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

Who’s a Cute Little Walking Tank?

The life of AT-Steve, by anothergol, on Eurobricks The life of AT-Steve, by anothergol, on Eurobricks

 

In the MOCcing world, usually bigger is better. So you wouldn’t expect that this small AT-ST by anothergol (yes, the same one from the incredible minifig scale version) would have more details, better proportions and loads more expression than your average bigger version. And yet it does. You could say this creation is awesome just because of its hilarious concept. It does indeed brighten your day just with its irresistibly adorable look. There are those big, expressive and interchangeable eyes, the great poses and the cute but surprisingly accurate proportions. In fact, it’s way more accurate than you’d think at first sight. Details like the guns, the railings around the hatch and the claws are noticeable right away. You’d expect those on an AT-ST of any size. It’s not hard to notice the accurate grills on the head, the “eyebrows” and the hexagonal shape on its booty. A nice and clever bonus, that make it the better small creation. The rounded shape of the legs and the surprisingly accurate details on them are a bit harder do appreciate. Wasn’t expecting those on a creation of this scale. And the square beveled panel on the “nose” or the accurate details on the back of the head created with the undersides of parts? I haven’t seen that on a lot of the bigger creations! All of that for a creation that would have been great just because of its concept. This creation truly puts a smile to your face. Not just because it’s so cute. But also because it shows that you don’t have to be big in the MOCcing world, that you don’t have to have a lot of parts but just some imagination and a good attitude to give the big boys a run for their money. Funny that, we could have said just the same about the Ewoks!

A New Death Star Spin-off

Star Wars Orrery, by nerdsforprez, on Eurobricks

 

While many a wonderful LEGO Star Wars creation captures a whole lot of details and atmosphere of the original, there usually is one thing they don’t capture at all. It’s the movement. The speed of a podrace, the acrobatics of a dogfight, the slow steadiness of a Death Star moving towards it target… essential parts of the scenes, but not at all easy to capture with bricks. Not in the conventional way. nerdsforprez managed to capture the hypnotic magic of movement in a refreshing Technic orrery showcasing the most exciting parts of the movies in their full moving glory. I love how he really designed the movement, with different elements within the same scenes moving at different speeds to create a dynamic story. Anakin is about to overtake Sebulba! Is the TIE shooting at X-wing or is it the other way around? Is the snowspeeder going fast enough to stop the AT-AT? It’s wonderful how a clever assembly of gears can help to tell a story in which you root for mini models. Not just by creating the movement, but also by being an integral part of the scene. I love how they form planets and give the impression of dangerously hurtling asteroids to place the mini models in context. The mini models themselves are great as will. Nice little touches like the accurate shield generators on the Star Destroyer or the rope around the walker’s feet help them to come to life even more. And if it wasn’t enough, the base is the best looking battery box I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t just display some extra awesome micro models like that Death Star with an amazing texture for the scale. It also makes clever scenes with them. The Death Star is breaking through the borders of its frame and the simple but gorgeous scene with the Naboo starfighter puts the Stars back in Star Wars. All of that makes this the perfect wonderful creation to help you dream away… if the sound of the gears doesn’t keep you awake, that is.

If it’s Ugly but it Works, it isn’t Ugly

Alliance Dreadnaught cruiser Stolen Gold, by ProvenceTristram, on Eurobricks

 

The most ubiquitous things in life rarely are the prettiest. That’s no different in a galaxy far, far away. Take the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser, for instance. Contrary to that other Dreadnought we talked about earlier, its design isn’t what you’d call aesthetically stunning. It doesn’t look threatening, it doesn’t look fast, it doesn’t look like anything really, but it works. That’s why it could be found all over the galaxy for a long time, at least in Legends. Its versatility made it extremely useful to both Rebels, Imperials and even Hutts. Doesn’t make it prettier though.

So how do you turn such an ugly, formless blob into something beautiful? ProvenceTristram‘s genius solution is to use ugly pieces. Those pieces no one ever uses because they’re too big, have a clunky shape and just don’t seem to belong in a detailed creation. It seems hard to use those big windscreen pieces for anything else than windscreens or giant tiles for something else than a quick road or a surface to stick your UCS sticker to. ProvenceTristram realized that those boring parts are ideal in this situation. Not only is their shape the perfect match for the source material, the fact that they are so featureless makes them perfect for a ship that’s all about cheap functionality. As a manufacturer, it’s just more effective to build everything from big pieces instead of assembling a multitude of tiny components. The builder saw that this ship does have personality and that it lies precisely in its unashamedly placing function over form. That insight enabled him to capture it perfectly with bricks. He balanced the amount of additional detailing just right for it to be interesting to look at without compromising its unique character. He accomplished this by having the details look like big, cheap chunks that were repeatedly slotted right in instead of being all unique and well incorporated into the ship. ProvenceTristram excelled in putting his aversion for big pieces aside and resisting the urge to make each detail unique. In this creation, he shows himself the master of cutting corners for the greater good, making the most beautiful ugly ship you’ve seen for a while. And then you haven’t even seen it up close!

The Face of Destruction

Harrower-class Dreadnought, by Swan Dutchman, on Eurobricks

 

The gorgeous shots in Rogue One would convince you it’s impossible to improve on the design of the Star Destroyer. And you’d be almost right. It’s nearly impossible. That’s why it took two years to finalize the design of the Harrower-class Dreadnought from The Old Republic and why it took some more months for Swan Dutchman to build the LEGO version of it to make it absolutely beautiful. He made the Star Destroyer look just right, more massive than ever. He also made sure the saying that a man starts to look like his spaceship after a while is clearer than ever with the sith species face shape of the ship giving it a serene but dead and unstoppable look.

The only problem with the Dreadnought is that its shape is more difficult to recreate than that of his good old younger brother. That didn’t seem to be a problem for Swan Dutchman though: everything comes beautifully together. And if there were any gaps, the builder even used them to his advantage and used them as a place to accommodate details. Just look at the clever antenna down the nose (a term you can take quite literally with such a design!) or the little spikes in the center of the “crown”. All of the complex arrangements of pieces to achieve all of the angles give rise to intriguing patterns on the hull, emphasized by the color variation in the grays. Notches of wedge plates visible at the back don’t look like accidents. When brought together with side views of grill tiles in the same model, they suddenly become windows. You don’t see that kind of clever tricks in the original! They take an already stunning creation with beautiful forms, intricate details and a crisp look to the next level. A level on which it rivals the original Star Destroyer in magnificence. Go right here to have a face-to-face meeting with this excellent ship and read all about how you begin to plan such a marvel with some insightful WIP comments.

Y For Detail

Yet another Y-wing, by dmaclego, on Eurobricks

 

Rogue One is out to make everybody excited for new ships like the U-wing. My heart lies a bit later in the alphabet though. Because it wasn’t the U-wing that I built over and over again in my childhood, into the lovely craft itself, into lightsabers, into battering rams and even into demonstrations of four-bar mechanisms. It was the Y-wing that came packaged with the TIE Advanced. There’s no ship that fills me with fonder memories than that greebly tuning fork. Now more so than ever, because dmaclego‘s beautiful model is one I’ll think of in years from now, and a smile will appear on my face.

That’s because it’s just like the Y-wing I had in my hands so often. It wasn’t built with a “look at all of the creative greebles I can come up with!” mentality. It was built as a love letter to the original. My old Y-wing did that by keeping it simple, dmaclego’s Y-wing does it by not leaving a single thing out and not adding a single detail to the original in a most creative but humble manner. It shows the Y-wing as it truly is, and not how most would imagine it to be. This creation doesn’t have too much detail like many others do, but uses a variety of interesting but especially low profile parts like stretcher wheels or skids to keep if from looking like a mess. Parts were snugly embedded into the body and the engines so they become functionally inseperable from the ship, instead of something that was quickly added later just to look good. dmaclego did astonishing things to make sure everything look like a solid assembly. He has cut flex tubing to exactly the right length and even at an angle to make them fit perfectly flush with other parts so they merge into one. He devised groundbreaking techniques to make the round engines smooth and at exactly the right diameter to allow the nozzles to be recessed a bit and to fit seamlessly with the dome and the exotic but appropriate Ninjago spinner base. He has done the impossible by making the white columns look like they form one part with the engines. And then there is his wonderful attention to detail and his commitment to depict any one of them. He noticed how the astromech peaks out a bit and spared no expense in recreating the taper and the ever so slight inclination of the cockpit. dmaclego’s Y-wing shows that you need three ingredients to create something that even outshines childhood memories: dedication, resourcefulness and a keen eye. An eye to see what others don’t, and not to see what others think they see. Luckily for us, a regular eye will do just fine to admire this wonderful creation in the topic.