Johnny Thunder and the Cave of Uku-Li

This is my second MOC Wars entry. The category is 22, SYSTEM Crash: "Create a SYSTEM style build interacting with a real-world object that has somehow crossed the boundary between the realities. How are the brick-men taking it? Are they weaponizing the Kraggle, running from the Sharp-I or studying the mysterious ‘Instructions’?". So, a SYSTEM MOC with real-work object woven in. The "object" here is a cat-tree with cat in. The cat in this case is Ukuli, our youngest and newest cat. She's named after old Finnish word for Huuhkaja, Eurasian Eagle Owl. She looks like one with hairy ears, grim glare and tendency to dwell in burrows.  She's very shy.

In scale with minifigures, Ukuli made a perfect cryptid, so I made an addition to the cat tree  - A cave mouth installed on the hole of its box. First I planned to hang it from above, but I ended up making it structurally simpler and just setting it on a stack of boxes. The basic structure has its quirks anyway, and is very sturdy. It's basically a 32x32 square made of TECHNIC bricks. Each side has TECHNIC brick, two plates and another TECHNIC brick; and with 2/5 rule, this makes rigid 90 degrees connections to each corner. That means the cave mouth consists of four panels built in three different directions. These rock layers overlap each other, hiding the gaps. I quite like the effect: It's stable, and shape of the cliff is more interesting than it would have been if I built it only upwards, traditionally.

As usual for Adventurers scenes not taking place on desert, the whole thing is furbished with vegetation. I started with 2000s palm leafs, which are connected to black sausages. Stacks of new grass stalks - from Pick-a-Brick - function as add-ons to classic bush pieces, and stacks with dark pink flowers hanging from the cliff bring colour to the composition. They are balances with one blossom on the right wall. The ground is more overgrown. There's small thicket there, where the little stream of water falls, made with piraka minifig spines and green cattle horns; the forest floor on the other side has those "micro palm tree" stems, hiding some bones of previous victims of Uku-Li. The vegetation felt somehow mediterranean, as I didn't add any big trees to prevent the model from becoming too crowded; honestly, big trees are quite challenging to build anyway, and are not that common in creations. There's a small round bush though, made of five-point stems and bright green flowers. And yes, there's the Dublo grass piece from my Iron Builder in 2017 - the last part that I added to this!

The MOC also features minifigs, which is relatively uncommon for me. They're classic characters from Adventurers subtheme Orient Expedition. I loved that theme as a kid! I get every set, or at least every real set, not counting Kabaya polybags with minifigures that came in the sets anyway. But it's 30s or 20s feel, combined with oriental themes, is something that can be seen on my creations even today. These are updates versions of classic minifigs. The heads are original, but Johnny and Pippin got dual-moulded boots from LEGO House PaB, Pippin has new pith helmet with hair from CMF line, and Doctor Killroy has a new fabulous hairpiece. There's also couple of classic skeletons, one sporting Tiki mask from CMFs that I finally got to use somewhere.



Eurasian Pygmy Owl

Phew, all the Parts Festival things are now posted. It's time for MOC Wars, which means that the creations posted are freshly baked! This little bird of prey is only one week and two days old!

This is my entry for category "large small animal" as a member of the House team. The category description goes as following: "Build a non-fictional small animal at a large scale. Does not have to be 1:1." I chose Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Glaucidium passerinum, as I quite like owls and this one felt small enough for a small animal. It's a very tiny bird, the smallest owl in Europe, and hunts bigger birds than itself. Some of these have been causing panic among the tits at the bird feeder on my childhood home.

This is not completelu realistic rendition, though - this owl's eyes are not quite that big, and the black area should be smaller. I tried many things with it, but this was the best I ended up with it; quite stylised, even chibi-thingy, but decent composition anyway. Those white "eyebrows" were challenging, too, as there isn't too much space to work with. I'm very happy with the Bohrok eye beak though - the colour seems to be quite perfect.

Otherwise, most of the owl is white and dark ran plates. The sides of the head are slighly angles, connected to stud-on-a-bar pieces with 1x2 round plates. This animal's feathers are very fluffy, as it's adapted into cold climate. On the back, the big wing weathers are smoother, consisting of curved wedges; it uses all dark tan wedge slopes I had left. I've been using plenty of dark tan lately, and much of it went to Master Yupa. The tail uses dinosaur tails - lack of dark tan forced me to improvise a bit, but they work quite nicely.  The head turns, of course - it's a simple function to include and, hell, a turning head is one of the main owl gimmicks.

The pygmy owl stands on a branch of a tree with some moss growing on; it's dark bley, which is quite common colour for a branch, despite everyone knowing that tree bark is brown, which is never isn't. Varnished wood might be brown, but things you find in the woods are sort of mossy greenish-grey. The branch is angled to give some dynamics to the creation; both it and the bird sitting on are connected via usual hinge plates. The simple black base has some boat weight parts on it, making the whole very stable.

Not much more to say about this, as it's a small animal. Slightly bigger than 1:1, actually. The MOC Wars lasts little less than three week still, so expect five more MOCs until then; Some of them are already finished. And some more builds, too, that are to be posted after the war has been fought.



Amunna, Harbringer of Thebes

 And here's the last creation for Parts Festival 2/2019 on New Elementary. For me, it was a series of six builds put together during a six-week period, so even this model is already three or four months old. But don't worry, I've bee building since, plenty of characters, some modular buildings, few surprises... But now it's time for another challenge. MOC WARS has been going on for a week now, with three left. I haven't post anything for it yet, as I wanted to finish with NE first. But you can expect the first entry from me early next week. Until ten, this is Amunna, Harbringer of Thebes, and she was the second-last build I made; the last one was Bramante's Tempietto. As always, huge thanks to Tim and Elspeth, see you somewhere, sometime.

"This is one of the later creations to the parts fest. At this point I had used vast majority of the pieces. But I still hadn’t used the coral pieces, even though they were among the most interesting ones! I prefer colourful builds over greys, and there weren’t that many colours in the pieces, so I thought that I’d do something with the coral early on. I didn’t. I made some tests, some tablescraps, but they didn’t develop into anything much. I feel that they’d be cooler if they had more hollow studs to connect into the bars sticking to random direction; now there’s hollow studs to only two directions, and as they’re in 90-degree angle, possibilities for interesting geometries using only this piece are scarce. There aren’t many dark turquoise connector pieces to go there in between neither.

They’re still cool, unusual pieces, and dark turquoise is nice colour I’m happy to have back, even though I prefer medium azure as a shade. I sort of forces myself to use them somehow. Two can be connected to each other in sort of mirrored-by-point way that creates nice 8-looking hole in the middle. I put four of those pairs to a Travis brick in a twisted position reminding of Finnish plum jam Christmas tart (surely a comparison familiar to everyone). I though they’d work as a energy bolt magic shield used by some wizard, so I began building a magical person.

The new character build ended up being inspired by ancient Egypt tropes, probably twisted by some vague Persian influences. This mostly because I had an inkling of a head that was left for Gwathlo of Order of Morning Star, as its headdress wasn’t protective enough for a warrior. I made some hair with 1x2 round plates, used some dark turquoise on the clothes to balance the corals and incorporated a cool printed piece from Orient Expedition line to the chest. I also thought about using shepherd staff tablescraps made a month ago as some sort of gaiters. They fitted the colour scheme and Egyptian fantasy aesthetics, and I wanted to use those things somewhere! Each one has ten staves and they’re connected to simple 1x1 vertical clip plates going around. The lower leg isn’t that sturdy, as it’s one-stud-connections all the way from knee to ankle but works quite well in the end.

Another interesting technique is the skirt, even though it doesn’t use any seed parts. Big Chima feather pieces are connected to 1x2 round plates, making layered design. I’ve used similar technique before in a model named Grata of Kontrabontempi, but it used 1x2 thin liftarms instead of round plates and being thus very fragile. This is clearly an improvement. It limits the movement of legs, but has enough space inside for realistic legs, and gives the teal stomach section an interesting triangular shape.

When most of the figure was built, I returned to the original idea, coral pieces as magic bolts. It felt silly. Solid turquoise colour doesn’t feel like bolt of energy; it would have been just an unidentified thingamajig in the figure’s hand. I tried adding some transparent pieces to it, but the result looked messy. I had to use the piece somehow! I ended up using them as the part of attire as a collar of sort: Something similar is used by some British queens in famous portraits (Elizabeth I I think).  I think it’s fitting addition to the rather extravagant (in a good way) uniform and works lot better than those energy effects would have. I also built a staff, finally using golden palm leaf pieces I had waited to use somewhere for five years or so… Its stick consists only of medium azure 1x1 bricks and pearl gold 1x1 round plates. Fragile as hell, especially when being photographed in minus degrees Celsius, but looks neat."



Delfte Solflare and Azure Mayfly

This is the second last of my New Elementary Parts Festival creations. It is probably the most ambitious one, too, and parts of the Speeder Racing project that should be ready by April; that's the goal, at least. On some stage. We will see. Anyway, this one is a balancing act with sci-fi themes and figure building. And oh boy, it might be my record on photos per creation; and maybe a world record, too.

MOC WARS will begin on Saturday and I'm in House Team, so you can expect at least six creations during the next 30 days; but I have still one more Parts Festival builds to be posted, and I'll probably post it in Sunday or something before the first MW entry. And, of course, I have been building stuff between the festival and the upcoming war, including but not limited to one self-portrait. But they'll wait until late March, at least. Once again, thanks to Tim and Elspeth, and to my readers. 

"This model dates a month back from the beginning of the parts festival. I had completed the third MOC of my large racing speeder bikes series and wanted to begin working with the next one. I wanted to make something different from a motorcycle-like riding vehicle. I’m a bit fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s work, and thought about something similar to Air Pirates’ flying speeders from Laputa, Castle in the Sky. They had a bulky engine in the front, four vibrating insect-like wings and little platform for the rider the stand on, hanging on the speeder with a belt. They’re dynamic and unique and design.

I made the big radiator thing that looks a bit like older car’s front grille turned 90 degrees. I like medium azure and used some interesting rounded panels that I had had around for some years. With 45 degree “A-frame” pieces they formed a cool shell for the mechanics. That part was completed, and the project stumbled into some sort of builder’s block. I made lot of sketches for this one during some lectures but didn’t get them to work in the brick form. Then I went to Denmark, LEGO House and Skaerbaek, came back, made five other Parts Festival MOCs and continued working on this. With some TECHNIC I made the platform for the rider, in about 40-degree angle with the radiator block. I made the first test with a rider (the test rider being the rider of the latest finished speeder) and noticed that I had underestimated the size of the figure, bad time. I adjusted the platform to be lower and accepted the fact that the scale was much smaller than on those Air Pirate speeders. That just meant that the position of the rider would be different, and the control sticks needed to be longer. 

I made angled pedals for the rider to stand on; at first the boots connected to them only in the back, but I ended up making the connection more secure with baby bows on the tips of the boots. I also began making the engines. I had made some sketches and test models of them, first ones maybe month ago, but they hadn’t worked. They were compositions of different TECHNIC wheel hubs with Ninjago flying spinner domes on the top. At this part, the seed parts jumped on. They were great for making some engine details! Ship’s wheels in grey made interesting turbine section with macaroni tube pieces connecting two; Batman’s hubcaps made the radiators and 90-degree bar connectors were stuck to pneumatic hoses. But the part I like the most is those chessboard-like sections near the end of the engines, connecting Batman greeble capsules – both big and small variants – into “knobbed” TECHNIC gear pieces in black. Also, a Batman greeble bowl piece in used inside the wheel hub near the tip. At this point bright light orange was added into the colour scheme, as I needed something to cap the engines, and the speeder felt like needing another bright colour. I like bright shades.
With the engines stuck on, I began to work with the figure. A starting point was usage of 2x4x4 half-cone pieces on upper legs, above the knee joint. I’ve tended to use 3x3x3 or sometimes 4x4x3 cones there very often, and this new piece from AFOL Day’s Pick-a-Brick worked very well too. They’re hollow, so the connection was very easy to make. I had to use 4x4 round plates, and I chose bright light yellow ones to add that colour to the rider too. I used it to make rather nice colour stripe going along the side of the upper leg and the torso. The lower legs were optional design for the previous rider and was recycled there.

The other riders of this series have had quite casual yet cool attires with jackets and shirts, but I wanted to try something else here, so I built a simple jumpsuit thing. It was much easier to connect the belt this way into the figure, without tearing a jacket apart; there was going to be some serious pulling forces in this build! I also made a turning joint in the middle torso. It offered some new posing possibilities, but also made connecting the belt easier; I could just tear the figure in half rather than open the chain links of the belt… The arms are the usual type. Red was used on the gloves to balance the red boots. 

Building hair is one of the best things, and actually the first idea for seed part uses is “hair!”. Well, not on those Batman greeble parts. Anyway, this hair doesn’t use seed parts, but transparent parts, mostly 1x2 plates. Now human hair is hardly monochrome, it has different shades, shadows, thicknesses and ages of hair. I wanted to capture this using transparent colours, as they overlay each other. The colour, in other hand, is far from realistic hair. This fitted the style of the series (previous hair colours are lime green, vibrant coral with black and white with some trans-light-blue) and gave the figure some rad attitude. The name of the character, referring to a Circle song (Delfte means “mice” in Meronia, Jussi Lehtisalo’s onomatopoetic language) and solar flares, comes from the brightness of the hairdo; the last name at least, not the mice.
Connecting the figure was a challenge itself. As I noted earlier, the pulling forces are quite big in this creation. The rider hangs over nothing, only by the strap and the belt. The strap consists of small chain links, connected the securely to the control panel on the radiator block. A black rubber band connects it to the belt, which is a hoop of those links. The rubber band gives the whole construction some flexibility. I’m not an expert on mechanics, but I believe that is good thing, softening the forces like a suspension, or something. It worked on the prototype, but as I added some weight to the figures legs in order to make their shape more natural, the whole thing just collapsed; I had to remove all the unnecessary parts from  the viscera of the figure, including lot of plates. It was enough to make the full thing balanced again. 

As the final details, I needed the control sticks and some meters and gauges. I thought of some rigid sticks, like in those Air Pirate speeders, but they would’ve clashed with the dynamics of the build. The handles that use shepherd staff seed parts were there quite early on. Some blue ribbed hoses are drawn over them. I thought of using those hose pieces on the sticks. Trans-medium-blue ones were to longest I had, so I used them; they looked more futuristic than some silver ones. At first, they were connected to the radiator panel, but I ended up connecting them to the engines using Batman greeble gun pieces. It suggested that the rider would control each engine separately, as there isn’t any steering fins or rudders. I’m very happy with the gauge panel, situated behind the radiator. It uses several printed tiles, some of them connected with Batman greeble seed parts, some with ball joints.

I was also positively surprised that I managed to make a stand with only two beams; one TECHNIC liftarm taking the pulling forces (the front part of the stand block practically floats) and an axle, furbished with 1x1 liftarms, taking the pressing forces. It really pushed my boundaries as a builder."