Thank you for joining us again for another edition of The Brothers Brick’s nature documentary series, Planet Brick. Today we’ve spotted Joss Woodyard’s well-camouflaged Nettledrake. Made up of many LEGO pieces you’d traditionally think to use for plant life, this magnificent beast is naturally hidden. If you happen to come across one in the wild yourself, it’s best to observe from a distance and see it spread its wings and take flight. Don’t be drawn in by its pretty pink spots or tail. If you get too close, you might get stung by the vicious beast’s teeth or talons. Thanks for stopping by and discovering another beautiful creature inhabiting Planet Brick.
We all know you can build things out of LEGO, but “building something that you build something out of, out of LEGO” is a sentence that I don’t get to write all that often. Brickleas gave me the chance with this fun diorama of in-progress model building. It makes use of the clip-flag seed part from Iron Forge a whopping 30 times, and finding them all is a fun exercise. My favorites are the bird’s beak, the dab of paint, and the blade in the well-built craft knife. The rest of the scene has some great details, too. I’m fond of the interesting texture in the hobby mat from the dark green tiles. And the branch the bird is perched on makes use of the minifigure tree disguise. It might be obvious in retrospect, but it feels clever to me.
This year’s Iron Forge has gifted us with a ton of interesting builds, as our archives show. Go take a look!
Life size (or near life size) birds have long been a popular subject matter for LEGO creations. While many previous birds have featured some pretty cool parts usage, KitKat1414 uses a pretty innovative technique for this Robin’s face. It’s just one piece, but a red minifigure torso managed to accomplish so many different things.
The first thing that jumps out at you is the arm holes as eyes. The size is just perfect. Second, you’ll see the neck as the bird’s beak. Sure it’s round where a real beak should be conical, but it very clearly represents and communicates that piece of the bird’s anatomy. Finally, the not to be overlooked, subtle design feature the torso lends to this bird is the angle it gives the face. I can’t think of any other single LEGO piece, or even pair of pieces that could accomplish as much as this one, incredibly common, often overlooked element does.
Ordinarily at The Brothers Brick, we writers try not to re-use the title a builder gives to a build as the title for our article; however, sometimes it is just too perfect, and I cannot resist. Now, in this case, it is also true that I wrote the title for the build, since I built it. And when the centerpiece of the build is armless LEGO minifigure torsos, it is in fact true that three minifigures gave both their left and right arms for these houses. The build might be simple, with an uncomplicated fence and vegetation, but combined together it looks pleasant, a delightful little home for birds. And those books do an excellent job keeping out the rain.
I built this for the Iron Forge building competition, where anyone can compete to get a shot at dethroning one of the reigning Iron Builders. There’s still time to get some entries in if you fancy wearing an iron crown yourself!
Any regular reader of the Brothers Brick knows, LEGO fans can do some pretty amazing things with the wide variety of different LEGO pieces out there. Those endless possibilities include limiting yourself to a smaller palette of parts and colours, like Milan Sekiz has done with his series of Stick Statue creations.
It takes a talented builder to take a very specialized LEGO part, like a train switch, and turn it into something totally different. Of course, we all know Jonas Kramm is a talented builder, so it should come as no surprise that he managed to make a train switch into a painting of a peacock. It is unquestionably the best peacock head I have ever seen done in LEGO form, and perhaps the best bird head, too. The bumps on the switch make perfect nostrils, and it also works well as the eyes on the tail. But Jonas did not stop there: he also used the part for the lantern flame, and the drawer pulls. Not to mention the Jurassic World gyrosphere for the lantern glass and the green snake for paint. It’s a great composition of a great composition, for sure!
Birds are an enigma, and this LEGO one by DOGOD Brick Design is no exception. Well, okay, we do know it’s a Taiwan blue magpie, the so-called “long tailed mountain lady.” And we can see that there’s some really nice naturalistic shaping happening. A combination of ball joints, hinges, and curved slopes allow for the wings to curve gracefully around the body. And the yellow 1×1 round plates make for a suitably mysterious (or just bird-brained) expression.
But beyond that? Total mystery.
If you want to try and figure out more about our brick-built avian friends, then you could always dig deeper into our archive of LEGO birds. Who knows what you might discover?
The passenger pigeon went extinct in 1914, the victim of deforestation and overhunting. Matt Goldberg pays tribute to this lost species with a beautiful LEGO recreation. This build is a complex mix of Technic, Bionicle, and System parts, with overlapping panels recreating organic curves. Minifigure arms help shape the head, and small radar dishes and 1×1 round plates give this bird just the right mournful eye line. I also like the inclusion of some props to give some context to things. The perch may be a simple build, but the tan creates a nice color contrast for the plumage. It’s a somber image, but a lovely one.
Birds are a popular subject for LEGO builders. For more avian goodness, check out some other featured models.
Builder Aiden.builds pulls plenty of feathers to create this beautiful LEGO model of a magpie in flight. I must admit to really loving LEGO bird models, especially seeing how builders treat the wings. This magpie has a beautiful wingspan using one of my favorite pieces, Shaft Ø3.2 Wing 9M inserted in a Bad Robot arm and clipped on to a flexi tube (Outercable 160Mm). The result is a lovely organic shape using a variety of thoughtful colors. The body is equally well done using quite a few different Technic fairings and the beak and eye are a perfect finisher.
Owls are fascinating creatures. You may be disappointed to find that they are not the wisest of all animals, as suggested in much of western pop-culture. (Or even birds for that matter.) But they have several extraordinary traits. For one, they have a special row of comb-like feathers on the edge of their wings that help provide silent flight. They also have superb binocular and night vision, with a neck that can turn 270 degrees, giving a much wider field. They also have “facial discs” like this LEGO model built by Eero Okkonen. The rounded collection of feathers on their faces aren’t for show. They, combined with asymmetric ears (a pair of off-set and different-sized holes on either side of their head), allow owls to determine exact positioning of their prey.
Although this build is, of course, for show, I admire the effort Eero puts into giving his creations realism. Using the dishes and chain links to decorate his Great Grey Owl’s face, along with that classic stern expression, was an excellent choice!
In the LEGO community, nice parts usage (or NPU) is something many builders strive to achieve. Using parts in an interesting way never fails to garner notice and compliments. Often these types of techniques are scattered throughout the model, but in the case of this hummingbird, builder Jaap Bijl gives us a figure that consists almost entirely of NPU. So, where does one begin?
The tree branch and leaves may be common, but the whips for vines and the small minifigure hammers for the flower stamens take us into unusual territory. The minifigure spanner used for the feet and the clever eye and beak area are stand outs. The wings, however, are a thing of beauty. They’re a terrific combo of flexible tubes, small wrenches and a variety of blue Technic pins and 1×1 round plates to create the wing feathers. The lavender grass pieces and purple antennae make for a nice finisher as tail feathers. They body and silhouette of the bird are quite nice as well and really bring the entire model together as a cohesive whole.
In the northern United States, at least, one of the first signs of spring is when the robins return. It is a day much beloved, a turning point when the cold and snow is gone and flowers are about to bloom. Of course, in many places the robins never actually leave, and snow never really comes, so it is less exciting, but I know as a kid growing up in Minnesota I loved to see that first robin. So, since it is spring where I live, and needing an idea for a contest entry, I (Benjamin Stenlund) built a robin coming back to the newly-hatched chicks in her nest. I am quite pleased with how it turned out, with the adult bird poised in mid-air with her flight feathers extended, feet ready to grasp the edge of the nest; and I think the nest itself turned out well, too.
The adult robin was fun to make, even if it is awful fiddling with those wings; they stay together just fine unless you jostle them, but moving the model from my building table to my photography station required some rebuilding. A round plate with bar built into her tail fits into a dinosaur neck twig to hold her in the air, just off the nest. The hardest part was the face and trying different solutions for the beak; I wanted to be able to put a worm in her mouth, but it would not look right with the parts I had, so I left it out and just used the spike. Lots of flex tubing went into the nest, but it was worth it for the un-LEGOy, organic shape of it. And when I ran out of flex tube, I used oars and blunderbusses and a variety of spikes and whips. To maximize the spring feeling, I added some flowers; perhaps cherry blossoms, maybe apple, or whatever pink flower you like to see on trees! I know it makes me want to get out of the basement where I build and go take a walk, at least.