Kenny Baker, the diminutive actor who played R2-D2 in all Star Wars films except The Force Awakens, died peacefully in his sleep today. The 3′ 8″ actor operated Artoo from inside, sealed up “like a boiled egg.” In addition to R2-D2 Kenny Baker also played Paploo the Ewok in Return of the Jedi as well as key roles in movies like Time Bandits and The Elephant Man. To honor this actor who had such a huge impact on Star Wars, here’s a roundup of some of the best LEGO R2-D2 models we’ve featured here on The Brothers Brick over the years.
Sadly, World Elephant Day on August 12 is a stark reminder that there are not enough modern elephants in the world, and that we must take action — stop murdering them — if we want to avoid seeing today’s Proboscidea go the way of their Pleistocene predecessors the mammoth and mastodon. Jens Ohrndorf has been building little LEGO animals for the past few months, and his latest batch includes this impossibly adorable woolly mammoth. With just a few pieces, Jens has captured the shagginess and undeniable majesty of this Ice Age creature. The miniature snowcapped mountain and subtle gray background add immeasurably to the presentation.
As with any ecosystem, the mammoth steppe biome would not be complete without other megafauna. I’m not sure Jens intended for this pair of bison to go with the mammoth, but they complement it perfectly.
See more of Jens’ LEGO animals in his album on Flickr.
Even though I’ve come to moderate my expectations for Pixar sequels, I found myself charmed and highly entertained by this summer’s Finding Dory, co-directed by LEGO Wall-E designer and Pixar animator Angus MacLane. The movie was full of unique, heartwarming characters, and radiohearhoy has lovingly recreated several of them in LEGO.
Easily my favorite character was Hank the cranky octopus, who it turns out has at least one heart of gold. The 1×1 round plates on Hank’s tentacles show how small this LEGO creation actually is, proving that it’s not how much LEGO you own, but how you use the pieces you have.
As a lifelong student of archaeology, I’ve become more and more focused on the Pleistocene and the Paleolithic, that amazing span of the Earth’s history when humanity emerged in Africa and conquered almost the entire habitable surface of the planet. Along the way, we survived multiple ice ages and lived until fairly recently alongside megafauna such as mammoths. I’ve been meaning to build a mammoth or two from LEGO, so I was pleased to see this adorable mother-and-child pair by Pierre. Noteworthy here is that the adult mammoth is built upside down. And I just love the baby mammoth with its big Dumbo ears. Presented on a base of snowy white, this pair would look great on any paleoanthropologist’s or paleontologist’s desk.
In yet another repudiation of the idea that LEGO pieces are only good for the purpose originally intended by their designers, alego alego has built a yellow thatched roof made entirely of LEGO bananas. And the cabin itself is built almost completely from brown Technic connectors. The base of this treehouse is also quite lovely, with a stone pathway, well, and lovely little bushes.
My only critique is that a lovely LEGO creation like this feels a little underpopulated without some characters to enjoy the scenery.
While it’s doubtful any builder will ever challenge the sheer scale of Alice Finch’s LEGO Hogwarts, J.K. Rowling’s magical series of books continues to inspire LEGO builders. At nearly seven and a half feet long, Martin Harris and his son have built a massive minifig-scale quidditch pitch that gives Alice a run for her money. The pitch features all the colorful stands shown in the second movie, and there’s plenty of action both inside and outside the structure.
Each end of the pitch features a trio of goals.
Naturally, beaters are aloft to protect Harry from bludgers as he tries to catch the golden snitch.
While my favorite lifeform from the age of the dinosaurs (and before) is the trilobite, I also have a soft spot for the hard-shelled ammonite. Leonid An has built a scientifically accurate, albeit fictional, ammonite that he’s dubbed Ammonoidea fictum. The Bionicle pieces make an excellent shell, and I love the big yellow eye glaring from behind a mouthful of tentacles.
Sadly, ammonites died out around the same time as the dinosaurs, survived by the similar (but only distantly related) nautilus. If you like this LEGO ammonite, check out the white nautilus we featured here back in 2009.
With the movie’s release just a few months away and photos of Rogue One LEGO sets beginning to surface, it’s inevitable that we begin seeing the kind of shot-for-shot recreations of the trailer in LEGO that we saw before The Force Awakens. markus19840420 proves that there’s plenty of inspiration to be had from less than two minutes of footage with this faithful recreation of the mysterious hooded figure kneeling before what appears to be a bacta tank as Imperial Guards look on. The walls lean in claustrophobically, and Markus has even managed to include puffs of steam.
Here’s hoping Rogue One will inspire the kind of excellent LEGO Star Wars creations that The Force Awakens did, such as the hangar scene and Rey’s AT-AT home by the same builder.
Every week this month, we’re giving away a signed copy of the new LEGO Star Wars Build Your Own Adventure. Every model in the book was designed by our own Rod Gillies! To enter the second copy we’re giving away in August, click here.
We’ll also send each winner a snazzy TBB T-shirt and other cool swag, but thanks in particular to Rod and our friends at DK for the books!
If Carl Sandberg had lived to see the skyscrapers of modern Chicago, I’m sure he would have been no less proud of his city than he was when he wrote his poem “Chicago” more than a hundred years ago. Rocco Buttliere has captured the Chicago skyline in LEGO with this substantial group of microscale buildings, including the John Hancock Center. The looming, iconic buildings certainly dominate the skyline, but I love the smaller buildings and landscaping that Rocco has included, like the Lookinglass Theatre building and the Seneca Playlot Park. My favorite LEGO building, though, is 900 North Michigan with lovely green glass.
As fantastic as the buildings look in the photo above, I love this top-down look — as though you’re flying over in a helicopter.
See lots more photos in Rocco’s photostream on Flickr.
My office at work looks across Lake Washington toward Seattle, and I spent much of the morning and afternoon distracted by F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets of the US Navy Blue Angels acrobatic team as they roared past my window. When I saw the predominantly blue and yellow color scheme of this excellent X-shaped fighter plane by Thomas W., I was immediately reminded of the Blue Angels. But with the double gull wings and large propellor, the real-world US Navy fighter that Thomas’s design truly evokes is the Vought F4U Corsair from World War II — one of my favorite aircraft of all time. The yellow stripe on the leading edge of the wings is lovely, and the white accents give the whole plane a more modern look for some reason.
Sometimes really excellent LEGO creations emerge as tablescraps — those little bits that emerge almost unconsciously as you lazily put LEGO pieces together to see what works. Letranger Absurde found he’d created a miniature mushroom cloud recently, and then built an entire minifig-scale bunker around it so that he could feature the atomic explosion in the background via forced perspective. Not content to throw a couple of minifigs inside a block of gray bricks, he’s added some excellent details, like the filing cabinet and the newspaper on the wall.
While my first inclination was to wish these celebratory minifigs congratulations on their achievement, but upon further reflection I’m not sure what new age in the world of LEGO they may have ushered in…
If you don’t quite trust that Letranger actually built the whole scene as one LEGO creation (without adding in the background with Photoshop), you wouldn’t be alone. To combat such spurious accusations, as well as any doubt that he might not have enough brick separators, he’s posted this behind-the-scenes photo that shows the full setup.