Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 at 11:07pm by Benjamin, BZPower Reporter
When you want to add a little pizazz to your LEGO display but just can not find a suitable LEGO piece for the finishing touch, third-party vendors offer many solutions for the extra bit of detail. Unlike supporting a clone-brand and buying from one of TLG's competitors, brands like Brick Forge, Brick Mania, and Crazy Bricks keep the spirit in the LEGO hobby. The latter company has just produced what we're reviewing today: Custom parts based on the wacky Munchkin card game! Funded through Kickstarter, should you be keeping an eye out for these online soon? Read on to find out! There is also a special interview with the creator, Guy Himber!
The idea comes from Guy Himber, creator of the Crazy Bricks minifig-compatible line of accessories. After projects like skull, pig and cow heads, he partnered with Munchkin creator Steve Jackson to merge the Munchkin and LEGO worlds. The result is a fascinating and bizarre array of weapons, hats, and animals to outfit and weird-out your minifigs. The Kickstarter reached its $60,000 goal in the first day of the project, and reached all its stretch goals for additional parts.
Like what you see here? Crazy Bricks will be at Brick World Chicago this weekend (public hours June 20-21) with a limited amount of Munchkin Bricks for sale, along with new pieces based on the Mouse Guard comic series. Munchkin Bricks are expected to be for sale later this year on CrazyBricks.com.
Munchkin itself is a card game that twists classic fantasy and role-playing tropes into silly and meta cards full of characters, monsters, weapons, and anything else one might find on a quest. Later editions venture into space, the wild west, and other genres. Players are encouraged to “Kill the monster, steal the treasure, stab your buddy,” all to level up and win the game, but you'll be laughing the whole time as you help friends out just before cursing them. That level of inspiration lends itself well to the minifig expression.
What comes in the lot?
My Kickstarter package arrived with two different chosen colored sets of all the pieces, along with a few extra goodies. I'll also share playing card counterparts to expand on the level of detail put into each piece.
There were quite a few choices for what colors to get through the Kickstarter. I went with green and brown because I felt they would work well with multiple pieces in terms of realism—the Duck of Doom, Cthulhu, Munchkinomicon, Shoulder Dragon, and Rat on a Stick in particular. Everything else being in an “odd” color just adds some fun to the parts. I also got a 1x8 “Munchkin Bricks” brick and a handful of miscellaneously colored prototype parts. Overall it was a lot more than I expected when the Kickstarter began!
The custom pieces are based on various cards found in several versions of the Munchkin games and booster packs. They are recognizable by fans of the game, but wacky enough that anyone can appreciate the farce being portrayed by their fantasy role play nature. You'll also see here two LEGO-like cards—a bookmark and monster enhancer. The bookmark will give the owner a special one-time power in the game, while the now-official card is based on a classic and beloved monster.
Here also are a few more pieces I do not own the cards for, from left to right: The Unnatural Axe, the Triple-Barrel Shotgun, the Shoulder Dragon, and the Chibi Cthulhu. The Shoulder Dragon, as you see below, actually rests on the minifig's wrist, but Crazy Bricks also offers a straight arm piece to replace your minifig's arms which will allow it to sit like a pirate's parrot.
Combining the Munchkin Bricks with other minifig tools like armor and swords give you a full array of battle-ready supplies when looking for monsters and treasure. The Munchkin pointy helmet really completes the look with the rubber spikes—this particular item was a stretch goal for the Kickstarter as achieving this look needed a more molds than most parts, along with the rubber bits. The cleric mitre headgear is also a neat piece to give some class to your Munchkin minifigs. The chainsaw actually says “Orc-B-Gone,” and the Munchkinomicon opens up to reveal its +5 bonus. The Unnatural Axe really helps round out the collection with its manic face ready do some damage, and the Chibi Cthulhu adds a little “awww” factor when fighting monsters. The details put into all the parts, like giving the Triple-Barrel Shotgun a more interesting steampunk look, show that the Kickstarter contribution was well worth it.
My only complaint is that the handles of all of these parts, the portion where the minifig grabs a hold, is just slightly thicker than official LEGO parts. I resolved to only use yellow and flesh minifig hands, something common in my collection, so no rarer hands would be ever-so-slightly stretched, but it was a disappointment. Better a firm hold than being too less, though.
How did Munchkin Bricks come into creation?
At BrickFair VA 2014, I was able to spend some time with Himber and chat with him about Munchkin, his LEGO history, and his skill with custom parts.
Himber has been an active AFOL since 2008's BrickCon in Seattle, WA. He also built when he was younger, but his son introduced him to the online AFOL scene and BrickCon really immersed him into the adult fan world. His steampunk MOCs on Flickr were then posted to The Brothers Brick, reaffirming his skill after winning awards at BrickCon.
He started his minifig customization accessories with a pig and cow heads crowdsourcing project for BrickCon 2013's Pigs vs Cows theme, then made another successful project with the skull heads with a Guy Fawkes mask as a stretch goal. But his attention to detail comes from his career as a special effects supervisor of various movies, most notably working on the armored Anubis and Ra helmets on 1993's Stargate.
More recently, he really wanted to make the Munchkin Bricks as he is a fan of the game and a friend of its creator, Steve Jackson. Learning from a previous LEGO-related crowdfunding project, where LEGO told him to stop with the project or face legal issues, he got all the necessary legal permissions from Jackson and the game company.
“I always liked playing the game and I had become friends with Steve Jackson a couple years ago, and we talked about it and it worked out well and I licensed it out from him,” said Himber. “If you're ever going to do something licensed or a real theme that someone owns the rights to, you really need to license it because you need to be fair and respectful to the person that created it, plus that way you aren't going to get in trouble either.” You don't want to be “that guy.”
Himber's favorite item is the Cleric Miter. He says there is a need for a pope/bishop hat for medieval creations.
Says Himber, “It's silly, but I like the mitre, the pope hat. I chose the pope hat because I thought it would be cool to make, and to have a pope hat in the LEGO world. And people received it a lot better than I thought it would.”
Kevin is ready to kick open some dungeon doors!
Thank you to Himber for the interview, and especially for the high-quality parts he has made. These are going to be tons of fun to include in LEGO vignettes, character displays, game nights, and Munchkin campaigns. I've already shown some friends, and they love the parts. There are plenty to choose from to make numerous character minifigs utilizing the pieces with official LEGO weaponry. They are another impressive selection among the various third-party LEGO accessories. I look forward to seeing these go on sale for the public and the next project to come from Crazy Bricks.
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