Author: Lewis Tansley
The many brands and designs available to those of us who love and find joy in building Lego and other brick sets provide a diversity of experiences and factors which come in to play when sitting down and constructing a set. Today I will speak on my experiences when building – what I would classify – as 4 unique categories of brick sets that one might come across when purchasing and engaging in this hobby.
Most brick sets built, by nature of their popularity, brand recognition and loyalty, are those designed by official companies who sell designs which have undergone a lengthy review process to ensure the builds are stable and solid. The below sets are examples of these, designed by the Lego group and Super14K, have a structure and build style to them which follows a building philosophy of a strong core structure which builds out to produce the shape and style desired in the build.
Both builds took within a day to construct and came with physical and detailed instructions. Their designs revolved around a strong technic core with plates and details added to the structure to produce the shape and colour palette desired.
The important features of these builds rely on the use of bricks to create the desired shape – the strength of the core means the brick choice for the exterior design in crucial in making it look authentic. However, the smaller the pieces are the more difficult it can be to apply, and in sets like these the review process is important to identify where piece connections can be loose.
The other important feature is the clutch power of the bricks, as the strength of the bricks’ connection often dictates how well the build will come together. Where the clutch power is too strong, as I found in my build of the model to the left, technic pieces can become stiff and difficult to manoeuvre, especially with moving parts. Where they are too weak, bricks can come apart over time and lose the solid look.
Authentic MOC Designs
When MOCs are designed, one form in which they make take involves incorporating familiar construction designs into its conception. In my experience of building Raskolnikov’s AT-AT build, as pictured to the right, a similar design principle of a solid underlying structure with panels and details to create shape over it.
This build could be likened to various official at-at models, where the design and clutch of the technic features are important for the strength and stability of the model. The panel features and exteriors feature a different kind of design – rather than built directly on to the frame – they are connected by technic pins.
Complex MOC Designs
Unlike the above example, more complex builds have a more unique take on the build process to create different shapes, textures, and features in the build. The model to the left is an example of this, and its unique features made a difficult build process.
Unique shapes like a rounded cockpit require demanding frames for the outer details to be layered on top of, especially to fit interior details. Furthermore, the SNOT (stud not on top) technique on the wings demand a tight-fitting build process in order to fit all the pieces together.
The last type of build we will cover today is that which combines the MOC techniques we’ve discussed above. When builds become much larger than normal models typically be, they require strong building principles – strong frames, well connected bricks, and sturdy panels and plates. The build to below took 5 days to build over the course of 30+ hours and showed the magnitude brick-built models can truly have. Requiring lots of patience, dedications and focus, ensuring each piece and connection was stable and correct, this build extended the difficulty of normal brick-built models. Making sure each step is done correctly is the most important part of building huge models like this, as going back many steps to take apart what could be a huge substructure can be a difficult task. Further, sorting pieces correctly, focusing on the building steps and making sure all connections are strong and well-placed will make the build a success.
Ultimately, the most crucial aspects of building brick-built models are the building process and the brick quality. Bricks with good clutch power allow the model to be held together in a sturdy manner, without being too tight, and focusing on the build process, ensuring that the model is safe and stable in the way you are building will ensure a good end product.