I’m a firm believer that the holiday season seems to creep into our lives sooner and sooner each year. Though many are delighted to lean into it, I reserve myself to celebrate Christmas only after Turkey day has passed. Now that it has, I think it’s fair to put up the tree. This year I might take after builder Peter Carmichael and go with a fancy, fake one. The secret to a good plastic tree is the texture of the bristly branches, which the builder has achieved with a ton of three-pronged stem pieces. Subtle but elegant decorations of gold keys and white garland with lights give character to the tree. Capping it off is a delightful, translucent blue snowflake.
This music box, built by Peter Carmichael, is currently one of my favorite LEGO creations. Its smooth edges, customizable cylinder, and colorful “comb” are all gravitating. As my very tactile partner would say, it’s one of those things you want to “see with your hands.”
In 1999, my favorite LEGO theme by far was Rock Raiders. It was a great sci-fi take on a mining/construction theme; it had cool colors, chrome elements, interesting looking builds, and best of all, awesome rock monsters. Sure, I had some concerns about the environmental impact of mining operations. And were those rock monsters evil or just creatures defending their homes and families from overworld plunderers? No matter, there were crystals to be had. And those crystals were in transparent neon-green plastic and I needed them.
These days problems are bigger, so it’s only appropriate that the Rock Raiders have been scaled up as well. Peter Carmichael took the 4950 – Loader Dozer Rock Raiders set and made an amazing UCS version of it. Peter’s build takes on all three key elements – the Loader-Dozer itself, the monster, and the power crystal. (Or, as I like to call it, the Giant Crystal Of Crystalness.)
The Land Rover Defender has been newly revitalized for 2020 with a complete overhaul of its aesthetics from the ancient-looking offroading beast that it’s been for decades, and LEGO commemorated the launch of the new generation with the Technic set 42110 Land Rover Defender. Early reports show it’s got promising off-road chops (as any Land Rover should), but it remains to be seen what the durability of the new model is. However, it’s obvious what Peter Carmichael thinks given this diorama of the classic model rescuing the newer one.
Peter says he began his concepting for the classic Land Rover design with an existing LEGO design, but ended up changing nearly every part of it in pursuit of greater accuracy. The result is fantastic, with the Defender’s iconic lines showing through from every angle. The sand blue for the new 110 model is a bold choice, given the paucity of elements in that color, but it works well to mimic the available Tasman Blue.
For the past year, Peter Carmichael has been texting me updates about an Aquazone base he was building. We both grew up in the 90s, so the classic LEGO themes from that era are full of nostalgia for us, and I’m always excited to see old favorites get a new makeover. But Peter said his update to the 1995 set Neptune Discovery Lab wasn’t going to be a simple redux with modern elements, but something grander. At nearly 6 feet long and using more than 50,000 pieces, I think he delivered.
The highlight of the base is the working Aquazone monorail track, an idea LEGO contemplated in the 90s but never ultimately released. The track makes a large figure eight, winding through the central base before looping around the edges.