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

I happen to know a song about the ancient hero...

Kass, the Rito minstrel from Zelda: Breath of the Wild is captured perfectly in this neat LEGO bust by Markus Rollbühler. The model makes great use of dark turquoise amongst more regular LEGO colours to capture the character’s bright plumage, and it looks like there’s a complex structure underneath it all to deliver the shaping, with bricks and tiles facing in multiple directions. The printed eye tile is a perfect choice, rotated out of it’s usual “frown” position, to evoke Kass’ cheerful disposition. Surely the challenge now is for Markus to build the rest of the character, accordion and all. Come on Markus, don’t let us down!

Kass - from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The vegetable’s revenge

Angry Carrot is out for vengeance. It looks like Bunny is in a whole heap of trouble in this fun creation by Tyler Clites. The carrot is nicely shaped, and immediately recognisable with its burst of green leaves. Ball and socket Mixel joints give the mutant vegetable’s limbs some good poseability, but it’s the facial expressions which steal the show here. The half-strangled rabbit looks more than a little distressed with its protruding tongue and bulging eyes, and the carrot’s features are perfect — the curve of that eyebrow is the perfect addition to the asymmetrical eyes, creating a tonne of character with just a handful of pieces.

Healthy Snack

Building a filthy habit

LEGO building is cool. Smoking is not. Everyone clear on that? Excellent. Having got that public service announcement out of the way, we can get on with featuring Andreas Lenander‘s excellent LEGO ashtray. This is a brilliant bit of work — a nicely-executed cigarette and cigar, a snake for a twist of smoke, a pile of grey bricks for ash, and a little trans-orange lurking within as an ember’s glow. Add in a brick-built tablecloth with a retro 70s feel and some appropriately gloomy photography and you’ve got a cracking little creation.

Don't smoke...

Per Ardua Ad Astra — LEGO Supermarine Spitfire takes flight over Britain

Per Ardua Ad Astra — “Through adversity to the stars” — the motto of the UK’s Royal Air Force, and what sprang to mind as Paul Nicholson‘s LEGO version of a Supermarine Spitfire thundered into view. For a small model, the shaping is pretty good, capturing the iconic elliptical wing shape well, and there’s a nice mix of colours to create a camouflage effect. And the use of 1×1 “cheese slopes” delivers the essential touch of the raked exhausts down the sides of the engine. I’m less of a fan of the forced-perspective base — I think the presentation would have benefitted from further separation of the plane from the ground, and perhaps a tighter depth of field pushing the background out of focus. However, despite those minor photography gripes the plane itself is a cracking model, immediately recognisable and eminently swooshable.

Spitfire 01

His Lordship will see you now

We see lots of impressive LEGO castles, often huge models festooned with towers and crenellations. Detailed medieval interiors prove a little less common, but here is an excellent example from O Wingård, and one which shows you don’t have to build big to build good. Although not put together with complex building techniques, this scene is packed full of detail — a hallmark of the best LEGO creations. The walls use a good selection of different brick types to add realistic texture to the backdrop. There’s a fine assortment of armour and weaponry on display, and the ceiling beams are nicely done. However, the highlight for me is the brick-built door with silver “tooth plates” providing hinges — nothing particularly complex in its construction, but a perfectly proportioned portal all the same.

Lord of the Manor

You can practically hear this baby growl

Who hasn’t imagined cruising down the main drag in a custom hot rod? Whilst doing it for real might prove beyond most people’s budgets, maybe we can take a leaf out of ianying616‘s book and at least create a LEGO version of our dream automobile. This black and silver vehicle is an intimidating beast, all hunkered-down suspension and gleaming chrome highlights amidst the black and grey. The monochromatic colour scheme doesn’t just look mean, it reduces distractions, keeping the focus of attention on the smooth lines of the bodywork and the details of that hulking engine.

CrocRod_TBC14

Not content with furnishing this beast with working steering and suspension, the builder has also given it a pristine interior, complete with nicely upholstered seats, dashboard instrumentation, gear stick, and handbrake…

CrocRod_TBC43

Half a kingdom, a tenth of the size

Microscale offers LEGO builders an opportunity to create epic layouts within a reasonable footprint and parts budget. Peter Ilmrud takes full advantage of these benefits to create a sizeable slice of a fantasy kingdom, complete with an impressive mountaintop city guarded by a dragon. The city itself is nicely done, with clever combination of bricks to make windows from the little gaps. Aside from the towers of the citadel, the scenery is packed full of all the fantasy details you’d expect — sprawling forests, riverfront villages, guard towers in the hills, and a cave entrance which doubtless leads into a dungeon complex overflowing with goblins.

City of Zamorah - A micro scale castle and landscape

I particularly like the river winding its way through the landscape, the banks smoothed with a nice selection of curved plates. It also offers a setting for some smart parts usage — check out that ship made from golden epaulettes mounted upside-down on a jumper plate. Sweet.

City of Zamorah - A micro scale castle and landscape

Steampunk LEGO chess set makes all the right moves

Board games have provided inspiration for a few creations, notably this impressive LEGO Settlers of Catan model from last year, but it’s always great when a builder takes on the challenge of putting together an entire chess set. Mishima has had a crack at a steampunk-themed set, and the whole thing has worked out brilliantly. The board is smoothly tiled with some nice clanky touches, but it’s the playing pieces which steal the show.

Steampunk Chess

Click through to see more of this excellent steampunk creation

Nature always wears the colour of the spirit

Earth, Fire, Water, Plants — all these elements combine in rockmonster2000‘s Nature Guardian figure. The tribal mask-style face is excellent — bound to intimidate any who dare trespass on this Elemental’s territory. The body is a combination of Technic and regular LEGO parts, something that isn’t easy to do well. I particularly like the drips from the watery arm and that trailing frond of greenery from the foot. They add visual interest and some real character, breaking up what might otherwise have been a little predictable.

Kamaq, Nature's Keeper

Take a moment and appreciate the calm

Serenity. It’s what many of us experience as we build LEGO models — rummaging through the brick bins can be as meditative as raking the sands of the Zen Garden. Rollon Smith captures a little oasis of calm in this model — “a peaceful place for peaceful hobbies”, he calls it. It’s a nicely built scene, packed with detail. I really like the mix of “wood” along the shoreline, and all the little domestic touches visible on the open upper floor. That splash of pink from the tree adds an attractive colour contrast to the building’s black and red tones. Overall it makes a pleasant change to see all those new-ish Ninjago printed pieces making an appearance in a model which isn’t packed full of Ninjas disrupting the peace and quiet with all their martial arts nonsense.

A Peaceful Place for Peaceful Hobbies

And of course, this model would fit right into the huge Ninjago City collaborative layout that we’re organizing with our readers at the BrickCon LEGO convention in Seattle over the first weekend in October.

A magical little windmill

This innovative building technique for windmill sails is simply magic! Magic wands that is. Andreas Lenander leaves some of the new wand pieces from the Harry Potter Collectible Minifigures attached to their plastic sprue and takes full advantage of their interesting shape. Beyond the smart parts-usage for the sails, the mill itself has a decent level of texture for such a small model, and is set within a nice little landscape — suggestive of a wider world around the building. This wouldn’t look out of place in a medieval real-time strategy game. And anything which reminds me of The Settlers is a good thing in my book.

Wandmill

A tiny robot – loved by good, feared by evil

Can’t afford the enormous new 21311 LEGO Voltron set, but still have a universe to defend? Try Victor‘s solution — build a microscale version of your own. The colours and shaping are spot-on, making this little model immediately recognisable. I particularly like the mech’s head and that shield. And whilst this version might not come apart into its constituent lion components, it’s rather more poseable than the stiff-legged official set!

Voltron : (tiny) Defender of the Universe