Given the challenge of building a castle scene depicting the four seasons, most builders would go the traditional route of spring, summer, fall, and winter… there is nothing wrong with that, but these four builders took a very different approach. A collaboration between Brickleas, Simon Hundsbichler, Jonas Kramm, and Ralf Langer. They each choose a season, and built a partial view of a castle, adding a temporal, metaphorical twist to the seasons, depicting birth in the spring, prime in the summer, decline in the fall and death in the winter.
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?
If this image has whetted your appetite for immersive LEGO scenes, be sure to check out more of our spotlighted builds!
We’re all familiar with the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Probably everyone reading this can sum it up in just a few words: Magic beans, giant’s castle, golden goose. But how many of us could tell the story in brick form as well as Markus Rollbühler has? Considering this vignette sits on just a 12×12 footprint, it’s amazing how much technique is packed into it. From the books and their detailed pages, to the microscale farmland, to the magic castle in the clouds. I’m particularly enamored with the use of Clone Trooper helmet antennae as a windmill. And that brick built “J” replicating a medieval drop cap is the sort of detail that makes this small vignette a giant-sized success.
A book can be a welcome escape in times of stress, or, for Eli Willsea, a book can also be a roof for an island hut. However, considering the gusts of wind bending those chunky trees, this roof might not make it through the night. And speaking of trees, I love the cartoonish look of these trees made from cones and gnarled trunks. The hut is held aloft as if by magic by four wands, and the nearby boat puts the plastic sprue that comes with another pair of wands to good use as a mast, demonstrating that even parts LEGO themselves consider waste can be put to good use in builds.
Builder Andreas Lenander gives us a place to ponder the imponderables at the Jaz’ira Monastery. This secluded island getaway has it all, including great building techniques, intricate details, and even an elusive LEGO goat. There’s also wallpaper from Wayne Manor in the tower, suggesting this island may hold some dark secrets. Or that Andreas just like making use of unusual parts and liked the pattern. Who are we to say? What we can say, though, is that the detailing on the roof tiles is stellar, and the teal and gold accents on the second tower are equally elegant. I also like the disconnected splash of transparent blue 1×2 tile around the base – sometimes you don’t need to attach everything to make a scene feel connected.
Spinning us a magical tale, Chris Perron has built a 12×12 vignette depicting two thieves stealing a magical potion from the storeroom of a busy wizard. Chris was inspired by Harry Potter and Hero Quest, and the influences really shine through. There’s a lot to love in this whimsical build. Chris makes great use of color throughout, and there are plenty of wonderful details like the slightly askew boards on the trap door. The stack of scrolls on the top floor, made by attaching 1×1 cones together with a trio of One Rings is a great touch. One has to wonder what these thieves plan to do with the magical elixir. Restore a fallen comrade? Win the heart of a fair maiden? Or maybe they just think it’s booze…
The mini shooter/blaster, loved by kids, not so much by adult fans of LEGO. Until now, that is! Jonas Kramm is no stranger when it comes to using unusual parts in their creations. This time, he really hit the nail on the head with their inclusion of the controversial mini-shooter in the roofing of this bell tower. There is, however, more to love about this creation than just the roof, like the gigantic bell that appears to be constructed out of mainly minifigure headgear.
It is also nice to see the new flower stem with thorns appear in fan creations. And I will never look at mudguards the same way as they make for really interesting architectural details. I need this to get integrated in new Hogwarts sets.
Ever wondered what a castle-themed version of Ninjago City would look like? Wonder no more, and just take a closer look at this creation by Tobias Goldschalt. The buildings are larger than life and the Tudor-style homes look very nicely done. Mixing tan and dark tan parts into the white plastered areas really helps with the weathered look. If you look closer, you’ll notice that almost every roof uses a different technique — from straight tiles to pentagonal tiles, from cheese slopes to curved slopes. Variations like this always help keep you, as a viewer, captivated. Every time your eyes zoom across this creation you’ll notice something new. The stone walls are made with two techniques — in some places, the masonry brick gets used, but in others Tobias uses bricks with studs on the sides covered with tiles.
Astounding us again, Eli Willsea shares another vibrant build, this time in the form of a peaceful-looking sanctuary. The model is entered in this year’s Summer Joust competition and perfectly suits the medieval theme of the contest. An interesting colour palette has been applied to the build, with the soft tones of light grey, bright green and tan contrasting nicely against red.
Several unusual techniques have been used in the model. One of the most striking is the use of a car cabin piece as part of the main building. A few of the trees appear to be minfigure helmets, with the open sections turned away from the camera. You can also just see handle pieces placed sideways in the main courtyard, which represents pillars at the entrance to the inner building. Eli has truly succeeded in creating an enchanting scene with a tranquil aesthetic.
After a long journey, two weary travelers have finally set their eyes on their destination – and what a destination it is. Builder Joe (jnj_bricks) is no stranger to working with effective forced perspective, and this time he’s delivered such a large model that it’s hard to fathom it isn’t actually to scale with the minifigures in the foreground. But this amazing build has more going for it than size alone. The lighting of the scene is incredible, and the mountain sanctuary looks suitably carved from the rocks that surround it. The pillars and arches offer enough variety to keep your eye entertained, while repeating enough shapes to make the location feel cohesive. But I think my favorite detail is the two streams of water falling in the background. The layering of trans-clear plates and tiles to create arcs of water falling off of and away from the cliff is in an incredibly clever touch that adds to the model’s overall feeling of realism.
Sometimes, imagined history can be as colorful as the real thing (which I typically find more surprising than fiction). Talented historical builder Josiah Durand is no stranger to the Aztec and early colonial period of history — we’ve featured his ruined pyramid of Tenochtitlan and Mesoamerican ballgame scenes previously. But in his latest scene inspired by Pre-Columbian civilizations, Josiah imagines what might have happened if a smaller group of Spanish Conquistadors had attempted to wrest riches from the Aztecs decades before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Things do not appear to be going well for the Spaniards…
Josiah incorporates elements from the Aztec Warrior minifig in the Series 21 Collectible Minifigures, mixing the pieces so each warrior is unique. Behind the minifigs, microscale palaces and temples provide a forced-perspective background, with a mountain range behind them. Beneath, transparent bricks arranged on their sides serve as a highly textured water surface. But my favorite detail is the pair of Aztec statues on the lift side of the scene, with distinct noses and feathered crowns. Titled “La Noche Triste” (“the sad night”), I’m personally rooting for the indigenous Aztecs, and won’t be especially sad if the invading Conquistadors meet a sticky end atop those distant pyramids.
I’m watching the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics right now feeling nostalgic both for my hometown and for my trip back to Japan two summers ago before the pandemic, when I spent several days in Kyoto as well as Tokyo, Matsumoto, and Kobe. Just south of Kyoto stands Mount Kōya, where Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai) founded the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism in the 9th century. My father became good friends with the head monk of Kōya-san during our time in Japan, and the temples and pathways there hold a special place in my family’s hearts. Inspired by the Japanese manga Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara, LEGO builder Ted Andes has captured a Buddhist pilgrim pausing at a Shinto shrine in the Okunoin graveyard where Kōbō Daishi is buried.
What’s truly wonderful about this scene is that it captures the unique Buddhist-Shinto syncretism that permeates Japanese spirituality, wherein Shinto (literally the “Way of the Gods”) beliefs are practices alongside Buddhism brought from China. In Ted’s LEGO scene, a shrine to a local Shinto deity and the god’s sacred stone — complete with a straw rope with lightning-bolt paper — stand amidst Buddhist graves on a sacred Buddhist mountainside. Well-researched, gorgeously detailed scenes like this are a welcome contrast from the generically “Asian” scenes far too many western builders toss together for build challenges and contests.
As part of the same Summer Joust contest, Ted also shared this atmospheric scene inspired by the same Manga. The same pilgrim from the scene above walks through a bamboo grove at night as ghost tendrils and a spectral hand threaten our protagonist. Rather than relying on LEGO’s bright green bamboo pieces, Ted has recreated the tall stalks using dark tan candles, with just a few leaves entering the frame near the top. This sort of scene is exactly why little kids like me growing up in Japan were afraid of bamboo groves at night!