An A+ For Miniatures

Micro A-wing, by foxprimus101, on Flickr

It always blows my mind that in Return of the Jedi the Executor, the biggest ship of them all, is in the end destroyed by a single A-wing, the smallest ship of them all. But I don’t remember it being this small! Judging by the results of FBTB’s Micro/Midis contest though, it appears that foxprimus101‘s tiny build still has what it takes to defeat the biggest of foes. It’s not very hard to see why. Because most microfighters, while being cute and chubby and all, also end up looking blocky and not very engaging. This fella on the other hand looks smoother than most of his System counterparts. The shapes of the original didn’t get lost in blockiness, but instead were exaggerated. And it’s not just the big shapes like the curve of the main body. The shape of the back fins gets blown up as well thanks to that glorious part usage, and you could even say that the details of the guns were enlarged too. That way you get a super cute chibi creation that at the same time actually has more character than the original instead of being another colored block with some guns on it. Exaggerating shapes is key, but if you’re really good, you can go a step further and exaggerate by just the right amount. I know foxprimus101 understands this when I look at the tilting angle of the back fins. This angle has also been increased, but not to an arbitrary amount. The angle is such that the sides of the cheese slopes become vertical which flows perfectly with the vertical face of the side bows and also makes the engines look more round than in the case with the fins being vertical. It shows that even for something as small and cartoonish as a microfighter, you can have something like attention for detail. Yes, big lessons can come from small creations if they’re made by a great mind like foxprimus101.

They Call It The Dark Side Because You Don’t Want To See It

Palpy, by Funky Koval, on Eurobricks

One of the nice things about bricks is that they can’t scare you. Characters tend to look a bit comedic – just look at those brickheads – and even when they don’t, they’re not realistic enough to really give you the creeps. Or so I thought. Now, I think I’ll be seeing Funky Koval‘s creation again, tonight, in my dreams, and it won’t be in a dream about perfect techniques.

But then again, it might be, because some serious thought went into making this creation realistic enough to turn into a nightmare. The use of the Bib Fortuna headpiece as the mouth and the chin is just ingenious. What impresses me most, is how well it is incorporated into the rest of the face. Usually when you find this one very specific piece that’s ideal for the job, it has this weird shape that makes it hard to use with different parts and the result loses its effect. Here the minifig helmets fit perfectly though, and where the parts touch you have this wonderful evocation of the wrinkles. And while the headpiece makes for a very ghostly shape of the mouth, the printed minifig head that comes with the orca collectible minifig leaves nothing to the imagination. Additionally the once cute eyes of the brickhead Batman turn into an otherworldly stare. If the face wasn’t enough, the Emperor’s hands reach for you, unnaturally big, while he’s not even looking at you, and you feel a cold beam of energy crawling towards you. So while the main feature is of course the construction of the face, Funky Koval went the extra mile with the posing and the lighting, just to make sure your body doesn’t know if it has to lean away from or instead towards your screen… Can’t decide? Maybe then the images in the topic will convince you. Just don’t look at the last picture if you value your sleep!

A Roll Down Memory Lane

Droideka, by ToaLeewan, on Flickr

When you look back at the earliest of LEGO Star Wars sets, it’s hard not to marvel at how sets have improved over the years. Just compare this year’s AT-ST to the one from 2001. But then again, there’s the example of the Droideka… Of course there’s no besting the amazingly intricate Technic set from 2000, but you’d think that a small Droideka sold in 2013 would put the 2002 version to shame, but that didn’t quite happen despite the superior selection of parts nowadays. Luckily, we have ToaLeewan to show us how awesome a Droideka creation can look today. ToaLeewan used all of the parts that allow articulation this to his advantage because it represents the joints of the original very well and because it allows for a convincing posing. With its arched back and slight lean this droid looks like it’s getting ready to deal with some serious recoil instead of offering you a drink. The newfangled shells do a great job of really sticking to the model to give it a solid feel, and the piece used for the claws is simply the best possible piece that could have been used here. This creation does a great job showcasing why we need all of these new pieces. But what I like most of all in this creation, is that it also shows what we can still use the old parts for in this landscape of specialized and detailed pieces. They’re not meant to be kept hidden in the background, quietly connecting everything, letting all details to the new parts in town. In this creation, there’s not a single part that’s just there to connect stuff, not the liftarms on the arms, certainly not those old black pieces used as radiators and not even the black peg at the blasters. They’re no glamorous eyecatchers, but they’re the everyday details that can bring a creation to life, giving some familiarity to even something as strange as a woodlouse robot. Nothing is hidden in this perfect mix of old and new parts which makes it so fateful to the original. So lower your deflector shields, head over to Flickr, and discover all of those parts you have had lying around for ages and the ones you haven’t even heard about, and imagine how they could come together in something as awesome as this creation.

Official Pictures of the 2017 Summer Sets!

LEGO Star Wars summer 2017 wave official set images, on the Brothers Brick

Time to start planning your expenses because know you’ll know what to buy this summer. The official pictures for ten fresh sets were just released, so now you can study every detail of every set. Everybody is sure to find something he likes. Whether you love the Original Trilogy, Prequel Trilogy or Sequel Trilogy, whether you like regular bricks or constraction figures, whether you like The Freemaker Adventures or only like it because it gives your characters from Rebels, there is something for everyone. I spot fun functions, practical parts and terrific techniques, but despite all that I admit this wave suffers from the same defect a lot of summer waves suffer from: a lack of iconic sets we’ve been waiting for for years and will stay around in the collective memory for years to come. There are some really nice sets, but none awaken my inner child to vigorously encircle them in the LEGO catalog… Maybe it’s just because I haven’t inspected the sets closely enough yet… So follow me to pore over the pictures and to share details in our news thread!

Ackbar ist Wunderbar!

Admiral Ackbar, by Pate-keetongu, on Flickr

Anything squiddy generally doesn’t have an extensive fanbase. But then again they’re not really known for their memorable quotes. There is one, however, to whom this observation doesn’t apply. Admiral Ackbar has a fanbase like no other squiddy creature, as evidenced by the two glorious tributes we see today. Pate-keetongu says he approached the above creation by just grabbing most of his dark red bricks and trying to make the beloved Mon Calamari with it. And that shows. I mean, there is no way anyone would have realized how perfect those bricks I can’t even describe (car engine ventilation plate thingies?) are as gills or wrinkles. How many people even know the flexible stretcher suspension part exists in dark red, so how else could anyone discover their amazing potential in such a creation other than through necessity? And only someone who doesn’t have any right round parts would think about using those mudguards as eyelids, which actually give a more accurate shaping of the eye. It can’t be possible he used those parts knowing in advance that they would form a crease in between them just like between real eyelids! The same goes for the small and realistic overhang the same part provides serving as the upper lip… It’s a miracle Pate-keetongu had that much luck! But then again, he has created one impossible creation right after the other, and demonstrates with some terrific touches like the use of the polished black boat studs to convey the wateriness of the eyes that he is an incredibly skilled character builder capable of perceiving all of the little traits that make up somebodies face and of translating it to bricks. So I don’t think luck had anything to do with it. But still, I’d wish I had as little pieces as Pate-keetongu!

Admiral Ackbar, by Djokson, on Flickr

If anyone would portray your face with bricks in such a sensitive manner, I’d wager you’d blush completely because of the honor. Now imagine someone else would also build a magnificent portrait of you… I think you’d understand why Ackbar’s face has the color it has, with Djokson paying him a second tribute as jaw dropping (if Mon Calamari even have one…) as the first. What’s most remarkable about this particular creation, is that every part is the part for the job. It’s uncanny how well that Bionicle mask works for the head. The overall shape is spot on, the horizontal arms of the cross evoke the patterns on the forehead, the vertical arms represent the sharper ridge that makes his head look real and organic, the ridges above and behind the eyes nicely represent what’s there in reality, and even the protrusion you can just see on the top of the head in the back reminds of the more pointy end of the aforementioned ridge. It’s incredible what you can do with a single “useless” part. It certainly is no lucky shot, because you can see the exact same thing happening with the forearms: the defined edges perfectly resemble segmented shells, and the little detail on top of it remind you of the less smooth features of them. You can feel Djokson isn’t satisfied with a brick that represents the general shape or idea of what he wants to represent, but as many aspects as possible, big and small. In that determination he digs really deep to find exactly the right part – I bet tens of other masks were dismissed that other builders would have been more than happy to apply. He truly has the will and talent for finding exactly the right part for a job, where every feature has something to tell. And if that’s not enough, he brings all of those seemingly impossible to unite parts seamlessly together. I have the feeling I haven’t even discovered and appreciated half of the little features represented with probably less bricks than your average Star Wars constraction figure. So time to engage his photostream! I’m sure it’s not a ruse.

Participating in this Contest is the Only Logical Outcome

Star Wars Thrawn Contest, on Eurobricks

May the Fourth is almost upon us! That doesn’t just mean a lot of sweet Star Wars deals and goodies are circulating, but also that it’s time for Eurobricks’ annual Star Wars building contest! You could have foreseen that by looking through our older blogposts to establish a pattern. And from the title of this post, the phrasing in the last sentence and – if you really need it – the picture, you could have deduced this contest will be all about everyone’s favorite brainy blue villain: Thrawn!

What makes Thrawn so unique is that by studying the past, data and art, he comes to insights that help the Empire emerge victorious from some of the direst of situations. The goal of the contest is to build two creations depicting both aspects. A first one with a minimum of 16×16 showing Thrawn learning about his enemy through art and a second one with a minimum of 32×32 showing the results the Empire reaches because of this knowledge. So you can really flex your muscles, and no need to worry if you don’t have a Thrawn minifig or if you are a digital builder: we’ve got you covered. With some awesome prizes up for grabs, there really is no excuse for missing this contest! So start planning your creation, outsmarting the competition by using onorthodox parts, entering the battle with something nobody expected, with full force or with a couple of calculated strategic hits, and lead the way to victory before the end of the month! Then our Emperor staff will reward you. Your orders are awaiting you here.

MOCcing Movie Magic

ISDMO - Final Cut, by Kit Bricksto, on Flickr

As a Star Wars fan, it’s easy to take that galaxy far, far away for granted, with its grand stories, inspiring settings and infinite details. It’s easy to find everything so natural, you forget a lot of love and labor went into crafting that universe in the first place. Luckily, we have Kit Bricksto to tell us to take a step back and admire the people who made it all possible. And luckily, he tells us that in the most beautiful way possible, with a gorgeous creation.

First of all, it’s gorgeous in its concept. It shows you the entire movie at a glance, reminding you of all that was so great about it with a minimum of bricks. At the same time, the imagery of the roll of film and the black bands on the screen show you it’s only a sequence of images after all, but that those images (most of them, at least, as you can see) were handled with the greatest care. I love the balance between the abstract and the realistic in this depiction. Secondly, this creation is gorgeous in its execution. Every single one of those small scenes is a wonder of composition and color, totally doing justice to the respective scenes in the movie on a tiny footprint. And that scene on the monitor – I swear I could see one of those figures move! It’s incredible how lifelike this scene is, so much so that it looks like an actual screenshot pasted in the picture. But no, it’s actually physically there. I think the effect is so convincing because of the twofold contrast between the screen itself and the scene seen within the screen. There’s the powerful contrast in color between the grey frame, the black bands and the snowy white scene that makes the screen almost glow. And there’s the contrast in depth, the paradox of a flat screen containing a base so deep, your eye gets sucked right into it. That depth was created by the cleverly angled wall on the right and the subtle use of consecutive layers to depict the icy formations. After a while, you forget you’re looking at an image on a screen on a screen, you’re just totally absorbed. The behind the scenes tour is enough to convince you a lot of love and labor went into crafting this creation. Yes, it’s the movie magic all over again.