Raytheon Plays the Taiko

Gaze in wonder at this untitled work by Hong Kong builder Vincent Cheung (Yan and Vincent), for verily is it a delightful display of color, culture and texture.  I wish I could provide more context for the diorama, where it was displayed and what it represents but currently there isn’t much information available on Vincent’s Flickr-stream.  If someone in the audience can translate the sign in the photo below, all of KeithLUG shall rain kudos down upon you.  I reached out to Vincent for a comment and I’ll update the post if he responds.  What I do know is that the Taiko depicted below is beautifully designed and so is the demon working the sticks .  The drum heads feature a perfect rendition of the iconic tomoe symbol, the shell has an intricate mosaic and even the wooden base looks great.  You can almost hear the driving beat as the red Thunder God rocks out.


Of course it wouldn’t be the Manifesto if I didn’t point out some facet of the design that might be improved upon. The orange and white rock-vomit standing in for Mt. Fuji isn’t terribly impressive in technique and it doesn’t hold its own with the rest of the big pieces of the diorama.  I also put the water in the same category as the mountain, it’s too simplistic for my taste, especially when compared to the Taiko, Thunder God, roof and tree.  Those two sections in question work well from a distance and in terms of color, but they leave me wanting more.

In case you were wondering, the little smiley-faced characters in the corner are called Taiko drum masters, from the Japanese drumming video game of the same name.  The arcade scene hidden in the back is delightful and the mini game machines are very accurate.  Perhaps I’m looking too deep for meaning and it’s simply a tribute to the game, a kind of Taiko Temple.  The build also reminds me of a rose-parade float, but I doubt that was the intent or inspiration of the diorama.

A big thanks to constant reader L’etranger Absurde  for the recommendation, the numbers it has accrued on Flickr thus far do not accurately reflect the model’s quality.  L’etranger thought it might be a good prospect for the Constructive Criticism series here on the Manifesto, but I wouldn’t presume to advise Vincent too much, judging by this new build and the two classics below, I think he’s got things well in hand.  The more I think about it, the areas of complaint I have for the Taiko build are probably very specific stylistic choices, because Vincent is clearly capable of top drawer, high-resolution work.  It doesn’t really change my complaints about the model, but I acknowledge that the decision to go low-res was deliberate. Once look at the hair on the Beast tells you that Vincent is a craftsman and anything I could add to his work would be nit-picky at best.5917081259_c4c4b8a59a_o


I’ll leave you with Taiko drumming to set the mood.  Until next time, constant reader.

12 thoughts on “Raytheon Plays the Taiko

  1. THAT DRUM! And that ONI!! Good god, those are outstanding! The tomoe is scary perfect.

    I agree about the techniques for the ocean and mountain; however, the color choices are spot on. Orange may seem like an odd decision, but it is actually the only choice. The colors are complementary, and considering that any other color than blue for the sea would not work at all, orange was the correct option. If you add the Yin and Yang component in addition to the stylized paintings of Fuji set next to the ocean from the past (of which most are orange to some degree) as well as the cultural, allegorical, and religious ideal of balance then the intent is right on.

    Great showcase, this guy deserves a lot more exposure.


    1. Your explanation makes perfect sense, obviously I have no background in Japanese art or art in general aside from a couple of art history classes I slept through in college. Its hard for me to buy the thing about orange being the correct choice…but as I’ve said before I’m no master of the color wheel. Black maybe? I hope I hear back from Vincent to get some context from the man himself. Anytime you want to drop some artistic knowledge on my dumb ass, I appreciate it.

      I agree on the exposure, but this model wasn’t posted to any groups so that might explain why it hasn’t been picked up yet by bigger blogs and such.


    2. Thanks for your comments.
      Yes, I chose Orange for the volcano because of no other better color choices to me when red and blue are already used. I think I need a color in between red and blue and I also need to clearly separate the temple and the god of thunder apart when they are both in red colors.

      The second consideration is related to the floor colors. I plan of using traditional colors for the kimono to make the floors like being dressed up a kimono. I could probably use dark purple to replace orange, I think that would make it more charming, unfortunately I am short of dark purple plates at this moment.


      1. Vincent, thank you for coming here to chat with us about your creation, I know you’re not very vocal on Flickr so I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

        Your explanation of your color choices makes perfect sense, Matt was right about the orange. I guess I just don’t associate it with Mt. Fuji but now I understand why you did it. Every element in your model is distinct and separate with it’s own unique color scheme.

        That’s interesting about the floors being inspired by a kimono, you put so much thought into the build it is really remarkable. I appreciate your approach to the entire model. I’m feeling worse now for criticizing it in the slightest.


  2. It’s all great stuff. Detail, creative us of the gold bits I normally don’t like. Effective use of bright colors that normally scare me when I try to build…

    But that waving effect on the tan rug in the last photo. What is that? A flexible wall laid on its side?

    As for the attention part… remember the guy from Brick Fiesta who built that incredible Space Shuttle Launch Pad? Later, I looked at his photostream and found ZERO hits!

    Marketing, or networking… or some other name for “being known”… it matters I guess. This guys stuff is incredible. I want to see an entire book with him doing all the illustrations in Lego. He rocks! And yet… who knew?


    1. Thanks for your comments.
      That tan rug was built with a combination of round brick, plate and headlights. it is actually built as the ancient bamboo slip. The tan rug is robust and flexible to curve at different shapes. I invented this technique several years ago and this time I also used this technique to build the roof of the temple.


      1. It’s an amazing technique, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The rug and the temple roof are both outstanding, and the technique doesn’t stand for it’s own sake, it’s perfectly integrated.


  3. I’m a sucker for these bright, intricate and pretty Lego creations. I like finding a small detail among all that work where you just go “omg, look at that”. And I love me a well done tree! I see Keith’s argument about the water and mountain. It does look a bit underdone compared to the rest of the scene.

    That Beauty and the Beast build is so nice. I love the Beast’s mane and the little details on Belle’s dress makes all the difference.
    And the detail in the wall backdrop of the two warriors—amazing.


    1. Thanks for all the nice words.
      Honestly speaking, I like my past MOCs more than the recent one.
      It seems like I am making things over-complicated on one hand, while leaving something under-done on the other hand. I seriously need to re-examine my model planning again.


      1. I think every builder goes through that uncertainty Vincent, but I don’t think you need to seriously re-examine anything. I think everyone reading this agrees you’re a unique voice in the hobby, your stuff does not look like anyone else. Those two models at the bottom of the post are classics, and the Taiko isn’t any slouch either.


  4. Hi Keith Goldman,
    Thanks for your comments in your blog. I am really happy to read your comments through. I normally walk alone in MOC road and only share my works among my friends. Frankly speaking I seldom share my works out to the general public in recent years. I am not intended to get myself famous for any reason, I just hope to improve my skills through doing MOCs constantly. My wife helps me occasionally upload photos in this flickr account and sometime I also upload my works to brickshelf (my user name is “fvin”) for record purpose.

    Your comments are all helpful to me. This work was done in 4 weeks time and it aims at participating in the LEGO building competition in HongKong. In fact, I entered as one of the finalists and there is not yet result announced.

    I agree with you that the volcano and the blue Cloud (actually not water) are built probably too simple then other sessions of this work. In fact, I have no idea how to build the volcano better but for the cloud I am not having enough time to perform the plan in my mind.

    The story of this work is about Taiko Drum and its related culture. Other than the traditional drum-related festivals in Japan, one of the most regonized character that employs drum is the Raytheon in Japan (“Thunder God”, actually not Oni). He wears series-drum-set on his back.

    Here the presentation is that the Raytheon is propitiated in the temple (the famous one in Japan, Kaminarimon Asakusa). And today he flies up to the cloud to create the thurderstorm.

    Below the cloud actually I built a mini-scale Japan city underneath.

    Thanks for your time and I am really happy for someone whose took his time to seriously comment my work. This certainly helps make my works just better and I also cannot be giving myself excuses any more not to do to the best



    1. Like I said in an earlier reply, I’m honored you decided to break your silence here, it means a great deal to me and I’m sure the vast majority of the silent audience digs it too. We often here the same voices over and over in the hobby so it’s nice to have the diversity, especially from such a talented builder as yourself. To that end, if you ever get the urge to write an article on any topic I’d by glad to have you participate on the blog.

      Thanks for the clarification, I will update the article to say that big-red is not an Oni but rather the Thunder God Raytheon. That sounds better anyway, more powerful.

      I didn’t realize this was a contest entry, best of luck and I hope you update us with the results later. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and that you were not offended by my jakassy observations.

      All the best!



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