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

Three wheels are better than two

For most of us, tricycles were what we rode as kids, before we graduated to big-kid bicycles. Two wheels were cooler, faster, and just all-around better than three. And we all know how awkward it is to be the third wheel on a date; two wheels are always preferable in relationships and transportation (four wheels are fine, too; both double dates and cars can be lots of fun). After seeing this build by Michael Kanemoto, however, I am thinking that perhaps I threw away that third wheel too soon. That beefy back tire looks like it can get some serious traction, ready to rip up the surface of some alien planet in the quest for more speed, akin to a souped up Polaris Slingshot on steroids.

Skimmer

The frame is made of clips and bars, creating a technical-looking structure that is light and sturdy. Technic panels are placed on the outside to give it clean lines and a definite space-y vibe. I love the greebling of the underside of the cockpit area, including the old classic space flashlight and the ski. The massive transparent light blue canopy adds flair, comprised of several different elements that work well together. The trans-light blue is picked up in the hubcaps of that enormous drive wheel, explicitly in the knob at the center and hinted at by the layered printed dishes stolen from General Grievous and Isla Nublar visitors. I just hope those big wheels keep on turning, carrying the driver home to see his kin.

Build your own classic pickup truck [Instructions]

If you are like me, building cars and trucks that look like the real thing in LEGO is challenging. I can handle castles and spaceships, but real-world stuff is hard. Fortunately for me, and for you if you are like me, Norton74 is here to help us out, generously sharing instructions and parts for a sweet looking set of wheels. It ain’t sexy, and it ain’t fast, but it looks just right – like it just pulled a trailer full of hay bales down the back roads of Iowa. All it is missing is some rust, but you could add that with some custom stickers or dark orange bits placed in just the right spots.

See the instructions here

A roving defender of the land

Whenever LEGO releases a big set, talented builders the world over get inspired to build similar models, but better and more epic. You see it with UCS LEGO Star Wars sets, modular buildings, castles (from Helm’s Deep to Hogwarts), and Batmobiles. It also happens in the LEGO Technic world; LEGO releases a 42110 Land Rover Defender, and out of the woodwork start crawling rugged off-roaders like this one by Manuel Nascimento. Not only did Manuel build an enormous and detailed Defender, but he also built a whole display base to demonstrate its capabilities. You can sleep on a Land Rover? That’s intense (get it? in tents?). But the lights and winch work, and it has a working transmission, too, and could in theory drive. But since it weighs in at 14.33 lbs (6.5 kg) driving it is a bit out of the question. Who cares, though, since looking at it is such a treat.

LAND ROVER Defender 110

Custom stickers give this a sleek look, honoring a Camel Trophy competition team as well as the builder. It’s got all the details, too, from the cages and bars to the snorkel. The nets in the rear windows look great, and I love the huge knobby tires. My favorite parts usages are the socket wrenches for the door pulls and the DUPLO shovel mounted over the front right wheel. Droid arms serve beautifully for the hood latches, too. Now, I said this was built in response to the new LEGO Defender; that’s not properly true, since this was originally built back in 2017, but it is still an epic ride.

LAND ROVER Defender 110

And if you enjoyed this Land Rover Defender, you might also like a pair of Land Rover Defenders by Peter Carmichael.

North Pole or bust!

I love Christmas as much as anyone. In fact, I would wager that I love it more than most people. But I have to admit that my jaw clenches, a tic twinges in my cheek, and my guts churn when I start seeing Christmas merchandise and commercials before Thanksgiving. I once worked at a store where the Holiday displays came out at the beginning of October, and I had to see them almost every day for three months. It was torture. And the Christmas songs played on a loop piped into the stores – don’t even get me started on how much I despise all 3,000,000,000 versions of “Jingle Bell Rock”. That being said, I do appreciate a good LEGO build when I see one, even if it is Santa Claus at the start of November. Kale Frost had the opportunity to build a huge Christmas display for a mall out of LEGO bricks, and the head of the Head Elf is particularly noteworthy.

Santa

The bushy white eyebrows make good use of some wings, and the clips are surprisingly effective as eyelashes. I love the clear blue eyes and the jolly face. This Santa looks like he needs some more cookies, though, since that neck is not as, ah, girthy as I would expect. It doesn’t look like he is hiding multiple chins behind that LEGO beard, and he is hardly ruddy. Perhaps this is Santa after some weight loss and exercise, getting swoll in the North Pole Crossfit Gym. Not that it really matters, as long as he leaves me some presents under the tree — the kind that make the proper rattling noise when shaken.

Send those undead warriors running back to their mummies!

I love winning. Nothing quite compares to the thrill of victory, whether that is beating your friends at a casual game of Scrabble or annihilating your four-year-old son in an epic basketball throwdown where you channel prime Wilt on a six-foot net. John Snyder loves winning, too, and also loves seeing the bad guys lose. In his latest massive diorama, John depicts the forces of the wicked Desert King, a resurrected mummy-wizard, being routed by the armies of good Queen Ylspeth. I haven’t seen this many mummies running away since Brendan Fraser was a major Hollywood star, and it looks great. Everywhere you look, there are highly detailed buildings, ornate arches, intricate domes, meticulously-laid streets, and more.

The Grand Victory at Al Tajir

See more of Al Tajir here

A glowing write-up of a glowing build

When it comes to making superb creatures out of buildable figure parts, no builder is better than Jayfa. From dragons to dinosaurs, monsters to men, Jayfa can build them all and make them look amazing. This latest creation is no exception. Called the Oracle Dragon, it has glow-in-the-dark antlers, spines, and eyes, along with the coolest mustache since Lando Calrissian. It was inspired by a stop-motion puppet, and does a great job of capturing the look. With the posability of the joints, one could feasibly use the LEGO model for stop-motion movies, as well. That’d be cool.

Oracle Dragon

The wing elements from Legends of Chima look great as the tufts on the tail, and I love the translucent pieces on the underbelly of the beast. In fact, the whole color scheme is fantastic, including the splash of red on the back of the head. The antlers make interesting use of minifigure hands and flex tube for their unique shape (but don’t tell the purists, because I think the flex tube has been cut!). The best part of it all, though, is that face. I’m going to have to study the face to copy it for a dragon of my own down the line, because it is incredible, so simple yet so expressive. Curious what the eyes and antlers look like glowing? Here it is:

Oracle Dragon

All that is gold does not glitter, but don’t tell this dragon that

I love dragons. One glance through my own Flickr stream would show you that. I grew up reading books about dragons, watching movies about dragons, collecting pictures and sculptures of dragons, playing with dragon toys, and even writing stories about dragons. Some dragons are evil, others are good. This dragon by Jessica Farrell looks more like the evil variety, e.g. Smaug from The Hobbit, Fafnir from the legends of Sigurd, or the wyrm from Beowulf. Why do I think so? Well, judging from the picture, it is the type that gathers gold, guards it jealously, and gets attacked by resplendent knights. Plus, it is spiky and red and black, and everyone knows that spiky red and black characters are evil (hello, Darth Maul).

The Dragon's Hoard

What I love about Jessica’s dragon is the size and setting. This is a large beast, probably fat from eating all those brave knights and the kings who once possessed that gold. The articulation in the tail and neck makes for a very natural pose, despite the hard and mostly rectangular nature of LEGO. The giant columns are also lovely, with the curved slopes making for good round shapes. That glittering golden bed, though, draws the eye like nothing else can. It looks like just about every gold piece, whether that is pearl gold, flat dark gold, metallic gold, or chrome gold, went into this dragon’s hoard (I’m not seeing any pearl light gold or speckle black-gold, but maybe I just missed them). This dragon has stolen crowns, as one might expect, but also satellite parts, the One Ring, and even Aquaman’s buckle! Plus everything else that’s gold. Jessica says that the model consists of precisely 7,416 LEGO elements, and it seems like half of them are gold. The dragon would know for sure how many, since they know down to the smallest coin what their hoard contains.

Ollivander’s shop looks wand-erful in LEGO

My preferred style of LEGO build is the kind geared towards a fully immersive photograph. The lack of edges, the painstaking arrangement of light, and precise positioning of the minifigures contribute to a realism that is gratifying with tiny bits of plastic. It is about the photograph. The work of up-and-coming builder Lego_nuts is in a similar vein, with splendid use of light. The subject matter will be apparent to anyone who has seen the first Harry Potter movie, as Harry tries just about every wand in Mr. Ollivander’s shop before finding the right one, making a huge mess in the process (though why anyone cares about messes in the wizarding world is beyond me, as it cleans itself up with a flick of a wand). But what excites me about the build is the light streaming in the window in the back, giving it a feeling of harsh daylight outside on Diagon Alley.

Oops, sorry Mr. Ollivander...

The stacked wand boxes are also beautifully arranged, utilizing a number of different elements to create the effect, from ingots and grille tiles to masonry bricks and grille bricks. I love how many of them are at an angle, just stuffed in there wherever they can fit. The desk has some wands for display, of course, highlighting the different colors that one could have (perhaps the different woods?), along with a ledger and quill. Some 1x4x1 fence pieces make for great wrought-iron risers on the stairs, too. What sells the build, though, is the tiled ceiling and the light fixture hanging down, finishing the space. It’s the details like those that are the difference between a lackluster immersive build and a lustrous one.

Many minifigures would give their right arm for a rover like this

There are many LEGO builders out there who are such strict purists that they would never, ever use an “illegal” connection, such as one that stresses a piece. I’m not one of those people, and it seems that official LEGO designer Chris Perron is not, either. Try to wrap your mind arms around the way the wheels get a grip on the terrain, or do your best to get a handle on that gold accent near the front; something seems off, not quite orthodox, but I just can’t seem to put a hand on it. Besides the countless arm-less and hand-less minifigures walking around Chris’s workbench, I would be remiss if I did not point out something else that separates this build from the pack: the use of a teal brick separator on the hood, seamlessly integrated. I also love the bubble canopy and the bright colors of the rover and the landscape. It’s so pretty! It is like a Friends version of Neo-Classic Space.

Ridge Ranger

Read more about “illegal” LEGO connections, or check out our glossary for other cool LEGO terms you might not know.

So many spaceships! It’s heaven for Benny.

If you’ve been following The Brothers Brick lately, you may have seen some sci-fi builds by ZCerberus. He had an awesome entry for SHIPtember, a cool spider walker and, most recently, a Classic Space vehicle. Now he’s back and bigger than ever. In my article on the SHIPtember build, I expressed hope that the fleet would continue to expand, and he has delivered in a delightfully orange way. The one on the far left is the previously-covered SHIP, but the rest are nearly as impressive size-wise and equally as detailed and heavily armed. I love the editing job with the cool space background and all of the ships flying together.

Fleet1

See more details of the fleet

Chugga chugga choo choo! All aboard this awesome LEGO train display!

When I was a kid, I loved riding in the car on the way to my grandma’s house, watching the railroad tracks that were along the highway for much of the way. It was the peak of excitement when I saw a long freight train chugging along, with what seemed like miles and miles of boxcars or coal cars or tanker cars. The best part was always the graffiti on the sides, full of vibrant hues and indecipherable words. The trains I saw were all diesel, as I am waaaaaaaaay too young to have seen steam engines out there in the wild, but I did watch a lot of Shining Time Station on TV, so you might say I am an expert. One can learn a lot about trains from Thomas the Tank Engine! One could also learn a lot about trains from Alexander, I bet, based off this huge display that he and his crew put together for a LEGO show. It’s got everything, with every sort of train, houses, roads, terrain, and even a massive roundhouse. Check out this slick shot of two engines rounding a bend; they’re so pretty!

SAR Steam

Click to see the full display

What is this, a mall for ants? It has to be at least...three times bigger than this!

When laying out my list of things I would love to build someday from LEGO bricks, a shopping mall would be far down the list. Just kidding, it would not make the list. Malls are good for one thing, in my opinion, and that is serving as locations for LEGO stores. However, if a shopping mall wanted someone to build a LEGO version of it, and was paying for it, I’d be all over that. And that is what happened for architectural wizard Rocco Buttliere. He built this stunning layout of the Hawthorn Mall, showing the expansion that they are planning to do with mixed use commercial/residential units. It looks sleek and epic, and dare I say sexy, despite being a mall.

Hawthorn Mall Commission

See details of the mall below