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:


Lego Blog: Witch Doctor’s Hut

Nice House, I’d Like To Build It

I have been admiring, envying and been generally desirous of many of the Lego AFOL community’s cool building skills. In particular I love the insanely crumbly buildings, their twisty and off-centre lines and organic scrappy feel. These guys Derfel Cadarn and Captain Flint do lovely things:

Derfel Cadarn

Captain Flint

I’ve had a few attempts myself but never achieved anything near to what I wanted. This time I started differently, with the aim of simply making a building which had slanting walls. I’m not a good planner, so I tend to continue what I begin no matter the hideous fragility and complexity I get into. This was no exception.

Houses Built On Straw

I built the base and frame for the walls first (I did briefly consider the roof, but like a fool, promptly forgot about it and promised myself I’d sort it later. I never learn.) using the 1×4 bricks with snap hinge connectors at either end to sketch out the angled shape I was after. That gave me outward facing studs to build on as well as the base itself. In many respects I was surprised and pleased by how neatly Lego bricks and plates do fit under each other at each angle the frame is bent at. I know the specifications are high and enable a tonne of insane building arrangements which were never specifically intended, but it’s great to experience the benefits of that rigorous system first hand.

The walls are still quite fragile – I expended a number of lifetimes holding the blocks with the windows in place (I love the old latticed window/fence bricks) while clipping the bar that runs underneath in place. It is another exploding build. The flat plates that run across both sides of the house used the outward facing studs I’d set up to begin with. It seemed only sensible to continue building the roof using the same system – and it works! It actually works. I’ve never known such Legoey satisfaction (except for Pick A Brick). I’ve kept most of the building fairly tidy in colour, using plates and tiles to vary the texture, and extended that to the roof with a bit more vigour. I must admit I normally like all of my bricks clutching tightly together, but I realise these are psychological limitations – not those of Lego. I fight them. The roof tiles are looser than I would normally dare – that it hasn’t fallen apart reassures me. The front and back of the house more or less built themselves, fitting neatly into the space formed by the walls and roofing. It all looks nicely haphazard.

Planning Is A Really Useful Skill

The house looked lovely on its square green base plate. But it looked lonely… I’d had fun with spiral staircases and was looking for practical applications for what I’d learned. I conceived the charming idea of the house on top of a rocky outcropping and figured  a series of steps might give me some prettily fucked up lines and jumble. Next time I will build from the base rather than bulding the staircase and having to fit it onto the ground later. The off-grid nature of steps makes pinning them to the base tricky.  There must be a better way, but for now I’m relying on a handful of jumper plates for the steps. The steps vary a bit in height and how much crap I’ve jammed into them. The aim was to break up any and all lines wherever I could.

I then had to remove the house from its base plate so I could fit it onto the final shelf without a glaring change of colour. There were several house explosions in the process. Once that lot was staying together I could get into further disguising the steps and exploiting the off-grid shapes it forces onto the terrain around it. The result is something which looks even more like it’s about to fall over. Pleasing. As my five year old niece gravely told me: “I think it’s the best one you’ve made Uncle Nick.” What more praise is there?

There are a few more pictures here, on Flickr:

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: