There has been a recent increase in the number of microscale city blocks in the world of LEGO creations, which could be partly a result of our 2017 Creation of the year by Jeff Friesen. Wherever the inspiration is coming from, I am thrilled to see so many builders stepping up to build in this challenging and fun scale. Here we see the 4th micro city district by Marco De Bon which is dominated by a central plaza with a massive three-tower building which would look right at home in any major city. The three separate buildings in the back have the look of luxury apartments, while the skinny shorter buildings on all four sides look like they might be low-income tenements.
In space, enemies can come from any side. And so rigorous armor is needed in addition to heavy armaments. Enter Patrick Massey‘s UNN-717 Olympia, replete with rows of chunky armor paneling and heavy turrets and a subtle submarine vibe (complete with rudder and diving planes). The nearly unbroken grey of the ship’s hull lends weight and scale to the model, helping it convey the ship’s monstrous size. And speaking of size, the LEGO model is no slouch either, ringing in around 3 feet in length.
There are lots of microscale castles out there. Some just stand out. This one by Isaac Snyder caught our eye for how clean and picturesque it is. The colors and angles work nicely as the castle tucks neatly into the mountainside, with a lovely seaport scene in the water below.
Isaac also built this lovely minifigure-scale watchtower. I’m a big fan of the scattered brickwork as well as the decoration and architecture on top of the tower.
Both builds are entries in the Colossal Castle Contest XVI. If you love building under the castle theme, maybe you should check it out!
William Gibson’s seminal sci-fi novel Neuromancer helped set the cyberpunk standard for urban cityscapes with its depiction of The Sprawl — a vast built-up area stretching the full length of the Eastern Seaboard of the US. Whilst Didier Burtin doesn’t mention Neuromancer with regards his latest model, this microscale LEGO creation immediately made me think of Gibson’s work. The architecture and the presence of some small-scale aerial vehicles also brings to mind Syd Mead’s vision of the cities of the future from Blade Runner. Whatever your particular favourite flavour of cyberpunk, you’re sure to find something you like in this model…
The city is gloriously detailed, rewarding a closer look with a wealth of textured detail, the product of smart parts choices and interesting combinations. Too often futuristic LEGO cities offer a homogenous architecture, but this offers a rich variety of building style, looking like it evolved over time in a messy clash of planning, business, and everyday living — much as a real world city does.
The model is all the more impressive for its tight footprint. All the glorious details in the images above are found within a small square of construction — a great advertisement for the effectiveness of microscale building in being able to conjure up epic vistas…
For more than 20 years, the Pokémon series has captured the minds of fans young and old all over the world. Toronto’s BrickinNick has tapped into the nostalgia of the beloved franchise with an extremely faithful LEGO depiction of Cerulean City as seen in the Kanto region of several games in the video game series.
Sometimes a model stands out not so much for fancy techniques or showing off the latest parts but is more about sharp color choices and reference accuracy; in this case it’s of a place familiar to millions of gamers. Compare to a screenshot of the city from HeartGold and SoulSilver from the Nintendo DS:
All the major locations are easily identifiable in this microscale rendition, including the Cerulean Gym where leader Misty uses water-based Pokémon to soak her challengers, a Pokemart, Bike Shop, and the dangerous Cerulean Cave.
And of course, the main protagonist from the games and his faithful companion Pikachu on their way to another adventure!
Microscale LEGO building is not just about building things on a small scale as the term suggests. Context can help a creation take on epic proportions with the use of a part or parts to provide a size comparison. Take this celestial automaton by Brian Kescenovitz made from a relatively small collection of elements. The micro-figure in the foreground, as well as the minimalist background, give this golden mechanical angel an impressive stature.
The multi-jointed legs have an insect-like feel, and the lack of a recognizable head or face lends even more otherworldliness to this guardian of the afterlife.
A medieval town, nestling between the foot of the mountains and the shores of the sea — that’s the setting of John Tooker‘s latest LEGO creation. There’s a wealth of detail on display for a microscale model. The crenellations on the central keep are a nice touch, the rockwork is well done, and those tiny ships are lovely. I particularly like the autumnal shades amongst the foliage, and the tiny offsets on the green tiles creating the angled line between greenery and the beach. It’s the touches like that which elevate the best microscale modelling.
Following up on his lovely micro version of the LEGO Pirates Skull Island set, Letranger Absurde (aka Vitroleum, aka Pacurar Andrei) is at it again. Here’s his take on 6278 Enchanted Island — and it’s a cracker. The landscaping is perfect, with tan curved and wedge plates peeking from beneath the green to suggest the curve of the beach. The textured rock parts are used well, the palm trees are excellent, and the red canoe is a nice touch. But the star of the show has to be that central rope bridge constructed from bucket handles. Lovely.
If there was ever a “Master of Microscale” it would be Jeff Friesen. As the author of LEGO Micro Cities and builder of our 2017 Creation of the Year, he knows how to pack a big punch in a small space. It’s incredible how he is able to create a whole world on a 20 x 20 stud baseplate. I love this latest piece, a medieval village and castle, for its levels, layout, and lovely parts usage. This time around, Jeff used several flick missiles to help form the lower towers.
I’m also a big fan of Jeff’s consistently perfect color palette. While this one is more simple in terms of colors, it holds true to form in the fact that there is zero monotony. The two-tone base gives it dimension and a slight complexity. If you love this build as much as I do, stay tuned for our review of the book, LEGO Micro Cities. Also, check out our interview with Jeff Friesen about his “Cityscapes” series.
We see many grand castles and medieval scenes built out of LEGO all over the internet, but sometimes it is the little gems that make you go “wow!” Today’s “wow” is alego alego‘s microscale castle series, which focus on interesting parts usages.
We’ll start with the sea castle, as well as some of his other microscale castle creations The latest build is particularly neat, using stud shooters as towers connected by tiny staircases. My favourite part is that the shooters have the triggers inserted, so technically, one could shoot the tops off the towers!
We’ve seen brick-built versions of Middle Earth’s Rivendell before (including Alice Finch and David Frank’s astonishing build) but here’s a microscale creation depicting Elrond’s home — “the last homely house east of the sea”. This tiny model by Isaac Snyder is nicely done — I love the way the buildings nestle into the surrounding rock, and the muted colours he’s picked. The various techniques and pieces used for different pillar designs are a little masterclass in microscale architecture — well-worth a closer look.
A good microscale model can be defined by innovative use of new LEGO elements re-purposed to create unexpected new forms. A great microscale model combines this with traditional parts and colors to form a symphony that sets the model apart. This roadside chapel by Jens Ohrndorf is a perfect example of this mix. Take the entry roof, made from this modified plate with a small raised tab. Or the windows, made from the underside of 1×1 plates. Lining the foundation is a row of light gray ingots. I also enjoy the trees, which are just the right size for the scene (a design inspired by the trees in 10253 Big Ben).