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?
I’m a firm believer in the tried and true mantra, “good things come to those who wait.” While we didn’t know it, we had to wait a full year for this formidable looking fire gorgon built by Andrew Steele; that’s how long it took him to build the beast! It’s no wonder either, because at 1.4 m (4.6 ft) in length the fire gorgon is as big as some children! Building big allows for more detailing, and the sculpting of this creature’s body is phenomenal.
For folks like me, building people and other bipedal figures can be a bit difficult. I’d build them fine enough, but even the slightest shift in weight could result in a fragile creation toppling over, so often it’s just easier to build them with both feet planted firmly on steady ground. The end result is a little stiff but at least we’re not cleaning up a toppled LEGO mess. But Letranger Absurde has built plenty of human figures. Even his own humbler beginnings were admittedly a little rigid, but we are witnessing a great builder evolving into a greater one, as evidenced by this Red Sonja creation. Her proportions and fluidity of motion are suitable enough to grace a Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo fantasy illustration. The builder tells us that this is indeed his most difficult creation to date but the end result is absolutely worth the effort.
Here is another recent creation that illustrates how well this builder is evolving.
When I think of castles, I usually think of a grey structure, especially when the castle is built from LEGO bricks. There are only so many LEGO colors that look like stone, after all. Perhaps something tan would work, or black if the castle is for bad guys. And then comes Anthony Wilson, building a castle out of red and dark red. Those aren’t stone colors! What could he be thinking? It is called outside the box, I believe, and sometimes it even works. Given the Ninjago figures with multi-tailed canines and the transparent blue crystals, the red creates a beautiful fantasy atmosphere.
I’ve always admired builders who can do excellent round towers, and this is no exception. Someday I’ll have enough 1×1 round bricks to play like a big kid, too. The variation in colors is just right, and a 1×2 plate here and there creates a refreshing change in textures from the smooth 1×2 tiles. Don’t miss the stud shooters serving as broken crenelations at the top, or the wheel arch over the window. The slick round black base ties it all together and makes the presentation oh-so-sharp. Almost as sharp as those magical crystals look…Almost.
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.
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…
When it comes to making superb creatures out of buildable figure parts, no builder is better than Jayfa. From dragons to dinosaurs, monsters to men, Jayfa can build them all and make them look amazing. This latest creation is no exception. Called the Oracle Dragon, it has glow-in-the-dark antlers, spines, and eyes, along with the coolest mustache since Lando Calrissian. It was inspired by a stop-motion puppet, and does a great job of capturing the look. With the posability of the joints, one could feasibly use the LEGO model for stop-motion movies, as well. That’d be cool.
The wing elements from Legends of Chima look great as the tufts on the tail, and I love the translucent pieces on the underbelly of the beast. In fact, the whole color scheme is fantastic, including the splash of red on the back of the head. The antlers make interesting use of minifigure hands and flex tube for their unique shape (but don’t tell the purists, because I think the flex tube has been cut!). The best part of it all, though, is that face. I’m going to have to study the face to copy it for a dragon of my own down the line, because it is incredible, so simple yet so expressive. Curious what the eyes and antlers look like glowing? Here it is:
I love dragons. One glance through my own Flickr stream would show you that. I grew up reading books about dragons, watching movies about dragons, collecting pictures and sculptures of dragons, playing with dragon toys, and even writing stories about dragons. Some dragons are evil, others are good. This dragon by Jessica Farrell looks more like the evil variety, e.g. Smaug from The Hobbit, Fafnir from the legends of Sigurd, or the wyrm from Beowulf. Why do I think so? Well, judging from the picture, it is the type that gathers gold, guards it jealously, and gets attacked by resplendent knights. Plus, it is spiky and red and black, and everyone knows that spiky red and black characters are evil (hello, Darth Maul).
What I love about Jessica’s dragon is the size and setting. This is a large beast, probably fat from eating all those brave knights and the kings who once possessed that gold. The articulation in the tail and neck makes for a very natural pose, despite the hard and mostly rectangular nature of LEGO. The giant columns are also lovely, with the curved slopes making for good round shapes. That glittering golden bed, though, draws the eye like nothing else can. It looks like just about every gold piece, whether that is pearl gold, flat dark gold, metallic gold, or chrome gold, went into this dragon’s hoard (I’m not seeing any pearl light gold or speckle black-gold, but maybe I just missed them). This dragon has stolen crowns, as one might expect, but also satellite parts, the One Ring, and even Aquaman’s buckle! Plus everything else that’s gold. Jessica says that the model consists of precisely 7,416 LEGO elements, and it seems like half of them are gold. The dragon would know for sure how many, since they know down to the smallest coin what their hoard contains.
I’m afraid I missed out on Bionicle almost entirely, as it started getting big right as I faded into my dark ages, and was mostly gone when I came back out of them. It’s a shame, really, since they had some incredible parts and a wide range of colors for those parts. That being said, I have always been a classic LEGO System guy, largely eschewing Technic and the ball-joint-based Constraction style for the old-fashioned stud connections. I usually scroll through photos of LEGO creations and skip past anything Bionicle-related, in fact. But sometimes a creation of that sort is so good, so perfectly balanced and detailed, that I cannot help but admire it. Such is this Toa by Anthony Wilson. The colors pop with the trans-pink in both the crystalline base and the accents of the figure, and the pose as she strides across the base exudes confidence and swagger.
Sweet Mayhem’s starship’s windscreen makes for an excellent shield, ready to deflect any attacks from an enemy. The glinting pink eyes shine out from behind the Matatu mask in a menacing manner that befits her name, Tuyet the Tyrant. The textures of the base, with the spaced-out 2×2 tiles and the greebles beneath, complements the presentation perfectly, but the highlight of the whole build for me is the midriff, so sleekly captured with the shoulder armor piece. It evokes the exposed stomach of so many heroines of nerdy fantasy games and comic books, yet in a way that still says that she’d kill you without a second thought, and easily, too.
Not to make this all about me, but I’m an artist who enjoys illustrating book covers. My work is heavily influenced by old pulps, spy novels, game manuals, serial horrors, children’s mysteries such as Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and anything involving elements of danger, intrigue, lush colors, and provocative titles. The point to telling you this is with a spooky castle, and a dense forest, this LEGO creation immediately resonated with me. The title, “Treasure of the Snake Queen” evoked a sense of danger and exotic adventure. Already this was something I was excited to write about. You can imagine my delight when I then learned that this piece was built by our own Brothers Brick contributor Flynn DeMarco and his partner Richard Board. Together they comprise a cohesive building team who goes by the name of Tricky Bricks.
I suspect that any self-respecting mycologist would eschew chewing on any purple mushrooms; a bright color like that probably screams “I’m poisonous!” That’s not to say a purple mushroom is not edible. All mushrooms are edible, after all; it’s just that some can be eaten only once. This purple mushroom mansion built by Jaap Bijl can be viewed as many times as you like but, like a real purple mushroom, I would not recommend eating it – ABS plastic doesn’t go down easy. Built for the Parts Festival hosted by our friends at New Elementary, there is an abundance of lovely parts usage, as well as plenty of Jaap’s favorite color, purple.
In particular, the new projectile launchers make for nice columns to flank the stairs. You’ll also find some stars, hearts, and splats for flowers and archways, and who doesn’t like some clever carrots in builds? The large flowers to either side give the scene some scale; either the house is small, or the flowers are huge! I like to imagine that there are little imps or faeries about. There seems to be a budding theme of tiny fantastic creatures growing, with some recent examples here and here, and I am a big fan.
In many fantasy tropes there’s that moment where the heroes gather to set off on their grand adventure. Maybe it’s in a tavern, maybe it’s the king’s audience chamber. Sometimes it’s in a mystic glade or just a chance encounter. If you’ve seen this scene once, you’ve seen them all. However, what you might not have noticed was the world happening around the heroes. There are common folk who exist outside of the main narrative, living their fantasy lives as best they can. ‘Sergeant Chipmunk’ brings us a LEGO moment in time that captures the momentous as well as the mundane.
I’m a sucker for the stories behind builds. I’m also one for nicely cut lines and color choice in architecture. This build by Brother Steven displays all of those traits. Although we’ve seen it done before, the journal of an adventurer chronicled in LEGO is a fascinating concept, and done well by Steven. This particular creation is part of a series of builds, all following “Zenas Abbington” as the hero. There are so many lovely aspects to the castle: the round base, the shape of the towers, the pearl gold carriage wheel in the windows, and the accents on the front door. Let’s not forget how adorable those sheep are too!
And the flip-side is just as pretty! That tree is magnificent, with its color and angled branches. I’m also a big fan of the underside of those mushrooms! It’s no wonder that this, coupled with a few other creations, won a “Brickee” at BrickFair Alabama 2019!
Some of the details of this build are reminiscent of other creations from Steven’s magical world, such as this floating castle we featured last year.