About Benjamin Stenlund

Benjamin started building he was three, when his father gave him a small Futuron set (6810), and has not stopped since then. Castle and space are nearest and dearest to his heart, but other themes occasionally get built, too; there are quite a few super heroes and Star Wars sets in his collection, at least. He builds as Henjin_Quilones on Flickr, and under the same name is the leader of one of the guilds on Eurobrick's Guilds of Historica role building game. When he is not building, he is busy being a stay-at-home dad to three kids and househusband to one wife.

Posts by Benjamin Stenlund

Visiting this temple will be sure to bring some heartache

Some movies really tug on your heartstrings, getting you deep in the feels. For nerds out there like me, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom might tug on some heartstrings, too–or at least Mola Ram does. Ha. When I look at this LEGO model built by Henry Tilney, I certainly get the feels. What’s not to like? There is a great representation of some mining carts going down a roller coaster (clearly placed in the film for that amusement park tie-in), and there is Indiana himself, the eminent archaeologist/grave robber Henry Jones, Jr., perched beside a pit of lava. Hopefully he doesn’t end up burning up! Topping it all off is a camel, which doesn’t feature in The Temple of Doom that I recall, but certainly can be found in the final installment of the Indiana Jones trilogy, The Last Crusade.

Eat your fruits and vegetables!

A major problem with the diets of many folks these days is that they do not eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, instead deriving too many of their calories from highly processed wheat, corn, and soy. There’s nothing wrong with wheat, corn, or soy, per se, but they don’t provide many of the vitamins and minerals necessary for human health. So consider this LEGO build by Barbara Hoel to be a public service announcement: eat your fruits and veggies! Your gut will thank you. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Still Life with Fruit

This still life is awash with bright colors, with red apples, green, dark red, and purple grapes, orange oranges, yellow pears, and perhaps a dark red plum. Yummy! Organic curves are hard to do in LEGO, but Barbara has done a great job sculpting them. And then there is the tablecloth beneath them all, with every shade of blue imaginable featured. Someone must have invested in some LEGO DOTS sets! If only the background were black velvet, this would look great surrounded by a gilded frame and hanging on the wall of my dining room, reminding me to eat my fruits and vegetables.

Now this is pod...er, GARC?...racing!

I love racing. Not that I do it myself, but there is something enthralling about watching vehicles (or even just persons or animals) moving at high speeds in a winner-take-all contest. From track meets to Formula 1, NASCAR to podracing, I love watching races (n.b. I don’t actually watch car races, typically, but scenes in movies, like Cars, get me excited). And what goes faster than a car? A spaceship, of course! This small LEGO craft by Tim Goddard looks highly maneuverable, barely fitting a minifigure so that it can squeeze into the small gates that mark the course. The transparent 4×4 dish perfectly complements the windscreen to form a lovely canopy, and the color blocking is superb. Perhaps even better than the raceship is the triangular teal gate, with just the right amount of greebling to balance the smooth curves. And the stickers enhance it all the more. Gentlemen, start your thrusters!

The race is on!

This is what we’ve been training for, folks!

I’ve never been a huge train person. I mean, I like trains and all, and love watching them thunder by, and enjoy building elaborate tracks with my kids for those little wooden magnetic trains, but the LEGO train itch has passed me by completely. Perhaps someday I’ll construct a train if I ever get around to building a large-scale city diorama (after I win the lottery or suddenly come into money, to pay for all the bricks), but not until then. Not so for Josiah Durand, as he demonstrates with this superb military train scene. It’s got everything you could want, from a chunky engine to various types of cars, especially that anti-aircraft gun car, and the landscape is also eye-catching.

Deep State Espionage: Sukhai Mission E2

Unlike with most train dioramas, the tracks are completely brick-built, rather than using the standard track elements. Additionally, the wheels seem to be a combination of wagon wheels, dishes, steering wheels, and other round things, rather than the typical train wheels. The fill-in between the ties and rails is an odd assortment of small, textured dark bluish grey pieces, especially chains and stud shooter triggers (I love seeing those triggers pop up in builds!). The only thing that seems odd is that the ties are grey and the rails brown when usually it is the other way around unless it is such an old track that the wood has greyed and the metal rusted. It’s nothing to get steamed up about, since either way this is still one good looking train display.

Deep State Espionage: [Railway Gun]

Love trains more passionately than I do? Then check out the TBB train archives!

There is a castle on a cloud

What is it about the persistent fantasy of castles among the clouds, whether it is on a floating rock or built on the cumulonimbus itself? It’s certainly pervasive, even being featured in everyone’s favorite space fantasy, ruled by Prince Calrissian. I’m not complaining, mind you; I have a deep love for the idea myself and have been tempted to build something along those lines one of these days. But LEGO builder Caleb Saw beat me to the punch, creating this stunning castle afloat on the aether.

Sky City

Now, I love domes, and this castle has excellent domes, including, quite fittingly, half of Bespin. There is wonderful variation among the buildings, and yet they look a cohesive whole, too. The tan and dark tan colors look great together here, and the foliage is top-notch; indeed, the vines and trees look incredibly organic. And then there are the clouds. So many round bits that work so well together to create something light and fluffy out of shiny ABS plastic!

Do you love floating islands and floating rocks, too? Then check them out in the TBB archives!

My world’s on fire, how ’bout yours?

While the societal unrest recently has made it seem like everything is on fire, it’s not quite true. Lots of things are not burning, like the bread in my toaster. Oh wait, that’s burning, too. Well, shoot. Josiah Durand, currently using the Flickr alias of General 尓àvarre, seems to have a similar problem with fire in this LEGO build. While it might be rather flat and mosaic-like, the build is particularly stunning in its flame effects, with the lit-up trans-orange making a beautiful contrast with the tattered black flag. It looks like Josiah used every type of black element in his collection for the flag, too, expertly creating the ragged fringe. But that uneven warm glow, just like the embers in a fire, is what make this great. Now that’s what I call playing with fire!

The Dark Angel: 核 子力

Jenny and me was like peas and carrots

While I know the quote I used for the title is from the wrong movie, I do love this build of the Jenny Haniver from Mortal Engines like I love my peas and carrots. Built by Markus Ronge, it’s a gloriously red airship from that post-apocalyptic movie by Peter Jackson that most people didn’t see (including me) judging from the box office results. But just because the movie was a flop doesn’t mean the LEGO build is. In fact, with the many angles of the cockpit, the custom wing sails, and the full interior, not only does it look true to its on-screen counterpart, but it also looks awesome in its own right.

"Jenny Haniver" of Mortal Engines

I love seeing really old pieces in builds, so the tiny windows that are part of the forward cockpit are a treat to behold. The sliding doors on the side actually work, and the whole thing comes apart to access the interior. Because an airship home needs an interior, right? A place to eat some peas and carrots before starting an attack run on London…

„Jenny Haniver“ of Mortal Engines Detail

Forget your screw gun, try this screw blaster instead

There are always some people in the LEGO community who insist that certain pieces are worthless. Maybe it is the Big Ugly Rock Pieces (or BURPs); maybe it is the Juniors airplane; or maybe it is the ubiquitous stud shooter. The latter is much derided by those who wish their Star Wars battle packs came with normal blasters, rather than the huge and ugly things whose sole purpose is to lose studs behind the couch. Kids love ’em, at least. But perhaps the stud shooters are not so useless after all; PaulvilleMOCs shows us how elegant the part can be as a drill, for example, with a wand as the drill bit. Add in a circular saw and a sander, and you have a set of power tools perfect for a job site. This was built for the Iron Forge competition, where the stud shooter is the seed part; so expect to see some more studly builds in the days to come!

Power Tools

Going, going, gondola!

I love immersive builds, where everywhere you look there is LEGO, except the sky (I don’t like brick-built skies, due to the brick pattern). It’s like I’m one of the minifigures, standing in the scene, seeing the sights. It is my preferred building style, at least when buildings and rooms are involved, and one that I (Benjamin Stenlund) used in my latest creation. Set in the Guilds of Historica’s fifth guild, Varlyrio, in the Venice-like capital of Illaryian, it depicts a slice of daily life, with gondoliers poling, shopkeepers selling, families visiting, soldiers guarding, sailors lounging, and rogues prowling.

A Varlyrian Vacation

I tried to vary up the action of the figs to make it lively without being cluttered, and to vary the patterns of the houses to make it homogeneous without being monotonous. All of the buildings have the same roof style, with tiles pressed down on just one end, but three colors are used (you can barely see the lone dark grey roof on the right) to mix it up. Varying the patterns and heights of the buildings helps to make it visually interesting, but basic patterns get repeated. It’s like a block of modular buildings, if LEGO made modular buildings that were just rickety facades with no interiors. I don’t build interiors, unless it’s going to be visible in the shot, since it won’t be seen. That’s just wasted effort for my purposes. Another secret is that the water ends just around the corner under the bridge, where it stops being visible. It’s all about the camera shot, for me. And yet, it looks so nice, I’d like to visit the place myself. If only I were about 1.5 inches tall…

Just another pyramid scheme to leave you ruined

There’s a definite art to building ruins out of LEGO bricks. They aren’t the best medium for it, quite frankly, since the plastic is usually (unless they’re old and much loved) bright and shiny, the edges crisp and square. And ruins are usually dull, dirty, and broken apart. There’s a tendency to try to over-do it and add studs everywhere, or round elements, or a bunch of different colors, and the shape often gets lost in the busy clutter that the build ends up being. But in the hands of an eminently talented builder like Josiah Durand (a.k.a W. Navarre), ruins can be a glorious thing, awe-inspiring just like the real thing in the jungles of the Yucatan. This one is not any one in particular, but the Mayan ruins at Tikal and the Aztec ones at Tenochtitlan served as inspirations.

Reino De Sombras

The steps are excellent with their grille-brick texture, and the mix of smooth surfaces and studs is just right. There are many colors, but the muted earth tones all work together, and even match the printing next to the steps. The skulls give it the grim ambiance associated with the human sacrifices performed at many such sites, and the tiny statuettes give it some scale. And the lighting is perfect on this one, with slightly overcast South American sky giving it a real-world vibe. It looks almost like the real thing! Now that is the mark of some good LEGO ruin building. Take notes, aspiring builders!

April showers bring May flowers, right? Right?

Perhaps it has been all this time indoors. Maybe it’s the fact that it has been raining a bunch, and I have small children who cannot be kept out of the mud by anything short of shock collars (which I have not tried, for the record). But when I see this build by why.not?, I get the feels. It’s sad and grey, with only dark and dingy colors, just like an afternoon of re-runs of Clifford the Big Red Dog with toddlers with rain pouring down outside. While I love the rocks made from the huge pieces, and the decrepit shrine is well done, too, it’s the rain that strikes me most with this build. The brick-built sky, with the slanting dark grey raindrops against the light grey clouds, is melancholy enough, but the dark tan water, with tiles inserted at differing depths to simulate raindrops plunking onto the surface, really brings the effect home. Golly. Are those really raindrops, or just my tears?

untitled

Will anyone trade me two bricks for one sheep?

I’m trying to build the longest road here, folks. I need those bricks. Anyone who has ever played the board game The Settlers of Catan will instantly relate to this build by Cab ~, with the hexagonal board tiles and the wooden game pieces. This one is built in three dimensions, however, and with LEGO bricks. Impressively, the whole scene is LEGO, including the cards in the background, the table, and the dice. I happen to love mosaics, and the work that went into those cards is well worth it. I also love Catan, so this build has me wanting to have a game night. The only problem is the social distancing. Maybe if we all sit six feet apart it will work…

Game Night

It’s also an entry to the Iron Forge, the open-to-all-comers entry competition to the famous Iron Builder, so you can see lots of minifigure legs in the build. They give the hexagons their distinctive shape. I also love the clips for the sheep’s grass and the grille tiles for wheat. Now if only I had built my settlement on the bricks.