2019-11-02

Master Yupa

This creation is a return to familiar subject: Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, especially the manga. I've built six character builds about that masterpiece around four years ago. Their scale was little bigger than miniland scale, with bare, stylized faces and very limited articulation. I think some of them are good creations nevertheless, but they feel somewhat stiff, and as the source material is very close and inspiring, I recently chose to return to these characters, or at least one of them. The old models are still preserved somewhere in my wardrobe.

The man featured here is Master Yupa, greatest swordsman of Fukai, a mentor character in the comic book (and the film, of course). He has a cool uniform with cape and a brimmed hat with a tuft and pleasant looking boots; I don't remember the colours of the clothes in the film very clearly, and the manga is black-and-white, so this is more based on how I imagined the colours: Natural shades of uncolored wool, felt and leather. The pose, however, is the key point of the build. It is based on a panel on page 108 of volume II (Finnish version), where Yupa jumps to face his adversary in wormhandler's citadel. There is a very similar scene in the film, located in wormhandler's airship, if I remember correctly.  
Making a very specific, dynamic posing is unusual in my work. It posed plenty of fresh challenges. Making of this was inspired by a very specific piece: 6x6 quarter round slope thing. In August, I bought eight of those from Pii Poo in dark brown. Six is used there, and their shape forms the key areas of the flowing cape. Of course, they are big and thick chunks, so some "cheating" is made with the arms; they're connected with axles on ball joints, sticking out of the thin gaps inside the arches of those 6x6 bits. Yupa's impressive moustache hangs over the central one, making the distance between the head and the coat (or maybe it's a tunic) appear smaller. The rest of the cape is made with three more, and variety of dark brown curved and normal slopes.

Another key technique used here is 45 degree turns throughout the model. First one is between the head and the cape, using A-frame piece. Second is between the tunic and the cape, again using A-frames connecting to a hinge, as the cape is angled forward. Around the waist, there is another 45 degree turn, this time using custom turntable, stiffened with 3L axle with stud on end. I'm particularly happy with the belt buckle appearing between the hem of the tunic. The custom turntable was 4x4, which means Yupa's arse turned to be very square-shaped. It's rounded with some curved slopes, connected to ancient buffer piece. This creation was something like a three-dimensional puzzle, giving its geometrical difficulty, stability questions and incorporation of big, interesting pieces.

There were, of course, the usual aesthetic questions always important in character builds. Yupa's eyes are not seen in the original frame, and they're hidden under the brim of the hat (they don't really exist in the build). The hat uses 10x10 dish, which is quite rare - this one is from Pii Poo again and I'm happy the own one! The dome of the hat uses the same technique than my old Yupa. The barrel is connected with a ball joint, so it's slightly angles. The tuft is new, using dark brown grass pieces (I got 25 from LUGBULK and this is the first time I use any). Yupa has his moustache, an important character trait, and it consists of four 1x2 curved slopes, offset for flowing effect. The gloves are classic design from 2015 or something, but connected to an unusual angle, true to reference material. The swords are think brick-built ones. I wonder if I should have turned the anti-stud side hidden in the photos, but that might have been cheating... The scabbard was a very late addition, but true to the sources again.

This might just be my first character build to feature a jumping person. Flying Palutena built for Iron Builder might be the closest. Being static in mid-air required a base. The first one used a transparent beam made of 1x2x2 panels in trans-clear, but it was too weak. Four 1x2x5 bricks worked much better. They were all I had, but fortunately I got more from LEGO House's PaB later on. As ten bricks wasn't enough height, I added some pieces of wormhandles machinery to the base; round, organic shapes with some suspicious piping. The base itself is a block of tan pieces. Inside there are four boat weight blocks, keeping the point of balance low and thus making the model safer to display. I think it's also worth noting that the the figure rests on single 1x2 brick hinge (with four studs on top). Helppo nakki, as they say here.

-Eero.
 













2019-10-24

Captain Nemo

Today's creation is based on a comic book that is based on a novel, or to be precise, a whole age of literature. Captain Nemo appeared in Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in 1870. Over hundred years later, Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill adapted the character to their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series. Nemo is a son of Indian Raja, a veteran of Sepoy Rebellion against the British imperialists, and a brilliant engineer who designed Nautilus submarine, and in the comic series, its follow-up Nautilus II with amazing design reminding a sea squid gripping a sperm whale. In the comic, Nemo is interesting and conflicted character with hatred to the British empire but thirst of adventure, even on behalf of his hatred enemies. He has, of course, plenty of brilliant inventions and gadgets.

This is, in a way, my second take on Nemo, but the first one was never completed. It was an ongoing project for a year or so in around 2015, but in the end it never flew. In contrast, this model was completed in around two or three days in August. I think it mostly because the development of skill and experience, but sometimes it's just good time for certain build and sometimes not. The previous version had a dark blue coat with dark green turban; and the proportions were bit off, as the shoulder width was wider. There was a upper torso and head and some parts of arms, I think.

This new model was inspired by swirly pearl gold parts I got from LUGBULK. They looked about right for Nemo clothing with includes elements from traditional Indian nobleman attire mixed with nautical themes. Nemo has also variety of attires in the comics, and I close the dark green one in the cover of Volume I. I began with the ornate pearl gold vest. It was larger at first, using four of those swirls, and built studs facing upwards; 1x10 curved slopes in pearl gold were used on its sides. It was trimmed down to make the proportions better, making the torso seven studs wide, and allowing placing the belt and the sash on the right level. Sash in general is a cool type of clothing, and adds pleasant diagonal element to a character, but it's very hard to lay over complex surface without looking awkward: Real sashes are made of cloth and adapt, but plastic bricks hardy doesn't. Same things goes to shoulder straps for sheaths and bags. I've sometimes used small pieces connected to a string like some necklace, but it always feels compromising. In this case, I just arranged the vest details so that the sash made of 1x4 curved slopes days there.

I wanted to bring some silver to contrast with the gold. I pondered different options for the round shoulder pads, as something to fit the shoulder connection (basically a bar hole) in. I settled with couple of tube pieces, which are nicely adjustable. The connection to the arm joint is made with some TECHNIC. The sash and the belt are orange. It's quite a bright shade, but accurate to the original, and felt fitting to the Indian style, working beautifully with dark green. Under the belt hangs straps from the sword belt and the vest, using another swirl part. I'm very happy with the shape of the tail section of the coat. I also ended up making the boots dark brown. It's a beautiful shade for leather and balances the colour scheme better than backward black boots. I'm also happy with their pointy tips.

The arms were an embuggerance. Making the sleeves dark green is a challenge in itself, as the colous doesn't have too much joint pieces. I also wanted to use the swirl parts in the cuff ornaments - it was one of the core concepts of the build - and they were slightly too long for the lower arms. They ended up overlapping the joint (made with round plates and bar-with-1x1-round-plate pieces). This looks bit odd on some poses as there's a gap between them and the sleeve itself. Fortunately the swirls are so exotic pieces that they steal the limelight and hopefully draw attention away from their surroundings... The look okay on the photos.

The head was made in the early part or the progress. The eyebrows are connected under the turban and cover bit of the eyes, giving Nemo some character. Building beards is nice and this one uses variety of parts, including minifig wings (which were also used on the old WIP four years ago), hands, Star Wars handguns, battle droid arms and binoculars. Touch of dark bley and flat silver expresses that Nemo is well aged (he's around 80 in the comics). The turban it itself was challenging to shape, but I'm happy I got it made in olive green, an another nice shade. There's even a little ammonite decoration in it, being accurate to the original. The pearl gold spike thing, in other hand, is simple and straight in the comic, but this design juts looked very good, also referring to the swirly tentacle motif.

Nemo sports variety of gadgets and accessories in the comic, but as in the cover art, here he has a simple cutlass and its sheath. I've used 1x10 curved slope as a cutlass blade before, as it's shape seems essential for this purpose (except for its edge, of course, which is one stud thick and thus very blunt). The crossguard (wrong term as it isn't cross-shapes but I don't know everything) has another swirl piece, which looks great, connected to a small CCBS shell, which looks alright, which is connected to the blade in way that I'm not that happy with but I didn't have better ideas. The dark brown sheath with silver tip draws back to the shoulder pads and the boots, balancing the colours. As the final note, Captain Nemo has black gloves as I didn't have any good brown finger options in brown. Reddish brown skeleton arms would be nice recolours, however unlikely. I had brown hands with those black fingers when I started the photographing session, but as it looked simply cheap and random I switched to full gloves.

-Eero







2019-10-21

Vereftoi Radiante and Salamander Sword


This is the second creation of my series of large-scale speeder bikes. Yes, it's a series now. Concepts that are pleasant and interesting to work with turn into series; you build some, in this case Kiirus Ögonblick and the Carp Speeder, and then you want to build more. For me, these speeders give nice possibilities to use strange pieces that are suitable for sci-fi topics but probably too big, bulky or specialized to be used on character. They're still closely related to character builds, the other half of finished piece being the rider, and in that aspect offer lot of possibilities to reflect the character via posing with the object, that is the vehicle. And they're quite cool.


Key concept here was a bulky speeder that radiates power. I wanted to use the big trans-clear windscreen piece as a glass cover to the machinery. It felt an original idea, and I liked the way that the rider could lean on it like on some modern motorcycles (I know nothing about motorcycles) but still read the meters if needed. I wanted to use some metallic pieces, foremost the chrome exhaust pipes, 4x4 dome parts and the turbine rotor, and dark red wheel hubs from SW ARC-170 starfighters as part of the engines. I made a simple sketch and began forming the bike.

First part I built was the windscreen hood and the mechanics inside. It has an angled panels with ribbed hoses, bent along the windscreen. Wedge pieces form sort of a mudguard to the engines, with electric bolts striking from them; electric vehicles are modern! The first concept had four engines (as I had four dark red hubs) but I dropped two as I had only eight bolt pieces. Two per engine looked bit puny, and having engines only in the front enhanced the feel of very powerful machinery. From the beginning I made the central frame very solid with TECHNIC bricks, but I had to change it in order to make the stand.

The colour scheme settled with dark red shell, metallic details and black frame. The middle part needed to be very thing in order to have the figure sit properly, and I made it completely black to highlight the other parts. The front went through few different figurehead symbols. I wanted to use axe blade pieces from Chima ultrabuilds, as their beautiful filigree pattern felt fitting for the speeder. However, how matter I positioned them, they were too big and too rigid. I ended up using two silver eagle wings instead, with some dinosaur tails to give some elegance to the shape. The tails also frame the radiator's intake vent.

The back part came together very nicely. I managed to incorporate one of those axe blades there. On both sides of it there are two Tesla coils, machines for turning electric jolts into high voltage. I didn't know they were called Tesla coils when I built them, I just remembered them from the high voltage show held at Deutsches Museum in Munich. High voltage stickers (which I think are from Exo-Force) near them feel very fitting. They are lined with exhaust pipes, but as this is a electronic vehicle, I think they are more likely inductors. Either way, their chrome shade fits the electronic theme, and I like the slight angle of them and the coils. Underside of the back part features the pedals. The pedals always seem to end up in the utmost corners of the bikes, as the rider's have long legs and there are no needs to forks of wheels that touch the ground. Maybe they're incorporated better to the build in some future speeder... I named it Salamander Sword, a reference to Circle song from weird Golem/Vesiliirto double album.

I wanted the speeder to be displayed in slight angle to look more dynamic, so I made a base with one of those joints used in Star Wars walkers such AT-AT. However, this solution is not perfect. The joint is very stiff, but seems to weaken with time. Few weeks ago (this built is from August) I was watching Kaurismäki film Man without a past with Pinja and at some point this creation came down from the shelf. The joint had given in and took the rest of the MOC with it. It was a handsome crash, I swear some parts flew couple of meters up in the air. I fixed it, of course, and it seems that I have to came up with another solution, probably with two of those joints instead of only one.


The other and equal part of the creation is the rider, Vereftoi Radiante (Vereftoi is another Circle song and Radiante has been taken from Corbusier's Radiant City). As on Kiirus Ögonblick, I wanted to use bright colours and printed parts, with modern yet casual attitude. I began with the dark red trousers, using printed Exo-Force wedge slope with some Asian markings; Ninjago tile as an belt buckle worker with it nicely. Kiirus Ögonblick had got stockings with platform shoes, but I gave this rider white boots. Their shape took a while to get right. I used some nicely printed surfboards; they were in the front at first, but the shape was too flat. I like the shape that 1x3x2 inverted arch gives to the boot. It's one of my favourite pieces.

I tried different combinations with the upper torso and ended up with orange jacket over bright light yellow shirt. It uses some printed 2x4 curved slopes from Belle brickhead, while the sides of the jacket have again Exo-Force prints with Asian lettering. The back features a tiger-stripe pattern from Chima. It was bought from Pii Poo's event on Oulu in August where this model was already on display, and changed in during the exhibit. The jacket's collar is not as wild as on Kiirus's jacket, and falls of a bit, but works alright. The sleeved are quite short, with bare elbows. The white gloves use printed "love" tiles from The Beatles submarine set.

With the head I wanted to use new pieces from LUGBULK that I had just received. They included lot of black 1x2 round plates (exciting pieces) and vibrant coral 1x1 quarter round tiles. I created a braid-like texture by starking them. The plates can be turned even if there's a tile next to them, something that cannot be done with usual 1x2 plates. This made it possible to adjust the hair flowing in the speed. To make the character unique, I also made glasses out of small window panels; they're connected to a lever base. Vereftoi Radiante has also gold and emerald earrings, visible under the hair.

There haven't been many new creations lately, as I've been using my time to write those Denmark travel posts. But I've built a lot, and there's lot to catch, once again. The next creation will be published quite soon. I'll try to do it before the end of the week.

-Eero.