The modern circus can trace its roots back to the late 18th Century in Philip Astley’s Amphitheatre. By the 1800s, the development of a vast railroad network allowed the circus to hit the tracks, traveling from town to town. In a world before radios and television, the circus was often one of the most highly anticipated entertainment events. Celebrating the spirit of the traveling circus, Ben Spector has built a colorful and fun-looking circus train.
Builder Ian Hoy turns our attention to the center ring with this beautifully built circus scene. Heed the carnival barker in his jaunty top hat as he calls to you — “Step right up folks and stare in awe and amazement at this action-packed quintuple of animal performers, each one with its own special talents on display! Hurry, hurry! Take a peek, you won’t be disappointed!”
Each of the animals in this scene could stand on its own, but the combination of all of them together makes for a truly marvelous show. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be the leaping tiger. Hou manages to imbue it with action, movement and just a touch of danger.
The scooter-riding bear is a close second with his whimsical expression. The dog as the carnival barker is a brilliant touch, and the magician’s rabbit also provide a nice dose of humor and expression. Taking center stage is everyone’s favorite big-eared elephant Dumbo, although Hou doesn’t reference him as such in his descriptions of the piece.
Every performer has a level of detail and building creativity that is a joy to look at up close and leaves me wanting to figure out how the builder did it all.
The setting of the scene is equally rich in detail, from the bejeweled stage lights to the speakers and rounded stage. The use of flags on the sides also adds to the festive atmosphere and the font on the word “circus” is particularly impressive and creative. I’m also particularly fond of the use of the backside of the pieces to create the curtained backdrop. Many builders go to great pains to not show the back, but Hou does a terrific job in this case and it all blends together perfectly. As an added bit of humor, in the corner behind the tiger there looks to be a crate full of food, including a cooked turkey, to make sure the performers are well fed and ready to play.
Luckily, the fun doesn’t stop with the front of the model! The back and outside are equally impressive, utilizing a second lettering style and a simple but effective representation of a circus tent.
Like any good traveling spectacular, at the end of the day the whole shebang can be folded up and moved on to the next city, ready to thrill audiences with the greatest show on earth!
There’s something wonderfully old-fashioned about the latest model built by Nick Barrett (TechnicNick), the LEGOLand circus. Before there were minifigs, LEGO already made the much larger maxifigs (although nobody called them that at the time). Their upper torsos and heads were specialised parts, but their bodies were brick-built. I had a few of these as a child and my sister had a much larger collection. Nick, who is a few years older than me, has combined these classic figures with modern parts and top-notch build techniques in this fantastic model.