I never did get around to seeing the insane spectacle that was Transformers: Age of Extinction, but I have to admit the character designs were awesome. Nicola Stocchi has brought the most iconic of those characters to the brick with this terrifyingly incredible version of the T-Rex Grimlock. It’s a rendered work, but the complex construction of this mechanical beast is no less impressive for it.
Building a good-looking model mecha is no mean feat, but building one that can transform is a whole other ballgame; one in which Joe Perez (MortalSwordsman) just scored big with his excellent transforming rendition of Soundwave.
Can you think of a cooler piece of Eighties nostalgia?
Let’s just have a quick consensus: Transformers is one of the coolest things ever. Robots that turn into tanks, dinosaurs and sundry? That’s just too good. With that in mind, I happened to come across not one, but two transforming builds from two separate builders.
Up first is “PACE” from JAN LEGO that looks great in both forms as well as using anything but wheels for its wheels.
For more nostalgia, Andrew Lee’s “Shellax!” is equal parts van and turtle. Oh, and it’s Donatello, because he’s the best Ninja Turtle. Again, there’s a consensus on this.
A long time ago, not long after I joined the online community, I upset a number of people by openly declaring that I don’t care much for mecha. While I can appreciate quality when I see it, mecha still aren’t my cup of tea. However, make one that can transform into a cool car, like Andrew Lee‘s Lamborghini Countach, and you’ve definitely caught my attention.
This is Andrew’s first working Transformer and he describes it as total pain in the ass and quite the learning experience. I can sympathise. He is no stranger to building mecha, though, as many of you will know, and his experience shows, because the articulation on his model is truly exceptional.
He talks about this and about LEGO transformers in general in the latest episode of his video podcast, aptly titled Bricks and Beers. Cheers man!
At The Brothers Brick we aim to present some of the best fan-built LEGO models. We’re not necessarily used to our own models exploding all over the internet or on the occasions when they do, it is usually because we ourselves have posted them here first. In the last few days, this normal order of things was turned upside down. I went on a little trip visiting family for a few days, but before leaving I posted a few pictures of my latest model, Optimus Prime, on flickr. These were picked up by a number of other LEGO blogs (the LEGO Car Blog and Bricknerd among others) and subsequently pretty much went viral. I was going to write something here eventually, but hadn’t gotten around to making the video that I wanted to include and, because of this, I got scooped.
I have finally completed the video and I will use this post to add more info about the build, that I know people have been wondering about, such as why I built a so-called Bayformer rather than a G1 Optimus Prime or whether this model will make its way to LEGO Ideas, so that other fans may eventually buy one. I’ll start with the biggest question, though: is it actually fully transformable or am I a big cheater, who has built two different models to separately represent the robot and the truck mode?
As you can see, the model can indeed go from truck to robot by sliding and rotating various parts. The only exception is that the fuel tanks are separate parts that are pinned to the truck. This is similar to how the toy that I used as the basis for the transformation sequence works. The sequence is complicated and some stuff usually breaks in the process, but having seen videos of people transforming their toy versions, I get the impression that this is normal.
I’m hardly the first person to build a working Transformer in LEGO. We’ve blogged Transformers on many different occasions and, as a child, I myself used to build the original G1 models from the cartoon. The designs from the recent movies by Michael Bay, also known as Bayformers, are rather more complicated than the older models, though, and this is exactly what makes them more interesting to me. I also think that a long-nose Peterbilt looks more attractive than the red and blue cab-over-engine truck used for the G1 Optimus Prime and happen to like building flame patterns. To my surprise, some die-hard Transformers fans hate Bayformers with an almost scary passion and consequently they hate mine. I recommend they go look at Alex Jones’ version from a few years ago or perhaps at some kittens instead.
My Optimus Prime will not be making it onto LEGO Ideas. Even if I could drum up enough support for the project by plastering it all over social media, LEGO wouldn’t touch this with a stick. The Transformers toy line is owned by their competitor Hasbro, who produce rather poor-looking Transformers sets in their own Kre-O range of LEGO compatible construction toys. If you want your own LEGO Optimus Prime, you’ll probably have to build it yourself. This should be easy enough. After all, to quote one commenter on my model, “my nine-year-old can do better”. You have got to love the internet.
Considering all the rubbish TV shows I used to love as a child, I was undoubtedly very good at suspending my disbelief. However, even as a child I knew Dinobots make no sense whatsoever.
I can understand that, for a robot of alien origin on Earth, the ability to turn yourself into a car and blend into a crowd might make some sort of sense. However, disguising yourself as a 15 ft. tall metallic dinosaur does not strike me as a particularly sensible way to become inconspicuous. I am also sure that their personalities irked me.
Still, that does not mean Dinobots cannot be exceedingly cool as LEGO models, as shown by the tiny but fully transformable versions of Grimlock and Sludge built by Chief Supreme. I like the use of minifig headgear for the robots’ heads in particular. Dinobots may be stupid, but these are definitely clever.
Lugnuts, the online club for LEGO car enthusiasts, is currently running its 83rd build challenge, called Only in America. It’s all about cars from the USA. I decided I was going to build a typical American muscle car as my entry: a Chevrolet Camaro.
Some of you may think that there is nothing particularly special about it. It looks pretty much like all of the other cars I build: it has studs on top, brick-built windows that are pretty much opaque and, while some bits of it are built sideways, the construction does not look particularly complicated. I suppose that superficially it’s a bit old-school really.
If you are a fan of Transformers you may have realised that it is in fact the Transformer Bumblebee, from one of the Michael Bay live-action films, in car mode. It serves as the latest addition to my ever-growing collection of vehicles from films and TV series. However, you may not realise that there is more to it than meets the eye.
It’s time for another 1980’s flashback courtesy of Alex Jones (Orion Pax Designs) who returns to the Brothership with the transforming big-rig Optimus Prime. One of the many reasons I admire Alex’s work is because he’s a grinder, willing to rebuild again and again and again to get things just right. While I’ve heard some of the great builders brag how they “threw it together in 2 hours”, it’s nice to hear Alex admit that he’s been working through an idea or a project for months or even years.
“Building transformable versions of the G1 Transformers out of LEGO bricks is one of my strongest passions, and I’m working on this series since the year 2000 – unnumbered versions of Optimus Prime, Soundwave, Blaster, Starscream, etc went over my desk during those years – improving them over and over again until i got their design as close to the original as possible.”
If you’re a stone-cold purist, you may object to the KRE-O headpiece, but I bet you’ll look anyway. Alex also has a short video with some crazy zooming and a neat sequence showing the transformation from truck to robot.
Sometimes a model doesn’t need to be hugely complicated or full of wonderfully clever new connections of parts to be great, although there is definitely some clever stuff going on here if you look closely.
If, like me, you grew up watching cartoons in the eighties, the Autobot logo built by Jason Alleman (True Dimensions) really needs no further explanation. If you want to build your own (and you know you want to), you can even download instructions from Jason’s own website.
Judging by his blog, Alanyuppie is a both a LEGO and a Transformers fan…which pretty much makes him a guy after my own heart. His latest creations are pretty spot on representations of two of my favourite G1 characters, Ironhide and Ratchet. The G1 toys of these guys were, how to put it…odd to say the least. So the fact that Alan made these models transform to be just like the characters from the cartoon makes them just that much more awesome. These are very well engineered and designed to look just like the original characters…Michael Bay should take notes!
And not a General Motors product in sight…
Anyone interested in mecha and unfamiliar with Zi zy‘s work should remedy that now by going carefully through his photostream. He is one of the original, and still best, masters of the small mecha. His latest offerings are no exception, ranging from ‘standard’ mecha like below, through to transformers in the same scale. Hot stuff.