Sometimes a LEGO creation enables you to smell, feel and imagine a whole slew of things that aren’t even there. Take this render by Douglas Hughes, for example. It is called Sunset in the Gulf and it depicts a helicopter and oil rig silhouetted against the sunset. I can imagine wearing ear plugs to squelch out the noise and a hard hat that barely contains the sweat and grime. I can envision wrenching on an uncooperative bolt with all my strength, filthy coveralls and a squeal of machinery. Do I have an overactive imagination? perhaps I do, but an imagination fueled by life experiences. While not quite an oil rig I have been in the boiler rooms and engine rooms of ships and there is a certain taste and smell to an environment like this.
While your experiences and feeling for this piece may vary, at least for my ol’ reptile brain this conjures up rusted memories of now ages gone by. And for that, Douglas, you have my kudos.
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.
Only one thing pops in my mind with a scene like this, a creepy scene that Jigsaw would put one of his victims in. This one looks a little harmless compared to the more complex contraptions that we’ve seen in the sequels, but a reminder of the classic cult film Saw, that took the world by surprise with a tiny budget and making big headways. This scene by Douglas Hughes, pictures a classic man-tied-to-the-chair movie trope, but what makes it stand out as a LEGO build are the details. They say the details bring a scene to life. The closed-circuit camera, the air vent, that electrical outlet plug outlet, and the old school looking heater all lend the weight to the sense of reality. What’s the story here? Well, for me, reality kicks in for Saw movie is when the director yells “CUT!” and everyone gets a break and grabs a sandwich and coffee, and that’s my secret on how I get through watching a horror flick.
My friend Doug Hughes isn’t always outspoken, but his LEGO builds are certainly bold! I’m constantly impressed by his unique designs and clever parts usage. This latest piece chronicles the entertainment of a jester in a royal court. But I have to be honest, I almost lose the jester in the majesty of the whole scene. The perfect curvature, the bold colors, and the mix of architectural styles all pull you into every independent detail. You get lost in loving the floating pillars, or statues, or trees, or gold designs, or even the texture created by the underside of jumper plates. Then you step back again and the whole thing paints a harmonious picture. Brilliant.
While you’re looking, I would play a little eye-spy. Then check out another favorite of mine, Doug’s Seanchan Greatship.
Colonizing alien planets is the adventure of a lifetime, but things don’t always go as planned. This LEGO radar outpost by Douglas Hughes supports a group of colonists and space marines in their efforts to tame the wild unknown. The best part about a radar outpost with treads is you can make a not-so-quick getaway when the going gets rough.
When you need to defend your outpost from aerial attack, you need an anti-aircraft Ballista. Like this one built by Douglas Hughes, which features not one, but two substantially armed turrets; one sporting rocket launchers, the other, twin machine guns. The cab is very well sculpted with angled panels, and that blue striped detail is a nice touch.
The vehicle is based on the Anvil Ballista from the multiplayer sci-fi game Star Citizen. But Douglas didn’t just build an amazing vehicle, he motorized it (maybe you noticed the cleverly integrated control box on the side) and lit the cab as well.
The Wheel of Time is a classic series of Fantasy novels by Robert Jordan, first published in 1990. One of the empires in the Wheel of Time universe is known as Seanchan, and it inspired Douglas Hughes to build a LEGO version of a Seanchan Greatship. According to the builder, the Seanchan style is a fusion of medieval European and Asian influences. For example, the figurehead is European while the trio of ribbed sails are reminiscent of Chinese junks. I love the sculpting of the bow and the ornate detailing running the entire length of the ship. The golden hawk figurehead looks stunning and doubles as a reference to Artur Hawkwing, one of the Seanchan empire’s earlier leaders.
Do you ever get the feeling we are living in a simulation? One of the greatest cinema moments of the nineties has been brought to life in LEGO by Douglas Hughes in this scene from The Matrix where Neo asks, puzzled, “I know Kung Fu?” Morpheus looks at him quizzically and challenges, “Show me.” Douglas has captured the simple complexity of the dojo beautifully, adding special lighting for the sword racks. With its stark lines and contrasting colours, Neo deftly dodges one of Morpheus’s relentless attacks.