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

Piano model is just grand

Who wouldn’t want to sit down at this lovely LEGO piano and pick out a tune? Robert4168/Garmadon has put together a fantastic model — from the spot-on shiny black curves of the shape, through to the instrument’s innards visible beneath the hinged lid. There’s a bunch of nice details which also elevate this creation out of the ordinary — in particular the gold touches on the pedals and the rings used at the feet of both piano and stool. Excellent presentation too — that wooden floor is the perfect setting. It doesn’t distract attention from the main model, but creates a simple surrounding impression of a stage or practice room.

Grand Piano

Kaneda’s motorcycle was smaller than you thought

We’ve seen many LEGO versions of Kaneda’s red motorcycle from Akira, but they’re often larger-scale models like the beauty we saw last year. At the other end of the size spectrum, Grant Masters‘ latest creation is a tiny microscale version of the iconic bike. Grant has used the perfect combination of red pieces for this little masterpiece, although purists may quibble that most of them seem to be balanced atop each other rather than attached. Nice work on the figure too. Overall this passes the “microscale test” — ie. is it immediately recognisable? There’s no doubting that. All together now… “Kaaaannnedaaaa!”

Saturation Point

Prescribe yourself some meditation

I’m hoping the LEGO Ninjago Movie prompts a swathe of Ninja-flavoured creations. Rollon Smith certainly seems to be getting into the spirit of things with this sweet little vignette of Lloyd meditating before a shrine. The calm pool makes a pleasant change from typical Ninja settings, and the haphazard planks are nicely laid-out. The shrine itself is simply done, but detailed enough to look interesting, and the surrounding greenery offers a strong colour contrast to the blue and grey of the base. Overall, this is a great little scene.

Lloyds Meditation

Creepy LEGO figure will haunt your toybox

It’s not often a little LEGO model gives me the full-on creeps, but this Bionicle creation from PaleoBricks is giving me a bad dose of the heebie-jeebies. The ghastly face, the tattered cape, the chains — all come together to create a haunting sense of despair. But it’s the stance that does it for me — the hunched shoulders and the sense of a lurching gait. This is great posing, lending the model genuine character. I can’t help but imagine this thing shuffling through the night towards my house. Shudder.

The Condemned (side)

Smile if you wanna go faster

Sometimes a LEGO model shows up which just makes you smile. Tuts Panga‘s Classic Space speeder might not be the most complex creation we’ve ever seen, but if this doesn’t cheer your soul then there’s surely something wrong with you. The vehicle is delightfully chubby and the retro colour scheme is spot-on. I’m also a fan of the minimalist scenery, it provides a bit of context but doesn’t distract from the main focus — the grinning minifigure who’s clearly having a whale of a time in his new ride.

Blue Beetle - Classic Space Speeder

Don’t shatter the peace of this pool

Inspired by some of the submerged ruins found in Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Joseph Z. has made imaginative use of a pane of glass to create an excellent LEGO scene — a wandering traveller taking a moment’s rest by a tranquil pool. The ruined stonework is nicely put-together, with a depth of texture suggesting both weathering and antiquity, but it’s the use of dark grey below the waterline vs the lighter grey above which caught my eye. I also like the way the grass stalks placed under the water-lilies suggest the plants’ continuation beneath the surface — it ties the above and below-water elements together, making this more than simply two different models separated by the glass. Perhaps a fish or two wouldn’t have gone amiss, but that’s nitpicking at an otherwise lovely piece of work.

Submerged Ruins

Exactly three inches high — a very good height indeed

We’ve seen Alice In Wonderland LEGO creations before, but Martin Redfern proves himself a master of quirky character once again with this version of Alice encountering the Caterpillar. Alice herself is fun, and the caterpillar curling over to peer down at her is nicely put-together. However, it’s the little touches which elevate this model out of the ordinary — the funghi-flavoured foliage at Alice’s feet, the shaping of the big mushroom, and that hookah pipe. Don’t miss the white snake used as a curl of smoke — we’ve seen it before, but it’s perfectly placed here.

Alice in Wonderland

Out on patrol

The stripped-back colour scheme used in this model could easily have seen it turn out as a big lump of grey bricks — a common problem in LEGO creations depicting modern maritime vessels. However, this offshore patrol ship by Luis Peña has a really pleasing level of detail. The depth of texture around the bridge is excellent, and the microfigures on the forward deck create a sense of the appropriate scale in which to consider the model. The isolated splashes of colour offered by the helicopter and the flags manage to break things up a bit, and the use of Technic bricks for portholes down the hull may be obvious, but it’s also effective.
Offshore Patrol Vessel "Piloto Pardo" 1:200 scale LEGO model Patrullero de Zona Marítima "Piloto Pardo" Modelo LEGO escala 1:200
It’s a cool model, however the white backdrop for the photography is a little stark. Might have been nice to set the scene with a “sea” of loose trans blue 1×1 plates or something?

Bleak but beautiful

If I had to pick one element of the LEGO world where building styles and expectations have changed the most in the last few years, I’d suggest landscaping has seen the biggest transformation in techniques and general quality. The level of detail, clever brickwork, and creativity on display in a good piece of landscaping now is amazing. EdgelessAbyss provides a great example — a scene where the rockwork is the absolute star of the show. The restrained use of colour, the way the tumbledown ruins blend into the surrounding earth, the solitary figure — the elements all comes together to make a bleak and beautiful fantasy scene.

Flameless Shrine

The builder says this was based on the style of the Dark Souls III and Berserk videogames. However, I’d love to see them use these techniques and styling on a version of Ahch-To, the Star Wars planet whose distinctive rocks and twisting stairs were filmed on the Irish island of Skellig Michael.

TBB sits down with LEGO Star Wars UCS Millennium Falcon designers at exclusive launch event to talk about the biggest set ever [Interview]

Tonight the LEGO Store in London’s Leicester Square hosted the midnight launch event for the stunning new UCS Millennium Falcon – the largest LEGO set ever made. Fans queued outside for hours to be amongst the first to purchase the new set, and the atmosphere as the doors opened was something akin to the air of hysteria which might accompany an iPhone launch. The patient fans were welcomed inside at midnight by a pair of Imperial Stormtroopers and the unforgettable opening fanfare of John Williams’ score.

Those first in line were greeted in-store with rounds of applause from the gathered LEGO staff, and a wall of brown cardboard boxes – perhaps visually uninspiring, but a reassuring signal regarding stock availability for those further back in the queue.

Happy purchasers saw their sets signed by designers from the LEGO Star Wars team. Even those who had waited longest in line said they’d had a good time, genuinely delighted as they wheeled their massive sets off into the darkness. The entire event was a testament to the continued power of Star Wars, and the enduring appeal of a really, really big box of bricks.

Director of Lego Star Wars Design Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, left, and Design Manager of Lego Star Wars Michael Lee Stockwell

Prior to the midnight opening, the Brothers Brick joined other members of the press to meet with the lead designers for LEGO Star Wars – Jens Kronvold Frederiksen and Micheal Lee Stockwell. They shared some of the challenges of building such a large model, and their thoughts behind some of its features…

Click to read the interview with the set designers

Blade Runner 1849

We’ve seen excellent LEGO versions of the Blade Runner Police Spinner in the past, but as soon as I saw the title of the new movie I’ve been waiting for an 1849 steampunk remix. Jonas Kramm is happy to oblige with this clanky update (back-date?) of the classic sci-fi vehicle. The black piping makes for a pleasant change from the grey or gold steampunk builders tend to use for greebly details, and those brown whips uncurled against the dark blue panelling look excellent. The lanterns are a nice touch too.

Steampunk Blade Runner

Now to properly combine cyber and steam, what this really needs is a massive Neo-Victorian Neo-Tokyo diorama setting. Come on Jonas, what’s stopping you?

The Detective and the Big Boy Scout

Whilst Batman and Superman have had their fractious moments in the past, this pair of cheerful LEGO models by Tony Ng seems to depict them during one of their friendlier periods. Chibi-style “super-deformed” building can often result in highly-stylised and simplified characters, but don’t miss the details here — Batman’s utility belt with its associated gizmos is great, and both of our heroes look like they’ve been hitting the gym. Nice abs boys.

Superman deformed action figure

I’d have loved to have seen Superman’s hair rendered in a different shade than Batsy’s trademark black. If only the appropriate bricks came in dark blue.