Posts by Norm Harper

A study worth studying

One of my guilty pleasures is spending too much time on Zillow. I’m not really looking to buy a home, I’m just curious about what they look like inside. But if I was browsing the site and saw anything as modern and cozy as this build by Grant Davis, I might start trying to convince my wife we need to move. The modern stairway grabs your immediate attention, but there’s so much here to love, from the beautiful bay window to the hardwood floors (look closely, they’re not just long tiles). And that steamboat on the top shelf cleverly uses sideways radiator grilles for its windows. I hope the steamboat comes with the house, because I’m ready to make an offer on this place.

A Modern Study

1-upping my childhood memories

When I was a kid, the closest I ever got to a real arcade was the game room in the back of the local bowling alley. Dirty carpet, a change machine that wouldn’t accept my crinkled dollar bills, and neon beer signs illuminating the TMNT machine that I could never get a turn at. I always imagined that somewhere there were kids living it up in a real video game paradise, and Brick Grayson has brought that paradise to life. Just looking at it, you can hear the cacophony of music and laser fire and cries of “hadouken!” that must echo through the place. The choice of colors does a great job of implying neon without there being any actual lights. And I particularly like the Pac-Man and Ghosts on the side of the building made mostly from sausages. If I could just get inside, I bet I could finally take a turn as Raphael.

I’m hooked on this captain

Captain Hook earned his famous moniker thanks to that trademark replacement appendage of his. And, no doubt, if you were to encounter the villainous pirate in real life, that hook would be hard to ignore. But in LEGO form, the hook proves to be the captain’s least interesting feature. Ivan Martynov has crafted a charming rendition of Peter Pan’s archenemy with plenty of details and techniques worthy of study. From the pirate hat made using hot air balloon shells, to the impressive flowing coat, it’s hard to worry very much about the hook. Maybe he should change his name to highlight a more impressive feature. Captain Coat? Captain Ascot? Captain That-Little-Beach-Diorama-He’s-Standing-On?

Captain Hook

Bulked-up Benny

When The LEGO Movie debuted in 2014, the world was introduced to Benny, a Classic LEGO Spaceman with an enthusiastic love of spaceships. In 2019, The LEGO Movie 2 gave Benny an apocalyptic upgrade which found him sporting a clawed robot arm and carrying a toolbox. Now, builder Chris Yee has upgraded Benny yet again, translating Benny’s apocalyptic minifigure look into a larger Bionicle/Hero Factory style figure. I particularly love the Classic Space logo recreated with a pearl gold conical hat and a red minifigure hand and rubber bands. I’m forced to wonder if there’s a spaceship spaceship spaceship! in all the galaxy that’s capable of containing this much awesome.

Spaceman Bienny

Darn good deals on discount droids

As vast as the on-screen Star Wars universe is, there’s probably no corner of it that hasn’t been rendered in LEGO at one time or another. So, it should come as no surprise that LEGO fans have begun imagining their own corners of the universe to build. Abe Fortier does a particularly impressive job of rendering a heretofore unseen section of Tatooine with his Jawa Rummage Sale custom build. Even without the familiar aliens and Stormtroopers hanging about, this building would be instantly recognizable as a locale on the famous desert planet. Abe makes excellent use of greebling for the sci-fi trimmings, and the oft-ignored single groove side of the masonry brick adds interesting texture to the building. Be sure to look closely at what each of these shady characters is up to, so you can spot all the great gags and easter eggs that Abe has hidden in the model.

Jawa Rummage Sale on Tatooine

Solo Transformer Assault Group

One of the things that made The Transformers such a great toy line was the arms race nature of the Autobot/Decepticon conflict that kept piling on the gimmicks for kids to drool over.

“We turn into cars.”
“We turn into jets.”
“Well then we turn into dinosaurs.”
“Oh yeah? We combine.”
“Well then we also combine.”
“Okay, but now we turn into
two vehicles.”

And on and on it went, with each new gimmick creating a new set of must-have toys. And undoubtedly, one of the most impressive gimmicks was 1987’s Sixshot, an evil robot with five different alternate modes. Sam C. has taken on the challenge of replicating all six configurations in his custom LEGO recreation of the Decepticon warrior.

Click here to all of Sixshot’s alternate modes in action!

Sailing the open “C”

Ralf Langer is on a roll. Using a technique he’s employed previously in some sci-fi builds, Ralf has created a gorgeous display piece worthy of a shelf in any captain’s quarters. And, while the shape of the build is bound to monopolize your attention, there are some smaller details here that are worthy of a second look. I particularly like the way he’s used color beneath the transparent light blue tiles. The ocean gets darker the further out from the land masses you go, creating a sense of ever deepening water. If you’d like a chance to build this yourself, you can sail over to the LEGO Ideas site to lend your support.

Land Ahoy!

Negative space (travel)

Two of the bigger challenges that a builder can face when creating a custom LEGO creation are angles and empty space. Blake Foster has done a great job of conquering both with his Procyon Planetary Research Hovercraft. I can only imagine the number of techniques at play in creating the craft’s hexagonal outer wall. Complicating the matter is all that empty space in the center, which gave Blake the opportunity to outfit the sides of the wall with some great greebling. But I think my favorite aspect of the whole build is one of the more subtle choices – the use of the 1×4 spring shooter launchers, added so that the notch of light bluish gray from the scaffolding cuts slightly into the dark bluish gray of the engines. It’s a great touch that helps keep anything on this craft from looking like a plain old square.

Procyon Planetary Research Hovercraft

Conversion Van Conversion

Sometimes the best inspiration for a custom LEGO Creation is an official LEGO set. When 1saac W. saw the brown van in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame Final Battle set, he knew he had to have one – but in classic black with stylish pin stripes. In addition to the color swap, there’s some more subtle upgrades that make the model even more accurate to the real 1970s Ford Econoline: a round window in the back, an exhaust pipe just behind the rear wheel, and even door handles made from minifigure roller skates. I bet if we could see inside there’d be some stylish shag carpeting and a rocking 8-track player.

1972 Ford Ecoline street van (76192 mod)

Stolen Spyrius Technology

Back in 1994, the LEGO Space Police had to deal with one of their most challenging foes in the form of SPYRIUS, an intergalactic band of espionage agents who specialized in stealing the technology of more peaceful citizens in the United Galaxies Space Council. Now, in 2021, Spyrius has finally gotten a taste of their own medicine thanks to builder Moppo!, who has managed to steal some technology from Spyrius and used it to create this custom LEGO creation, a modern update on the Saucer Scout.

Spyrius Saucer Scout

This version of the vehicle is larger, but it hasn’t lost the feel of a smaller ship perfect for recon missions. It’s still got those perpendicular engines, ready to blast the ship off in any direction, in case it needs to make a quick getaway from Space Police patrol ships in the area. The pops of lime green near the cockpit are a great compliment to the traditional red and black color scheme. And, of course, it’s not a real Spyrius set without that trademark printed tile.

D is for Dreamland...

Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to eat all the cookies you want. And sometimes there aren’t enough cookies around to fill your day. Well, Steve Guinness has baked up a delightful solution to both problems with this LEGO creation. Sesame Street’s very own Cookie Monster slumbers beneath a magical box of cookies that will never run out. With a helpful turn of the crank, Steve allows an endless supply of chocolate chip treats to rain down into Cookie’s mouth from a magical box suspended in the sky amongst the fluffy cloud tiles.

It looks like such a great way to live that you wonder why Cookie Monster would ever get out of bed again. And then you remember, there’s also oatmeal raisin. And snickerdoodles. And gingerbread. And peanut butter. And white chocolate macadamia nut. And…

Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips

Actually, their names are Ike and Mack (Ike’s the tall one). But when I saw these two LEGO Creations by builder Silvak The Mocist, I had an instant flashback to that old Schoolhouse Rock series about a skateboarding kid and his computer-headed pal. Despite a passing resemblance to that old cartoon, I get the impression these two are less likely to teach us about computers and more likely to grind along some railing, leaving a rotary telephone-headed old man shaking his fist at those darn kids. Silvak’s done a great job of communicating character here, from Ike’s expressive limbs to Mack’s radical pair of kicks. I’m particularly impressed by how those Technic panels hang like an open hoodie on Ike. And bonus points for using the old M-Tron logo so Mack can put his initial on his skateboard.

Click here to see more Ike and Mack on your iMac (or PC or phone or whatever)