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Showing posts with label trees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trees. Show all posts

Set Review - Decorating the Tree 40058

I do not know why trees are so subject to my discerning and particular eye.  I am mostly an architectural builder.  But it seems a good tree is hard to find.  I found this particular set at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger) marked down from $8.99 to $5.99.  At 110+10 pieces (minifig parts included) this would be a great deal even at full price.

I understand the exaggerated height of the tree for drama and detail's sake.  But it stands 27 studs tall, not including the star shooting out of the top.  Dad, in comparison, stands 13 studs tall.  If we assume he is 6' tall then we are looking at a tree over 12' tall.  That tree wouldn't fit in my yard.  Good thing it's not going in my yard... it's going in my living room!

I do appreciate all the little extras.  The gifts, the train, the ladder for dad to fall off of.  Not only that, but with all the extra pieces you can create a few small gifts including a vial of yellow liquid.  Maybe that one's from the dog?  Ew.  But the nice touch is that Belville princess wand for the star on top of the tree.  Much better than a creepy upside down starfish.  So. Not. Christmas.

And the dark green 1x1 plate with tooth at the top with no other dark green pieces is a little out of place.  I'd like to see this part in green someday but the tree would be better without it.  Maybe some green cheese to finish off the top instead.

The best part about this tree is using the 3-way technic plates to achieve other than 90° angles.  You'd think it would limit you to a 60° offset but because of the technic axle hole through the middle you can overlay that with a 90° offset.  The instructions were a little complicated to follow since the axle hole was not always visible.  I decided to take advantage of the 90° offset and add every level of branches at 15°.

So how does this tree compare to previous years?  A brief synopsis:

2002: 10069, well shaped but very plain.  No accessories.
2009: 30009, 3-way technic axles, nice ornaments.
2009: 40002, flat and bugly.
2010: 40008 and 40009, Cute little tree, precursor gifts.
2011: 40024, much closer to our review tree
2011: 3300020, just no.
2013: 30186, inverted slopes, mixed green/dk green (shown in picture)
2013: 850851, squee!

Result, four out of five angels would agree to sit on top.  Moving the star aside first, of course.

 Merry Christmas from Dag's Bricks!

LEGO Techniques - Ideas for Trees

For a while I had this fascination with building LEGO trees.  I'm not even a landscaper!  But for some reason the combination of brown and green got to me and I wanted to replicate some foliage well.  So for the past couple of years I've been experimenting.

The first little foray was a simple stack of leaves on a bar.  The unique thing about this table scrap is that the leaves are placed at random angles around the bar.  This flexes some of the pieces slightly which helps with texture and realism.  I've also used this technique with small leaves in my 1:1000 scale Portland as it is simple and light on parts.
The next idea was one improvement on TLG's Christmas tree idea. I don't have a specific example as most of them are pretty lackluster. Perhaps this one isn't much better. But what it adds is a layer of crossed 2x4 plates after each layer of slopes. This helps to tie the layers together better and also gives some texture by adding in a one plate elevation difference between every other layer.  Perhaps near the top I should have used 2x2 plates so the "branches" hung out better.
Next is another Christmas tree idea.  I wanted to build studs out but not just have 4 sections sticking out.  How to fill in the missing corners?  And not just fill them in but taper them as a tree would?
The result was very acceptable.  Two travis bricks in the middle hold 4 sections.  Two of the sections are built as straight sections while the other two are flared or wedge shaped.  By recessing the travis bricks a little I can get a more realistic look on the tree trunk by having it go up into the tree.  On the top, the cone sets down a touch and hides the insides.
But what about all the random branchiness that trees have?  After staring at an overload of reddish brown axle connectors, I decided something tree like could be done with them.  I used a few for the main trunk of a tree.  I then used 1x plates to come off at more natural angles.  It looked a little bare so I added some leaves.  I would call this more artistic than practical.
Building off of the branching idea, I decided to try for something like a Narnian dryad.  It should look like a tree but also have some human features if you stop and stare.  I don't so much like the blockiness of the "face".  I do however like the twistiness of the botttom of the trunk as it gives a little bit of life, as if the tree were shifting around in the soil.  The top is just a simple symmetrical idea intended to fill space and be sturdy.
Back to the Travis bricks, combined with a little of the dryadic anthropomorphism.  Apparently there is no such Cactus Spirit in legend or mythology.  I would like to offer forth the possibilites of Cactad, Caryad, or possibly Xeryad.  Please correct me if I am wrong.
This last tree was somewhat inspirational.  It's a typical double travis brick tree like the Christmas tree above.  However the corners are filled in by using 4x2 and 3x2 wedge plates.  The overall effect seems much more realistic than the perfectly formed Christmas tree shaped (which are all honed anyway).  This design then became the basis for my Micropolis scale Cypress trees
Two of those previous trees, mirrored, and placed together.  A bit of a doozy to get together but rather sturdy once assembled.
And last but not least.  For a commission I've been working on, I decided to add some street trees.  These are narrow growing alder or birch that don't get in the way of the sidewalk or powerlines.  I went back to the leaves but mounted them sideways on a brown technic axle hub with 4 bars.  The leaves all but hide the hub though the splash of brown inside still offers some realism.  In this case the tan and white tree trunk may not be a color match with the hub but as I said you barely see the hub.

Good luck with your LEGO trees.  There are lots of other great ideas out there.  These are my explorations and I hope they are useful to you.