Moby Dick is one of those novels that requires real commitment to get through, with its lengthy diversions and deep symbolism, but rewards careful reading and sticks with you for decades afterward. It also makes for great LEGO inspiration, as Ryan Rubino’s white whale battling a giant squid from back in 2009 certainly proves. Letranger Absurde enters the fray with Captain Ahab entangled by the line from his own harpoon, hauled to his doom in the dark deeps of the sea. The sperm whale itself steals the spotlight in this build, with what appears to be a surfboard for a tongue, but don’t miss the excellent sea floor, complete with conch shell, brain coral, and even a treasure chest.
A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin takes his rightful place in the Red Keep atop the infamous Iron Throne, from whence he will cast judgment and pronounce life or death upon the world’s inhabitants (mostly death). This magnificent entourage of LEGO characters by Callum brings many of your favorite characters to brick form, from Eddard Stark and Jon Snow, to Jaime and Tyrion, and Daenerys and Khal Drogo.
The quote above is from The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde and it’s the epigraph for The Ideal Order, a recently published novel written by Christoph Bartneck. (You can find my review of this book on Goodreads.) The story is centered around the life of a troubled AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) named Rob, who, like all builders before him, eventually realizes that his LEGO collection is virtually useless when stored in one big cardboard box and thus sets out on a quest to find (you guessed it) “the ideal order” for sorting his LEGO collection. (Spoiler alert! No such order truly exists.) I sympathize with Rob’s predicament, because I’ve been there. There’s nothing worse than trying to build an old set by fishing pieces out of the rainbow-colored abyss of plastic that is an unsorted box of LEGO. So we sort.
Builder Marcel V. is on a mission to picture Harry Potter’s life one little slice at a time. These terrific vignettes take us from 4 Privet Drive, to Platform 9 and 3/4, Ollivander’s, and right on to Hogwarts’ Sorting Hat and the Gryffindor Common Room. Marcel tells us he’s planning a rather lengthy series, so we’ll check back in as he continues to create these brick snapshots. For now, though, check out the first five scenes in Harry’s life:
And some adventures lead us to our destiny. Dwalin Forkbeard built the iconic wardrobe from the Chronicles of Narnia that leads to the magical land of Narnia. Though the professor’s home on the back side of this build could use some more furniture and maybe a rug, I’m in love with the Narnia scene and the wardrobe itself. The snowy landscape and those coniferous trees are stunning and the new LEGO satyr makes for a perfect Mr. Tumnus.
Dwalin captured a beautiful, out-of-focus-foreground photo of the wardrobe and beyond, presumably depicting the Pevensie children’s first glimpse of Narnia. He also built an 8 by 8 vignette version of this build for a sweet contest over on Eurobricks where you can win an entire set of the new Series 15 Collectible Minifigures, including the Satyr and (everyone’s favorite) Left Shark! The contest ends on March 10th so there’s still time for you to follow Dwalin’s lead and submit an entry or two of your own!
Markus Rollbühler opens up a new page on LEGO building by presenting Grimm’s Fairy Tales in book form. We’ve seen literature depicted in LEGO through an artistic representation of a book before, but I here I particularly love Markus’ use of the pages forming gnarled tree silhouettes to add depth to the scenes. Markus says that there are references to six of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales depicted here: see if you can spot them all.
Thomas Poulsom, the fan builder behind the LEGO Ideas Birds set has just announced the upcoming release of his new book, Birds from Bricks. Tom is a bird and wildlife enthusiast, so it is no surprise that his new book follows on from the 3 lovely bird models in the Ideas set. The book has detailed step-by-step instructions for 15 more bird models, with colour photos and information about each species.
Birds from Bricks: Amazing LEGO Designs That Take Flight is currently available to pre-order from both Amazon US and Amazon UK (with free UK shipping) and a release date of 15 April 2016 in the UK, and April 1st in the US.
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.
File this under “ideas I wish I’d thought of first”. From Jeff Friesen, award-winning photographer and author of United States of LEGO: A Brick Tour of America, comes a delightful new book of LEGO dioramas paying homage to the work of enigmatic graffiti artist Banksy.
Inside its 9″ x 9″ hard cover, the very inexpensive Bricksy: Unauthorized Underground Brick Street Art features 84 carefully constructed and beautifully photographed scenes, each based on a different Banksy work. For reference purposes, thumbnails of the originals appear on every page, and are also compiled into a visual index at the back that even cites the original image sources.
Rather than merely trying to mimic Banksy’s works in LEGO, Jeff embellishes them and expands upon them to service his own unique sense of humor. It’s as though we are pulling the camera back from the original, and seeing it in the context of a whole new backstory. This definitely makes the book more appealing, although true Banksy aficionados may balk at such brazen reinterpretations.
As this gallery of images shows, many Banksy standards make an appearance – my personal favorite being the meat wagon “mobile installation” featured in the documentary Banksy Does New York. As you might expect, the scenes are all built to minifig scale, making extensive use of the rich array of collectible minifig components now at LEGO fans’ disposal (this book could not have existed 5 years ago). All the buildings and other background details are completely brick-built, with some skillful use of forced perspective. I also enjoyed the repeated appearance of a large brick-built rat!
Bricksy: Unauthorized Underground Brick Street Art is available on Amazon in both physical and digital formats. And it’s currently less than $10, so I recommend you grab a copy of this awesome picture book right now, to fill that spot on your coffee table next to the Beautiful LEGO trilogy.
In the last two years, my fellow Dutchmen Dennis Bosman (Legotrucks) and Dennis Glaasker (Bricksonwheels) have been working on a book titled The art of Lego Scale Modeling. It is one of a number of new titles released this fall by Nostarch Press and currently costs $21.74 on amazon (down from its normal list price of 29.95).
Both of these guys have been building scale models (primarily of trucks) for years and are long-term members of the LEGO community. For their book they have enlisted the cooperation of no fewer than 22 other builders, from all over the world, to present high-quality photographs of some of the best Lego scale models of vehicles you’ll ever see. I got my copy just before the weekend, because I was lucky enough to be able to contribute some of my own models for this title. I obviously cannot be completely objective here. Then again, no reviewer ever is.
The excellent photographs of the models themselves are accompanied by short bits of text, giving some information about the real-world vehicle, and the builds. These are interesting, but the photographs are the stars. If you are a regular reader of our blog, you will already have seen a fair few of the models, such as the Ferrari 458 Italia, by Nathaneal L.. The top-notch photography shows them in a new light.
Although there probably are other scale models out there of similar quality, the Dennises have made a really nice selection of trucks, including a few by the authors themselves, cars, motorcycles, race cars, cranes, aircraft, military models and ships. A few models were built specifically for the book, such as the wonderful Scania by Ingmar Spijkhoven (2LegoOrNot2Lego).
If you are expecting a detailed explanation of how to build models like these, this book will disappoint you. There’s a brief section on how to build them, with a few useful pointers, but a look at the biographies of the builders included in the back of the book will tell you that most of them have been at this for years, if not decades. You can’t learn to build models like these by reading a book; it takes experience. If you’re looking for instructions, you’re not going to find them either. The instructions for some of the individual models alone would be enough to fill most of the book’s 204 pages. You will find plenty of inspiration, though.
As usual with LEGO books from this publisher, the cover and binding seem pretty sturdy. The pictures are nicely printed in a matt-gloss finish and are printed on decent quality paper. This is what you would expect from what’s essentially a coffee table picture book. What I didn’t expect is the size of the book. I would have liked to see it a bit larger (it is about 20 by 25 cm/ 8 x 10 inches). This size was probably chosen to keep the book affordable. The pages are still large enough to give you a good view of the models and to appreciate most of the details, but some would definitely look even better on a larger canvas. This is a minor niggle. If scale models of vehicles built out of LEGO are your thing (and if not, why not?!), this is a title you definitely do not want to miss.
Medieval Lego is a book written by Greyson Beights that combines major events in medieval history with illustrations in Lego. Specifically, the book features condensed summaries written by experts in the subject about events that took place in England and Scotland from the 11th century to 15th century. Each chapter is accompanied by photos with content made entirely out of Lego by fan builders. This interesting combination will no doubt appeal to Lego fans and history buffs, but you don’t have to be either to find the book approachable in its simplicity. Below is a video of my review:
Beautiful LEGO: Wild! is the third title in a series of best-selling coffee table books by Mike Doyle. Like its predecessors Beautiful LEGO and Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, this edition features a carefully curated collection of LEGO creations by some of the community’s top builders.
Compared to its hefty hard-backed cousin DARK, this slimmer book is more reminiscent of the original Beautiful LEGO. Like DARK, its builder profiles are kept to a minimum and the focus is squarely on the photographs. Otherwise the format is the same, with images organized into categories and carefully labelled with info such as title, builder, year and part count.
To differentiate each new volume from the last, Mike has chosen to assign them over-arching themes. And while DARK was ambiguous enough to allow for a pretty diverse range of builds, WILD is necessarily more constrained to subject matter in some way related to plants, animals or nature. And since it doesn’t feature any of the nature-themed builds already used in the first two books, sections like the ones on bugs and dragons end up relying on some slightly less polished builds than readers of the earlier books might be used to seeing.