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A ninja Lego minifig being chased by a lego-built monster flinging dirt in the air as its claw reaches forward Photo: Marco Zanconi/Chronicle Books

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These stunning Lego minifig photos are a fantasy genre all their own

Put Pigsy’s Noodle Tank in a Lego Movie sequel immediately

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Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

In the right hands, Lego sets are a form of storytelling. Whether following the prescribed on-the-box exploits of pirates, explorers, and starship captains or scrapping the instruction booklets to mix and match into genre-bending adventures, kids and adults alike have spent the last half-century constructing stories alongside their blocky structures. The artists involved with LEGO in Focus, a new photography book from Chronicle Books, take that form of play one step further.

For LEGO in Focus, 30 photographers from around the world grabbed their Lego minifigs to stage surreal setups that range from mundane scenes of everyday life to the microscopically fantastic. Polygon’s exclusive look at the book delves into the latter, the creations of photographers drawing from horror, sci-fi, pulp adventure... and their own Lego pastimes.

Below, find a few selections from LEGO in Focus, out in stores on Oct. 4, and hear from the artists behind them. Prepare to get inspired — and very upset that there are currently no plans for another Lego Movie sequel set in the real world.

Monster in the forest

A Lego version of Frankenstein’s Monster stands in the woods as a beam of light illuminates a mushroom in his hand Photo: Danny Hilkman/Chronicle Books

By Danny Hilkman
Saint-Alexis-des-Monts, Québec, Canada

When I travel, I always take along one or two minifigures. Funny thing is that whenever I have my camera and Lego minifigures along I perceive the world differently, from a minifigure perspective to be precise. A rock becomes a mountain, a small plant becomes a giant tree, a small ant becomes a well-sized, worthy adversary. When I visited Canada, I noticed this lovely light strike this tiny mushroom. It brought me a feeling of delicate beauty in a vast world; the little pleasures, hidden for everyone to find once they look. My monster minifigure (I call him “Dwaas”) just had to be there, enjoying himself in this beautiful, quiet little scene.

Crystal caves

A Lego minifig with a beard and flight cap uses an pickax to chip away at ice while his two pirate friends cheer him on from the mouth of a cave Photo: Nathan Smith/Chronicle Books

By Nathan Smith
Houston, Texas, USA

Forced into flying pirates high up the mountainside in search of the rumored Crystal Caves, the pilot was as surprised as anyone that the caves actually existed. But first, how to get out of there with some of the treasure — and his life?

Pigsy’s Noodle Tank in action

A lego pig chef works in a giant wheeled contraption built to look like a noodle bowl complete with arms wielding chopsticks and drone sidekick Photo: Suné Horn/Chronicle Books

By Suné Horn
Daejeon, South Korea

There are times while I’m browsing the Lego aisle, adding items to my wish list, when the image on the box of a specific set just comes alive in my head, almost like a holographic sticker. Pigsy’s Noodle Tank was one such set.

The chase

A ninja Lego minifig being chased by a lego-built monster flinging dirt in the air as its claw reaches forward Photo: Marco Zanconi/Chronicle Books

By Marco Zanconi
Cornaredo, Italy

Of all the mythological creatures that populate the tales, dragons are definitely my favorites. In my (endless) list of pictures to shoot, dragons are often present, especially flying ones. However, my list never features earth dragons, and this reason poses a challenge interesting enough to pick up my camera. I wanted to depict the majesty of the dragon as he pursued his opponent. The best way to do this was to have him lift tons of dirt while on the chase. In an arid area of my backyard, I threw handfuls of dirt on the dragon, shooting in bursts to capture the best moment. To complete the shot, I positioned the minifigure so that he was clearly on the run, but with a deliberately exaggerated posture for a bit of irony.

Fairy FaceTime

A disgruntled fairy flies over with a pair of scissors to her friend fairy who is sitting on a leaf talking to someone on facetime Photo: Nathan Smith/Chronicle Books

By Nathan Smith
Houston, Texas, USA

Everybody must take phone breaks while working — even if you’re a fairy! Just don’t let your boss see you.