About Chris Doyle

Chris has been involved in many parts of the LEGO community for over twenty years, and has been building most of his life. A love of transparent bricks and pop culture combine in most of his creations, which tend to be pretty large scale. His website, Reasonably Clever, featured one of the longest running brick-based webcomics, as well as one of the first LEGO-themed avatar creators. His photographs and creations have appeared in several books.

Posts by Chris Doyle

We all live in a yellow submarine-fish-thing

LEGO has explored underwater themes a few times over the years. In particular, I have a fondness for the mid-1990’s Aquazone line. It featured bright yellow colors, exploration-based vehicles, and some pretty cool builds. Finnish builder Tino Poutiainen has also taken the yellow submarine concept to heart with Expedition into the kelp forest. This classy undersea build features a vessel with some very good natural camouflage. That is, assuming fish don’t have a particularly good sense of scale. Based on the image description, the divers are looking for the “incredibly rare yellow-finned bladderwrack fish.” It doesn’t seem like they’re looking too carefully, though, as I think I spotted a couple on my own.

Expedition into the kelp forest

I like how the sub isn’t the usual short-and-flat glider style you often see in craft like this. Instead we have a tall and narrow vessel, complete with impressive vertical fins sloped at interesting angles. The mimicry between the sub and the sea-life makes this little scene one you can quickly tell your own fish stories around. (You should hear about the one that got away.)

When is a raven like a writing desk?

LEGO replicas of real-world objects are a challenging subject to work in. Finding the right scale for your creation is a large part of that effort, but builder Letranger Absurde seems to have found a sweet spot in Little Desk. This model isn’t sized for minifigures or humans, but rather just big enough for the LEGO elements to really reproduce the lines and shapes of the objects presented. Of particular note is the sealed letter, using a 2×2 round tile with a flame pattern for the sealing wax. The clock, chest, and wax seal stamp are all well built and instantly recognizable.

Little Desk

What really caught my eye, though, was the melted wax on the candle. It took me a while to figure out what part was used at the bottom of the dribble…it’s a baby rabbit. Now that’s some clever parts usage.

Meanwhile, on the Satellite of LEGO...

The Brothers Brick contributor Chris Doyle once again builds something based on Mystery Science Theater 3000. What’s his excuse this time?

Some may call it a creative rut. I prefer to think of it as “finding my groove.” I had a blast building characters from the TRY Channel, and thought MST3k would be a great theme to continue with. It’s no secret that I’m a huge nerd when it comes to LEGO versions of MST3k things, and when a table-scrap of Tom Servo “just happened”, I knew it was too late to turn back. And, soon enough, Joel and Crow T. Robot had joined him on a stage based on the Season 2(ish) Satellite of Love.

Meanwhile, on the Satellite of LEGO....

Read more about Chris’s MST3K LEGO build

TRYfecta. (Even more drunk LEGO building from Chris Doyle)

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a LEGO convention, but years ago, after the public went home, there were all sorts of “unsanctioned, after-hours” events for attending adults. Of those, “drunken speed building” was always a fun time. Or at least, I think it was a fun time. I honestly don’t remember a lot of details. Possibly because I was participating in drunken speed builds. Ah, youth. Anyway. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, drunk LEGO building.
Recently, the TRY Channel featured a bunch of Irish comedians getting drunk. Pretty common video topic for them. But immediately afterwards, they challenged the same folks to try their hand at building LEGO sets. I’ve already shared my LEGO-versions of two of the sets of TRYers. Today we finish up the series with Jamie Jay Car and Shannon Keenan‘s attempt to build set 75946 – Hungarian Horntail Triwizard Challenge. Like the other folks in the video, they do their best, but success wasn’t really in the cards for them. Shannon was pretty frustrated with the set from the get go, even “accidentally” tearing up the instruction book. Jamie gave it an honest go, but eventually just gave in to the chaos and started putting stickers all over his face. Good times.

IMG_20191201_125608~2

I wanted to bring some new elements to this set of characters. Jamie’s shocked expression meant leaving behind the Mixel eyes I’d been using on everyone else, and going with 2×2 radar dishes. And black hot dogs for his eyebrows, because sometimes 1×2 tiles just aren’t enough. Shannon’s ash-blonde hair was a challenge for me, as no shade of LEGO brick really captured it right. I went through a couple of variations before giving in and ordering the parts I needed in dark tan. The torn instruction booklet is the insert from a Harry Potter collectible mini-figure. Sometimes, sacrifices must be made.

Jamie and Shannon TRY photo reference

I’m looking forward to an excuse to build more members of the TRY channel in this format. At my age, it’s safer than getting involved in drunken speed builds of my own. Maybe. (When’s the next convention again?)

Taking flight

LEGO element 2417, the 6×5 plant leaf, is a part that lends itself well to multiple uses. Many go the traditional route and use it as part of a tree. Sometimes it winds up as part of an alien creature. My favorite uses, though, are when a builder takes a bunch of them and creates complex patterns. Azurekingfisher is a builder who has shown great skill in this area before. But today, they take that skill-set and apply it at an entirely new level. In White Bird the geometric shapes have been joined with sculptural elements to create a bird that is simply stunning.

White Bird

The bird’s body has some nice part usage as well, bringing in textures from parts like open-stud 1×1 round plates for the eyes, and a turntable base on the chest. The touch of gold from the tooth plates as claws adds just a touch of opulence to the build. If this is just a step in Azurekingfisher’s building career, I can’t wait to see where they head next.

The Dark Side of nice part usage

Versatile as LEGO bricks are, sometimes there are pieces that are just…challenging…to work with. There are common but annoying parts like big ugly rock pieces. There are wacky things like a rare Duplo stand from a short-lived licensed theme. Whatever the case, it takes a special kind of builder to take these elements and see them in new ways. A kind of part mastery. Some might even say….Jedi mastery. For example, LEGO builder Logan W. has taken the normally single-purpose Bionicle Midak Skyblaster cannon and incorporated it into an impressive replica of Darth Vader’s iconic lightsaber. The cannon forms the emitter shroud, while the hilt is made from strips of black tile connected to octagonal bar frames and a Technic racing wheel rim.

Darth Vader's Lightsaber

Logan was inspired by a Two-Piece-Only lightsaber created by The Igzer. The two pieces in use there are the aforementioned Midak Skyblaster cannon and a bit of Bionicle shoulder armor. If you’re looking for a minimalist approach to Jedi weaponry, you should check that build, too!

You might want to have that growth looked at.

There have been enough medical issues in my extended family that I know you have to take an unexpected growth or bump seriously. Early detection is often an important factor in survival, and ignoring things almost never has a good outcome. LEGO builder Djokson brings us a cautionary tale in this vein with The Husk of Minaurogg. I’m sure that Minaurogg was a happy-go-lucky type of person. You can see that reflected in their cheerful helm (skillfully constructed from a minifigure shield, robot arms and elbow bricks.) and well groomed nails. Sadly, all that mirth has come to a sudden halt as Minaurogg has come down with a bad case of…something. A growth of round tiles in transparent purple have boiled up, and a couple of giant pustules look ready to burst. There’s also severe discoloration of the arm with new spiky outgrowths on the shoulder. And that one red eye seems pretty bloodshot.

The Husk of Minaurogg

Ah, maybe it’s just me being alarmist. I’m sure I few days of bed rest is all that’s required to set things right!

A shockingly cool Bionicle build

I’ve been a fan of LEGO’s Bionicle for a long time. I came out of my dark age just as the theme was launching in the US back in 2001, and they were some of the first sets I bought. When the line came to an end a decade later, LEGO fans kept the theme going strong with tons of unique creations. Anthony Wilson is among those builders, and their latest offering, Valkyrie: Toa of Lightning, is breathtaking. The base figure has a strong color theme in white and purple, with a brick-built mask. Quality building techniques are at play throughout the model, my favorite being the small offsets created in the armor on the thighs. (The unique shaping of headlight bricks allows for the gap.) There is also a lot of great part usage, including tricycle frames in the hips, worm gears on the legs and forearms, and even a zip-line handle in the chest. As impressive as the base figure is, what made me want to write about this model are the lightning effects. A couple of minifigure-accessory magic sparks hint at the awesome discharge happening on the Toa’s right arm. Made up of layers of hero factory armor and weapons, the angular electric effects have an almost liquid quality to them.

Valkyrie: Toa of Lightning

The build on the Valkyrie is probably several levels above what LEGO would have released for a kid-friendly set had the line continued. So maybe, just maybe, Bionicle is better off left in the hands of the fans. Oh, who am I kidding. They need to bring this theme back, and soon.

TRY again (More drunken LEGO building by Chris Doyle)

You know what isn’t supposed to mix? LEGO and booze. But sometimes it does. And wow, can it be a lot of fun to watch. Recently, I shared my tribute to the TRY channel’s drunken LEGO building. It featured one of the three pairs of TRYers who attempted to build sets while smashed out of their gourds. The people I depicted enjoyed my creation, but it didn’t end there. One of the other people in the video, Mary-Claire, asked if I could build her and Lolsy Byrne next. So…here we are.
MC and Lolsy’s attempt at building Yoda’s Hut (75208) didn’t quite go as smoothly, but I think it’s fair to say they had a great time anyway. Even if MC was momentarily confused if their set was from “Sky Wars” or some other franchise… (To be fair, she was really drunk!)

Drunk LEGO building at the TRY channel - Lolsy and Mary-Claire

I ran into a couple of challenges in making recognizable likenesses. Lolsy’s nose ring (made from a minifigure gold ring) was difficult to position. Luckily the 2×1 curved slope of her nose has a notch that allowed for the ring to sit on the top of a 1×1 Technic brick built sideways off of her lip. That allowed enough of an offset to have at least almost half of the ring “exposed” below her nose, and flush with the rest of her face.
Mary-Clare’s mouth also gave me a bit of trouble. Eventually I found a combination of 1×2 and 2×2 plates for her lips and a 1×2 rounded plate for her teeth that worked. The mouth assembly is “studs down”, so the connection point on the underside of the 2×2 plate creates a nice suggestion of a tongue…an unexpected but welcome side effect.

Lolsy and Mary-Claire Drunken LEGO on the TRY channel

I also wanted to add a little something extra to this second build, so I decided to animate a bit of the video. (From about the 6:00 mark). At that point, Lolsy has a few choice things to say to anyone who has a problem with their Star Wars knowledge…click on through to see her LEGO avatar in action!

A collectible alternative for those on a tight budget

It’s common knowledge that LEGO bricks aren’t the most inexpensive things in the world. We love them, obviously, but they’re something you have to do a bit of planning to afford. What then do you do when LEGO introduces something very cool like a giant wooden minifigure with a high-end price tag? Maybe you’re lucky enough to find room in your budget for one of your own. Or, maybe, you look for other creative solutions. Ryanzilbn found a great way to enjoy things while still keeping a little cash in their pocket.

This minifigure-scaled-minifigure (There’s a concept for you!) has the signature tan body and yellow hands of its wooden counterpart. The brick-built packaging closely matches the released version, with bright colors, a recessed collection of bricks, and even a representation of the informational booklet.

I may have to try building a copy of this creation for myself. It’s either that, or hope that Santa is really generous this year.

I am Plastic Man! ...err, I mean...I am Iron Man!

It’s fair to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has had its share of ups and downs over the years. To many, 2010’s Iron Man 2 is one of the lower points. Personally, I think it’s just fine, and there are some standout moments that make it special. In particular, I loved the inclusion of the comic-book classic “Suitcase Armor” of the Mark 5. I had thought that the “reality” of the MCU would keep Tony Stark from ever having a portable version of his armor, and being proven wrong tasted sweet indeed. Imagine my delight, then, when Brickatecture moc industries revealed their amazing, wearable, and 1:1 scale helmet from the Mk 5.

LEGO Iron Man Helmet Mk V

Made from around 1,500 elements, it took nearly two years of design tweaks to bring this beauty to life. The combination of wedges and plates gives an appropriately angular feel to the red sections, while the face plate makes use of curved slopes to smooth things out where necessary.

LEGO Iron Man Helmet Mk V

If you’re interested in more super-heroic wearable LEGO, be sure to check out Brickatecture’s Atom suit. If we ever get a DC/Marvel crossover event, an Atom/Iron Man mash-up seems likely!

Ringing in the holiday season

When you know what you’re doing, LEGO elements create some very interesting patterns and shapes. Builder Azurekingfisher knows what they’re doing. In mobile sculpture, rings and snowflake-like shapes are created from a complex repetition of plant leaves in a variety of hues. Add Technic rods and connectors to hang them from, and you have an art installation just waiting to happen.

mobile sculpture

Take a closer look at this wintry LEGO mobile