One of the magical aspects of Harry Potter and especially Hogwarts Castle is that ordinarily static things move. Pictures that in my house just hang there, with the people and things in them remaining frozen in time, always the same, in a wizarding house would be full of moving and talking, and even sentient, figures. And while we do have moving staircases in the Muggle world (we call them escalators), they don’t typically abruptly change their destinations; not so in Hogwarts, not so. The trouble is, we have not seen a single good moving staircase or moving picture in any official Harry Potter set. Fortunately for us, Jonas Kramm has filled the void with a brilliant build depicting both. There are innumerable gilt frames filled with magical chaps and dames, plus one of those moving staircases that so befuddled a young Potter and his pals in their early days of school. The moving functions are elegantly integrated and perfectly executed.
For the past year, Peter Carmichael has been texting me updates about an Aquazone base he was building. We both grew up in the 90s, so the classic LEGO themes from that era are full of nostalgia for us, and I’m always excited to see old favorites get a new makeover. But Peter said his update to the 1995 set Neptune Discovery Lab wasn’t going to be a simple redux with modern elements, but something grander. At nearly 6 feet long and using more than 50,000 pieces, I think he delivered.
The highlight of the base is the working Aquazone monorail track, an idea LEGO contemplated in the 90s but never ultimately released. The track makes a large figure eight, winding through the central base before looping around the edges.
If you are preparing your castle for a siege, you need to stock up on lumber, not just to keep out the cold, but to deprive your enemies of building material for siege engines. You could do this with manual labor, but why bother with that when you have a wizard who can bring the ultimate lumberjack to life? In this case, the wizard is Anthony Wilson who has built a mighty golem he calls the Tree Feller. And judging from the sparsely wooded scene, he has been earning his moniker. Anthony’s model is a perfect blend of castle building techniques and constraction figure sculpting. I especially like the arrowslit/visor, and the patches of moss throughout the towering hulk. Of further note is the great use of partial minifigs wading through the swamp water.
Builder Carter Witz has a strong back catalog of interesting LEGO dioramas that we’ve always found notable for their natural elements competing with the man-made creations for the eye’s attention. Whether it’s the gates of Menegroth or a steam-powered mechanical walker prowling the landscape there’s always a pleasing contrast throughline that continues with his newest creation, the Forgotten Door.
This creation also shows Carter’s growth as a LEGO builder with rock formations significantly more complex than his prior work. This time-consuming texturing perfectly complements the finely-chiseled stone doorway, and the entire diorama is framed with lush vegetation.
I like me some dam good LEGO building; or is that good LEGO dam building? I don’t know, but set in the not-too-distant future, this battle scene by Thomas depicts a grim future in which the forces of the European Union (EU) battle some Eurasian attackers in Germany, all to determine who will control the dam. If I understand the action correctly, the EU forces are trying to destroy the dam in order to fight back against the Eurasian invaders. It would a real shame if they succeeded, as it would ruin some perfectly good LEGO structures.
The dam itself is nicely constructed, with a clever brick-built “5” in the corner. A sense of action is also clearly conveyed, with the dark green EU forces against the grey Eurasians. I especially like the EU trooper battling some sort of insect-like robot at the base of the dam. The rough construction of the building gives it a post-apocalyptic feel, too, which is always a treat.
When was the last time you raised your eyes to the sky? There could be so much hidden above the clouds, for example, a community of brave aviators hopping between mountain peaks in their agile airplanes. A breathtaking collaboration project by amazingly talented German LEGO builders, Vaionaut, Ben Tritschler, Marcel V., Mark van der Maarel, Markus Rollbühler, Sylon-tw, and Willem (Steinchen), called Skytopia, is full of steam- and dieselpunk vibes, including huge propellers, flying boats and tons of wood and metal.
After wowing us with his circus model, Ian Hoy is back with another incredible scene. This time he’s trading in performing animals for some fun times at a beach fun fair. The scene is filled with little details and it features, among other things, a brick mosaic backdrop and a drop ride with a shark theme. Having spent a lot of time at boardwalk carnivals as a kid, this piece really speaks to me, bringing back fond memories of haunted house rides, rollercoasters and boardwalk french fries cooked in peanut oil. Just looking at it, I can almost smell the salty air and hear the funnel cakes sizzling away in the deep fryer. There is so much great stuff packed in here, it’s hard to know where to begin, so let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we?
The beach area is populated by a variety of beach goers engaged in the many activities. I love that the word “ocean” not only tells you where we are, but is incorporated into the overall design by having it being created as a sand sculpture by a bathing suit-clad minifigure. I also enjoyed checking out some of the smaller details like the treasure chest buried underground and the baby sea turtle and mini sandcastle by the shore. Continue reading
Crazy swingin’ cool are the cats in the city
over the fence and down the ally, walking kitty.
Ol’ Dane Erland blows into a dented saxophone
a sweet melody under a bright lonesome moon
and conspires with a hep BrickNerd named Tommy.
In the back alley we share our hopes and dreams
with anyone who’ll listen, even a rat if you please,
if it’s not much trouble to spare some cheese.
Bicycles and dreams ain’t damaged out here,
they just got more character, more stories to tell.
In the ally, a fire escape doubles as a patio
where we lay down beat poems, can you dig it, Daddy-O?
Builder Frost takes us to a forbidden planet where the plants have a mind of their own. We’ve featured some of his terrific space builds here in the past and he doesn’t disappoint in this latest offering. While this couldn’t be considered “Classic Space” in the LEGO sense, it exudes a wonderfully vintage vibe.
I’m a big fan of old science fiction pulp novels. Their covers, painted in lurid colors, have a certain take on weird fantasy visuals that doesn’t really exist anymore. This model really captures the feeling of those old covers with its oversized alien-looking, tentacled plants. I appreciate the thoughtful use of transparent pieces that really help sell the bizarreness of the landscape. In particular, I’m quite fond of the blue and purple lighting pieces and the pink half domes. The decision to use the Flash Gordon style suits on the space travelers further drives home the whole 1940s look.
Not satisfied with a purely stationary LEGO creation, Frost has built animation into it and as an added bonus, the large green egg-like centers glow under blacklight. As you can see in this video, the large tentacled plants move and sway, beckoning our heroes ever closer to what may be a gruesome fate.
Most Western-themed LEGO creations take their architectural inspiration from the single-street towns of the Gold Rush — clapperboard buildings, usually saloons and general stores. It makes for a pleasant change to see something a little more Southwestern in tone with Andrea Lattanzio‘s build of a classic whitewashed adobe flat-roofed house. And even better, there’s not a gunfighter in sight; instead, we’re treated to a mariachi band arriving in their wagon to serenade the farmer’s beautiful daughter. The house is a visual treat, covered with nice details, from the use of printed 1×1 round tiles on the protruding ends of the logs to the plant-covered arbors that provide shady spots on the flat roof. The use of woodgrain tiles above the windows and doors adds some welcome texture amongst the white. Bien hecho, Andrea!
Not to make this all about me, but I’m an artist who enjoys illustrating book covers. My work is heavily influenced by old pulps, spy novels, game manuals, serial horrors, children’s mysteries such as Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and anything involving elements of danger, intrigue, lush colors, and provocative titles. The point to telling you this is with a spooky castle, and a dense forest, this LEGO creation immediately resonated with me. The title, “Treasure of the Snake Queen” evoked a sense of danger and exotic adventure. Already this was something I was excited to write about. You can imagine my delight when I then learned that this piece was built by our own Brothers Brick contributor Flynn DeMarco and his partner Richard Board. Together they comprise a cohesive building team who goes by the name of Tricky Bricks.
Abandoned factories seem to divide people into two camps: those who for some reason find them beautiful, and those who think such structures should be demolished as quickly as possible. Such locations attract all sorts of people, from graffiti artists to homeless people and edgy teenagers looking for adventure. Dutch LEGO builder and photographer Niek Geurts probably isn’t homeless, and I doubt he is an edgy teenager. Judging by his photography website, he seems to be inspired by abandoned industrial architecture, and his recent LEGO recreation of an abandoned factory is filled with all the functional details one would expect in a factory.
The scene has just about everything you could ask for. There is a little guard house, a railroad access, all sorts of hoses and air vents on the roof and other must-haves for any factory, abandoned or not. There are a few characteristics of abandoned buildings as well; broken windows, graffiti (wonderfully brick-built examples here!), cracked pavement and uncontrollable vegetation sprouting everywhere, including a bit of moss on the roof. The two bikes on the left side of the diorama are either stolen and discarded or the property of whoever is filming clickbait YouTube videos inside…