Roller Girl

 This model was built for a New Elementary review on 31148 Retro Roller Skate. I requested to review this set because its bright pink tyres; inside-out tyres have been used by builders for years to create organic shapes impossible with regular pieces. Those shapes were even more exclusive in 10 or 15 years ago when the palette of curved slopes was much smaller. However, those shapes remained exlusive to black. Lego released some non-black tyres - you can find more about them on the article - but those were small ones, unable to be turned inside out. This changed this year when this innocent Creator rollerskate was released, alongside with two Space supertheme Technic sets with light bley wheels. I haven't got those, but I'd like to try them.

But for now, it's pink time. The set was a retro roller skate so I designed a retro roller skater with a same colour scheme (especially on the skates). I used one tyre on as a tank top, leaving still three more for othe builds. Additionally, some light aqua parts from the set are used on the skirt. The first version has a short, black hair, but I went with medium nougat as the black contrasted to heavily with the overall bright but serene scheme. I added a bit contrasting black with the ear buds, though - as the element they're quite "graphic", a thin curving line to contrast on those large, light colour areas.

As a process this was a fast and relatively easy. The legs were recycled from an old WIP that didn't need them (the design had took another direction away from those bare legs). The arms recycle old tricks anyway. The main goal was to display the piece usage and it worked effortlessly. The rest was simply establishing the nature and the feel of this character.

- Eero.


First on Mars


In June 2028 the Mars Race yielded a shocking and final result: having jumped into the compedition with a major underdog position, the frogs made it into the red planet before any human-occupied spacecrafts. Despite their shortcomings (no written language, no universities), it turned out that launcing a 14-gram Pelophylax ridibundus with a 20-gram space suit took a lot less rocket fuel and advanced engines than, for example, 80 000 gram human with a 100 000 gram space suit.

It's needless to say that her first words upon stepping into the Martian surface was "ribbit".

This is my first build for Bio-Cup 2024 with the preliminary round theme of Space. This high-octane contest once again drives me to use less System pieces than usual. This one started simply with the lovely metallic silver 90s wheel hubs and thei combination with a half of Buzz Lightyear's bubble canopy (I have two of the female half and none of the male). They fitted nicely together, and applying a second wheel on the top defined the whimsical, somehow chef-like atmosphere. The bulky legs followed this. I think I suspected it would turn into a frog somehow, and it did. The hardest part of the model was to shoot it without too large obscuring reflections on the canopy; you can see my reflection holding up a big sheet of cardboard. The second hardest part was to connect the canopy by its side holes while still leaving enough room for the frog's large, magenta cheeks.



Vainolaista vastaan

This is was my entry to Palikkatakomo's spring contest with the theme of "Medieval Diorama". I wanted to build something local and explore things that are often matginalized by the most common things in "castle" builds - that is, literal castles and knights and armies. Finland has some medieval castles, including Olavinlinna, which is the world's northmost medieval castle; but medieval time began here only in 12th century. Until then there was no written language; there was not Finland, of course, but there were people, Iron Age groups of Savonia, Tavastian and, of course, Karelian folk. Their culture was no less sophisticated (nor interesting) than those in Central Europe. I got the fourth place in a tight, high-quality roster of 19 builds.

So this model is about roots in a very literal sense. But it is also topical, as it is inspired by the last winter, the very cold winter of 2024. The idea of the scene is derived from Pekka Halonen's early painting with the same name, featuring a group of slightly whimsical-looking men in linen shirts and dome cap hats sneaking on a lakeside cliff with spears and axes. I transferred the scene to winter, again taking insipiration from Halonen's winter landscapes - he made hundreds of them during his long career. But this landscape is also inspired by Hervantajärvi's hiking area very close (1 km) by, with its high pinewood cliffs over the lake. 

I wanted to achieve a feel of vigilant stubborness. He has heard of strange folk and strange ways from the east and the west. He's accompanied by a Finnish Spitz, suomenpystykorva, the national dog breed of Finland; a hunting and guarding breed from the dawn of the times. The dog was not part of the original idea but felt very fitting to the theme and the colour harmony of the whole.

Most of this was, once again, about building rocks, which is neither very fun nor inspiring. The rocks were to be covered with thick snow on organic and fantastic shapes; this was the central aesthetics here. The base had to be high enough to make an impression of a look-out, but the whole model, pine tree included, had to fit between to top shelf and the ceiling. I ended up jutting the tree on a lower outcrop but adding two smaller rocks on the top to enhance the three-dimensionaly of the composition.

The tree was the most challenging and interesting bit to build. The idea is based on pines I built for Villa Mauski, an another Palikkatakomo contest entry from last year.  This is larger, however, and the lumped snow (tykkylumi) makes it a lot heavier, just like the real thing; the trunk and the branches had to be strong, and the snow had to be as light as possible while still looking plausible. There is a long flex tube (rigid 3.18 mm tube) running through most of it. The bottom part includes a long liftarm that is securely connected to the base. On the colours, I replaced medium nougat of the Villa Mauski trees with the more fitting nougat. All of it it likely from the UCS Landspeeder I reviewed for New Elementary a couple of years ago. The top part is orange, which is very bright but still accurate - at least on pines on direct sunlight. I like its brightness, it compliments the more down-to-earth olive green nicely. And the macaroni tubes, essential for the branches, are available in it... The largest branch has to be removed while moving this model around, or either the flex tube in the trunk will wilt and go all sloppy due to the tremors.

The figure was far easier than the rest. It is faithfully based on research; clothing guides of Finnish history reenactment and live role playing societies helped me here. I ended up with a warm hues, possible with plant- and earth-based dyes, some fur on the boots and the hat, and a sole but pretty piece of jewelry on the tunic. The spear (as a ski pole) was part of the original idea, with its hole in the snow made using a modern turntable base. I like its small point in contrast to huge ones prominent in fantasy art. The bow was a very late addition - it felt natural and emphasized the vigilance of the composition. I'm particularly happy with the connection of the zipline string into the bow! 

The figure became a self-portrait. This was a subconscious development but an inevitable one. It's the beard, I couldn't have left it out. It's not dissimilar to my beard. And I use a fur-leather hat in the winter. though one with more prominent ear flaps. It's totally an iron age me.

The dog took some tries, as I haven't built things like this a lot. I'm happy with the bohrok eye ears, but the eye area wasmore challenging. Lucklily, the polychromy of these white-to-orange dogs allowed a wider roster of parts, although the gradients are not as beautiful that on the real animals. The dog is essential part of the model, though, adding a touch of lighthearted humour to it.



Baroness Ruby

This moden began as a innocent counterpart of Princess Sapphire. The model was successful with its use of transparent colours, trans-purple and trans-blue. I wanted to make something similar with other colours and investigated my inventories of trans-yellow, trans-green and trans-red. My trans-yellow collection was smaller than I remembered, and trans-green was concentrated on a couple of part types in large quantities. Trans-red didn't fare much better, but at least I had enough basic parts in it for background support uses. 

The bloody yet regal trans-red directed towards more dramatic and even gothic feel that the bright, magical sword and sorcery style of Princess Sapphire. It took a turn to a military-esque anime vibe, an uniform with golden buttons. And the process was a far less straightforward. This creation standed headless on my desk for weeks, and many parts once established had to change.

What remained of the orginal proposals are the windscreens on the upper legs, the macaroni tube belt, and the loincloth thing with the printed gold bits. All iterations had golden buttons, but their position changed and changed. The arms remained relatively identical thorought the process; only the single pauldron was a late addition. The feet parts were nailed at the first go - they have a surprisingly complicated structure.

The first active phase ended with the establishing of the Technic figure helmet breastplate with its golden ornaments. This was followed by a few-week hiatus with growing dissatisfaction; the legs were too thing and unfocused, all the heads looked too large. I began and even finished some projects during the time between, until deciding that I have to finish this or it'll end up standing headless on my tabel for years. I re-made the legs I wasn't happy with and added the cape. It's actually Chirrut's (Salta Pinnar's) skirt. Capes helped me to define characters twice recently, with Princess Sapphire but also with Tahu last year. It worked here, too. I'm particularly happy with the golden adornments that help to pull it down. It was a shoulder cape, so I applied the single pauldron on the other side. I also ended up with a striking, asymmetrically coloured hairstyle. Only when almost finished I realised that it'll probably remind some people of the dog-eating Disney villain. I've seen barely any Disney films, so it was not obvious to me; I'm not kidding. I was thinkin a bit of Finnish popular musician Vesta who has (or had at some point) similarily dyed hair.

The sword and the scabbard were the last additions. I wanted to include a blade to mirror Princess Sapphire, and had planned to build one using a sole 1x6 inverter curved slope in trans-red. Howerver, the style deemed more finesse, and I settled with a more elegant fencing sword.


PS: Check my freshly published article on the recent Notre-Dame de Paris set on New Elementary.


Princess Sapphire

 This is one of those pleasant models that started with playful fiddling of parts and ended up being a neat, original character. Okay, these are some issues, and more of them later, but generally I think it ended up nice. I began with the upper legs, combining the trans-purple vase-dome thi(n)gs with a ice crystal tech dreamed up earlier by Panuvara somewhere. The strongy settled the aesthetics onto something like futuristic fantasy with synthetic, vibrant materials and sparkling style.

I wanted the body shape to be muscular and strong to create a contrast with the flower motifs and lavender touches. The new bunch of leaves piece, from a set I just reviewed for New Elementary, made an unique chest plate; style is here more imporant that realistic protection. A selction of printed a stickered parts had fitting colour, and the trans-blue belt gave extra depth to the colour palette. I didn't have that much of the initial trans-purple to use, but later on trans-blue worked nicely on the bracers.

The various opal (or satin) pieces defined this character and, indirectly, caused a lot of trouble. I had got a good lot of those thin wavy things from Bricklink for cheap and I used them both on the hair and the skirt. There isn't any good ways to connect them in the same colour, so I made a helmet and emulated a way the hair would billow from under it; the effect isn't perfect, but I managed to make the hair considerably bushy by utilising binoculars to maximise the amount of connection points. The strands go sligthly under the shoulder line, which means they occasionally pop off when turning the head; this is the minor problem. The major problem is the skirt. The horribly flimsy connector uses the plume bars in the ends of the sausages (sounds cool, right) to connect into the plume holes in the end of 1x1 round plates with bars. Now this connectin isn't very strong, obviously, but it's not the most problematic bit, no; that's the sausage itself, which allows nice clip connections if the clips are positioned plumb toward the concave or the convex. If the clips are positioned on the side of curve, as indeed they are here, they constantly want to plop into the previously mentioned state. This is because the curve stresses the clips more. Combined with the risky plume hole connection, the skirt is prone to exploding on mere thought and that's not fun. It looks nice though; but probably some other technique would have been better... One strives to make his builds sturdy and pleasant to handle, and in general terms succeedingly, but then such visual details ruin the effect. Hehe.

That's the venting bit. What else? I like the colour contrast of the pearl gold detail and I was happy to use those glorious opal pink fern pieces. They add an upwards curve to the silhouette of the model, making it brisker; this is something I've noted many times. The Gen II Bionicle mask was weird enough to work as a shoulder armour, giving a bit of asymmetry. The boots are decidedly simple to avoid the character becoming too full of stuff, as the torso and the helmet were already quite complex. It took, however, many tried to get the boots right. The final design borrows from an older model of mine, SOAR-SWIFT IV, with sligtly elarged soles to fit the heavier-set balance of Princess Sapphire.

The cape was a late addition. I liked how it underlined the regality of the character, and also the slight asymmetry established with the shoulder armour. It also made possible to use the Prince of Persia dagger as an ornamental brooch, something I've wanted to do for a long time.