Say what you like about Darth Vader, but he sure has an eye for the dramatic. You’d expect nothing less from a guy who walks around in a cape. Remember when he stopped a laser bolt with his hand in The Empire Strikes Back? If you don’t, Nathan Smith is here to jog your memory with this superbly-framed scene. It makes you wonder how long Vader was waiting there. Was he waiting in that dramatic pose for hours before our heroes arrived? Maybe that’s why he was so sassy when they finally did show up. The Dark Lord of the Sith doesn’t take kindly to tardiness, it seems.
It took a random conversation in the grocery check-out line this weekend for me to realize just how happy I am that Lord of the Rings has returned to LEGO. While I admit, I’ve never been a die-hard Ringer, I appreciate so much that Tolkien’s work inspires others like no other fantasy tale. Case-in-point, check out this beautiful Gondorian hall by Nathan Smith. Depicting the scene where we are first introduced to Steward Denethor II, the build is deafeningly empty. Ornate walls and pillars cast in white, black, and tan lead from Gandalf and Pippin to the “empty” throne beneath the city’s emblem, the White Tree of Gondor. The brickwork here is gorgeous, from the inset panels in the arched ceiling to the design of the White Tree using Technic bits and bobs. Even details like the statues in white to the left of the hall are so intricate and effective in the design, while still not being 100% visible from this angle. The triumph here is how all these aspects combine together to emphasize the gaping chasm in this hall where a king should reside.
We all love LEGO but love is only the subject of fan creations every once and a while. Thank god there have been a lot of LEGO love creations lately. One of them is made by Nathan Smith. We can spot a young squire sitting on a ginormous tree branch, singing a song to the eldest daughter of the king. It must be a serenade, a very catchy love song, or a Taylor Swift cover as the woman in question is looking quite love-smitten back at her admirer. There is an intricate mosaic on the floor which you would almost look over seeing how well the tree branch is made. The balcony with the arches is also very well put together. Placing the arches diagonally in the shot makes it look that much more dynamic. I wonder where their love story might go.
While we know Bilbo Baggins doesn’t get eaten by orcs, he came close to being devoured several times. This build by Nathan Smith shows one of those near misses. This image looks like a scene straight out of LEGO: The Hobbit video game. It goes to show that part of a great build is building it. The other part is how you capture the moment.
Everything looks fantastic here. The blue glow on Bilbo’s sword is a nice touch, clearly indicating that orcs are nearby. The wargs that the orcs are riding on the look as menacing as ever. And the fire crawling up the trees adds to the sense that, for Bilbo, time is running out.
Do you remember how this tale of terror ends? You’ll just have to pick up your copy of The Hobbit and find out.
Tragically underused in LEGO builds is the immersive, cinematic shot. Sure, it’s vastly easier and faster to build a vignette, or a stand-alone building, but I deeply admire builders who can move their creation beyond plastic bricks and into an entire world filling the frame. Nathan Smith is one of those builders, playing with light and camera angles to put the viewer in the scene in a believable way. Are there many mind-blowing building techniques on display here? No, not really, though that door does look quite nice. But nothing is out of place, with meticulously arranged leaves and crates, and the smooth walls of the citadel allow the lighting effects to shine. And shine they do, illuminating a ruminating Gandalf perfectly.
Love LEGO builds inspired by The Lord of the Rings? Then check out the TBB LEGO Lord of the Rings archives. They’re epic!
I’ve always loved this scene from The Fellowship of the Ring when the band makes their way into the Mines of Moria only to discover Balin and his dwarves have been wiped out. To me, it’s when the story first really turns an unexpected direction. Nathan Smith has beautifully recreated it in a LEGO diorama that perfectly imitates the scene’s camera angle and even lighting. From the scattered remnants of the dwarven miners, to the light on Gandalf’s magical staff, to the hobbits just barely visible in the doorway, this scene is just what I needed to take me back almost 20 years when I first saw the film.