Category Archives: Building Techniques

Not sure what SNOT is? Want to learn innovative new ways to create awesome LEGO models of your own? Peruse our posts about LEGO building techniques to pick up tricks & tips from the best.

How to build a Pave Low helicopter with LEGO: Part 3 [Feature]

It’s done! Building my Transforming Bumblebee distracted me for a bit. However, I actually completed my Pave Low helicopter before the Beetle. In parts one and two of this series I explained how this sort of model has gotten a lot more complicated. Thanks to newer parts and techniques, the simple solutions I would have been happy with ten years ago just don’t hack it anymore. In this third and final part, I finally unveil the finished article.


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LEGO Bumblebee in beetle form is one sweet ride [Instructions]

The new, much-anticipated Bumblebee movie has inspired LEGO fans to build some fantastic creations recently, from this large-scale figure by Ekow Nimako to this transforming model by Jerry Builds Bricks and this cute model in Volkswagen Beetle form by hachiroku24 is the latest. One of my favorite details is the gently curving back of the car, which very closely matches its real-life inspiration. The extra curvy front wheel well is also a very nice detail and helps to complete this iconic car profile.

Lego Bumblebee car MOC

Click through to see the parts list and instructions to build your own LEGO Bumblebee

It’s never too late! You still have time to build a Christmas themed BrickHeadz [Instructions]

If you have the Go Brick Me set on hand, you’re in luck! You have all the parts to build this cute penguin in black and white. Builder Stormythos designed this lil’ Christmas-themed fella with only the parts available within the kit. I love the detailing around the neck with a festive scarf that trails down to the front.

If you have a bigger stash beyond the Go Brick me Kit, you may want to try building this Elf on a Shelf. It breaks away from the standard BrickHeadz template with extended arms and feet which makes it a little livelier.

Get the instructions here and start building! And if you somehow don’t have the Go Brick Me set, it’s not too late to grab one off the online shelves for a loved one! It’s a perfect gift for hours of fun!

The shrine of nature will make you see the light

There is something about the jungle that just fills me with all sorts of unexplainable pleasant feelings. While I understand that the humid hell filled with insects that is a real-life jungle would evoke a different kind of emotion, that does not mean we can’t enjoy an insect-free jungle shrine from our armchairs, like this one built in LEGO by Jonas Kramm. This is more than just a pretty build though, Jonas has created this “Shrine of Nature” to explore the unusual use for minecraft animal head pieces as described in his article on the New Elementary blog.

Shrine of Nature

The focus of the build is the central pattern built out of multiple Minecraft wolf heads in two staggered rows, with a lit up translucent green background, giving a mysterious tone to the creation. The exotic and unique plant and animal life in the scene are great too, using all sorts of exotic pieces in unique ways.

How to build a Pave Low helicopter with LEGO: Part 2 [Feature]

Progress on my Pave Low helicopter has been slow. In Part 1 of this series, I explained how I am using new parts and techniques to build an up-to-date version of the model I built ten years ago. In this second part of a short series, I’ll explain one of the difficulties I ran into. I plan my models such that actually building them is usually a fairly straightforward process. I used my old model as a template and had an idea of how to do most of the other things in my head. As a result much of the model so far indeed came together quite easily.

MH-53M Pave Low WIP (december 16th)

Note the words “usually”, “most” and “much” in those last three sentences. The tail on my old model was quite narrow and I wanted the new one to be wider, using curved slopes and bricks. However, the fin is tilted aft at a roughly 45 degree angle, with a horizontal fin on top of it. I only had a loose idea of how to this. Actually building it took about eight frustrating hours of tinkering and trial-and-error. The diagonal part is attached to the tail boom using clips and plates with bars. The horizontal fin uses a similar attachment. A major problem was positioning all of this at the proper angle. I wanted as few visible gaps as possible and the tail should also be reasonably sturdy. This was asking rather a lot. The result is an improvement over the old one, but I’m still not completely happy.

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How to build a Pave Low helicopter with LEGO: Part 1 [Feature]

A few months ago, I wrote three articles on how I built the E-1 Tracer aircraft model. I haven’t built much in the intervening months, but recently I have started on a new project: an MH-53M Pave Low helicopter. This is a somewhat different cup of tea. It’s not a fixed-wing aircraft and I am not starting from scratch. Instead, I am starting with an old model that I built ten years ago.

MH-53M Pave Low WIP (december 4th)

This means that there is a lot less planning involved. The proportions of the old model were pretty much spot-on, but there are many parts and techniques that didn’t exist or weren’t possible ten years ago. As a result, the old model looked, well, old.

MH-53M Pave Low (20)

In this and subsequent articles, I’ll go into how I am building this new version and how newer parts and techniques change how I approach the design.
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Build your own mini LEGO Aston Martin DB5 with working features [Instructions]

No, not the 10262 James Bond Aston Martin DB5 LEGO set from earlier this year. As remarkable as the working features on the official LEGO set are, hachiroku24 has scaled the iconic vehicle down while — rather miraculously — retaining many of the car’s functions.

Lego 007's Aston Martin DB5 with working gadgets

Learn how to build your own LEGO Aston Martin DB5

Thinking outside the element

One of the joys of writing for the Brothers Brick is seeing how LEGO builders make clever use of the parts in their collection. Emil Lidé has been experimenting with parts in unconventional ways, including using dark green minifig plumes for grass. The plumes are affixed to the 1×1 round tile with bar and pin holder, which allows them to be tilted in multiple directions. This in turn gives the grass a random but natural-looking pattern. As someone who loves LEGO landscaping, it would be exciting to see this technique used on a larger scale!

Element Experimentation: Grass

How to build a Grumman E-1 Tracer early warning aircraft from LEGO: Part 3 [Feature]

This article is the third and final installment in a series. Read about the LEGO Grumman E-1 Tracer Part 1 and Part 2 here.

In the last four weeks, I have been building a LEGO scale model of a Grumman E-1 Tracer aircraft. Part 1 described how I planned the build, and part 2 dealt with how I built some of the difficult bits; in this, the third and final part, I explain how I built the last bits, and present the finished model.

E-1B Tracer of VAW-12 "Bats"

For weeks this build seemed to progress really slowly. I know that for some builders September means building huge spaceships. It took me most of this month to build just the radome, the nose, the wings and the engine nacelles. When I started building the fuselage, however, it felt like I had reached the home stretch. All of a sudden things went really quickly. Building the final parts wasn’t necessarily easy, but certainly easier. It was great to see the collection of separate sections come together into something that looked like an aircraft. The anticipation of seeing the end result motivated me. So, here it is.
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The perfect recipe for a delicious LEGO bakery

Markus Rollbühler whipped up some wholesome LEGO goodness in the form of this fabulous classic bakery. Markus put a lot of thought into the ingredients that went into his build, with an excellent use of parts throughout the model. Both parts of the LEGO treasure chest are used to form portions of wooden beams, book binding elements are used to form windowsills, and the sprue from the new minifig wand accessory is cleverly used to form the body of a candelabra. Keeping up with the bakery theme, Markus even managed to use pretzels for windows and the honey-laced beehive to form the top of the conical shaped roof. There are plenty of other awesome details to spot. What are some of your favorite techniques on display here?

Filia's Bakery

How to build a Grumman E-1 Tracer early warning aircraft from LEGO: Part 2 [Feature]

This article is Part 2 of an ongoing series. Read about the LEGO Grumman E-1 Tracer Part 1 here.

About two weeks ago, I started building a new aircraft model: a Grumman E-1 Tracer. Because some of you might like to know how one might build such a LEGO scale model, I am documenting my process in a short series. In the first part I described why I decided to build such an oddball aircraft in the first place and how I plan a build like this. I also explained that I usually start by building the difficult bits. A few of those are the subject of this article.

E-1 Tracer WIP (9th of September)

The Tracer’s wings are not quite perpendicular to the fuselage. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if the engine pods and the main undercarriage weren’t attached to them. I have built angled wings before, including some rather large ones. In practice, however, it is almost impossible to mount the wings using hinges and also have them carry much of the model’s weight. Furthermore, if I were to build the wings at some weird angle, I would then have to figure out how to align the engines attached to still be parallel with the fuselage. My solution is to attach both engines directly to each other and also to the fuselage using a bridge structure. I built this bridge perpendicular to the fuselage using plates. I then put the actual wings on top of it. By combining 2×3 and 2×4 wedge plates I filled in the gaps where the tops of the engines join the wing. Getting everything to fit nicely involved a lot of trial-and-error, but it works.

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How to build a Grumman E-1 Tracer early warning aircraft from LEGO: Part 1 [Feature]

Question: “How did you build this?” Answer: “By making a plan and sticking to it.” The question is one that many LEGO builders will have had. The answer, in my case, is completely true, but also wholly inadequate. So, in an attempt to give a more fulfilling answer, in the next few weeks I’ll occasionally write a piece detailing the progress on my latest project: a scale model of a Grumman E-1 Tracer aircaft.

E-1B VAW-121 CVW-6 CVA-42

Some builders start by experimenting with a few pieces until they find a combination they like. They then build the rest of the model from there. I’m not one of those people. I plan my builds. “Doesn’t that kill spontaneity?”, you may wonder. Well yes, it does, but if I wanted to build a scale model of a complex object such as an aircraft spontaneously, it simply wouldn’t happen. My brain doesn’t work like that. Furthermore, I enjoy looking at pictures of aircraft, reading about them and thinking about which to build and how to build it. To me this is half the fun. If If I am spontaneous, I’ll build car.

E-1B Tracer WIP (26th of August)

Read more about how Ralph plans and design his LEGO aircraft