Saturday, January 26, 2013

Planes, as small as they can be

I hope by now everyone has built his LEGO sets from Christmas. To make January more exciting, Mainman has organized his own microscale build competition for plane builders. The deadline was last week, it is a good time to look at the best nominees.

tbone_tbl was the most productive one, he has built no less than seven planes. My personal favorite is this AV-8 Harrier. All details are in place: the wing is excellent, but I also like the canopy and its surroundings, not to mention the tail section.

The most grandiose plane was built by John Lamarck: this B-17 is definitely the biggest in the field - if this makes sense for a microscale aircraft:

It also has two P-51 Mustangs as escorts:

You are probably not surprised to hear that I have built something too. These two projects have been half done for a long time and the competition has finally gave me the final push to finish them. I already built a MiG-15 at a different scale, but I wanted to build a smaller one too. This is the end result:

All in all, I am not 100% happy with it. The overall shape is ok, but I think the final impression is a bit blocky. I am like this MiG-21 a bit more:

This plane is the most produced supersonic aircraft in the world. Compared to this it has hardly any versions built from bricks. I like how this turned out at this scale.

The field is strong, I am already happy just to be able to participate. It is worth looking at the others too, there are really good ones.

And if you would like to have more LEGO reading for the week, I recommend the newest issue of BrickJournal - the downloadable version is available for $3.95.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Best of MOC

We have seen many excellent builds on the web during the past few weeks, let us take a look at some of them.

_lichtblau_ has been covered on the blog earlier. His latest creations are a black Pontiac with a Plymouth highway patrol, they both have an incredible seventies feel. Although both are minifig scale they both have very car-like proportions. The most interesting detail is the front and back of the police car - the fenders built from bricks laying sideways fit this vehicle very well.

henningb's steam train is at least as professional. My favorite detail is the tracks. Now that I see it it seems very straightforward! The smoke built of ice cream is also quite cool.

Let's see something different. George G has build Middle Earth, more precisely Helm's Deep. It is fantastic how the different pieces form a the details together: the Technic bricks, the ones with brick pattern and the rest. I suspect in a factory set we would never see them together like this, yet here they fit together perfectly.

Like this blog, thirdwigg has high stakes in planes as well as the world of Technic. When you put the two worlds together you get this huge Spitfire fighter from the Battle of Britain:

It is worth watching the video until the end. It has all the features of a real plane except for flying: variable-pitch propellers, 12 pistons, retractable landing gear. Of course it includes full controls as well. It cannot be seen on the video but it has adjustable flaps too. And if that would not be enough it is fully covered and looks like a real plane and not like a skeleton like a typical Technic set.

If you have your eyes wide open you have probably realized that next week we will cover microscale planes... see you then!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

News sets and parts for 2013

We rarely cover news on the blog but there are so many recent developments that it is worth covering the most important ones.

The biggest LEGO news of the week is the announcement of the new Mindstorms that is called EV3. It brings many-many new features starting with Android and iOS integration and also including 3D building instructions on an iPad. The biggest news however is simplification: the new EV3 brick can be programmed without connecting a computer. The goal of LEGO is that anyone should be able to build a working robot in 20 minutes after opening the box. You will be able to get it from stores in the second half of 2013 around $349.

First half 2013 sets are in stores already but we already have bits and pieces about the second half. You can see the full Technic range here but there are also many interesting new sets in the Creator line as well. Our favorites are the 42000 Grand Prix Racer and the 31004 Firece Flyer. By the way: starting from 2013 all sets have a five-digit number.

As a builder I am also interested in new parts. These have been discovered by my colleagues at the LEGO Military Group:


I like the second one quite a bit: an inverted tile that can be attached to the bottom of bricks. I hope an inverted slope is also on the works. I could also make use more colors - I probably have more wishes than I can afford. In any case, we look forward towards an exciting 2013.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Messerschmitt uncovered

I am happy to start the New Year with something fresh and take a look at why I have bothered with various Messerschmitts so much.

Several years ago I have already tried to build one. The 2009 model was a heavy compromise: it was built in Lego Digital Designer and the bricks were chosen from the limited selection of DesignByMe that still existed. As a result most of the plane was black because this color had the largest selection of bricks.

It was already time to try again and build a fresh plane for the Puma squadron.

This is a Messerschmitt Bf-109 G6 "Gustav" of the Royal Hungarian Air Force from 1944, using the black and white roundel from WWII. The legendary "Puma" have accomplished many missions against American and Soviet planes.

As I plan to build other planes at the same scale it was important to pick a size in which the others will look good as well. I am a big fan of "micro" aircraft, but that would not allow me to build a lot of details. So I have chosen a different scale, 1:48. This is still somewhat smaller than other Messerschmitts, only Legohaulic's fighter coming close. My plan was to add as many shape and color details as possible. Hence, there are no other features: the landing gear is not retractable (although it is easy to remove) and there is not enough room for a minifig pilot either (although at this scale it would be still doable with some compromises). 

Another important point is the wing. I like building wings as thin as possible, I am not a big fan of thick and blocky wings. The current wing is built of two layers of plates, I think it would have been impossible to make it any thinner. The shape is just a bit blocky, but overall I am quite happy with the shape of the wings and the tail.

I am pretty happy with the outcome. At this scale the plane has pretty recongnisable shape and colors as well.

Please take a look at the Flickr album for more photos. As usual they can be found on Picasa as well.