Stormtrooper Transport

It’s still very much a WiP, but I thought why not share the hilarity so far:

After building and modifying that Nexo Knights Tech Infection spider-mech-thing, I was sure that I wanted this monster to attack a squad of Stormtroopers, but I wasn’t totally certain how I was going to make that happen.

After mulling it over, I realized that a shuttle crash on a hostile alien world would be a TON of fun. Most of the scene is storyboarded, already. I also started piecing together a vision for the shuttle, itself. In order to get some of the shots I want, the shuttle would have to be modular in some capacity; I’d need to be able to open specific sides of the ship to get specific angles.

I’m fairly confident that the shuttle design will work well in that regard.

A few more images:

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Boss Battle! Roll to save!

The Grievous Tree lumbers (heh) up to your party, catching you totally unaware and unguarded! Its opening attack sweeps the party with a strong knockdown, forcing you prone until the end of the round. You gaze up in terror as this evil wooded horror moves in for the killing blow. Stomp, stomp, stomp. You knew that you would enter The Void sometime in your adventure, but it’s a cruel twist that you might be done in by a murderous plant. As you gird yourself for this untimely, grisly, leafy end, the Grievous Tree stops! It has spent all three of its movement points!

Your party regains its footing and regroups into battle formation. The Wookiee smashes the tree. Plink. No damage. The Trooper’s bomb bounces off the monster’s bark. No damage. The Treasure Hunter in the back tries to bind the tree’s limbs with his whip. The creature snaps the whip in two. The Princess throws her lightsaber. It isn’t very effective.

The Grievous Tree spins up its lightsabers and lashes at the whole party with a deadly bladestorm attack! Quick, roll to save!

Oh. You…rolled a 1.

Your party is dead. Do you wish to try again?

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Star Wars Snow Day!

“Actually, Artoo has been known to make mistakes… from time to time.”

This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite scenes and shots in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s heavy, poignant, and melancholic. It effortlessly conveys how emotionally connected these characters are; they’re mourning together, but in their own unique ways. Putting physical distance between them was a bold choice, but it works wonderfully to establish how each character is lost in themselves.

The original shot for reference:

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Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

A year ago this week, I posted this image to my Facebook page. Looking back, it almost certainly started the chain of events that led to beginning of Brick à Brac. Though it was nice to show off these creations to friends and family, I felt a need to share this on much more public platform (as opposed to a Facebook page heavily locked down with privacy settings.)

IMG_0405“Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” was relatively easy to assemble. Realizing full well that the Star Wars universe provides LEGO with strong, steady income and that LEGO doesn’t want to do anything that would upset one of its cash cows, the comparative dearth of sets for sci-fi’s other major franchises feels like a massive oversight. Yes, Kre-O and Mega Bloks both issued some nice Star Trek sets, and Character Building similarly created a quality LEGO-compatible Doctor Who series. However, no one currently possesses a license for either franchise, and the total number for both were relatively small.

The less that’s said about the Stargate SG-1 and Terminator sets sold by Best Lock, the better.

It’s a shame that LEGO didn’t do more when they had the Doctor Who license. Since its reboot, the show has contained plenty of memorable, iconic scenes that easily provide inspiration for sets in just about every size, as today’s photo shows. In fact, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” is flexible enough to be a bigger set, complete with any combination of robots, companions, dinosaurs and awesome looking set pieces. Alas, all we got were the Ideas set and a couple character packs for the Dimensions game.

Well, I was able to throw this one together, with a little assistance from those aforementioned Character Building and Mega Bloks sets. Maybe I’ll revisit to it and throw together a bigger version later this year.

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Brick from the Dead

Ooof that was quite the gap for me. Life. Got. Crazy. Upside is, I’ve had plenty of time to brainstorm, and there are quite a few ideas bubbling around in my head.

Some are totally new/original concepts and stories–including an epic poem…more on that later.

Others are rewrites of awful movies–looking at you, Justice League and The Last Jedi. Especially The Last Jedi.

And, of course, The Black Brick is still trucking right along. When we last left our heroes, they had just scaled a treacherous cliff to meet the mysterious, enigmatic, and a weeeee bit surly Gray Smithy. Let’s hope the Princess can talk her way into an alliance, because the Smithy’s guard dog looks ferocious…and it’s a long (but quick) way down to the ground below.

In the meantime, I recently picked up one of the new Nexo Knights Tech Infection sets, and I’m very impressed with the new villains:

Of course, I had to make some adjustments:

Methinks there might be a squad of unlucky Stormtroopers shortly crossing paths with this monstrous beastie…

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Immediately after IMG_2610creating Missy, I knew that Ace from the original run of Doctor Who would be the next subject of an original minifigure creation. I grew up watching the show and will not hesitate in admitting to a teenage crush on her character. Thankfully, because companions typically wear “normal” outfits, creating recognizable minifigures for most of them appears to be relatively easy.

However, as was the case with Missy, Ace isn’t nearly as close as I would like. In addition to not having an appropriate pinkish cream color head, she is wearing a plain black leather jacket — the best solution given that the character’s leather jacket contains a number of patches. Additionally, LEGO has never designed an “aluminum” baseball bat, nor has the company issued a black cloth skirt. Nonetheless, the final product still resembles Ace closely enough that my wife, who has watched very little of the original series, immediately recognized who she was meant to depict.

If you wish to create your own, here are the pieces you will need:

  • 970c00: Hips and legs, black
  • 973pb2828c01: Torso Female Leather Jacket with Silver Snaps and Zipper over White Striped Shirt Pattern, Black Arms, Yellow Hands
  • 73617: Dark Bluish Gray Skirt, Cloth
  • 17347: Dark Brown Hair, Female Ponytail, Long Straight with Holder
  • 3626bpb0271: Head Dual Sided Female Brown Eyebrows, Scared / Smile Pattern – Blocked Open Stud
  • 93221pb03: Radio Boom Box with Handle with Black Cassette Player, Switches and Rimmed Speakers Pattern
  • 93220pb01: Baseball Bat 4L with White Grip Handle Pattern

At the moment, I have no plans for the next Brick à Brac original minifigure. However, it’s likely that Alex might have something in mind.


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Merry Christmas, From Chiron Beta Prime

IMG_2543.jpgThis year has been a little crazy for the Andersons Appletons.
You may recall we had some trouble last year.
The robot council had us banished to an asteroid.
That hasn’t undermined our holiday cheer…

I actually had the idea for this build last Christmas but waited till this year to assemble it. Inspired by Shamelessly adapted from Jonathan Coulton’s “Chrion Beta Prime,” the build features the minifigures that my wife and I created a couple years ago at a nearby LEGO store last to represent our family, as well as a couple robots with glowing red eyes.

Although I’m pleased with the final product, it isn’t quite what was originally envisioned. Designing the Chiron Beta Prime scene to both fit on a bookshelf and include enough sufficient elements to do the song justice resulted in a layout that doesn’t entirely look like its taking place in a cave on an asteroid. However, the build, in my opinion, does the song justice. The only shame is that it couldn’t be part of the primary Christmas display. Having said that, I can certainly envision revisiting this idea at some point in the future, making it larger and more elaborate.

But, until that day comes, “Merry Christmas, from Chiron Beta Prime. Where we’re working in a mine…

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I’m more than happy to incorporate LEGO-compatible minifigures in my various builds. Frequently, Kreo and Mega Bloks feature franchises and characters that have never appeared in LEGO sets. However, sometimes you are just forced to assemble one from existing pieces. Case in point: although Character Building created a nice, quality line of Doctor Who sets and minifigures, it was strongly grounded in the Matt Smith era and the line ended just as Peter Capaldi took over. Thus, there were plenty of characters who never received mini figure. In particular, they never issued Missy. (Thankfully, they did produce a couple different River Song figures and a War Doctor, but I still haven’t managed to get my hands on a War Doctor.)

I loved Missy so much that creating her from official LEGO parts became a more imperative. It would have been nice to find an appropriate pinkish cream color head, but none of the ones available on BrickLink felt quite right. So, much like the LEGO’s earlier Star Wars and IMG_2300Harry Potter minifigs, Missy found herself depicted in standard yellow. In addition, there didn’t seem to be a hair piece that looked perfect, but the one I settled on was more than close enough. In fact, this will likely be a common constraint on future original figures. But, the goal is to make it close enough to be recognizable, and I’m satisfied that Missy is. If you wish to create your own, here are the pieces you will need:

  • 3678bpb096: Slope 65 2x2x2 with Bottom Tube with Dress with Curved Folds and 2 Silver Vertical Lines Pattern
  • 973pb2183c01: Torso Female Outline V-neck Sweater over White Shirt with Scalloped Collar Pattern / Black Arms / Light Flesh Hands (note: you will need to replace the hands with generic yellow LEGO hands)
  • 27186: Minifig, Hair Female with Large High Bun
  • 3626cpb1746: Minifig, Head Female with Black Eyebrows with One Eyebrow Raised, Eyelashes, Peach Lips, Smirk Pattern – Stud Recessed
  • 27150: Minifig, Utensil Umbrella Folded

I’ve already decided on the next Brick à Brac original minifigure, and it will be another character from the Doctor Who universe. Now, it’s just a matter of finding the right pieces.

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The 2017 Holiday Display

Full DisplayThis is the sixth year in a row that my home has had some sort of Lego holiday/Christmas display. It’s come a long way from the first one I assembled in 2012.  Looking back on it, that original holiday scene seems rather quaint. It was probably thrown together in less than 20 minutes, with very little thought put into it. As mentioned in the recent Halloween post, each year brought a different setup with more figures and set pieces, thus necessitating more space. In 2014, the display incorporated a “War on Christmas” theme for the first time, and this concept continued in 2015 and 2016. (As a quick aside, the 2015 setup featured a detail that remains a personal favorite: a kidnapped Santa Claus hanging from the top of the Wampa’s ice cave.

Quark and VoldemortWhile still assembling last year’s display, an even more epic “War on Christmas” display came to mind for this year. Unfortunately, I made no notes regarding it, and the idea completely vanished before beginning the Halloween display. After trying in vain to recall it, a new idea presented itself: what if the “evil” forces attacking the holiday decided to take this year off and enjoy the festivities as well?

Initially, I pictured something reminiscent of the Christmas Truce from World War I, with LEGO (and LEGO-compatible) minifigures from all across the character alignment spectrum gathering in a bucolic holiday setting. When contemplating which figures should take part in a snowball fight in the setting, it seemed that such a truce would actually be very short lived – one errant snowball at the wrong minifigure results in the resumption of immediate open warfare.

No, the forces waging war against Christmas needed to celebrate peacefully amongst themselves.

Even with that decision, the amount of space available was too confined to contain all the ideas concerning which figures to include and what details to create. Thankfully, a few of the characters would find a home in a secondary display (more on this anon.) The close-ups of the final product capture the details I feel are worth highlighting. Here are some additional notes about how the elements came together:

  • Nazgul on Ice DragonThe ice dragon was one of the first elements assembled. The only question regarded who would fly it. Voldemort was the original frontrunner, but he flew a red dragon in the 2016 Halloween display, so this seemed a little unoriginal. Thankfully, Nazgul are known to ride fearsome flying beasts.
  • The Borg Christmas carolers were originally supposed to be Weeping Angels. However, they were needed in another element that didn’t make it into the final display. That element become the aforementioned secondary display, which I’ll post in another few days. This secondary display (or variants of it) might become a regular item in future holiday decorations.
  • The notion of Tusken Raiders having fun in the snow and going down an ice slide was too fun to not include. It’s just not something they can ever do on Tatooine.
  • Unfortunately, no villains from the DC universe made it into the display. Given a little more space, Lex Luthor would’ve likely met Voldemort, jauntily wearing his Santa cap, for hot chocolate at Quark’s beverage stand. Quark’s inclusion was an inspired last-second substitution—I was originally going to just use the barista that originally came in the set I appropriated the stand from.
  • That’s the Malfoy family in front of the toy shop (Draco is holding the balloon.) They’re almost certainly happier than they ever were at any time in the Harry Potter universe.
  • It just felt right that Gollum held onto the ring for Christmas day.
  • I really wanted to make much better use of Mr. Burns and Bellatrix Lestrange, but, quite frankly, no good uses for them occurred to me. So, they’re off to the side, simply waiting for the Christmas cheer to mercifully end so that they can get back to doing the evil they do so well.
  • This display contains the debut of my Missy figure – my second original minifigure made from authentic LEGO parts. She’s one of many different Doctor Who characters I’ve been wanting for my collection, and she’ll be getting her own post later this month.
  • Last, but not least, the pictures are also available for viewing as part of a slideshow set to music on YouTube.



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Trumplestiltskin’s Big Day

IMG_1888Trumplestiltskin’s big day finally arrived! His election as President of the home owner’s association hinged upon this very moment: the completion of the new wall surrounding his gate-guarded community. As promised, it was a huge wall… The biggest wall… A wall based on one of history’s all-time great defensive structures. It was sure to work as advertised.

However, its completion took longer than anticipated. While the delays brought cost overruns that he personally profited from, thanks to his well-shielded shell companies – a huge benefit, to be sure – it also caused a bit of grousing from those in the community who disagreed with him. Most irritatingly, the newest member of the HOA’s Board of Directors, Pocahontas, who joined following a special election to replace a director who died during a mysterious fall into one of the construction pits, provided Trumplestiltskin with nothing but headaches. She continually pestered him to provide IMG_1913verifiable financial documentation for all the work, which required him to put far more effort into his grift than he was accustomed to. Alas, there wasn’t anything he could do about it; it was what her campaign – which inexplicably seemed to possess far more information about the wall than was publicly available – had been built around.

Nonetheless, Trumplestiltskin got everything he wanted when it came to the wall. After the July 4th incident, he made getting the best security force money could buy one of his highest priorities. When he heard about “the best marksman in the country,” he was even willing to forgo any kind of personal profits to make it happen. Now, they patrol the wall, and their presence is much better than having a mere bodyguard. Clearly, the wall in combination with these security guards will protect his community – and, more importantly, him – from all sorts of unwanted riff-raff.

So, this big day arrived with everything in place. Mouthy Spice did his job beautifully, ensuring that a huge contingency of the local media covered the fair he organized to celebrate its completion. In fact, they were positively fawning all over Trumplestiltskin and momentarily forgetting all the fake IMG_1892news generated by that nasty woman, Pocahontas. The clowns entertained the kids, the food vendors provided first rate grub, and everybody appeared to have a good time – expect for Pocahontas, who mostly kept herself away from the majority of the crowd. Oh, the wall wasn’t completely finished and oddly the exterior lawn needed mowing, but those were the kind of details that most people wouldn’t even notice.

In spite of those minor irritations, Trumplestiltskin viewed the success of the wall and the fair as proof of his keen political acumen. In fact, it’s given him ideas about running for a much bigger elective office; one befitting someone of his particular talents. The future is wide-open. What could possibly go wrong?

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