Even before LEGO’s recent release of 75936 Jurassic Park T-Rex Rampage, dinosaurs have been a popular subject for builders. ZiO Chao has apparently found the historically-based thunder lizards a bit too tame, though. Why just recreate a single species when you can add in a bit of mad science to remix the most fearsome aspects of three of them? ZiO has combined the raptor, T-Rex, and spinosaurus into a reptilian death machine named Spino-Tyraptor. This model is highly poseable, including some creative arm joints using pneumatic T-pieces. The head is expertly shaped, and the use of a spoiler for the tongue really works well.
Just as nature intended, the most eye-catching part of the creature is the fin. Carrying the dark red of the head along the spine, it reaches up with brighter reds highlighted with grey and orange 1×1 round plate and capped with quarter-round coral tile. We may not know what the true function of spinosaurus’ fin was, but I’m guessing here it’s a combination of threat display, heat regulation, and wi-fi antenna. Hey, if you’re going to genetically mix something like this, why stop at what nature thought of?
Whilst we’ve never had an official set, Mario and Luigi are no strangers to LEGO. Many builders have tackled these gaming icons before, but it’s always good to see another take. These figures by ZiO Chao are excellent — tightly-built in a chibi style, but immediately recognisable, and full of character. The outfits are perfectly captured, the faces expressive, and I love the stands beneath each figure. Don’t miss the brickwork on Toad’s mushroom head, and the simple but effective way ZiO has captured Toad’s face. Lovely stuff.
Spoiler warning for a series of movies that came out between 1999 and 2005. The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy make it pretty clear that Senator, later Chancellor, Palpatine was the puppet master behind the Clone Wars, leading to his accession to Emperor and the formation of the Galactic Empire. ZiO Chao‘s latest creation captures this idea perfectly. The bust of the Emperor works well on its own, as does the vignette of Anakin and Obi-Wan dueling over the lava, but the hands really tie the whole thing together – they frame the fighting Jedi as something that Palpatine is playing with. The size of the three characters really emphasizes how big of an impact each character had on the war. Even as generals, Obi-Wan and Anakin were merely pawns in a larger game of chess they weren’t aware of. The expression on the Emperor’s face is priceless, as he subtly yet gleefully stares at the scene, grinning as the final pieces of his plan fall into place.