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

Tie a bandanna around your head and get ready

I don’t play video games, since I was that poor, deprived kid whose parents never bought him a system, and I didn’t have friends who played them, either. I played with LEGO bricks instead. That being said, I do have nostalgia for certain video games, having watched others play them at certain times of my life. Take Contra, for example. A few guys on my high school cross country team used to play that game in the wrestling coach’s office after practice, cursing up a storm and generally having a good time. Seeing this old TV and console with that logo across the screen built by qian yj brought me back to those halcyon days of youth. With a crowd pressed into the small room, we’d watch bandanna-and-aviator-wearing elder statesmen of the team gleefully shoot pixelated villains.

Nintendo Family Computer & Television in the 1980s

The curve of the small screen is great, a far cry from the giant flat screens of today. And the antennas, the corded controllers, the cartridge… ah, memories. The small details look spot on. It took me several views, in fact, and a careful zoom, to be sure that the console was made from LEGO and not just the real deal with brick-built accessories. Does it make it play better if the LEGO cartridge is taken out and blown upon? Probably.

As rare as a blue lobster

Sometimes it feels like every spaceship I see out there in the LEGO building community is either a single-seat starfighter or a giant capital ship. Sometimes the fighters are tiny, sometimes they themselves are giant, and some of the capital ships are minifig scale and others are microscale. But wouldn’t it be nice to see something else with more frequency? Like, what about the civilian ships, or even the military support vessels? Someone has to move the supplies from Planet A to Planet B, right? Well, thankfully we have Blake Foster, who has made us a small, minifig scale Neo-Classic Space (NCS) cargo shuttle. Called the Blue Lobster because it grips two containers at a time in its mechanical claws and it’s blue, it is the ship you hire for small jobs, when you don’t want to spend an entire nation’s GDP to move a few crates.

Blue Lobster Cargo Shuttle

The coherent color scheme is perhaps my favorite aspect of NCS ships, and the Blue Lobster does not disappoint, with the obligatory yellow canopy and the blue and grey body. The grey greebles are perfect, using my favorite greeble element, the piston bar, and the Nexo Knights droid torso to great effect around the engines. I also love those crates; each is a work of art in itself, with some fascinating geometry making them work. Now, I need to move in a month or two, and I think my family’s belongings could fit in those crates (if we were minifigures, that is); maybe I should ask Blake if this cosmic crustacean is up for hire.

All quiet on the Western Front

Ah, airplanes. What would we do without them? They make travel over long distances easy and affordable to everyone, which is great, and they make spreading contagion across the world lightning fast, too, which is not so great. Gone are the days when we had to wait for the rats in the hold of the ship to spread the pestilence! But military airplanes, deadly in ways non-viral, have a strong nostalgia attached to them for many people, from history buffs to kids who like to zoom things around and make machine gun noises while spitting on everything. Wesley has made a LEGO model of a RAF SE5a, a delightful WWI-era biplane, complete with said machine gun. The shaping is fantastic, especially on the fuselage, and I love the cheese-slope chocks under the wheels. The under-construction aerodrome gives depth to the image, especially when combined with the minifigures and the green “grass”; it’s a simple addition but brings it from a plain ol’ airplane to an immersive scene.

Now I know my A B Cs...

…Next time won’t you sing with me? With several toddlers roaming the hardwood, I sing the alphabet song frequently around my house. It’s a classic. That also seems to be what Dave Kaleta is singing with this gorgeous poster shot of all of his alphabet starfighters, built out of LEGO in collaboration with his young son. We have featured several of them on their own, like B and C, among others, but all together they are gorgeous.

Alphabet starfighter group

And while we usually don’t promote contests here at The Brothers Brick, I can’t resist pointing out that Dave really is inviting you to sing the space alphabet song with him by entering your own alphabet starfighter into his contest (clicking the image below will bring you to the rules). It ends May 9th, by the way, so you have time to get some entries in!

See details of a few starfighters not seen before on TBB

A slick Sanctum for Stephen Strange

I’m a sucker for superhero movies. I love the superpowers, the epic explosions, the over-the-top bad guys, and even the mysterious hideouts that shelter the heroes. One such hideout is Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum (Latin for Holy of Holies), a building on Bleeker Street in New York City that serves as both a storehouse for mystic artifacts and a node for protecting the Earth from enemy attacks. Anders Horvath has built a beautiful rendition of the Sorcerer Supreme’s lair, in the style and scale of LEGO’s Creator Expert modular buildings. In fact, it would fit right into your collection at home. It is based on official LEGO set 76108 Sanctum Sanctorum Showdown but upscaled to a point where it is a whole new thing. The interior is lovely, too, so you should check out the album on Flickr. I love the appearance of a microscale Disney Castle, as well as the different weapons on racks. Based on the residents, I’m not positive the Masters of the Mystic Arts still use the place (though they left behind an Infinity Stone), but at least you can get a sandwich or slice of pizza next door!

The Hills Sanctum Sanctorum Corner

The Romans go ballistic

I’ve mentioned before in these pages that I have a background in Roman stuff, particularly language and literature, but also some history and architecture. In fact, I compiled and annotated a Latin reader on Roman military texts for my Master’s degree. So imagine my delight when I saw this functional Roman ballista by Jerac. These things were used all over the Republic and Empire, including Caesar’s siege of Alesia. There’s no gimmickry here; just like the real deal, the force to launch the bolts comes from coiled cords, not the bow. And the whole thing is LEGO, which makes it even cooler. The Technic gear and axle connector don’t look out of place as parts of the mechanical structure, and, in fact, I believe the lip on the bushing catches on the gear to ratchet the tension. Then flip up those rods, and voilà! You have just destroyed a tower. The wooden planks and the soldiery, along with the suggestion of landscaping, are just icing on the cake to dress it up a bit; the real beauty of the build is the technological achievement.

Roman Ballista

Love Ancient Rome? Check out some more Roman-themed builds, like the whole city of Rome, an ambush, and a forum.

Wood you like to see this fire truck?

Replicas are a dangerous business. Sometimes they look too good, and people mistake them for the real thing (I think of the elder Dr. Jones breaking a “Ming Dynasty” vase in The Last Crusade), but sometimes they are horribly disappointing (see most full-size car replicas). But when the replica is made in a different medium than the original, it is easy to tell it apart from the real one while still looking good. This lovely fire engine by Jens Ohrndorf is a striking example. Made to imitate a classic wooden toy, it checks all the boxes: simple figures that slot into place; a moving ladder; the wheels really spin; and it is red. But it’s not wood, but genuine ABS plastic LEGO bricks. With nary a stud showing, it is exceptionally clean, and a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking it something else but LEGO. That’s the point. It’s a replica. And an exceptionally good one at that.

A whaley cool flying creature

If you ever watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, you probably thought that things like flying bison sounded cool. Because bison are cool, and things that fly are even cooler, right? Or perhaps you loved Fantasia 2000, with the flying humpback whales. Whales don’t fly, but wouldn’t it be neat if they did? Perhaps that was the inspiration Tim Schwalfenberg had, as he created this delightful build of one of the great flying whales of the Eastern Cloud Sea, carrying a passenger who could well be from The Last Airbender based on his looks. Rolled up cloth and vinyl elements make for a nice detail on the back, and I always love seeing barrels made from two half-barrels joined together. Add in a spectacular harness, and you have a creation ready to soar above some lands, gallivanting through some airwaves.

Balaenoptera Levosia

This water isn’t the purist I’ve ever had

Not every LEGO creation has to be made exclusively with LEGO bricks. Of course, there are some whose radical purist dogmas forbid anything besides what was intended by The LEGO Group to be used in creations, but they are extremists. Many builders would say that cutting, gluing, or painting go too far, but most other things are okay. And some say that anything goes, as long as the end result looks cool. Now, I’m not sure where Inthert falls among these groups, but this creation transcends mere LEGO and becomes something different with the inclusion of a real-world spray bottle. It may not be the sword of Exact-Zero, or the Polish Remover of Nail, but its incorporation into the build is both genius and surprising.

Yet Another Harebrained Scheme

It seems that Farmer Gary needs to water his field, and has come up with a novel way of distributing the necessary fluids. Will it work? Unlikely. But the build, built for MOC Wars 2020, is great. Check out that weather vane, for example, using an ice skate and a minifig hand. Or the grass, with sand green 1×1 clips. The variation in texture between the building, the path, and the vegetated areas works perfectly, displaying a keen eye for detail. If only Farmer Gary were so keen.

So Atlantis and Neo-Classic Space walk into a bar...

Most spaceships I have seen are just machines, a tin can hurtling through the cosmos propelled by some rockets or thrusters. X-wings, Star Destroyers, the Enterprise, Discovery One, and so on, all fit this paradigm. Most LEGO space creations fit the same pattern, be they Classic Space, Galaxy Squad, or Star Wars. But do they have to be? Galaxy Squad offered a glimpse into what semi-organic spacecraft could be with the Buggoids, and Insectoids back in the day did too. Thankfully, to show us a true hybrid of machine and alien, Rubblemaker has brought us the BR4-1N, a fusion of Neo-Classic Space and some deep-space dwelling creature.

MOC - THE BR4-1N

See more of the hybrid here

Smartphones are just monkey business

I’m something of a Luddite. For example, I am one of the five remaining persons on the planet older than five years of age who does not own a smartphone. Perhaps among the five remaining creatures. I mean, heck, even the monkeys have them these days. Check out this LEGO build of Rafiki snapping a selfie by alego alego; the Lion King mandrill has expertly posed for a silly picture, squinting one eye. I didn’t know that you were allowed to do that; I thought it was all duck lips, all the time. The shaping on the face is brilliant, making good use of some blue horns for the signature mandrill stripes and lots of car wheel wells around the eyes. But my favorite detail is definitely on the back of the phone. Appropriate for a monkey, the fruit branding is not an apple but a banana. Or maybe some tech company has re-branded and I, living in my stone-age hut, have yet to learn that.

Rafiki selfie

Say, “Cheese slope!”

It is an almost surreal experience for me to see a picture of a camera. My brain thinks, “But how did they take the picture if the camera is in the picture?” Of course, I eventually realize there is more than one camera in the world, but it takes my brain longer than it should to get to that conclusion. It’s a bit slow. To make matters worse, sometimes talented builders like Sheo. craft a detailed camera lookalike out of LEGO bricks. Then my brain has the extra step of realizing that it is not even a picture of a camera taken with another camera and that only one camera was involved in the production of the image. It’s hard being a brain sometimes. This Canon EOS 5D is a spot-on replica, lovingly crafted in 1:1 scale, complete with the image of the LEGO build that the camera just photographed on the screen on the back.

Photo Camera

It’s got everything a camera could need, from a removable battery to the various SD cards, as well as the ports for your remote and the cable to upload pictures to your computer (it doesn’t include the remote or cables, sadly, but you can get those on Amazon, I’m sure). The only thing that is not LEGO is the strap, and I’m not sure how that could have been done in purist LEGO style short of braiding countless official strings together. And who has time for that? Custom stickers do wonders here, giving it the authentic Canon feel. Don’t miss the tire embedded in the back for some controls, and some rubber bits for tracks are perfect buttons. All things considered, it’s an amazing reproduction of a camera. Now I want to see a full-size picture of the MOC on the camera’s screen. I bet it’s cool, too. And less confusing for my brain.