"The Incursion" - a new LEGO diorama featuring some of the mini ships from my popular Super Mario Bros. 3 airship “Fireflower” - along with some new mosaic sprite background items, and photographed with my new Nikon D5200 with its f/1.8 macro lens! I’m thinking of making one of the World 8 battleships next.

-Baron von Brunk

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"The Fireflower" — Mighty Super Mario 3 Airship!!!

(click on the above picture to see a full panoramic view!)

Here it is at last, the finalized version of the massive Super Mario 3 airship project that I’ve been gradually working on since November 2011! Initially planned to be much smaller and streamlined, this titanic brute ballooned up to a larger scale, and used over 8,000 LEGO pieces in its completed form — as well as electronic components, such as lights and audio. The bulk of the ship is built entirely from reddish-brown pieces that resemble wooden planks, to create the effect of a rickety, wood ship made from logs, such as in its respective video game. Rather than have this ship docked on the ground, I used the magic of transparent-clear LEGO pieces for stanchions and columns, to keep it suspended several inches off the ground (as well as its small fleet of miniships flying)!

This ship has been gradually worked on throughout the winter season, with lots of downtime due to parts shortages. Constructing the ship itself wasn’t a challenge or time consuming, but waiting weeks on end for packages to arrive from Bricklink.com would often cause major delays. For example, the 2x2 round brown bricks constantly ran in short numbers, yet were vital for making the roofs and bodies of the ship’s sections, and I’d generally buy large packs of 300 pieces just to make one side panel. You’ll also see something odd about the arrangement of the bricks: the side “logs” face sideways (studs to the left), yet somehow have studs embedded in them to face upwards. This engineering strategy came to me while I was drunk one night a few months back, where I managed to come up with a method of building a traditional flatbed boat hull, with sideways-facing “wooden” panels attached to the sides using Technic pins — almost like rivets on a boat.

These photos were taken just recently by my friend Roz, who was more than eager to grab her Canon Rebel SLR and come to my house in Queens for a grand photo session in order to help out her burgeoning portfolio. The ship is currently set up in my spare room in my attic apartment, and for lighting, we used two bright white daylight CFL bulbs. These photos are essentially shown here in chronological order, starting with the large panoramic view shot — that was taken first, when we were still calibrating light arrangements and debating to use the flash or combine the CFLs with the default incandescent bulbs — hence the strange mismatched cloudy light balance for the first two full-ship images. Eventually down the line, we found out which light settings worked best, and thus took better photos:

Hovering over a 6-foot folding table!

The bow (front) of the ship was the first part to be constructed. It’s an elongated traditional-looking ship front, with a pointy blade for a figurehead, a subtle nod to the Super Mario 3 cartoon series “Doomship.”

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The Bullet Bills being fired in mid-cannon blast!

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Why, it’s those pesky Mario brothers, up to no good!

To escort the ship are several “miniships”, based off the ones first encountered in Bowser’s Dark World of Super Mario 3. These little buggers constantly kept breaking and falling down, as their narrow clear stanchions were very rickety and vulnerable. To create the illusion of the ships flying chaotically out of formation, I would stack smaller ships (hovering) on top of larger ones, to avoid having them all bunched together in a large swarm — as the ships in the game were spread out and came towards the screen one at a time.

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The very back of the ship — the stern, and its main cabin — have a large warp pipe to transport people inside, just like the end of each airship level in the game. And unlike other LEGO warp pipes that I’ve seen online, mine is virtually round (not square), and totally hollow — meaning, you can in fact drop stuff down the pipe and make it end up inside!

As mentioned previously, this ship is named “The Fireflower”, and to flaunt its name, the command bridge of the stern has a giant 16 cm stained-glass window — with a 6 watt lightbulb rigged up to a 9V battery for illumination like a Tiffany Lamp!

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Please note: this isn’t the full, completed circuit as originally planned. Long story short, the electrical infrastructre was made before the circuitry was complete, and at the last minute (before the pictures were taken) my wires came loose and wouldn’t work — which were hooked up to a small silver on/off switch (not shown) — therefore, for the sake of the photo, I tore out the switch and simply directly connected the two battery wires to the lightbulb base itself.

Inside the cabin (the stern’s 2nd floor) you’ll see mosaic tilework of classical artwork…

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Although, since this ship is set up in my tiny, cramped attic with a triangular roof, the back of the ship was difficult to photograph, hence the lack of appearance of the Mario tile, as well as the incomplete images of the Pihrana plant’s body (which was elongated).

The ship’s stern was quite heavy, and the most difficult to attach the clear stanchions to the bottom, unlike the bow and middle sections, in which I could easily lift with one hand. The stern is so big and heavy, that in order to place the columns on the bottom, I had to basically “jack it up” like changing the tires on a car, by placing it on top of a square box, putting stanchions in each corner then sliding the box out of place. Despite its great weight, the ship’s stern holds up pretty well and sturdy. The stern has three hinged doors: one on the bridge’s deck — a.k.a. the computer room (first picture), a barn door in the very bottom rear (middle picture) was intended to be an aircraft launching deck, and of course a hinged door where the warp pipe and inner lights/battery attached to (above photos). The third photo below is the top hinged door of the ship’s bow.

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Once we wrapped up shooting the pictures, something awful happened: the support kicker to keep the top-most door open came loose, thus violently swinging the stern’s high trapdoor shut — in the complete opposite direction, which forcefully tore the whole right side of the stern off! The roof and warp pipe fell to the ground and completely crumbled to pieces, and are now awaiting repairs. Below is a shot of the back end of the ship, with its bridge’s trapdoor open, as well as the top door (where the pipe, lightbulb and 9V battery stood) missing! Fortunately, the strong structure of the ship stood virtually unharmed following the accident, and the entire stained-glass fireflower window was untouched.

"2nd floor: hardware, children’s wear, lady’s lingerie… Oh, good morning Mr. Koopa! Going dooowwn?"

-Baron von Brunk

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Sneak preview of what’s to come of my new LEGO airship photo session!

Stay tuned…

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The final touches of my LEGO airship are coming along swell!

The Fireflower stained-glass window, with the lights off!

Coming soon: a full photo session of the final completed airship, and two more LEGO-Nintendo geek projects — a light-up lamp of a Mario question block, made of clear pieces (like the stained glass window), and a Transformer, that goes from robot to NES Zapper pistol and back; all LEGO, all made by me! Stay tuned, kiddies!

-Baron von Brunk

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Come my minions, rise for your master!

Here are the first eight red-shelled Koopa Troopas to man my ships! I’m awaiting for more parts to arrive in the mail, then I’ll make eight more troops — green shells! I’ll probably designate 3 or 4 soldiers to be be winged Koopa Paratroopas to float around and escort the ships.

The red-shelled koopas have curved slopes, as the green-shelled ones will have regular 45-degree angle slopes; green curved 2x2 slopes aren’t available (in production from LEGO), so I’ll have to make do with what’s possible.

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Greetings From Atop the Ship’s Warp Pipe!

Here’s my imitation of that iconic photo of the construction workers sitting on the girder structure of the Empire State Building…

My dirty secret: I hired independent contractors to do the plumbing in my ship, and look who I ended up using! Hopefully those two brothers don’t sabotage my men’s room urinal.

Below: The completed fireflower stained glass window!

Below are some more work in progress photos of my ship, namely the transparent stanchions to create the illusion of hovering in midair!

As of now, I’m awaiting a few more bulk parcels of LEGO bricks in the mail, hundreds of parts total — in order to make the final touches. More transparent stanchions will be used to raised the sections higher off the ground, and more divisions with cannons & propellers will be suspended from above the middle portion of the entire vessel.

I’m trying to aim for the end of January to finish the whole project. Step 1) Finish the damn ship! Step 2) Hire my friend Roz to photograph the ship from different angles, in order to make promotional images and prints for sale. Step 3) With the fancy new photos taken, I’ll plug this site and its content all across the internet! Step 4) Arranging to have my ship displayed in a public art gallery in the SoHo Gallery for Digital Arts! Step 5) Conquering the Mushroom Kingdom!

Current piece total: Over 7,000 LEGO bricks!

- Baron von Brunk

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It’s really beginning to look more like an airship!

The ship is essentially three large sections, with an entanglement of girders, propellers and steel beams in between (not shown yet). Currently under construction is a small fleet of mini ships with jet engines, and to create the illusion of flight, I’ve made pillars from transparent LEGO bricks! I apologize for the quality of these photos; I didn’t set up any special lighting or use any fancy settings on my camera.

The middle portion is currently about to contain a small cargo of crates (those yellow cubes) in order to mask the MP3 sound system, with small speakers embedded under the gray bedding plates.

Well over 6,000 pieces are being used!

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The two Italian-American plumbers run amok on a small section of my ship! They’re even in fireflower mode!
This portion of the ship is intended to be in the middle, and shall serve as the cargo area. I’ve built several yellow crates to stack up in the middle of the hull, and on the top I plan on adding a canopy with cannon armaments!

The two Italian-American plumbers run amok on a small section of my ship! They’re even in fireflower mode!

This portion of the ship is intended to be in the middle, and shall serve as the cargo area. I’ve built several yellow crates to stack up in the middle of the hull, and on the top I plan on adding a canopy with cannon armaments!

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I would say the ship is about ~65% done, give or take. As seen here, the ship is divided into separate large sections that’ll be protruded apart, much akin to Lemmy Koopa’s airship at the end of World 6. The middle portion will be a flatbed deck with crates, which shall camouflage the MP3 sound system that plays the Mario 3 airship song on a loop!

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And The Baron said, “Let there be light: and there was light.”

The stern of the ship almost complete! Over 4,000 pieces! (and wiring exposed)

Using a 12v 6 Watt light bulb powered by a 9v battery, I was successfully able to efficiently illuminate the innards if the captain’s room. Behind the room is a secret annex where I’ll install a mini MP3 player that plays songs via micro SD cards — and to answer your questions, yes, I plan on looping the airship theme constantly when this is unveiled!

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Mosaic Goomba icon — the rear wall of my ship’s captain’s room!

Mosaic Goomba icon — the rear wall of my ship’s captain’s room!

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Airship’s Initial Light and Wire Rigging

More work-in-progress of the doomship!

The hollow warp pipe, the electrical switch, and the goomba wall mosaic!

The inside section of the captain’s deck roof, with the future site of the lightbulb!

It doesn’t take a Super Mario 3 ace to identify what image will soon come about of the tiled floor mosaic!

Above: One of the first completed transparent stanchions that I’ll soon use to create the illusion of the ship hovering above the ground.

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The partially completed stern of the ship (command bridge, and captain’s room with mosaic walls)! This is just the back end of the ship, where the stained glass window shall go, as well as the electrical light rigging and hollow warp pipe. Note: The exposed walls won’t be exposed in the final version; they’ll be covered up with more wooden logs eventually, thus making the interior decorated with game sprites as the outer frame maintains its faux-wooden appearance. Also, take a gander at the defensive grid of cannon on the top of the deck! To the rear (beneath the propellers) is a door that leads to the aircraft launcher, with access to the command bridge.
Current reddish brown piece tally: 3,289

The partially completed stern of the ship (command bridge, and captain’s room with mosaic walls)! This is just the back end of the ship, where the stained glass window shall go, as well as the electrical light rigging and hollow warp pipe. Note: The exposed walls won’t be exposed in the final version; they’ll be covered up with more wooden logs eventually, thus making the interior decorated with game sprites as the outer frame maintains its faux-wooden appearance. Also, take a gander at the defensive grid of cannon on the top of the deck! To the rear (beneath the propellers) is a door that leads to the aircraft launcher, with access to the command bridge.

Current reddish brown piece tally: 3,289

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The Fireflower”, the official name of my forthcoming Super Mario Brothers 3 airship! Here are some more work-in-progress photos of the stern, the command bridge, the stained glass window & mosaics for the captain’s lair, and the warp pipe! Unlike other Super Mario LEGO warp pipes I’ve seen around the net, mine is round and hollow, not square nor solid — meaning, it virtually conforms to the proper shape from the game, and has the ability of dropping objects through it like a real pipe. The pipe shall serve as the entry to the captain’s room, where the invading opponent [Mario/Luigi] would enter and fight the Koopaling! In my personal captain’s room, the walls shall be decorated with Super Mario 3 pixel art almost like Byzantine Greek icons!

I’m still accruing more and more pieces for this project, and as of this entry, the total reddish brown piece total is 2,518. Still to come are the central portions of the ship, such as the metal girders, propellers, jet engines, cannons and crew deck. Hopefully when this titan is completed by the end of December, I’ll definitely showcase it at a public art exhibition in Manhattan for a first-Friday gallery — maybe… Stay tuned, kiddies!

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More work in progress photos of my LEGO Super Mario Bros. 3 doomship!

The entire pile of brown pieces for the bulk of my upcoming airship! And to prove this isn’t an image I stole elsewhere (i.e., to prove that this pile belongs to me, directly from my personal LEGO stash), here’s a famous arm you all recognize! I’m going to sort through and count each individual part — starting with brown bricks — and then keeping a close tally of how many total pieces are in the final project. This pile alone is estimated to be in the quadrupole digits.

UPDATE: Current brown brick tally - 2,114! Also, the bow of the ship is almost finished. Next comes the command bridge and stern!

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