The powerful engine you hear in the distance means that the Omnibus has returned to your town. We’ll be going down to the shore so we can watch the seabirds land and maybe get a crappy tattoo on the boardwalk to commemorate the event. Seaplanes, floatplanes, flying boats, whatever term you prefer just get up to the tower and ring the bell already, because we’re in for a very long drive and our bus driver is all jacked up on No-Doze and coffee. Without further delay, let’s explore the wonderful world of floatplanes. It should be noted that this robust posing could easily be twice as long if I included all the mundane attempts, so as usual, we’ll focus on the best stuff. If you notice a glaring omission from this extensive list, please give me a link in the comments and if it’s any good, I’ll update the post. Now ring the bell already!
To my great shock I was not able to locate a Fantasy Island inspired Lego model, so I went with the floatplane that inspired this latest edition of the Omnibus. Norweasel brings you a super-clean rendition of the “Piper Super Cub“, which features the only use of minfig swords in this diverse group of planes. I also dig the two-toned rubber spikes on the back-end of the pontoons and the use of dark orange, a color that too often gets a bad rap.
Just as clean and just as cool is this floatplane by Russian builder Сергей Антохин. Unlike many of the models featured on this list, I think this untitled masterpiece would make a perfect official set, it’s too bad it didn’t catch on with LEGO Ideas. The presentation is really enhanced by the in-flight camera angle. I’d pay 30 bucks for this one.
Unfortunately, Klaus “Eastpole77” Dobisch, the creator of this magnificent “Dornier Flying Boat” hasn’t posted anything in the last four years and even worse, he’s deleted much of his work from the internet entirely. It’s a real shame because the guy was ahead of his time in terms of technique and always selected really interesting subject matter. When you consider the fact that the Dornier was built eight years ago, before many of the parts and colors we take for granted, it seems even more impressive.
As you must certainly know by now, it is my philosophy that even an average diorama will improve any given stand-alone model by at least 42%. With that in mind let’s check out not one but two seaplanes in their natural habitat. The charming red umber on the left is the “Floatplane Po-13” along side a diorama depicting a “secret mission in a wild periphery of Zyberia” by one of my favorite Polish builders, Ciamosław Ciamek. You really can’t go wrong when you’re talking about the wild periphery, constant reader. Also, the little raft is neat and the snowy trees look pretty good too. Familiarize yourself with the builder, you’ll be seeing more of his work as we move along. The diorama on the right is also by Mr. Ciamek, and features a classic PBY Catalina in the middle of a rescue operation, saving the pilot of a downed Corsair before the Japanese can reach him. While the studded wings may not be the most attractive choice the proportions of the Catalina are spot-on.
Staying with dioramas for a moment, my favorite of the bunch is probably this “SN Curtiss SOC Seagull” from Joshua Brooks. It won Best Military Diorama at BrickFair Virginia in 2013 and I can certainly see why. The plane is meticulously built and there is just enough tropical-style diorama to give it a context. My only complaint is the lack of additional photos. I’d like to give the Seagull an in-depth look but this is all we have to go on.
A few years ago there was a contest to update the beloved official set from 2000: 5935-1 “Island Hopper”. We’ll be featuring two entries from that building challenge, the first is from Mike Psiaki, who was able to parlay his impressive skill-set with the brick into a paying gig with our corporate overlords. The downside of that success is that Mike hasn’t built much since scoring the gig, but hopefully he gets back to it eventually. If you’re not familiar with Mike’s work, I can’t urge you strongly enough to check out his photostream.
Bruce Lowell, who was once referred to as a young Aztec god, also participated in the contest, going the extra mile with a pilot, dinosaur and accessories. Bruce was like a a prototype for up and coming builders like Tyler Clites: young, super talented and willing to tackle any subject matter or scale with reckless abandon. One of these days Bruce will be a guest in the Two for Tuesday lounge, but until then, enjoy his take on the Island Hopper.
Danish builder Henrik Jensen whose entire body of work is crazy-good (that motorcycle!) has two seats on this week’s Omnibus and both models are simply gorgeous. The plane on the left is my personal favorite type of seaplane, the U.S. Navy’s “052U Kingfisher“. Henrik chose a very interesting and rarely used scale to work in and it allowed him to really capture the shape with a high degree of accuracy. On the left is the American-made “Bellanca CH-300“, which is no less stunning and was apparently featured in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, for you trivial fans. Henrik goes a step beyond the build and has posted very thoughtful write-up for each model, check it out of you’d like to know more about the building process and the history of both seaplanes.
We go from World War II to Weird War II with Beau Donnan’s “Duck Diesel Fighter Mk. XVII”.
Diesel-Punk isn’t really my thing and it looks terribly unbalanced, but this plane has style for miles and that goes a long way with me. I really like the way the wheels retract and the sparing use of string. This looks like a WWII design that was left on the drafting table, but it makes for a very entertaining model.
Speaking of things that retract, check out the retracting wings of Einon’s “Ar 196”, a dependable German workhorse for the Kriegsmarine throughout World War II. The model on the right is Einon’s take on the Russian “Mig-3 Floatplane” and while it may not be as complex as some of the builds on this list, it has clean lines and some great color blocking.
Sticking with warbirds for a moment, take a gander at this military biplane from Eduardo Ariño, entitled “Fairey Swordfish” The camouflage is very well executed, although I wish the string was a little more taut on the left side. The pontoons are nice and robust though and you can never go wrong with a tail-gunner.
Ultramarine brings you the “Type 2 Flying Boat“, which looks pretty good, but you couldn’t pay me enough to occupy the nose-gunner’s station. Nope, I’ll pass on that, even the landings would be terrifying, not to mention any kind of combat with another plane.
We’re hitting a little turbulence with this next patch of builders, whether it’s blurry photos, bad lighting, background clutter or convention showrooms all of these models are good ideas dragged down by presentation. However, the designs are so interesting that I was compelled to make room for them. On the upside, we have a Tim Gould sighting, a super-inventive builder who has been on too long of a break from the scene. I mean, we all have to turn a buck but the hobby needs you Tim. Please return at your earliest convenience. Tim contributes this stylish “De Havilland Otter” to the mix, with its killer striping and lovely swept back wings. The prop has always bugged me but at least it’s a different, brick-built take on a design element that usually gets the pre-fab propeller treatment.
Now this background is just sad…a wrinkly white sheet over a couch is about as bad as it gets, but the design of the flying boat is really compelling. The builder is Ronan Dragonov, and the model is called “D.7 Neo-Clipper II” One thing noticeably absent from this Omnibus are futuristic seaplanes , but this one fills the bill quite nicely. The model’s core is a solid boat-hull, which was a very clever choice that looks great and provides a really solid base for building. I wonder if this thing “really floats!”?
I’m including this giant Technic sea-plane just for the curiosity factor. A convention is about the worst place to take a photo, but Marius Postma never documented this behemoth called “Baby Twin Otter“, so this is the best we have. I think it earns it’s place on the Omnibus, it is unlike any other entry.
This big-ass “PBY 5A Catalina” is the work of Lego Admiral. I was quite familiar with his mighty starships, but this floatplane was an unexpected delight. The accuracy and level of detail is unmatched when it comes to the Catalina, there are other good versions but this one is the king, and not just because of it’s sheer size. I’m sure this beast is very difficult to photograph but I’m not sure the setting does it justice. The downside of photographing a model outside is the harsh shadows that result unless it’s a cloudy day or you nail the perfect angle of sunlight.
No collection of aircraft would be complete without an offering from a builder considered to be a master of the genre, Ralph Savelsberg. Simply titled “Flying Boat”, upon finding it I had the same reaction I have about all of Ralph’s exacting models: too many studs. I acknowledge without any trace of sarcasm, Mr. Savelsberg’s talent for capturing aircraft proportions in the brick and he’s got every technique in the book at his disposal. All that said we have a fundamental difference in philosophy regarding studs vs. studless. I just think the studs on the nose and wings take away from what is otherwise a beautiful model.
This next floatplane is not based on a specific real-world design even though it looks right at home with the warbirds featured on this list. The builder is Englishman Chris L, whose back catalogue will reward the viewer who is willing to follow the link to Flickr. Those yellow engine cowlings really pop and I love the stabilizing pontoons, this one looks fun to swoosh around. Swooshing isn’t the sole purview of “spacers” you know.
The Adventures of Tin Tin have inspired many builders in the Omnibus, including Swedish builder Stefan Johansson. The “Arado Ar 196” was a WW2 German shipboard reconnaissance aircraft, featured in the 1941 Tintin comic “The Shooting Star” ( L’Étoile mystérieuse). I love the roll-cage over the cockpit and those pontoons look like giant bananas! What’s not to love about giant banana-pontoons?
I told you we’d be seeing a lot of Ciamosław Ciamek, he’s this offering in yellow is called the “Tradelands Seaduck Floatplane“, which sports a very interesting nose and double-tails, which is usually a cool gimmick. Something about the engines seems underdeveloped, but the overall design is very strong and earns it’s seat on the Omnibus.
Speaking of ducks, here is the trusty seaplane from the 90’s cartoon Tailspin, also called “Seaduck”. The responsible party is tbone_tbl and he’s done a faithful job recreating the central vehicle of the show in a scale that is not often employed within this subject matter. I found some unremarkable nano-scaled seaplanes, but very little in micro-scale. The only thing I don’t like is the reversed 2×3 plate on the roof, it makes my brain itch every time I look at it. Otherwise this is a cool little model.
Here is another, much larger take on the Tailspin Seaduck by French builder, Sydag, who has another floatplane on the Omnibus a little further down the list. Frankly, I was on the fence whether or not to include this one, it seems a little basic to me and that small slab o’ water makes my OCD tingle. However, it’s nice to have it included for comparison with the micro-scale version above. The striping is pretty cool and the choice of parts for the pontoons is definitely original.
We’re staying with yellow because it seems to be the second most popular floatplane color after red. This deceptively simple number is called the “Canadair CL-215” and comes to us from the talented and prolific builder, EROL, who is best known for his stable of highly detailed cars, but occasionally dabbles with things that fly and float. This is one of my favorites of the group, it just looks so tight from nose to tail, and crosses that magical threshold where it doesn’t really look like Lego at first glance. As it happens, this version of the CL-215 was inspired by…
…this version by VinceZ…
…and this digital version by John Lamark…
…and this digital version by Zorko Huljic.
Since we’ve already entered digital airspace, let’s stay there for a look at these floating bi-planes by The Backward One. The one on the left is a racing seaplane called the “The Manora“, not to be confused with the Menora, or the Minora. The one on the right is the “K.28C-1 Recon Floatplane“, which sports a neat tail gunner and some nice shaping on the fuselage. I especially love the colors on both models, even if the parts may not actually be available in all of said colors. We’re in the digital realm now and all bets are off when it comes to those concerns.
More sweet biplane action, this time its the large and in charge “Curtiss NC-4“, from Vaionaut, which looks absolutely huge. I didn’t realize string was available in LDD, I though that was an advantage that brick-builders enjoyed exclusively, but apparently not. The design is quite striking, especially the wings, although I wouldn’t want to be one of those perilously exposed air crewmen.
Awesome O’saurus, formerly “the not-so-great” brings you yet another snazzy looking biplane, “Wederwæccere” and although the builder is self-deprecating about his work, I find it to be quite inspired and I’d love to see it in the brick. That sentiment probably irritates many digital builders but it always comes to my mind when I’m looking at an LDD construct. This model is my favorite of the digital floatplanes featured in this installment of the Omnibus. I really dig the tail stripes and the wing supports…just about everything.
The “Macchi 156” Cagerrin by just looks fast and it’s got the best subtitle of the group: “The Devil of Chesapeake Bay“. The racing livery is perfect and so is the color blocking. I also appreciate the 4 in 1 presentation style, the multiple angles make it especially friendly for blogging. Once gain I’m drawn to the wing and tail stripes, achieving just the right paint scheme makes a huge difference.
I doubt this next offering could fly very far, if at all, but it is unique among the other builds on the list. The builder is Max Fragg, (which sounds like Duke Nukem’s good buddy) and the oddball floatplane is called the “F/A-6 Seagull“. Look at those giant torpedoes! I’m not sure I can abide the propellers on both ends of the engines, but it is a fun build. As Max points out on his photo-comments, those double propellers were used by Dornier on several airplanes and they are not in the realm of fantasy as I inititially suspected.
So we’ve finally come to the portion of the Omnibus devoted entirely to the most frequently attempted floatplane of them all, the famous Savoia S-21 from the 1992 animated feature, Porco Rosso. I’m not going to go into any great detail about the Savoia because I’ve never seen the animation it’s based on and I don’t happen to like the design. Also, I hate anthropomorphic pigs in all their horrible incarnations: Porkey, Piglet, Miss Piggy, Pepa, Olivia, Wilbur, Napoleon and Porco Rosso, the titular pilot of the cartoon in question. I will say that I did not encounter a single crappy version of this plane, it’s as if there has been some silent agreement amongst builders that only the great ones will survive and all others will be parted-out immediately and taken down from the internet upon discovery. With out further rambling, lets begin with Jon Hall and his take on the beloved Savoia S-21..
You don’t like that one? how about this one by fan-favorite, Pate-keetongu.
Still not convinced the Savoia is the right seaplane for you? The may I direct your attention to MOCpages and this version by the always entertaining Uspez Morbo.
If you put a gun to my head, constant reader and I had to pick a favorite it would probably be this take on the Savoia S21 by Stephen Chao…
…but you really can’t go wrong with the previously referenced company-man, Mike Psiaki’s version either.
Look, I can tell you’re a discerning consumer but surely we can make a deal? How about this model by Castor Troy, perhaps it’s the version you’re looking for?
Look, if you don’t like this one by Sydag, then brother, I just can’t help you. Maybe you hate anthropomorphic pigs too? They never wear pants and the always look hungry.
Now let’s move on to the floatplanes that are less literal, but are directly inspired by the Savoia S21. The group of planes are the work of enterprising French builders who took turns riffing on the design with fantastic results. The first builder mailed his model to the next and so on down the line. You can read more about their team-approach by following the link to this model, which began the chain, called “Seaplane Porco Rosso” by _Quentin_…
..which inspired the next link in the chain, Pistash, to build the simply titled “Red Plane” and then he sent it along to…
…Iron Builder Jimmy Fortel, who came up with this amazing, racing-inspired take on the Savoia called “Forza 77” and mailed it to…
Gregory Coquelz, whose “Rosso-92” was the last link in the chain.
Whew…let’s take a break from the flying pig’s favorite ride and check out this little number by the penny loafer wearing yuppie, Nick Dean. He likes people to call him “Nick Mean”, but mostly they call him “Nick the dick” because he can be really off-putting both online and in person. Some find him charming though, so your mileage may vary. I do find his little seaplane rather charming, the tail striping (again) looks great and I like his take on the pontoon issue too. He calls it the “Tulipano”, because of course he does. The flower on the wing is probably appealing to most viewers, but the gear-shift base standing in for a nose cone has got to go.
No investigation of seaplanes would be complete without some reference to sky-pirates and tri-planes. Fortunately our friend curtydc has us covered with pilot Don Karnage and his magnificent flying machine, the CT-37 “Tri-Wing Terror”. This build brings some much-needed levity to the mix and once you get past the fun of it, there is a nice little model to appreciate. This death machine was also inspired by the Disney cartoon Tailspin, which only aired for a couple of years but seems to have made a lasting impression.
Staying in the category of goofy, let’s check in with the ever popular Rod Gillies, who has two seats on the Omnibus. The offering on the left is called the “Blue Cat Flying Boat“, and it involves some sort of steam-punkery that is best left unspoken here. It’s impressive but it leaves me wanting for wings. On the right is the equally bonkers “Axiom Wavestormer“, which I have to admit, is a pretty cool name, perhaps the best of the bunch. The color blocking is superb although the build runs a little too “chibi” for my tastes. Both are quite popular, as is nearly everything Rod set’s his mind too.
We conclude our studies of the “lighter side” of floatplanes with KeithLUG sympathizer .Tromas, and his very playable looking “Bombardier CL-113 Mallard”. Although it may look like it flew off the screen of your favorite cartoon, this is a Tripod original. That’s right, the ladies call him Tripod, just ask him if you don’t believe me. At any rate, I’m sure his boys love zooming this one around with the old man.
This is the last of the builds by our Polish friend, Ciamosław Ciamek, and it’s a doozy. “Ushakov’s Flying Submarine” was apparently a Soviet R&D design that was tested but never actually produced. This design is crazy in the best possible way, I want to see a movie with this plane as the main attraction. Maybe in super-marionation? In any case I hope Mr. Ciamek continues his exploration of the subject matter, all of his entries to date have been very entertaining.
Lookout! It’s another Catalina, this time in shiny dark gray by Petar Jurković, A.K.A. Jack Riveorpout. He’s chosen just the right minifigs for the job and the plane itself is quite good too. The working flaps are nice and so are the proportions. It might not be the most flashy build on the Omnibus, but unlike some of the other builds, it looks very solid, like it wouldn’t break apart the first time you breathed on it. I love it because it is a bit mundane, it would look great in numbers sitting on an airfield or floating.
And finally, no Omnibus would be complete without a brief trip through LEGOland. I’m about talked out on the topic but I will note the wear and tear on each model. I’m not a big fan of either design, even if they were new bricks, the design looks old and bland.
Unfortunately the Omnibus has run out of gas, constant reader and the driver is nowhere to be found. So unless one of you has a Class B driver’s license, our journey has come to an end.