2016-06-12

MOC: Porco Rosso


A wise man once said: I'll rather be a pig than a fascist pig.

Porco Rosso is my favorite Ghibli movie. It's also my favorite animated movie. Hell, it's my favorite movie ever. Beautiful, not too complicated, original, great music, old water planes. The best, ever.

I built Porco's iconic Savoia S-21 last summer, and now it was time for the pig himself. The plane was miniland scale and included a miniature Porco in the cockpit. This Porco is made in same scale than the figures from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The old and more angular version of the face dates back to last summer, and today I got my shit together and finished it. It took around three hours total; quite fast and relatively easy.

The colour scheme was the challenge factor here. Dark tan isn't the most common color, but I luckily had lot of "key parts": 1x2, 1x1 and 1x4 plates, 1x2 and 1x1 slopes, 4x4 wedge slopes, 2x2x3 slopes and both 1x2 and 2x2 jumpers. There is naturally lot of SNOT here. The helmet was the hard part, I'd say; Getting the flying goggles angled properly wasn't so simple (1x1 plate with bar proved it prowess) and those earmuffs required some pondering.

I had my architecture entrance exams (seven of them) last week, and now my real summer holiday finally began. It's damned cold here! But there'll be a LUG exhibit next weekend, by the way, and I'll go and see some relatives in the north, so I probably won't be that active anyway. But I might get something else out before leaving in Thursday; who knows. It seems that my blog has got lot of readers lately, around 1200 a day, which is ten times more than before. Cool! Keep it up, I'm glad to entertain you, of course. It's my hobby.

2016-06-02

MOC: Sergeant Detritus

Check dat sarge! Now when I've completed the "original" night watch of Ankh-Morpork City Watch, I must move to the "minority group" recruits. Sergeant Detritus is great and sympathetic character. He's the most important troll character on Discworld and gives us the best example of troll biology and culture. Pratchett's trolls don't turn into stone in sunlight, they are stone all along. But as their brain is silicon-based, their thinking slows down as their brains get warmer, just like a computer chip. They're quite clever back in their homelands on the mountains, but warm air of Sto Plains makes them often somewhat dump in the City of Ankh-Morpork. Detritus seems like a clumsy idiot at first (he appears in several books before his wife Ruby makes him join the Watch in Men at Arms), but after his former dwarf colleague Constable Cuddy makes him a clockwork-powered cooling helmet he becomes surprisingly clever, in a troll way. He gets promoted into a sergeant before the next watch book and eventually becomes the chief of recruit division. He also was the Cultural Attacheé of Ankh-Morpork in the Coronation of the Low King of dwarves. 

I began building with the head. It come out nicely and quite easily. The diamond teeth were a must, as well as the rotor on his helmet. I also wanted the eyebrows be adjustable to show different moods. I looked at Paul Kidby's art for inspiration, but there's less similarities than on Colon or Ridcully, for example. I had quite a clear image of Detritus on my head.

The scale was also interesting. As Detritus is a bit hunched, he's shorter than Carrot, but naturally much wider and larger. I haven't built this big SYSTEM characters before. But it wasn't that hard, after all. Poseable legs are the big difference here. They have those odd clickety KK2/Exo-force joints on the hip, click joints on the knees and ball joints on the ankles; plus additional pin-hole-to-studs hinges on the lower ankle. These help to balance the figure; that was rather challenging, especially with his siege crossbow The Piecemaker, which weights rather much. 

Watch sergeants traditionally wear a Roman-esque muscular breastplates. I had already build one for Colon. There are some similarities, like the abs (boat stud, great piece all over again) and the inner structure, but the pecs are more dominant and hinged. The badge is almost hidden behind Detritus's impressive lower jaw. Otherwise the uniform follows the basic Watch uniform, with some leather flaps, bits of chain main, short trousers and open-toe boots, but he doesn't really wear shirt under the armor. I felt he didn't needed, as his skin is rock and he prefers to be cool, if you know what I mean (silicon brain).

Detritus also has his Piecemaker, a siege crossbow. He replaced the big blunt bolt with a stack of wooden arrows, which splinter and catch fire in the air, forming a big flaming ball; Handy when breaking into the castle of evil werewolves, as long as you remember that When Mister Safety Catch Is Off, Mister Crossbow Is Not Your Friend. The design is loosely based on Roman ballista,with two hinged bows; The gears add some friction, and the string is a basic LEGO string gracefully tied on 1x2 thin handle plates.







And remember, kids, never try slab - Jus' say 'Aarrghaarrghpleeasennononough!

2016-06-01

MOC: Adela

Celebrating the new layout of my blog, here's an old WIP finished. This dates back to March, I think. I had this "root" of a red/white/black dress. I began with couple of 3x4 curved wedge slopes, and black lacing done with black Viking horns. But the dress overall changed a lot. At a time it was black-and-white and somewhat maid-themed, and later got some brown and more steampunk influences. A lid for Toa Metru canister was used as the bottom part for while, but it didn't work, and had been used numerous times before by other builders like L.A. Miranda for example. So I went on with more wedge slopes - pieces I love and had recently bought a lot from BL - that allowed me to continue the black-and-white pattern further. It helped to create a sort of vintage art-deco feel on the dress. I also included couple of odd freight train contrainer halves to the hem. It's a nice piece I last used on Plutonian Warrior Mining Robot's ankles.
The long gloves (Is there more specific term? No idea) were there from the beginning. They are similar to my current "basic bare arm" design, but making them white avoided the usage of tan 1x1 clip tiles (rare and expensive) and 1x2x2 slopes (not rare nor expensive, but rather recent so I don't have too many). The elbow is similar to Lingeán's. Old hockey puck (with axle hole) is used to represent the strap.

After these parts - The dress and the arms - were finished, the thing was left for two or three months. I quite liked what I had acquired, but didn't have the spark to finish it, and didn't have too much time in my hands anyway. Until, around last week, after coming home from mathematics test (I'm trying to get into a university to study architecture - The art tests will take place next week) I just grabbed it, made the legs (took several hours to get them right) and and chose to take a different route with the MOC; I didn't make it into an another standing character, but built a base with some cushions or blankets and hinged the torso and designed the hair so that it would land nicely on the base. The neck is also asymmetrical and looks odd on other poses - I wanted to make the "stretched" side a bit more realistic. TLG should totally make Mixel ball joints in other colors than greys.
When photographing, I realized that I can take some standing poses too, though it required some minor tweaks and they didn't look that perfect; But something different to finish this blog post with! The legs might be a bit too short on the standing pose, I'm not sure. But it ended up staying upright surprisingly well, taking that the legs were planned completely with horizontal position in mind.

Mosquitoes were a bloody nuisance when taking photographs. I photoshopped quite a few of them out. That's summer in Finland to you.






2016-05-30

New layout!


Yes, it's obvious. Expect if you're reading on mobile. The blog has gone through major overhaul.

The old layout was white-grey gradient thing. Pretty bland actually. On other hand it gave focus to the MOCs but honestly, it was easily forgotten among other LEGO-themed blogs. I think this interface is memorable. Heck, at least by now you should recognize that yes, you're reading Cyclopic Bricks!

I'm hugely grateful to Crudelis "Manfred" Diabolus who did hours of work on the technical code side of the layout. Actually he tweaked the original one (based on "Nautica" by Deluxe Templates, and it's still somewhere down there) too. I would have never known how to make all the buttons and frames and other thingamajigs and doodads and whatnots. Luckily Sir Diabolus knew. Well done, that man(fred). He also does music that you can check out on his website, if you dare.

Most of the graphics are done by me. I can't really draw on computer (I don't have a drawing pad and who can draw anything with mouse?) so I drew everything with pencil (2B), scanned it in black-and-white mode and colored on photoshop and added some effects. Steampunk influences are heavy, but I wanted to avoid general cogs and gears. Ever been in a steam locomotive's cockpit? There's a full maze of pipes, tubes, valves and meters, but no gears. It's about pressure, that's it. So I went with the tubes.

The theme used here is actually based on a drawing below I made when I was on my civil service at the local police station. There wasn't lot to do, so I had plenty of time to read Discworld novels, watch Father Brown in the backroom and draw things (On other hand, I also drove police vans which was quite cool). The idea was actually inspired by a cartoon by local satirical cartoon artist on the newspaper, with interesting pipe-maze-machine representing some political or economical process. The image was also used on Salsa, The Official Klaanon Card Game, as the image of place card of The Shipyard, the base of most of my characters. I also made a printing sieve of it and printed some T-shirts.
 I first made the new logo that appears on some of the banners; I wanted it to have something LEGO-like on it. I ended up with a tan headlight brick, the one I usually use for eyes. You know, Cyclopic Bricks? One-eyed-mythical-creature-like bricks. So it has a one eye. You know?

The good-LEGO-bricks-in-sand-green-circles motif continued through the side bars. They loop and their visibility depends on the resolution of your screen. I also made a frame for the interchangeable banners, frame for my new portrait (taken in last November, including telescope-eye-thing, Swiss Railway Station officer hat, old Finnish mantle... ) and icons for links on the top bar (including my Brickshelf user on "older works"  - Proceed with caution) aaand icons on the right side (The frames were composed on my graphics by Mr. Diabolus). The new font is, I think, Sahitya.

The blog still features some interchangeable banners composed by Don Valentino "Uncle Rubber" Delucci, powered by coding by Nenya (You know, like Galadriel's ring). They deserve a thank you here: Thanks! 

2016-05-13

MOC: Sergeant Colon & Corporal Nobbs


 Back to the Discworld! Here's two characters that appear in large number of Sir Terry Pratchett's books, the experienced and badly educated watchmen Sergeant Frederick Colon and Corporal Cecil Wormsborough St. John "Nobby" Nobbs. They were part of the "original" Night Watch in the first Watch series books with Captain (later Commander) Sam Vimes and Lance-constable (Later Captain) Carrot.

Nobby is a petty thief, slimy, dirty and smelly, and always has a sad cigarette with him. He's often mistook as a pet monkey or similar, but hold a species certificate signed by Lord Vetinari that states he is an actual human. He's interested in dangerous weaponary and has gone through several identity crises and currently dates a goblin lady.

Colon is old, fat and married; His wife is never seen, as they work on opposite shifts. He is believed to have children, but they are never met, neither. Colon was about to get retired in Feet of Clay but decided to stay in the force. He's a solid jailer, can read the streets and knows all sorts of people, but lacks courage, intelligence and adaptability. He hasn't got real officer material (as seen in The Fifth Elephant where he's temporarily promoted into a captain) but is used to tutor new watchmen, watchwomen, watchdwarves and so on.

With my Discworld characters, building Nobby and Colon would have been obligatory at some point, so I went for them. Nobby was first. I begun with the head, which was quite easy. The torso was harder, as Nobby's a small man and regular techniques couldn't be applied. There's some TECHNIC in there to enable bad posture and thin neck. Notice the stale City Watch badge where metallic copper finish has party worn out.

Nobbs' limbs are also rather different. His arms are thin, as he strongly lacks muscles (pun not intended); old arm joints helped there. The bad posture continues to the legs, where those odd turret pieces I adore are used on the boots. Nobby's footwear are different than on the rest of my Watch builds, as he's described having a pair of big heavy boots useful on kicking helpless victims.

I didn't want to post Nobby without his partner so I built Colon shortly after finishing him. Colon began with his muscular Roman-style chestplate worn over his big stomach. I'm very happy how it turned our. Several of my favorite pieces like boat studs and curved slopes are used here. I'm also happy with the legs. The boot design is similar to Vimes' and Carrot's, but is wider and thicker. Legs on human figures are somehow harder than expected, giving that they usually are just couple of pillars under the torso. But they're not very interesting and therefore not very fun to build.

It took a while to give accessories to these guys. Nobby's halberd was originally on Colon, who was described preferring polearms to keep enemies out of reach. But it felt too war-like to him, so I switched to Nobby who was holding a bell at the time with a baton on his belt; I swapped the bell to the belt and baton to Colon and polearm to Nobby (who loves dangerous objects like Klatchian fire engines, morningstars etc.) and moved bit of the polearm's lenght to the baton to make them look balanced to the characters. I also gave Sarge a doughnut, which felt fitting for the character.

-Eero  



2016-05-04

MOC: Arcane Samurai


 This is one of those builds that had a strong original idea but ended up something rather different. The idea was similar than on Kira; to adapt well-designed minifig torso to a larger build. Accidentally this torso was from same character, Samurai X from Ninjago (this time the 2015 version). I intended the scale to be similar than on Kira, but it ended up being somewhat smaller, around the scale of Mace-bearer and Cyira the Paladin.

The colors were one of the main points here. Samurai armors have often dashing but earthly colors, opposed to (popular culture imaginary of) European knight armors, which usually seem to be silvery or grey. The colors are naturally based on the minifig torso, as is the bird emblem in the breastplate, but it was generally interesting to match the bright red and pearl gold parts with more toned-down ones.

This MOC also had an interesting blend of old typical techniques and some new experiments. The upper torso is pretty basic, with curved wedges on the sides and CBBS armors on the shoulders. The skirt, however, was challenging. I had several different versions, but ended up with this one with 90 degree angles on the side panels. It's very thigh, but allows some movement to the upper legs, which again are very basic type with roborider halves. The bulky upper arms were another part were I tried to create a distinct profile.

The helmet was a challenge, but also a joy to build. I definitely wanted to have a mask to hide the samurai's true identity and gender. I googled for samurai armors and was fascinated by cool yet scary mask which often had facial hair (carved or actual) on them. Somehow I ended up using CMF Winged Warrior's shoulder armor. I tried using it both two and one stud sides on front, but eventually ended up with the side with the neck guard as lower jaw. The helmet actually got remade just before photographing: the joint was actually on the back of the helmet, as I couldn't fit it into the middle of it. It looked awfully bad on most angles, so I fiddled with for an hour or something, until I made it fit; Used some of those new-ish 1x1 round tiles with bar and plume hole. There's even four TECHNIC cams in it to connect the CBBS armor pieces. 

 The katana is a basic one, with Ninjago blade and a simple handle. The flagpole was a late addition: I had thought about it, but wasn't sure if it needed one or not. I ended up building it anyway. Those masts are just pretty cool overall, and the flags from Orient Expedition's Dragon Fortress were just perfect.

-Eero

2016-04-30

MOC: New Century Corner

Hullo, folks! Here's what I've been building for last few months (since November, actually, but intermittently). These five early 1900s style modulars were on display on our LUGs 600-module (one is 32x32 studs, no baseplates used) collaborative town on Model Expo 2016 in Helsinki Fair Centre couple of weeks ago. I packed them in a cardboard box and travelled 1000 km by train with them! Fortunately I made some of the buildings (unnaturally) thin, otherwise I couldn't have made it... Anyway, these buildings are based on my love of old, grand architecture. There are some strong Jugend/Art Nouveau influences, though most of these can't be labelled as AN in its pure form. Inspiration is drawn mostly from buildings in Prague, a beautiful city definitely worth visiting. 
Buildings from left to right are:

House of Two Whistling Geezers: I'm very happy with the roof. It is based on a building located in Czech spa town Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). I indented to use it on my long-time Unseen University WIP but it was too robust and turned out in to a modular house. The roof has some Gothic elements, but the elephant tail detail and the arch above the gateway are hints of Art Nouveau design. The faces of Two Whistling Geezers are reference to somewhat humorous faces typical in Finnish Jugend/National Romanticism style.

House of Two Sisters: The first house built in this display. Hoarded some nice old light yellow bricks in a LUG event and this was a natural way to put them in use. Is loosely based on Art Nouveau houses on the Central Square of Prague. I was surprised that I was able to photograph white-on-white so nicely.

House of the Bat-Lord and Three Sinners: Probably the most Art Nouveau-heavy building here. I wanted to use strong and dramatic colors, and the themes of the building evolved around them. I'm especially happy with the top part of the facade. The elephant tails are super sweet AN parts. This building doesn't have any particular real-life counterparts.

The House of Secret Society of Aviation: The main building. The wall on 45 degree angle is connected with TECHNIC axles that allow free slip; Therefore no challenging mathematics are needed. The 18-stud-wide wall is slid between the side walls with axles and piston connectors. It's surprisingly sturdy, as it's connected like that on two places, on the top and the bottom.


Designing this started with a large, lone window. The black inner arch uses some heavy SNOT and looked nice, so I Bricklinked pieces for two more of them (building with two large windows side by side almost always reminds of a face. Only human things). The shape of the building evolved around them. I wanted to use them on the second floor, so I had to invent something for the street level; I settled with a grandiose, almost church-like doorway and couple of elegant windows often seen on Art Nouveau Houses. I also went with strong geometric shapes with black, light grey and medium dark flesh. They created a nice contrast with the round shapes.

The dome, based on design of Castor-Troy and developed further with some dinosaur-tail iron arches, was going to used on one of the building, and this was the natural choice, being the grandest. I also had ideas of a globe, similar to one used on Tietz Store in Berlin before WW2, using Dagobah and clip-bar-rails as meridians (the Equator was tricky!) attached to a roof. Well, I thought that heck, better put all the grandiose elements in one place, and slapped the globe, finished with golden winged warrior, on the top of the dome, and connected the dome to the top of the biggest building... It's quite cool, if you don't mind me saying, and combined many elements I love in late 19th - early 20th architecture.

This is the only building here featuring a bit of interior: As the windows are rather big, there's a 7-stud-wide tile stove on the angled back wall, and a portrait of Fat Lady above it. The dome illuminated is somehow. The rest of the details include sand green SNOT cheese roof to balance the color of the globe and some Angel statues continuing the wing motif; Don't blink!

The House of Golden Frogs: I wanted to something different with the general shape of this building, and it turned out having white baroque-esque first floor and red second floor with some Art Nouveau elements. With glass doors and large clock this might be a public building rather than an apartment building, probably a club or a music hall. But there's no interior (it's not deep enough) so I'm not sure.

Again, the build started with the windows, which are similar to ones in the previous house but some elaborate and heavy. Some Bionicle parts are used alongside frogs and decorative elements from Friends Grand Hotel. The other key parts were the columns on the first floor using white wing elements for more interesting shape. Arranging the columns was tricky, but I'm happy with the result.



After finishing the buildings I had to populate the layout. There isn't much figures inside the buildings (okay, I confess, none, except in the gateways) as there isn't interiors nor always even floors, but there's plenty of fuss in the street. I wanted the characters to be from late 1800s or early 1900s, and there's some figs seen before in my steampunk dioramas or minifig barfs. But there are also some odd references. There's somebody up to exterminate a drunkard in the first portcullis. At the corner roof, the famous detective, his doctor friend and the (clone) folks of Scotland Yard are up to make an arrest. Johnny Thunder is visiting the city between his numerous adventures. Several nobs have gathered at the doors of the House of the Golden Frogs.

Now I've had enough of modular house building for a while, but I'm planning to eventually return to this layout and make a whole block, maybe sized 4x3 modules (128x96 studs), with four corner houses. But next up some character builds - I promise!

-Eero