Who doesn’t love LEGO? My 4-year-old son does, my 34-year-old husband does….it’s something that you just never grow out of. Which explains the hours of time and effort that some people put into creating, not just a tiny fire engine, but life-size Lego models, or elaborate dioramas. Yes, these are serious hobbyists and these models are not to be touched by children. Be prepared to be amazed and a little overwhelmed by our Top 10 Most Awesome Lego Models.
10. James May’s House
This first effort was made for a TV show. British presenter James May completed a series of challenges where he built life-size, working models of things using kids’ toy kits. The Meccano bridge and the giant Scalectrix track were impressive, but the most iconic had to be this Lego house, with its Lego furniture to go with it and even a Lego cat. Strangely enough, the idea of the Lego bed never caught on (it’s probably a bit bumpy), and neither did the Lego toothbrush. As houses go, it wasn’t the most comfortable- the soft furnishings were somewhat hard – but it looked good and it was relatively quick to build, although it did require 1,000 helpers and 3.3 million bricks. The house was eventually demolished in 2010, after it failed to find a new owner despite an enthusiastic Facebook campaign to save it.
9. Obama’s Inauguration
President Obama has often shown signs of his geeky side, so I imagine he was thrilled when his (first) inauguration ceremony was recreated in Lego-scopic detail. Unveiled at Legoland California in January 2009, it features a replica of the Capitol Building, along with over 1000 figures made out of bricks (not the minifigs that you’d expect). A Lego Aretha Franklin belts out a tune, while little onlookers queue for the Portaloos. Obama’s presidency represented a huge leap forward in African-American equality, and it was a great way to celebrate that moment, as well as being an impressive feat of Lego construction.
8. Kennedy Space Center
Another American icon next, in this reproduction of the Kennedy Space Center. Using over 750,000 bricks, it took 2,500 hours to build and features replica spacecraft such as the Saturn 1B Rocket. One focal point is the Vehicle Assembly Building, which is 6ft tall by 8ft long and there is also a 6ft high rocket.
It’s all part of a long running partnership between NASA and Lego, which has seen Lego being taken into space, as well as space being recreated by Lego. Leland Melvin of NASA described is this way: “Partnering with The LEGO Group is a perfect fit. We have taken the excitement of NASA’s missions and coupled that with kids’ love of creating things with the iconic LEGO bricks.” In other words, geeky kids love Lego, NASA wants to recruit those trainee geeks at an early age….it’s a match made in heaven (or such should that be “a match made in Alpha Centauri”?) And this project is certainly an impressive result of the partnership.
7. Church of Christ
There seems to be some mystique about the next entry – perhaps appropriate, given that God moves in mysterious ways. In at least one place, it is listed as an internet myth, albeit a true one, and the website of the creator – computer programmer Amy Hughes – no longer functions, with the homepage bearing a message that says “This page is intentionally left blank”. So, information about the intricate Lego church is not forthcoming, but it is said to contain 75,000 bricks, including hundreds of minifigs sitting in pews. There are mosaics, an organ, a pulpit and an altar, and it’s a beautifully detailed work. It’s called The Church of Abston – Abston being a fictional town named after Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, the plastic used to make Lego. Before taking her site down, Amy Hughes also posted some pictures of her cat sitting inside the construction. Maybe it was meant to be a Cat-o-lic church?
Taking on one building is a huge feat – taking on an entire city is another thing entirely. The model of London at Legoland Windsor (just outside London, so not as meta as it could be) took 24,000 hours to build and features such landmarks as the Palace of Westminster, Tower Bridge and 30 St Mary’s Axe ( better known as The Gherkin). Most remarkably, they recreate the London Eye in a perfect circle. even though anyone who’s built with Lego will tell you how difficult it is to achieve any kind of smooth curve. I still don’t know how they did it.
The rest of the model is almost as impressive, with London’s features reproduced faithfully, down to the tiny “Duck Tours” boat crossing Westminster Bridge. Altogether, the Lego London contains 13 million Lego bricks, and covers an area of 330m2. An amazing Lego metropolis!
Another London-themed model, as this giant Egyptian King floated down the Thames in 2009 to promote Legoland Windsor’s new “Kingdom of the Pharaohs” exhibit. He weighed a ton and, at the time, was the largest Lego model ever built, at an impressive 16 feet tall.
The giant boy-king apparently brought river traffic “to a standstill” as he completed the last section of a 1395-mile journey from the Czech Republic to Windsor and made even seasoned Londoners stare as he made his stately way down the river (and Londoners are used to seeing all kinds of strange things). It’s clearly amazing workmanship to survive a tidal river journey like that, and the Pharaoh himself also seems to have enviable muscle definition on those abs. Sadly eclipsed in size fairly quickly, but a worthy holder of the largest model title for a while there.
4. Droid Control Ship
As demonstrated with NASA, it’s a beautiful thing when two geeky worlds collide, and that’s the case with Lego and Star Wars. There’s a huge crossover between the two fanbases, and Lego brought out a number of expensive model kits around the time of “The Phantom Menace” release, so that fans could spend up to $150 on a model of the Millenium Falcon (although thanks to the crazy automated pricing on Amazon.com, it’s currently retailing at an eye-watering $5899.99) But even this level of complexity is not enough for some enthusiasts, who have created their own Lego Star Wars models, such as this amazingly intricate Droid Control Ship. It was the work of one man – Paul Yperman – who was working from a book of Star Wars cross-sections and used 30,000 Lego pieces over a period of two years. That’s quite some dedication!
3. Hogwarts Castle
Another geeky crossover, another Lego masterpiece. This time, the inspiration is Harry Potter, and specifically the magical castle where the majority of the books are set. This model is remarkable in many ways, but I’m most amazed by the smooth curves on those towers. It’s hard to make Lego look elegant, and indeed anything but blocky, but this model seems to manage it. It was the work of Alice Finch, who won “Best in Show” at BlockCon with it in 2012. It uses 400,000 bricks and inside are scenes from the books and movies, such as Dumbledore giving a welcome address and the Harry and Ron in the Chamber of Secrets, all done with minifigs. A wealth of detail and a beautiful looking exterior shows why this model was an award winner.
2. The Czech Tower
All records are made to be broken, and the record for highest Lego tower is one that’s changed hands a few times over the years. Last year, the British thought they had reclaimed it with a 32m high tower at Legoland Windsor (Windsor previously held the record in 2008). And they had indeed broken the record, snatching it from Seoul whose tower had been built just a few months previously and a few centimetres shorter. But then in September 2012, another tower was built in Prague, with Olympic medallist Miroslava Knapkova putting the final brick into place. At 32.5m, it just pipped the British effort and, to date, no-one seems to have topped it. But the record changes more quickly than the internet updates, so by the time you read this there could be a new top dog.
1. X-Wing Starfighter
And here’s another record that has been smashed – the one previously held by the Pharaoh, as largest model ever constructed. As another example of the harmonious relationship between Lego and Star Wars, this X-Wing was built on a 1:1 scale and could fit Luke Skywalker happily inside. It’s made up of 5,335,200 bricks and took a team of 32 people 4 months to complete. It appeared in new York’s Times Square in May 2013 and was instantly popular, with excited fans of both Lego and Star Wars flocking to see it. It was built to launch the kids’ TV series “The Yoda Chronicles” but something tells me the model will be remembered long after the show has faded into obscurity (because really, do we need another Star Wars spin-off?) An awesome model indeed, and a deserving winner of our best Lego model award.