Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mining Ship Class A

Name of Model: Mining Ship Class A
Created by: LUKY'S 1987 LEGO CREATIONS (Lukáš Šógor)
Found at:
Details: Another example of the mega-microscale genre, this spaceship would have been considered large even if it were at minifig scale. The color scheme is very well chosen. While many people have complained about the merits of the newer shade of grey versus the old one, surprisingly few have embraced the fact that the bluish grey colors actually look great next to blue and dark blue. Throw in a realistic amount of greebling and texture, and it's a plausible design for a real spaceship.
This is Saturday's model of the day

Friday, March 25, 2011

Life-Size Lantern

Name of Model: Lantern build by Lasse and Anne Mette Vestergard from Denmark.
Created by: Lasse
Found at:
Details: This lantern has quite a few clever parts uses. The outer "glass" is made from 24 1x4x6 3-pane windows. The loop at the top is actually a tire that fits a 3-wide Technic pulley wheel. The candle in the center is actually a stack of large white radar dishes. Even the flame is out of the ordinary - it's made out of several small trans-orange pieces instead of the usual flame element LEGO makes. The whole thing looks so sleek that you could be forgiven for not recognizing it as being made out of LEGO elements at all.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Miniature Replica of Connect Four Game

Name of Model: Connect Four
Created by: Stacy Sterling
Found at:
Details: Have you ever played the game Connect Four? You can't really play this one, but it definitely has the look of the classic game down. The technique here is very simple but tends to be overlooked frequently: you can connect the studs on top of other LEGO pieces to the holes in the sides of Technic bricks and beams. Here, we see that done with round 1x1 plates. The big feat is balancing a round plate just so, like was done for the piece on the top that looks like it's about to go in to the game board.

One of the frustrating things about this hobby is that no matter how many great uses of simple techniques like this we see, we always hear from loud, obnoxious people who don't know what they're talking about that these things aren't possible. You know the sort - the ignorant parents in the toy store who can stare right at the LEGO logo on a box and still insist that Technic elements aren't "real LEGO". They're usually the same people who try to refer to bricks as "legos" and insist that kids can't ever come up with original ideas if they start with kits. If only we could show those people more models like this - simple enough to be easy to build, but still able to show off a great technique in an interesting way - we might be able to get the idea out there that you really can build clever things using the parts that can be found in stores.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bonus: A Sneak Peek At Star Wars Miniland's Progress

Name of Photo set: LEGOLAND Star Wars
Photos by by: dave_banks_geekdad
Found at:
Details: Are you excited about the new Star Wars miniland? Here's a peek at how assembly of that display is going - 37 photos courtesy of dave_banks_geekdad. You can see some of the backdrops, buildings, vehicles, and figures already coming into place.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Half-Size Grand Emporium and Green Grocer

Name of Model: Little Grand Emporium
Created by: Puddleglum
Found at:
Details: I've previously covered half-size versions of the Fire Brigade and Cafe Corner, but now two new installments have been added to the series: the Green Grocer and the Grand Emporium. Both do a stunning job of capturing the look and feel of the original.

The interesting thing about going for half-size instead of just a generic "microscale", is that there's actually a scale factor involved to dictate what some parts should be. In both of these, you can see how 2x2 tiles on the sidewalk become 1x1 tiles to create the same mosaic-style patterns. A pair of skeleton legs on the grocer becomes one 1x1 tile with a clip on top. Doors and windows can be tricky, since LEGO hasn't made windows in some of these sizes. You're still required to fill some details in in an impressionistic manner, but not everyone can pull that off and still have things end up looking fairly accurate.
Yes, we're sneaking in a double-header again - these are Tuesday and Wednesday's models of the day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

National Building Museum Discount

Just a head's up: there's currently a week-long livingsocial deal for the National Building Museum that includes a discount for admission to the LEGO display (which we reviewed last year). It's something worth keeping in mind if you're in DC or planning a trip there soon (perhaps for BrickFair 2011).

NXT-Based Battle Tank

Name of Model: MINDSTORMS NXT battle tank (fully-functional)
Created by: Drummerke1995 (Martijn Hellemans "Dino_Martino")
Found at:
Details: Over the past few months, the builders of this battle tank has been posting information about it in drips and drabs on the NXTStep blog. Things seem to have hit a point where this is worth featuring - in this (nearly 10 minute) video clip, we can see it maneuvered around through a remote control, firing at targets (using a guide laser), and using the NXT motors to power a full drive system (with working suspension). We'll update this post as more details come out, but for now the video above will have to suffice.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Alphabet Ships

Name of Model: LEGO Alphabet Spaceships
Created by: andertoons
Found at:

If you know your Star Wars ships, you've heard all about the "A-Wing", "X-Wing", "Y-Wing", and "B-Wing", but you've probably noticed that they haven't done the whole alphabet. A few LEGO aficionados have, though. The latest to finish such a project is andertoons, who recently finished building completely original crafts for every letter of the alphabet.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Comb the Desert

Name of Model: Stay in School
Created by: okayaraman (Okay Yaramanoglu)
Found at:
Details: You may remember something similar to this scene from the movie Spaceballs. See, we need these troopers to comb the desert in of these droids...

A little texture goes a long way here. Grill tiles make the sand behind the troopers actually look combed, and the use of flag poles to make the tines of the comb itself is very realistic. Those are held in upside-down thanks to a row of Technic half-pins, which fit directly into the brick above.

Friday, March 18, 2011

All About "Three Story Victorian with Tree"

Name of Model: Three Story Victorian with Tree
Created by: Mike Doyle
Found at:
Details: There are actually a few other links relevant to this stunning model. Since Mike Doyle is something of a rising star in the LEGO community, he's attracting plenty of attention and having much written about his work already. It's great to see a relatively new builder creating such amazing models and getting recognized for it, but it makes it difficult for those of us who focus on writing something original about models we feature. Fortunately, I can also aggregate links fairly well - here's a round-up of sorts:
...and for those of you keeping score at home, this is post #1100.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Collapsible Settlers of Catan Game

Name of Model: LEGO Settlers of Catan
Created by: Natron77 (Nation Morath) - and Lauren
Found at:
Details: People have built Settlers of Catan games out of LEGO before, but I believe this is the first one to feature a collapsible frame for easy transportation and storage. The collapsing feature looks to be a matter of placing regular plates instead of hinge plates in a few places in each hexagon. The game is fully playable, and features microscale building on every game tile. It looks like it would be fun to try to play!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where LEGO Meets Dr. Seuss

Name of Model: A.B.S. Snorter and his Lego brick sorter
Created by: Legohaulic (Tyler)
Found at:

A.B.S. Snorter and his Lego brick sorter,
Will suck up your bricks and do other neat tricks.
He'll place them in bins with nothing but grins,
And sort them by color for only a dollar.
But be careful my friend with the money you spend,
For if it is A.B.S. Snorter you decide to employ,
He may run away with your most precious toy.

The verse above was written by the builder (who also took the lone photograph of this model). Clearly, someone has been inspired by Dr. Seuss. His unique style of illustrating comes across clearly here, as does the whimsical feel of his children's books. The most obvious special technique here is probably the hands - they're made out of minifig arms, but with the minifig hands attaching them to plates with bars and the shoulder joints facing outward. In the back, we see what appears to be falling bricks but turns out to be completely attached. Things are built out in every direction to get the look just right. I particularly love how the arms coming out of the sides are mounted on white steering wheels, which provide a nifty porthole effect.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Reproduction of a Display Ship

Name of Model: SS Dogbone
Created by: strandee (Eric Strand)
Found at:
Details: Over the years, a number of display models have been used to promote general LEGO building. In the 1960's, this frequently meant large boats using large quantities of the fairly basic elements available at the time. These early models were glued and frequently made of cellulose acetate plastic. LEGO stop used that plastic in the 60's, after it became clear that it can warp in some conditions. That warping problem makes original models rare (few were kept in good condition, and nobody at the time expected that they wouldn't last terribly well), but many Adult-Fans-Of-LEGO reproduce the old design using parts as close to the originals as possible. Here, you can spot windows with a large ledge (that prevent them from sitting flat on a baseplate) on every deck of the ship. This particular boat was copied from a model found in the Toy and Plastic Brick Museum in Bellaire, Ohio, USA.

Monday, March 14, 2011

NXT Blimp

Name of Model: BIC5 - NXT Blimp
Created by: Kenneth & Lasse at
Found at:
Details: If you've seen the LEGO Education Renewable Energy Add-On Set, you've probably wondered if the windmill blades could be used to propel something instead. As it turns out, they can! They work wonderfully for steering blimps. The video here includes some footage from LEGOWORLD Copenhagen, where a video camera was attached to the blimp. For some meta fun, see if you can spot the photography rover driving around on the ground. I'm really hoping that somewhere, there's footage from that NXT robot of this NXT robot in action. I'm also trying to determine if I can make my own before the next LEGO convention I go to.

LUGNUTs' "For the Ladies" Roundup

Name of Model: New Ford Territory 2011
Created by: lego911 (Peter Blackert)
Roundup found at:
Details: The LUGNUTs have been at it again - this past month, they had a theme loosely based around the Valentine's day holiday. "For the Ladies" brought out the usual interesting and impressive mix of vehicles. My personal favorite is this 2011 Ford Territory, which I actually had to check to see that it was made out of LEGO bricks. The curves of this one are almost too believable, and it looks like the doors even really open. The actual offset techniques here are things we've seen before, but the application is spot-on and really sells this design.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

(Unofficial) Pirates of the Caribbean in Miniland Form

Name of Model: Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides
Created by: GeekyTom(Tommy Williamson)
Found at:
Details: It feels a little strange to throw that "(Unofficial)" up there in this post's title. After all, it's already been announced that LEGO is doing an official line of Pirates of the Caribbean series, and LEGOLAND parks have featured characters (both officially licensed and otherwise) in miniland for years. It's surely only a matter of time before these Disney pirates wiggle their way in to the official LEGO miniland displays. The master model builders who create those for the company will have a hard time competing with the rendition of Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa pictured here. I suspect that they won't be allowed to use a Technic rubber band to properly define the edges of a hat. The angle work on the torsos is stunning and a bit unexpected - usually you see a few slopes used when that is tried, but here we see tiles and plates attached at odd angles. On Jack Sparrow, the space created by the angle leaves room for minifig hands to clip onto a plate-with-railing in front of them. We see similar clips used in a few other places - the Jack's hair and hands use variations on the same technique. The legs on both figures look great, but use the same sort of non-production parts that are occasionally special-made for the LEGOLAND Model shops (existing parts, but in colors you can't find in a set). On second thought, are we sure that this guy DOESN'T work for the company?

Remote Controlled Plowing Truck

Name of Model: An IR controlled plowtruck with autovalves
Created by: Ultimario
Found at:
Details: Here's a new twist on the Technic snow plow idea: a heavy-duty truck with a large plow on the front of it. The system uses pneumatics (with auto-valves) and Power Functions to allow it to be remotely controlled. All four wheels are powered (plus steering in the front), and the plow is fully controllable. The suspension system is surprising - it's sort of a beefed-up version of the live axle concept that moves a chunk of the chassis down to simplify delivering power.
This is Friday's model of the day

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Carnival In Venice

Name of Model: Il Carnevale di Venezia
Created by: 000
Found at:
Details: This stunning scene was built for a recent contest with a romantic theme - the concept being that the older couple is dancing away from the hustle and bustle out front. The scene itself steals the show from them, thanks to a brilliant mix of great colors and techniques. Every arch features a unique decoration, and seemingly every surface has some plant life on it - we even see sand green next to the water, where a grime from higher tides would be. The boat is a fantastic surprise - those large sloped elements are originally from Star Wars kits, but here they make a very realistic hull. The arbor in the back left corner makes impressive use of dark tan elements, and the roofs are made almost entirely of 1x1 round bricks. The base of this model is a very subtle use of studs-not-on-top technique - although that checkered pattern appears to be 2x2 tiles at first glance, it's actually sideways bricks and plates to come to the exact same final dimensions.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mystery Box

Name of Model: Mystery Box
Created by: Todd Wilder
Found at:
Details: Reader Todd Wilder recently sent word about his latest creation (finished in January 2011): a "Mystery Box" table with a variety of secret compartments. Since just having mysterious compartments wouldn't be mysterious enough, the compartments are set up to only open in a certain order. A fun tessellated question mark pattern covers the sides, while the top is a very classy black. Rather than spoil the surprises, I'll point you to the site listed above to read more about this model.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Name of Model: S-Bad 2b
Created by: (Robert)
Found at:
Details: Here's something you don't see every day - a model from 1987, re-created. Back then, kits from the original Blacktron theme were widely available and still new. This model is based on the theme but an entirely original creation. Back in 1987, the builder created building instructions for it. When this instructions were rediscovered recently, he decided to give this spaceship another go - which led to this set of photos.

NXT Soccer Controlled By Helmets

Name of Model: Crazy LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Soccer with Helmets - LEGO World 2011 (Copenhagen)
Created by: NeXTSTORM
Found at:
Details: Here's an interesting idea for making LEGO robots at events more interactive - giving people an NXT-enhanced helmet that can control a robot playing a soccer-style game. Third-party sensors (gyro and acceleration) are used to track head movements. Commands are derived from there and then sent (over bluetooth) to the robots on the field.

The most impressive part? This was all done in the graphical programming language that ships with the NXT - none of this was done with traditional text-based programming languages.

Monday, March 7, 2011

LEGOPalooza Roundup

Name of Event: LEGOPalooza 2011
Created by: NCLUG
Found at:
I'm still pretty exhausted after a long, strenuous weekend at LEGOPalooza. I stepped up to coordinate the town & train layout, and pretty much everything that could go wrong did - the final result came out well, but I was surprised we managed to pull it off at all. Since I already wrote up a proper round-up on the NCLUG (North Carolina LEGO Users Group) website and would rather not have to keep track of this in two places, I'm going to direct you there for photos and coverage of the event.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

New Set Announced: 10219 Maersk Train

Name of Model: 10219 Maersk Train
Created by the LEGO company
Found at:
Details: So a few weeks ago, we were hamming it up by featuring a model of a Maersk train while other LEGO blogs were leaking images of what appeared to be some sort of official set with a similar theme. That set became official back on February 19th and looks really neat - here are the details from LEGO (they also have more photos at the link above):

10219 Maersk Train

Ages 14+. 1,234 pieces.

US $119.99 CA $159.99 DE 119.99 € UK 91.99 £

The highly-realistic Maersk diesel-electric freight train has arrived! A replica of the real engine that operated on the railroads of America, this Maersk train features exceptional detailing and functions, such as opening driver’s cab, removable side panel revealing a detailed, 16-cylinder engine, and authentic Maersk branding. The model also includes 2 wagons and 3 containers with opening doors (1 with refrigeration detailing). The set also includes a shunter truck and detachable trailer for loading and offloading the containers. Add LEGO® Power Functions accessories to motorize!

• Includes 3 workman minifigures!

• Train measures 36″ (92cm) long!

• Building instructions include a historical description of the LEGO Group/A.P. Moller Maersk Group cooperation and a timeline of the products launched!

• Containers can be loaded side-by-side or stacked!

• Motorize your Maersk train by adding LEGO Power Functions 8878 Power Functions Rechargeable Battery Box, #8887 Transformer 10V DC, #8884 Power Functions IR Receiver, 8879 Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control and 88002 Power Functions Train Motor!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Magic Mirror

Name of Model: Mirror mirror on the wall....
Created by: monsterbrick (Matt Armstrong)
Found at:
Details: It's a real shame that LEGO has been phasing out chrome-colored elements recently. Sure, the process of manufacturing those parts is expensive, but the effect is fantastic. Just a few short years ago, you could get the UCS Naboo Starfighter, which came with tons of chrome silver elements - including the wings you see used so well here. The metallic silver color we see instead isn't all bad, but it just doesn't have that reflective sheen that you need when trying to build mirrors. This magic mirror (think Snow White) looks stunning.

Although we're all distracted by the chrome (ooh! shiny!), the eyes in this model show the best use yet for that obnoxious element "Brick, Modified 1 x 4 with Sloped Ends and Two Top Studs".

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Beautiful Campus

Name of Model: A building complex started in 1991
Created by: aror
Found at:
Details: Every once in a while, you come across a gorgeous large layout that feels like minifigs could actually live in it. It's less like looking at a model, and more like seeing a little world. This minifig-scale model clearly meets that criteria - the four large buildings are flanked by smaller buildings, vehicles, and landscaping, in a way that resembles a well-maintained professional or academic campus early in the morning (before the crowds have come about). This project was started in 1991, and the colors reflect that - note how red and white are the main colors, and green is used sparingly. Back then, large plates and plants were the only widely available (non-DUPLO) parts in green. In spite of the limited palette, there's still a colorful ceiling pattern and plenty of other subtle details. The tall windows make this interpretation of minifig scale very close to that of the Cafe Corner set. The details around the windows aren't filled with tricky techniques, but they still take on a grand effect when repeated over these large walls. Don't miss the use of grey goblets on the chimneys, or the fantastic use of Imperial flags outside of a Pirates-based setting.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mickey Mouse

Name of Model: Mickey Mouse
Created by: polywen
Found at:
Details: Disney's Mickey Mouse in fully articulated form might not seem like an easy thing to build - but this design came quickly after the builder realized that a round ball could easily be turned into Mickey's head. There are some great techniques here - the legs connect to the torso by use of Bionicle ball-and-socket joints (good thing that the Technic ball joint element is actually made in red!), the mouth is made from a flower, and the thumbs are made from signal paddles. It helps that Mickey is one of the few characters with wiry enough limbs that the tentacle-like click hinge elements actually suit him well. Perhaps the best detail, though, is the rather mundane use of two tan 2x2 round plates near the top of his head - they perfectly capture the iconic "windows' peak" look of Mickey's face.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Spaceship - with Instructions, Variations, and Inspiration

Name of Model: ZR-42 Double-Dee Titan inspired by Peter Morris
Created by: mryoder
Found at:
Details: I always struggle to come up with good uses for the more specialized faceted wedge elements that LEGO has been making over the past 12 years or so (why, yes, I'm getting old, why do you ask?) - so it's a good thing people finding ways to make great spaceships with them facing in every direction are posting building instructions. Finally - awesome studs-not-on-top wedge-based designs for the rest of us. Now, if you don't remember the 90's and don't have any of that awesome windscreen element, don't worry - you can just change the design a little bit. The builder already has - don't miss the flickr set of variations on this design. There's a Power Miners version that is particularly great - the stickers from the kits give it a worn look. Some of the variations are actually based on Peter Morris' earlier design (Archangel) which you can also get instructions for.