In the depths of LEGO space and time, the amount of creative ways to build space craft has blossomed exponentially. Sometimes from the most complex of concepts and other times, from something as simple as a basic letter from the alphabet. Dave Kaleta has been working on his letter based starfighter series since the beginning of this year. Though what really impressed me, aside from his great creations, was that his three-year-old son, Elliot, sat predominantly at the head of the build team. Inspired by a Star Wars letter-based starfighter contest a few years back, they set some of their own rules to build by and opened up a newly inspired space.
In the state of Illinois, in the town of Mettawa, there is a house called Mettawa Manor. Originally built in 1927, when it was purchased in 1990 by newsman Bill Kurtis and his wife Donna LaPietra, they became just the second owners of the estate, and, in the nearly thirty years since, they have refurbished the place and made the gardens a popular horticultural destination. Another newsman, Peter Sagal, the host of National Public Radio’s popular Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me alongside Mr. Kurtis, commissioned a LEGO build of the manor for his colleague from the talented Dave Kaleta to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his marriage at the house. The resulting model is magnificent!
Building in microscale has its peculiar challenges, where each stud width and plate height equals many feet (or meters outside the USA), but Dave has done a great job of replicating the different angles of the roof lines and various bay windows, together with beautiful landscaping. The use of neck brackets for electrical details on the roof as well as the chairs on the back patio is lovely, and repeated 1×1 tiles on the roof create a perfect illusion of shingle texture. My favorite detail is definitely the entry way, though, with the perfect little door framed by an arch of cheese slopes. Photos of the actual house appear on the builder’s Flickr photostream, and it is as spot-on as one could do in LEGO bricks. What a gift!
Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! is a weekly radio game show series on NPR. Questions typically revolve around the news with a lighthearted take. When Dave Kaleta attended a taping of the show, he brought with him LEGO versions of the host, announcer, and celebrity panelists. After the show, he presented a model to each of them. Dave has done a great job capturing the spirit of the series, with Peter Segal’s head tilted toward the panelists as if he’s asking a question. At the same time, Roxanne appears to be doing a happy dance after giving the right answer, while Paula seems to lament hers was wrong. Dave’s figures are well-built, with cute headsets made of 14 mm tires and string with end studs. The panelists even have their complimentary water bottles. Well played!