The Brothers Brick alumni Nannan Zhang has a knack for creating innovative and breathtaking worlds in LEGO. His specialty seems to be mixing manmade devices with biological elements and this stunning The Last Wisteria is no exception. Let me rephrase that; it’s quite exceptional. His grasp for integrating shapes and colors demonstrates the abilities of a true artist. The tree’s roots intermingled among cold hexagonal tiles are truly awe-inspiring. Even the wisteria’s leaves have a neat order to them. As capable as I like to think I am, even my own words don’t do this piece justice so instead, we’ll let Nannan use his; Among rapid cybernetic hybridization, a thing of beauty flourishes above the metallic earth.. A thing of beauty, indeed. Check out our Nannan Zhang archives to see why sometimes we’re lost for words but we still try anyway.
Back when Youtube was founded and Hurricane Katrina was running amok in New Orleans, The Brothers Brick alum Nannan Zhang entered an Imperial Voidfighter spaceship into a LEGO contest of yore. The original entry was…modest to be sure but I’m certain, like fans of The Pussycat Dolls and Lifehouse, we were all quite thrilled at the time. Fast-forward more than seventeen years later and Nannan improved that design considerably. I like that it resembles a particularly mean crustacean with a badass Imperial color scheme.
Nannan goes on to tell us that the cockpit features a pilot minifig with an extremely rare dark bluish-gray Snowtrooper helmet from around 2010. (Only 2 known in existence!) That is as rare as fans of Lifehouse nowadays. Adversely, Don’t Cha by The Pussycat Dolls is still a thumpin’ jam and that’s a hill I’m willing to die on! Dontcha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me? I bet you do! While many of us are by now grayer, paunchier and hopelessly out-of-touch with what the kids are into these days, Nannan Zhang still remains a vital and highly influential builder. Click the little blue link to see what I mean.
I’m going to be completely honest with you: the noises that came out of my mouth when I first saw Nannan Zhang‘s LEGO microscale Fort Legoredo were mostly unintelligible. I mean, it’s just so flippin’ CUTE! I love the horse designs in this scale, as well as the care put into the microfig design. Even with only a few bricks, it’s unreal how I can clearly identify each of the three bandits from this theme. The use of grill pieces to emulate the log profile bricks from the original is inspired, and Nannan has effectively recreated the big rock pieces using light-gray plates and tile embedded in the walls.
Here’s a peek at the interior of the fort’s back wall. The printed tiles chosen to replicate the original model’s shutters are spot-on, as is the teensy jail cell below. There’s even a pair of binoculars subbed in for the fort’s chimney from the original set. And don’t forget the fort’s iconic blue sign, held by a pair of clips to the red roof. The whole thing is a welcome bit of nostalgia for me!
“Hydrothermal”, “acid”, and “pool” are three words that give me the willies. I don’t love them singularly but when combined it invokes a unique feeling of “oh, hell no”! For not the first time, The Brothers Brick alumn and world-renowned LEGO builder Nannan Zhang has me in awe and just a bit unsettled with this new creation. He doesn’t tell us much other than “Running errands on My’laar pays well if you don’t fall in a hydrothermal acid pool”. Nope, too much risk for me! I’d rather be an armchair adventurer with menial pay, thank you very much! Still, though, the bubbling marsh and that unnatural color are admittedly quite striking. I can only imagine the molecular makeup of any plant life that can exist there without withering away. Check out why Nannan Zhang is among the most interesting LEGO builders on this planet or otherwise.
2021 brought us problems we would have never fathomed a few years ago. It was a year of civil unrest and a slew of COVID variants that’ll probably have us covering our mask-holes in public indefinately. But 2021 had brought us some great things as well. Right at the tail end of that year, The Brothers Brick alumni Nannan Zhang built this piece he calls Contact. It was inspired by something Jan Woznica built a couple months ago that ended up becoming The Brothers Brick’s 2021 Creation of the Year. It’s a fine thing to be inspired by and Nannan recreates the style nicely with his verion. I’m loving the minty green elements and the simple yet striking composition. I find it exciting when one great builder pays homage to another.
When building microscale, you need to look at parts a little differently, as evidenced by the very creative collection of curved and angled parts Nannan Zhang used on this Japanese castle. Front fenders, rear spoilers, and other small black parts usually found on cars create a tiered roof that reminds me of Nagoya Castle. A trio of cheerleader pom-poms make perfect cherry blossom trees, while a hot dog is used for a small arch. Almost as interesting as the castle is the green and gray landscape it sits on.
This is the type of diagram I’d like to see in a doctor’s office. LEGO can be used to make life fun and free for many of us but there are plenty of stories of our favorite plastic parts being used in the professional world for one purpose or another. This display by Nannan Zhang is a marriage of science and art that helps bring light to the inner workings of a disease that plagues millions of people every year. This model of a neuron being attacked by the immune system represents how Multiple Sclerosis affects the central nervous system resulting in the myriad of symptoms that patients experience. White droid arm dendrites connect to a spider web representing the nucleus. A flex hose functions as the axion running through myelin sheaths made with domes and bottom domes that become progressively more broken down by the various colorful immune cells that surround it. Set against that smooth, black background, this piece is fit for display and would surely engage those that saw it in trying to understand more about this disease.
Spring and fall. Life and death – and the cycle of rebirth. Always and forever Mother Nature will maintain a balance. This subtle yet beautiful LEGO tensegrity sculpture by TBB alum Nannan Zhang is a metaphor for that truth. Most of the sculptures we see have a single 2-chain/string feature. This one employs another chain to give it two distinct sides, like a scale. While it’s done very well here, you can also imagine a plethora of other possibilities for the technique. It’s probably unintentional, but knowing this accentuates the metaphor even more. Give that one a good think!
These builds were a huge hit this past year amongst builders. Take a moment to look back on all of the tensegrity creations we’ve featured, include one that is 3-tiered! Also, while you’re at it, you can check out Nannan’s other models.
TBB alumn Nannan Zhang has always had a penchant for fishing out the oddball pieces that clutter the bottom of most of our parts bins, and making something clean and elegant with them. This time he’s really found a true oddball, though, because the centerpieces of this spaceship are giant teal Duplo balls, sitting as what I presume are reactor spheres. The third sphere on the triangular ship is one of the clear tourist spheres from the Jurassic World sets. It all comes together neatly to make a delightfully alien ship design.
What has Brothers Brick alumni Nannan Zhang been up to lately? Well, apparently he’s been watching this Youtube video and had been inspired to build a LEGO version of the NieR Automata opera singer boss Simone. Knowing nothing of the subject matter, I clicked on the video and was immediately intrigued. Simone is a machine so obsessed with beauty that she cannibalizes other androids and adorns herself with their corpses. (There’s probably a good joke in there somewhere about putting lotion in the basket but damned if I can figure it out!) She has two corpses hanging off her collar assembly and several more linked hand-in-hand around her waist. This effect, Nannan tells us, is achieved using a product from Crazy Bricks which is the only non-LEGO aftermarket feature on this model. The tattered dress is made up of several copies of Lord Vladek’s cape. A video game monster boss obsessed with beauty; now that is terrifying!