Ace Parts Usage: TBB’s favorite LEGO build techniques of the second half of 2023 [Feature]

It’s been nearly six months since our first “Ace Parts Usage” article. In it, we sifted through hundreds of LEGO creations to determine our top 10 favorite build techniques from January through June of this year. If you’re unfamiliar, builds that feature particularly cool techniques are said to have NPU (Nice Parts Usage). We’ve seen everything, but occasionally we’re extra impressed by something new and unique – an “ace” parts usage. Although we’re about to announce our overall favorite builds (using several criteria) in the running for the TBB Creation of the Year , we want to honor some ace parts usage right here, right now. There were too many awesome considerations over the past 6 months, so we decided to give you our favorite 15 instead of our favorite 10. Join us as we count down the best of the second half of 2023!

#15 – NPU out of ordinary pieces

Most of the entries on our list involve using elements in atypical ways. However, NPU doesn’t always have to mean using something for a purpose other than originally intended. This gorgeous build by Ralf Langer (@ranghaal) has a well-deserved place in the LEGO House in Billund, Denmark. It features gorgeous techniques using average elements.

#14 – How does that even work?

Sometimes weird things go together like they were meant to be that way. Here, we have a scooter perfectly creating the main body of this futuristic, funky fellow, built by Dan Ko. It all just comes together effortlessly. Bonus NPU for the adorable bowtie shoelaces.

#13 – A face only a mother could love

Faces are a popular place for NPU. Builds with expertly sculpted faces come across our desks frequently, and more than one even made it onto this list. First of which is this baby orc built by Woomy World. Arms for eyebrows and orc minifigure jaws for teeth are trivial compared to the use of Evil Queen crowns for eyes and eye lashes.

#12 – Dinner for two

Next up is this pair of Iron Builder buzzards by Duncan Lindbo. They make great use of rotors for beaks and droid bodies for legs. But even better are the radar panels used for bibs. We’ve got to admit that bunny, although sad, is nicely done as well.

#11 – Simply delightful

Once again, it’s not always about random shapes being used in random ways. Sometimes simplicity is incredibly beautiful. Or, at least, seeming simplicity. Really, in the case of this exquisite piece of art, it’s a story of common parts used in slightly complicated but very clean ways. Each flower consists of carefully arranged cheese slopes with a cupcake element at their center, and four 2×2 triangles per petal. “Eventide” by Oskar is a lovely tribute to Japanese culture.

#10 – A recognizable pair of baddies

There are lots of fun little NPUs featured on this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle duo collab by Maxx Davidson and Áron Gerencsér (Pohaturon). Things like the Unikitty scarves in Rocksteady’s boots, the Mario Bros Jr. Bowser shells on his hips, and the DOTS bracelet for his bandolier. But what stood out more is the pretzel and handcuffs used for Bebop’s snout nose and nose ring.

#9 – No egg on this face

Another face presented by Woomy World  comes in the form of this iteration of Dr. Eggman from Sonic. Here we have a Star Wars Rebel Trooper hat for a chin, turkey costume wings for a mustache, and a frog for a nose. Together, they make a face that’s easily recognizable as the iconic villain.

#8 – Simply adorable

One of my personal favorites on the list is this excellent little dragon by Jonah Schultz. It’s another Iron Builder submission. The primary NPU is, of course, the Minecraft tridents forming the spikes on its back as well as the crown in the pile of loot. But I have to say I’m even more in love with the leg used to create the adorable little snout.

#7 – A whole head worth of NPU

We really liked the overall composition of this bust, built by Steven Wayne Howard (@ghalad). It’s certainly not the first time that wings have been used as hair, but it’s exceptionally well-executed here. The rock and skull bowtie is also a nice touch as well, along with the ring accent buttons.

#6 – Nice palette usage

NPU isn’t just about part type or shape. It can be about color too! And this Summer Joust vignette by Eli Willsea (ForlornEmpire) brings us both. We were drawn in by the lovely color palette and hooked by the shapes. Braids, bandana scarves, and party hats are just a few of the cool features. I’m also a big fan of the clamshell light fixture and wings set behind the half-stud-offset bookcase.

#5 – Muppets meet “The Starry Night”

One of the best singular part usages we came across in the last six months was in the lamp from Josh Parkinson’s Christmas Kermit mosaic. He took advantage of the printed dish element from The Starry Night set, and blended with the background it looks superb. The rest of the parts usage in the light isn’t too shabby either!

#4 – NPU on glorious display

One of the most fun Iron Builder challenges this year featured the lime green watering can as the seed part. Gerrit Gottschalk (gGh0st) put on a splendid show, with this lovely peacock being one of the highlights. If you didn’t know the “eyes” of the plumage were watering cans, you’d be hard pressed to guess what they are. And lets not forget the fantastic use of the new fern element for tail feathers, a blue gear for neck feathers, and a Friends tiara for a crest.

#3 – Exquisite characters

When it comes to building LEGO characters, I’m a firm believer that Eero Okkonen is the best there is. I can’t think of a single build of his that I haven’t been amazed by in terms of personality, creativity and incredible NPU. This Bio-Cup 2023 semifinalist trio stood out for all sorts of reasons, but some of the highlights include the guitar fret tile on the corset of the right character, and the cam beard and diving-helmet goggles on the middle character. That’s just the beginning though! This is one you’ll definitely want to zoom in on.

#2 – Far more than a paper airplane

Maxx Davidson returns with one of our favorite builds overall! This “Bic Viper” spacecraft is simply splendid, and we love it for it’s creativity and character. It’s one of the best implementations of LEGO gear (pens) we’ve seen. There are many reasons why it’s awesome, but in terms of NPU, our eyes turn to the roller-skate zipper around the cockpit. The pushpins are a treat as well!

#1 – A trophy catch

Picking a favorite out of this lot was exceptionally hard, but we turned to another Bio-Cup contender. In terms of thinking way out of the box, this dissected fish by Tino Poutiainen takes the bait. The body shaping alone is brilliant, however we look inside for true NPU inspiration. Capes for gills is possibly the most genius. But a variety of things make up the internal organs, including cherries, flowers, a pig, a big-fig arm, a Zamor sphere and sphere holder, and more. What’s truly remarkable is that these things are all actually connected or wedged into place so that the entire build can be picked up without dislodging anything.

Well, that about wraps it up for this go around! What do you think? Do you believe there’s one we missed? If you enjoyed this article, please let us know in the comments! And while you’re here, feel free to visit our other TBB feature articles.

The post Ace Parts Usage: TBB’s favorite LEGO build techniques of the second half of 2023 [Feature] appeared first on The Brothers Brick.


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