Even though the North Vietnamese didn’t have much of an air force at the start of the air war over Vietnam in 1964, with Soviet assistance they were soon able to present US pilots with a few surprises. Their MiG-17 fighters were old-fashioned and only had guns as their armament. The jets were small, though, and well-suited to out-turn heavier US jets mostly optimised for higher speeds. Peter Dornbach has built the more modern MiG-21, known as the “Fishbed” in the West. This entered Vietnamese service in 1966.
Peter’s model has a retractable undercarriage, opening cockpit and a brick-built representation of the characteristic camouflage used by the Vietnam People’s Air Force. With its higher speed and two AA-2 Atoll air-to-air missiles the Fishbed was typically used in hit-and-run attacks. The US countered this threat using the F-4 Phantom II. This wasn’t particularly agile, but had powerful twin engines. Its crews were taught to use these as an advantage against the MiGs by manoeuvring in the vertical.
The particular example built by Evan Melick is “Showtime-100”, a US Navy F-4J flown by Randy “Duke” Cunningham and William Driscoll who put this tactic to practice shooting down three Vietnamese fighters during a famous mission in May of 1972. Added to their two previous victories, this made them the US Navy’s first and only aces of the Vietnam war. Like most US Navy aircraft from the time period, it had distinctive squadron markings, which Evan recreated on his model using a mix of brick-built patterns, custom vinyl stickers and water-slide decals intended for 1/48 scale models. Note his clever use of new 45 degree angled tiles to build studless leading edges on the jet’s wings.
Both jets are part of a Vietnam collaboration by about a dozen builders, including yours truly, which will be on display at Brickfair Virginia in a little less than three weeks.
Creating anything that appears haphazard and undesigned with LEGO bricks is never easy, which makes #1 Nomad’s Shanty Town all the more impressive. A tottering tower of makeshift units and containers, where each segment is crafted according to a unique aesthetic: one flying the livery of LEGO Classic Space theme, with its blue frame and yellow arrow prints, the next offering a nod to the Octan colour scheme. Nomad demonstrates his skill by orchestrating this chaos, from the precise way the detritus is scattered around the creation’s base, to the lines of snaking cables and satellite dishes that clad the building. The result is something essentially disorganised, visually fascinating and ultimately beautiful.
LEGO bricks are forever. They are all I need to please me…and I am very pleased with Victor’s 1985 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, as driven by James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987). Victor has done an excellent job of sculpting out the body to replicate the look of 007’s famous ride. The use of ratchet minifigure accessories as windshield pillars works really well here, and they are angled in such a way that matches the profile of the Aston Martin. Bond’s bells and whistles are also present, including a side-mounted skis and a giant flame for a speedy getaway through the snow. If you peek inside, you will even notice the interior upholstery is textured! It’s a design that is best shaken, not stirred…
This baroque Church, created by builder Jellyeater, achieves the illusive feat of capturing an authentic sense of place. Numerous building techniques have been used to accurately capture the proportions, angles and curves of the baroque style, with the elegant dome being a stand out feature. However, when a creator gets me excited about the gradients of grey in a slate roof, I know I’m looking at something special.
This theme of exquisite detail is continued in the form of various modified plates, bricks and tiles used in the off-set courtyard tower; hinting at age, wear and centuries of repair. The oak doors, made from turntable bases layered over black bricks, completes the historical effect.
You can tell that Nathaniel is a fan of Star Wars just by looking at the way he has lovingly upgraded the recent Boba Fett buildable figure set. Everyone’s favourite Mandalorian looks noticeably filled-out with new anatomical details added in the form of cleverly integrated brick built thighs. A number of other neat touches to his armour provide detail and a samurai twist. I suspect Nathaniel knows his Star Wars lore, specifically George Lucas’s debt to Akira Kurosawa’s epic The Seven Samurai, referencing the connection in the theming of his creation. I have to agree, that the bounty hunter reimagined as samurai warrior, banners flying, Katana in hand, striding across a flower-laden Shogun era meadow, looks amazing.
Here’s a great little LEGO scene from Foolish Bricks depicting a lazy morning spent on the sofa. There are no fancy building techniques on display, but there’s a good selection of parts which add depth and texture to every surface, and the details are meticulously placed to great effect. The precise layout is enhanced by some good macro photography, and the overall presentation is excellent — those light rays and the curl of steam from the coffee mug (which I’m assuming was added in post-production) elevate this model into something special.
If you are going to build a giant bubble gum-coloured leviathan, you absolutely want to showcase its serpentine movement. This was builder Jayfa’s intention when designing this mythical beast, which is its second iteration in a quest for greater poseability. Abandoning Bionicle connections for more traditional LEGO bricks and ratchet joints he has created a more substantial looking, fully posable monster that twists and turns without additional support. Add to this some neat part use in the form of the threaded bricks to create its flexed tail, and conical Ninjago hats to suggest cheeks for its maw, and you have a perfectly realised beast.
Now that is just showing off!
Some of my fondest childhood memories revolved around dreaming about dinosaurs. In the late 1980s, Tyco indulged me with prehistoric playthings in the form of Dino-Riders, and I pined for a world where I too could ride a triceratops. These memories came flooding back when I saw Jme Wheeler’s series of builds depicting his own dino-riding universe. Jme brings each setting to life with some excellent scenery, but he has also gone one step further by creating backstories for each scene. This particular build depicts the relationship between Gunther the fisherman and Cornelius the Carnosaurus, who was rescued by as a juvenile by a once-lonely Gunther. What’s particularly excellent is how Jme used brick-built water to make it look like Cornelius is drinking water, although I would imagine his presence sends fish into a frenzy.
Click to see the rest of the dino scenes
Digital LEGO models can be a polarising topic — many people would say it’s not “real building”. Strictly-speaking, they’re correct, but occasionally a CGI image comes along which demands attention for its imaginative construction without being a wish-list model of unavailable pieces in rare colours. This stylish and minimalist vision of submarine warfare by Mark B. is a cracker, rendered or not. The microscale ship and submarine models are nicely put together, but it’s the colour choices that set the tone and make this look so cool. I’d love to have this hanging on my wall as an art piece.
It almost sounds like a realty listing, but this is indeed a fine bit of LEGO architecture. In real life, it seems they don’t make houses (or manors) like this anymore. The creator, Tammo S., is an impressive builder with a lot of specialization in nifty parts usage. While he often uses his skill to create gorgeous lines on his many spaceships, he also has a keen eye for architecture.
Some of my favorite areas are the accents and trim around the door and windows, as well as that thick trim around the top. Oh, and don’t forget those flower pots overflowing with unique plants. Truly lovely work. I can’t wait for a tour inside!
Sometimes we get so caught up with focusing on what complicated LEGO techniques and original ideas our next build will have, that we forget the most important things, like building something that simply looks good. And “simply” is the key word here. Jussi Koskinen‘s sunset landing and all its main components are mostly simple in their design, but come together as a breathtaking picture.
The landscaping is very nice, with different layers creating a forced perspective, which is really solidified by the frontmost layer. The plane has some really clever solutions, especially the inverted convex tiles (boat studs) to make the wingtips as elegant as possible. The real magic is in the lighting though, setting the serene evening feeling of coming back home from a business trip or a vacation.
Builder Nooroyd demonstrates an exquisite cinematic approach in their take on Han Solo’s meeting with Lady Proxima from Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. The creation’s photography captures the film’s beautiful blue-tinted realization of the planet Corellia, so well in fact, that on first inspection you might be fooled into thinking it a piece of lost concept art. However, look closer and you begin to see fantastic LEGO details like the fanned brick built entrance to the tunnel to the left of the picture, or the cleverly selected brick separator and Technic steering rack elements on the back wall.