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…

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The Most Wendorful Creation of the Year

Project: Endor, by dmaclego, on Eurobricks

Do you have the next couple of hours free? If you don’t, stop reading and come back here when you do. I’ll wait.

Ah great, you’re back. The reason why you’ll need a lot of time is that this Endor landing platform by dmaclego is so monumental that you can’t even do it justice by spending hours looking at the pictures. Sure, you’ll be able to appreciate the size, admire the great landscape with its big features and also ever so gentle slopes, applaud the vegetation with its nice flow of leaves and great color variation even though you’d think the trees’d be all green, be amazed by the shaping from the top of the columns to the nice rounding of the edge of the platform, wonder at the details both on the top of as on the bottom of the platform, be astounded by the gorgeous lighting effects and love the builds like the AT-AT and -ST. And you wouldn’t even be halfway there. When a project is twelve years in the making, it takes a bit longer than that to fully appreciate it.

That’s because the end result is only that. It doesn’t show the way to get there, the many challenges overcome or the many failures along the way that truly put into perspective how wonderful the end result truly is. It doesn’t show that that Imperial shuttle isn’t an improvement on the Lego set, but actually is the model that inspired that Lego set. It doesn’t even show (yet) that that shuttle is actually able to take of, unfold its wings and tuck away its landing gear, all automatically. It doesn’t show that a Lego plotter had to be built to get the markings on the platform right or how many iterations were needed for the cradle on top of the columns. It doesn’t show how much work went into getting the Vader figure just right. And it certainly doesn’t show what a challenge it is to transport this creation. In short, it doesn’t show all of those unexpected difficulties the builder faced or the unseen things he added in. It doesn’t show that this kind of result is only possible with a builder like dmaclego whose talent is about more than being able to put bricks together in an interesting way. It’s about perseverance in the face of countless challenges, always cropping up when you think you’re done. It’s also about extreme attention to detail and always pushing for more, for the very best model even if that means you’ll have to specialize in Technic functions or structural mechanics along the way. It is the talent of absolute dedication to build the best model possible, and all of that to bring a smile to the faces of children visiting expositions or AFOLs watching their monitors.

Looking at it, you can’t even fathom how awesome this end result is. Knowing the long journey with its ups and downs at least gets you a little bit further, far enough to really feel honored to be able to witness the end result. And knowing the story doesn’t just increase your appreciation for the things dmaclego builds, but for the dmaclego that builds these things, and it inspires tremendously, more so than all of those awesome creations you scroll through every day. That’s why, after visiting dmaclego’s topic, you should definitely check out the album he links to which contains twelve years worth of pictures. I assure you they will last you more than that.

Frozen in Constractionite

Boba Fett and Slave I, by Xccj, on Flickr

It doesn’t a lot of browsing on the internet to turn an initial dislike of Bionicle and constraction into a profound admiration for the creations some builders can create with it nowadays. But even then, the conception that seems to be set in stone is that those parts are only any good for character building since that’s what they were designed for in the first place. But not for Xccj, whose Slave I model not only shows it’s possible to create vehicles with constraction parts, but that their use can have some serious advantages when done right. Sure, his creation doesn’t look like what you’re used to in certain areas due a lack in variety in parts, but then there’s the stunning texture of the reddish shell in the back. All System representations of this area struggle so much to get the shape right, that there’s no way they still can depict the thoroughly weathered texture, with all the spots with missing paint. With Xccj’s constraction approach though, the shaping and the texturing go hand in hand. Thanks to his dense building, the gaps between the pieces are small enough to give a smooth shape that at the same time shows several signs of having been through many hazardous adventures. The same goes for the side of the ship. The builder showcases how different a creation can look when you dare to go all out on the constraction instead of just sprinkling some of those parts around for decoration: it becomes a consistent texture like you’ve never seen it before. So warm up to the notion that constractions can only be good for characters, even though the builder demonstrates you can do awesome characters as well! To see more, definitely check out Xccj’s photostream.

Right on the Nose

Jabba Barge Khetanna, by BaronSat, on Flickr

It is said of many Star Wars vehicles, but of this one it might actually be true: Jabba’s Sail Barge is one of the hardest to MOC. After all these years, there still is no definitive Khetanna in bricks. Sure, some creations got really close, but still, there’s always something missing. Let’s see how BaronSat‘s version does.

The hardest part to nail is the shape of the nose, right? Why then does BaronSat’s Sail Barge look so great despite having a nose that’s obviously geometrically different? I think it is because the nose flows so well with the rest of the body, perfectly matching the surfaces that come after it: it actually seems the more logical form for the nose. The flow is not just geometric: also the texture is nicely consistent. BaronSat made sure to include exposed studs and height level differences between tiles in other places of the hull. That doesn’t just give the perfect texture, but it also makes sure that the necessary exposed studs and level differences on the nose, which he additionally tried to make less repetitive, feel more like a continuation of the ship than a jarring change of pace. Speaking of texture and structure, I love how the builder uses different shades of brown in a structured manner rather than randomly, especially in the nose. The subtlety of the variation gives you a weathering effect, but the structure in it also suggests the presence of panels to keep the theme of the side of the ship with its many windows going. BaronSat shows that the most important challenge might not be to get the shape completely right, but to keep the feeling of the ship consistent across all of the shaping. And he succeeds beautifully. Or maybe the real challenge is something else entirely, like maybe also having to depict the interior that is a big part of the character of this vehicle that is just as much a location. Well, even then BaronSat succeeds brilliantly, as you can discover in his photostream.

Official Pictures of The Last Jedi Sets Revealed!

Full assortment of Star Wars: The Last Jedi LEGO sets revealed, on the Brothers Brick

Today is an exciting day, because today you’ll finally be able to get a good look at the sets LEGO will release in September leading up to the release of episode VIII. Or maybe it’s more of a frustrating day for you, just like me, because these are even more potential spoilers you have to avoid coming your way. But it’s still exciting either way. What I can tell anyone is that there will be seven sets being released, if I’ve counted correctly while not trying to look at the sets themselves and that there are plenty of new ships waiting to be collected and MOCced! And there’s a pretty special one as well: the UCS BB-8 pictured above. It’s been five years since the last UCS character build, being R2-D2 in 2012. This BB-8 looks far cuter than that one, and on top of that it can also act adorably: there are a lot of moving parts that can be controlled in a highly original fashion by turning the disks on the body. Nobody could have wished for a better LEGO UCS BB-8, so if this is any indication on the other sets, it will be great wave! It surely is an exciting day! But to be entirely sure, you’ll have to watch all of the pictures with you’re own eyes on The Brothers Brick and discuss the sets in our 2018 sets discussion topic.

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!