Tag Archives: Dave Kaleta

When nature calls, build bricks

Plants are nature’s greatest display. The cathartic feeling of seeing a tiny jungle is alive in Dave Kaleta’s LEGO plant box. Using the new IKEA BYGGLEK, Dave fills the inside of the base with some loose brown bricks, representing the soil. The small garden is made of green studs, slope-shaped bricks, and leaf elements. The real life plants, accompanied in the photo, contrast the plastic counterpart.

LEGO x IKEA Countertop Planter

Dave’s 26x18x12cm BYGGLEK is a picturesque centerpiece mirroring the realism of indoor plants. The installation of a grow light gives some hope that these babies will sprout into trees. We’re just kidding. Notice the three button elements on the front of the BYGGLEK planter. They symbolize various power functions (left to right): bright light, water, and night mode (possibly a dimmer). This smart build puts the theme of sustainability at the forefront as we’ve seen in recent years from The LEGO Group, as they’ve rolled out plant-based elements (40320) in an effort to lower their carbon footprint. We’re digging this!

No two ways about it, you can count on this spaceship

There’s something familiar about the shape of this latest spaceship from Dave Kaleta and son. Those curves look too recognizable, suggesting a meaning beyond the utility of the shape itself. I’m sure it’ll come to me. In the meantime, I can enjoy the unusual colors. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a purple and lavender hull, and the extensive use of transparent neon-green lightsaber blades and radar dishes really makes things come alive. This beauty also has cool action features like an opening cockpit, adjustable engines, and firing missiles. (You can see them in action in Dave’s Instagram post.) It really adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

Number Two Starfighter (2020)

I’m still at a loss as to what this shape means, though. Maybe I’ll go looking at the other ships in Dave’s growing fleet for a clue.

Chicago’s hockey legend is padded up in LEGO

Here come the Hawks, the mighty Blackhawks! I am not a sports guy, but I respect athletes who have brought a semblance of glory to their hometowns. Especially when I have lived in that town for over a decade, and exceptional athletes become the local heroes. Teacher and LEGO artist Dave Kaleta has built a large sculpture of a Chicago Blackhawks player Jonathan Toews. Being a Chicago native, Kaleta chose the Blackhawks team captain as the subject to commemorate the new hockey season. This build not only serves as cultural imagery for hockey fans and Chicagoans but as just a realistic and detailed representation of a talented sportsman. In addition to the dynamic posing of the skating Toews, this massive sculpture is packed to the brim with interesting building techniques.

Jonathan Toews (2020)

One can examine the photo for at length to see how he has assembled the details like the numbers and the Blackhawks logo. Since I don’t have much to say about hockey, I can talk about the build itself!

Read about the details and a little bit of LEGO-related hockey trivia I could conjure up!

Black lives matter, even among privileged LEGO builders [Editorial]

Here at The Brothers Brick, we’ve taken “political” stands on matters of peace and justice for as long as the LEGO building community has created LEGO art that communicates an important message, whether that message was in support of marriage equality way back in 2006 or freedom of discourse in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015. Dave Kaleta joins a chorus of people around the world who choose not to remain silent in these excruciating, infuriating times.

Black Lives Matter

From a LEGO build perspective, Dave uses largely disconnected white slopes, tiles, and plates to surround solidly attached black bricks. Dave also leverages the new range of small curved tiles to create the lettering along the bottom of the mosaic. But the build and its techniques are hardly what grab my attention.

A few thoughts on the intersection of LEGO, art, politics, and privilege

This ship raises questions

Recently LEGO builder Dave Kaleta completed his series of Alphabet-shaped ships. Many of us wondered “what’s next?” Well looks like Dave answered that question with a question of his own. Behold the ?-Wing. As impressive as that curved hull is, even more spectacular is that this ship is able to stand upright on it’s own. (Well, okay, partly thanks to two small landing gear strips.) It’s worth clicking through to Dave’s instagram post to see this beauty in action.

?-Wing Starfighter 2020

Like the rest of the fleet, this ship was built in collaboration with Dave’s 4 year old son, Elliot. Interested in joining in on the fun? Dave is running a contest for builders who want to make their own entries into the Alpha-fleet.

Now I know my A B Cs...

…Next time won’t you sing with me? With several toddlers roaming the hardwood, I sing the alphabet song frequently around my house. It’s a classic. That also seems to be what Dave Kaleta is singing with this gorgeous poster shot of all of his alphabet starfighters, built out of LEGO in collaboration with his young son. We have featured several of them on their own, like B and C, among others, but all together they are gorgeous.

Alphabet starfighter group

And while we usually don’t promote contests here at The Brothers Brick, I can’t resist pointing out that Dave really is inviting you to sing the space alphabet song with him by entering your own alphabet starfighter into his contest (clicking the image below will bring you to the rules). It ends May 9th, by the way, so you have time to get some entries in!

See details of a few starfighters not seen before on TBB

Which is the space pirate’s favorite letter? The C!

Frequent The Brothers Brick readers will be familiar with Dave Kaleta’s ongoing Alphabet Squadron of letter-based starship designs. The saga continues, as it is wont to do, and another ship is zipping through the stars this week!

Comet, cosmic, …coral? These words all have something in common and this latest starfighter is shaped just like it.

C-Wing front

This is one of my favorite of Dave’s series because I love the new coral color (that splat gear!) and that he managed to make a ship durable enough for his young son to play with while still maintaining that challenging hinged crescent shape.

C-Wing Back

A generation ago some of us marveled at and hopelessly tried to emulate the great Jon Palmer Alphabet fighter project. Dave gets to be that torch-bearer for today’s generation of LEGO fans.

Whisper words of wisdom, letter B

My favorite letter of the alphabet is B, followed closely by S; not because I like to call people on their BS, but because those are my initials. In fact, my love for the letter B was one major reason why Blacktron II (or Future Generation) was my favorite space theme, with the green B emblazoned on their chests. It was like a whole crew of Benjamins. Dave Kaleta, fresh off a series of alphabet space ships, brings us the best letter of all. And, like the ships of Blacktron II, it comes apart (or combines, depending on your point of view).

b-Wing Starfighters

See how these two smaller ships combine into a single larger ship

Alpha squadron, do you read me? You bet I do.

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.

N-Wing Hero

Read on to see more of the series within Dave and Elliot’s collaboration.

Wait, wait, don’t tell me! It’s Mettawa Manor in miniature!

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!

Mettawa Manor

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!

Mettawa Manor

Wait Wait...Don’t tell me!

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!

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!