Ruins are hard to do convincingly in LEGO form. I think this is partly to do with the rigid grid of the brick, which does not lend itself to organic shapes of decay, and partly to do with the visual incoherence that often results from too many shapes and colors in the same visual field. Even though we are a far cry from the primary/white/black color days at the dawn of the LEGO brick, there is still a limit to the shades and hues that can be used to differentiate areas of a build and maintain something that still makes sense to the brain. That being said, this post-apocalyptic build by Peter Ilmrud does a good job of showing buildings that look both coherent and ruined, covered with verdant vegetation, while a menacing black ship prowls air above the streets.
I’m fairly certain that nearly every botanical element produced by LEGO appears in the build somewhere, from vines to leaves to leafy vines to seaweed and more. Even the sprues from the three-leaved plants appear as vines. It is a lush city. The bad guys (you can tell they’re bad because they wear black) are aliens trying to kill the humans to harvest natural resources (like Avatar in reverse), and their ships are filled with greebles, especially ones from the Batman pack. Of course, with evil aliens on the prowl, one of the poor kids has lost his teddy bear crossing a street. Kids, I tell you what. Good thing they’re cute.
LEGO Castle is a building style dominated, perhaps understandably, by LEGO castles. It’s good to see the less militaristic side of medieval life depicted in the bricks — particularly when it’s as well done as this Manor House and farm scene by Peter Ilmrud. The main building is excellent — stone walls evoked with lots of texture, a nicely-built thatched roof, and the typical “Mock Tudor” woodwork enlivened with sand green window frames. The surrounding farm is wonderfully detailed with a field of corn, a carrot and pumpkin patch, a paddock for the horses, and a filthy-looking pig sty.
A lower-angle image gives a nice close-up view of some of the finer details, including the attention paid to the different types of paving and path, the tiled roof of the outbuilding, and those wonderful crops…
It doesn’t matter how tall are the castle towers or how thick are its walls if the scenery is nowhere near impressive. Keeping this in mind Peter Ilmrud sets his Western Gate by the formidable Zamorah Valley. Thanks to forced perspective the composition of the build really makes it stand out. Although the towers are pretty much identical, differences in the designs of the rocky slopes give the diorama a rather natural look. Make sure to note excellent use of several types of wheels in the designs of the towers; this is something I would love to borrow for my own creations!
Oftentimes castle builds focus on the impenetrable keep with its solid grey walls, or else they depict a single building, like an inn or a blacksmith shop. Then there are the occasional massive dioramas that have everything, but also require five tables to display and several vans to haul. In a comfortable middle place, Peter Ilmrud brings us a charming village with enough shops to be believable and a footprint that is reasonable. There is a blacksmith, an armorer, a baker, a cheesemaker, stables, a cooper, and even a mage-astronomer’s tower. Add in some nice trees and architectural details around Wyvernstone Village, and this makes for a fine build that does not even take up all of one table.
See more of Wyvernstone Village here
Do you remember that guy from your Math textbook who happened to own a dozen pineapples or 30 bananas? Well, Peter Ilmrud seems to be that guy. Keeping several hundred carrots in your house might not be a good idea unless they’re LEGO carrot pieces. It’s been 20 years since the piece first appeared in LEGO sets, but it looks like Peter is one of the first to use it as roof tiling. The result looks fantastic, and bright orange carrots go nicely with white and brown walls of the house. A simple garden fence made of sticks is another nice touch in the diorama, which I would love to try to recreate in my next medieval creation.
I’m a big fan of finding new ways of integrating large LEGO pieces creatively. Peter Ilmrud does this adeptly in his Steampunk Airship. His skill with smaller LEGO pieces cannot be overlooked (for example the smoke billowing out of the top), and this would be a fantastic creation even if it didn’t have an abundance of large elements, but it’s those big pieces that make you say “oh cool, I haven’t seen one of those used like that before” or, if you’re steeped in the LEGO fan lexicon, “NPU” (Nice Part Use).
Let’s dive in and examine some of the parts used nicely here. The obvious examples are the planets – Bespin specifically – used for the balloons. Another easily noticeable piece is the dragon head fittingly used as a figure head. Further examination reveals well-integrated use of a Ninjago Airjitzu propeller, hero factory blades, and 4 Juniors boat bows used to support the wing propellers. The final example of great parts use I’d like to point out are the inside-out tires used in the the smokestack. Take a look at the images of different angles Peter’s posted and see what other cool building techniques he’s used on his airship.