Ace Parts Usage: TBB’s favorite LEGO build techniques of 2023 so far [Feature]

Over the course of the last six months, we’ve featured literally hundreds of excellent LEGO creations. While all of them are already the best we’ve found, there are a handful that stand out above the rest.  Usually these creations feature the coolest techniques and exceptional NPU (Nice Parts Usage), and have us talking about them more than the average build behind the scenes. We’ve seen everything, but occasionally we’re extra impressed by something new and unique. Although we do feature our overall favorite builds (using several criteria) in the running for the TBB Creation of the Year in December, we’ve decided it would be fun to honor some ace parts usage right here, right now. Join us as we count down the best of the first half of 2023!

#10: Davy Jones would be proud

Our first build in the countdown is Blackbeard, by Oliver Becker. It may be a little on the nose (or chin) but the use of a black octopus for a beard made us smile. Additionally, this pirate may be a little buggy-eyed, but using dark red minifigure bandanas for tear ducts also stood out as great NPU.


#9: Plastic woodworking

The overall composition of this royal family scene by Martin Gebert is lovely. But in terms of stand-out NPU, we look to the four-poster bed. Twisting those 4L bars inside cauldrons is genius as far as replicating the look of one you might see in real life. The white skirt on the cradle isn’t bad either!

One is not enough, they said...

#8: Tires for tile

Next up is ‘The Library’ built by TomStuds. Like the last creation, here we have some more lovely composition, especially in terms of photography. As far as NPU goes, we found ourselves loving the treasure chests and wands built into the walls. But even more so, of course, is how cool that floor looks with tires mixed with cheese slopes creating the design.

'The Library' ????

#7: These legs weren’t made for walking?

Mechs and the like are always filled with cool greebly bits, so it would be shocking if one didn’t make it onto our list this go-around. Fortunately, we found ourselves particularly impressed by this “spider tank” build by Duncan Lindbo. Its legs may be for walking, but they were originally made for riding, as they’re actually scooters!

Street (IL)Legal

#6: It’s written all over his face

This scribe (from the game “Stronghold”) by Big Stannis contains some pretty incredible parts usage for the face. Can you guess the components? How about bags for upper cheeks, a chihuahua for a nose, painter palettes for lower cheeks, and what appears to be a turkey leg for the mouth. It doesn’t get much more detailed and expressive than that! The droid heads for fingers are nice too!

Stronghold(2001): Scribe

#5: Going with the flow

The flowing cape of Dr. Strange provided excellent inspiration for this fish, built by Liu Di Kai (dicken liu)It’s such a simple technique, yet elegant, and one that will have you wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that???”


#4: I think you’ve got a little something in your teeth…

Droid heads were used well as fingers above, but we’re absolutely in love with this clever use by Marcin Otreba. We can’t imagine a better way to depict the teeth of The Mouth of Sauron. Overall the build is lovely, but that mouth has received tons of admiring emojis from our contributors.

Mouth of Sauron

#3: But… how?

A 3×3 round tile may not sound like the most exciting part of our lineup, but just you wait! The way that they are used in this chicken by Rickard Stensby (@stensbylego) is incredible. This may be my personal favorite build of the lot, simply for the genius and character of it all. Wondering HOW? Keep scrolling!

The hen and the egg

Inside this work of art is an intricate skeleton of rigid hose, 1×2 round plate, and droid arms. It’s quite impressive how Rickard was able to get the body-shaping just right!

#2: Playing with scale – and forks

Microscale is another theme that tends to use loads of interesting bits to represent parts of tiny buildings. And it comes as no surprise that this build by Versteinert made it onto our list! Totaling less than 101 pieces, it’s impressively riddled with NPU. Some we’ve seen before, and some new. While I’m fond of the gear-rack steps, I think we can agree that using forks as pillars took the cake as being the best overall!

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

#1: Wholesome, and a whole lotta NPU

Coming in at arguably our favorite all-around is this gorgeous little build by none other than Marcin Otreba. Sound familiar? He’s the one responsible for The Mouth of Sauron above! While that build  is not sweet or wholesome (the subject matter throws that out), this kitchen vignette is entirely the opposite. Apart from simply looking beautiful, we found ourselves in love with the plethora of fantastic parts usage, including the wand chair legs, the clamshell backsplash, the window-pane cutting board, and what looks to be wheel hubs for stove burners. And lets not forget the technique of insetting that door half a stud! This feast for your eyes is “chef’s kiss” incredible!

Vintage Kitchen

Bonus: When LEGO designers build like AFOLs

We all know that two things tend to be true: 1) LEGO designers have access to new molds and part colors that we do not, and 2) while many sets have nifty techniques and parts usage, few stand out as being as crafty as those used by many AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO). Admittedly, part of this is because we have the ability to use techniques that LEGO would deem “illegal”, but we won’t get into those weeds. All that said, in the past six months we’ve come across a few techniques we fell in love with.

Up first are two builds within the same set! LEGO Icons Botanical Collection 10313 Wildflower Bouquet is colorful, and a joy to both build and display. The techniques we found most impressive were those used in the African daisies and the lupins. For the former, we have oar heads for petals and conical hats for the centers – techniques that have been used by both LEGO and AFOLs several times since. And for the latter, we have pirate hats used as blooms. In truth, these were the most impressive, but the entire Botanical line is filled with great parts usage.

Finally, we couldn’t help but chuckle at the use of two stacked DOTS picture mounting elements used for the toilet in 71799 NINJAGO City Markets. This one pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a random but totally awesome piece for building a public toilet!

Well, that about wraps it up for this go around! What do you think? Do you believe there’s one we missed? If you enjoyed this article, please let us know in the comments! And while you’re here, feel free to visit our other TBB feature articles.

1 comment on “Ace Parts Usage: TBB’s favorite LEGO build techniques of 2023 so far [Feature]

  1. Thor96

    Kitchen by Marcin is my favorite build by far, it’s just perfect. But the face ‘sculpting’ in #6 is just mind blowing, how can one think of such part combos is beyond me. Anyway, all of these mocs are great, thanks for highlighting those!

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