I was born within walking distance of Ogikubo Station in Tokyo, and by the age of ten or eleven, I was using the subway system to get around the city to take foreign tourists to see the sights, earning myself a bit of extra LEGO money. Australian LEGO Certified Professional Ryan McNaught and his team of builders spent more than two hundred hours building this complete Tokyo subway system map from 31,000 LEGO bricks, showing all thirteen lines in their distinctive colors (my favorite line is the Chuo line in orange). The mosaic measures 4.6 meters (over 15 feet) wide and 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) tall, dwarfing the rather tall bloke standing nearby.
LEGO recently released a new series of sets called Brickheadz, cute brick-built characters that seem to be the LEGO equivalent to Funko’s Pop Vinyls. And it’s no surprise that fans are responding with their own characters in this style. Tokoyo Tag Team have two couples to share the limelight. Firstly we have Shin Hayata, the lead character in the Japanese TV show Ultraman, and one of the monsters he fights, namely Gyango, who appears in an episode gloriously translated as The Rascal from Outer Space. Ultraman’s helmet has the perfect retro-futuristic vibe of a 1960’s sfi-fi television show.
Next up we have King Joe Black from the television series Ultraseven, a follow up to Ultraman. The slug-like creature next to him is Twin-Tail, a 15 kiloton prehistoric monster from the Return of Ultraman series. What a cutie!
Capturing characters in this chibi style is a great way to hone your character building skills by picking out the key features with bricks. I’m sure there will be lots more of these fan-built Brickheadz to come.
This scene by W. Navarre, while simple, hides a deeper complexity in the construction of the hut and rockwork under it, but most notably the build has great atmosphere and a unique theme. On such a small scale, using many colours can be very risky, which is why I am happy the builder only used as many as he needed to.
There is more to the build than only that seen on Navarre’s Flickr page, as he shares a few more vignettes on MOCpages, including a temple and a juice pressing structure. While it is not accompanied by a story as most of Navarre’s creations are, it leaves more to the imagination. It was built as part of The Tourney 2017 competition on MOCpages.
While I understand that Magic: the Gathering as a game is not for everyone, it has to be said that its art is universal. Throughout the years I have seen a few builders drawing inspiration from the game, directly or indirectly and always to great results. This time Pascal, who built a LEGO Gisela, the Broken Blade a while ago, brings us Myojin of Night’s Reach, an important lore character from a not-so-loved expansion set from ten years ago. The model is made with enough detail to be immediately recognizable and sufficiently creepy too. The builder has a style that captures the most essencial elements of a card art but keeping it at a cartoony simplicity.
Now, I would like to ask my friends how it feels to play against this card, but since I put it in my deck, I do not have any friends.
Godzilla is an iconic beast who first appeared in Ishirō Honda‘s 1954 film Godzilla and has remained a feature of Japanese pop culture ever since. There have been many builders who have created a LEGO Godzilla, but this version by 62778grenouille really caught my attention. Firstly, it’s huge. And secondly, it has been built in the most extraordinary manner, using Technic parts that seem to flow into the shape of Godzilla.
Which one is plastic and which one is paper? Takamichi irie has made a lovely little LEGO crane in the same style as the origami version. Traditionally, it was believed that if you folded 1000 origami cranes, your wish would come true – according to the 1797 book Sen Bazuru Orikake, which translates to “how to fold 1000 paper cranes” and contains instructions for how to make these special objects.
Takamichi’s LEGO version closely resembles the paper one next to it, and is a great way to present this seemingly simple build. A closer look at where the wings and neck join the main body suggests that this was not as simple as it first appears, and I imagine creating 1000 LEGO cranes would be a similar undertaking to folding 1000 paper cranes.
The folded crane has also become a symbol of hope and healing during tough times and therefore is often known as the “peace crane”. The touching story of Sadakos legacy is worth a read if you have a few spare minutes.
I’m not sure who’s who in this duel by Grant Masters, let alone who is going to win. From the striking poses to the top knots in their hair, these expressionless faceless combatants belong in a Kurosawa film. Superb lighting and novel use of slopes give these graceful figures fighting stances a natural hanging clothing effect. Could this represent a battle between good and evil, the struggle between Yin and Yang, or the clash of East versus West? Who knows…
What is a Catbus? Well, it’s a cat that’s a bus of course! This particular Catbus has been crafted by CK Tsang and is an excellent depiction of Catbus at this scale. Catbus is a character from the classic anime movie My Neighbor Totoro by legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. The wide grinning smile and bright ‘headlight’ eyes are perfectly captured in this build. Don’t worry about the lack of a door, as one of those windows will elongate should you want to climb aboard for a ride.
I’ve written elsewhere that sumo is the greatest sport on earth, so I won’t belabor that point here. Because it’s my favorite sport, I always enjoy seeing LEGO creations inspired by Japan’s national sport. Krzysztof J has built this excellent sumo wrestler in a red mawashi, looking ready to take on the biggest and strongest Yokozuna. Krzysztof has used lever handles for the wrestler’s hair, while the round 1×1 plates are both inevitable and perfect as the big guy’s, uh, pectorals.
“Elaborate” and “enchanting.” As simply as that, these two words define Japanese culture for me. Surprisingly, this pair of words perfectly suits these two LEGO creations below.
Andrew JN charms us with this tiny diorama. It is hardly bigger than a medium Creator set, but take your time to choose what exactly you’re going to behold first: an astonishing roof, some charming usage of color in trees or river water calmly flowing by.
Gzu Bricks presents us another tiny vignette featuring one of the giant bonshō bells. I especially love that both creations are of the same concept — Japanese architecture surrounded by Japanese flora — but look how different building techniques are! Gzu Bricks’ build might look a little simpler, but I can’t imagine anything that could make it more complete.
There’s a saying in Japan that you’re born Shinto, get married as a Christian, and die a Buddhist. In other words, you practice Shinto rites from birth, have a Western-style wedding, and leave this world through Buddhist funeral ceremonies. Thus, one of the many unique aspects of Japanese culture I experienced growing up there was seeing station wagons with tiny, shiny golden Buddhist temples sprouting from their backs. These little mobile temples are actually Japanese hearses, and Moko has once again used his collection of chrome-gold bricks by building a LEGO version of this iconic Japanese vehicle. In case you’re too dazzled to notice, I’ll also point you to the clever front grill on this 4-wide LEGO car.
Check out Moko’s blog for more photos, including breakdowns and building techniques.
And for all our bilingual readers out there, here’s a totally ridiculous vehicle. Unfortunately, that’s the best I can do, since the very silly pun in Japanese (「オハカー」) simply does not translate. The car has a pullback motor, though I suspect a crash could result in grave consequences.
That pun is so funny I need to go lie down now and meditate on my life. Memento mori.
Talented Hong Kong LEGO builder Alanboar Cheung honeymooned with his wife in Kyoto, where the newlyweds visited Kiyomizu-dera, an early Buddhist temple founded in 778 AD, with the current buildings dating to the 17th century. Alanboar has commemorated their trip as a gift for his wife with this beautiful LEGO creation. Chock full of details depicting elements of Japanese culture, the whole creation sits on a brick-built scroll, complete with a calligraphy brush in front.
The model features the main temple building on its hill, the accompanying pagoda, and the waterfall that gives the temple its name. In addition, Alanboar included LEGO recreations of his favorite memories, from Kumamon (the mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, which is nowhere near Kyoto) waving Japanese flags beneath cherry blossoms and a trio of Children’s Day carp flying above to a beautiful princess on a bridge overlooking a couple basking in a hot spring (sadly without any snow monkeys).
There’s a lot going on here, so be sure to check out more photos on Alanboar’s blog. And if you enjoy this, you’ll also appreciate Alanboar’s LEGO mosaic of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” we featured here a few months ago.