Some LEGO builders find a niche in the community and spend most of their time building there, churning out beautiful creations that all fit a similar genre. For some that’s castle, for others that’s space, for others it’s Bionicle, and for others it’s some licensed theme or other. For TBB 2019 Builder of the Year Andrea Lattanzio, that niche would be shacks and automobiles. Few builders out there can equal the clean lines and perfect textures of his buildings; just look at the uneven tiles for the siding, and the perfection of sideways masonry bricks for the adjacent shed. The build is nearly studless, which helps those clean lines, and the photography is pristine, which helps too.
But don’t let that expert photography fool you; this is not a simple build. You don’t get a studless look by accident, not without plenty of SNOT (studs not on top) techniques. Plus there are myriad clever parts usages. For example, there’s a hockey stick and a harpoon holding lamps; there are pirate hooks on the truck’s bumper; and those sideview mirrors are mighty cleaver, I mean, clever. And speaking of the truck, Andrea’s vehicle designs are as clean and elegant as his shacks; no studs, crisp color blocking, and perfect shaping and scaling.
This month’s cover photo, from Andrea Lattanzio, brings us this blast from the past with an incredibly detailed LEGO general store. The diorama is littered with items you might find at a remote general store, and luckily Andrea provides a close up look at the details (see below). Candy machines, phone booths, tools, and gas, this general store has you covered no matter your needs.
Here’s that closer look at some of the items you’ll see surrounding the general store. The water tower is a clear standout, but some of the other details like the power pole, the cable holding up the chimney pipe, and the cat going after that bird nest. This entire scene is a delight to take in.
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Santa Claus, despite his media persona and the products he is implied to endorse, is not the consumerist type. Sure, he brings presents on Christmas to children, but not the max-out-the-credit-cards-and-refinance-the-house pile of presents that parents are somehow expected to provide. He lives a life of humble solitude, somewhere up in the frozen north (though not the North Pole; what responsible person would build a house on seasonally variant ice?), where he prepares for his annual journey of beneficence. At least, that is what this build by Andrea Lattanzio (Norton74) seems to imply. A delightful cabin, similar to Walden but much redder, rests in a peaceful snow-covered clearing, with deep snow on the roof and a sled ready to go (even though the sled is pulled by huskies, rather than reindeer).
The most impressive part of the display might be the collection of parts used to create the snow-covered foliage, from levers and megaphones to minifig hands and everything else white. However, I love the cannon as a chimney — topped by pots, even more. Unicorn horns make for lovely icicles on the eaves (if only they were available in transparent colors!). My one quibble is that the woodpile looks far too sparse to make it through the winter in conditions like that. Santa will freeze to death. Unless he isn’t watching out for the polar bear lurking behind the cabin, in which case he’ll be devoured before freezing. And before bringing me LEGO for my stocking.
If you are like me, building cars and trucks that look like the real thing in LEGO is challenging. I can handle castles and spaceships, but real-world stuff is hard. Fortunately for me, and for you if you are like me, Norton74 is here to help us out, generously sharing instructions and parts for a sweet looking set of wheels. It ain’t sexy, and it ain’t fast, but it looks just right – like it just pulled a trailer full of hay bales down the back roads of Iowa. All it is missing is some rust, but you could add that with some custom stickers or dark orange bits placed in just the right spots.
See the instructions here
Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things may be an unlikely candidate for a LEGO model, but builder Andrea Lattanzio is making it look amazing. This secluded cabin is the perfect safehouse for Eleven, and the shack’s dilapidated homeliness comes shining through in this recreation, which features perfect architectural details like uneven shingles and board siding (in some places made of sideways masonry bricks).
Of course, it wouldn’t truly be complete without Chief Hopper and his 1980 Chevrolet Blazer. Andrea is a master of realistic LEGO vehicles, and the classic truck’s boxy style works perfectly in LEGO, and tan and dark tan give an authentic paint job for the small-town police department.
Unlikely though it may be, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Stranger Things LEGO creations. We’ve previously featured the various heroes in three different scales: minifigures, BrickHeadz, and miniland-scale characters.
Nothing starts the day off better than a good cup of joe, and where better to get your caffeine hit than at Andy’s Café. Built by Norton 74, this coffee stand boasts a beautiful retro modernist design, with an elegant curved façade, bustling terrace and funky coffee cup signage. The iconic ‘we’re here’ arrow makes sure you don’t pass this one by.
The interior is a barista’s paradise, overflowing with coffee grinders, an espresso machine, sprinkles, syrups and pastries. In amongst it all are some lovely LEGO techniques: simple touches like the placement of white cones on single studs to suggest stacked cups. Continue reading
Finding the perfect Christmas tree is an important part of the holiday season, at least in some parts of the world. And the North Pole is no exception. In this scene by Andrea Lattanzio, when Santa sets out to find the perfect tree, he comes prepared. Not only does he have a nice sharp ax, and a reliable pair of snowshoes, he brought his faithful companion in case of trouble. Santa lucked out this year and didn’t have to wander far off the road. And speaking of roads, The North Pole has a superior infrastructure, with well-maintained roads, and industrial strength snowplows. These trees are very nicely shaped, and the softly curved slopes make great snow drifts.
If there’s one scene that stands out from Stranger Things, this has got to be it. In a plot twist where one would have thought that the bicycles would take flight, instead we had a lovely surprise. With this, the Duffer Brothers wrote the 80s Chevy Van right into movie-making history books by making it fly in this epic escape scene. I’ve got to hand it to Andrea Lattanzio in showing that a great scene can be brought to life with the simplest builds, just with LEGO parts on hand.
The exploration of the alien worlds is often tightly connected with military conquests. Italian builder Norton74 takes a rather peaceful approach to the idea and creates a Mobile Research Laboratory inspired by the good old Ice Planet 2002 LEGO space theme from 1993. His design features significantly fewer pieces in white compared to the official LEGO sets, however a heavily armoured vehicle’s body looks absolutely stunning in plain blue. The retro vibe of the build is achieved through a very peculiar choice of pieces; note that there are almost no modern LEGO pieces and absolutely no curved slopes.
Throughout America, a trip to the beach can often go hand-in-hand with a classic car show. People love the warm summer sun, the smell of the surf, and feeling the breeze blowing through their hair as they drive down coastal roadways. Taking this as inspiration, Norton74 has created a beautiful beach setting for two equally gorgeous hot rods. Early Fords are popular with hot rod enthusiasts, which is probably why Norton74 went with modified versions of a 1930s Ford V8 (left) and 1920s Model T (right). Thanks to the combination of curves and exposed engine details, the cars look both sophisticated and mean. They’re like the classic bad boy with the soft heart. A sign warns surfers to watch out for sharks, but I would probably be more worried about that sand washing up on the tile-built boardwalk. Scratch attack!