In honour of Chris McCandless’ 52nd birthday earlier this week, 2019 TBB LEGO Builder of the Year Andrea Lattanzio build a stunning recreation of the “Magic Bus” from the end of McCandless’ life, as documented in the book and film Into the Wild. This creation is a fitting tribute. The landscape looks like the clearing on the rugged Stampede Trail, featuring various elements representing rocks, plants, and mushrooms. My favourites are the tree built out of brown stud shooters and the grey homemaker hairpiece as a large rock. Framed inside its wild Alaskan surroundings, is the bus itself. The design is spot on and includes clever use of a dish with a spider web pattern as old and aged headlights and a stack of 3×3 dishes as the bus’s grill.
Every day the team here at The Brothers Brick brings you the best LEGO models from the global community of LEGO builders. We love how each of their creations make us smile and prompt us to reach for our own bricks. However, there are a handful of builders whose work offers genuine inspiration — displaying mastery of technique and creativity across different building styles.
The Brothers Brick is delighted to name Andrea Lattanzio as our LEGO Builder of the Year 2019.
Santa Claus, despite his media persona and the products he is implied to endorse, is not the consumerist type. Sure, he brings presents on Christmas to children, but not the max-out-the-credit-cards-and-refinance-the-house pile of presents that parents are somehow expected to provide. He lives a life of humble solitude, somewhere up in the frozen north (though not the North Pole; what responsible person would build a house on seasonally variant ice?), where he prepares for his annual journey of beneficence. At least, that is what this build by Andrea Lattanzio (Norton74) seems to imply. A delightful cabin, similar to Walden but much redder, rests in a peaceful snow-covered clearing, with deep snow on the roof and a sled ready to go (even though the sled is pulled by huskies, rather than reindeer).
The most impressive part of the display might be the collection of parts used to create the snow-covered foliage, from levers and megaphones to minifig hands and everything else white. However, I love the cannon as a chimney — topped by pots, even more. Unicorn horns make for lovely icicles on the eaves (if only they were available in transparent colors!). My one quibble is that the woodpile looks far too sparse to make it through the winter in conditions like that. Santa will freeze to death. Unless he isn’t watching out for the polar bear lurking behind the cabin, in which case he’ll be devoured before freezing. And before bringing me LEGO for my stocking.
Inspired by the book Walden; or Life in the Woods, Andrea Lattanzio escapes from the fast food restaurants and gas stations (and futuristic rovers!) of the modern world into the wilds through his latest build. I wonder if Thoreau, the main character of the aforementioned book, would choose LEGO as his outlet instead of escaping to the wild if he had lived in modern time?
The diorama captures everything a self-sufficient cabin in the woods would have (including a bit of the woods). The textures and little imperfections on the cabin capture the hand-crafted appearance very well, most notably the tiles on the roof pressed down only half way and the window with a half-plate offset in its top and bottom halves. The pine trees are done quite well, with leaf elements placed at convincing angles on the central axis. The use of the old tree stump piece adds a lot to the atmosphere, as do the inspired choices of gray homemaker hair part as a stone and brown stud shooters in the dead tree on the right side of the diorama.
Sometimes I wish I was born sooner, but if I were I might be soiling adult diapers and yelling obscenities at the TV by now, so I’m fine being the age I am, all things considered. Had I been a bit older though, I would have seen this whole “Showrod” phenomenon first hand. Showrodding pioneers such as George Barris, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and Tom Daniel (of Monogram Models fame) changed the definition of what a car could be with their flamboyant, over-the-top showstoppers. Certainly there is still car customization going on nowadays but nothing matches the heyday of the Showrod phenomenon in the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. There are very few car builders on the planet building this style of Showrod and even fewer people creating them in LEGO. One such LEGO artist, however, is Andrea Lattanzio who has replicated Tom Daniel’s “Paddy Wagon” with masterful build techniques and stunning photography.
To say I am impressed by this would be an understatement. I think the correct words I’m looking for are awestruck and quite a bit humbled. Everything from the C-Cab’s signature profile, to the gleaming custom chrome bits to the aggressive stance to its superb clean backdrop, even the font used are all the mark of an artist with a profound knack for presentation. With what looks like houses reflected in the rear hubcap, it would seem Andrea’s secret to stellar presentation involves, at least in part, natural outdoor lighting and a clear day.
Most Western-themed LEGO creations take their architectural inspiration from the single-street towns of the Gold Rush — clapperboard buildings, usually saloons and general stores. It makes for a pleasant change to see something a little more Southwestern in tone with Andrea Lattanzio‘s build of a classic whitewashed adobe flat-roofed house. And even better, there’s not a gunfighter in sight; instead, we’re treated to a mariachi band arriving in their wagon to serenade the farmer’s beautiful daughter. The house is a visual treat, covered with nice details, from the use of printed 1×1 round tiles on the protruding ends of the logs to the plant-covered arbors that provide shady spots on the flat roof. The use of woodgrain tiles above the windows and doors adds some welcome texture amongst the white. Bien hecho, Andrea!
You may have noticed an abundance of Ford Mustangs featured on The Brothers Brick lately. The recent trend was ignited by a LEGO IDEAS contest, celebrating the Mustang in beautiful scenery. After wowing us by finding a Mustang in a barn, Andrea Lattanzio’s latest creation finds this Mustang in the shop. While the car itself is flawless, focus of the contest is on the scenery. And this garage is spot on.
The structure is rife with subtle yet brilliant techniques, from the checkered pattern on the wall – alluding to the shop owner’s dreams on race day – to the broken window adding that extra dose of realism. My favourite technique is the droid arms and skeleton legs suspending the overhead lights. Not to be overlooked is the apparent master class in brick built garage and warehouse tools. The pallet jack, air compressor, drill press, gas pump and table vice are all amazing details that help make this garage beautiful.
Some LEGO builders say that architecture and scenery merely exist to serve as backdrops for cars or trains. Looking at this display built by Andrea Lattanzio, I beg to differ. While the classic first-series Mustang Hardtop is beautiful on its own, the barn behind it is equally delightful. Andrea achieved the barn’s dilapidated look through effective use of brown and dark grey tiles, which are not pressed down all the way. Personally, I find it difficult to ignore the satisfying feeling of pressing two LEGO pieces together but, when they’re tilted just a little and with varying degrees, the rustic charm is undeniable.
Other highlights include the rusty broken gas pump and an American flag, which is cleverly formed out of plates with clips in such a way that makes it look as if it’s waving in a light breeze. The car itself cannot be overlooked; the lines are sleek and the construction is smooth. Curved slopes on the hood are ideal parts in creating the perfect angle, and the use of clear slopes for the windshield is simple but feels representative of a real Mustang.
Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things may be an unlikely candidate for a LEGO model, but builder Andrea Lattanzio is making it look amazing. This secluded cabin is the perfect safehouse for Eleven, and the shack’s dilapidated homeliness comes shining through in this recreation, which features perfect architectural details like uneven shingles and board siding (in some places made of sideways masonry bricks).
Of course, it wouldn’t truly be complete without Chief Hopper and his 1980 Chevrolet Blazer. Andrea is a master of realistic LEGO vehicles, and the classic truck’s boxy style works perfectly in LEGO, and tan and dark tan give an authentic paint job for the small-town police department.
Unlikely though it may be, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Stranger Things LEGO creations. We’ve previously featured the various heroes in three different scales: minifigures, BrickHeadz, and miniland-scale characters.
Finding the perfect Christmas tree is an important part of the holiday season, at least in some parts of the world. And the North Pole is no exception. In this scene by Andrea Lattanzio, when Santa sets out to find the perfect tree, he comes prepared. Not only does he have a nice sharp ax, and a reliable pair of snowshoes, he brought his faithful companion in case of trouble. Santa lucked out this year and didn’t have to wander far off the road. And speaking of roads, The North Pole has a superior infrastructure, with well-maintained roads, and industrial strength snowplows. These trees are very nicely shaped, and the softly curved slopes make great snow drifts.
If there’s one scene that stands out from Stranger Things, this has got to be it. In a plot twist where one would have thought that the bicycles would take flight, instead we had a lovely surprise. With this, the Duffer Brothers wrote the 80s Chevy Van right into movie-making history books by making it fly in this epic escape scene. I’ve got to hand it to Andrea Lattanzio in showing that a great scene can be brought to life with the simplest builds, just with LEGO parts on hand.
If you have ever tried to imagine where the Collectible Minifig Series 13’s Hot Dog Guy would feel most at home, wonder no more as Andrea Lattanzio has captured a rare glimpse of him in his natural habitat. He looks pleased as a pickle surrounded by grazing minifigs scarfing down delicious hot dogs at perfect picnic tables, while the local cat sniffs hungrily for food. I love the tall arrowed sign and the giant hot dog on the roof.
Take a moment to appreciate all the small details that all add up to a great little scene; the gumball machine, soft-drink dispenser and delivery guy to name but a few. Continue reading