Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Motorized Tie Rack

Name of Model: Lego Tie Rack
Created by: Matthew Sklar
Found at:
Details: Matthew Sklar built this fully-functional tie rack motorized with Power Functions. Five carousels can hold ten ties each. Each carousel uses a large sprocket wheel surrounded by large Technic tread links, with each link holding a tie-hanging assembly (clearly visible in the bottom left photo of the collage). Normally I'd expect a problem with using LEGO pieces to hang something else, but the neckties are lightweight enough to not cause an excessive amount of strain on the parts. I'd be curious to know how long it takes for the axles to eventually show the results of wear and gravity - it could be years, but it will still happen eventually.

I should also mention the classy aesthetics of this model. Some of us tend to make LEGO creations look like they're made out of LEGO, embracing bright colors. The Batman-eqsue solid black here would be more likely to pass muster with non-LEGO people in the house. The shelf on the top is a nice touch, too, and is shown with multiple storage slots filled with tie bars, collar stays, and cuff links.

The same builder has also posted a simpler earlier iteration of a motorized tie rack. Another photo with a few panels removed reveals the classic 9V motor inside.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An Adorable Cockatoo

Name of Model: Cuddly Toys: Cockatoo
Created by: Koen
Found at:
Details: Koen has been on a roll lately building small models based on cuddly plush toys. This particular model is an adorable cockatoo, with the distinctive crest at the top of the head made out of a pearl gold feathered minifig wing.

A few other details stuck out to me - note the use of upside-down click hinges to form the feet and toes. They're mounted on jumper plates so that they can be angled easily. The studs of the body actually face the bird's back, and some simple studs-not-on-top parts allow the head to be right-side-up and the base to be upside-down. The part with the feet and tail is pleasantly 3 studs wide, with the two tubes on the bottom of a 3021 used to handle the offset for the body.

Other models in this series of cuddly-toy based creations include a panda, a turtle (check out that shell!), a rhino, a parrot (which is a similar build to this cockatoo), a dragon (which has too red a belly to be a young Ollie), a chicken, and a tiger (with an exceptional use of minifig claws as whiskers).

Friday, March 10, 2017

A City Park

Name of Model: City Park
Created by: Full Plate / Emil Lidé
Found at:
Details: This gorgeous city park has somehow gone unnoticed by LEGO fan blogs for the past month. It'd probably be worth diving into the tree techniques (both the axe tree technique and the microscale tree technique (used here for bushes) have been documented very well by the builder), but perhaps the most striking thing about the trees is the way one of them is eating a kite. Poor kid.

Rather awkwardly (for those of us who like to write about these things, anyway), all of the photos of this model are slice-of-life scenes instead of close-ups of details. You'll have to look closely to spot these, then: there's a pair of excellent benches made using Star Wars blasters for the decorative trim on the sides, a number of decorative fence posts made with well-placed brackets, and a lamppost made with a Technic ski pole cleverly mounted on a round 2x2 tile with a hole in the center. Even the minifigure posing seems spot-on - note the reactions around the kite scene, and the way the dog is casually sniffing toward the banana peel in the garbage can.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Toy Fair 2017: DC Superhero Girls Sculptures

Name of Models: unknown
Created by: Master Model Builders working for LEGO
Found at:
Details: While the first two sculptures we featured from this year's Toy Fair were out in the lobby of the convention center, there was more to see at the actual LEGO booth. Sculptures of Supergirl and Harley Quinn as they appear in the DC Superhero Girls line made an appearance (with a similar photo opportunity background) in one of the front corners of the booth. As is par for the course, there are many exciting details here - don't miss Supergirl's shoes (detailed asymmetrically), necklace, chest emblem and bracelet or Harley Quinn's mask, buttons, and hammer. One thing that caught my eye is the extensive use of plates to keep the appearance of the sculpture very high-resolution - frequently, on a sculpture this size, you'll see plates skipped in favor of trying to get the shape right using only bricks. Here, they didn't spare that effort or expense. The result pays off, making the figures look very realistic on the whole. The faces also include some additional detail.

Check out this close-up of Harley Quinn's face. Note how half-stud offsets are used extensively, the nose comes to a 1-stud-wide point, and the curvature in the lips incorporates studs-not-on-top techniques. They're small details, and they really help sell the model. Her right hand similarly makes for a study in technique (although I'd say it's less successful) - you can see the shape that the hand should take up filled with plates and bricks, but the fingers seem less distinctive. Unused space and minor changes in contour suggest the shape, and your mind fills in the rest. It's a technique that works because people who don't write blogs like this will never look at it closely enough for the illusion of a hand to dissolve.

Getting back to Supergirl, there are some clever techniques in her face as well - perhaps the first surprise is that it's not the same shape as Harley Quinn's, but a completely different build. A close-up of her lips shows jumper plates used for shaping, with some of them simply having shadows above them to suggest depth. Moving up towards her eyes, you can see that her nose is two studs wide, and that another sideways section makes up the nose-adjacent part of the eyes and eyebrows.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

When Bionicle Meets Architecture

Name of Model: "Mindphaser" Tactical AI
Created by: Djokson
Found at:
Details: Recently, there was a Bionicle-based architecture contest on Flickr that seems to have slipped under the radar. My personal favorite entry is this eerie combination of a Terminator-esque artificial intelligence system and a heavily-greebled spaceship interior. For all the great Bionicle- and Technic-based details in it, the highlight might just be the rubber bands representing loose wires going through the floor.

The contest was run by -Disty-, a master of architecturally-minded Bionicle models who I've featured here before. While it didn't seem to get much attention (a shame that I'll take some responsibility for), the contest did attract some stellar entries. Besides the one I've featured here, the "physical" category also attracted an arched bridge by Ballom Nom Nom, an ionizer by bfahome, and the Zamor Energy Turbine (the winning entry) by Galaxus. That last one even made the zamor sphere cannon element look decent! The digital category also attracted a gem: the winning entry was this vast landscape by the aptly-named Victor.

Back to the main model pictured above, though: around the head in the center, there's a really clever combination of ribbed hose around flexible hoses. Then there's the mix of axle joiners and pin joiners in the floor - it's subtle, but provides more texture than you'd see otherwise. The "System" parts used here are also extremely effective - the 8x8 grill plate blends right in with the Technic and Bionicle bits, and the upside down plates (which might be free floating) in the front corner help to make the other two walls look more like corridors.

Note to everybody: build more models like this. You'd be surprised how easy it is to come across used Bionicle parts in bulk, and most parts (from any LEGO line) take on a whole new life when you have them in a large quantity.