Okay, so we’re almost exactly on the opposite side of the calendar from the Ides of March, but Julias Caesar is still having a pretty bad October in this LEGO diorama by Victor van den Berg. It’s rare to see a diorama this large that’s set indoors, but this recreation of the Roman Senate is gorgeous from top to bottom, including lovely mosaics on both the top and bottom. Although LEGO has never produced a Roman theme, there are enough key pieces floating around that seem perfect for it, from the Roman Emporer collectible minifigure from Series 9, to the marble scrollwork element and the gladius, and together they bring this scene to life.
LEGO builder Sandro Quattrini has been knocking it out of the park with their character builds of late (check out our Sandro Quattrini archives). The newest addition to the roster is a heroic-looking black panther, although this one hails from Rome rather than Wakanda. I guess technically that means we should use its Latin name, Panthera Pardus. For a static build, it’s phenomenally dynamic thanks to the aggressive stance, roaring head, and the swaying belt tassels. (Tassels doesn’t feel like the right word for something so militaristic… Reader, answers on a postcard if you know the proper name!) These use microphones and dumbbell weights for the detailing, and this centurion’s equipment features plenty more clever highlights. The shield makes use of a Ninjago hat and — perhaps ironically — swords, while the armour chestplate is broken up with a Speed Champions hubcap and minifigure shields. Armour with shields on it? Nothing is getting through that!
If we’re going to talk about clever parts use, though, we need to talk about that head. The shaping is simply stunning! There’s loads to enjoy here, but I do like the solution for the ears, which involves a tyre squeezed over a headpiece from a Star Wars battle pack. Alongside the mean eyes and those fearsome jaws, it gives this particular panther heaps of personality.
Behold, the sacred fire of Vesta! So long as it burns, Rome’s safety and prosperity is assured. Builder Antonio Cerretti uses LEGO to show us how this temple may have looked in its prime. The Temple of Vesta once stood in the Roman Forum at the heart of the ancient city. Dedicated to Vesta — the Roman goddess of hearth, home, and family — it stood for many centuries until it was permanently dismantled in the mid-16th century. We know what it may have looked like from coins and artwork, and here Antonio gives us a marvelous recreation built from LEGO! The temple’s adornments strike with their vibrancy, reminding us that the ancient world was filled with color. Clipped together, barbs and cow horns make up the details on the capitals of the Corinthian columns. Further up, light grey minifigure handcuffs give definition to the blue frieze between the columns and roof. Peer through the open entrance to see the sacred fire, burning brightly to keep the darkness at bay.
The temple’s interior showcases the sacred fire and more wonderful columns. Clever usage of croissants make up the capitals of what appear to be ionic columns set into the curved wall. Then, we have the eternal fire in the center of the enclosure! A light brick is cleverly buried beneath loose translucent LEGO studs, giving the fire its warm glow. Simple flame pieces stick out from the embers like the reaching arms of a healthy fire. Undoubtedly, this build gives us a splendid glimpse into an aspect of ancient Rome, grounding the past in the present.
The new 10276 Colosseum is the biggest LEGO set ever made, with an insane part count of 9,036 pieces. The record-breaking set is making its debut on Nov 27, better known as Black Friday, where it will retail for $549.99 | CAN $649.99 | UK £449.99, and for customers who purchase it over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, it will come with an exclusive gift-with-purchase (GWP), 6346109 Roman Chariot, which contains 127 pieces. Our early review copy of the Colosseum was delayed in the mail and so our review of that set is still in progress, but we do have the promotional set to take a look at.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
I’ve mentioned before in these pages that I have a background in Roman stuff, particularly language and literature, but also some history and architecture. In fact, I compiled and annotated a Latin reader on Roman military texts for my Master’s degree. So imagine my delight when I saw this functional Roman ballista by Jerac. These things were used all over the Republic and Empire, including Caesar’s siege of Alesia. There’s no gimmickry here; just like the real deal, the force to launch the bolts comes from coiled cords, not the bow. And the whole thing is LEGO, which makes it even cooler. The Technic gear and axle connector don’t look out of place as parts of the mechanical structure, and, in fact, I believe the lip on the bushing catches on the gear to ratchet the tension. Then flip up those rods, and voilà! You have just destroyed a tower. The wooden planks and the soldiery, along with the suggestion of landscaping, are just icing on the cake to dress it up a bit; the real beauty of the build is the technological achievement.
If you like history and LEGO, Hunter Erickson is a builder you need to check out. His most recent build represents a violent slice of the late years of the ancient Roman empire. The builder gives a very detailed description on Flickr, so make sure you check it out.
Besides being very well posed in an immersive battle scene, the minifigs are quite realistic in their design. The little autumn forest on the other side of the diorama is more than just a background though — if you look closely, you can see it serves as cover for a handful of Germanic archers. And the trees are quite well built as well!
It is rare for a LEGO build to make my jaw drop and leave me drooling on my keyboard, but that is just what this stunning layout of Imperial Rome by Rocco Buttliere did. I have a Master’s degree in Classics, primarily in the Latin language, and so anything and everything Roman is right up my via, but there is a lot of great information to learn in the descriptions of the photos, even for one with an advanced degree in a tangential field. In fact, I could spend hours looking through all the pictures, and have already spent the better part of one skimming through the descriptions. It is fascinating stuff. And the build! It is huge, about 1×2 meters in size, with 66,000 bricks going into its construction. And not one is wasted or superfluous. So let’s take a brief tour of the Eternal City, shall we?
I love it when two things that I like and know something about come together, like peanut butter and jelly or LEGO and Roman history. Tim Schwalfenberg brings us a slice of the early days of Rome, when they were still constructing the Forum.
Or perhaps it is later in Rome’s history when they were building a second, third, or fourth forum. I suspect it is early, though, since the streets are not yet paved and there is still active construction going on with a wooden crane lifting up a block of marble to add to a second building. If that’s not deep enough, please excuse me while I put on my scholar hat for a moment. It should be pointed out that not everything is completely accurate here: the Romans generally built with brick or concrete and faced the buildings with marble, rather than building the whole thing of marble; and also, Caesar Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome (reigning from 27 BC to AD 14) is said by the historian Suetonius to have said, “I found it of brick, but left it of marble”, since marble was rarely used before Augustus’ day.
However, taking my scholar hat off, this is an impressive build, with lovely columns of clearly Ionic styling. The structure conveys the grandeur that is proper to that mighty republic of the past. The trees are particularly nice, with the whips coiled around in an organic way, and evoke the stone pines of Rome well. The folded minifigure capes do a great job as togas, too; you can see a few senators, perhaps, near the sundial in their white togae candidae. My favorite piece usage, though, is the inverted jumper plates for the ladders. The whole thing is impressive. Augustus would be proud.
Sure, those Romans were tough enough when massed in their Legions. But catch them isolated from the main army? In a small group? On a lonely stretch of forest road? Let’s see how tough they are then. That appears to be what Jesse van den Oetelaar is asking in this LEGO scene depicting a trio of unsuspecting Legionaries about to walk into a Barbarian ambush. The irregular base and the greenery are the stars of the show here, with an impressive mix of shrubbery and foliage providing cover for the Barbarian assailants. It’s worth a close look at some of the techniques involved, and the mix of earthy colours deployed — this is a great example of how to build realistic undergrowth in LEGO.
While Rome wasn’t built in a day, Kevin J. Walter probably built the Collesseum in a few hours. Made in the style and charm of the LEGO Architecture series. What made particular design possible is the new Arch 1 x 2 Jumper element to construct the arched columns in an accurate manner at this scale.
While Greek galleys have been an occasional subject for LEGO builders, it’s not often we feature the Roman navy, despite its historical importance in carrying the Roman army to victory across the Mediterranean in places like Carthage, as well as to Britain from Gaul. Iyan Ha has corrected this oversight with his wonderful little Roman warship, with full rigging and even pavilions on the deck for the elite passengers. As wonderful as the ship is, don’t miss the filigreed stand, complete with a custom plaque and a pair of tigers.