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.
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.
This authentic-looking LEGO sushi bar is the work of Malaysian builder Denil Oh. The attention to detail in every corner of this scene is amazing – and extends right up to the walls! I also like the subtle use of custom stickering to give the cuts of fish an appetizing sheen. Check out tons more delicious close-up images over on Flickr.
We’re very proud of our boy bands here in the West, with our One Direction and our Backstreet Boys and our Nickelback. But across the Pacific they’ve perfected the art to a whole other level. Here’s Jang Wooyoung from the band 2PM, LEGO-ized by our favorite Korean building collective OliveSeon:
Apart from the cute chibi-fication of the singer, and the fact that this thing was sculpted using the studs-up technique (which is pretty challenging for small character sculptures), I love the particular choice of costume here… It’s the one Wooyoung wore to promote his single ROSE, which actually featured him wearing a LEGO bow-tie. Bravo, sirs. I tip my hat to you! Even though I’m more of a BIGBANG guy myself…
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!?
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.
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.
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.
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.