LEGO Dala Horses

Some of my heritage is Swedish, and I’ve always loved the simple beauty of the traditional Swedish Dala Horse.

Dala horse
One of my Dala horses

Originating from the province of Dalarna, the painted wooden horses were originally carved as toys for children, but gained wide popularity as souvenirs of Sweden at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. They continue to be collected and displayed proudly in homes today.

Recently I decided to see if I could come up with a simple and elegant LEGO representation of the Dala Horse:

Tan LEGO Dala Horse
Tan LEGO Dala Horse
Blue LEGO Dala Horse
Blue LEGO Dala Horse


Red LEGO Dala Horse
Red LEGO Dala Horse
LEGO Dala Horses
LEGO Dala Horses

And once I started building them I started looking for fun ways to decorate them. Soon I began making other variations and I was amazed at how much could be conveyed in the Dala horse form.

So, here’s my first batch of pop culture LEGO Dala horses! Enjoy!

LEGO Captain America Dala Horse
Captain America
LEGO AT-AT Walker Dala Horse
AT-AT Walker

LEGO Trojan Horse Dala Horse 1

LEGO Trojan Horse Dala Horse 2
Trojan Horse
LEGO Superman Dala Horse

LEGO Saturn V Dala Horse 1

LEGO Saturn V Dala Horse 2
Saturn V
LEGO Batman Dala Horse
LEGO Godzilla Dala Horse
LEGO Classic Space Dala Horse
LEGO Classic Space

LEGO Reindeer Dala Horse 1

LEGO Reindeer Dala Horse 2

I’ve got ideas for dozens of other LEGO Dala horses, so stay tuned!

Pint-Sized Pew Pew – 41 Tiny LEGO Spaceships

I have a huge LEGO collection. (It’s kind of ridiculous.) And while it’s fun having bin after bin of brick, all that plastic had pretty much filled my office. And, frankly, all the finding and sorting and organizing was making building more overwhelming than fun.

So I packed it all up and stored it away in my crawlspace, except for one medium sized bucket filled with random parts. Now I have some elbow room to write and draw again, and the limited number of available bricks has really spurred my creativity. And in that spirit, here’s 41 tiny little LEGO spaceships to show how much you can create with just a few pieces:

Tiny LEGO Spaceship #001
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #002
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #003
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #004
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #005
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #006
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #007
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #008
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #009
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #010
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #011
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #012
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #013
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #014
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #015
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #016
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #017
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #018
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #019
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #020
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #021
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #022
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #023
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #024
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #025
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #026
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #027
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #028
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #029
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #030
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #031
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #032
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #033
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #034
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #035
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #036
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #037
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #038
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #039
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #040
Tiny LEGO Spaceship #041

Not bad huh? And that medium bucket of bricks is still mostly full. I’ll post some more spaceships as I build them.

But if you’re still in the mood for more LEGO, , here’s some other stuff of mine you might like:




How I Made My Own LEGO Set with Custom Printing & Instructions

Andertoons Custom LEGO Set

Every year around Thanksgiving I send out a gift to clients, vendors, and prospects. I try to be creative and have sent stuff like:

  • Andertoons Hot Sauce (3 Flavors)
  • Cartoon engraved chocolate bars
  • Andertoons lunchboxes (Filled with Laffy Taffy, Snickers, and Chuckles)

But. as you might know, LEGO has a special place in my heart. (Check out my Pigeon, Catwoman, and A-Z Spaceships) So, after many years of consideration, and a few months of planning and execution, I finally achieved what I think is the best thing I’ve sent out yet – a custom LEGO set of me at my drafting table, complete with instructions and custom printed parts!

As I said, this took a while to figure out, so I thought I’d share with you, step by step, how I did it. Enjoy!


Custom LEGO Set Prototype

I’m quite fortunate in that, being an AFOL, I have a pretty sizable LEGO collection laying around. So I just dug in and started building.

I first tried some building with some brackets and hinges making the tilting drafting table and legs, but things never quite lined up right. Then I tried some modified plates and tiles, which worked better, but might have been more difficult for people who don’t build with LEGO as much as I do.  I finally landed on an easier to build design with traditional hinges and a simple, but quite accurate, lamp made out of just 4 pieces.

It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. And, more importantly, the pieces needed were available in the colors I wanted at a reasonable cost.

Buying Parts

Custom LEGO Set Bricklink

BrickLink is like LEGO heaven. It’s an unofficial marketplace where people can buy and sell nothing but LEGO pieces. Need a few hundred jumpers? Some plants to dress up your project? Looking for that rare white Boba Fett minifig? It’s all there.

To make things easier, I created a wanted list and sorted for quantity, condition, and location. I ended up ordering from 16 different vendors (including 1 in Norway) and waited for my parts to arrive.

Custom Printing

Custom LEGO Set Custom Printing

Every summer my son and I go to Brickworld here in Chicago. It’s a great place to chat with other LEGO builders, share ideas, marvel at their creations, and do some shopping.

In recent years there’s been an explosion of custom items including some high quality and very LEGO-esque custom printing. One of my favorites is Citizen Brick, not just for the quality of their printing, but for their sense of humor.

I contacted them about printing two different pieces for me: a modified tile for the table top, and a minifig torso. Their pricing was quite reasonable, so all that was left was for me to deliver the images I wanted printed.

I already had my logo in an EPS format, but the cartoon required taking some line art from Photoshop into Illustrator and tinkering with Live Trace until it was just right. After sending over the files and waiting a few weeks, Citizen Brick delivered some really terrific custom printed pieces that look like LEGO might have done them themselves.



The other daunting obstacle was creating instructions the recipients could use to build the set themselves. After a bit of research I found a really informative post at Bskog that got me 95% of the way there.

I had some familiarity with Bricksmith, but I needed to update my parts as I was missing the famous cheese wedge for some reason. After recreating my model step by step, I saved it moved onto familiarizing myself with LPub.

LPub took a bit to set up. I downloaded LDView and told LPub where it was, but the LDraw root directory path had me stymied for a while. I eventually located the LDraw parts.lst here, saved it, copied it to the correct location in Bricksmith, and directed LPub to it. (More info here.)

But once LPub was set up and I tinkered with the configuration, it produced a really beautiful set of PDF instructions!

Then I created a cover and back cover in Photoshop, sent the whole thing over to SmartPress, and I had my instructions soon after.


Custom LEGO Set Sticker

Now that I had my standard parts, my custom parts, and my instructions, it was on to the packaging.

I ordered a couple different sample boxes from Uline as I wanted one box for the set, and another for shipping. I settled on their S-15138 for the set, and S-16648 for shipping and they fit perfectly. I also ordered some 2 Mil poly bags to protect the custom printed pieces in transit, and contain all the pieces in the box, just like LEGO does it.

Then it was back to Photoshop to create the image for the outside of the box, which took a while to get just right. After some research I chose Sticker Mule to print up the rather large stickers, and they arrived about a week later.


Custom LEGO Set Assembly

Once I had everything I needed from all the different vendors, I set up in our family room and assembled everything over about two weeks in the evening while watching TV with my wife.

Putting all the pieces in the poly bags was probably the worst part as I was constantly paranoid about the possibility of missing a part. So every time I started putting in a new part, I checked the bag for the last part I had put in to make sure I hadn’t missed it.

There are only 25 pieces in total, and some of the pieces repeat, but it was probably 15 rounds or so of counting, filling, checking, etc…

Then there was the box assembly, sticker application, packing the piece bags and instructions, and then more boxing to put the whole thing together. Whew!


Custom LEGO Set Shipping

I used Endicia to print up all my shipping, and after a few trips to various local post offices, all of my custom LEGO sets were on their way.

My hope is that clients and vendors will really enjoy a unique gift, and that my prospects will be sufficiently surprised by the whole thing that I get some press and/or some new business. But mostly it was a really fun challenge from beginning to end, and I finally got to create my very own custom LEGO set!

Here’s a few more pics for you. Enjoy:

Andertoons Custom LEGO Set
Andertoons Custom LEGO Set
Andertoons Custom LEGO Set
Andertoons Custom LEGO Set
Andertoons Custom LEGO Set
Andertoons Custom LEGO Set

San Diego Vacation 2014

The family and I just returned from an amazing week-long vacation in beautiful San Diego so I thought I’d share a few (OK, a lot) of pictures. Enjoy:



Loved these guys, and even the cacti behind them enjoyed the music.


Um, wow.


The animal sculptures in the Adventurer’s Club were amazing!


This polar bear comes right at you! Look out!


This wolf in Fairy Tale Brook is determined to get some bacon.


Loved him checking his iPhone!


Part of the Las Vegas section of Miniland, probably our favorite part of the park.


A Miniland New Orleans jazz funeral.


Love the stilt walkers in this parade!


The architecture stuff in Miniland is pretty amazing. Even my wife was checking out some of the techniques used.


This is part of the new Star Wars section of Miniland, although it looks like it could be from the movie.


Unbelievable, right?!


Love the little mini-Luke!


Laugh it up, fuzz-brick.


Aren’t these great?!


Part of the Enchanted Walk we found after gorging on Granny’s apple fries. (OMG!)


Loved the LEGO details on the walls while waiting to get into Pharaoh’s Revenge!



The scenery here was just amazing. I took so many pictures!


Lighthouses are an Anderson family vacation fave.

Birch Aquarium


Not too many pics here (mostly fishtanks inside), but this statue outside was incredible.

Botanic Garden


We went here on Father’s Day figuring LEGOLand, the Midway and the zoo would be crowded, and we largely had the place to ourselves.


I don’t know what these are, but wow!


So pretty!


Here’s me relaxing. Ahhh….


What a great way to spend the morning!

Museum of Making Music


This place was such a little gem! We adored everything about it. I mean, you start out with a piano desk! PIANO DESK!


The brass player in me was soooo happy.


Trombones! WOO!


Did you know Steinway made a special piano during the war? Neat huh?


OMG, I had that exact Fender Rhodes.


For whatever reason, my 8-year-old daughter is really into the banjo, and they actually had a special banjo exhibition going.

San Diego Zoo


And of course we went to the zoo! That’s a red panda being uncooperative.


We went right to the panda section as soon as it opened and spent loads of time there before it got crowded. So nice!


Dust bath!


The capybara is one of my daughter’s favorite animals, and the zoo had tons of them!




Loved this sun bear just hanging out.


These were super loud. Every time they made a noise I jumped.

Petco Park


Another little gem. The 90 minute tour was fascinating! We ate a picnic lunch next to the wiffle ball field outside.

Children’s Pool Beach


This was the last thing we saw and it was an amazing way to end the trip. Look at all the seals! Wild seals! Right there!


This guy seemed to love having his picture taken.

Well, that’s it. That’s not even everything we saw and I took hundreds more pictures, but I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our trip.

LEGO Zombie Spaceship Powered By Brains

Recently I’ve been working on a series of LEGO spaceships based on the months of the year. So, with the Walking Dead starting up again soon and Halloween on the horizon, I present October – The Brainpower! (Click on the pics for larger images.)

LEGO Zombie Spaceship 1

It’s orange, of course, and piloted by a space zombie. Want a closer look? OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

LEGO Zombie Spaceship 2

The Brainpower actually runs on 12 LEGO brains built right into its twin engines. And there’s one more brain in a jar toward the rear in case our pilot wants a snack.

LEGO Zombie Spaceship 3

Apparently brainpower glows an eerie green. (Also, I was especially happy to be able to work the new orange brick separator into this model.)

LEGO Zombie Spaceship 4

Side view! Pew pew!

LEGO Zombie Spaceship 5

If you’re flying through space and you see this in your rear view space mirror, hit the gas!

LEGO Zombie Spaceship 6

Braaaaaiiiiinnnnnsss…  ZOOOOM!

And here’s one last long view:

LEGO Zombie Spaceship 7

So there you have my LEGO Zombie Spaceship! If you want to see it super huge, check it out over at Flickr.

Wanna see some of my other LEGO projects? Here’s a few you might like: