I love winning. Nothing quite compares to the thrill of victory, whether that is beating your friends at a casual game of Scrabble or annihilating your four-year-old son in an epic basketball throwdown where you channel prime Wilt on a six-foot net. John Snyder loves winning, too, and also loves seeing the bad guys lose. In his latest massive diorama, John depicts the forces of the wicked Desert King, a resurrected mummy-wizard, being routed by the armies of good Queen Ylspeth. I haven’t seen this many mummies running away since Brendan Fraser was a major Hollywood star, and it looks great. Everywhere you look, there are highly detailed buildings, ornate arches, intricate domes, meticulously-laid streets, and more.
LEGO Castle displays tend to focus on the Western European medieval era, with great grey fortifications set amid green forests, featuring knights engaged in combat, with perhaps the odd siege engine chucking rocks. How refreshing to see this huge collaborative display by thirteen members of SwissLug which breaks with tradition on two fronts: first, by depicting a city in the Levant (the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean), and second, by showing off the peaceful, multicultural side of life (probably right before the Crusaders show up and make a nuisance of themselves!)
This month’s cover image across TBB’s social media comes to us from W. Navarre, who together with three other builders crafted a series of exquisite scenes from the 1985 film Ladyhawke. We covered all four scenes this summer, but we were so drawn to this beautiful portrait of the middle eastern city of Aquila that we just had to pick it. Everywhere you look the buildings employ ingenious patterns of bricks, making this feel like a vibrant, wealthy merchant town.
Want to see your own LEGO creation featured across TBB social media for a month or more? Then read the submission guidelines and send us your photo today. Photos that do not meet the submission guidelines will not be considered, and will be removed from the group. Extra consideration will be given to images that have seasonal relevance and work well in a wide landscape orientation.
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.
In the realm of LEGO castle builds, most of what we see is based off the European stereotype of grey fortresses, but thankfully this year’s Summer Joust building competition has a category for Middle Eastern creations. Instead of boring old grey, we get intricate tan! Talented castle builder Classical Bricks brings us the gates to a palace called Qasr Alshams, beautifully decorated with a touch of teal to complement its earth tones.
What draws my eye in the build is the amount of depth alluded to by having the different levels climbing higher and higher; what we see is just a small segment of what is undoubtedly a sprawling palace complex, complete with baths, a harem, dining rooms, administrative offices, and everything else that I have read about in the Arabian Nights, but it seems much larger. The battle droid legs make for an excellent railing above the gates, and the heads of the same droids make a nice detail beneath the battlements on the left. My favorite piece usage, though, is the pickaxes for door pulls on the gates. After a long ride on my camel through the desert, across the hot sand—I don’t like sand, since it is coarse and rough and irritating and gets everywhere—this looks to be a welcome place to stop and rest. That’s assuming I make it past the guards, of course.
Fantasy castle building often leans towards the creation of dark, gloomy and foreboding places in which one would not lightly tread. Master castle builder Jonas Wide usually takes a different route, however, using cheerful splashes of color to create incredibly warm and welcoming scenes. This style is definitely evident in his latest creation, the Houses of Barqa:
The buildings are elegantly designed and laid out, but the real star of this show is the use of color. If there’s been a better use of sand red, I haven’t seen it. The pastel palette blends so well with the more subtle tan/dark tan foundations and street. Taken together, it’s a gorgeous and eye-catching scene. Clever use of lighting also makes for some atmospheric and quite realistic looking images.
This microscale LEGO rendition of Istanbul’s most famous landmark has been masterfully created by George Panteleon. The tan and dark tan elements blend seamlessly together to create the sweeping curves and rounded roofs of the 1,500-year-old building. The huge dome, which encloses a ceiling height of 182 feet, is created from the planet hemisphere element for Bespin. George has rigged the interior with lights, allowing the model to glow warmly, and added a lovely wood base. It all comes together as a wonderful display piece.
Builder John Snyder calls this creation “The Island of El Harraz,” and while I believe that this could be a part of an island, it is probably not the whole deal, considering where the camel and ostrich would go, why the denizens would have a market and what the structural integrity of medieval buildings would be on such a small sandy island. That aside, the creation is just sweet. Until a few years ago, Middle Eastern-inspired builds were rare, but lately, we’re seeing more of this established style of architecture (that is at least as deserving of attention as the classic European utilitarian military forts).
There is a nice composition to the whole scene, with buildings set up rising higher the further they are from the front. The colours used are simply perfect, and anyone who’s lived in or visited the areas that inspired John inspired would recognize them. This is all topped off by vivid minifigure action staged throughout the diorama, such as the ostrich looking on from the side with a surprising amount of character.