We often build with LEGO bricks to imitate, in other words reflect, life. While Ralf Langer‘s latest creation is a completely realistic microscale depiction of medieval life, the word reflection has more meanings to it.
First we see a micro mountain village with some cool techniques like the church roof, printed tiles as windows and modified plates as pine trees, but then something interesting in the water catches the eye. Ralf states in the picture description on Flickr that this is an experiment in water reflections, and I can see where he is going with it. A little extra bit is exposed in the description; if you go to the beginning of Ralf’s Flickr photostream, you can see that the building being reflected in the water is a microscale version of his first custom LEGO creation, earlier this year.
In a world where it seems as if a castle builder’s merit is measured in part by their best stone and timber medieval cottage, it is not hard to imagine that the motif has been perfected over the years. Though it is nearly impossible to invent anything new, builders like David Zambito still manage to bring something fresh to the table.
It is no surprise that I will point out the sloping path as ingenious and unique. It is so simple and effective that the real surprise is the fact we haven’t seen such paths everywhere! But I should not ignore the patchy snow on the frozen pond, achieved by combining clear and white slope pieces, or the stone walls on the cottage. What really brings the creation together is the smoothly flowing snow, made out of an assortment of curved slope pieces.
Although JRR Tolkien primarily created his Middle-Earth fantasy world as a place for his invented languages to exist, his populating of that world with an array of fantastical creatures was a key element in the enduring appeal of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. Aaron Newman brings us fantastic microscale LEGO models depicting the movie versions of 3 of Tolkien’s most famous “big beasts” — the Balrog, the Nazgul’s Fell Beast, and an armoured Mumakil.
The Balrog looks great, with it’s flaming whip and broad wingspan. I particularly like how Aaron has captured the creature’s distinctive face in a tight selection of pieces. The Mumakil is brilliant, poised to stomp and tusk-sweep its way through a swathe of eensy-weensy Rohirrim. But the highlight of the show has to be Nazgul on his Fell Beast. A clever parts selection has managed to produce a sinuous and reptilian effect, perfectly capturing how the movie trilogy Fell Beasts seemed to slither through the air. Now we need appropriately scaled microscale backdrops for all 3 models — come on Aaron, get to work.
There is something about the jungle that just fills me with all sorts of unexplainable pleasant feelings. While I understand that the humid hell filled with insects that is a real-life jungle would evoke a different kind of emotion, that does not mean we can’t enjoy an insect-free jungle shrine from our armchairs, like this one built in LEGO by Jonas Kramm. This is more than just a pretty build though, Jonas has created this “Shrine of Nature” to explore the unusual use for minecraft animal head pieces as described in his article on the New Elementary blog.
The focus of the build is the central pattern built out of multiple Minecraft wolf heads in two staggered rows, with a lit up translucent green background, giving a mysterious tone to the creation. The exotic and unique plant and animal life in the scene are great too, using all sorts of exotic pieces in unique ways.
A thick stone wall is all well and good, but how does that help when what you’re up against has huge fangs, breathes fire, and can fly? Michael K. addresses this dilemma in this large-scale castle siege diorama titled expressively, “With Full Hardness”.
The scene is quite moody, using mainly dark colours, focusing on dark green. Even darker than the colour pallet is the theme, a vicious battle that the builder depicts quite explicitly, sparing no blood in the shape of translucent red parts. The best part of the build has to be the dragons, all posed and placed so they convey as much sense of motion and story as they can.
I am constantly jealous of both Jeff Friesen‘s exceptional photography and his beyond-exceptional LEGO builds. As the winner of our 2017 LEGO Builder of the Year award and the author of the book LEGO Micro Cities, Jeff is always on his A-game. This castle with lovely waterfalls made from trans-blue curved panels and Technic driving ring extensions for turrets is just awesome.
Just a few weeks ago we wrote an article on another cool LEGO castle of Jeff’s. Also, stay tuned for our review of his book!
Orcs menacing your castle? Run out of rocks for your trebuchet? No problem. Simply call up your friendly neighbourhood wizard and he’ll turn your castle walls into a living weapon. Chris Perron‘s LEGO “Wall Golem” is a nicely-built model of a great idea. The golem looks suitably architectural, the shoulders and crown immediately evoking a castle brought to life. But it was the torso and its rock “ribcage” which caught my eye — a nice detail that manages to feel like some sort of organic masonry, in other words, exactly how a golem ought to look.
World of Warcraft is still a remarkably popular game considering its age, and it’s no surprise that the millions of players worldwide overlap with the millions of LEGO fans somehow. A case of this combination is Chris Perron with his Goblin Shredder.
The mech piloted by a crazy little green guy seems ready to fell some sacred trees, and it is equipped for the job. The circular sawblade is very well incorporated into the arm and the little chains in the elbow joints give a convincing impression of a fantasy machine. I love the dark red lines at the ankles, but by far the best part is the “face” of the mecha, sculpted with all sorts of polygonal pieces. Its mouth, which uses a cowcatcher piece in front of various translucent orange pieces, even lights up!
Magical swirls, bright colours, and mysterious runes might impress you in this portal hub scene by LEGO builder Chris Perron, but with a bit of thought you realize it is just a glorified crossroad, which seems as magical to us as cars would to someone using a portal transport system.
There is so much to love in the scene. The swirling, colourful portals are highlighted in post-production to give an immersive magical feeling. The green runes on the floor add a bit of mystery, along with the eye symbols and other decoration on the walls. The real star is the forced perspective castle in the central, blue portal and how it is lit in beautiful sunset colours.
LEGO castle scenes are generally static pieces of landscape with some kinds of structures or a little sprinkle of life in the form of a handful of minifigs. This is a tested formula that works best in most examples, but the latest scene by h2brick is not one of them. The builder faithfully recreates a piece of the battle of Minas Tirith from the third Lord of the Rings movie.
The landscaping is nice to look at with flowing layers and colours, as well as some well built yet subtle rocks. One would expect the LEGO horse to start feeling repetitive, but the variation between colours, mold types and posing keeps it fresh. The touches of clutter on both sides give a feeling of an anxious anticipation of battle.
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the LEGO minifigure, and its chunky proportions are beloved the world over. However, as excellent as the minifigure is, it remains stiff and able to strike only a handful of poses. Some builders like √erde’ have turned to sculpting their own characters out of small elements, employing minifigure headgear to give them a lifelike appearance. This pair of warriors, representing brute force on the left, and speed and agility on the right, are magnificent examples. Plus, the photography makes them really seem like they’re on a battlefield.
For about the past decade, LEGO castle builders have trended towards what I like to call a ramshackle aesthetic, with precariously towering walls and gravity-defying roofs attached with a song and a prayer. It’s natural that builders would flex their chops in that manner, as that painterly style requires a great deal more skill than the simple, studs-up brick walls of classic castle sets and many early castle builders. However, equally difficult is building more traditional, real-world castles and avoiding the dreaded “grey wall syndrome” of thoroughly boring architecture. Isaac Snyder‘s walls of Carcassonne accomplishes this excellently, featuring a short segment of the French city’s fortifications. The walls and even roofs are no less detailed than any you’d find in the more ramshackle style, yet are thoroughly grounded in authentic style.
Perhaps next time Isaac can include a road though, as I’ve been needing a straight wall segment with a road to complete my city for ages!