Tag Archives: Diorama

There’s nothing like a massive LEGO diorama to prove that you’ve arrived as a LEGO builder. The LEGO dioramas we feature here span everything from realistic medieval castles to scenes from World War II, and more than a few post-apocalyptic wastelands.

It’s a swamp out there

The Land Rover Defender has been newly revitalized for 2020 with a complete overhaul of its aesthetics from the ancient-looking offroading beast that it’s been for decades, and LEGO commemorated the launch of the new generation with the Technic set 42110 Land Rover Defender. Early reports show it’s got promising off-road chops (as any Land Rover should), but it remains to be seen what the durability of the new model is. However, it’s obvious what Peter Carmichael thinks given this diorama of the classic model rescuing the newer one.

Stuck in the Mud

Peter says he  began his concepting for the classic Land Rover design with an existing LEGO design, but ended up changing nearly every part of it in pursuit of greater accuracy. The result is fantastic, with the Defender’s iconic lines showing through from every angle. The sand blue for the new 110 model is a bold choice, given the paucity of elements in that color, but it works well to mimic the available Tasman Blue.

Send those undead warriors running back to their mummies!

I love winning. Nothing quite compares to the thrill of victory, whether that is beating your friends at a casual game of Scrabble or annihilating your four-year-old son in an epic basketball throwdown where you channel prime Wilt on a six-foot net. John Snyder loves winning, too, and also loves seeing the bad guys lose. In his latest massive diorama, John depicts the forces of the wicked Desert King, a resurrected mummy-wizard, being routed by the armies of good Queen Ylspeth. I haven’t seen this many mummies running away since Brendan Fraser was a major Hollywood star, and it looks great. Everywhere you look, there are highly detailed buildings, ornate arches, intricate domes, meticulously-laid streets, and more.

The Grand Victory at Al Tajir

See more of Al Tajir here

Defend the walls of this enormous snow-bound castle

The only thing worse than your castle being attacked is surely your castle being attacked during the winter. I’m pretty sure Orcs siege engines toss more than snowballs. This enormous LEGO castle layout by Larsvader is a beauty, depicting an island fortress under attack by a terrifying army of Orcs. We’ve seen large castles before, but what elevates this model is the striking atmosphere created by depicting the castle in winter, with patches of snow blanketing the landscape, turrets, and rooftops. Just looking at this thing makes me feel chilly. Larsvader says this scene took 20 months to put together, but the effort involved more than paid off. The castle itself is excellent, with off-grid building creating interesting angles for the walls, and good use of texture and colours to break up what might otherwise be a large grey expanse. And the surrounding landscape is nicely-done, careful thought given to the layout, making the island feel like a natural strategic chokepoint — the obvious position for a stronghold.

LEGO Fantasy Castle Siege

The buildings and streets inside the castle are just as detailed as the surrounding walls. Take a look at this close-up image of what the town looks from minifigure eye-level. I love the stonework and wooden structural elements, but it’s the inclusion of mundane background details like the bakery which create the impression of a realistic castle during an extraordinary moment…

LEGO Fantasy Castle Streets

I’ll build about that tomorrow, after all tomorrow is another day

We see plenty of LEGO creations depicting scenes from movies. However, it’s less often we get a behind the scenes look at film production. That’s exactly what Marcel V. provides with this neat little diorama going backstage during the making of the 1939 classic Gone With The Wind. The scene shows Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler face-to-face inside a set which captures the feel of Tara, the plantation mansion in the movie. You can almost imagine the snide remarks and love-to-hate-you banter passing back and forth between the leads for the cameras’ benefit. The surrounding equipment is nicely put-together, with the lighting rig an obvious highlight. This is a fun little build and makes me want to see more “behind the scenes on the movies” LEGO creations.

LEGO film set movie studio

Fun fact: for the famous sequence in the movie where Atlanta is set ablaze, the film-makers actually torched the abandoned sets from 1933’s King Kong.

Chugga chugga choo choo! All aboard this awesome LEGO train display!

When I was a kid, I loved riding in the car on the way to my grandma’s house, watching the railroad tracks that were along the highway for much of the way. It was the peak of excitement when I saw a long freight train chugging along, with what seemed like miles and miles of boxcars or coal cars or tanker cars. The best part was always the graffiti on the sides, full of vibrant hues and indecipherable words. The trains I saw were all diesel, as I am waaaaaaaaay too young to have seen steam engines out there in the wild, but I did watch a lot of Shining Time Station on TV, so you might say I am an expert. One can learn a lot about trains from Thomas the Tank Engine! One could also learn a lot about trains from Alexander, I bet, based off this huge display that he and his crew put together for a LEGO show. It’s got everything, with every sort of train, houses, roads, terrain, and even a massive roundhouse. Check out this slick shot of two engines rounding a bend; they’re so pretty!

SAR Steam

Click to see the full display

A delightfully derelict and decrepit drive-in

Post-apocalyptic builds are popular in the LEGO community for some reason. Is it because we are fatalistic about the fate of society, and are certain it is all going to go up in mushroom clouds? Is it because we play video games that are set in a post-nuclear apocalyptic world? Do we just want to watch the world burn? Perhaps it is some combination of all those. hellboy.lego brings us a scene from the video game Fallout 4, which at very least satisfies my second suggestion. The Starlight Theatre, a now decrepit drive-in movie theater, serves as the camp for some raiders, and is gloriously derelict. Vines and trees are growing up everywhere, and the buildings are all half-ruined.

Starlight Theatre Overview

Click to see more of the Starlight Theatre

Enormous medieval town offers a gateway to the desert

LEGO Castle displays tend to focus on the Western European medieval era, with great grey fortifications set amid green forests, featuring knights engaged in combat, with perhaps the odd siege engine chucking rocks. How refreshing to see this huge collaborative display by thirteen members of SwissLug which breaks with tradition on two fronts: first, by depicting a city in the Levant (the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean), and second, by showing off the peaceful, multicultural side of life (probably right before the Crusaders show up and make a nuisance of themselves!)

LEGO Medieval Levant Holy Land Eastern Mediterranean

Click here to enjoy the pictures of the diorama…

The stairs actually move in this incredible LEGO model of Hogwarts

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.

Hogwarts Magical Staircase

See the stairs and pictures move below

Neptune Discovery Lab, the 1990s LEGO classic from Aquazone, gets a serious upgrade

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.

Lego Neptune Discovery Lab

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.

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No tree huggers in these woods

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.

Oeric, Tree Feller

Naturally chiseled features

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.

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.

As an aside, I found this photo to be a great game of I SPY. Can you find the shovel, the large pickaxe, two small ice picks, a dismembered minifig hand, or the moon stick?

Dam, that’s a nice build

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.