Ah, airplanes. What would we do without them? They make travel over long distances easy and affordable to everyone, which is great, and they make spreading contagion across the world lightning fast, too, which is not so great. Gone are the days when we had to wait for the rats in the hold of the ship to spread the pestilence! But military airplanes, deadly in ways non-viral, have a strong nostalgia attached to them for many people, from history buffs to kids who like to zoom things around and make machine gun noises while spitting on everything. Wesley has made a LEGO model of a RAF SE5a, a delightful WWI-era biplane, complete with said machine gun. The shaping is fantastic, especially on the fuselage, and I love the cheese-slope chocks under the wheels. The under-construction aerodrome gives depth to the image, especially when combined with the minifigures and the green “grass”; it’s a simple addition but brings it from a plain ol’ airplane to an immersive scene.
It’s not clear whether LEGO builder Shannon Sproule‘s roving habitat is meant for use on a distant planet or the apocalyptic future of our own, but this repurposed APC looks like it’s seen it all. Shannon says it used to have a turret, but that’s now been replaced with a hab module and comms equipment. The vehicle is battered and worn, with Shannon doing a great job with the weathering thanks to introducing some brighter colors like dark orange and coral. The simple digital background also gives the presentation that sense of place, which goes a long way in telling the APC’s story.
The Sukhoi S-37/ Su-47, also known as the “Berkut” (“Беркут” or “Golden Eagle”), may look like something from Japanese anime or Ace Combat, but it was very much a real-world aircraft. A little less than twenty years ago, the Sukhoi design bureau (ОКБ Сухого) proposed this sinister-looking jet as the next-generation air superiority fighter for the Russian Air Force. It was a big black beast, with forward-swept wings for added agility and an internal weapons bay. Sukhoi also planned to add thrust-vectoring engines and an aft-looking radar. Although the design seemed promising, eventually things didn’t quite work out. The advanced features were never finished and only a single prototype ever flew.
In 2018 and 2019 I was part of a group of LEGO builders in Vietnam War and Cold War collaborations, for BrickFair Virginia. For the 2020 event, we’re planning another collaboration. We’ve themed it: “eXperimental Military”. It’s all about X-planes, prototypes and technology demonstrators. S-37 is my first contribution. To fit the styles of the other builders involved, I’ve once again adopted a slightly different aesthetic from my usual studded look. The model is almost completely studless. Rather than using plates and wedge plates for the wings, I built them using bricks mounted on their sides. Hinged sections at the leading and trailing edges hold slopes, to make them less blunt. Minifig scale is quite small and minifigs are a bit awkward. Nonetheless and despite the undercarriage bay underneath, the cockpit can house a minifig pilot, with the canopy closed. The real aircraft was not a success, but it sure makes for a badass looking LEGO model.
I love vehicles with big, knobby tires. Just love ’em. My dream ride is a tricked out, super-lifted Jeep Rubicon, ready to crawl the ruggedest rocks on the planet. But that’s not all big wheels are good for. They are also useful for getting your massive military machine from point A to point B, through all weather and terrain. Brick Ninja demonstrates this ably with this LEGO artillery truck. The olive green looks appropriately military, and the splash of orange gives a nice pop of contrast, adding some sci-fi flair. It says, “Camouflage? We don’t need no stinking camouflage!” The greebles are not overdone, which makes sense since it is an armored vehicle (who would leave a bunch of important stuff on the outside to get blasted off?). And I love the crew, complementing the colors of the vehicle while giving life to the scene.
This camo-clad mecha from Marco Marozzi is a beast. A powerful frame, with broad shoulders, chunky thighs, and an intimidating growl fixed in its dog-like “face.” However, beyond the beefy proportions, there are lots to enjoy — functional-looking gears and greebles, a carefully-composed contrasting color scheme, and smart use of custom stickers to create the ripped camo effect. The absolute highlight has to be those feet, though — I love the way this hefty figure manages to look poised and somehow elegant, balanced on its tripod toes. It’s almost like it’s tip-toeing its way through a minefield, trying to get to the battlefront proper.
LEGO Minifigures are oddly-proportioned little fellows. Because I am fussy about the scale of my models I rarely use them with my builds. However, thanks to a number of collaborative builds I’ve been involved with, which all involved minifigures, I’ve grown to appreciate them a bit more. Recently I have been steadily building a collection of minifig-scaled military models. These are the latest two: a US Army M936 wrecker truck towing an M1025 “HumVee” armament carrier. There are countless quotes about how logistics are at least as important to fighting a war as tactics. Equipment used in combat may capture people’s imaginations, but modern armies include vast numbers of support vehicles that are true workhorses. To me those are at least as interesting as tanks or artillery.
What constitutes minifig scale can be difficult and LEGO themselves have muddied the waters. When I was growing up, LEGO cars were just four studs wide. About ten years ago, most LEGO city cars were five studs wide and trucks seven studs wide, including their mudguards. With the recent Speed Champions sets the width of a supposedly minifig scaled car has been bumped up to nine studs, again including the mudguards. The cars look cool and seat two figures side-by-side. However, if you pose a figure next to the vehicle, it’s clear we’ve moved firmly into silly territory. I based my scale on the figure’s height. The wrecker truck ended up being seven studs wide. The HumVee is only six studs wide, which is much smaller than most minifig scale HumVees that are out there. Despite this small scale, both vehicles still have enough space inside for a driver.
A LEGO builder who goes by the name Cezium has built something that gives new meaning to the term “angry birds”. He tells us the H-301 Autonomous Reconnaissance Units are designed for scouting missions and are often deployed on the battlefield acting as forward observers that relay information to units stationed at the rear. Thermal imaging and night vision also ensures consistent efficacy in locating enemy troops. While he makes no mention of it in his write-up, I’m going to go ahead and assume it has some bombing capabilities as well. Like when you wear a nice new shirt or when you have just washed the car. Consider your picnic ruined!
In the wake of global automation, robots are replacing humans in many jobs in factories, offices, and even in space. However, there is at least one thing robots will never be able to replace — man’s best friends, dogs. But even dogs have to keep us with technology push, so Red designs a K-9 multi-purpose unit of the future. He wonderfully captures the dog’s shape using medium-sized Technic panels from Star Wars buildable figures, while a bold choice of pieces in silver is what makes the build special. You’d better think twice before patting this boy!
When it comes to war machines designed to handle any terrain, the more legs the better. I mean, look what happened to the AT-STs on the forest moon of Endor, with their two spindly legs. But just because your walking death machine looks like an armored tarantula, doesn’t mean it has to sound like Godzilla stomping through the forest. This behemoth by Nick is sporting rubber feet for maximum stealth, which just might make it even more terrifying.
There are a lot of great part uses worth mentioning, particularly the missile batteries on either side of the head, made from a substantial collection of this roller-skate part, and several mysterious panels with 2 holes that turned out to be this cabinet door. That castle-themed shield is also a nice touch.
Almost two weeks ago, the first example of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to be based in the Netherlands arrived at Leeuwarden Air Base. It marks the beginning of the end for the forty-year career of the F-16 with the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The F-16 is officially named the Fighting Falcon, but commonly known as the Viper. I’ve been thinking about building a larger scale version of the Viper for years. A reason why I didn’t was that the 1/18 scale model by Everblack basically was just too good.
However, the arrival of the Viper’s eventual replacement and the 40th anniversary finally made me decide to bite the proverbial bullet. I picked the same scale, 1/22, as most of my cars and my Top Gun Tomcat. The F-16 was a lighter and cheaper alternative to the F-15 Eagle and, as such, it’s a fairly small aircraft. The large scale does make the model quite a big beast, with a span of 56 studs and a length of more than 80 studs. However, it also allowed me to add more details and to more accurately represent the jet’s sleek shape. I couldn’t have done this on a smaller scale or without some of the new parts that LEGO has released in the last few years.
Building functioning vehicles has been a passion for many builders ever since the introduction of the Technic line of LEGO sets back in 1977 as the Expert Builder series. Some builders add motors so their vehicles can move and steer, but then there are builders like Sariel who go far and above merely building a motorized vehicle to create something truly special. When I first saw this model of a MAZ 535 heavy artillery truck made in USSR, I was impressed by both the scale, and the attention to detail, which compared to photos is remarkable.
But the amazing attention to detail doesn’t stop there. Sariel has created a video that shows off some of the many hidden features, included an opening top hatch, and two speeds for the transmission, which allows the LEGO truck to pull an incredible amount of weight. In the video, the Maz is seen pulling a chair across the floor! There is even a scene of an adorable hamster checking out the fabric hand-stitched canopy.
The M35A2 is a powerful military truck aptly nicknamed the “Deuce and a Half” for weighing in at two and a half tons. However Tim Inman’s rat-rodded version has shed some considerable weight. It’s been lowered, chopped, channeled, stretched and bobbed (removed second rear axle). The result is a mean rat-rod that loses its military function but retains its color and some of its prior identity. Maybe it’s more of a peace offering now?
But before you go thinking such silly ideas a rear view reveals a gas can, fifth wheel for towing and a skull taillight cluster letting any would-be peacenics know this ratted-out deuce still means serious business.