I’m a sucker for history and trains, and Rob Winner delivers on both counts with this slice of the Illinois Midland Railway in LEGO-form. According to the builder, the real line was only 1.9 miles long. This was in large part because of a crooked businessman making big promises and running off with the community of Newark’s money. Regardless, the little town made use of the railway to connect with nearby Millington. Rob’s model is meant to represent the railway during the 1940s, back when World War I veteran William Thorsen was running the show. Thorsen is depicted with the vehicles he operated, including a Vulcan 0-4-0T steam engine and Ford Model T railway inspection car.
The engine shed plays its part well, looking weathered and forgotten. Rob pulled this off by adding vines and slightly tilting brown plates outward to simulate loosened wooden boards. It’s a stark contrast to Thorsen standing among railway equipment that looks well taken care of. Then again, he is their devoted caretaker! This juxtaposition is inspiring, symbolizing the fight to persevere against all odds.
This time of year is one of the busiest for toy manufacturers, including the LEGO Group. In an effort to associate the brand with holiday gift-giving, the months of November and December bring a flurry of wintry-themed advertising. While much of the LEGO Group’s current advertising campaigns exist online, the company has a long history of producing holiday advertising in magazines, comic books, and mail order catalogs (aka LEGO Shop at Home catalogs). Our elves have been hard at work, sifting through the archives for some of the LEGO Group’s most memorable seasonal ads. Hop in the sleigh and hold tight for a wild ride back through time.
See more LEGO holiday advertising through the years
Around this time of year, people enjoy the classic tradition of sending holiday greeting cards to one another. The LEGO Group, too, has dabbled in making Christmas cards over the years. Naturally, they’re LEGO-themed. From the 1980s through the 1990s, the UK LEGO Club mailed out Christmas cards to each of their members. The LEGO Group has also issued holiday greeting cards for its employees. For at least the past two decades, LEGO has included a card with each annual employee gift building set. They even designed cards for employees back in the 1980s. These cards often featured elaborate models designed by LEGO master builders that are quite interesting. Suit up and hop into our sleigh, because we are taking you on a nostalgia-filled trip through some of LEGO’s most memorable “Brickmas” cards.
Click to read the full article on LEGO Christmas cards
When Eero Okkonen set out to build a female archer, he found inspiration in nomadic cultures and the character of Lyndis from Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series. Eero has built a reputation for building impressive-looking characters out of LEGO bricks, and his archer is no exception. In this model, bright, bold colors and earth tones play off of one another to great effect. In terms of form, the figure’s pose is realistic, from the stretch of the bow to the flow of the dress.
Eero makes excellent use of certain elements, such as barrels used to form a quiver and a balloon tire for the hair bun.
Collective Brick to the Past are a team of expert builders who have been wowing crowds at LEGO shows and conventions in the U.K. with their vast historically researched dioramas. They’ve built massive LEGO displays about the Battle of Hastings, Viking raids on Anglo-Saxon Britain, and the Jacobite Rising. Their latest monumental project is the work of Dan Harris, James Pegrum, Colin Parry and Simon Pickard, and depicts Henry Morgan: Welsh Raider of the Spanish Main. It is their first project to be set outside the U.K. and is based on the buccaneer or pirate – that’s for you to decide – Henry Morgan’s raid on Lake Maracaibo.
The layout features some amazing 17th Century Colonial buildings, a sea fort based on Carlos de la Barra and an array of beautiful period-perfect ships. As always, the diorama has been meticulously researched and filled with all manner of details and surprises.
Dan Harris from the Brick to the Past team kindly agreed to tell us a bit more about the history that inspired the model, the research and building challenges faced in its construction and highlights some of his favourite parts of the layout.
See more photos and read our interview about this huge LEGO diorama
Last month, a story on LEGO bricks being used to help an injured turtle went viral. An Eastern box turtle was found with multiple fractures on its plastron (the name for the underside of a turtle/tortoise shell). Veterinary staff at the Maryland Zoo of Baltimore performed surgery, but they were concerned about allowing the turtle to move freely while healing properly. According to zoo employee Dr. Ellen Bronson, turtles take much longer to recover than mammals and birds due to a slower metabolism.
To help the turtle move without injuring itself again, Garrett Fraess (the Zoo’s veterinarian extern) and his colleagues sketched out some plans for a wheelchair…
Click here to read how people help turtles to recover…
Although not based on a specific aircraft, the latest model from Finnish builder Tino Poutiainen accurately replicates the wild, “held together with string and dreams” frontier of the early days of manned flight. Like the real-life Wright Flyer, Baldwin Red Devil, and other early turn-of-the-20th-century experimental aeroplanes, Tino’s model appears rickety, thin, and massively unsafe: he did a superb job of making the whole thing look like it’s going to fall apart as soon as its wheels leave the ground.
When you play with LEGO, it’s a birthday party every day! Throughout 2018, the LEGO Group has been celebrating two very special birthdays in the form of the patented LEGO brick (60 years) and minifigure (40 years). To celebrate the occasion, LEGO has given us Wal-Mart exclusives, a special 60th anniversary set, and a series of collectible minifigures dressed for a party. Thanks to Newsweek, we now also have a special edition magazine that is entirely devoted to our favorite interlocking plastic building bricks. We finally got our hands on a copy and are eager to share our thoughts with you.
Read our full review of this Special Edition magazine about LEGO
For every successful product or project from LEGO, there are probably many others that you’ve never heard of. The lifespan of these were short and less memorable and they were obviously unsuccessful ventures. However, nothing is ever lost in the pursuit of innovation. Lessons learnt are just as valuable or even more so in the evolution and execution of future ideation. Good ideas that failed or didn’t go so well can be the stepping stones toward future success. In a new series of articles, we’re taking a look at some of the LEGO failures or projects that were simply weird and never really took off.
In this first installment of LEGO Ventures that Vanished, we’re looking back at LEGO CL!CK, a somewhat obscure launch into the social media scene, back when every company tried to get their feet wet with “social media engagement.”
When did it happen?
An inkling of what was to come with LEGO CLICK was first felt during the end of December 2009 with a tweet, soon followed by a press release. But by July 2010, it had all started to taper off, which gave it a rough lifespan of 7 months from what we can trace over time, looking back today.
Learn more about the fascinating history of LEGO CLICK
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).
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.
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
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.