Tag Archives: Iron Builder

Headdress of an Aztec king

The famous Aztec ruler Montezuma was fierce and massively successful at expanding his empire by conquering opponents – until he wasn’t. After reigning for over 17 years, he was killed during the Spanish conquest. His purported headdress (likely not actually his) was stolen by Hernán Cortés and currently sits in an Austrian museum. It and the slightly less flamboyant headdresses of Maya and Aztec warriors are now a big part of popular culture. They’ve even been regularly depicted in LEGO, both officially (recent and old), and through custom models like this one, by John Snyder.

An Element of Discovery

Of course, what makes this build so cool is not necessarily the history of the subject matter. What makes it awesome is the excellent use of parts. The green feather elements are naturally perfect, but can you see how they’re attached? The use of green cable clips is genius! Other things to look for are the alternating modified plates for the feathers in the back, hands for accents, and the interesting use of a Technic differential gear for the pedestal.

As you likely know, John is a prolific builder, and we’ve featured his work many times. I’m sure we can expect more great things very soon. And while you wait, check out some other Aztec-Inspired builds.

Wow, this sled is bananas!

If you happen to wonder why so many recently featured LEGO models are using the banana part, it is the seed part in this year’s Iron Builder competition, where LEGO fans who participate are required to use it in their models. In this winter scene by KitKat1414, the banana makes a great tuft of wind-blown hair, but it also gives the sled runners the perfect curve. Bonus points for that stylish lens flair.

05 The Only Way is Down

Mix that funky music

I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about music, but I’m sure many are familiar with what an audio mixer looks like – lots of switches and lights, the functions of with I’m personally not familiar with at all. However, as a person who gravitates towards gadgets, these switchboards certainly do look cool to me, or maybe John Snyder’s LEGO model of one makes them look cooler than they are.

Heavy Metal Soundboard

The switchboard body uses some standard bricks, tiles, and slopes in black assembled via the SNOT (studs not on top) technique. This build is part of an Iron Builder challenge, the seed part is the modified 2×3 plate with bar in dark red, but there are many other interesting small elements utilized here such as the broad-brimmed castle helmets which serve as dials and the technic piston cups in yellow. Of course, I am a fan of trans-clear elements, and Snyder has thrown in a few of those like the minifigure heads at the far left and some light pieces that look exactly like LED lights. Snyder’s model certainly makes me want to learn more about these cool pieces of tech and how exactly they work.

Wonder what the tide will wash up today

One benefit of setting up your post-apocalyptic outpost on the beach, aside from the abundant food source of the ocean’s bounty, is the wondrous things that wash up in the surf. In this scene by Tom Loftus a lone soldier stands watch as the low tide washes in. The outpost is built from shipping containers, which are plentiful if you live near a major shipping hub. The model is part of an iron builder challenge using a dark red Minifig shield part, which you can see in the timbers of the bunker half-buried in the sand.

04 - Low Tide

Dystopian novels are so 1984.

Can you judge a book by its cover? Conventional wisdom says “no,” but John Snyder may have a different opinion. The elegant book binding here is complemented by some slice-of-life details that are every bit as charming. This creation is part of the Iron Builder contest, and this round focused on the challenge of incorporating modified 2×3 plates into the build. We can see them in action in the book bindings on the cover, and in the dark red flowers. The golden carriage wheel on the cover matches the yellow centers to the flowers as well as the gold coins, but did you know that the black cloth bag there is (probably) also a LEGO element? It looks to me to be a Wolfpack Pouch. Now there’s a part you don’t see every day.

Treasured Tome

If you’re in a literary mood, why not check out our book archives? You just might learn something new!

Home, home on the range

Ah, farms. One hundred percent of us humans eat, but in the United States, less than six percent of the population is involved in growing it. Now, I’m not a farmer, but I did enjoy some tomatoes and peppers from my backyard garden this year, so I feel downright rustic as I type this article on a state-of-the-art laptop with high-speed wifi. But having grown up in the upper Midwest, part of America’s Breadbasket, I feel kinship with this rural LEGO scene by John Snyder. Do I own a tractor? No, but I kind of wish I did. Do I keep chickens? No, but my wife has been insisting that we should. Goats, too, though I don’t think city ordinances would allow them. Maybe someday I’ll have a barn and an awesome windmill to draw up water from the well. Mine probably won’t be made of LEGO shields, though.

Western Homestead

Do you like farms and barns and livestock, too? Then check out our TBB farm archives! And don’t forget to look up John Snyder, too, and you’ll see why he’s competing for the title of Iron Builder.

More than your usual rubber-stamp build

Ah, bureaucracy. Nothing is quite like the teeth-grinding angst of shuffling papers and getting the right permits. There’s also nothing quite like this creation by Inthert. Making use of an unusual 2×3 modified LEGO plate as a basis, they’ve managed to stamp out something new. There are a lot of great techniques in play, from the white rubber band around the pen clip to the layered wall panels that make up the pages of the book. But the skill used in inverting the rubber stamp’s pattern onto the page is the real treat for me.

05 - Seal of Approval

This build is part of the latest Iron Builder challenge. Check out our archives for more great creations from that competition.

Brickin’ out some tunes

Everyone loves a good throwback to the ’80s or ’90s, and these days people are opting for analog musical devices over digital. What better build encapsulates these trends than Jonas Kramm’s boom box LEGO model?

07 - The final track

All of the details on this build are done exactly right – from the dials to the tape deck. The speakers, as well as the switches, are composed mostly of yellow 9V track switches with black minifigure hands for extra detailing. The majority of the model comprises teal bricks and tiling; some yellow 1×2 slopes also form a stylish border around the box’s perimeter. Kramm even includes a couple of brick-built mix-tapes ready to be played. Overall this build really brings me back to the days before iPhones, iPods, and wireless internet, back when all we had was FM-AM radio and maybe some tapes to play around with.

Here comes the sun (flowers)

It takes a certain sort of madness to take something like a 9V Train track switch element and turn it into something organic like a bunch of sunflowers. But that’s just what Eli Willsea has done. Somehow. I mean, sure, you could start with 40 or so of those train switches. Add some 1×1 round brick in light green. A couple of round plates in brown. But then you have to get really creative: Check out that perfume bottle. Who even knew those 1×1 pyramid slopes came in transparent-clear? They form the perfect texture, making the full image for Eau du Soleil seem like an advertisement in a high-end fashion magazine. It’s just…*chef’s kiss*

Eau Du Soleil

This creation is just one of Eli’s entries in the Iron Builder competition. Check our archives for more from the contest.

This dragon will string you along.

LEGO is cool. Puppets are cool. Dragons are cool. Put them all together like Jonas Kramm did? You get something so cool it’s icy. And yet…somehow super hot. Built for the Iron Builder contest, this feisty creature was inspired by the 9V Train track switch element, but I think the coolest bit of NPU (“Nice Part Usage”) has to the the Minifigure Headdresses used to form the dragon’s mouth.

06 - Dragon String Puppet

You can see the puppetry in action in Jonas’ Flickr post. And when you’re done there, check out some other cool LEGO puppets that we’ve featured. Maybe you’ll be inspired enough to build your own!

Poultry Pinball

2020 being the first year in a long time without a licensed LEGO video game is a disappointing moment for fans. It is yet another faction of business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to GameRant. While there is still hope for the tentative release of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga in 2021, this might be a good time for The LEGO Group to develop pinball game sets. Sure, this screams old school. But TLG already notched success when they captured the nostalgia for Super Mario and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Let’s also not forget the brick-built retro games, plus 2016’s Ideas Maze (21305). Just one look at the Chicken-Pen-Ball machine, made by Eli Willsea, has us stuck on tilt.

Chicken-Pen-Ball

Eli’s fifth creation in the Iron Builder competition used the Track Switch 9V in yellow 19 times. He continues to outdo himself going up against Jonas Kramm, another gifted builder. Eli’s use of the Track Switch 9V balances function and form. They serve as the flippers, the flowers (dandelions?) in front of the barn, the handle on the ball shooter, and even the cabinet’s feet. It’s an egg-citing creation that takes our cheap chicken puns to the next level in this demo video. Check it out.

The happiest place on your desk

You can just feel your five senses firing at the same time by looking at Jonas Kramm‘s Micro Scale Fairground Series. The self-professed LEGO obsessive from Germany shrinks down the joy of amusement park rides into mechanical MOCSs that bring the fun indoors. His addition of a concession stand offering french fries, a hot dog, and popsicle also complete the experience. Let’s face it, we could all use a trip to an amusement park after the roller coaster year of 2020. So, for now, we’ll settle for the these three (l to r): Acku’s Adventure Ride, Guitar Top Spin, and Sunshine Ferris Wheel.

03 - Micro Scale Fairground Series

Without a doubt, Jonas’ Barb’s Disappearing was my favorite build from 2019. He consistently takes the parts we love from sets like the tree supports from Stranger Things and uses them to elevate his creations. In the case of his Fairground Series, or even Painting a Peacock each creation is an accurate portrayal of their real life counterparts. Each ride hides the mechanics inside the base. It might as well be a feat of magic in the way it all works through the simple turn of a crank. Each ride’s fluid movement is an upgrade from the similar LEGO Ideas Space Rocket Ride (40335). Watch these amusement rides in motion in the video below.