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

Everything’s great when you’re downtown

Take a trip back in time with Andrew Tate‘s bustling downtown scene, depicting a LEGO city during the 1930s. There’s a corner bakery, a menswear store, and a lovely cinema featuring the Egyptian architectural motifs popular on such buildings at the time. The streets are nicely busy, with a tram and a period-appropriate car, and packed full of minifigure action. In a refreshing change for a model set in such an era, there’s not a mobster to be seen! I particularly like the variety of colour and styling in the upper storeys of the buildings, and the top-most portion of the cinema frontage is just fabulous.

Hands-on with 21052 LEGO Architecture Dubai [Review]

The LEGO Architecture sets have recently taken us to London, Paris, Shanghai, and New York, amongst other famous world cities, but the latest places to receive the LEGO skyline treatment are Tokyo and Dubai. 21052 Dubai depicts five famous landmarks of the United Arab Emirates’ most populous city, contains 740 pieces, and will be available in January 2020. It will retail for US $59.99 | EU €59.99 | UK £54.99.

Join us as we take a detailed look at this new stop-off on LEGO Architecture’s world tour…

21052 LEGO Architecture Dubai Review

Read our full review of 21052 LEGO Architecture Dubai

Space is brighter than you think

Too much sci-fi is brooding and dark and grey. If we develop the technology to travel amongst the stars, surely we’ll carry a sense of optimism towards those infinite horizons? What better way to signal our positive attitude than to bedeck our spaceships in bright cheerful livery? Scott Willhelm‘s bright blue LEGO starfighter fairly bursts off the screen — a neat little model, with a striking colour scheme, in a nicely-presented image. Beneath the bright plating, there’s a dark grey chassis, festooned with functional-looking greebly details, but it’s the blue, and the purple and white striping, which captures the eye.

Cerulean Viper

(Okay, maybe the overall message of hope in our interstellar future is undermined by us having single-seater weapons platforms flying around. But at least they’ll LOOK friendly.)

A parade of Christmas characters

Yes, ok, the stores have had their festive decorations up since the morning after Halloween, and you’re already sick to the back teeth of Christmas music. Still, if these little guys don’t melt your heart and bring some festive cheer to your soul, you’re dead inside. Koen Zwanenburg has put together a collection of LEGO Christmas characters to get us all in the mood for the holiday season. These models are an absolute delight — super-cute, and simple enough looking that they’re bound to inspire people to build their own versions. However, I’m sure this apparent simplicity is the result of painstaking hours spent on each model to get it just right — such elegance only arises from effort. I like all of these, but the Nutcracker Soldier is a standout — just look at that moustache! Perfect.

LEGO christmas characters toys

These are in the same style as Koen’s previous cute cuddly toy LEGO creations, and make for a wonderful festive addition to the collection.

Winter in the Shire

“In a hole in the snow there lived a Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell… No, this hole was warm and snug, a cozy place in which Bilbo could thaw his toes after a wintery walk.” Patrick B. has created the perfect little winter scene from the Shire, with a hobbit hole covered in snow. The sledge is nice little creation, as is the snow-clad tree atop the mound, but be sure to zoom in on the hobbit dwelling’s frontage — the windows are lovely, and I particularly like the reversed plates used for the door, a surprising but effective choice.

Winter in the Shire

Take a leaf from the Spyrius manual – fly it like you stole it

From 1994-1996 various factions and organisations throughout space fell victim to Spyrius — villainous thieves whose vessels sported a distinctive red and black livery. Spaceruner has taken inspiration from some classic LEGO sci-fi sets to build an impressive new flagship for this sinister bunch of space-bandits. The iconic colours are in place, including the signature trans-blue windows and canopies, but the size of this craft is on a whole different scale from the official Spyrius sets.

LEGO spaceship with hangar bays

This beast of a model is 155 studs long — that’s 1.25m. The size is put to great use, allowing the builder space to develop a detailed interior. The vessel has all the facilities you’d expect of a flagship craft, including hangar bays, control bridge, canteen and galley, offices, and even a pool. The ship’s upper surfaces can be lifted clear to allow access to the internal sections…

LEGO spaceship control bridge

However, despite the quality of the interior, it’s the colours and external shaping which marks this out as a striking addition to the villainous fleet. Take a look at these views from different angles which give a good look at the impressive engines and, my favourite part, the asymmetric domed section mounted on the craft’s left flank…

LEGO spaceship

Standing guard on the Western Marches

Big isn’t always better, as this small LEGO castle by Carter Witz proves. An outpost for a troop of wolf-riding soldiers, the fortification sits on a ridge of rock, accessed by stairway. The texturing on both castle and stairway is excellent, with a wide variety of bricks creating the feel of weathered stonework. I like the little details like the arch above the door and the fence around what I’m going to call “the wolf enclosure”. I think the rockwork might have benefited from a scattering of a contrasting colour, but other than that the forest scenery is well done. I am, however, concerned for the comfort of the soldiers stationed at this outpost. With five troopers already in residence in the tiny castle, I really hope the two new arrivals are not intending to stay for long.

EGO castle outpost

Please tell me why, do we build castles in the sky?

Because they’re cool. Or at least they are when they’re as well put-together as this floating LEGO castle by Andrew JN. The floating rock, with its foliage and tumbling waterfall, is a nice piece of building, but it’s the fortification which attracts all the attention. The colour scheme is wonderful, tan with patches of light grey, and a smattering of dark blue elements providing a pleasing contrast. The texture in the walls is smartly-done — overall it’s smooth and easy on the eye, but has just enough detail to make it look realistic (although what does “realistic” mean when we’re talking about a fantastical floating castle?!) The tan is a bold choice, unusual in LEGO Castle creations, but it pays off here — giving the model more than a little whiff of madcap Bavarian “fantasy fortress”, undoubtedly a good thing in my book.

LEGO Floating Rock Flying Castle

LEGO’s saviours rise once again

Originally hitting store shelves in Europe in 2000, and then rolled out to North America in 2001, the LEGO Bionicle theme played a key role in hauling the company out of its financial woes of the late 1990s and helped to build the foundation of the all-conquering toy company LEGO has become. Aaron Newman pays tribute to the original lineup of figures released under the theme, but he’s done it with a twist — these are all built with classic System bricks. The six Toa Knight figures are nicely done, immediately recognisable to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the originals. Kopaka, the Toa of Ice, was always my favourite, and I love how Aaron has captured his iconic mask. The presentation of the models is spot-on too, well-photographed and then just a touch of special effects to give a hint of the elemental powers at play.

LEGO Bionicle brick-built versions

Defend the walls of this enormous snow-bound castle

The only thing worse than your castle being attacked is surely your castle being attacked during the winter. I’m pretty sure Orcs siege engines toss more than snowballs. This enormous LEGO castle layout by Larsvader is a beauty, depicting an island fortress under attack by a terrifying army of Orcs. We’ve seen large castles before, but what elevates this model is the striking atmosphere created by depicting the castle in winter, with patches of snow blanketing the landscape, turrets, and rooftops. Just looking at this thing makes me feel chilly. Larsvader says this scene took 20 months to put together, but the effort involved more than paid off. The castle itself is excellent, with off-grid building creating interesting angles for the walls, and good use of texture and colours to break up what might otherwise be a large grey expanse. And the surrounding landscape is nicely-done, careful thought given to the layout, making the island feel like a natural strategic chokepoint — the obvious position for a stronghold.

LEGO Fantasy Castle Siege

The buildings and streets inside the castle are just as detailed as the surrounding walls. Take a look at this close-up image of what the town looks from minifigure eye-level. I love the stonework and wooden structural elements, but it’s the inclusion of mundane background details like the bakery which create the impression of a realistic castle during an extraordinary moment…

LEGO Fantasy Castle Streets

Watch out for splinters – hands on with LEGO Originals 853967 Wooden Minifigure [Review]

A surprise announcement, a pop-up LEGO art gallery launch in London, and the start of a new line of LEGO products — 853967 Wooden Minifigure has had quite the introduction to the world. We’re not sure we’d call this a “set” as such, although it does feature a handful of regular LEGO bricks as well as the titular 20cm tall oak figurine. LEGO themselves describe the figurine as a “blank canvas” for personalisation and creative decoration. Whatever you want to call it, the wooden figure is available from Nov. 3, 2019, for VIP members, and Nov. 8 for everyone. It can be purchased from the LEGO Shop online for US $119.99 | CAN 154.99 | UK £109.99.

(EDIT: The wooden figure is also available from LEGO in bundles including a discount of up to $30 US when combined with various other LEGO products, including one 1,500-piece Classic set.)

Read our hands-on review of LEGO 853967 Wooden Minifigure

LEGO Originals – gallery opening and interview with Sine Klitgaard Møller, LEGO Design Director [News]

Seven Dials is a small area of London, squeezed in between the city’s theatre district and the nightlife of Soho. It’s one of the cool parts of town, narrow streets stuffed full of quirky shops and art galleries. One of these galleries is playing temporary host to a new LEGO launch — the Limited Edition large-scale wooden minifigure, the first release in the new LEGO Originals line, and we attended the gallery’s opening this morning. We also had a chance to sit down with the project’s design director for an interview.

Fans were invited to register for a timeslot to visit the gallery through the LEGO VIP loyalty programme, and the first session was booked up almost immediately. Although guaranteed admission, these first visitors still arrived early, and there was a good-sized queue well in advance of the official opening time. A further “standby queue” had also formed — people hoping some of those registered to attend might not show up. LEGO’s PR proved to be on-point, with the general air of excitement wafting off the line of adult fans and kids prompting photos and questions from passers-by.

Click to read more about the LEGO Originals gallery and read our interview with design director Sine Klitgaard Møller