LEGO has gone all out to promote the new LEGO Stranger Things 75810 The Upside Down set released earlier this summer, with a hilarious retro designer video, and a contest on LEGO Ideas (don’t miss TBB’s own Darker Hawkins LEGO contest). These are all things that every LEGO builder can enjoy together, but LEGO has also released two items to much more limited audiences — Will’s fort Castle Byers (a small build given away only to attendees of launch events in London and New York City) and fan-favorite Barb (a unique minifigure only available at San Diego Comic-Con). Both of these are now only available at exorbitant prices on the secondary market. The Brothers Brick picked up each of these so we could bring you a hands-on review.
It’s another summer of Harry Potter, and we’re continuing our reviews of the new sets available now, following our review of 75948 Hogwarts Clock Tower. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry faces the evil jailers known as Dementors, against which only the “Expecto patronum!” spell is effective. 75945 Expecto Patronum captures the moment in the Forbidden Forest when Harry fends off hundreds of Dementors attacking Hermione Granger and Sirius Black. The set includes 4 minifigs and a stag Patronus with 121 pieces and retails for US $19.99 | CAN $24.99 | UK £19.99.
LEGO Star Wars builder Anthony Ducre recently shared a massive diorama featuring scenes from both A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. Built from over 50,000 LEGO bricks, the diorama includes Darth Vader chasing Luke Skywalker down the trench of the first Death Star, animated by placing the starfighters on classic LEGO 9-volt train tracks.
As much as the LEGO Speed Champions 1966 Ford GT40 remains one of my favorites of the theme, it’s always been disappointing that LEGO has not been able to release one in the iconic Gulf Oil livery, for the very reasonable reason that LEGO does not have a licensing deal with Gulf Oil. But LEGO fans like Jonathan Elliott have stepped into the light blue and orange void with beautiful cars like this one, at about Speed Champions scale. Jonathan’s version uses plates and tiles wedged at all different angles to achieve the unique curves and angles of the original car, structured completely differently from the 1966 GT40 in the official set.
If you like Jonathan’s GT40 in Gulf livery, you’ll also love Joachim Klang’s Ford GT40 in Gulf livery.
The third season of the Netflix series “Stranger Things” was released on July 4, and we have the perfect activity for you as you binge-watch the whole season. Build any location featured in any season of the show! But unlike some other contests inspired by the show recently, there’s a catch: You have to build both the real-world version of your favorite Hawkins locale and the Upside Down version, as seen in the official LEGO set LEGO Stranger Things 75810 The Upside Down — one of our favorite LEGO sets of the year so far. The top builder of our contest, judged by TBB staff, will win this fantastic set, plus the super-rare Castle Byers mini-build set released only to attendees of the LEGO Stranger Things launch events in London and New York.
Last November, we reviewed the Brickmania F-4C Phantom II Jet custom kit, and designer Cody Osell is back again with the massive 1033 F-14 Tomcat Supersonic Air Superiority Interceptor. The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is one of the most iconic Cold War jet fighters, featured in movies like Top Gun and The Final Countdown. The Brickmania kit includes 1,607 LEGO pieces and two custom-printed minifigures with accessories. We’ll also be taking a look at the NAS Miramar Action Pack add-on that includes four more custom minifigures.
Despite this website’s origins as a minifig blog way back in 2005, it’s not often that we highlight minifig-only LEGO creations — often frowned upon by more “serious” LEGO builders as mere “figbarfs.” But there is incredible joy in putting together pieces of LEGO in unique ways, no matter how small the resulting creation. And from time to time, something truly stellar emerges from the imagination of a builder, like these fantastical aliens by VolumeX.
There is so much ingenious use of “single-purpose” minifig parts here — like Queen Amidala’s hair for the face of the leftmost figure or Ahsoka Tano’s head-tails above a Mon Calamari head and octopus legs from the Atlantis theme on the middle figure. I could pore over these all day.
Steven Spielberg’s award-winning 1993 film Schindler’s List is not a movie that inspires frequent LEGO builds. Nevertheless, Austrian builder Patrick B. has hauntingly captured the typewriter that Oskar Schindler and Itzhak Stern use to list the names of people Schindler attempts to save from the Holocaust. Patrick’s LEGO build includes many of the key items Schindler has on his desktop, including pens, paper, a stapler, and a wonderfully symbolic candle. The melting wax and drop of ink dripping from the pen are particularly beautiful touches.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars, I recently sat down with Jens Kronveld Frederiksen, the Director of Design for the LEGO Star Wars line. Jens has been with LEGO for more than 20 years, and shares his insights on how he joined the company, what lessons he’s learned over the years, and how LEGO balances input from both kids and adults. Read through to the end to learn a really cool detail about the movie Millennium Falcon Jens saw during a visit to Pinewood Studios during the filming of The Force Awakens!
The Brothers Brick: Just about every LEGO builder’s dream is to become a set designer. How did your career as a designer begin?
Jens Kronveld Frederiksen: A little bit of a weird story and coincidence. LEGO has been a great part of my life for as long as I remember. I really, really loved LEGO but I was never thinking of it as a profession or a career to be honest. In 1998 I was participating in a model building exhibition. I have a hobby building plastic model kits, which mainly is of World War II stuff. At that event in Copenhagen, there were some LEGO people there, and they were looking to hire designers not for model builders but for making new prototypes for new elements, and well I was of course interested in that. And then before I started on that, I saw a job application for a permanent position as model builder and I got the job. That’s how I got into it.
Back in April 1999, it would have been hard to imagine what LEGO Star Wars sets might look like in twenty years, but it would have been even harder to predict how the LEGO fan community would evolve over the next two decades. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the LEGO Star Wars theme, I also wanted to take a moment to reflect on how LEGO Star Wars has affected my life, along with the lives of countless other LEGO fans all over the world.
We’ve come to enjoy the many LEGO creations from Build Better Bricks not just for their quality and variety, but because they often provide inexpensive building instructions. Their latest is the titular dragon Toothless from the How to Train Your Dragon series, which just released its third movie recently. I love the dragon’s eyes, and Toothless’ low profile is captured perfectly, along with key details like his makeshift tail fin.
You can check out the instructions for Toothless on B3’s website.
Back in the early 20th century, the Victorian Railways in Australia ran two S class steam locomotives, first without streamlining and later with streamlined Art Deco styling. Australian LEGO train builders Alexander and Teunis Davey have collaborated to build both versions of these vintage trains. The earlier version looks beautiful in dark red with black details, while the later streamlined version looks fantastic in dark blue and gold.
Alexander users a number of custom elements in the locomotives, including 3D-printed rods and valve gear, as well as the gold locomotive names and trim. As much as I love the Art Deco look of the 1937 train, I’m smitten with the classic look of the original, unstreamlined locomotive.