2021-04-10

Doreen Inverardi

 About two years ago, after North Sea trip that included visits to official brand stores in London and Glasgow, I built a figure named Zinnia Superfuzz; she was a bass player with rad flower-motif dress and tall heeled boots. She was on display inside our kitchen window for more than a year. Recently we got new windows, the old ones being very leaky, and I haven't yet created new display there. But taking Zinnia out of her glass cage made me finally do some tweaks on her, removing two units of lower leg to make the proportions match better. There are some photos on the end of this post.

Making changes to Zinnia made me think about building the whole band. I've made a band before, of course: a real-life one, Circle from Pori, currently on display at the LEGO house in Billund, where it can be observed by the Danes (or at least the company employees). However, those Circle figs were much smaller. On Zinnia I had deliberately aimed for larger figure, just for a change, and it enabled different piece uses than my usual scale, even though it made the head look tad small. That was obviously balanced with the huge hair.

As this was a fictional band, I could choose the instruments freely. I had a bass, a good base for any band to build upon. Actually, when I began building this, I had no clear idea about the instrument, except it was not going to be drums - she can't sit with that skirt! After finishing I ended up givin her a violin, which looks like a side-build from Friends set. I also managed to use Clickits wrist band as the horse-tail hair of the bow! It was based on a tablescap I made several years ago. I also toyed around a idea of synth with elegant stand made of dinosaur tail parts, but that didn't fly.

The dress tablescrap was the de facto starting point. I had it around on my table for many months, serving as a throne for knitted Krtek Pinja made. Its size was perfect for larger scale figure, as the waist hole was 4x4. Everything on it is angled around 19 degrees from the central axis, which made actual connections pretty much impossible; I ended up just bracing it between parts on 3L bar. The Clickits ring tops this bar. It was frustrating to fiddle with, but ended up being sturdy enough! The flowers refer back to Zinnia's dress. I wanted to make the entirety different from her cool black attire though, being bold with warm colours and vibes. I had wanted to make red heeled shoes for a while, and small coral jacket with sporty stripes felt like a nice challenge. It turned out pretty good with my limited coral collection! Pinja suggested pink so I gave her dark pin shirt underneath it. The black rim circles the bare stomach nicely, reflecting the back parts of the dress, as well as the black fingerless gloves. The sparkling ascot - an Elves cape - was a spontaneous addition, but I think it works very well. I'm always happy to use odd minifig cloths on completely different scale MOCs. 

Then there was the hair. As I mentioned before, scale this big with the usual face design needs large hair to balance things out; otherwise it ends up looking like a tomato on a gravestone. On Zinnia I used mass of Hero Factory ammo belts stuffed with flowers. I went with similar route, using rubber wheels. I ended up being around 4 kg of wheels recently (Mostly interesting ones - Power Puller wheels are heavier than you think!) and had been experimenting with them. With the big balloon ones I made hair that was vaguely 80s feel, with large back lock and front bangs. But it was very heavy. The center of weight ended way too far up, and the figure toppled too easily. So I changed into smaller, more elegant tires. I had never had smooth, thin bike tires before, and they are very convinient! At first I positioned them A-shaped, flowing downwards - but with the jacket and the skirt there was too many A:s on top of each other, and the composition looked downcast. To brighed it up, I braced them upwards. It's a very futuristing hairstyle, something like a pumped-up Princess Leia look. Clam ornament with some heart earrings completed it.

-Eero.


















2021-04-05

J. Blom's Wholesale and Retail building

Due to the pandemic and lack of events and exhibits my LUG Palikkatakomo ry has been organizing more contests than usual. In winter 2021 it was time for modular building contest. The previous one had been in 2015 (I got the third prize, Ideas Birds, which was Not Bad At All), so plenty of time had been passed! On that contest, my entry was Ambrose Street 23, which was also my first modular ever... Since I've build around 20 modulars, so I had bit more experience.

Against all my habits I chose to build an actual, real-world building. At least partially. I've been talking about this before, but buildings, real-world central-area stone buildings are BIG. In minifig scale, that means large, very large MOCs. In 1900 in Helsinki average apartment house depth was 15 meters; If used formula 2,5 units (studs) per meter that would mean depth of 37,5 units, and with 3 studs per meter 45 units! By width, some Amsterdam-style townhouses probably fit a baseplate, but your average Finnish turn-of-century fastighetsaktiebolaget won't fit on two baseplates (or moduverse modules). My solution has been creative freedom - capturing the spirit of the age and architecture rather than forcing real-world solutions.

I didn't here. I went full-on on real building, proportions and all. The building I chose fitted 32 studs wide plot well enough. The interior wouldn't have. I had no idea about, it really: the house was demolished 71 years ago. There was no photos of the interior. Town archive probably has the floor plans, but with pandemic and everything, I didn't want to bother them. They were probably closed, too. But what, exactly, is this weird house?

Tampere was a city with major textile industries. John Blom was one of the first sellers of ready-made men's clothing. Novgorod-born architect August Krook designed Blom's commercial building in Kauppakatu 12, next to Pohjoismaiden Yhdyspankki building. The building was completed in 1904. It is a striking and strongly decorated building, inspired by contemporary Vienna architecture, the secession movement. Especially M. Kühn's one family house in Vienna, presented in Austian magazine Der Architekt (well known in Finland at the time) is clearly similar. The retail building sold fabrics and clothing. It was demolished in 1950 to make room for a more effective housing block.

I began the process by scanning the facade drawing, dividing it into 32-wide grid and then planning the widths of each elements. The 1x6x5 panels, working as big windows, had to be prolonged with trans-clear 1x2x5 bricks. The techniques are quite usual, but the actual brick construction was difficult due to lack of white pieces in general: I was also working on another white building (published soon!) and it has drawn dry my whites. It still felt best colour to use: the paragonous Vienna architects preferred it, and while I did not know the exact colour of Krook's plans, he might have been using white, or a very-very light yellow, tan or grey (I didn't have much yellow or light yellows neither, which helped to choose white). 

The main challenges were the top-floorw windows, curved framework on second-floor windows and the overflowing plant-motif ornamentation. The top-floor windows are made with lot of SNOT; I wish they made more concave slopes, but no luck - "emptiness" of arch brick undersides make them look unappealing! I also wanted to leave enough connections for the leafs around the weird windows. I used yellow new-ish leaf pieces at first, but the colour combination looked too omelette-like, so I switched into pearl gold. Based on photos those leaves looked very shining; on straight sunlight they almost disappeared. Gold leaf ornaments were also used by Joseph Maria Olbrich in Secession pavillion, and Krook was definitely familiar with that building. However, creating the pattern in pearl gold was hard, and the result is bit of a compromise. The middle section ornaments, utilising sausage-to-plume-hole -connection, turned out better, and was easier to construct. I'm very happy with the lamps; the round ends of old whip pieces have been crammed inside trans-clear minifig heads, places inside the round fish-bowl things. 

The back and the sides are appropriately plain, featuring bare brick walls; the firewalls are without any aperture, as required on the building order. I still wanted to include some detail on backside. There is a horse tied to beam, using Friends bridle piece, a little shack as usual, and the boss of the place arguing the tailor about new batch from the factory. It's simple little scene, but creates the contrast between the artistic, international and shining facade and the everyday life inside the block, with its earthy tones.

As usual, I didn't build the interiors. The real building had a splendid white staircase and an elevator to the storing space on the attic, but those would not have fitted the 32x32 module, as described above. I compensated the lack of interior by adding some textile samples to the big windows; I'm especially happy with the Japan-inspired one with cherry blossoms and black branches. But it's not a proper interior, and couldn't compete with the detail-filled and refined furnishings of my LUG mates, who scored better. Well-earnedly so.

-Eero.






2021-04-01

Shōgunocturn

 Nocturn was pretty cool set, back in 2007. I remember everyone liking Nocturn. He had cool glow-in-the-dark parts, snazzy combo on transparent blue and lime, bizzare head with jutting lower jaw and four arms. In Finland, it was exclusive on some toy stores only existing in southern Finland, so I bought my copy on trip to some Pokemon TCG match in Helsinki. My interest on TCG was already fading, so getting Nocturn was, honestly, probably the most impactful thing on the trip. 

Everybody loved Nocturn in 2007 and he's still liked, so when group of Bionicle builders plan collaboration on 2007 sets, more than one might end up picking Nocturn. So... Oops, all Nocturn! I didn't want to distract too far from the original set, so this is somewhat usual reboot. However, and unsurprisingly, the samurai aesthetics ticked again back in! Maybe it was the two-toe feet of the set, or wide pauldron-like shoulder spikes, or twin katanas, but there was something very, very vaguely samurai-like in Nocturn. I emphasized it by making the shoulders more pauldron-like, utilizing common lime green dinosaur tails from Mars Mission line. I also gave him longer horns to make the silhouette even more radical; the crest has Sinestro print fron Green Lantern sets, which fitted the aesthetics nicely; I know nothing about Green Lantern, but the print is cool and got several cheap. 

As with Botar, the eyes are mirrors of soul, so I wanted them sharper than those light-bulb like ones on original set. They're simiral to Borat, featuring 1x1 round plates with hole, connected to T-bars with their lovable plume holes forming a penetrating stare. Usually the extra knobs on T-bars would be a problem, but here they just gave Noc two extra teeth! His lower jaw, originally using piraka foot, was re-designed to fit more visible white teeth. I also added a tongue, as that felt fitting to Oni theme and monster feel in general. Red also bounced up well among the blue and green.

On legs, I wanted to create flowing shapes very different from the clunky legs of the set. The lower leg piece is the same, however; and two-toe feet, albeit much smaller, refer back to both samurai socks and the set. Using those weird Starts Gresh armour pieces was one of the original goals, and I'm very happy for the feet turned out. The arms, on ther hand, are mostly trans-medium blue, mixed with glowing parts of the original. Building them meant facing age-old problem of Bionicle builders: Most of the ball sockets are more or less broken and don't have enough friction to hold the weapons up! Bionicle building is hard, and not least due to this issue. Partly for this reason the back arms are very system-heavy.

And the weapons! Original set has two katanas, stupid squid launcher and silver tentacle. I kept the swords, of course, as they were fitting for the theme. I thought about making a realistic crossbow, but had no idea how to pose it on lower arms, so I went with a exaggerated Japanese kanabo mace instead. The tentacle turned into a silly chain weapon with small blades. I had designed that one for pre-Pit Kalmah model 8 years back, but that one was never finished, and the chain idea was forgotten. Until now. With those weapons, he's actually not very shogun-like, but more like big mid-boss goon that gets killed by the hero's mentor. Strong but dumb.

And hey - March wasn't that much of an architecture month after all. My LUGs contest jugding is late, so I haven't been able to post the model that was the middle part of my "white buildings" trilogy. But everything is ready, photographed and edited. Just waiting to be posted.

-Eero.








2021-03-21

Jean of Emergent Dance

Here's again stuff from more of the archive side! This model, Jean of the Dance Eternal, was build to accompany a series of articles written for New Elementary last summer. It was recently published on the second part of it, so here's a bit closer look, with more photos. There isn't any genius groundbreaking idea behind the build; just a dancer on smart blue-and-yellow dress. Simple, elegant, flowing thing. The seed part for the article was Wedge 4 x 3 Open with Cutout and 4 Studs (47755), a veteran of many Samurai helmets and so on - here embedded on the sides of the torso, taking all out of it's myriad of curves. 1x2 curved slope - a baby bow -  even demonstrates the concave of it. Another, more usual seed part is 4x6 inverted wedge slope, nine of which make the hem. They're connected with Mixel ball joints. The stucture is suprisingly sturdy.

The arms were laboratory of joints. They use light bley 1x1 round plates with bar - I've later got plenty of tan ones and naturally changed them - and the joints are made with 1x2 round plates. Such usual stud-to-antistud connections are not the sturdiest possible, but bear the weight of arms just nicely. The legs are further developed from Magadril of Dandelions; the kneecap is sturcturally part of the lower leg, which make the leg flow better than usual separate knee unit solution. The interface of dark bley stocking and tan skin is hidden behind the boat studs. Mundane dark bley balanced the vibrant blue and bright light orange well.  

This MOC ended up having wonderful balance! There is not any loosely twisting and spinning bits, all the joints are tight and precise, and the arms have very natural range of movements - not to mention the long, simple ponytail, ideal for fine-tuning the balance, and showing the motion. It can be seen on the set of photos, but I promise it is not the last you will see of Jean the Emergent Dance. But that will be another story!

Next up, more architecture!

-Eero.