Anyone who’s seen The LEGO Movie knows LEGO is a highly sophisticated interlocking brick system. But it’s more than that, and sometimes we LEGO fans have a tendency to get caught up in what is and isn’t allowable when playing with our favorite plastic toys. Then along comes someone like Stijn van der Laan to shake up our expectations with a brilliant model like this that defies the normal bounds of what’s appropriate to do with LEGO. Stijn has transformed his excellent Peregrine drone model that we covered a few years ago by giving it a camouflage paint job.
Stijn actually recreated the design first using all red elements. Then he gave it a base coat of grey, and then carefully masked and airbrushed the modern camouflage design onto the model, as if it were a traditional cut-and-glue model kit. The result is fantastic, highlighting the striking design of the drone even more than Stijn’s original color scheme.
Now, you’re not likely to find me airbrushing my own LEGO creations anytime soon, but I admire the craft that goes into designing this, and it’s good to have our minds expanded a bit from time to time on just what is possible with this brick system we all use.
When was the last time you raised your eyes to the sky? There could be so much hidden above the clouds, for example, a community of brave aviators hopping between mountain peaks in their agile airplanes. A breathtaking collaboration project by amazingly talented German LEGO builders, Vaionaut, Ben Tritschler,Marcel V., Mark van der Maarel, Markus Rollbühler, Sylon-tw, and Willem (Steinchen), called Skytopia, is full of steam- and dieselpunk vibes, including huge propellers, flying boats and tons of wood and metal.
Sometimes a builder’s chosen name fits perfectly with what they like to build. My case in point, these three big Boeing 7-series passenger jets built by someone who goes by the name of…well, BigPlanes. On the far left we have a Lufthansa 737-500. Next to it in the center is a now bygone Pan Am 707-120. Finally, on the far right is my favorite, a Southwest Airlines 727-200. So far this builder has stayed true to his name but may have to change it to “Big-Planes-And-Also-Some-Other-Stuff” if he chooses to diversivy.
Here is a photo of the Pan-Am 707 with three minifigs to help appreciate just how big these big planes actually are.
History produced a lot of weird-looking aircraft during WWII, such as famously great P-38 Lightning. But LEGO builder Jon Hall has long been known for turning his skills to the weird-looking aircraft of WWII that history did not produce, designing his own batch of bizarre dogfighters instead. Looking like a cross between the Grumman F6F Hellcat and the Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake”, Jon’s crafted this crazy airplane with stubby wings and a flat nose, which he’s dubbed the P-65 Tomahawk.
As usual, Jon’s designs are clean and sleek, this time sporting a two-tone Navy color. Presumably, the short wings help with carrier storage. Two of the best details deal with airflow: first there’s the intake, which sports a Technic disk 5×5 behind the propeller, an old-school part that originally hails from the short-lived Robo Rider theme. The second detail I love is the exhaust on the sides of the fuselage, which are a series of ports made of the Nexo bot shoulders.
You are now free to walk about the cockpit in this massive 1:20 scale model of the classic Batwing. Designed by Eivind Loekken, the Batwing looks sleek and fast thanks to extensive use of angled plates, tiles, and slopes of varying degrees; you won’t find a single stud in sight. Equally impressive is the custom Batman Technic figure seated in the cockpit.
Since 2001, the F/A-18E Super Hornet has been a workhorse of the US Navy, finally replacing the last of the aging F-14 Tomcat fighters in 2006. Here’s Plane Bricks‘ LEGO version of the carrier-capable fighter jet — an excellent model which captures the aircraft’s shape with a nice combination of curves, slopes, and tile pieces. There’s an impressive array of armaments slung under the wings, and the model boasts a folding undercarriage, and fold-up wing tips (an essential space-saving feature on a carrier-based aircraft).
I particularly liked the angling of the tailfins and the shaping of the exhaust vents. You can get a closer look at them here, along with the added detail of the tailhook…
Lam Siu Wing is an artist and writer based in Hong Kong who has a keen interest in urban landscape, transport, and culture, which inspires him to always have a wandering eye during his travels. During one of his return trips on an A350 from Tel Aviv to Hong Kong in the summer of 2017, he had a sudden inspiration to build an aircraft made from LEGO. What resulted was a beautiful LEGO model of the Airbus A350 with a wingspan of more than 5 feet.
Siu Wing’s research started with a thought to upgrade the official LEGO Boeing 787 set 10177, but he quickly found that there wasn’t sufficient design information on the real airplane’s interiors. That’s when he decided to instead focus on the Airbus A350. Of course, living in Hong Kong would mean that Cathay Pacific airlines was the obvious choice of an airline carrier. So he began building from the inside out, and had a prototype completed within 2 months. Continue reading →
Lately I’ve been on a bit of a building spree. The Cold War collaboration for BrickFair Virginia, for which I have already built the SS-20 Saber and Gryphon GLCM transporter erector launchers, has given me lots of ideas and motivation. So far I have focussed on Cold War doomsday weapons that never saw use in anger. The actual armed conflicts that took place during the Cold War, although certainly brutal, fortunately were fought using conventional weapons. One of these was the Korean War.
In 1950, when Communist North Korea invaded South Korea, the US and a number of allies came to South Korea’s aid. At the time, the first jet aircraft were already in service. However, propeller-driven aircraft still had a role to play. Most US Navy aircraft carriers still had several squadrons of Vought F4U Corsairs on board.
This WW2 design may have seemed like an anachronism, but the veteran warbird could carry more weapons and spend more time overhead than faster jet fighters. They were the workhorse of US Naval aviation.
A good piece of Sky-fi art never gets old, and this alternate-WWII Tomahawk Kaiju Interceptor by Albert is a wonderful example. Making ample use of sand green slopes and tiles, this twin-tailed LEGO fighter is skillfully built with angled wings lined with forward-facing cannons and outrigger engines. One of the neatest details is the moveable inset rudders. It may not be the most aerodynamic design, but it sure looks cool, and after all, that’s what Sky-fi is all about.
WWI-era aircraft generally don’t receive as much attention from LEGO builders as their modern (or futuristic) descendents. Wesley makes a worthy attempt to redress the balance with this wonderful Fokker Eindecker, an early German fighter plane, one of the most advanced aircraft of its day. The model is nicely put-together, with some great angles in the undercarriage struts, a well-shaped fuselage, and good use of string which always adds a classic vintage aircraft feel. But it’s the photography which really sets this creation apart — the addition of a couple of simple background elements makes for an effective backdrop, and the low camera angle is a great choice. It’s nice to see Wesley yet again present a LEGO aircraft model in something different from the standard three-quarter view high-angle “flying” shot.
No stranger to building wonderful and totally imaginative aircraft, Jon Hall brings us a gull-wing fighter plane that looks like a cross between a Corsair from World War II and a Star Wars TIE fighter. Like so many of his other aerial creations, Jon’s latest flyer – dubbed the AR-31 “Swordfish” – is exquisitely designed and presented. From the inverted gull wings and functional-looking pontoons to the bright color scheme and exposed engine components, this torpedo-armed seaplane has so much to love.
The wings and twin boom give the aircraft an undeniably sleek look, despite the bulbous fuselage. This plane and others by the builder are reminiscent of the Second World War and even interwar periods. Back then, aircraft designers went wild with all types of unique and downright crazy prototypes (see the French Breguet 410 or the USSR’s weird but intrepid Zveno Project). Jon’s planes, however, are completely and 100 percent original. In fact, one of his nicest touches is also developing the world in which they exist. It’s a fun addition that always leaves me wanting more.
These backstories and cinematic photos help bring these awesome creations to life. When it comes to this style of building – called “Sky-Fi” in the LEGO community – Jon is no doubt an ace. Check out many other great creations on his Flickr.
For decades, the Long Island-based Grumman Corporation was the US Navy’s primary aircraft supplier. They built a range of now-famous aircraft, including the Wildcat, Avenger, Hellcat, Cougar and, of course, the Tomcat. Starting in the early seventies, they also built the EA-6B Prowler; a four-seat electronic warfare aircraft for jamming enemy air defenses. I’ve had a model of one of these since 2007. In recent days I rebuilt it using new parts and techniques. Thanks to curved slopes and a lot more sideways building, I’ve been able to improve the shape.
Prowlers entered US Navy service in 1971 and, after a career of more than 40 years, the US Marines have only just retired their last examples. Their longevity is a testament to the quality of the design. Because its products were famously well engineered, Grumman was also known as the “Iron Works”. Their aircraft, however, aren’t exactly famous for their elegant looks. Even the Tomcat, arguably one of the prettiest fighters ever to grace an aircraft carrier’s deck and certainly one of the company’s prettier products, looks quite ungainly from some angles. Also known as the “flying drumstick”, the Prowler is no exception. It has a fairly large front end, which houses two separate cockpits, each with side-by-side seating for two crewmen. The large “football” on top of the vertical fin contains jamming equipment, as do wing-mounted pods. The wings fold up for use aboard aircraft carriers. For air-to-air refuelling, it has an oddly-cranked probe just in front of the windscreen. It all makes sense, but it’s not pretty. I think “purposeful” is more appropriate.