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

The stairs actually move in this incredible LEGO model of Hogwarts

One of the magical aspects of Harry Potter and especially Hogwarts Castle is that ordinarily static things move. Pictures that in my house just hang there, with the people and things in them remaining frozen in time, always the same, in a wizarding house would be full of moving and talking, and even sentient, figures. And while we do have moving staircases in the Muggle world (we call them escalators), they don’t typically abruptly change their destinations; not so in Hogwarts, not so. The trouble is, we have not seen a single good moving staircase or moving picture in any official Harry Potter set. Fortunately for us, Jonas Kramm has filled the void with a brilliant build depicting both. There are innumerable gilt frames filled with magical chaps and dames, plus one of those moving staircases that so befuddled a young Potter and his pals in their early days of school. The moving functions are elegantly integrated and perfectly executed.

Hogwarts Magical Staircase

See the stairs and pictures move below

Radioactive goo has never looked better

The sensible thing to do when you see a bunch of terrified people running is to run with them (unless you are in Pamplona; then the sensible thing to do is to stay out of the street, away from the bulls in the first place). I have seen enough movies where something is attacking a city and the populace is running, or a disaster is striking and everyone hopes to get to safety to know what to do. I don’t know what kind of strange goo is creeping around the corner and through that door in this scene by Yuri Badiner, but by the look of those minifigures’ faces, I am not sticking around long enough to find out. Some sort of radiation must be leaking at the power plant, and in real life radiation does NOT turn ordinary people into superheroes.

Double Trouble At The Power Plant

What makes Yuri’s build special is the cinematic feel of the photograph more than the construction techniques on display (not that those are bad, mind you — I love the use of the ingot tiles). The light coming through the doorway, the green slime streaming through the air and pooling on the floor, the minifig posed in mid-leap, plus the perfect selection of anxious and terrified faces, makes this a special shot. There is even a touch of foreground and implied space with the hook and chain hanging from the invisible ceiling. It pays to go the extra mile and make the picture perfect, rather than to spend all of one’s effort on complex building techniques that can’t be seen because the build is poorly lit or the picture is grainy. I just hope that green stuff washes off the LEGO bricks and doesn’t stain the ABS!

Something about this build bugs me

If I had to identify my favorite insect, I would easily respond “dragonfly.” Why? Because dragonflies eat mosquitoes. Simple as that. Now, they also have a cool name — I mean, who doesn’t like dragons, right? They also have fascinating eyes and neat wings, and they don’t sting, bite, or infest; really, what’s not to like? And indeed, what’s not to like about Grantmasters‘ dragonfly build? The insect is perfectly poised above a verdant leaf with eggs of some sort on it, ready to zoom about eating things that want to eat me.

Odonata

The wings, so delicate and transparent, make brilliant use of some garage doors. Rancor fingers and paint brushes make for some crooked legs. Palm tree trunk sections create a wonderfully segmented tail, just like the real thing, and the mandibles are recreated by a fist. Then, of course, there is the banana bee, and the egg-eating snake worm, and a leaf made from a watering can and dragon wings (appropriate enough for a dragonfly, right?). Nice piece usages abound!

The aliens that built the pyramids probably came in this SHIP

Conspiracy theorists claim that the pyramids of various ancient civilizations were all inspired by aliens coming from outer space. Ancient peoples were clearly not smart enough to figure out engineering, they claim, so they must have had help from elsewhere. Plus, there are strange figures engraved on them, and how do you explain the striking resemblance of one pile of cut stones to another? I mean, compare those Egyptian pyramids to the Babylonian ziggurats and the Mayan temples. Exactly the same. And don’t forget the most conclusive evidence of all, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Well, builder Ivan Martynov provides us with some insight to solving the mystery. He has made an entry into SHIPtember that is both a space ship and an ancient temple.

Baan Nu

There are the stairs to reach the summit, a shrine at the top, and what appears to be a six-legged beetle (or is that an alien form, carved crudely?). Then there are thrusters, power cores and other bits of advanced technology. It all makes perfect sense. This ship touched down in several places on Earth, inspired worship and emulation, and then left to visit other worlds. Do you believe the conspiracy theorists yet? Maybe you should.

What is a SHIP without a fleet?

The challenges of building LEGO spaceships is getting the different parts to work together to create something aesthetically pleasing, quasi-functional, and just plain cool. This difficulty is magnified with larger ships, especially when you enter the realm of a SHIP (Significantly Huge Investment in Parts, a LEGO spaceship 100+ studs in length). Sometimes one spaceship isn’t enough; you need to build a whole fleet, and that is what Ryan Olsen did. Ryan shared with TBB that his fleet has been slowly growing for eight years, with the mid-size one with the prominent white stripe (roughly in the middle of the formation) being his first. He also drew inspiration from Pierre E. Fieschi for the color scheme and the video game Homeworld.

Soban Defense Field Carrier – Aegis with Escort Fleet

The studs-not-on-top (SNOT) approach to the spaceship in the foreground makes for a sleek design, and the white stripes, including diagonals, are expertly integrated into the hull. The asymmetrical design works wonderfully, too, with the long appendages coming off the side from near the large reactor core. Hinge bricks do a great job of making a smoothly angled bridge. Everything fits so well, and nothing seems out of place. This fleet is cruising the stars in style!

Space ships don’t have to be grey

When I think of spaceships, I think mostly drab grey things. This is probably because my imagination has been so strongly formed by Star Wars and the dingy industrial feeling of that universe, evident in almost every Imperial vessel (like the Star Destroyers) and the Millennium Falcon. ZCerberus bucks that trend with a glorious orange SHIP (Significantly Huge Investment in Parts) called Dominion. I know I would submit to its dominion if such a craft appeared on my scopes, because it has enormous cannons of some sort bristling off of every surface, plus a full squadron or twenty of smaller fighter ships docked inside its hull. The greebles on this thing are worth admiring, as they all look perfectly positioned to do something technical, like vent things or convey things or connect things. The whole surface is highly detailed without looking cluttered, which, in my numerous, and all failed, attempts at building a SHIP myself, I have learned to be a sophisticated skill.

Dominion1

I love the angled hull plates with the dark orange striping, with the white striping and brick-built lettering (does this belong in classic – or neo-classic, more specifically – space, with the “LL” designation?). 2×2 modified bricks with side grooves make for some great cannons on the side, and some 1×2 log bricks are just as good on the top in a similar role. The side cannons are mounted on round turrets made from 6×6 radar dishes, which fit neatly into the undersides of some 1x8x2 arches. All in all, this is one of the sturdiest looking SHIPs I have seen, as well as one of the coolest. Check out Z’s Flickr to see more space ships (not SHIPs) in the same color scheme, all part of an epic fleet. I hope it keeps growing!

Dominion Breakout

A scarecrow that doesn’t scare crows

Another September is done and gone, and October is here. The season of Autumn is fully underway, and the string of highly marketable and deeply nostalgic holidays is fast approaching: the power triad (in the USA) of Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, and finally Christmas. Sure, there are others, but they aren’t the lucrative cash cows that those three are. Patrick Biggs gets us in the mood with this lovely pumpkin headed scarecrow. What would Fall be without pumpkins, anyway? Flavorless and awful, that’s what. The crows, who don’t seem scared at all, think it would be flavorless, too.

The Ineffective Scarecrow

I am a big fan of the black, dark red, and red plaid that the scarecrow is wearing, made from lots of small elements for a fabric-like waviness. The LEGO t-shirt underneath is a lovely detail, too. Some Hero Factory armor makes the hood of the shirt, and some other armor makes the lower sleeves. There are some clever uses of tires to fill in gaps, as well. But the star of the show is definitely that pumpkin, made from shoulder armor. With all that armor, one would think it would be good at protecting something, but one would be wrong. At least the gourd could be turned into pie once the crops are eaten by the birds. It’s good for something!

Now this is something to howl about!

I have a confession to make. I was that kid in high school who wore wolf t-shirts. You know, the one with the wolves howling at the moon, or the one with the wolf looking right out at you? I had wolf posters on my walls, and I even sponsored a wolf in a nature preserve for a while. Was I cool? Heck no. Did I like wolves? Heck yes. I also played with LEGO bricks during high school, so, yeah, I was not part of the “in” crowd. But my lifelong love of wolves has continued, though I no longer wear wolf t-shirts, and my love of little plastic bricks continues also. Which brings me to this build by Simon NH. It combines the two loves of my childhood, and in a beautiful way, to boot.

Wolf

I love the wings used for the cheek fur of the wolf’s face, and the different spiky bits around the underside capture a fluffy feel well. The stunning color transition from dark grey on the top, down through light grey, dark tan, tan, and ending in white, is magnificent and makes the whole thing seem organic in a way that transcends the medium. The base, too, is exceptional, with a frozen river with a glass panel ice sheet, plenty of snow, and a delightful spiky evergreen made with different colors of flower stems. What I love about Simon’s builds is the way he manages to blend the LEGO palette like an impressionistic watercolor and the different textures of bricks like masterful impasto. It is not just LEGO, it is art. All it lacks is a moon for the wolf to howl at, and a screen print for me to put on a t-shirt to be cool again. Wolf shirts are cool again, right?

And don’t miss Simon’s incredible LEGO grizzly bear in the same style that we featured yesterday!

Dam, that’s a nice build

I like me some dam good LEGO building; or is that good LEGO dam building? I don’t know, but set in the not-too-distant future, this battle scene by Thomas depicts a grim future in which the forces of the European Union (EU) battle some Eurasian attackers in Germany, all to determine who will control the dam. If I understand the action correctly, the EU forces are trying to destroy the dam in order to fight back against the Eurasian invaders. It would a real shame if they succeeded, as it would ruin some perfectly good LEGO structures.

The dam itself is nicely constructed, with a clever brick-built “5” in the corner. A sense of action is also clearly conveyed, with the dark green EU forces against the grey Eurasians. I especially like the EU trooper battling some sort of insect-like robot at the base of the dam. The rough construction of the building gives it a post-apocalyptic feel, too, which is always a treat.

Wake me up when September ends

Ah, the end of September. It’s the start of autumn, when fall breezes start to blow, leaves are falling, pumpkin-flavored everything is available for consumption, biting insects start to die, and the nights are finally cool enough to be enjoyable. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. It’s not just for the aforementioned reasons, though. It is also because the end of SHIPtember is drawing near, which means that my LEGO feeds will soon be inundated with endless giant spaceships, all over 100 studs long and all comprised of a significant number of parts. Builder Oscar Cederwall got his entry posted a bit earlier than most, and it is a unique shape and configuration for a SHIP (a “Significantly Huge Investment in Parts”), with its 100-stud measurement being vertical rather than the typical horizontal.

Jinx

The key piece in inspiring the design of Jinx is the catamaran boat hull top, which Oscar has used four times to create the four pointy ends of the craft. Since each of those pieces is 48 studs long, putting two end-to-end almost gives the full minimum SHIP measurement right there! Of course, Oscar did not stop there, but instead added some excellent rear thrusters, some tricked-out weapons arrays, and a cockpit that makes clever use of the train window. I love the way the different angles all come together so smoothly, with no noticeable gaps or awkward areas. Consistent color blocking also makes this SHIP a great start to the season. I can’t wait for more!

Jinx

A Toa rises again, only to crush you beneath her heavy boots

I’m afraid I missed out on Bionicle almost entirely, as it started getting big right as I faded into my dark ages, and was mostly gone when I came back out of them. It’s a shame, really, since they had some incredible parts and a wide range of colors for those parts. That being said, I have always been a classic LEGO System guy, largely eschewing Technic and the ball-joint-based Constraction style for the old-fashioned stud connections. I usually scroll through photos of LEGO creations and skip past anything Bionicle-related, in fact. But sometimes a creation of that sort is so good, so perfectly balanced and detailed, that I cannot help but admire it. Such is this Toa by Anthony Wilson. The colors pop with the trans-pink in both the crystalline base and the accents of the figure, and the pose as she strides across the base exudes confidence and swagger.

Tuyet - The Tyrant

Sweet Mayhem’s starship’s windscreen makes for an excellent shield, ready to deflect any attacks from an enemy. The glinting pink eyes shine out from behind the Matatu mask in a menacing manner that befits her name, Tuyet the Tyrant. The textures of the base, with the spaced-out 2×2 tiles and the greebles beneath, complements the presentation perfectly, but the highlight of the whole build for me is the midriff, so sleekly captured with the shoulder armor piece. It evokes the exposed stomach of so many heroines of nerdy fantasy games and comic books, yet in a way that still says that she’d kill you without a second thought, and easily, too.

Raawwr! No one beats a Tyrannosaurus Rex

We’ve covered Jonas Kramm‘s series of vignettes based on Jurassic Park all the way up to the climax of the movie. Has it been a thrill-a-minute? You bet your 65-million year old amber cane it has! The last we saw, the power to the park had been turned off by Dennis Nedry as he attempted to steal and escape with frozen dino embryos. This of course caused havoc at the park, with all the dinosaurs escaping; this is not a big problem when we’re talking about a mild-mannered Brachiosaur, but it is when there are T. rex and Velociraptors amongst the beasts.

And that is exactly the issue Dr. Sattler has as she tries to restore power to the security system; she has climbed down into the maintenance area, only for a nimble and crafty raptor to attempt to eat her. They can open doors, you know. Jonas has packed the small footprint of the vignette with loads of details, especially the black fencing that forms the border. The grating everywhere gives it a technical look, perfect for a breaker room, and the panel with the lever looks great. The raptor bursting through to eat Ellie is terrifying, though, so let’s move on to a happier scene.

16 - Maintenance

Click to see the final two vignettes in this epic series