The Black Falcons have proven to be the most popular of the 80s LEGO castle factions, but despite having a few small castles, one thing they never got was a proper large castle of their own. Enter Steven Erickson with a redux of the iconic 6074 Black Falcon’s Fortress from 1986, a set so beloved that LEGO re-released it in 2001. Steven’s version is a significant upgrade from the original 404-piece set, bringing the tiny fortress up to a respectable size and adorning it with modern techniques while still retaining the old-school feel.
We’ve featured The Birchwood Baron by Steven Erickson before on TBB. Not long after that Steven surprised us with The Red Oak Regent. Now we finally have a LEGO creation that features both these gentle forest giants. Steven’s creation is proof that minifigures do matter. With that I am not implying that a build without minifigures is not that interesting. I am implying that it pays off to carefully put your minifigures together. It is easily noticeable when the minifigures in a creation are just an afterthought. Steven mixes minifigure parts from a broad selection of themes and they are not just castle. We can spot some Disney parts, but also pirates, Lone Ranger BAM and CMF. Speaking of CMF, have you seen our elaborate LEGO CMF series 23 review?
Whenever Steven Erickson and Mark Erickson get together you know it is going to be LEGO magic—underwater magic, in this case. But maybe that’s my undying urge to live my life as the mermaid I know that I am—or at least was in a past life. Or maybe it’s the amazing underwater creatures that these builders created.
Using the jellyfish mask for a jellyfish isn’t groundbreaking, but it is nice to see these odd parts pop up in creations. The true brilliance is the use of the trans pink umbrella to create an even bigger jellyfish. The leaf parts work great representing the tentacles. The Bionicle Olmak mask works great as an underwater vehicle. The only thing I am not sure about is the faucet used as a steering wheel.
We all know that Steven Erickson is capable of great things. I was very pleased to see his latest LEGO creation based on his and his brother’s winning model from the finale of LEGO Masters US S2. This revamp of Warden of the Woods is named the Birch Baron. It is about a quarter of the size of the Warden of the Woods, which makes it way more compatible with LEGO minifigures. I love how the wood pattern is integrated in this figure and there are just enough black lines to make it read birch wood. Too much would have made it look like a zebra. The bright yellow and light orange add a wonderful contrast to white central figure.
There is so much eye for detail in this build. If you were to zoom in on the staff, you’ll notice purple half circle tiles used to represent, what I think are, shelf fungus. In the Netherlands we call those elf benches, which sounds way more romantic and in the theme of this creation. Steven made several small bases to go along with the Birch Baron and each one depicts a different theme. I like the fallen leaves on the ground and the use of the old school flower to represent the mushroom stalk and gills of the mushrooms. If you’ll excuse me now, I feel like going on a walk in nature.
Brothers and LEGO Masters contestants Mark and Steven Erickson are continuing their big building skills with this beautiful leviathan. The scale here is deceptive, as the stand spans several feet, made of transparent bricks with lights embedded. Look closely right in the middle and you’ll spot a tiny Thor battling the mighty Jörmungandr. The sea serpent also has lights in its eyes, as well as a fog machine for real smoke, and the result is astounding.
The best architecture, oftentimes, like the best LEGO builds, is not terribly original; instead, it repeats the same forms over and over again, but in arrangements that show precision and careful thought. Within that repetition, there is room for extreme creativity (which is how we get such diverse LEGO builds, despite everyone using the same basic parts). In fact, Gothic architecture includes subtle differences even in areas that are “matching,” like the columns going down a medieval church; look carefully and you’ll see that not one of them is exactly like the others. And yet they are still matching and repetitive. This library entrance by Brother Steven illustrates this nicely. Similar to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, one of the crown jewels of Gothic architecture, the towers are of different heights.
Looking at the towers and the walls, there is something beautiful in the repetition of the shapes, something that ties it all together into a cohesive whole far better than anything novel could have. The 1×1 round bricks is the most obvious example, but the use of a studs-out strip beneath them heightens the repetition. The arches in the walls also match, with some having the Nexo shields and others having small statues. From there, subtle variations (like modified plates on one tower, and a small gap between the 1×1 round bricks and the studs-out strip on the other) add visual interest in a Gothic way. Gold accents, like the floral hinges on the doors and the unicorn horns on the battlements, set things off, and the white tree and verdant vegetation give the primarily-tan build the color it needs to pop. And pop it does!
I’m a sucker for the stories behind builds. I’m also one for nicely cut lines and color choice in architecture. This build by Brother Steven displays all of those traits. Although we’ve seen it done before, the journal of an adventurer chronicled in LEGO is a fascinating concept, and done well by Steven. This particular creation is part of a series of builds, all following “Zenas Abbington” as the hero. There are so many lovely aspects to the castle: the round base, the shape of the towers, the pearl gold carriage wheel in the windows, and the accents on the front door. Let’s not forget how adorable those sheep are too!
And the flip-side is just as pretty! That tree is magnificent, with its color and angled branches. I’m also a big fan of the underside of those mushrooms! It’s no wonder that this, coupled with a few other creations, won a “Brickee” at BrickFair Alabama 2019!
Some of the details of this build are reminiscent of other creations from Steven’s magical world, such as this floating castle we featured last year.