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

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.

Wheel need some bigger tires

I love vehicles with big, knobby tires. Just love ’em. My dream ride is a tricked out, super-lifted Jeep Rubicon, ready to crawl the ruggedest rocks on the planet. But that’s not all big wheels are good for. They are also useful for getting your massive military machine from point A to point B, through all weather and terrain. Brick Ninja demonstrates this ably with this LEGO artillery truck. The olive green looks appropriately military, and the splash of orange gives a nice pop of contrast, adding some sci-fi flair. It says, “Camouflage? We don’t need no stinking camouflage!” The greebles are not overdone, which makes sense since it is an armored vehicle (who would leave a bunch of important stuff on the outside to get blasted off?). And I love the crew, complementing the colors of the vehicle while giving life to the scene.

Doves of War Artillery Truck

A true inhabitant of the Perilous Realm

If you are anything like me and were raised watching plenty of Disney movies, your idea of what a fairy looks like is probably skewed towards Tinkerbell. That is, a relatively benign, miniaturized, and heavily sexualized female (big breasts, tiny waist, long legs, etc.) that hangs out in bushes or around flowers. Now, that’s all well and good, I suppose, for those who get their kicks that way, but it leaves out an enormous portion of the realm of Faerie. LEGO builder Alexey Tikhvinsky gets it. Eschewing the dainty feminine for something that reminds me of the Polynesian culture in Moana (I told you I’ve watched plenty of Disney movies), Alexey has created something with wings (like Tink), garbed in plants (also like Tink), and holding a spear (not like Tink). The stormy eyes paint a picture of something definitely not benign if the spear didn’t clue you in first. This is the real Faerie. Don’t mess with it. It isn’t called the Perilous Realm for nothing.

Fairy

Santa Maria del Fiore – a Florentine cathedral to lift the spirit

When the master builders of the Renaissance were building things from bricks, they were not using ABS plastic like LEGO master builders do today. They were building with marble, constructing some of the most beautiful buildings ever built. The proportions, the balance, the arrangement of the different elements were intended to raise the hearts and spirits of those visiting to an experience of the supernatural. Scaled down and converted from marble to ABS, those same buildings remain awe-inspiring. Take this model of Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence, Italy. Perhaps bricksandtiles is not Arnolfo di Cambio or Filippo Brunelleschi, some of the men who designed various parts of it (the cathedral was under construction from 1296 until 1436, when the dome was completed and the church was consecrated, so lots had their hand on it), but nonetheless this LEGO version is spectacular in its own right.

Florence Cathedral

The famed octagonal dome is built from countless rounded 1×2 plates, mimicking the tiled roof splendidly. Sand green grille tiles serve as green marble borders to the intricate multicolored inlays on the real thing. But there is a lot more inlaying of sand green with the white, brick built all over the place. With the tower and the baptistry, the whole structure is a massive LEGO build, worthy of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Florence Cathedral

Of course, this is not the first version of the cathedral featured on The Brothers Brick; check out another LEGO Florence cathedral we featured last year.

The vacation rental market can be a real beach

February is gone, and March is beginning; soon the college basketball mania will start, and spring breaks will be taken at schools across the USA. That means hordes of high school and college kids descending upon such popular vacation spots as Cancun, Acapulco, and Miami. Copious amounts of alcohol will likely be consumed, and a fun time will be claimed by many. Not all will enjoy their vacations, however, because some will be staying at a rental like this LEGO one built by alego alego. Yes, it is a beach house, but that is about all it has going for it. According to the fine print (who reads that, anyway?) the beach is near the nuclear plant (that explains the dog, perhaps), the hot tub is only hot when the weather is, and the electricity doesn’t work. Among other things. But hey, it makes for a great story when you get back! If you get back, that is.

"Always read the fine print" #25 Unique stays

The little girl is cleverly done with the Beast’s micro body, and I love the bushes used as palm trees ripped in the hurricane winds. All the little bits pushed through here and there for weeds in the cracks are perfect, and the syringe by the outhouse and the dog poop in the yard give it just the right vibes. Next time, read the fine print on your Airbnb!

A cool rover for February

February is the least favorite month for many people, at least in the Northern Hemisphere; it’s often cold, still dreary, and all the magic of winter and Christmas is long forgotten. But not for me. It certainly helps that my birthday falls in this shortest of months, but there are many other positive features to recommend it. For example, it is the month to build LEGO rovers (Febrovery). I love rovers. And what better way to combine winter with rovers than a solid Ice Planet 2002-inspired rig like this one from the appropriately named Frost? It’s got giant wheels that are really erasers (perhaps it erases its own wheel marks from the snow?), the glorious trans-neon orange canopy, and the can’t miss blue-and-white color scheme. Some stickered pieces from the Galaxy Squad make some nice details, and I love white greebles. The coral highlights set it apart though, which is good because this is on Ice Planet 2003, not 2002.

Febrovery 2020 day 23

There must have been something strange in the tea

My first thought upon seeing this LEGO build by Revan New was that it looked inspired by something from Alice in Wonderland, with a teapot on someone’s head like they had just finished a cup with the March Hare and Mad Hatter. But then I read the description the builder gave, and it turns out to be inspired by a different story, Over the Garden Wall. Of course, I have never heard of that show, uncultured swine that I am, but I did just read the Wikipedia entry on it, and it does sound a bit like the Alice stories. It involves a trip through a magical forest that may or may not be part of a delusional state, so on face value my first thought was close enough.

Over the garden wall

The bluebird, named Beatrice, is lovingly depicted in bricks, with especial attention paid to the shaping of the feathers on the wings. Mixel eyes give great expressions to the characters, though in the tall one (Wirt) the pupils look too small and in the short, teapot-wearing one (Greg) they look too large. I suspect that has something to do with the characters rather than the builder, however. The forest is great, with excellent shaping on the trees, nicely dense undergrowth, and large fungi. All it is missing is a frog.