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Brick Breakdown: Arkham Asylum – Part 2

by admin on April 9, 2013

in Building Techniques

(Written by William)

In this Brick Breakdown series I review official LEGO sets, from the perspective of looking at interesting building techniques we can all learn from. Here we are continuing to look at the  #10937 LEGO Super Heroes Arkham Asylum Breakout set in detail. In the first part we reviewed the architectural elements and the modular features of the set. You can read it here: Brick Breakdown: LEGO Arkham Asylum Part 1

#10937 LEGO Super Heroes Arkham Asylum

Now that some of the larger building techniques of the LEGO Arkham Asylum have been discussed, it’s time to get to the finer points of this set. These are the details that make this model shine as a triumph of LEGO engineering. So without any further delay, let’s get to the build. :)

:arrow: LAYERING IN CONTEXT

The LEGO Arkham Asylum has some intricate uses for parts in very novel ways. For example, the heads of the gargoyles are nothing more than frog pieces. The decorations around the stained-glass windows incorporate handcuffs. And the skirted gowns of the two dark angel-statues at the front gate are achieved by using ordinary slopes layered in a certain pattern.

LEGO Arkham Asylum Review - Gargoyle

Most LEGO builders would be intimidated by such unique parts usage. This creates a major obstacle in gaining the confidence to reach such high level of building skills. However it is important to notice that while the LEGO elements are being used in extremely novel ways here, they are not basic LEGO bricks. They are all fairly interesting shapes, so there is the possibility to look at them abstractly.

LEGo Arkham Asylum Review - Window

The trick for this technique is all about giving the LEGO elements you are using a context. For example the slopes for the angel don’t look like a skirt when you remove the wings and minifigure torso. Each part taken away from the gargoyle eliminates the context it is in, and it dissolves into a lot of strange pieces attached together.

LEGO Arksham Asylum Review - Angel

It is the context in which the LEGO parts are assembled that makes them more than a bunch of random pieces. The best way to approach this technique is to take an oddly shaped LEGO element and turn it over in your hand. Then ask yourself, “What does this kind of look like when it’s turned this way?” This will give you the seed of an idea as to what context to layer it in.

:arrow: RULE OF 2-TO-5

Probably one of the most useful LEGO building techniques is found in the tall and thin windows of the LEGO Arkham Asylum set. This is an excellent example of the Rule of 2-to-5 ratio for building sideways. So you will have two studs of space for every five plates of thickness. So let’s look at the windows. Each window opening is four studs wide. Using the 2-to-5 rule, this means we should have ten plates of thickness. So let’s count. There is a railing which counts as one, a plate that makes it two, and a small panel which is the height of a brick which adds three more. This brings the total up to five. Since the design is exactly the same on the other side, five and five make ten.

LEGO Arkham Asylum Windows

And of course you can break this rule to add gaps in your design. Take for instance the broken window. The mini-slopes are only two plates of thickness and the clear tiles are only one plate thick. This results in gaps that are roughly a brick in thickness.

LEGO Arkham Asylum Broken Window

There are some limitations to this LEGO technique to keep in mind. It can not be used with brackets since the bracket contributes a small but noticeable thickness. It must be used with LEGO bricks that have studs flush against their sides. Which means you cannot use the headlight-brick (Erling Brick) since it has a recessed stud. It is also important to note that many of these sideways designs will need to rest on tiles since the typical studs will intrude. Note that the base of the windows are tiled surfaces. You may also consider reinforcing such a design in a framework to reduce its fragility.

:arrow: APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN

Layering in context teaches us that our collection of LEGO is filled with fabulous options. That Technic pin is waiting to be used as a cannon, a hilt of a larger sword, or a decoration on a pillar. All you need to do is find an interesting element and take some time looking at it. It is not the piece itself that is interesting, but how it is used in a larger picture.

As for the Rule of 2-to-5, it is a very advanced technique that is simple to use. It creates the possibility of thinner lines that are virtually impossible to create any other way. This LEGO technique will stretch your special reasoning-skills while increasing your building options. It’s not the easiest technique to incorporate due to its fragile nature, but it is well worth the effort when you see the final outcome.

LEGO Super Heroes Sets - DC Super Heroes

What do you think? How do you like the building techniques and embellishments of the LEGO Super Heroes Arkham Asylum set? Have you tried using similar techniques in your own LEGO creations? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below! ;)

And you might also like to check out the LEGO Super Heroes section for more news, reviews and discussions, or select from the following posts:

LEGO DC Super Heroes

FREE Exclusive Holiday Set with purchases of $99 or more; set 1 of 2. Valid 10.1.14-10.31.14 or while supplies last.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-NINJA OF LIGHTNING April 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM

First off, great review! Second, THAT SET HAS SOME OF THE BEST DETAILS I HAVE SEEN! I mean the grey statues on the roof, I love the grey frogs for their face! It looks like it actually has eyes :D I would love to hav that set but..I am not the Biggest fan of super heroe sets (especially DC super heroes) And it is a lot of money..I would rather save my money for Star Wars and The Lord of the rings ;) Bit anyway, great review!

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:24 PM

It’s funny you mention Star Wars since that gargoyle body is actually based around a battledroid body from Star Wars. I don’t blame you, even being a superhero fan myself, buying the set was a big pill to swallow financially. I’m a bit of the opposite in that I can’t afford all the Star Wars stuff, but it really doesn’t take much to see all the value in those high priced sets. It’s just one of those things where ultimately your wallet is going to decide what you buy.

Thanks for commenting! Glad you liked it.

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DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-NINJA OF LIGHTNING April 9, 2013 at 10:18 AM

But anyway*

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Kimono Jay-Mouth Of Lightning April 9, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Also I love the servalance cameras :D

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:26 PM

I didn’t mention those, but when I put them together, I thought that was a fantastic touch. There are specifically two surveillance cameras and if you look at the sticker for the security desk, it has 2 images to represent the two cameras in the set. It’s such a minor detail, but it was a fantastic use to recognize that Arkham Asylum is still an asylum and in the modern era. It’s a wonderful way to state something subtly without ruining the aesthetics. Nice catch!

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Kimono Jay-Mouth Of Lightning April 9, 2013 at 11:07 AM

This set should be in the modular buildings theme is is so large and detailed :D

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:27 PM

It definitely stands up the requirements of detail that the modular buildings require. I think the only that really disqualifies it is that it doesn’t fit the city block format. But honestly, how cool would it be? Yeah, there’s my Palace Cinema and Fire Station, right next to my insane asylum. ;-)

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NRGkai April 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

love the glass

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lego trooper 91 April 10, 2013 at 10:12 AM

yah its relly creative the way they did it.

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:29 PM

They managed to not only create depth with the sideways building, but form glass panes by using these specific elements. It was definitely a feature of the building that is worth repeating in other models. It not only forms a good window, but the design also takes into consideration the framing and windowsill. I know it’s definitely going in to one of the next buildings I design.

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Strider April 9, 2013 at 12:06 PM

I really appreciate the great reviews you do :) It’s nice to pick up new techniques and tricks. By the way I was thinking about purchasing this set, do you think it is worth it?

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Rin Kagamine April 9, 2013 at 6:25 PM

If you have the money time and have a creative mind. Yes I recommend it. Im poor have time and a REALLY creative mind so I dont have it… :) hope I could help….>>>>>

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Strider April 9, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Thanks Rin Kagamine, I don’t have the money, was wondering if it would be worth it to save up for it.

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lego trooper 91 April 9, 2013 at 9:33 PM

yah i don’t have any money so i am not gettin a big lego set any time soon ;)

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Rin Kagamine April 10, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Ok. Your welcome….>>>>

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:32 PM

No matter how you look at it, the price is steep. Having built it, there was no point of the build that I was disappointed with. The thing that put it over the edge for me was that I like the superhero line, both DC and Marvel. So for me, it was a no brainer. There’ll be no doubt in my mind that when this set is discontinued, you could get double what you paid for it on the secondary market. It also works well as a play set and a display piece. So the value is there. You really won’t feel shortchanged. I just say, if you have an opportunity to get some sort of deal/discount, maximize it since you are playing a high price.

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lego trooper 91 April 9, 2013 at 1:11 PM

cool review

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Thanks!!

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ninjanut April 9, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Nice review you really know how to find this stuff!!!
keep up the good work! :mrgreen:

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Will do! :-D

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Rin Kagamine April 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM

>>>>Interesting… i just noticed the frog on the gargoyl.(Is that how its said?) well I would buy it for B-day… But Ami-Ami…. so nope…

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:35 PM

That frog is probably the one of the coolest unconventional uses for a piece I have seen in a long time. It just looks so right as the face of the gargoyle. Almost too the point where it’s a bit creepy! And that’s saying a lot because when I first saw the frog piece, my first impression of it was “well, this looks stupid.” But this set has definitely proven me wrong.

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lego trooper 91 April 9, 2013 at 9:27 PM

i think i want the bat cave because it is cheaper so i culd get it more easily and i relly like all the big walls that it comes to and i like bane to he is a relly cool lego villan ;)

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:38 PM

The bat cave is definitely a set that’s great for parts. The clear dish with the bat symbol, the tall girders, and the walls make it highly adaptable for building your own big creation.

As for Bane, I wish he was a tad bigger, but he definitely comes with a cool vehicle. The drill mechanism is fantastic. And it’s similar to Cole’s Earth Driller in how the drill works. So Bane gets some cool love in the set.

And you’re right about the price. Looking at what you get, you kind of expect to pay $10 more. So the value is really there.

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Vani April 10, 2013 at 7:28 AM

I really like the layering info that you provide. I often turn a photo/picture or other media upside down to allow myself to see elements and possibilities that would otherwise remain hidden. Your idea of looking at pieces from different angles and asking what it resembles is quite similar. Good job!

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Will April 13, 2013 at 2:42 PM

It’s probably one of the hardest things to teach a person since it relies so heavily on that person’s imagination. So the best I can express it is giving fans advice on how to put yourself in the right frame of mind to find these interesting uses. From there it’s up to the builder and I’ve definitely seen builders who have taken this concept to a whole new level. A good example of this is looking for fan MOCs of insect builds. These MOCs are some of the most innovative ways to use elements, and they’re all over flickr and anywhere good MOCs are shown. I just use keywords like LEGO, insect and MOC.

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