Tag Archives: Custom

This is not the page for LEGO purists. From heavily customized minifigures to LEGO pieces chopped, painted, and stickered to within an inch of their little plastic lives, this is where you’ll find some of the most creative uses — and abuses — of LEGO anywhere.

Mechabrick: turn your minifigs into mecha

One of the many cool things I didn’t list in my report on Steam 2013 was mechabrick.

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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.

STEAM (Great Western LEGO Show) 2013

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.

Soviet armor forged in the Arsenal of Democracy

Thanks to having run out of LEGO track (I can’t wait for Brickmania Track Links), I’ve been forced to build something with wheels. Between June 1941 and September 1945, the United States delivered 400,000 Jeeps and trucks, 12,000 armored vehicles, 11,400 aircraft, and 1.75 million tons of food to the Soviet Union as part of the Lend-Lease Program. The US often reserved the latest arms and armor for its own armed forces, and older or obsolete designs ended up on ships to the USSR to fight the Third Reich on the Eastern Front.

One such vehicle was the M3 Scout Car, an armored car created by the White Motor Company in the late 1930s. You can clearly see the M3 Scout Car’s heritage in the later M3 Halftrack, which I’ve included here with the Scout Car — both in Soviet livery.

Soviet Armor Forged in the Arsenal of Democracy

Recent posts about my LEGO World War II models didn’t really discuss materials or building techniques. While I wholeheartedly agree with LEGO’s stance not to produce LEGO sets based on recent real-world military conflicts, it does leave a gap for the minifig-scale LEGO military modeler. Several custom accessory vendors fill that gap. Here’s a quick run-down of the custom items I’ve used in my recent models.

  • Weapons and headgear by BrickArms: Will Chapman has been branching out from American and sci-fi weaponry over the last couple of years, with PPSh & DP-28 machine guns, Mosin-Nagant rifles, Tokarev pistols, and even an ushanka hat for those long Russian winters.
  • Flags and trenchcoats by Cape Madness: My Soviet armor wouldn’t be the same without a proper Soviet flag. Naturally, LEGO isn’t going to make one of those… My thanks to Dave Ingraham for generously giving me a large selection from his catalog.
  • Printed accessories from Citizen Brick: Though a bit on the pricey side, Citizen Brick sells a variety of interesting elements you can’t buy from LEGO, including printed BrickArms headgear like the ushanka with the red star and the medic helmets I’ve included in previously posted models.
  • Printed BrickArms crates from Brickmania and G.I. Brick: Quite possibly my favorite recent addition to the BrickArms catalog, the crates are long enough to hold long guns and come in a variety of realistic colors and useful patterns. Frankly, I feel a compulsion to collect them all…

M3 Scout Car (1) M3 Scout Car (2)

The Soviet decals — “CCCP” and so on — are stickers salvaged from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull LEGO sets (a theme rife with exceptions to LEGO’s policy, but full of elements useful to the military builder).

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy research while building LEGO models based on historical people, events, places, and vehicles. Though I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks, I’ve continued improving many of my existing WW2 models based on feedback from other builders and better photos I’ve come across.

Once I’m reasonably happy with a military model, I like to reproduce it so I can make further variations without destroying each one in turn. Here’s my much-improved (I think…) M5 Stuart Light Tank alongside a new M4 Sherman Medium Tank.

Sherman & Stuart tanks of the 761st

I rebuilt the front of the Stuart to reduce how much it projected in front of the treads, lowered the turret by a plate, and gave the turret a proper commander’s hatch. The Sherman has a brand new turret, using 1×3 arches that I first saw built into the turret on the Brickmania Sherman I reviewed earlier this year — another example of how LEGO builders are indebted to each other to improve their designs.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with all my World War II armor (LEGO Italy circa 1943 seems overdue for liberation), but I’m certainly enjoying the vehicle builds along the way.

Chrome Block City review

Chrome Block City is a Bricklink store that specializes in selling a large selection of custom chromed Lego elements. This is our first time reviewing their products, which the owner has sent to me for sale in the Creations for Charity fundraiser later this year. Below is a video of the review along with a summary of pros and cons.

Chrome Block City


Pros:

  • Large selection of parts and colors.
  • Very limited quantities on most items, making them exclusive to the few owners.
  • Same clutch strength when used with regular Lego elements.
  • High quality of chrome paint on most items.


Cons:

  • Chrome parts are expensive due to their quality and cost of production.
  • Some parts with bar shapes have minor exposed areas that are not chromed. Contact the seller before buying if this is a concern to you.
  • Underlying printed patterns on the original elements may be visible. This can be cool if the pattern is appropriate but may be distracting if the pattern is out of context.

Overall, Chrome Block City’s large selection of chromed elements means there’s a good chance you’ll find something that appeals to you in an interesting shade of chrome. Many of their items are one-of-a-kind, which means you can take pride in being the owner of an exclusive chrome Lego piece. Despite the high quality of most elements, a few will have imperfections as mentioned above and in the video, but they are not significant enough to be recognized without a close inspection.

ChromeBricks new releases and review

ChromeBricks is a longstanding Bricklink store that sells custom chromed Lego elements. I reviewed a sample of their products several years ago, and I recently received some of their new items for a review. Below is a video of the review along with a summary of pros and cons.

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Pros:

  • Flawless quality of chrome paint. I love the deep shade of chrome red.
  • Same clutch strength when used with regular Lego elements.
  • Two-toned chrome weapons are unique and awesome.
  • Underlying color of Lego element has similar color to chrome paint.


Cons:

  • Chrome parts are expensive due to their quality and cost of production.
  • Connections between minifigure parts and accessories are tight, requiring effort to swap.

In conclusion, ChromeBricks offers top quality chrome elements for those with a budget for them. Their crimson red chrome is eye-catching and their unique two-toned weapons are outstanding. The tight connections between their chromed minifigure parts might diminish the play value, but I suspect most buyers will not subject them to heavy use.

Ronald Vallenduuk’s BR 55 locomotive is a black beauty

I am a stickler for scale models and I love comparison pictures between the model and a photograph or a line drawing of the real thing. It will come as no surprise then that the beautiful BR 55 steam locomotive by Ronald Vallenduuk (Duq) caught my attention.

BR 55 with blueprint

The comparison shows that the proportions are spot on. I also had the fortune of seeing this black beauty and its many details with my own two eyes at a Lowlug meeting last weekend. Since photographing a black model is not easy, the details are a bit more difficult to see in photographs, but I can recommend looking at the flickr set. The locomotive is powered by a Power Functions L-motor carefully hidden in the firebox, with a battery box and IR receiver in the tender. The locomotive is 8 studs wide, which may be bigger than many LEGO train lovers like, but it can navigate normal LEGO train curves without any difficulty.

As an interesting side-note, the connecting rods are custom pieces made by Benn Coifman from Railbricks. The surface finish of the parts suggest that they were 3D-printed, as they are not completely smooth, but the fit is impressive.

Mad Misterzumbi

LEGO designer Adam Grabowski (Misterzumbi) is obsessed with cars. Adam has taken a break from posting photos of beat-up Fords to post some rather excellent custom LEGO cars from the Mad Max series of movies.

Adam isn’t afraid to sticker the heck out of his builds, nor to paint a brick here and there if it isn’t available in the correct color. The end result is gorgeous — Max’s Interceptor.

Interceptor01

The Ford Landau from The Road Warrior is covered in paint, about which Adam says, “The paint will never come off. Those bricks are ruined.”

LWE01

Custom Roundup: BrickArms, BrickForge, BrickWarriors & BrickFortress

Spring is upon us and the makers of custom accessories are coming out with more new items to tempt us!

First up, BrickArms just released 10 new guns that run the gamut from World War II to Sci-Fi. Fans will be excited to see the E-11 and DL-44 come to production. Personally, I’m pretty excited about the Mosin Nagant.

Another shot of the BrickArms Spring 2013 Release

BrickForge has a number of new items. These include gas masks, ballistic masks, face shields, tactical masks, night vision goggles and chin straps.

Night Vision Goggles - Dark BleyTactical Goggles - Dark Blueish Gray

Gas Mask - Trans ClearBallistic Mask - Dark Bley

Brickwarriors made Dark Blue and Lime items available.

March 2013 - Dark Blue

Finally, BrickFortress doesn’t have any new items but all of their poseable, stubby legs are on sale for $1.15. They have been on sale for some time now, so this may be the new, standard price. They recently ran a poll, asking which colors people would like, so we may see something new in the future. See our review for an opinion on these items.

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Lego Iron Man custom minifig suits and Hulkbuster armor

Minh Pham (Tuminio) created a series of highly-detailed custom minifigs Iron Man suits including the Hulkbuster armor. You can see more photos of these minifigs on Minh’s Flickr photostream along with dozens of other custom minifigs from all sorts of influences.

Here's my boy

Lego HULK BUSTER - Body Function