LEGO TOKYO is a special collaboration between Aurélien Mathieu (better known online as Shobrick) and Cole Blaq. To be precise, it’s really Shobrick’s swan song from the LEGO scene–and what better way to make a grand exit but with a monumental partnership to release four epic scenes that were put together by professional set designers and talented artists.
The story begins with Shobrick, who has been planning for some time to take an indefinite break from LEGO to focus on his pursuit of being a film director and wanted to create a few amazing pieces before setting aside his bricks. Over two years ago, he reached out to Cole Blaq to provide the settings and the right vibes for his vision of a scene he had in mind: a futuristic battlefield in Neo Tokyo with a Mecha antagonist. After multiple variations, Cole introduced his vision of the build and sent it back to Shobrick to complete the scene with dramatic set design and world-class photography.
Shobrick tells us, “Everything is built from scratch from the extruded polystyrene, cardboard and iron wires. The guiding principle was always the same – have everything in camera, on the set, no photoshopping of effects and to achieve the most realistic and cinematographic scenes possible.”
We’re revealing the final results of the collaboration here exclusively on The Brothers Brick along with a rare peek behind the scenes.
Scene 1: The Recon
The scene is set in 2038 – World War 3. Neo Tokyo has become a battlefield. Three Navy SEALs have been deployed for a reconnaissance mission in the city. Corporal Preacher and Pvts. Stump and Rabbit scour the scene from an elevated height. Earlier in the day, 42 soldiers from the U.S. platoon lost contact and were presumed wiped out. What could have happened? Everything seems eerily calm, overly quiet. The mission objective was simple: find out what annihilated the platoon.
Scene 2: The Hunter
The Special Ops have spotted a beast hanging from a building’s facade, facing down in a seemingly sleeping posture. This fully autonomous 6-legged walker is a deadly tank. A weapon developed by the Japan Self Defence Forces, driven by an artificial intelligence software, needing no pilot. It moves at an incredible speed and every part of its design was made for one purpose in mind: to hunt and eliminate targets by all means necessary.
Scene 3: The Assault
The SEALs fight a losing battle. Corporal Preacher drags an injured Private Stump to a safe zone. Private Rabbit never stood a chance, taking direct fire head-on. The M4 ammunition is useless against the mecha. It’s a brave scene of a warrior in the field saving a fallen brother who will not give up.
Scene 4: The Fall
The soldiers were no match for the Mecha Tanker. Their only hope, for now, is to bring reinforcements, if escape is even possible. The heroic soldier Preacher–the only survivor–takes a leap off the cliff to flee from one death, perhaps only to find another?
Behind the scenes
The talented builders and artists bring together these 4 scenes brilliantly, employing a blend of LEGO paired with modeling craft for the buildings and the scenery. The key characters are custom minifigures, and of course, the 6-legged mecha tank is made of traditional LEGO bricks. Let’s take a look at how it all came together.
Even though the scenes appear small, they took both an enormous effort and quite a lot of space. In addition to Cole Blaq’s assistance in model building, Shobrick assembled a small team of experts from the film industry, including director of photography Olivier Tresson and set designers Paul De Laroche, Frédéric Mercier, and his son Antoine Mercier. The shooting process began in March 2018 when Shobrick found a studio to begin building the huge diorama that the project required. By the end of July the team had wrapped up the final shots. Shobrick says this project is “the most complicated pictures I’ve ever made …. combining lots of different techniques in the same shot.”
Everything you see in the finished images is done in camera. The smoke and water droplets are taken from various different shots, layered to create the dramatic effects. The buildings are made with polystyrene and cardboard, and the advertising billboards are custom made with printed designs on plexiglass with small light boxes behind lit up with LEDs – engineered by Tresson. The minifigure customs and accessories were from LEGO aftermarket accessory maker Tiny Tactical.
Along with guidance from Shobrick vision, Cole’s Mecha was inspired by Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid Bestiary and Masamune Shirow’s famous Ghost in the Shell, and fans will no doubt recognize that influence in the finished pieces.
Cole’s first inspiration was to build a dog or animal-like mech, but as he iterated that eventually evolved into a hexapod. The build is also completed with virtually no LEGO studs visible, in order to blend in with the rest of the scene.
The Mecha Tank is posable with the flexibility to articulate the various stances and poses needed for the scenes.
What’s just as impressive as the final shots is the behind the scenes video. Here’s a look at all the hard work that went behind it.
We’d like to thank Aurélien Mathieu (Shobrick) and Cole Blaq for sharing the creative process with us. Good luck, Shobrick, and we look forward to seeing your directorial work on the big screen in the near future!
Enjoy more behind the scenes looks with the gallery below: