Most adult builders looked at the little goblin figures from LEGO’s Elves theme with some distaste. I suspect this was due to the bright colors and limited elements that make them up. I know I felt that way. They are difficult to fit into a build, even a fantasy one, because they are too cartoonish to be taken seriously. Given the right setting, though, perhaps they could be useful. Take, for instance, this build by John Snyder. Bright colors, like lime green grass and a purple wagon roof, tie the goblins and their garish hues into the overall build. The layout itself is unique, with large brick-built tomes bookending the multi-level scene. Plus, as always with a Snyder build, there are play functions. The small dwarf-elf (or dwelf, as the cover implies) is in trouble, about to fall through a trapdoor into the subterranean lair of the goblins. Could anything be worse than being captured by those almost-useless rainbow-colored creatures?
Having spent a few years at sea, KMBricklab has stirred my olfactory bulb and amygdala with this shipyard diorama. Those are the two parts of the brain responsible for nostalgia, and mine are tingling something fierce with memories of briny air, seagulls squalling, and a quick welder’s spark. Dry dock is the only time to see a vessel in it’s full glory and often it can seem both mighty and vulnerable. This old fishing cutter is getting some much needed antifouling of its hull.
Builder Pixel Fox show us that Star Wars isn’t the only place one can find a hive of scum and villainy. We see many scenes of gorgeous buildings and mechanically accurate spaceships, but often they are bereft of minifigs or perhaps just include a few. Personally, I love minifigures and enjoy seeing them put to good use and this action-packed scene hits all the right notes.
I love the thoughtful architecture in the scene that really serves to be a great background for the many stories happening. The two floors offer multiple levels of action and the large window keeps the scene from becoming too claustrophobic. The table design is simple but effective and transparent orange pieces provide a nice break from the surrounding grays.
Of course, the real stars of this show are the many minifigures. I love a model that tells a story and this one has so many to tell. No matter where you look, there is something going on. A few of my favorites are the robot bartender with his mustache and top hat, the central fight that is breaking out in the middle ground and the space pirate in conversation on the balcony. The pirate hat atop a space helmet is a hilarious touch. I also love that the builder has included all kinds of “aliens” across various franchises from Toy Story to Overwatch. How many can you find?
When it comes to medieval buildings, builders sometimes go all out on texture. Pieces end up being used every which way, with studs facing all directions, and random parts thrown in there just to show how clever the builder is. It doesn’t always look good, though, since it can appear too busy. That’s not to say that I think every surface needs to be smooth and flat and all lines need to be clean and straight. Quite the contrary. Ralf Langer is one of the builders out there who manage to balance irregular surfaces, crooked lines, and clever parts usages with cohesive structures and a strong visual presence. The ground in his latest creation is a perfect microcosm of what I mean: he blends smooth bits, heavily studded bits, and interesting parts to create something appealing and delightful, and I haven’t even looked at the buildings yet!
If you are wondering what the part in the ground is that gives it the baked-clay or tiny cobblestone look, it is a Technic drive chain. And by a Technic drive chain, I mean about ten billion And they’re not just in the ground, but also in the walls of the buildings, forming some of the wattle in the classic wattle-and-daub medieval look. Minifig legs create some fun decaying shapes in one of the buildings, and flex tube ends make for some clever windows. But best of all is Ralf’s use of stud shooter triggers. I see at least four different uses for those in this build, showing once again that all pieces have uses in custom-built LEGO models. I’m always a sucker for immersive builds, and Ralf is one of the best at them. Look through the arches and you can see more town beyond, promising a bigger world out there. Just not for the figure on the ground, since the standing one is Death.
As we turn the calendar over to a new decade, we’re also turning our clocks back for our social media cover images with this incredible LEGO Steampunk city collaboration by Stephan Gofers and Brick Rebel. This huge layout is filled with all the best aspects of steampunk, from airships and railways to incredible art deco-inspired buildings. There are so many details to take in that you’ll definitely want to give this one a closer look. Don’t miss our original article on this wondrous city.
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There is so much to love about this digital ice breaking scene by Tong Xin Jun. The striking color choices of the Land Rover Defender and the vessel it is pulling is appealing to the eye and seems to be this builder’s signature move. The broken ice patterns are nothing short of mesmerizing in their execution, their glass-smooth tops are accurate for a windswept arctic tundra. This is achieved by lying bricks and slopes on their sides in a SNOT (Studs Not On Top) configuration. The slopes change direction only at the bow of the vessel, accurately depicting how ice chunks would react to being plowed through and the transparent bits in the boat’s wake is an excellent touch. The entire composition is indeed a work of art. The scene seems a bit precarious however. Ice chunks smaller than the Land Rover may not support its weight and, as seen from this view, I squint and wonder why all the minifigs would be shirtless in a frigid arctic scene.
Between 1984 and 1992, the Black Falcons were one of the lead LEGO Castle factions, alongside the Crusaders. The sometimes fractious relationship between these two factions defined an entire era of LEGO Castle. The Crusaders might have had more official sets released during this time, but the Falcons were “outnumbered but never outgunned” — what was never in doubt was the quality of their castles. 1986’s 6074 Black Falcon’s Fortress is widely acknowledged as one of the finest LEGO Castle sets to be released, and was honoured with a LEGO Legends release in 2002. In a nod to that fine fortress heritage, Marcus Aspacher has put together an impressive castle of his own for the Falcons to defend…
Single-colour castles can sometimes suffer from “big grey wall syndrome”, but there’s more than enough texture built into the masonry here to prevent that. The fortress is impressive in its scale, and in the level of detail around the crenellations and towers. I particularly like the brick-built banners hanging on either side of the gatehouse.
The rockwork is well done, and the path leading up to the gate is smartly put-together from a good mix of angled plates. The castle is equally impressive from the rear, with a cool little bridge leading to an outlying tower. The rear view also showcases the excellent landscaping, and the attention that’s been paid to foliage and the transition between rock and walls…
LEGO builder Peter Ilmrud takes us on a journey to very well appointed baths somewhere along the Mediterranean seaside. Although the model is adorned with all a trove of repeating patterns, the first one to draw the eye is the inlaid tiling in the new coral color, making use of the Friends marine life creatures, which come packaged together in a variety of Friends sets. The tablecloth is also worth noting, with its ornate pattern drawn from Bruce Wayne’s manor. And how many of you recognize the perfume bottle on the table — or for that matter, its light green color?
Take a trip back in time with Andrew Tate‘s bustling downtown scene, depicting a LEGO city during the 1930s. There’s a corner bakery, a menswear store, and a lovely cinema featuring the Egyptian architectural motifs popular on such buildings at the time. The streets are nicely busy, with a tram and a period-appropriate car, and packed full of minifigure action. In a refreshing change for a model set in such an era, there’s not a mobster to be seen! I particularly like the variety of colour and styling in the upper storeys of the buildings, and the top-most portion of the cinema frontage is just fabulous.
I was a kid in the ’70s and ’80s with above average drawing skills but typically childish tastes in what I liked to draw. With the Hardy Boys, Johnny Quest and Treasure Island well within my wheelhouse of influence, it was a sure bet that many of my childhood drawings included some kind of skull island. Whether it be a Dino-Skull Island, Rhino-Skull Island or Bat-Skull island, I was totally into it and would imagine a whole slew of baddies who inhabited these remote, exotic islands hellbent on ruling the world. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that…not much has changed in my adulthood; my art still boasts similar themes from childhood, including a skull island lair or another from time to time. This is why I was so thrilled to find a kindred spirit in Bob DeQuarte.
In one fell swoop, this builder rekindled so many childhood dreams and sparked, let’s be frank, more than a few recent ones. For this, I am thankful for builders like Bob. Anyway, I just wanted to say my piece about this awesome island. I hope you can all be as thrilled about it as I am. Just in case we’re tracking on a similar wavelength, here is another time Bob opened a magic door into childhood dreams.
You may have seen our ongoing advent calendar features where we reveal the contents of official LEGO advent calendars day-by-day and chime in with our witty commentary. Traditionally with advent calendars, you can expect to reveal a small nominal gift in the twenty-four days before Christmas. However, Simon Hundsbichler had something different in mind. Every day in December, Simon is unveiling a new intricate Lord of the Rings diorama that takes inspiration from the books and not the movies. On December first, he showcased this stunning scene depicting Gandalf arriving in Hobbiton. The quality of the work doesn’t waver, in fact it gets better from here.
The grungy aesthetic of the Star Wars original trilogy showed a worn-down, lived-in universe where a scrappy Rebellion used whatever they could find to fight the mighty Empire. It’s clear that the iconic ships like the X-wings, Y-wings, and especially the Millennium Falcon are all hand-me-downs. But surely the Rebellion would have used whatever they could lay their hands on, even if it was 30-year-old tech like this Naboo Royal N-1 Starfighter. LEGO builder Hypolite Bricks has crafted this detailed diorama of the Rebel’s Yavin 4 base as they as they attempt to return the classic fighter to flying shape. Look closely at the ship, as it’s not merely the official set but an impressive custom model with lots of details, including missing panels.
The builder notes that they were inspired by the N-1’s appearance in the recent trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, where it appears fleetingly along with seemingly every other ship in the Star Wars canon.