2020-07-01

Samurai of the Blood Moon


This was one of the simple character models I made as a relaxing activity during last spring’s hectic schoolwork. It was inspired by Skeleton Warriors, a 90s action cartoon we re-watched during the pandemic (we also watched Lego Elves and we’re currently watching Bravestarr). I also just simply wanted to make another samurai (the latest, samurai of the garden, was built in November 2018, and Samurai Mech in last summer). Samurai armour has plenty of interesting material patterns that inspire new piece uses. This character is not a skeletal samurai (nor skeleton warrior) but idea of skeleton-esque oni mask felt cool.

The first version of the mask was built around astromechanic droid leg as a nose and large eye holes with cheese slopes. It had some potential, but it was too bulky and tall and thus unfitting with the bulky shoulder and neck armour. It was replaced by more streamlined looking skull mask with thin eye holes and delicate nose bones made with barb pieces. I used strong contrasts of black and red to go with the pale mask but added some dark bley so the colour scheme wouldn’t be too close to my black-and red-warriot series I made a year ago. I bet using those long mudguard pieces as the helmet horns isn’t new trick, but it looks good and gives the limelight to those elegantly shaped pieces.

The black bamboo armour built with car bumper pieces is one the seed part uses of this model. I had plenty of those around, without much use for them. I like the rounded shape they give to the torso above the cloth belt. Another piece use was using those weird, U-shaped wedge pieces to form the loincloth. They’re connected in a diagonal pattern with some help from 1x1 quarter round tiles, forming a piece of textile with tattered edges. The neck armour uses octagonal panel with Ninjago dragon sticker, a piece that has been looking for use for some time now. Its edges are furbished with lever bases and 1x1 round plates. The shoulder armour plates limit the movement bit too much, but I like how they line up almost gapless with the other pieces of armour. Bulky shoulder plates are essential part of samurai silhouette.

Using thread links as skirt armour is another old trick, but I haven’t used it for a while, if ever. At least it is easy and looks good with the similar pattern of chest armour. Samurai of the Blood Moon has two swords; permission to carry two swords was essential part of samurai class. The upper legs are easily tackled with large CCBS shells, representing simple trousers. The lower legs I’m especially happy with. The knee armour with its red lines turned out nice.

-Eero







2020-06-28

Aurora Sievert and Hurricane III

This is (supposedly) the final speeder built for my Speeder "bike" contest series. The build was first published on New Elementary with my articles concerning Tipper End family of pieces: Analytical one here and MOC-based one here. I recommend taking a look if you haven't already; they're very intriguing pieces.

This is the only speeder on the series where I built the rider first. Last time with Azure Mayfly resulted some heavy changes on the vessel as I hadn't perceived the size of the figure very well. I wanted to make the speeder special and unique, so I didn't trust on mere intuition with it. But figures are easier. Aurora Sievert began with idea of making a top with white windshield piece as the strap and 90s solar panel piece on the stomach; it would create a sense of shirt tucked into trousers with some linear folds. White made such a nice combination with reddish brown skin, and bow-shaped hole above the bust added a nice contrast. The legs and bracers feature yellow-to-red gradients, a design revamped from Lumière from 2017; however, this time it's perfectly sturdy (Lumière was extremely fragile, but I've gotten better at this). The legs are quite usual overall, with vibrant-coral gaiters, and I'm quite happy with the platform shoes. Interestingly the tires used below the knee are old type with metal axles from 70s. It takes considerable force to separate them from their hubs.

Hair patterns and shapes are interesting subject; often when discovering new parts I find myself asking "can it be used as a hair?". This time the part is stylised flame pieces with marbled dark blue and bright yellowish green pattern. It makes a nice twin-dyed hair, and neither of those shades had not appeared as a hair colour in this project before. The tricky part was the connection: the pieces have only a TECHNIC axle in the end. A pin hole next to would have made them more versatile and frankly more Lego-ish. Now their flow isn't perfect on all shots, I would have liked them to flow behind the figure when riding the speeder.

The speeder! As I mentioned, I wanted to do something different. The first three speeders were quite usual motorbike-like variant, but Azure Mayfly broke this pattern, being inspired by Air Pirate speeders in Miyazaki's Laputa, with the rider hanging on the back with a safety strap (I recently had to re-design the strap as the rubber band gave up). So the first idea was essentially a chair with some wings, radiators and engines stuck into it. I made few sketched during a critique in December (this is already an older model). I'll publish them later on with bunch of others. The I chose the colours. I ended up using yellow, as it hadn't been featured as a speeder colour yet, but is appropately bright and vibrant. One of the main points behind these big speeders is using unusual, large sci-fi-fitting pieces hard to utilize; this time that meant Fabuland car roofs, octagonal Aquazone piping and tipper end pieces.

The tipper ends formed half-a-dodacegon (more about them in the NE article) as the main structure. The width of it is not in the stud coordinate system, so the seat is centered by being freely adjustable on long Technic axles. Another important points of connection are grey ship's wheels on the sides. they're from NE's Parts Festival, and offer sturdy connection to Fabuland car roof radiators (with SNOT construction made with Aquazone piping, as seen on the rear views) and the wings. The wings use Ninjago dragon wing blade pieces in medium blue; their shade looked very nice with the yellow. While the main thrusters are behind the ship's wheels, there are little steering thrusters on the wings, with hot rod exthaust pipes connecting them to the engines. This might actually be the first time I use those pipes on anything, despite having them around for years. They're quite complex pieces. Joysticks for steering are in the middle of the machinery.

The seat uses tan to represent light leather; it would look odd with a figure with tan skin but works here. Making the figure first made designing the seat much easier. Of course it's very hard to sit on, as real soft padding can't be made with hard bricks. Curved pieces are used to make it more believable, and there's even neck support for comfort and ergonomics. Aurora Sievert stays firmly seated with a series of straps and safety belts that make the speeder look like hyperspeed dentist chair from future. The name of the speeder, Hurricane III, refers to Plain Ride's Strange Trial album that has tracks Hurricane #2 and Hurricane #3.

-Eero







































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.