Last week, LEGO announced the biggest set yet in the Jurassic World license, 75936 Jurassic Park: T. rex Rampage. While most of the LEGO Jurassic World theme has centered around the new films starring Chris Pratt, this is the second time LEGO has revisited the 1993 Spielberg classic film, following 75932 Jurassic Park Velociraptor Chase last year. With 3,120 pieces, this new set banks on scale with a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex and Jurassic Park gate, which are much larger than minifigure scale. In addition to our usual review, we also had the chance to speak to LEGO Senior Designer Mark Stafford about the set. T. rex Rampage will retail for US $249.99 | CAN $299.99 | UK £219.99 beginning June 19th for LEGO VIPs, with general availability beginning July 1st.
A LEGO Star Wars fan since before Star Wars was a LEGO theme, Mark Chan has spent the last 40 years trying to create the perfect LEGO model of an X-wing fighter. We at The Brothers Brick think he’s done a pretty good job, so we caught up with Mark to get the story of his journey.
May the 4th can be an exciting time for Star Wars fans, thanks in part to sales and promotions going on. Unfortunately, this year’s festivities have taken on a somber note because, on April 30th, the 7’3″ (2.21m) Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew died at age 74. With only barks, grunts and growls, the occasionally belligerent but always lovable Chewbacca became a pop culture icon. Kale Frost built this heartfelt tribute to Chewbacca and the towering British-born actor who donned the iconic fur costume to play him. With tools in hand, his back to the viewer and facing a bright light, this composition conveys the message nicely.
Peter Mayhew had a form of gigantism that can cause crippling joint pain and poor blood circulation. In 2011 he and his wife Angie started the Peter Mayhew Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering, and the financial toll brought on by life’s traumatic events. Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, said that Mr. Mayhew was “a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character.” In a statement, George Lucas said of him, “He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature.”
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars, I recently sat down with Jens Kronveld Frederiksen, the Director of Design for the LEGO Star Wars line. Jens has been with LEGO for more than 20 years, and shares his insights on how he joined the company, what lessons he’s learned over the years, and how LEGO balances input from both kids and adults. Read through to the end to learn a really cool detail about the movie Millennium Falcon Jens saw during a visit to Pinewood Studios during the filming of The Force Awakens!
The Brothers Brick: Just about every LEGO builder’s dream is to become a set designer. How did your career as a designer begin?
Jens Kronveld Frederiksen: A little bit of a weird story and coincidence. LEGO has been a great part of my life for as long as I remember. I really, really loved LEGO but I was never thinking of it as a profession or a career to be honest. In 1998 I was participating in a model building exhibition. I have a hobby building plastic model kits, which mainly is of World War II stuff. At that event in Copenhagen, there were some LEGO people there, and they were looking to hire designers not for model builders but for making new prototypes for new elements, and well I was of course interested in that. And then before I started on that, I saw a job application for a permanent position as model builder and I got the job. That’s how I got into it.
The LEGO fan community is mourning the loss of kindhearted and prolific builder, Arthur Gugick of Ohio. On March 30th Arthur and his significant other, Barbara Becker, were tragically killed in a car accident. If you ever attended North American fan events like BrickWorld Chicago or BrickFair VA, you may have run into Arthur before. At these events, you could catch a glimpse of his elaborate architectural builds and mosaics. Arthur was featured in the Winter 2008 issue of BrickJournal magazine, and he was even contracted to recreate his model of the Taj Mahal for the Australian independent film, Taj (2011).
In addition to being an avid LEGO enthusiast, Arthur taught math at Beachwood High School. He was passionate about his job and had a knack for harnessing his creativity to make math fun for his students. In an interview with ABC News 5 Cleveland, Ed Bernetich (who had been responsible for hiring Arthur) commented:
I was very sad because he is one of a kind. He’s a total unique individual. There are many great math minds, but sometimes they don’t relate to other people very well. And here we had a guy with a mathematician’s brain who also was extremely skilled at reaching kids.
Arthur’s death has been a difficult time for Beachwood School District staff and students, whose lives he has touched over the years.
Ever the mathematician, Arthur approached his LEGO models from a mathematical angle. Some of his structures utilized calculus, and he even wrote his own software for building domes like the one on his Taj Mahal. According to Arthur, “I look at my buildings as more an exercise in mathematics than necessarily an art form, which might be a little different of a take than other people do, or maybe it’s the same… For me it’s a puzzle” (BrickJournal – Winter 2008).
One of the most incredible things about LEGO is that you can truly build anything you set your mind to. A good builder can take a pile of squared-off pieces and create something that looks organic. Sometimes a LEGO artist (because that’s what they really are) has that extra stroke of genius that takes a build to the next level and gives it life. If you don’t know about Alex de Jong, you should, because he’s proven this point with his stunning tribute to Disney’s Tinker Bell. We were fortunate to communicate with Alex throughout the build process, and he has been kind enough to share with us exclusive details about the project.
There have been some pretty spectacular LEGO versions of Star Wars’ iconic trench run over the years, setting the bar pretty high for anyone taking on the theme. Pro building group Olive Seon have risen to the challenge, deploying intricate details worthy of the original Industrial Light and Magic model. Its nifty laser towers and exploded Y-wing fighter demonstrating some serious building talent, and a hefty upgrade from their first version, which we covered back in 2015.
The surprises don’t end here: rotate the diorama to reveal a complete Death Star interior. Each of the space station’s rooms acting as individual vignettes, from a scene showing Obi Wan’s deactivation of the tractor beam to a battalion of stormtroopers caught mid-explosion. There is plenty of humour here too: ever wanted to see the battle station’s locker room? Well now you can. My favourite feature though is the hilariously over-sized BrickHeadz Stormtrooper herding his droids.
The Brothers Brick is a website dedicated to sharing amazing LEGO builds, news, and reviews. We generally write about things that make us happy. But it is with deep sadness that we must share the passing of an incredibly talented builder, Luca Di Lazzaro. The Italian native was a Deputy Commander for the Carabinieri station in Remanzacco, and an avid bicyclist. Unfortunately, it was a bicycling accident that ended his life at the young age of only 45.
We know Luca (pictured center) because of his presence in the Adult Fan of LEGO community. We have written many articles about his charming and wonderful creations, but we’d like to honor his memory by re-sharing a few of our favorites. You can click the links below to read those articles.
If you don’t speak Italian, you can still read outside articles about Luca by pasting web addresses into Google Translate. If you’d just like to see more fantastic pictures of his work, check out his Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends. In the LEGO community he will be sorely missed.
A couple months ago, we had the opportunity to talk to one of our favorite builders, Takamichi Irie, about his work. He is most notably known for his use of minifigure parts to achieve life-like shapes in creations ranging from insects to household items. His excellent attention to detail gives his creatures character. Enough character, in fact, to have several of his bugs featured at the LEGO House in Denmark.
Takamichi’s builds have been featured several times on our site, such as his exceptional motorized BB-8, based on the character from the Star Wars franchise. After writing about his Dipodidae, we knew we needed to learn more about his creative process, and ask him about his life and inspiration.
Tell us a bit about yourself! What got you started with LEGO? Was there a dark age, and if so, what brought you back?
I’m a student who studies Architecture and Landscape Design in Japan. When I’m asked about my passion for LEGO, I always say that I’ve been building with LEGO or Duplo since I was born, because I have an older bother. In my childhood, I asked my parents for only LEGO as birthday presents every year. But I couldn’t buy much LEGO for myself with my small pocket money when I was in junior high school. I only bought some of the small Star Wars sets for their minifigs at that time. That moment was my darkest age, and after that I started building and uploading my own creations on the internet.
Last year, after Brickfair Virginia 2017, over a few drinks Magnus Lauglo, Aleksander Stein and I had a discussion on what to bring for 2018. The three of us have been attending BrickFair for years and have often admired the large collaborative displays at the event, with builders creating something together. Because of this we figured it would be nice for us to collaborate too rather than bringing our own stand-alone models. We soon agreed to build scenes from the Vietnam War.
I suspect that most ideas that come out of conversations in bars lead nowhere and that is probably a good thing. However, earlier this year we found that we were still pretty excited about this idea and we found that more people wanted to get involved. Ultimately, eleven more builders contributed (in no particular order): Peter Dornbach, Stijn van der Laan, Matt Hacker, Dean Roberts, Eínon, Evan Melick, Casey Mungle, Corvin, Yasser Mohran, Bret Harris and Brian Carter. Corvin, Aleksander and I are the only builders who don’t live in the US or Canada to regularly attend the Virginia event, but our Vietnam group turned out to be a pretty international crowd. We had builders who live in six different countries: the US, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal, Norway and the Netherlands.
We picked Vietnam as the subject because we all watched classic Vietnam War movies when growing up, it is largely novel for most of us and it is far less common for military builds than models from, say, WW2. We considered building a single collaborative battle diorama, but chose to build separate scenes instead. It is hard to find a single battle that is actually interesting to build, as there is usually just a lot of terrain involved and multiple copies of trees, bunkers or vehicles. Separate scenes have the advantage of allowing different builders to give the subject their own twist. I was excited to see what the other guys came up with. The Vietnam War offers a lot of scope for building interesting military hardware, but we could also show some of the history, including the aftermath. Given the wide range of different models on display, we nailed it.
The Brothers Brick doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult issues with the LEGO creations we feature, as “Builder-in-Residence” Iain Heath demonstrated recently with his “Homeless in Seattle” model of the Seattle skyline with the ground covered by tents pitched by people forced into homelessness by the housing crisis. Iain’s model struck a chord with the local community, and he was invited to showcase his model and discuss the issue on several TV shows, including the New Day Northwest program from NBC affiliate KING 5.
The segment is now online, and you can watch Iain discuss the LEGO hobby, several of his most iconic creations from over the years, and chat with host Margaret Larson about what TBB is all about.
Pinball machines bring out the kid in all of us, hanging out in an arcade losing quarters and setting high scores. And the Classic Space era of LEGO sets appeals to so many of us who got our first LEGO sets back in the 70’s through 90’s. The Brothers Brick contributor Bre Burns hits it out of the nostalgia ballpark with a fully functional LEGO pinball machine called “Benny’s Spaceship Adventure.” She spent several months perfecting the design with over 15,000 LEGO bricks, including LEGO Mindstorms NXT programmable bricks to make sounds and count your high score.
Bre has kindly shared loads of details about her LEGO masterpiece, which stands over two and a half feet tall, exclusively with The Brothers Brick. Let’s pull back that ball launcher, flick those flippers, and learn more about this amazing LEGO creation!
But first, let’s take a look at the pinball machine in action as Bre shares its working features and tells us a little bit about the design process in our latest TBB video.