With Hollywood shut down and most movie theaters closed worldwide due to COVID-19, new entertainment has been a little harder to come by lately. I’m not sure our current global pandemic was the inspiration behind Eli Willsea‘s scene, but we find the protagonist (played here by the Lucas minifig from the LEGO Stranger Things set) fishing for DVDs from what is apparently the very last Redbox to have survived an apocalypse that turned the water a toxic green.
Eli’s build features a slew of wonderful details, such as the rebar or conduits sticking out of the elevated roadway and electrical bits on the power pole built from pieces like a rollerskate (the new universal greeble piece). Eli makes good use of printed pieces on the Redbox machine, including old-school LEGO Space 1×1 button panels and window panes from the TARDIS in the LEGO Ideas Doctor Who set.
A haunted forest, a ruined castle, an underground cavern — a lost world awaits. Eli Willsea‘s LEGO scene is a masterclass in microscale, creating a sense of epic scale and mystery with a tight colour palette and a small footprint. The forest ruins were a treat to begin with, but the vast underground chamber beneath the structure is where the excitement lies. We’ve got everything an adventurous explorer expects, from arching masonry and rickety wooden stairs, to perilous drops over deep dark water. My favourite detail is the section of the castle, poking from the water beneath the hole its collapse created — lovely stuff. I’ve obviously played too much Tomb Raider in my time — my immediate thought was that a jump to the hanging chain would surely activate some ancient mechanism to drain the water allowing access to a hidden chamber.
“Eventually it shall be reclaimed by the sands. But until then, it stands there still — empty and abandoned. A warning to us all.” I love when a LEGO model begs the observer to create a story, when narration springs into the mind as you look over the builder’s work. This excellent microscale castle by Eli Willsea somehow demands the creation of a backstory — its formidable walls and soaring towers seem to require an epic history to explain its emptiness and sense of decay. The model is well put-together, with a nice depth of texture despite a relatively limited selection of bricks and a monochrome colour palette. And its that colour selection which is key to the scene’s appeal, immediately placing the model in a desert environment and conjuring up an atmosphere of decay and mystery and romance.
I’ve recently started being interested in the idea of collaborative LEGO builds. Everyone does their part and they all come together to create an amazing piece of art. Such is the case with The Village of Thornefeld a terrific medieval village collaboration from Cole Blood, Timothy Shortell, Grant Davis, Eli Willsea, James Libby and Jake Hansen.
I had the pleasure of seeing this model in person at Bricks Cascade. Photographs can never quite capture the grandness of these large creations, but it was joy to see up close. What’s incredible about this build, besides it’s huge size and masterful execution, is the cohesiveness of the whole thing. Each builder worked within a tight color scheme and used matching rock styles to make all the sections mesh seamlessly. I love the way the ground slopes slowly upward, creating a wonderful rolling landscape and various levels. This is great territory for storytelling which each builder does nicely, creating a bustling village that’s full of life.
As a teacher, I am blessed with the company of large groups of children, happily building with LEGO. But all is not always quiet on the western front. One misplaced brick can cause a meltdown of epic proportions. If you’ve ever been a witness to one of these tantrums, then Eli Willsea‘s latest LEGO build will seem very familiar and might trigger a meltdown of your own! Built for MOC Wars 2020 on Flickr, this scene is perfectly suited for the “I’m melting” category in which it is entered.
I love a model with a story, especially one you can get with one look at the image. This tells a whole story in one frame like any good comic. The construction (or destruction as it were) of the little girl character is masterful. The expression on the face and the arms outstretched in rage tell you everything you need to know about her current mental state. Her angry eyebrows made with guns and with minifigure claws standing in for a furrowed brow is a terrific use of parts. The streaming tears and the simple arch shape for a mouth add to the emotion of the character. The melted body and dress have a great organic feeling to them expressed in curves and round tiles.
The scene is completed with a picket fence, a nicely rendered fire hydrant and a sideways built sidewalk complete with sewer drain that looks about to swallow the girl up as she slowly melts onto the pavement.
Some LEGO models create a sense of adventure, some an uneasy feeling of impending doom. Others, like this beauty by Eli Willsea, invoke a calm meditative state, and a wistful desire to lose oneself in the depths of the creation. The twin hot air balloons bob over a dramatic seascape, overlooked by a doubtless-expensive Frank Lloyd Wright style clifftop home, but the star of this show is the brick-built sunset — striking colours, combining to create a glorious sundown moment.
What says cute more than a LEGO hedgehog? Okay, maybe a real hedgehog, but dang this guy is a cutie! Created by excellent builder Eli Willsea, it’s a great use of that claw element for the spines. Eli says there are almost 200 of them, which comes as no surprise! The trademark curl of the body, little white tummy, and pink toes makes for a loveable build.
Willsea (AKA Forlorn Empire) has been featured numerous times on The Brothers Brick. You can check out more of his builds here.
I love it when builders follow a story through their LEGO creations over the course of years. One such story is the adventure of Jimmy and Bill, by Eli Willsea. Each build has a similar style and atmosphere, but works perfectly well as a standalone scene. The most recent one was featured here in 2017, but the first scene was built way back in 2015! Now that is dedication!
The builder has titled this scene “Deeper” and his description only states; “further than ever before”. Indeed, Eli has gone further with his textures, details, composition and lighting. Notice the dark tan Bucket handles stuck into the bottoms of 1×2 bricks and the bars slotted in between two 1×2 bricks with center grooves, in particular. The composition really pops with the circular hole and with the waterfall flowing cleanly into it. This water was a topic of discussion between friends and me; they said it was much simpler than the surrounding textures, while I thought the smooth surface makes a nice contrast, complimenting the drab colours already present. To end the debate, I decided to ask the builder personally. Eli stated; “The water is also one of the main elements that is progressing the story of this series, that is why it stands out so much. The explorers are following the water, but the reason is so far a mystery. So yes it was a conscious decision.”
From the incredible detail to the creative forced perspective execution, this build from collaborative team Grant Davis, Eli Willsea, and Micah Beideman, does not disappoint. With every glance, you’ll notice something new (oooh, look at that AC unit and that awning made of 1×1 cones), which is one of the many reasons we chose it for our February cover photo. Read our original article to see how this trio used LEGO to bring a painting to life.
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When talented stars collide, masterpieces arise. I hate to be so cliche, but it is what it is. This artwork is the result of a collaborative effort between Grant Davis, Eli Willsea, and Micah Biedeman. It was the product of hanging out in Grant’s home last year, 3 weeks worth of cumulative effort, and somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 LEGO bricks (who’s got time to count when you’re oozing with inspiration and art?). Both Grant and Eli should need no introduction, as neither are new to the world of making large scale builds and focusing on a single aspect of wonder. In 2018, they walked away with The Brothers Brick Creation of the Year award, and now they’re back with another stunning creation.
See more of this amazing build, including a video of how the builders accomplished this visual feast for the eyes
When looking for unique builds to showcase here at The Brothers Brick, we see a lot of digital creations. There’s nothing wrong with that; virtual bricks can let a builder explore color combinations that LEGO has yet to produce, or to forgo the limitations that gravity would put on a delicate creation. But when you see something that you’re pretty sure is a render, only to discover it’s real? That’s something special. Oh, sure, Eli Willsea tried to throw me off by titling their creation The Imaginary Islands. But considering this was part of a real-world collaboration for BrickWorld, I think I spotted the clues that this is, indeed, a physical model. And what a model it is! A futuristic city floats above a lush landscape, which sits amid a calm sea.
I really like the use of carrot tops in the vegetation and the inverted Queen Watevra’s crown atop one of the buildings. What does puzzle me, though, is just how those waterfalls work. Is the city pumping up a ton of extra water from the sea? Is it the result of some sort of extra-dimensional gate gone wrong? Gasp! Is all that water around the base not a sea at all, but rather a giant lake of city-generated sewage? Is this actually a dystopian nightmare after all? I….I think I need to go lie down now.
Building in microscale requires a special skill set. One must have an eye for simplification of textures along with a firm grasp of the essentials of whatever it is. Eli Willsea has that skill, as this tiny (yet still large) rendition of Gringotts bank from Harry Potter demonstrates. I am guessing it comes from the first film, as there is a recognizable Hagrid down in the vaults, alongside what I suppose to be Harry and a goblin. Everything one would need for Gringotts is there, from the columns to the large dome, along with the crazy tracks for the carts in the depths beneath. My one complaint is that the columns on the front-corner facade are too straight, lacking the signature tilts seen in the films.
The rock pillars beneath the street are impressive, built in sideways rings and then threaded onto Technic axles, allowing them to spin around into different configurations. This is great, because it means that you can build the same shape a bunch of times and have it look different depending on how it is angled. The cars down on the tracks are delightfully simple, consisting of droid arms and round 1×1 tiles with bar and pin holders. The cart up on the street above-ground is also inspired, making brilliant use of wands on sprue to give delicate texture to the rails. It’s also being pulled by something skeletal (a thestral, perhaps?). This was originally built for our own Harry Potter Microscale Magic competition, but Eli failed to complete the photography in time. While that is too bad, it is certainly better late than never!