Despite the best efforts of large online retailers, drones still haven’t quite taken off (geddit?) as the main method of transport for goods. When they do though, I hope they look as good as this LEGO drone created by Stijn van der Laan (Red Spacecat). It’s a perfect example of near-future sci-fi – it has the classic drone layout we all know and love in the form of the propellors on each corner. But at the same time it looks too slick and cool to be from this day and age. It has a touch of the Boston Dynamics about it.
Even the container matches this aesthetic! It can be easy to overcomplicate future space-freight containers, but Stijn has done a sterling job to keep this convincingly realistic. Naturally, the container and craft are compatible.
In a world where shows like Robot Wars and Battlebots have already come and gone, the sport of drone racing has got to be in our near future, right? And here’s hoping the robots look as good as this LEGO Octan Drone by Devid VII. I love all the striping on this machine, fitting within the standard Octan color palette. The angles, relying mainly on bar-to-clip shenanigans, give this bot the poise of a mechanical gazelle. And I just can’t get over the excellent use of the square-rimmed BrickHeadz glasses under its fuel tanks.
The winged horse of Greek mythology has evolved quite a lot over the eons. Controversial origins and dangerous quests have fluctuated with ideas from fairytales and childrens’ stories. Well, Builder Stijn van der Laan has presented his own version and its certainly not suited for little girls. Unless those little girls have a penchant for war. The RX-12 Pegasus is an unmanned aerial vehicle partly inspired by modern drones with a prop plane twist. Some nice parts usage with newer elements rounds out this build for a smooth design.
The clean, almost studless top portion of this build does well to trick the eye. Stijn made use of the new wedge pieces from the Porsche 911 to achieve the nice slopes on the nose and prop sections. The counter-rotating propellers also use black “flipper” elements to nicely emulate the style of the real thing.
Of course, something like this usually has to land eventually. The builder did a great job with the thin but effective crafting of the landing gear, which I imagine nicely tucks away under some of the exposed panels. This drone has a delightfully sleek profile and a ton of accesories if you feel like checking them out. I love seeing models build to scale with the Technic figures. They may be a bit of a relic but they’re still a delightful piece of LEGO history.
Oh, a little disclaimer from the writer. War is a serious and difficult aspect of the human condition. I will celebrate the design of the builder and even certain capabilities of the real-world inspiration but I do not stand by the warfare supported by such devices. Instead of bombs, I wish we could use these to drop knowledge. For archaeological and ecological surveys, for species and habitat maintenance. Perhaps one day we shall see such an aspirational era.
Working with a new part can be a challenge. Finding how they fit into the system can lead to surprises and disappointments. Ultimately, dedicated builders like Tom Loftus find a way. Armed with tons of teal from the Ninjago Jungle Dragon and challenged to examine the functionality of the transparent VIDIYO Canopy (as he calls it), Tom found himself under the sea at this Reef Station. He gave me some insight into some of the extra pieces he worked into the model, including finally making use of the drone elements introduced last year.
This vignette by Red Spacecat shows off his latest build, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle. The RQ-190 is being refueled by her crew and prepped for her next mission. This super smooth drone is actually a redesign of a remote-control plane concept that Red Spacecat recently shared. Switching the color scheme of the RC plane to all black just so happens to make the butterfly-inspired design look very similar to a military stealth drone. The angles of the wings hug tight to the curves of the main body and the snub nose lets us see the landing gear peaking out underneath. The slopes and tiles used on the wings make for a smooth, immersive model overall.
The little builds for the tool chest, bomb cart, and fire extinguisher (I assume) are great details for this vignette. The gears used on the ends of the bombs are clever and, though it might not be exactly “legal,” the cut hose used on the tip of the fire extinguisher is a perfect addition. Continue reading →
You heard that right. Everything in this SU-N8 “Iridosornis” Reconnaissance Drone by Marius Hermann is made of real, unaltered LEGO. Even the pants (from Scala.) Even those large wings with engines (from Galidor.) And yes, all of those are real, genuine LEGO products that existed. Marius has made a name for himself by mixing these unconventional elements into his sci-fi builds, and he does it so well. Whereas prefabricated elements like the Galidor wings might not fit into a build such as this, it works well here and wouldn’t look as good without it. They provide a good contrast and balance between the smooth blues and the greebly greys.
Despite the angry voices of distant fanatics that gatekeep LEGO to only the brick-built system and minifigures, I find that real creativity is thinking outside the box and using unconventional elements. I have a soft spot for builders who use these weird parts and mix them with “normal” LEGO. Because at the end of the day, if it wasn’t real LEGO, then I wouldn’t be writing about it!
Check out more creations using parts from Galidor and Scala!
During the war in Vietnam, the US Navy monitored the heart rates of some of their pilots. Flying though Hanoi’s air defenses understandably raised their pulse. However, their hearts went even faster at the end of the flight, when they had to land their jets on an aircraft carrier. These may be big for a ship, but they are very small for an airport. Unlike pilots, unmanned aircraft or ‘drones’ don’t have hearts and they are never tired. If a drone crashes or gets shot down, its pilot can’t get hurt or taken hostage. Instead, the operator is safely at his or her home base, in a comfortable chair in an air-conditioned container. So, it’s easy to see the attraction of unmanned aircraft. For the US Navy carrier landings remained a major hurdle, though. Enter the X-47B. Northrop Grumman built two of these weird-looking experimental jets, to demonstrate integrating unmanned combat aircraft into carrier operations. Between 2012 and 2014, the second of the two jets, nicknamed “Salty Dog 502”, performed several autonomous carrier landings and take-offs on three different aircraft carriers. At the time, the Navy expected to put unmanned combat aircraft into service in about five years’ time, but it has yet to happen.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying myself by building a series of LEGO models of experimental aircraft. Unusually, for me, these new models are mostly studless. I also built them to a scale for LEGO minifigures. Therefore there is a bit of irony in adding Salty Dog 502 to my collection. Not having to carve out space inside for a minifigure’s substantial rear end was a bit of a relief, though; I really struggled to fit a pilot in my YF-23. The X-47B is grey, much like operational US Navy aircraft. While its shape is certainly interesting, that is not enough for an attractive display. Fortunately, while the X-47 doesn’t need a pilot, it does require a ground crew to take care of it, like any other aircraft. So, I built a minifigure deck crew, as well as part of the deck and a small deck tractor to go with it. On US aircraft carriers the deck crew wears color-coded outfits that depict their different roles. These minifigures add a welcome splash of color.
As the future becomes ever more robotized and automated, I can only hope that human paramedics don’t get replaced with automated robotic doctors, conceptualized in this build by Djokson. With its syringe at the ready, held in one particularly well-constructed robotic hand, and its med-bag in the other, it looks ready to treat any injury or ailment you may have. However, I can’t help but look at that slightly smiling face and think how much I’d not want a robot making my life-or-death decisions.
With regards to the technicalities of the build itself, the builder has done an excellent job keeping a slim form on the robot, a welcome change in an age of increasingly bulky and utilitarian drones and mechs. The use of custom decals on the chest piece, and ever so small ones on the robots hips and med-bag complete the aesthetic of the build.
Anyone who’s seen The LEGO Movie knows LEGO is a highly sophisticated interlocking brick system. But it’s more than that, and sometimes we LEGO fans have a tendency to get caught up in what is and isn’t allowable when playing with our favorite plastic toys. Then along comes someone like Stijn van der Laan to shake up our expectations with a brilliant model like this that defies the normal bounds of what’s appropriate to do with LEGO. Stijn has transformed his excellent Peregrine drone model that we covered a few years ago by giving it a camouflage paint job.
Stijn actually recreated the design first using all red elements. Then he gave it a base coat of grey, and then carefully masked and airbrushed the modern camouflage design onto the model, as if it were a traditional cut-and-glue model kit. The result is fantastic, highlighting the striking design of the drone even more than Stijn’s original color scheme.
Now, you’re not likely to find me airbrushing my own LEGO creations anytime soon, but I admire the craft that goes into designing this, and it’s good to have our minds expanded a bit from time to time on just what is possible with this brick system we all use.
LEGO builder Markus Rollbühlerreturns to the Brothers Brick with WheelSpin, a mono-wheel utility drone. Part of the year-long Mech Monday project, WheelSpin is a self-balancing mono-wheel drone with multiple configuration options. The base of the mech is filled with great texturing, with greebles including Technic chain links, hammers, and space blasters. The lime green of the armor creates a nice contrast to the transparent blue of the eye sensor, blade shield, and the shock absorber at the base of the leg.
The industrial version shown here comes complete with a grabbing claw and saw blade — advertised as “perfect for any kind of industrial job.” Personally, I see it as greeter at Wal-Mart in a very dystopian future. Your mileage may vary.
Surveillance technology gets a creepy boost with Marty McFly, Cole Blaq’s latest creation. I’m not sure if this steampunk drone is designed to extract information or blood. It looks like it could do either. Or both. Probably at the same time. Like I said: Creepy.
It is the mark of great talent when a LEGO creator can build something that rises above the simple bricks and other elements to be easily mistaken for a mass-produced plastic model. I have been a great fan of FLAVIO‘s WIFFY series of cute and capable drones for years. These incredibly intricate and detailed robots are built around a signature part, the soccer helmet, which reminds me of old-fashioned football helmets from the 1920’s. This well-armed WIFFY also features a number of the new espresso handles, bar holders, and bar holders with clips. Another great detail are the binoculars tucked in under those red eyes.