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

Father Brown is here to solve any mystery

G. K. Chesterton was a prolific English man of letters from the early 20th century, writing countless articles, editorials, letters, non-fiction books, short stories, novels, and even epic poems. One of his most beloved and recognizable characters is the crime-solving priest, Father Brown. Father Brown could rival the more famous Sherlock Holmes in his ability to unravel any mystery by using his powers of observation and deduction. Brought to life in LEGO form by prolific Finnish man of bricks Eero Okkonen, this Father Brown is modeled after the character as played by Mark Williams on the BBC show. The eyes are hidden behind round glasses, and the shoulders are slightly hunched over. The black cassock, the clerical garb worn by the priest in his exploits, is well done, even including a slight bulge for the rounded belly that the unassuming Father Brown had acquired over the years.

Father Brown

A round wheel well in white makes for a lovely clerical collar, and a tire holds on the hat, allowing for a more natural angle. A Technic connector allows a subtle curve for the chin. The studs on the cassock were inevitable, as covering them would have ruined the otherwise flowing lines of the fabric, and they don’t detract from the final appearance. To distinguish between the studs and the buttons, 1×1 round tiles have been used. The base adds a nice touch, with a small splash of color against all the black, with the vaguely gothic architecture recalling the English countryside where the priest did most of his sleuthing. My favorite detail, however, is the umbrella that the crime-solving cleric carried everywhere he went.

A beautiful bonsai built from bulk-bought bricks

André Pinto‘s build took me by surprise. I said to myself, “That’s a nice LEGO bonsai tree photographed on a nice piece of antique furniture.” Part of that is true; it is a nice LEGO bonsai tree. But part of it is false, too, because a closer look revealed that the table and the rug were also made entirely from LEGO. André says that there are 5,000 pieces in the build, but 85% of them are the limited selection that comes from the Pick-a-Brick walls in LEGO retail stores. The large amounts of somewhat odd pieces comes together for a stunning build.

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The sand green telescopes form a lovely border around the edge of the table, and the copious yellow click hinges provide a surprisingly realistic rug texture beneath. The white flowers still attached to the sprue drape elegantly from the branches of the tree. The details that deceived me, however, are the reflective surface of the table with small petals on it, and the finely crafted legs, with cross supports, beneath it. What a clever use of bulk parts!

An immersive garage to get your landspeeder serviced

When not writing articles about fine LEGO creations or taking care of my young children, I crawl down to my basement man-cave and build things out of LEGO. Yes, I am a bit like the dad in The LEGO Movie; and also yes, my toddlers ignore my prohibitions on touching the bricks. But some things survive the attack of sticky little fingers, and I am pleased to present the readers of The Brothers Brick with my latest.

As my alter-ego, Henjin_Quilones, I built and shared this landspeeder repair shop as part of an annual Star Wars competition on Eurobricks. Run by a Twi’lek named Veenac’ebla, the garage on Nar Shaddaa services many types of speeders, often providing them with upgrades to boost the specs. Three speeders, all loosely inspired by real-world cars, sit in the shop for repairs. The red and the grey speeders hearken to classic muscle cars (and to the M-68 from Solo), while the dark blue was inspired by curvy sports cars.

Speeder Repairs

See more of this shady landspeeder garage

Off the grid to find Akira

The prototypical LEGO piece is the 2×4 rectangular brick. It has ninety-degree angles on every side, and using it, together with most other LEGO bricks, one can build things with lots of right angles. Unless you are Thorsten Bonsch, that is, and you are building off the grid, setting your scene at a cool forty-five degree angle. The greebled elements that comprise the science fiction setting, all the pipes and valves and whatnot, are a lovely backdrop to an epic showdown between Tetsuo, a character from Akira, and one of the authorities trying to stop him. I hope Tetsuo can avoid those rockets firing at him!

Akira – Off to the Containment Unit 1

There is nothing that fancy going on in the sloped section, though I do enjoy the ubiquitous fence piece making an appearance; it is just a masterfully arranged assortment of textured elements and repetitive piping. The cumulative effect of it, however, is brilliant. But the platform is what catches my eye. The yellow and black striping is excellent, and the various subtle offsets of the grey surface are gorgeous. Now, I don’t know much about Akira, but if this creation is anything to go by, it must be awesome!

Stressed? Have a cup of tea

Builder Eero Okkonen is no stranger to The Brothers Brick. His large-scale figures are something of a legend around here, often featuring warriors, wizards, and sci-fi women. Today, he brings us a samurai warrior, joined by a maiko, or apprentice geisha sharing tea. He beautifully captures both the modest down-turned visage of the maiko and the tired pride of the old warrior. What makes this build unusual for Eero is that the stunning figures are set in a lush landscape, which features a blooming garden complete with Zen Buddhist shrines and a reflection pool.

Tea ceremony in Japanese garden

I love the way he has used the texture of the undersides of 1×2 plates for the samurai’s armor, along with the decorative flowers stuck to them. The elbow brick in light bluish grey is used to good effect in both the facial hair of the samurai and the three legged shrine in the corner. You also don’t want to miss the golden chainsaw blade used as a hair ornament on the maiko! The whole scene is so tranquil that I wish I could go there and take part. Now where did I put my tea cup?

Tea ceremony in Japanese garden

Epic Chinese characters come to life through LEGO in glorious fashion

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is to Chinese literature what the works of William Shakespeare are to English literature. A semi-historical story set in the time period of the Three Kingdoms (A.D. 169-280), the novel was perhaps written in the 14th century, though specific dates are hard to come by. It tells the story of how the Han dynasty gradually fell apart and became three independent kingdoms and all of the bitter rivalries and infighting that led to that point. Among all of the hundreds of characters in the novel, LEGO builder Jae Won Lee has chosen the main protagonist, Liu Bei, his chief strategist, Zhuge Lian, and the Five Tiger Generals who fought for them. The five generals are depicted in stunning fashion astride charging stallions, manes and tails flowing with the speed of their charge, and the other two men are nobly standing.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (the Five tiger generals)

The appearances of the generals are inspired by Chinese artwork, complete with the unique coloration of each. The dynamic posing of many of the models puts this a step above most similar builds. There might be more studs showing than some builders would prefer, but it works well with this style. They deserve a closer look!

click here to see each of the generals up close

Ruby, the warrior mech: she’ll slay you with her looks and with her gun

Some mechs are big, bulky and ready to smash through just about everything, obliterating all obstacles and enemies with hugely overpowered weapon systems. Ruby the warrior mech is not that kind of gal. GolPlaysWithLego’s creation is elegant and long of limb, with just enough red coverings to keep things interesting. Graceful curves on her legs leave the eye pleased, yet there is just enough greebling in the middle to make things look realistic. However, she isn’t your stereotypical damsel in distress because one of her asymmetrical arms is actually a gun.

Ruby LEGO MOC

Several features of this mech really stand out, not least of which is the beautiful contrast between the smooth limbs and cockpit areas and the greebled midsection. The splashes of red liven up the whole model, and the transparent light blue canopy (built from a 3 x 6 x 1 curved windscreen and 4 x 4 x 1 2/3 canopy half sphere with handle) complements the rest of the build well. Paint rollers attach two headlights to the mech’s chest, and a red snake head from the Ninjago theme perhaps serves as a sort of antenna. My favorite part, though? The feet, with those curved claws for toes. But from those toes all the way up to her head, this is one mighty fine looking mech.

What’s cooler than cool? This spaceship.

Ice Planet 2002 might not generate quite the same level of nostalgia among adult fans of LEGO that Classic Space does, but for a certain generation of builders it surely evokes fond memories of trans-neon orange chainsaws and the coolest visors that LEGO helmets had yet seen. It does for me, at least. Bob De Quatre certainly knows how to balance the distinctive white and blue color scheme, with the trans-neon orange accents, that made Ice Planet so distinctive and immediately recognizable back in its heyday. This planetary explorer uses its extensive monitoring equipment to scan the surface in low orbit, looking for whatever it was that these frosted spacemen were trying to find. I never knew what I was supposed to be finding with those chainsaws and ski/snowshoes, but I knew my crew looked good doing it.

Ice Explorer

The angled faces and down-swept wings show Bob to be a master spaceship builder. Fun highlights are the feathered sections of the wings in front of the air intakes and the opening pods on either side of the tail fin, which can deploy probes to the planet’s surface for added reconnaissance. Nexo Knights’ greatest gift to builders as a theme was perhaps the introduction of many new elements in trans-neon orange, especially the angular canopy used so effectively here. But that is not all that Bob has used well; don’t miss the DUPLO radar dish beneath the cockpit and the Bionicle armor behind it. Now that’s one cool ice-cold spaceship.

Massive monastery in the mountains meets the ‘mancers

Necromancers, that is. The story is that druids once lived here in Ard-darragh with their magical tree, but when they left, eventually Christian monks settled the cliffs and build a monastery; but they too left, and necromancers took over the site. At least, that is how builder Michal Herbolt describes the evolution of the place. And what a place it is, too! Large castle dioramas are always impressive, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of parts needed to bring them to life. But this one is exceptionally well done, with the brilliant textures on the walls, the large cliffs, the glittering water, and the nicely contrasting roofs.

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While there might not be many particular elements here to make you say, “Ooh, I never thought of using that piece for that purpose,” it is nonetheless a masterwork of architectural design and landscape integration. No part of the structure is aligned to the stud-grid of the base, and most of the towers join with the adjacent buildings at non-right angles, too. The way the buildings fade into the rear cliff is perfect, too. My absolute favorite detail, though, is the way the smooth white and rough light bluish grey parts of the walls blend organically together, creating a level of texture that is just right without being either too little or too much. This is a build that is definitely worth a closer look, so check out Michal’s full album on Flickr for all of the detail shots.

The Huntsman to stalk your dreams

Some people suffer from arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. Other people suffer from robophobia, the fear of robots. After seeing Jayfa‘s latest build, I think I now suffer from arachnorobophobia, the fear of spider-robots. The Huntsman, or Plague Mech: Pi, takes some inspiration from the huntsman spider, which in some regions can have a legspan of nearly a foot (30cm); the long limbs of the mech clearly mimic that of the leggy arachnid, and the large fangs look capable of delivering a devastating punch of poison.

Huntsman - Plague Mech: Pi

The mech looks almost like a cross between General Grievous from Star Wars and a Xenomorph from Alien. Neither of those are friendly, and judging by the menacing pose and darkly ominous lighting, this one is not nice either. The details are what really make it unique, however. Minifigure hands give the fingers a grasping quality, and the ribbed hoses add a touch of texture to liven up all of the black. Tiny highlights of red and transparent-red elements make it even more sinister. Clever connections in the arms allow all sorts of poses, making it capable of reaching out to clutch its helpless prey. I am not sure I will be able to sleep tonight with this nightmare of a Huntsman lurking about. How about you?

The zombies are coming, so why aren’t you running?

I would not like to be the lone man with the dog in this latest build from Austrian builder Sanel Lukovic. With only his trusted canine companion and his guns, gear, and guts, things do not look hopeful with a ravening herd of mindless zombies pouring around every corner down the decrepit street. The decay and dereliction of the once bustling industrial sector is beautifully crafted, with exposed studs here and there showing how things have been slowly coming apart. Bits of various brownish hues sprinkled about create the appearance of rusted metal, while the overgrown vegetation tells us that no one with any brains has lived there for some time. So why has the lone figure returned to risk his noggin among such undead adversaries? We don’t know.

Apoca zombie

What we do know is that the scene itself is huge, with the sprawling rail yards and the broken street. I love the stacked shipping containers with partially opened doors using minifigure hands as handles, as well as the brick warehouse facade with cleverly arched windows. Sharp eyes will notice that the large spool for cables in the foreground is made from two Fabuland tables placed end-to-end. Some builders might disagree with me, but I also appreciate it when tiles are not fully pressed down to look like loose boards, like on the flatbed rail car. Careful details and creative parts usages abound throughout, making this a build that needs to looked at a few times to see everything.

Detail picture 4

You’re going to need stronger herbicides

This latest LEGO creation by master builder Aaron Newman is the stuff of nightmares for those who enjoy perfectly manicured lawns and neatly tended gardens. If that is you, stock up on a few 50-gallon drums of your preferred herbicide, or else dial your lawn service’s emergency line immediately! Inspired by the manticore of classical mythology, Aaron’s “planticore” is part flower, part root, part weed, and fully territorial. Stay away from the dandelion head that’s reminiscent of the lion that formed part of the manticore, as well as the many blooms at the tail that effectively evoke the scorpion stinger. The aggressively-posed beast is joined by a swarm of brick-built bees and fierce female faeries to ruin your country club’s casual croquet tournament.

The Planticore

Aaron is well-known in the LEGO community for both his creature builds and his dynamic minifigure poses, and he does not disappoint in either category here. I am personally quite partial to the various Elves hairpieces on his faeries, and the way he uses legs taken off of the hips for more natural stances takes them to the next level. Don’t miss the pink afro minidoll hair as a clever clover blossom, either. The croquet wicket, with the DUPLO ball on its way through, sets the small scale of the build beautifully, and the editing effects with the grass and sky lend it a wonderful outdoor atmosphere. I suspect that I have several stray planticores roaming about in my own yard, judging by the weeds and chaos I see out there; or maybe I am just too busy trying to build LEGO like Aaron to prune and mow…