Lights, bricks, action! This month’s social media cover photo is Zio Chao‘s massive and detailed build of an ornate mansion. The Residence for the Governor-General of Taiwan is a central government building in Zio’s hometown of Taipei, Taiwan, built in a European architecture style at the start of the 20th century.
Bubble tea is a drink that was originally conceived in Taiwan back in the 1980s. Since then, it’s popularity has spread throughout Asia and even major Western cities. The sweet drink is perhaps best known for the black tapioca pearls lining the bottom of the cup, which are easy to sip with the aid of a large straw. Great B.W. (大黑白) built a deliciously adorable LEGO bubble tea stand, cleverly designed to resemble the classic drink.
All aboard! We’re taking the train through Taiwan, and our next stop is the Taichung train station. The station began operations in 1908 and was closed down after an elevated station was built and opened in 2016. The original station is a beautiful piece of architecture, and Maxime Cheng’s microscale rendering is superbly detailed. His model is rich in texture, right down to the ornate architectural accents along the perimeter of the roof. While the building itself is stunning, the tiny train is an equally impressive-looking feature that really helps bring this model to life. Dare I say, Cheng’s Taichung station feels like it would be a great companion to sets in LEGO’s Architecture series?
Builder Cindy Su reminisces about the past with a Taiwanese postman built in BrickHeadz form that’s pretty detailed and cute. These days, the postal services have moved on to motorbikes and cars, but you can still find them on bicycles out in the countryside. A specially crafted green bicycle with the capability to have the LEGO character mounted is the icing on the cake. Cindy uses a specially modified part for the fork of the bicycles. See if you can spot another nice part usage – find the frog in the build!
During my recent trip to Taiwan, I came across a new line of micro brick construction toys called TICO. It appears to be a Taiwan made clone brand of the Japanese brand Nanoblock at only half the price. I bought a set, #3010 Battle Robot (RxB) for NT$180, which comes out to a little more than $6 US for around 80 pieces.
The elements are very tiny and are rather difficult to handle, requiring a great deal of fine motor control. The instructions are straight forward, however, they use a technique of hi-lighting the pieces used in the current step by showing the pieces a shade lighter. This is a problem when the set includes 2 shades of grey, creating confusion as to which shade of grey is needed at which step. Secondly, the elements have no way of locking the studs of a connecting element on the long axis of an element, allowing the element on the underside to slide around. This creates a lot of play in the construction, making it somewhat difficult to line pieces up correctly.
The final model is very loose and fragile as it has many one stud connections. The overall construction is less the sturdy, lacking in overlapping elements to lock things in place. If micro bricks are your thing, TICO Mini Bricks are an affordable alternative to the pricier Nanoblock. According to their website, TICO appears to have licensed sets for Totoro, Angry Birds and One Piece, which are all very popular in Taiwan.