Highlands Shepherd

 Here's another model built for New Elementary's Parts Festival II of 2019. I'm again quoting myself from the text I wrote for that site and that was published there couple of weeks ago as a shorter version. Thanks again Tim and Elspeth and others! 

"The concept behind this MOC originated during quite unessential lecture about geocritical analysis of literature. I was doodling some seed part doodles on the side of my notes and came up with this idea of connecting those hockey sticks side by side very close to each other by connecting them all to a single bar with battle droid arms. The doodle used them as beard, as I like beards a lot. I tried it at home, and it worked nicely.
I also used another pair of hockey stick as the eyebrows. Eyebrows define character very strongly: I have heard that people recognize each other mostly using the area around the eyes. Having eyebrows partially in front of the eye socket – a headlight brick – gives the builds emotion. Those sticks can also be adjusted into angry grim position, but this slightly worried looks fitted the character better. The eyebrow sticks continue quite far in the back of the head, but they are faded among the hair.

After building the head I defined what kind of character it would be. I though of building a dwarf: The WIP looked a lot like excellent Balin from the Hobbit movies. A bust of Balin, back in 2012, was my first character build in this scale, so it’s very important subject for me, having played such critical role in my development towards SYSTEM character builds. This hockey stick WIP looked more like Balin than my first Balin, too, with its lack of moustache and white beard bending in the ends. But somehow, I didn’t feel like building a dwarf (and I like dwarves a lot – it hasn’t been so much time since my latest dwarf character build Munburr). I ended up developing him into a very short Scotsman. There is an actual, almost-real-life model for him. He appears in a paper border strip thing that was in the door of my very first bedroom. The paper border is still in its place, the room serves as my parent’s bedroom in my childhood room in Joensuu, eastern Finland. The highland-attire fellow in it had a full beard without moustache, but I think it was brown and somewhat shorter. He was accompanied by various farm animals and was probably carrying a lamb.

I made some background work on traditional Highlands attire. I was aiming for a small, somewhat light-hearted figure. I made the bonnet – it has a pattern when seen from above, as there’s black webbed 6x6 dish above a regular dark red one. It’s not perfect, but it was an interesting idea and I wanted to use it. I don’t want to take building too seriously; there are enough serious things in the world as it is. The jacket ended up being black and very simple, not draw attention away from the beard that would cover most of it anyway. There were also some lot more complicated kilt designs, but I ended up with a very simple one. There was a surprising lack of red 1x1 bricks and I had to substitute one or two with three 1x1 plates. Red 1x1 brick is so usual piece that one barely ever thinks about getting some more. I think I must remember them next time I go through used bricks troughs.

To keep the scale logical, I had to have the leg elements in small space – bit of a bare leg, some stocking and pair of black shoes. I again went with more experimental and less sophisticated route. The look odd in some angles but use some parts that still feel new to me; 1x2 plates with 2x2 tile SNOT things. Looking at it now, I feel I should have just added a 1x2 TECHNIC brick in there instead, as the 2x2 tile-ish bit sticks out too much. The shoes use that weird piece that I use as a shoe very often. It’s simple, clean and shoe-like. I think their flatness fits the nature of this short character from paper border strip. In the arms, there’s also some experimentalism. Straight arms would have looked awkward, yet it was hard to include proper joint in this scale. The compromise uses sausages to create a slight curve in the arm; a tire hides most of the gap, at least in theory. The resulting posture looks a bit more like actual human being, while still staying faithful to the nature of the character."



Herald of the Carp Speeder

 I'm participating on current 2019 Part Festival II on New Elementary, a LEGO blog concentrating on parts, a very interesting subject to an AFOL who's wholeheartly a builder. I met its founder Tim Johnson in LEGO House and Skaerbaek fan weekend, as is stated in my travel report. He asked if I wanted to take part on the part festival, and I loved to. He gave me a bag on pieces - and another bag of pieces via Jan Beyer in Skaerbaek train station, 7:10 AM, which I used to make quite a several models after coming back from Denmark. My post-Denmark inspiration went to these build like million volts. Some have already posted on New Elementary. Here's one, Herald of Carp Speeder. It is not the first build I made, but I'll be posting them on the same order than NE. This blog will, as usually, have the full set of photos, and longer version of the text written for New Elementary. However, as the text is originall written for different site, it might be bit different in style to my other postings. But you'll get the main points fine. And, of course, big thanks to Tim and Elspeth and others on New Elementary team. There were some seriousl great parts.

"I like bright colours, so I find some of the more vibrant seed parts the most inspiring. The new-ish vibrant coral is very vibrant shade, as the name suggest. Among the seed parts there was a bag of these small sea creatures from Friend’s marine-themed line. They included two clams, fish, starfish, octopus, seahorse and sort of pond snail (or a sea mollusc looking like a unicorn horn). They’re the only seed parts used in this build, but hey, that’s seven parts in total.  The MOC is a character build, as that’s my speciality. It was a casual, fast an enjoyable process, relying mostly on familiar themes and techniques, but also embarking some new challenges.

I have this ongoing series of large-scale speeder bikes and their drivers. I’m planning to make some sort of compilation, featuring racing track things like supporters for competitors, hot dog sellers and things like this. So my existing builds needed additional character inspired by them in-universe. It was a unique concept for a creation; hopefully not too self-absorbed! The character is supporter of Kiirus Ögonblick and her Carp Speeder, and thus aquatic animal concept was fitting. The new character got a similar lime green hair, but otherwise uses Kiirus Ögonblick’s colour scheme mixed in a new way: Yellow tank top (yellow trousers on original), black and coral wide belt, sleeves and shoes (cf black stockings and coral shirt) and medium blue skirt (cf medium blue jacket).

 Fish creatures are used throughout the build, mostly as decoration, but also as toggle buttons on the shirt. I especially like the fish in the shoes, hiding the light bley ball socket, and clams and starfish composing the wrist bands. Skirt with its hungry shark prints (surfboards from AFOL Day’s PaB) enhance the aquatic themes. In a way, the seed parts are “slapped on” the build, but given the promotional nature of the character, it feels distinctive to the concept. Also, it would have been almost impossible to use those animals in a structural way… But I’m looking forward seeing what other came up with them!

Unrelated to the seed parts, the main challenge here was the legs with a skirt (again). Brick-built skirts and dresses are lot thicker than actual textile ones, so it’s hard to fit legs in there! This is an evergreen issue in my builds. The design here is almost realistic. The hip joint is pretty much on realistic height, but the joints are too close together. This results the legs looking a bit awkward in some angles and poses but alright in others. Another interesting thing was the accessories. What sort of things would sci-fi speeder bike race fan carry? My partner suggested cheerleader pom-poms. It was a nice idea, but I preserved it for another build (I’ve got three finished speeders.) Instead I made couple of flags, featuring simplified image of the carp speeder and its rider. In addition, I gave the herald a big yellow vuvuzela – a loud menace in all competitive sessions throughout the future."



Lalibela Upbeat and Dawn Resurgent

Here comes the speeder number three. Lately some readers might have stumbled upon some new creation by me on some LEGO fan site or another; those things will be posted here soon enough. I did take part on Part Festival II of 2019, and technically I still am, but I've got decent amount of material there, all photographed and written and everything. New Elementary will have some photos and shorter versions of my texts, and Cyclopic Bricks will host the full sets, as usual. But more of that later on. I'm having a creation here.

Lalibela Upbeat and her Dawn Resurgent Speeder bike was built in late August and early September at the very start of the current semester. As in two previous speeders, Carp Speeder and Salamander Sword, the speeder was built first and then accompanied with a matching daredevil. I made some sketches on the vessel, but essentially it was built like a spaceship. I wanted to use similar shapes, techniques and even details that some skilled space builders utilise in their SHIPs. I think the speeder could be a decent half-lenght SHIP in mini-scale if I removed the handlebars, pedals and exhaust flames. That was the aim, at least: Stealthy collision of two very different scales, hopefully in harmony.

I began with the shape (flat and quite long), colours (I wanted to use magenta and had plenty of dark blue around) and some details (turbine parts in front, window in the engine compartment, 8-esque exhaust). I made the turbines that could be from 30's power plant in minifig scale; I quite enjoyed their contrast with sleek and futuristic speeder in bright colours. Their shape matched the 8 exhaust frame made with macaroni bricks and tiles, connected with 1x2 round plates. As most of my magenta pieces were usual slopes, I made profile resembling 8 with them too, as 4-stud-deep on front and 2-stud-deep in back sections. They were assembled around sturdy SNOT frame with a TECHNIC core.

The dark blue area under the handlebars has some interesting aspects. There is the window, made using two curved 2x6 windscreens. I wanted the light shine through it for maximum effect, so the frame has a hole in this part. Originally it was much bulkier design, and had 6x6 round windshields from Death Star II throne room as the windows, but it didn't work out. On this version, I also like the elegant, triangular shape the tan 2x6 wedge slopes form between dark blue 8x3 odd wedge bow things: I knew the rider wouldn't use tan as the skin colour, so I could freely use it as light leather, mostly on the seat, but also on this part on what the rider could lean on.

There's another magenta belt behind this area, featuring some car bonnet pieces. The left side has stickered 2x4 tile on it, probably featuring someone important for the rider, as a mark of personification. This magenta section was originally arranged differently, between two tan leather sections, but this made the rider sit too much ahead, bending the stand in a way that the speeder would face slightly downwards, looking dump. I moved the seat section back, made it 6-wide to make room for the rider and hided the stand inside the magenta section. This also made it possible to make the seat very clean in shape, looking more convenient for the rider.

The back engine section featured layered section of different patterns. On top, pentagonal Nexo wedges continue the 8-esque shape of the thrusters. Under them there is mild pattern of curved shapes, made using macaroni tiles. Their greyness balances the turbines on front, while the pattern hints to exquisite enginecraft. The thruster section mentioned earlier is connected in curious way: Inside it there are two wheel pieces with their tires turned inside out; their rubber, next to the macaroni parts, has enough friction to keep the 8 strip in place. The flames are connected to TECHNIC "gear" with four knobs with bar holes. I think it works quite nicely.

The speeders so far have had differently angled stands and this is the most daring so far. The angle is not that slight, and the weight of the model bends it significantly more. The figure is connected to her ride only on thumbs, with quite loose bar-to-clip connection, so it takes some dexterity to set up... But it looks fast! I'd prefer the liftarms to be black, but almost all of my black liftarms are on Tomi Leppänen's drum podium in the LEGO House...

The another half of the build is the figure. It was much faster process, mostly because I have some experience in building figures and well, it uses several basic designs seen before on other builds. The key concepts were colours: magenta and dark blue, taken from the speeder; darker skin colour; and attempt to make sand blue jeans, even though the ended up being shorts. On parts level, I wanted to use rounded magenta bonnet piece on the chest, as sort of very short tank top leaving the stomach visible; I have no idea what the actual term might be here. Another key part were stickered aeroplane tail fin pieces from Ninjago, with cool thunderbolt pattern. They would form a jacket collar to frame the chest, in similar way than in Kiirus Ögonblick, rider of the Carp Speeder. The characters on these speeders had had cool and casual yet modern attires, so this quite bold compilation of clothed felt interesting.

To give the colours some extra contrast, I ended up using yellow stockings with the sand blue jeans shorts. I also made red alternative, but it was somehow too close to the magenta shade. Don't worry, you'll see the red ones eventually. As a side note, my head has a mental connection between these stocking and some Brexit news. I was reading them while building and now I'll connect these things in my mind, eternally. The knee has a black guards, using skrall armour pieces from Bionicle. They are not connected properly but stay on anyway. The shoes are asymmetrical sneakers, maybe referencing to Toppo Koponen; They're quite usual, but one of them uses some weird printed tiles, and both use new-ish rounded 1x1 parts, maybe they could be called bows or something; "anti-arches". The complete the footprint with 1x4 curved slopes. The gloves are white, as dark brown (or brown, or dark tan...) hands are hard to make due availability of parts.

The head with the hair was the most challenging part of the figure and took most time. I wanted to use icy wing parts from Chima ultrabuilds to make a lion-like mane. Icy bolt of flame pieces from Hero Factory worked nicely with them. However, both of those pieces are big and rigid and hard to get flowing in variety of poses. Earlier versions included some bigger and more fragile constructions, but I ended up putting the big special pieces on one side and simple sweep on the other side, using 2x2 triangular tile and white plume as an "escaped" bang. I think the white hair looks very striking with dark brown skin.

Coming up with names is usually the last thing done in builds like this. Lalibela is a town in Ethiopia, known for its rock-cut monolith churches. For me it's more familiar as a Pharaoh Overlord song from live album Horn. I like the sound of word upbeat, and resurgent is taken from Magic card named Zendikar Resurgent.