Fire When Ready – Be Sure to Insert a Coin

Rogue One Pinball Machine, by modestolus, on Flickr

We know, we know – we still owe you a review Rogue One. We’re working on it, I swear. Let me give you the short version already: the movie was at times all over the place, bouncing from here to there giving us little time to think about what was going on. But ultimately, it was a hell of an exciting ride you want relive right away. So Rogue One was a bit like… a pinball machine! And funny that, that’s just what modestolus built when faced with the challenge to depict the movie in a single creation.

I love how all elements of the build come together with the mechanics of the game to tell the story of the movie. It’s the story of the Empire literally surrounding you at all sides. Impressively constructed Star Destroyers rule over space. AT-ACTs guard beaches with lovely palm trees. Adorable but destructive hovertanks patrol the streets. Vader’s castle sends a clear message. And there’s no escaping the Death Star. A Rebel can only fight back with all of her might, never certain of her own life. And despite everything, it can only end (spoiler!) in one way: at the bottom. You get there when you don’t have the power to fight back anymore, or when you’ve just handed over the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. Both ways lead to the same conclusion, a life lost, but in the end the galaxy will be changed. It’s amazing how modestolus turned the pinball concept from a cool gimmick into a way to tell a story that lets you relive the struggle. The layout of the machine, the omnipresent greebly reminders of the Empire – down to the slot for the coins, even the color of the ball all tell the same story, making this probably the most meaningful pinball machine you’ve ever seen. Especially when you see it in action, you see what a wonder of both building with bricks and of game design this creation is.

U-reka!

U-wing, by Rogue Bantha, on Flickr

 

Rogue One did something not a lot of content outside of the Original Trilogy has achieved. It introduced new ship designs that were instantly iconic, wonderfully appropriate to the Star Wars universe and might leave you confused, wondering if you might have missed a ship in those movies you know so well… The U-wing especially quickly found a place in my heart, and fortunately also in that of a lot of MOCcers. Am I glad it resonated with Rogue Bantha as well.

We’ve already seen micro, System and even a custom UCS version of the U-wing, but I hadn’t seen anybody tackle a midi version of the ship before. Rogue Bantha shows why that’s a shame. A midi model doesn’t have to have the forced parts usage of a micro creation, the obligatory functions for the System version or the ridiculous amount of detail to merit the UCS label. Here, a midi model is the best way to capture the identity of the ship, because it comes closest to being an actual model kit. And that shows in this creation. It just looks so natural and real. No strange gaps or edges or areas with forced assemblies to simulate something. The bricks just naturally lend themselves to work on this scale: on other scales you’ll need more complicated assemblies for the shape of the hull or of the cockpit, but in this scale single wedge plates and slopes are the perfect fit. Every single brick looks like it could correspond to a separate piece or panel on the actual ship, a piece you could take off to replace or to repair what’s underneath. The engines are a good example, with their segments that look like you could pop them right off. This way they resemble the source material well too, more so than any assembly of obscure cylindrical parts could, especially when combined with the elegant and genius depiction of the T-shaped intakes. A euraka moment can come in inspiration of what to build, what part to use or what connection to engineer. But this time, it came in the question of what scale to build in, not motivated by the desire to show off skills in micro NPU’s or UCS greebling, but from the question what would be the best for the ship. Of course that’s not the only merit of this creation (did I mention it has functional wings?), so be sure to check it out on Flickr. And if a whole new midi world has opened for you, be sure to check out FBTB’s mini/midi contest that opened just for you!

[SoNE Ep XV] Operation Eclipse

Episode XV: Operation Eclipse, on Eurobricks

 

It is treason then! The Black Sun’s sneaky manipulation of both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance has been known for a while. After careful planning, now is the time to launch an all-out attack on the spider in the middle of the galaxy-spanning criminal web: prince Xizor. Both Imperials and Rebels set out to destroy the prince’s palace on the surface of Coruscant and his Skyhook floating high above it, killing the Falleen and saving princess Leia in the process. It will be a chaotic but tactical battle unfolding in palace corridors, hidden sewers and the fringe of space.

That’s the story of the fifteenth episode of Shadows of Nar Eurbrikka, the building rpg we have going on in the Star Wars forum here. Players can submit builds with an accompanying story depicting them fulfilling their goals to destroy the Black Sun once and for all. Only this time, Rebels and Imperials won’t be fighting each other as much as they will be fighting their common enemy. And that common enemy will be played by, well… you! If you’ve been looking at SoNE from a distance and want to try out first before you want to commit, this is the perfect opportunity to do a one time build showing off your building skills in portraying a frenzy of a fight as a member of the criminal Black Sun organization. This is your chance to try out something new, to meet some new people and to enjoy the fun and constructive SoNE environment we’ve got going on. We don’t require any particular level of skill but just a healthy dose of enthusiasm. If you feel this might be something for you, visit the episode topic for more information and for a place to ask any question you’d like. And if you feel ready for a more permanent participation in the SoNE adventure, head over here. See you on the other side, in a different galaxy!

The Reviewed UCS Snowspeeder Reviewed

Review 75144 - UCS Snowspeeder, by Jim, on Eurobricks

 

I only buy one Lego set a year most of the time, so it are the ones I really, really like. It’s been a while since such a set came out for me, but now it’s time to start planning my next purchase because I really, really like the new 75144 UCS Snowspeeder that will be available on May the Fourth. The press release already got me excited, and now Jim’s review here on Eurobricks completely sold me – or rather, sold the set to me. He gives us an in-depth look into everything we couldn’t see in the press release: what the internals look like, how the cockpit interior shapes up, what the boring and fun parts of the building process are, how much fun playing with the functions is… He also presents some pros and cons if you’re still undecided. But how can you be undecided when looking at Jim’s gorgeous shots of every angle you can conceive, showing how great this model looks? Don’t take my word for it though, and have a look and a read in Jim’s insightful review right here!

One Man’s Junk…

Jedi Search - 4/5 : The Trader, by Inthert, on Flickr

 

Isn’t it ironic? I mean, there’s no easier thing than making a mess of your building corner, but when it comes to actually building a pile of junk, it all of a sudden becomes really hard to do it right. Often, things don’t look messy enough or give the impression of being a bunch of random bricks thrown together instead of a collection of used objects that all tell a story. Sadly, that’s true for many creations, but not for Inthert‘s 16×16 marvel here.

There’s a nice mix of lovely intricate larger assemblies for visual interest and lots of tiny parts giving a nicely filled and junk-y look to it all, which is necessary for any good junkyard build but isn’t what makes this creation so unique. The genius is in the relation between the parts and the story they tell together. There’s the story of the previous life of the parts: white engines with a stripe of what was once red paint (that cape is truly the most inspired part of this build!), the remains of an astromech, a clone trooper helmet and the lightsaber tell you all you need to know about what these pieces once were. And then there’s the story of what happened once those parts became a permanent addition to the vast junkyards of some godforsaken planet. There are small nuts, bolts, washers, pegs… strewn all around, discarded during disassembly by some scavenger to get to the good parts. When disassembly wasn’t possible, brute force was used if we can believe the jagged edges here and there and the worn out tools like the drill and the piece of welding equipment that were left behind. The valuable parts were salvaged: nice sturdy panels to build a nice shack. Other parts stay behind, disconnected, because they were merely in the way or not deemed valuable enough after all. That white hub, the grey rims and the head or leg of that astromech must have been more firmly attached in the past… It’s not a glamorous or epic story, but it’s a real one giving this creation a sense of authenticity, of displaying real junk. Just look at some pictures of junkyards here on Earth and you’ll see the same state of things coming back. Inthert shows that it isn’t easy to build junk, but that it is possible by including parts, big and small, that are part of stories, big and small. That’s why these parts might be junk to our scavenger, but a treasure to us.

An Imperial Shuttle Fit for Royalty

Shuttle Tyderium, by marshal banana, on Flickr

 

We’ve all had our darker age. For some it’s going years without sparing bricks a thought, for others it’s kind of forgetting about building or blogging for a month due to work… It’s a shame we have these periods, but there’s something good about them as well. Because in the end, there’s something that pulls you out of the darkness, and that something you will never forget. In my case, the darkest part in my story with bricks was ended by the brightest ship in the Star Wars universe. The UCS Imperial Shuttle made me aware of what was possible with bricks, and it still does every time I enter my room. It made me delve into the AFOL community as well, and when you delve into the world of UCS MOCs, you’ll find it hard to miss Marshal Banana’s work. He inspired me to take MOCcing seriously. And now Marshal Banana has built an UCS Imperial Shuttle. You try to imagine the rush of feelings in me. It’s like coming out of a dark age twice at the same instant.

That’s because after watching this creation, you’ll never look at Lego models the same way again. Who’d have thought that it would be possible to build a model of such a size without making a single compromise? Form didn’t stand in the way of function in this creation, detail didn’t stand in the way of shape, refinement didn’t stand in the way of playability. Let me give an example. You’d expect that building a model of this size inevitably would lead to large areas that stay blank and boring when compared to the rest of the ship if you want to keep the spirit of it, right? I know I did, especially after building those huge and majestic, but rather boring wings on my UCS set. But Marshal Banana succeeded in capturing the detail most of us wouldn’t consider feasible: all of the panels in the wings. He kept their presence subtle but big enough to make a huge impact by working with fine negative space in between bricks, tiny protrusions and even insets, and a clever accentuating of some edges by wear that has never looked more natural. He went to great lengths to make it look just right, going for complicated setups just to give a tiny bit of wear the right shape. It makes what is normally the most boring part of the ship the most interesting. That’s pushing the envelope, innovating, showing just what’s possible with bricks where others would only see the necessity for a compromise. You could admire this creation for its size, details or presentation. But you’ve seen that already. So how about you admire it for its reaching further than what’s obvious. It might just start you on a brighter age…

Shuttle Tyderium, by marshal banana, on Flickr