If January is anything to go by, this year seems to be the year in which I develop my weakest building areas.
I’ve built a couple of minifig-scale building interiors, and I consider that an area of weakness. Last week at the Grand Opening of the Rogue Brick building lounge I built a piece of architecture for the adults competition, and I’ve historically considered that a relatively weak area even though previous architectural microbuilds have been well-received. (I didn’t win, even though I may have invented a new technique to make the columns around the dome. Oh well).
And now, trees.
I’ve been getting more confident at trees, but I still don’t feel like I’m really good at it. But I was re-reading The Lord of the Rings the other day for the umpteenth time and I had an idea that I should attempt an Old Man Willow build.
Old Man Willow is, obviously, part of the Tom Bombadil sequence; one of the first challenges the hobbits face on their journey to Rivendell, and one they face with the aid of neither Gandalf nor Strider. A black-hearted tree spirit dwelling on the banks of the Withywindle and holding large swaths of the Old Forest under his grim sway, he proves a greater challenge than the hobbits’ meager strength, and they have to be rescued from his clutches by the mysterious and fan-beloved Tom Bombadil.
As the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring completely skipped over the whole of the Tom Bombadil sequence, I’m free to do pretty much whatever I like without fear of anyone complaining that it doesn’t look like it did in the movie.
When done well, film adaptations of well-loved books are great. You finally get the excitement of seeing what before could only exist in your mind’s eye.
But even the best film adaptations conform to someone else’s vision, and I have to say I think we often tend to forget that.
I personally think the film got the look and feel of Rivendell wrong, but such is the power of visual media that if I were to build my imagination’s Rivendell I’d undoubtedly get comments about it being “inaccurate”.
Maybe I’m not trying to build Peter Jackson’s version of the Last Homely House, nitwit! Did you think of that, eh?
Anyway, I don’t have to be concerned with that in an Old Man Willow build, because none of that whole sequence made it into the films. Though if I’d tried to include any of the hobbits I’d undoubtedly get told off for getting them “wrong”. Don’t have any official LotR minifigs yet.
I borrowed the pendulous willow branch technique from this build by Cyndi Bourne, who has a lot more leaf elements than I do and can really do it justice. Yet another thing to add to the endless Bricklink wishlist…
Still, I have enough to at least give a decent impression of the look of a willow tree.
I would have liked to make more of a face in the trunk, but that made the trunk so tall that you lost the effect of overhanging branches. Thus, a pair of eyes only.
I initially went for green eyes as most appropriate to a vegetative spirit, but they didn’t look quite right t so I swapped them out for orange, which is subtler but looks much better.
And then I had to try and make Tom Bombadil.
“Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow”, we’re told, but while we can do a bright blue jacket courtesy of either Jay or my Classic blue astronaut or my son’s Minecraft Steve, yellow boots are beyond my current inventory’s capability.
Anyway, there it is. I think my first Lord of the Rings-related build, and it’s a tree.