Tanks and fighter planes, dioramas of World War II battles, dreadnoughts and battleships — LEGO builders have an obvious fascination with the arms and armor of the military-industrial complex. Find all these LEGO weapons of mass destruction right here on The Brothers Brick.
It is no secret that I think the Grumman F-14A Tomcat is the most beautiful jet fighter ever to grace the deck of an aircraft carrier. This is something that I share with James Cherry, who unveiled his massive 1/15 scale Tomcat model at the Great Western Brick Show in the UK little more than a week ago and who posted pictures today.
The Tomcat was also one of the largest carrier-based jets. The end result of building a large-scale model of a large jet is obviously going to be large. The LEGO model is 127 cm long, uses roughly 8000 parts and has taken nine months to build. James has included Power Functions to control the wing sweep as well as various control surfaces. Like on James’ older F-4J Phantom II, the complicated and subtle compound curves are mostly built using carefully angled surfaces and, to get closer to the look of the real jet than is possible with LEGO alone, he has used custom-made vinyl stickers and a vacuum formed canopy.
The jet wears the colourful markings of the US Navy’s first operational Tomcat squadron, VF-1 ‘Wolf Pack’, when it sailed aboard USS Enterprise in the late ‘seventies. One would think that it would make sense for a jet fighter to be painted in colours that are a bit less conspicuous, but that was never really the Tomcat’s style; it’s big and beautiful.
Horcik Designs looks set to be the premier air defense contractor of the 21st century. The Firefly is their latest UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) and it’s available for purchase now from all good arms dealers.
I love this model’s chunky near-future realism. The white color scheme lends it a certain “astronaut chic” and the restrained use of custom stickers adds nice touches of detail. The rotor assemblies and control surfaces are spot-on, and those guns — brilliant. The builder has also provided a multi-angle composite shot which reveals more of the detail, but also shows a rather haphazard approach to maintenance. Hammers? I doubt that’ll make it into the Firefly’s sales brochure.
The SWAPE (Shallow Water Assault Patrol Enforce) is a special class of boat designed for military operations in very shallow waters. While primarily operated by the US Navy and Marine Corps, it is also utilized by police departments, most notably in Florida where it is used to patrol the Everglades in search of poachers. Joshua Brooks has created this LEGO version of the Navy’s SWAPE 267, aka “Yellow Jacket”, on anti-drug patrol off the coast of the Philippines.
Markus Rollbühler has definitely focused on bringing more bling to the mecha arena with his latest build. Using a a limited colour palette of metallics and building his first mech as part of a contest has certainly brought out the best in this creation. The head made from droid torsos and mechanical minifigure arms, and the angled, piston-like legs are two particularly awesome parts of this mech. I also love the “billy club” hands and those powerful abs.
The presentation is eerily good, with the threatening shadow in the background. I can only assume that this mech is not involved in reconnaissance missions as one flash of light and he will become a shiny beacon!
For more than five decades, the Sikorsky Sea King has been one of great workhorses of the helicopter world. After returning from the Moon, Neal Armstrong, ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Michael Collins were plucked from the ocean by a Sea King. US Presidents are routinely flown to and from the White House aboard ‘Marine One’, which is usually a Sea King fitted with a VIP interior.
Originally, however, the Sea King was intended as a submarine hunter and the excellent 1/40 scale model built by Maksymilian Majchrzak ( [MAKS] ) represents one of these, as used by the US Navy aboard aircraft carriers in the seventies and eighties. From the sponsons to the five bladed rotors, it’s as close to real thing as you can get using LEGO parts and it looks about perfect from every angle.
If I were a tank, I’d be scared as heck of this LEGO anti-tank droid. Droids are supposed to be cute: think R2-D2 or Johnny #5. This one ain’t cute. It’s creepy. And menacing. Those long legs remind me of insects and spiders, and I bet those Wolverine claws make an awful skittering noise when it walks. Plus, it has a gun that can destroy a tank! Well-lit, in front of a white background, this contraption could evince a much lighter industrial tone. But Marco Marozzi has chosen to use the nightmare lights instead, and the tanks are rolling out as fast as their treads can carry them.
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.