Not for the first time, I’m completely enchanted and a bit awestruck by a LEGO creation by Eli Willsea. There’s a lot of great textures and build techniques represented in the piece called The Aqueduct. I’m particularly loving the weary adventurer and his dog in the foreground. Would it be uncouth on a LEGO website to cite that I love something about this composition that isn’t even LEGO? The background presentation that Eli created for this piece; the misty, hazy hills and mountains are a brilliant touch. The color matching with the aqueducts gives the entire thing a sort of breathtaking quality. It was inspired by a piece by artist Guy Warley of the same name. I love it when the LEGO and art worlds meld in sort of a tranquil harmony. Please do yourself the favor and check out our Eli Willsea archives. You won’t be disappointed.
At first glance, this North Pole build by ForlonEmpire is as heartwarming as it is well constructed. A young penguin interrupts Santa’s fishing expedition to offer him a present. Santa himself is teeming with great parts usage, from the big-fig arms getting an upgrade as Santa’s upper arms, to the pair of bucket handles doing double-duty as his belt buckle. And the semi-circle tiles as bows are inspired. But the more you think about it, the more sinister this scene becomes. Why is there a sled full of presents in this remote location? The answer is obvious. Santa has laid-off his elf work force because penguin labor is so much cheaper. This penguin isn’t giving Santa a gift. He’s made the gift in exchange for a fish. Santa’s cornered the market on herring and if the penguins don’t work, they starve! Merry Christmas!
We all get sidetracked every once and a while. Eli Willsea however didn’t get sidetracked, they got sidequested in their latest LEGO creation. Sometimes the side quests in games are better than the quest itself. If this is the case, shouldn’t you just take your time and enjoy the side quest? I sure think so. I also think we should enjoy the use of the combination of the LEGO candle and the axle connector hub. Those parts look like they were meant for each other. Another thing to appreciate is the fact that everything in this shot is LEGO. Even the brightly coloured orange background is brick built.
What do you build when you have an abundance of a long and awkward LEGO parts in a bright color? If you are Eli Willsea then you build a beautiful and tranquil mountaintop retreat with a great view of the stars. This peaceful scene complete with a waterfall and a collection of scraggly purple-leaved trees also includes an orrery, a bunch of blue mushrooms, and a telescope to admire the stars. Watch your step, though, because with that waterfall cascading down across the path, those round steps are sure to be slippery.
I defy you to look at this underwater LEGO organ by Eli Willsea and not start humming the tune to “Under the Sea”. See? It’s in your head now! And you won’t forget this build in a hurry either. It centres around the cylinder pieces used as the organ’s pipes, the seed part for the current round of Iron Builder. The slits in this particular piece make it a great fit for this instrument, although there aren’t many organs I know of that are painted turquoise. But put it on the seafloor, and suddenly the teal makes perfect sense. The little crab at the keys is pretty cute as well. Presumably, it’s a homage to Sebastian from The Little Mermaid. The only other musical sea-dweller I’ve heard of is Davy Jones, and he didn’t look that friendly…
This round of Iron Builder is just getting started, so why not see some previous entries in our archives?
Hardly any studded surfaces are visible in this eye-catching model created by Eli Willsea. Instead, a variety of slope and curved pieces are mainly used, forming a staggered appearance of rocks. There is also a wonderful colour gradient in the rocks, as the light sand tone develops into a warm orange. The slight angle given to the side supports of the mine entrances assists in making the scene look even more realistic. The main characters appear to be in quite the dilemma, as they attempt to swing to safety while being pursued by some fearsome bandits.
LEGO Paradisa was one of the first attempts of LEGO to cater to girls and for its time really was groundbreaking. It brought us new colours, female figures and overall a beachy fun vibe. It is nice to see that up to this day the theme still inspires people. Eli Willsea hit the nail on the head with this creation. We get a remake of the 6402 Sidewalk Cafe. There are a lot of architectural details with columns, laced fences and croissants used to highlight the arches. Best part about this build has to be the plant trellis. It starts with flex tubing and minifigure hands on the side of the build. The horizontal trellis is made with bars with claws and hands and I have no idea how it is held together but I love it!
Eli Willsea brings us a double dose of fun by combining two LEGO themes into one. This mash-up of Adventures and Island Extreme Stunts brings the best of both worlds into a radical ancient skatepark, with plenty of obstacles like ramps, stairs, and even a quarter pipe. I like to think that Dr. Kilroy is trying to deduce the perfect sequence of tricks to open a secret passage.
The first in a trio of LEGO creations from different builders, this nefarious deal for a poisonous potion is brought to us by Eli Willsea. The wooden beams and boards creating the patchwork docks on which the vial of poison is exchanged are absolutely terrific. There’s some excellent use of the minifig hand to create ladder rungs, and just enough chaos in the various bar part choices to give that ramshackle feel. But the highlight of the build for me lies in the houses in the background. The color choices are perfect, and perfectly compliment the brown skeleton on which they’re all built. And those roof tiles! Each utilizing a different type of hinged panel (large entry door, kitchen cabinet door, or book cover), they are an absolute marvel to behold! The varied look between the domiciles shows off Eli’s design prowess while feeding that feel that this is the wrong side of town.
And if you’re wondering about the other two builds in the series, stay tuned!
Sun-bleached bones and an abandoned structure standout in the LEGO desert landscape by Eli Willsea. A feeling of loneliness and sorrow pervade the scene. Was this a sacred site with a sacred creature left alone due to unforeseen turmoil? Or was this creature the victim of sacrifice or punishment? None can say what happened here, only that the creature is long gone, its bones still bearing the weight of being tethered to the place. The structure around it towers overhead, an impressive mark on the landscape. Minifig roller-skates give detail to the capitals of the pillars. The banners on either side of the entrance stairs are seamless in their fitting, giving form to the staircase. High overhead, quarter tiles are wonderful vertical detailing for the entrance roof. The blending of soft and hard edges gives the scene a gentle, yet harsh, quality, not unlike the sand surrounding it.
One of my all-time favorite games doesn’t have a name but its variations are known by many. The “telephone” game, in its many forms, gravitates around the idea of altering a phrase, image, or item slightly as it’s passed around to each participant. While most of us played it as kids, some adult fans of LEGO like to play a version of their own that is often out of this world. Builder Eli Willsea created the STG-2 Sailer as the 4th iteration in the latest telephone series. The small, rockhopper-style craft somewhat reminds me of the starter ship in No Man’s Sky (NMS) with its compact body and raised back portion. More NMS parallels arise with the solar sail sections with boosters firing off behind them. The sails creatively use the balloon sections from Friends sets and Sweet Mayhem’s Systar Starship along with some golden rigging for deployment and retraction. The coloration and parts usage give this ship lots of curves and angles that really catch the eye, an essential part of good spaceship building. Greeble, or detail, all you want but if your ship doesn’t visually swoop it’ll probably end up resembling a flying, mechanical potato. Thankfully, Eli knows how to avoid the spud fate and instead made a fantastic little puddle jumper that the next builder will have fun emulating.
Winter may have passed, but its scenes still provide a tranquil allure. This small model by Eli Willsea is a delightfully cartoonish landscape of such a pleasant, icy kingdom. Aqua slopes and curves are built studs not on top, aside from the few exposed to secure the tiny trees and little huts. Using unicorn horns in sand green for different sizes or types of trees is a great method at this scale, but my favorite are the bridges. The mold for wands includes two of the pieces attached to a non-System piece for structural stability. Eli was smart here, wedging unattached wands into the gaps in the wand molds to create small wooden bridges connecting the islands. It might not be “legal” but it certainly suits the scene. Of course, the most complex element is the focal point, the Cold Castle itself. While the nearby huts sport maroon roofs, the castle is capped by dark azure. The stone spires of the structure seem to make use of inverted building techniques to secure the lightsaber hilts. Those create pressure to hold the forks of the bucket handle wedged above the inverted, rounded gold tile used as the castle gate.
This miniature scene is yet another example of the subtle skills that builders like Eli Willsea make use of for their models. It’s one thing to know how to operate within the System but another entirely to know how to break the rules. It starts as a simple suggestion, an experiment in limits, and becomes a signature that builders can rely on to set them apart.