Tag Archives: History

The town of Pompeii in LEGO

If you find yourself in Sydney (Australia) at all during 2015, then head over to the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney and check out this amazing recreation of the Roman town of Pompeii, created by Lego Certified Professional Ryan McNaught.

The diorama represents Pompeii as it was at the time of its destruction in 79 AD, and even contains a little foreshadowing of the volcanic eruption that buried it.

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Life’s a beach

When a certain young naturalist by the name of Charles Darwin joined the HMS Beagle on it’s historic 2nd voyage in 1831, camera photography was still something of an experimental science. So capturing a visual record of the trip was the responsibility of a ship’s artist, like Conrad Martens.

Historical LEGO scene builder James Pegrum has recreated one of Martens’ more unusual sketches from the trip, showing the Beagle beached for repairs at a spot near the mouth of the Rio Santa Cruz (Argentina).

Yes, everything in the picture – including the distant cliffs – is LEGO. James manages to combine his particular building and photographic skills to create a very life-like scene. If the trip had taken place 175 or so years later, I’m sure Martens would have tweeted an image just like this!

Making a mountain out of a mole hill

Not content with just one study in triangular architecture, TBB regular Ian Spacek (who I secretly hope pronounces his surname “space-kay”) created this ingenious LEGO explanation for the creation of the pyramids, as his latest entry in the 2014 MOCOlympics. Spoiler alert: They were naturally occurring, but covered in sand!

Happy Exploding Christmas! (...aka the Fourth of July)

My fellow ‘Murrricans! We at The Brothers Brick hope you have all been enjoying a relaxing and safe Independence Day. As you digest your fine barbequed meats and drink some approximation to beer in preparation for the Final Detonation, let’s take look at some of the better holiday-themed LEGO creations that appeared today. America is known for its rich cultural diversity and freedom of speech, and today’s builds certainly reflect that…

On this day, some like to take a more serious stance, and look back at our nation’s founding:

Tyler Clites (legohaulic)

While some prefer to look a little less far back, and go the more popular route:

Chris McVeigh (powerpig)

While others decide to just be brutally honest:

Brailey (That WWII Guy)

And as an immigrant to this fine nation of ours, let me just close by saying: “God bless America, and oh crap I can’t understand your language and everything here scares me!”

Bootlegging bricks

It’s a little known fact that the LEGO company once explored the idea of a 20’s gangster theme. Sadly it was not meant to be (too soon?). Anyway, that hasn’t stopped many builders exploring the idea themselves. And since I’m heading off to Brickworld Chicago today, it seems fitting to present a couple of recent examples.

First up Brian Lyles (BrickCityDepot) applies his formidable skills as a Café Corner style builder to bring us the Club 23 Speakeasy.

It comes equipped with every convenience and every character you’d expect to find in such an establishment – including some unwelcome guests in the form of a police raid! Check out the full album to see the action unfold.

I imagine the Godfather slipping out the back and making his getaway in this snappy Model-A Ford:

Meanwhile, down by the river, a gang of enterprising bootleggers take advantange of all the ruckus up at Club 23 to smuggle away their wares in this rum-runner built by Joshua Brooks.

Looking forward to meeting some of you at Brickworld! I’ll be live tweeting from the event. And keep an eye out for me, Chris, Simon and Carter in our fancy new Brothers Brick shirts. And deliver the secret passphrase to claim some swag. You’ll be making us an offer we cannot refuse.

When the map is unrolled, the dagger is revealed (圖窮匕現)

The above expression may not be familiar to English speakers, but you might think of it as the Chinese equivalent to “letting the cat out of the bag”. And like many common sayings, this one has a historical origin: In 228 BC, as a last ditch attempt to avoid invasion by its enemies, the nation of Yan sent a man named Jing Ke to assassinate the King of Qin. Using a map of Yan’s most fertile areas as bait, Jing Ke was able to get close to the King, and as he unfurled it, he pulled out a dagger that had been hidden inside.

Hong Kong builder Vincent Cheung (fvin&yan) has created this fabulous portrayal of the attempted assassination, in a style very similar to his Beauty and the Beast sculpture. I love the freeze-frame action of the characters, and of course the three-dimensional detailing on the map! Vincent was clearly influenced by folk art depicting the event, as you can see from this example:

Four score and seven years ago...

This 19th of November marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The Battle of Gettysburg, which took place several months before, was the bloodiest battle of the American civil war and many of the dead were hastily buried in temporary graves. They were subsequently reburied in what was to become the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The Address was one of several speeches that marked the official consecration of the cemetery.

The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

Gary Brooks (Gary the Procrastinator), who is no stranger to TBB, has expertly recreated the scene of President Lincoln giving the speech. At the time, the reception of the speech was mixed, but it has gained a prominent place in the history and culture of the United States.

Assassination! by Brendan Powell Smith [Book Review]

Brendan Powell Smith takes a break from biblical action with a new tome released just in time for the holiday season that features great building and a heaping helping of the darker side of American presidential history. The book is entitled Assassination! The Brick Chronicle of Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US Presidents and it is now available through the link or from the usual suspects who still cater to those of us who enjoy a hard copy. Brendan is an old crony of mine who sent me a free personalized copy of the new book knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to keep my big mouth shut about it. The first thing I noticed upon grabbing it from the mailbox was its satisfying heft and a larger format than the Brick Testament editions riding the bookshelf in my Legoratory. The book clocks in at 272 pages, features over 400 photos and retails for about $15 here in the States (depending on how you order it) and you can get a signed copy for about $20.

Assassination! The Brick Chronicle of Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US Presidents

Brendan’s building has come a long way since the first edition of The Brick Testament some ten years ago and I think it’s fair to say he’s on top of his game in this book. Creating 400 scenes without getting burned out or taking short cuts seems like an amazing accomplishment to me so I found that the actual quality of the building exceeded my expectations. What I enjoyed most however, was the writing and the depth of information that Brendan provides on each assassination attempt while maintaining a smooth narrative flow. Being a history buff, I thought I was pretty well versed on the topic going in but in each of the 15 accounts (Lincoln, Kennedy and Ford get 2 chapters each) I definitely walked away with more knowledge on the events than I had going in. My favorite chapter of the book was actually the first one which detailed the 1835 attempt on Andrew Jackson’s life. Brendan has always had a knack for selecting just the right minfig for the right character, but never more so than with Old Hickory.

Assassination! sample page

There are a couple of nit-picky issues with the book both of which are cosmetic in nature and more an issue of printing than authorship. Over the course of 400 photos, there is an occasional difference in brightness between photos that can be a little distracting and there were 2-3 instances where the white printing on the black background was faded to the point of being difficult to read. Neither issue effected my enjoyment of the book, which I rank as my current favorite among the current crop of volumes produced by Lego nerds recently. Coffee table books with pretty photos are nice but I actually feel better informed after reading Assassination! and I’m certainly better armed for any future engagements in American presidential trivia.

Brendan Powell Smith

With a great price-point, solid building and great writing I can’t endorse this informative volume enough, constant reader and I encourage you to purchase the tome at your earliest convenience for yourself or as a gift. Perhaps the best testimonial I can give is that everyone I have shown it to has been unable to put it down without laughing and remarking about one of the factoids. If you have friends who are anything like mine, you’ll soon be refusing to loan it out. Let’s face it, people never return books.