Every year, for a little over a month, the LEGO sci-fi fans among us get a treat: SHIPtember. A celebration of insanity and massive amounts of small interlocking bricks, it is one of my favorite times of year (it doesn’t hurt that I enjoy everything else about autumn, too, like Oktoberfest beers and wool sweaters). One name that consistently shines out among the rest is ZCerberus, who, perhaps taking his cues from the changing foliage of the Northern Hemisphere, has created a fleet of massive orange spaceships. This year’s model is a repair frigate, LL885, ready to fix any small fighter that might have an issue. Small cranes, tons of greebles, and lots of roller coaster tracks make this one a great addition.
Love orange spaceships? Then check out ZCerberus’ other builds, since he has built a whole fleet of them.
It takes a talented builder to take a very specialized LEGO part, like a train switch, and turn it into something totally different. Of course, we all know Jonas Kramm is a talented builder, so it should come as no surprise that he managed to make a train switch into a painting of a peacock. It is unquestionably the best peacock head I have ever seen done in LEGO form, and perhaps the best bird head, too. The bumps on the switch make perfect nostrils, and it also works well as the eyes on the tail. But Jonas did not stop there: he also used the part for the lantern flame, and the drawer pulls. Not to mention the Jurassic World gyrosphere for the lantern glass and the green snake for paint. It’s a great composition of a great composition, for sure!
Like Jonas’ builds? Then check out some more. And don’t miss the Iron Builder action, where the train switch is the seed part.
One thing that always bothers me about movies about giant metal things, be they spaceships in Star Wars or Jaegers in Pacific Rim, is how they get all that material in one place and assembled. I mean, where did Palpatine get the materials to build that giant fleet? That’s some serious mining operations! Jaegers aren’t as large as Star Destroyers, but the question remains; what factories are churning out those parts? Are they all built in one place, or are different components assembled in different factories and then shipped across the country for full assembly? To answer the question, I built a LEGO scene depicting a giant arm on a giant trailer, ready to be shipped to a shatterdome to be joined with the rest of the Jaeger body.
It was my first foray into building this sort of thing, as I typically consider myself more of a castle builder, but I was reasonably pleased with the arm itself (other builders are designing the rest of the mech, and we’ll assemble the whole thing digitally once it’s finished). It looks the part of a large robot arm, at very least. Harder was making a scene to give it scale, especially since I wanted to include a flying helicopter (and my bricks don’t fly on their own, sadly). I added an arch from a previous build, made up the truck and trailer, and included a previously built helicopter, after making some modifications to it to improve the proportions. But how to get it all in one shot? Maybe other builders are better at photo editing than I am, but it takes a long time for me to splice different photographs into one coherent picture. Four different camera shots went into the final image, in fact, making it kind of like the Jaeger, comprised of many different parts assembled at the end.
A friend in need is a friend indeed, they say. Who is they? Probably Louis of Nutwood, for one, since he built this microscale LEGO scene of a relief ship unloading its supplies to help save a city near destruction. The ship itself is small and sleek, elegantly color blocked, and the harbor is great, too, with its large cranes to unload the supplies. The water deserves some extra attention, with the subtle variation in colors and the studs being used for waves near the shore. But more than that, the whole piece has an elegant composition, with the rocks, uneven edge of the water, and the clear central focus on the ship. What kind of ship? Friendship.
Ah, nature. It feels great to get out of the house and stretch the legs, hiking strenuously over hill and dale to find the perfect vista by a babbling brook to soothe the troubled soul. Or, you could save yourself the strenuous part and just look at this beautiful waterfall built by Grant Davis, like me. From the smooth rock, comprised of larger elements not often seen in LEGO cliffs, and the hint of greenery at the top, all the way down to the sparkling blue pool and perfectly captured foam, it is a satisfying blend of the complexity of technique and simplification of texture and hue. While I do not envy the folks in that unfortunate boat at the top of the falls, I can at least reassure them that they are just falling into a pile of flowers.
If you love builds of waterfalls, check out the TBB archives of waterfall builds. Or if you just can’t get enough of Grant (and who can?), here are some more of his builds.
What do you get when four of the most talented castle builders out there collaborate on a series of LEGO builds? It’s a bit like alchemy, because the result is solid gold. Well, Grant Davis, Simon Hundsbichler, Marcel V., and Markus Rollbühler teamed up to show the life of a postman, carrying the mail across every bridge in the realm to make sure each and every citizen receives their letters on time. Each build is different in every detail, except the postman himself, but they are all scaled and shot to mimic the others, with the result that the builds complement each other perfectly. I’d love to have these framed on my wall, side by side, because these are not just LEGO builds, but art.
Click to see each of the builds up close
I love single-use LEGO elements, those pieces that are so specialized that they can only be used to make the one thing they were designed to build. Take, for example the head of a dewback from Star Wars. It’s very useful for building, well, a dewback, but not much else in the hands of an average builder. But in the hands of a master, like Simon Hundsbichler, that same piece becomes a mossy hill in a microscale creation. Add in one of the hip assemblies from the same creature, a video camera as a tower, a Bionicle leg as a coniferous tree, a werewolf head as a cliff, and about thirty other pieces, and you have a miniature masterpiece.
I simply adore microscale castles, and microscale LEGO creations in general, too. There’s something about it, where even the slightest wrong choice in elements can ruin the whole composition, but the perfect usage of that one clever piece can make a masterpiece. Enter Markus Rollbühler, one of the world’s best LEGO master builders (seriously, check out his TBB rap sheet). His microscale fairytale castle and village are chock full of amazing and clever parts usages (and color, too; do I spy some sand red in there?).
While he’s used the party hats for tower roofs before, pairing them with cupcake liners is new. And there’s a mug in the tallest tower, Elves keys for the keep, wand sprues supporting book covers for the village houses, a katana holder for windmill blades, a roller skate as a cart being pulled by what looks like a non-production brown lever arm, a cupcake top as a haystack, and the list goes on. And don’t forget the unicorn horns balancing as trees. Even blinking near this thing must have the tiny denizens crying “Timber!”
A limited color palette can be tricky to work with in a creation. I’ve done LEGO builds where I only used one color, and it was challenging. Cab ~ here has limited the palette in this cathedral to just three: light bluish grey, transparent red, and transparent yellow. The back-lit stained glass is beautiful, each window unique and telling part of the Easter story, according to the builder, if in an abstracted way. The vaulted ceiling, held together by interior flex tube, looks great, too. It does look a little bland with only grey, however, or maybe just incomplete; so perhaps now that the masons have finished their part, the rest of the artisans can get to work adding paintings, gilded ornaments, and tapestries to outfit the cathedral for its intended purpose, glorifying God.
Like church architecture? Check out some more churches and cathedrals in the TBB archives.
Now that LEGO has released a line of Super Mario sets, I’m sure we’re not far from a massive uptick in the number of Mario-related custom builds. Anticipating them is Koen Zwanenburg, who has designed a series of cuddly characters from the games. I’m a bad child of the ’80s and don’t know all of them, but I can recognize Mario and Luigi, as well as Peach, Bowser, and Yoshi. Aficionados can no doubt name them all at just a glance since Koen has done an excellent job of capturing the essence of each with just a few parts. I love the jumper plates for mustaches on the brothers, but my favorite detail is the plates with teeth as Bowser’s toes. But they’re all great. Or should I say super?
This is not the first set of cute and cuddly creations by Koen; check out some adorable animals and delightful Christmas characters!
There is perhaps no builder more skilled at crafting interesting and unique figures out of LEGO than Eero Okkonen. One glance at the TBB archives will demonstrate that. But the most recent creation to grace our screens is my favorite of the lot, due to her graceful pose, captured mid-frolic, and elegant shaping. The use of the spider net from a Hobbit set with some boat sliders makes a perfect top, with the soft edges of the fabric causing the Magadril of Dandelions to look more alive and less LEGO-ish than most of Eero’s builds. And since her eyes are up there, it’s worth highlighting how perfect minifigure hands are for eyes. If I were single and a brick-built LEGO creation myself, I’d gladly tiptoe through some tulips, or dandelions, with her. If only she didn’t have that midriff tattoo since my mother would never approve of her…
Yes, you read the title correctly. Rocco Buttliere has used around 84,000 LEGO bricks, to be more precise. In addition to 300+ hours of building to recreate the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, Rocco also spent 400+ hours designing it first. If that doesn’t blow your mind, it should. That is one giant build of one of the world’s most spectacular architectural sites. Like his earlier LEGO diorama of Ancient Rome, Rocco built this one for a commission for a museum, and boy, does it belong there. The overview picture hardly does it justice, as it all blends together into a blur of flame orange, dark red, and grey, but zoom in and there are as many marvels as in the real deal. Fancy a tour? It’s not forbidden to look at this one, even for a commoner like me.
Check out the details of this incredible build