Category Archives: Building Techniques

Not sure what SNOT is? Want to learn innovative new ways to create awesome LEGO models of your own? Peruse our posts about LEGO building techniques to pick up tricks & tips from the best.

Barreling along

Graham Gidman reconstructs the barrel escape scene from The Hobbit with stunning landscaping techniques. The use of the SNOT techniques to sculpt the rock formations creates an organic look to the landscape. The flow of the water blends seamlessly with the rocks to the point that it looks like actual water from afar. Take a closer look and you’ll appreciate the fine craftsmanship of this build.

Barrels Out of Bond

The Faerie Dragon all made of crystal

At a recent LEGO convention, Ivan Angeli and Mihai Marius Mihu were watching their displays, and happened to have some brick on hand, so they set to building. Talented builders both, together they produced this breathtaking Faerie Dragon in a single afternoon. I love creations built almost entirely of transparent elements. Many of the intricate elements builders grow to rely upon for complex techniques are unavailable in transparent hues, and many unusual pieces are.

Faerie Dragon

Faerie Dragon

This bird shoe fits the bill

This angry-looking bird isn’t the star of a mobile game or summer movie, but is actually an ingenious interpretation of one of nature’s bigger-billed birds, the African-native shoebill. The real bird stands a remarkable 4 feet tall with an enormous bill for catching fish. Builder Moko has done a great job using the shin guards from the large General Grievous figure to portray the bill, but my favorite part is the expressive eyes. Be sure to check out Moko’s blog for a cool breakdown of the construction techniques employed.

Shoebill

Watch the Autumn leaves change from Stonecreek Lookout

Sergeant Chipmunk is the master of texture. First, it was insanely beautiful, jagged rockwork. Then, a sleek and stylish castle of ice. Now, it’s a deceptively simple castle with extra-blocky crenellation surrounded by autumn-time trees. The new texture? Well, Chipmunk put a handful of 1×1 round tiles to great use by carefully stacking them into dragonscale-like textured walls for his castle. I can’t imagine the zen-like patience this man must have.

Stonecreek Forest

Brickmania M3A1 Scout Car custom LEGO kit [Review]

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve reviewed the custom LEGO kits designed by Dan Siskind of Brickmania. Back in 2013, I reviewed the Dodge WC54 Ambulance, and writing those reviews really got me started in building World War II models seriously. In the meantime, Dan and his team have continued to release new custom kits, on a near-weekly cadence. One of Dan’s recent Brickmania releases is the M3A1 Scout Car, produced by the White Motor Company between 1940 and 1944. The vehicle served throughout WW2, and its basic design served as the basis of the iconic M3 Half-track.

Brickmania M3A1 Scout Car

Like some of the custom kits I reviewed back in 2013, the M3A1 Scout Car is a WW2 vehicle I also built back in 2014, so I’ll be comparing Dan’s version with my own.

Click through to read the full review

Survival starts in the core: LEGO versions of ReCore’s Mack and Joule

When my friend Lego Junkie posted his version of Mack from ReCore a few days ago, I only had a sketch model of heads for the main characters Mack and Joule. His version, as well as new gameplay footage and screenshots from E3 of these characters, was just the motivation I needed to move forward with said sketches.

Mack and Joule - ReCore

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Eat fresh!

These larger-than-life sculptures by Bruce Lowell look more like pixelated photos than LEGO creations. Seriously, just squint your eyes a bit and these lunchtime treats look just like the real thing! I particularly love how Bruce captured the Subway and Lay’s logos perfectly, even on three-dimensional surfaces. And while it normally bothers me to see an underlying color showing through to a top layer of a different color, allowing the white layer to show through on the stair-stepped portion of the raw red onions is simply genius!

LEGO Subway Sandwich Meal

The Vaygr fleet expands

Tim Schwalfenberg expands his Homeworld Vaygr fleet with this classy Vaygr missile frigate. It’s the second ship of Tim’s Vaygr fleet we’ve featured, after his excellent corvette, and Tim has more on the way to round out the armada. One of the best hallmarks of Homeworld-inspired spaceships is the clean color blocking, and Tim’s interpretation of the Vaygr fleet looks striking clad in white with red stripes. One of the best details is the missile launcher mounted on the side, a fantastic brick recreation of the original model’s detail.

Vaygr Missile Frigate

Build your own miniature Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Following up a 1:1 scale Sky-Hook and an incredible minifig scale Songbird dioramaImagine Rigney is back with another build from the universe of BioShock Infinite. This time around it’s an itty bitty Songbird that you can build from a handful of pieces, and there’s full instructions to make one yourself.

Itty Bitty Songbird InstructionsBy the way, BioShock Infinite is a brilliant game and one of my all-time favourites. It’s relatively cheap now, so if you haven’t tried it yet, pick it up and give it a go.

Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device in LEGO

Leonid An is running awesome building experiments on some of the new parts. The result is this gorgeous handheld portal device from the Portal video game. I am guessing this build started with the white large figure armour piece, which has the same shape as a part of the original portal gun. However, the rest of the weapon is no less excellent and features a couple of great building solutions including these three minifigure hammer pieces on the other end. Take a moment to appreciate the peculiar scale of the gun; it is not too large, but has enough details which make it instantly recognizable.

Handheld Portal Device

The cat is back! A LEGO 1/36 scale Grumman F-14

It has been thirty years since Top Gun hit the big screen, and the true star of the movie, the charismatic Grumman F-14 Tomcat, was retired from US Navy service almost ten years ago. I built my first LEGO Tomcat more than 20 years ago and I have kept making improvements, as I learned new tricks and as new parts became available. Usually the changes were fairly small, with the core of the model changing very little.

VF-84 Jolly Rogers F-14A Tomcat

Ever since I completed my 1/22 scale model a few years ago, I’ve been eyeballing my three smaller 1/36 scale models, no longer liking what I saw. They looked very crude compared to the bigger model and they lacked a few essential features. The intakes on the Tomcat are cranked and the vertical tail fins are canted outward. These sort of things may not seem important, but they make a big difference to the look. Furthermore, the undercarriage never really worked properly, the nose was a bit long, the angles of the wings weren’t quite right and there were a host of other little things that could be improved. Of course, I had to avoid messing up the things I did like about the existing model, but small incremental changes weren’t going to hack it any more.

VF-84 Jolly Rogers F-14A Tomcat

I started with a new model, albeit with the old one nearby for comparison purposes. The first jet I decided to rebuild has the famous skull and crossbones markings of Fighter Squadron 84 “Jolly Rogers”, like they had in the ‘seventies. I don’t care much for stealth fighters. My Tomcats are probably the closest thing I have to a signature build, which makes me proud to say that the cat is back!

X marks the spot of ingenuity

We see a lot of original spaceship designs from the LEGO community, and a lot of LEGO pieces being used in clever new ways. But I’m still always impressed by those builders who boldly integrate unusual pieces and pull it off with panache. One such builder is Curtis Collins with the Seraph. It’s a gorgeous design that uses bright red LEGO canoes for the engine cowlings, despite a plethora of black greebling on the struts—and miraculously, it works. Keen-eyed readers will also spot that the cockpit glass is a LEGO Christmas ornament.

Seraph