Builder Eero Okkonen is no stranger to The Brothers Brick. His large-scale figures are something of a legend around here, often featuring warriors, wizards, and sci-fi women. Today, he brings us a samurai warrior, joined by a maiko, or apprentice geisha sharing tea. He beautifully captures both the modest down-turned visage of the maiko and the tired pride of the old warrior. What makes this build unusual for Eero is that the stunning figures are set in a lush landscape, which features a blooming garden complete with Zen Buddhist shrines and a reflection pool.
I love the way he has used the texture of the undersides of 1×2 plates for the samurai’s armor, along with the decorative flowers stuck to them. The elbow brick in light bluish grey is used to good effect in both the facial hair of the samurai and the three legged shrine in the corner. You also don’t want to miss the golden chainsaw blade used as a hair ornament on the maiko! The whole scene is so tranquil that I wish I could go there and take part. Now where did I put my tea cup?
Nothing says peacefulness like a bonsai tree. And what better way to cultivate the perfect tree than to use LEGO to make it just the way you want it? From it’s beautiful base to the winding trunk, Brent Waller‘s bonsai is a picture of serenity. The shape is gorgeous, especially paired with the clean rockwork. The bridge and little fisherman are cute too!
Brent is also the creator of something completely different, but also 100% epic. He’s the fan designer of the LEGO Ideas set 21108 Ghostbusters Ecto 1. Additionally, you’ll need to zoom in on every detail of his incredible Wayne Manor and Batcave.
Home to almost 40 million people, greater Tokyo is the world’s most populous metropolitan area. Space is at a premium, so houses tend to be small and built closely together. To fight fires in the dense urban areas, the Tokyo Fire Department has a large fleet of exceedingly small fire engines. They are narrow enough to fit the streets between the houses. They also have a relatively short wheelbase, so that they can navigate tight corners. In preparation for a visit to Japan Brickfest later this year, I’m building a small collection of Japanese emergency vehicles. I’ve been looking forward to building the fire engine the most, so I’ve kept that for last.
At a first glance, it may not look all that small, especially if you are used to LEGO minifigure-scale builds. However, if you compare the pumper to the two fire fighters, it is obvious that it is a lot smaller than pumpers from Europe or the US. It is only about as wide as a typical American car and not all that much longer. Nonetheless, it has everything you’d expect from its larger counterparts and a little more. It is nice and red, obviously. It has pump control panels with connections for fire hoses, a few ladders stored on top and lots of compartments for tools. Typical for Japanese pumpers, it also houses a little separate wheeled cart in the back. Fire fighters use this to transport hoses down even narrower alleys. The model is like a miniature version of a miniature fire engine.
In many Asian cultures, koi ponds symbolize luck, good fortune, and abundance. They also tend to represent courage and perseverance. Perhaps that’s why, even with the abundance of rain, this geisha isn’t afraid of her makeup running!
Banter aside, this expertly photographed build by Architeclego is stunning. I personally find heavy rain beautiful and almost calming. From inside, its enveloping, rhythmic drone is even cozy. This is one of those picture that provokes those feelings.
While the photography in itself is compelling, the build is not to be overlooked! I’m a fan of the layout and recessed pool, and I especially like the inversion of the arch bricks for the roof. We certainly hope to see many more pieces of art like this in the future.
In a few months’ time, I’ll be attending Japan Brickfest in Kobe. I always find the prospect of displaying a model at an event motivating. So, for this occasion I am building a few new models with a Japanese twist. I presented my Tokyo Police car a little while ago and I’ve now completed an ambulance to accompany it. The typical Japanese ambulance is a Toyota HiMedic van.
Mine represents an example used by the Tokyo Fire Department. At a first glance it may look like a box on wheels. That box is a lot wider near the bottom than near the top, though. I got the sides to taper by attaching them to hinges, but getting all of this to fit was a challenge, in particular around the windscreen. Despite the angled sides, all the doors open, including a sliding door on each side of the van. I really enjoyed making the stickers. I got to draw kanji letters and little emblems that depict Kyuta-Kun, which is the super cute Tokyo Fire Department mascot. The end result looks very Japanese and suitably futuristic. Picture this with two nacelles instead of wheels and it wouldn’t look out of place in the shuttle bay of the Starship Enterprise. Befitting a culture known for politeness, these ambulances have a PA system with recorded sentences that kindly warn other road users to make way. That detail, unfortunately, is missing from my LEGO model.
In Japanese cuisine, bento is a meal in box for take-out or eating at home. Leonid An has built a delicious looking LEGO bento, which includes sushi rolls, nigiri, vegetables, wasabi, and a hearty serving of white rice. Each dish is able to stand on its own, thanks in part to a diverse range of colors and building techniques. The pieces of nigiri use a mix of curved slopes and constraction figure elements to form slices of raw fish. Black tires and white tires are cleverly used to represent the seaweed and rice in the sushi rolls, and lime green Bionicle Krana Za masks are used to form the side of wasabi. Meanwhile, a pair of chopsticks at the base of the box signals it’s time to eat. Itadakimasu!
Japanese cars well-engineered and sometimes innovative, but in my opinion they are often not all that exciting. However, Japanese manufacturers do have a history of building some pretty neat sports cars, like the 240Z /Fairlady or Nissan GT-R or the Honda CRX.
A little more than a year ago, during a work trip, I was lucky to spend a day in Tokyo. It is an amazing city and ever since I’ve been thinking about building some Japan-themed LEGO models. I already have a collection of LEGO emergency vehicles, so adding a Japanese police car seemed like a good idea. Their typical vehicle is the Toyota Crown, which certainly fits the not-all-that-exciting category. However, a bit of internet research revealed that, until a few years ago, the Tokyo Police department also had Mazda RX-8 patrol cars. It’s a curvy coupé with suicide doors that was mainly used for traffic duties. Building one of those was a much more interesting prospect. I simply had to have one.
The world-famous Great Wave Off Kanagawa print by Japanese painter Hokusai gets the LEGO treatment in this great piece of work by koffiemoc. The model’s inspiration is immediately recognisable — from the overall colour scheme, the towering wave threatening the three boats, through to the triangular white peak of Mount Fuji in the central distance. The builder has added in some of the more subtle details of the artwork too — the crests of the waves are tipped with clips, capturing Hokusai’s depiction of the water having claws. There is also the triangular shape of the foreground wave, mirroring the form of the background mountain. This is a beautiful brick-built tribute to a beautiful image.
Tengu are legendary creatures in Japanese myths going back hundreds of years. Although they have a complicated history, they’re most often seen today as protectors of mountains and forests, though still certainly fearsome! John Cheng has built a rather adorable Tengu, dressed in Yamabushi (mountain hermit) garb with black bird wings and an enormous, beak-like nose that reveal his avian origins.
LEGO TOKYO is a special collaboration between Aurélien Mathieu (better known online as Shobrick) and Cole Blaq. To be precise, it’s really Shobrick’s swan song from the LEGO scene–and what better way to make a grand exit but with a monumental partnership to release four epic scenes that were put together by professional set designers and talented artists.
Click to see the duo’s amazing images of LEGO Tokyo and read about how they were created
I’ve explained elsewhere why sumo (traditional Japanese wrestling) is the greatest sport on earth — it’s fast, complex, and incredibly exciting. I won an apple in my first sumo bout at age three, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Cindy Su apparently agrees with me, because she built this wonderful rikishi (or wrestler — sumo is the name of the sport, not the name of the wrestlers). She layers various round tiles to bulk up the underlying BrickHeadz form, and gives this mountain of a man a stand complete with a Japanese flag to pose on. He has huge arms to shove opponents out of the ring, with an expressive face that seems to say he’s relieved to have just finished a winning bout.
Interestingly, many of the top wrestlers these days are foreign-born, from countries like Mongolia and Georgia. As someone who spent 15 years getting called gaijin (foreigner, with connotations of “outsider”) in my own home country, I’ve taken a perverse pleasure in rooting for the foreigners in recent sumo tournaments. Of course, sumo wrestlers aren’t born quite so big. They bulk up by eating a special stew called chankonabe, which Cindy has also faithfully created for this rikishi to enjoy.
The Japanese Shinto-Buddhist gods of wind and storms have an eternal rivalry for control of the skies. Fūjin is the god of wind, and carries an enormous bag of air to blow, while Raijin beats drums to make thunder and lightning. LEGO 7 has captured the look of these well-known deities perfectly in LEGO, complete with bolts of lightning emanating from the cloud that Raijin is floating on. Although Fūjin is typically depicted with red hair, the white hair that both characters share ties them together wonderfully, while both gods sport distinct armor around their waists in silver and gold. This pair of fearsome spirits would fit in perfectly guarding the Kaminarimon “Thunder Gate” at Senso-ji in Tokyo.