In a world where human influence seems more and more destructive, it can sometimes feel like there is less hope for life every passing day. Patrick Biggs tackles this topic with an expressive character that seems to embody wild plant life. Now, we should not oversimplify the ecological crisis to just deforestation, but as a symbol this creation is quite powerful. It may be a touch ironic to talk about such problems through plastic bricks, but if it makes just one person consider their carbon or plastic footprint, the world is better for it.
The character’s leafy face has a perfect shape and an expression achieved by two simple pin holes. The body has much more detail than I would expect from brown. But the character would not have the impact it does without the burnt stump it is presented on, as well as the flowers sprouting from said stump under the gardener’s influence.
So I have been building again. This one was quite a stress-free build, inspired by my other recent dragon, Dragon Unit LL-32167. I was struck by a moment of inspiration about a month ago and realized that I have a yellow 24-toothed gear that would work perfectly in the dragon’s neck. The thought process continued with the idea that if I build a dragon using no light gray and (almost) no blue, I could keep the previous one assembled for a longer time. This means that everyone visiting my tiny local LEGO shows/conventions may have a chance at seeing the two mecha dragons side-by-side. I name this awesome construction worker mecha dragon Workhorse.
Click here to read more about my latest build and a comparison with my earlier similar build
I love LEGO dragons, and the air dragon Bandea from this immersive (almost) fully LEGO scene by one of our contributors, Benjamin Stenlund, is one of my favourites from the past few months. The body is chunky and curvy like a “real” dragon is. What gives it the edge are not the Ninjago sword edges, but the awesome background it is presented on. The horizon is put on just the right point with the corresponding camera angle. What I love most are the realistic rocks, made of wedge slopes and polygonal panels fitted together to represent the cracks and angles of a real rock face.
The builder has quite a few elemental-themed dragons in his portfolio: Moto the Fire Dragon, Maji the Water Dragon, Hewa the Air dragon and Daera and Kijani, the Earth Dragons – the last one being my personal favourite so far.
A good LEGO creation will be good despite the motive and theme it depicts. Some times though, a build comes up that is both built well and plays on your personal interests. The builder that does that to me most often is Eero Okkonen. If you have been following The Brothers Brick for a while you are probably familiar with Eero’s beautiful character builds of various themes, many of which come from the Magic the Gathering trading card game, just like this particular one.
The build represents an elf planeswalker (basically a glorified mage) important in Magic’s storyline. The character’s likeness is incredibly well captured in LEGO, especially the iconic green markings on her face. The clothing and posing is great as well, with a flowing green cape and a green flame in her hand. You can read more about the build on Eero’s blog, Cyclopic Bricks. The builder is so good at capturing iconic characters that one could call him an Iconic Master…
Readers from eastern Europe will instantly recognize this adorable critter from the Czech cartoon Krtek (which means “little mole” in Czech). Having read books and seen cartoons of Krtek’s adventures throughout my childhood, I never thought to see the character built out of LEGO. But when I saw this perfect recreation by Eero Okkonen, I went full “aww-mode”.
The pose on the image is so iconic that one would hardly notice this is LEGO, were it not for a jagged edge here and there. Curved pieces capture the character’s shape very well, but my favourite parts are the red nose and the three long hairs on the mole’s head. As a master character builder, Eero has explored many different source materials and themes, but none quite as iconic as this one. Thanks for the nostalgia trip, Eero!
There are certain LEGO building systems that are tailored to different themes and motives. Technic is most suitable for mechanization, System tends to be best for buildings, vehicles, landscapes and similar motives. Bionicle (character & creature building system, or Constraction, or whatever you may call it) was obviously intended to be used to build characters and creatures and not volcanoes! But LEGO fans love to use parts in unique ways and chubbybots‘ latest build is a prime example.
The build mostly consists of armor shells, probably connected on their intended limb pieces (or possibly in a different way, but we can not really see the inner structure). There are a few trans-neon orange chains for thinner lava flows and some round plates and bricks as smoke. But that is it. Such simple techniques were used in a unique way with a good sense of shape and topped off with good photography, resulting in a very memorable creation.
Certain core LEGO themes like castle and space seem to have very specific directions of experimentation and technical progress. We generally associate castle builds with unique textures, but having a colour palette usually limited to various earth tones. Colour experimentation is not unheard of in the theme though, but remains the rare exception that reminds us of specific builders like Luke Watkins or jaapxaap, among others. This time, Anthony Wilson goes to the extreme with what almost looks like a negative image of what would otherwise be a cute but quite ordinary castle scene.
There are so many tones of blue, yellow and orange in this build that even if I try to count them all, I would probably still miss one or two. The transitions between the different colours in the grass are especially smooth and really add up to a realistic effect (as realistic as yellow grass can be). The 1×2 tile-based wall is not a new technique, but the two rows look great overgrown by all sorts of dark brown plants. The yellow ninja minifig and its animal companion add that vitally important bit of life that complete the scene.
Their similar goals of provoking thought in the beholder is why science fiction and abstract art often go hand in hand, and this applies to LEGO as well as other media. The freedom to create something new also makes it easier to send a new message. Ralf Langer has taken this freedom to create a mysterious scene of a discovery on an alien planet. What lies beyond the door? Is it a symbol of creation of new life or the inevitable change in an already existing one?
No matter the meaning, the creation is impressive in a completely technical view as well. To less experienced builders it may seem like a few simple surfaces broken up by random and inherently meaningless technical textures we like to call “greebling”, but there is much more to it. Ralf is a master of textures as he proves here with grids of minifig stud shooter triggers. The main point of this build is composition though. Ralf has joined seemingly simple parts into something that looks full, but not cluttered. My personal favourite part is the mysterious gate, with a unique texture made using LEGO treads.
We featured an emotionally packed creation by Malin Kylinger a few months ago, and the builder returns to the theme with another scene in a similar style.
The build has a very authentic LEGO style, using some prominent elements, like official dragons and an eagle, in their intended way. The same impression is facilitated by the brick and slope design of the translucent outer shell of the tear, reminiscent of brick sculptures one can see in Legoland parks, LEGO stores and other promotions around the world. Many LEGO artists choose serious themes for their creations, but Malin’s very loyal approach to the brick as a child’s toy makes the contrast between the message and the medium even more pronounced. The builder says the creation is open to interpretation, and mine is “contrasts everywhere!”
We have featured many character builds by Eero Okkonen in his big burst of creativity a while ago, and now he is back, as active as ever. While Eero’s style varies slightly from build to build, this stout dwarf still stands out as an outlier.
The build uses a smart selection of colours to present a ceremonial armour, dark gray as steel (or more probably some sort of truesilver) along with gold, and well-blocked brown as leather in the gloves and pants. Kanohi Masks of control from second generation of Bionicle are used as the shoulderplates, and binoculars with Viking horns and a bucket handle are used as a dragon-like ornament on the dwarf’s helmet. But the best detail has to be the beard, using a car grille to achieve a convincing texture.
Merging naval and space ship aesthetics has always been my soft spot, and Dwalin Forkbeard hit the nail on the head. I would make a point how a nickname taken from The Hobbit does not suit a space builder, but the ship is actually run by dwarves!
The ship has a wonderfully Brutalist aesthetic, with smoke stacks, tubes, grills and a large gray hull broken up by round windows and gunports. I particularly like the “colour” blocking on the middle bottom section, where a light gray and more textured section is exposed from underneath the armour. The builder also provides a handy image of the spacecraft viewed from multiple angles.
LEGO Friends (and by extension, Elves) is a theme that had great success both with its target audience and beyond. Many builders love the themes for the exotic colours they brought to the palette, but some, like Isaac Snyder, take inspiration for builds from the Elves theme itself.
This little village has just enough buildings to look busy, and all of them have their own aesthetic while still looking very much like they belong together. My favourite techniques are the roofs, especially the purple windscreen used as an arch on the leftmost cottage. The clean lime grass broken up by printed tiles along with crystals and strange plants give the scene an otherworldly and profoundly magical feeling, just right for the Elves theme.