2020-06-04

Veron Zapper, heartened by Mayfly


Everyone is very well aware of tragic events happening west of Atlantic. Inequality and racism in pretty much every area of life are nothing new, but are, once again, uglily risen their heads as police officers killed George Floyd. Racism and inequality exist in Finland, also within police departments. But the manner in which US police officers are armed to teeth and trained for average nine months seems both disgusting and absurd. This posting is a small tribute; to bring diversity to my character models, which in contrast to minifigs, are not locked in standard yellow. This wasn't the model that was next on the line but it felt right to post it now. It's couple of months old, as my models nowadays tend to be when they're being published.

The model itself is a part of my Speeder Bike Racing project. It was supposed to be finished until Hupicon in April. It was cancelled, of course, so I feel I can continue with this as long as I'm interested (There's still one speeder and five figures built, and some larger structures). The theme portrays colourful sci-fi or cyberpunk world. One of the main ideas is to create cyberpunk without violence. Violence is baked-in component of most visual viction, for some reason. Now, as black people are killed to streets and journalists shot with rubber bullets in US, it seems that violence is not that absent in real life. But we can dream of better world.

This character, Veron Zapper, is an urban speeder contest enthustiast and fan of Delfte Solflare and Azure Mayfly. The contest needed audience, and it felt like a nice idea to have a s
econd set of characters based on the speeders and their riders; Herald of the Carp Speeder (who still needs a name) was built for New Elementary's Parts Festival. In Veron Zapper's case, the speeder motifs are used in colours - medium azure, bright light orange, red and dark bley - and usage of "waterfall" panels as the skirt; they're used to form the radiator of the speeder, too. Other key ideas were roller blades, a strong character element I don't think I've ever built, and medium blue hair that uses recoloured Tahu's fire swords from Berix.

The roller blades a combination of old and new type ones, with knee-high armoured boot but two rows of wheels each. The wheels are from mini batmobiles that were riddle-solving prizes in LEGOLAND Castle hotel during my visit at the LEGO house displayer. There is a small joint above the wheels, representing shock absorbers and boosting posing options. The use of Glatorian ankle guard on knee refers back to Delfte Solflare, and forms nice shape. Dark bley is used on the stockings between brightly coloured areas. The waterfall panels are nicely thin, so their shape follows the curve of the leg quite naturally, at least on front views - side and back views with those panels are less flattering, but skirts tend to be tricky. The positioning of those panels uses three points of articulation - a 1x2 brick hinge is connected to one stud on 1x4 swivel hinge plate to make it match perfectly.

The clean colour blocks continue to the t-shirt that uses cars front piece, a trick recycled from Lalibela Upbeat. Hudson Hornet Piston Cup print with flame pattern felt very fitting, and the colours matched with Nexo Knights 2x2 tile used above it. The arms are mostly the standard stuff, but I managed to use some turtles shells as the elbow guards. They're not the same aesthetics as the rest of the model, but felt funky. I'm happy with the curves on the hair; there's surprisingly lot of oddly-shapes pieces in medium blue available. Snake necks and life-saving rings bring dynamics to the hair ribbons, and the fire swords do their job just well.

To bring on some extra attitude and urban coolness I equipped the figure with a ghetto blaster that uses Friends karaoke sticker and a printed LP sleeve tile from CMF line; other two of the same print are used on the skirt. The speakers are Dimensions bases, another piece I've been wanting to use for a while. The strap uses always handy small chain links, again referring to Azure Mayfly's belt.

Stay safe, support equality and fight racism! Black lives matter.

-Eero.


































2020-05-26

Great Grey Owl

 This is Strix Nebulosa, Great Grey Owl, or in Finnish Lapinpöllö, which means Lapland owl (even though it lives outside Lapland too). It is the third biggest owl in Finland, even though it mostly consists of very fluffy feathers and is shaped like a log with wide long wings. The head of the actual owl is very flat dish with white beard-like pattern. Great Grey Owls weight equals around 20 Eurasian Pygmy Owls.

This one was built for my LUG Palikkatakomo Ry's contest in April. The contest was supposed to be held in HupiCon event with audience voting, but that was naturally cancelled because of the virus. Fortunately the contest was turned into old-school forum contest, with new feature of anonymous entries. The idea of the contest was to build a real animal - as simple as that. Out of sixteen entries I got the first place on LUG voting and the second place on Facebook voting that substituted the audience voting.


I like Great Grey Owl. It's very majestetic bird with certain humoresque qualities. I'm not certainly sure if I'm seen one in wild or not; I have a vague memory of seeing a large grey owl in local Northern Carelian forest eleven years ago. But my strongest memory about this species is a collage poster of different birds in my grandparent's summer cottage, above my sleeping spot. It had two images of Strix Nebulosa, one of them with its goblin-like hatchlings. I also made a rather good acrylic painting of this bird around seven years ago.

The creation itself was the result of one-and-a-half-day panic sessions just before the deadline. I was in middle of my term-end deadline hecticness with lot of information modelling and computer-aided design to do, but it was matter of pride to do something for our local contest. Great Grey Owl was an obvious choice; I had made the Eurasian Pygmy Owl earlier, but my real owl ambitions always centered the Nebulosa (I actually made a forest nature center project shaped like Great Grey Owl on my second year of architecture studies. I made two LEGO models of it, and a final wooden one. It wasn't a huge success, mostly for good reasons. But I had fun with it. There be some photos on the end of the article).

I began, once again, with the face, a very definite part of the owl. The face of the real animal is essentially a dish, so I used dishes. The black circular patterns are simplified to circles of chain links and the beak is same pearl gold Bohrok eye than on the previous owl. The beard-eyebrow thing was complicated, but I'm happy with the results. Only the eyebrows are bit straight, giving it Angry Birds -like expression, but it's not too severe.

After finishing the face, I had to choose the posture of the animal. Pygmy was sitting on branch, and that felt easy and simple, so I went with flying stance instead, challenging myself in the middle of business and panic. I knew it would be worth it. There's something so dynamic in predatory bird sweeping to catch a rodent with its wide tail feathers slowing it for the catch. The profile is unique to anything I've ever build, too.

The choice of the posture resulted some tricky bits. The most challenging was the coupling of the face dish with the body. The log-like shape was made mostly with 45705 windscreen 10 x 6 x 2 curved in dark bley and some wedge plates. I like how it works. The head is dish is connected via Mixel ball joint, making it even bit posable. The another challenge was the wings and their connection. I ended up doing their structure in the simplest possible way - two plates connected to the torso with click plate joints. Of course, the wing plates are covered with array of wedges, wedge plates, modified tiles and grille tiles angled to imitate the feather patterns. The large "finger" feathers on the tips are important part of the owl's essence, so they're positioned individually. The tail feathers are very simple, using wedge plates angled with swivel plate joints.

The original idea included hanging the owl from strings. It would have made the posing more dynamic, offering some interesting display options at home. It turned out to be disastrous idea, causing lot of bad blood and boiling spleen. The centre of gravity is incredibly hard to locate on a build like this. Fortunately the centre was around the point of the legs, so I made a simple stand with some trans-clear 1 x 2 x 5 bricks. It stands out with the black backdrop but works quite discreetly in usual shelf setting. The legs are simple octagonal pillar parts; Great Grey Owl's legs are, especially during the winter, ridiculous furry tubes. The claws here exaggerate a bit, but no-one would have believed in them it they were just those pillars!











2020-05-23

Self-portrait

I was interviewed by Are Heiseldal in Skaerbaek Fan Weekend last September (footage can be found here and here). In the interview Are asked me if I had ever built myself. I hadn't. I had though about it. I've made some self-portraits; on the first year's architectural studies we made "psychological self-portait"; I used coal. Last summer I painted another one with oil paints Pinja gave me as a birthday present. But a brick version, why not. The previous two-dimensional ones had been busts mostly, but this time I wanted to make a full version in the usual scale. I could make myself meet some of my character builds, for example.

The attire portrayed here is my usual winter gear. As this build was made in November, I was still looking for wearing it during the following months, but tough luck: It was the lousiest winter of my lifetime. Barely any minus degrees (celcius) and barely ano snow, neither. And I like my winter clothes! The boots were bought by my grandfather in Oulu, they're most likely Finnish made, and no idea how many decades old. The coat is made by Finnish suit factory and was found with some Finnish marks (old currency before joining Euro in 2001), so it's several decades old too. The hat, I believe, is my sister's partner's old one, origins unknown. Gloves are some usual supermarket type and the head is, of course, me.

As usually I began with the head, capturing my light-coloured beard, rosy cheeks and eyeglasses; bucket handle is used as my moustache and eyebrows are darker than my facial hair. My glasses do actually have metallic frames, but detail so thin gets quite impossible, so 1x1 tiles in trans-clear are used. I'm very happy with the shape of the hat; it's rather true to the original. I like wearing the rim turned upwards, with the earflaps flapping up and down as I walk.

The coat uses lot of dark blue, and I had to resort to blocky yet classic use of minfig leg elbows. The collar, a very definite part of the coat, is built with 2x2 triangular tiles and 1x4 swivel hinge plates. I'm happy with how I captured the subtle shape of the coat bulging a little under and above the belt.

Reddish brown boots have nice colour contrast with the dark blue coat, as with the real things. They're traditional "lapikas" type with up-curled toes. The shape is quite subtle, and I'm happy how it turned out, with the foot area being quite flat. These boots are fantastically airy.

-Eero