About Ralph

Ralph Savelsberg, also known as Mad physicist, is an actual physicist, but he's not all that mad. He has been building with LEGO ever since he could first put two bricks together. He primarily builds scale models of cars and aircraft. You can find most of Ralph's stuff on his flickr pages.

Posts by Ralph

Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines

When, back in 1960, race car driver Paul Frère asked Enzo Ferrari what limited the top speed of his Ferrari 250TR at Le Mans, probably wondering whether the rather large and ungainly windscreen on said car had anything to do with this, Enzo replied that aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines.

Enzo Ferrari (16)

More than 40 years later, the company Ferrari built the Enzo, named after its founder. This car’s shape was undoubtedly designed to be reminiscent of a Formula 1 car, with its V-shaped hood and front air intakes resembling a front wing, but I’m sure the designers spent a lot of time fiddling to get the aerodynamics right. A lot of things have changed since the sixties. Getting the shape of his car right has taken Nathanael L. a fair bit of fiddling too. This is his fourth attempt at building an Enzo and it just keeps getting better. I’m glad he stuck with it. I also think it’s particularly neat that, despite the complexity of its shape, just about everything on the model opens and the engine looks good too.

British Petrolheads

Joe Perez (mortalswordsman) works for Bright Bricks in the UK, where he builds LEGO models for a living. He is also a bit of a petrolhead; a British term for people who are crazy about internal combustion engines.

Gold rush by Joe Perez

This made him the perfect choice for a recent Bright Bricks project that involved building miniland scale (1/20) vehicles, including a fair few motorcycles. Despite building with LEGO for a living, he still finds the time and interest to build just for fun. He has obviously caught the bug of building motorcycles, as shown by his groovy chopper.

We can make this happen

Talking of petrolheads from the UK who are also professional LEGO builders, Carl Greatrix (bricktrix) launched a Lego Ideas project for a Caterham Seven model several months ago, which has now passed 10,000 votes. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the design review.

Digging in the dirt

Until now, all of the pictures Davy Linden (Davekuhh) posted of his awesome Volvo excavator were of it sitting either on his building table or on display at LowLUG events in the Netherlands, with lots of clutter and legs in the background. I’ve been following his progress and have been waiting for decent pictures to appear for months, which makes it all the more frustrating that, now that they have and I finally get around to writing about it, other blogs have already beaten me to it.

Volvo EW205D

In any case, this is just the sort of model I like and that I know many of you will appreciate too. I had the pleasure of being able to take in all the model’s details at one of the events a few months ago and I also got to see Davy use a dustbuster to vacuum up the ‘LEGO dirt’ from the base on which he displayed it. This is undoubtedly an effective method, but it makes a sound that fans of LEGO normally do not like to hear!

Piazza Maria makes me long for Italy and ice cream

I don’t know whether it’s the scene, the yellow background or the combination of the two, but Piazza Maria by Andrew Tate has a distinctly Southern-European flair.

Piazza Maria

In fact, I’ll be a bit more specific. The model wasn’t specifically intended to be Italian, despite the name, but the colours on the buildings are spot-on and the gelateria really do remind me of a square in Udine, where, on a work trip to Italy, I had some wonderful ice cream a fair few years ago. I don’t remember a living statue there, but I don’t mind. It could easily have been there.

In this robbery, your money is safe

Admittedly most of my knowledge about the Toy Story movies is from the LEGO sets, but you don’t have to be a fan to recognise the Train Chase, by Jared Chan, as a neat little model.

Toy Story - Money Train Chase Coin Bank (2015)

The train is simply adorable and it hides a neat feature: it also serves as a piggy bank. I do have some doubts whether it can actually keep your money safe, however, no matter how strong the clutch between LEGO elements may be.

The cars are the stars -the sequel

Somewhat to my shame, in my time as a contributor to this blog, I have not been a particularly prolific writer. This was particularly true at times when I was also busy writing things for work or dealing with a lot of deadlines, as I have been for a while now. I think all of us at TBB have been struggling with similar issues lately, as you may have gathered from the reduced frequency of posts. Even our lemur isn’t safe, although, to his credit, the kitchen tiles in the compound are now shinier than ever. Since for me stress-relief is a big reason for building, perhaps surprisingly, the upshot of being busy at work is that I do build lots of new models. This is far easier and also more relaxing than writing.

Movie/ TV vehicles May 2015

I’ve been working on a collection of famous vehicles from movies and TV series for about two years now, but by October last year I felt I was about done. However, enthusiastic reactions and suggestions for new ones that I got when I displayed them at the Great Western LEGO show in Swindon (UK) made me decide to continue and to diversify a bit more, by including helicopters. The vehicles in the picture are most of the ones I built since. I already wrote about Blue Thunder and Airwolf, in the back row, but you may not have seen any of the others. The third helicopter is the UH-1H “Huey” that serves as the personal transport for the surf-obsessed and completely insane Lt.Col. Kilgore, from Apocalypse Now. The other vehicles are Korben Dallas’ flying taxy from The 5th Element, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Capt. Nemo’s car from The League of extraordinary gentlemen, the Munster Koach from The Munsters, the GM Ultralite police car from Demolition Man, the AMC Pacer from Wayne’s world and, last but not least, the motorcycle with sidecar from Indiana Jones: the last crusade, all built to the same scale.

To be continued…

Larry’s hot rod is a perfect combo of old and new

One of the many wonderful things about LEGO is how almost all of the parts produced over multiple decades are compatible. Several years ago, when building a fish & chips shop, I was able to use a parasol, 25 years after I got it as a part of a set that was a gift for my 8th birthday. Another great example is visible on the hot rod built by Larry Lars.

Red Hot Lego Vehicle

Builders of real-world hot rods often combine an old body with a shiny new engine. Similarly, Larry uses mudguards and brand new wheels from the speed champions sets and recently introduced curved parts with a part that is even older than my parasol: the roof from a Fabuland car. It is a perfect combination.

Rugged as granite

Most truck builders I know either aim for looks, with relatively little functionality, or they go for the full Technic treatment, with lots of working functions, but often at the expense of the looks or details. With his Mack Granite heavy-duty truck, Ingmar Spijkhoven (2LegoOrNot2Lego) has combined the best of both worlds.

PICT01c by 2legoornot2lego

It has Power Functions remote control for the drive and steering, working lights and working suspension, and can be fitted with a flatbed trailer than can be raised and lowered via remote control. It also looks brilliant, with a beautifully sculpted hood, a detailed interior and a carefully modelled representation of the engine.

PICT05c by 2legoornot2lego

Following fellow Dutch truck builder Dennis Glaasker the presentation of the all the goodies is top notch too, with a clever photo-edit that shows some of the inner workings and details. It wouldn’t look out of place in the manufacturer’s brochure.

The workhorses of the Commonwealth Navies

Julie Vandermeulen has recently completed a 1/38 scale model of HMCS Haida, the world’s last surviving Tribal class destroyer, which is currently a museum ship in Ontario. Its beautifully sculpted hull is an impressive 377 studs long and the model took 9 months to complete.

HMCS Haida (DDE 215)

Between 1936 and the end of WW2 a grand total of 27 Tribal class ships were built for the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and (British) Royal Navy. Many of these ships fought with distinction. In British service, in particular, they were used in a number of high-risk operations and consequently sustained heavy losses, with 12 out of 16 ships sunk. Most Canadian and Australian ships survived the war and continued to serve into the fifties and sixties. The model represents Haida as she appeared in the Korean War. Her sister ship, HMCS Iroquois, was even deployed in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Tribal class destroyers may not be as well-known as the larger and more glamorous cruisers and battleships that served during WW2, but they were true workhorses. I very much appreciate seeing one of these fine ships in LEGO.

If the zombie apocalypse happens, you’ll want one of these

Skid-steer loaders are very versatile pieces of construction equipment, by virtue of their many different attachments such as blades, cutters, trenchers and snow blowers.

Skid Steer by sinan bitişik

This brilliant little model by Sinan Bitişik does not include any zombies, but looking at the gnarly attachment to its front, evidently intended for cutting asphalt, I could not help but think of an alternative use.