This is Huwbot, a server-roaming robot built for Brickset's contest to create a mascot of their website. Brickset is one of the most popular and useful LEGO set databases and news sites. I've given up keeping track of my collection long ago (I don't keep set built and I try to remember what parts I have) but I like checking new sets for interesting parts and recolours, and their parts database updates usually first - It's especially useful when planning LUGBULK orders.

So now they wanted models of Huwbot, which is a bot that chooses random sets of the day and runs background tasks. His appearance was not described in the rules, so I got to built whatever I wanted. I though that a robot felt natural, as it's a bot after all. I also wanted to include Brickset's logo - Yellow, green and red 1x1 plates in triangular formation - to the built, and sort of dome with the logo as the brain inside felt like a good idea, a starting point of the build. I also wanted to use ball joint mixel eyes, as they are the most amusing looking eye pieces around; They also have some mobility via ball joints.

Huwbot's colour scheme is mostly based on Brickset's interface - white and clear with some light greys. Tricolours on the lower part's sides are taken from the menu bar on top of the site. There's also a Clickits heart on the chest, as Clickits are integral part of Brickset; I think they had a April fools thing about them this year. The overall shapes are round, smooth and pleasant, as "modern robots" tend to be, or have been from maybe 50s or something. Look like this felt decent for a bot; I didn't want to re-invent the wheel, just achieve Huwbot-feel with details. 

The way of moving was one question - I though about legs, but as I wanted the model be sturdy (it is!), making decently mobile legs in fitting design felt cumbersome, and maybe unfitting. Personality is what was asked for, and while legs can achieve personality (in ways of stance and so on) they didn't feel especially natural for a server-roaming robot. So I went with the tracks, completed with white boat-stud hubcaps. The tracks itself can't do much to posing, but mobile neck, arms, fingers, eyes and waist enabled variety of postures from cute to dramatic. Additionally, the extra bulk of the lower section gave me space to include the aforementioned tricolours.

From the beginning, I felt Huwbot needed something extra to distinct it from other robots. A wagon, a very childish one especially, felt fitting. It gave Huwbot adorable qualities, a modern robot hauling things around in a very traditional kid's wagon. Its design is, of course, taken from Calvin's wagon from Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes (which is of course The Best). Old grey tyres with simple red hubs enhance the contrast between the wagon and the bot. At first he was going to pull the server in the wagon, but that felt unfitting, as it is said that Huwbot lives in the wagon; Fortunately I managed to buy some of those 2x2 tiles with City set box stickers. So Huwbot carries some sets in his cart, to be correctly sorted to the database, or to be proposed as Random set of the Day.



Nissa Revane

It's time for another Magic the Gathering build. This time the subject is less obscure. Nissa Revane is a member of Gatewatch, which used to be group of main characters on the story. She is an elf planeswalker from Zendikar and centered on green mana; And green is definitely my favourite MTG colour. I had had an idea of building Nissa earlier too, but it was finally triggered by the War of the Spark card and its wonderful art by Chris Rallis. The image had some real power of it, raw elemental strength of a mage who can rouse huge elementals from the land itself. It''s hell of a fun card to play with, too.

There are fortunately plenty of art on Nissa, as she is such an important character. On addition to Rallis's version this was particularly inspired by two Kaladesh versions, by Clint Cearley and William Murai. I like how those two versions are very different in terms of perspective and light colour, while still bringing the character together beautifully. Nevertheless, there are still variation on Nissas by different artists and that left me some nice space to adapt her in the brick form. 
I began with the face, with its distinct green markings. Green rubber band (from Bohrok, of course) was a friend here, though fiddling with it was quite tricky - It's very tight. It was the only way to make the thin little markings, and fortunately it set itself in a way that doesn't strike the jaw out very easily. The eyes are lime green, which made the contrasts of the face bit more mundane than I'd like, but bright green eyes are iconic trait of Nissa's design and thus felt obvious to include. The elf ears are couple of baby bows. Her braided hair uses old palm tree trunk parts. I think I have almost half a meter of them, and I've been wanting to use them as a hair for some time. 

Nissa's outfit is a mix of different material and pattern. He has a bodice of dark green and brown leather and bit of a white shirt under it; and a flowing green cape and skirt. I made some leather plate details on the bodice with cheese slopes stuck inside two-brick-high panel. It's a trick I've been using since Balin, one of the first major character builds, back in early 2013. It's slightly off center, but it captured the feel of the material nicely. A bit similar pattern on the side is done using "grilled cheese" pieces in brown. Above them, the bust offered some challenges, as I wanted to show bit of the skirt between bodice and the skin, while keeping the proportions balanced and realistic. Regular green of the cape distinguishes it from the dark green leather of the bodice.

The cape is bound on the front, goes over the both shoulders and flows on the back. I usually tend to avoid capes like this, as they are heavy and make the posing hard; Kushana from Nausicaä manga was a example of this problem. However, it was years back, and cape seemed an integral part of Nissa's design so I gave it a go. I think it's quite dynamic, and didn't affect the posing much in the end. More problematic are the shoulder parts, which fell of easily. Their studless surface differs from the cape, but fits the green are over the bust. Looking back the process now, I wonder why I didn't just build the upper torso in green. Maybe I though the cape too concretely, as something that is worn over the body; now there is the tan upper body and the cape over it. But it doesn't look bad, actually.

Nissa's gloves are brown leather with some green cloth trimming. They took couple of tries to get right, and compared to the cape, they have not been thought concretely. There's dual T-bar joint for extra mobility. It's not that realistic, and maybe not even accurate, but the proportions are relative right and they allow dramatic poses. The fingers are unfortunate black droid arms again, an issue I wrote about couple of posts back

The skirt was an interesting build and I'm satisfied with it. I don't have that much green wedges and such - it's not a colour that would especially catch my eye when browsing bricks. So I gathered all somewhat flowing green parts, and began assembling them. Most of them were single-sided wedge slopes, I think they are from Chaos Pick-a-Brick fifteen years back. But they got their redemption and formed a nice, folding skirt with help of some hinge pieces. I also like the belt and its army man base knot. The legs look quite natural under the skirt, too - this isn't usual, because the skirts on my figures tend to be quite thick, making regularly wide thighs inside impossible. This is a good skirt!

On Nissa art, the colour of the trousers was a bit unclear. It was clearly green in some, but the regular Kaladesh version showed it in more mundane brown shade. I went with a brown for better contrast: Green on the skirt, brown on the trousers underneath. The thighs are brand new design - no recycling this time - and slightly fragile near the hip. The wide selection of curved slopes in dark brown made the shaping easy, but in contrast there are no plates between 1x2 and 1x6 in that colours. Black substituted them, as usual. The knees have some dark green, I think they represent metallic armour, but I'm not sure; the odd curved slopes with "lip" are used there, I like those parts and use them a lot. Their shape flows nicely. 

The boots are based on design of Grata of Kontrabontempi's boots - those boots were actually inspired by Nissa's boots, as Nissa had been on my imaginary shortlist for creations quite a while. I'm especially happy with the dark green gaiters and the tooth pieces at the heels. Nissa was completed with her staff. It doesn't held the sword blade, but you can't have everything. The knobby end is quite close to the design I made for Gandalf's staff in 2014. It's not perfect, but the best I got with my "little brown bits". 

The next build will be an active contest entry, and then I'll continue chasing myself with a very very late was-supposed-to-be entry for a Speeder Bike Contest in April or May; so it's a person and a ride. 



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. 




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.