This month’s cover photo, from Pieter Dennison, is a model of the Dunedin Railway Station in New Zealand. From the tower to the topiary garden, this scene captures all the nuance found in the Dunedin Railway Station, reportedly, one of New Zealand’s most photographed buildings. If you’d like to learn more about this build, read our previous coverage of this LEGO Dunedin Railway Station that Pieter spent five years building.
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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.
Check out the details of this incredible build
Show of hands, who loved all things having to do with outer space as a kid? Also show of hands, who never lost that dream even as an adult? Right? Space captures the imagination and keeps a child-like fascination within us like nothing else can…except maybe dinosaurs. Instagram user architeclego captures this feeling of wonder quite nicely with this LEGO diorama called To the moon. Whether it be the Classic Space t-shirt, the rocket diagram, or even the bunny companion, I can get lost in these details forever. The moon shining through the attic window is a sight to behold. What can I say? I’m a kid all over again!
Some LEGO builders find a niche in the community and spend most of their time building there, churning out beautiful creations that all fit a similar genre. For some that’s castle, for others that’s space, for others it’s Bionicle, and for others it’s some licensed theme or other. For TBB 2019 Builder of the Year Andrea Lattanzio, that niche would be shacks and automobiles. Few builders out there can equal the clean lines and perfect textures of his buildings; just look at the uneven tiles for the siding, and the perfection of sideways masonry bricks for the adjacent shed. The build is nearly studless, which helps those clean lines, and the photography is pristine, which helps too.
But don’t let that expert photography fool you; this is not a simple build. You don’t get a studless look by accident, not without plenty of SNOT (studs not on top) techniques. Plus there are myriad clever parts usages. For example, there’s a hockey stick and a harpoon holding lamps; there are pirate hooks on the truck’s bumper; and those sideview mirrors are mighty cleaver, I mean, clever. And speaking of the truck, Andrea’s vehicle designs are as clean and elegant as his shacks; no studs, crisp color blocking, and perfect shaping and scaling.
While it’s more common to see LEGO models of neat and tidy downtowns that would look right at home in Disney, it takes at least as much skill to show a city in the aftermath of war. Builder Paul Rizzi has created this World War II diorama depicting the Soviet invasion of Berlin in 1945. Created using approximately 12,000 pieces, the 1/42-scale diorama’s centerpiece is a pair of large buildings that we can see were once quite ornate, before being bombed out, no doubt during the Allies’ extensive air raids. Paul has been careful not to simply build a standard LEGO building and then unbuild it partially, but instead actually provide some of the structural framework that’s typically not present in a LEGO building, such as the rafters and floor joists. The large number of scattered bricks and rubble blown from the buildings and street during the bombing, along with several large craters, give the whole diorama a sense of realism that’s sometimes missing in the “too clean” versions that many novice builders attempt.
The Soviet tank, a T-34/85, occupies the right half of the diorama accompanied by a handful of Soviet infantry facing off a smattering of German troops. The Soviet forces are crossing under Berlin’s famous Stadtbahn railway, which is striking in dark green. The tank itself employs an aftermarket flag and treads, and is a great version of the angular Russian tank that formed the backbone of the Soviet machine.
You may recall a prior trio of hard suits published earlier. Now Ayrlego has joined in on the fun with a trio that looks like they could be from the British Empire. At far left in the fur hat we have “Grenediere” who tears it up in the urban environment. In the middle “Flamer” deals out fiery justice in the tropical/desert environs while “Scout” does his particular brand of shenanigans in the woodlands. It turns out this builder is no stranger to exotic environments. Take some time to check out their archives.
During the pandemic, a group of LEGO fans have begun playing a virtual military conquest game a bit like Risk, except each person’s army consists solely of the creations they build to populate it. Douglas Hughes has mobilized his military in a big way with this absolute unit of a transport plane, which he’s fittingly dubbed “Chubs.” The stylized aesthetics of both the plane and the dock equipment reminds me of the Micro Machines I had as a kid, and I can’t help but want to start playing with this epic transport.
Interestingly, Doug’s sculpted the plane studs-out, which allowed him to get the complex curves the fuselage needs, while still leaving the interior mostly hollow. That would be a difficult balance to strike using other methods, such as stacked slopes.
We all know how this ends. I believe Jaws was the first movie I saw in the theater. Since I was a small child at the time, that speaks of how relaxed they were about letting kids into the theater and…could also explain a lot about how I turned out. The 45th anniversary of this pivotal movie just passed and Arco Noide celebrates with this LEGO version of Quint’s boat. Although Quint is a tough as nails old salt with one of the most memorable intros in movie history, (spoiler alert!) things eventually don’t go well for Quint and his little boat. Still, this is a stunning tribute to the craft. I like how two sets of cattle horns create shark jaws just forward of the ship’s wheel. Judging by the four yellow barrels still present, we have about an hour before things go really sour for Quint. We’re gonna need a bigger boat indeed.
I told myself today was going to be the day I get stuff done. This was going to be the day I didn’t procrastinate with silliness online. But then I took one of those “what kind of dog are you?” quizzes and they cited me as a basset hound when I fancy myself as more of a golden retriever and now I have that to deal with. Among all this important online research, I stumbled upon this serene LEGO scene by Carter Witz. I like the golden leaves, the haphazard texture of the roof, and the fact that the trail and river interrupt the base structure. Now I pretty much don’t want to get any work done anymore. I just want to relax in Carter’s world for a while. You can also go down the rabbit hole of unproductivity and check out Carter’s other fantastic layouts. Basset hounds enjoy rabbit holes, don’t they?
LEGO builder Jonathan Snyder has built a little something he calls “Solitude.” It’s part of a fortress wall using only two shades of tan and olive green. It proves you don’t need a lot of colors to build something charming. Varied textures created by masonry bricks, hinge plates, jumper plates and door rail plates all help create visually interesting surfaces. Goats also help make things interesting. Whether you’re building cars, spaceships, architecture or airplanes always incorporate goats to make things more interesting. Goats are both the cause and the solution to all our problems. Goats are always the answer. Goats!
I’ve never been a huge train person. I mean, I like trains and all, and love watching them thunder by, and enjoy building elaborate tracks with my kids for those little wooden magnetic trains, but the LEGO train itch has passed me by completely. Perhaps someday I’ll construct a train if I ever get around to building a large-scale city diorama (after I win the lottery or suddenly come into money, to pay for all the bricks), but not until then. Not so for Josiah Durand, as he demonstrates with this superb military train scene. It’s got everything you could want, from a chunky engine to various types of cars, especially that anti-aircraft gun car, and the landscape is also eye-catching.
Unlike with most train dioramas, the tracks are completely brick-built, rather than using the standard track elements. Additionally, the wheels seem to be a combination of wagon wheels, dishes, steering wheels, and other round things, rather than the typical train wheels. The fill-in between the ties and rails is an odd assortment of small, textured dark bluish grey pieces, especially chains and stud shooter triggers (I love seeing those triggers pop up in builds!). The only thing that seems odd is that the ties are grey and the rails brown when usually it is the other way around unless it is such an old track that the wood has greyed and the metal rusted. It’s nothing to get steamed up about, since either way this is still one good looking train display.
Love trains more passionately than I do? Then check out the TBB train archives!
According to LEGO builder Josh, this diorama depicts the abode of the Wizards by the Coast, which has me wondering, perhaps the denizens of this quaint little seaside town are best known for their gaming masterpiece, Dumgeons & Dargons? At any rate, this little village is awash in a magical air, from the crazy twisted tower and giant butterfly to the precariously perched flowerbeds. The little scoops of ice cream, long used by LEGO builders as smoke, find a great use here as sea foam. Meanwhile, the wizards are cooking up a mean fish fry courtesy of a Fireball spell. Someone invite me!