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

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!

Take a stroll down a stunning brick-built street

For a Western audience, this collection of buildings by 磊 耿 is a striking break from the more familiar architecture usually seen in a LEGO street scene, with a wonderful variety of styles. But regardless of where you’re from, you’re bound to be impressed by the sheer quality of the building work on display. Pagoda roofs vie with castle spires for attention, and “big” certainly doesn’t mean bland, with an impressive depth of texture and interesting colour schemes across all the structures.

LEGO MOC 作品,古韵街系列作品-檀香竹韵

See more images of these beautiful buildings

Mickey Mouse makes his 1928 debut in LEGO Ideas 21317 Steamboat Willie [Review]

Only a few weeks since the set was announced in the second round of LEGO Ideas reviews from 2018, 21317 Steamboat Willie will be available to buy from April 1st. The final set design is very different from the Ideas project which inspired it, and, with all respect to the original model, the improvements are significant. Mickey’s paddle steamer is much larger and more detailed than the original microscale design.

The set has 751 pieces, features black & white retro minifigures of Mickey and Minnie, and is available from April 1st for US: $89.99 | Canada: 119.99 CAD | UK: £79.99.

Click here to read our full hands-on review of LEGO Ideas 21317 Steamboat Willie

Paddington Bear recreated in LEGO bricks

Paddington Bear is surely one of the least likely TV characters to have seen a 21st century reboot. However Michael Bond’s beloved creation has enjoyed renewed commercial success, and some surprising critical acclaim, in two recent big screen outings. Now his iconic status is cemented as he becomes the subject of a LEGO model — vincentkiew‘s delightful figure. All the character’s trademark attributes are present and correct — blue duffle coat, floppy red hat, and travel-stamped suitcase. The use of tan-coloured cam-shaft pieces for the coat’s toggles is perfect, and the whole composition is enhanced with the scenery — quickly and simply placing the bear in his natural environment: middle-class suburban London.

Paddington Bear.

Danish materials make a painterly masterpiece

There’s little doubt that LEGO building is an art form all of its own. But sometimes it’s nice to see a LEGO builder produce a composition which echoes the subjects and styles of the classic arts. That’s exactly what Birgitte Jonsgard has done with this stunning still life of a vase of flowers — the subject could not be more traditional, and the style and colour scheme evokes a painterly feel. However, those brick-built flowers are beautiful LEGO creations, challenging assumptions around what can be realistically modelled in our favourite bricks. The sheer variety of shapes on display here is impressive, and the fallen pink petal is a final delicious touch of detail on a beautiful creation.

LEGO Still Life Flowers

Assembled: The Battle of New York in LEGO bricks

The Battle of New York is the super-powered punch-up finale of 2012 movie The Avengers, which saw Asgardian trickster Loki attack the city with a borrowed army of bio-mechanical reptilian Chitauri soldiers. Such an epic confrontation might be an intimidating prospect for a LEGO model, but builder Ben Cossy has accepted the challenge, and this impressive diorama is the result. All the Avengers can be found amidst the city streets or on the rooftops, engaging the wall-scampering Chitauri and attempting to protect fleeing civilians and overwhelmed cops. Don’t miss the different styles of buildings on display, all featuring varying levels of battle damage alongside the architectural detailing.

LEGO Avengers diorama

You can see more of the action in this multi-angle montage, with our heroes engaged in various punch-ups and shoot-outs with the Chitauri. Check out the cracked pavement and enemies sent flying as Thor smacks Mjolnir into the ground…

Avengers: The Battle of New York

Brick-built seahorse has legs where you wouldn’t expect them

Part horse, part fish, part dragon, part saxophone — the seahorse is one of the weirdest-looking creatures you’ll find under the water. However this aquatic oddity’s peculiar appearance hasn’t put Brother Steven off creating a LEGO version, and the result is lovely. The orange works well, with restrained use of pearl gold and some exposed studs adding some welcome texture and scale-like details, and the spines along the back are excellent. The sandy base is nicely done — adding a coral reef context without distracting from the central model, but the overall shaping is the main attraction here. Don’t miss the use of minifigure legs to create the final curl of the seahorse’s tail — an inspired parts use.

Tropical Seahorse

Timbers will be shivered

The trading of cannon broadsides was surely the bluntest form of projectile warfare. Huge ships, passing within yards, blasted cannons into each other’s sides as quickly as the sailors could reload. Simon Pickard brings the fury of battle under sail to vivid life in this LEGO creation — a frigate and a galleon all set to pound one another into matchwood. The tightly-cropped image creates a real sense of action and drama — you’re just waiting for the splinters and blood to start flying. The brick-built ship hulls are impressively shaped, and the sails are beautifully done. This is a close-up view from a large-scale pirate-themed LEGO layout we featured previously, put together by British building collaborators Brick To The Past.

LEGO Pirates Cannon Battle Broadside

LEGO ASREV from Firefly is gloriously swooshable

In the TV show Firefly, the ASREV (Alliance Short Range Enforcement Vessel) is the preferred spacecraft of the Federal Marshals. This LEGO version by Stefan Johansson manages to beautifully capture the starfighter’s sleek lines and angles with a combination of sloped bricks, wedges, and hinged connections. The model is reminiscent of a futuristic jet fighter — the overall shape looks familiar, and its deadly purpose is immediately clear despite its sci-fi styling. The colour scheme is functional and realistic-looking, with enough variation and texture to stop the model being a big lump of grey. Nice to see a starfighter like this built at minifigure scale too — that double-cockpit up-front is class. I’d love to swoosh this thing around making engine noises and pew-pew blaster sounds.

LEGO ASREV Spacecraft from Firefly