Once again Jon Hall proves that he is truly the master of building beautiful airplanes. He has only posted one photo so far, but I am looking forward to more shots of that gorgeous light-aqua coloured underside.
Since about two years, I’ve been building a collection of British vehicles to display at shows. In the summer of last year, I travelled from Portsmouth to York in the company of a group of British LEGO-building friends, going to a LEGO-show. Along the way we discussed my plans for building more British vehicles. During the five-hour drive we saw at least two dozen trucks operated by the Stobart Group. This company was founded by ‘Steady’ Eddie Stobart and operates more than 2000 trucks, mostly Scanias. They are ubiquitous in Britain and instantly recognizable. It was obvious that, if I was going to build a truck for my collection, it had to be a Stobart truck (or lorry, as my friends insist on calling it).
It took me a while though. One of the things that make these trucks/lorries so recognizable is their rather funky-looking colour scheme and even though the graphics on the real vehicles are done with stickers, I wanted to build them out bricks. This was complicated, obviously, but the end result does give a decent impression of what it looks like on the real Scania.
In little more than a week, the 2013 Great Western LEGO Show will take place in Swindon in the UK. My collection of British vehicles will be on display there, including this truck, as well as my B-52 model.
Hot on the heels of fellow Dutch truck builder Dennis Glaasker, Nanko Klein Paste (nkle) has also built a new truck. Unlike Dennis’ trucks, it’s not all shiny and full of chrome, however. It’s a much more utilitarian-looking Dutch DAF 2300 truck from the early eighties.
There is much to like though, such as the construction of the radiator with a small edge around it, the SNOT construction on the side of the cab and front bumper and the detailed chassis, engine bay and working tilt cab. Growing up, I used to regularly see trucks like this and I absolutely love it.
Many European truck lovers have a soft spot for the Scania brand. In some ways its reputation in Europe is comparable to that of a brand such as Kenworth in the US; they’re driven by proper truckers rather than by mere truck drivers. They are also popular among customizers, and Scandinavian custom trucks stand out, with lots of chrome and airbrush artwork. Truck builder extraordinaire Dennis Glaasker (bricksonwheels) has recreated this typical Scandinavian custom look in his latest Scania model.
This behemoth is more than 1.5m (5 ft.) long and remote controlled with Power Functions. The spectacular airbrush artwork, with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme, was made with a custom sticker and Dennis uses non-standard chromed pieces, with a very cool result.
Andy Baumgart (dtowncracka) obviously has an interest in military equipment from the (former) Soviet Union and its allies. After building his cracking ZSU-23 Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery, he has turned his attention to something a bit more obscure: the Cuban T-55 mobile SA-2 Guideline launcher.
The SA-2 Guideline is a Soviet surface-to-air missile developed in the nineteen-fifties, which was exported to Soviet allies all over the world. During the Vietnam war, North Vietnamese SA-2s were used to shoot down close to 200 US aircraft, known as Yankee imperialist air pirates in contemporary propaganda. Before then, SA-2s gained notoriety when they were used to shoot down Francis Gary Powers’ CIA U-2 spy-plane over the Soviet Union in 1960 -an incident which caused great embarrassment to the US government- as well as a U.S. Air Force U-2 flying over Cuba during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
By now the SA-2 is an old clunker. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, Cuba has been unable to buy more modern and more mobile air-defense equipment. By mounting an SA-2 and its launcher on top of an obsolete T-55 tank chassis, Cuban engineers have managed to come up with a slightly more mobile version. To me it doesn’t look as though it can do much damage except to Cuba’s roads, but it is a great choice for a LEGO model, expertly built by Andy.
It was hard to pick which photo I was going to post of Calin’s (_Tiler) sleek BMW rat rod, because as Vaughan James so accurately described, his “photography is like LEGO car porn”. So I will just post a small selection.
I am admittedly not a ‘car guy’, but I do enjoy a gnarly looking vehicle like the best of them. Also the fact that Calin was able to fit an entire minifig in at this scale earns big time bonus points.
Check out the rest of the ‘LEGO Car Porn’ in the full photoset.
The latest model by Nick Barrett (technicnick) shows a scene from 1956. That year, the Ecurie Ecosse (which is French for Team Scotland) with Ivor Bueb and Ninian Sanderson and their glorious Jaguar D-type racing car won the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans, beating drivers such as the legendary Stirling Moss.
There’s a lot more to like about this diorama. The two race cars have beautifully sculpted bodies, that in defiance of what most of the ‘cool’ people do, boldly show lots of studs. Kudos to Nick! The reproduction of the team’s custom-built transporter has elegant brick-built letters and nice chrome frames around the windows. At a first glance, the lovely canopy looks as though it could be made out of cloth, but it is actually built largely using 1×2 bricks. Finally, the brick-built figures seem to have character somehow.
Sometimes life as a blogger for TBB can be frustrating. Yesterday I spent more than an hour fruitlessly pouring over my pictures of the most interesting models I saw at Brickfair, to only find that we had pretty much blogged all of them when they first appeared on-line. Then again, on other days it is easy. I did not have to think about a title for this post, for instance, because Matt Armstrong (Monsterbrick) came up with the title for his picture himself.
I never cared much for LEGO’s Super Heroes figures. To me they looked too much like kids’ stuff, with little potential for making something interesting out of them. However, this model has made me think twice. The Batman figure itself may be ‘juniorized’, but that does not mean Matt cannot build a kick-ass motorbike to go with it.
No Starch Press recently sent me a copy of one of their latest LEGO books, Amazing Vehicles, to review. It retails for $20 USD, though you can currently nab it over at Amazon for $15. Written by Nathanaël Kuipers and Mattia Zamboni, it’s a giant instruction manual in book form for building ten different vehicles. This is Volume 1, and the second volume is slated for release next month.
I’ve never been much interested in any of the unofficial build-it-yourself books, regardless of subject matter, because I always thought that if I’m going to build something that isn’t a set, I want to build my own model that I can claim. Additionally, I’m not much of a vehicle builder.
Nevertheless, since I wanted to give the book a proper review, I sat down to build one of the models. I chose to build number 9, the Street Rod. The book uses the same master set of parts for all of the vehicles, which are laid out on one of the first pages. If you’re just building a single model, though, like I was, you won’t need all of the pieces, and I found it annoying that each model didn’t have a page showing what parts are needed for it.
Instead, I gathered all of the parts for it the slow way, by manually going through each instruction step and finding the necessary pieces in my collection. While a lot of the parts are pretty common, unless you buy a lot of creator sets, chances are you won’t have all of the necessary pieces in the right colors. The book is quick to encourage builders to find substitutes, though. I found all but one red curved slope 2x4x2/3, which I substituted with a 1×4 tile and some cheese slopes (it goes on the rear bumper).
The book is high quality, printed on heavy paper, and the instructions are crisp and clear.
The black pieces (notoriously hard to make out) were even easy to see. I did find the difference between white and tan to be frustratingly hard to see, and honestly I’m not even sure why the models need any tan: the entire book only calls for 3 pieces in tan, and they are mostly used in hidden places.
So I began building the car, and it started off pretty much the way you would expect a Creator-type car to start: some long plates for the base that you build up from. Immediately, though, I was surprised to find that the plates are actually facing upside down, and the entire car chassis is built studs-down. The direction reverses part-way up, and the hood and trunk are studs up.
The engine area was filled with a nifty bit of Studs Not On Top (SNOT) work, and some clever half-stud offsetting. The final model is a snappy looking little roadster, similar in size to the 150-200 piece official Creator vehicles. It’s definitely a lot larger than minifig scale, being 8 studs wide, although I don’t think minifigs would look terribly out of place in it (although, sadly, there’s no legroom for them). I was very impressed with the overall build quality, and I hope the rest of the vehicles in the book hold up to this standard. Seasoned LEGO builders who are used to working with SNOT techniques won’t find anything new here, but for someone who is just getting into using more advanced building techniques, there’s a lot to learn here. This book would have been a goldmine if I’d had it when I was a teenage builder.