I generally don’t broadcast my vacation whereabouts to potentially millions of readers but since I’m back I can say I’ve just spent a week in a tiny home similar to this one. With nothing but my own amusing self to keep me company, I have a new appreciation for living minimally. Daniel Barwegen may know what I mean as evidenced by this LEGO shack. Multidirectional bricks, plates, and slopes make for some neat textures here. I really enjoy the barren trees here and the all-around rustic feel. In my tiny rental, I fancied myself as a rugged old hermit (gray beard and all) just like the minifigure here. He’s doing it right with solar panels. And just when I started to smell like a guy who lived in a shack in the woods, it was time to come back to civilization, car payments, Zoom-room meetings, mortgage, and all that. But would I do it again? Totally! In a heartbeat.
If you ever find yourself wandering through the lush tropical forests of Lanyu Island, off the coast of Taiwan, you may come face to face with a Lanyu Horned Owl. But don’t be frightened! The Lanyu Horned Owl’s piercing yellow eyes and pointed ear tufts are just for show and it’s probably only looking for a nice midnight rodent snack. Our nocturnal friend comes in peace, as we find it calmly perched as Ian Hou’s latest LEGO bird creation. Ian uses a combination of curved sloped bricks for the owl’s wings and staggered wedge plates to render the plumage on its face and backside. Dark tan shell pieces form most of the owl’s chest feathers. The result is a wonderfully realistic build, shaped in all the right ways.
At a time when chaos seems to be the order of the day, builder Jaap Bijl reminds us that we can still find moments of serenity if we only look for them. At first glance I thought this was a real photo but upon closer inspection it proves to be an incredible work of LEGO art. Just looking at it gives me a sense of peace and calm. The first thing I noticed was the lovely sideways built water in sand green and olive green. The lily pads and plants with a few yellow flowers peeking out and an adorable yellow duck are a perfect accent. The surrounding landscaping is a nice mix of textures and colors that bring focus to the central cherry blossom tree. To provide detail on the bridge, the builder has utilized Technic bushings and axle connectors that appear to be strung like beads onto a flexible tube. The small temple is full of detail and has a roof that utilizes a similar construction method to the bridge. I love the cleverly built Buddha statue with his large belly created by a simple 2×2 round tile. Add in a few animals and a solitary minifigure to complete the picture and you have a model that transports you to an entirely different world where quiet contemplation reigns.
Contests bring out a different side in builders. I cut my teeth in the LEGO world making fantasy-based castles and the like over in the Guilds of Historica on Eurobricks, but for contests I have been building out of my comfort zone. First there was some Star Wars builds last May, then more recently a Neo-Classic spaceship, a pirate ship, a butterfly, and a bird. They’re quite different from what I got used to building, and they required different approaches. Most recently, I (Benjamin Stenlund) built an American Mustang, and no, I’m not talking about the muscle car, but about the horse that roams some parts of the Western USA. Though maybe I’ll build some cars soon, too, just for kicks.
Building him (and he is a male, if you look closely, a stud stallion) required patience in shaping like grey castle walls don’t. A plate or two of difference in the legs, the angle of the head, the girth of the chest, all these things required fine tuning and frequent adjustments. I built the head first, because if you start with the body, scaling the head to it becomes a nightmare (or is it a night stallion?), but even so I had to redesign the body multiple times. And pulling apart reddish brown pieces is a harrowing experience, never knowing when one could snap. And then supporting the weight of the whole horse with the tail required some Technic structure; I admit I fudged it a bit, and things did not quite line up, but it’s a custom creation and not an official set, so who cares? It was built for the studless category of the Style it Up contest (hence I made a stud) but I threw in some gratuitous minifigure-leg cacti to enter it into the Iron Forge, too. Now hopefully I can go back to building castles for a while…
In the northern United States, at least, one of the first signs of spring is when the robins return. It is a day much beloved, a turning point when the cold and snow is gone and flowers are about to bloom. Of course, in many places the robins never actually leave, and snow never really comes, so it is less exciting, but I know as a kid growing up in Minnesota I loved to see that first robin. So, since it is spring where I live, and needing an idea for a contest entry, I (Benjamin Stenlund) built a robin coming back to the newly-hatched chicks in her nest. I am quite pleased with how it turned out, with the adult bird poised in mid-air with her flight feathers extended, feet ready to grasp the edge of the nest; and I think the nest itself turned out well, too.
The adult robin was fun to make, even if it is awful fiddling with those wings; they stay together just fine unless you jostle them, but moving the model from my building table to my photography station required some rebuilding. A round plate with bar built into her tail fits into a dinosaur neck twig to hold her in the air, just off the nest. The hardest part was the face and trying different solutions for the beak; I wanted to be able to put a worm in her mouth, but it would not look right with the parts I had, so I left it out and just used the spike. Lots of flex tubing went into the nest, but it was worth it for the un-LEGOy, organic shape of it. And when I ran out of flex tube, I used oars and blunderbusses and a variety of spikes and whips. To maximize the spring feeling, I added some flowers; perhaps cherry blossoms, maybe apple, or whatever pink flower you like to see on trees! I know it makes me want to get out of the basement where I build and go take a walk, at least.
Sometimes good things or even better things can come from tragedy. Kevin Peeters tells us about a LEGO project that took three months to complete. Immediately after photographing it, the creation was dropped onto the floor and shattered completely. This unfortunate story resonates with a lot of us as dropping an intricate creation occasionally is as inevitable as the tides. But Kevin didn’t give up and rebuilt the idea to be even better than the first. The end result is this stunning Olivia’s Getaway 2.0. I don’t know who Olivia is or what she’s getting away from but I admire the intricate work put into this rustic cabin. I can get lost in the details along the roof and landscaping and the pumpkins and daffodils are a nice touch. If you wanted masonry bricks in olive green, they only come in two sets. While I wouldn’t wish accidentally destroying a creation on any LEGO builder, I’d say we’re all fortunate that the accident occurred.
The art of bonsai, or tray planting, much like LEGO building can be a very meditative process. Hours and hours can go into the finished product, and meticulous study and practice can lead to a true masterpiece of patience and careful work.
In this wonderfully detailed tree by Know Your Pieces that combines both, there are some small details worth pointing out. I love the use of tiny cherries as small berries under some of the leaves. The twisted brown whip wrapped around the middle is also a nice choice. And the bowl and stand work very well together to provide the perfect display. Altogether, it’s just how a beautiful bonsai should be.
Inspired by the book Walden; or Life in the Woods, Andrea Lattanzio escapes from the fast food restaurants and gas stations (and futuristic rovers!) of the modern world into the wilds through his latest build. I wonder if Thoreau, the main character of the aforementioned book, would choose LEGO as his outlet instead of escaping to the wild if he had lived in modern time?
The diorama captures everything a self-sufficient cabin in the woods would have (including a bit of the woods). The textures and little imperfections on the cabin capture the hand-crafted appearance very well, most notably the tiles on the roof pressed down only half way and the window with a half-plate offset in its top and bottom halves. The pine trees are done quite well, with leaf elements placed at convincing angles on the central axis. The use of the old tree stump piece adds a lot to the atmosphere, as do the inspired choices of gray homemaker hair part as a stone and brown stud shooters in the dead tree on the right side of the diorama.
If I had to identify my favorite insect, I would easily respond “dragonfly.” Why? Because dragonflies eat mosquitoes. Simple as that. Now, they also have a cool name — I mean, who doesn’t like dragons, right? They also have fascinating eyes and neat wings, and they don’t sting, bite, or infest; really, what’s not to like? And indeed, what’s not to like about Grantmasters‘ dragonfly build? The insect is perfectly poised above a verdant leaf with eggs of some sort on it, ready to zoom about eating things that want to eat me.
The wings, so delicate and transparent, make brilliant use of some garage doors. Rancor fingers and paint brushes make for some crooked legs. Palm tree trunk sections create a wonderfully segmented tail, just like the real thing, and the mandibles are recreated by a fist. Then, of course, there is the banana bee, and the egg-eating snake worm, and a leaf made from a watering can and dragon wings (appropriate enough for a dragonfly, right?). Nice piece usages abound!
In a world where human influence seems more and more destructive, it can sometimes feel like there is less hope for life every passing day. Patrick Biggs tackles this topic with an expressive character that seems to embody wild plant life. Now, we should not oversimplify the ecological crisis to just deforestation, but as a symbol this creation is quite powerful. It may be a touch ironic to talk about such problems through plastic bricks, but if it makes just one person consider their carbon or plastic footprint, the world is better for it.
The character’s leafy face has a perfect shape and an expression achieved by two simple pin holes. The body has much more detail than I would expect from brown. But the character would not have the impact it does without the burnt stump it is presented on, as well as the flowers sprouting from said stump under the gardener’s influence.
Sometimes a build comes around that is not large, or highly sophisticated, or deeply symbolic, but instead is just plain whimsically charming. This little tree stump built by Marcel V. and inhabited by several imps is one such build. The lovely arrangement of earth tones strikes the right chord, and nothing is out of place or superfluous. The grass stalks and flowers set a scale for the build that is life-sized, with little four-brick high imps scurrying about causing mischief from their little home. And don’t miss the wood grain of that severed stump!
There are a few nice piece usages to be seen here, like the cupcake cup for a flower and the corn-suit from a collectible minifigure growing beside the little house. I love the little ladders and the window on the roof. It is all captured in a clean visual aesthetic, with impeccably placed pebbles, too. These impish fellows look like they could come straight from the microverse of the Planticore we featured a short while ago.
Across the world’s oceans, tiny changes in the water temperature have massive effects on the organisms living there, especially the tiniest. Coral reefs, in particular, show in spectacularly tragic fashion the impact of rising ocean temperatures. When the water gets too warm, the algae that live symbiotically within the cells of coral polyps get expelled violently from the little animals. Though the coral polyps are still alive, they are no longer colorful and bright; they are left a cold, dull white, deprived of the photosynthesis-derived energy from the algae and fully dependent on catching little bits of passing debris in their tentacles. Slowly but surely, the vibrant and rich ecosystem that once thrived around the rocky haven of the coral reef dies away, leaving nothing but coral skeletons. Builder Emil Lidé brings this oceanic phenomenon to life in LEGO form beautifully yet tragically.
Emil presents to us the reef on the one hand in full splendor, with diverse forms of coral and plant life along with little fish hiding in the crevices, wandering crustaceans, and starfish; and on the other hand, the reef bleached white, with skeleton arms appropriately front and center, with no animals or plants still living there. This build will be spending the next year at the LEGO House in Billund, if you can make the trip.