Tag Archives: Simon Liu

Soaring over Arrakis with House Atreides: Dune’s Ornithopter in LEGO

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.

The Ornithopter

Continue reading

Some of the best bots are built for hard work

When you design a mechanical marvel to do your heavy lifting, you might as well make it modular, so you can re-configure it to manage the heavy loads in whatever form they take. The Configurable Utility Bot Ecosystem, or CUBE, by Simon Liu is one of a squad of cube-shaped bots that have fully interchangeable legs, arms, and utility tools. The crane looks like it could handle almost any load.


In case you are hungry for more, here’s the mech from all sides. And if you look closely, you’ll see the pilot is not a mere human, but an adorable three-eyed alien. Who better to operate the claw?


Don’t miss the other CUBE bots from Simon Liu!

All right, you know the drill

TBB alumn Simon Liu definitely knows the drill, as this nifty LEGO bot shows. In a striking yellow and dark blue industrial color scheme, this bot looks like what I always hoped LEGO’s various mining themes would be (first Rock Raiders in 1999, then Power Miners a decade later). It does sport that huge chrome drill that only ever came in a pair of Rock Raiders sets, and subsequently doesn’t get used in fan creations nearly as much as I’d like.


Oh, and did I mention the bot is modular? And that Simon has built more than one?

Continue reading

“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy...”

In an era when cable TV and video games were just starting to compete for our attention, the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes inspired a generation of kids to have a renewed appreciation for the wonder of the outdoors and the versatility of cardboard boxes. But the cartoonist, Bill Watterson, was always adamant that his strip never be merchandised in the way comics like Peanuts and Garfield had been. So, outside of a few book collections, readers were left with few options when it came to celebrating their fandom. Thankfully, LEGO is a product that encourages you to build anything your imagination can conceive of. And Simon Liu has taken advantage of that fact to grace us with brick-built versions of Calvin and his feline companion.

This build recreates one of the more famous images of the pair, a shot of them balancing on a log which first appeared in The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book. It’s everything I’d want to see in a hypothetical licensed LEGO set. Not only are the characters perfectly realized, but the attention paid to the wilderness base they stand on has all the hallmarks of Watterson’s art. The soft palette of colors evokes the watercolors that were often used on supplemental book images. And details like the log’s crooked tiling and the small dip in the creek give the environment the same realistic feel that landscapes in the strip were known for. While Watterson may not ever want to see this as a set for sale, I’ve no doubt that seeing the effort that Simon put into honoring his creations would make him smile.

“What If...?” Killmonger drones ready for action

Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t seen this week’s episode of Maevel’s “What If…?” on Disney+ then you’ll want to avoid checking out this awesome Killmonger drone from talented TBB alum Simon Liu. Otherwise, come take a look with us!

Liberator Drone Mk3

Originally designed by Killmonger as a school project, the Liberator combat drone reached its full potential in the hands of Tony Stark. The drones saw action against the armies of Wakanda but were ultimately defeated.

Simon must have built this quickly since the Liberator drone has only been seen on screens since Wednesday. This drone makes excellent use of dark green with white highlights. I love the shaping of the torso and arms, as they look pretty accurate to what we saw in the episode. That red eye is so intimidating and shows that you don’t need a super complex LEGO building technique to pull off a cool effect.

Apache Helicopter go Brrrrrrr

You know, lore isn’t for everyone. The beauty of LEGO is that it allows us to build the world around us as we see it, and that doesn’t always require a backstory. Having said that, collaborating with others to create a fleshed-out world can be extremely satisfying. I recently talked with self-dubbed LEGO Dad, Simon Liu, about the Apache helicopter model he built for the world-building group, World in Darkness. He explained that the group is focused on factions in a world where the Cold War kept going and that each faction has specific color schemes and gear. Apparently, Oceania’s sand-blue vehicles proved to be a bit “fun” for him due to that color’s limited part diversity, I imagine. Nonetheless, the AH-64X is a beautiful beast. Tiles, slopes, and printed pieces decorate the entire body, carving out the curves and angular sections of the Apache design. Ample headspace is provided for the pilot and gunner in the cockpit. Armed for close aerial support on the front line, this helicopter can protect Oceania’s soldiers day and night. The excellent sticker choices elevate the model, emblazoning it with the Oceania logo and striking lines along the body, wings, and tail sections. The detailed rotor is topped off with a radar dome made with two large dishes, and the turboshaft engines cleverly make use of rotation joint sockets as the intakes.


Simon Liu is a legendary builder and godfather to the upcoming SHIPtember tradition. A master with LEGO, familiar with many secrets of the system, this builder clearly loves his community. Groups like World in Darkness, and many others, give plenty of builders the opportunity to explore their concepts and create new worlds with others. Simon will tell you, he’s happy to see groups like these thriving and loves to see the growth, mentorship, and inclusion shared between the older and younger generations. I personally agree and have long said that the LEGO community is one of the most positive and uplifting groups I’ve ever been a part of. Keep up the good work, LEGO fans.

This frog prince isn’t waiting for a kiss…

Simon Liu has a history of building mech-style creations with unconventional operators. When he saw the Frog Mario upgrade from LEGO’s Super Mario Bros. line, he knew pretty immediately that he wanted to use the hat in such a creation. But instead of a sci-fi type mech, the creative process took him in the direction of a fairy tale frog prince in shining armor.


The final result is both adorable and imposing. This regal frog is ready to leap into battle with armor that looks custom made for his amphibian anatomy, thanks in large part to the ample use of Overwatch Reinhardt shoulder pieces.

Hopefully it provides enough protection that he won’t croak in battle.

Spongebob’s street looks great in microscale

Simon Liu has created this wonderful LEGO interpretation of the classic neighbourhood from SpongeBob SquarePants. The individual houses have been cleverly constructed, each with their own unique features and techniques. Starting from the left, Patrick’s rock house is represented by a domed part from the Star Wars planet series. The house in the middle belongs to everyone’s favourite grouch, Squidward, and has shaping accurate to the original design, thanks to the application of the large wedges which are sunken into the sand. Spongebob’s pineapple house uses small wedges to represent the segments of the fruit with blue rubber bands imitating foliage surrounding the home. There are even microscale versions of the characters outside of their respective houses. All these details result in a display which is easily recognisable and accurate to the original source material.

Sponge Bob Square Pants

Every gateway has two sides

Contests are a great way to bring the LEGO community together, and the Summer Joust has been a great example of that. We’ve featured a number of great creations from that event, but this one has a little something extra – two builders. Simon Liu is responsible for the foreground, while Roanoke Handybuck handled the exterior landscape. I admire the stonework on The Gateway quite a bit; it has a real Lord of the Rings Dwarvish vibe to it. The angular designs blend in well with the uncut rock around the opening. Outside, the bright colors and organic shapes provide a stark contrast. Thanks to clever photography, there’s just enough of the light shining through the door to unify the different creations.  Which side of the gateway do you want to be on?

The Gateway

If this image has whetted your appetite for immersive LEGO scenes, be sure to check out more of our spotlighted builds!

Initiate happiness protocols or face termination…

Your smile is your most valuable asset. That’s why Bob Droid, by Simon Liu, is going to make sure it stays on your face by eliminating anything that might make you frown. Bob Droid is a prototype Ansui VIP protective drone unit, which no doubt costs a bundle. But it’s worth it to keep away any would-be assassins. By adding a printed emoji tile to a futuristic mech, Simon’s made something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. With a super-articulated frame and a smile as bright as the explosions from his rocket launcher, you’ll never feel happier than you do with Bob Droid at your side.

Ansui VIP Protector

An industrious little steampunk town

Steampunk builds are always fun and in this LEGO model by Simon Liu we get a whole little town in micro-scale.

Tinker Town

In this fun-looking town, life actually appears to be all work and no play; the buildings seem to be giant machines churning out the necessary widgets, you know, putting the steam in steampunk. Said steam is rendered by the 1×1 ice cream scoops element, liberally applied in multiples. A number of pearl gold LEGO pieces are also implemented in this build – necessary components to the overarching aesthetic. Perhaps my favorite portion of this build is the zeppelin transporting a dark red micro-figure around probably to his house, which might or might not be a clock.

A miniature modernist maze

Monochrome geometric shapes descending into infinity – this is the only way to describe Simon Liu’s amazing “Hexahedral” LEGO model which can also be referred to as “Cube City”. Surely it is an interesting architectural concept, the model itself reminds me of drawings done by M.C. Escher, with all of its interesting perspectives, spaces, nooks and crannies.

Hexahedral Planetoid

The visible city portion of the build is divided into cubicle-like zones each containing various buildings and houses, these are mostly rendered using 1×1 modified headlight bricks topped with either a double or pyramid 1×1 slope – all in light grey. Various other small pieces including a ton of 1×1 tiles, ingots, 1×2 grilles, levers, and other modified 1×1 pieces are included to create intricate designs and spaces within the cubicle zones. Any area that has not been carved into this slab of stone-colored brick is plated with 1×1 tiles in a minesweeper-like grid. This build is just wonderful to look at especially with the visual contrast Simon creates between empty space and grey plastic.