Wednesday, November 26, 2014

KFUO Lego Tribute

I wrote this up a few weeks ago for the beginning of KFUO's 90 days of celebrating 90 years of being the Messenger of Good News. Enjoy!
Introducing the KFUO 90th Anniversary Tribute
The tribute piece before you is made entirely out of Lego bricks, 1,223 pieces to be exact!
 It all began in August when KFUO Director, Rev. Rod Zwonitzer, first approached me with the idea of making a contribution out of Lego bricks for the upcoming anniversary festivities at KFUO.
 What a joy it was to have the opportunity to share one of my favorite childhood toys and hobbies with in service to the great work that KFUO continues to do as the messenger of Good News.

The Building Process
 Before describing each of the elements individually, let me briefly share with you the building process that began with paper and a little imagination, and finished with real Lego bricks.

 In sharing correspondence with Rev. Zwonitzer and the KFUO team we each came up with a variety of ideas: satellites and globes with headphones, lettering and the slogan for KFUO, and so forth. With my imagination in high gear, I started jotting down notes and making sketches. As you can tell from the photo, I am a much better Lego artist than I am a paper-and-pen artist. Anyhow, before long, these rough sketches turned into computer designs.
 Using a program called Lego Digital Designer (a free program from the Lego Group), I was able to create a list of pieces needed for final assembly, as well as a basic instruction manual to guide anyone who might want to build their own replica of the tribute project. Once the digital designs, the lists of pieces, and the instruction manuals were completed, I was then able to order the parts. A majority of the parts for the final build came from the Lego Pick-A-Brick website. However, a few of the more rare pieces (such as the gold on the microphone) had to be specially ordered from third party Lego retailers on EBay. After all the parts finally arrived it was time to prepare for the build. First, the pieces were sorted by color and size. Next, I used the electronic instructions from Lego Digital Design to construct the more complex components of the project. Finally, each completed component was placed onto its resting spot upon the white and black display frame before photographing and sending it off to St. Louis!
The Design Elements
 In order to accommodate all the fantastic ideas that we had come up with, I needed a platform for display. The lettering “KFUO.ORG” across the top ended up determining the size of the overall display frame and support system. Black and white colored bricks were chosen to highlight the contrast of the lettering as well as the other design elements once they were placed on top. The back of the display also bears the “90 YEARS” marking the occasion of the KFUO anniversary in boldness, reflecting the boldness of the Gospel proclamation. The lettering on the display also features the website as a quick reference for a visual reminder to check out the KFUO website. The smooth white surface on the bottom of the display was achieved by a technique known as Studs Not On Top (or SNOT for short). This gives it a clean look and provides a great backdrop for the other elements.

 After the backdrop was completed, the microphone was the next element to be designed. The inspiration for this micro-scale microphone came from the old, iconic KFUO mic, used by Rev. Walter Maier, the first voice of KFUO radio. The idea was to connect this important historical artifact to a tower showcasing the roots of KFUO radio and their pioneering work in proclaiming the Good News on the airwaves, and the technology used in broadcasting.

 In order to connect the microphone to the radio tower, the tower needed a platform. I constructed a simple greenway that would be the ground and landscape under the tower as well as the base for the crucifix. The platform features micro-scale trees and green grass designed to accent the radio tower.
 At first glance, the radio tower might appear to resemble every other ordinary radio transmitter. But actually, it was designed to reflect the original KFUO radio tower that still stands in operation on the grounds of Concordia Seminary St. Louis.

 In the foreground of the greenway, directly in front of the radio tower, stands the crucifix, giving a visual and theological focal point to the entire build. In the 90 years of its existence, the work of KFUO has been to proclaim Christ crucified and risen to all and for all. Christ crucified is the center of all we say and do in the Lutheran church, and it’s no different when it comes to Lutheran Lego projects. Despite its size and simplicity, this element was one of the most challenging to design. The balance that needed to be struck was between contrived and too abstract. For example, a Lego mini-figure on a cross would not fit with the over-all design, nor would it have displayed reverence. On the other hand, a plain cross, or one that was too stylized, would not communicate the message of Good News as clearly. So, I tried to stay with an artistic rendering of the cross while still designing a crucifix that clearly reflected our theology.
 After the challenge of the crucifix, the next biggest task was to include a globe capturing the “WORLDWIDE” slogan of Worldwide KFUO. Since Christ Jesus came into the world in order to die for the life of the world, it made sense to have a globe, pointing to the Good News that is broadcast worldwide from KFUO. In addition to the globe, we came up with the idea of having headphones and a satellite attached to it, giving a visual nod to the advance in broadcast technology over the years, as well as displaying the modern ways in which KFUO continues to be the messengers of good news in the 21st century. In other words, KFUO uses new technology, but clearly proclaims the same old, saving theology of the cross to all who tune in, no matter what technology or receiving device they're using.

 Finally, in front of the display and design elements rests a simple stand with the lettering depicting the KFUO slogan: “Worldwide KFUO.ORG. The Messenger of Good News since 1924.” These little tiles with lettering are also quite rare. However, they can be found in the Lego kit that is titled Lego Business Card Holder.
 In all the build used 1,223 pieces. And it was a ton of fun for me to design, build, and send this off for the KFUO 90th anniversary kick-off celebration. I pray that KFUO continues to be the messengers of Good News in the next 90 years as well.
Design Specs
 Background / Display Frame including lettering: 647 pieces.
 Microphone: 27 pieces.
 Radio Tower, Greenway, and Crucifix: 240 pieces.
 Globe w/ Headphones and Satellite: 236 pieces.
 Front Display Stand w/ Tiled Lettering: 73 pieces.
 Total: 1,223 pieces.
How Can I Build My Own?

This Lego build was designed and planned to be something that family and friends, supporters of KFUO, or anyone interested could download the building instructions and build either part or all of this display model. This would be even easier for someone who already has Lego bricks around the house. If followed, the instructions will make for a wonderful building experience and a delightful conversation piece when you’re finished. But, Lego instructions are also meant to be creative tools, allowing the builder to expand or make new creations, using different pieces, colors, or designs. My hope is that anyone who sets out to build any part of this tribute model will enjoy it as much as I have.
To View the Building Instructions (in HTML) click the following links below:
·         Microphone
When ordering Lego bricks for this project I used the following proprietors, though this is not an exhaustive list. Costs per piece may vary depending on the company, seller, and their location.
Follow the links below to visit the websites I used in constructing the KFUO Anniversary Build.
·         Lego Shop Pick A Brick
·         ToyPro Shop for Lego Parts, Minifigures, Sets, and Gear
·         EBay

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