2019-07-18

The Mole


The Mole, originally Krtek, is a cartoon character created by Czech animator Zdeněk Miler. He has appeared in 50 animations between 1956-2002. The mole is curious, friendly and caring and thus great paragon to us all. The animations vary from couple of minutes to half an hour in length and apart from the debut, "How the mole got his trousers", do not feature any narration or dialogue. Character's non-figurative exclamations were voiced my Miler's daughters. This was to have the cartoons understandable in every language without need of dubbing. The mole cartoons have been very popular in several countries, including many Central European countries, Russia, India, Japan, Iraq and, naturally, Finland. I loved them as a child, and the golden memories haven't faded unlike with most children's TV shows. I especially remember an episode where the mole and his friends moved into an artificial forest made of plastic. I also had couple of books on the subject and still have two tea mugs. It's also noteworthy that children's play area cars in Finnish trains have large images of the Mole in them. 

I tend to build things that interest me, visually and otherwise. Building the Mole had been on my short list for quite long. I had actually build another mole few years ago - A build titled "I am a Mole", based on YUP song. However, that mole less friendly and curious and more of an underground renegade hedonist. I do not know if Miler's animations inspired that song in 1993; it might be, as the Mole is well-known for children in Finland since 70's. When word "myyrä" is mentioned in Finnish, I'd guess that at least 35% of people think the character immediately. 

But anyway, moles are cool so I finally began building this one last summer (this was finished in April - I'm trying to reach myself badly). I began with the face, sculpting the pointy red nose and oval eyes above it; the "tooth" 1x1 tiles would have made better pupils, but I don't have them in black. They eyes are quite thick, as this one exist in three-dimensional world rather than two-dimensional animated one, but I doubt that's a problem. The mouth was a tad more difficult. It is black in the animation, as a mouth-hole; but making a hole would have been difficult, so now it is sort of a negative of the hole - that is, a black area over the grey background, consisting of Nexo shield and some wedge plates. Bar-clip "robot hand" pieces form the corners of the mouth, creating the happy smile. Their connection is hidden inside the cheeks. It was challenging to change the 2D features into a three-dimensional model, but I think the results radiate appropriate cheerfulness. After the face I build the stomach with hourglass-like shape and some roundness done using curved slopes; studs are left on border sections to evade blockiness. And then I left the project for several months until maybe March when I though that hell, the Mole needs some attention. I wanted to finish it for HupiCon that was in April.

After the hiatus I began working the the body shape, which is very round and cylinder-like. 3x3x2 rounded corner slopes are the key feature, forming the head and framing the face in natural roundness. The rest was pretty much formed around them in mathematical harmony of SNOT, curved slopes, tiles and some cheese, all in monochrome black. Technically, it's not very exciting, but I had to rethink some areas couple of times. There isn't much details neither, save the three hairs on the mole's head. I tried old hose pieces at first, but they didn't work. Slightly curved (as they usually are) rigid hoses made the job pleasantly.

Sticking from his cylinder body the Mole has tiny feet and large arms. The feet and hands are actually closer to flesh shade, but ordinary parts are not available in flesh, so I substituted it in tan; I doubt anyone notices without reference images that they're wrong shade. The feet are connected with rounded 1x1 plates with bars so they can be posed into a jumping stance, though it only looks natural if you hold the model in hand. The arms don't move. They're connected to the torso with click joints, but there are no movement to ensure as gapless connection as possible. The mole's arms are tube-like, but making them identically continual cylinders would have looked unnatural; Thus there some stepping. 180 degree SNOT with old car roofs is used to cover both under and top sides with curved slopes. The hands are connected with TECHNIC pins so they can be turned. Round brick fingers are angled with plate swivel joints, while the thumbs are clearly thumb-like to distinct them from the other fingers.

The Mole is also my first LEGO Ideas project. Ideas has produced some of the best sets of the last decade, and I have been wondering if I should give it a chance. Until now I haven't mostly because I don't like advertising my work. So I don't have very high hopes on this - but it's an experiment anyway, and it's interesting to see how popular the little Mole, or my version of him, really is. 

-Eero
 




2019-07-08

MANEUVER-STRATAGEM IV


It's summer and I've been traveling a bit, but here I'm again, posting a creation for you. This is the fifth part of IV series of futuristic figures dressed in red and black. It's the last one for now, meaning I don't have any left waiting to be posted; but I have some ideas for what this theme would still have to offer, so time will tell. 

MANEUVER-STRATAGEM IV is a unit for strategic planning actions. I wanted to build something with a theme of officer's gear to command more action-based characters. Everything is a bit grander here. RADIANT-EXERT IV already featured some gold details, so adding some here felt natural. I also wanted to make sort of mantle-like attire with Clickits buttons. These were the starting points for this build concept-wise, but actually the build began as sort of compromise: I had designed the lower legs during Christmas time at my parents' home with pieces I had bought from Pii Poo at Helsinki on the way to North Carelia; they were designed for RESIST-BOISTEROUS IV at first, but as the knees didn't bend enough, they were unfitting for motorbike-riding posture. They fit this concept though, being a bit over-the-top with knee armour shaping. The only change they went from the original design built with very limited array of parts was changing 1x4 slopes into the weird TECHNIC sloped holding the knee pads.
Black and red have a fantastic contrast, so dividing them into strong colour blocks has felt ideal on this series. The shoes are dark red mostly for part selection reasons. They have one stud taller heels that the other builds on this series, as this character is less battle-focused. Heigh gives some authority, too. Maybe the different colour difference with the armour suggests that the shoes can be changed into something more reasonable if needed, though reason and sense are not very high priority on this series, to be honest. The upper legs are black and simple, as usually, and dark red skirt hides the joint areas; I'm particularly happy with the dark red line between it and the mantle. I wanted the mantle to have a strong profile, and it is composed with bit round pauldron (one of the best CCBS parts) and coattails using dinosaur tail pieces. The leeves are red with new armoured elbows. Golden wrist cuffs and red lines on upper torso are bringing some wealth to the attire. The hands were a nuisance, as I wanted the character to have darker skin shade, and skeleton arms don't come in brown. Exo-force robot arms would have been to bulky and clip/bar hole connectors too short. I settled with black battle droid arms as a compromise. They have some elegance, but the feel bit too thin and the clips on the ends bug me a bit. But you can't always win, no.

I wanted to design an afro-inspired outstanding, curly hair. 2x2 round plated can be used to build an interesting patterns. I've used them as smoke and steam before, and similar design in black looked great as curly hair. It has sort of joints all over, so it can be easily twisted in different shapes. I'm quite happy with it. 

To emphasize the strategic task of the character, I built a planning table type thing for her. I'm happy with the base that uses odd parts like hot air balloon ladders, dice and plane tails; Unfortunately the surface of the table is not visible on the photos, it's made of 1x1 tiles in trans-red over white plates. There are models of some futuristic yet dark building on it to plan attacks on bad guy's lair. The tallest tower is based on those that will be build on Tampere's city centre. I believe their effect on the cityscape won't be entirely good.

The next build will be a small animal.

-Eero


































2019-06-17

The Blue Angel of Hallow

I'm catching up with the creations, and this is probably from April. I began earlier with legs, added the wings at some point and finished with the head; so this was standing on a table for month without upper body and then another without a head. In other words, I had no clear image when I started building. This is not completely unusual in builds not based on anything particular.


The Blue Angel of Hallow is a superdigital being who watches over multimedia connections, protecting people from malignity and sourness. As a build, she was sort of counteraction to red-and-black series of characters and new "red period" of creations overall; I wanted to do something bit similar but simply in blue, which is vibrant and common colour, and while not very exciting, offers wide range of parts, including lot of curved slopes. I mixed together some magenta, which is exciting shade and also quite beautiful. I didn't have that much of it, but it felt enough to be blasted into a creation.

I began with the lower legs. Blue Carapar armour was the key piece. It comes only in one Power Miners set, which I don't even have, but I have acquired six from some other sources; I'm not sure but I might have got one or two of them while building this, which sounds like destiny or something. Anyway, the knee joint is behind the upper pair of these parts on leg, so it acts as an individual knee pad. I like the layered look they give, and bit of magenta mudguard that trims the knee joint behind them. The shoes are quite usual boot type, again hiding the grey ball socket, as those buggers seem to be colour blocked forever. The upper legs are dark tan to bring some contrast to the bright colours; Like she would wear a pair of ordinary if high-waist trousers under the armour. The shape is quite flowing, and I was afraid it would look too thin near the hip joint. Fortunately the "loincloth" piece hides most of the gap.


The loincloth, or more like skirt, is a trick I've been waiting to use for some time. They're solar panels from 1999 Town Space Port theme. The actual side of the sticker sis cool, with silver glittery pattern and some numbers, but the clear treasure lies underside - deep blue, glittery pattern. Four are used there, and they bring otherwordly yet modern feel to the build. They also make the blueness of the build more consistent. They hang (well, one of the really doesn't) from the brown belt. Above it the breastplate recycled the design from Ruki, a Klaanon creation from 2016. The cat tail piece is another one I wanted to use there, as I hardly ever build anything blue, and they seemed to fit the elegant nature of the design here. Around them there is some asymmetry with the colours. Such design element felt fitting and was supported by the inventory of magenta parts available. Mudguards again form the holes for the arms. It's an old trick I've been using on some Ankh-Morpork City Watch characters, but the bright colours here bring it up better. I have one 1x2 curved slope wedge in blue, so it was ditched here for absence of better use; 2x2 macaroni tile on the "magenta side" has some likeness of shape theme of the cat tail parts under it.

Carapar armour parts on the shoulders are attached to joints in way that they can slide over the shoulder, keeping the same silhouette. They're supposed to look like stuffed shoulders on certain types dresses, and I think they do their job nicely. I like using unusual parts like those. The arms overall are quite basic, if very SNOT heavy; Then again, these days, what isn't? There is a one innovation though, and that is connecting the new-ish round-plate-with-bar into anti-stud side of a headlight (heavy hobby lingo here, sorry) so the small support in the middle of bar part slides inside the headlight, thus eliminating the otherwise irritating two millimeter wide gap. Great yeah? I don't have any 2x2 round tiles in blue or magenta, so the inner side of elbow joint uses a very studdy design of 1x1 round plate on 2x2 one. I was afraid it would look ugly, but looking at the photos now, I barely notice it; I've never been a perfectionist, fortunately.


The angel's wings use Insectoid wing parts. They're cool: Extraordinary, cheap in second hand and flashy. The print side in on the back, to emphasize blueness and match the inverted skirt panels. The connection is bit unorthodox, but works; some pulleys are used to connect four wing parts side by side. They also went through several connections - the first one had been around for several years, I think it was a tablescrap from an preliminary version of Gale Serpent.

I wanted the hair be green. It felt fitting for the overall vibrant, modern feel of the creation, and I had plenty of suitable pieces. Colour options were very bright green and lime green, and I ended up in the lighter of the two shades; The lime green hair will be on upcoming build that is almost finished. Only missing part in very bright green is a clip to connect the flame barb bang. It is while now, and blends quite well in. I'm particularly happy with the twin sword ponytail. It's quite graphical, but natural enough, and rather flowing. The halo is a Clickits wrist band; I like the asymmetry of it.

-Eero