Monday, January 31, 2011

Catwoman Mosaic

Name of Model: Catwoman
Created by: Henry Lim
Found at:
Details: You may remember Henry Lim (we've featured him before), one of the first few LEGO hobbyists to build sculptures on the scale of what the LEGO company uses for promotional events and LEGOLAND attractions. This time, we take a look at his mosaic of Catwoman (as portrayed in the movie Batman Returns). This mosaic was made in greyscale, using the shades of grey available in bulk from LEGO during the heyday of official mosaic kits in the late 1990's / early 2000's. In a departure from the instructions (actually a computer-generated image - this mosaic line was based on being able to upload a photo and purchase a "custom" kit with everything you needed to build a low-resolution, studs out, greyscale mosaic of that image) offered in the official kit, this was built in a studs-up manner. I'm sure any experienced builder can imagine what can go wrong here - we're talking about an image made almost exclusively out of stacks of 1x1 plates. Needless to say, some structural adjustments had to be made. The final version of the mosaic is actually two studs thick, and the front layer is tied into the back layer with larger parts wherever possible. Since larger elements in one of the colors (very light grey) are rare (Bricklink only knows of 24 parts in the color, and additional parts are likely only available to LEGO's own professionals), it can be particularly difficult to tie this together sturdily.

In spite of all that effort, this mosaic fell down and fell apart - once. Now it's been re-built with glue to ensure that it stays together.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Custom Maersk Train

Name of Model: This is my second Locomotive - Yes I canibalized one Maersk Sealand - and Yes I cut the sticker sheet in pieces to get those Maersk stars - its an 8 wide and 59 long - and she goes thru the Lego curves - Yes she does
Created by: misterzumbi (Adam Grabowski)
Found at:
Details: Last weekend, scurrilous rumors flittered about the LEGO-interested parts of the internet after someone found some leaked photos. Rest assured - if you see a post about a new set here, we've already verified that there really will be a new set out and will only post official announcements before the kit is actually released. Now, for something completely different (that just coincidentally sounds very similar):

This Maersk train locomotive was created by misterzumbi before he became a designer for the LEGO company. This actually could never be a set - the sheer size of it would rule it out. There's some argument in the LEGO train community over what the proper size of trains should be (mostly because "minifig scale" is a wildly inconsistent "scale"), but the official kits are almost always 6 studs wide. This one weighs in at 8 studs wide and 59 studs long. This is packed with great details, but the brick-built lettering on the sides.

Brick-Built Classic Mascot

Name of Model: Some time ago I get the original LEGO clothes from the old LEGO mascot doll from the 1950s. Unfortunately I have not the original doll, so I decided to build one myself. I use a lot SNOT-build to build the head and the hat. Lasse Vestergard, Denmark.
Created by: Lasse
Found at:
Details: On the left, there's today's model of the day. On the right, a picture of the character he is based on. The builder decided to try building a version of the character after getting hold of just the clothes from the doll version of this mascot character (widely used by LEGO in Europe in the 1950's, the mascot seems to be the earliest version of the "Jack", "Zack", and "Max" characters we've seen more recently in LEGO advertisements). This version ends up looking more like the cheery printed version of the character than like the doll. It holds together surprisingly well considering how many sections had to be built sideways or upside down in order to get curvature to come out.

Friday, January 28, 2011

WeDo-Enhanced Table Soccer

Name of Model: Table Soccer
Created by: Sariel
Found at:
Details: Now that the soccer/football table idea has been done successfully a few times, it was time to spruce up the concept. Here, we have one that includes ball handling and a computerized scorekeeper. The Power Functions WeDo system was used to give the laptop access to two motors and a pair of motion sensors. Fuller documentation's at the links above.

By the way - are posts with videos (like this one) still loading alright for everyone? YouTube seems to have changed how they handle embedding, and we want to make sure we're not losing anyone by using the newer embed code.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brickvention 2011 Round-Up

Name of Event: Brickvention 2011
Found at:
Details: Australia's big LEGO convention was the weekend of January 15th and 16th this year. Lots of people went, lots of LEGO models were displayed, lots of people took photos, and now we will round lots of them up:
Brickset recap
Brothers Brick recap
Intrastella's flickr photos
Time Prowler's flickr photos
Brickvention flickr pool
Brickvention 2011 flickr pool
"Interest building quickly as the lego" article in the "Herald Sun"
Modelbuildingsecrets's Weblog recap (focusing on the Love Boat)
Brothers Brick covers the "LEGO Ararat in 1972" layout
"The older kids on the block" article in ""
Shannon Ocean's MOCPages report: part 1 part 2

There's already some overlap there, but since so many of these links in turn link to more photos, we've probably gotten everything covered.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PennLUG's Intermodal Container Port

Name of Model: Intermodal Container Port
Created by: Shuppiluliumas and other members of PennLUG
Found at:
Details: If you've really waded through all of the thousands of photos from this past year's Brickfair, you've seen this beauty before. Had any part of this model been registered on its own instead of as part of the PennLUG town/train layout, it would have won one of the convention's awards. There's too much here to do an in-depth look at the details fairly, and it's connected to the rest of the layout in a way that makes it difficult to tell where various people's contributions start and end. A few striking things should not be missed: the large amounts of shipping containers, the enormous dark blue boat, the trans-green water (built with tiles in something of a mosaic style), the docks, the cranes. This was so much of a show-stopper that you could be forgiven for not knowing that the PennLUG is generally more well known for trains!

Behind the Set: 8694 Krika

Name of Model: Krika
Created by: David Bird as a designer for the LEGO company
Found at:
Details: Although LEGO has made some efforts recently to show us a little more of the design process through their website, promotional bits, and kit designer presence at LEGO fan events (BrickJournal has opened things up a bit as well), we still don't get too many windows into the design process. Naturally, when we do get a look at the process, it tends to be on lines that encourage us to try creating our own designs in turn - Creator, Technic, or one of the broader playthemes. One reason for that is that the company doesn't want competitors to find out about directions that LEGO could still take at some point in the future. By emphasizing the more creative lines, LEGO can show us some of the design process without leaking unreleased elements and concepts. Today's spotlight is a behind-the-scenes look at set 8694 Krika, a "bad guy" from the Bionicle series. The process is incredibly different, with a focus on intentionally designing new parts, a much greater emphasis on how the result can be posed and played with, and a wildly different price/piece ratio. Even the build is different - simple instructions and a contrasting color scheme were a given for the character. Some things remain the same, though, like how using multiples of the same element can keep production costs down (this also has the happy side effect of making it easier for hobbyists to buy parts in quantity when they were only sold in a few kits).

Another interesting sidenote (considering Bionicle's evolution from a Technic-based line to a more independent action-figure-based line) is that this same designer was also behind some great Technic sets from 2004-2006.

I feel a need to bleg: to the LEGO designers reading this (and I know we have a few) - can you give us a look behind more of what goes on? Obviously, there are reasons why LEGO wants to hold some ideas back, but there's something inspiring about seeing different parts and techniques applied before a set gets scaled back (or otherwise modified) through the process of checking on costs/focus groups/how easy it is to build/marketing concerns/etc.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Exploding Spray Can in Slow Motion

Name of Model: Inside the Spraycan 2.2 [Under pressure re:fix]
Created by: Cole Bl♠q
Found at:
Details: Since it's a given that we write about LEGO models here, the effect of this piece is somewhat ruined. Put that aside if you can, and show it to a family member who doesn't know what it is - preferably from a distance, or with the little thumbnail we used here. The effect is that of high speed photography - it looks like this was an explosion captured in a photograph. A close inspection reveals surprisingly little, since the construction is as simple as the model is fragile. At some level, the implied patience is part of why this is such a striking model.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New In the Cafe Corner World

Names of Models: Luxury shop and appartment and
[WIP] Museum of wax
Created by: shutinc
Found at: and
Since we're still behind from my hand injury earlier this month (I'm fine now, by the way), I am going to copy what I just posted over at Brick Town Talk and count it as two of the missing days (I, for one, cannot wait to get back to my regular calendar). Brick Town Talk is the definitive place for news and inspiration related to the Cafe Corner-type kits and other models inspired by them. There's recently been a slight change of management, but the site is still growing the same way it has been these past few years. One improvement casual builders will enjoy is the new URL - BTT is now at ! Other new features include the "inspiration of the day" (a photo of a building that could translate well into LEGO form) and the building tips page (which describes the Cafe Corner modular building standard).

Two great creations from shutinc's flickr photostream - click the titles for full photosets:
Luxury shop and appartment:

[WIP] Museum of wax

That last one is supposedly still a work in progress, but it already looks fantastic. There's already an excellent interior:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Floppy-Disk Archiving Machine

Name of Model: 3.5" Floppy-disk Archiving Machine
Created by: Eli Carter
Found at:
Details: It's a common problem - outdated media that's become difficult to use taking up space. Transferring the content from a pile of floppy discs to a larger modern hard drive can be time-consuming, but if you have enough of them it may take less time to create a robot to make it for you. This machine makes use of an NXT kit, an android phone, a Linux-based laptop, and some Python code. The external floppy drive probably simplified the automation process (compared to using a drive built in to the laptop), but the basic idea looks easy enough to apply. Now if only we could send in our floppies to be archived...

"On the Loose" Displays in Sydney, Australia

Name of Model: On the Loose
Created by LEGO master builders
Found at:
Details: The details seem a bit hazy (I'm still not sure when this event ends - I've seen conflicting dates but nothing official), but it appears that there is are two large, long-term LEGO displays going on in Sydney, Australia - one at the Sydney Aquarium and another at Sydney Wildlife World. I'm not sure how this snuck in under our radar, but apparently these models have been "on the loose" since December 22nd, 2010. Long story short: there's a need to round-up photos of great sculptures:
Stobbsc (Christopher Sobbs)'s flickr photos
Wanderer and Wonderer's flickr photos article
Eeks! A mouse . . . blog post (includes some photos)

Photo above by Stobbsc (Christopher Sobbs).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Part of Harry Potter's Diagon Alley in Cafe Corner Scale

Name of Model: Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes
Created by: Joel.Baker
Found at:
Details: This model (not related to the great recent set) is based on Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books (more specifically, it's Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes). Just to kick things up a notch from the open-back nature of the Harry Potter kits, this rendition actually conforms to the Cafe Corner standard. The bold, rare colors are the first thing to catch your eye, but they're not even the most outrageous over-the-top feature - that would have to be the tipping of that hat.

The cleverly brick-built windows and the sidewalk mosaic make this stand out even more. Those great round dark orange protruded windows are also accurate to the version in the movies.

Oh, and about those rare colors - guess who figured out how much further you can go with them when you use DUPLO? This underused technique was able to keep the part count here unusually low - exactly 1,000 pieces were used.

Micropolis Bank

Name of Model: Small Bank
Created by: Rakanishu1024
Found at:
Details: At first glance, this building looks pretty simple and straightforward. This small tower packs in some great techniques, though - each of the four corners of the building has studs facing in four directions (besides the standard stud facing up). The sides facing outward are covered with tiles - which looks great, but can be easy to confuse for a row of stacked 1x1 bricks if you're not looking closely. The other sides, however, connect to the lattice fence elements that form the distinctive windows on the higher floors. It looks like some clear plates may be connected to those fences to properly sell the window look. Interestingly, the geometry of this fence/window arrangement works out to each side of the building being seven studs wide (note the round 1x1 plates at the top) - this allows for the inner columns on the first floor to be spaced perfectly evenly without using any offset techniques.

It's a great place for citizens of micropolis to be eaten by giant flowers! do their banking.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Miniland Batman

Name of Model: Miniland Batman
Created by: Octopunk (Jeff Cross)
Found at:
Details: One of the challenges of building a specific character in miniland scale is figuring out what to accentuate to make a character come across clearly. The scale is large enough that you can build in some details, but the is still something of a caricature. In this case, Batman's clearest feature is his cape, blowing in the wind - a bold but completely believable choice. The use of a bat-a-rang element on the chest is spot-on, an the yellow utility belt seals the deal. Batman's ears are made using two of the plate with tooth element attached to a pair of headlight bricks. The legs may be a bit thin (arguably accurate for Batman), but the studs-not-on-top technique there looks great - and it positively blends into the background since the other details have already made this so clearly Batman.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Clown Fish

Name of Model: Clown Anemone Fish. Custom Lego Set with signature and serial number. 29 copies of limited edition done by hand. On sale at Studio Amida on Dec. 2010.
Created by: edulyoung
Found at:
Details: No detail was spared here in using studs-not-on-top mosaic techniques to make this red and white clown fish look perfect. In many places, you can see headlight bricks used to turn small sections sideways - this makes it possible to have distances be as small as 1/6th of a stud. The effect is particularly noticeable on the fish's nose and tail. The fins are even hinged to move! What more could you want in a fish?

29 copies of this set have been made available in the builder's BrickLink store. As of this writing, 17 remain.

Spaceship Carrier Gothica

Name of Model: Gothica
Created by: Mark Stafford
Found at: and
Details: This SHIP (Seriously Huge Investment in Parts) is not just a ship. This large carrier spaceship houses and transport seventeen smaller spaceships. Recently, the builder decided to revisit the model to show us the fully modular construction that makes this large model fully transportable to various LEGO events. The two links above are only for the original post of the large carrier and the recent show of the construction techniques - there's actually an entirely separate folder for the smaller ships.

Monday, January 17, 2011

NXT Soccer Game

Name of Model: Serious NXT Soccer
Created by: Daniele Benedettelli and Mario Ferrari
Found at:
Details: There are some things that we all know are possible, but that few of us have actually gone all-in on. For example, you probably could build a passable Mindstorms NXT soccer-playing robot - or a score-keeping robot, or a simple mechanism that returns a ball that's fallen off a court. Here, it's pushed over the top - a custom-built soccer competition table is automated with a ball-return and score counter, and manned by three additional NXT-based robots - an overhead skycam and two competing soccer players.

It also helps that the soccer players are actually pretty good. Third-party sensors are used to allow them to navigate to their side of the field (through RFID) and to seek out a blinking ball (through IR).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

LDD Versions (and Building Instructions!) for Some of Marcos Bessa's Models

Name of Models: Various, see links below
Created by: Marcos Bessa
Found at a few different places, see links below
Details: Recently, LEGO set designer and frequently featured builder Marcos Bessa has made available for free download the LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) files (useful as building instructions) for five of his models. Two of these models have previously been featured here as a model of the day, and all of them were built before he was brought into the LEGO company. Several of these models can be found in the portfolio used when he applied to join the company. Here are the links to the page for information for each model (each page includes information on the model, a link to photos on flickr, and a link to download the LDD file - along with a brief note regarding reuse of these designs):

No word on if/when we'll see a virtual version of the Ancient Lady's Museum.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Large Light Yellow Katrina Cottage

Name of Model: Katrina Cottage-inspired Wisconsin Home
Created by: SoftaRae .
Found at:
Details: I'm actually breaking my "no WIPs (works in progress)" rule with this one, but since this model is substantially done and already incredibly impressive, I think it's justified. The only things left to do are adding furniture and patching up the roof. Inspired by a Katrina Cottage design originally by Marianne Cusato, this light yellow (!) house adds a basement, fireplace, and loft to round it out to more of a full-size family home - specifically of the sort you might find in Wisconsin. The faithful-to-the-original architectural detailing and spectacular use of that rare color would have been enough to impress me, but there are also some fantastic interior details: floors covered in tiles (with a different pattern in each room to capture different textures), a largely furnished kitchen and bathroom, staircases, and the insides of the windows.

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Escher-esque Illusions

Name of Photo set: mcescher
Created by: Brixe63
Found at:
Details: It's time, once again, to investigate some physically assembled renditions of MC Escher's work. Since I'm sure someone will ask, I'd like to get these out of the way:
1. No, these are not photoshopped.
2. No, I don't have any idea how they work either.

There are 5 illusions here, and your guess as to how they were done is as good as mine. I actually have a few hunches as to how these work (hint: camera angles can go a long way) but I'd prefer not to ruin the surprise.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Star Wars Miniland Coming to LEGOLAND California

Name of Model: STAR WARS Miniland Opening
Created by LEGOLAND California Master Builders
Found at:
The real news is in the headline. A variety of scenes, characters, and vehicles from the Star Wars universe will soon be coming to a special new space in Miniland at LEGOLAND California. Although we've seen LEGO release official sculptures, minifig-scale sets, microscale accessories and even "midi scale" ships, this is the first time they've officially done anything in miniland scale (keen observers can probably tell you about the "unofficial" use of Star Wars characters in the park so far - LEGOLAND Master Builders have a surprising sense of humor when it comes to including fictional characters in real cities in a surreal manner). The new area is scheduled to open March 31st, 2011. Since this has been covered in many places already, we're going to go into round-up mode:
Official announcement
Press Release (includes a few photos)
FBTB coverage (FBTB is a LEGO Star Wars fansite that was given a press pass to an announcement event. They have photos of that event and some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos)
LA Times article (they mention that several scenes will be animated, although the official press release only cited the Cantina band as animated)
Modelbuildingsecrets's Weblog post (blurb at the end explains that this idea was toyed with back when Mariann Asanuma still worked at the Model Shop - but that they haven't allowed cities outside of America in LEGOLAND California's miniland until now)

In related news, the LEGOLAND California Star Wars Days 2011 event has been scheduled and will be on June 18-19.

Is there anything we missed? E-mail us at

Bricks Adventure 2011

Name of Event: Bricks Adventure 2011
Found at:
Details: Starting in Hong Kong today (sorry! We're still a week behind so we were not able to announce this in advance - however, this is a multiple day event and there is still time to attend).

Please see the website mentioned above for information on the exhibitors and some photos of models that will be shown at the event (we'd highlight some of those here, but since the photos aren't tied to builders, it'd violate our policy of only highlighting a model when we can properly credit that model's creator). You can also look at the official flickr group from the event to see photos from last year's event (as well as some planning photos for this year, and I'd assume we'll see this year's photos turn up there soon too).

See also:
Jared Chan's flickr photos

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A House in the Hamptons

Name of Model: House in the Hamptons
Created by: Sean Kenney
Found at:
Details: You may remember LEGO Certified Professional Sean Kenny (we may have featured his work before this). This time, he uses "nnenn scale" to fulfill a commission to build a LEGO version of a large house in the Hamptons. It does, unfortunately, appear that some of the sideways bits used to make the doors and windows may be just glued into place (they'd probably stay still with friction, but in a commissioned piece you need to be sure they can't be knocked out of place). However, there are some great details here - you have to zoom in to get a good look, but all of the outdoor seating is fantastic. The backs are even adjustable on the patio furniture!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2-Motor Steerable Hexapod Walker

Name of Model: lego technic rc robot walker
Created by: hisgen01
Found at:
Details: We've seen plenty of walkers before, but I haven't seen a fully steerable hexapod that uses only two motors before. One large Power Functions motor handles the walking motion, and a second motor articulates the body at two points to allow it to change directions. It's a surprisingly simple solution, but it works well. The other nice thing is that we now finally have a walker design that can be made with a LEGO robotics kit without using all of the motors in the kit.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Failvent" Calendar

Name of Model: Failvent Calendar
Created by: nolnet
Found at:
Details: You may remember nolnet, a clever guy who we've featured a few times before. Recently, he decided to take a new spin on the "advent calendar" craze by featuring various failed ideas from over the years. Some of them are a bit goofy, and others are clearly failures, but most of them feature interesting ideas that'd make a good start to something larger. It's oddly inspiring even though you can usually spot where things went wrong. There are 25 photos here, covering a wide variety of material.

The photo above is from day 24: "The Win-Turned-Fail-Over-Time", for reasons that are entirely understandable if you're aware of how phones have changed over the years.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Blog Hiatus - Hand Injury

We'll make up the missing days afterwards, but for now I need to take a break from this due to a hand injury. It doesn't appear to be anything major, but the swollen spot hurts when I type (or try to do pretty much anything else). I have some ice on it now and I'm hoping to be back as soon as possible.

New Year's News 2011

Time for our regular New Year's day business.

Once again, has updated their LEGO set instructions database to make all sets released in a given year available - you can now use their database to look up instructions for kits released in 2007. Speaking of databases: Brickset has done their year-end round of improvements. Nothing major this time, but all certainly good things.

LEGO has also unveiled some new items for 2010, most of which should be available through Shop at Home. Some highlights:

Maersk Container Ship:

(#10155, $119.99 USD, 990 pieces)

The Maersk Container Ship kit has been reissued again. Conveniently, they've risen the price on this one enough to make it about even with what you'd pay to buy the original off of BrickLink or eBay. Still - it's a great kit and the only way you can get your hands on LEGO pieces in the rare color of Maersk blue without breaking the bank.

Collectible Minifigures Series 3:

(#8803, $2.99 USD, 1 randomly packed minifigure per bag)
Collectible Minifigures Series 3
are now out. You know the drill by now: Randomly packed exclusive minifigures for a low price, but with some characters being quite hard to find. The price has gone up this time around, but is still quite reasonable for minifigures with exclusive molds and prints.

Diagon Alley:

(#10217, $149.99 USD, 2025 pieces, 11 minifigs)

For my money, the most exciting thing here is the new Diagon Alley set in the Harry Potter line. It's similar to other recent kits, like the 2008 Town Plan set or the Medieval Market Village. On top of that, it's got a bunch of great new Harry Potter parts in it! Although LEGO had previously released 4723 Diagon Alley Shops, this new version definitely takes it up a bit in the best way possible.

This year's big new playtheme is Ninjago, which is a game based system that involves colorful ninjas defeating "bad guys" through the use of "spinjitzu". This is definitely set up for kids to play with, but there are some new or rereleased elements in here as well.