I’ve not drawn any Lego for a while. I still have a few Lego sets I’ve not build yet; finding the time (sorry, I mean finding the shelf-space) has been an issue, plus my increasingly bad eyesight means I can’t find those little bits of Lego I drop under the couch until one of my cats spits it out (they’ve never actually done that, funnily enough, though they have done the ‘push a massive Lego set off the shelf’ act). This was one I drew back in September, on the brown envelopes, this is the Lego ‘Iron Monger’. That was the main villain in the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Iron Man. The MCU has got pretty big since then, which I’ve been a big fan of. Like the Marvel comic universe itself it is basically a massive soap opera. I have loved the series, the most ambitious movie project of all time, culminating nicely in Endgame which I thought was a nice stopping point for the Avengers era. Then came the various Disney Plus series of Phase 4, coming just in time for the pandemic when cinemas would be closed and we were all at home streaming telly anyway. While I’ve enjoyed many of the series (Wandavision and Loki were especially fun) some of it all has tailed off a bit. The movies have been less re-watchable than the first three phases, though I enjoyed the most recent Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, everything else has been ok to hmm, yeah. Maybe it’s the lack of Robert Downey Junior. Nevertheless I am interested to see where it goes, since it is heading to Secret Wars (the original was one of the first Marvel comics I read back in the mid-80s, and I really loved the 2015 massive crossover special). But I just watched Quantumania, and while it was largely fun, it was a bit middling. I know a lot of people are very meh about the super-hero/comic-book movies anyway, but I loved Marvel comics and these ones did a really good job (unlike for example the recent DC films which have been fairly atrocious; don’t get me started on Dawn of Justice). I think it’s because while the first three MCU ‘phases’ were all new and “are they actually going to do that? Oh they really are”, they had a through-line and a clear focus, especially being tent-poled around the Avengers series, and as they started introducing new characters and ideas to the mix it was done organically and brought together in the most comic-book-crossover structured movie of all, Infinity War. I could watch those over and over and over, like Star Wars, or the Dark Crystal, or Father Ted. Now with films like Eternals, which felt like it went on for an eternally long time, it feels like the series is not sure where it’s really going. The Multiverse Saga, right, Kang the Conqueror, Secret Wars – but it’s not clear how they are going to get there, or if they will bring us all along with it. Still, I loved Iron Man, and I still love all the Lego. I haven’t made a Lego animation in a while (since the Dr Strange one I made a few years ago), but it’s really fun to draw.
This here is my Lego “A Christmas Carol”, which I got as a Christmas present to my delight. In the run-up to Christmas this year we sat down each evening in the living room and read A Christmas Carol, which we’d never actually done before, aloud with hot chocolate and cookies and mince pies. I found it hard to read aloud with my mouth full of mince pie but I gave it a go, it’s what Dickens would have wanted. Dickens really stuck faithfully to the original Muppets version which was nice to see. While reading Scrooge’s voice I managed somehow to avoid doing a Michael Caine voice, and instead did something more along the lines of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse’s Old Gits. We always watch the Muppets version on Christmas Eve, for us it’s the best one, and of course the Blackadder Christmas Carol. I like the Albert Finney one too. This Lego set then was a really nice surprise and I made it straight away to put on the shelf. I drew this (deciding not to add the colour) on January 6th, traditional last day of Christmas, after finally turning off the endless news of the bloody awful events at the Capitol. I still can’t really gather my thoughts on that as it feels like we don’t really know where this is going, but it’s so depressing. At times like this, getting the sketchbook out and furiously scribbling away feels like the best way to get through it. I have Lego to build though. I did start making a Christmas themed Lego animation but I was struggling to find the time to work on it (despite hardly ever leaving the house, it’s finding the ‘mental’ time) and now I’m putting the Christmas Lego sets away. But here is one final festive image for you, Han Solo on a tauntaun.
thanos the spoiler
SPOILER ALERT!! I loved Avengers [SPOILER]! It was a great way to [SPOILER] [SPOILER] years of Marvel [SPOILER]. When [SPOILER] flew in and [SPOILER] [SPOILER] in like the first ten minutes I was like, WT[SPOILER]! And what about [SPOILER] going all [SPOILER], eh, didn’t see that coming. I loved the [SPOILER] bit too. I can’t keep this up. At some point I will [SPOILER] [OK shut it now Pete] do an actual spoiler-filled post about Avengers, using the power of Lego to illustrate my points, and then maybe one about Star Wars, I’ve been meaning to Talk About That for a long time. Maybe I need to do a Playmobil-knight illustrated discussion of Game of Thrones. Did you watch that last episode, the penultimate one, the [SPOILER] one where [SPOILER] goes [SPOILER]? I think Danaerys Targaryan should have been told, it doesn’t matter, Manchester City beat Brighton anyway. Oh sorry, SPOILER for anyone who hasn’t seen the end of the 18-19 Premier League season yet. Anyway, here is a non-spoilery Lego Brickheadz figure of Thanos what I drew. I might go and see Endgame again tonight. I loved it the first time, quickest three hours I’ve ever spent in a cinema, and I loved it even more the second time.
on and on across the universe
More Lego sketches! These are the mid-prequel-era Jedi star-fighters of Obi-Wan Kenobi (above) and Anakin Skywalker (below). The Obi-Wang ship actually comes with a huge ‘hyperspace ring’ (because one-man fighters this small don’t have space for an internal hyperdrive). I like the simple, sleek design, like a paper airplane, or a teeny-tiny Star Destroyer. The droid, R4 (or ‘Arfour’ as in ‘Arthur Daily’) liked to deal in dodgy motors and go for a drink down the Winchester. One thing always bugged me though. In Attack of the Clones, when Obi-Wan flies one of these to Kamino, Mace Windu orders him to apprehend Jango Fett and bring him back to Coruscant for questioning by the Jedi. But look at that ship! How’s he meant to do that? It’s not like there’s tons of room. Is he going to sit on Obi-Wan’s lap? Think, McFly, think!
Anakin’s Delta 7B fighter is a similar but not identical design (Obi-Wan’s is technically a Delta-7 Aethersprite-class light interceptor). The R2 unit sits in front of the cockpit. That must be awkward as you can see, because he’s always looking sideways. He’s going to be very uncomfortable like that. This ship didn’t appear in the movies but turned up in some of the animated media. I wish Lego had designed a more pointed nose but I suppose they didn’t want to take kids’ eyes out.
Flashback to last year…I drew their later versions, the ones flown in the opening sequence of Revenge of the Sith (which were trashed on Grievous’s starship). First up is Obi-Wan’s red and white (or grey here in Lego), Eta-2 Actis-class interceptor. Yeah I never knew it was called that, I looked it up. Later in the movie, when he flew to Utapau, he had a cool looking blue and white one, but he had to ditch that one too after Order 66. I love this design though, kind of like a B-Wing cockpit and a tie-fighter mixed with a speeder. If I lived in the Star Wars universe, this would be my vehicle of choice, you can keep your Falcons and Slave Ones and X-Wings. Well maybe I’d have this for space and a Snowspeeder for when I’m on-planet.
And then there is Anakin’s one. He later flew a dark green and grey one, once he started turning to the Dark Side, abandoning his previous love of yellow vehicles. Later on, he only flew in black (or sometimes very very dark grey). You can see how this design could mould into the classic Vader TIE-fighter. I wonder what that would look like in yellow? I bet the Emperor told him he wasn’t allowed to paint it yellow, he’d ruin the Empire’s whole aesthetic.
hamilton the champion of the world
farewell to the festive season…
Since yesterday (January 6th) is the traditional ‘take-down-decorations’ day I wanted to make sure I posted it by then, as it is technically still in the Christmas period. Then I got flu. I evidently still have it too (I can’t taste anything!), well I suppose starving a fever is probably all for the best given how much I ate over Christmas. Not gonna lie, it was a lot of chocolate. And I haven’t even opened my Terry’s Chocolate Orange yet, I’m saving that for when I can taste things again. So this! This is a Christmassy Lego set that was a lovely addition to our festive get-up this year. I want to add a little bit of festive Lego each year. The train set and village station sets look cool. So, this was my last sketch of 2017. Don’t worry, I still have more in the backlog to post (Hawaii!). I didn’t get out to do any urban sketching on New Year’s Eve (I also had a cold, different from this current flu; come on winter, give me a break!). Speaking of colds, can we stop saying “bless you” after someone sneezes? I stopped a while ago. It feels odd, it’s a knee-jerk reaction and you feel rude for not acknowledging someone having sneezed by randomly blessing them like you are some sort of authority on the matter, but it is odd. Ok the real reason is that I have seasonal allergies, and from the period of about March to May I will sneeze a lot, uncontrollably, again and again and again. If we ever have the Spring Olympics I could represent Great Britain in the consecutive sneezing event. When someone gets to the third “bless-you” you really want them to stop, your magical blessing is clearly having no effect. Beyond that, it’s like, if you must, can you do it at the end like a package of blessings? And what exactly are you blessing me for? I remember being at a baseball game and I had a sneezing fit. People all around were blessing me, and frankly it was embarrassing. After sneeze five they were all laughing like someone sneezing in April is really hilarious (to be fair, it was probably more entertaining than the baseball). And again, and again, and again. I couldn’t get out to the garlic fries stand quickly enough. Yeah being laughed at by a crowd of strangers just for having allergies is so enjoyable. The blessings don’t work guys, just stop it okay!
This is a fun Lego set. I used it for a brief stop-motion animation which I played at our holiday party at work, I think people enjoyed it. I am still making those, I have a lot of ideas but little time to play with them. I may be overdoing the Lego in fact, but it’s so much fun. Goodbye, festive season. Until next year.
nice one centurion, like it, like it
And so, a couple more Rome posts before moving on to Venice. There is an endless supply of Rome puns and Life of Brian references to draw from yet. Above is a little Playmobil Roman soldier I picked up near the Forum, goes nicely with all our Playmobil knights and pirates. So one of the things we did in Rome was the Gladiator School, which as I’ve mentioned before, was not worth it. It’s listed in lot of magazines and guides and tourist videos about Rome as a fun activity with the family, but I must say I wasn’t impressed. It’s quite expensive to take part, and I took part with my son so it was twice the cost. On top of that, it’s outside the center of Rome so you have to take a taxi there. Our taxi driver from the Forum fleeced us with a 30 Euro ride (his meter was not running, tellingly). The taxi back on the other hand was 17 Euro, but we had to wait 45 minutes for it to arrive. Now when we got there the place is pretty small, it’s a space for a group that does Roman re-enactments, and they go full on with the costumes and put on shows and things I guess. There were lots of photos of the Roman guy who runs it with various celebrities who had gone there in the past, Arnold Schwarzenegger and so on. The Gladiator School is for kids really but it was like, well it must be good, famous people come here. I was wearing my Sampdoria shirt and the same guy spoke to me, saying that Sampdoria are just a bunch of drug users and miming someone taking an injection. Hmm, okay, I said. We ended up being in a fairly large group of around twenty or so adults and children, and then we were given a history lesson with a whole bunch of Roman helmets and weaponry, which was interesting enough, except it was in a very hot room on a very hot day and went on for an hour. The guy taught us a lot of history, and some got to wear very heavy helmets, but all of the kids were getting quite anxious to get out and learn swordplay. When we finally did get to move into the practical space, the instructor gave us costumes – red tunics for the adults and white robes for the kids. Massive white robes that didn’t fit kids at all, and tiny red tunics that we adults all barely squeezed into. Hmmm. Some of us laughed about it, but at this stage one family had had enough, I’m not sure exactly why but I heard that the instructor had made some comment to their son, a tall lad, which had upset him, so the instructor spent the next 10-15 minutes off talking to the secretary while we waited around wondering what to do next. Finally the instructor reappeared and introduced a small obstacle course which we had to run around five times, while he went off again, distracted. Then he showed us a wooden structure which gladiators had to learn how to put together quickly which was supposedly used in battle, and so everyone took turns, while everyone else watched, because there is only one. We spent a lot of time watching. In the meantime the instructor would wander off, or just chat to the mothers seated on the benches (“Americans and British today,” he said to one, “No Australians thankfully, the Australian women are very rowdy because they are all descended from violent criminals.” He actually said that. Hmmm. When finally we got to learn swordplay, which was with the wooden practice swords, we all lined up and he told us to copy certain moves, then he would go around to each of us and maybe show us how to do that one move, or in the case of my son, just say one dismissive sentence and move on without showing him anything (his only words were, “Too much Jackie Chan,” whatever that is supposed to mean). It seemed like there were far too many in the group for anything more, though he didn’t seem particularly bothered. The sword practice was about ten minutes at most, and then we got to sit and watch while two kids or two parents at a time were able to fight each other. Kids couldn’t fight parents however, which disappointed my son who wanted to battle me. It was only simple gentle battling, and again the instructor barely took any notice, preferring to go and chat to other people instead, or ask that the mothers get up and fight because he “wanted to see two women fight”. And that was it. He gave us all certificates, and then thanked us as a group for funding their Roman re-enactment society, and then he went into a tirade that they get no funding from the Roman city government, who prefer to fund things “for gay people and foreign migrants”, mincing about as he did so. Eh? Stunned confusion from everyone. “Hi, can we have our money back?” I said, knowing that was not a battle worth our time fighting. As we waited for our cab home, a 45 minute wait, I peeked in to see the group after us, which was smaller, and who had a different, more enthusiastic instructor. They seemed to be having a great time. We and the rest of our group however all felt a bit underwhelmed. However. We got back and had a gelato, and still loved Rome, and in the end, you get to see this picture of me squeezed into a very, very tight tunic, fighting a duel. I guess it was worth it for that…
Well what an election night that was! I actually bowed out and didn’t watch it seat-by-seat this time, because frankly I wanted to watch Wonder Woman instead (it was pretty good). I got home just in time for them to announce the Hung Parliament, so, more fun then. Sure there’ll be another one around the corner soon. Anyway…I’m still catching up with month-old sketches, and here are a few of the old Star Wars Galactic Heroes figures I’ve had for years, the ones with the odd bow-legged stance, as if they are on the Galactic Loo. The bottom ones were drawn on Star Wars Day, May the Fourth, (for my friends in the UK, that’s on the Fifth of April). They do look like they’ve lost their seats, a whole bunch of lost seats. Nick Clegg’s, for example. I wish I had more, like the Boba Fett one, but you can’t get them any more, except on Ebay or Amazon for a lot of money. I love that Vader one on the bottom row, pointing his sabre like Errol Flynn. These were a lot of fun to draw.
blastin’ through the galaxy
Are you excited for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? I know I am. I loved the first one. This thing is one of Star-Lord’s blasters from the movie, but a ‘Nerf’ version. I’m not a big fan of those Nerf things (they get on my…) but my friend Roshan got me and my son a couple of these a while ago, and we started having blast-offs around the house with them recently, so I decided to draw one of them in my son’s “book of his things”, which by the way is nearly full now. Yeah, we can’t wait for Guardians II. I can’t wait for the soundtrack! Pew pew pew!
Two of my favourite things rolled into one: Lego and Formula 1. This is the Ferrari SF-16H (new Lego toy but last season’s car, which wasn’t as fast as this year’s but didn’t have that big shark’s fin). I was so excited for this F1 season to begin, and now it has I’m even more excited. I can see it being a properly epic season, hopefully with battles between teams rather than the old 1-2 finishes from the fastest team’s drivers. Hamilton vs Vettel! Verstappen! Ricciardo! Watching the podium after the Chinese Grand Prix, they just all looked so happy. Much better than the tantrums and hat-throwing. I don’t know, I just want to see great competition, and watch the cars and hear the roar of the engines. I have a few other F1 Lego cars, and I might even draw them too. GO GO GO!