About Iain

Iain Heath is an avid builder specializing in the "Bricks of Character" style, which he helped define. He has been using LEGO to parody popular culture since 2007, when he created the now infamous Stephen Hawking model. He is a SeaLUG member and regular theme coordinator at BrickCon. For five years he also ran a blog called The Living Brick, that showcased the best character-based LEGO creations from around the world. You can find his irreverent body of work on Flickr.

Posts by Iain

The day that hip-hop died

Personally, I find it a bit of a sad testament to where hip-hop music is heading compared to it’s original socially conscious roots. But whether hip-hop fans love it or hate it, the bizarre video for the latest collaboration between Kanye West and Lil Pump is already being widely hailed as “meme gold”. And it’s easy to see why from the costumes donned by the two rappers in this Spike Jonze production – costumes that are almost as over-the-top as the song’s lyrics. With many people comparing the look to characters from the ersatz-Minecraft game Roblox, a LEGO interpretation seemed like the next logical step. So I made one. You’re welcome!

Voltron: The most powerful ships in the galaxy

LEGO’s Voltron-themed Ideas set has generated a lot of excitement amongst LEGO and Voltron fans alike (check out our full review of 21311 Voltron). But as a fan of the show myself, I found the set something of a disappointment. LEGO decided to only focus on the show’s ships, not its characters (there aren’t even any minifigs in the set). It is also based on the original 80’s version rather than the wildly popular new Netflix reboot. To address this glaring oversight, I decided to craft my own LEGO tribute to the show that explores different kinds of ships …relationships!

 

While one segment of the Voltron fan base enjoys its large mecha and explosive battle sequences, another group prefer to engage in shipping. For the uneducated, shipping is the act of expressing, arguing or obsessing — often via fan art — over which characters you would like to see become romantically involved. Each “ship” even comes with its own Hollywood celebrity couple style name, for example, Lotor + Allura = Lotura.

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Homeless in Seattle

As the gateway to the Klondike, Seattle boomed during the gold rush of the late 1800’s. And with the explosive growth of Amazon in recent years, the Emerald City is experiencing a new boom. Everything here is surging: the economy, the population, house prices, and consequently homelessness. King county now ranks #3 in the nation for homelessness, after New York and Los Angeles, 47% of whom lack proper shelter.

I decided to use LEGO to illustrate this problem by imagining Seattle as an Architecture skyline set, featuring the Space Needle, Pike Place Market (complete with brass pig and gum wall), the Columbia Tower, Smith Tower, ship yards, and a plethora of street-side tents.

The good news is that local government has just levied money to finally attack this humanitarian crisis, no thanks to Amazon. The Seattle-based retail giant, now one of the most valuable companies in the world, threatened to halt all of its downtown expansion rather than cough up less cash than they probably spend keeping their cafeterias stocked with kombucha and avocado toast. Meanwhile the company’s founder – now the world’s richest person – allegedly ponders sinking the bulk of his fortune into advancing space travel.

Maybe before we start putting people in tents on Mars, we should first try to reduce the number that are forced to live in them down here…

Aggretsuko: Twenty five, single, Scorpio, blood type A

Say hello to Aggretsuko (アグレッシブ烈子), the latest character from the creators of Hello Kitty. By day, this red panda is a gentle and kind accountant, doing the best she can in a job she loathes. But by night, she blows off steam by shedding the cutesy look for that of a raging death-metal karaoke enthusiast!

Originally aired as a series of shorts on Japanese television, the adventures of Retsuko have finally arrived on Western shores in the form of a Netflix original series. Taking inspiration from this unexpectedly kawaii take on the modern condition, I decided to try and capture Retsuko’s struggle using LEGO bricks:

Click here to see LEGO Retsuko with all her accompanying accessories

Happy Star Wars Day, kids!

Some crazy old space wizard once described the light saber as “an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age” — something that is clearly borne out by the plethora of civilized dismemberments seen in the Star Wars franchise. I was very pleased to see this tradition being continued in the latest installment, so much so that I decided to augment LEGO’s rather limited selection of Last Jedi BrickHeadz with one featuring a very special “play feature”…

Half a century later: Keeping the dream alive

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Though silenced half a century ago, the voice of this legendary American civil rights activist and leader rings thunderous today; his thoughts still quoted in speeches; the reach of his legacy reflected in thousands of public roads, buildings and spaces across the US that now bear his name. (I am actually writing this from King County, Washington.)

My simple tribute: King’s likeness (taken from a memorial plaque in Berlin) recreated with LEGO parts pushed together but not attached. Despite the progress we’ve made, it seems sometimes that the pieces are there but not all connected…

RIP Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018)

World-renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76. While his professional accomplishments are well-known (and too numerous to list here), he was also a staple of popular culture, making cameos in numerous television shows and even becoming the subject of a 2014 bio-pic.

Among the many parodies of Professor Hawking was the LEGO version that I built 11 years ago, which continues to be rediscovered by people across the web to this day. Over the past decade I’ve had fun watching him pop up in mass media, and have also featured him in a variety of comical new situations. And exactly 1 year ago this week, this little LEGO model travelled on the same zero gravity flight that his real-world counterpart had taken 10 years earlier …the event that had inspired me to create this build in the first place. Thank you for allowing us to ride your coat-tails, Mr Hawking; rest in peace, and congratulations on beating the odds and having an amazing life that was an inspiration to us all!

Curiously, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was “Oh no, not again”

Douglas Adams’ quirky comedy sci-fi series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy arrived on our planet exactly 40 years ago today, introducing our primitive human brains to such concepts as Vogons, Babel fish, infinite improbability drives, towels and the ravenous bugblatter beast of Traal. Broadcast as a radio series in the UK, the story has been adapted and reworked as a TV show, stage show, novels, comic books, a video game and most recently a big budget movie.

To mark the show’s anniversary, the BBC is launching an all-new radio adaption which begins today! Above is my personal LEGO tribute to this frequently-quoted staple of British popular culture. It depicts various Hitchhiker’s Guide characters floating helplessly in space (including a small Easter egg in honor of one particularly famous Adams fan).

Click here for close-up images of each character

Luke discovers the consequences of “imperial entanglements”

By now we’ve seen almost every scene from the Star Wars franchise meticulously and repeatedly recreated as a LEGO diorama, except for one… When Luke receives the Empire’s calling card, in the form of the still-smoking remains of his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in Star Wars: A New Hope. So I thought I’d rectify this glaring oversight by the LEGO community!

I’ve found no satisfactory explanation for this surprisingly graphic scene in a seemingly PG movie franchise …which to be fair does feature its share of bodily dismemberment and a pretty significant body count. And while you might argue that this is an important moment of gravitas that propels Luke on his journey against the evil Empire, it’s interesting that he never once later mentions the demise of his only living relatives, who in all likelihood died guarding the whereabouts of their whiney nephew!

On the other hand, this sad event does furnish Luke with the perfect excuse to finally leave his godforsaken home planet in search of the adventure he had always dreamed of. So maybe he wasn’t that cut up about it after all. Then again, who cares – it’s just Star Wars, where nothing really makes that much sense. It’s all just a vehicle for a lotta big space battles and waving of laser swords by a bunch of space wizards!

Click here for more images

Registration for the Paredes de Coura Fan Weekend closes in 4 weeks [News]

Portugal’s premier LEGO fan event Paredes de Coura is now celebrating it’s 3rd year. The show is from June 8th through 10th, with setup on the 7th. Slots for AFOL attendees are filling up fast and registration closes on February 28th, so don’t delay! The registration fee of €100 includes 3 nights of boarding house accommodation and 3 meals per day for all 4 days. For an additional €25 you can also attend a special AFOL dinner on Saturday night.

From reports we’ve heard from fans who have attended this event previously, it’s not to be missed, not only because of all the great benefits included in the registration price, the amazing food and glorious location, but also the amazing club house with it’s own communal LEGO collection! I’m looking forward to my first visit there this summer and to meeting you all there.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the first feature from Studio Ponoc, an anime production house formed from the ashes of the legendary Studio Ghibli. Based on the Mary Stewart book The Little Broomstick and directed by the very accomplished Hiromasa Yonebayashi (including his directorial debut with The Secret World of Arrietty), this movie easily matches the charm of any Miyazaki production. I enjoyed it immensely, and even listened to the soundtrack while building this LEGO version of Mary on her broomstick:

The above layout takes inspiration from the pivotal scene where Mary first takes flight on her broomstick. Observant readers will notice the inclusion of Tib the cat, a few Fly-by-Night seeds, and a background made entirely from LEGO bricks.

Tis the season to be hideous

Since LEGO has decided to expand it’s super blocky Brickheadz line to include seasonal characters rather than just screen icons, I figured it made sense for my Rejectz to do the same. So just in time to ruin Christmas, I present… holiday Rejectz!