Next Stop: Ambush Avenue

Jedha - Ambush on Tythoni Square, by Boba1980, on Eurobricks

Not ready to leave Jedha yet after seeing Marshal Banana’s creation? Excellent, because I wager you’ll be spending more than just the coming couple of minutes pouring over Boba1980‘s wonderful recreation of the ambush in the city.First, you’ll be amazed by the wonderful monumental buildings. The imposing archway, the angled or curved features of every building, the narrow alleys between the buildings that show you’re in an old city. Then, you’re likely to eye the texturing and realize that it adds tremendous depth to the build but doesn’t distract too much, like a lot of present castle teamed creations tend to do. Boba1980 achieved this sweet balance by only using profile bircks with only a little bit of profile, like the short side of the log bricks instead of the long side, and only a limited color palette. That way he makes sure you’ll not miss the thing that makes this creation truly special. It are all of the everyday little details that make it look like you’re watching an actual city, just one populated by minifigs instead of humans, and not just a disposable backdrop to an action scene. There are little stairs for every step that looks to be too big for a minifig. Every door has its control panel. There are fans and heat exchangers, with the equipment on the newer looking buildings looking a bit more modern. Tough bushes stubbornly survive the urban jungle. And then of course there are those wonderful cables hanging around, forming a real spaghetti to help you remember this is not your most modern city but one that has been around for as long as even Yoda can remember. All of those details are not what you notice straight away when you look at the scene as they’re nothing special: you’re already used to seeing those details in real life. But that’s exactly why including them in a scene makes it so much more real. That’s why you’ll just keep looking at this creation even though you’ve already seen how amazing the buildings are, in anticipation of those ABS people to move… I’m afraid they won’t, but just to be sure, you can keep a closer eye on them in Boba1980’s topic.

Mesa Like This Mesa

Star Destroyer over Jedha City, by Marshal Banana, on Flickr

While the opinions on Rogue One vary, everybody agrees that the movie looks stunning, with shots that have already made their way into the collective conscience. The Death Star dish being put into place, Darth Vader’s lightsaber igniting in the hallway… And of course the Star Destroyer looming over Jedha city. Marshal Banana‘s interpretation of this scene is just as memorable as the original with the great photography highlighting Brickdoctor’s Star Destroyer and his own landscape. The mesa with the city looks awesome despite only consisting out of basic bricks. I love it how the builder put the slopes forming the city walls at different levels and angles. This doesn’t just approximate the shape of the city better, but at the same time creates seams between the bricks that give a perfect representation of the “merlons” of the actual city. It even looks like the creator pushed slopes that would normally sit flush, slightly apart to get the desired effect in a more subtle manner. All of the seams are further accentuated by the lighting to give a nice sense of scale that makes the forced perspective work better.

It’s not just the top part of the mesa that makes the picture so convincing. You also have to appreciate how just like in a real mesa the smallest details can be found at the bottom, where all of the rubble heaps up and the sand tries to scale the rock. It’s genius how Marshal Banana deliberately kept the pieces and shapes near the top of the rock big so that there would be a significant contrast with the bottom of the rock instead of there being a uniform level of detail. That’s some perfect scaling that makes his city realistic from any distance. The same happens with the atmospheric landscaping: shapes in the distance are more smooth than shapes close by. As a result, it’s just like watching the shots in the movie but through a LEGO lens. That’s why I’m pretty sure the oscar for best brickography is going to Marshal Banana!

The Sound of Silence

Lego SDCC Press Release, on FBTB

There are creations built by AFOLs during spare time over the course of a couple of days. And then there are creations built by a team of professional Master Builders over the course of a month. To be honest, while the latter are really impressive, most of the time I prefer the smaller AFOL MOCs with their often ingenious building techniques to the big Master Builder sculptures. Those just impress me because of their scale, but in the end they often just look like a big pile of basic bricks stacked on top on each other with little creativity, more quantity than quality. But those thoughts go just as silent as Rey when they see Luke standing there. Not because they’re once again impressed by the scale, but by the oozing personality of the sculpture. It is as if it can break the silence any minute and say something really important. His feet firmly planted into the ground, quite far apart; his left hand far from his body as if he has just taken a deep breath; his wonderfully created hand stretched towards us, cautioning us to listen carefully; his eyes pointing straight at you, though his body isn’t for dramatic effect; and his eyelids ever so slightly closed and his mouth ever so slightly opened. It’s lifelike despite being blocky. That’s some incredible character modeling both with really big and with really small features. Yes, the scale of this model is impressive, but not just because it’s big. It’s impressive because of the unique, subtle detailing it achieves by portraying some really shallow shapes like the flowing of the cape or the small angle of the leg or feet. Yes, there are small details like the imperfections on Luke’s face or the ragged edge of the cape, but this creations shows that there is also something like a huge detail. A subtle shape where a level difference of a couple of bricks can mean a significant difference in the appearance of a model. It’s amazing how the Master Builders get this so right even though they’re building up close. Words fail me to describe my admiration for their talent and this creation that has awoken a new respect in me for creations that have enough on just the most basic of bricks to be impressive.

This sculpture is currently on display at the San Diego Comic Con, where a lot of exciting LEGO news is happening. Check out FBTB’s article to see what LEGO is up to there, and more importantly, to check out more pictures of this awesome sculpture.

Flight of the Republic Bumblebee

Republic Gunship, by JBB_777, on Eurobricks

I spent many hours staring at the LEGO catalog while I was little, studying every detail of my favorite sets. Actually, I still do to today. In all those years, there’s hardly any page that even gets close to page 73 of the 2002 catalog in terms of time I’ve spent on it. That’s the one with the very first LEGO Republic Gunship on it. I’ve never got to own the 7163, but I love that model to this day. And now I fall in love all over again, with the same ship with updated looks. JBB_777‘s creation is just a beauty. That’s because he understands that the key aspect of the design of the Republic Gunship is its bumblebee-like roundness as that accentuates how “fat” its belly is, full and heavy with troops and ammunition waiting to be unleashed. It’s not just the big shapes. Just look at the incredibly built bulbous rings around the front guns, which have something muscle-like almost. It’s amazing how the builder succeeds in incorporating those rounded features seamlessly with the rest of the shape of the ship. Even the engines are smoothly embedded in the back of the ship. It makes for a solid and smooth appearance which makes sure the ship looks like it can actually handle that heaviness. However, the ship isn’t perfectly smooth, and nor should it be! The creator provided some wonderful texturing with the studs, color variations (that pattern on the engines even almost looks like a sticker!) and a couple of o so subtly different levels in the side of the ship. That’s how you keep a ship visually interesting without ruining its smoothness which results in one terrific build. Just like the 7163, I’ll never own JBB_777’s amazing Republic Gunship, but I’ll always – oh, wait a minute, actually maybe some day I will own this beauty because the topic on Eurobricks points to a Rebrickable page… Now I’m sure I’ll always love this model!

A Golden Review

Review: 75172 Y-wing Starfighter, by makoy, on Eurobricks

Did the Inthert’s MOC we just featured wet your pallet so much that you’re craving a Y-wing of your own? Then it’s good news that there’s an official set on the shelves right now, and that it’s an exceptionally good one. That’s what makoy told me in his review on the 75172 set from the Rogue One wave. He goes really in depth, discussing how well the details and the proportions of the set match the original model (spoiler: really well!), showing off various highlights in used techniques, critically assessing every minifig and even giving you tips on how to swoosh the set properly. Better still, he also gives some suggestions how you could improve the set by swapping out a couple of pieces. It you are hesitant to buy this set, this is the definitive review to read. And even if you have it already or don’t plan on buying it, this is an enjoyable review nonetheless from which you can learn a thing or two. So you have no excuse checking out the review that very deservedly and fittingly earned makoy his golden reviewer’s academy status.

Not All That’s Gold Glitters

BTL-A4 Y-wing, by Inthert, on Flickr

These days you need quite the nerve to try to MOC the classic Star Wars ships. The bar has been set incredibly high by past creations. A smooth and well shaped cockpit, super sleek engines and lovely greebling that’s as close the original as you can possibly get are all standard. It looks impossible to improve on the existing models. That didn’t stop Inthert though, and the result is just mouth watering. The details on the usual places are great, and there are some incredibly accurate details that i haven’t spotted on any model before like the little tab on the cockpit, the impossibly fine controls that match the one reference picture I could find. Even the bit of exposed machinery under the cockpit plates matches the drawing from the cross sections book. And then there are the truly amazing bits in the little corners you wouldn’t even think of looking at that are truly amazing. I love how greebles have been embedded perfectly into the the backside of the cockpit, or the bit between the guns that’s only visible from the bottom and is a great way to hide a connection in plain sight. And while we’re looking at the underside, we also get to appreciate the beautiful shaping of the bottom of the rear part of the ship and the wonderful way the landing gear blends in with the rest of the greebles on the underside. But not everything that makes this creation special has to be sought for in hidden corners or carefully compared to the original. It’s the use of color. Most models just stick with grey and brown for the details, which makes the brown look more like wood than rust actually. Inthert threw some gold and tan into the mix to give everything a more metallic feeling. It are only a couple of parts, but they go a long way in making the ship look more functional than ever, with different materials for different jobs. I love that after all these years, an incredible builder like Inthert can still improve the model by something as simple as a couple of extra colours! And I also love how some things never change: an R5 in the astromech seat even though the movies show mostly R2’s – still it always puts a smile on my face. What also never changes is my desire to look at every single detail. Just my luck Inthert’s photostream contains some gorgeous shots of this beauty!

Raiders of the Lost Studs

Imperial Raider Class Corvette, by insideLego, on Eurobricks

We all love LEGO, right? Isn’t it weird then that ever more MOCs are trying to make us forget they’re made of bricks? Of course those creations are gorgeous and mind blowing and all, but after a while they make it look like it’s forbidden to show that your creation is actually made of bricks. Yet we all grew up loving those weird little blocks with cylinders on them, and I’m sure all of us have lost many hours drooling over LEGO sets that made no attempt at concealing their makeup. That’s why I’m sure insideLego‘s Imperial Raider Class Corvette will prompt a lot of further drooling. It is a love letter to LEGO, a creation that embraces the medium with all of its heart instead of fighting against it with all of its might. It has studs all around, lots of missiles (about which everyone says they hate them, but with which everyone still plays, and I’m no exception!) and just the right size for swooshing. The sand blue on the hull is at the same time a stylish throwback to the earlier TIE fighters and a great way to lay emphasis on the texture of the hull which is a crucial part of the identity of the source material. And to win you tough critics entirely over, there is great greebling all around the edge and some great shaping on the underside of the ship. All of this makes for a model that would fit perfectly next to LEGO’s most iconic sets: beautiful and intimidating, but at the same time begging to be played with, the dream of every grown up child. It’s something different than all of those terrific creation you wouldn’t dare to touch. But this one looks like unabashed fun. So where do I order one? Sadly, I think a closer look at insideLego’s topic is probably the closest I’ll get!