Posts by Ryan Kunz

A fantastic build in more ways than one

My favorite LEGO set of last year (and possibly of all time) is the LEGO Lord of the Rings 10316 Rivendell set. I could wax verbose about that set, but I don’t have to — because everything I loved about Rivendell is back here in this piece, which builder Martin Gebert calls “Rivendell-inspired.” You can certainly see the official set’s influence — the organic blending of nature and masonry, the pastel greens and whites, the otherworldly architecture. And yet this build manages to take the fantasy even further — look at that lovely hanging fountain and the perfectly irregular smoothness of that outcropping. Best of all, this model (entitled “The Arrival of an Old Friend”) is just chapter 1 in a series, so be sure to follow Martin and keep exploring this incredible slice of a fantasy world.

Chapter I - The Arrival of an Old Friend

Whichever way you look, a new world awaits

The best LEGO builds tell a story. Take this one by Carter Witz, which begins with a simple premise: what if a magic portal separated a land of summer from a world of winter? What happened to divide these two realms? And what will it take to bring them together again? While you’re pondering those answers, be sure to appreciate the rich combination of plates, tiles, sloped bricks, and plant elements to achieve the textured greenery. Same with the variation of elements that make up the ancient, weathered stone wall. (I count at least twelve different kinds of brick in that wall.)

Between Worlds

Here’s a better view of the opposite side, where winter still reigns. Rather than simply duplicate the topography of the summer half, Carter added mysterious ruined columns topped with drifts of snow. Enchanting!

Between Worlds

This AT-TE does whatever a spider can

How’s this for a classic Star Wars moment captured in LEGO diorama form? It’s 2008, and you’re watching The Clone Wars, surely the last Star Wars movie you’ll ever see in theaters (haha, right?) when suddenly, a normal-looking All-Terran Tactical Enforcer starts climbing a frickin’ purple cliff like some sort of fat metal spider. Tim Goddard uses unevenly layered sloped bricks and tiles laid out in SNOT (studs not on top) fashion to achieve the irregular surface of the cliff. The AT-TE looks great in midi-scale—all the way down to the tiny clone trooper sitting at the turret.

AT-TE on Teth

Send out an exploratory party like it’s 1999

Before there was Star Wars, there was Space: 1999, which told the story of the residents of a moon base blown into the unknown (along with the moon itself) by a thermonuclear explosion. The vehicle of choice for those unlucky explorers was the Eagle, rendered here in LEGO by builder klaupacius. Unlike a certain well-known Corellian freighter named after a different bird (which appeared on big screens in 1977, two years after Space: 1999), the Eagle was inspired by actual Earth-built exploratory spacecraft. This build accurately conveys the transporter’s utilitarian nature from those nuclear fusion rockets all the way to its sleek nose cone.

Eagle01

Storm the beaches of Kashyyyk with this faithfully recreated tank droid

Whatever your feelings toward the Star Wars prequels, it’s hard to deny the quality of their production design. This LEGO incarnation of the NR-N99 Persuader-class tank droid by builder Matt (from Revenge of the Sith) is just one example of the many instantly iconic vehicles the prequels bestowed upon us. The build does its on-screen counterpart justice—from the fencing foils used for the antennae to the “I” typewriter keys cleverly repurposed as the droid’s photoreceptors. You can almost hear the pew-pew-pew of those heavy repeating blasters.

NR-N99 Persuader Class Tank Droid

An adorable hero in a half-shell

Remember the official LEGO Ninja Turtles line from 2013-2014? We never did get to see the titular turtles before their fateful meeting with the mutating ooze. Builder Cecilie Fritzvold remedies that oversight with heartbreakingly cute baby Raphael. This pre-teen mutant ninja turtle even comes with his own brick-built pizza. Note the red bandanna off to the side, hinting at the fearsome fighter he will someday become. There’s no sai in sight, though—probably a good idea not to entrust a baby turtle with such a sharp object just yet.

Ninja Diet

A familiar meme like you’ve never seen it before

A picture of a brick-built monkey puppet giving you the side-eye might be on your LEGO BINGO card for today, but the Internet works in mysterious ways. This model by Renauld Petit Lego takes the famous meme to its natural next incarnation. If you’re unfamiliar, the Awkward Monkey, as it’s known, is a famous meme used to convey the ever-relatable uncomfortable situation … like explaining a meme, I guess. There’s nothing awkward about the techniques used here, however: sloped cheese bricks for the snout, curved bricks for the face, and layered plates (much like you’d find in the official LEGO Star Wars helmets theme, like 75349 Captain Rex) to achieve the rounded head. And let’s not forget those eyes, of course. I can feel them staring right at me. And away. And back again.

Awkward Look Monkey Puppet

This LEGO Voltron is ready to defend the universe and look slick doing it

If your Saturdays didn’t used to involve at least some sort of giant robot on TV, did you even have a childhood? This LEGO build by Marco De Bon captures one such icon: the mighty Voltron. With hardly a stud in sight, this Voltron all clean lines and smooth surfaces, perhaps even more so than the official set from a few years back. I was always more of a Transformers kid myself, but you don’t need to be steeped in Voltron lore to appreciate the talent on display here.

Lego moc Voltron

Venture into uncharted regions of the universe and see more!

Here’s one black cat you’d be lucky to cross paths with

I don’t know about you, but the famous Le Chat Noir poster has to be in my top ten cat-themed Art Nouveau advertisements for nineteenth-century French cabaret establishments. Anthony Forsberg’s LEGO rendition captures this iconic piece of art with an attention to detail that would make the original artist (Théophile Steinlen) proud. Two aspects stand out to me: first, the plates and tiles at a variety of angles and configurations to get the lettering just right; and second, the vertical and horizontal plates in dark tan to achieve the outline of the cat. All the techniques come together for (I’m deeply sorry for the pun in advance) a near-purrfect recreation of a classic artwork.

Tour of the Black Cat in LEGO

Ye olde classic gets a fancy modern update

If you remember having 6703 Knight’s Castle in your LEGO collection as a kid, there’s a good chance you’re nursing some back pain, clipping your phone to your belt, and wishing these words were a little bigger and easier to read. Still, you’re never too old to appreciate ZCerberus‘s take on the classic set, just in time for its 40th anniversary. The update stays true to the aesthetics and architectural footprint of the original while showcasing just how far LEGO bricks and their builders have come. The red stone of the gatehouse hasn’t changed, but the castle walls are beautifully textured with tiles, while the wild foliage at the base adds an air of rugged mystery.

KnightsCastle2

Shai-Hulud? More like Shai-hello there!

Few sci-fi creatures have presented a perennial challenge to LEGO builders like Dune‘s sandworm. We’ve already covered a few LEGO sandworms over the years, but given the number of techniques that can be used to represent these otherworldly lifeforms, we’ll probably be covering them well into the year 10,191. In hachiroku24‘s version, the worm’s body is mostly overlapping 1×2 rectangular and round tiles, a simple yet effective solution. It’s a scene that probably just got cut from the recent movie — lovers Paul Atreides and Chani enjoy the ultimate date night: Preparing to ride the mighty Shai-Hulud together. We’re sure nothing could ever drive them apart, right?

Sample some vibrant Old World charm in LEGO, no passport required!

For a LEGO-loving American like me, there’s something glamorous and exotic about European streets, especially when rendered in plastic. The sights! The food! The tiny cars and bike-friendly pathways! But even without any upcoming travel plans, it’s still easy to enjoy the cobbled streets of Andrew Tate’s bustling, pedestrian-friendly European neighborhood. Make sure to stop at the bakery for some delicious pretzels. Then go window shopping for the latest designer fashions. Toss a few coins to the street musician. And obviously, sample some frozen treats. I’m going to assume that’s gelato, because gelato is glorious! It’s a full vacation in LEGO form, minus the jet lag.

Canal Street