It is no secret that I think the Grumman F-14A Tomcat is the most beautiful jet fighter ever to grace the deck of an aircraft carrier. This is something that I share with James Cherry, who unveiled his massive 1/15 scale Tomcat model at the Great Western Brick Show in the UK little more than a week ago and who posted pictures today.
The Tomcat was also one of the largest carrier-based jets. The end result of building a large-scale model of a large jet is obviously going to be large. The LEGO model is 127 cm long, uses roughly 8000 parts and has taken nine months to build. James has included Power Functions to control the wing sweep as well as various control surfaces. Like on James’ older F-4J Phantom II, the complicated and subtle compound curves are mostly built using carefully angled surfaces and, to get closer to the look of the real jet than is possible with LEGO alone, he has used custom-made vinyl stickers and a vacuum formed canopy.
The jet wears the colourful markings of the US Navy’s first operational Tomcat squadron, VF-1 ‘Wolf Pack’, when it sailed aboard USS Enterprise in the late ‘seventies. One would think that it would make sense for a jet fighter to be painted in colours that are a bit less conspicuous, but that was never really the Tomcat’s style; it’s big and beautiful.
So the first full-blown trailer for Rogue One has been out for all of a few hours, but that hasn’t stopped Vaionaut building a cool LEGO version of the new U-Wing ship which looks like it will be ferrying our intrepid heroes across the galaxy.
This sort of thing is why I’m getting pumped-up for Rogue One. I’m looking forward to seeing new ships and vehicles and characters and planets, all for the first time, yet all carrying that unmistakable whiff of Star Wars. However, we’re not featuring this model just because I’m excited — it’s a smart build in and of itself. It captures the lines and colors of this interesting new spaceship design, and features some nice details, particularly around the rear and the engines.
The ever-popular LEGO Star Wars line continues to pump out models of everyone’s favorite Star Wars spaceships, and after 17 years most ships have seen multiple iterations. The iconic X-Wing has seen over a half-dozen iterations, including the two versions from Episode VII. And fans have always sought to one-up the official models — sometimes to spectacular success, such as Mike Psiaki’s beautiful version in 2011. However, there’s always room for new builders to try their hand at this venerable starfighter. Enter Maciej Szymański with this stunningly accurate model that even includes working lights. I think my favorite details on this model are the hockey masks used as a the flashback suppressors on the wing-mounted lasers, and the carefully curled hose for the pilot’s life support.
Click to see more of Maciej’s X-Wing
Brick Martil‘s Merkabah-class Heavy Gunship is one of the coolest spacecraft I’ve seen in a while. The shape and the phenomenal color blocking are ravishing, giving this model a strikingly unique appearance. This ship positively screams “deadly”.
Another element I love about this ship is the size. A lot of LEGO spacecraft would be sized akin to small WWII dogfighters, regardless of its designation as a fighter, heavy bomber, etc. Most would clock in around 20-40 (scale) feet in length, while many modern fighter jets are 50-60 feet long, and other classes even larger. So it’s cool to see a spacecraft sized up to what they most likely would be without becoming capital ships — where a two-man gunship is a huge craft, outfitted with engines and life support to get it through the cold reaches of space and the harrowing re-entry of an atmosphere, not to mention lugging a payload.
The Merkabah is deceptively large — that windscreen is from the UCS Slave I, so check out this comparison photo of the two to get a feel for just how big it is. And here’s a closeup shot so you can check out the fantastic detailing…
The venerable Y-Wing was a mainstay of the Rebellion, but TBB alum Tromas has decided to give it an upgrade. The new YT-T3 is a sturdier craft with slick plating and a side-mounted R2 unit, and a rear-facing cockpit for a gunner. I also love how Tromas has tweaked the engines, giving them more cowling and some cool fins in the rear. Here’s hoping Episode VII will contain an awesome ship like this!
You know you’ve seen a great spaceship model when it inspires you to try to build your own, and this model by Leonardo Lopez does that for me.
The design of the Tizona is excellent. With four huge thrusters, this thing looks like it can go really fast, and the two main canons fit the design beautifully. The cockpit is also very creative and fits a minifig inside, but what strikes me the most is the unconventional shape and amazing colors.
Our friends over at FBTB are hosting a “Star Wars Evolved” contest inspired by the upgraded T-70 X-wings in The Force Awakens. The premise of the contest asks the question, “What would other Star Wars vehicles look like 30 years later?” xiei22 answers the question for the B-wing with this chunky blue and white beauty.
I’m a sucker for schematics, so here’s a nice graphic explaining the enhancements. The original B-wing packed the punch of a capital ship, so the extra guns and rotating turrets are a particularly lethal upgrade.
(The builder doesn’t specify the model number for his B-wing, but I’ve taken the liberty of incrementing it, just like the Incom T-65 X-wing became the T-70.)
James Cherry has posted images of his beautiful F-4J Phantom II which I highlighted as my “Best In Show” in the roundup of BRICK2015 in London.
The model is 1.2m long, contains around 6,000 pieces, and took James nearly 5 months to design and build. But beyond the impressive scale and the lovely custom stickering, it’s the smooth curves and the shaping of the various sections which make this creation stand out for me. I also really like the handful of studs left exposed, creating a feel of riveted panels around the intakes.
James managed to squeeze no less than 5 Power Functions motors inside the model, allowing the rudder and various flaps to be operated using a remote control. It was very cool to see these features “in the brick” in London last weekend, and I wasn’t alone in thinking it was a highlight of the show. Carl Greatrix – one of the best LEGO plane modelers around – spent ages examining this creation and pronounced it “Bloody good”. High praise indeed.
I’d heartily recommend a visit to James’ Flickr photostream to check out all the details of this amazing model in the close-up images, as well as photos of his beautiful custom-chrome P-51 Mustang model.
We have featured a fair few trains built by Carl Greatrix (bricktrix) in the past. More recently he turned his attention to cars. Apparently there isn’t much that he cannot do, as he has now built an F-4B Phantom II jet fighter and it is gorgeous. I have been following his work-in-progress pictures for weeks, eagerly looking forward to the finished model.
In the sixties and early seventies, the Phantom was the premier fighter aircraft in the US armed forces, serving with the Navy, Marine Corps and the Air Force. Carl’s model wears flamboyant markings typical for US Navy Phantoms. The markings of VF-161 Chargers, which was home-based in Japan as part of the Air wing assigned to USS Midway, were some of the most attractive ever to grace a Phantom and I applaud Carl for choosing this squadron. The model isn’t just good-looking, but has a lot of functionality too. It has opening cockpits, for instance, as well as a retractable undercarriage and moveable control surfaces. Although I actually like studs on a model and prefer my own aircraft models to be somewhat less reliant on stickers, it’s interesting to see Carl apply his typical style to this subject. The result is phabulous.
Matt De Lanoy (Pepa Quin) redesigned Classic Space set 6861 X1 Patrol Craft into this sleek X2 iteration. The trans-bright-green windscreen looks dashing on the all-grey ship body, and the updated engines are snazzy. And even though it’s quite simple, I’m also a fan of the brick-built starry space backdrop.
Matt built this as part of a collaboration for his local LEGO store’s community window, so if you’re near the Woodfield store in Schaumburg, Ill. you can check it out in person.
Air Marshal Jon Hall (Jon Hall18) remains ever vigilant to keep the skies of your home prefecture clear of enemy warbirds. The A-37B Marauder is the latest weapon in the never ending war against Eurasia or is it East Asia?…I always forget. For you purists in the audience giving that camouflage the disapproving skunk-eye, you can rest easy, the builder claims the effect was achieved by cutting up only the most official decals available from our Danish overlords.
Jon Hall (JonHall18) returns to TBB for the second time this year with another impeccable war-bird, the H-90 Falcon. Jon is one of those go-to builders for many of us on this site, a slump-buster if you will, whose builds can always be counted on to be bloggable.