I'm back again. Posting the Speeder Bike Contest builds was bit exhausting in such intensive phase so I had a break on writing this blog. I've been building though, making mostly big new modular, but there's some unpublished character builds too: This is Jörn, built during the summer. He's my character in Dungeons and Dragons campaign Auronia I've been participating with some friends since April probably, remotely naturally. We're currently on scenario 12, I think. 

Jörn is loxodon ("Norsulainen") ranger. Loxodons, humanoid elephants, originate from Magic the Gathering (rather familiar to me) but are an official DnD race; in Magic multiverse, they live in Mirrodin, Ravnica and Tarkir. Jörn in obviously inspired by Tarkir's mammoth-like Temur loxodons, particularly Woolly Loxodon and Avalanche Tusker. It fitted well with ranger class, which I felt easy to relate with, being lived most of my life in middle of a forest and still occassionally hiking, picking berries and so on. As such Jörn is easy character to play with. The name derives from Swedish-speaking Finnish politician and cultural multi-tasker Jörn Donner; Jörn felt onomatopoeically fitting for a mammoth man, while the skandinavian origin (as opposed to fenno-ugrian) helped to form sort of "popular nordic" imaginaries. 

Jörn would be bulky, a bit huncbacked and very very hairy. I had made some drawings (in the end of this post) before making the build. On the model I began with basically ordinary mammoth's head, where the most complicate bits were the position of the tusks. The eyes are deep under heavy brown and/or hair, ephasizing the attitude of the character. The head is connected with a ball joint. The only bit of clothing is the cape, essential to any ranger (ranger comes with scale or leather mail, but loxodon's thick skin had better armour class, so Jörn sold it). Dark green was the best option, working nicely with warm tones of the hair. Old dragon wings are used to form the tightened cape over the chest, other parts if it are made with usual wedges and cockpits. 

 The hairy bulk of Jörn is made with proudly studded, somewhat randomized dark orange and redddish brown plates. The hairs on the stomach hang especially free, making the almost naked (natural) mammoth man quite decent for urban adventures. The hip joint hides behind the hairs, while the arm ball joints are bit more visible for required range of motion. The fingers use modified plates for hairy appearance; they're nothing like mammoth toes, but I wanted them to be big and long, almost alien. The feet are essentially stompy mammoth feet, using half-barrels. 

As a ranger, Jörn is bit of a pack horse; carrying weights is no problem for him. He's armed with unnamed and usual spear, mace and longbow. The two latter ones can be stored on the back with quiver full of arrows, dark red bedroll and sand red backpack. I think these complemented the colours beautifully, with flower pattern of the bedroll adding bit of traditional handicrafts on Jörn's practical and rugged appearance. It also made is possible to use the 2x4x4 round panel in sand red - beautiful colour but bit tricky piece!



Mangee Primula, the Compedition reporter

Third of the figures displayd with Spire of Tradition is Mangee Primula, the journalist reporting from Speeder Bike race. Idea of media presence was part of the series from the beginning, but it ended up being (so far) the last thing I built. We made a long trip around Finland in July and some principles for this was thought out during it, including the hair and the equipment. Initial idea included lot of dark azure, but it was ultimately stripped out to belt and stockings above boots.

The first part I actually built was the hair, which uses dark green "ski" Bionicle feet from Karzahni, known as great Bionicle parts pack. They are accompanied again with cut-out corner 1x2 curved slopes that form short side bangs. There's also a vibrant pair of earphones, essential part of journalist's gear. The back of the head is somewhat flat, and I used lot of time trying to solve it, but making it bigger made the ponytail point too far to the back. Those Bionicle feet require substantial space for connection, and I wanted to have a heavy band (dark red is used) dividing the hair. Fortunately the earphones hide the flatness on most angles.

Colours are in focus on this series, so I wanted to utilize colours I don't use often. One of them is dark purple, which I'm not usually big fan of - old purple and magenta are just more vibrant - but which subtle elegance has grown on me, at least a bit. So there's a micro jacket in dark purple and its complimentary colour yellow, and dark pink shirt consisting of layered flower pieces around it. The flowers have bar connection, so connecting them in different heighs is possible, if not the sturdiest of connections. But it works fine, as they're very light pieces and are not pulled by any external forces. he pattern is nicely fluffy, contrasting with clean, streamlined jacket. 

The skirt gave me lot of problems - getting the angle with the belt right while leaving enough room for some posing of the upper legs. MANEUVER-STRATAGEM IV was earlier build that used similar structure and its solutions were used here. The final design ended up being quite short on the sides, but I guess it's all right; the CCBS shells on the sides actually connect to the same axle as the hip joint, but it doesn't cause any major issues. The upper legs are very usual, but I finally managed to get my hands to some 3x3x2 cones in dark azure, and white lace trim fitted them, as well as the fluffy shirt. The boots were more challenging. The first iteration were very high heels with crazy bat wing motif and gold buckles, and they used Star Wars Ultrabuild leg armours, but they didn't fit the colourful aesthetics at all. The new version was cheerful lime green and dark teal composition, almost like some rubber boots; CCBS knee armour is not perfect, but hides the joints. The extra layer of brick under the sole was added later, as Mangee turned out being just a bit too short (due to abandoning the bat heels, maybe), and adding baby bows on the caps gave them some nice shape.

Finally, I made a interview gear with small portable recorder and a microphone. They're not super modern, as I enjoyed contrast between somewhat vintage, "proper" electronics and bright, colourful clothing. Having actual wire makes them feel more functional, too, adding another binding element to the composition. The microphone uses one of Parts Festival elements from last autumn

So - is this the end of speeder bike contest? Well, I don't have any new builds for it unpublished, nor under construction, but there's still some group shots to be published, at least. A while ago I had a talk with fellow builder who complained that he had lost of play and fun of building; part of by play of bricks is posing and shooting, posing and shooting these characters. It doesn't necessarily include elaborate backstories, but body language can tell something about them (unknown to me, too, or generated during the photographing) and there's fun in finding out who your characters actually are. Shooting multiple figures emphasized this, though takes more time (it's sometimes tricky to literally balance them!). I know I should also take photos of the whole set-up, figures and speeders and spires and all, but my current "studio" in not big enough. I might try something, who knows. As a complete piece of brick art, this was supposed to be displayed in series of LUG shows, but no one knows when that will be possible. In the meantime, I might build some additional characters - there's something that makes me tick in these bright and radiant characters. It's part of breaking the assumption that it takes a weapon to define an action figure.



Lith Kalix


Lith Kalix is another character displayed with Spire of Tradition. She's not fan of particular speeder bike rider, just a local enjoying the event. The build was based on part usages and colours and there's no deeper intention here. I had got some medium nougat pieces along bow parts needed for New Century City Block III's SNOT corner, and was finally able to make a character with medium nougat skin colour. This required cheese slope variant as 1x2 45 degree double slope doesn't exist in medium nougat (nor, for example, dark tan). This pulls the neck joint further back, which can be a bugger, but not a huge problem.

Another piece I wanted to use was that printed 2x2x2 brick from Creator Modular skate house. With colourful graffiti pattern it looked very fitting for this setting. A dark red short top was uilt around it. Block shape is not easy in such body part, so it is angled with a joint and some tiles are stack inside (illegally) to form a knot of exeeding fabric. Short top is used because I wanted to emphasize the medium nougat, once I finally had enough to use, and 2x4x2 round panel forms the stomach. Both upper and lower torso were bulked up later on, as the scale turned out too small compared to the other figures of this series. The lower torso uses cool purple flame -printed 2x2 curved slopes from unknown source, as they fitting. The hip joint is slightly narrower than usual, and this subtle shaping is continued to the upper legs. Magenta, one of my favourite Lego colours, is used to make a strong contrast with black, and magenta cherries are used as the boot laces. Otherwise, the legs are of the usual type. 

The style of the legs continues to the gloves. There are no medium nougat finger parts, so gloves were the only option. Cherries are again used as laces. The shoulder and upper arm design was very different at first, and stayed that way for couple of months, bugging me badly all the time, until I changed it. It used medium nougat 1x2 plate with two clips, and the rest was very cluttered, fragile and hard to pose. Having joint of skin colour was too small benefit for the price, and more usual (and somewhat blocky) design with 1x1 tiles with clips and 1x2 bricks worked lot better. It was a black spot for me too long and I'm happy I changed it, despite this version isn't the most elegant neither.

The hair uses several purple shades. Hair is constantly exciting building subject, as in its flowing and polychrome nature it's as far as it gets from building blocks. Making multicoloured hair works best with transparent parts, but using several shades close to each other is viable too. However, here the different shades form their own "colour blocks" to keep the shapes coherent and noise low. Inverted curved slopes make lot of work again, as with Birgey Raiseel's magenta hair.

As an accessory, I gave Lith a skateboard, using same magenta colour but this time fading into white. It's quite simple SNOT structure with gradient and oddly constructed axle. It uses pins asymmetrically, which make the wheels bit wobbly and balancing very hard, but as seen on the pictures, possible nevertheless.