We here at The Brothers Brick pride ourselves on not only running a world-class LEGO blog highlighting the best models and news from the LEGO fan community, but also being pretty accomplished builders ourselves. At a recent team strategy event, we asked our staff of expert builders to bring their best models, so that we could highlight our unique talents.
Set 64044 Ardun Observatory is part of the new wave called Mythic Machines in the Dragon Lands theme, and features a semi-circle three-tiered castle with astronomical equipment in the tower. Arrayed around it are the forces of evil, orc-like creatures with a battering ram, small catapult, and a fearsome red dragon. Play features include hidden passageways, spring-loaded catapults, a working drawbridge and portcullis, and breakaway walls.
Not familiar with LEGO set 64044? That’s because you can’t buy this set from the LEGO company, or anywhere else — it comes from the mind of Aaron Newman.
Aaron Newman doesn’t simply look at his LEGO collection and wonder what he can create; instead he looks at his bricks and asks, “What if LEGO sold different sets?” A 21-year-old UCLA theater student, Aaron’s got a knack for designing LEGO creations to fill his own alternate universe where LEGO produces the sets he’d like to see. And he’s got a fantastic sense of style. Aaron’s models center around a castle theme called Dragon Lands, which is a hybrid of LEGO’s official Vikings and Fantasy-Era Castle lines. He creates sub-themes to mimic LEGO’s habit of releasing sets in waves, and includes a set designed for each price point. His latest sub-theme, titled Dragon Lands: Mythic Machines, features crude orc siege machinery pitted against dwarven and elven strongholds. And, of course, there are lots of dragons, because no Castle theme is complete without them.
I recently had the opportunity speak with Aaron about his unique style and learn a bit about how he designs fan creations that look like sets.
TBB’s very own Simon Liu was celebrating yesterday… No, not a queue of ladies at his door on Valentine’s Day, but the 5-year anniversary of his first “big boy build” and explosion into the LEGO community. To celebrate all that is LEGO (fun, friendship, contests, community spirit, etc), Simon is running a celebratory Mockaversary competition, best described in Simon’s own words:
Give me an idea that you want.
I’ll choose stuff only from this page.
If I build it.
The third Mockaversary gift is a microscale build called Micro Katoren that fulfilled two requests, build a castle and build in the Kaliphlin style as part of the larger Guilds of Historica (GoH) community. GoH was one of the first Build-RPGs hosted on Eurobricks and Simon was heavily involved in the initial concept. This is an anniversary moment in itself as the community is still thriving. Micro Katoren is a microscale replica of The City of Katoren, a collaboration between jsnyder002 and soccersnyderi.
What a lovely guy Simon is. I’m just a bit concerned about how he is going to ship my life-sized LEGO Canadian Mountie all the way from Canada to the UK… Maybe I should have asked for a LEGO beaver instead.
The Arvo Brothers (Ramon & Amador Alfaro Marcilla) have recently released their second book called Alien Project. It costs €26 + shipping and can be purchased via the Arvo Brothers website. The main bulk of the book contains detailed instructions for building their fantastic Alien figure and its base. There are also chapters explaining the inspiration behind the project and a rare insight into the development of a model of this calibre. Below is my review of the book.
When I first saw the amazingly detailed 7,500-piece Millennium Falcon the day after Christmas, I knew right away that it deserved worldwide attention. The model was built by someone who went by the screen name “Marshal Banana“, whom I recognized as the builder who’d created the wonderful 10,000-piece Jawa Sandcrawler back in 2011. Less than two days after I’d posted the Falcon, my prediction came true and the Falcon was everywhere, from “geek” sites like Kotaku and GeekWire to major news outlets like Time Magazine and USA Today. But we still knew almost nothing about this talented builder.
Now that he’s back from a well-deserved holiday, I’m pleased to bring our readers this in-depth interview with Hannes Tscharner, builder of both the Falcon and Sandcrawler.
Hannes shares a bit about himself, along with tips on photographing LEGO models and editing the photos for presentation. We also learn how he organizes his collection, what he uses to add lighting to his models, and more.
The Castle theme has a long history within the LEGO community, and builders all over the world have produced magnificent creations in every size, shape, and color. Luke Hutchinson (Derfel Cadarn) is one of the originators of the now-common “ramshackle” style, characterized by the odd angles and an organic approach to the scene. His beautiful creations inspired me to start building with LEGO and posting my creations online many years ago.
So, naturally I was very excited to see a glimpse of his latest creation in a teaser pic a few months back. He continues to improve his own building style, pushing his creations further and further, influencing many other builders in this theme.
We had a chance to talk to Luke more about his creation and his approach.
Seattle builder Dave Sterling has built a LEGO version of London’s Charing Cross Railway Station as it appeared in the late-Victorian period. Dave’s creation formed part of an international collaboration entitled Around the World in 80 days which was displayed at Brickworld Chigaco. Dave has really captured the intricate details and elaborate exterior features representative of Victorian architecture.
A replica of the 70ft high Eleanor Cross was built in the forecourt of the station in 1865, and this is very nicely depicted in Dave’s build by the ornate tall ‘cross’ complete with tan microfigs, masonry bricks and arches.
Did you know that a new Star Wars movie came out in 2015, with accompanying LEGO sets? If you’ve been living in your basement working on your LEGO masterpiece and weren’t aware, one glance at TBB’s top LEGO news stories would provide a clear picture of just how much excitement has preceded what turned out to be a rather excellent movie. Like our round-up of most popular LEGO models of 2015, LEGO Star Wars stories have dominated news coverage this year — especially since the sets were first revealed in September.
The actual Top 10 list is heavily dominated by set announcements, so hit the jump to check it out.
But some interesting and important news doesn’t necessarily show up in this top 10 list. Back in July, TBB celebrated its tenth anniversary, and I reflected on what it’s been like running a LEGO blog for 10 years. I promised we would be making some changes to improve the experience for our readers, and we’ve done exactly that. After BrickCon in October, we added eight new contributors, who’ve all helped us improve our coverage of both LEGO models and LEGO news. We’ve significantly broadened our geographic diversity, with two new contributors from the UK (both Scottish, coincidentally) and one each from Russia and South Africa — adding to our existing team from the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. Our new contributors have helped to free up our editorial staff to focus more on time-consuming content like LEGO set reviews.
Meanwhile, TBB staff were also a strong presence at LEGO conventions such as Brickworld in Chicago and BrickCon in Seattle, where readers and contributors built a rather epic American Civil War display in LEGO, featuring help from a corps of volunteer dinosaur cavalry.
And in the UK at BRICK, Elspeth took on LEGO Wonder Woman.
Brothers Brick daily covers cool fan-built models and LEGO news, but sometimes we get a chance to highlight a story from the human side of our favorite hobby. This touching story by the State Journal Register, an Illinois newspaper, shows how sometimes LEGO can be more than just a toy or a fun hobby. Sometimes it can be a means for healing.
After his wife, Tricia, died in the spring of 2011, Ray Hofman was having a hard, hard time. They had been married 39 years and, understandably, Ray felt lost.
“It was two years of long, long days,” he says.
The Christmas before Tricia died, Ray’s nephew, Jason Stokes, gave him a present. It was a replica of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater home, made out of Legos.
It is on such small things life sometimes turns.
“I didn’t know much about Legos,” Ray says. “When I grew up, it was Lincoln Logs.”
But something about that gift resonated with him.
Ray discovered the joy of receiving a LEGO set as a gift, and set out to bring that delight to others. First he built and donated a Taj Mahal to a cancer treatment center charity auction, but soon fell in love with the idea of building LEGO sets and giving them as gifts to everyone around him, including those who least expected it. His postman received sets for his grandchildren, and a local restaurant owner received a Space Shuttle because Hofman knew he was a space enthusiast. His favorite though, is giving gifts to children, and Hofman’s fridge is covered with heart-felt thank-you cards from children.
Hofman has spent the last two years building LEGO sets and giving them away to friends, family, and charities. “It filled a void,” he says.
Read the full story on the State Journal Register.
Back home from seeing The Force awakens, I’m watching Conan O’Brien interview J.J. Abrams and Harrison Ford, and was entertained to see that the UCS Millennium Falcon just made an appearance. Watch how the actor who played Han Solo carefully handles this painstakingly built LEGO set.
Heh heh. Thanks to reader Mike R. for the tip earlier in the day!
Australian LEGO Certified Professional Ryan McNaught and his workshop team have built a life-sized replica of the TARDIS from Doctor Who. Images of the LEGO TARDIS on Bondi Beach in Sydney started circulating on the web yesterday, but you can see it in person at the Zing Pop Culture Store in Macquarie Park through the 18th this month, and then at the Doctor Who Festival in Sydney on the 21st and 22nd of November.
We reached out to Ryan and the BBC to uncover some details and exclusive photos not shared elsewhere. Ryan tells us that his team of 5 builders spent 45 hours just to design the LEGO TARDIS, and then 206 man hours to build it. Everyone is sworn to secrecy on the part count, since the BBC will be holding a contest to guess the number of LEGO pieces used to build it — suffice to say it’s a fairly insane number of dark blue LEGO all in one place! Built to exacting specifications provided by the BBC archives, it stands 316 bricks high (303 cm or nearly 10 feet tall).
The front of the TARDIS features a brick-built notice and fully functional door, which will enable Peter Capaldi himself to emerge from the LEGO TARDIS at the Doctor Who Festival later this month.
The light on top works, and Ryan’s team even built a matching Sonic Screwdriver.
To enable the BBC to transport the LEGO TARDIS to various events, it incorporates an internal steel frame. As to other secret details, Ryan tells us, “It may in fact be bigger on the inside, it certainly felt like it when we were building it!
UPDATE: Ryan has added some more photos to his Flickr photostream, including this great photo of the team behind this epic build.
We’re big fans of Chris McVeigh (powerpig on Flickr) here at The Brothers Brick, and we’ve been enjoying his brick sketches for a couple of years. But Chris hadn’t tackled a self-portrait until now. Chris’s signature mustache and resplendent beard come through wonderfully with just a few plates and tiles.