About Rod

Rod likes building stuff, particularly steampunk and microscale. He's built for a number of the Dorling Kindersley LEGO books, including LEGO Play and the Awesome Ideas book. When he's not building, he writes, and has published a trilogy of old-fashioned adventure stories. To pay the bills he works in innovation and marketing for one of the world's biggest brewers, inventing new beers and ciders. This is clearly the best job in the world.

Posts by Rod

Effortlessly graceful speederbike

A good LEGO speederbike looks futuristic and “swooshable”, but the very best also carry with them a functional design — a sense of realism allowing you to suspend disbelief in the same way the bike suspends the normal rules of gravity. This beautiful model by GoIPlaysWithLego certainly looks the part, with hints of a Tron-style future in its colour scheme and curves, but it also has that elusive realistic look. The trans-blue steering fins at the front, the whips used as power cables, the shaped panelling around the cockpit seat — all add to the functional feel. And as for that black spike element underneath — I’ve no idea what it does, but I don’t doubt that without it this bike would be unable to fly.

LEGO Speeder

On a more prosaic note, the model’s stand continues the impressive design, enhancing the presentation without distracting attention from the central subject.

Loading on the power

LEGO mech suits generally come in one of two varieties — combat hulks clad in armour plating, or civilian-role rigs, stripped back to their mechanical bones. Andreas Lenander‘s Powerloader Exo Suit is a great example of the latter style — its frame festooned in greebles and mechanical-looking details. All-grey creations can lack impact, but the impressive depth of texture more than makes up for the lack of colour. There’s an obvious nod to Peter Reid’s classic Exo Suit design, but Andreas makes this version all his own with cogs broadening the shoulders, and a fearsome pair of toothed grippers for moving stuff around. Although this isn’t a military mech, you get the impression it wouldn’t do too badly if things turned nasty in the cargo bay.

LEGO Powerloader Mech

I was lucky enough to see this model “in the brick” as Andreas and I installed models in the LEGO House Masterpiece Gallery. It looks even more impressive than in these photos, and if you make it to Billund this summer, I’d recommend you seek this out for a closer viewing.

Ambush on the Roman road

Sure, those Romans were tough enough when massed in their Legions. But catch them isolated from the main army? In a small group? On a lonely stretch of forest road? Let’s see how tough they are then. That appears to be what Jesse van den Oetelaar is asking in this LEGO scene depicting a trio of unsuspecting Legionaries about to walk into a Barbarian ambush. The irregular base and the greenery are the stars of the show here, with an impressive mix of shrubbery and foliage providing cover for the Barbarian assailants. It’s worth a close look at some of the techniques involved, and the mix of earthy colours deployed — this is a great example of how to build realistic undergrowth in LEGO.

LEGO Legions Romans Battle

LEGO Avengers 76125 Iron Man Hall Of Armour [Review]

One of the benefits of being a billionaire is being able to afford plenty of storage space for all your toys. The new 76125 Iron Man Hall Of Armour set is LEGO’s take on Tony Stark’s state-of-the-art “mech wardrobe”. Marvel fans have been crying out for a set depicting this location since Iron Man first made his LEGO appearance. Let’s see if this set delivers against the anticipation.

LEGO Avengers 76125 Iron Man Hall Of Armour

The set has 524 pieces, features six minifigures and two robots, and is available now for US: $59.99 | Canada: 79.99 CAD | UK: £54.99.

Click here to read our full hands-on review of LEGO Avengers 76125 Iron Man Hall Of Armour

A different kind of Thunderbird

Ted Andes says his latest LEGO spaceship was partly modelled on the Cosmo-class starfighters of anime series Space Battleship Yamato. Regardless of the original inspiration, this is an excellent model, packed full of interesting angles, nice integration of Technic panels along with the regular bricks, and strong colour blocking. The white and orange add a pleasing burst of colour against the military-grey styling, and the restrained use of stickers works well, adding touches of detail without distracting the eye from the overall shape.

Cosmo Thunderbird

LEGO Super Hornet will give you a buzz

Since 2001, the F/A-18E Super Hornet has been a workhorse of the US Navy, finally replacing the last of the aging F-14 Tomcat fighters in 2006. Here’s Plane Bricks‘ LEGO version of the carrier-capable fighter jet — an excellent model which captures the aircraft’s shape with a nice combination of curves, slopes, and tile pieces. There’s an impressive array of armaments slung under the wings, and the model boasts a folding undercarriage, and fold-up wing tips (an essential space-saving feature on a carrier-based aircraft).

LEGO Fighterplane Jetfighter

I particularly liked the angling of the tailfins and the shaping of the exhaust vents. You can get a closer look at them here, along with the added detail of the tailhook…

LEGO Fighterplane Jetfighter

Superfast redhead has the Italian look

It can be difficult to capture the smooth flowing lines of a beautiful sports car in LEGO without stepping up to a large scale. However Firas Abu-Jaber has managed to make this formidable challenge look easy with this excellent brick-built Ferrari Testarossa. The name means ‘Redhead’ in Italian, so naturally the colour scheme fits its inspiration, but the iconic shape of the famous supercar is also spot-on, with pop-up headlights, an impressively-raked windshield, and those long arcs over the wheels. However, the signature element to this car’s design was always the multiple slash intakes on the vehicle’s flanks, and here they’re recreated perfectly. Lovely building.

LEGO Sports Car

Not content with nailing the sumptuous curves of the car’s exterior, Firas has gone the extra mile and included a detailed interior complete with leather-look seats and a dashboard stuffed with instrumentation…

LEGO Sports Car

Roll a brand new car with the unknown stuntman

Let’s head back to 70s and 80s when no action movie was complete without a car chase and a pile-up. Check out Pixeljunkie‘s piece of Muscle-Car Movie Mayhem. This shot looks like a behind-the-scenes publicity image straight off the film set. There’s the director bellowing through his megaphone, the guy with the all-important clapperboard, and a nicely put-together boom camera capturing the action. The crashing cars themselves are simple enough models, but they’re well positioned. In conjunction with the dusty smoke effect, the dynamic angles suggest a high-speed crash, captured at the perfect moment.

1972 Mustangs on the movie set

Let’s get back to the moon

As NASA looks forward to the challenge of getting back to the moon and establishing a permanent habitat, here’s a vision of a lunar base we can all sign up to. Who wouldn’t want to spend some time in Jon Blackford‘s brilliant LEGO Research Outpost? The styling is excellent, with an attractive angled frontage and good greebly detailing along the roof. The hatch and the support pillars are particularly good, and the habitat’s smooth studless look offers a nice contrast with the rougher baseplate, creating a feeling of rocky surroundings.

LEGO Space Moonbase

All the important Classic Space elements are in place — the blue and grey colour scheme, the trans-yellow windows, the multicoloured team of astronauts. But is are some novel parts use too, including the paint rollers used in the rover’s front sensors and the ingots used to create unusually-shaped cargo crates. Best of all, there’s a fully detailed interior to enjoy.

NCS Research Outpost

Massive NASA Vehicle Assembly Building gets miniscule LEGO tribute

It’s still the largest single-storey building ever constructed, so what better tribute could there be to NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building than a teeny-tiny microscale LEGO version? The level of detail packed into Ryan Olsen‘s small model is impressive — the grille bricks providing texture on the sides, the machinery on the roof, and the massive shutter doors. Don’t miss the Saturn V rocket on its way to the launch-pad atop the crawler-transporter, or the perfect shaping of the Launch Control Centre with its sloped windows, jutting at an angle away from the main structure. The only thing I’d challenge on this model is using 1×1 plates for cars — unfortunately they don’t quite fit the scale. The rest of it is bang-on though, making me want to head back to Florida and get a refresher boost to my space-geekery.

LEGO Microscale NASA Apollo 11 Rollout

Ride like the wind, Gandalf!

We featured norlego‘s stunning LEGO Meduseld Hall last year, but now he’s followed it up with another impressive slice of architecture from Edoras, the capital of the nation of Rohan in Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings. Here we see Gandalf and Pippin leaving the city at the start of their ride to Minas Tirith. The gated wall behind them is an impressive structure, with a lovely depth of detail and texture within both stone and wooden sections. The arrow slits in the main gate structure are nicely done, and the surrounding landscaping is excellent — all the green broken up with clumps of dark tan grass and boulders. Don’t miss the edge of the diorama — the undulating strata of earth and stone add immensely to the natural feel of the scene.

LEGO Lord of the Rings Rohan

If you’re a Tolkien fan and just can’t get enough Rohirrim action, then be sure to check in on this wonderful microscale LEGO version of Edoras from a while back.

Precious spider has jazzy-looking legs

A LEGO model built predominantly from a single colour generally needs to be something special to grab the eye. This gleaming clockpunk-style spider beastie from Markus Rollbühler manages to do exactly that, using a variety of textured pearl gold parts to provide lots of delicious mechanical detailing in amongst the bling.

LEGO Steampunk Spider

The eye in the mechanoid’s “face” is a brilliant parts choice, and I like the egg-sac feel of the teal balls held between the wheels of the abdomen. Katana for the lower limbs make this thing look like it’s tip-toeing around, but it’s the use of saxophones for knees which is the masterstroke here, adding touches of tiny texture to a nicely angled joint, and proving once again there’s no such thing as a single-use LEGO part!