Perhaps it’s just me, but I would never have imagined that LEGO Power Functions and LEGO Castles would go well together. There may be other examples out there that I am not aware of, but Marco den Besten (Ecclesiastes) proves me wrong with his Acirhon’s Nest.
At a first glance it’s a decent-looking castle with a bit of a fantasy theme. Take a closer look, however, and you’ll note a moving representation of a waterfall, a bear that moves in and out of its cave, some sort of bat circling one of the towers and warriors emerging from hatches in the top of another tower. Powerful stuff.
As nice as the individual models that we blog are, I think there’s often something really special about collaborative builds. The collaborative display by Pennlug at Brickfair, for instance, was one of my favourite things on show and Bricksboro Beach, built by members of Brickish, was probably the nicest display I have ever personally been involved with.
Last weekend, Legoworld took place in Utrecht in the Netherlands. Even though it is the public event closest to where I live and the largest LEGO-event in the Netherlands, I could not make it there myself. This is unfortunate for a variety of reasons, including because I would have loved to see the collaborative city display by lowlug-members Erik Smit (عʈ¡ – ʇıɯs ıʇə ʞıɹə), Tijger-San, Thomassio, Mockingbird, Arjan Oude Kotte (Konajra), Neverroads, Ruben Ras (workfromtheheart) and JeroenD (in random order).
The individual elements, such as the cafe-corner compatible buildings (such as the ones by Tijger-San pictured above) are nice, but the whole display is one of those ‘whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ kind of things. You could walk around this and would keep noticing new things. If you want to get an impression of what it must looked like to members of the audience, check out Erik’s video.
It’s no secret that I like the F/A-18 Hornet (albeit not as much as I like the F-14 Tomcat), so I’m always happy to see a nice model of this US Navy strike fighter.
Ryan Harris (Shep Sheppardson) has built a fine example in the markings of US Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 113, better known as the Stingers. This was the first US Navy combat squadron to start flying Hornets back in the eighties and is still active today. Some elements of the model aren’t all that different from other Hornets (including my own), but looks very much like the real deal and has a few interesting features. I’m primarily very curious to find out how the intakes are held together.
Sometimes LEGO builders drop off the map all of a sudden. Real life priorities take over or they lose interest. If the only way you followed the stuff that Ed Diment (Lego Monster) built was via flickr, you might think that the same at happened to him. To some extent it has. Ed’s real-life priority, however, is LEGO-related: he has become a professional LEGO builder, who, together with Duncan Titmarsh, runs a company called Bright Bricks. They also built the jet engine we blogged a while ago. Today, for the first time in a long while, Ed has posted one a new model on flickr.
It is a 1/55 scale model of an Airbus A-380 airliner, commissioned by a toy shop in Heathrow Airport. I already saw pictures of this a few weeks ago, whilst visiting the Bright Bricks workshop, and have been eagerly anticipating blogging them ever since. I know from Ed that being a professional LEGO builder means often spending time building things that aren’t necessarily all that interesting as well as dealing with a lot of red tape, such as health and safety rules and planning permissions. Ed is an airplane buff, however. Back when his LEGO-building was just a hobby, he built a model of Concorde, for instance. It is no surprise then, that the Airbus was one model that he himself was looking forward to building.
The real aircraft is a bit of a blimp, but the way the difficult compound curves on the fuselage were sculpted, the way the wing profiles and engines were built and the wonderful Brick-built British Airways markings on the tail make this model a thing of beauty.
One of the many cool things I didn’t list in my report on Steam 2013 was mechabrick.
It was started by British AFOL Ben Jarvis that combines three of his passions: Lego, robots and wargaming. Ben has launched a kick-starter project to get it under way. If successful, this should enable the launch of the first mechabrick kit, which will consist of all the parts you need to turn four minifigs into kick-ass mecha (with friggin’ big guns, of course) and four boards that are to be combined to form the play board. The kit will also contain stickers to customise the mecha, as well as dice and a rulebook. Mechabrick is more than just a war game with mecha, however. An essential and fun part of the game will be building the scenery and obstacles on the game board with our favourite plastic bricks. Ben built a rather impressive example for the show.
At the event I had the opportunity to handle two of the prototypes and they looked (and felt) promising. I’m sure that plenty of you, like Ben, are fans of Lego, robots and wargaming. Check out the pictures in the flickr group and the project page. If you like what you see, you can pledge your support.
We don’t often feature Technic models on this blog. The Technic aesthetic is rather different from the ultra-realistic models that I tend to favour. In other words, I like models that look realistic (albeit with just the right sprinkling of studs), but don’t care too much whether or not it functions like the real thing. The subjects also tend to not excite me. I have great admiration for the cleverness that is involved in getting the mechanical bits to work, but the tenth Technic supercar, say, to me, looks just about the same as the first or second: both have got lots of gears and lots of holes in them. That said, sometimes a Technic MOC does hit the spot, like the Mad Monster Masher by Barry Bosman (Barman76).
It is based on the eponymous toy from the eighties, which I thought was pretty cool, and looks great. Like the toy, Barry’s model is remote-controlled. The front and rear wheels are steered using a Power Function M-motor and the vehicle is driven by no fewer than three XL motors. If you’re in the Netherlands, you’ll be able to see it in action at Lego World Utrecht, which is due to take place next weekend.
While most of my fellow Brothers were having a great time at Brickcon in Seattle, I was enjoying myself immensely at the UK’s largest LEGO-event: the Great Western Lego Show in Swindon. The show is organised by Martin Long, who is the president of the Brickish Association. The show took place on Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th of October at a great location: the Great Western Railway museum, a.k.a. the Steam Museum. Most of the models on show were built by members of the association, who tend to refer to the show simply as ‘Steam’.
The models were all of a very high quality, but I want to share a few highlights with you. The first is the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 jet engine build by Bright Bricks, which is a company run by Duncan Titmarsh -the UK’s only Lego Certified Professional- and Ed Diment (Lego Monster). The model is built to half scale, weighs 350 kg and was commissioned by Rolls Royce for last year’s Farnborough Air Show. It is beautifully built and by means of an electric motor the fans actually spin, which gives it certain hypnotic quality.
Another very large and impressive model was the Tigelfáh Castle layout (We featured part of this a few weeks ago). It was a collaborative build by no fewer than eight builders: James Pegrum (peggyjdb), Harry Russell (Kǻrrde), Thomas Coleman (Malravion), Luke Watkins Hutchinson (- Derfel Cadarn -), Barney Main (SlyOwl), Colin Parry (Cuahchic), Jimmy Clynche (Invicta Bricks) and Steven Snasdell (workshysteve). It was enormous, fantastically detailed and very hard to capture in a single photo! No matter from what angle you looked at this, you always spotted a nice new detail.
One of the favourites of the public at the Steam show is the mosaic build. Members of the audience can fill a baseplate with 2×2 plates (in pre-arranged patterns printed out on paper), after which the plate is added to the mosaic. The mosaic gradually grows during the show and the end result is always spectacular.
For more pictures of these and other models at the show, check out the photosets by Andrew Harvey, Alec Hole and Drew Maughan. This was my 7th time at the event and it just keeps getting better. I know I am not the only builder already planning what to build for the show next year.
In the last week or so, new pictures by James Pegrum (peggyjb) kept popping up in my contacts’ latest photos, offering tantalising glimpses of an amazing Castle model coming together. James has now posted a picture that shows just about the whole thing, although he couldn’t quite capture all of it without doing some major remodelling of his house. The castle is not based on any particular real one, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look realistic.
Admittedly, I’m not a connoisseur of Castle models, but this one strikes me as really rather good, for a couple of reasons. My fellow brother Gambort once explained that, to be good, a LEGO city should ideally not all be built on the same level or on a rectangular grid, except perhaps if it’s meant to be somewhere in a particularly flat part of the United States (I am paraphrasing a bit and this latter part is my own addition, but it is a nice bridge to the next sentence). There are no castles in the United States, except for generally cheesy-looking fakes, and I reckon that LEGO castles too get better by not being rectangular and level. James’ model ticks both of those boxes.
This is as good as it gets for now. However, it will still get better. This is merely James’ contribution to a collaboration with seven other members of the Brickish association. Their complete layout will be unveiled at the 2013 Great Western LEGO show, which will take place on the 5th and 6th of October in Swindon, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it with my own two eyes.
In the last few days I have written blog posts about the latest creations by Dutch truck builders (Nanko Klein Paste’s DAF and Dennis Glaasker’s Scania), but now it’s my own turn.
Since about two years, I’ve been building a collection of British vehicles to display at shows. In the summer of last year, I travelled from Portsmouth to York in the company of a group of British LEGO-building friends, going to a LEGO-show. Along the way we discussed my plans for building more British vehicles. During the five-hour drive we saw at least two dozen trucks operated by the Stobart Group. This company was founded by ‘Steady’ Eddie Stobart and operates more than 2000 trucks, mostly Scanias. They are ubiquitous in Britain and instantly recognizable. It was obvious that, if I was going to build a truck for my collection, it had to be a Stobart truck (or lorry, as my friends insist on calling it).
It took me a while though. One of the things that make these trucks/lorries so recognizable is their rather funky-looking colour scheme and even though the graphics on the real vehicles are done with stickers, I wanted to build them out bricks. This was complicated, obviously, but the end result does give a decent impression of what it looks like on the real Scania.
In little more than a week, the 2013 Great Western LEGO Show will take place in Swindon in the UK. My collection of British vehicles will be on display there, including this truck, as well as my B-52 model.
Hot on the heels of fellow Dutch truck builder Dennis Glaasker, Nanko Klein Paste (nkle) has also built a new truck. Unlike Dennis’ trucks, it’s not all shiny and full of chrome, however. It’s a much more utilitarian-looking Dutch DAF 2300 truck from the early eighties.
There is much to like though, such as the construction of the radiator with a small edge around it, the SNOT construction on the side of the cab and front bumper and the detailed chassis, engine bay and working tilt cab. Growing up, I used to regularly see trucks like this and I absolutely love it.