Tag Archives: LEGO

Astoria Lego designer featured in new documentary

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Astoria resident Cody Wells is building his dreams one Lego piece at a time.

Wells is the Lego designer behind the company C3Brix — which specializes in Lego mosaics, portraits, models and figures — and in the past year, he has seen an increase in success, including being featured in the documentary “A LEGO Brickumentary.”

His love for Legos started at a very young age, when out of fear of ghosts, he created a “Ghostbusters” ghost trap. Since then he realized that if he could imagine it then he could build it.

However, transforming his passion into a job didn’t happen until a few years ago when he was still in his home state of Missouri and was facing a difficult time in his life. He created with Legos as a way to keep himself happy and started noticing that after showing his creations to regulars at a local restaurant he worked at, that he was getting attention.

“I wasn’t making any money out of it; I was just doing it for fun,” Wells said. “I started pulling out the Lego and I’m like, ‘I think I got something here.’ It’s the only thing that makes me happy.”

At the same time, he met Katie Proctor, an actress from New York City and now his fiancée, who stopped at the restaurant. After showing her one of his Lego creations — a DeLorean — on their first date, she suggested that if he was going to create Legos as a job that he should move to New York.

So in 2011, Wells made the move to Astoria and began studying everything that had to do with Legos and also pieces that could work with Legos such as Mega Bloks, Laser Pegs and Kre-O.

“I wanted to know every piece ever made so if someone says I want that made, I can make it the best that’s capably, humanly possible,” he said.

A turning point in his life happened when he took a trip to the Lego store at Rockefeller Center and asked for one of his WALL-E figures to be put on display in its window. There he found out that the window was reserved for the Lego user group I LUG NY.

Almost a year later, he met two members of the group, Brian Wygand and Will Smart — who are now his best friends — at the Lego store in Queens Center mall and found out they had been looking for him after seeing the WALL-E figure, which the Rockefeller Center store put on display without Wells knowing.

He was then welcomed to be a part of the group, filled with individuals he had aspired to be like. He credits Wygand, Smart, Billy Murphy and Mike Bader for helping him feel like he was a part of something and not alone.

Although he continues to be a part of I LUG NY, Wells decided to go on his own with C3BRIX with the desire to not just display his creations but also to make a living and allow children to interact with the Legos.

“For me personally, I have to create because not only is this a source of income but I want to give [my kids] hope that you can fulfill your dreams,” he said. “I want to show my kids that there is more to life than the small town they grow up in.”

Since then Wells has been invited to participate in events such as the LIC Flea & Food in Long Island City, and he was also invited to create four models for the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair.

While attending the BrickFair LEGO Convention, where he took home first place in sci-fi moves with his Star Trek Enterprise model, he and two other designers were approached by the filmmakers behind “A LEGO Brickumentary” and were interviewed on their craft. The movie, narrated by actor Jason Bateman, was released on Friday and on Aug. 2 Wells will take some of his creations to the Manhattan premiere.

He also creates portraits, which resemble photographs, for families as presents and takes orders on just about anything.

“Whatever you can think of my job is to make it out of Lego. Don’t call me for Lego, call me for something you like and them ask me to make it in Lego,” he said.

For now Wells, continues to make his creations out of his Astoria apartment, with his children coming to visit from Michigan where they live with their mother. Both his children — Colton and Cydney — have also tried their own hands at creating pieces, with his son at times assisting Wells.

He has also started a partnership with the Manhattan store Little Shop of Crafts to help expand its activities for children.

“It’s cool to have a dad that nobody else has. Nobody else has a Lego designer job like he does. So it’s kind of cool to say my dad is a Lego designer in New York City,” his 12-year-old daughter said.

As his success continues to grow, Wells hopes to one day have a show such as TLC’s “Cake Boss” where he can take large orders from customers for special events.

And although Wells has no affiliation with the actual Lego brand, he said that he is thankful for what Lego has done for his life.

“I’m indebted to them for helping me through my childhood. I’m indebted to them for helping me create a career to influence my children and hopefully other children to follow their dream,” he said. “I’m one of the lucky few that did come to New York and believe the headlines that were told to me, and I’m living it.”

For more information on Wells and C3Brix, visit c3brix.com or www.facebook.com/C3Brix.


New York Hall of Science hosts eight-day Lego fest

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of New York Hall of Science

It’s a blockhead paradise.

This Saturday, the New York Hall of Science will kick off Brick Fest Live, an eight-day Lego fan festival with building stations, skyscrapers, exhibitions, trivia contests and even some theater.

In one section, enthusiasts will create and race Lego derby mini-cars down a 35-foot-long track. Another spot will feature Lego cities that participants can develop. Attendees will be also be able to challenge each other to friendly competitions in the Gaming Area and can create art with the help of ultraviolet light in the Glow and Mosaic zones.

Brick Fest Live is free with general admission to the museum, but advance tickets are suggested due to the event’s popularity.



Parents, students call for support to save LIC middle school

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Parents and students in Long Island City are asking for their community to speak up to keep a beloved middle school in a neighborhood growing every day.

During Saturday’s groundbreaking of the Queens Library at Hunters Point, parents and students of P.S./I.S. 78 handed out flyers asking local residents to help speak out about the school crisis the neighborhood is going through.

According to parents, the Department of Education is considering truncating the sixth through eighth grades at the school in order to accommodate the incoming elementary aged students, after a decision was made to add two kindergarten classes to the school.

“We’re trying to get all the parents out to push it and get it in front of other people’s faces so that we can make a difference because I think, just like for the library, if we really get together and make our presence known [we can] show everyone that without schools this is really not a community,” said Nancy Mendez-Shiu, who has a daughter and son at P.S./I.S. 78. “If we don’t have enough space for children, then people are going to move away from our community.”

On the flyers, “LIC neighbors” are asked to write, call or visit any or all of their city and state elected officials and leaders such as Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, District 30 leaders and local Community Board 2.

Mendez-Shiu also added that for about 10 years, parents fought for the middle school to be brought into community and in 2013 a new state-of-the-art facility at 46-08 Fifth St. was erected and became the home of P.S./I.S. 78’s third- through eighth-graders.

The school’s pre-K through second-grade classes remained at the original building located only a few blocks away at 48-09 Center Blvd.

In a meeting two weeks ago, parents were told that if all the seats are filled in the new two additional kindergarten classes then there is a possibility that grades six through eight would be truncated started in the fall of 2016.

The school would then only serve kindergarten through fifth grade, leaving older students to find another alternative.

“Our children deserve a space in our community here. They deserve to be able to go to school here,” Mendez-Shiu said. “We should make room for everyone. This is a community.”

Fellow parent Sabina Omerhodzic also said that the area is being overdeveloped with more buildings being constructed, yet there are no schools to meet the growing population of young children.

“More buildings bring more families, more children. We need to build more schools, not less. Don’t truncate, build more. That’s it. It’s very easy,” Omerhodzic said. “It’s basic math. One plus one is two. One plus one is not zero.”

The parents said the idea of middle school potentially being truncated has left students “depressed” and also wanting to protest to have their voices being heard.

Fourth graders at P.S./I.S. 78 created this Lego model to show the idea of a new building (in red) being constructed to alleviate overcrowding.

Fourth-graders at P.S./I.S. 78 created this Lego model to show the idea of a new building (in red) being constructed to alleviate overcrowding.

In one instance, a group of fourth-graders constructed a Lego model of the school and added a new building that could be constructed to help alleviate the overcrowding and also accommodate middle-schoolers. The model also included an organic garden on the rooftop of the new building.

“I feel bad because we love P.S./I.S. 78, that’s why we are protesting and helping it, and just making us move to another school isn’t fair for us,” said fifth-grader Monica Malas, who after spending two days being sad over the news got together with classmates to protest. “I hope we can actually succeed and let the small ones go to the sixth through eighth grade.”

The DOE did not immediately respond to request for comment.


LIC Flea & Food celebrates opening of 2014 season

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Dominick Totino Photography

The 2014 season of LIC Flea & Food has finally begun.

The popular Long Island City flea market celebrated a weekend of success during its grand opening on Sat., April 5, and Sun., April 6, at the same outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue. Items for sale at the market included food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, fashion and more.

Visitors of all ages joined LIC Flea & Food during its opening weekend, where many food vendors sold out of their treats with fans enjoying every cuisine.


“Our kick-off weekend was a huge success. The amount of people who visited the market demonstrated how much people enjoy the market and how great our vendors are,” said Joshua Schneps, LIC Flea & Food president. “It was great to see people visit Long Island City from all over and spend money to help small businesses.”

Along with many LIC Flea favorites and new faces bringing visitors a wide variety of foods and other items, opening weekend had activities for soccer fans and Lego lovers.

The New York Cosmos soccer team, which starts its season against Atlanta on Sunday at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, were on site bringing activities for kids and families. The Cosmos truck was at the LIC Flea with an inflatable kicking game for children, along with merchandise and tickets available for sale. Fans were able to meet the New York Cosmos Girls, and Cosmos players were present signing autographs.

Designer C3Brix showcased his Lego art during the LIC Flea, leaving visitors delighted with characters like Elmo, Cookie Monster, Snoopy and Smurfs made completely out of Lego pieces.

Some returning vendors included The Nomad Truck, An Artistic Taste, Tea & Milk, Bill’s Balls, Vint & York, Oconomi, Imran Jewels, Vivian Jewelry, Luke’s Lobster, Jam Jar NY, J&L Farms, and vintage items and vintage-inspired original designs by 1926.

New vendors include King of Falafel & Shawarma, Grateful Bread Company, Vintage-Dealers Choice Jewelry and Nyan Soaps.

“We’re looking forward to a great season ahead and having people visit us every Saturday and Sunday,” Schneps said.

LIC Flea & Food will run through October every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Applications for vendors are still being accepted for the new season by registering online.



Queens girls win city LEGO championships

| mchan@queenscourier.com


Using Legos, four young builders from Queens recently engineered their way to a first-place victory.

Peye Wong, Alexis Chen, Jessica Balaram and Courtney Chiu — an all-girls team named RoboGbots — put their smarts to the test during FIRST LEGO® League’s (FLL) New York City Regional Championships on March 18. The girls strategized, designed, built and programed a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology to create innovative solutions to challenges facing today’s scientists.

And they stole the triumph away from more than 80 teams in the city.

“We were very excited and proud of ourselves. It was very unexpected,” said Bayside resident Chiu, 12. “We tried our best, and we never thought we’d get first place. We never expected we could achieve so much.”

The “Food Factor” portion of the challenge calls for teams to explore the topic of food safety and examine the possible points of contamination food encounters — from exposure to insects and creatures to unsterile processing and transportation to unsanitary preparation and storage. Then, the contestants had to find ways to prevent or combat these contaminates.

Wong, 13 from Flushing, Chen, 9 from Fresh Meadows, Balaram, 13 from Jamaica, and Chiu built a prototype that measures the surface temperature of a carton or container of milk, alerting consumers of possible expiration.

If the temperature of the container is above 41 degrees — the FDA maximum temperature for refrigerating milk — the consumer is given a warning sound, displayed with the accurate temperature, the team said. If the temperature reads between 37 and 41 degrees, the temperature is displayed with a range of how much longer the milk will stay fresh.

“It feels good to know that we could use such a simple product to help us in everyday life,” Balaram said. “It’s unbelievable, considering the fact that we didn’t even know how to build a robot. This was our first time doing anything like this, and we came so far. It feels amazing, and it’s mind-blowing.”

It was a double win for RoboGbots, who said they felt empowered winning first prize in a usually male-dominated competition.

“It showed girl power — that we could do anything if we put our minds to it,” Balaram said.

The team will move on to compete internationally during FLL’s World Championships, which will be held in Florida this May. They said they are also working to turn the prototype into an iPad app device.