Fans of the short-lived television series Firefly will instantly recognize this LEGO version of Serenity built by Richard Van As. His model does a fantastic job of capturing the look of the sturdy, cobbled together freighter that was as much a cast member as her human crew. The model features an opening cargo bay door, rotating thrusters, landing gear, and docking for two short-range shuttles. The ship has several off-colored parts to represent the many repairs and replacements installed over her years of service. If you squint, you can almost see Wash’s collection of plastic dinosaurs through the cockpit viewport.
It appears that He Who Must Not Be Named has few more unusual spells to use, and he’s got the heroes of Hogwarts down on their luck. These tiny characters by LEGO builder gonkius are the perfect representations of their larger selves. How many pieces do you need to build a great character, after all? It looks like the answer is about seven, and they couldn’t be cuter! The use of the rollerskate wheel for Harry’s glasses is particularly inspired.
And just in case you’re still struggling to figure them out, from left are Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Harry, and Hedwig. Honestly, I’m kind of wishing the official LEGO microscale Hogwarts Castle had used these!
Bringing a bit of far-future tech to the exploration of Mars, this Red Morn One drop shuttle by Rat Dude is a gorgeous take on a LEGO microscale spaceship. Alternating with smooth curves and intricate details, the carrier hauls a huge habitat to the Martian surface.
The ship is loaded with great textures, but one of my favorites is the old-school Bionicle feet, which actually made their first appearances on the first generation of Bionicle characters back in 2001. Appearing here in tan, they frame the engine thrusters and make a great repeating pattern with the landspeeder engines on top.
There is something glitzy and glamorous about New York City, shown in countless movies and TV shows and books and magazines and every other form of media through the years, including LEGO sets. Fame and fortune, celebrity status, larger-than-life personalities, all are connected to the Big Apple. Importantly, New York is home to Wall Street, epicenter to the world’s largest financial market, and fortunes are made and lost in moments with bold or rash deals by brokers. If things go well, and a broker gets rich, perhaps starts managing a hedge fund, or otherwise gets a heap of money large enough to make Scrooge McDuck jealous, then he (or she) can afford to buy a condo in 15 Central Park West, built here in 1/650th scale by Spencer_R, the builder of many famous skyscrapers.
The property was purchased for $401 million, and the total cost of development, including the land, was $950 million, but when they sold the 202 units in the two buildings they went for over $2 billion; that’s about $10 million per condo, for those of you without easy access to calculators or who struggle with mental math (like me). It is one of the most successful real estate ventures in history due to the over billion dollars in profit. It probably helps that it borders Broadway on one side and Central Park on the other. Notable residents, besides those Wall Street hotshots, have included Alex Rodriguez, Robert DiNiro, Sting, and Denzel Washington. Now that is fancy living!
I’m sure Spencer’s version did not quite cost $950 million to make, but he must have spent a bunch of money on tan headlight bricks, since the build features quite a few. The hollow square base and back of that part make for some excellent windows. The stacked 1×2 transparent plates alternating with tan is simple but highly effective at this scale, too. The courtyard is simply constructed, making good use of inset 1×2 grille tiles for the gates and some transparent light blue elements for the glass-bottomed fountain (the pool is underground, lit by the light shining through the fountain, by the way – though Spencer did not build the pool, I don’t think).
If you love this building and want more, we have previously featured Spencer’s Transamerica Pyramid and a NYC skyline build, as well as the World Trade Center site. We also featured another New York City building, the Hearst Tower, earlier this week, albeit by a different builder.
The courthouse can be the true center of many small towns across America. In many towns, they rise above the trees and nearby buildings both in physical prominence and emotional meaning, as gathering places in times of celebration and of hardship. In this model of the Monroe County courthouse in Albia, Iowa by Chris Maddison the building stands tall and proud in the center of a green space which features (at my estimation) 7 unique tree construction techniques.
Some builders just wow me time after time with stellar parts usages, not to mention their rapid-fire building. Pieces are used in ways that make me mentally file them away for a future build, or add to an imaginary Bricklink wishlist. One such builder is the highly skilled Simon NH, who after just visiting Hades in an awesome creation we highlighted earlier today, brings us a microscale build set somewhere in the Middle East. The building on the left is particularly rich with clever construction, but the whole thing bears closer examination. In fact, I’m pretty sure Simon looked over his white pieces and tried to find the strangest ones, and then worked out how to make them all fit together in some sort of mad-scientist LEGO lair.
The building closest to us in the forced perspective contains a basketball net as a rose window, which works because of the angle of the shot. Moving to the left (since Arabic and other Semitic languages are read right to left, and after all, this is a Middle Eastern-inspired build), the dark tan-domed tower is comprised mostly of stretchers and spinner bases. The tan archway uses a pre-fabricated piece, but at microscale it looks better than it does at minifigure scale, quite frankly. But then we come to the mother lode of exotic white parts in the leftmost building. Who even has a window with shutters last produced in 1975? (I might, actually, since I inherited my dad’s old collection of Samsonite sets from the 60s, but still…) Then there are the Aquanaut helmets turned upside down, and the Blacktron II jet pack for an archway, as well as, well, some 2×4 wheel wells for other arches. There’s more, too, but all of these parts from my childhood are making me nostalgic, and so I need to go find my own childhood LEGO sets, as well as my dad’s, and get the cool pieces to use in future builds of my own.
There is something magical about a floating castle. Not just the unanswered question of how and why it drifts among the clouds, but also the exotic promise of breathtaking views from pretty much any vantage point. In this microscale castle by Dr. Zarkow, I am left wondering where all that water is coming from. One of my favorite details has to be the small green gears used for leafy trees. The new wand from the Wizarding World makes the perfect prow for the floating ship, and don’t miss the use of a white car tire beneath the dome.
In the state of Illinois, in the town of Mettawa, there is a house called Mettawa Manor. Originally built in 1927, when it was purchased in 1990 by newsman Bill Kurtis and his wife Donna LaPietra, they became just the second owners of the estate, and, in the nearly thirty years since, they have refurbished the place and made the gardens a popular horticultural destination. Another newsman, Peter Sagal, the host of National Public Radio’s popular Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me alongside Mr. Kurtis, commissioned a LEGO build of the manor for his colleague from the talented Dave Kaleta to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his marriage at the house. The resulting model is magnificent!
Building in microscale has its peculiar challenges, where each stud width and plate height equals many feet (or meters outside the USA), but Dave has done a great job of replicating the different angles of the roof lines and various bay windows, together with beautiful landscaping. The use of neck brackets for electrical details on the roof as well as the chairs on the back patio is lovely, and repeated 1×1 tiles on the roof create a perfect illusion of shingle texture. My favorite detail is definitely the entry way, though, with the perfect little door framed by an arch of cheese slopes. Photos of the actual house appear on the builder’s Flickr photostream, and it is as spot-on as one could do in LEGO bricks. What a gift!
While many LEGO castle builders use at least some shade of gray somewhere in their medieval fortifications, many try to push themselves outside this monochrome palette if possible. On the other hand, sometimes using self-imposed constraints can unlock new levels of creativity. In the case of this microscale village by Aaron Newman, complete with cathedral and an impressive keep, the inspiration came from the task of building a prize for a castle building contest where the use of gray is prohibited. So, whoever wins this prize will still get the benefit of a little gray in an otherwise colorful world.
One of my favorite details about this model are the many angled walls, which reflect a great many real-life castles and ruins around the world. One more missable detail is the sideways bricks that flank the entrance to the cathedral. For the round towers, Aaron borrowed a technique from a previous microscale castle of his featured here on TBB.
LEGO builder Hyungmin Park has brought something incredible to life. The many official iterations of the Harry Potter universe from LEGO have granted many builders the parts, concepts and construction ideas to achieve so much, and LEGO fans have responded with countless adaptations in a wide range of scales. But when I saw this new Hogwarts castle, I had to rub my eyes. I already have a love for both minifig and microscale builds, but here they work together to create a great forced perspective, all the while being impeccably lit with a huge amount of LEDs.
The Hogwarts Castle is as iconic as a pop culture building could be, and Hyungmin Park’s rendition is just stunning. The main structure of the building has been predominantly locked into microscale, with the odd exception of a well-placed minifig scale scene, reminding me a bit of the giant official LEGO microscale Hogwarts Castle. But this does two things: it allows the viewer to soak in some of their favorite scenes, and it gives some great forced-perspective photos. Having them completely lit up, only enhances the experience even more.
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its castle atop a volcanic plug of rock, and the Princes Street Gardens, a public park lying between the city’s Old and New Towns. It’s my home, so I’m obviously biased, but it’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and dramatic city centres in the world. The challenge of recreating my home city in the brick has haunted me for years, and I finally decided to take a proper crack at it. After 18 months of off-and-on building, multiple orders of bricks, and a great deal of cursing and starting over, this 2,000(ish) brick model was the result.
The model is 75cm by 40cm and captures the upper stretch of the famous Royal Mile, the Castle Rock, and the whole of the gardens — including the train tracks, the Scott Monument, the art galleries on The Mound, and the various churches which are dotted across this slice of the city.
Over a total of a year and a half, I was probably building this for three months or so, with flurries of activity punctuated with periods when I couldn’t bring myself to even look at it! Google Maps was a constant companion throughout the project, allowing me to zoom in on individual buildings to capture detail, or zoom out to understand general scale and comparative distances. It’s amazing how much you learn when you look in this level of detail at somewhere you think you know well.
Once the model was completed, I wanted to get some images against a real sky. The photo below captures one of my favourite views of the city — looking out from Waverley Bridge across the Eastern section of the Gardens, the National Gallery and Royal Academy buildings ahead, and the Castle looming over everything in the background. As happens often in real life, one of the city’s many double-decker buses has managed to get into the shot…
Whilst I’m pleased with how the final model turned out, at the moment I’m saying I’m never attempting such a project ever again! However, I’ve already caught myself looking at maps of the city and idly wondering in which direction I should extend the diorama. I think it’s only a matter of time before I’m engrossed in mini city-building all over again.
LEGO Spaceships come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes delicate, sometimes brutal, sometimes massive, sometimes tiny. Frequently featured spaceship builder Shannon Sproule often surprises us with his unique style, and this search and rescue vessel does it again. Most of the repair ship is barely wider than a standard 2 stud brick, but the slender and tall profile is bristling with grappling arms, hangar bays, and lots of sloped parts to add a little flair. One of my favorite parts is the game die used along the underside. If you are a purist though, don’t look too closely at that bent antenna on the top (wink).