At a time when chaos seems to be the order of the day, builder Jaap Bijl reminds us that we can still find moments of serenity if we only look for them. At first glance I thought this was a real photo but upon closer inspection it proves to be an incredible work of LEGO art. Just looking at it gives me a sense of peace and calm. The first thing I noticed was the lovely sideways built water in sand green and olive green. The lily pads and plants with a few yellow flowers peeking out and an adorable yellow duck are a perfect accent. The surrounding landscaping is a nice mix of textures and colors that bring focus to the central cherry blossom tree. To provide detail on the bridge, the builder has utilized Technic bushings and axle connectors that appear to be strung like beads onto a flexible tube. The small temple is full of detail and has a roof that utilizes a similar construction method to the bridge. I love the cleverly built Buddha statue with his large belly created by a simple 2×2 round tile. Add in a few animals and a solitary minifigure to complete the picture and you have a model that transports you to an entirely different world where quiet contemplation reigns.
In the LEGO community, nice parts usage (or NPU) is something many builders strive to achieve. Using parts in an interesting way never fails to garner notice and compliments. Often these types of techniques are scattered throughout the model, but in the case of this hummingbird, builder Jaap Bijl gives us a figure that consists almost entirely of NPU. So, where does one begin?
The tree branch and leaves may be common, but the whips for vines and the small minifigure hammers for the flower stamens take us into unusual territory. The minifigure spanner used for the feet and the clever eye and beak area are stand outs. The wings, however, are a thing of beauty. They’re a terrific combo of flexible tubes, small wrenches and a variety of blue Technic pins and 1×1 round plates to create the wing feathers. The lavender grass pieces and purple antennae make for a nice finisher as tail feathers. They body and silhouette of the bird are quite nice as well and really bring the entire model together as a cohesive whole.
LEGO geometry typically involves lots of right angles. There’s really only so much you can do with a product that is based on a brick. However, that squareness need not be pejorative and can serve instead as an inspiration to mess with expectations. That is what this temple by Jaap Bijl does. While the building itself is based on the good old ninety degree paradigm, it is set crooked to skew the perception of the creation. Is it being swallowed by sand? Probably. This is likely the perfect example of what happens to a building built on sand, rather than solid rock. Foundations matter, people!
The build uses surprisingly little studs-on-top construction, as the steps are built sideways, most of the facade consists of tiles, and the beautiful blue stripe is being all kinds of SNOTty (or Studs-Not-On-Top-y). Then there is the dome on top, which is also studs-every-which-way. My favorite bit, though, is probably the texture of the tan area between the sections of dark tan and blue stripes, as well as above the doorway; the jumper plates and regular plates make for a very cool look, just like uneven weathered brick. The decay of the structure is lovely, even if the golden-weapon-equipped men guarding it are not.
With the recent launch of Disney+, there’s been a lot of buzz about The Mandalorian, the latest Star Wars series to hit the TV screen. Builder Jaap Bijl reaches back into Star Wars’ televised past with a Star Wars: The Clone Wars duel between Obi Wan and the bounty hunter Cad Bane. The purple planet of Teth is well-represented here, with nicely sculpted rockwork and enough tonal variety to keep things interesting.
Both characters are locked in a fierce battle, complete with sabers waving and guns-a-blazing. While they may be the stars of the show, my favorite element in this scene is the black and gray tree. The leaves are cleverly sculpted from curved slopes, along with a few ball and socket joint connections.
I suspect that any self-respecting mycologist would eschew chewing on any purple mushrooms; a bright color like that probably screams “I’m poisonous!” That’s not to say a purple mushroom is not edible. All mushrooms are edible, after all; it’s just that some can be eaten only once. This purple mushroom mansion built by Jaap Bijl can be viewed as many times as you like but, like a real purple mushroom, I would not recommend eating it – ABS plastic doesn’t go down easy. Built for the Parts Festival hosted by our friends at New Elementary, there is an abundance of lovely parts usage, as well as plenty of Jaap’s favorite color, purple.
In particular, the new projectile launchers make for nice columns to flank the stairs. You’ll also find some stars, hearts, and splats for flowers and archways, and who doesn’t like some clever carrots in builds? The large flowers to either side give the scene some scale; either the house is small, or the flowers are huge! I like to imagine that there are little imps or faeries about. There seems to be a budding theme of tiny fantastic creatures growing, with some recent examples here and here, and I am a big fan.
Mastering the art of LEGO architecture can be difficult enough, but jaapxaap goes a step farther with this seemingly impossible little house full of color and texture. This type of work, dubbed “ramshackle style”, is a personal favorite of mine. The skill required to pull off an organic building such as this is a special one.
The sloping roof is extremely impressive with its purple tiles and the seamless way the two roofs meet. One of the keys to this style is a variety of texture which the builder pulls of admirably here. The combination of profile bricks, SNOT pieces and tiles create the feeling of a house that is constantly in repair. The building’s color palette is quite appealing in various shades of brown accented with pinks and purples. The landscaping is similarly appointed with an array of plants of different sizes, shapes and colors.
What is serenity? One definition — perfection of form, coupled with a strong and simple colour scheme. That’s exactly what we’ve got in this temple building by jaapxaap. The standout feature is the purple and gold roof, adorned with beautifully shaped corners and nicely offset tiling. Don’t miss how the shaping flows perfectly around the golden decorative elements, almost as if they were designed to fit the spaces, rather than the other way around. The stark grey structure is striking and forms a robust backdrop to the ornate roofing. There’s nice landscaping and foliage, along with some minifigures, placed around the model, but the colour choices are perfect — complementing, never distracting, from the model’s central subject.
A fantastic piece of fantasy just popped up in the form of the home of the white lotus priestess by jaapxaap. Jaapxaap’s use of a wide variety of angles and bright colors help create a building that feels both wonderfully organic and magical. I wouldn’t have thought of doing a purple roof, but it works really well here and compliments the orange and brown hues of the surrounding terrain. A number of fun little details can be spotted in this build, including wild looking toadstools, a brilliant brick-built stork, and plenty examples of the priestess’ signature flower. You will even find a small porch with a telescope, perfect for any astrologer.