I’m a 90’s kid. Early 2000s LEGO shaped my childhood, with Bionicle, Racers, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. However, one theme was grounded enough to offer a haven from all the crazy. Orient Expedition was the short-lived sequel/reboot to the popular Adventurers theme from the late 1990s. The theme follows Johnny Thunder and his team of explorers in seeking the lost treasure of Marco Polo. Similarly, Lord Sam Sinister also sought the treasure, but chose to try and steal it instead finding it on his own. GunnBuilding reimagines the 7417 Temple of Mount Everest playset, where the heroes and villains have a showdown on top of the world’s tallest peak.
From 1998 through 2003, the LEGO Group’s Adventurer’s theme offered kids an exciting play-theme that also introduced some great new colors and parts. Orient Expedition was the final subtheme in the series, and it gave us a yeti, elephants, and even an anthropomorphic tiger. German fan site Rogue Bricks recently ran a contest based on re-imagining the Orient Expedition subtheme, which resulted in this excellent collaboration between builders Markus Rollbühler and Grant Davis. Markus built the colorful hot air balloon, while Grant created the biplane piloted by none other than the villainous Sam Sinister!
Markus’ hot air balloon pays homage to set 7415, Aero Nomad, right down to its inclusion of Johnny Thunder and Dr. Kilroy. It is downright gorgeous to look at, and I especially love the way Markus used a mixture of curved slopes, dishes, tiles, and Technic parts to create the rounded shape of the balloon. The use of hot dog and turban pin elements for the balloon’s ornamentation is also particularly inspiring. To finish things off, the rendered background does a great job of bringing the entire scene to life!