Everybody loves LEGO minifigures — well, almost everybody. Minifigs are often the stars of the LEGO models we feature here on The Brothers Brick, but we also feature some amazing custom minifigs you’d never expect to see in an official LEGO set.
This past Saturday marked the 500th day since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Last year, I wrote about why I personally choose to actively support Ukraine and its defenders. Remembering my WW2 vet grandfather, my first group of minifigures highlighted the work of combat medics and other women contributing to Ukraine’s defense. Many people asked me to create minifigs depicting the defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, all of whom by then were being held in Russian captivity. These two groups of minifigures were then featured on Ukrainian TV, leading to messages from the wives of POWs, including the wife of the Azovstal garrison’s commander, Denys Prokopenko. But in addition to the families of these prominent officers, I heard from the wives of less-famous soldiers still held in captivity, asking if I’d create LEGO versions of their husbands, sometimes even sharing photos taken inside the Azovstal steel plant.
Unfortunately, sourcing unusual LEGO parts (including custom-printed pieces) ended up being a months-long process, and many of the figures were only completed quite recently. Over the months, some of the Ukrainian POWs have been exchanged, and I began chatting directly with the released soldiers. A young soldier with the call sign “Tayvaz” defended Azovstal until the last, and lost several of his brothers-in-arms during the battle. Before his exchange after nearly a year of captivity, his wife shared photos of her husband along with heartbreaking photos of the men who hadn’t made it out. On the day I was taking photographs of my minifigs depicting Tayvaz and his brothers, I’d been chatting with him to make sure I’d gotten the details correct. I love filtered natural light, and I was outside on our front lawn. The trees behind me shifted in the wind, and a sunbeam broke through and illuminated the minifigs of the three lost soldiers (photo above). I burst into tears, sent Tayvaz the photo, and we shared a moment of sorrow — my own emotions a mere shadow of his enormous loss — across the distance between Seattle and Kyiv.
As dawn broke across Ukraine on February 24th this year, the Russian Federation launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine. In my day job, I’ve been working with software development teams in Ukraine for nearly 15 years, mainly in Kharkiv, barely 30 miles (less than 50 km) from the Russian border. In the first hours of the invasion, I messaged an old group-chat from my previous job saying, “Stay safe, my friends.” My former colleagues began waking up to air raid sirens, rocket attacks, and fighter jets roaring over their heads, and I watched their online status turn from yellow to green as they began sending brief replies saying they were safe so far.
Brickmania “Ghost of Kyiv” custom Mig-29 fighter jet kit
Through colleagues like these in Kharkiv, Odesa, and the capital Kyiv, as well as ex-pats here in the US, I’ve grown to love the Ukrainian people and their independent spirit. Ukrainians have been fighting for freedom and democracy ever since declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. That fight became much more visceral in 2014, when a democratic “Revolution of Dignity” overthrew a corrupt, oligarchic and pro-Russian government. Russia’s Vladimir Putin immediately responded by annexing Ukraine’s Crimea region and began a proxy war to take over the industrial Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. This led not just to atrocities like the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 that year, but an ongoing Russia-backed insurgency against the democratic government in Kiev — for many in Ukraine, the Russian invasion began in 2014, not on February 24, 2022. But since February, through the Russian army’s mass killings of civilians in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, and elsewhere; ethnic cleansing of over 2 million Ukrainians to Russia; and ongoing indiscriminate rocket attacks and air raids against civilian targets like schools and shopping centers throughout Ukraine today, the full-scale invasion this year has proven that Russia intends to commit terrorism and ultimately genocide against the nation of Ukraine and its people. In the 5 months since the Russian invasion, most of my old team relocated to western Ukraine, though nobody in the country is safe from Russian rocket attacks and bombing. Some staff from my old company chose to stay behind in Kharkiv, and at least one has even laid down his life defending his city and his nation.
Builder Salt_city_bricks gives us a lovely LEGO retreat in a peaceful forest. Two travelers make their way home after an adventurous walk through the forest. They cross a cute little bridge that uses headlight bricks, open studs, and flex tubing for its curvature. Vibrant trees and flowers surround the house on the hill and the babbling brook. There’s not a bit of space left unused on the forest floor! It’s full of plant life, even growing up the sides of the hill to wreath around the multi-story house. The color blocking breaks the scene up into smaller areas to explore.
This LEGO castle, Burg Birgstein, from builder Birgitte Jonsgard gives us a peek at what life may have been like in the Middle Ages! The castle flows upward with lovely focus points along the way, starting with the washer cleaning their clothes in the stream. Guards keep watch around the entrances, walls, and towers in the off-chance someone attacks. An owl perches atop some chimneys–even wildlife had things to do in a castle! The color blocking of this ancient fortress gives depth to each section. I love all the design choices of the build, but I’ve got to draw your attention to the twin peaks in the middle! These feature a clever use of a drill piece where the spikes give texture to the spires.
The new Everyone is Awesome set is, well, awesome. But inclusivity and cool monochrome minifigures aren’t exactly new ideas. Just ask Andreas Lenander – they’ve been building in those themes for a while now. Andreas has combined earlierbuilds into a stellar group display that showcases the full range of melty creative possibilities. Out of the group, my favorites are still the black and white builds, even if the stark contrast there doesn’t lean into the more colorful…hold up. Is that Batman I see hiding behind the red waterfall?
Don’t think that Andreas is limited to one thematic style, though. Check out a full range of great builds that we’ve featured in the past!
Are you aware of the phenomenon called Minifig Habitats? It’s essentially an 8x8x8 diagonal vignette that can be stacked and interlocked to form a pyramid display. However, there is a more popular habitat style that isn’t diagonal and has less open space. These habitats first appeared on Flickr in 2016 and were popularised by LEGO fan sites in the last few years. Since then, they became a nice way for people to show off LEGO Collectible Minifigures in a small dynamic display. Kristel Whitaker takes it to the next level by reimagining minifig habitats into a diorama of a pergola, a balcony, and a potting shed.
The white structures provide a bright canvas for plants to grow on and make the diorama clean and minimalist. In addition, the nougat flooring brings a lovely warm contrast to the blue backdrop of Kristel’s photo. There’s plenty of other colours as well, from the yellows and pinks of the flowers to the blues and reds of the potting shed in the lower right habitat. All of these come together in a concise diorama that are clearly different parts of the same house.
Want to build your own minifig habitats? Here is the template.
While I am known for having a dark sense of humor, I can assure you this title was provided by the builder himself. PaulvilleMOCs graces us with this fabulously retro LEGO bowling sign. The colors, the fonts and the shapes are all indicative of signs seen outside of bowling alleys across America. When you’re a bit out of shape a round of bowling can feel like you’ve bowled your arms off. However, this double entendre refers to the arm-less minifig torsos used throughout. There are two in the bowling pin, one in the exclamation point and a third comprising the back end of the red arrow. Clever parts usage like that makes us wonder what other tricks Paul may have up his non-existent sleeve. Non-existent because; no arms. OK, you got it then? Good! Seriously, these jokes just write themselves. I don’t even have to try anymore.
Other than having a dark sense of humor, why would I title an article about this LEGO gas station in such a way? The service station has a well-worn feel. There’s a couple of motorcycles and the patrons there seem friendly enough. But when you take a close look at this creation by Dan the Fan you begin to see several minifig torsos used in creative ways. There are two in gray holding up the shell sign and four in dark gray acting as the base for the water tower. Several more upside-down torsos comprise the trim design of the building while another two in red make up part of the gas pump. My favorite use of the minifig torso however is in the road sign, partially comprising the shape of Texas. Can you spot other uses for the minifig torso? (Other than the ones obviously used as minifig torsos.)
In addition to excellent custom minifig parts and minifigs inspired by the likes of the Beastie Boys and Bob Ross, our friends at Citizen Brick have begun producing their own injection-molded items. For Halloween 2020 the CB team have released a bevy of creepy custom minifig parts for you to mix and match with your LEGO.
We’ve said before that what’s so awesome about Citizen Brick products is that they’re the sort of thing that LEGO themselves will likely never release, while remaining compatible with LEGO. This makes custom parts produces like Citizen Brick distinct from knockoffs and clone brands that compete with LEGO and are often of inferior quality. Because CB has earned our respect with printing quality that’s indistinguishable from LEGO’s own, it’s exciting to see them branch out to custom parts, allowing LEGO fans to go beyond the confines of the staid bricks from Billund. Let’s take a look at what the mad scientists of Chicago have cooked up.
At a glance, this may look like a LEGO minifig, but it is indeed a Maxifig. It has the same shape and proportions of your usual minifig, but it built up to a monstrous size. Pascal Hetzel has crafted this Joker Maxifig nicely with a bright bowtie, a purple and green outfit and even a pocket watch chain.The hands are shaped by using actual minifig legs. Using minifig parts to build a Maxifig; I’m sure there’s a clever word or phrase for that but damned if I can figure it out now. Perhaps you can in the comments.
As this shot reveals, Pascal has even built each section as if it were an actual minifig, complete with separate legs, torso, head, and hair elements. That is some clever Maxifig building right there! Pascal has built the Joker, and now he should build the Smoker and the Midnight Toker to finish out the trio. Boy, did I just date myself! Nevermind Googling the reference, kids. Just get off my lawn.
This month’s cover photo, from Aaron Newman, features the Gods of Olympus. From Hades to Zeus, Aaron has recreated these Greek Mythological Gods in LEGO, while capturing the essence of what makes each of these mythological characters unique. Hit up Aaron’s blog post to learn more about his approach to each minifig.
And if you’re looking for even more Greek minifigs, Aaron has also recreated some of the most well-known Mortals and Monsters from the pantheon of Greek myth. I’m a big fan of Icarus, who looks to have just flown too close to the sun, but honestly, these all look great.
Submit your LEGO creations for a chance to be featured across TBB social media for a month! Check out the submission guidelines share your builds today.
In the beginning, there was Brick, and it was good. It was smooth, perfect, and devoid of all color. Then one day, a great rumbling was heard deep within the brick and a wonderous sloshing sound. With a mighty crack, golden yellow life burst forth from the brick and spilled color into the universe. So goes the legend of the first Minifig, captured in all its glory by Andreas Lenander