Denizens of the Dragon Lands

While, like my retro and futuristic figbarfs, I designed this LEGO Minifigure arrangement for a contest, I think of this series more as a successor to my previous three series of fantasy minifigs. Like the characters you see in those, the motley assembly here comes from the world of Dragon Lands, a medieval fantasy “theme” of my own creation. As I continue work on a new “wave” of Dragon Lands “products” (official re-launch announcement coming later!), sharing a few more characters felt like a good way to start building hype for myself and my fans.

Dragon Lands Minifigures Series FOUR

From left to right, these are our characters:

Isbahn, an augmented blade-master. The arm Isbahn lost in his youth has only made him stronger— some advanced swordplay just isn’t possible with a human hand, after all!

I bought Isbahn’s head, hair, and torso/legs combo all in one Bricklink order, intending to share the wealth of new elements among my collection of fantasy minifigs. However, as soon as I had experimentally clicked these bits together, I knew I had a great character on my hands and refused to share them anywhere else! The prosthetic blade-arm was a pretty late addition, enabled largely by me getting some of those new short-handled Ninjago katanas which fit perfectly in the forearm stump. I love how muted Isbahn’s color scheme is; it really gives off the “rugged adventurer” vibes I wanted.

Bruiz, a merciless executioner. Bruiz is unlikely to let convicts have any last words; he prefers to let his enormous axe do the talking.

This character came together around that axe design. The wicked, curved blade screamed “executioner,” so I figured I’d ride that instinct and go for the classic, bare-chested-and-hooded stereotype. The big difference here, of course, is that I made Bruiz an ustokal (orc-like species in the Dragon Lands world). His torso bears a custom sticker I designed, modeled on a musculature pattern I stole from Jake Gylenhaal.

Kunaye, an ancient mage. Since the Dawn of Magic, Kunaye has been around to help impose some limits on its rampant energies… and, of course, on power-hungry wizards.

Kunaye is my favorite fig of this series. She’s one of my favorite fantasy figs I’ve ever assembled. I think this is because of how perfectly and naturally all her parts complement each other, wrapping her up into a unified design. For instance, the skirt of the Sensei Wu robes goes great with a cape (and the skirt and cape are both made of the same fabric). The subsequent all-white outfit, combined with white hair, lends this character a sense of purity, age, and wisdom. I love how the hairpiece guided me to this lovely skin tone, and that one of the coolest heads in that rare skin tone comes with—how synchronously!—white patterning on its face. The white/nougat scheme gets reinforced a third time by a set of dual-molded white legs with nougat feet. The gradient into gold on her hairpiece (not visible from this angle) informs the use of the golden staff. All ties together.

Ynul, a hungry hatchling. He’s got a ravenous appetite— he’ll grow several feet longer every day if he’s fed properly— so you should probably keep your distance!

I’ve had this mini-dragon design around for a while. It actually predates my micro Balrog and micro Fell Beast, even though those got published first. Making Ynul monochromatic felt like an obvious choice, because it helps sell this collection of bricks as a single being. Black was the way to go, since that’s one of the only colors I had these little wings in! I’m glad I opted to include fire coming from Ynul’s mouth, too, because I think that detail really gives him a sense of activity beyond “sitting there flapping his wings.” Adding some bones at the base of his perch helped link Ynul to Stish, who is feeding him.

Stish, a conniving merchant. Stish will do anything to squeeze another few coins out of life, whether it means selling watered-down wine or illegally importing, hatching, raising, and selling baby dragons.

Finally, a good chance to use “teenage legs” from the Harry Potter collectible minifigs series! Mixing these legs with that Goblin torso from The Hobbit was the combo that led to the rest of the character. The body I’d crafted felt insidious, wicked, but not especially dangerous… shifty merchant? Bingo! I chose one of the most wrinkly-faced minifig heads I had on hand to match with Stish’s messy, gnarled torso; I imagine he’s suffered a lot of injury smuggling dangerous creatures. Adding the vibrant turban felt right, too, since I feel like it perfectly situates this character in a bazaar setting.

Waka Mhol, a brutish warrior. Waka’s vocabulary is limited to words like “me,” “you,” “happy,” “angry,” “club,” and “smack;” otherwise, he communicates using guttural growls and shrill whoops.

Sam Flot and Waka Mhol were originally conceived as a duo, so when the time came to publish my last Dragon Lands figbarf, I felt a little sad to be splitting them up. I’m just happy now that Waka is getting his time to shine. I so love the disproportionate look of the Chima crocodile head on a short-legged body. My inroad to this figure was the silver jaw armor on its headpiece, the which I tied to the silvered breastplate piece. When I first designed this figure, I didn’t know what weapon would be appropriate for such a “regal,” silver-clad crocodilian warrior. The answer (almost literally) smacked me in the face, giving me a perfect tool to cast this character in a more comic light. And yes, the name-pun is intentional.


Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions or comments about these minifigs, feel free to leave them in the comments below

Earth's Last Line of Defense

Like my Retro Space Minifigures, I designed this minifig series (affectionately known as a “figbarf” among the fan community) for a contest. It seemed like a perfect time to debut these designs, the majority of which have waited almost-finished in my back pocket for about a year. The combo of sand-blue overalls with Hero Factory armor was one I really liked when I first made it, especially when I added dark brown hands to match with the straps on their legs.

Who did I end up with? A squad of futuristic Earth Defenders! I’m not sure exactly what they’re defending against (Intergalactic invaders? Terror cells? Warring superpowers?), but I do know that they hail from all over the globe, united in their mission to save our planet from a disastrous fate.

Earth Defender Minifigures

From left to right, these are our characters:

Sgt. Quan Ngyuen | Formidable gunner | Vietnamese | Specialty: thriving between a rock and a hard place |

I’m happy with the pose I achieved on Sgt. Nguyen; he was the hardest to balance for obvious reasons. The night-vision goggles and gunmetal grey racing helmet is a combination I’ve had around since the very first iteration of these minifigures; if not for variety’s sake, I probably would’ve given this headgear to more characters because I think it looks so good! Also notice how, very conveniently, the bar hole on the green power blade piece (seen more clearly on Pvt. Agustín) slots perfectly onto the back of the Hero Factory armor.

Pvt. Juan Agustín | Typical maverick | Colombian | Specialty: overestimating his own abilities |

Of this series of five characters, I find Pvt. Agustín the least interesting. He essentially just demonstrates the Earth Defender uniform and color scheme on a basic canvas—which I guess is valuable, to an extent—and lets me show off the power blade, a common weapon among this team, when drawn. I opted to use Asaaj Ventress lightsaber handles for these swords because I liked how sleek they look, plus they subtly extend the curve of the blade into a pleasing sine shape.

Cpt. Freja Nielsen | Vigorous leader | Danish | Specialties: rousing speeches, shrewd planning, and chewing out Pvt. Agustín |

This was the last of these minifigs to come together. To me, Cpt. Nielsen is what really ties this figbarf together and gives me a clear idea of who these uniformed people are. Plus, she gives a spot of visual interest with the brightness of her attire. I opted for a clean white uniform largely because the parts I wanted to use (pants with printed shoes, the side cap, the utility belt, those short-sleeve arms, and the rubber band) all came in that color. Nevertheless, I think it’s a perfect, pure hue for an international soldier. That small gold collar she has on is a backwards Elves necklace.

Cpl. Tayshia Wright | Heroic commando | American | Specialty: shooting reasonably accurately in two directions at once |

Named after a contestant on ABC’s The Bachelor (which I watch with my fiancée), Cpl. Wright has the most personality of the lot here, in my opinion. I love how the Hero Factory armor let me pose her arms splayed this way, as its pauldrons holds them in their sockets. The reason that these minifigs are Earth Defenders, and not the defenders of some other planet, is that glowing plant symbol on their chests… That leaf symbol reminded me of Eve’s plant sigil from Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E.

Sgt. Mikhail Vasiliev | Battered veteran | Russian | Specialty: surviving pretty much anything |

My concept here was to show a soldier of myriad campaigns, someone who had sustained quite a few injuries in his day. Sgt. Vasiliev sports futuristic prostheses on his right arm and leg, an eye patch, and some more recent bandages around his face. Ouch! This figure originally used LEGO’s specially-molded cybernetic leg, but I ended up giving that to the robot Bort-Bort from my previous figbarf instead. As homage, and tying these two together, Vasiliev’s synthetic leg is actually the companion to Bort-Bort’s regular one!


Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions or comments about these minifigs, feel free to leave them in the comments below

Retro is Very Fashionable

I designed this LEGO Minifigure series (affectionately known as a “figbarf” among the fan community) for a figbarf contest. One of the categories was “Space,” and I wanted to do something a little different. I became enamored of the bold graphic language of retro science fiction and retrofuturism a few years ago; indeed, I first explored LEGO retro sci-fi with my series of “set-style” creations Body Battlers in 2017. Rather than making a series of Body Battlers figures here, though, I opted to create some characters that were a bit more universal in the ‘50s sci-fi space.

Retro Sci-Fi Minifigures

From left to right, these are our characters:

Bort-Bort, a deadpan robot. Devoid of emotion, cultural references, and understanding of human scansion, Bort-Bort frequently lets off one-liners which are unintentionally hilarious.

Here, at last, was an excuse for me to use every possible robotic limb piece from LEGO! I enjoyed designing such a washed-out figure; I think it makes his “eye” scanner stand out even better. Originally, this figure also held a ray-gun, but I thought exposed claws seemed more fitting of a classic humanoid robot.

Lois Mills, a hapless All-American Girl. A neophyte to space exploration, Lois hopes—maybe in vain—that she can get back to Earth in time for her senior prom!

Problematic and utterly sexist as the trope of the helpless “damsel in distress” is, it’s nevertheless a staple of the pulp sci-fi genre… As such, it felt accurate to include such a character here. Stay tuned for much more empowered women in upcoming works! I love the combination of dark azure and purple, so that’s another reason I’m glad I designed Lois. Interesting note: the head dome she wears is only 1/2 there, as her hairpiece is too large in back for the second piece to attach.

Chip Fleming, a dashing adventurer. Leader of a hundred space explorations, captain of his own rocket ship, and frequenter of dozens of worlds, Chip is a classic hero of ‘50s science fiction.

Just as quintessential as the disempowered woman in this genre is the hyper-masculine, clean-cut, alien-blasting spaceman. I loved getting to use some of the blondest possible hair here for that perfect, matinée idol look. Like Lois, Chip only wears 1/2 of his helmet; although his hairpiece would have fit inside the full sphere, I wanted the two bubbles we see here to be of equivalent opacity.

Toscoob, a malevolent Martian. Emperor on his home planet, and renowned even there for his wickedness, Toscoob’s favorite delicacy is raygunned human!

What more can you ask for than a villainous green Martian? This character was another clear trope to include in my retro space collection. The decorous military flairs, like the cape and epaulets, are actually inspired by the Looney Toons character Marvin the Martian. I appreciated getting to use a Harry Potter wand element in the enormous raygun, which itself has been borrowed and modified from Body Battlers Set 52015. Toscoob steals his name from Tolstoy’s Aelita, a famous work of Soviet sci-fi about an advanced Martian society.

Salno, an absentminded Venusian. Half the time, Salno even forgets her home planet—this is why she carries around a sonic resonator, which can capture and replay sounds to jog her memory (as well as blast aliens with sound waves!).

Of the five characters on display here, Salno is the most out-of-left-field, not really having a clear precedent in retro sci-fi literature or film. Nevertheless, I think her aesthetic matches with the rest of the collection nicely. I built this fig around that gigantic pink afro; giving her short legs resulted in a hugely disproportionate body that I really liked. Originally, Salno was gonna have the hairpiece on backwards, resulting in a bulbous, textured head, but I so appreciated the expression of the minifig head I chose that I couldn’t resist showing it off. I also am proud of the combo of silvered 2x2 dish and silver-capped microphone on her sonic resonator.


Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions or comments about these minifigs, feel free to leave them in the comments below

Figs from Far-Away Lands

I made the first of these LEGO Minifigure collections (affectionately known as “figbarfs” among the fan community) out of characters I’d designed for a fifth wave of my "product line” Dragon Lands. Based on the nice response I got from the first collection, I have designed two others to complement it. Let’s learn a little more about these 21 characters…

SERIES ONE

From left to right, these are our characters:

Gnarku, a mischievous goldsmith. Gnarku regularly steals precious metals from work, but his unmatched craftsmanship helps him keep his job.

Orion, a plot-armored dragon rider. Don’t get in the way of this guy’s Quest, since it rolls forward like a freight train no matter what!

Wotoq, a temperamental Elemental. Wotoq serves as Guardian of the Ice Crystal, and he’s fiercely proud of his impressive beard.

Nynia, a potent faerie wizard. Yes, her hair is naturally that color and yes, she’d prefer that you stop asking. She’s got more important stuff to do.

Moscha, a sinister venommancer. Moscha is the more “toxic” of a sibling pair; she’s always scheming to poison her warlock brother Mogrot.

Eliake, a displaced ocean nymph. Due to man-and-orc-induced climate change, Eliake’s homesea has become uninhabitable to him.

Fifrir, a clever war engineer. Like Gnarku (but without the stealing), Fifrir is prized for his unique gifts as an inventor.

SERIES TWO

From left to right, these are our characters:

Awari, an enthusiastic apprentice. She only got that staff earlier this week, so be careful— she’s not good at using it yet.

Bramblebark, a thorny spirit. Would tell you dang kids to get off his lawn, but his “lawn” is all of nature!

Oussa, a magnificent queen. A strong and wise ruler, Oussa is best known for incorporating the Five Principalities into one realm.

Horpo, a self-serious owl trainer. Will tell you his work is more important than Queen Oussa’s.

Kalec, a silent headhunter. “…”

"Wind-up Willy," a clockwork soldier. One of a batch of a hundred such soldiers, Willy stands out from his peers by routinely malfunctioning.

Lev, a good-hearted baker. Believes that bread is the secret to peace between species. So far, he hasn’t been proven wrong.

SERIES Three

From left to right, these are our characters:

Sam Flot, a snappy scavenger. Snappy, in this case, applies to both Sam’s wit and his huge jaws.

Vorash, a militant prince. He maintains leadership of the ustokal tribes by beating challengers in mortal combat, and has the scars to prove it.

Aia, a short-fused archer. Don’t believe she can hit a fly in midair? She’ll pull her bow on you faster than you can say “shoo.”

Serserild, a foreign diplomat. She really feels like a fish out of water up here, so be nice!

Qotow, an icy guardian. This is Wotoq’s child, tasked with inheriting his sacred position and more-sacred beard.

Iero, a vengeful duelist. He bears no similarities to a character from any other intellectual property.

Thuin, a shady assassin. You’re not likely to see his face… unless it’s the last thing you ever see.


Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions  or comments about the model, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

I've been a LEGO® dragon builder for a long time, so when set the task of building some of prehistory's "dragons," they came pretty easily to me! Anatomically, dinosaurs and dragons aren't all that different; I designed similar "skeletons" on these models as I have used on a few dozen fantastical creatures. While the Stegosaurus is an older build—it's from 2016—I designed the Hadrosaur and Velociraptor recently as separate commissions... and with their completion, the opportunity to present a new "Dinosaurs Series" was too good to pass up!


STEGOSAURUS

This minifigure-scale Stegosaurus predates my other two dinosaurs by a few years. While creating this creature, my greatest challenge was designing spinal plates of different sizes, and then fastening them to the Stegosaurus's back at intervals where they wouldn't impede posability too greatly. My initial design didn't have enough "meat on the bones" so, at my client's request, I revised my build to be a bit bulkier before I published it and submitted my deliverables.

  • Features 19 points of articulation.
  • Color scheme of brown, tans, and greys selected to give this dinosaur an stoic and natural feel, and to mask as many dark grey ball-joint parts as possible.
  • Minifigure-scale Stegosaurus is around 11" (27cm) long.

Hadrosaur

I designed the Hadrosaur—more colloquially known as a "Duckbill Dino"—for the same client who commissioned the Stegosaurus... He was so happy with my first dinosaur design that he just needed a second! This replica is also minifigure-scale. Biggest challenges I encountered here were the head and the posture; the real Hadrosaur could stand on either four legs or two, so I wanted to be sure that my finished replica had that capability as well. I also faced some difficulty cladding the body along coherent color lines, to create the "gradient" body coloration you see now.

  • Features 21 points of articulation.
  • The brown and ochre color scheme felt natural and earthy; my goal here was to settle on a palate complementary with, but distinct from, the Stegosaurus's.
  • Minifigure-scale Hadrosaur is more than 11" (27cm) long.

Velociraptor

I designed this ferocious pack-hunting lizard by modifying the basic frame of my Rock Wyvern dragon. It's got lots of personality in a small package, and sports the raptor's signature curved front talons. I opted to build this raptor "featherless," in the style of Jurassic Park, to make it as recognizable as possible at this diminutive scale. Biggest challenge for me was deciding on a head design which felt appropriate to my source material. 

  • Features 13 points of articulation.
  • Deep red was a fun, easy primary color choice on this dino; I included the two shades of tan in the underbelly to balance out the red's virulence and to add a bit of organic flavor to the final impression.
  • Velociraptor model is more than 7" (18cm) long.