Lego Blog: Illustrating Flash Pulp episode FP0022

If you go down to the woods today…

I’ve had the pictures for this build for a while now, but failed to find the time to crop and select them. My shaky hands demand editing! I’ve been keenly anticipating another Thomas Blackhall tale – he’s one of my favourite Flash Pulp characters – the forest settings and era are very appealing to me.

Read and Listen To The Story

You have to do this now:

Here’s the full story: The Charivari

Illustrating The Story

Hedge wizard Thomas Blackhall emerges from the deep forests and finds himself at the edge of the village of Bigelow. He is welcomed into The Loyalist inn by its proprietor and freshens up before being dragged into local scandal and mob unrulery. It’s a three-part story and there is much more to it! I’d love to come back to the setting of the final part of the yarn – maybe one day…

Strictly speaking I’ve illustrated a single exchange from the story: the greeting of Blackhall by the moustachioed Morton Van Rijn. Of course he has an axe – he’s Canadian.

What’s In A Road?

I was carried off by the notion of an inn by the water on a neatly paved road. Naturally the details of the road occupied a startling amount of time. I’d seen a cool way to curve Lego plates in Blocks magazine but hadn’t had a moment to play with the idea. What better time? The road is made up of long strips of 2×2 plates overlaid with 2×2 tiles – once laid on edge you can bend them quite a long way. Pinning them in place with other bricks resulted in much brick spaffing across the room… The results are pretty! I’m looking forwards to refining the technique further.

The water is several plates deep, allowing for much dotting of transparent blue and white circular plates which has produced a nice illusion of depth. Then I had fun building up the shore too. Finally I got to the pesky business of the inn itself.

Running Out of Space

I’d figured a 32×32 base plate would be adequate for my purposes, but I’d clearly used up waaaay too much space on the road and shoreline. Plus I wanted to offset the inn, and well, there was no room left. So I ‘neatly’ added a chunky corner at the back. Looks great, right? It gave me the extra space I needed!

It took several abortive efforts to get the size of The Loyalist right – walls are always thicker than I think, and since I’m a terrible planner I need to leave more space than I think I’ll need. There’s not a great deal in there, but you can safely assume there’s an outhouse somewhere, and a washroom, and a kitchen… and everything else. But it looks nice.


The door is massive. I’m very happy with how the slightly patchy, made out of local materials look I’ve given it. The careful patchiness is something I really admire in Lego’s official sets – there’s an aesthetic balance which they absolutely nail. I can only aim for it. I also really dig the shutters: the windows are too small to put proper glass windows in and this was surprisingly effective.

I made a roof that fits! Well, more or less. I felt obliged to put a chimney on it, but as you’ll note from the interior shots, there is no space for a fireplace. It’s a decorative chimney. Like they that back in the olden days.

It’s What’s On The Inside That Matters

Since I had limited floorspace, I focussed on the important aspects of an inn: the bar, and the bedroom. I have once more made something that is almost impossible to see inside of, let alone photograph. The bunk beds are actually quite neat, but you’ll have to take my word for it…


Final Reflections

Super observant fans of Flash Pulp will notice that although this is a rather jolly little inn, it is wrong in almost all possible details. The Loyalist is a mostly white painted building, considerably larger than this one and should really be surrounded with other buildings and more of a crossroads than a wiggly road. Ho hum. It’s the spirit of the story, alright?!

There are a load more pictures of the details here, on Flickr:


Lego Blog: Illustrating Flash Pulp episode FP0015

Spaceship, spaceship, spaceship!

Knowing that there is a science fiction thread hidden away in the Flash Pulp universe has been tweaking my Lego gland for a while. Actually, there are several sci-fi threads now, but for ages Joe Monk was the only one. I refuse to look ahead through the programme, so it came as a lovely surprise when it turned Monkish on me. Tragically there aren’t many stories in this thread so I’ll have to go nuts over whatever I find.

Read and Listen To The Story

You have to do this now:

Here’s the full story: Joe Monk Emperor of Space – The Music Library

Illustrating The Story

Joe Monk – the last surviving human being – flies through space in the vessel that has been his home since he was but an infant. Little entertainment has been laid in the poor lad and as he hits his twenties he’s increasingly aware of it. There’s only 200 hours of recorded music in the Music Room, and when he locks it for what he thinks is just six months he’s forced to bury himself in the microfilm room instead.

It’s Cold Inside…

I’ve only worried about the interior for this build, though I do have some thoughts about what it might look like from outside too. One of things I like about the story is that the future is rather archaic and retro – microfilm! It made me think of pale greys and beige moulded computer housings. Rather than just make everything grey and cornery I’ve gone for curves and whirly bits.

Everyone loves a good corridor, right? I’ve put transparent panels in the walls to allow a little more light to get around and to break up the very, very greyness of it all. I’ve always loved the Blacktron yellow control panel tiles from when I were but tiny and I’m happy to find a home for them.

Even the dullest corridor is better with colourful helper bots! These guys don’t feature in the story at all, but I couldn’t imagine having the ship being entirely unpopulated. These little dudes were very pleasing to build. I envisage them having extendable necks and retractable legs (parts conservation and availability has limited what’s on show!) and them bumbling around the ship fixing things.

What Lies Beyond Yon Door?

Although the story covers three rooms – the music, movie and microfilm rooms, it was the last of the three that snagged my imagination. I’d love to do all three, but the walls have been rather parts intensive; I’d need a lot more to expand it fully. The doors themselves are a slight cheat – they only have one side as I couldn’t think of a way to make a door the same on both sides without using at least four plate widths. And that’s just cray cray.

This is the microfilm room where Joe spends a distressing amount of time. I’ve added a nice rack of microfilm reels (using the huhcaps/cores from wheels). I also needed a microfilm reader, so I’ve gone for a rather massive, steampunky device. It fits together quite neatly and I’m pleased with it, as I am the chair Joe’s using.

What’s a reading room without a view?

I’m very pleased to have found a use for one of Cinderella’s carriage’s wheel, and all those transparent 1×2 bricks I picked up.

Finding The Minifigures

As usual, assembling a suitable character figure took quite a while. Most of his bits are Ninjago originally, dug out of the Build-a-Figure bins at the Lego Shop. His hair is one of those nice rubbery bits, also Ninjago from one of the ‘free with the shame of buying The Daily Mail’ last year. I’m quite chuffed with the drink he has – using a chemistry flask is space 101, and the straw is a Galaxy Squad alien antenna. I’ve possibly pitched his face at slightly too young, but I have very many similar ones for future stories.

The little helper bots are also one of my favourite things in this build. They’re dead simple to build, using just a Star Wars soldier droid body, a few clips, studs and eye tiles. I wanted to make hundreds, but the colour scheme using the body to set the rest has limited my options a bit. I think they’re really cute. I’ve got just a handful of Plate, Modified 1 x 1 with Clip Light – Thin Ring rather than Thick Ring, which is the only way I’ve got the little blue and white dude’s eyes to join up in the middle. On the rest it looks like a mouth, possibly.

Wrap Up and Spin Around

This might be my favourite build for ages. I’m really happy with the rounded finish to the walls. I had to order some extra bits because I was missing just one corner piece (devastating, obviously). It’s a neat T-shape, with an odd symmetry that appeals to my eyes. It also contains far more bricks than I thought it would.

I can’t wait to come across the next Joe Monk tale in the series!

Oh – I almost forgot – here’s a very badly done turntable view of the whole thing:
FP 015: Joe Monk - Emperor of Space//

There are a load more pictures of the details here, on Flickr:


Lego Blog: Illustrating Flash Pulp episode FP0014

Delays, Delays and Lazing

I’ve had a tiny bit of a Lego brain drought since finishing this build off, and I think it’s because I hadn’t properly finished it off by doing the blog post about it. I am a fool. As you might have gathered I completed the MOC about a month ago, but endless things, especially having a kitten to play with/detach from objects including myself have slowed me down. Eagle-eyed counting folk will notice that I’ve skipped FP0013. It’s a perfectly splendid episode, but I wasn’t moved to build the location. In retrospect, it could easily be the same location as the one I’ve built for FP0014…

Read and Listen To The Story

You have to do this now:

Here’s the full story: Mulligan Smith and the Retired Man

Illustrating The Story

The tale is mostly of an older fellow quietly minding his own business until a chap comes to interrupt him. That wasn’t the part that grabbed me in particular though. In the episode he’s in a McDonalds but I just couldn’t face constructing a vendor of such bland crap so I’ve taken a huge leap of creative licence and made a diner instead. I hope Skinner Co can forgive me.


I’ve thought about making an American style diner before but lacked the narrative impetus. The two colour scheme was stuck in my head right from the start, although it took a whole series of rebuilds before I could place windows more or less consistently. I wanted just enough red to not overdo it or look slapped on. I also had a nice curving window part from a Lego Friends set that I was desperate to use. It caused me a lot of grief with the flooring.
It’s come out quite prettily. I ran out of useful bricks for the roof, so it only looks right from the front corner. The trees were absolutely necessary because I’d built them for the last illustration, FP007-12 before realising I didn’t need them. No way were they coming apart without being used!

The diner sign was fun to play around with. I found it very difficult to make a compact sign using letter techniques I’ve previously used. I also wanted a sense of the neon letters glowing in the dark. I developed an awkward compromise – most of the uprights are single lightsaber bars with 1×1 and 1×2 transparent red tiles to make up the horizontals and everything else. It works really well from a certain angle!


With barely a flicker of thought I’ve once more assembled a building which is almost impossible to photograph inside. Please excuse the massive shadows and aerial views.

I do love a good tiled floor. I also had plenty of red and white curved bits and tiles for making the interior as hard to look at as the outside. I’m particularly pleased with the booths, which feature a neat bit of stud reversal inside to get that double unit. It’s a shame I didn’t manage to build the diner in a shape that shows them off. I live and forget.

The stools at the bar have steering wheels as bases, I’m quite proud of that. The kitchen is very compact and has no storage.

This corner where two men sit, one with coffee and one without is the actual story itself. It may have become lost in the joy of building…

This was a very fun build and I’m glad to be signing it off here before destroying and re-sorting it all. As ever, the Flash Pulp project is pushing me in new directions and helping me find a reason to make stuff I would not have thought about before.

There are some more pictures of the details here, on Flickr:


Lego Blog: Illustrating Flash Pulp episode FP007-12

Making Progress

I’ve finally reached a new thread in the massive Flash Pulp universe! And he’s one of my favourites too – Thomas Blackhall: frontiersman, occult magician, all round mid-nineteenth century bad-ass. He comes in to the universe with a six-parter – no mean debut. There’s some pretty awesome magic and witchery later on in the story, but this introduction features Blackhall facing off with one of the great Bear Lords of the forest, referred to only politely as ‘Master Bear’.


Read and Listen To The Story

You have to do this now:

Here’s the full story: Redmouth’s Legacy – A Thomas Blackhall Tale – Part 1 of 6 

Illustrating The Story

Thankfully the six episodes take place in the same spot – on the top of Talbot’s Plateau, where Blackhall has scrambled trying to escape from the Bear Lord after putting down his son, the eponymous Red Mouth. It’s a tense stand off which Blackhall drags out while he cons the bear into providing his means of further escape. That means I can lazily jam six episodes into just one build…

 The plateau was appealing enough – I’ve been enjoying rock work and hinges for construction. The base of the plateau is a series of plates with slopes built up and around them to give me some more fun choices about what direction I build in. I’ve included the route Thomas uses to clamber up as a series of steps on the left. Obviously it needed a tiny waterfall on the other side.

The plateau itself clips straight on top. The plate widths foxed me for a while, but a few weird length Technics pins and 1×1 plates made it surprisingly neat. It does threaten to flip back and smash everywhere of course. The plateau is supposed to be fairly barren which called for a colour shift (to me) which I think came out nicely. 

The backdrop is entirely separate. I needed some way to give the impression of a forest behind the plateau. I’d seen someone use the flower elements upside down before on Flickr and it had stuck in my head. They’re just sitting upside down on some Technics 1×1 bricks. I like that I can move them round. Maybe I should have done more.

I made some beautiful trees to go on the plateau before re-reading the story and discovering they were not required. All that lives on there is a white pine, which turned out to be quite hard to make. I concluded that I couldn’t do the sloping triangular shape required, but figured I could do a tall wind-smashed battered tree.


Minifigging the Characters


Master Bear was fairly straightforward – I just needed to acquire a polar bear. I’ve wanted one for ages anyway, and he looks nice with my brown bear. Blackhall was an entirely different proposition. I’ve actually been worrying about Thomas Blackhall since I started this project. He’s not given much physical description in the early stories but there’s a story card for him with a hat… He’s usually clean shaven but he doesn’t sound like that to me. Since he’s supposed to be quite ragged in this one I’ve stretched the limits.

The body is one of the many gorgeous The Hobbit minifigures. This is the body of Bard the Bowman. I’m going classic yellow heads for Flash Pulp, but this one had me veering into pink. I’m not sure where I got this noggin from, but the hat and hair combined is from The Lone Ranger‘s Butch Cavendish, whose costume was also one of my options. He gets a sabre (required) and I couldn’t help but give him some kind of a compass box thing, as well as his bundle of reeds. I’ll probably have to find a new face and possibly hair/hat combo for the next one. Unless I meet with authorial approval to be lazy of course!

That’s a big bear.

There are some more pictures of the details here, on Flickr:


The Desert Crystals – Part 42: It’s A Long Way Up

Desert Crystals Part 42 – It’s A Long Way Up

desert crystals2

Previous episode, for these characters.

With a strangled bellow, Tosser finally laid a sweating hand on the solid deck of the Viper. Her other hand snatched the looped rope from Guldwych’s outstretched arms and tied them off on the Viper’s railing. She let her trembling fingers tap out their exhausted rhythm on the rough steel while she recovered enough of her strength for the next step of actually achieving the deck. Her legs dangled over a thousand feet of air. Between them hung the rather scrawnier legs of Guldwych Ryme, still firmly clasped around his waist by Tosser’s thighs.

Ryme clung to the rope will all his inconsiderable strength. It did at least make him feel like he was contributing a little to Tosser’s staggering feat of hauling them both up hundreds of feet of rope. His weak, office-bound physique had done him no good that night. Hanging onto the rope was the limit of his ability, and in all honesty his quivering arms would not even allow that little effort. Instead Tosser had taken on both their weights (something Ryme could certainly contribute to) by the relatively simple expedient of looping their lines together and gripping him about the waist with her legs. Their rather intimate connection had long since ceased to offer any hint of embarrassing excitement. That had transformed into a crippling ache which felt like Tosser had crushed his pelvis. The idea of standing on his own two feet felt like an outlandish childhood dream.

“Ready? Last one Guldwych,” Tosser gasped.

She took his mute nod for enthusiastic assent. She wrapped both fists around a rail and took a deep breath. Bracing her feet against the hull, in a single violent thrust forwards and up she surged up and onto the rail. Ryme was pinned with his back to the rail, bent over almost double.  Tosser shifted the balance of their combined weight far enough and Ryme fell backwards onto the deck only to be flattened by Tosser landing on top of him. She rolled away, allowing the professor to refill his lungs. They both lay there gasping for a while.

They were bathed in the yellow glow of lanterns hung by the main cabin door and around the edge of the deck. The night was quiet.

“Where are the crew Tosser?” asked Ryme as he regained his breath and managed to sit up. There was no one on deck, and no tell tale bang or clangs from inside the wingship. “I thought they would be up here.”

Tosser opened her eyes. “So did I. If they’re aren’t busy they should have been hard at work winching us back in.”

The life ring held only their tethers tangled together. The deck was a mess of broken crates and splinters of tooth. Of Chall himself there was no sign, and nor was there any of the rest of the crew. A patch of drying blood was the only evidence that Captain Flame had been struck by one of Chall exploding tooth fragments. The rest of the crates that Flame had stolen from the other vessel were gone, and with them all the poisons and deadly substances stored in the Meriodonal University’s deepest hoards.

“It must be Chem,” declared Ryme, “he took the first crate, and then he came back for the rest.”

“And the crew?” asked Tosser. Ryme had no answer for her.

Tosser cautiously opened the cabin door and made her way into the still-lighted ship. Doors were smashed in, and the walls themselves had hunks torn out or indented.

“Looks like they fought their way inside,” she murmured. Ryme nervously followed.

The main storage area below the deck appeared to be untouched, except for a bright slash of blood extending from within to halfway down the hall.

“A fatal blow. For someone.”

“The cargo seems untouched,” remarked Ryme, “they did come for the poisons then. But why take the crew?”

“Who’s to say they took them at all?” Tosser rounded on the man, “Why not just fling them overboard?” she demanded, and then stalked off down the ship, opening cabin doors until reaching the cockpit.

Ryme was as yet unused to the prospect of brutality in the lives of the pirates. Though he’d seen another captain killed in cold blood and their ship emptied of goods, that still felt a world away from it happening to the ship he was on. Unfortunately his former faith in Eslie Chem, long time associate and fixer had been eroded throughout their journey. The other man’s contempt for him had undermined the relationship that Ryme had thought they had. Ryme was no longer confident that Chem acted in his interests, or even that he could guess at Chem’s own interests. The shocking revelation that Chem was not even the man that Ryme thought he was had barely registered on the professor yet. In fairness he had been either unconscious, spinning in terror or being squeezed to death as they ascended.

They reached the cockpit and found that it too was empty. It was as if Captain Flame had just stepped out for a moment. Their course was still fixed, travelling toward the Razor Ridge at a leisurely pace. Tosser halted their drift, bringing them to a full stop.

“If they’ve gone overboard-” she began, “if they’re over the side we won’t see them this high.”

“Tosser,” tried Ryme gently, “if they went over the side there will be no saving them. We’re too high.”

Tosser ground frustrated tears out of her eyes.

“They’re my friends Guldwych. How can I not seek them out?”

“That spray of blood from the hold. Can we know to whom it belonged?”

Tosser shook her head.

“But it would have been a fatal wound. Why throw the dead overboard too and then just abandon the wingship?”

“Ryme, you’re a genius!” cried Tosser, grabbing him by the shoulders, “that means they’ve all been taken. Which means some of them must still be alive.”

“But taken where?”

“If they could fly the wingship they would have taken it, not just left it to drift away. There’s no airship to seek – they must be travelling on the ground.” Tosser beamed with hope.

“It’ll be dawn soon. I suggest we get some rest and pursue them in day light,” Ryme said.

Tosser nodded wearily, the toll of the climb finally showing on her face. She staggered off to their cabin and crashed out. Ryme, to his surprise felt very sore but not yet tired. He walked back out onto the deck, clipping himself back onto the life line as he went. He felt oddly stimulated, his mind filled with whirling thoughts. Uppermost in them was the desire to regain his crew mates, a group to whom he owed little, but who had also been betrayed by his old associate Eslie Chem. Ryme wanted to know why, and in particular why a Chiverly Hermit Beetle had been masquerading as his aide for years only to reveal himself while stealing the university’s most lethal substances. The world, it appeared, was not how it had seemed to be from his old office.

Coming Soon: Part 43 – Screaming Trees

Lego Blog: Illustrating Flash Pulp episode FP006

So Far Behind

I’m finally up to episode 6, of a mere 446 podcast episodes (excluding special episodes and a bunch of other cool things), which is slightly daunting. I built this one before Christmas, but I’ve been so busy doing, um, nothing that it’s taken me this long to sort the pictures out. Plus Flickr was twatting me about for a couple of weeks. Not my fault… Anyway, this was a fun little illustration – small but packed with unnecessary details.


Read and Listen To The Story

You have to do this now:

Here’s the full story: Mulligan Smith in The Trunk

Background Details

It’s a neat little episode, in which Mulligan Smith gets brained in some folks’ kitchen and is then locked in the boot of a car. I’ve only done the first half of the episode – I still need to think of a good way to do the end where Mulligan shoots a guy through the boot.

I was quite taken with the idea of doing a kitchen. I’d left insufficient space in FP004 to do a proper kitchen, and in any case it was tightly bound by walls and you couldn’t see it. I can do better! For the first time I built the stuff I wanted in the space first and then made a base and walls to contain them. This works much much better.

I spent a very happy afternoon building sets of drawers, sink, an oven and hob, fridge. They’re all quite neat and compact which was very satisfying.

The television set took an unreasonable amount of time to build, so that the screen is set back inside the box. The chairs and table are also fairly neat and spartan in bricks. I like making all the jars and bits and pieces, to give it the proper ‘mom and pop’ feel to the kitchen, hinted at by Jrd likening the old fella to Lloyd Bridges (well, that’s how it spun out in my imagination anyway). It also seemed a perfect time to use a load of the gorgeous lavender and purple bricks I’ve been hoarding.

Illustrating The Story

The actual bit of the story I was going for is this bit:

“I edge into the kitchen, hands out, figuring I’ll play it like the ambassador of peace. Instantly the noise vapourises and everyone is staring at me like its breakfast and I’m a leprechaun that’s just burst out of their box of Lucky Charms.

“The three of them were standing around a shiny kitchen table – Mom, the lead actor from Sea Hunt, and a shaggy bushman who looks like he’s spent the last six months in the wilds of Alaska wrestling fresh salmon from the maws of grizzlies.

“I must have looked pretty surprised as well, the guy was holding a cleaver that looked like something out of a mid-’80s slasher movie. Long and hefty – the kind of thing they probably used in abattoirs around the turn of the century.

“Anyhow, the larger problem was that I’d found myself right beside the guy – from the hall it’d sounded like he was on the far side of the room but when I entered he was close enough that I could smell his beef jerky breath and see the grease in his ratty beard.”

I think I’ve got enough surprise in the old folks, and a decent amount of menace at poor Mulligan.

Minifigging the Characters

I knew I had the perfect body and head for the bad guy, and how could I refrain from giving him an Uruk Hai sword? He looks as if he smells… I’ve also swapped Mulligan’s usual noggin for the sweat beaded one.

There’s a real lack of grey hair styles in Lego – I’ve only got the lady’s hair because we acquired the Lego Thanksgiving Feast for Christmas. Equally I don’t have any subtly lined lady faces. It is our constant endeavour at the Lego Shop to find more female faces and hair.

I think the guy is a reasonable Lloyd Bridges…

There are some more pictures of the details here, on Flickr including a thrilling video fly by: