Yes, you read the title correctly. Rocco Buttliere has used around 84,000 LEGO bricks, to be more precise. In addition to 300+ hours of building to recreate the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, Rocco also spent 400+ hours designing it first. If that doesn’t blow your mind, it should. That is one giant build of one of the world’s most spectacular architectural sites. Like his earlier LEGO diorama of Ancient Rome, Rocco built this one for a commission for a museum, and boy, does it belong there. The overview picture hardly does it justice, as it all blends together into a blur of flame orange, dark red, and grey, but zoom in and there are as many marvels as in the real deal. Fancy a tour? It’s not forbidden to look at this one, even for a commoner like me.
Thanks to an ongoing round of Iron Builder, which sees two contestants pitted against each other to build a variety of LEGO models using a specific element, we’ve been seeing an explosion of builds employing the dynamite bundle, from arcade machines to detailed kitchens. Cecilie Fritzvold, in particular, has been on a roll, sticking that dynamite piece into builds anywhere she can fit it, including into this amazing dragon scroll, where nearly 50 of the bundles make up the twisting body of the beast.
And lest you think Cecilie is cheating by just neatly arranging a bunch of pieces on a tiled baseplate, look very closely and you’ll see that each piece is attached with a clip, meaning you could actually hang this on your wall. Well, except for that brick-built hangar, maybe. The two long black Technic axles that stand in for the string might not be up for the task.
Check out more of Cecilie’s dynamite escapades in our archives: Cecilie Fritzvold LEGO creations
When we featured Cindy Su’s compelling Zhongli Quan figure, she clued us in that he was the first of the legendary Eight Immortals from Chinese mythology that she would build. Now we are enthralled all over again with this lovely He Xaingu figure who is here with her lotus flower to improve our mental and physical health. Her uplifting presence and her healing powers are much appreciated right about now.
Friends sets offer a much more feminine color pallet than your standard LEGO fare and Cindy demonstrates just how lovely that can be. Whether building a car fender, hot air balloon or, in this case, a lotus flower, these parts are proving to be an integral addition to anyone’s LEGO collection. We will patiently await the arrival of Cindy’s other six Immortals from Chinese mythology. In the meantime you can learn more.
Builder Cindy Su invites us to find out more about Chinese myths with this wonderful little figural model of Zhongli Quan. Chinese mythology is rife with humans turned immortal, but perhaps the most famous among these is The 8 Immortals. Dating back to the Jin dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, the 8 mystical figures are part of the Taoist pantheon. They have been a subject of Chinese art and mythologies for centuries and are still popular today.
The subject of this particular build is Zhongli Quan. He is pictured here carrying his traditional large fan, imbued with the power to turn rocks into precious gold or silver and even resurrect the dead. The sculpting of his body shows off his rotund shape and the use of satellite dishes is perfect for his exposed chest and belly. His hairstyle, utilizing round balls gives the whole thing some wonderful shapes and texture. The hot dog buns as his ears is a particularly clever use of parts.
On her Flickr page, Cindy notes this figure as 1 of 8. I look forward to seeing her depictions of the other 7 immortals and their journey across the East Sea.
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is to Chinese literature what the works of William Shakespeare are to English literature. A semi-historical story set in the time period of the Three Kingdoms (A.D. 169-280), the novel was perhaps written in the 14th century, though specific dates are hard to come by. It tells the story of how the Han dynasty gradually fell apart and became three independent kingdoms and all of the bitter rivalries and infighting that led to that point. Among all of the hundreds of characters in the novel, LEGO builder Jae Won Lee has chosen the main protagonist, Liu Bei, his chief strategist, Zhuge Lian, and the Five Tiger Generals who fought for them. The five generals are depicted in stunning fashion astride charging stallions, manes and tails flowing with the speed of their charge, and the other two men are nobly standing.
The appearances of the generals are inspired by Chinese artwork, complete with the unique coloration of each. The dynamic posing of many of the models puts this a step above most similar builds. There might be more studs showing than some builders would prefer, but it works well with this style. They deserve a closer look!
In the Chinese city of Wuhan, you can find the 51.4 m Yellow Crane Tower (黄鹤楼). The current iteration of the tower was completed in 1985, but the tower has existed in various forms since at least the year 223. Chinese LEGO fan Smoker Nie (聂汉卿) has built a beautiful replica of the tower, which took a painstaking eight months to design and 1,400 hours to build. It consists of 163,100 pieces and stands at a massive height of 158 cm (≈5.2 ft). This is made all the more impressive by the fact that this is only his second LEGO model. (His first was the Aiwan Ting Pavilion.)
For a Western audience, this collection of buildings by 磊 耿 is a striking break from the more familiar architecture usually seen in a LEGO street scene, with a wonderful variety of styles. But regardless of where you’re from, you’re bound to be impressed by the sheer quality of the building work on display. Pagoda roofs vie with castle spires for attention, and “big” certainly doesn’t mean bland, with an impressive depth of texture and interesting colour schemes across all the structures.
This multi-storey LEGO fish market built by Glaz Pimpur is a microcosm of bustling city life. It’s also one of those builds that rewards a top to bottom scan, with each level offering up its own special treat.
Starting at street level we get to see all manner of produce being brought to market. Is that a shark in the back of that truck! Above the gates there’s some nifty part usage, with trans orange boulders doubling as lanterns. Carry on up the façade and it’s time to show off some excellent typography work in the form of the brick-built fish Kanji. Just when you think its done, the model reveals a final rooftop surprise: an authentic temple, where you can finish your shopping trip off with some tai chi practice.
Capturing all the flourishes of traditional Chinese aesthetic style, Space Brick’s Shrine of the Golden Dragon is another effortlessly elegant build. Like his ramen and sushi bar, he’s once again tapped into his subject and adjusted his building techniques to match. The eponymous dragon is a single sweeping curve, detailed with simple gold studs to replicate scales. The base is a thing of beauty too, with a backdrop of wonderfully stylised clouds. It’s not just a great LEGO model it’s a marvellous ornament too.
One of the things I love about Alan Boar’s LEGO creations is the amount of time he takes to research his subjects. In this case it’s the Taikoo Ropeway, an early cable car system built in 1891 to link Hong Kong’s Taikoo Dockyard to the Taikoo Sugar Refinery. The finished diorama, built in collaboration with his wife and son, is rendered in an aesthetic reminiscent of Chinese landscape painting. Designed in monochrome, the Mount Parker setting is wonderfully accented with stylised brick clouds. In front of the clouds, a grey building frames the predominately white ropeway scene, helping to highlight a host of fascinating features.
When it comes to building historic Chinese architecture from LEGO bricks, it can prove challenging to capture the sweeping curves of rooftops and ornate details. While we’ve seen builders employ a variety of techniques for this, with his model of the Aiwan Ting Pavilion, Chinese builder Smoker Nie has managed to pull off both the shape and the details in an especially eye-pleasing manner. Aiwan Pavilion is located on Mount Yuelu in the Chinese province of Hunan.
Smoker’s building is an excellent likeness, both inside and out. According to the builder, 12350 LEGO bricks were used in its construction.
Zhu Bajie is one of the Monkey God’s fellow travellers in the classic tale Journey To The West. Western TV viewers might know him better as ‘Pigsy’ from the late-70s adaptation. However, familiarity with the source material isn’t required to appreciate this amazing LEGO version of the porcine hero by Kingmarshy. Wonderfully sculpted from a mix of Technic, Bionicle, and regular system bricks, this is a masterpiece of character building. The face is excellent, as is the headdress, but it’s the lines of the robe, with its white trim gaping around the bulging stomach, which really caught my eye. It’s also nice to see this sort of character engaged in a peaceful activity like feasting rather than set up in a more martial pose. The accompanying furniture is perfect — helping create the period feel, but not distracting attention from the main character himself.