Sunday, September 11, 2022

And in the industrial corner...


Last -- and certainly not least -- we have Totally Normal Town's factory.

This factory is another one of the few buildings in Totally Normal Town that is wholly original and not inspired at all by any set.

Basically, I wanted to try my hand at a bit of engineering, so I built a working factory in which you can pour a bunch of studs from one of the four bins into the windowed tower, and then when you turn the gear on the back, the studs will ride along the two conveyor belts and into the bins on the ends.

One of the conveyor belts also has a mechanism that moves up and down as if to stamp or press the studs as they go by. All of these mechanisms run simultaneously when you turn the large black gear on the back.

The mechanism isn't perfect, but it works surprisingly well considering how complex it is.

I think if I make another similar factory in the future, I'll probably try to make some kind of drive train rather than making a long chain of gears in which each one drives the next one.

Overall it's a fun build though.

And once you graduate from Hogwarts, you can go to Space College!

 This incarnation of Totally Normal Town has one more school: Leo Deblin's Space College and Institute of Barbering!

This building is a reference to the very funny "Leo Deblin" series that Roy Wood Jr. did for the Daily Show. We even put a Little Caesars Pizza next door because in some of the sketches he says that it's right next to the Little Caesars.

I got the space college logo by taking a screenshot of the video.

This pair of buildings is based on the Bike Shop and Café set #31026 I mentioned earlier.

Since there's an ATM machine on one side, you can see Scrooge McDuck there getting some money with his 3 nephews -- plus lots of other entertaining characters inside and out!

Both of these buildings hinge open so you can see the interiors. Leo Deblin is in his space college wearing a blue space suit.

Hogwarts? But, of course!

No Totally Normal Town is complete without Hogwarts!

This Hogwarts building is an original design that includes some pieces from an actual Hogwarts set.

When I made it, I wanted to use these tall dark-blue columns for some reason, so I ended up with a color scheme that includes the normal Hogwarts color scheme plus some deep blues and light greys.

Ultimately, I think the chaotic color scheme in this case doesn't work, so I won't be too sad when "the Grim" takes this building.

We've gotten some more Hogwarts sets since this one was constructed, so I think we can make a better Hogwarts next time.

This building hinges open so that you can see the interior.

A Totally Normal Dojo!

 The dojo where my minifigure takes her Spinjitsu lessons is an original building, but it is (obviously) Ninjago-based.

In the very top section lives a lava-monster. The lava-monster is from the "Power Miners" series from the 2000's. Sadly, I think we lost most of our lava-monsters, but I thought it would be fun to put this one in a little lava pool at the top of the dojo.

 The lower two sections have screens that slide open, revealing secrets in the interior.

It looks like part of the left side of the dojo has been taken over by the "upside-down" from "Stranger Things."

In fact the whole dojo has been taken over by various monsters including an alien on the ground floor and Slenderman in the garden.

The back is similar to the front except that the panels don't slide open.

And there's a little garden on the side with a Ninjago-inspired tree. I'm including various photos below:

Surfin' the web in Totally Normal Town

 The Internet Café and co-working space is one of my favorite buildings in Totally Normal Town because it's one of the few buildings that is completely original and not at all inspired by commercially-available sets.

It has a lot of really cool details and design elements that work -- making it a fun building unlike anything you'll see in a typical Lego city.

When we first started rebuilding the city, we decided that we needed a nice place for our minifigures to surf the Internet (since that's what people do all day), so we set down a bunch of desks and computers (plus a coffee machine). Then Nico started building a wall all the way around the outside.

I really didn't want to have such a big building surrounded by a solid brick wall, though, so I gathered up a bunch of arches to make the outer walls entirely open windows.

Then, to make the wall/windows more interesting, I attached a bunch of neon-orange claw-like pieces kind of represent lights.

Since the building has such a large footprint, and since the interior is fun and interesting, I wanted to ensure that it stayed visible by keeping everything open. So, as with the walls, I created the suggestion of a glass roof by putting beams across the top, aligned with the irregular corners in the original footprint that Nico put down.

And I had some of the beams go up into a pyramid shape to give the impression of a dome, plus I added more little neon orange lights along the top.

(To be precise, the coffee machine is from a set, but the building is not.)

The building has three doorways and lots of minifigures busily working inside, including some friends from the Muppets and Harry Potter.

A couple of little buildings

 This tiny post office booth was loosely based on the ticket counter of the Totally Normal train station

I added our local Zürich post office logo as the sign.

There seems to be something growing on the roof -- it may be related to the fact that there's a Demogorgon working there.

Then there's a small recreation center that is inspired by set #31081: the Modular Skate House.

I thought it would be fun to have a place where all the kids could go to play ping-pong or basketball or do some climbing or skateboarding.

Lego towns seem to be very police-heavy, and I didn't really want that for my town. I wanted to focus on buildings that would make Totally Normal Town a fun place to live.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Straddling the Tectonic Plates

There are two buildings in Totally Normal Town that are built across the "tectonic plates". In other words, half of the building is built on one table and the other half is built on another.

These two buildings are the fire department and a building which contains a fancy restaurant above and a grocery store below.

I don't have all that much to say about the fire department because that one is essentially just the Creator set #10263, the "Winter Village Fire Station"

I modified it a bit because the back component was originally two wings off to the sides and the back was open. To fit the lot, I made it into a square building sliced in half. This modification was trickier than I expected, but not too difficult.

Unlike the "Winter Village Train Station" I didn't bother to remove the Winter/Christmas elements from this set, so this one building exists in a Winter/Christmas climate bubble, but, hey, that's totally normal, isn't it?

The other building is the one that's my own design, and I'm really pleased with it.

The striped roof is a serendipitous little design element. I wanted to make a roof with these steeply-sloped roof pieces, but I didn't have enough of any one color. If I had, I'd have done the whole roof in one color. 

As it is, I used all of the pieces I had, and just alternated them as best I could -- and I think it turned out nicer than it would have as a solid color.

You can see that people enter the restaurant by going up the stairs on the side -- where the menu is posted. This is very theoretical since it's not actually possible to open the restaurant door on the narrow balcony...

The restaurant is named "Chez François". This is  a reference to an old Bugs Bunny cartoon in which two French Chefs are fighting over who gets to cook and serve Bugs Bunny.

If you separate the tables and look inside, you can see François cooking -- as well as the cashier in the grocery store below (who is Joyce from "Stranger Things"):

On the other side you can see shelves of products on the ground floor as well as the restaurant host and some guests.