Woolly Mammoth

I think most buiders have a mental array of potential subjects they'd like to build. Not all of them are super big projects like Minifig-scale Cloud City or old Katajanokka. Sometimes they are just regular builds one has never tried their hands on. One of those for me for years was to build a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). Sure, I had built Jörn, my Auronia DnD character, a year ago - he's still alive and kicking in level 5 - but he was a loxodon, a mammoth furry, with spear and bag and cloak and everything; and the old idea was to build a realistic four-legged one straight from the last Ice Age. Quite surprisingly, New Elementary's Bionicle Parts Festival gave a perfect opportunity for it, as one of those Rahkshi backs (my seed part) looked just like a mammoth's face and it did come on old brown. 

I think a prime actor in the excellence of mammoths is their big head with these handsome round shapes; the muscular arragement of the trunk, the high dome of the head and the small ears; and the sloping back with a big hunch. Asian elephant is a lot more closely related to mammoths than the African variant, and some of there features are found in contemporary Elephas maximus. But mammoth combines there shapes with its thick coat of fur and long, curved tusks - what a magnificent beast! The Rahkshi back fitted this animal very well, as well as the variety of wedge slopes and dinosaur tails and dishes. The texture was made with some "ski-slope" armour slopes and grill tiles - and combination of reddish and old brown shades. 

As the mammoth was nevertheless mostly a large brown shape, I also built a patch of Siberian tundra for it to roam on. It has lot of hays, made of tan and dark tan axles: these were mammoths' most important food. For colour I also added some olive green bushed and white tufts of cottongrass, with a small stream of very old trans-clear 2x4 plates. The terrain was inspired by the animal models by Simon Hundsbichler who displayed them in the Lego House with me in 2019-2021.



Queen Namárië

 Queen Namárië was built to accompany an element development article on the new candlestick piece on New Elementary. At first I intended to build just a tablescrap, a bust of a character with a crown made using the piece. I couldn't limit myself into a bust, in the end. Thus I finished the character, while keeping the scale modest - she's quite short compared to most of my similar models; something like a mid-scale along Augur of the Last Peak or even Winona Skyrake. Honestly there could be a stud of two of more lenght in the dress, but I felt that would have made the dark blue area above the Bright Light Orange wedge too long... Well, not everyone is tall. I'm not, for example.

The inspiration of this character lies somewhere along the Valar and the Reigning queens of Númenor, from Tolkien's legendarium (I have been reading Morgoth's Ring and War of the Jewels lately; interesting stuff). The name refers to Galadriel's lament in Fellowship of the Ring. But I wanted to differ from "stereotypical Tolkien art" by adding colour and certain brightness to the mix; lavender hair, for example, and strong contrast between the orange and the blue. There's also a wide range of blue shades, something that ended up looking great; this includes rares colours like old azure-ish colour from Clickits and metal blue from KK2. I'm also very happy with the detached sleeves as I've been waiting to use those pretty trans-purple pot pieces on a character for some time.

As some curious facts, the gentle curve on the sides of the lower part of the dress is an accident; it misses one (vertical) layer of plates and thus the side is "bent" outside the system. Looks good though, so glad I miscalculated it. Also more embarrasingly I forgot to fill the back before photographing (I had a deadline, even) so no back photos. Also the upper torso above the bust uses new-ish 1x3 inverted arches from this year's LUGBULK to capture the curve. They're neat pieces and I think I'll use them in variety of way.



Windle Poons

 A new Discworld wizard dropped! This is Windle Poons, the oldest member of the Unseen University Senior Faculty in Sir Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures and Reaper Man; and he was built as a part of my parts review article on 43196 Belle and the Beast Castle on New Elementary. 

Now this black-and-gold monster wheelchair does not look much like a lavender fairytale castle. This is fair enough. I was only certain that the natural use for a glorious 10x10 dish in dark red would be a wizard's hat and I hadn't built Poons yet so... Poons is became, and the golden turrets of the castle became his array of horns and whistles, and the roofs formed the point of the pointy hat... and even the little horse cart's wheels formed the small front wheel of Windle's chair.

The wheels of Windle's monster chair are based on set 7041 Troll Battle Wheel. I got it as a kid and loved the set (it still looks awesome). Those are the very same hinge bricks, only I changed the spokes black and used a ship's wheel as the hub; it works rather nicely. I'm also happy with the black oilskin roof dome, which gives the chair a somewhat beastial silhouette, reminding an armadillo or something. In all the chair could use a bit more gold, but I somehow didn't have the right pieces.

Windle himself is more polychrome for balance. I gave him a blanket to emphasize his age (most wizards are old, but none as old as him). The blue colour signifies its different origin from usual wizardy garments - though honestly the effect is quite kilt-like. The shoulders and the tummy use newly recoloured 3x3 macaroni slopes from the reviewed set, while the hat is, as mentioned, the hotspot of the seed parts. The face, however, was were most of the labour went. I've used to building old people's faces, which are fun due to all the wrinkles, but this had to look old even compared to them. 

To achieve the age I gave him just a small goatee as if he was running out of jaw; and made the nose comically large, as person's nose grows all his lifetime. His toothless mouth is thin and continues as wrinkles all around the head, and the wild eyebrows portray both confusion on things gone past and irritation for all the modern mischiefs. The hair is coarse and sparse.

And yes - the chair can balance for a wheelie.



Terrain Scout Ulmaris

Now this is old. I re-arraged decent part of my parts collection and emptied my WIP box that was oversized and practically a graveyard for abandoned constructions. Most of them I disassembled, but I chose a few to be completed. Hopefully soon. 

This was the only finished but not published build in the box. It was built in early 2019 or late 2018, contemporary of Slalom Probemaster of similar idea.  With them I wanted to use pieces I normally don't use mostly because they're gray and "robotic"; often this kind of sci-fi things end up being armed to teeth for destruction and I didn't (and still don't) have much interest for such thing. With these models I explored the possibility of unarmed and cool if whimsical big robots. While Slalom was an odd ski-bot, this is probably less eccentric; a saucer with censors and a long grapping arm. Essential part of the idea was the strong silhouette created by having the model only supported by its arm, hovering slightly above the ground on some transparent pieces, while the actual bot would absolutely tower the minifigs. This was made possible with the tight joints of the grappling arm; actually the pincer with its stud-to-pin-hole connection was the seed and beginning of the MOC.

The rest is based on circles, circles and circles: big dishes with palm trunk eyes and censor ears, with round boat stud engines and a round air scoop. There is a metal weight rim from Ninjago spinners on the top. The arm can hold the weight just fine, but it sometimes causes a gentle swaying of the whole build. I find it pleasant, even otherwordy.

I had originally planned a dry half-desert base for this, but I never really completed it, and thus the finished bot was abandoned (though it appeared on Hupicon 2019 event in Helsinki in that year's april). When I revisited this now I felt the half-desert was somehow stereotypical and went for monochromatic lime undergrowth instead, with the minifigures struggling to advance, while the Ulmaris Scout is peacefully floating on, collecting data from the surroundings.

On other news, I'm having a small personal exhibit on my local library in Hervanta (designed by Raili and Reima Pietilä!!! The library). So if you happen to be in Hervanta, check it out. It's at least until 15th of December. And visit me for tea.



Tutorial corner I

Every now and then people ask me for instructions. I've made quite a few and I've usually asked 30-70 € per model (or made them free when selling the model itself). I used to do them by photographing, but that is not ideal and destroys my poor back; fortunatelt Bricklink's Studio CAD is quite good actually and merely overheats my computer. It has also neat built-it instructions maker, so... here are some tutorials. They are not full instructions, though - if you happen to need a sheet for a whole model, please contact me on Flickr (Eero Okkonen) or Instagram (@eerookkonen). Or similar.

This first batch concerns some body parts of two recent builds, Valerie Orion and Augur of the Last Peak. I chose these two models as they have two most common female head designs I use and Valerie's limbs are quite sturdy and univerally adaptable.

 First up, Valerie's head. This is quite usual basic design, fine-tuned for a bit larger-scale figures. Note that there is a half-plate gap between the space connector piece and the black 1x2 plate on step 6. This Stud.io model also emits the Clickits bracelet halo as it's not available in the software. The main hair block's connection (2x2 plate with two studs to top stud of the travis) is not very sturdy and may fall off. 

This uses Slope 45 2 x 1 Double (with inside bar, 3044b). Similar design can be made in reddish brown and dark brown by using Slope 45 2 x 1 Triple with Inside Bar (3048c) or Slope 45 2 x 1 Double / Inverted with Bottom Stud Holder (3049c) as the chin. The neck joint has to be furter back if 3049c is used (in dark brown). Different eye colours can be experimented on.

 Valerie's boot. An inside-out turned Tire 24 x 14 Shallow Tread, Band Around Center of Tread (89201) works as the mouth of the boot. the dark purple ribbon connects to the inside of the holder bar on 1x2 plate. This is a relatively sturdy design. The other boot is, naturally, mirrored.

Valerie's arm. This is a new, unique design without T-bar (not available in tan and rare in reddish brown). It is sturdy, but some 2x2 round bricks might not have enough clutch for the elbow. If it falls of, try another piece! The combination of step 1 was actually upside-down at first, but this version proved more stabile. The round-plate-with-bar piece as the shoulder joint is not perfect, as it has the little ridge on the side; I used a connection to headlight brick's antistud side, but the connection looses somewhat easily. Looks good, though. A pin hole with hollow stud on the other side might also work; and yes, the tiles and curved slopes can be replaced with printed or stickered ones for tattoos.

Augur's head. Stud.io's medium nougat looks very orange, but medium nougat it is. This design is intented for colours without 1x2 double slopes (medium nougat and dark tan), or if a rounder chin shape is desired. It's relatively sturdy, even though the double cheese slopes tend to "live" a bit. IMPORTANT: The old grey piece on step 2 is the old, obsolate version: Plate, Modified 1 x 1 with Light Attachment - Thin Ring (4081a). The regular version with a plate-thick ring won't work. The neck joint is further back than on the head variant above and should be taken into account when designing the torso.

The tutorial corner will return!


Valerie Orion

I tend to keep my models built for a long time. Often older models start to feel outdated with time, and are eventually modified, stripped for some pieces I've ran out, or disassembled completely. But sometimes they grow on me. One of them is Zinnia Superfuzz, a bass player figure I built in 2019. She was on window display for a year or two (I have some triple-glazed windows with nice display space inside). I did make some tweaks, sure - I made the legs a bit shorter for more natural proportions - but in all Zinnia is one of my best works (by the way, she also made a special gig on my review of the new Ideas Fender Statocaster on New Elementary). She was built in slightly larger scale than usual (and required a big hair to make the usual-scale face look natural!) and that scale felt interesting for further experienting, so I built two other original characters, fiddler Doreen Inverardi and drummer Virva Staccato to accompany her on a band. And here's the fourth member, Valerie Orion, who plays a guitar. 

I aimed for similar overall feel than on Zinnia. Doreen was more "out there" - her starting point was a very heavy and brightly coloured skirt that prevented lot of mobility, and pretty much everything on her turned out somehow bizzare or hipster-like. Virva was a drummer from the beginning, which meant ability to sit and therefore trousers. So with this new guitarist I wanted to pursue elegant dress design with enough poseability and some cool boots. I was also excited by the big amount of brightly-coloured curved slopes I had recently bought, and they guided the process. I began with the dress, which originally had black and bright yellowish green; the green was dropped as the feel was too much like "poison-themed villainess" and I lacked anything else than those curved slopes and 1x2 bricks. Bright light yellow replaced it. The another main colour ended up being dark purple, a colour that has also recently grown on me. Forming the neck strap with those small Elves banners defined the attire.

The flanks use similar technique to Tam the Enchanter, but with some extra movement; the large cockpit parts are connected via 1x2 plates with clip on ends. They're somewhat fragile, but hollow enough to allow enough movement to the upper legs. This meant I was able to build full legs with realistic waist lenght - on comparison Zinnia's legs start half way up the thigh, just above the hemline! The front flap is very simple or even "crude" but the studded surface allowed me to add ornaments with round tiles; tiling the the whole flap would have looked too heavy and zigzaggy on the edges. The gaps on the skirt are conscious choice for poseability, and I though that line between the stocking and skin would be nice detail.
The previous figures of the series had all black hair so I chose to continue this motif. They also all had rubber hair - Zinnia's used Hero Factory ammo belts and others' tire pieces. I tried some tires on Valerie too, but they didn't fly. Instead I made an asymmetrical curved slopes and bow pieces type of hair - mostly to give some wildness to contrast the bound and symmetrical hairs of the others. Doreen and Zinnia had these wild hair ornaments, so Valerie got some too - a small serpent-themed hair clip, a big star with trans-purple innard (hence the name Orion - Zinnia's name derives from a flower, appearing on her dress) and a big trans-neon-green Clickits wrist band that shines brilliantly!

From the beginning I new I wanted to make a transparent "acrylic" guitar. I saw Jussi Lehtisalo playing one in Rättö & Lehtisalo few years ago (before the pandemic) and the idea came back to me - I was sure it would look great in brick form. This is not a remake of that specific instrument (I didn't find any photos) but just a random, made-up guitar; the body is somewhat close to Stratocaster, but with symmtrical headstock. Light reflects nicely in different innards of the pieces in it.
The whole band is not here yet - I have several ideas more. Maybe it'll end up being a big band? Time will tell. Until next time!

PS. The boat stud on the right hand is black on some photos and tan in some. It should be black. There was a small accident during the shoot (there usually is) and I lost the original black one. No wonder I didn't find it as I was looking for tan one instead of black! But that's not a huge problem - she just has different bracers on some shots.