About a year and a half ago I emerged from my Lego “dark age”. In the time since then, my largest struggle as a MOC builder has been parts usage. Unlike most of the community I have never used bricklink. Because of this my builds (with the exception of a PAB cup and a few Rogue One sets) have been up to this point sourced from my preexisting collection. I needed to learn how to maximize the pieces and bricks I already had. The limitations of my collection have made me a passionate advocate for the term I have coined “Brick Conservation”.
Initially my MOCs were what I would now consider fairly basic. At the time I was pretty proud of the quality- but also knew I could improve. Despite my plain building style I did have several significant engineering achievements. I learned the in and outs of using “filler brick”; using rainbow bricks to fill and support mountains, buildings ect. And the ability to make stronger, taller builds with technic beams and supports. During this time I also started “conserving” the detail and structural bricks I had to stretch my Lego resources as far as possible.
It wasn’t until the end of summer of 2017 I truly became determined to push my building to the next level. My builds were not necessarily bad, but I wasn’t going to do any better as a builder if I continued to not push myself. At this point I still had bags of unsorted Lego I needed to sort. It was during the few weeks of sorting I started to realize the potential my limited collection had. There were pieces I had never even considered using that I soon found could be extremely useful. Since then I have fallen in love with Lego clips and flick- fire- missiles. The limited bricks I had definitely shaped my builds. I experimented with genres and landscapes that worked with the colors I had. Currently one of my most defining styles has taken advantage of nearly my entire collection.
Turning to the urban landscapes of Star Wars and other “Retro- Future” themes allowed me to use colors that would seem out of place elsewhere. I have never had enough white bricks or plates to build Hoth; green plants to build Endor; or various shades of tan to build Tatooine. In fact like most novice builders, it seemed I had too little of everything to build anything. I did have a fair amount of light and dark grey- but I definitely did not want to return to building the clone bases of my childhood. Ultimately I found that building the diverse and abstract cities of the Star Wars universe was the perfect solution to my problem. My most recent build demonstrates my concept of brick conservation perfectly. I began by using the big ugly bricks at the bottom to create a stable structure, before sparingly using certain colors. From that point I may have been carried away because my incredibly detailed tower ended up two feet wide and nearly six feet tall.
I’m still in the process of experimenting with what I can and cannot build with my limited collection. Even though I have made huge improvements, my style needs to continue to be something that I refine. I can also confidently say that despite collection limitations, using pieces sparingly and effectively can make for some very impressive techniques and builds. As of now I think one of the best things a builder can do is learn how to creatively use what they have already.