Conquistadors clash with Aztecs in a night of fear and greed

Sometimes, imagined history can be as colorful as the real thing (which I typically find more surprising than fiction). Talented historical builder Josiah Durand is no stranger to the Aztec and early colonial period of history — we’ve featured his ruined pyramid of Tenochtitlan and Mesoamerican ballgame scenes previously. But in his latest scene inspired by Pre-Columbian civilizations, Josiah imagines what might have happened if a smaller group of Spanish Conquistadors had attempted to wrest riches from the Aztecs decades before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Things do not appear to be going well for the Spaniards…

La Noche Triste

Josiah incorporates elements from the Aztec Warrior minifig in the Series 21 Collectible Minifigures, mixing the pieces so each warrior is unique. Behind the minifigs, microscale palaces and temples provide a forced-perspective background, with a mountain range behind them. Beneath, transparent bricks arranged on their sides serve as a highly textured water surface. But my favorite detail is the pair of Aztec statues on the lift side of the scene, with distinct noses and feathered crowns. Titled “La Noche Triste” (“the sad night”), I’m personally rooting for the indigenous Aztecs, and won’t be especially sad if the invading Conquistadors meet a sticky end atop those distant pyramids.

Unloading on Scarif with the U-wing that could have been

Star Wars and LEGO have gone hand-in-hand for quite some time now. Uncountable LEGO User Groups are centered around the very concept of building models based on the Star Wars universe. Suffice it to say, there is a wealth of models inspired by the galaxy far, far away. As many ships as there are in George Lucas’ fever dream of a series, a whole can of worms opens up when you look into the concept designs for some of the most iconic vehicles. This ship, built by Jan Südmersen, was inspired by a concept design of the rebel U-wing fighter from Rogue One. Quite different from the movie design on a few fronts, the main difference is the lack of wing-like strike foils. For those that aren’t hip, the s-foils were apparently used more for increasing the shield profile of the ship and less so for aerodynamics in an atmosphere. I doubt this big boy needs much help from some wings, though, as it looks like it can take a few hits without a problem.

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Daft for Dutch DAF trucks

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun building minifigure scale trucks, instead of, say, aircraft or larger-scale vehicles. These are three of my latest: Dutch DAF trucks. The first represents an XF105 Super Space Cab, with a trailer carrying a 40ft Maersk refrigerated container. It is similar to thousands that roam European motorways.

DAF XF105 with container trailer

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LEGO Collectible Minifigures Marvel Studios Series revealed [News]

LEGO has just listed the Marvel Studios Series of Collectible Minifigures online. High-resolution pictures are available at LEGO Shop, revealing 12 super-heroes as seen in the latest Marvel TV series, WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and What If…? The minifigures will be available for purchase on October 1st.

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LEGO Star Wars 75310 Duel on Mandalore features Ahsoka vs. Maul [Review]

LEGO’s summer 2021 wave of Star Wars sets has been taking us back to the Clone Wars and early Empire eras, with sets like 75314 Bad Batch Attack Shuttle from the new animated series and the set we’re reviewing today, 75310 Duel on Mandalore from the final season of The Clone Wars released on Disney+ last year. This set 147 pieces with two minifigs, and will hit stores on August 1st for US $19.99 | CAN $24.99 | UK £17.99.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

Read our hands-on review of LEGO Star Wars 75310 Duel on Mandalore

Journey to Mount Kōya along the path of the gods

I’m watching the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics right now feeling nostalgic both for my hometown and for my trip back to Japan two summers ago before the pandemic, when I spent several days in Kyoto as well as Tokyo, Matsumoto, and Kobe. Just south of Kyoto stands Mount Kōya, where Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai) founded the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism in the 9th century. My father became good friends with the head monk of Kōya-san during our time in Japan, and the temples and pathways there hold a special place in my family’s hearts. Inspired by the Japanese manga Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara, LEGO builder Ted Andes has captured a Buddhist pilgrim pausing at a Shinto shrine in the Okunoin graveyard where Kōbō Daishi is buried.

Way of the Kami 惟神の道

What’s truly wonderful about this scene is that it captures the unique Buddhist-Shinto syncretism that permeates Japanese spirituality, wherein Shinto (literally the “Way of the Gods”) beliefs are practices alongside Buddhism brought from China. In Ted’s LEGO scene, a shrine to a local Shinto deity and the god’s sacred stone — complete with a straw rope with lightning-bolt paper — stand amidst Buddhist graves on a sacred Buddhist mountainside. Well-researched, gorgeously detailed scenes like this are a welcome contrast from the generically “Asian” scenes far too many western builders toss together for build challenges and contests.

As part of the same Summer Joust contest, Ted also shared this atmospheric scene inspired by the same Manga. The same pilgrim from the scene above walks through a bamboo grove at night as ghost tendrils and a spectral hand threaten our protagonist. Rather than relying on LEGO’s bright green bamboo pieces, Ted has recreated the tall stalks using dark tan candles, with just a few leaves entering the frame near the top. This sort of scene is exactly why little kids like me growing up in Japan were afraid of bamboo groves at night!

Mushi-Shi 蟲師

Microscale city scene mixes traditional architecture with fantastical flair

Whenever I come across a scene by Jeff Friesen I’m amazed at his uncanny ability to create such interesting stories in such a small space. His models are a wonderful blend of seemingly simple techniques combined with the perfect color combinations. In this scene depicting a sky train station with a cruise ship port, the addition of the floating tower in the foreground is such a whimsical detail. And the arches continuing through the build perfectly divide the lower level details from the upper. Gold parts are used throughout the scene for just a splash of sparkle.

Intimate, poetic Asian scene in LEGO

LEGO builder Qian Yj is no stranger to Asian buildings. Qian’s latest is smaller, poetic, and more intimate in scope and subject. There is some really good detailing work on display, especially on the second building. The brick-based figures add a good human element to the scene, and the color choices work well here. What’s your favorite detail?

Thoughts in the Still of the Night(Li Bai.Tang Dynasty.)

A mini Hitachi wheel loader

There are a handful of builders out there that are experts at recreating vehicles in LEGO form. We’re talking highly detailed, true-to-life replicas. One of those experts is Damian Z. and his most recent build is this Hitachi ZW180PL. I have to be honest, I recognize Hitachi, but that nomenclature doesn’t ring a single bell. But what I do know is that I’m positive I’ve seen this exact piece of machinery before. And when you look at the real thing, this little guy is spot on.

HitachiZW180PL.01

Who knew you could pack so much detail into such a small frame? But just wait until you see some other angles. Replica or not, this wheel loader is expertly crafted.

Click to see the other angles

And we’re off to the races...

I don’t know a lot about the Aerogee 3000 built by Tino Poutianen, but I suspect it’s fast. Very fast. And also made out of LEGO brick. A rare combo! Part of the unique look comes from the fact that this is larger than minifigure-scaled. That helmet is from the classic Technic racer figures, the larger size making the curved panels and other elements feel just a bit more compact than you’d get with a traditional minifigure. Those curves and the three in-line wheels remind me of vehicles from the Thunderbirds show crossed with Speed Racer – certainly nothing to complain about. Yes indeed, this is one sweet ride.

Aerogee 3000

If you’re looking for other speedy concepts, check out our racers tag!

That’s one brightly-lit skyline

Spaceships are great, castles are fun, mechs are neato. But sometimes I like to stop and appreciate the LEGO builds that lean more heavily into traditional “artistic” themes. legoapprentice has created a fun neon-lit skyline that just seems cheerful and fun. I like the subtle techniques in play like the varied widths of the windows, and how quarter arch tiles are used in several orientations to create a fluid feel for the skyscrapers. So take a moment and rest here with me, and enjoy the sights.

Skyline at Night

Once you’ve caught your breath, take a stroll down our Art tag for even more creative goodness.

Eat your heart out, NASA

One small step for a minifigure, one giant leap for minifigure-kind. Builder Centuri Chan has created a fantastic spaceship to get the first two minifigures to Mars by 2028. Nostalgia certainly is a powerful force and the new buildable figures provided a perfect template for Centuri Chan to project their love for the Classic Space theme. This Minifigure Launch System, as dubbed by the builder, is a playful spin on the brick-built mega-figures that LEGO has begun to release. Littered with astronauts and robots, this crawler is on its way to the launch pad for further testing of this minifigure-inspired spacecraft. Two yellow pilots sit in the helmet, just above a wonderful, brick-built Classic Space logo while the rest of the crew tends their various assignments. I love the nod to Classic City sets and Octan with the white, red, and green tanks.

Race to Mars! Minifigure Launch System (MLS)

Checking out the back lets us see the boosters that Centuri Chan attached to the spaceman-spacecraft while also making us wonder what exactly the elusive orange spaceman is doing up there.

Race to Mars! Minifigure Launch System (MLS)