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

Itty-bitty servants of Darkness

Although JRR Tolkien primarily created his Middle-Earth fantasy world as a place for his invented languages to exist, his populating of that world with an array of fantastical creatures was a key element in the enduring appeal of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. Aaron Newman brings us fantastic microscale LEGO models depicting the movie versions of 3 of Tolkien’s most famous “big beasts” — the Balrog, the Nazgul’s Fell Beast, and an armoured Mumakil.

LEGO Balrog Nazgul Mumakil

The Balrog looks great, with it’s flaming whip and broad wingspan. I particularly like how Aaron has captured the creature’s distinctive face in a tight selection of pieces. The Mumakil is brilliant, poised to stomp and tusk-sweep its way through a swathe of eensy-weensy Rohirrim. But the highlight of the show has to be Nazgul on his Fell Beast. A clever parts selection has managed to produce a sinuous and reptilian effect, perfectly capturing how the movie trilogy Fell Beasts seemed to slither through the air. Now we need appropriately scaled microscale backdrops for all 3 models — come on Aaron, get to work.

The world’s most famous plumbers face their turtle nemesis

How do you make Super Mario Brothers even better? Recreate its stars in LEGO bricks. Build Better Bricks has done exactly that. First up, Mario faces off against Bowser, with both characters put together brilliantly. Mario looks smart in his trademark dungarees, and appears eminently poseable thanks to the use of Mixel ball-and-socket joints. Bowser kind of steals the show here though (making a change from stealing the Princess), with a perfectly sculpted form. The face in particular is excellent — I can almost hear his throaty chuckle.

LEGO Super Mario Brothers

And Mario’s little brother shouldn’t feel left out of the fun. Here he is, looking petrified as usual. However, at least he has his trusty Poltergust vacuum-backpack to deal with any persistent spectres. Don’t worry Luigi — there is nothing to fear but fear itself…

Luigi

A waffle-y good LEGO breakfast

Waffles and milk — a delicious breakfast. And the subject for a delicious digital LEGO creation by ExeSandbox. The waffles themselves are immediately recognisable — neat and tidy constructions of tiled bricks and slopes. But it was the scattering of fruit that caught my eye — balloon parts and clown afro wigs! Sadly there are some “impossible” colour/part combinations going on here. That’s normally enough for us not to cover a digital creation, but this one was so good we thought we’d still feature it. The dribbles of maple syrup are a case in point, they are beautifully done — genuinely gloopy and tasty-looking — but they feature some curved elements that don’t come in those colours in the real world. All-in-all, this is a breakfast of champions, but one that will remain a fantasy until LEGO actually makes those bricks.

LEGO breakfast

Monstrously good building

Hot on the heels of LEGO versions of the cartoon cast of Futurama, Palixa and the Bricks now takes on another band of animated characters: Mike, Sully, and Boo from Disney’s Monsters Inc. The studs-out construction style is perfect for the two monsters, somehow managing to effectively evoke both Sully’s fur, and Mike’s leathery hide. I think the modelling of Sully’s face is spot-on, and I particularly like the Tauntaun horns gracing his head. Little Boo is just perfect peeking out from beneath her hard hat — a nice companion to the larger pair, and perfectly scaled for the teddy bear clutched in Sully’s paw. All we need now is Roz: “Watching. Always watching.”

LEGO Mike, Sully, and Boo

Go get ’em Golem

Orcs menacing your castle? Run out of rocks for your trebuchet? No problem. Simply call up your friendly neighbourhood wizard and he’ll turn your castle walls into a living weapon. Chris Perron‘s LEGO “Wall Golem” is a nicely-built model of a great idea. The golem looks suitably architectural, the shoulders and crown immediately evoking a castle brought to life. But it was the torso and its rock “ribcage” which caught my eye — a nice detail that manages to feel like some sort of organic masonry, in other words, exactly how a golem ought to look.

LEGO Wizard Castle Wall Magic

LEGO Koenigsegg is ggggreat

The Koenigsegg Agera is a beast of a supercar — 0 to 100 kph (0 to 62 mph) in 2.8 seconds and a theoretical top speed of 439 km/h (273 mph). It also looks like a boss. Gerald Cacas manages to do supercar styling at super-small scale with this lovely 7-studs-wide model. The curves and angles of the bonnet are particularly well done, and I love the blue of the interior and the way it contrasts with the black and white of the external livery.

LEGO Sports Car

Best of all, the doors and bonnet open, and the boot can pop off to reveal the detailed engine. Nice use of textured pieces like minifigure tools to provide more detail than you might expect in such a tightly-scaled model…

LEGO Sports Car rear engine

One seriously funky starfighter

Like real-world automobiles, it is to be assumed that spaceship design will go through eras where particular colours and shapes go in and out of fashion. Well, according to Cole Blaq‘s latest LEGO starfighter, brown will definitely be cool again in the future. The rich chocolate tones of this creation offer the perfect contrast to the trans-yellow canopy, and the stripes at the rear add a nice little splash of brightness. Couple the striking colour scheme with some sweet curves and effective greebly details at the front and you’ve got a wonderful design which manages to look both futuristic and retro at the same time.

LEGO spaceship

Star trucking, across the universe

It’s always great to see a LEGO sci-fi model which looks vaguely “realistic” — ie. a projection of current tech or business activities into the near-future. With his latest creation Robert Heim tackles everyday interplanetary transport, and manages to do it in style. This Mack-branded space truck is a cracking model — all smooth white curves and engine grunt up-front, followed by a long train of cargo containers. The curve transitions around the cab are beautifully smooth — the sort of end-result that looks effortless but probably took hours of careful piece selection. Nice integration of the airplane cab and cement mixer parts — they look like they were designed to go together like this.

Space Truck 2

LEGO Landrover is technically brilliant

LEGO Technic is a fantastic system for creating functional models with working mechanisms. However, it’s less often that we see Technic parts (particularly panels) integrated brilliantly into a “regular bricks” creation. However, this fabulous model of a Landrover Defender by ianying616 goes to show that the best builders select the best pieces for the job, regardless of which branch of the LEGO parts family they may originally come from. The shaping here is excellent — a good combination of regular System bricks and Technic axles, joints, and panels — perfectly capturing the recognisable lines of the Defender.

This thing is a BEAST — bulky and beautiful, with a striking black and red colour scheme. Beyond the overall styling, the details deserve appreciation: a rooftop lamp rack, a detailed interior, working suspension and steering, and opening doors, boot, and bonnet. And lurking beneath that bonnet? A gleaming engine block, ready to propel this bad boy through any obstacle in its path. Great stuff.

Do you feel lucky cyberpunk? Well, do you?

William Gibson’s seminal sci-fi novel Neuromancer helped set the cyberpunk standard for urban cityscapes with its depiction of The Sprawl — a vast built-up area stretching the full length of the Eastern Seaboard of the US. Whilst Didier Burtin doesn’t mention Neuromancer with regards his latest model, this microscale LEGO creation immediately made me think of Gibson’s work. The architecture and the presence of some small-scale aerial vehicles also brings to mind Syd Mead’s vision of the cities of the future from Blade Runner. Whatever your particular favourite flavour of cyberpunk, you’re sure to find something you like in this model…

LV0305 Metropolis

The city is gloriously detailed, rewarding a closer look with a wealth of textured detail, the product of smart parts choices and interesting combinations. Too often futuristic LEGO cities offer a homogenous architecture, but this offers a rich variety of building style, looking like it evolved over time in a messy clash of planning, business, and everyday living — much as a real world city does.

LV0305 Metropolis

The model is all the more impressive for its tight footprint. All the glorious details in the images above are found within a small square of construction — a great advertisement for the effectiveness of microscale building in being able to conjure up epic vistas…

LV0305 Metropolis

Bizarre crowd gathers in the bazaar

There are a wealth of details worth checking out in Andreas Lenander‘s latest LEGO creation — a busy marketplace in a Middle-East-inspired fantasy city — not least its unusual inhabitants. The city walls feature some nice little touches to break up the expanse of tan, and the detailing around the arch is spot-on. The towers provide a nice backdrop to the action, and the white one has some lovely texturing which delivers the impression of mosaics or elaborate carved screens. Below, the market itself is brimming with people and animals, creating a sense of activity and movement. You can’t look at this without finding yourself waiting on a big fight breaking out!

LEGO marketplace

There are a huge variety of minifigures amidst the hustle and bustle of the marketplace. The mixing of figures from different LEGO themes can sometimes jar, but here it simply adds to the sense of a wider fantasy world and the bazaar as a melting pot of cultures and races…

Kaliphlin at Work - Day 15: Mophet marketplace - potion vendor

Where the mountains meet the sea

A medieval town, nestling between the foot of the mountains and the shores of the sea — that’s the setting of John Tooker‘s latest LEGO creation. There’s a wealth of detail on display for a microscale model. The crenellations on the central keep are a nice touch, the rockwork is well done, and those tiny ships are lovely. I particularly like the autumnal shades amongst the foliage, and the tiny offsets on the green tiles creating the angled line between greenery and the beach. It’s the touches like that which elevate the best microscale modelling.

Castle Town of Alnor