There’s a definite art to building ruins out of LEGO bricks. They aren’t the best medium for it, quite frankly, since the plastic is usually (unless they’re old and much loved) bright and shiny, the edges crisp and square. And ruins are usually dull, dirty, and broken apart. There’s a tendency to try to over-do it and add studs everywhere, or round elements, or a bunch of different colors, and the shape often gets lost in the busy clutter that the build ends up being. But in the hands of an eminently talented builder like Josiah Durand (a.k.a W. Navarre), ruins can be a glorious thing, awe-inspiring just like the real thing in the jungles of the Yucatan. This one is not any one in particular, but the Mayan ruins at Tikal and the Aztec ones at Tenochtitlan served as inspirations.
The steps are excellent with their grille-brick texture, and the mix of smooth surfaces and studs is just right. There are many colors, but the muted earth tones all work together, and even match the printing next to the steps. The skulls give it the grim ambiance associated with the human sacrifices performed at many such sites, and the tiny statuettes give it some scale. And the lighting is perfect on this one, with slightly overcast South American sky giving it a real-world vibe. It looks almost like the real thing! Now that is the mark of some good LEGO ruin building. Take notes, aspiring builders!
Overflowing with architectural features, Noel Peterson’s El Templo de Uxmal revels in the crumbling splendour of the ancient Mayan civilisation. As you explore the ruins, you have to marvel at just how many different building techniques have been used: from the rings of brackets used to shape the distinctive holed blocks, to the row of modified bar elements inset to replicate relief carvings. The arrow head portal, made by off-setting cheese wedges, adds a spectacular focal point to the build that I particularly like. Noel’s attention to detail carries on throughout the model, creating weathering effects, age and a real sense of history everywhere you look.
Mesoamerican temples lend themselves naturally to LEGO, with their blocky shapes and colours that are often abundant in collections, namely grays and greens. There seems to be an influx of Mayan and Aztec temples lately as you might have noticed on The Brothers Brick, and we have the Summer Joust competition to thank for this. One of the creations built for this contest is this one by Andreas Lenander
The first thing that catches our attention is the dark tan ground, a change from the expected greens that are used in similar creations. While I like the contrast that green gives, tan is probably more realistic. The sand and olive green overgrowth on the temple is an interesting colour choice, joined by dark green, which looks almost black in the photo. This darker colour gives a strong impression of wet moss, setting the scene in a particularly dank swamp. Some of the more unique parts usages include the Statue of Liberty headgear used as serpent’s head ornaments and the brown treads used as vines.
The Mesoamerican ballgame is an ancient sport played throughout Central America starting more than three thousand years ago. While some games may have been played purely for exercise or entertainment, there is strong archaeological and historical evidence for highly ritualized games that could even end in human sacrifice for some or all of the losers. W. Navarre has captured the action of a ballgame from the Aztec era, when ballcourts included rings through which players tried to bounce the rubber ball. The builder uses forced perspective to achieve a backdrop with a stepped pyramid temple — even the blazing blue sky is built with bricks.
The microscale pyramid includes decorative elements made from cut stickers — only official LEGO stickers, of course! The cheese slopes work wonderfully for the pyramid’s steps.
If you’re wondering what a group of bikers is doing in front of a Mesoamerican temple, then I appreciate your imagination, but also recommend a closer look at this LEGO creation… Joking aside, this Alien Construct by Tirrel Brown embraces the otherworldly aesthetic of Mesoamerican architecture and takes it one small step further, onto another planet.
The trees and alien flowers deserve a bit of attention, but it is a good thing that the greenery is not too distracting, as your main focus is and should be on the alien temple in the middle. The simple yet interesting design is very futuristic, while a brick texture gives it an ancient look. An important thing to notice is what appears to be white patterns in the construct – it is actually light aqua, one of the LEGO colours closest to white. This subtle change makes the pattern almost glow.
It seems strange that given how well-received LEGO creations of Mesoamerican architecture are, they are relatively rarely seen in the online LEGO building community, as if they were lost in a jungle. Hidden somewhere deep in the jungles of Flickr, an ancient temple built by Aaron Newman has been discovered, caught in the middle of a human sacrifice, which has angered Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent himself!
The temple serves as scenery for an engaging story hinted at by the builder in the photo’s description. The deity is beautifully sculpted and positioned, giving a convincing impression of graceful motion in the air. I love all the details across the temple, but the altar at the top is definetely the best part. A bit of greenery spilling around the temple and the excellent minifig action complete the scene, greatly aided by the very fitting and expressive background.
The Summer Joust contest is generating some amazing LEGO builds in a variety of categories. Talented multi-theme builder David Zambito‘s entry in the “Mesoamerican Setting” category depicts an Aztec-style temple overgrown with foliage. While the well-built temple is the center of the scene, the landscaping also deserves your attention. The plants are built not just from actual LEGO foliage pieces like bushes, bamboo, and flowers, but also from the plastic sprues that three-leaf plants come in, as well as street sweeper brushes.
If you like this Aztec-style pyramid, you might also like the Maya-style LEGO pyramid we featured previously.