Friday, February 25, 2011

Lord of the Rings and LEGO

Those who know me at least a little in my personal life could tell you that there are two major oddball characteristics that I am known for. One you can guess easily enough if you're reading this blog: LEGO. Even though I think of myself as, at best, an intermediate level LEGO fan, compared with the people I know on the Internet, I'm still one of the names that would come up first in most people's minds when they think of LEGO (so, yes... I've seen the LEGO church forwarded email a few times, and it's always worth looking at).

The big fan niche that I belong to is the realm of Tolkien fandom: The Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth, Hobbits, and all that jazz. I'm less modest about the extent of fanaticism here, and would say that I'm even an elite fan, although if anyone knows bigger Tolkien fans, it's probably me, thanks to the Internet.

Indeed, my Internet life has been an odd intertwining of LEGO and The Lord of the Rings. Not that putting them together was an original thought when I signed up on Classic-castle with a username in Quenya (Tolkien's High Elvish). My brother and I had played many "Middle-earth" games, wherein the entirety of our Castle collections was overhauled to represent the different factions of Middle-earth, letting us play out some terribly derivative battles with obscenely high casualty rates. Lions turned into the guard of Minas Tirith, Black Falcons turned into the Knights of Dol Amroth, and Forestmen into Arnorian rangers, while Royal Knights and Knights' Kingdomers (i) turned into the Rohirrim, and Black Knights (with their ironic dragon emblems) became the Men of Dale. Then, to augment the pitiful armies of Dragon Masters, Fright Knights, and Bull Knights who represented the elite armies of Harad, we transformed every Ninja, Pirate, Star Wars, and Adventurer fig we had, not to mention countless sundry other figs, into rabble-armies of Easterlings and Men of Khand, ready to overwhelm the armies of the West through sheer numbers. There wasn't an "antenna" unused in our LEGO collections.

It was a lot of fun, but insofar as the "great take-apart of sets of 2004" coincided with joining Classic-Castle, those days had come to an end by the time I selected the name "Formendacil" as my cognomen for the forums. "Formendacil" is an original coinage, insofar as I think I'm the only Formendacil that comes up when Google the term (it's been a while since I did), but its construction is relatively simple. In the annals of Middle-earth's history, there were Kings of Gondor named "RĂ³mendacil" (East-victor) and Hyarmendacil (South-victor). It was a simple matter to extrapolate "Formendacil" (North-victor), which was original, had a nice ring to it, and seemed appropriate for a Canadian. I'm not sure why I chose a Tolkienesque name as my user ID, but it stuck, and I've used it as my chief online alias ever since.

Indeed, when I stumbled upon a Tolkien forum in early 2005 and decided to join, it was largely my experience as a member and eventual moderator on Classic-Castle that gave me the nerve to join. The Barrow-downs has since become even more of an online home than Classic-castle, due to two factors. Firstly, the Classic-Castle Roleplay, which had been my niche on Classic-Castle eventually wound down/dried up and I stopped spending as much time there. Secondly, I got to know a lot of the Barrow-downers as close friends, originally through Private Messaging on the forum, then through MSN and AIM chatting and later Facebook friendships, and finally through meeting a bunch of them in person. In fact, I would never have met my rather amazing girlfriend had it not been for the Barrow-downs, because she was the best friend and roommate of one of the close friends I picked up there. (Actually, my girlfriend has an account in her own name now, but that's because of said intermediate friend's influence, and it's unlikely I'd have met her if I hadn't been meeting the friend.)

I haven't actually mixed LEGO and Tolkien much since then. In my first couple years on Classic-Castle, I had the hope of illustrating a few parts of the Silmarillion in LEGO form, but I never quite finished my project of making base portraits to portray all the major characters and factions. WARNING: Those pictures are rather old now, and most of them are quite atrocious.


(FĂ«anor and his sons, possibly as they took their cursed Oath)

Still, when I was looking for a quick choice in my Brickshelf folder to use as an avatar on this blog, I settled on a picture from that gallery--a reminder of the connection between my hobbies. It depicts Angrod or Aegnor (I can't remember which...) with a trio of soldiers of the House of Finarfin, which may not be the most apt Tolkien avatar for me to use, but it was the best picture I had in my Tolkien folder, and I wanted one from there.

Besides... it's nice and arcane, and if I'm any sort of Tolkien fan, it's the sort who likes the arcane geographical and genealogical facts.

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