Queen Throws Its Support Behind a Breakthru-Inspired LEGO Set

Adam Hickey
Adam Hickey

A fan-made, motorized LEGO set that pays homage to the Queen song "Breakthru" just made its own breakthrough, so to speak. As WROR in Massachusetts reports, a LEGO version of the train that appeared in the 1989 music video—complete with minifigures of Freddie Mercury and the gang—has received a thumbs up from the band.

The official Queen Instagram page posted a photo of the LEGO-ized “Miracle Express” and urged fans to support the project on LEGO Ideas, where it currently has more than 2000 backers. Once a design reaches 10,000 supporters, it enters the review stage, at which point it can potentially be approved and mass-produced by LEGO. The online Ideas platform is how the Beatles-inspired Yellow Submarine set got produced in 2016.

The Breakthru set was created by Adam Hickey, an actor and creative writer from the UK (not to mention a big Queen fan). “'Breakthru' has always been one of my favorite Queen videos and songs,” Hickey tells Mental Floss. “I felt that the Queen Miracle Express is as iconic as the Yellow Submarine is for The Beatles.”

Hickey built the set from scratch using pieces he borrowed from various LEGO sets, as well as a few pieces he ordered specifically for the engine. Figuring out how to make the train move was one of the trickiest parts.

“It was the first time I had ever made a model from scratch which uses motors, so I had to do a lot of research about how to use them, including how to have the train move around corners without derailing, which meant rebuilding my model,” Hickey says. “The pistons, in particular, were incredibly difficult to build.”

Hickey has also been responding to feedback from fans, and plans to give Brian May's minifigure a slight hairdo makeover, per one person’s suggestion. There are five minifigures in total, including one of actress Debbie Lang, who appeared as the masked woman in the music video.

Check out some of the photos below, and visit the LEGO Ideas website to support the project. For more LEGO Ideas designs that have made it into production, explore the LEGO Shop.

Queen mini figures
Adam Hickey

The Miracle Express LEGO train
Adam Hickey

[h/t WROR]

Want to Repurpose Old or Damaged Books? Turn Them Into DIY Wall Art

Svitlana Unuchko/iStock via Getty Images
Svitlana Unuchko/iStock via Getty Images

Many bibliophiles see their books as more than just reading material. Whether they're color-coded, stored backwards, or stacked around the house in teetering piles, books can double as decorations that add coziness and character to a space. This interior design trend spotted by Today pushes this concept to new heights by transforming old books into pieces of sprawling wall art.

Erin Kern, the Oklahoma designer behind the blog Cotton Stem, first had the idea to make books into DIY art in 2015. Her concept works with any books you have at home that you can bear to part with. Just grab a staple gun, secure the book covers to the wall you wish to embellish, and then use staples, glue, or tape to arrange the pages of the book however you like them. You can keep the book open to your favorite page or use some clever craft work to make the pages look like they're frozen mid-flip. As you expand the piece, you can add single pages or pages without their covers to vary the design.

Kern and other designers who've created their own versions of the project often combine old books with other types of wall decor. You can nestle framed prints of literary quotes or tuck air plants among the pages. Ana Ochoa of the blog Fiddle Leaf Interiors used hanging books as a makeshift canvas for a larger-than-life painting.

If seeing books stapled to a wall makes you cringe, rest assured that no one is suggesting you buy brand-new books to use as your crafting materials. This project is a great way to repurpose old books you never plan to read again—especially books with tears and missing pages that are too damaged to donate.

Looking for more literary design inspiration? Check out these pieces of furniture made out of books.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Soulla Christodoulou PGCE MA (@soullasays) on

[h/t Today]

Who Invented the Cardboard Box?

Feverpitched/iStock via Getty Images
Feverpitched/iStock via Getty Images

Few inventions have blended as seamlessly into our daily living routines as the humble cardboard box. We get excited to see piles of them near our front door. We stuff them with papers. Our cats love to claim them as their private living rooms. Yet we rarely stop to consider how much more convenient they are than a burlap sack. Who do we credit for this marvel of simple but indispensable ingenuity?

In the 1st and 2nd century BCE, the Han Dynasty of China was busy pioneering the use of paper. During the same era, sheets of bark from the Mulberry tree were used to wrap and protect food, one of the earliest examples of a sturdy, wood-based product being repurposed for packaging. But what we’d come to recognize as the earliest form of the cardboard box as we know it today didn’t appear until the early 19th century, with the 1817 German board game The Game of Besieging being the oldest example. Throughout the 19th century, companies began using the boxes as a means of storage and transport for cereals and even for moth eggs used by silk manufacturers.

But an additional twist—or pleat—was needed in order to turn these carriers into the cubical wonders we know today. In 1856, top hat peddlers Edward Allen and Edward Healey used a stiffer paper made with a fluted sheet in the middle of two layers to provide stability and warmth to the lining: It was a precursor to corrugated cardboard.

The real breakthrough, however, came in 1879. It was then that Robert Gair, owner of a Brooklyn paper factory, figured out that he could both score a single sheet of cardboard and then have his printing press cut it at the same time, eliminating laborious hand-cutting. When the flat pieces were folded together, the cardboard box as we know it was born.

Gair sold consumer product companies on this handy new form of storage, eventually scoring a 2-million-piece order from the cracker czars at Nabisco. Snack foods could now travel without the danger of being crushed, and, pretty soon, the cardboard box was migrating from kitchen cupboards to anywhere a cheap, effective form of packaging was needed. In the 1930s, the Finnish government even adopted the boxes as part of a take-home maternity package for new mothers who may not have been able to afford cribs. Babies took their first naps in the confines of the mattress-lined box—a practice that continues today.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER