Where I sit, the government has issued a stay at home order, and non-essential in-person businesses are closed. Grocery stores are an exception, of course, as we all still need to eat, and so are liquor stores, as folks still need to drink. I mean really, what else do you do when socially isolated? It puts me in mind of Captain Jack Sparrow, getting through his time marooned on an island alone. He, too, drank away his sorrows. So when I (Benjamin Stenlund) decided to enter the Style it Up contest to pass the time during my days at home, it wasn’t long before I hit on the idea of building a ship. And since I have a lot of black fabric elements, I decided to build a black ship. And if I was going to make a black ship, why not make Captain Jack’s ship, the Black Pearl?
At first, I tried building the sides with slope bricks and tiles, but it looked too chunky at this small scale, so I hit upon the idea of using the quarter dome elements for the prow, and the rest of the ship filled in from there. The 1×1 round plate with bar makes for some nice cannons, even if I did not add enough to equal the real ship; there are concessions one must make at this scale, after all. The sails are cloaks wrapped in rubber bands, and the crows nests are Black Panther ears and ninja cowls. The soft sails, combined with the rigging, make this unique among small-scale LEGO ships that I have seen, but what really sets it apart (if I may toot my own horn a bit) is the atmospheric quality of the photo. Since the contest required that only one color be used, the water is black, too, and the backdrop is also black; in fact, the photo is unedited except for cropping, so this is full-color. Perfect for the ship of a drunken pirate.
Hello, I’m Lino Martins, Brothers Brick Contributor, LEGO car builder, humorist, and occasional responsible adult. Recently I’ve taken on the decidedly irresponsible task of building the famous Hot Wheels Splittin’ Image concept car from 1969. I’ve wanted to do this for a while but fretted at the notion of building yet another car in a common LEGO color. Then LEGO had the fortitude to come out with the new Creator Fiat 500 set in light yellow. From there, I just knew this was going to be my Splittin’ Image! With two copies of this set, I had just enough sunshiny yellow goodness to construct the odd double hull. I also had just enough exhaust pipe pieces to run from the powerful engine all the way back to the rear of the car.
The canopies open to reveal a white 60’s era retro-futuristic interior. Instead of a traditional steering wheel, you get a rather spacey pilot’s yoke because…why not, right? Sometimes we just have to be irresponsible adults and build something as silly and outlandish as this Splittin’ Image. Here’s to building more irresponsible things from all of us in the near future. Cheers!
This music box, built by Peter Carmichael, is currently one of my favorite LEGO creations. Its smooth edges, customizable cylinder, and colorful “comb” are all gravitating. As my very tactile partner would say, it’s one of those things you want to “see with your hands.”
Click to see a video of the mechanism!
“Doing more to improve the image of the English world-wide than any officially appointed ambassadors, Wallace and Gromit are the epitome of the English character.” – UK Icons nomination
Aardman Animation LEGO creations have popped up on The Brothers Brick a couple times in the past, namely Shaun the sheep and a particularly grand day out.
This time German builder Andreas Weissenberg gives us A Close Shave.
The intrepid window-washer/inventor/cheese-lover Wallace is joined by his trusty, mute, heroic pup pal Gromit. The characters’ distinctive looks are not only executed well, but this model also conceals some compact motorized functionality within the motorbike and sidecar! Check out the video to see Wallace and Gromit in action!
Like this builder’s character work? Check out some of his prior featured models like Chip and Dale, Dilbert and Dogbert, and Statler and Waldorf!
Aviation history is littered with beautiful and promising designs that did not make it into production. Famous examples are the Canadian CF-105 Arrow and the British BAC TSR-2. Imagining what they could have achieved can entertain aviation enthusiasts for hours. That also applies to my latest aircraft model: the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23, unofficially known as the Black Widow II. It was the losing contender in the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter competition. It should replace the F-15 Eagle and counter the new Soviet/ Russian fighters under development in the seventies. To do this, it had to incorporate three features that were never before combined in a single aircraft: fighter-like maneuverability, stealth, and the ability to cruise at supersonic speeds.
The shape of the world’s first known stealth aircraft, the F-117A, was all straight lines and flat panels. At the time Lockheed designed it, they couldn’t yet calculate how curved surfaces would reflect radar signals. Northrop, however, experimented with much smoother Gaussian shapes. In the deepest secrecy, they built an aircraft called Tacit Blue. It looked like an inverted bathtub with wings, but it worked. They applied this knowledge to the YF-23 in an altogether more pleasing shape. Cross-sections of the forward fuselage have a rounded top and sloping sides that end in a distinctive fuselage chine. The wings have a diamond shape, as do the large, angled tailfins. These combine the function of traditional horizontal and vertical tailfins. Humps on the aft fuselage, known as bread loaves, hide the engines. To reduce their IR signature, the exhaust gasses are guided through long troughs. The jet is long and sleek. It looks unlike anything else ever flown.
Lockheed won the competition in 1991, with its YF-22 design. This became the F-22 Raptor, which is the USAF’s primary air-to-air combat fighter. It, too, is stealthy, of course, but its configuration is similar to the F-15 Eagle. If you let them, those same aviation enthusiasts that can rave about the Arrow or TSR-2 will tell you a whole plethora of reasons why the YF-23 lost. I think it was the prettiest of the two contenders, but perhaps its configuration was a bit too radical. Recreating it in LEGO certainly meant digging deep into my bag of tricks.
When it comes to survival in an unforgiving world, the video game Don’t Starve can teach you everything you need to know about managing a sparse inventory. Builder Nathan Proudlove has created LEGO model of the game’s main character, Wilson, as a present for his girlfriend. As an avid player of this game, I must tell you this is a spot-on representation! The figure perfectly encapsulates all of Wilson’s characteristics from his striped vest to his wild hairstyle. A lot of work went into the clever design of his face, which incorporates sideways building by way of SNOT (Studs Not On Top) pieces to create the symmetry and angled curves. If you’re going to be stuck at home with limited supplies, Wilson should definitely be on the top of your list for quarantine partners.
Well, what do they have in common? Absolutely nothing! Sorry to disappoint you, but this is really more of an abstract art challenged driven by a contest to build a LEGO creation in a single color. Builder Markus Rollbühler cleverly builds a gravity-defying paint bucket and a tiny pirate ship sailing off the edges of spilt paint. So, since we’re on the topic, what’s a pirate’s favorite color? For sure it’s not yellow, but.. if you’ve not gotten it yet, it’s ARR-inge.
Improvisational jazz — taking basic structures and guidelines and playing with them to make something beautiful. Exactly what LEGO 7 has done with the bricks in this fabulous Jazz Quartet. The instruments are brilliantly done — check out the shaping and details on the piano and the double-bass, and I love that pearl gold trumpet. However, it’s the figures which make this something particularly special. The poses are striking in their expressiveness, perfectly capturing the look and feel of the band taking their cues from the trumpet player’s solo. The natty styling of the musician’s clothing is the icing on the cake, with little details making the difference, like the white band on the drummer’s hat, and the slight angle to the trumpet player’s necktie. When this kind of virtuoso LEGO building performance is coupled with clean stylish photography, the result is simply stunning. It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. But this? This is fully syncopated and super-cool.
Many people seem to have more time on their hands recently, with much of normal life disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And as a result, contests are popping up out of the woodwork to give LEGO builders some inspiration, whether it’s Reverse Engineering or Alphabet Starfighters. Included in that is one called Style It Up, where the rules dictate color choices and style rather than content. Since the first week’s challenge is to build something with only one color, jnj_bricks went straight to black. As in black panther. Now, if you have ever tried to photograph LEGO, you know it can be a challenge to get the lighting right. When your build is black, it gets about a billion times harder because it reflects everything. Yet this cat is perfectly captured mid-step, standing out against the black foliage.
A lot has gone into the panther, with teeny tiny parts giving it an organic shape. I see flippers, a mohawk, and a cap, to name a few. But minifig arms and gobs of horns for the grass add further details, and the scene as a whole is both dynamic and vibrant, despite being monochrome.
Feel inspired? There is still time to hop over and get some entries in.
I never had bunk beds as a kid. There was plenty of space in my bedroom for friends to sleep over on a camp bed, but somehow bunks always seemed more fun. Guess I’ll have to suage my nostalgic regret with Markus Rollbühler‘s LEGO-built version instead. The bunks sit at the heart of a charming little model — a child’s bedroom, packed full of furniture and belongings. The scene was created as part of a challenge to build something with no more than 101 pieces, and the restriction lies at the heart of some creative parts use. Don’t miss the swivel chair with its backrest made from an old-school minifigure cape, and the little bulldozer on the floor. I also love the Belville shoe used as a computer mouse and the anglepoise lamp on the nightstand. This is one of those LEGO models which manages to be both cute and clever at the same time.
I’m something of a failure when it comes to building spaceships. I have tried and failed for the past three SHIPtembers to build a massive spaceship, and even my smaller spaceships generally end up on the scrapheap due to a lack of vision for their execution. Balancing the greebles with the smooth parts is a challenge for me, and integrating the cockpit with the rest never seemed to work out well. But then Dave Kaleta announced an alphabet starfighter contest, and I had to give it a go. Finally, I had a coherent plan for the design, a letter of the alphabet. And what better letter to start with than B? After all, my name, Benjamin Stenlund, starts with B, and so does Benny from The LEGO Movie. And since Benny and I are both from the 1980s, I went with a Neo-Classic Space styling, to remove any further difficulty that might have arisen from complicated color choices. I had to start somewhere, you know?
I was quite pleased with the way the dual cockpits integrated with the overall shape, and indeed having two of those canopies was a major reason I went with this design, as the curves add to the B shape perfectly. I added as many Classic Space elements as I could, like the triple loudspeaker on the back and the computers in the cockpits, gleaned from the older part of my collection; and then I went greebled like crazy in the gaps. My favorite element in the greebles is the old exhaust pipes from my childhood Town sets. I’m not afraid to mix old and new greys together, so both can be seen in the build; I think it adds a sense of weathering appropriate for a spaceship. I’ve already been commissioned by my 4-year-old to build him a few spaceships, so hopefully, I’ll be able to add to the collection of finished craft soon and spread literacy across the galaxy!
Are you looking for an escape from the day to day grind, but have only a modest LEGO budget? Maybe you can take inspiration from the Teeny tiny treehouse built by Andreas Lenander. It’s just as sweet as a large Ideas set, but at a fraction of the part count. Andreas hasn’t shared any instructions, but we can still make some guesses as to what supplies you’d want. First, you’ll want to snag a decent amount of minifigure lassos, as they form the basis of the tree. You’ll also need some cheese slopes, headlight bricks, modified 1×1 with rod plates and rounded 2×2 plates for the ladder and treehouse. Oh. And some various bits of greenery. I’m sure it’s a super easy build. I’m also sure that the last statement was a complete lie. This is some skilled and imaginative craftsmanship.
Still, if we all give it a go, we could be on the verge of a giant (albeit microscale) treehouse boom. Think of how relaxing that could be!