General Stores were very common in the US back in the 18th and 19th century, especially in rural areas or in small towns. Actually, there are few of them along old nearly-forgotten interstate highways, they are like old treasures to preserve. Their main feature was carrying a general line of merchandise to remote populated places where mobility was limited and a single shop was sufficient to service the entire community. In the early twentieth century general stores often sold gasoline too. My latest diorama represents a classic general store depicted in a sixties scene somewhere in the heart of America with many elements easy to spot back then.
Take a moment to appreciate all the small details that all add up to this vintage scene; the rusted pump abandoned on the ground, the phone cab, soft-drink dispenser, the gumball machine and many others. The old white-bearded man sitting in his rocking chair keeps watch carefully who arrives helped by his loyal dog. On the left a little shop for quick repairs equipped with different utensils. All around I added many details like the water tower, the phone box, the gas pump and so on. I’m very satisfied with this creation even if it’s much better live than depicted by a photo. It was very funny building this and even more catching the details to insert via period pictures spotted on the web. Hope you like it!
“This month’s cover photo, from Andrea Lattanzio, brings us this blast from the past with an incredibly detailed LEGO general store. The diorama is littered with items you might find at a remote general store, and luckily Andrea provides a close up look at the details (see below). Candy machines, phone booths, tools, and gas, this general store has you covered no matter your needs. Here’s that closer look at some of the items you’ll see surrounding the general store. The water tower is a clear standout, but some of the other details like the power pole, the cable holding up the chimney pipe, and the cat going after that bird nest. This entire scene is a delight to take in.”
“The General Store can be the last bastion of civilization before heading out into the wilderness. The calm before getting mixed up in a dark forest, or getting lost in the desert. A scene that has played out hundreds of times on film and television. This Lego General Store is created by Norton74. Inspired by these classic small town and rural American locations. A place where you can find a little bit of everything. You can fill up gas, buy some tools, pick up a soda, and make a phone call all in one place. This Lego diorama has a bunch of fun features. A really creative flag built with Lego 1×1 clips, the old time gas pump with a sea shell on top (shell gas), and the slightly uneven yellow siding on the main building. With a nice old man watching over everything. There is also a collection of Lego animals helping to fill out the scene, you can spy a pig, a cat, two dogs, a bird, a few chickens, and a skunk. This is a very busy store.”
Gypsy wagons have been around for a very long time, having primarily been seen with travelling circuses, before being adopted by gypsies. The “Horse drawn, painted, one roomed house on wheels with a stove” is believed to originate in France in the early 19th Century. Gypsies themselves adopted them around 170 years ago.
Its Romanesque characteristics, its baroque carvings and bright colours are likely to have been picked up from wanderings in Central and Eastern Europe. The Gypsyes’ name for their wagons is a “Vardo”, from the Iranian name vurton, that means cart. There were different types of wagons and they were made of oak, ash, elm, walnut and pine. Most caravans were pulled by draft horses.
I’ve always been intrigued by Gypsies Wagons and in the past few weeks I built a couple of them. Inspiration come mainly from a coffee table book my wife gifted me, “Les Roulottes, une invitation au voyage”, a big source of colourful and funny caravans. It was very funny designing and building these caravans and also choose the right Minifigures from old sets and Collectionable Series. If you are wondering why Jack Sparrow is in the MOC the answer is that I think he has the perfect look of a yesteryear Gypsy.
“Two brightly-coloured wagons are home to a band of travelling folk in Andrea Lattanzio‘s latest LEGO model. Life on the road has never looked so inviting, with the bold colors of the mobile homes enhanced with bursts of flowers, and the scene stuffed with functional-looking details. I love the hanging tassels, the little chimney stacks, and the clutter of bags and lanterns and buckets. Don’t miss the use of minifigure hats as flower-pots, and the catapults used for the legs on the fortune teller’s table.”
A couple of months ago I built the Walden Cabin inspired by the the book “Walden; or life in the woods” written by Henry David Thoreau. Walden and others books of authors like Leo Tolstoy and Jack London were the inspiration for Chris McCandless‘s journey back in early nineties. My latest work is the most rapresentative scene of the movie Into the Wild that is an adaptation of the book of the same name written by Jon Krakauer, and tells the story of Christopher McCandless indeed, a man who hiked across North America into the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s. McCandless’s intention was to live in harmony with nature, being self-sufficient, and rejecting the excess of material wealth and societal pressure. Unluckily his story ended differently than that of his predecessor Thoreau… I saw the movie many years ago and recently I saw it again and I found it very inspirational and a little bit sad. I recreated the “Magic Bus” that became the home for Alexander Supertramp, that’s the new name of Chris, in the middle of the wild nature, as you can see in the movie and as it really was back in those years. The bus is an old 1946 International Harvester K-5 used by the Yutan Construction Company to provide remote accommodations for the construction crew from Fairbanks that worked on road upgrades in 1960–1961. It contained beds and a wood-burning stove, which still remain today. I could tell you many stories related to the film but I don’t want to reveal anything to you, since maybe you haven’t seen the film or read the book yet… Today would be Chris’s 52nd birthday and I think it’s the right day to share my Magic Bus. Happy birthday Chris!
“In honour of Chris McCandless’ 52nd birthday earlier this week, 2019 TBB LEGO Builder of the Year Andrea Lattanzio build a stunning recreation of the “Magic Bus” from the end of McCandless’ life, as documented in the book and film Into the Wild. This creation is a fitting tribute. The landscape looks like the clearing on the rugged Stampede Trail, featuring various elements representing rocks, plants, and mushrooms. My favourites are the tree built out of brown stud shooters and the grey homemaker hairpiece as a large rock. Framed inside its wild Alaskan surroundings, is the bus itself. The design is spot on and includes clever use of a dish with a spider web pattern as old and aged headlights and a stack of 3×3 dishes as the bus’s grill.”
Like every year at this time Santa Claus has to get to work, children all over the world are waiting for him. In my latest diorama you can see Santa Claus leaving his red cabin at the North Pole to get on his sleigh pulled by two Huskys. He has a long way to go…
This is probably my last MOC for this year and I wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
“Santa Claus, despite his media persona and the products he is implied to endorse, is not the consumerist type. Sure, he brings presents on Christmas to children, but not the max-out-the-credit-cards-and-refinance-the-house pile of presents that parents are somehow expected to provide. He lives a life of humble solitude, somewhere up in the frozen north (though not the North Pole; what responsible person would build a house on seasonally variant ice?), where he prepares for his annual journey of beneficence. At least, that is what this build by Andrea Lattanzio (Norton74) seems to imply. A delightful cabin, similar to Walden but much redder, rests in a peaceful snow-covered clearing, with deep snow on the roof and a sled ready to go (even though the sled is pulled by huskies, rather than reindeer). The most impressive part of the display might be the collection of parts used to create the snow-covered foliage, from levers and megaphones to minifig hands and everything else white. However, I love the cannon as a chimney — topped by pots, even more. Unicorn horns make for lovely icicles on the eaves (if only they were available in transparent colors!). My one quibble is that the woodpile looks far too sparse to make it through the winter in conditions like that. Santa will freeze to death. Unless he isn’t watching out for the polar bear lurking behind the cabin, in which case he’ll be devoured before freezing. And before bringing me LEGO for my stocking.”
A few months ago a friend of mine loaned me a book I had always heard of but never read. The book is the well-known “Walden; or life in the woods” written by Henry David Thoreau and published in 1854. Walden details Thoreau’s experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days (1845–47) in a cabin he built near Walden Pond amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Simple living and self-sufficiency were Thoreau’s other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, a central theme of the American Romantic Period. It is considered Thoreau’s masterwork.
Struck by the history and inspired by the cover of the book, in the few past weeks I built Thoreau’s cabin in the wood. Its the first time that I made a woods-themed creation and I really had a lot fun building it.
Relatively neglected during Thoreau’s lifetime, Walden achieved tremendous popularity in the 20th century. Thoreau’s description of the physical act of living day by day at Walden Pond gave the book authority, while his command of a clear, straightforward, but elegant style helped raise it to the level of a literary classic.
“Inspired by the book Walden; or Life in the Woods, Andrea Lattanzio escapes from the fast food restaurants and gas stations (and futuristic rovers!) of the modern world into the wilds through his latest build. I wonder if Thoreau, the main character of the aforementioned book, would choose LEGO as his outlet instead of escaping to the wild if he had lived in modern time? The diorama captures everything a self-sufficient cabin in the woods would have (including a bit of the woods). The textures and little imperfections on the cabin capture the hand-crafted appearance very well, most notably the tiles on the roof pressed down only half way and the window with a half-plate offset in its top and bottom halves. The pine trees are done quite well, with leaf elements placed at convincing angles on the central axis. The use of the old tree stump piece adds a lot to the atmosphere, as do the inspired choices of gray homemaker hair part as a stone and brown stud shooters in the dead tree on the right side of the diorama.“
(“Escape the mecha and spaceships of our society and build a cabin in the woods” The Brothers Brick – December 2, 2019)
One of the most vivid traditions of Mexico is surely the Mariachi culture. I’ve been always intrigued by Mariachi musicians and when LEGO released the Mariachi in Series 16 Collectible Minifigures I thought it was really cute and perfect for a Mexican themed MOC.
My latest creation represents a classic Mexican scene: the Mariachi Wagon with the musicians on board ready to play the serenade to the beautiful girl on the terrace. On the right her father with his eyes well opened. The house boasts a multi-level terrace structure, a couple of arbors covered by flowers and a large patio. Cactus and plants of all kind are all around.
In addition to the Mariachi, I also included in the diorama the Maraca Man (Series 2), Flamenco Dancer (Series 6) and the Taco Tuesday Guy (the LEGO Movie).
“Most Western-themed LEGO creations take their architectural inspiration from the single-street towns of the Gold Rush — clapperboard buildings, usually saloons and general stores. It makes for a pleasant change to see something a little more Southwestern in tone with Andrea Lattanzio‘s build of a classic whitewashed adobe flat-roofed house. And even better, there’s not a gunfighter in sight; instead, we’re treated to a mariachi band arriving in their wagon to serenade the farmer’s beautiful daughter. The house is a visual treat, covered with nice details, from the use of printed 1×1 round tiles on the protruding ends of the logs to the plant-covered arbors that provide shady spots on the flat roof. The use of woodgrain tiles above the windows and doors adds some welcome texture amongst the white. Bien hecho, Andrea!”