Every once in a while we get a build that is out of this world. Not only because of techniques or parts usage, but because it is a work of art made with LEGO pieces. Ring-Rise by Tom Loftus (Inthert) is exactly that. A colourful painting. A cinematic shot with perfect framing. Just an astronaut and his cat, all alone on a monochrome alien world, looking out on the colourful rings of a planet. A simple idea, flawless execution.
Tom knew he wanted to incorporate the famous basalt columns of Iceland into a build. The Alien Landscape category of the yearly Space Jam contest was the perfect opportunity. Layering them in shades of grey (black to dark grey to light grey) give the impression of light coming in from the space-scape beyond. The planetary ring uses Simon Pickard’s intricate curving surface technique that few have mastered. Tom spiced it up by making it as colourful as he could, evoking the psychedelic hues of nebulae and other heavenly bodies.
This isn’t the first time Tom Loftus (Inthert) was inspired by the art of Spacegoose to create an adorable Cat-stronaut figure. While the previous feline (The aptly named Space Cat) was all about journeying into mystery, Astra is already there. The amazing part usage of metallic black beehives for limbs is a standout feature, but it’s the eyes that really do it for me. Those Mixel 1×1 round eye tiles give this critter the same Crazy-Zoom look that I remember seeing just before a pet tore through the house at Warp 10.
From the rear, you can see that Tom paid equal attention to the stylish and functional-looking backpack. There’s a joke here about “the cat’s pajamas” but I can’t quite make it work. Let’s just pretend it did and share a brief chuckle.
There are a lot of things that can happen in the world of LEGO space. Why not check out our archives for more of them?
At a quick glance, you might see this as a charming little fantasy LEGO microscale scene. And you’d be right in that assumption. But upon closer look, that is when you realized Tom Loftus has done quite the clever thing. He has used plastic dragon trim from the Raya and Sisu Dragon set to emulate swirls on the water. The two pieces are supposed to be removed from the foil along their perforated edges, but he has left the part intact in order to create the swirling river effect. I entirely overlooked the set for having pieces seemingly useless to my needs but Tom’s clever use of interesting parts has me rethinking that strategy. It just goes to show that even the most seemingly undesirable piece can be put to clever use in just the right hands. Check out all the other times Tom has dazzled us in one way or another in our archives.
The new LEGO Vidiyo theme may not be the most popular among adult builders, but it has certainly introduced builders to some unusual large but potentially versatile parts. In Tom Loftus’s own words, every part is a spaceship part, which he set out to prove, and did quite a top-notch job. This fighter is built around the lime-green base from the pods that serve as the central element of each set.
The grooves designed to fit extra tiles make great cooling vents, and just to show that this chunky fighter can also pour on the speed, there are plenty of thrusters squeezed on to the backs of each engine pod.
The release of new LEGO themes often means new parts to play with, and the new VIDIYO theme has offered up some especially interesting new pieces for builders to find uses for. One of my favorite examples of this is the 4-D1 Heavy Cargo Lifter – ‘The Ant’ by Tom Loftus (Inthert). This tiny little ship makes use of two of the new VIDIYO box back pieces to create a flatbed for large cargo.
The box back is equal parts plate, bracket, and hinge, which makes it an ideal framework for a unique spacecraft like this. Below the flatbed, the rest of the ship is just barely larger than its single pilot cockpit, which really gives the impression that this craft lives up to its namesake – a tiny critter capable of lugging several times its own weight around.
Working with a new part can be a challenge. Finding how they fit into the system can lead to surprises and disappointments. Ultimately, dedicated builders like Tom Loftus find a way. Armed with tons of teal from the Ninjago Jungle Dragon and challenged to examine the functionality of the transparent VIDIYO Canopy (as he calls it), Tom found himself under the sea at this Reef Station. He gave me some insight into some of the extra pieces he worked into the model, including finally making use of the drone elements introduced last year.
LEGO builder Tom Loftus had a mission that was almost as exciting as destroying the Death Star. That mission was to build a compact design T-65 X-Wing Fighter with engines that were three studs wide. A LEGO X-Wing is nothing new, but I think the look of the iconic ship was achieved nicely here. What sets it apart from some of the scores of X-Wings we’ve already seen is the use of sand blue for the canopy, which is pretty vital for that ship but alas is a difficult color to obtain in quantity or various shapes.
While iconic, building the X-Wing accurately is no easy feat but Tom does a great job of it as evidenced by these many views.
Tom is one of those builders that seek help and advice from his friends then uses it accordingly. In his write up he names and thanks a slew of friends who had helped out which is a class act, in my opinion. It makes sense because while Luke ultimately destroyed the Death Star, it was really a team effort and everyone got awarded for it at the end of the movie, except Chewbacca. hey, wait a minute! Doesn’t Chewie deserve some love? While you’re mulling that over, check out the other times we gave Tom Loftus some well-deserved love.
Recently we featured a group of spaceships that were born out of the Spacegoose Collab. And, yes, they were all amazing creations. But I love me some bonus builds, and Tom Loftus (Inthert) provides a stellar one with Space Cat. Described as “something of an encore”, this little feline is a perfect blend of fantasy and cat-attributes. Cat owners know how even the most upscale bedding is shunned by cats in favor of cardboard boxes, and this preference apparently extends to their choice of jumpship. And sure, that upcycled box is cute, and the almost-legal connection of clipped together quarter circle tile is ingenious. But look at that expression. Never before have Mixel eye prints captured the insanity of a frenzied midnight tear through the universe quite so well.
If this creation brightened your mood (or maybe if it didn’t), check out other humorous builds caught by our Funny tag!
Sometimes you and your buddies see something nice that you want to build in LEGO. It could be anything, inspiration is all around us. I (Mansur “Waffles” Soeleman) have a close circle of fellow builders that we like to call “vehicle dudes” and “teal squadron.” Consisting of Caleb Ricks, Gubi, Thomas Jenkins, Pande (Malen Garek), Tim Goddard, Tom Loftus (Inthert) and more, we get on a group call on Friday evenings and build. During this time, we discuss things that happen in the world of LEGO, Star Wars, and everything in between. It is during one of these remote group build sessions that we discovered artist Spacegooose and their colourful starfighter drawings.
It was their similarity to Star Wars ships that drew us into building them. Their varying styles and functions have enough similarity to belong to one group, and so our builds became a small collaboration. With blessings from the artist who eagerly awaits their designs in LEGO form, we decided to include our own artistic spin as well as matching the original artwork.
As a builder, I always strive to push the limits of LEGO building, with techniques and parts usage. Combined with my arts and design training, I’ve spent years studying elements and how they fit together. Despite my self-declared expertise, there will always be creations that just stump me. Especially small ones. Especially small ones built by my friend Tom Loftus (Inthert).
I first saw this spindly teal-and-white spaceship in person when we displayed creations together at the last English LEGO exhibitions before the COVID shit hit the fan. He explained to me in great detail how he built this small ship. He even took it apart and showed me an in-depth breakdown of how he built it. I didn’t understand a single thing. It’s like his builds have an IQ-lowering effect on me. Even two years later, after more and more breakdowns via calls and messages, I still don’t understand it. Do you though? I’m not sure, your mind may be just as blown as mine.
One benefit of setting up your post-apocalyptic outpost on the beach, aside from the abundant food source of the ocean’s bounty, is the wondrous things that wash up in the surf. In this scene by Tom Loftus a lone soldier stands watch as the low tide washes in. The outpost is built from shipping containers, which are plentiful if you live near a major shipping hub. The model is part of an iron builder challenge using a dark red Minifig shield part, which you can see in the timbers of the bunker half-buried in the sand.
It’s always fun to see what LEGO builders can come up with when encouraged to think of new ways to use particular pieces. And that’s exactly what Tom Loftus has done in this abandoned throne room with dark red 2×3 shields. The first place you’ll notice it is as the seat of the three thrones, which I really think works well.
I particularly like the overall design of the two smaller chairs – the seashell piece makes a very nice palmette on the seatback. The other place these shield parts are used on the floor, in a really genius kind of way. By arranging the front of the piece in a triangle, the handles on the back form a simple pattern. Repeat that 30 or so times and you have a really stunning looking floor. As a bonus, the spaces between the handles work really well for the overgrown motif, as they create the perfect gap for plantelements to be stuck into. A final note about the whole overgrown look: rather than just use clear bricks as windows and leave it at that, Tom covered the opposite side of the clear bricks with tree branches, blocking some of the light that would come through, just like vines on a real overgrown window.