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.
As my family left Japan in 1989 after 15 years there, one of the memories I carried with me was all the TV shows my brother and I had watched. While my own favorite was Ultraman, my brother preferred Kamen Rider (the “Masked Rider”). One of the best and most popular incarnations of the titular hero was the Kamen Rider Black series, which aired just before we left Japan, in 1987 and 1988.
Moko has been building various LEGO versions of Kamen Rider for at least the last 10 years — I first featured minifig versions of the characters way back in 2006 — and his latest Kamen Rider features a chibi version of our hero pulling a wheelie astride his iconic “Battlehopper” motorcycle.
Kamen Rider himself is fully posable, and Moko says that this is his first attempt at a non-minifig scale motorbike. Moko makes great use of LEGO rubber elements in this build: The red and yellow lines on the character are built from rubber bands, and the motorcycle tires are tank treads on radar dishes.
Moko says that the first Kamen Rider show he watched was the RX series that immediately followed Black, and he only watched Black later, but really loves the show despite its age — which, you know, makes me feel a bit old… You can see more photos on Moko’s blog (in Japanese).
Not surprisingly, the moment you mention a hero like Ultraman, a giant space monster shows up to destroy your nice little cardboard city–it’s just the natural order of things. Filling in said order is the latest creation by nobu_tary: the deadly Alien Baltan. With the powers of flight, laser beam claws, furry looking legs, and presumably the ability to gain more abilities as dictated by the plot, Baltan is sure to give Ultraman a run for his money. At least until the third act requires his loss after an oh-so-close victory.
While I certainly admired the delicious-looking tempura shrimp and rice bowl by nobu_tary I highlighted a week or so ago, I’m vegetarian and prefer some lovely vegetables with my rice — no homemade Japanese meal feels complete without some umeboshi, or pickled plums. I think I’d enjoy this gorgeous LEGO bento box a bit more, with black sesame seeds and an umeboshi on the rice, with broccoli and a variety of small side dishes packed with care into a lacquer box.
Many restaurants in Japan have plastic models of their food in their front window. Japanese builder nobu_tary has recreated the fake food that gaijin visiting Japan sometimes find so amusing. But as someone born and raised there, I know that it’s food art in its own right, and I can admire the well-built fried shrimp drizzled with sauce, chopsticks, and even some delicious pickled eggplant peeking out from behind the red and white striped bowl.
And after chowing down those crisp golden shrimp, you might consider ending the meal with some fruit. Perhaps a LEGO banana by the same builder would do nicely. Don’t forget to brush your teeth after every meal.
Tary says on his blog that this is his entry in this year’s Original Model Contest, held by clickbrick for the past 14 years. You can see this entry, along with all the others, at the Odaiba store in Tokyo from this Saturday through the end of March.
The truest test of popularity is whether or not someone can recognize your costume after 50 years. That’s no doubt the case with this famous monster-bashing Japanese television icon, Ultraman. Built by Jan Lego, this ultra-pose-able figure is actually based on the more recent manga series design, but he nonetheless kicks just as much monster-butt with more style to boot.
Packed with detail, Jan’s Ultraman is a prime example of a well built brick figure utilizing form and shaping to its fullest advantage. If you want to see dozens more views of this beauty, head over to Jan’s Ultraman album–you won’t be disappointed, although overconfident kaiju may be.
Some beautifully sinister and gloomy Japanese-style micro architecture on display from Tim Schwalfenberg. With it’s moody black and silver color scheme and wonderful levels of detail, this fortress could be a piece of concept art from 47 Ronin. (And that’s intended as a compliment – although the film as a whole might not have lived up to expectation, it looked very pretty indeed).
The fortress walls are impressively detailed and the curved roof is an obvious highlight, but it’s the neat little bridge and the base which add the finishing touches of brilliance. This could be the first set in a new LEGO theme of Fantasy Architecture. (If LEGO were to launch such a line they could literally take all my money. All of it.)
One of our traditions for TBB contributors attending BrickCon every year is to enjoy inexpensive sushi at one of the two nearby revolving sushi (回転寿司) joints. If you’ve never been to a revolving sushi restaurant, you grab small plates of sushi from a conveyer built that moves around a counter that surrounds the prep area. It’s fun and delicious! Japanese builder Dr.Peisan has used LEGO Power Functions to motorize a revolving sushi restaurant.
Built on four 32×32 baseplates, the restaurant is full of funny scenes and interesting characters. There’s a group of aliens (the ultimate gaijin) tasting earth food, a reporter using a fake mic, Emmet from The LEGO Movie, and even BB-8. I expect the sumo wrestler to give the lucha libre guy a run for his money… I’m personally most impressed by the wide range of different nigiri, rolls, and desserts that roll by.
You can see lots more pictures on Flickr and the builder’s blog (in Japanese). You’ll also be able to see this in person in Kobe at Japan Brickfest 2016 in June.
KLUG, the LEGO Users Group (LUG) based in Osaka, Japan, is putting on the largest LEGO event in Japan this June called Japan Brickfest.
The event will be held June 4-5, 2016 at the Canadian Academy international school on Rokko Island in Kobe. (I went to second grade in Kobe, and it’s a lovely city.) Registration for builders is now open, but closes at the end of February.
KLUG itself includes a number of names that should be familiar to both LEGO builders on sites like Flickr and MOCPages as well as readers of TBB. KLUG seems to be a bilingual LUG with both Japanese and English-speaking members, so if you’re a gaijin AFOL in the Kansai area who misses your LUG back home, KLUG and Japan Brickfest sound like a great way to get involved with LEGO in Japan.
Attendee pricing is based on requested table space. For more details, see the builder page (in both Japanese and English) on the event website.
When Iain blogged Alanboar Cheung‘s timely sculpture of Alan Rickman earlier today, I was reminded that I’d also been intending to highlight his excellent LEGO mosaic of 19th-century Japanese woodblock artist Hokusai’s famous print of “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” For several years when I lived in Yokohama, I had a similarly distant but much less dramatic view of Mount Fuji, which I particularly enjoyed during the winter when the mountain’s peak was capped with snow. Alanboar’s mosaic uses a “studs up” technique, stacking LEGO plates rather than attaching them “studs out” on a baseplate.
Since mid-October I have had a pretty crazy time at work, very much at the expense of my blogging and pretty much everything else. I have built a few things, but I told my fellow contributors that I would only write something if it knocked my socks off. Well, consider me barefoot. The culprit is Swiss builder Beat Felber and his AR-1200M Mobile Crane. Tadano is a Japanese manufacturer of cranes and the model carries a Japanese livery, of the Showa Co., Ltd. of Kobe. This already makes it a bit more interesting than your average Liebherr. Furthermore, as you would expect from a builder who goes by the name Engineering with ABS, his model is full of working features.
It uses Power functions for the drive, for steering on all five axles and to extend the stabilisers on both sides, with pneumatics used to raise and lower the struts. The crane boom can be raised, slewed and extended using Power Functions and, of course, the winches are remote-controlled. It also has working lights. The boom reaches a height of 2.15 m (more than 7 ft.) and can be extended even further by adding a separate jib. This is not the tallest crane we’ve ever blogged, but size is not everything. It is gorgeous.
As the grandson of an American World War II veteran who was born and raised in Japan, I have a rather complicated relationship with the Pacific War in World War II. From Nanjing to Bataan, there’s no denying the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese military against both the peoples of fellow Asian nations as well as Allied prisoners of war, and yet I feel deep sympathy for the genuine suffering that the people of Japan experienced themselves — from the firebombing of my hometown Tokyo to burning Okinawan civilians alive as they hid in caves. The end of World War II could not come soon enough, and Japan’s surrender ensured that my GI grandfather did did not get shipped from Hawaii across the Pacific to participate in the invasion of the Japanese home islands.
To commemorate this important event 70 years ago today, Dan Siskind has built the American battleship USS Missouri, which was the venue in Tokyo Harbor for Japan’s surrender. At 26 feet long, Dan’s “Mighty Mo” is the largest LEGO warship ever made (four feet longer than Jumpei Mitsui’s Yamato).
This giant LEGO battleship dwarfs the room it’s currently housed in at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
You can see more photos, including lots of work-in-progress shots, in Dan’s “USS Missouri Project” photoset on Flickr.
The Brothers Brick are huge fans of the Japanese animator and film maker Hayao Miyazaki. And even though his works have got the LEGO treatment on many occasions, we always enjoy seeing a fresh take on them. So we were thrilled when Finnish builder Eero Okkonen decided to build large scale versions of Mito, Nausicaä, Lord Yupa and Kushana from the epic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds.
UPDATE: Here’s the complete cast (for now, Eero says), with the addition of Charuka, Chikuku, and Kurotowa.