2017-11-19

MOC: Ideal Christmas Tree


Eurobricks has a long (well, not long, but eight years at least with some gaps) tradition of Advent Calendar Raffles. I've taken part every year available and won something every time, too - usually a bunch of minifigs, and not cheap ones. It's such cool, especially as chances of winning tends to be something like 85%.

This year's theme was Ideal Christmas Tree, which is recycled from 2015. Back then I built a very large spruce, I like very large spruces, there used to be lot of them around my childhood home before the bastards cut them off. But the tree was green, which means that the weathers have been too warm for a while and all the snow has become too heavy and fell of. Reason behind this was of course buying lot of green baby bows from LEGO store in London or Glasgow or elsewhere London last summer (last summer back then, not last summer now, baby bows, despite being fantastic and wonderful and terrific, don't travel in time as far as I know). But as I got some white baby bows from LUGBULK last year, I could make a perfectly snowy tree now, wahoo.

As the quality of the build has nothing to do with the chances of winning, these raffle entries have usually been very fast builds and somehow not worth posting here or Flickr. But today, by incident, there happened to be this charity campaign about Christmas decoration MOCs. British Charity group FairyBricks got their hospital giveaway LEGO stolen by scoundrels who also crippled their van. TLG came to aid, and promised to donate a set for every decoration MOC posted on social media with hashtag #BuildToGive. Now I hope Flickr counts as a social media, as I don't have Facebook or Twitter account.

This was, of course, a fast build, but I sort of like it. I still have several bigger projects under construction. And hey, white snake as a trail of smoke is not my original idea. But it's used quite widely and I have no idea who came up with it first.

-Eero
12th of November 2015. Even a small car. And ugly studded snow.

2017-11-12

Thrugont Thunderthroat's Mechanical Dragon

 This is a surprise build, and it was one for me, too. A friend asked if I was interested in taking part in a Brikwars game, and I was naturally in. So I needed an army. I first tried to make a very odd one mixing some Atlastis monsters with Pirates gear, but as my pirate figure things seemed to be unavailable by being located in another part of the country, I went with dwarves, the little hairy people, very easy to identify with.

I have plenty of dwarf minifigs. I have several of those Fantasy era sets, couple of Battle Packs and some Bricklinked stuff. I have 50 Dain II Ironfoot torsos from LUGBLK. But I wanted some heavy gear, some hardware, to mess up with. The first idea was an assault wagon with maybe some artillery and a dragon's head on the helm, maybe some TECHIC threads to roll on, but hell, I though, why not a whole mechanical dragon. So I made one.

I wanted to make it something between European and Asian folklore dragons. Some legs, but not very long ones, and no wings; Ninjago Movie's Green Ninja Mech Dragon was one source of inspiration, as well as Glaurung the Golden, the first dragon on Middle-Earth. Finnish folk epic Kalevala also offered some ideas with Smith Ilmarinen's Brass Eagle built to catch the great Scale-Pike.

Otherwise there was lot of improvisation. I began with the head and the horn crown. CCBS armor add-ons were on the cheeks from the beginning, as well as the macaroni pipe exhaust moustache. Those pearl dark grey pipes were one of the main elements here - they are delightful pieces and look great alongside brighter pearl gold. The eyes were different in the version used in the game, but I redesigned them to be round to look, hmm, somehow friendlier. There is a light brick on the mouth, to illustrate the flamethrower that burned down lot of cavalry. On the version used in the game there were another one for they eyes, but I removed it to fit in the more essential stuff.

The neck is pretty basic CCBS, and strong enough the keep the head up. It's connected to a torso with brick-built swivel joint to enhance poseability. The torso and the cockpit grew around two dark brown train side parts, whatever they are called, and two car hood pieces in same colour. Pilot Thrugont Thunderthroat can see all around under the trans-clear bubble windshield, or would if he could turn his head without the hair and beard blocking the vision. Some Bionicle generation II pieces add some mechanical matter to the sides. There is also a waist joint, an important technical bit - as the back part is modulary connected, I was able to abandon it to make quick escape from pirate ship/sea serpent combination about to explode very soon and also killed my nemesis Majisto the Wizard on the go.

The tail is also rather basic CCBS but at least it has a giant machine gun in the tip. I have had that gun lying around for years - it was originally used in very strange Kongu Mahri Revamp back in 2013; four years ago. Seems longer. I never used the machine gun in the war; the flamethrower felt more effective.

The legs are boring, I know, but they are still sort of what I wanted, small limbs on rather serpentine body. I didn't have small armour shells to cover the lower parts, but I quite like them that way, reminding of a lizard or one of those ancient, crocodile-like land beasts from Triassic period.

Game shots below taken by Matoro TBS who also hosted the game. No winner was announced, The Blue Danger was released and spread terror around His World.

-Eero





The Blue Danger standing on a brick of Finnish tobacco.

Mass of your author and artist getting ready for the cavalry charge.



2017-10-25

MOC: Susan Sto Helit revisited

 I'm still here! Sorry for lack of MOCs lately. There have been two months of no builds at all. It's not that I wouldn't have built anything. I've built quite a lot, actually, despite being somewhat busy with studies and attending number of various rock music gigs (from Italian doom metal to Finnish noise rock) lately. It's just that my projects are big, and as I don't want to spoil surprises with WIP photos, I don't have much to show you yet. I'm working on a block of early 20th century modular houses and a big character build project with six figures and plenty of hardware. In addition to these I have also some random smaller WIPs as always. So there's plenty to do, and especially last weekend was very fruitful on aspect of MOCing. Stay tuned, even though it might still take some time, and I can't promise to be very active on the following months. Projects are ambitious! I am an ambitious man.

Now, this MOC was completed a month ago or so, but I just kept thinking about whether it was finished or not. This is a Discworld character, Susan Sto Helit, the daughter of Mort and Ysabel and the granddaughter of Death. I've built her before, in September 2015, around two years ago. I was quite happy with the previous version, but it didn't fit the style of my other Discworld models, as it featured super-simplified facial features akin to my Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind characters. This received some legitimate feedback on Worldcon 75 (which was great as most people actually recognized the characters) so I knew I had to do something. Now Susan is a young woman, and facial featured in style of my Discworld characters (three-wide heads and headlights as the eyes) tend to look somewhat antic or humorous. I pondered a lot how I could make Susan look convincing while sticking with the style; after all, people are not that different looking, despite of age or sex. Segregation by design principles felt unnecessary. This isn't Susan's face exactly as I imagine it, but given that these are some building blocks and it's not such a big model, I think it's alright.

The face aside, this is the first creation that uses pieces from this year's LUGBULK order, precisely Art Nouveau style fences in black (as "some" lace) and tan 1x1 quarter tiles (which are wonderful) and tan 1x2 baby bows to model bare skin areas. I also got some basic bricks (tan, dark blue and medium azure) but those are naturally not used here.

I began with the bodice, featuring some lacing using minifig hands connected to odd wedge slope; the previous used grill tiles. Otherwise I kept the design similar to the old one, just improved. The hands use now the usual design, which means they're poseable and sturdy if a bit too large. Ornamental fence pieces give some air to the dress. The left leg is visible, as inspired by Paul Kidby's art. I'm rather happy with their shapes. There's bit of movement here, too, to enable more natural stance. Death of Rats has stayed exactly the same.

The scythe was a louse of sorrow*. It is the exact same scythe made a bit longer. I would have wanted to make it bigger, as it's Death's scythe and Death is a seven-feet-tall skeleton who would need a big scythe. But I didn't have needed pieces, and I quite liked the free-flowing shape of this one. And, honestly, as I hadn't posted anything in two months, I wanted to just post this to show you that hey, I'm still here. I'm alive and kicking.

-Eero


* Louse of Sorrow = Murheenkryyni. Kryyni is a old pseudonym for a louse; they believed that if you don't use thing's own name, it doesn't cause harm. Murhe is Sorrow in Finnish, and afterwards phrase Murheenkryyni has extended to mean anything that causes sorrow to one.

2017-08-23

MOC: Chair of Indefinite Studies

 Still on Discworld! This is another built finished before Worldcon. Chair of Indefinite studies, another of these "thin character" wizards, whose comedy I enjoy a lot. I have also some quite ambitious plans of this-scale Hex the thinking engine, which would need some wizards around it. Plus these give me changes to build interesting beards and detailed clothes, so not bad at all.

Main trick here is of course the waistcoat built with printed Chima phoenix skirts. These make great wizard robes for minifigs, too (used on Lecturer on Recent Runes minifig) but sticking several next to each other... that makes it even more interesting! Our LUG got those from event support package and they were on "Free for all" bin on our Model Expo "exhibitor closet" and I grabbed a handful for this particular use. The beard is another base trick, using Hero Factory/Chima Ultrabuild fur add-on parts, and probably more importantly constructing a long moustache using taps, tooth tiles, viking horns and stuff... I've always wanted to build a stache like that.

Otherwise it's quite usual wizard outfit. Couple of Bionicle parts on shoulders for the sake of interestingness, curly wizard shoes, pointy hat and white stockings. I particularly like the dark orange trousers, as they balance the bright colour scheme, and the robes built using red aeroplane bottom sections, as they're not the most versalite pieces.

I didn't give Chair staff because 1. I'm short on staff pieces 2. he really doesn't use staff that much, except probably in Reaper Man. The Senior Faculty doesn't really do magic. They bicker, wonder, argue and eat huge dinners. So I gave him plate of food and a pint or amber beer instead. Felt fitting, and in a way, more interesting.

On side notes, my second year on architecture studies starts on monday, ending my 4-month holiday. On other hand, I'll receive my LUGBULK 2017 order tomorrow, so you can still expect some builds in near future. Something experimental, I dare to say.

-Eero.


2017-08-20

MOC: Sir Terry Pratchett

 I've build dozens if not hundreds human (or dwarf or something) character builds. Most of them have been fictional characters, from books or movies or comics or games. Real persons have been lot rarer. There have been some: Madventures for Finland 100 contest, Lemmy Kilmister bust as a tribute and some humppa band Eläkeläiset's members in primitive pseudo-miniland style before the time of this blog. But all of these people have been known for their physical selves: Madventures as television persons (although they have written some excellent nonfiction books) and Lemmy and Eläkeläiset as musicians, appearing on stage.

Position of book author is different. From them we have words and sentences and, well, books, bunch of letters really. But in other hand, some of the most influential persons to me are writers, and heck, they deserve as much respect as those who are more physically exposed.

Sir Terry Pratchett died of Alzheimer in 2015. Before it he wrote several dozen books, including 41 (plus tie-ins) about a world on top of four elephants that stand on the shell of an enormous star turtle. I've built 19 characters from those books, and as they formed the main part of my display on Worldcon 75 it felt essential to include a character build of the author himself.

Pterry was well known for his white beard and black hat. I began with the head here, and the beard is one of the trickiest ones so far and I've built quite a several beards. It uses cattle horns, claws and a croissant. The three "slices" are connected only on the hat and the cheese slopes on the cheeks are not connected to anything at all, but stay snugly between the pieces. It's quite an advanced head build, if you don't mind me saying... The hat brim is connected with rubber band. Wanted to try it, wasn't as easy as expected, but works alright. Hiding a joint there wouldn't have looked as good.

Sir Pratchett wears same clothes than in the author portraits in the most recent books: Leather jacket, dark blue shirt and black trousers. Regular clothes are not as easy as you might think. As there isn't any tricks to hide shapes under details and accessories, some attention must be taken on the silhouette. The angled sides are done using plate joints. The shoulders, once again, were too wide when adding the arms, and I had to narrow them two studs. I wanted plenty of movement to the arms, so I plugged a ball joint to the elbow. Brown belt and dark tan buckle add some colour to the overall dark attire.

The trousers are never easy, neither. I've written about this before, but it's hard, it really is. Make them too thin and it looks like very tight pair of legwear. Too wide looks odd, too. Too straight works neither, it's unnatural. Legs aren't just two tubes of cloth. I think these are alright, but challenging anyway, for being just so simple shape. I like the shoes though.

Terry also holds a miniature version of Discworld, with Great A'Tuin and four giant elephants (Berilia, Tubul, Great T'Phon, and Jerakeen - I checked them on Wikipedia, can't remember everything). The elephants consist of three parts each and I like them quite a lot. The surface of the Disc is hardly visible on the photos, but it's based on official maps, though simplified a lot. Pillar of Cori Celesti can be seen there. It was missing during Worldcon, though. One simply can lose mountain home of the gods. Forget my own head next.

-Eero


2017-08-17

Worldcon 75



Worldcon is the biggest and oldest annual Sci-fi convention in the world. This year the 75th Worldcon was hosted in Helsinki. It is the first time the convention is held in Northern Europe: Most times it has been hosted in US. Having it in Finland is really a once-a-lifetime experience, and it was really cool, too. I mean, I've been on LUG exhibits over 20 times, I think more than 50 days overall, and this was the most dedicated audience I've had honour to have. This wasn't our LUG Palikkatakomo's most impressive display, no, we only had two builders, me and our current chairman Sami Kattelus who organized our participation; So no big modular cityscapes nor impressive fortresses nor intelligent robots nor wacky GBCs; just my character builds, 37 in total, and Samppu's highly functional Star Wars models, nine of them. But I dare to say that these were suitable for audience, which consisted mostly of Sci-fi/Fantasy nuts.


I mean, when I have my Discworld models on regular exhibit with Finnish audience, maybe three or four people per day recognizes them. But here we had lot of people admiring them with their bright eyes; including lot of American and English ladies aged 50 to 70 going: "They're just like I imagined them! Look, the Librarian! And that Luggage!" I think my most popular creations were the aforementioned Librarian and Luggage, and build of Sir Terry Pratchett himself, not yet published here but visible on the photos. Porco Rosso's Savoia S-21 seaplane got surprisingly lot attention, which was nice, as it is rather important build to me.

I also got lot of really good questions and had several interesting conversations. Now, you get these on regular shows, too: But on Worldcon there was a collective understanding on some issues artists take as granted but not everyone does, so I didn't get asked whether these are real sets, nor how many parts there are, nor didn't heard the old bad argument of "Everything was better in the past when we had one 2x4 brick that fed our IMAGINATION expect that it was stuck behind the radiator and we died of typhoid fever at the age of 29". Okay, I overstated a bit, but you hear that a lot when talking about the hobby with commoners...

I rather told them about the process, the time it takes, gave examples of odd piece uses and gave some tricks. Actually one of the most frequent questions were "what part is the tongue of The Luggage". But, surprisingly, the most common questions was "Can I take photos?" and always in English. I have nothing against people photographing my models on public exhibits, no, it's flattering. Finnish audience takes this as a granted, too. It's not a problem, but it's fascinating that people actually ask. It's polite, and nice way to break the ice with the exhibitor. This time I also tried to say "Hello" or "Terve" to everyone that stopped on our booth. I probably should do that on every exhibit, but on most, like Model Expo (Which is actually just a add-on of Kid's Expo), audience consist mostly of kids aged 5-11 and their parents and they're quite busy with their kids. But this audience was more approachable. Just for some statistics: On Wednesday, Tuesday and Friday it was maybe 30% Finnish, and on Saturday and Sunday around 50%-50%. I think people travelling abroad bought membership for whole con and Finnish fans bought day passes for days they weren't working.
Due to sort of misunderstanding I though I would have an opportunity to held a lecture of some sort, so I wrote up a few thoughts about the creative process of building. I might edit it to publishable form and post it here later. It was not kept, but maybe writing it in English helped me to talk about the hobby during the five days.

What else did I do? I attended three lectures. "Historical Sci-Fi in China" was quite niche one, but interesting in it own way. Did you know that there isn't lot of historical Chinese Sci-fi? Well, there isn't. The others included Ian Stewart, The Science Quest, who has co-written Science of Discworld books with Sir Terry Pratchett and Jack Cohen. The lectures were "Distinguishing a duck from a rabbit", about neuroscience and illusions, and "Humour in Sci-fi and Fantasy" which is self-explanatory. There were around one thousand of these panels, and they were mostly full. I only took part on three because I think it was just such cool sitting on our booth talking to people about my own work...

I also got interviewed shortly on Swedish podcast Fandompodden; it was on English. I can probably find it at their page later, the full thing should be in English. What else... I played three games of Magic the Gathering with one of our recruited deputies, Arttu, who owns most of deck (I bought a card though. Gearshift Ace, a dwarf pilot who looks like Porco Rosso. It was 30 cents. Quite fitting, eh?). I lost twice and won once, the enemy deck included lot of grasshoppers. These were played between seven and half past nine at night, and there were probably five visitors at our booth during them. I also went to watch Edgar Wright's Baby Driver, which was cool and exciting film (it begins with a getaway chase sequence with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Bellbottoms song which I've known to be one of the coolest songs in the universe since I was seven and we went to Norway by car and recorded this cassette with songs chosen by all family members, and this Bellbottoms was one by my father, a record store seller by profession for ten years; It's awesome song by great band. String sections and everything. Nothing to do with Worldcon, though.)

I didn't buy any souvenirs from the con. I had all the used Discworld books they had on sale (But hey I bough Equal Rites softcover today for 1,5€ from excellent Bonus Kirppis at Tampere, and now I only lack Mort, Guards! Guards!, Witched Abroad, Maskerade, Truth, Hat Full of Sky and I Shall Wear Midnight) and they didn't have any Porco Rosso posters (what a shame). There would have been a bunch of English Bionicle comics and Mad Max DVD box set, but I passed them.

Some interesting people I met:

- Kurt Baty, an AFOL from Texas
- James Shields, an Irish AFOL who had built model of hosting hall of Worldcon 2019 in Dublin
- Jan Woznika, an AFOL of LUGPol
- Lady that gave me "Porco Rosso Savoia S-21" sticker she had bought from Ghibli Museum - thanks!
- Kylo Ren (maybe a 8-year-old girl in cosplay) and her gang (Yoda beanie girl, Flareon plushie girl, Doctor Eggman junior, Beyblade lad). They investigated our creations VERY precisely.
- Eduardo Serradilla, who wrote and article about my Savoia S-21 on eldiario.es
- Vesa Lehtimäki, well known from is breathtaking photos

James Shields and his Convention Centre Dublin.

Spotted on the audience:

- 2 Discworld T-shirts
- One YUP T-shirt
- One Rakkauden Wappuradio T-shirt
- One Teekkari Cap
- One Discworld cosplay (Tiffany)
- One Nausicaä (Manga!) cosplay (Nausicaä)

MOCs on display (me)

- Admiral Ackbar bust
- Furiosa
- Mad Max
- Cohen the Barbarian
- Captain Carrot
- Sergeant Detritus
- Commander Vimes
- Sergeant Colon
- Corporal Nobbs
- Sergeant Littlebottom
- Granny Weatherwax
- Nanny Ogg
- Sir Terry Pratchett (Not yet published online)
- Mustrum Ridcully
- The Dean
- The Bursar
- The Lecturer on Recent Runes
- The Chair of Indefinite Studies (Not yet published online)
- The Luggage
- Rincewind
- The Librarian
- Susan Sto Helit
- Lu-Tze
- Savoia S-21
- Porco Rosso
- Charuka&Chikuku
- Kurotowa
- Kushana
- Nausicaä
- Mito
- Yupa
- Dedede
- Robin
- Palutena
- Zero Suit Samus
- Power Suit Samus

Samppu:

- X-Wing Starfighter
- Naboo Starfighter
- Three speeder bikes
- Probe Droid
- E-Web blaster cannon
- Imperial Shuttle
- TIE Interceptor
- AT-ST
- Star Destoryer


Thanks to:

- Organisers of the con (Tablecloths and chairs with back rests and everything)
- Samppu
- our deputies during the long days: Arttu, Tuulia, Tuuli and Ree.




Trade hall, just behind a wall.