It’s not usually our thing to feature LEGO works in progress. But when ZiO Chao posted a sprig of plum blossom, we featured it. Who could blame us, really? The subject was expertly crafted and photographed with utmost care. The sprig alone was rather breathtaking, actually. So you can imagine our thrill to learn the sprig was a mere teaser for this entire Bonsai plum tree. The builder tells us that the plum blossom is one of the most beloved flowers in China and has been frequently depicted in Chinese art and poetry for centuries. They can bloom in the winter and have therefore come to symbolize perseverance and hope, as well as beauty and purity. In my opinion, the official Botanical Collection has been the best new idea LEGO has come up with in a while. They have been the inspiration for so many beautiful creations such as this.
Builder ZiO Chao has given a us a beautiful rendition of a somewhat obscure character from the Mario Universe, Peachette. She made her first appearance in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe and is a unique form of another character but looks like Princess Peach. It’s all a bit confusing, but I digress.
This figure contains a lot of nice parts use and clever build techniques. The petals on her dress make use of the 4X4 with Bow brick combined with a few other types of curved bricks and plates to create a pleasing shape. The arms and puffy sleeves are nicely constructed and the modeling of the face and hair is detailed and full of character. The attention to detail includes perfect recreations of her unusual crown and trademark bow using the 1×1 heart tile. The pose is wonderful and really captures Peachette’s essence, bringing the whole character to life.
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.