The Crystal Mill, or the Old Mill is an 1892 wooden powerhouse located on an outcrop above the Crystal River in Crystal, Colorado, United States. Although called a Watermill, it is more correctly denoted as a compressor station, which used a water turbine to drive an air compressor, and was originally built with a horizontal wheel. The compressed air was then used to power other machinery or tools. The building is built on a mining claim named “Lost Horse”, it fell into disuse in 1917 when the Sheep Mountain Tunnel mine closed.
I spotted the Crystal Mill while browsing in search of new rural houses to build and it caught my eye. For the first time, I built two blocks of rocks and a waterfall made from hundreds of 1×2 trans-clear plates. Many other builders have tried their hand at this type of build so thanks for inspiring me.
The story goes that an old gold digger* accidentally discovered the now disused Crystal Mill, and immediately decided to live there isolated from the rest of the world. One day an explorer* on a small boat while sailing on the Crystall River came across the old shack…What will happen when the explorer and the gold digger meet?
*Mainly based on the CMF Prospector (Series 12), without a doubt one of my favorite Minifigs. **Probably the explorer was part of Johnny Thunder‘s Adventures team 😉
“When it comes to beautifully constructed LEGO cabins, Andrea Lattanzio is in a class of his own. Whether you’re looking for perilously perched adventure or a little holiday magic, odds are good Andrea has you covered. Andrea’s latest build is the Crystal Mill, a real-life Colorado landmark as it might have looked back in the 19th century. The realistic trees and gorgeous waterfall catch your attention right away, but don’t overlook the smaller details of the cabin, like the minifigure wand elements on the front-door and the creatively crafted ladder.”
My latest creation is a tribute to Hayao Miyazaki, Japan’s greatest animation director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, best-loved of all the Japanese animation studios. I had already written in the past how his films and his stories often inspired my creations, especially in terms of atmosphere and environments. Back in 1998, Hayao Miyazaki designed and built a house for his production company, called Nibariki. This house is located nearby Studio Ghibli’s main building. Nibariki means 2 horsepower in Japanese and the name is a clear tribute to the beloved Citroën 2CV that the Japanese artist has been driving for more than forty years. Above you can see both Mr. Miyazaki’s new office and his Citroën 2CV. And of course our beloved masterful storyteller too.
Miyazaki bought his first 2CV as a university student in the early 1960s. It was a right-hand-drive model, imported from the U.K. and painted bright yellow. A 2CV first appeared in Miyazaki’s first feature-length film, 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro. An action-adventure tale involving a mischievous gentlemen thief, the well known Lupin III, and featuring multiple car chases, including the heroine, Clarisse, escaping in her 2CV.
Miyazaki’s current Citroën is a 1987 2CV 6 painted in light gray and is exactly like the one you see in my latest creation.
Floating Dystopia is a floating barge doomed to wander the oceans of Hyperuranium in search of the promised land.
It all started on February 22, 2222 when a tremendous nuclear war wiped out human civilization in less than a week. The earth thrown off its axis, its crust rocked by massive movements, and the five continents were torn completely apart and sunk deep below the sea.
Only a small portion of sub-Saharan Africa was saved and the few remaining human beings were forced to leave their lands, devastated and burned, to seek a safe haven where they can live in peace and prosperity. But this land is far away and in the meantime they are forced to live a dystopian life made of deprivation and scarcity.
Floating Dystopia consists of 4 modules and a floating base. Under the base you can find the reactors that make it move.The characters are: Kebra, Nagast and Hailé. Will they find their promised land?
Floating Dystopia is freely inspired by the wonderful works of Simon Laveuve, French artist who builds post apocalyptic dioramas.
“In the distant dystopian future of LEGO builder Andrea Lattanzio’s imagination, a colony of survivors braves the seas and storms searching for land. Based on “Le Navigator” by Simon Laveuve (a miniature artist known for grungy, industrial dioramas), this ramshackle pile of outhouses and palettes is covered with clever techniques and textural details. Towering antennae and string lights add height as well as detail to the model while reactor-powered turbines under the barge move the colony, frothing the sea of loose studs below. The olive-green, dark nougat and medium azure plates detailing the structures add a “cobbled together” effect by intentionally misaligning them. The key to any post-apocalyptic build is knowing when and how to mismatch. Something like the railing of a floating platform would probably be pieced together from scrap. All of the mismatching parts give this effect while accessories hang along its perimeter for added detail. The shoulder pad adorned minifigure clearly understood the assignment but it’s the telephone booth for me. I mean, I barely see those around anymore so these guys must have dredged deep in those rising oceans. Perched atop the smallest structure, poised like a king and overseer of this tiny piece of dry, a majestic, orange cat scorns the minifigure that took his big red chair. The clever little crane lifting up a fresh batch of scrap is an awesome detail and an essential tool for any seafaring houseboat. Of course, a mobile generator is a must-have in any survival scenario as well and this one adds just the right amount of contrasting color to the palette. The bright yellow, and the green of the plants growing up in the back, contrast the muted tones of the denizens’ domiciles and grab your eyes. Three floors above the sea, this survivor surveys the skyline, watching for enemies or opportunities while nestled amongst the satellites and the seagulls. The red barrel is pretty fun but that lamp using Sauron’s crown inside a round plate is subtly awesome. Fresh off the confirmation of the A-Frame Ideas set, this builder doesn’t seem to be taking a break. The capable Andrea Lattanzio‘s tribute to the amazing Simon Laveuve translates his work well into brick form and it’s not the first, or the last time, someone has done something like this. Still, it’s always refreshing seeing artists pay homage to each other. You never know who you will inspire or what they might create so join these guys and go make something great!”
It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas… As usual in this period it’s time for a Christmas themed creation and here it is Santa’s Cottage, a cozy shelter for Santa who is preparing his worldwide tour for delivering gifts.
Let’s give the iconic Santa’s Cottage a chance to turn into an official LEGO IDEAS SET!
About the set Santa’s Cottage features a classic Xmas color scheme, an uncommon shape and an unconventional doors/windows style. The main feature is probably the asymmetrical roof with a very sloping shape to the left. The woodshed is located under the excess roof. The red/white/black color combo is simple but effective, and the snowy trees in the background match well. Last but not least the door and windows are round, a shape rarely spotted on a cottage, but quite common in Hobbit houses. Santa, who is coming home from a relaxing walk, has also a nice off-road vehicle painted with a color scheme matching with the cottage. You can spot it on the right.
Playability at its best! The set is full of details, funny building techniques and utensils. The base is made with many white plates and wedge plates that make the surface uneven and give the idea of fresh snow. In front of the staircase to access the house there is a nice outdoor flooring made with many light bluish gray slopes of different sizes, among which I have inserted white tiles to give the idea of porphyry. The effect is very pleasant. All around there are trees, plants, and a couple of shrubs, they are all covered by the snow. The dry stone wall that supports the house is made from many Thor’s hammers, a technique I have used in the past. The terrace is chock full of objects and utensils which make the whole set very playable. There are lots of other hidden details here and there, have fun finding them!
If you’ve always dreamed of a Santa’s Cottage like this now you can build it and have fun!With your support, hopefully we can turn the Santa’s Cottage into an actual LEGO IDEAS set. Thank you all for your support, comments and shares!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
“If you follow The Brothers Brick on social media, you might have noticed we just updated our cover photo to Santa’s house, a cozy A-frame cabin built by Andrea Lattanzio. But don’t be fooled by his jolly demeanor, Santa’s a big celebrity. And he’s living a life with all the perks, which includes multiple houses. This asymmetrical cabin, also by Andrea, is a little more stylish than the A-frame. No doubt this house is for when Santa’s feeling a little posher. That four-wheel-drive vehicle might not be able to travel as far as magic reindeer, but I bet it’s more expensive. And the brickwork on the deck couldn’t have come cheap. After all, it’s actually made from dozens of Mjolners.”
The Trabucco (Trabuchet) is a typical and ancient fishing machine from the east coast of Italy. It’s made of wood and consists of a platform into the sea connected to the coast by a tight bridge made of wooden boards. From this platform, two (or more) long arms called antennae stretch out suspended some feet above the water, supporting a huge and narrow-meshed net (called trabocchetto).
My little Trabucco is the home of Theo, an old red-bearded fisherman who loves spending his days fishing and preparing the nets. Every now and then some friends visit him by boat, since the medium-azure hut can be reached by an unstable ladder starting right from the sea. Today Pablo is docking at the pole near the Trabucco, he has come to visit his friend Theo.
Don’t miss all the little details that make this little diorama fun. Enjoy!
“Here at The Brothers Brick we love smart building techniques. Our hearts start beating a little bit faster when we see a LEGO part used in a clever way. But clever and smart do not always mean complex. Andrea Lattanzio shows us that sometimes simple is the way to go with their 1×1 round plate sea. While it’s not a new technique, using different colours to create waves is a real nice touch. Making the house in the same vibrant colour as the ocean is a nice way to draw attention away from the bright sea and towards the detailed little house. Plus the bright colour of the house highlights all the earth-toned details around the house. If the house was earth-toned too, those little details wouldn’t stand out as much as they do now. However, the simple studded sea is probably one of the only simple techniques used in this creation. Andrea also built a trabucco, which is an ancient fishing machine from the east coast of Italy. This build looks like it is defying gravity and I truly wonder how sturdy it is. It looks so fragile with those thin legs. I can’t help but wonder how many times the legs collapsed when Andra made alterations to the platform on top. Or maybe the legs were added as the final step to the build to prevent this from happening.”
I recently saw the Netflix TV series Sweet Tooth (an American fantasy drama streaming television series developed by Jim Mickle based on the comic book of the same name by Jeff Lemire) and, although I’m not a big fan of the TV series, the first episode gave me a brilliant idea to build a new cabin in the woods. Here is the shelter of Gus, the half-deer “hybrid” child main character of the series, and of Pubba, his alleged father. As you know in recent years I have built many shacks and this one joins the previous ones, enriching the series.
The diorama has a structure I have used in many other past creations: a base of dark tan wedge plates on which the central core of the creation stands and in the background some trees and shrubs that frame the scene. The build consists of 5 small shacks that can be joined together to create the shelter of Gus and Pubba. In addition to the usual “warm” colors such as reddish brown, dark tan and the classic dark bluish gray, I used a color that I had never used before: medium azure, as it appears in a part of the house in some scenes of the series.
In the central part you can easily recognize the octagonal window that marks Gus’s house in the woods. I built the window using the useful tile, modified facet 2 x 2 Corner with cut corner. The part on the far left has a circular shape that I built by creating an octagon. It is the first time that I have built a circular shape and I’m satisfied with the outcome. I recreated a kind of rise for the shack using 6X6 light bluish gray tiles, a piece that I have used extensively in the past for all my garages.
As always I have tried to include many details and if possible NPU. Among the strangest parts I like to remember the bearskin rug from Duplo series placed on the roof as a cover. I had already used this element in my Stilt Houses and I am sure that I will find other MOCs where it can be inserted in the future. On the ground to the left you can spot a dark tan leg of an unidentified creature that simulates a large boulder on the ground. On the right the arm of a maxi-fig, specifically Cull Obsidian, also represents a boulder (I have used this piece before).
To recreate Gus, a half-deer “hybrid” child and main character of the series, I used the hair of the Faun from the Collectible Minifigure Series 15. From behind you can see the ears and a hint of horns, just like when Gus was growing up. Pubba, on the other hand, looks like a “hiker” with a large backpack full of objects and tools useful for survival in the woods. On the right a deer shyly appears, Gus thinks it’s his mother, if you’ve seen the series you know what I’m talking about. There are many other interesting details and parts, check them out and have fun spotting them here and there.
“The main character in Sweet Tooth, a new Netflix series based on a comic book, is a boy who is a human/animal hybrid born in the midst of a global pandemic. His caregiver Pubba makes a secluded home in the woods to raise the deer boy in safety, hiding from surviving humans who resent the existence of hybrids. Norton74, who is a master of building cabins in the woods, put his skills to great use in re-creating the dilapidated cabin that Pubba has spent considerable time and effort to repair and add on all the comforts a growing deer-boy needs, including a place to play “catch the ball”. Aside from the wonderful details in the cabin itself, the inclusion of a buck in the background is perfect.“