While we’re all itching to get our hands on the LEGO Ideas Insect Collection set, builder James Zhan created his own take on some of the other critters from the phylum Arthropoda. First up, a pair of comically-adorned beetles slug it out in the forest floor’s ring for the title of bug boxing world champion. While the stag beetle (in blue) certainly has that look of determination, the Japanese horned beetle (in red) is certainly no slouch. And judging by the belt it’s rocking, this is far from its first time in the ring. Don’t let the beetles distract you entirely, though. Those adorable pink flowers growing out of a corner of the ring are quite the detail!
In a more true-to-life depiction of insectoids, this quintet of fireflies know how to light up a scene. While still featuring cartoonish “bug” eyes, these insect of the family Lampyridae put transparent neon LEGO elements to good use on their posteriors to signify their glowing potential. And once again, the background is a fantastic bit of flora, featuring three types of fungi growing out of the log that’s the base of this build (one is on the other side of the creation). But then again, we know James can certainly turn out a fantastic plant when he has to.
Sometimes something looks familiar and you just can’t understand why it does. This happened to me when I came across ‘Hedgehog and Elf’ by James Zhan. I knew that little hedgehog looked familiar but I wasn’t sure from where. As a primary school teacher, you get exposed to a lot of children’s literature. So that could be the source. It sure looks like it could have walked straight out of a fairy tale. I still couldn’t pinpoint it. After googling ‘hedgehog’ and ‘Pokemon’ I must conclude that it looks familiar because it reminds me of the Pokemon Shaymin. And to be honest, that one looks like it is straight out of a fairy tale.
As someone who is constantly striving for natural shapes in my LEGO constructions, I’ve definitely taken notice of the techniques employed by James Zhan in their beautiful orchid plant. The simple yet elegant yellow and brown stripes on the flower’s petals are perfect here. And I’m in love with the use of this constraction armor part for the interior of the bloom. Following the lime stems down, we see some delicate leaf construction thanks to clips, bars, and curved slopes in green. Even further down, the cleisostoma paniculatum is held in a gorgeous black planter adorned with six large LEGO studs. I especially like the natural effect of the olive green roots partially covered by the “potting soil” made of 1×1 round plates.
And if you want to see more builders we’ve featured showing off their green thumbs, you can find them here.
The stores are filled with pumpkin spice and 12-foot-tall yard skeletons, which means the Spooky Season has officially arrived. To mark the occasion, James Zhan has crafted a terrifyingly terrific theme park ride to delight your inner-monster. The HallowSwings’ twisted tree trunk base makes a perfect foundation for the ride, with its eerie glowing face and vines. Just do your best to try and hold on. We get the feeling the ghouls who run this park aren’t giving much concern for safety regulations.
The expression on this little LEGO monster’s face built by James Zhan, matches my expression exactly when the Christmas dessert hits the table. Surprised, but at the same time highly anticipating the same aforementioned sweet goodness. This little cutie, is fully pose-able and there are joints in all the right places. The bar holder works perfectly for the snow monster’s fingers. Adding one tan finger is a little touch that makes this creature look extra lifelike. The round plate with bar handle make the cutest little monster toes. The fact that this little guy is cute as a button is only emphasized by its rosy cheeks. Using flesh round tiles for the cheeks is barely noticeable, but notable nonetheless.
Sporting the Netherlands’ colors in honor of their gold and bronze medals this August, this Miniland-style figure wonderfully captures the motion of a record-setting athlete. Clever building techniques allow builder James Zhan to construct the jersey and shorts into the figure’s body. Nice parts usage in the elements for the hair partner with the positioning of the arms to help sell the feeling that the figure is falling. The figure’s prostheses are posed for the furthest distance while their entire body is suspended with a clear stand.
The walking iris is an interesting plant. When it reproduces, new plantlets form at the top of the flower stalks. This added weight causes the stalks to bend to the ground, where the new plants take root. Repeat that a few times, and you have a flower that “walks” around the garden. This exceptional botanical recreation by James Zhan captures the unique beauty of this plant, and adds in a swanky LEGO base to boot.
Seen close up, you can appreciate the building techniques that have gone into the flowers. There’s some very clever part usage including minifigure ski poles and crowns, as well as a 1×1 plate used as a tiny mosaic to give the petals a splash of color. I also like the varied joints in the greenery, allowing for some very organic curves.
Flowers have always been a popular theme for custom LEGO creations, and we’ve seen some great sets coming directly from LEGO recently, too. What sort of botanical build do you want to try?
True story; one of the best days of my life involved flying fish. I was in the Navy and got reassigned to gyro school while we were deployed out in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of waiting until we pulled into port, they hired a small craft to meet our ship. I was (carefully) hoisted over the side, and onto the craft. Usually, the captain gets a series of bells to announce his or her arrival and departure. Little enlisted schlubs like me didn’t get the same treatment except during our final departure from the ship. So they rang me off with bells and headed for shore. Here’s where the flying fish came in, jumping over the craft in droves as we sped through the water. I felt like freakin’ James Bond on a special mission! Once on shore at Panama City, Florida, I was reverted back to common schlub transportation but for an hour or so, I felt pretty special. Thanks for the memories, James Zhan! It would have been extra-cool to depart on a piloted flying fish like this.
LEGO may have released an official Flower Bouquet set now, but that doesn’t mean they’ve got a monopoly on great-looking life-sized flowers made out of plastic bricks. This beautiful orchid by James Zhan shows that there are a lot more possibilities waiting to be explored. This one comes in a lovely 2×2 brick vase (something the official set lacked) and isn’t just cut flowers but instead the whole orchid plant. Look closely and you’ll even spot some bamboo stakes that help hold the flowers aloft. And my favorite detail is the succulent planted at the base, a common accompaniment to potted orchids.
Welcome back to the Brothers Brick’s LEGO nature documentary series, Planet Brick. Here you can see, hidden among the coral atop a 1×1 brick, a tiny little pygmy seahorse. Yes, James Zhan’s creation is well hidden, away from the mouths of crabs, rays, or fish looking for a little snack. The pink and red specks of this pygmy’s pigment help it to blend in with the vibrant colours of the coral, home to a number of other tiny camouflaged sea creatures. If a predator gets too close and the tiny little seahorse and tip the LEGO brick below it over and hide inside. A truly remarkable little creature to find on the reef. Stay tuned for our next episode as we explore other brick built flora and fauna inhabiting Planet Brick.
I think most of us will agree that a nice LEGO set or custom creation can spruce up your interior decor quite a lot. I personally am also a fan of adding flowers to my home. After all, they look good and they smell good. However, after about 10 days they have to be replaced and they cost quite a lot of money. Money I could also spend on LEGO. James Zhan offers a solution to this problem with his lovely creation called ‘Flower and zen’. And to me, the title says it all! Now all I have to figure out is how to get my LEGO to smell like flowers.
Beware shark fin soup enthusiasts. It’s not so much my thing but in China shark fin soup is considered a delicacy served at traditional weddings and banquets.The practice has been condemned by the Humane Society International as millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins and it sort of upsets the order and sustainability of other things in the ocean. Enter James Zhan and his toothy Nightmare Amalgam-Z. This creature can walk up on land, politely tap you on the shoulder with this Bionicle part while you’re dining, then maybe proceed to chomp on your face. You don’t want that, do you? We all gotta eat, I know, but driving a certain species to near extinction isn’t cool. So let’s be cool, otherwise you get this guy and we’ve already established what he does. So are we cool? Good!