You gotta love it when you see a cool use of parts and wonder, “Why the heck didn’t I think of that?” One of the greatest things about the LEGO community is that we are in a wonderful position to share ideas with each other, all over the world. Inspiration makes us all better builders. And Jens Ohrndorf is certainly a builder who sparks creative ideas. These adorable little pachyderms are part of a menagerie of expertly crafted creatures. Many of which use clever techniques to achieve character. For example, the use of the Unikitty tail element for an elephant trunk is brilliant!
This month is an exciting time for the Copenhagen Zoo because they will be introducing a pair of pandas to the public this month. The two bears will be taking up residence in the Panda House, an enclosure designed to look like the Chinese symbol for yin and yang. Builder Full Plate was commissioned to build a replica of the Panda House for the Copenhagen LEGO Store, where it will be on display. It’s a great likeness of the original, complete with the curved staircase and viewing area. The unique architecture is accentuated by lush landscaping.
For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring is finally here. In observance of the season, Jarema has built a small, yet elegant-looking LEGO bird returning from the tropics. It doubles as an excellent case study in how just a few parts can go a long way in modeling a subject that is instantly recognizable. Coupled with the tilted beak, black wings staggered above white wings imply we are birdwatching from beneath the clouds.
Meanwhile, the placement of each element is carefully calculated. Red crowbars make for excellent feet stretched out in flight, and the mechanical arm doubles nicely as a neck. I particularly love how the minifigure epaulette has been used to form the bird’s belly. It looks like it could hold a fish or two!
It takes a great deal more skill to sculpt with basic LEGO bricks than you might think. The ability to produce organic curves from rectangular bricks is awe-inspiring, and strikes envy in those of us who are always searching for that perfect shape. Upon seeing this life-size Rhesus macaque, I knew it had to be the work of Felix Jaensch, who is a master of the art. I must say, it really could not have been done better!
Adult males like this one (just in case you weren’t sure if it’s a male) are about 18-25in long and weigh an average of about 16-19lbs. They have an expressive face, which is perfectly captured here. Additionally, the lovely use of a select few slopes gives the fluffier bits texture and character, and the minifigure hand to finish the nose is genius!
Rhesus macaques are probably the most commonly known macaques in the world. That’s partly because these monkeys have a massive home range in central and southern Asia, and are invasive in several other places in the world. They’re also widely studied and used in research due to their high level of intelligence and fairly close physiological relation to humans. It was a study of their blood that led to our understanding of the Rh blood-typing system we use today!
You don’t need a huge pile of pieces or a deep wallet to be able to create something beautiful with LEGO. This bottlenose dolphin by Ken Ito (暁工房) is a perfect example of how just a few pieces can bring a scene to life. The dolphin consists of fewer than 20 pieces, and the base employs only simple, common elements. But there’s more motion evoked with them than you’ll find in many models that are much larger.
Ken’s gorilla is another perfect specimen, utilizing simple pieces to craft the animal’s shape. The head and face are particularly impressive, which really consist of only three slopes, but there’s no mistaking this noble creature’s gaze.
New Zealand has some of the most interesting fauna in the world, with many of their animals not found anywhere else in the world. While on holiday there, Patrick B. was so enamored by the birds that he decided to recreate them in LEGO. The results are lovely! This collection showcases the Kea, Pukeko, Kakapo, and the iconic Kiwi. I have to say, that last one is pretty adorable in LEGO form. Here in Seattle where I live, we have a pair of gorgeous Keas at Woodland Park Zoo. These endangered mountainous creatures are quite intelligent and always busy. They’re one of my favorite birds, and nicely done here.
Back in 2013, Thomas Poulsom also did a couple of these New Zealand birds (and a badger). And a bit more recently, we’ve featured an article about another LEGO build of the critically endangered Kakapo. It’s a parrot unlike any other in the world! Check it out, and then learn more about what you can do to help them.
Do you ever wonder what a polar bear thinks as he or she travels hundreds of miles, alone, across the vast ice? Other than, “I can smell a seal about 14km away,” there has to be something they daydream about. Doesn’t this tiny LEGO version of the half-ton carnivore, built by Chi Hsin Wei (LEGO 7), look like he has a lot on his mind?
My favorite parts are the tiles in clips for ears and the car hoods on his sides. This build is great, but it’s only one of many incredible creations by LEGO 7, our 2018 Builder of the Year. This talented artist builds just about everything!
The line of LEGO Star Wars constraction figures has unleashed a plethora of new sculpted parts to feed the Bionicle building frenzy. However, this delicious looking lobster by 楚 沐猴 puts some of the parts from LEGO 75529 Elite Praetorian guard to a very different use. The finished product is a crustacean that looks good enough to eat.
While they sometimes get a bad rap, vultures are incredible animals. These threatened and endangered birds hold a very important place in the ecosystem. They help to prevent the spread of disease as they scavenge for carcasses. Their heads are bald because it’s actually a cleaner way to eat. This build by Jens Ohrndorf caught my eye because of the way he used the parts to create that iconic vulture look. The elbow pieces and Technic gears that make up their necks are perfect. Altogether with the skeleton, it’s a really cute little build.
Another fun fact: vultures don’t necessarily circle because they see a dead or dying animal below. They’re pretty big and heavy as far as birds go, and it takes a lot of energy to flap around long enough to spot food. So they use their massive wingspan to their advantage by letting circular warm air currents carry them up as high as they can get, and then gently soar back down. Very little energy wasted. Efficient, eh?
If you went to BrickWorld Chicago in 2016, you might remember seeing the amazing Eurobricks collaborative display called “Ready, set, escargot!” The display consisted of giant medieval-themed snails racing around a track. The template for these mammoth mollusks was designed by Mark Larson, while the structure on this snail’s back came from the mind of Marco den Besten. Marco drew inspiration from the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise, and I think his take on the idea would make for an interesting game. The rustic-looking towers complement the dark tan structure of the snail’s shell. Speaking of the shell, Marco has attached wooden posts to the sides for some classic platform gaming fun.
Meerkats are pretty incredible little creatures. They live in tight-knit family groups and are known for fearlessly defending each other from predators. When they are old enough, every family member takes a turn at keeping watch. This wonderful sculpture by Andreas Weißenburg is a lovely tribute to those exceptional lookouts.
What’s even more impressive is that these sentinels actually move their heads from side to side, scanning the horizon. The inner mechanisms are simple, but clever and efficient. It involves two continuous belts catching and turning gears at different times. The resulting movement really brings them to life!
In Norse mythology, the god Oden is accompanied by two ravens; one named Hugin and the other named Munin. Respectively, their names mean “thought” and “memory,” and as legend goes, they fly the world by day and return to Oden at night to tell what they learn. This beautiful LEGO representation of Hugin is the work of builder Birgitte Jonsgard. It is one of the best brick-built birds I have ever seen. She did a truly lovely job on the body-shaping, and yes, his wings do unfold!
Also check out Birgitte’s still life art in LEGO form!