Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Shades

The Shades

The Shades

Well, I decided to follow up my Discworld steam engine with a small slice of Ankh-Morpork.

There’s plenty in that bustling city that could be modeled.  The Tower of Art.  The Patrician’s Palace.  Pseudopolis Yard.

But the Shades seemed initially most promising.

Fans of Discworld will know the ramshackle, shabby district well from the books.  It is, famously, the sort of place where, when they decide to name the inn “The Troll’s Head”, they don’t mess about with the signage.

In the earlier books, it’s the sort of place the Watch avoid, and even in the later books it’s not somewhere they can venture without caution.

Modelling that tumbledown and unsavoury area in LEGO seemed like a lot of fun.

A different angle on the model showing the Tudor-style overhanging buildings

A different angle on the model showing the Tudor-style overhanging buildings

It was quite a challenge, though, to balance the dictates of visibility with the enclosed nature of the place; I hope I did it ok, though it’s still not that easy to see everything that’s going on.  The Tudor-style buildings with the overhanging upper stories helped to give the right sense of oppressive narrowness, and I’m quite pleased with how it all worked out.

Sgt. Colon and Cpl. Nobbs proceed cautiously

Sgt. Colon and Cpl. Nobbs proceed cautiously

Two Watchmen – the inestimable Sergeant Fred Colon and Corporal Nobby Nobbs – are proceeding cautiously through the streets.  Sgt. Colon is the one with the shiny helmet; Nobby Nobbs, of course, corrodes everything he touches.

They are watched nervously by a couple of dwarfs, who are themselves being watched from above by the Watch’s gargoyle member, Constable Downspout.

A pair of the City's dwarfs watch them nervously

A pair of the City’s dwarfs watch them nervously

Downspout’s head isn’t ideal for a gargoyle, but at least it has an open mouth.  That was the eventual deciding factor in which head to use.

Inside the tumbledown disused city gate tower, a goblin peers out, while elsewhere on the rooftops a younger member of the Assassins’ Guild is practicing his rooftop sneaking while trying to avoid the gaze of the gargoyle constable.

Bird's-eye view.  The young Assassin is in black, obviously.  Constable Downspout is standing on the tower

Bird’s-eye view. The young Assassin is in black, obviously. Constable Downspout is standing on the tower

It was fun to build all the shabby details like the floors at uneven heights and all the discoloured random bricks, and I’m extremely pleased with how it’s all turned out.

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Raising Steam

Iron Girder 1Sir Terry Pratchett’s decision to add steam and the railways to his phenomenally successful Discworld series may not have made for his best novel, but the idea of a fantasy steam engine crewed by humans, trolls, goblins and dwarfs does make for an excellent LEGO model.

This is the final form of Sir Richard Simnel’s famous Discworld engine “Iron Girder”, in its history-making journey from Ankh-Morpork to Überwald, carrying the Low King of the Dwarves, Rhys Rhysson, to reclaim his kingdom.

Iron Girder 2

“Iron Girder” underwent countless modifications from its origins as the first Discworld steam locomotive, so this version of Iron Girder is a far more advanced locomotive than most Terrestrial early engines; more akin to LEGO’s own gorgeous Emerald Night.  I’ve built her as a classic British-style 4-6-2 express engine vaguely modeled on the famous “Flying Scotsman” and/or Gordon the Big Engine from the Thomas franchise.

Silver with green highlights seemed an appropriate livery for the Disc’s own Queen of Steam, and I’ve tried to include most of the main characters from the novel.

Iron Girder 3

The engineer Dick Simnel is driving the engine (recogniseable by his flat cap), accompanied by the formidable Stoker Blake.  The dwarfish Low King is in the first carriage, accompanied by some other dwarfs, the second carriage carries some other passengers, mostly goblins and Sir Harry King, while Commander Sam Vimes, Moist von Lipwig and the goblin Of The Twilight The Darkness are atop the carriage roofs.

Iron Girder 4

At the back is a flatbed bearing the considerable bulk of Constable Bluejohn the troll.

Iron Girder 5

I’ve tried to pay as much attention to the working details as the bricks will let me, so the engine has most of the expected pistons, coupling rods, funnels, domes, whistles and fireboxes.  If I left anything out, it was probably because I couldn’t find a decent way to put it in.

It’s been great fun building this steam engine, and even more fun building it as a Discworld model.

I’m wondering what I can build from the Discworld as a follow-up…