As we begin ramping up over the next few weeks toward our alternate WW2 LEGO display at BrickCon here in Seattle, I’ve been keeping an eye out for inspirational builds, and this “Dingo” Combat Walker by SweStar certainly fits the bill. The feet look like the “toes” are powered by pistons, and the mech’s head is festooned with enough doodads for a naval ship’s bridge. I particularly like the judicious use of stickers and yellow LEGO pieces.
Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend Brickfair Virginia. As always, I had a great time talking to other builders and seeing their excellent models in real life. I also got to show off my own Tomcat model. I know that a fair few builders dread the public days on Saturday and Sunday, but despite having to answer the same questions over and over again, I love chatting to the public. One of the more commonly asked questions is: “How did you build that?”. I can’t give a satisfactory reply in a single sentence, but thanks to Brickfair, I now have two somewhat more complete replies to share with you.
Inspired by a great talk on building landscapes I saw at Brickfair last year, this year I gave my own talk on how to build military aircraft. Without me talking you through them, the slides don’t tell the whole story, of course, but I was also interviewed by the delightful Matthew Kay from Beyond the Brick. In the interview, I got to show off some of the Tomcat’s features and got to talk about the building process.
I hope you’ll agree that both of these are more satisfying than my default answer: “by sticking one part to another and repeating this until the model is finished.”
Maarten W is proving himself the master of the LEGO street scene. We’ve previously featured his Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and desert market creations, but this WWII-inspired diorama is his best yet. It’s a recreation of the moments when Allied forces liberated the Dutch town of Venlo on 1st March 1945.
The damaged buildings are beautifully done, giving a sense of what the townsfolk must have endured as the battle raged around them. Maarten has included numerous small vignettes throughout his diorama, such as the American GIs interacting with the survivors.
The details of the left-hand house are particularly poignant — the remnants of the upper-floor telling a tale of shattered domesticity. And whilst I’m not a “dog person” myself, even I can appreciate the message of hope for the future as one of the townspeople finds his pet amidst the ruins.
Soviet engineers were people with great imagination. Of course, at that time they didn’t have access to LEGO bricks, but even today their peculiar projects look awesome in plastic. Polish builder Ciamosław Ciamek presents Ushakov’s Flying Submarine — a hybrid of a military airplane and a submarine. Not only does it sound cool, it also looks cool. It’s gray, cold and bizarre even for an ambitious Soviet project.
Sometimes really excellent LEGO creations emerge as tablescraps — those little bits that emerge almost unconsciously as you lazily put LEGO pieces together to see what works. Letranger Absurde found he’d created a miniature mushroom cloud recently, and then built an entire minifig-scale bunker around it so that he could feature the atomic explosion in the background via forced perspective. Not content to throw a couple of minifigs inside a block of gray bricks, he’s added some excellent details, like the filing cabinet and the newspaper on the wall.
While my first inclination was to wish these celebratory minifigs congratulations on their achievement, but upon further reflection I’m not sure what new age in the world of LEGO they may have ushered in…
If you don’t quite trust that Letranger actually built the whole scene as one LEGO creation (without adding in the background with Photoshop), you wouldn’t be alone. To combat such spurious accusations, as well as any doubt that he might not have enough brick separators, he’s posted this behind-the-scenes photo that shows the full setup.
Some people, understandably so, may not like the use of LEGO bricks to construct weaponry. Others, like myself and YouTube LEGO builder Bricks n’ Guns find it an interesting subject for a build and an extension of fandoms; in this case, it’s LEGO and gaming. Bricks n’ Guns built an incredibly life-like replica of the Russian submachine gun PP-19 Bizon as it appears in the first person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The realism doesn’t stop at its appearance; watch him demonstrate the working trigger, sliding charging handle, removable cylindrical magazine, and folding wire stock in this short video.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve reviewed the custom LEGO kits designed by Dan Siskind of Brickmania. Back in 2013, I reviewed the Dodge WC54 Ambulance, and writing those reviews really got me started in building World War II models seriously. In the meantime, Dan and his team have continued to release new custom kits, on a near-weekly cadence. One of Dan’s recent Brickmania releases is the M3A1 Scout Car, produced by the White Motor Company between 1940 and 1944. The vehicle served throughout WW2, and its basic design served as the basis of the iconic M3 Half-track.
Like some of the custom kits I reviewed back in 2013, the M3A1 Scout Car is a WW2 vehicle I also built back in 2014, so I’ll be comparing Dan’s version with my own.
There are a lot of LEGO models of the Vaught F4U Corsair out there, but none of them are as shiny as this one. This WW2 Pacific carrier workhorse has never been so dark or brooding. So emo!
I generally think of the Corsair as being dark blue, but apparently they were also available in black. Marcus Schultz was the designer, and his use of high-contrast waterslide decals really brings the model together.
After a two-year hiatus, the annual LEGO Military Build Contest is back. If, like me, you are a (part-time) military builder and remember the contests from a few years ago, you’ll be excited, because the models that did well in previous contests were some of the best military models around and several ended up being blogged here. This year’s competition is being run and judged by Magnus Lauglo, Justin Vaughn, Evan Melick, Aleksander Stein, and last but not least , Andy Baumgart, who designed the exceedingly cool contest poster.
You can enter in five different categories, that cover a wide variety of scales and possibilities, from serious scale models and designing your own IFV to something slightly wacky:
- Come up with an original design for a new minifig scale Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) for the fictional country of Azmir.
- 20th Century Battlefields
- Build a diorama representing an actual battle that took place in the 20th Century.
- World of Tanks
- A good chunk of us Lego Military Modellers enjoy building tanks, so why not give you all a chance to strut your stuff? The massively popular video game World of Tanks is the inspiration behind this Scale Model category.
- Naval aviation
- This category invites you to build a scale model of any naval- or maritime aviation aircraft
- Springfield’s Citizen Militia
- In an effort to bolster civic pride, Mayor Quimby has called upon the citizens of Springfield to participate in the town’s very first Military Parade! Help your benevolent leader to make this a ‘Show of Power’ that nobody shall soon forget.
Be sure to check out the details of each of the categories in the military contest group on flickr before you start building or ask your question/ find your answer in the Q&A thread. You have until the 15th of August to complete your models. Rest assured that at TBB we will be keeping a close watch on this year’s entries.
It has been thirty years since Top Gun hit the big screen, and the true star of the movie, the charismatic Grumman F-14 Tomcat, was retired from US Navy service almost ten years ago. I built my first LEGO Tomcat more than 20 years ago and I have kept making improvements, as I learned new tricks and as new parts became available. Usually the changes were fairly small, with the core of the model changing very little.
Ever since I completed my 1/22 scale model a few years ago, I’ve been eyeballing my three smaller 1/36 scale models, no longer liking what I saw. They looked very crude compared to the bigger model and they lacked a few essential features. The intakes on the Tomcat are cranked and the vertical tail fins are canted outward. These sort of things may not seem important, but they make a big difference to the look. Furthermore, the undercarriage never really worked properly, the nose was a bit long, the angles of the wings weren’t quite right and there were a host of other little things that could be improved. Of course, I had to avoid messing up the things I did like about the existing model, but small incremental changes weren’t going to hack it any more.
I started with a new model, albeit with the old one nearby for comparison purposes. The first jet I decided to rebuild has the famous skull and crossbones markings of Fighter Squadron 84 “Jolly Rogers”, like they had in the ‘seventies. I don’t care much for stealth fighters. My Tomcats are probably the closest thing I have to a signature build, which makes me proud to say that the cat is back!
Before going bust, the Swedish car manufacturer Saab built cars that were stereotypically driven by architects and college professors. The cars were always a bit quirky and different, which is probably one of the reasons why the company went bust. Saab didn’t start by building cars, however. Its eponymous parent company started by building aircraft for the Swedish military and it is still going strong. The Saab J 35 “Draken” (Dragon), built by Stefan Johansson, first flew in 1955 and was one of Europe’s first supersonic fighter aircraft.
Stefan’s model clearly shows the very distinctive cranked delta wing of this Cold War classic. The Swedish military typically required their aircraft to be suitable for operations from poorly prepared surfaces, in terrible weather and to be maintained by conscripts with relatively little specialised training. The resulting aircraft always looked rather different from their contemporaries. This also applies to the Draken’s replacement in Swedish service: the Saab JA-37 “Viggen” (Thunderbolt). If anything, Stefan’s model of this jet is even more impressive.
It has a large double delta wing, canard foreplanes and an unusual undercarriage with double main wheels in tandem, designed to facilitate operating from unpaved runways. Another quirky feature is that, in order for the jet to fit inside small underground hangars, its vertical tailfin can be folded down. Judging from the row of hinges this can also be done on the model. The complicated curvy shapes of fuselage are recreated very effectively using various slopes, and while I am normally not a fan of studless builds, the choice to build the model’s wings using bricks on their side works really well. Saabs are unusual fighters and an unusual choice of subject for LEGO models, but these are just more reasons to like them.
No doubt, World War II has had an enormous impact on modern society and culture, from cinema, books, art and even LEGO creations. Behind dozens of amazingly precise scale models of aircraft, tanks and ships there still hide just a handful of touching scenes telling stories of ordinary people who had to fight for our freedom. One of them is this powerful work by Dmitriy and Anna.
Builder Olga Rodionova also contributes with her heartwarming scene of a young girl meeting her beloved as he is returning home from the war. I don’t think this scene needs any description; the poses created by Olga say more than any words can. Also, the birch in the background is something I have never seen before – such a brilliant texture!