Archive for January 19th, 2012

Brick Built Life-Sized Dalek — and what they did wrong

January 19, 2012

Now let me first emphasize that this is not a LEGO built model. It was created by the Character Building Company and made with their building blocks.

For this year’s Toy Fair, a 280-kilogram, 2-meter-tall plastic Dalek will be unveiled to strike fear into patrons’ hearts. This project required four people, 328 hours (almost two weeks) of effort, and 157,460 separate Character Building bricks.

Via — io9.com

As a Doctor Who fan, seeing a life size Dalek built out of bricks is cool.

But watching the video as a LEGO Master Model Designer, I see a lot of things wrong with the model. Not that I want to bash them too much mind you, but they made that model way, way too heavy. 280 kg is just a little over 617 pounds!

When I, or any other properly trained Model Builder, designs a model we want to make it as light as possible. Even when they are only made of bricks, with no metal armature, a large model can get heavy very quickly.

If you’ve watched the video all the way through, watch it again. On this second go round, notice the interior. They’ve built solid walls criss-crossed to give structural support. Although this will give support, it will also make it much heavier than it has to be.

In contrast, look at the hidden interior of my Perot Museum
Interior Bracing

Granted this is a smaller model being only 2 1/2 feet cubed, but you can clearly see the difference in sheer quantity of brick used. My model is just as structurally sound but instead of being hundreds of pounds, it only weighs about 60.

For further perspective check out this life-sized Ford Explorer made by LEGO

You can see that there are spaces in the interior structure, allowing strength with less weight. Even so, the Ford Explorer still weighs about as much as an actual car. 😉

As more and more companies have a building brick line (clearly copy-cats of our beloved LEGO) they want to create their own “impressive” large models. This has been done with mixed results. I’ve seen some that resemble what they are supposed to be but that do not have the beauty and well crafted design of a LEGO sculpture. This Ironman by Mega Bloks is a good example:
P1210802
(although I’m hoping for a stunning Super Hero model to surface now that LEGO has the DC and Marvel licenses. 😀 )

This Optimus Prime created by Kre-0 really impressed me at Comic Con last year
P1270675

But, in talking with the designer, I found out that she is also a former LEGO model builder.

I’m not saying that only LEGO trained Model Builders can build great models — the vast array of MOCs (My Own Creations) created by Adult (and child) LEGO fans is proof of that — but it helps. 😉