From samurai and ninjas to giant mecha like Gundam or the beautiful films of Hayao Miyazaki, Japanese history and culture inspire LEGO builders all over the world. With contributors fluent in Japanese, The Brothers Brick also brings you coverage of the people and events in the large LEGO fan community in Japan itself.
Mike Dung has created a troop of supercute chibi schoolgirls. A relatively simple frame structure and face design manages to support distinctly different characters thanks to great use of color, and some fantastic hairdo designs. Brilliant stuff Mike.
For the anime aficionados among you, these characters are from Love Live! School Idol Project (ラブライブ), a Japanese multimedia project co-developed by three companies. The project revolves around a group of fictional school girls who become idols in order to save their school from shutting down.
Anpanman was a popular Japanese children book series that ran from the early seventies until 2013, and among its record-holding 1,768-character roster was the main series antagonist, Baikinman. A devious bacteria man from the Germ Planet, he fought the title character in endless battles. Depicted here in a more serious (and deadly) manner by builder Moko, Baikiniman is clearly a monster you don’t want to mess with. That is, unless you have his one weakness on hand, soap, which causes him to shrink down to the size of a fly.
Japanese style of building are a thing of wonder. I love their style and proper functionality — not a single bit of space is wasted, and this build by Gzu is a perfect example of this.
You can see the attention the builder has paid to all the details, like the little sandals at the door, and admire the functional sliding doors, smart toilet, tea table, small bed, and even the tiny bath. But if you choose, you can always go for something bigger:
As my family left Japan in 1989 after 15 years there, one of the memories I carried with me was all the TV shows my brother and I had watched. While my own favorite was Ultraman, my brother preferred Kamen Rider (the “Masked Rider”). One of the best and most popular incarnations of the titular hero was the Kamen Rider Black series, which aired just before we left Japan, in 1987 and 1988.
Moko has been building various LEGO versions of Kamen Rider for at least the last 10 years — I first featured minifig versions of the characters way back in 2006 — and his latest Kamen Rider features a chibi version of our hero pulling a wheelie astride his iconic “Battlehopper” motorcycle.
Kamen Rider himself is fully posable, and Moko says that this is his first attempt at a non-minifig scale motorbike. Moko makes great use of LEGO rubber elements in this build: The red and yellow lines on the character are built from rubber bands, and the motorcycle tires are tank treads on radar dishes.
Moko says that the first Kamen Rider show he watched was the RX series that immediately followed Black, and he only watched Black later, but really loves the show despite its age — which, you know, makes me feel a bit old… You can see more photos on Moko’s blog (in Japanese).
Not surprisingly, the moment you mention a hero like Ultraman, a giant space monster shows up to destroy your nice little cardboard city–it’s just the natural order of things. Filling in said order is the latest creation by nobu_tary: the deadly Alien Baltan. With the powers of flight, laser beam claws, furry looking legs, and presumably the ability to gain more abilities as dictated by the plot, Baltan is sure to give Ultraman a run for his money. At least until the third act requires his loss after an oh-so-close victory.
While I certainly admired the delicious-looking tempura shrimp and rice bowl by nobu_tary I highlighted a week or so ago, I’m vegetarian and prefer some lovely vegetables with my rice — no homemade Japanese meal feels complete without some umeboshi, or pickled plums. I think I’d enjoy this gorgeous LEGO bento box a bit more, with black sesame seeds and an umeboshi on the rice, with broccoli and a variety of small side dishes packed with care into a lacquer box.
Many restaurants in Japan have plastic models of their food in their front window. Japanese builder nobu_tary has recreated the fake food that gaijin visiting Japan sometimes find so amusing. But as someone born and raised there, I know that it’s food art in its own right, and I can admire the well-built fried shrimp drizzled with sauce, chopsticks, and even some delicious pickled eggplant peeking out from behind the red and white striped bowl.
And after chowing down those crisp golden shrimp, you might consider ending the meal with some fruit. Perhaps a LEGO banana by the same builder would do nicely. Don’t forget to brush your teeth after every meal.
Tary says on his blog that this is his entry in this year’s Original Model Contest, held by clickbrick for the past 14 years. You can see this entry, along with all the others, at the Odaiba store in Tokyo from this Saturday through the end of March.
The truest test of popularity is whether or not someone can recognize your costume after 50 years. That’s no doubt the case with this famous monster-bashing Japanese television icon, Ultraman. Built by Jan Lego, this ultra-pose-able figure is actually based on the more recent manga series design, but he nonetheless kicks just as much monster-butt with more style to boot.
Packed with detail, Jan’s Ultraman is a prime example of a well built brick figure utilizing form and shaping to its fullest advantage. If you want to see dozens more views of this beauty, head over to Jan’s Ultraman album–you won’t be disappointed, although overconfident kaiju may be.
Some beautifully sinister and gloomy Japanese-style micro architecture on display from Tim Schwalfenberg. With it’s moody black and silver color scheme and wonderful levels of detail, this fortress could be a piece of concept art from 47 Ronin. (And that’s intended as a compliment – although the film as a whole might not have lived up to expectation, it looked very pretty indeed).
The fortress walls are impressively detailed and the curved roof is an obvious highlight, but it’s the neat little bridge and the base which add the finishing touches of brilliance. This could be the first set in a new LEGO theme of Fantasy Architecture. (If LEGO were to launch such a line they could literally take all my money. All of it.)
One of our traditions for TBB contributors attending BrickCon every year is to enjoy inexpensive sushi at one of the two nearby revolving sushi (回転寿司) joints. If you’ve never been to a revolving sushi restaurant, you grab small plates of sushi from a conveyer built that moves around a counter that surrounds the prep area. It’s fun and delicious! Japanese builder Dr.Peisan has used LEGO Power Functions to motorize a revolving sushi restaurant.
Built on four 32×32 baseplates, the restaurant is full of funny scenes and interesting characters. There’s a group of aliens (the ultimate gaijin) tasting earth food, a reporter using a fake mic, Emmet from The LEGO Movie, and even BB-8. I expect the sumo wrestler to give the lucha libre guy a run for his money… I’m personally most impressed by the wide range of different nigiri, rolls, and desserts that roll by.
You can see lots more pictures on Flickr and the builder’s blog (in Japanese). You’ll also be able to see this in person in Kobe at Japan Brickfest 2016 in June.
KLUG, the LEGO Users Group (LUG) based in Osaka, Japan, is putting on the largest LEGO event in Japan this June called Japan Brickfest.
The event will be held June 4-5, 2016 at the Canadian Academy international school on Rokko Island in Kobe. (I went to second grade in Kobe, and it’s a lovely city.) Registration for builders is now open, but closes at the end of February.
KLUG itself includes a number of names that should be familiar to both LEGO builders on sites like Flickr and MOCPages as well as readers of TBB. KLUG seems to be a bilingual LUG with both Japanese and English-speaking members, so if you’re a gaijin AFOL in the Kansai area who misses your LUG back home, KLUG and Japan Brickfest sound like a great way to get involved with LEGO in Japan.
Attendee pricing is based on requested table space. For more details, see the builder page (in both Japanese and English) on the event website.
When Iain blogged Alanboar Cheung‘s timely sculpture of Alan Rickman earlier today, I was reminded that I’d also been intending to highlight his excellent LEGO mosaic of 19th-century Japanese woodblock artist Hokusai’s famous print of “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” For several years when I lived in Yokohama, I had a similarly distant but much less dramatic view of Mount Fuji, which I particularly enjoyed during the winter when the mountain’s peak was capped with snow. Alanboar’s mosaic uses a “studs up” technique, stacking LEGO plates rather than attaching them “studs out” on a baseplate.