Joel Schumacher’s neon-colored sequels get a lot of flack for being overly stylized, but revisit 1989’s Batman and you might be struck by just how Tim Burton-y it really is. Shannon Sproule has perfectly captured the essence of Gotham’s production design in these microscale buildings. While later filmmakers like Nolan and Reeves opted for a more grounded and realistic Gotham, Burton created a city that was every bit as weird and wonderous as Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, just in darker colors. Harsh angles, elegant curves, giant pipes, vents, and numerous statues are all the rage in this town. And they’re kept safe by a very, very tiny Michael Keaton.
Take a look through Shannon Sproule‘s Flickr photos, and you’ll see his interest in toys extends beyond the plastic bricks we cover on this website. He may not be the most prolific builder, but he’s a skilled toy photographer. What that does mean is that whenever his LEGO gets put in front of the camera, the results are stunning. Best of all? He’s also got a keen eye for retro sci-fi styling! Take a look at his latest scene. It’s a hotel room with a robot concierge, which sounds fairly innocuous. But the framing, the lighting (I love the backlit anti-studs above the bed!) and the positioning of the figures give this a real sense of foreboding. It doesn’t help that the concierge is keen to point out the escape routes in the caption. If you mixed The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey into a film, I bet this is what the poster outside the cinema would look like. Stanley Kubrick would be proud!
Nostalgia is big this year, with the 90th anniversary of LEGO inspiring lots of fans to build their own tributes to popular themes of yesteryear, and I am loving it. Shannon Sproule built an awesome homage to the Mars Mission theme that debuted in 2007. The signature color scheme of orange and white makes this tank instantly recognizable, and what a tank it is. With dual machine-gun toting manipulator arms, a missile launcher, and a high-powered laser, this bad boy is loaded for Martian bear, which probably has four arms and huge claws.
Maybe it’s just the booze talking but the 70s and 80s were the best time to be a kid. I mean, you’ve got Star Wars, Micronauts, Shogun Warriors, and of course LEGO coming out with some freaking awesome themes like Castle and Classic Space. Shannon Sproule knows what I’m talking about. This fabulously retro Metorogādo: City Protector Robo combines the awesomeness of Shogun Warriors, the playability of Micronauts, and maybe even some of the awe of Star Wars. This hits all the nostalgic childhood sweet spots for me. And of course, it’s all LEGO…or mostly LEGO—those shoulder fins are some other brand of brick.
Shannon says it was a miracle to find both a left and a right fin in the loose brick bargain bin. And that’s another cool thing about being a kid; while we likely preferred LEGO, we didn’t care too much if some sweet off-brand parts snuck into our collections now and then. It’s the adults who fret over such things. With childhood wonder intact, (booze references notwithstanding) be sure to check out why Shannon consistently hits all our sweet spots.
Are you old enough to remember Dirty Jobs? This scene from Shannon Sproule reminds me of that show. It’s easy to project the personality of Mike Rowe onto the hard-hatted figure descending into the sewer, particularly with the backstory that Gracie (as the monster is known) gets along just fine with the City workforce. It’s a fun little slice of life that shows we can all get along if we try. (And if we offer the monsters in our lives chicken legs and cheeseburgers.)
We’ve featured a lot of monstrous creations over the years. Why not check them out?
Anime-inspired color schemes and NoVVember are two great tastes that go great together, and Shannon Sproule is a master of that delicious combo. This classic red and white body gets some pops of yellow color with an exciting pod-cockpit design. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few odd choices made in the Powerful Owl Viper, though. In Shannon’s own words, “The prone pilot position is of course rather silly, but there you go.”
Are you enjoying the yearly onslaught of Vic Vipers? How do you think they compare to previous Novvembers?
The twin-forked Vic Vipers are back, and Shannon Sproule joins this year’s November fleet with an amazing Mazinger-inspired craft. The bold color choices make for a great retro feel, but the real treat is that golden canopy – a custom part created by using a Molotow Liquid Chrome pen on the existing LEGO element. There’s also the subtle choice to use “classic grey” 2×2 round brick in the front forks as a color variation. What a great mix of the old and new!
Looking for other great Vic Vipers? Check out our NoVVember tag!
This colorful LEGO sculpture by Shannon Sproule is a pretty darn accurate recreation of a northern cassowary. It checks all the boxes in terms of color, shaping, and even size. In real life, this bird is mostly black aside from the head and it lives in New Guinea, northeast Australia, and surrounding islands. But one of the most notable things about it is that it’s giant and formidable. Its size and weight are comparable to the emu, although the emus have nothing on these guys when it comes to battle. Cassowaries are considered one of the most dangerous birds in the world.
These birds are actually pretty shy and try to avoid humans, but if threatened, they’re not afraid to attack. They can kick like a kangaroo and their dinosaur-like feet have terrifying raptor-esque claws. In particular, one toe has a straight spike that can get as long as a human hand. Yikes!
One of my favorite parts of this build is how well it’s photographed. Sometimes the right lighting can really make a build, and in this case the bird comes to life with that little bit of shine on the radar dish that is used for the eye. While you’re here, check out TBB’s other articles featuring animals. Shannon’s sci-fi/space builds have also been featured on our site.
At first glance, this LEGO piece by Shannon Sproule yields more questions than answers. Why is the sky red? Who are those people? Why are they huddled together like that? And what is up with that statue? The ominous title certainly doesn’t help; Meeting by the statue, slurp, slurp, slurp. But then I read the only tag Shannon left; Miskatonic, and it all became clear. Of course. This all makes perfect sense now. You see, Shannon speaks my language, but then again, I already knew that about him. We are students of Miskatonic, sons of Innsmouth, whatever you want to call us. If you’re still confused by all that, then clearly, you have not been indoctrinated into the writings of one H. P. Lovecraft, and maybe you’re better off. Move on, go look at some Star Wars spaceships or something and let Shannon and I have our knowing conspiratorial glances. I’ll meet you by the statue, Shannon.
It’s not clear whether LEGO builder Shannon Sproule‘s roving habitat is meant for use on a distant planet or the apocalyptic future of our own, but this repurposed APC looks like it’s seen it all. Shannon says it used to have a turret, but that’s now been replaced with a hab module and comms equipment. The vehicle is battered and worn, with Shannon doing a great job with the weathering thanks to introducing some brighter colors like dark orange and coral. The simple digital background also gives the presentation that sense of place, which goes a long way in telling the APC’s story.
For it is written, twas the Triassic Era LEGO Gods of Legend who sayeth unto he “go forth and buildeth a SHIP, a Significantly Huge Investment in Parts. It shall be no less than one hundred studs on one side. Thou shalt hence forth do it every September and thou shalt call it SHIPtember for that will be totally bitchin’.”
Like Noah, so many faithful disciples and space nerds had heeded the words of the legendary LEGO gods every September and has been building SHIPs for as long as we can remember. One such faithful disciple and space nerd is Shannon Sproule and this uncanny “Shipbreaker CALYPSO”.
LEGO Spaceships come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes delicate, sometimes brutal, sometimes massive, sometimes tiny. Frequently featured spaceship builder Shannon Sproule often surprises us with his unique style, and this search and rescue vessel does it again. Most of the repair ship is barely wider than a standard 2 stud brick, but the slender and tall profile is bristling with grappling arms, hangar bays, and lots of sloped parts to add a little flair. One of my favorite parts is the game die used along the underside. If you are a purist though, don’t look too closely at that bent antenna on the top (wink).