The brilliant (in my opinion) 2021 adaptation of Dune is finally out in theaters, and one of the most distinctive vehicles introduced in the Sci-fi epic is the flying ship known as the Ornithopter. ZiO Chao captures the details of this small craft perfectly. The book describes an insect-like multi-winged vessel that flies using a mechanical flapping motion but is also capable of jet-powered flight. Director Denis Villeneuve combined this inspiration with an Apache helicopter, so it is only fitting that ZiO used helicopter rotors for the wings.
Other details like the retractable ramp for boarding, and the landing gear that continue the insect vibe as they extend downward for landings. With photographic effects to add motion blur, you can almost hear the low whining thrum of the wing beats.
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has quickly become a hit amongst fans and critics. The cinematography and soundtrack balance perfectly with the classic narrative to deliver a knock-out blockbuster that will last the ages. Much like Star Wars, Star Trek, and others, Dune features a plethora of cultures, planets, and religions. For me and other fans of LEGO, though, it’s the spacecraft and vehicles that really round it all out. The Ornithopters of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic have been a challenge for past projects but Denis Villeneuve’s design team produced a craft that will surely become iconic. When I saw this Ornithopter by TBB alumn Simon Liu, I had to know more. I talked with Simon about avoiding spoilers prior to opening night, his immediate need to build this beauty, and the challenges he faced with its final design.