Lost somewhere in all the hysteria that is Frozen, Disney has put out several other surprisingly good animated movies within recent memory, such as Moana and Tangled. Sure, these aren’t the classics of my youth, or the gilded treasures of Disney past, but they are enjoyably watchable when I sit down with my kids. Tangled, in particular, stands out, if for no other reason than the absurdly long hair of the protagonist, Rapunzel. 1soko brings the tower that serves as the abducted princess’s prison to life beautifully in LEGO form.
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!
As if any LEGO fan needed another reason to visit Billund, Denmark, Poul-Erik Borre’s medieval buildings are currently on display in the LEGO Store at the LEGO House. The Home of the Brick is effective in inviting repeat visits, especially to see the rotating fan displays. While the headliners are the creations in the Masterpiece Gallery, the hidden gems that really enrich the experience are found in the store displays. There is so much to see in just this one creation.
The first thing I realized is how almost every shade of green (except maybe lime) in the current LEGO colour palette is used here. Sticking with green, he’s incorporated some nice decorative elements, such as statuettes, a dragon, and even the printed green leaves from Groot’s legs. Aside from the parts and colours, there are also some good stories being told in this scene. I’m particularly interested in whether or not there’s a link between the boys with slingshots and the shirtless man running across the rooftop.
Here’s one of those creations which prompts initial “That’s not LEGO” comments, followed by clicking to zoom-in and check out the details in an attempt to figure out how the builder worked their magic. What grabs the attention in Ralf Langer‘s medieval buildings are the weathering effects — this pair of ramshackle structures are a masterclass in making a LEGO model look worn and tatty and old. There’s not a straight line in sight in those walls, or the wonderful base, and the variety of colours used for wood and plaster creates a patina of realistic age and decay. Interesting parts choices give texture and depth to the buildings, and the finishing touch is that splash of contrasting colour offered by the tree blossom.
These two buildings were hidden away in Ralf’s astonishing LEGO medieval town we covered previously. However, Ralf’s tweaked and refreshed them both, and it’s great to get a closer look at such impressive architectural work.
LEGO is an art form. It requires precision placement of elements, meticulous thought, endless creativity, and a bold sense of the possibilities. Sure, you can build like a four-year-old, placing stuff willy-nilly and using any old color you please. You can also color on walls like a four-year-old, but that doesn’t take away from the frescoes of Raphael or Michelangelo. A build like this one by Marcel V. illustrates my point. There is a balance of composition, the cohesion of form, careful use of colors, and especially crisp photography. This is no child’s toy anymore.
This is not the first time I have written about a treehouse by Marcel, but this one has glorious limbs and even more glorious little rooms. The cheese slope roof looks great, and if you look close, every potted plant is constructed and attached differently. Don’t miss the book as a little roof over the door, too. My favorite detail might be the small table at the base of the tree, built of a combination of sorcery and twigs. The little pebbles arranged so carefully, stalks of grass, and even the soldiers posed loose give the build a much larger feel while still exhibiting a mastery of brick composition. After all, LEGO is an art form.
LEGO builders will sometimes look for ways to challenge themselves. Sometimes they’ll require that their creation includes a specific “seed part”, usually something that isn’t particularly easy to incorporate. Sometimes they’ll put insane time pressure on things, giving themselves a week, or even a day, to go from loose bricks to completed model. And then, sometimes, you get someone like First Order Lego who will create an entire diorama, based around a battle droid body, in just two hours.
In this scene, a murky river of transparent black elements runs between two peaks. Connecting them is a bridge, made up of those required droid bodies and robot arms. Green spikes combine with 1×1 flower plate to create a touch of vegetation. And there’s even a mountain fortress, rendered in miniature by headlight bricks and cheese slopes. Hard to believe this only took two hours.
You don’t have to take my word on the short time frame, though. Check out this awesome time-lapse of the build and see for yourself!
Lately I’m on the lookout for calming and peaceful LEGO creations; they add a nice balance to the chaos of the modern world. Happily, this windmill created by Sheo is just what the doctor ordered. There are a lot of things to love about the construction, like the curving and tapering rings of stone making up the tower. I also like how the base is incorporated into the main design. The path that leads up to the door curves down, breaking through the stone wall that rings the windmill. It creates a nice illusion that this is only a smaller bit of a larger scene, and not an isolated display piece.
There are also great details created by clever part usage. A minifigure sword serves as a weather vane, turntable bases create windows, and telescopes brace the sails. All in all, a welcome breath of fresh air.
Ahoy there! The Peregrinus Shipyard is looking for boat builders to assemble seafaring vessels. Chief among these builders is Gabriel Thompson, the maker of this fantastic creation.
The shipyard is built on one thing: detail. From the roof design to the water depth, everything about the Peregrinus Shipyard is extremely eye-pleasing. I’m especially impressed by the brickwork in the walls of the drydocks. Click to see more of the shipyards
Most adult builders looked at the little goblin figures from LEGO’s Elves theme with some distaste. I suspect this was due to the bright colors and limited elements that make them up. I know I felt that way. They are difficult to fit into a build, even a fantasy one, because they are too cartoonish to be taken seriously. Given the right setting, though, perhaps they could be useful. Take, for instance, this build by John Snyder. Bright colors, like lime green grass and a purple wagon roof, tie the goblins and their garish hues into the overall build. The layout itself is unique, with large brick-built tomes bookending the multi-level scene. Plus, as always with a Snyder build, there are play functions. The small dwarf-elf (or dwelf, as the cover implies) is in trouble, about to fall through a trapdoor into the subterranean lair of the goblins. Could anything be worse than being captured by those almost-useless rainbow-colored creatures?
When I think back to the LEGO sets I loved most as a kid, two come to mind: 6075 Wolfpack Tower and 6048 Majisto’s Magical Workshop. What made them special? Well, perhaps it was the opening functions they both had, so that I could have both a fully-enclosed building and a fully-accessible interior for my characters to live in. That, and I loved both wolves and dragons, so they had cool shields. Some castle builders (myself included) generally just build an interior room or exterior tower or wall from a particular angle, with a rainbow of parts behind the scenes. It saves time and bricks to do so. But when Isaac Snyder constructs a building out of LEGO, 99 times out of 100 it includes a full interior. Every part of the build is playable, accessible, and carefully thought through. It is like the sets of my childhood, only a billion times cooler and more detailed.
I adore roofs made from cheese slopes, and surprisingly for someone as prolific in the castle genre as Isaac, this is his first use of the technique. The chairs on the waterwheel look perfect, and everything has the polished Snyderian look one expects from Isaac; nothing seems out of place. Inside the structure, several things stand out, the first being that every level is accessible via a ladder or stair, with specific holes in the floor to move minifigures around. Kid me would have had a heyday making characters go up and down the stairs, falling through the holes, and so on. Second, there are beds and other practical furniture, which castle sets seldom had. Friends sets do, but not castle. Third, and perhaps most excitingly, the mill really spins! The gears connect to the grindstone, so you can make your very own ABS flour. Play functions and aesthetics. What more could one want?
Is this real life? Or is this just fantasy? How about a fairy tale then? Yeah, that’s what we’ve got here. Letranger-Absurde brings Rapunzel’s Tower to tiny life in this charming microscale build. Filled with innovative part usage, this scene balances whimsy with rock-solid building techniques.
The most eye-catching feature is probably the use of the costume from the LEGO Movie 2’s Crayon girl minifigure. (Some other figure lost their purple leg to fill in the archway, too.) That tower also features the use of a banana and bar holder with clip to make Rapunzel’s tresses.
The rest of the landscape has some cool secrets as well. That’s a dragon arm providing a bit of greenery. Tree tops are from Joker hair and a skater helmet. My favorite detail, though, is the waterfall turbulence that perfectly-repurposes ghostly minifigure legs.
When it comes to medieval buildings, builders sometimes go all out on texture. Pieces end up being used every which way, with studs facing all directions, and random parts thrown in there just to show how clever the builder is. It doesn’t always look good, though, since it can appear too busy. That’s not to say that I think every surface needs to be smooth and flat and all lines need to be clean and straight. Quite the contrary. Ralf Langer is one of the builders out there who manage to balance irregular surfaces, crooked lines, and clever parts usages with cohesive structures and a strong visual presence. The ground in his latest creation is a perfect microcosm of what I mean: he blends smooth bits, heavily studded bits, and interesting parts to create something appealing and delightful, and I haven’t even looked at the buildings yet!
If you are wondering what the part in the ground is that gives it the baked-clay or tiny cobblestone look, it is a Technic drive chain. And by a Technic drive chain, I mean about ten billion And they’re not just in the ground, but also in the walls of the buildings, forming some of the wattle in the classic wattle-and-daub medieval look. Minifig legs create some fun decaying shapes in one of the buildings, and flex tube ends make for some clever windows. But best of all is Ralf’s use of stud shooter triggers. I see at least four different uses for those in this build, showing once again that all pieces have uses in custom-built LEGO models. I’m always a sucker for immersive builds, and Ralf is one of the best at them. Look through the arches and you can see more town beyond, promising a bigger world out there. Just not for the figure on the ground, since the standing one is Death.