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Is Lego Titanic most macabre model ever made?

By Claire McNeilly

It could well be the most tasteless depiction of the Titanic ever created.

An Australian model maker has spent 250 hours making a Lego-based recreation of the moment the doomed Belfast-built luxury liner split in half while sinking.

Ryan McNaught's replica also includes scores of 'minifigs' - miniature figurines - re-enacting the plight of the 1,500-plus passengers who lost their lives when the New York-bound Titanic sank to the bottom of the north Atlantic after striking an iceberg during its maiden voyage in April 1912.

The 120,000-piece project - which lights up - has actually been hailed as a masterpiece in the modelling world, with The Brothers Brick, the popular online blog for adult Lego fans, calling it "an incredible feat of engineering".

But Susie Millar of the Belfast Titanic Society said she feared people here would find it in rather poor taste.

"It's a shame that, having gone to so much trouble, rather than showing the Titanic at its finest, this model maker has instead decided to show it at its worst moment, just as it's plunging into the ocean and breaking apart," she said.

"He's obviously a very creative chap and it's just a pity that he's chosen this particular time in Titanic's history rather than something more positive.

"People may find it insensitive because in this model there are people in the water and people in lifeboats. Was that really necessary?"

Jan Dizon of the technological innovation magazine Tech Times is, however, clearly impressed by the replica.

"What really makes our eyes pop is the fact that this Titanic was built to minifig scale," he said.

"Little Lego men and women are scattered throughout the ship, and even in the water, telling their own various mini stories of terror, and fighting for survival as the ship splits in half."

Mr Dizon praised Mr McNaught - also known as 'The Brickman', and one of only 13 Lego certified professionals in the world - for his story-telling prowess via his Titanic recreation.

"When you look into the opening of the ship, there are minifigs hanging on for dear life," he said.

"Four minifigs are working together to help their friend back up. One poor chap has a pile of ice that fell on top of him.

"Up on the deck, minifigs are also scrambling in chaos. One man is hanging from his foot caught on a hook, others are by the railings, looking hopelessly at the fortunate few in lifeboats and the unfortunate ones in the icy cold, blue water.

"Stories are told even in the little blue lifeboats; rich passengers in top hats would rather save their bulky chest full of money on the boat, rather than take in survivors who are swimming around.

"Another minifig floating in an upturned car has a sad look on his face as it looks at the devastation around."

He added: "Not since James Cameron's Titanic movie have we felt our heart strings pulled at the loss of the real life Titanic. They may just be minifigs, but McNaught was certainly able to convey the heightened emotions that must have happened on that fateful night."

Mr McNaught, who is married with twins, was unavailable for comment.

But his website says: "Making interactive models and build experiences is my speciality, building things that people can not only be inspired by but interact with allows an amazing flexibility, giving a remote control or allowing people hands-on exposure in the build process really does make for a great experience.

"I have also been lucky enough to win many awards over the years for my models and I look forward to inspiring more and more people with my creations."

Titanics made out of Lego aren't new. An autistic Icelandic boy Brynjar Karl (10) - who visited Titanic Belfast last year - became an internet sensation after posting a time-lapse video of him building a 6.3m model of Harland and Wolff's most famous vessel from 56,000 pieces over 11 months.

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