Atomium – landmark of a bygone era

With our own piece of futuristic architecture left over from the 1962 World’s Fair spiking the Seattle skyline, I’m always interested to learn about other examples of strange buildings that reflects the failed hopes of decades past.

Much cooler than our Space Needle, Atomium was built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. The aptly nicknamed Polegon has posted a microscale version of this Belgian landmark (via MicroBricks):

LEGO microscale Atomium

Which reminds me of the larger version posted some time back by Fragty (Klocki):

LEGO Atomium

Battalion Aid Station, Normandy, June 1944

After I built my US Army Dodge WC54 ambulance, it deserved a proper historical context — a Battalion Aid Station in a ruined farmhouse courtyard.

Battalion Aid Station (1)

In the US Army, Battalion Aid Stations are the first line of medical treatment after battlefield first aid by medics or fellow soldiers. Wars of the 20th-century saw many conscientious objectors serving as non-combatants in the American armed forces, often as medics. Army medics served heroically, charging into battle alongside their armed comrades. Eleven received the Congressional Medal of Honor as a result of their actions in World War II.

My Battalion Aid Station is based on historical photographs from the Western Front in 1944 and 1945, after the Normandy Invasion on D-Day. Naturally, I had to convert a couple of the more immersive shots into black and white:

Battalion Aid Station (2) Battalion Aid Station (3)

Though the muddy lane with the M3 half-track and hedgerow was an afterthought — one that nearly emptied my bin of plant pieces — I’m quite pleased with the result:

M3 Half-track and Bocage

Because the subject matter fascinates me so much, I built a great deal of detail into this that you can’t see in a single photo. Check out the photoset on Flickr for more.

(I’ll be discussing some of the build process for my improved ambulance separately, because I think the role of constructive criticism in improving one’s models is something that deserves its own post.)

My M3 Half-track APC, M4 Sherman tank, & Dodge WC54 ambulance

I’ve shared in the past my ambivalence toward violent LEGO, but there’s something unique about World War II that has fascinated me ever since I was little. My grandfather and great uncle served in the US Army during the war, and I grew up in one of the countries that both inflicted a great deal of suffering and suffered deeply themselves before losing the war to the Allies.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve really started enjoying the unique challenges presented by building a LEGO model based on something “real.” LEGO has interesting scale challenges, and I think too many LEGO vehicles are too tall or too wide.

My M3A2 Half-track has a three/five/seven-wide hood, with an eight-wide cab and crew compartment. It’s my favorite so far (even though the tracks should have four road wheels, not three).

M3A2 Half-Track (1)

I’m less happy with my M4A3 (76)W Sherman tank, which has to be far too tall to capture the right details in the suspension, and I missed the shape of the rear section behind the turret. Because it was my first tank, I spent a lot of time looking at tanks built by other builders — especially BrickMania’s M4A2, Phima’s M4A3E8, and Milan CMadge’s M4A3E8.

M4A3 (76)W Sherman Tank (1)

Because I come from a family of pacifist non-combatants and conscientious objectors, my convoy of military hardware wouldn’t be complete without a US Army Medical Corps Dodge WC54 ambulance. Like the half-track, the ambulance’s hood is three/five/seven-wide, with a six-wide cab. The recessed spare tire seems impossible at this scale, unfortunately, and getting the shape right means it does not fit a fig.

Dodge WC54 Ambulance (1)

Now to build some sort of massive World War II diorama to put these in…

High-ho, Sleipnir! Away!

It’s true that we haven’t featured enough Bionicle lately. This horse by retinence certainly gives us a reason to begin correcting that.

Sleipnir: The Majestic

My only complaint is that Odin’s mount Sleipnir should have eight legs, not four, but this is a beautiful steed indeed.

Thanks for the tip, Morgan19!

David Beckham wants to be a professional LEGO builder

We generally don’t highlight celebrities talking about LEGO (OMG! Brad Pitt likes LEGO! He even builds on his own, without his kids!!!), but this one is kind of sweet.

Quoth Becks:

“What would I like to do if I wasn’t a footballer? I love drawing cartoons and building Lego with my sons.

David Beckham“This is going to make me sound really weird but when I was in Milan I had such a big amount of spare time. I found online that you can buy a Lego model of the Taj Mahal so I bought it and started building it, I only built some of it because I got injured halfway through.

“I know it’s not a career but I love doing it and would like to be a professional Lego builder. My boys are the same, they’re obsessed with it.

“Football has affected my family in an unbelievable way, to travel to so many places, if I’d done something else like been a Lego builder, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything like that.”

What David doesn’t realize is that LEGO builders do indeed travel the globe on top secret missions for The Brick, hang out with Hollywood celebrities, and can generally out-hooligan even the most bad-ass of soccer fans.

It’s not too late to join us, David! I’ll buy you a Pepsi myself if you come to BrickCon.

(Via Dirty Tackle, with a hat-tip to Mrs. Dunechaser — who I love for continuing to read a soccer blog after the end of the World Cup.)

Kaiju rampage in the micropolis of Tokyo!

Between lack of LEGO time and an unsorted collection, I’ve been struggling with what to build for BrickCon — especially Big in Japan. I wanted to build Tokyo Tower, a big Shinto shrine, Ginza, and the National Diet Building. My solution to build them all was to go microscale.

Micro LEGO Tokyo

Naturally, every Tokyo skyline needs a rampaging Godzilla-style monster, or kaiju. From the moment I saw the alien in the LEGO Star Wars set Freeco Speeder, I couldn’t help but thinking he would make a great kaiju.

This was my first attempt at following the Micropolis Micro City Standard and gives me an opportunity to enter Reasonably Clever’s 2nd Micropolis Building Challenge (for which the deadline has been extended to July 24th, by the way).

After I’d finished six standard Micropolis modules for Tokyo, I experimented with some non-standard, non-urban modules, and ended up with Himeji Castle.

Himeji Castle

See more pictures in my photoset on Flickr.