Omnibus: “Not a bird, not a plane, I’m just a mean old night owl”

The always plush Omnibus is leaving the station, constant reader and you’ve got a window seat for all the action.  There is a snow owl airbrushed on the side of the bus, refreshments have been provided and “Fly By Night” is blasting from the speakers.  So grab the last empty seat next to Rutherford and we’ll take a short tour of Owl country.  We will discover together what our warm and embracing community can do with the beloved nocturnal bird of prey, in its many inspiring forms.

Our first stop is in Canada, to view the rarely seen owl in flight.  One look at the the photo and you can tell you’re not in the company of the average paste-eating mankinder.  This is the work of renown Montreal LEGO artist Ekow Nimako.  You can read a pretty informative  interview with Ekow here, which profiles not only this “Silent Knight” commission from 2015 but also his earlier work and background. I dove into his catalogue of pictures and didn’t come out of the trance for about 20  minutes.  You can expect an article on more of Mr. Nimako’s work somewhere down the line, for there is indeed much to explore.  For now enjoy two of Ekow’s investigations of the common barn owl, which are anything but common, including a construction video of Silent Knight.

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Let’s stay off the perch and in flight with good friend of the Manifesto, Jordan Schwartz and his “Owlet” from 2010.  At the time of posting, the use of non ABS LEGO products like cloth capes and Ewok glider-wings was very unorthodox and drew many exclamations of N.P.U. from  appreciative viewers.  The eyes and banana-beak are very striking and somehow the build still looks fresh 6 years and 10,000 hits later.

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Now let’s switch gears entirely and examine some mechano-owls like this eye-catching “Cyber Owl” from the ever reliable and always original, Mihai Marius Mihu.  I love the builder but I hate the name, it’s just too difficult to say and impossible to type from memory.  In my head I call him “Miti Mata Mulu”, which isn’t too cool.  The build is very cool though, the trans-clear plates on the chest were a brilliant choice.

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Although I loathe Steampunkery in all it’s varied shapes and forms, I can’t deny the quality of Manifesto favorite Letranger Absurde’s build from 2014: “Steamworks Owl”.  At least it doesn’t have ice-cream scoop smoke bellowing from its ass or some kind of wacky balloon attached to it’s back.  Those crazy eyes!  We’d better move on before I become hypnotized and drive the Omnibus into a ditch.  The use of gold Ninjago hats are genius, even if the wings leave me a little cold.

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The Psyclonic Pilferings of Pierre LePlume” is up next, a builder-described “Steampunkification of the Hurricane Heist set #70164” by MadLEGOman.  While the model may look a little rough around the edges, and it’s tough to see much of #70164, it was once again the powerful eyes that drew me in and compelled me to temporarily push aside my dislike of the genre.  The beak is simple but effective and the stance is pretty great too.

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I debated about including “The Weeping Owl” by -R8-, but in the end it is simply too cool to omit from the omnibus.  Forged in the ritual battle of the 2011 MocOlympics, this fountain hits all the right notes with me and I would love to see it as a centerpiece for a larger diorama.  To have it floating in white-space like a really sad Zardoz head is a shame, especially since it can’t vomit guns.  So very sad.

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Before we leave the realm of the mechano-owl we must stop and give props to Iron Builder and KeithLUG crony Andrew Lee and his Bubo-inspired “Who Dat?”.  Built during the heat and pressure of a classic I.B. battle with Simon Liu, the owl was probably constructed in mere hours.  The seed part was the silver Bionicle blades used on the chest and wings.

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To cleanse the palate of all that clockwork nonsense, let’s down a refreshing a double shot of cartoon-style goodness from Mihai Marius Mihu.  The builder must have a thing for owls, each one of his three models featured in this omnibus are unique and charming.  The little red guy is Mini Owl and his more serious sidekick in brown is called simply The Wise Owl.  Each design is deceptively simple and completely effective, I hope Miti Mata Mulu continues his exploration of all things Owl related.

LegoSpaceGuy’s entry looks kind of angry, or at the very least determined to hold his own in this rogues gallery of owls.  I do wish the photo was a little brighter, but it wasn’t enough to dissuade me from including “Owl 03“.  This one also falls into the category of basic but effective.  It always seems to come down to the eyes with owls, are they convincing enough?

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Another owl, another Iron Builder.  This time it’s Jimmy Fortel and his “Duke of Owl“.  Now I have that crappy 50’s song in my head, great.  Duke Duke Duke, Duke of Owl Owl Owl, Duke of Owl Owl Owl.  This owl is angry and he’s not taking any prisoners, he probably hates that song too.  The branch is just as interesting as the owl, the leaves are really a brilliant choice.

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Next we combine cartoon style and nostalgia with wunderkind Tyler Clites for his take on Archimedes the owl from Disney’s 1963 animated classic The Sword in the Stone”.  Merlin’s pet owl is expertly realized and it would probably sell for an obscene amount of money.  It looks as if it came straight out of Disney’s art department instead of the humble legoratory of a fellow hobbyist.  The one eyebrow raised expression is spot-on and just like everything Tyler produces, every single element is thoughtfully placed and earns its keep.

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Keeping with the trend of owls in pop culture, you can’t do much better than this classic American T.V. commercial mascot.  “Mr. Owl” was the only creature to answer the immortal ad-campaign question: “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop“?  You can thank the obscure builder Temptation Candy for this 2013 nostalgia-infused build.  What a great handle, Temptation Candy…it’s certainly a hell of a lot better than Miti Mata Mulu.

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Thomas Poulsom has two fine sculptures to add to our spicy jambalaya, the Hedwig inspired “Stormy the Snowy Owl” from 2012 and “Barney the Barn Owl” from the same year.  The best compliment I can give is that both of these would look right at home in a LEGOland theme park or maybe Harry Potter Land.  I bet if Thomas was to sneak one of the owls into the park and leave it behind the guard rails, nobody would blink an eye and it would stay there for years before being noticed or removed.  Think about it Thomas!  You have the full backing of KeithLUG.

In most cases this next photo would be too washed out and out of focus to be used on the Manifesto, but I really dig this “Snowy Owl” by Alex Hui .  I’ve never seen those 1×3 corner plates used in such numbers and so effectively, it’s about as close as any of these models get to the notion of feathers.  The beak seems a little off to me, a little odd, but the whole thing is odd looking so it somehow works?9889940995_084347b367_o

 

And now for something completely different, a bold and colorful studs-up mosaic from another long time KeithLUG crony, Diamond Dave Shaddix.  If you like what you see, Dave takes commissions, and this build can be yours for the low, low price of….?  Contact Dave for more information by way of Flickr.  I’m the proud owner of Dave’s Spock mosaic and I can’t recommend his work enough, he is one of the greats of the genre.25350997055_b46a1fe8b6_o

Brick-genius Shawn Snider put together an intimidating gray owl for Seattle’s ArchLUG display at Emerald City Comic Con this past March.  I thought SEALUG was the only game in town in Seattle so once again I was caught flat-footed with this one.  I’m not all that familiar with Mouse Guard which was the theme for this intriguing collaborative build, but the final display looked great. ArchLUG is clearly a talented group of builders on a mission. The owl is the thing though…he is majestic with its menacing red-eye!  Is it a laser-eye?  Is it a flame-shooting eye?  Will it destroy Guy Himber’s custom tchotchke?  We may never know the answers, but the owl’s magnificence is not in question.

Even LEGOland loves owls.  I do wonder though, if the missing parent in this family was part of the original design at all, or has it fallen off its perch?  I can’t speak for the vast majority of the parks, but LEGOland Carlsbad is in such a state of sun-rotted decay that it is impossible answer the question with any certainty.  If the damage to The Big Easy in miniland gets any worse, they are going to have to flood the zone  and reference the Katrina disaster.  The last time I was there the coastline of the boat ride attraction was strewn with damaged models, some just laying on the banks with metal support pipes sticking out of them.  The price of admission is already prohibitively high, the least they can do is maintain their displays and try to return value for the dollar.

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We have come full circle and you can hear the hiss of the Omnibus’s air-bakes as it eases to a stop.  We will take flight one final time with the builder who started this post, artist Ekow Nimako and his Black Banded Owl, Barn Owl and Northern Saw-Whet Owl.  They are all droppin’ bombs on you, constant reader.

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20 thoughts on “Omnibus: “Not a bird, not a plane, I’m just a mean old night owl”

  1. Cheers for posting these, I haven’t seen half of them and wasn’t familiar with Ekow’s work. Mihai’s owls yet remain my favorites, along with Tyler’s (but he doesn’t count, I’m pretty sure he’s got magic powers. nobody can be that good).

    Here’s another favorite of mine that’s well worth being here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7kyubi7/16105183313/in/dateposted/

    Looking at my build now, there’s so many things I would have done differently. Most of it is pretty terrible, especially those wings and tail. I was way more daring in my choice of subjects back then; I’d still have the “I can’t build that” attitude when approaching a subject outside my comfort zone; the difference was back then I’d try, now I mostly shy away from it.

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    1. I’m going to add that owl to the post when I’m done writing these replies, I thought I got them all but I’m sure there is always one more. You can’t go wrong with Jimmy Fortel and it’s good to have another I.B. entry in the mix. Thanks for the link! I think it’s natural to look back and wish you’d done something different, it happens to me every single time. I disagree, I think most of it was pretty good, it just had those two weak spots you mentioned. I wasn’t kidding, the eyes were stunning and worth the price of admission. I hear you on the safety of the comfort zone, it’s hard to push yourself out of it because you can’t always see the borders when your inside. There are plenty of topics/styles I’m too intimidated to attempt if left to my own devices and I think that’s the real strength of building-competitions, they force you out.

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  2. its a great time to be in the lego blogging business. with so many great parts an builders nowadays. It truly is amazing at whats out there.

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    1. Absolutely Mike, I think about that every time I sit down to find something new. Every single day I see a compelling model and that’s the upside of the swell in popularity since the LEGO Movie came out. And so many epic models are being lost to the sands of time. Yeah, they are still out there but it’s easy to forget all the great stuff from even 5 years ago.

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  3. Owls are just so freaking weird! Big heads that swivel nearly completely around, soft and inviting plumage combined with vicious talons, and eyes that seem to peer straight through your soul. Occasionally we will have them yammering away at night from miles apart, kinda cool screech that likely varies from species to species. The ones around here are sort of soothing. What amazes me most about them is their agility in flight and the silence thereof. I can completely understand the average introverted LEGO fiend taking a liking to them. And like Mr. Otiosus, I had no idea there were so many offerings of models. I have to say that Ekow’s mid flight jewels are truly the pinnacle of the article.

    Fun ride on the bus, Keith!

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    1. Owls are simultaneously the best and the worst, creepy and beautiful. I’ve only encountered a barn owl once but it was a terrifying experience. Big white faced demon silently coming for your soul! I hadn’t considered the tie-in between owl and Lego nerd but I think you’re right, they are a natural combination. There were more, a lot more, that didn’t make the cut because of simplicity or bad photography or a couple of dudes who had there permissions on lockdown. Ekow’s stuff is indeed rad, I’ve never seen anyone like him, and he seems to be operating on another level like Mike Doyle. And unfortunately he stands out to me because he’s black and you just don’t see nearly enough black builders or builders of color in general. It wasn’t by design, and it isn’t with any bad intent but our hobby is too damn white, we’re missing out on so many great models. Thanks dude!

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  4. Herr Otiosus took the words out of my mouth. Is “Owls” it’s own theme now? Like Steampunks or Space Cowboys?

    I kept thinking I was at the last image of this post… only to see… nope, there is one more…and one more. All excellent builds to hoot!

    I was particularly fond of the giant red eye Cyclops Death Owl… I found it highly evocative of this giant owl with luminous eyes from the cartoon, The Secret of Nihm:

    But really, I was overwhelmed by the breadth of technique, the number and diversity of great builds. The huge mosaic, the giant white owl, the owls dropping bombs…

    I think the family on the wooden post was my favorite… but really… just a huge dose of excellent building.

    Good choices, good write ups, an another excellent “owlnibus” post. Well done to all featured builders!

    Attack!

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    1. I think everyone has had the same reaction and I didn’t think I’d come close to 20 quality entries for the omnibus. Somebody should launch an owl building contest, maybe even the Manifesto, hoo knowns.

      Forgot about the owl from Nihm, he was in the same club with this guy from the Last Unicorn:

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      1. Hoo knows….
        I just watched that with Matilda this summer. Amazing how they look so different as adults. I remember Secret of Nimh and The Dark Crystal the Last Unicorn, now I’m thinking are they going to have nightmares from this?? Ha! Still great though.

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  5. *cough*
    Ekow lives in Toronto 😉

    And is super awesome guy in person, and sadly always over looked in the Community, really awesome to see him highlighted here!

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    1. The article describes him as a Montreal native so I decided to give them the credit. I know you’re a GTA apologist, but you guys get all the press, you have to share Ekow. You guys get RUSH, what more do you need? I do agree that he does get overlooked. He’s only reference once on TBB for example. I’m gonna see if I can interview him, I just have to get some less jackassy questions lined up.

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  6. I had wondered what happened to Ekow! He’s not as active on Flickr as he used to be. Can’t say that I’ve seen his owls before.

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    1. Yeah, he seems like he’s left Flickr, or at least isn’t active. The owls are indeed magnificent. Sound like I definitely need to follow up with an article on Ekow.

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  7. I didn’t know there were so many LEGO owls out there. First of all…what a crazy choice…owls. Not sure why they were chosen, but I couldn’t have been more delighted to sit down and read about these amazing creatures. I found this to be one of the best articles so far on the Manifesto…I REALLY love the idea of OMNIBUS articles focusing on a certain subject matter. The manner in which it was presented…the variety of the entries and research that goes into your articles is top notch.

    To that end, I will say you are pumping out high level content at a very fast pace. This is the first LEGO blog that I’ve come back to everyday since the first to read the content, including the comments from past articles…everything. I am entertained.

    – Z

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    1. I think that’s the big takeaway of the article, who knew there were so many owls? I found the interview with Ekow and his gallery showing and it got me wondering how many other cool owls were out there. I was already familiar with the Shaddix mosaic and Tyler’s Archimedes, but I had no idea how many high quality builds have been done.

      Thanks for the props, Zach, typically the Omnibus postings don’t draw much fire but I think the topic resonates with readers as well as builders on this one. I’ll keep writing them as I come across the right themes. I’m glad you’re entertained by the blog, it’s comments like yours that keep me motivated. Things will probably slow down a little here as time passes but the minimum goal is still a post a day. I hope I can bring on other contributors to keep things fresh, but we’ll see how it goes.

      Cheers!

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