Over the course of the last six months, we’ve featured literally hundreds of excellent LEGO creations. While all of them are already the best we’ve found, there are a handful that stand out above the rest. Usually these creations feature the coolest techniques and exceptional NPU (Nice Parts Usage), and have us talking about them more than the average build behind the scenes. We’ve seen everything, but occasionally we’re extra impressed by something new and unique. Although we do feature our overall favorite builds (using several criteria) in the running for the TBB Creation of the Year in December, we’ve decided it would be fun to honor some ace parts usage right here, right now. Join us as we count down the best of the first half of 2023!
I’m always so impressed by the level of awesome parts usage in some of these LEGO vignettes people are producing lately. Just when you think all the good ideas and designs are taken, someone else does it all over again. This particular build by Marcin Otreba is one of my all-time favorites. It’s just so quaint and cozy. The color palette is lovely as well. While common great parts usage abounds, like the axles, wands, and small horns used as furniture legs, and skates for drawer pulls, there’s also plenty of unique stuff too. I love what this builder did with the clam shell behind the sink. I’m also a fan of the stove burners, the bread pan on the table, and even the simple, tan, “window glass” cutting board tucked under the window sill.
I’ve lost count of how many LEGO versions of Porco Rosso’s iconic seaplane we’ve featured here on TBB, going way back to Uspez Morbo’s Savoia S.21 I wrote about in 2008. And yet I enjoy every version we’ve highlighted, not least this fantastic microscale version by Marcin Otreba, complete with stand and tiny Adriatic seascape. A miniature Porco pilot may try to steal the show here, but the details I love most are the little contrails emerging from the engine exhaust and the rounded cowling on the seaplane’s bow.
The Lord of the Rings seems to be making a comeback lately, and I’m all for it. Among other things, it means we get awesome tributes like this one from Marcin Otreba. Like all good builds, I find it quite thought-provoking. The thought in question is – isn’t it odd that Gandalf is most famously represented in his grey garb? He doesn’t even spend a whole movie’s worth in that outfit. (Yes, I know, The Hobbit, but over a decade separates that trilogy from The Lord of the Rings movies.) Even as Gandalf the White, he still gets called Mithrandir – which means “the Grey Pilgrim” in Sindarin. I know being called the White Wizard might be awkward after Saruman did, you know, all that evil stuff. But come on, Gandalf had to slay a whole Balrog to get there!
Marcin isn’t the only one to have been paying a visit to Middle Earth lately – plenty of others have joined this little fellowship of “>LOTR LEGO builders.
This LEGO version of Gimli’s helmet by Marcin Otreba from The Lord of the Rings gave us no real choice — it was too awesome for us to pass up! Pearl-gold lattice pieces decorate the brow and chin guards, evoking the dwarvish designs on the helmet as seen in the Peter Jackson movie series. Sitting on a display stand, Marcin’s fan design would fit right in with the official LEGO Star Wars helmets collection.
Marcin follows up his fantastic Mouth of Sauron, and we’re hoping that this latest LEGO helmet is just the next in a larger series of helmets and busts from the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.
As we all bask in the latest LEGO Lord of the Rings news, it’s a perfect time to celebrate other amazing Middle Earth constructions. Case in point, this tribute to the Mouth of Sauron by Marcin Otreba. This scene-stealing Return of the King character is perfectly captured here with his ornate armor and trademark spooky grin. Look closely, and you’ll see those creepy teeth are actually repurposed Battle Droid heads from the Star Wars prequels, which makes this build a loving homage to early 2000s blockbuster movies of all kinds.
The hit anime series Attack on Titan, based on the manga of the same name, has inspired many LEGO builders to pay tribute, and while many builders choose to depict a Minifig scale scene so they can focus on giant toot-filled titan heads peeking over the rooftops, Marcin Otreba went a different route, with a slice of the wall, casting a shadow over a section of town at microscale while the colossal titan stands nearby looking very impressive at this “smaller” size. The tiny sloped roofs and the narrow streets perfectly capture the look of the town seen in the very first episode when disaster strikes.
The model has more excellent details on the outside of the gate, with more 3-tooth parts in dark green to give the perfect sense of scale as evergreen trees scattered among shorter buildings. And the 2 part cannons at the top of the wall are genius!
When you think of the Victorian era, you might think of the glamour of steam trains, big mustaches, and even bigger tophats. What you might not think of is something we take for granted nowadays – the humble bathroom, still something of a luxury back then. Even the most well-to-do might only bathe once a month. And what better place to do so than in Marcin Otreba‘s stylish LEGO bathroom? The goldwork makes it look fit for royalty! Just make sure they don’t spot that two of their crowns have been used for a vase and light fitting base. The tiling could perhaps use a touch-up as well. Despite its opulent glamour, it feels lived-in, as if many a minifigure has washed here. In a way, that makes the build all the more impressive!
It may be a little past Halloween, but a vampire’s never late. Because they’re undead! Get it? Anyway, this fantastic dungeon by Marcin Otreba has all the trappings of a ghoulish lair set into a great little vignette. The architecture is wonderfully gothic with lots of spikes and details, such as repeating batarangs. The tan highlights give it enough visual interest to offset the drab grey you’d expect. Now pardon me, I’m going to go finish watching What We Do in the Shadows.
Marcin Otreba drew inspiration from the classic folklore tale of Baba Yaga. And he’s not the first one to use this story as an inspiration for a LEGO creation: we’ve featured numerous chicken-legged cottages throughout the years. Marcin’s is special because it’s so tiny yet so packed with details. It’s so small it almost has you wondering if the witch will actually fit into the cottage. The answer is yes, of course! It is a magic cottage, you silly! The arms with pins introduced in the Super Mario LEGO sets are used to create all sorts of odd angles, and the fact that the cottage is asymmetrical makes it even more aesthetically pleasing. But the most hilarious thing about this creation is the fact that Baba Yaga is riding a Belville broom which is far bigger than her house.
Check out more Baba Yaga creations here!
In the Studio Ghibli animated classic Spirited Away, a sense of wonder and magic infuses just about everything. Marcin Otręba takes us on a trip to a LEGO recreation of the iconic bathhouse, and it’s every bit as wonderous. From the graceful curve of the bridge to the spot-on color choices and complex tiling in the walls, this microscale reproduction is very true to the original. But, like in the film, there’s more here than you might first see. Keep reading to discover some of the secrets!
This amazing LEGO model perfectly captures the mismatched style of the mechanical castle from the anime film Howl’s Moving Castle. In the film, the castle walks on spindly legs, spluttering and puffing out smoke as it goes along, as indicated by the clouds of smoke rising from the various chimneys. You can tell that the model’s creator, Marcin Otręba, has carefully studied the original design as all the strange contraptions protruding out of the castle have been faithfully recreated in this small scale. In order to portray the circular brickwork under the domed turrets, rounded 1×2 plates have been angled to form ringlike patterns.