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Picture a bard, troubadour or medieval/renaissance minstrel and you probably have in mind an entertainer with a lute. It's practically the defining musical instrument of the trope. And yet neither LEGO nor any third party parts makers produce one... until now. BrickWarriors (BW) has started selling them. For the time being, you can only get them in two colours, black and reddish brown (BW's "brown"), as part of the Barbarian Army Builder Pack. But in 2017, they will be available individually in at least three colours: black, reddish brown and tan. I have obtained reddish brown and tan lutes and have reviewed them below on 8 criteria. 1. Compatibility. The lute fits perfectly in a minifigure's hand and is scaled appropriately too. If you rotate the neck in the hand to pose the instrument at a different angle, it remains satisfyingly in place which isn't true of all accessories. As with most BW parts, the sculpt is a bit more detailed than LEGO but less than recent LEGO minifigure printing, so still fits fine with LEGO's aesthetic. In keeping with the stylised look - and adding to its charm - the lute has four pegs but only three strings! The lute is well proportioned and instantly recognisable for what it is. The care that went into the design of this accessory is evident when you see it from behind. The back of the body isn't usually very visible when it's being played, but the sculptor has nonetheless added detail by giving it ribs - a nice touch. A strap button at the tip of the body would have allowed you to attach string from the lute's base to its pegbox which would have made it easier to sling across a minifigure's back, but it might also have detracted from the look of the instrument. 2. Material. The lute is made of the same plastic, ABS, that LEGO uses. The lustre is the same as LEGO and the reddish brown and tan colours are perfect matches. (I don't have a black one but do have other BW parts in black and they are indistinguishable from LEGO in their hue and shine). 3. Manufacture. The lute is made to a very high standard. There are no mould lines and only a tiny partition burr on the side of the neck which is no worse than that found on LEGO parts and easily removed with a fingernail. 4. Variety. The lute is only available in one style but that should be more than adequate whether you need it as a lute or an oud. It doesn't have any printing but wouldn't benefit from any. It will be available in three colours: black, reddish brown and tan. Additional colours such as dark tan and dark brown would add to the selection but those aren't in BW's palette, so not likely to materialise. 5. Usefulness. Could you depict a bard or troubadour with one of the other minifig-compatible period instruments such as a drum, flute, syrinx, horn, violin or lyre? Of course you could, but it just wouldn't capture the archetype so well and in that sense the BW lute is long overdue. That said, the usefulness of the lute is bounded by the (lack of) popularity of historical/fantasy minifigure musicians. There will never be as much demand for lutes as there are for swords and spears: lots of people build armies of warriors, but very few collect hordes of musicians. 6. Originality. The BW lute is unique. LEGO don't make one. To the best of my knowledge, apart from BW, no third party company makes one. It will be interesting to see if LEGO ever produce a bard as part of their CMF line and with it an official LEGO lute. 7. Service. BW's service is top class. They ship very promptly with reasonable P&P charges and parts well protected in padded envelopes. Communicating with BW has always been a pleasure: they're fast, super friendly and helpful. 8. Value. I don't know what the lute will retail for, but if other BW parts are any guide, probably in the region of $1 to $1.50. If they come in at the lower end of that estimate, that would be good value for money. Even if they come in at the upper end, that's still not bad. Overall, I'm very pleased with the BW lute. They have done a great job of capturing this classic medieval/renaissance instrument. Disclosure: The lutes were provided by BrickWarriors. The views above are entirely my own. Group photograph by AmperZand. Black and brown lutes photograph by BrickWarriors; edited by BrickWarriors and AmperZand.
"Defying Gravity" is the most famous scene and song from the sixth longest running Broadway musical of all time - "Wicked". The musical retells the story of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" from the viewpoint of two friends, Glinda and Elphaba, which will be known as the Wicked Witch of the West despite the fact that she did nothing wicked at all. The musical looks like a comedy in some scenes and most of the time the story and mood is optimistic, but if you start digging deeper, you realise that in fact it is a really tragic story for all the characters, with a lot of meaning, so there are definitely a lot to think about. ;) Elphaba is considered strange and hated by the other Ozians only because her skin is green color. So when madame Morrible tells her that she has a strong talent in magic and promised to write to the Wizard about it, Elphaba starts to dream about how she will be accepted by the Ozians after she proves her worth to Wizard. Alas, when she and her friend Glinda finally meets the Wizard, they discover that he and madame Morrible are the puppeters behind the oppression of the Animals (intelligent creatures who able to speak), and the Wizard was going to use Elphaba for his own purposes, because he has, as we remember from the film, no real magic powers. Elphaba, who was aware of the anti-Animal conspiracy and was going to ask him for help believing that the Wizard surely will do something to stop it, is angry, so she rejects the opportunity to be in Wizard's team and desides to go on her own and fight this problem by herself. Glinda tries to calm her down, and so begins the most memorable scene in all musical, in which Elphaba defy the things that all Ozians believe in, defy all the people that have always repressed her... and defy gravity. The song by Idina Menzel (Elsa from "Frozen") and Kristin Chenoweth in a spoiler below. This photostory is a re-creation of a scene from the musical, which is longer than the album recording due to the dialogs not included in it, so all the words that are included in the soundtrack are written with green italics, the remaining words are written with italics, the words of the song are additionally highlighted with bold, and the words that are included in the song from the album, but not in the script (so it is missing during a live performance) is striken. Descriptions of actions taken directly from the script of musical. The photos are not as good as they should have been, because I was going to make only one, but then I decided to shoot the whole scene, and while I was shooting, it was rapidly getting dark, and I had to move this tower to the windowsill and use a small LED light bulb, so it's amazing that I was able to even take a picture of something in such darkness. :) Leaving creative chaos mess in the room for a whole week to shoot scene at another day - alas, not my option, cause I have not so much time now... So let's start! Be sure to turn on the music from the spoiler! :) If you turn it on synchronously with reading, then you can just scroll the page to green text and read only it. [GLINDA] Elphie, stop! Wait -- where are you going? Elphie!! A DOOR IN THE FLOOR swings open, and Elphaba, followed closely by Glinda, clambers up into... ACT ONE, Scene 14: THE UPPERMOST TURRET OF THE WIZARD’S PALACE. It is a tiny barren room, a kind of supply closet containing a few old rags and an old broom in a corner. There is one large window, overlooking the rooftops of the Emerald City. [ELPHABA] There are no more stairs (looking around desperately) This must be the attic— [GLINDA] Elphaba, listen to me -- [ELPHABA] The guards are coming up. We’ll have to barricade the door! [GLINDA] What!? Elphaba looks around desperately for something to barricade the door with; she spots a broom, grabs it-- [ELPHABA] I’ll use this— Elphaba descends a couple of steps and wedges the door shut with the broom. As she comes back up... [GLINDA] Elphaba, why couldn’t you have stayed calm, for once! Instead of flying off the handle -- ! I hope you're happy I hope you're happy now I hope you're happy how You've hurt your cause forever I hope you think you're clever [ELPHABA] I hope you're happy I hope you're happy too I hope you're proud how you Would grovel in submission, to feed your own ambition [GLINDA and ELPHABA] So though I can't imagine how I hope you're happy right now... So though I can't imagine how, I hope you're happy right now... by R2 D2, on Flickr Suddenly, on a balcony high above, we see MADAME MORRIBLE. [MADAME MORRIBLE] Citizens of Oz! There is an enemy who must be found and captured. Believe nothing she says! She’s evil, responsible for the mutilation of these poor innocent monkeys! [GLINDA] Oh no-- [MADAME MORRIBLE] Her green skin is but an outward manifestorium of her twisted nature. This-- distortion, this-- repulsion, this-- Wicked Witch! [GLINDA] Don’t be afraid. [ELPHABA] (a discovery) I’m not. It’s the Wizard who should be afraid. Of me. [GLINDA] Elphie, listen to me. Just say you’re sorry. Before it’s too late… You can still be with the wizard What you've worked and waited for You can have all you ever wanted… [ELPHABA] I know -- But I don't want it – No -- I can't want it Anymore... Something has changed within me Something is not the same I'm through with playing by the rules Of someone else's game Too late for second-guessing Too late to go back to sleep It's time to trust my instincts Close my eyes and leap! It's time to try Defying gravity I think I'll try Defying gravity And you can't pull me down... [GLINDA] Can't I make you understand, You're having delusions of grandeur...? [ELPHABA] I'm through accepting limits 'Cause someone says they're so Some things I cannot change But till I try, I'll never know! Too long I've been afraid of Losing love I guess I've lost Well, if that's love It comes at much too high a cost! I'd sooner buy Defying gravity Kiss me goodbye I'm defying gravity And you can't pull me down... LOUD POUNDING FROM BELOW... [GUARD’S VOICES] Open this door--! In the name of His Supreme Ozness! Elphaba grabs the book of spells, pages through it furiously-- [GLINDA] What are you doing? Elphaba finds a page, immediately starts to CHANT FEVERISHLY UNDER HER BREATH- [GLINDA] Stop it! That’s what started all this in the first place, that hideous Levitation Spell! Elphaba ignores her, continues chanting... [GLINDA] STOP! Glinda covers her face, frightened to see the results of the chanting. Elphaba stops. Glinda uncovers her face. Then - [GLINDA] Well? Where are your wings? (beat) Maybe you’re not as powerful as you think you are. Maybe you’re not as powerful as you think you are. by R2 D2, on Flickr But suddenly, what should come floating up but – THE BROOM, which has freed itself from the door handle! It floats towards Elphaba! [GLINDA] Sweet Oz! [ELPHABA] I told you, Glinda. Didn’t I tell you?! WE HEAR MORE POUNDING, and Guard’s VOICES... [GUARD’S VOICES] Bash it in! Fetch the battering ramikin! Elphaba grabs the broom. [ELPHABA] Quick! Get on! Glinda stares at her. Shocked. [GLINDA] What? [ELPHABA] Glinda, come with me. Think of what we could do... together. Unlimited Together we're unlimited Together we'll be the greatest team There's ever been Glinda -- Dreams the way we planned 'em [GLINDA] If we work in tandem… [GLINDA and ELPHABA] There's no fight we cannot win Just you and I Defying gravity With you and I Defying gravity [ELPHABA] They'll never bring us down... But Glinda hesitates. [ELPHABA] Well? Are you coming? Come with me. Think of what we could do... together. by R2 D2, on Flickr [GLINDA] Elphie, you’re trembling. (She gets a black blanket from a shelf) Here... put this around you. (She wraps the blanket around Elphaba’s shoulders) Here... put this around you. by R2 D2, on Flickr [GLINDA] I hope you're happy now that you're choosing this… [ELPHABA] You too — I hope it brings you bliss [GLINDA and ELPHABA] I really hope you get it And you don't live to regret it I hope you're happy in the end I hope you're happy, my friend... I hope you're happy, my friend... by R2 D2, on Flickr Suddenly a furious BATTERING AT THE DOOR... and PALACE GUARDS BURST IN, musket-like rifles drawn, and pointed at both of them. Glinda SHRIEKS - [GUARD 1] There she is! There she is! by R2 D2, on Flickr [GUARD 2] Don’t let her get away! [GLINDA] Leave me alone, do you hear--?! Let go of me! Let go of me! by R2 D2, on Flickr [ELPHABA] It’s not her! She has nothing to do with it. I’m the one you want! It’s me! But as they surge toward her, she actually appears to rise - Defying Gravity by R2 D2, on Flickr [GLINDA] Elphie! [ELPHABA] It’s MEEE! So if you care to find me Look to the western sky! As someone told me lately: "Everyone deserves the chance to fly!" And if I'm flying solo At least I'm flying free To those who ground me Take a message back from me: So if you care to find me, look to the western sky by R2 D2, on Flickr [ELPHABA] Tell them how I'm defying gravity I'm flying high defying gravity And soon I'll match them in renown And nobody in all of Oz No wizard that there is or was Is ever gonna bring me down! And nobody in all of Oz, no wizard that there is or was, is ever gonna bring me down! by R2 D2, on Flickr And we see the shocked CITIZENS OF OZ, pointing up in horror and wonder at the sight of this Wicked Witch. [GLINDA] I hope you're happy! I hope you're happy! by R2 D2, on Flickr [CITIZENS OF OZ] Look at her, she's wicked! Get her! [ELPHABA] ...Bring me down! [CITIZENS OF OZ] No one mourns the wicked So we got to bring her… [ELPHABA] (a triumphant cry) Ahhhh! [CITIZENS OF OZ] Down! Look at her, she's wicked! by R2 D2, on Flickr END OF ACT ONE You can find this scene from the musical here, but there roles of Elphaba and Glinda are played by another singers, so their voices sound different from soundtrack, and also quality of sound is far from perfect. You can play video in another tab and read italicized text synchronously with it. Anyone who interested, please check out the story in Wikipedia (listening an album first doesn't help you, cause all dialog tracks between the songs and some spoken lines are not included in CD in order to avoid spoilers), and then read the annotations and user's comments under it (some users pointed out really interesting and important meanings in comments, so don't skip it) to all the songs on Genius (and there are you'll find links on YouTube as well). Or, if you're lucky enough to live somewhere near the theatres where are performances of "Wicked", go and watch it. It is definetely worth it. ;) Thanks for watching and any comments are very welcomed)
Back in 2013 there was Shrek musical. They were advertising it at LEGO World in Copenhagen, and wanted some LEGO models of small dragons. I was asked to make some miniature pink dragons and built these: I think they liked them, but they wanted something... larger. "Lasse. Can you build the dragon from Shrek?" "Sure can do!" She was unfortunately killed while cleaning up after the exhibition, so these pictures are all that is left. The younglings didn't survive either ;( Here is the brickshelf folder with more pictures: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=523126