Tag Archives: History

Journey to Timbuktu with Mansa Musa of the Malian Empire

A UNESCO World Heritage Site full of wonderful architecture like the University of Sankore, the city of Timbuktu in the West African country of Mali has been a center of trade and learning for nearly a thousand years. Hardly an inaccessible or mythical place, the very real, not at all mythical or inaccessible city has thrived on modern tourism for decades. Sadly, the last several years have seen strife overtake the city, with jihadist rebels occupying the city for about 8 months in 2012 and 2013. Nathan takes us back to a happier time in the city, when it was the capital of the Malian Empire. Nathan adds to his collection of world architecture creations by depicting the royal palace in the Sudano-Sahelian architecture style as it might have existed during the reign of Musa the First (r. 1312–1337).

The Lost Palace at Timbuktu

Nathan has accurately captured the iconic architectural style, built from adobe or mud-brick, with supporting wood beams or logs that jut from the walls. He’s also given us a view into a scene described by a medieval Arab historian, showing the ruler on his throne holding an audience with his people. The large, raised throne is wonderfully detailed, and every group of people — soldiers, supplicants, royalty, and even musicians — has a unique look. From the people to the architecture, Nathan’s research into the material shows in his LEGO build.

Iconic landmarks in Singapore transformed into Brick Architectures [Interview]

Initiated by the National Heritage Board (NHB) of Singapore working with local brick artists, a recent project has recreated eight historically significant buildings in Singapore to showcase and remind people of the hidden gems amongst the modern city landscape. The eight showcases were built by Xylvie Wong, Eugene Tan, and Andy Goh and was part of the recent team from UNESCO Piece of Peace brick exhibition.

The Brothers Brick had a chance to speak to the trio, and let them share some insights on their journey and what goes on inside of a builder’s mind while recreating impressive large-scale structures like these.

From left are Andy Goh, Xylvie Wong, and Eugene Tan.

Click to read the interview

B-24 Liberator Bomber from World War II recreated in LEGO

The B series bombers are certainty some of my favorite airplanes ever created. I can’t help but think of them as battleships of the sky, with the ability to drop tons of bombs while laying down machine gun fire in all directions from a multitude of manned turrets. Nelsoma84 has brought one of these planes to life in LEGO form: the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. Although the B-17 usually steals the show, as we’ve seen before with a B-17 from PlaneBricks and a chrome Flying Fortress by Orion Pax, the B-24 was actually the most-produced bomber and American military aircraft in history. This particular model is based on one of the B-24’s based in Benghazi, Libya, which explains the tan coloring.

These bombers were used in 2,400-mile round-trip bombing raids on oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania which supplied 30-50% of the Third Reich’s fuel. The model has excellent shaping all around, from the tips of the wings to the signature glass nose, and has room inside for pilots and gunners. Custom stickers complete the model’s look and add an additional level of detail.

IMG_0762

Netflix releases LEGO episode of The Toys That Made Us. Is it worth watching? [Review]

For Netflix-viewing LEGO fans, the LEGO episode of the The Toys That Made Us has finally made its debut. For those unfamiliar with The Toys That Made Us, it is an eight-part documentary series that delves into the histories of various toy lines including Barbie dolls and Star Wars action figures. Being an avid LEGO history buff, I have been eagerly anticipating the LEGO episode ever since the premiere of season one this past December, so I made sure to watch the episode as soon as it was available. Is it worth watching? Read on and decide for yourself!

Click to read the full review

If it looks like Galidor and quacks like Galidor....

Gali-what? For the uninitiated, Galidor was a line of quirky buildable action figures released by LEGO back in 2002. Galidor coined and subsequently destroyed the word “glinching,” which was used to refer to the interchangeability of the various body parts. LEGO had great expectations for Galidor and invested a great deal of money in promoting the product, which included a tie-in TV show, video games and promotional McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. Despite LEGO’s efforts, Galidor was a huge commercial failure and has been a running joke in the LEGO fan community every since. Between all the laughter, there has been very little in the way of discussion of what Galidor could have been….until now. Ryan Howerter brings us this great model of Jens, but look closely…

Jens

Read more about Ryan’s Galidor model

Half a century later: Keeping the dream alive

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Though silenced half a century ago, the voice of this legendary American civil rights activist and leader rings thunderous today; his thoughts still quoted in speeches; the reach of his legacy reflected in thousands of public roads, buildings and spaces across the US that now bear his name. (I am actually writing this from King County, Washington.)

My simple tribute: King’s likeness (taken from a memorial plaque in Berlin) recreated with LEGO parts pushed together but not attached. Despite the progress we’ve made, it seems sometimes that the pieces are there but not all connected…

Wonderful BrickHeadz of truly awful people

One of the things I really love about the LEGO building community is how LEGO artists can undermine conventions and subvert expectations. We’ve long maintained the viewpoint here at The Brothers Brick that LEGO is indeed art. Art can be fun, art can be funny, art can be uncomfortable, and yes, art can definitely be political — Nobel Prize for Literature winner Toni Morrison says, “All good art is political! There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, ‘We love the status quo.'” So it’s always interesting to see LEGO artists take on unexpected, difficult, and even uncomfortable subjects. And there is nothing more discomfiting than seeing our favorite LEGO BrickHeadz style applied by Swedish LEGO artist O Wingård to two of the most terrible people in human history — General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin and Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler.

But discomfort should provoke thought, and thought should provoke discussion, and discussion can (but doesn’t always) result in progress. If LEGO is art and all good art is political, then good LEGO creations are (by the transitive property of equality) inherently political. If you’re a decent human being, these adorable BrickHeadz should make you deeply uncomfortable. What does that say about art? About the human condition?

An actual LEGO locomotive that distributed LEGO bricks

A Köf or Klienlokomotive literally means a “small locomotive”and, in the 1980s,  LEGO utilised a yellow Köf at their German LEGO distribution center in Hohenweststedt.  As a huge fan of the classics, builder Faust Chang has built a scaled replica model of the Hohenweststedt train,  with details right down into the dashboard and engines. I’m sure for train fans and aficionados alike, it’s pretty cool to know that there’s a tiny train out there that once was run and operated by LEGO.  Sadly in 2002 the Köf was sold by LEGO and  was painted red by its new owners.

Click to see more details

A tavern in colonial times

The Green Dragon Tavern in Boston inspired  Jonas Wide to create his own colonial tavern set in the fictional continent of Celestia. It is a place where the latest scientific ideas are discussed and treks to uncharted territories are planned. A few techniques add a layer of complexity to an otherwise straightforward rectangular building such as the offset windows and the use of the gold bars on the quoins.

The Gilded Cup

Preserving Hong Kong’s heritage; State Theatre captured in 40,000 bricks

The State Theatre (皇都戲院) is a former cinema in the North Point area of Hong Kong. It is currently in a poor state of repair and faces demolition, despite being a Graded building and part of Hong Kong’s heritage. Originally known as the Empire Theatre, it was renamed the State Theatre in 1959 and was a cultural hub in post-war Hong Kong. Alan Boar and Mythbot collaborated to build this historic building in LEGO as a way to raise awareness of its plight, encouraging support for the preservation of Hong Kong’s historic buildings.

LEGO STATE Theatre

Don’t miss all the  street levels details like the Classic Tram , Leyland Truck, food vendor, as well as a hubbub of pedestrian activity.

Soldiering on amongst the trees of Ardennes in 1945

The Battle of the Bulge was the German’s last offensive of World War II. Although it initially caught Allied forces off guard, especially in the heavily wooded Ardennes region, it proved to be a major disaster for Germany that hastened its inevitable demise. Dunedain98 has build a wintry scene from this battle that depicts American soldiers preparing to attack an StuG III Assault Gun alongside a derelict, battle-damaged home.

Ardennes - 1945

A view closer down to the action from minifigure eye-level really shows off the atmosphere with the snow-laden trees and the offensive anticipation in the air. Continue reading

A tale of pirates, hidden treasure, English sailors and Spanish conquistadors

Life on the Caribbean island of San Escobar is anything but peaceful. The conquering Spaniards have a strategic fort while some English sailors have just arrived on HMS Falcon in time for afternoon tea. On the other side of the island,  a pirate ship approaches looking for hidden treasure! This huge and impressive diorama by Ciamosław Ciamek has everything required to tell a great story; a pirate ship, English sailors, Spanish soldiers, hidden treasure and a monastery full of moonshine-brewing monks. What could possibly go wrong?

01 Mission - San Escobar, 1715

A  closer look at the monastery shows off its nicely designed red sloping tiled roofs, an impressive dome and the main façade that was inspired by La Estancia Jesuítica Santa Catalina in Argentina.

25 Mission - San Escobar, 1715

There are lots more close-up views to enjoy in the builder’s San Escobar album of images.