Lego coffee table models 2

A couple months ago I wrote about a simple coffee table idea I had. Put Legos in little jars, and leave them out for people to play with when they come to visit.

So far it’s attracted the attention of a few friends who’ve come to visit. This post showcases some of the best models we’ve made recently!

My friend and I hit on an idea about the joy of working with a minimal amount of Legos. It’s akin to haiku: with restrictions on creativity, you are forced to actually be more creative.

I did supplement my previous offering of Legos with two new sets, a pirate one and a small Town set of firefighters. These new pieces provide just a bit more diversity, though by no means have I exhausted the creativity possi-build-ities.

Lego pink house

A simple Lego house with carrots and flowers out front.

Lego stormtroopers go to a dance

The girls ask out the boys to the Imperial Sadie Hawkins Dance.

Lego airship

An airship! I always loved the idea of Lego rowboats. The rowboat is like a tiny world where the captain is the master. This guy is prepared to fly to new horizons in his sweet craft.

Lego airship

Top view of airship.

Lego airship

Back view of airship. Naturally, engines must have flames coming out the back.

Lego airship

Side view of airship.

Lego stormtrooper waverunner

A pirate Stormtrooper on a wave runner! I’m not sure what a wave runner is, but I imagine this as some zippy little craft used for skimming the waters (tiny wheels are underneath).

Lego wave runner

Back view of the wave runner. It actually rolls pretty nice across the table.

Lego fire chief on alligator

The fire chief has a new communications gator. It makes fighting fires in the Bayou much easier.

Lego anarchy mobile

The anarchy mobile! These women are sick of living in a male-dominated world, so they’ve loaded their car with all sorts of weapons and are ready to paint the town red.

Lego anarchy mobile

Side view of the anarchy mobile. I love the new Lego cannons. They are spring-loaded, so you can pull the back pin and launch the cannonballs quite far!
The woman in back is equipped with Molotov cocktail and telescope.

Lego anarchy mobile

Back view of the anarchy mobile. Extra gun and wine in case the cannon doesn’t do the job.

Lego airship

My second attempt at an airship. I thought I could utilize the deck space more efficiently. The wings and propellers were moved underneath the craft and the engine was moved back, making room for a navigator.

Lego airship

I kind of like the asymmetry of having the navigator sit sideways, rather than forwards.

Lego airship

Back view of airship.

Lego spinner

This was a super easy idea that just came together at once. The Lego half barrel doubles as a fun spinner! The pilot is a firefighter taking a rest after a long day at work.

Lego spinner

It’s an idea that I never came up with as a kid since I always kept my sets segregated, never mixing pieces. Put a smooth stud underneath, then grip the sides and spin the spinner like a coin!

Lego spinner in action


Lego spinner in action

The spinner in action! It gets lopsided really easily, but actually spins very well.

Lego spinner

The spinner stops, and now the firefighter is feeling sick to his stomach.

Lego shrine

This is one of my favorite models of the bunch, made by my friend. It’s a simple shrine, borne out of the restrictions of my limited pieces. Doesn’t it capture the feel of Asian architecture quite well?

Lego shrine

I love the tiny door on the back of the shrine.

Lego treasure cove

Treasure mountain! The Imperials commandeered (or defected to?) a pirate base. Now they must protect the treasure at all costs!

Lego treasure cove

The treasure is hidden behind the mountain, safe from would-be thieves.

Lego treasure cove

The mountain folds down to reveal the treasure from the front (a pointless feature, I know, but it’s always fun to have working hinges on Lego sets).

Lego treasure cove

But! The joke’s on the would-be thieves! The treasure chest contains a banana! Where’s the real treasure?

Lego treasure cove

In the garbage can, of course! Right in plain view.

Happy building!

Easy LEGO coffee table play idea

Two ideas inspired me recently.

First, I saw The Lego Movie. The movie makes a strong case about how to play with Legos. There are those that build the sets as intended and never alter them, and there are those who make up their own creations. As a kid I was of the first philosophy, but I always wanted to be of the latter.

Second, I read Brick by Brick, an excellent account of Lego’s financial struggles during the mid-2000s, and how the company turned itself around. The author mentioned how Lego’s headquarters features plastic fishbowls full of Legos on every conference room table.

And inspiration came together. Why don’t I have Legos laying around my apartment to motivate me creatively? And why don’t I be the kind of person who makes whatever he wants with Legos?

A simple solution presented itself: buy Legos, put them in jars, and put them on my coffee table.

Starting sets

That night I went to Walmart to scope out my first Lego purchase in a long time. I found this yellow bucket of basic Lego pieces, and this stormtrooper set.

Lego bucket and stormtroopers

The bucket had all sorts of unique Lego pieces, very few standard bricks. This would open up all sorts of fun possi-build-ities!

I got the stormtrooper set mostly because I wanted some minifigs, and four stroomtroopers, plus an abundance of special gray and black pieces, would add to my piece variety.

The stormtrooper transport wasn’t that interesting of a set to begin with. Is this supposed to be a spaceship? Was this even in the movies?

Lego stormtrooper transport

Lego stormtrooper transport

Honestly, as far as Star Wars sets go, and Lego in general, this set just didn’t do it for me. So I felt no shame in building it once, then promptly demolishing it. Not a big leap of faith, to be sure, but that’s something I never would’ve done as a kid!

Glass jars

I then went to Hobby Lobby and bought three glass jars with lids, jars big enough that I could fit my adult hand in. I got some 1/2″ sticker letters and wrote a phrase on each: “IF YOU BUILD IT…”, “PLAY WELL” (the Dutch translation of “Lego”), and “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!” from the Lego Movie.

I roughly sorted the pieces into the jars: flat plates in one, basic bricks in the second, and small, unique, moveable, and minifig pieces in the third.

Legos in jars on a coffee table

And that’s it! An easy project, to be sure, but one that promises a lot fun. The jars sit on my coffee table. Now when people visit, they have something easily accessible to play with. If Legos sit in the closet, they take effort to bring out and build. But if they are sitting in common areas, they invite building.

My first creations

Every few days, I’ll take 10 to 20 minutes out of my time to dump out the Legos and build something small. It’s been a lot of fun so far! Here are some of my first creations. I have very few duplicate pieces in those jars, and so many different colors, that it’s proven a lot harder than I thought to make compelling mini models.

Lego stormtrooper with ice cream

Seen here is the Imperial Ice Cream Cart, along with the Dairy Trooper, who protects the sweet treats with his bubblegum gun.

Lego airplane with stormtrooper

A tiny bi-wing, piloted by a stormtrooper.

Lego airplane from the back

Another view of the bi-wing. The stormtrooper didn’t have proper controls, so he didn’t get very far!

Stormtrooper looking in house

Hey, how did you get in that tiny house?

Stormtrooper eating carrot

Sorry, can’t hear you. Eating a carrot right now.

Lego stormtroopers with carrots

Right Stormtrooper: I just love munching on carrots!
Left Stormtrooper: My carrot’s green and rotten — somebody’s about to get hurt!!

Lego Imperial Flower Car

After his last outburst, it was decided that Left Stormtrooper needs to calm down. He was assigned to the Imperial Flower Cart, and outfitted with the tulip gun. He even turned his helmet into a flower pot: he’s doing the best that he can!

Lego stormtrooper in hot tub

Left Stormtrooper: And why is there a carrot in my gun?!
Right Stormtrooper: Dude, chill. The water’s nice.
(Note the rubber ducky in Right Stormtrooper’s hand)

Lego stormtrooper jetski

The stormtrooper takes a spin on his battle jet ski.

Lego stormtrooper mecha

This unfortunate stormtrooper had his cappa detated. The Pretty Princess Mecha is a temporary solution.

Lego stormtroopers

Mad Cow fools around with his new battle flyer.

Lego Mad Cow

Look at all those weapons Mad Cow has!

Lego stormtrooper ice cream shop

The Imperial Ice Cream Shop is open for business!

Lego battle pig

Imperial Battle Swine, reporting for duty!

Happy building!