Micro-building with LEGO has always been one of my favorite hobbies. You can create some very impressive models with just a handful of LEGO elements without taking up too much time, space, and financial resources. Another aspect of micro-building I really like is that building in such a small scale really highlights the shapes of even ordinary LEGO elements. A simple brick can become an entire skyscraper, or a small plate can be a full sail on a tiny ship. Building small really makes you look at pieces more carefully, and see how you can utilize their unique features to the fullest extent. 🙂
Micro-building can be a hobby on its own, or it could be the way to pass the time in between larger projects. I do find that micro-building will improve your skills, even if you normally build minifig-scale or larger models, because you become more intimately familiar with LEGO elements. Instead of always using bricks to build up walls in minifig-scale creations, you realize that if you turn the same bricks sideways or upside down, they can be a milliard of other things besides just being bricks in a wall. While the shape of an element is fixed, the orientation is flexible, and the scale can also dramatically change based on how the piece interacts with your model.
LEGO’s own designers use micro-building techniques in full-size LEGO sets, but often in a large model those clever techniques get buried, or at least not as much appreciated as they should be. The point is that building small is fun, educational, and both easy and challenging at the same time. If you would like to get an introduction to the secrets of micro-building, I recommend checking out LEGO’s own series of video-tutorials titled Micro Square. You can watch all the episodes here: LEGO Micro-Building Tutorials with Micro Square
Since I really enjoy micro-building, I was very happy to hear about a new book called Tiny LEGO Wonders – Build 40 Surprisingly Realistic Mini Models! The book was put together by Mattia Zamboni, who was the co-author of both volumes of The LEGO Build-It Book: Amazing Vehicles (see link to review at the end of this post). Tiny LEGO Wonders doesn’t just include models from Mattia, but also other LEGO fans like Thomas Lockwood from the USA, Liam Bates from the UK, Peer Kreuger from France, Robert Heim and Alexander Bugiel from Germany, Matteo Russolillo from Italy, Jarek Ksiazczyk from Poland, George Panteleon from Greece, Ngoc Truong from Vietnam, and zizy from Japan. (All images from the book.)
Here is the official description of the book: In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to build 40 miniature models of race cars, airplanes, ships, trains, and more. These fun, compact designs will inspire you to get creative with as few as nine LEGO pieces. Imagine what you can build with just a handful of LEGO bricks–almost anything! In Tiny LEGO Wonders, you’ll create mini-scale models of real vehicles like; a space shuttle, jets, planes, and helicopters, France’s high-speed TGV train, F1 racecars, muscle cars, cargo, cruise, wooden ships, and more! Let your creativity run wild! – Hardcover. 208 pages. Published by No Starch Press. Price: $24.95
I also like the introduction of the book: Bigger isn’t always better… This book aims to collect the finest tiny, but detailed, LEGO models created by some of the best model designers worldwide. Most of them are reproductions of vehicles that exist in real life – but even at this small scale, they are instantly recognizable. Building in small scale can be very challenging and sometimes, in order to get the perfect shape, compromises need to be made. However, this book presents models that are fun to play with and even have working features! This book, by providing step-by-step instructions for all the models, will help you to discover the tricks of building in small scale while still including lots of detail. Get ready to unleash your creativity and start building armies of… Tiny LEGO Wonders!
The book spends no time wasting words. After the above brief introduction, it goes right into providing step-by-step instructions for each model. Chapters include The Train Station, The Airport, Fire!, The Construction Site, The Car Dealer, The Race Track, The Harbor, The Aircraft Carrier, 3-2-1 Liftoff! and The Moon Army. Each chapter starts with a picture of a really nice micro-build landscape or cityscape that features all the models in that chapter. For me, these larger micro-built dioramas are the highlights of the book. Although instructions are only provided for the vehicles, if you do spend some time studying the pictures and have enough LEGO pieces, you can re-create the settings as well.
I particularly like the trains in the first chapter (with cleverly built mini tracks!), the construction vehicles (tiny but very detailed dump trucks, excavators and more!), and the space vehicles and moon army (basically military vehicles in a space setting). Another highlight of the book that I like is that The Car Dealer chapter includes a number of alternate versions for pretty much all of the vehicles. This can really expand not just how many vehicles you can build, but also your building skills!
Tiny LEGO Wonders is a big book – same size as many other books by No Starch Press, like The LEGO Adventure Book series. The pictures are large and bright, and the step-by-step instructions are easy to see and follow. There is also a parts-list for each vehicle, so you can easily gather what you need from your LEGO collection. (It’s refreshing to see that even the nicest models need so few parts!)
All in all, I’m very happy with Tiny LEGO Wonders. The vehicles look great and building them is interesting and engaging. I hope that they will include other models besides vehicles in future volumes in – what I suspect is going to be – a full series. The book is recommended for ages 9 and up, and I would say that’s a pretty accurate suggestion. As the models are so small, most kids should have the pieces in their collection, and they can definitely be enjoyed by teens and adults as well. Price is $24.95, but it is available on Amazon for $17 at the time of this writing. You can find it at the following link: TINY LEGO WONDERS ON AMAZON
What do you think? Do you like to build micro-scale LEGO models? Are you planning to get the book, or do you have it already? Have you built any of the models yet? Which ones are your favorites? Feel free to share your thoughts and own review in the comment section below! 😉
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