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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Lego Joker's Funhouse goes into incredible detail

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Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Lego Batman and Robin, Joker's Funhouse © 2013 Paul Hetherington. Used with permission of Paul Hetherington. All rights reserved.)

Lego artist Paul Hetherington built an incredibly detailed, mechanised Joker's Funhouse, winning Best in Show at the 2013 BrickCon.

Where there is Batman, there you'll find the Joker. Yin to Batman's Yang, chaos to his order. And for every dark and brooding Batcave, the Joker has his own base of operations — usually an abandoned funfair, made deadly according to the Joker's particular brand of macabre humour.

For last year's BrickCon, Carlyle Livingston II and Wayne Hussey built a massive 20,000-piece Lego Batcave. This year, a Lego artist by the name of Paul Hetherington has upped the ante — with an even bigger three-level, 30,000-piece Batman and Robin Joker's Funhouse (labelled Gotham Park, seemingly inspired by our own Luna Park) — with mechanised moving parts.

Hetherington had to work around his full-time job, working at a Day Program for disabled adults, to build the set. "There are close to 30,000 pieces in the Funhouse," he told CNET Australia. "To give you an idea, there are over 2600 transparent 1x1 green tiles used on the ocean surface just to make up the strip of water underneath the pier. The model took two months to design and construct. I have lots of pre-sorted parts in my studio so that makes it easier to build quickly."

(Lego Batman and Robin, Joker's Funhouse © 2013 Paul Hetherington. Used with permission of Paul Hetherington. All rights reserved.)

A builder since he was a boy, Hetherington had over 20 years of collecting Lego to draw from. Over the years, he has bought new sets, found Lego at garage sales and picked up individual bricks at Lego stores. He also has extensive experience building large-scale Lego sculptures. Since 2000, when he came out of his Dark Ages, he has built at least 20 large projects, most of which are automated in some way.

Packed inside the Funhouse are several Lego 9-volt train transformers powering Power Functions motors, held together with Technic gears. The only non-Lego component in the build, Hetherington said, is the lighting, which came from Ikea.

The result is one insanely detailed, fascinating piece of work, which won an extraordinarily well-deserved series of accolades at BrickCon: People's Choice Honourable Mention, Best of Show and Evil Genius.

The most important part of all, though, is that it was built for the love (and fun) of Lego. "I have always had an interest in Fantasy Worlds and am fascinated with any kind of miniatures," Hetherington said. "Lego is the toy that helped to open the door to my imagination. With so many new colours and elements becoming available each year from Lego, new inspiration is never far away."

You can see more pictures on Hetherington's Flickr stream, and see it in action in the video below (and don't forget to drop by the video on YouTube for a thumbs up).

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