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]

Boston-Area Students Convince their City to Install 3D Crosswalks

iStock.com/olaser
iStock.com/olaser

Motorists driving through Medford, Massachusetts may notice something unusual on the street outside Brooks Elementary School. On April 22, the city installed a new pedestrian crosswalk painted to look like 3D objects raised from the ground. The new crossing path aims to make the intersection safer, and it's one of several set to debut around Medford, Curbed reports.

By painting additional, shaded shapes around the traditional white strips of a crosswalk, the city was able to create an optical illusion for drivers. From far away, the flat shapes look like blocks in the middle of the street. The effect is meant to make drivers slow down before they reach the crossing, and to make them more alert to pedestrians in the area.

Two students—a fourth- and a fifth-grader—worked with their teacher and the Brooks Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility to convince the city to add the safety feature. The 3D walkway, designed by Boston artist Nate Swain, will be painted outside three other elementary schools in the city.

Medford is the first city in the Boston area to experiment with 3D crosswalks, but the illusion has been used for years in other parts of the world. In 2016, Shakuntala Pandya and her daughter Saumya Pandya Thakkar designed their own version of the blocks for a highway in Ahmedabad, India, and in Chicago, the crosswalks have been around for nearly a decade.

[h/t Curbed]

These Modern, Minimalist Cremation Urns Double as Planters

C.C. Boyce
C.C. Boyce

Cremation is becoming an increasingly common end-of-life plan, but many have lamented the lack of options when selecting an urn to store their loved one's ashes. Many of these vessels take the form of drab-looking vases that, for some people, serve as reminders of a painful event.

That’s why C.C. Boyce stepped in. The Los Angeles-based designer and woodworker created a collection of “planturns”—urns that double as planters—to fill a gap in the market.

“A while back a friend’s father passed away and they couldn’t find a cremation urn that they liked, so they asked me to make something, and I did, thinking this would just be a one-off custom job,” Boyce said in a video uploaded to Kickstarter. “But when I posted the final product to Instagram, I was flooded with messages from people all across the death care industry—people who took care of pets as well as people.”

Plant urns
C.C. Boyce

Some wanted an urn with a more modern aesthetic, while others wanted a subtler piece that would effortlessly blend with their household decor. The symbolism of death fusing with new life has not gone unnoticed, either.

Boyce spent a year experimenting with different designs and settled on two styles: one that comes in speckled maple, and another that comes in a two-toned walnut and sycamore. All of the vessels have two parts that attach via magnetic pull, so even if the planturn gets knocked over, the ashes will still be safe and sound.

The bottom part contains a hand-waxed muslin bag to store your loved one’s cremated remains, and the top part features a glass or ceramic holder for your plant of choice, whether it’s a succulent or air plant.

They come in three sizes, which will vary in accordance with the amount of ashes you want to store. A small planturn is suitable for small pets, while a large can hold the ashes of a person. Get it on Kickstarter for $225 to $500, depending on the size.

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