bricks, do what you like with them.

    If you want to enter a competition, then make sure you stick to any rules - eg. whether the rules state only official lego pieces, or custom pieces allowed, etc.

    For me, the cardinal sin is not using them.
  • nkx1nkx1 Member Posts: 719

    As long as you don't pollute (i.e. throw them into the ocean) or use them in an otherwise unethical manner (i.e. make a gun and shoot someone), then there are no cardinal sins with Lego. They are yours, and you can do whatever you want with them!

    On that note, I am going to open one of my Maersk Train sets, throw the pieces into a blender and see what happens (jk).
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,757
    akunthita said:

    As far as cardinal sin? I have read a feedback on Amazon on the Lone Ranger Stagecoach set that someone bought it, was disappointed that it was made of lots of small elements and threw the entire set in the garbage.

    Exact comment: "Pieces too small and very hard to put together. We threw it in the trash. Buyer beware." Link:

    That is just awful. I have read the comment a couple of weeks ago and I still think about it....)c:

    All I can say about that Amazon commenter is 'Morons make this world interesting, don't they?'
  • dannyrwwdannyrww Member Posts: 1,394
    ummm... I like it when a set has lots of pieces. How does everyone feel about those stickers that come out that you can decorate your Lego pieces with to make zombies and such? at first I thought they were cool but then I thought I don't want to mess up my Lego stuff..I have a hard enough time with the stickers that come in the boxes for my Lord of the Rings sets
  • BumblepantsBumblepants Member Posts: 7,535
    Mixing Lego with off-brand bricks is a huge grievance in my book.
  • KiwiLegoMeisterKiwiLegoMeister Member Posts: 212
    Idly chewing pieces in your mouth; or using your teeth to separate blocks is a sin. Those teeth marks are permanent!
    Other sins: keeping broken blocks. Once they break, let them R.I.P(s).
    Non-Lego brands? Ditch them. Whenever I score a pile of second-hand bricks, I go through and toss the imposters.
    Removing hands from arms; arms from torsos, and individual legs from the combined leg piece is a no-no. Once they have been intentionally separated, they never fit back quite as well. I've got so many amputees ....
  • pricey73pricey73 Member Posts: 352
    To achieve what I wanted for this drum kit I cut the ends off the chrome antennas, then made little cuts then held over a toaster for ten seconds so as not to "burn" the piece to get the slight bend I wanted and as for the cymbals, sanded, primed and painted with antique gold paint and then had to hand write the Zildjian logo with the finest pen I could find. provided me with the bass drumskins.

    So yes, I'm ok with cutting, painting etc...........! I don't glue though.
    My Lego, surely I can do what ever I want to it to achieve the desired effect.
  • BooTheMightyHamsterBooTheMightyHamster Member Posts: 1,528
    Thanks all for replies - clearly some differences of opinion as to what's acceptable and what's not, but fascinating to hear people's thoughts.

  • DrLegOBrickDrLegOBrick Member Posts: 68
    Mixing fakes, binning Lego, eating it, burning it, chewing it, gluing it, and giving it to a Muppet like that Amazon customer. I've cut a pair of one of the many trillions of handcuffs, then painted them gold, and repeated the process, to make a custom Marvel Superheroes Captain Mar-Vel and Rick Jones. I've stickered torso's to make Star Trek and Superhero custom's. But any of them listed, I could never do.
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam Member Posts: 571
    To me the cardinal sins are any permanent modifications to any element that would be viewed as damage. Chief amongst those are cutting and gluing bricks.

    Cutting bricks really makes my skin crawl. It really represents a complete lack of creativity to me. There's very little that can't be done with existing Lego elements. Painting is same, a lack of creativity.

    A friend of mine and I tried to come up with a list of 10 Lego commandments in middle school. We only were only able to get 5 or 6. I'm only remembering 4 off hand; no cutting, no gluing, no painting and no clones.

  • backbencherbackbencher Member Posts: 16

    A note to nkx - I've not made a firearm out of 'em - yet. But I do use other brands, and I certainly use glue - just not enough yet...
  • ISDAvengerISDAvenger Member Posts: 205
    When I was a boy I got a Lego flower stuck up my nose. Had to go to the Doctor to get it pulled out. Did my fair share of chewing on Lego tires too.
  • khmellymelkhmellymel Member Posts: 1,313
    I've only ever painted Lego once, but it was necessary as I built a MOC for a friend's birthday of a Trials HD level - and featured a custom minifigure, "his" rider. All black except for trim on his bike and his helmet, which was bright, BRIGHT fushia pink. I was distraught even at the thought, nevermind how I made it through two little pieces! But afterward, it turned out to be okay actually, so I'm less adverse to it now... but still haven't done it since.
  • prof1515prof1515 Member Posts: 1,550

    What, in your opinion, are the no-no's as far as physically affecting LEGO pieces are concerned?

    The only prohibition involves modifying/damaging that which doesn't belong to you. Otherwise, if it's your brick you can paint, glue, sand, cut, melt or incinerate it. It's just a lump of plastic and if it's your plastic it's no one else's business what you do to it.
  • luckyrussluckyruss Member Posts: 872
    I found a 2x5 dark gray plate in a lot I bought from ebay once - haven't thrown it but never got round to using it! As a rule I generally steer clear of customising my own parts, but it highlights an issue that I find somewhat taboo - throwing any Lego part away!
  • bricktuarybricktuary Member Posts: 986
  • andyscouseandyscouse Member Posts: 365
    The main one for me is the heinous sin of throwing Lego away! Mind you, for my brother, that's a positive thing, as he gets a fair amount of Lego from his workplace that way!

    I think custom decals or printing can add to the effect *if done well*.
  • TheBigLegoskiTheBigLegoski Member Posts: 1,437
    My opinion on this subject is very similar to that of akunthita, which I think is very well expressed and explained by @akunthita
    "art first, medium second. It is fun to work with any artistic medium and also continue to stretch its limits and possibilities."
    I second her/his?! stance on this matter. The bricks you own are your bricks, so if you want to paint,cut, glue, melt them etcetera do as you please. Having said that, I completely understand people's reactions, when they cry out 'sacrilege & desecration' when they witness the result of someone butcher bricks which are so cherished and treasured by Lego fans. I sometimes have had such gut trenching feelings too when the results of other peoples modifications were not to my liking, but that is the risk involved with experimenting. You may not always be happy with your own results, and you cannot expect the 'purists' to appreciate what you have done, but that should not stop you from doing what you like.
    " the idea behind all modification of LEGO has to do with somebody having a creative spark and they act on it. I think it is worth following the spirit of creativity"
    Well spoken akunthita!

    The only modifications I myself have made (if you want to call it that) to some of my own Lego bricks, is using (pearl/metallic etc.) acrylic paint (for painting on canvas et cetera) to embellish helmets, and hats for my castle minifigs on a couple of occasions. When ever I build stuff, I suppose, I am pretty conventional, sticking to the possibilities the Lego system offers. But I can very well image 'cutting corners' when for instance you want to do something with LED lights, and for the wiring as well as the LEDs you have to cut holes, and indentations into your bricks etcetera.
  • pricey73pricey73 Member Posts: 352
    Why thank you @andyscouse.
    (My brother in Lego!)

    As for showing a lack if creativity, I don't think so, quite the opposite. do a great job anyway (I'll be in touch soon!).

  • programmerdanprogrammerdan Member Posts: 27
    I agree with the artistic viewpoint -- it's a medium for artistic expression, as a result there are few true rules other than the self-imposed -- I myself haven't modified any bricks because I don't have the skill to do so without the results being unusable. As such, I prefer to explore ways to achieve my desired modeling results without physically altering the bricks. I find this to be the best challenge for my skill sets -- not the only way to do things, but best for me.

    Also, I second the motion by KiwiLegoMeister -- if the brick is broken, let it die in peace. One of my cousins always kept his broken pieces, and it drove me crazy.
  • MorkManMorkMan Member Posts: 900
    I've broken the first two rules. And proud of it.
  • cycoduckcycoduck Member Posts: 22
    I've cut and glued Lego before, but to add to a Pinewood derby truck I was building as a trophy for the Cub Scouts. When you work with a wood base, gluing Lego is a necessary sacrifice (hot glue works wonders).
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation Member Posts: 5,572
    I have recently been experimenting by painting miniwigs with nail varnish. I found a gold-ish nail varnish when cleaning out my room and I decided to try giving some minifigs highlights :-)
    I'll try to get some decent pics later.
  • ShibShib Member Posts: 5,459
    im not a fan of custom painted stuff, especially when its custom minifies done specifically to sell. Minifigs are the main thing i display so I have had to explain to people who asked me what I've wanted for birthdays/christmas that they should steer clear of individual minifies of known characters because they might be custom jobs and in my eyes worthless.

    that said if you are making stuff for yourself, knock yourself out, do what you want.
    the only thing that sends a little shudder down my spine is when people mix lego with off brand bricks. I remember having a few off brand bricks as a child in my lego box and after a couple of failed attempts at using them in models throwing them away because they never stayed on properly.
  • rancorbaitrancorbait Member Posts: 1,842
    "late, as usual"

    Firstly, you can certainly do as you choose with your own Lego, but I might as well share my thoughts on the matter.

    I would never glue Lego, period. One of the very reasons LEGO is so awesome is because the models don't have to be permanent! When you're tired of your displays etc you simply disassemble them and build something else.

    Same with cutting or modifying parts, I agree with @plasmodium, while there are some pretty cool modded parts out there, I think it's better to just find a way around any problem you may have with building by using unaltered parts instead of modified, it's more of a challenge too which is always enjoyable.

    Painting, coloring, and making custom decals is different for me however, I think I have also seen far too many Sharpied clone troopers, and I don't think that permanent markers are the answer to coloring parts or minifigs as the color usually smudges and makes the piece or figure look quite sloppy. Custom decals are definitely a better alternative, and I wouldn't hesitate to use them if need be.

    Yes, definitely post pics @LostInTranslation! :o)
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