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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

My set came!

I actually bit the bullet and went ahead and ordered my Design by Me 'Space Patrol' set.

It's the long ship with big guns on either side and on top, that you find my looking in the gallery for 'space patrol'.

I spent a long time checking and re-checking that it should produce a solid useable model, and I was making fine corrections up until the day I ordered it. 

530 pieces!  It's a big set, it cost me nearly £100, but I'm really, really pleased with it.  The quality of printing on the box is fantastic and looks better than you can appreciate from the design screen.

It actually only just fit into the box, so unless they do bigger boxes I would consider restricting sets to at least less than 700 pieces or they might have to ship it in two boxes. 

The pieces also come in one huge bag with a picking list.  So it's harder to build than a normal set, you have to spend some time sorting out the pieces. 

I had a great time building it, with my 4 year old daughter (She loves space ships) and the finished model was fantastic, my 11 year old nephew says HE wants to order it too!

What I might do - is get my nephew my smaller less expensive set for christmas.  The one I am documenting the build of here.

Overall, I am reallly pleased with the service, and the quality of the set.  I would say though - if you are ordering, spend lots of time checking and re-checking the set by going through the building instructions online and making sure it will fit together and form a solid model.  If you don't - you could end up with an expensive lego set that falls apart in your hands!

Thankfully, I hadn't made any errors and it formed a really solid, functional set - the only weak point being the guns falling off at the slightest knock, but I kind of expected that so...

A few more pictures of the smaller model that I might order my nephew for Christmas:-

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Set on order!

Well, I finally finished the Space Pirates Lego Set I've been designing.  The problem is, the finished product comprised of the 2 man raider craft I'm showing at the moment on this blog, a base and a large capital ship with an interior and a 4 man crew...

Total price?  £200 more than I'm happy to spend on a toy at the moment :P

I decided to go with the one I created first, the capital ship, it's in some respects the most interesting model and it's my first attempt so it seems a good place to start.  I went over the design meticulously trying to make sure everything interlocks properly and that it will be a good solid model with some play value once it's finished.

Of course whether I've done this properly will only tell once I get the thing and start building it.  Which takes a while as they have to print the box and instructions to your design... Then hand pick all the bricks and pieces, in my model there are over 500 pieces so...

In the meantime I'm trying to stray away from designing more - I've been watching the my gaps in the Harry Potter series (Goblet of Fire and Phoenix Order) and spending more time on the star wars roleplaying board which is fun...

For now I'll leave you with a couple more images of the 2 man raider craft nearing completion.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

More sedate activities...

Apart from Lego, I'm finding myself drawn to other more sedate activities lately.  My burning desire to stay up late and drink and play video games is dwindling.  Last night I sat up with a cup of tea, idly writing star wars fanfic and on a star wars roleplaying board which I've been a member of since 2003...

Maybe it's getting old?  Maybe I'm finally growing up... Hang on a minute I'm, talking about taking up Lego as a hobby again?!

Okay, speaking of Lego, here wave the wings started and the pilot and co-pilots seats and controls starting to take shape.

Monday, 8 August 2011

What building to Minifigure scale means.

I did have an ambitious thought as to whether I could build an Imperial Star Destroyer to minifigure scale - only a fleeting thought though, because once you start working it out - it becomes a daunting task.

Firstly, an ISD is 1.7 km long, if a 2 metre person is represented by a 2 cm minifigure then that's a 1:100 scale.  So were talking of 1700 metres, or 170,000 cm knocking two noughts off makes it 1700 cm or 17 Metres.

So even if detailed plans of what the Imperial Star Destroyer interior was like existed, you would be aiming to build a lego set nearly 20 metres long, and it's probably half that wide at the widest point.  To test the costing of such a large model I built a layered twin wing section last night in Design by me.  I grouped and duplicated it until I had about 45 cm of wings - the price £50 Now you would need an upper and a lower for this so for the wings outer edges, you have to think £200 per metre.  So for the basic outer shell, super structure we would be talking about spending in excess of £4000 with no interior, command bridge, hangar, fighter craft or crew or even exerior detail.I can imagine the cost would actually run up to in excess of £40,000 minifigures alone would be a problem.  Including the pilots and Stormtroopers an ISD had over 45,000 staff on board.  Considering buying used Starwars Lego figures is the only way to get the correct crew at the moment without buying sets, assuming you used that method to crew the entire crew at what seems to be the going rate of about £5 you would spend £225,000 on crew alone... Assuming there were enough used Stormies and Imperial Officers to crew it in existance and avaialable to buy.

What would be nice was a collaboration between Lucas and Lego and a full minifigure scale Lego Star Wars Theme park, with minifigure scale ISD's, Super Star Destoyers and  a Death Star (Officially the first one was 160 km diameter so that's 16,000,000 cm diameter so minifigure scale makes it 160,000 cm or 1600 M - 1.6 km making the volume about 2,144,660,584 cubic metres....) Of course the second Death Star was supposedly 900 M diameter so that makes it 90,000,000 cm diamter, minifigure scale 9 km diameter... Volume... Oh forget it... You get the idea!

Minifigure scale large Lego Star Wars ships are basically impractical to the point of being ridiculous.

As for my set - the second engine in place, the flat bit will be where the pilots sit.

It's funny I'm considering getting into Lego as an adult, as a hobby.  For a long time all my spare time was thrown at Taekwondo I even made a taekwondo website to help people with patterns.  I ought to start training again.  Lego is fun but it doesn't get you fit!

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Principles of Design and Good Toys

The design objectives for my lego set is that it should be built to minifigure scale, it should appear to be functional, so there should be space for things like fuel tanks and there should be adequate controls for the minifigure crew.

Having built some more Classic Lego Space with my daughter last night - I built 6882 the Astro Walker, but it's a two legged version as so many bits are missing :P - I've come to the conclusion that Lego is a really well designed and engineered toy.  There's a great guide to buying toys that echoes this thought at Choosing Presents for Children I think all in all, a good toy should be;

Constructive, and teach children manual dexterity.

Facilitate imaginitive play.

Be robust and able to withstant the abuse given to it by toddlers.

If you look at successful toys, for example Playmobil and Lego, they fulfill this criteria nicely.  The interesting thing about Playmobil is that its designer originally pitched model planes to the makers, his idea was turned down but he was asked to design little people which became PlayMobil.

Next stage of my lego build - again, I'm going to try and start with a small two man craft.

I've not got a base, a solid under structure and I've started positioning the engines.  The cockpit should be big enough for two.

Next I'll be adding the wings, building up the super-structure and starting work on the cockpit.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Lego Design by Me

So what is this blog about?  It's post number 1 so I should explain it.  I have nothing to do with Lego and I'm not promoting their products or services in anyway.  What I am involved in is the design and sale of portable air conditioners.

The Lego part comes in because I recently got given a huge box of Lego brom my childhood - to clean up and give to my four year old daughter to play with.  Whilst sifting through the pieces it struck me there was probably not a great deal missing, and I could probably rebuild some of my old classic Lego space ships for my daughter to play with.

So, after scouring the net for a while, I found lots of instructions and inventry lists for building these classic sets and I managed to build two spaceships, including the transporter set 918 with only minor substitutions.  I found this process to be very satisfying and started looking at modern Lego sets that are aimed more at adults.  This lead me to the Star Wars Lego UCS series, which are all impressive and I'd love to have the space and money to build some of them - but I don't really.  The Super Star Destroyer is over 1.2 Metres long and costs £300... And it's way off being minifigure scale, if it was minifigure scale and we assume minifigures are scaled 100 - 1 (Assume person is usually about 2 Metres, a minifigure is around 2 cm) so the SSD was 17 km in the film, 17,000 Metres, or 1,700,000 cm knock this down to 1% the size, and it's 17,000 cm converted into metres gives you 170 Metres.  That would be an incredibly expensive Lego set and I don't think I know anyone who would have space to store it.... Thought I'd love to see it built!

This lead me to look at Lego's 'Design by Me' service - which looks really cool.  The principle is simple, you down load their software, design your set, then they print a box and instructions for you and assemble the pieces by hand before shipping it out to you.

So I decided to have a look at what I could design in the spirit of the classic Lego Space sets.  I even had a look at Lego Cad, which gives you more freedom than Lego's software - but it's clunkier to use and you can't have that magic of holding the pieces in your hand and putting it together physically to test your design.

Obviously the aesthetics aren't the only part of designing a Lego set.  When a set is being prepared for release, hours of play test are done on the completed model.  The criteria for UCS sets is more focused on aesthetics than normal Lego - but they still have to be something which doesn't fall apart in your hand!

In this blog I'm going to cover the experience of designing and hopefully eventually building a Lego Design by me set.  I've decided on a theme, having looked at the available pieces the best selection of wings and space themed parts are coloured black - so I'm going to them it around 'Space Pirates' and try to design craft which appear to be functional working craft... Let's see how it goes...

This is going to be the landing gear and bottom of one of the engines.  I'm going to start by building a small fighter-like craft, but to make it interesting and different, it's going to be designed to have a pilot and co-pilot like modern light planes.
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