Some nights the blogging life is easy, I just click on a link to the bloated LEGO Group on Flickr and scroll down until something looks appetizing: one stop shopping. Other nights the pickings are a good deal slimmer and I’ve got to either dig deeper, look to the past or just admit defeat and go binge-watch Sons of Anarchy. Tonight is one of those nights. The usually reliable LEGO group is awash in the worst kind of bland boilerplate that passes for content these days: minifig lineups, Instagram stormtroopers and the ever-present LDD sports cars. It’s really a shame that the single biggest gathering place for LEGO nerds on Flickr is a hollow airship hangar where everyone posts models but nobody talks to each other. Part of the blame lies with the dead-fish moderators, typical hall-monitor scolds who love to shout about non-LEGO images in the pool and tell people when their doing something procedurally wrong, but make no effort to ignite discussion of any kind. When you look at the list of admins and moderators you quickly notice that most of them are old-gen AFOLs who are no longer active in the hobby. Many of them I count as friends, so I don’t throw around this smack lightly. I also realize my complaints are probably not in their job description and they have rich, time-consuming lives but I don’t how anyone can take pride in helping to kill the vibe in the room whether intentionally or by virtue of neglect.
Back to the MOC finding process…then I checked MOCpages and it was mostly fire trucks…always with the fire trucks on MOCpages…and then I traversed down the food chain that ends with BrickShelf without successfully finding a topic for tonight. After I completed my circuit I decided to check the LEGO Group on Flickr one final time and this gem popped up to save the night. The structure is a microscale take on Seoul South Korea’s Jongno Tower, an office high-rise that sports a swanky roof-top restaurant called Top Cloud. The builder is bigcrown85, who is male and taken, according to his Flickr profile and also loves bicycles and long walks on the beach. The trans blue inside the X-frame supports really nails the look of the Jongno Tower and the detailed if limited base compliments the model. The biggest praise I can heap upon the builder is that it makes me want to build microscale cities.
My favorite work by Mr. bigcrown85 is his take on “The Wave in Vejle”, an award-winning Danish apartment complex. It reminds me of the miniature set used in Logan’s Run, which is far from the builder’s intent I’d imagine, but the best models take us to new places and suggest unique associations. I also enjoyed this model because of the lovely if minimalist setting that surrounds the structure, that’s where bigcrown85 separates himself from the ever-expanding herd of microscale builders. The entrance to the underground parking garage is my favorite detail because it suggests even more action.
Nowhere is that talent more on display than the builder’s cityscape of Cheonggyecheon. The river, buses, trees and bridges are every bit as important as the commanding skyscrapers. The builder is thoughtful enough to give the same level of attention to the setting as the subject. The photo is also my favorite style that allows for zero extraneous adulterants to the uncut LEGO product. It makes me want to grab the edges of the image and stretch them to see more of the scene.
Microscale cities and skyscrapers have been around for a long time, probably since the earliest days of the hobby, but the first time I saw the scale used in an exciting way was Shannon Young’s 2007 self-titled project: Shannonia. The structures are a bit smaller than typical microscale (nanoscale?) but I’m comfortable including it under the microscale umbrella. It’s a wonderful 3D map and Shannon embraced the idea of setting in a unique way, with topography and coastline in addition to the typical roadways, trees and parkland.
If you put a gun to my head I’d say Paul Wellington is my favorite builder in the sub-genre, so if you want to go down the microscale urban rabbit-hole there is not better place to start than Brickville. I’m a sucker for wide-angle photos and this shot is a masterpiece. This is one of those images that needs no explanation, it’s a timeless classic that will still look great in a decade.
I always like to leave you with an extra image to ponder upon. Sometimes it’s a non-sequitur, sometimes it’s a smiling devil, sometimes it’s a golden-oldie and sometimes it’s…whatever this is. Enjoy bigcrown85’s “Fire versus water“, featuring custom gold-plated gentle-fops. The elements look like candy! I suddenly feel like Augustus Gloop, I just want to dive into that scene and consume it.