I love it when LEGO builders use unexpected pieces in their creations. There’s even contests revolving around using a seed part in a variety of builds. After all, LEGO is all about creativity, and thinking outside the box. I (Mansur “Waffles” Soeleman) grew up with Technic and Bionicle, which both contain strange LEGO parts that you don’t see mixed with the usual building system. However, I am a firm believer that even the most unconventional LEGO parts can fit perfectly with the common ones. That was partly my inspiration in building a perfectly minifigure-scale RZ-1 A-wing Starfighter from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
This one might be worth zooming in for a second. There’s a lot of fun stuff packed into this little LEGO build by Roanoke Handybuck. Where should we start? We’ve got chain links for the water wheel, bridge, and windmill. There are also hands, horns, and wands galore used for a variety of things. We even have full arms (minifigure and tauntaun) here as part of the cobblestone pathway. Let us not forget the reddish brown crown in the tower. That part only came in the 71040 Disney Castle in that color. Finally, can you find the paintbrush and frog?
Actually, those aren’t ALL the cool things. But I encourage you to see what else you can find on your own. Just the colors and shape of the base are fun by themselves. The only negative points for the purist in me are the cut-up pieces used for the grass. Added points, though, for the fact that apparently the water wheel and windmill spin! By crankshaft? We’ll have to stay tuned for a video! In the meantime, check out more of Roanoke’s work in our archives.
Yup, that’s an acronym inside an acronym. And I’m pretty sure TRON isn’t an acronym, but I know a song* that makes it an acronym. This slick cyberpunk bike by expert sci-fi builder Oscar Cederwall looks like a TRON Light Cycle, but without the light show. Instead, it’s packed with LEGO parts and techniques so futuristic that boggles our stone-age minds. The more I look at it, the more things I notice, and I become more and more impressed.
Starting with the front wheel, Oscar has developed a hubless design using all the handcuffs LEGO City has to offer. They fit snugly inside the large motorcycle wheel, surprising me with how two pieces I never thought would go well together actually go well together. Oscar also turned a train canopy upside down, continuing the shape of a futuristic motorbike. Around the seat, large Technic panels continue the curved shapes that are common on modern vehicles, and I’m especially impressed with a Slizers visor covering those pesky pin holes. Oscar continued the unconventional parts usage with leg armour from the Star Wars buildable figures. I never would have thought that part would make an excellent saddle. Lastly, a Duplo train track action insert holds the rear wheel, which is covered with a X-pod lid.
Oscar outdid himself to the point where either you can’t tell which parts are used, or if it’s even LEGO. Check out more of his creations here!
*The song in question is They.Resurrect.Over.New. by Lupe Fiasco, for those who are interested
You heard that right. Everything in this SU-N8 “Iridosornis” Reconnaissance Drone by Marius Hermann is made of real, unaltered LEGO. Even the pants (from Scala.) Even those large wings with engines (from Galidor.) And yes, all of those are real, genuine LEGO products that existed. Marius has made a name for himself by mixing these unconventional elements into his sci-fi builds, and he does it so well. Whereas prefabricated elements like the Galidor wings might not fit into a build such as this, it works well here and wouldn’t look as good without it. They provide a good contrast and balance between the smooth blues and the greebly greys.
Despite the angry voices of distant fanatics that gatekeep LEGO to only the brick-built system and minifigures, I find that real creativity is thinking outside the box and using unconventional elements. I have a soft spot for builders who use these weird parts and mix them with “normal” LEGO. Because at the end of the day, if it wasn’t real LEGO, then I wouldn’t be writing about it!
Some LEGO elements really have only one use, at least, to most of us. But Nicolas Carlier has stepped up to the challenge and found a masterful way to use the LEGO boat part, used here as the frame for the front window of this precariously supported wizard’s house. I’m getting a bit of a Weasly’s Burrow vibe here, but that’s alright with me.
Fledgings look to expert builder Inthert and crane their necks to see what he builds next. Specialising in spaceships, he finds the right pieces to build intricate shapes that bring beauty to otherwise now-generic vehicles. He presents us with a pink-haired lady piloting a small and unique starfighter with an unusual shape. When taking a gander from different angles, we can see that this ship has the shape of a plump bird, with the elements of a fighter jet.
Bird puns aside, this well put together craft checks all the boxes that satisfy a parts- and technique-oriented coot such as myself. A bulky body with downwards sloping wings that resemble a small bird gliding on a current is perfect. Aside from unique parts like a white Slizers visor in the front and two sizes of barrels, the use of inverted slopes for small intakes is ingenious. There is minimal greebling, but it works just as well, as less is more. Last but not least: the wing and landing gear function: the landing gear swings out as the wings fold in.
Only Inthert can make it so simple and work so well. But my favourite part still remains the girl with the lavender coloured Elves hairpiece. Something about a pink-haired girl being the pilot makes an already perfect spaceship even cooler.
See more perfect builds by the talented Inthert here.
LEGO builder MorlornEmpire shows us how to add structure to a build in his LEGO temple named Deeper. There are so many parts used in an unconventional way that my eyes do not know where to look first. So let’s start from the top. The build features some palm trees made with flex tubing to give it the organic, not so static look and a ‘temple’ entrance covered in sand. The entrance is made of plates with tiles stuck between the studs to create a pattern. It’s almost as if there is a message written on the facade of the building.
Underneath the surface is the actual inside of the ‘temple’ and the walls are packed with intricate details. In the top we see cat tail elements, and the half round spoked window part filled with cheese slopes. Further down we come across the good old groove brick with a bar filling up the groove hole. To continue with 1×2 bricks filled with bucket handles. The columns have some stacked 1×2 panels to add texture and the tiled floor is made of inlaid cheese slopes.
I wonder how much of this creation is staying in place thanks to friction and gravity.
There is just something about this mustachioed fellow’s gaze that is utterly captivating. Perhaps it’s the twinkle of 17th century worldly knowledge in his eyes, or it’s the amazing part usage that went into the face detailing as well as the costume of this LEGO bust built by Grant Davis.
The eyebrows of this piece are each cleverly composed of two reddish brown claw pieces, while the mustache is ingeniously constructed of two tail pieces with technic pin endings clipped to a reddish brown minifigure epaulette. Perhaps the main focal point of this build is the elegant white “ruff” or millstone collar made out of 4×4 flower pieces with rounded petals and 4×2 wedge elements. The studs on the wedges add some texture to the notably ruffled piece of neckwear. It is hard to pick my favorite use of parts here, I also quite enjoy the hat and its use of rounded-bottom 2x2s. Davis’s bust is both cleverly fashioned and true to its subject – the renaissance nobleman in its depiction.
If tiny LEGO castles are your jam, then Patrick B. has a treat for you. This 12 x 12 stud microscale masterpiece is full of so many cool parts that you’ll wonder why anyone bothers using standard bricks. The tops of Scala milk cartons make tiny blue tents, a minifigure microphone and tank linkage combine in the cannon, and dark green minifigure epaulets and tooth plates provide some vegetation. The castle itself is also a tiny work of art. If you look close you can spot bucket handles, minifigure hands, neck brackets, and even a basket as the interior of the front gate. And check out the construction on those towers! Quarter circle tiles are wedged into a 2×2 round plate to for the turrets. It’s a connection some might call “illegal” but I call “sweet.”
If you’d like to see how Patrick achieved all this, check out the Instagram post highlighting the build. And if that still isn’t enough great part usage to satisfy you, I should mention this isn’t the first creation of Patrick’s that we’ve featured.
In the LEGO community, nice parts usage (or NPU) is something many builders strive to achieve. Using parts in an interesting way never fails to garner notice and compliments. Often these types of techniques are scattered throughout the model, but in the case of this hummingbird, builder Jaap Bijl gives us a figure that consists almost entirely of NPU. So, where does one begin?
The tree branch and leaves may be common, but the whips for vines and the small minifigure hammers for the flower stamens take us into unusual territory. The minifigure spanner used for the feet and the clever eye and beak area are stand outs. The wings, however, are a thing of beauty. They’re a terrific combo of flexible tubes, small wrenches and a variety of blue Technic pins and 1×1 round plates to create the wing feathers. The lavender grass pieces and purple antennae make for a nice finisher as tail feathers. They body and silhouette of the bird are quite nice as well and really bring the entire model together as a cohesive whole.
Every custom builder’s LEGO bin of parts would likely have elements that would leave them bewildered and likely a sigh of defeat can be heard. Elements that fit into this category are typically purpose-built and typically only have one use for its intended purpose. One such example is a cockpit fuselage of a helicopter. Oscar Cederwall (o0ger) is not daunted by such a challenge and seamlessly integrates the part into his Assisted Robotic Maintenance ship and made immensely amazing.
Two mechanical arms sweep out with multiple sensors surrounding the shell of the ship. Maintenace activities in space never looked so good.
I’m always amazed at the ways LEGO fans can use minifigure accessories as design elements in new and creative ways. One of my new favourites is Versteinert’s vintage Chevy. While there’s no denying how well the shape of the truck has been captured, the use of weapons and utensils is captivating. Whether it’s the frying pan and lightsaber hilt repurposed as a banjo or some of the less intuitive design choices, the exaction is magnificent. The teacup makes a cute side mirror and the revolver is an effective exhaust pipe. Most impressive, in my opinion, is the grille made up of 4 axe heads – what an ingenious way to vent an engine!