Tag Archives: Japan

From samurai and ninjas to giant mecha like Gundam or the beautiful films of Hayao Miyazaki, Japanese history and culture inspire LEGO builders all over the world. With contributors fluent in Japanese, The Brothers Brick also brings you coverage of the people and events in the large LEGO fan community in Japan itself.

“Using his beta capsule, Hayata becomes Ultraman!”

From the same people that brought Godzilla to our screens over half a century ago, came the Saturday morning kaiju punch-fest Ultraman (ウルトラマン). A staple of Japanese television, this show seems to have experienced regular revivals and adaptations since the first series aired in 1966.

Flickr member umamen has built this perfect recreation of the Ultraman’s long standing, size-changing nemesis Alien Baltan. How a species with crab claws instead of opposable thumbs would ever get past the invention of the wheel is left as an exercise for the reader. But then again, who said this show had to actually make sense!?

Bug eyed monsters

Current followers of Manga will recognize this as the Terra Formar, a humanoid evolution of cockroaches that lives on Mars (…hmmm, ok). I’m terrified enough of the domestic variety, so this is the stuff of nightmares!

This LEGO version is the work of our favorite Japanese builder Moko, who decided he should pit it against one of his other bug-eyed creations, Kamen rider. At first, Kamen Rider does well by delivering an effective wound to the thorax:

But then he decides to karate-chop off the Terra Formar’s head. Big mistake! Because as we all know, that move is basically ineffective on cockroaches and their kin. The thought of this brute running around headless for two weeks is just too horrible to imagine. Hopefully Moko’s next creation will be some kind of giant boot.

The Wait of the Warrior

According to his creator, this samurai warrior by MSP! is waiting for something. And given that it was built for the ongoing Symphony of Construction contest, maybe he’s waiting for some competition! The field is still wide open, but the contest ends March 1st. The Brothers Brick are providing $50 LEGO shop-at-home gift certificates for the winners, so listen to the theme music and see what it inspires you to build.

Competition entries should be submitted to the contest’s Flickr group.

Not all Japanese cars are boring

Friends of mine in the US used to own a Japanese minivan and it was reliable, comfortable and great for road trips, but about as exciting as wet noodles. When I think of Japanese cars in general, the first ones that spring to mind are tiny little boxes on wheels that seem more suitable for a shopping trolley and the second ones are competent but boring sedans. However, this impression isn’t fair at all, as shown by the Datsun Z240 by LegoMarat.

Datsun 240Z by Legomarat

Z-cars are exciting. The 240Z had the looks of a classic long-bonneted sports car, but without the dodgy electrics that plagued similar endeavours from England. The roof on the model looks a bit too flat to me and the wheel arches are a bit awkward, but the model has presence. This is helped by its dark blue colour and the nicely curved flanks.

It doesn’t just look good; it too has some very clever engineering inside. It drives, powered by two Power Functions motors and using a servo motor for the steering. These are controlled via a nifty third-party Bluetooth controller, called an SBrick, which is specifically designed to interface with Lego Power Functions. It allows the user to operate them via an app on their smart-phone or via the internet. Its development was funded via a kickstarter campaign that Nannan reported on in July last year. You could be forgiven for thinking that this too must be Japanese, but it was actually designed in Hungary.

Bushidō – Way of the Warrior

German builder Disco86 recently completed his triptych of builds focused on medieval Japan, for the 12th annual Colossal Castle Contest over at Classic-Castle.com. And I think it’s fair to say he saved the best for last, with this beautiful and colorful diorama. (Can you spot the lurking ninja?)

Mighty morphin’ masked motorcyclist

Say hello to Kamen Rider, from the successful 70’s Japanese TV franchise of the same name. This build is the work of Japanese pop-culture aficionado Moko. If it looks strangely familiar, that may be because Kamen Rider was the inspiration for a certain 90’s American knock-off called the Power Rangers (which, confusingly, spawned a spin-off called Masked Rider that aped the original show).

I love this piece not only because of its perfectly proportioned stud-less design, but because it’s just the latest in a long line of explorations of the masked rider by this builder, going back as far as 2006. Though with this latest interpretation, I think it’s fair to say he’s finally nailed it!

  

Playable Go board built from LEGO

As a small child back in Japan, I used Go pieces to create serpentine roads across tatami floors for my little Tomica cars, but my family left Japan before I ever played a proper game. I still get nostalgic whenever I see Go games. Joe Miller built this fully functional 9×9 Go set completely from LEGO, using some rather complicated techniques to place the black lines on the board.

9x9 Go Board

The lines themselves are the tops of 1×2 half-panels wedged into full (3-brick high) panels, combined with some serious sideways and upside-down (SNOT) construction.

9x9 Go Board Construction

Honshū Rice Terrace

Disco86 has built a unique bit of medieval history here. This scene depicts how the Japanse began to build rice terraces on the northern mountains of Honshū in order to cultivate rice there. The build is very striking. I can set aside my normal disgust for borders on this one because the flowing lines of the terraces are nicely accentuated by the rigidness of the border. The brightness of the blue also contrasts nicely with the black of the border and is complemented by the green vegetation. All that makes for a build that is really nice to look at.

Honshū Rice Terrace

Amazingly life-like LEGO sculpture of the Monkey King (孫悟空)

Tyler Halliwell is best known to our regular readers as a creator of amazing LEGO busts. So his latest work – depicting the Monkey King of Chinese mythology – is an ambitious departure in terms of its size and construction. We think you’ll agree that the attention to detail and the naturalness of this figure’s clothing and facial expression are completely mind-blowing!

We journeyed for several months across the Asian subcontinent, rescuing helpless villagers from all manner of demons along the way, to visit the mountain in which Tyler has been imprisoned for the past 500 years, so we could find out more about this creation…

BB: So how many hours and how many bricks went into this creation?

TH: That’s tough to estimate, but probably about 100 hours over the past two months, with most of it coming into shape in the past two weeks. There’s less pieces than you’d think, as it’s mostly hollow but for a technic frame. So if I had to guess, I would say around 1500 bricks.

BB: What inspired you to choose the Monkey King as the subject of your latest LEGO sculpture?

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Gotta catch ‘em all with Combee

Like many guys born in the seventies and eighties, as a child, I spent many Saturday mornings watching cartoons on TV. I used to watch classics such as Transformers, M.A.S.K. and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and build them out of LEGO. By the time Pokémon came along, I had lost interest in cartoons (other than Ren & Stimpy). Pokémon struck me as an obvious ploy to get children to spend their pocket money on what were obviously rubbish toys. Gotta catch ‘em all, right? Not at all like the cartoons I used to watch.

Ash & Pikachu

I have, of course, come to realise that my favourite cartoons were as much about selling toys as Pokémon, but I still think that much of the TV series was a bit rubbish. That said, I also realise that, to many people, Ash & Pikachu are no less iconic than Scott Tracker and T-Bob, or (dare I say it) Bumblebee and Spike Witwicky. This and the quality of the models, means that I cannot overlook these great figures built by Combee!. Pikachu looks particularly cute.

Thanks to Niels Huyzer, who suggested this to me several weeks ago.