2018-07-14

MOC: Sram, Senior Edificer

 Here's my second MTG creation, my Commander Sram, Senior Edificer (I'm planning to make another Commander deck with Slimefoot, The Stoaway). Sram is popular white commander due his great draw potential. I play him with less cheap equipments and more cool vehicles, because, well, I'll rather ride some trains than burn my deck. You can see a larger image of the card art here.

I like to use beautiful and rich colours in my creations and Sram offered great possibilities with them. Plane of Kaladesh has India-style feel on its clothing and culture, and it seemed delightful to re-create with bricks. As usual, I began with the head. The skin colour was a tough choice; art of Sram shows him in gloomy light, and skin colour of Kaladeshian dwarves seem to differ quite a bit. I felt that medium dark flesh could have been ideal, but I didn't have pretty much any of the needed pieces on that colour. I also considered reddish brown, but I wouldn't have had good fingers on it, and tan was closer to the original art anyway. I hope this doesn't seem much whitewashed, which is sometimes problem on fantasy settings adopted from variety of cultures. Then again, dwarves are Norse folklore, and Scottish by popular culture, so who knows?

Sram doesn't have beard, which is a bit sad, but then again I understand why they didn't make him stereotypical fantasy dwarf. He has a cool mutton chops though, and I felt I was building the Wolverine; fortunately the goggles differ him from Logan, who's also short and has sideburns. Sram also has his tool for picking teeth in his mouth, as noted in the flavour text of Sram's Expertise, another bit of source material for this creation.

The big pauldrons are good tool to define a character's silhouette. These are a bit adapted detail-wise but hopefully have the correct feel on them. The purple scarf is clearly seen on the card art, bit it was hard to detect exact colours of the coat or shirt, not to mention the trousers, which were completely out of pictures. I used dark orange, dark tan, sand green, dark green and dark blue as I like those colours and they worked nicely together. With the legs I ended up in baggy trousers suitable to Kaladesh's style, seen on creatures like dwarf warrior Deadeye Harpooner. Sram's right arm is bare, while the left one features sort of bracer with variety of tools in it. One belongs to one particular Time Lord.

-Eero



2018-07-06

MOC: Herald of Scales

 Hello readers, and happy July. I haven't been able to post as often as I hoped - I've got plenty of builds finished and some even photographed, but hey it's summer, I haven't been that much on computer anyway.

This was a fast, pleasant build, beginning with the idea of using Friends dress pieces as skirt segments for bigger character. Why? I got some of them free from LUG event, they have cool, mundane gold ornamentation and somewhat organic, round shape. They don't connect to anything very well, but I was able to connect them to clips.

The nature of the character wasn't defined from the start. I fiddled around with large Ninjago katana pieces to make angel-like wings for the start, but eventually settled with reddish brown skinned, ancient Egyptian-styled character. I think brown looks good with the simple, white dress, and I liked the idea of having some Egypt-ish jewellery, using some sand green with gold and trans blue. I wondered if the upper legs would look better in reddish brown, giving the supposedly warm environment for this character, but I settled for dark blue as it looked great with white and transparent blue.

The arms are new version of style used in my "Four Seasons" characters, scale being somewhat same than on those. The shoulders seemed too broad for a while but the hair balanced them to look natural enough. I didn't have any good finger pieces in reddish brown, so she wears white gloves. They likely didn't exist in real, ancient Egypt, but that's not the point, right? I was able to make some gold patterns to the gloves, I'm happy with them. They recall the ornamentation on the skirt.

The hair was fun. The idea of using chains on a braided bowl cut came with the Egyptian idea, and I had had those black chains around for a while from LUGBULK. There are two layers on them on two rigid tubes. Atlantis gate key with a squid pattern is used as a sort of headdress; nice piece but rarely seen on MOCs. They eyes are similar to aforementioned Four Seasons, with batarang eyes.

The legs have suitable sandals and sort of gaiters to make them interesting. Subtle patterns are done using pearl gold bars, sais and printed Elves tiles. Boat studs joints allow some movement and mandatory CCBS shells are used on the knees. The upper legs design was originally done for another build, but this one was finished faster; It's sturdy, has organic shaping on most sides and hides the ball socket almost completely.

She also has a staff with scales; one cup with a sword, another with bread. Profound, right? Basic stuff, scales of life and death. It was going to be a wizard's staff, or a shepherd's, but I liked the scales idea. It took a while to get it work! Elephant tails are used here - one of those cool pieces I can't get enough. What a great shape they have. Another Atlantis gate key associates the staff with the headdress, and the chain wrapping the handle is metaphor for something important or deep, probably.

- Eero.








2018-06-14

MOC: Do-It-Yourself-Seraph

Hello, and welcome the new subject of my creations, stuff inspired by art in Magic the Gathering cards. First of which is not any famous legendary creature nor Black Lotus nor planeswalker but one cool mythic rare creature from humorous Unstable set: Cyborg Angel Do-It-Yourself-Seraph. I play it in my budget Sram commander even though it's probably illegal. But it's such cool. Cyborg angel!

This isn't super accurate rendition of art by David Sladek. Wanted to make a cool, slightly humorous but still somewhat elegant design. I also wanted to use as much metallic silver SYSTEM parts as possible. I had gathered quite a bit of them from Pii Poo's tables during few past years, and once tried to build an armored dwarf with them, but didn't end up with anything finished. Better luck this time!

As usual on builds like this, I began with the legs, trying to achieve detail on hip joint using those TECHNIC pin connected little blade pieces. It's barely visible between the armour plating skirt, but I think it looks quite good. The thighs have plenty of metallic colours; unfortunately the shins don't, as there weren't than much, let's say, metallic silver tiles and plates. I like the knee armour, though. Hooray for curved sloping.

The torso was interesting. It is largely improvised upon parts available, and not very accurate to the card art. I like how the pearl gold ornamental blade pieces add warmth on the metallic/flat silver surfaces. I even managed to use couple of Ninjago spinner top parts, a trick that I'm happy with. The wing-pack is tightly connected to back that runs bracket pieces from bottom to neck. As the creation has very large overall dimensions, sturdy connections are vital.

The arms were horrible to work with. I wanted to preserve some mobility to make the seraph look natural, but with the heavy swords, the arms tended to fall of a lot. Getting the elbow joint work was the main trouble here. The first design used TECHNIC pin with a pin hole, with the pin barely connected inside the driving ring part, connected to a stud inside new-ish Speed Champions wheel hub. It worked okay at first, but with time the pin began to slip out from it's unorthodox connection and I had to change them to minifig wrenches. I could have some more of those pieces. But overall, the arm is build mostly using metallic shaded pieces, and there's even hoop hand guards. Bionicle Gen II armor add-on had nice cyborg feel and ended up as a shoulder armour. I even managed to keep the shoulder width moderate 6,5 to make the proportions look pleasantly natural.

The head uses 2017 style standard female (minifig hand eyes). I hope you haven't got fed up with it yet, there's more to come, and it's the best I can do right now (but I wish to make some tests with Elves element shards if I even get some). I wanted to make the wind-swept blonde hair from the card art. It was rather easy, as I had done things like that before rather often. Yellow was a natural choice, as tan hair would have looked ridiculous with tan skin. However, it looked a rather dull, so I added some light yellow stripes; hair is rarely constant in colour. I rather like the effect.

Then there's the flight pack. I ditched the wooden flapping blades for good - they were too much, and impossible to make light enough to avoid the whole creation collapsing. But I wanted to have a pair of magnificent, man-made wings. I first wondered if I'd simply build them using dark tan slopes and wedge slopes, as that would have been close to the source material at least colour-wise. But I didn't have enough, and the weight would have been an issue. So I ended up using sails from Corsairs of Umbar, Bricklinked for rather cheap maybe five years ago and never used in anything. The print being one-sided was bit of a problem, but honestly I think it looks alright in the completed model. I managed to add some metallic silver to the uppermost part of the wings, and faux-piston system near the shoulder joint. The wings are a bit poseable, but almost fixed due to stability issues, which were rather critical on this build.

The flight pack also includes tail, using the smaller sails from aforementioned ships of Black Numenoreans, connected with my beloved turret ball socket part. There's also the back propeller, protected with a large TECHNIC hoop, and a crank handle to winch everything up. It is actually missing from the last photo of this post, which was taken on slightly earlier version shortly before terrible wind accident. There's lot of sail surface area here, given that's everything is is balanced on two ankle mixel ball joints, and two big swords are needed to balance everything up.

-Eero. 





2018-06-03

MOC: Villa Great Agano

Villa Great-Agano was designed by builder-architects Väinämöinen's House-building OY AB. It was commissioned by former samurai Miko Katanai and features elements from medieval Japanese fortresses and Finnish Art Nouveu villas (the name refers to Villa Suur-Merijoki by Gesellius-Lindgren-Saarinen, as well as river Agano in Japan). The cobblestone base is made with Finnish granite from the wilderlands of Kainuu, where the boss of Väinämöinen's House Building OY AB had bit of a incident with their younger rival building company House-Builders Joukahainen. But that's another story, featuring a swamp.

In other words, this was an entry for House Exhibition contest on HupiCon 2018, the successor of Model Expo, and our LUG's biggest annual show. It went pretty good, not much points on the audience voting but fourth place on LUG member voting, and I was awarded with London Skyline set. The model was built during two evening, maybe 8 hours or so, which I think is quite fast. I was rather busy before HupiCon, due to massive City Blocks I had to finish, and some schoolwork that had to be done.

But the school year is now behind, and I have three months of free time. I actually returned from my two-week trip around Italy, Czech Republic and Germany with my girlfriend three days ago - it was great time and I bough several bricks, one small cup and three bigs from LEGO Stores with some sand green, and also some used goodies from fan-based stores in Prague and Berlin. Good time.

Back to the build! As I mentioned, it's an odd mix of old Japanese fortress and Finnish Jugendstil villa. It was going to be more like the latter but I began with the foundations, overlapping those boat studs (marvellous pieces marvellous pieces) it very fragile but cool-looking fashion (there's a 1x1 round plate in the middle of overlapping plates, that, if applied right, connects on the "tube" of the plate in the middle of three boat studs; works on random plates and is frustrating to apply). The shape looked like those samurai castles and quite liked it. The tower is from aforementioned Villa Suur-Merijoki. It is rather stout, as the contest had a height restriction of 25 bricks. The Japanese feel was even more enhanced with the vertical lines on the walls, as well as those lanterns, steep stairs leading to the main entrance, and the shape of the roof (even though it's quite basic). I added couple of statues and bonsai trees near the stairs to underscore the influences. And yes, there's a garage inside, with it's door visible on the back. In all, it's not a house I'd design in real life (architect student, remember?) but it was fun, fast build, with some experimental techniques.

-Eero




2018-05-03

MOC: New Century City Block II

 This is the New Century City Block II. It gets posted before Block I because the photos are better (this is 64x96 studs so I can rotate it on my balcony "studio"), it's completely new (New Century Corner amounts 40% of Block I) and hell, I'm more happy with it overall. Block I is photographed too, but the photos are not edited yet and I wasn't able to photograph it as a whole from all angles, so it's not as impressive, probably. But you'll see it sooner or later. In addition to that, I have detached house "Villa Great-Agano" photographed, and a vintage tram finished but not yet photographed (needs a base though. My first serious train MOC, by the way.) And then there's one Finnish avant-garde rock band that still needs some amps, monitors, wires, drum microphones and stuff. I'm making a trip to Europe (Italy-Germany-Czech-Germany-Denmark-Sweden-Turku) from 16th of may onwards, and I try to post some more before that. Time will tell what - past are the twice-a-week activities of this blog, but I have less free time these days (though my four-month summer holiday just started so...) and my projects are more ambitious and physically bigger than they used to be. I try to keep the quality up.

And then to the MOC.

It continues where City Block I left. So now, for you, there's a little gap with my development as a modular house builder. I hope you can cope with that. I began building in July 2017, after receiving a mixed bag of elements from LUG event support reward package from a LUG event on Harjavalta (Palikkapamaus 2017). It has lots of bright light orange 1x2x3 sloped and some 1x8 railing pieces, and these beautifully coloured bits combined with inspiration I had gathered from Prague, Vienna and Ljubljana.

I began building new modulars. Well, honestly the first sort-of station plan was from May, drawn in a train from Helsinki to Tampere, instantly after the trip. It showed some more-interesting-than-90-degree angles that made it to the final creation. I have to confess that my original impressions were more Central European, somehow closer to classical themes and included quite lot of white, but with time they were replaced by joyous originality of Finnish Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) elements and shapes. But the first building - Grand Hotel Masaryk - has a very strong source of inspiration in Prague.

Grand Hotel Masaryk

This one was the first building to be designed on this block, and probably took most time, despite being smaller than its tan neighbour. The sort-of-paragon for this is Hotel Evropa (or Europa) in Václavské náměstí in Prague. I like Prague very much, it's original, rugged and very rich in architecture and common weirdness, as it didn't suffer very badly from WW2. Art Nouveau architecture there has strong influences from Viennese Secession, but also sports its own ambience. Grand Hotel Evrope (which is, alas, currently under heavy repair and closed) has a delightful composition of colours, materials and statues.

The colours and the main shape with rounded facade and gambrel roof are taken from Evropa, but the details are of my own design, featuring what could be whipped up with my collection of bright light orange. The colours and strictly arranged; No sand green touches the orange. There's always at least a plate-thin layer of dark red in between. Because my main source of bright light orange was 1x2x3 slopes, large part of this is built sideways (SNOT!). It was very fragile during building (in other words, for several months) but I was able to bind it nicely in the end. Lot of 2:5 rule is applied here! The sand green windows are for LUGBULK; In the big middle window they are actually upside down.

On details, I'm particularly happy with the canopy over main door and the angled ladder pieces on ground floor windows (The other one shows mold holes, sadly). I also like the bright colours, as its neighbours are more toned-down. Yellow is rather common colour in Art Nouveau Architecture, but using regular yellow feels bit odd as it's minifig's skin colour, and too bright nevertheless. So I do what I can with my limited array of light yellow (old variant!) and bright light orange. And by the way, the medium azure accents were a late addition - I feared they would be too bright, but I think they fit snugly with dark red, sand green and bright light orange.

Tomás Garrigue Masaryk was, by the way, Czech politician, statesman, philosopher and sociologist. 

  Olofslott


The biggest and most prominent building on the block is Olofslott. The original inspiration derives from Camillo Sitte's urban planning theories from late 19th century, fitting for New Century City Block here. Sitte liked medieval town plans and wanted to see more than a simple grid plans - interesting angles and richness of views. Well, this is just a building with large sections angled 45 degrees, but with trickiness of the blocky brick, at least it's something... 
Concerning architecture, the first paragon was Imatra State Hotel by Usko Nyström, one of the more important building of Finnish Art Nouveau. Another, and later on more influential one, is Olofsborg, apartment building in Katajanokka by famous Gesellius-Lindgren-Saarinen. The turret-like bay window on the right corner of the main facade is almost a copy of one in Olofsborg. Large glass domes don't really exist in Finnish Art Nouveau (probably due to snow and heating) and the details in the pediment are unusually detailed, but otherwise this is not that far from Finnish apartment building from 1900s. 
The construction has some tricks. It's built on two bases, one being 32x64 and other around 32x40. The building splits on the right side of the main jetty. The angled parts are anchored at the gateway next to the Grand Hotel Masaryk on the 32x64 module and at the round-windowed tower on the 32x40ish module. It's not prefect fit, illegal to be honest, but as the angled part is rather long, it stays together alright. I hope the impression is interesting.

On details, fantastic 1x1 pie slice slopes make an appearance, along with some new-ish lovely macaroni tiles (I need more) and tail pieces (always cool). The pediment also uses old roof construction pieces - I like those, too, pleasure to use them. Also made it easy to make the roof with helicopter blade pieces (which are cheap) without leaving any gaps.

Colour-wise, it's mostly tan, as it is a realistic colour for house like this, and I had lot of it. Windows are black (from LUGBULK) as well and most of the roof. There are some grey details and the usual stone cladding on the ground floor. There is also some dark green - I felt it needed an interesting accent colour. It began with the glass dome that has those almost Catalonian Modernismo-esque tail beams. They add a feeling of organity of Art Nouveau to the otherwise monumental tower. Dark green accents thoughout the building are more than less curved. The dome roof above the big round window had been sailing around my table at the beginning, I'm glad I managed to use it here.

Louhi


Louhi, building number three, clearly gets its inspiration from Finnish national romantic architecture. Use of natural stone, a techique called squared rubble, was pioneered in United States in late 19th century and soon arrived to Finland. Finnish was a Grand Dutchy of Russia at the time, and was undergoing a period of cultural oppression.It felt important to have glorious past, or at least a some sort of past, so artist and architects of the time took inspiration from national epic Kalevala and designed buildings of natural stone, wood and metal, usually copper. That wasn't very historical, as traditional and medieval Finnish architecture was almost always, save few castles and churches, wooden, and thus far from squared rubble palaces. But the era saw birth of many beautiful buildings, two which are main sources here: The Old Poli (House of Polytechnics) by Thóme brothers and my local Tampere Cathedral, the most important work of the style, by Lars Sonck.

The rope bridge entrance was here from the beginning, and the studs-out plate walls to represent natural stone was the main idea. It makes this a cheap house, as very small amout of bricks are needed. It also made it possible to make some curves hard to get with usual brick-on-brick construction. Naturally the rugged surface is the main point, though, and how it contrasts the neighbours. I wondered if the audiences would accept it - it felt daring idea, even reckless! But feedback so far had been positive.

The window design is very Finnish, with no arch but steep, inverted wedges on the top, and little frames on the top part (sadly no glass there). The bigger window on the wider side brings some unformality of Jugendstil, and the narrow side boosts some oddties like round window stolen from Patrick B. Bag End

The roof uses cheese slopes to represent shingles, a common roof material at the time and fitting for natinal romantic style. The roof or the tower was problematic. I first tried to make it similar to one in Old Poli, a round type with Lowell sphere technique, but it didn't work so well on 8x8. Somehow and ended up with very sharp and tall spire, definitely inspired by the Tampere cathedral. There'r even a copper top (I like sand green). It has quite a cool and suprisingly sturdy construction utilising couple of dice pieces and brick hinges. I like it.

Name Louhi comes from Kalevala, where she is the main antagonist.

House of Masonry Wall





The last house built for this project. This one has its root on national romatiscm, too - in the Finnish National Museum by aforementioned Gesellius-Lindgren-Saarinen, the star trio of Finnish Jugendstil. The main shape of the tower is taken from there, only the material are switched. I wanted to use dark red masonry bricks. I had already used some of them on unpublished buildings of Block I, but had plenty of left. I had also LUGBULKed some dark red 1x1 round bricks, and used ol' good curved wall technique to bring it alove. I used all my sand green windows, too, and almost all of the masonry bricks (I had bough 1000).

The building is somewhat more rational and modern than its neighbours. Statues are used to make it more suitable for the era. The ground floor has big windows with wooden arches - sadly no interior inside (There is none. No back walls or floor, neither). The doorway forecasts 1920s Classism, but the door is still strongly romantic with heavy iron mountings and organic handle probably not visible in any of the photos (black elephant trunk if you wonder). I like the little detail of posable clock hands and the window frames on the tower.

The roofs were tricky in this one. I finally managed to gather six 2x2x3 convex slopes in black and used them on the tower roof; Sadly they don't go all way around (they're rare). The round bit, however, took some thinking. I had some big round pieces, UFO quarters or something, but they didn't fit (The round wall isn't symmetric; there's three windows on the left and foru on the right). So I curved a rigid hose there and made some wedges with 1x2x3 slopes. they don't fit perfectly, but look ok - it's the best I came up with. I'm not big fan of studs on the top, but I didn't enough black tiles; pain to photoshop, those studs, too.



 So that's it for this one! This might end up to Museum Centre Vapriikki in Tampere with Block I if they have fitting fibreglass case for it; I hope it does, because it is impossible to keep thing like this in my apartment, on whole and on display. Overall, I'm happy with it. Now I feel I don't want to build a modular house for a while - character builds, please - but sooner or later I'll get inspiration and there we go...

Thanks for reading all of this in case you did!

Happy Spring!

-Eero.

2018-02-25

MOC: Reverend Frantic

First period of 2018 is now over and it's time to post a brand new build, a spiritual gentleman called Reverend Frantic. He was born in two building sessions, first taking place in early January and latter in mid February, before extremely busy deadline week before this skiing holiday a.k.a test week. But here he is now, man of faith and force. Notice the new backdrop cardboards; it was about time...

This build began with the chest that uses two red bigfig arms as a pectoral. Somehow 17th-16th century styled, albeit heavily fantasied, costume grew around it. It began with the collar thing with cross on it; I wanted to play around some odd Inquisition themes here. It seemed fitting with the red, black and white colours. I wanted the coat have simple, strong lines and dynamical shape. Black Pearl sail felt natural choice for coattails, and snake heads and printed Heroica tile added some occult to the entirety. Don't know if it clashed with Christian theme here but I don't mind, it's supposed to be a bit ridiculous. I mean, that is a circular saw hat; the whole thing began to feel too fashionable, even tasteful, at some point... So I had to add the hat, and funny beard. I always enjoy building a funny beard. This wasn't going to have one at first, as Mr. Frantic was being Mrs. Frantic at first, but then again the chest muscles looked quite manly and I gave him a beard. This sometimes happens. Concepts develop.

As some details, I'd like you to note over-knee boots with interesting, hmm, what ever it is called, profile or something on the upper part, utilizing that odd CCBS shell. Trousers and legs are usually quite hard, as they have to be sturdy, posable and graceful at the same time. They use boat stud joints, and even the toe parts have some shaping involving those fantastic pieces. They are surprisingly mobile legs, but long black coattails hide almost all of them for they are black too. A bit shame, but at least it makes the white area of trousers pop up nicely. These pictures seem to show only one upper leg at a time, though.
Reverend Frantic also has a book. I felt he needed some accessory, but blessing-of-god shotgun or giant cross-shaped hammers seemed somewhat dull. So many character builds have weapons, and it get bit uninteresting. Okay, circular saw hat, but hey, it's a fancy headgear. I like headgear. So he has a book, maybe it's the Bible or Vampire Hunting For Dummies* or something. It was put together in two minutes before photographing after four-hour-long presenting session of small public building, forest nature center, around sunset in late February. More of that later, maybe. But the pictures turned out quite good.

The name is contortion on former Finnish doom metal band Reverend Bizarre, by the way. Got one 12' split single of their, with excellent Rättö&Lehtisalo track on side B.
-Eero. 





*You know what happens to a vampire with a stake stuck through its heart? Same than to anything else.

2018-02-02

MOC: Victorious Tiyan

 This character build was a comission work. She is Tiyan Jolkai, a spirited Saayequtai girl from Laura Luotola's book Suoja - Kaupungit ja paluu (The Sphere - The Cities and Return). The creation is based mostly on the book description, with some inspiration from Päivi Hakanen's cover art. Tiyan is here in her rizikesh battle match gear, with the truncheons and light but practical clothes, with muted colours suitable for lower and lesser city-level Kándu.

I began the build with the head, which is somewhat unusual. The character was described having a long, outwards-pointing nose, brown spots on the face and green hair. Inserting the hinge piece nose into the "stylized mark three female" head deemed lot of pedantic SNOT to every direction, but turned out pretty good. The hair took pretty much every kind of small dark green pieces I had around, but I think the angled bangs on the forehead give it the needed elegance. The hair was shorter at first, but I later realized that the ponytail disappearing behind the back gave the creation some depth.

Torso and upper legs came out pleasantly streamlined without losing the mobility. I've always found trousers challenging, and this was not an exception, but inverted 4x6 wedge slopes worked surprisingly well with 2x2 brick modified with ball sockets, and the four-stud-wide hip joint made the connection almost seamless. The almost organic feel of the textiles, a scarf tied over the breasts, is captured with very excessive use of curved slopes; I like them very much, it's good to have plenty of them around. Some of them are angled with plate hinges, again covering some of the shoulder joint without devastating the mobility. The curved slopes continue to the sides and the back. I'm very happy with the little detail of Tiyan's scarf being tuck under the belt and continuing over the trousers.

The arms are based on ideas used on Kuohu, but with ball sockets on the shoulder; good mobility seemed natural to martial arts -using character. Tiyan has also leather wrist bands, which helped to hide some construction bits. Again, curved slopes are used to achieve look of muscles on the upper arms. Hands are basic design, while the batons are slightly modified from those I've been using from City Watch characters from Discworld books. Plain lower legs are again adapted from design used on Lingeán, but with 1x1 1/4 circle tiles bringing some elegance. The boots are short not to slow down the user with their weight, and rather thin-soled to retain agility. The joints are sturdy enough to support one-leg poses.

-Eero