It features a mini interview, and towards the end they shed some light on the origins of the name Baron von Brunk…
For those wondering about the Baron von Brunk name, it’s an internet moniker with an element of truth to it. The pre-anglicized form of the Brunk name was von Brunk, and the “Baron” was added thanks to Prussian noblemen in his family tree.
Hey hosers! My friends up north did a totally jolly good quick review of my giant LEGO NES controller project! Here’s a little segment of trending tech topics on Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet show! By the way — the racecar game in question is R.C. Pro-Am — almost like a precursor to Mario Kart; you play as little remote-controlled cars driving around a racetrack, avoiding oil slicks whilst shooting projectiles at enemy cars. I had a weird love-hate relationship with that game at age 8, hence it’s once of the featured games in my LEGO NES controller demonstration!
Speaking of Canada, I’ve only been there once: in 1991, at age 6 I traveled briefly to Ontario. My paternal grandmother was of the Ottawa First Nation’s Tribe, and the von Brunk family was comprised of German immigrants originally dwelling in the American upper midwest since 1862(?) — thus, I was in Sault Ste Marie, Canada/Michigan to visit the “homeland!” But, I do enjoy Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Neil Young - so I guess it all evens out… Eh?
P.S. - Ironically (or coincidentally) one of my souvenirs from my short visit to Canada was a small LEGO set - of a racecar, of all things! Not a lie.
Newest updates on my fully-operational well-endowed LEGO NES controller!
The YouTube video itself has gotten over 16,700 views - despite only being intended to be embedded, not necessarily shared! As for Instructables, my entry was featured on the front page and chosen as a popular moderator’s pick!
Thank you for all of the feedback and reblogs of my giant functional NES Controller replica made from LEGO bricks! I appreciate all of the new Tumblr followers and new Facebook fans since the original post a few days ago, and here’s a little follow-up on the good buzz thus far. Since its original posting, I’ve received quite a bit of good publicity — notably some articles on various popular gaming/tech sites…
"LEGO builder Baron von Brunk, who you may have seen here from time to time, is back with something a bit bigger. A little more ambitious. He’s built this enormous five-foot LEGO NES controller. Which works. I don’t know what to be more impressed by, the build itself or the fact he owned enough grey and black pieces to put it together in the first place.”
"… This thing actually works, but if your arms are more T-rex than Mr. Fantastic, you might find it a tad challenging. Creator Baron von Brunk has posted a nearly four-minute video of him playing using the controller, just to prove it works. It’s worth checking out just for the orchestral version of the Mario theme."
Mum’s the word, but soon this shall be featured on an MSNBC tech article, as well as some British news websites! Stay tuned! And if you stumble upon any other blogs or online postings that mention this LEGO project of mine, feel free to send me the links.
Initially conceived in the late summer of 2012, this titanic brute has been gradually worked on since the past months and finally completed towards the end of 2012. Various issues, such as work-related and/or financial problems halted its production, but nonetheless I managed to complete this giant controller, in both its LEGO structure as well as electrical functionality.
Resting atop a large folding table in my attic workshop, the controller is built of light-grey LEGO brick walls with removable tiled plates for the ceiling. Like previous works, I’ve used custom glossy stickers for the labels. The innards are mainly hollowed with some trusses and support for the buttons; the buttons are spring-loaded modules using LEGO Technic pieces to make the large buttons reciprocate when pressed. Below the large LEGO buttons are small momentary pushbuttons soldered to the actual circuitry board of an original NES controller, which is then linked to a USB converter to play Nintendo ROMs on my computer. When the large LEGO buttons are pressed, the bottoms make contact with the pushbuttons, which then send the electrical signal back to the controller’s circuit “brain”; the LEGO Technic spring suspension system prevents the large buttons from getting stuck in place.
Here I am playing a quick round of the greatest game of all time - Super Mario Brothers 3! It’s actually rather difficult to use the A and B buttons simultaneously, hence I was unable to pick up Koopa shells and kick ‘em at the Goombas properly.
Background: this project was the byproduct of my aborted LEGO Batmobile event. In the summer of 2012, Ripley’s in Times Square contacted me about doing a promotion to kick off the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises - using thousands of LEGO bricks to complete a replica of the Batmobile, from start to finish with no breaks - as sort of a “speed run.” On the day of my scheduled build-off, the tragic shooting occurred, unfortunately, and the build-off was scrapped in light of the incident. Scrambling to think of a substitute promo creation, we tried to come up with a bunch of last minute LEGO sculpture ideas to have me create, with a date that coincided with the project (for example, building an Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day, giant jack-o-lantern on Halloween, et cetera). I did some sleuthing and found out the 25th anniversary of the release of the first Legend of Zelda for NES would be a week from the day of the original Batmobile build-off [which was on July 20th; Zelda came out on July 27th 1987] and thus suggested recycling the black and grey bricks to make an NES controller! The PR agency with Ripley’s rejected the idea, however the prospect of me building a giant LEGO NES controller seemed like such a jolly good idea that I went ahead and began acquiring parts for it en masse - not for Ripley’s, but for my own sake!
Like every other LEGO creation I’ve made in the past, I first checked Google to see if anyone has ever built a giant NES controller from LEGO bricks. I discovered that giant functioning NES controllers were nothing new - in fact, around 2008 there was a significant fad of people in the U.S., U.K. and Australia constructing giant 5-6 foot operable NES controllers to use as coffee tables. I said to myself, “Well, I guess this means I definitely won’t be the first person to make a giant working Nintendo controller… But that doesn’t mean I can’t be the first to make one out of LEGO bricks!" And thus I began mapping out the controller’s specs, keeping it in proportion to a real controller, enlarged and made almost perfect to scale (give or take by a few centimeters, depending on the size available of LEGO units). In fact, every detail on my controller, such as the placement of the buttons, the size of the text in "Select and Start", and the location of the dark grey middle stripes were constructed virtually in sync with a real controller, only slightly off and/or adjusted to compensate for thickness of LEGO pieces.
Above: Original vector blueprint of the layout, made in scale to a real controller. The white lines equal green LEGO baseplates (32 x32, 16 x 32 and 16 x 16 fused together).
Below: more close-up shots of the large buttons:
First I built the buttons; I purchased a large parcel of Technic shock absorbers to use as a suspension system for keeping the heavy buttons held in place. The A, B, Start and Select buttons are made of rounded bricks, whilst the D-pad is a square plus sign resembling a German Balkenkreuz. Coming up with a way to integrate the momentary pushbuttons with LEGO parts was difficult, as I try to avoid glue, cutting and sanding when possible. While watching Ghostbusters 2 one night, I figured out how to keep the Radio Shack buttons in place by having a small LEGO chassis to hold each button down, with clearance for the wires to slide out the front. The large buttons would slide up and down and make contact with the small Radio Shack buttons held in the small LEGO holders I rigged up.
Next came the construction of the outer walls and the base: I used several 32 x 32 green baseplates on top of a large folding table, and constructed the four walls from thousands of light-grey bricks. Fun fact: if you call up the LEGO Stores and request to purchase an entire box of one type/color of pieces [used mainly for store stock in the Pick-a-Brick section], they’ll sell ‘em to you for $70 each with free FedEx shipping! Let’s say you want to make a giant LEGO castle, you could easily get a few $70 boxes of entirely grey bricks, rather than sorting through pieces online. Thus, I bought about six or seven boxes of light-grey 1x4 and 2x4 bricks to make the walls. The original concept was to make the roof completely in a fixed position, with doors on the front wall of the controller to make any repairs internally. I realized this was an inefficient method; thus I removed the doors, made the front wall solid, and the roof detachable in five large reinforced plates with tiles and stickers for design. If you look at the work-in-progress photos in my previous Tumblr posts, you’ll see the early stages before the ceiling, when the doors were in place and the innards of the controller were fixed with beams/trusses to support the eventual ceiling that I scrapped.
The walls have the most pieces, but surprisingly didn’t take too long to put up. In fact, I slapped each brick-on-brick together like masonry bricklaying, and with its flat rectangular shape with little deviation, I breezed right through assembling the four walls. As mentioned previously, I had at my disposal several boxes of solid-color bricks I purchased in bulk from the LEGO Stores in New Jersey and Long Island; piling on the light-grey bricks meant simply dipping in the boxes and repeating the brick-on-bricklaying method. The ceiling plates took a while to build, however; they had to constantly be removed and adjusted to slide in place securely. I also had to keep reinforcing the under portions of the roof plates to make sure they didn’t warp in the middle. The tiling process was also very tedious and time consuming.
The majority of the controller was built by September 2012, but multiple obstacles stood in my way to prevent its final completion and unveiling. In early September, Nelson Lugo commissioned me to build for him a large LEGO Doctor Who TARDIS prop for EPIC WIN Burlesque, which halted production of the controller, as the TARDIS was a paid gig and of course higher priority. Also around that time I waited anxiously to receive several original NES controllers from eBay to gut out and use the circuits. A few were duds, some were third-party knockoffs with improper circuitry, and above all, my soldering skills were weak! By October, I ran into the endgame of an ongoing conflict at the job where I worked at the time. Several personal issues between my boss and myself caused massive paycuts towards my salary, thus I was essentially broke and demotivated - unable to afford last minute parts, let alone to afford a photographer to take pictures of this project. This meant a stalemate. Luckily by the time November rolled around, I found a new, better paying job and resumed completion of the controller - electrical wires and all - by December!
I recall vividly the day I rigged up the wires successfully: I stayed up all one Friday night making a mess with solder and speaker wire, to create a beast of a tangled slapdash electronic circuits as I listened to my classic rock mix playlist in my attic workshop. The next afternoon, I hooked up the USB-out end of the controller to my laptop, put on the theme song from RoboCop, loaded up a Contra emulator ROM, calibrated the controller’s buttons, and voilà: history was made! My seemingly chaotic jerry-rigged wires and alligator clips attached to a 25-year old Nintendo controller were fully-operational, much like the Second Death Star! Then after much scrambling to find a good photog in time, I managed to just now get this massive controller officially chronicled and put online for your viewing pleasure!
- Baron von Brunk
Thanks to Gene Kennish, the professional photographer who came from Staten Island for the photo shoot at my place in Queens. He does amazing work and has reasonable rates; I certainly recommend his services to anyone needing a good cameraman in the NY/NJ area, especially for burlesque shows and headshots! I apologize to Luna Chase, the sexy burlesque video game nerd cosplay girl who was originally intended to dress as a sultry Mario and pose with the controller. Unfortunately, it was difficult and almost impossible to schedule Gene on a day Luna and I were both free, especially considering she lives all the way in Central New Jersey (we had to figure out a day all three of us could be available, and none of our days synced up). We realized our three schedules didn’t coincide any time well throughout December/January, thus I opted to have the shoot without her, in order to rush and get the pictures online in time for New Years. Nonetheless, be sure to check out her Tumblr and gaze at all of the NSFW Zelda-related debauchery of hers! I want to get her posed as a sexy Link when I unveil my large LEGO Deku Tree model coming soon!
Thanks to the various tech savvy folks across these internets who originally came up with making giant functional NES controllers. Without their hack/mod skills to make good use of old Nintendo peripherals, I wouldn’t have figured out which wires go where and do what! In fact, check out thisissafety’s from Instructables, and this particular classic wood finish NES table! I used the exact electrical schematic and wiring infrastructure from the former, by the way. I haven’t soldered since 11th grade shop class, and working with a delicate piece of Nintendo history took a lot of finesse and practice.
I’d also like to give a special thanks to my fans - Brunkamaniacs - on Facebook and Tumblr, who stood by and encouraged me from afar to keep building these wonderful projects! Whilst most bastards on the internet would accuse folks of my caliber of being “lifeless virgins” due to the fact that we have a healthy hobby (LEGO sculpting) which uses up a lot of time and money, my fans on the other hand have been very positive towards my creative endeavors. Contrary to popular myth, nerds do get laid often, we typically have high paying jobs (I mean, obviously I don’t work at 7-Eleven or Burger King, or else I sure as hell couldn’t afford to randomly throw down $300 here or $500 there on a bunch of boxes of LEGO bricks without worrying about draining my checking account), and finally, we have lives!! Alright, alright, I’ll try not to turn this into a rant - I mean, some douche is bound to post this on 9Gag and say something dickish like, “This mighty controller will defend his virginity!” (it’s happened with my Game Boy Transformer - honest to Zeus, internet people are complete dicks) I mean, incidentally I did have a girlfriend for a brief period over the summer, and we broke up right before I started working on the controller - so in a sense, building it took my mind off her. I was too busy slapping plastic bricks together every night whilst rocking out to Nazareth, The Doobie Brothers and Led Zeppelin than to have my mind pre-occupied with vaginæ! I’m sure Nikola Tesla would be proud of me.
The outer frame of my giant LEGO NES controller is now 100% complete — decorated, tiled, and all! As of now, I’m awaiting the electrical wiring, which I shall do this weekend, hopefully. I’ve got my soldering iron ready, as well as an original working NES controller to take apart and use for electrical components. Under each of these spring-loaded buttons will be small momentary switches will shall be soldered to the innards of an NES controller, then will connect to my laptop via USB in order to play ROMs!
Hopefully the wiring, photo shoot, and video will be completed this coming weekend. Get ready, faithful Brunkamaniacs!
More teaser photos of my giant LEGO NES Controller project! The tiling is almost complete, then it’s a matter of adding the Start/Select buttons and electrical wiring. Awaiting more pieces to arrive in the mail (as usual).
Size comparison of my work-in-progress LEGO NES controller, with one of my large Voltron toys as a reference point. I took a break from working on this since the past month or so whilst I was working on my TARDIS, and now I’m making the last steps of progress of this giant controller. The roof is actually kind if tricky to attach: the original primary chassis was intended to have a fixed [permanently attached roof] with doors on the front to modify the internal wires — however I decided that wouldn’t be a good idea in case of repairs, ergo I made three large tiled roof sections that slide off/on.
The problem now is with “LEGO-bowing” for the roof sections — or “The Von Brunk Effect” as I call it. Basically, when several or more long flat LEGO pieces (usually plates) are attached together as a flat object, the overall piece begins to warp in the middle due to lack of support. In this case, the roof sections of this giant controller cave in in the middle and appear distorted, which means I’ll have to put in more support. Here’s a good example of The Von Brunk Effect: if you attach let’s say 20 different 4x8 plates together in a series, the connection of parts will gradually curve in the middle and appear crooked, and the curve will be more warped depending on how long the series is in conjunction with the thinness of the pieces. This can be fixed with adding more layers of plates or bricks on top/underneath as like small beams and trusses, but unfortunately adds extra deadweight to the structure. See the last photo in this set to see the work-in-progress of the 3rd roof section — both the top and underside.
As for the wiring of this unit, I have all of the necessary electrical components, and soon I’ll solder this bad boy and get it up and running!
The outer walls to form the chassis of my giant NES controller are now up! Now I’m installing beams & trusses, before putting in the electrical wiring and ultimately the roof (and fixing the buttons). Thousands of LEGO pieces have been used thus far, and whole thing goes across an entire 60-inch table!
Now that the bulk of the grey pieces have arrived, I’ve gone further with making the giant NES controller. The foundation is constructed of several baseplates attached together, which goes to almost 5 feet in width across the folding table. The total height of the chassis should be about 7 inches tall, and about now it’s 2-3 inches. The controller is made almost perfectly to scale of a real NES controller, give or take a few centimeters or so due to LEGO brick sizes. The placement of the buttons in relativity to one another is on the same size/aspect ratio of a real controller!
I also recently picked up the wiring equipment from Radio Shack, and I’m awaiting a USB NES controller to arrive in the mail. Naturally I’ll take out the innards of the controller, then wire some momentary pushbuttons underneath the large A, B, Start, Select, & D-Pad components. Using Technic shock absorbers, the large buttons retract smoothly, and will make contact to the pushbuttons when touched. I haven’t soldered since 11th grade metal shop, so let’s hope I don’t fuck this up.
Photo 1) Panoramic view of the total size layout, with the buttons in their proper spots. Now comes the challenge: building the colossal chassis!
Photo 2) For the chassis of the giant NES controller — over 6,400 LEGO pieces — all bricks, all light-grey! These 800-1,600 piece bulk boxes were purchased at various LEGO Stores in New Jersey. Fun fact: you don’t have to limit yourself to pick-a-brick cups — if you ask nicely, certain stores will allow you to purchase one of their stock boxes for $70, and you get hundreds to thousands of a single type/color LEGO piece!
3) The early foundation, much resembling the ancient ruins of Greece. The icetray layout is intended to become the beam/truss structure to make the controller sort of hollow, but not being rickety.
More work in progress photos of my giant NES controller project, made entirely out of LEGO! So far, I’ve created the large buttons and built the mechanism to allow them retract and act as real controller buttons. Using Technic brick shock absorbers, I’m able to have the specially-design units slide in and out of the module casings, similar to a real video game controller — on a much larger scale!
The buttons are basically done; Now comes the challenge: building the colossal chassis!
Custom LEGO® art, vignettes, dioramas, and minifigs made by "Baron" Julius von Brunk: a tattooed and quirky, yet professional graphic multimedia artist in New York City! Look up his Facebook fan page and like all of his stuff, and be sure to check out his website -- Baronvonbrunk.com -- for other assorted oddities (especially if you dig sideburns)!
The Baron builds everything from massive robots, to historical scenes -- even burlesque dancers! These particular projects date back as far as 2008 and continue through the present. You'll also see some LEGO-related work, such as his paintings, tattoo designs and vector illustrations!
Everything you see here was made by him, unless specified. No rip-offs or re-blogged posts from other users, folks -- this is all 100% pure Brunk! Take a gander at the links below for his featured and popular works on Tumblr, including Super Mario Bros. themed projects, Legend of Zelda dioramas, transforming video game accessories and many others.
Baron von Brunk has had his work published in Nintendo Power (May 2012), Nintendo Gamer U.K. magazine, CNN Geekout and Kotaku! In April 2013, The Baron had many of his greatest Nintendo-related creations showcased in a display at Nintendo World Store at the Rockefeller Center -- for the release party of LEGO City: Undercover!
LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse this site. Baronvonbrunk.com is a non-profit fan website which is not affiliated with LEGO Group.