LEGO and Steampunk. A match made in, well, if not quite heaven, then at least some sort of Wellsian-themed Buildtopia.
Sooner or later, everyone seems to try their hand at some sort of awesome steam-driven mechanical marvel. In many ways, LEGO is made for it, especially with all the modern colours. Flame orange and gold make acceptable brass substitutes, brown is great for wood, leather and more tarnished brass and bronze, the various greys and metallic silver make excellent steel, pewter and iron finishes. And all of the diverse array of modern greebles are superb theme decorations.
My grandfather worked as a signalman on the railways in the old pre-British Rail days of the London and North-Eastern Railway, and afterwards, so you might say steam is in the blood. His Hornby model railways were never my thing, though; I wanted spaceships and futuristic technology.
I didn’t know about Steampunk back then. Jules Verne and HG Wells were cool, but in my boyish imagination I pulled their creations out of the 19th Century milieu in which they had been set and re-imagined them for the futuristic technology they obviously ought to use. The Martians’ Heat Ray was obviously some kind of laser, while the Nautilus was a high-tech submarine with electric torpedoes and probable nuclear power.
Well, now I know about Steampunk. And it seemed time for a Steampunk-themed LEGO creation.
I seem to have fallen in love with LEGO ball joints. My daughter has the Kai’s Fire Mech set, my son has the Forest Creatures set and I have the 31032 Red Creatures set, so we have quite a few of them now. And what I’m particularly struck with are the mech-building possibilities.
So, a Steampunk mech? You bet!
This didn’t start out as necessarily a Steampunk creation, though it didn’t take me long to decide to push it in that direction. We have a lot of brown, grey and black bricks, and the gold from Kai’s Fire Mech. It just seemed to call out to be Steampunkified.
Brown for the feet, then, with gold and black highlights.
Use the bare Bionicle double-ended ball holders for the arms and legs, without adding the red cover parts that Kai’s mech uses.
2×2 horizontal half-cylinders on the back as piston or boiler parts.
Hmm. Still needs more Steampunk.
Hey, here are those pewtery Castle wheels from my daughter’s Gold Getaway set! Maybe… Flywheels!
After that it was just a case of adding more greebles.
Horse harness becomes organ-pipe steam funnels. The tall cylinders with the handles become – well, originally I think they were going to be funnels, but now I think they’re piston housings. Hanging chains, because why not?
I’d have liked to have all-gold fingers, but we don’t own that many. Perhaps I might spend some of my birthday money on Pick-a-Brick…
Still, here it is: my first LEGO Steampunk creation.
As far as naming goes, I thought about calling it the “Spindle”, because of the flywheels, but that didn’t seem quite right. Then the name “Brass Monkey” slipped into my conscious mind and said “This is what this mech is called”.
It makes sense. As a sort of Steampunk ancestor of a Tony Stark “Iron Man” suit, both “Brass” and “Monkey” seem to work.
This, then, is the Mark One Brass Monkey. Driven, I decided, by a character by the name of Lady Paracelsus, from a Steampunk story I started to write a while back.
After the Brass Monkey was completed, I got given the wonderful LEGO Ideas Exo-Suit for my birthday on Friday. So here is Yve in the Exo-Suit, waving hello to her fellow mech-driver Lady Paracelsus in the Exo-Suit’s Steampunk ancestor.