LEGO and storytelling are a match made in heaven. As much as I enjoy building for the sake of building, I also enjoy LEGO as a medium for producing a narrative. Markus Ronge had me hooked last month when he shared a teaser poster for an upcoming series of story-driven steampunk builds. A few days ago, Marcus revealed the first part of his conceptualized world in the form of Maersk Pier, owned and operated by fourth-generation shipping mogul, Herman van de Maersk.
Bored with the shipping industry, Herman decided to build this majestic port to serve luxury airships and their wealthy clientele. As a steampunk model, Maersk Pier is breathtakingly beautiful and does a great job of blending Victorian-style architecture with steampunk fantasy. The extensive use of white works well and reminds me of marble, which witnessed a resurgence in use as a building material during the 19th Century Greek Revival period. Speaking of history, the model’s name is a clever nod to LEGO’s lengthy relationship with the Maersk shipping company, which has included a number of Maersk co-branded LEGO sets over the years.
Outfitted with a top hat and monocle, Herman van de Maersk is a dapper-looking chap who prefers to personally welcome his guests. In this scene, he informs two of them that they picked a great day to see one of the finest ships to grace Maersk Pier…the Skytanic. Could it be the portly ship in the teaser poster? I’m dying to know!
As it turns out, the two passengers he welcomes are Dr. Maxwell Tinker and Professor Lucius von Clikits (a fun reference to LEGO’s 2003-2006 Clikits buildable jewelry line). Judging by the names of these two gentlemen, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are embarking on a special research expedition. The two adventurers have a wonderful view from the observation deck, which includes a pair of bird-themed “gargoyle” heads peering out across the bright blue beyond. These sculptures have just as much character as the minifigures, including a clever use of the long cattle horn to form some pretty stern-looking brows.
The observation deck boasts an impressive view, which includes some airships coming into view. One of these appears to be the Skytanic, which Marcus has yet to reveal. Fortunately, we can take a closer look at the support vessels.
My favorite of the two is the Hercules airtug, which features instantly recognizable hallmarks found in tug boats, right down to its squat appearance. Hercules is piloted by the appropriately named Nathan Pullman.
Next up is the cargo transport ship. This one is a bit bulkier than the airtug but needs to be, considering it regularly hauls supplies and food to be loaded on airships. One of the most interesting aspects of this vessel is a working elevator for lowering and raising materials. In my opinion, it’s a feature that elevates the model from nice to excellent.
The other side of the cargo ship is equally interesting to look at. I really like how the captain’s bridge is built into the side of the hull, as opposed to be positioned above deck.
In order to operate like a well-tuned machine, a gigantic engine provides Maersk Pier with enough power to perform day-to-day operations. By itself, the engine is a wonderful model, and the combination of red, black, gold and silver make for a lively-looking prop.
In addition to gas engines, Maersk Pier is also experimenting with alternative forms of energy including wind and hydro power.
If Maersk Pier is any indication, you won’t want to miss out on Markus’ future builds revolving around his steampunk universe. The Skytanic is on the horizon, and I can’t wait to get a closer look. Let’s take a moment to raise a toast to Markus on a job well-done! If Markus puts this much effort just into the stunning teaser poster, with a colorful cast of characters waiting to be fleshed out, I can’t wait to see what Markus cooks up next!
Like this? Click the link to check out our coverage of Markus’ incredible Skytanic flying ship, the next installment in the series.