Tag: LEGO

How a handful of LEGO minifigs can support the medics and other Ukrainian heroes on the frontlines of Russia’s invasion

As dawn broke across Ukraine on February 24th this year, the Russian Federation launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine. In my day job, I’ve been working with software development teams in Ukraine for nearly 15 years, mainly in Kharkiv, barely 30 miles (less than 50 km) from the Russian border. In the first hours of the invasion, I messaged an old group-chat from my previous job saying, “Stay safe, my friends.” My former colleagues began waking up to air raid sirens, rocket attacks, and fighter jets roaring over their heads, and I watched their online status turn from yellow to green as they began sending brief replies saying they were safe so far.

(This article originally appeared on The Brothers Brick.)

Brickmania “Ghost of Kyiv” custom Mig-29 fighter jet kit

Through colleagues like these in Kharkiv, Odesa, and the capital Kyiv, as well as ex-pats here in the US, I’ve grown to love the Ukrainian people and their independent spirit. Ukrainians have been fighting for freedom and democracy ever since declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. That fight became much more visceral in 2014, when a democratic “Revolution of Dignity” overthrew a corrupt, oligarchic and pro-Russian government. Russia’s Vladimir Putin immediately responded by annexing Ukraine’s Crimea region and began a proxy war to take over the industrial Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. This led not just to atrocities like the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17┬áthat year, but an ongoing Russia-backed insurgency against the democratic government in Kiev — for many in Ukraine, the Russian invasion began in 2014, not on February 24, 2022. But since February, through the Russian army’s mass killings of civilians in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, and elsewhere; ethnic cleansing of over 2 million Ukrainians to Russia; and ongoing indiscriminate rocket attacks and air raids against civilian targets like schools and shopping centers throughout Ukraine today, the full-scale invasion this year has proven that Russia intends to commit terrorism and ultimately genocide against the nation of Ukraine and its people. In the 5 months since the Russian invasion, most of my old team relocated to western Ukraine, though nobody in the country is safe from Russian rocket attacks and bombing. Some staff from my old company chose to stay behind in Kharkiv, and at least one has even laid down his life defending his city and his nation.

Read more about how the LEGO fan community has stepped up to help Ukraine

My first book is on store shelves now: And it’s a Star Wars book!

I tend to keep my LEGO hobby fairly compartmentalized — with a handful of exceptions, I don’t write much about little plastic bricks here on Andrew-Becraft.com. Topics here on my personal/professional website tend more toward science (archaeology in particular), poetry, software design methodology, and occasionally the convergence of multiple interests after I have some kind of late-night epiphany.

But writing and LEGO have converged today with the release of my first book, Ultimate LEGO Star Wars. Written together with Chris Malloy, one of my team members from The Brothers Brick, Ultimate LEGO Star Wars is a coffee table reference book from British publisher Dorling Kindersley (DK). You can read more about the book itself and our experience writing it in an interview over on The Brothers Brick, but I thought I’d reflect here on my personal experience today as the book begins hitting store shelves.

Andrew at Third Place Books
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Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahari in LEGO

Cross-posted from The Brothers Brick.

When I visited Deir el-Bahari back in 1994, our Egyptian guide told us an easy way to remember the name of the pharaoh who had the colonnaded temple built for herself near the Valley of the Kings and Luxor. “Hot sheep suit,” he said. “You know, hot, like the sun, with a suit made from sheep.” The weather forecast placard in the hotel lobby had informed us it was going to be 45° C (113° F) that day. Standing there in the blazing desert sun, it was hard to imagine wearing a wool suit. And today, it’s hard to forget how to pronounce Queen Hatshepsut’s name.

Similarly unforgettable was her mortuary temple, here recreated wonderfully in LEGO by Harald P. (HP Mohnroth).

lego_architecture_deir el bahari

See many other wonderful LEGO models of historical structures in Harald’s LEGO Architecture set on Flickr.

Petra’s Al Khazneh in LEGO

Cross-posted from The Brothers Brick.

One of my dearest memories of the summer in 1994 that I spent working on an archaeological dig in Jordan was a weekend trip to Petra. We arrived from Amman late in the evening, but several of my fellow archaeology students couldn’t wait until morning to see the amazing structures carved from the sandstone 2000 years ago, so we snuck across wadi after wadi, avoiding the main paths. Once past the guard posts, we walked through the narrow gorge known as al-Siq — pitch black at night — until the passage opened in front of us to reveal Al Kazhneh, lit only by starlight.

ArzLan built his LEGO version of the Treasury for the Hong Kong Animation Festival, and features Indiana Jones in his Last Crusade visit to this UNESCO Heritage site.

Al Khazneh