More than Cool

Echo Base, by lostcarpark, on Eurobricks

There’s just something about seeing creations with your own eyes on a convention that you don’t quite get when you’re looking at your screen. You can walk around models, choose your own perspective and discover hidden details instead of looking at the same few pictures everybody else gets to see. And you get to take your time, gazing at the models for minutes on end instead of flicking to just another picture after some seconds without real investment. All of this is especially true for those big dioramas that you see so often at conventions but rarely online. Luckily, lostcarpark‘s Hoth diorama made the jump to our screens and still looks extremely cool.

His creation has something to love for everyone, making his Echo Base very fun to explore even online. Wonderfully detailed rooms that capture the atmosphere of the movie perfectly sit right next to rooms we’ve never seen before but that have some fun stuff going on, showcasing that even in such a dire situation, people need to go to the restroom or need to take a break. There is an exciting battle going on outside with pre-existing models that are cleverly arranged for forced perspective when looking from the Rebel standpoint. There are incredible custom builds for this diorama like the shield generator, the turrets and the service gantry over the X-wing which could be respectable MOCs all on their own. And there’s some brilliant landscaping going on with a wonderfully meandering trench and a snowy landscape with wedge plates in a more or less consistent direction to give some structure to the snow, which is nicely broken in some busy areas to showcase the variety in the terrain. All of those factors coming together makes for a multi faceted yet coherent creation that just invites you to look closer, linger and have fun: you connect with it. And not just now, because this creation is a work in progress, so much more joy is ahead of us. Thank you, lostcarpark, for bringing the joy of conventions to us without us even having to leave our hangar door!

New UCS Millennium Falcon Teaser!

LEGO has been teasing a huge new set the past couple of weeks. Fans with some clever photo editing skills were able to confirm the rumors that this set would be a new UCS Millennium Falcon. But now you can see it with your own eyes, without the need for any special skills and no fancy software other than your browser, on the teaser video released by LEGO. You should be able to see the radar dish piece that will most likely be used for the windows as in the previous iteration, an assembly that looks suspiciously like the beginning of the cockpit or one for the docking rings and a lost BB-8 floating around, confirming that there will be Sequel Trilogy figures included in the humongous set. Some sources also suggest that there will be original trilogy figures as well. But let’s stick to what we know: 1) This will be the biggest LEGO Star Wars set ever, surpassing the already legendary 10179, one of the few sets everybody knows the set number of by heart. 2) It will be released on October first, and the Store Calendar makes it pretty clear that there will be early access for LEGO VIP members (sign up now, it’s free!) starting from September 15th. 3) Even from the few glimpses we’ve been able to catch, it looks like a phenomenal set people will dream about for years to come. So you better start saving right now!

Are you as excited as I am, who only found out about the 10179 after it was retired, and do you want to analyze every single frame of the twenty second long teaser? Then head over to the 2017 Pictures and Rumors thread to join the party and the examination!

A Droid in Higher Spheres

Technic functions are supposed to make your creation come to life, especially when they’re motorized. However, they often fail to achieve that goal. Only the best Technic builders with well-engineered mechanisms succeed in eliminating jerky motions of components that rob the action of all realism, reminding you that you’re looking at a scaled down and lifeless toy. But not always. Takamichi Irie surprisingly embraced and even stimulated the shakiness and jerkiness of his motorized BB-8 creation. A stroke of genius that for one time leads to a realistic build that truly comes to life.

The head of his BB-8 is connected to the body with only a single Technic axle, which itself is connected to a thin base. The result is that it wobbles a lot, nicely accentuated by the antenna that enlarges the movement. Consequently the head seems to be constantly adjusting itself, experiencing the roughness of the terrain as it goes along. This is enhanced by slight variation of the rotational speed of the ball, as if to indicate variance in terrain. But that’s only half of the movement involved. The bigger, orchestrated movement of the head is superimposed to put the small stabilizing movements into context so that it really looks as if he’s adjusting his head to look at something instead of it being random noise. I also love how those bigger movements gradually accelerate and decelerate to give them more of an organic feel. It also gives the head a sense of inertia, doing away with the downsized toy effect. The superb combination of well-made deliberate mechanisms and the accentuated imperfections naturally generated by the bricks make this the most lively brick built BB-8 that has ever rolled across my screen: bowler hats off to you, Takamichi Irie and your truly moving photostream!

The Planet Before Time

Jedha, by Carter Witz, on FlickrJedha, by Carter Witz, on Flickr

Technically Star Wars takes place “a long time ago”, so then you could say it’s really strange that there are so few builder who build both in historic themes and in that galaxy far, far away. That might change with Carter Witz, who inspires with how he uses techniques that are common for creations in the historic themes but are rarely seen in outer space to bring us a unique and gorgeous slice of Jedha city. The extreme texturing that comes back in a lot of historic MOCs works perfectly to give that archway that worn down feel with all of those grooves and protrusions. Still, looking worn down is good and all, but it’s not enough to make something feel ancient, like this archway does. Carter’s brilliant technique to give his creation a real sense of history might actually be the composition of his scene. Because that archway doesn’t stand on its own: there’s another archway attached to the back of it that looks more modern in its architecture, in its less worn down texture and in the incorporation of more technological elements. In front, you have a piece of wall in exactly the same spirit, and even another piece of wall on top of that which was built in another period. Better still, there’s that dark tan building in the foreground which looks almost new in comparison with the other buildings but sits on foundations that might have been recovered from a previous building. Having buildings or even just tiny fragments from different time periods helps you to appreciate how old that archway really is and how much history that city must really have to have known so many different waves of construction and destruction. You get relativity in the build, context. That’s why the Jedha of Carter Witz lives and has lived for a long time, the summit of a used universe. This MOC sure is historic in every sense of the word, so waste no time to check out the pictures!

From My Point of View, the Official Minifigures are Evil!

Anakin Skywalker Episode III, by Erik Petnehazi, on Flickr

 

In my final year of high school, we all had to dress up as super heroes. It’s no surprise then that I kept to a loose interpretation of the theme and decided that a Jedi was close enough. So I hired a costume. The only one they had was Episode III Anakin though, but still that’s better than no Star Wars at all! I had a nice day in the end, and if it weren’t for that costume, I would have never appreciated Erik Petnehazi‘s custom Episode III Anakin as much, and that would have been a shame.

Of course there’s the detailing that’s spot on, but there are way less obvious aspects as well. Like how faithful the depiction of the different materials used in the costume is. That’s something you really notice if you’ve worn the physical costume. On the figure, it’s just the same shiny ABS everywhere, but a clever use of color and lines can go a long way to differentiate materials. The part of the costume that’s made of fabric has less colors in it and doesn’t have folds that are too dramatic. The leather part, on the other hand, has both reflections and shadows without being too crowded with lines, and some of the folds are in unusual directions just like the real stuff. And then there’s the really subtle stuff that adds depth to the figure. The belt sits slightly off center and at an angle, to showcase it’s really used. And look how Erik used that minuscule overhang of the torso part over the hip part to make it look like the belt really sits on top of the clothes. And then that face… There’s no method to this and a small change can have huge consequence, but Erik nailed it. I love the tortured expression that still works within the Lego aesthetic, totally conveying emotion. Even though his face never moves, you can’t accuse this minifig of stiff acting! The same goes for all of the other wonderfully designed, carefully rendered and fantastic custom parts sporting Chosen Ones you can find in Erik Petnehazi’s photostream!

We Won’t Last Long Against Those Star Destroyers, Again!

ISD Aggressor, by Raskolnikov, on Eurobricks

 

So what do you do when you’ve already built one of the most epic UCS Imperial Star Destoryers? Well, you just make another one, is Raskolnikov‘s laconic answer. Only this time, you make it smaller and better! As paradoxical as that combination might sound, it worked out perfectly well in the hands of such a capable fleet admiral.

That’s because making the model smaller forces you to work more on the bigger picture instead of obsessing over details that are fun to include, but don’t as well work towards the overall impression. The prime example of this would be the greebling on the ship. In the bigger version, there wasn’t much structure to it because of the big variety of pieces that was strewn around without much of an appearance of structure. Now, however, a more limited palette of parts and less possibilities for positioning them makes sure the finely layered texture on the side comes out beautifully. This goes a long way in convincing you that you’re looking at several floors of a building instead of at a bunch of details you don’t know what to relate to. That way you actually have some kind of reference to judge the scale such that this smaller version actually looks the biggest! Another nice effect is that certain features of bricks don’t get swallowed up by all of the big shapes anymore as an annoying speck but instead get room to shine as proper details. Just look at the wedge plates used in those barely raised protrusions of the hull: their notches at the side now are perfectly in scale to represent windows. And purely logistically, a smaller hull makes it way more practical to tile it more to give the smooth yet paneled look.

Making a ship smaller to make it more impressive certainly seems like a wild idea, but it’s a testament to Raskolnikov’s genius that he saw what the potential of that notion was. To create an unparalleled Star Destroyer that’s even more accurate than its predecessor and still doesn’t make any compromise – that’s right: just like the Tyrant, the Aggressor features a full interior complete with loaded hangar bay! And you don’t even know the best part yet: a smaller version made it manageable enough for legolijntje to create building instructions… I’m pretty sure you won’t last long against the urge to check those Star Destroyers out in the topic!

Red, Yellow and Black

Bumerang, by Milan Sekiz, on Flickr

“… are the Belgian colors!”, as the song in my country goes. It are also the colors of Milan Sekiz‘ Blacktron creation that was posted just two days shy of our national holiday. Even then we do have reasons to celebrate this creation here on our Star Wars blog. It doesn’t even matter that it was never designed with Kylo Ren’s command shuttle in mind. Because when you’re not desperately trying to cling to the source material, creation takes priority over recreation, with a fresh result that surpasses any cautious recreation of some reference. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the design of Kylo Ren’s shuttle with its huge and towering wings, but in the end, there’s not much more to the design of that ship. Milan Sekiz’ Bumerang on the other hand has way more going for it than just the imposing wings. There’s also the wonderful elegance achieved by giving the wings a smooth yet complicated profile that’s gorgeous to look at. There’s of course the extension smoothly flowing backwards, but it isn’t simply straight, and the front of the wings also has a nice curve that’s different at the top and at the bottom. That elegance takes it from a ship that’s just brutely menacing to an evil on a more sophisticated and advanced level. The colors are like the warning colors on a fire salamander, sending out a clear signal. This is a ship with confidence and a feeling of superiority that will make even the most self-assured captain doubt his ship’s capabilities, and that’s where the real terror lies. That’s something on a whole different level than the Upsilon class shuttle, but man are we lucky that it’s still close enough to it to see this creation featured here. So grab that chance and discover Milan Sekiz’ photostream to see how creative design can make creations more elegant, sophisticated, menacing and much more. Until you start seeing that happy fish face in the cockpit that you can’t unsee, that is…