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