About Andrew Becraft (TBB Editor-in-Chief)

Andrew Becraft is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Brothers Brick. He's been building with LEGO for more than 40 years, and writing about LEGO here on TBB since 2005. He's also the co-author, together with TBB Senior Editor Chris Malloy, of the DK book Ultimate LEGO Star Wars. Andrew is an active member of the online LEGO community, as well as his local LEGO users group, SEALUG. Andrew is also a regular attendee of BrickCon, where he organizes a collaborative display for readers of The Brothes Brick nearly every year. You can check out Andrew's own LEGO creations on Flickr. Read Andrew's non-LEGO writing on his personal blog, Andrew-Becraft.com. Andrew lives in Seattle with his wife and dogs, and by day leads software design and planning teams.

Posts by Andrew Becraft (TBB Editor-in-Chief)

United24 launches five new custom LEGO models of Ukrainian landmarks to support reconstruction in Ukraine [News]

Last November, the first wave of #LEGOwithUkraine custom sets raised 15,000,000 UAH (nearly USD $375,000) for reconstruction in Ukraine, helping to rebuild a country ravaged for more than two years now by Russia’s brutal and illegal invasion. The official United24 charity recently launched a new wave of five sets designed by LEGO builders from all over the world, titled #UKRAINEinLEGOBricks.

The five models are based on landmarks all over Ukraine, from Lviv in the west, the capital Kyiv in central Ukraine, and Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Crimea in the south on the Black Sea. The first wave of custom kits was designed by LEGO builders exclusivley from Ukraine, while this next group proves how much support the Ukrainian people have from all of us around the world — the builders represent the US, Germany, Poland, and of course Ukraine itself.

See all the custom LEGO models you can win by donating for Ukrainian reconstruction

Ukraine’s United24 charity launches custom LEGO kits to raise funds for rebuilding Ukrainian infrastructure [News]

In the wake of Russia’s invasion last year, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy launched United24 as the official platform for fundraising efforts to support Ukraine. With a holistic approach, the charity provides funds across medical aid, reconstruction, de-mining, defense, and more, with a variety of projects and global ambassadors, including actors like Mark Hamill and astronaut Scott Kelly. Today, United24 launched a new initiative with custom kits designed by talented LEGO builders from around the world — Maksym Mityakin from Ukraine, Artur Samkov from Poland, and Yevgen Tonyev from the United States. By donating $24 (USD) on the United24 website, you’re entered in a raffle to win one of a very limited number of custom LEGO kits, with the resulting funds from this initiative going to rebuild housing in Ukraine destroyed or damaged by Russian military action during the war.

The first wave of custom LEGO kits includes three iconic landmarks from all across the country — the Mother Ukraine statue in Kyiv (above, designed by Maksym), the Swallow’s Nest castle in Crimea (by Artur, below), and the Old Water Tower in Mariupol (by Yevgen).

See all of the LEGO designs featuring Ukrainian landmarks and learn more

LEGO reveals LEGO Icons 10327 Dune Atreides Royal Ornithopter, available for preorder now [News]

LEGO today revealed a large-scale tie-in set for the upcoming Dune: Part Two directed by Denis Villeneuve, based on the classic sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert. The movie — starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and a cast of thousands — is currently scheduled for release in theaters on March 15, 2024, but LEGO Icons 10327 Dune Atreides Royal Ornithopter will launch on February 1st, 2024. The set includes 1,369 pieces with 8 minifigures, and is already available for preorder from the LEGO Shop online now at US $164.99 | CAN $214.99 | UK £149.99.

Read on for the full details, including play features and minifigure selection. Make sure to check out the full gallery at the end of the article.

Click through to see the full details about LEGO Icons 10327 Dune Atreides Royal Ornithopter

Five new LEGO Animal Crossing sets unveiled for March 2024 release [News]

With a range of interactive LEGO Super Mario sets and the iconic 71374 Nintendo Entertainment System, it’s been clear for a while that LEGO’s licensing of Nintendo properties has been expanding. However, it wasn’t as clear what other Nintendo properties LEGO might produce sets for. Fans of the Animal Crossing franchise can rejoice, as LEGO recently unveiled five new sets from the popular series, although you’ll have to wait until March 2024 to pick them up. The sets mimic the pixelated style of the video games, and each one features unique minifigures.

We’ve got all the details about the five new LEGO Animal Crossing sets, so read on to learn more while you wait nearly five months for their release. Although the sets seem to be geared toward younger builders, I’m sure adult collectors will be interested in the parts and minifigs as well.

Read all the details about upcoming LEGO Animal Crossing sets

BrickCon 2023 is next weekend in Bellevue, WA – free ticket giveaway! [News]

This year’s BrickCon, the longest-continuously running LEGO exhibition in the world, is happening next weekend in Bellevue, WA — a month earlier than previous years and across the water from Seattle in Bellevue. The Brothers Brick is a proud sponsor of BrickCon every year, and we’re pleased to continue that sponsorship in BrickCon’s new, larger and more accessible location. To celebrate the big move across Lake Washington, we’re giving away four pairs of tickets for free entry to the public exhibition hours on Saturday and Sunday.

The public exhibition happens at Meydenbauer Center from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10. To win, just tell us in a comment on this article why you’re looking forward to BrickCon 2023. Make sure to use a valid email address when commenting (we won’t use or share this email any other way), and we’ll draw winners on Wednesday and contact each winner to provide electronic tickets.

Fine print: The Brothers Brick is an annual sponsor of BrickCon, and tickets were provided by BrickCon as part of our sponsorship. These tickets are for the public exhibition, not the private convention. Travel and accommodation are not provided. Winners must respond within 24 hours to confirm eligibility, or tickets will be released to other entrants.

The bricks must flow...

I first read Dune in the deserts of Egypt, on the night train from Cairo to Luxor, and since then I’ve loved every rendition of the Dune saga I’ve ever consumed, starting with the full book series by Frank Herbert, of course, but also every adaptation, from David Lynch’s weird 1984 film and the 2000s Syfy TV series to the recent Denis Villeneuve masterpiece, but even the concept designs by Chris Ross for the aborted Alejandro Jodorowsky version in the 1970s. It’s almost like there’s a Dune multiverse in which every incarnation is awesome. Angus MacLane seems to share my passion, with this Classic Space homage featuring a Spicing Guild navigator floating in his tank accompanied by his entourage.

Classic Space Guild Navigator

Using black Classic Space minifigures and a giant classic smiley head inside the tank is so freakin’ weird that it fits perfectly into that hypothetical Dune multiverse. Especially for minifigs wearing uniforms, many LEGO builders choose to vary their minifigs’ faces. But it’s the very uniformity of these minifigs that makes the whole scene weirder, magnified by the massive head in the tank.

Engaging with Ukrainian POWs and their families via LEGO [Feature]

This past Saturday marked the 500th day since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Last year, I wrote about why I personally choose to actively support Ukraine and its defenders. Remembering my WW2 vet grandfather, my first group of minifigures highlighted the work of combat medics and other women contributing to Ukraine’s defense. Many people asked me to create minifigs depicting the defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, all of whom by then were being held in Russian captivity. These two groups of minifigures were then featured on Ukrainian TV, leading to messages from the wives of POWs, including the wife of the Azovstal garrison’s commander, Denys Prokopenko. But in addition to the families of these prominent officers, I heard from the wives of less-famous soldiers still held in captivity, asking if I’d create LEGO versions of their husbands, sometimes even sharing photos taken inside the Azovstal steel plant.

Unfortunately, sourcing unusual LEGO parts (including custom-printed pieces) ended up being a months-long process, and many of the figures were only completed quite recently. Over the months, some of the Ukrainian POWs have been exchanged, and I began chatting directly with the released soldiers. A young soldier with the call sign “Tayvaz” defended Azovstal until the last, and lost several of his brothers-in-arms during the battle. Before his exchange after nearly a year of captivity, his wife shared photos of her husband along with heartbreaking photos of the men who hadn’t made it out. On the day I was taking photographs of my minifigs depicting Tayvaz and his brothers, I’d been chatting with him to make sure I’d gotten the details correct. I love filtered natural light, and I was outside on our front lawn. The trees behind me shifted in the wind, and a sunbeam broke through and illuminated the minifigs of the three lost soldiers (photo above). I burst into tears, sent Tayvaz the photo, and we shared a moment of sorrow — my own emotions a mere shadow of his enormous loss — across the distance between Seattle and Kyiv.

Read more about how these minifigs are making their way to Ukraine

A Mûmakil kill still only counts as one

My wife and I are re-reading The Lord of the Rings together after having done so 22 years ago before the first Peter Jackson movie was released. By sheer coincidence, on the same day we read the chapter about the Battle of Pelennor Fields in The Return of the King, Kiwi builder Pieter Dennison shared the conclusion of a months-long project to recreate a Mûmak or Oliphaunt of the Haradrim in LEGO, based on how they appear in the movies.

"That still only counts as one"

Pieter’s build features all the iconic details of the enormous beast, from its four tusks (built from a series of 2×2 round bricks presumably strung on something like flex-tube), each with spikes on the end, to the war tower on the monstrous beast’s back. A closer look at the war tower shows just how huge this LEGO build really is, with about a score of minifigs riding into battle against the Rohirrim and men of Gondor.

closeup

If you want to see this in person, you can see it at the Christchurch Brick Show this July. And don’t miss all the other LEGO Oliphaunts we’ve featured over the years (also proving that this quote is the only one I ever use to write about this creature).

How Anomalocaris, Opabinia, and the Cambrian Explosion changed my life

The broad range of wonderful LEGO creations built for events like the annual BioCup often spark odd memories of my own life experiences. This beautiful Anomalocaris by Care Creations reminded me of Stephen Jay Gould’s 1989 book Wonderful Life, which first introduced me to the panoply of fantastic lifeforms that emerged during the Cambrian Explosion over half a billion years ago. The book changed my view of how life emerged and evolved on our planet, as well as how scientific understanding itself evolves — both mind-blowing to a young missionary kid. One of the strengths of Bionicle is the system’s ability to reproduce organic shapes, enabling talented builders to create much more than Toa.

Anomalocaris Spectrum

I love the minifigure hands on the ends of Anomalocaris’ tentacles, as well as all the smaller creatures the builder has included to give the impression of the early arthropod in its natural habitat.

If you enjoyed this ancient sea creature as much as I did, you’ll love these other Cambrian creatures, as well as this beautiful LEGO ammonite (though of course ammonites emerged about a hundred million years later).

LEGO Marvel Superheroes 76262 Captain America’s Shield now available for pre-order [News]

LEGO has just launched the product page for a new lifesize version of the iconic shield carried by Captain America. 76262 Captain America’s Shield will go on sale August 1st for US $199.99 | CAN $259.99 | UK £179.99, although it’s available for pre-order starting today.

The set includes 3128 pieces and a Captain America minifig. The shield’s face appears to be made mostly from plates and wedges (Sadly, LEGO has not yet begun producing vibranium bricks). The video provided features a 360-degree spin and thus reveals that the backside of the model is a complex network of plates and Technic beams but alas the shield cannot be held or worn as part of a costume without some custom rigging.

Porco Rosso takes the lead in his Savoia S.21 seaplane

I’ve lost count of how many LEGO versions of Porco Rosso’s iconic seaplane we’ve featured here on TBB, going way back to Uspez Morbo’s Savoia S.21 I wrote about in 2008. And yet I enjoy every version we’ve highlighted, not least this fantastic microscale version by Marcin Otreba, complete with stand and tiny Adriatic seascape. A miniature Porco pilot may try to steal the show here, but the details I love most are the little contrails emerging from the engine exhaust and the rounded cowling on the seaplane’s bow.

Savoia S.21

Across the fields of Pelennor, Gandalf rides to Minas Tirith

The city of Minas Tirith in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (especially as depicted in Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations) is a fairly popular subject for LEGO microscale builders. But Joe (jnj_bricks) takes his LEGO build to the next level — or seven levels, if you count all the rings in the city — by creating a multilayered scene that places Gandalf astride Shadowfax in the foreground, the Tower of Guard in the middle distance, and the White Mountains against grim clouds in the distance. It’s often tempting to photograph your LEGO models from a high three-quarters view to show off all its details. While Joe has certainly built plenty of detail into his White City, he avoids that temptation by placing the viewer at Gandalf’s level in the foreground, looking up toward the city, with the Citadel of Gondor and Tower of Ecthelion reaching toward the lowering sky. The overall effect is magical.

Gandalf rides to Minas Tirith

If you’ve enjoyed Joe’s forced perspective LEGO version of Minas Tirith, be sure to check out an even more detailed microscale LEGO Minas Tirith by Koen that we featured nearly 5 years ago.