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.
This latest LEGO creation by master builder Aaron Newman is the stuff of nightmares for those who enjoy perfectly manicured lawns and neatly tended gardens. If that is you, stock up on a few 50-gallon drums of your preferred herbicide, or else dial your lawn service’s emergency line immediately! Inspired by the manticore of classical mythology, Aaron’s “planticore” is part flower, part root, part weed, and fully territorial. Stay away from the dandelion head that’s reminiscent of the lion that formed part of the manticore, as well as the many blooms at the tail that effectively evoke the scorpion stinger. The aggressively-posed beast is joined by a swarm of brick-built bees and fierce female faeries to ruin your country club’s casual croquet tournament.
Aaron is well-known in the LEGO community for both his creature builds and his dynamic minifigure poses, and he does not disappoint in either category here. I am personally quite partial to the various Elves hairpieces on his faeries, and the way he uses legs taken off of the hips for more natural stances takes them to the next level. Don’t miss the pink afro minidoll hair as a clever clover blossom, either. The croquet wicket, with the DUPLO ball on its way through, sets the small scale of the build beautifully, and the editing effects with the grass and sky lend it a wonderful outdoor atmosphere. I suspect that I have several stray planticores roaming about in my own yard, judging by the weeds and chaos I see out there; or maybe I am just too busy trying to build LEGO like Aaron to prune and mow…
We love progress. Our cities, our monuments, even our parking lots are all built for the betterment of mankind. But no matter how far we progress, how tall we make our buildings or how shiny a monument may be, one fact will always remain true. Someday Mother Nature will reclaim what was once hers. Builder Emil Lidé illustrates this notion with this creation he calls “Breaking Through”. No stranger to building beautiful flora and fauna, he clearly has a deep respect for nature. We’ve highlighted his Yin and Yang Panda House before and while this piece is less extravagant, its message conveys strength and endurance. It is important to remember that the balance between mankind and nature is precarious. Every skyscraper began with a plan and every mighty oak began as a humble acorn. I have never rooted for a plant to win more than this little guy here.