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.
The Porsche 917 gave the German auto manufacturer its first win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and 1971, following the historic wins by the Ford GT40 in 1966. Talented LEGO race car builder Greg_998 has recreated both the 917LH in white with blue and yellow trim and the 917K in gorgeous Gulf Oil livery.
While Greek galleys have been an occasional subject for LEGO builders, it’s not often we feature the Roman navy, despite its historical importance in carrying the Roman army to victory across the Mediterranean in places like Carthage, as well as to Britain from Gaul. Iyan Ha has corrected this oversight with his wonderful little Roman warship, with full rigging and even pavilions on the deck for the elite passengers. As wonderful as the ship is, don’t miss the filigreed stand, complete with a custom plaque and a pair of tigers.
While most LEGO sci-fi builders inspired by the Alien franchise tend to build the military hardware from James Cameron’s Aliens, some builders go for the industrial aesthetic of Ridley Scott’s original movie. TBB’s own Daniel Fortine has not only built the Weyland-Yutani corporation’s cargo ship Nostromo, he’s built the massive ore refinery that Ripley and her crew are hauling when they make an ill-fated stopover on LV-426.
We asked Daniel to share his huge model with our readers first, along with a bit more info you won’t find anywhere else.
The Imperial TIE Bomber doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time in the Star Wars films, but its unique twin-fuselage design has made it a fan favorite over the years. Polish builder barneius uses the new TIE fighter canopy, placing his model in the same scale as official LEGO sets like 75211 Imperial TIE Fighter.
The ordnance pod with its forward missile port is wonderfully detailed, as seen in the photo above. This next rear view showcases the excellent shaping of the fuselages, along with the bomb chute that extends down from the ordnance pod.
By the time the Curiosity Rover landed on Mars with its splashy “Sky Crane” in 2012, the unassuming Opportunity rover had already been trundling across our neighboring planet’s surface for 8 years. But on February 13, NASA declared its 15-year mission over, having received the last transmission from the rover ahead of a major dust storm on June 10, 2018. To commemorate the end of the mission for what is arguably one of humankind’s greatest achievements, here’s my LEGO Opportunity that I built back in 2012.