Ecce oculus: Behold the Eye

I don’t know what specific circle of Dork Nirvana I entered today.  As my friend Doug would say, “you’re embarrassing yourself.”  But here goes…

Confession:  I built a beholder out of my kids’ Legos.  (Sorry, Lego Bricks.)

"Hello there!"

It’s a first version, but after seemingly countless hours of trying to figure out how to do it, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

I’m especially proud of the eyestalks–I was stuck on a way to attach them, and figured out the Technics clips trick combined with the old Space laser guns.  I wish they’d all been white instead of gray, but I didn’t have ten white ones.  Each eye is a different color, though, which makes me very happy.  In a geeky sort of way.  Mayzie and Charlie spent dinner discussing which color went with which magic power.  Yes!

It's his good side.

So I’ll likely build another one, as I’m not especially pleased with the mouth or the back of the sphere.   But if I’m inspired, I’ll be trying a roper next, or a carrion crawler, or a rust monster.  I don’t have enough clear blocks for a big gelatinous cube, but I could make a mini-scale one.

All this came about because Charlie’s favorite new book is A Practical Guide to Monsters by Nina Hess.  (He’s got several of the Practical Guides, but this one’s his favorite. He calls it his “Chimera Book.”)

I do so love this book–it’s all the flavor of an old Monster Manual without all the stats and rules.  I remember when my best friend’s older brother got a copy of blue book Basic Dungeons & Dragons way back in ’81 or ’82.  I used to pore over the monster section for what seemed like hours.  The first hardback I got for AD&D was, of course, the Monster Manual, and I came to adore all the old first edition books–Fiend Folio  and Monster Manual II were also required reading.

What I love about Nina Hess’ Practical Guide is that it takes me back to those days, when I spent more time studying the manuals than I did playing the game.  In fact, the books seem intended to make the act of studying the monster lore central to the game (though I understand these are companion volumes to a series of YA novels).

I know it’s a gateway drug so my kid can want to learn about D&D.  I also got him a bunch of Super Hero Squad figures for Christmas, so I could induct him into the Marvel Universe as well…

The best thing, though, about the Hess book is undoubtedly the art.  It’s all full color, distinctive, and memorable.

Here's a killer rakshasa from Nina Hess' Practical Guide to Monsters.

This is the beholder image that Charlie obsesses over.

The cool thing is that as we began sorting our Legos after Christmas (yes, we sorted them by color…I know this is even worse on the geek-meter.  Hey, the Lego Ideas Book suggested we sort them!) Charlie said, “Let’s build a beholder.”  Coming from my four-year-old’s mouth, this was geeky music to my ears…

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