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Brick Breakdown: LEGO Colby City Showdown

by admin on May 15, 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. Today we will be looking at one of the LEGO Lone Ranger sets, the #79109 LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown. You can also check out the previously discussed LEGO building techniques found in official LEGO sets (including other LEGO Lone Ranger sets) at the end of this article. 🙂

LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown

It’s time to ride into town and have ourselves a little gun fight! Sadly, the LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown town is not as epic as the LEGO Modular Western Town on CUUSOO, but for the price you get some fairly nice Western-style buildings. If you have been following this Brick Breakdown series, you might recognize the wedge and hinge technique found in the bank’s design. This particular LEGO technique fascinates me every time I see it in a LEGO building. I think it’s because it requires the technique to be a core component of the building’s foundation. And when this happens, eventually you’ll need to face some tricky design issues when you reach the top. But I digress. The LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown is a new set so let’s look at some new LEGO techniques!

EXPLODING LEGO WALLS

A tried and true action element in LEGO’s bag-of-tricks is the exploding wall. You tend to find this whenever and wherever there are prisons or vaults of money. And in the LEGO Colby City Showdown set we have not one but two walls that explode! So let’s look at the finer points of what makes a good exploding wall.

#79109 LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown Review

Rule number one; the wall must be solidly built. It’s okay to have an oddly angled tile or fancy window, just so long as the wall will hold together. Remember, this section will be exposed to a bit of force. It becomes a lot less fun if you have to rebuild twenty some odd pieces every time you blow it up. Yes, it supposed to explode, but in a strategic manner. 🙄

Rule number two; reduce friction wherever you can. Tiles on the tops of walls and on the floor are almost always used for this technique to create a smooth surface. And when you still need a stud to hold everything together before the explosion usually LEGO jumper-plates are employed. This is because one stud has less friction than two studs.

#79109 LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown Details Review

Rule number three; centralize your trigger, if possible. This may mean the center of the wall, the top middle, or bottom middle. Since the idea is to move the entire wall away, a central trigger point is the best way to get the entire wall moving at the same time.

Rule number four; place the trigger as close to the points where the wall is still connected to the rest of the structure. Looking at the LEGO Colby City Showdown set, the prison uses a LEGO Technic-pin connection. (Note that the pin used is the frictionless kind – to reduce friction.) This is often a tough connection to break, however the plunger that is the trigger is right above the pin connection. This is all about using applied force efficiently.

#79109 LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown Explosion

Rule number five; whatever your trigger is, make sure it uses a smooth surface. The last thing you need after something is triggered is for the trigger to catch and hold what you want launched. In the LEGO Colby City set in the bank a small rounded lift-arm is used, while the prison has a flat ended axle. Both LEGO elements discourage anything from getting caught.

Rule number six; make sure you provide an easy way to reinstall the exploded wall. Look at the bank-vault wall. It features mini slopes on the top so it they catch when placing the wall section back into the building, and the window-ledge makes a perfect way to press it down onto the jumper studs.

#79109 LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown Explosion 2

In short, if you are having problems with your own exploding LEGO wall take a look at these rules. It is possible that your LEGO model could be improved by following one or more of these rules. Oh, and just to cover all the bases; make sure there is enough clearance for your wall to be blown away.

PILLAR THOSE LEGO HINGE-JOINTS

At the LEGO Lord of the Rings Battle of Helm’s Deep set we reviewed previously (see link at the end of this post), LEGO left the joints of the hinges exposed. This is because it partially added to the rugged design of the model. However, you may want to get a bit fancier to match something not as medieval. The face of the bank in a Western town like Colby City is a perfect example of something that needs a more modern look. LEGO builders who have played around with angling their elements know that the gaps the angles create can look a bit unsightly. However pillars in front of these openings make a world of difference.

#79109 LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown Bank Review

Notice how the pillars in front of the LEGO Colby City bank-building manage to transform the curved design into a seamless piece of architecture. Those familiar with LEGO Ninjago might remember seeing this technique used in Garmadon’s Dark Fortress. The only trick with using this technique is finding the right stud that lines up with the joint and the ability to attach it back to the building up top. This is absolutely the simplest way to overcome gaps created by LEGO hinges, and make LEGO models you create look professional. Of course, you will still have to deal with the challenges of making a convincing roof, but since the LEGO Colby City bank doesn’t really have a roof we won’t talk about that here.

APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN

Exploding LEGO walls are often overlooked as being simple designs. But when you get right down to it, they have a lot of elements that have to work together. And I didn’t even cover the fact that these elements need a frame so that other parts of the model don’t collapse. Honestly, exploding anything can be a clever action feature in any LEGO model, and it is something not many LEGO fans fully explore. I would recommend experimenting with this LEGO technique in your current LEGO creations and also play with it to discover new applications.

Calling putting a pillar in front of a joint a LEGO technique is a bit of a stretch. The thing though is that it represents an answer to a building problem that many LEGO fans face when building their own LEGO creations. What do I do about these gaps in my walls? Using a pillar has proven to be an efficient and stylish problem-solver. It also typically has the advantage of being slightly rotated. This not only gives you more angles to work with, but it provides a transition-step for blending angled walls. This concept does not have to stay with LEGO buildings only. Space-ships, cars, boats, trains, and anything else you build will on occasion have a joint-gap. In these cases like this you’ll need to construct some kind of a pillar to cover it. This is often done with the use of bars and clips to mount them over the gaps. You could also experiment with flexible LEGO tubing or beefing up bars with hollow bricks. It may be a lot of work, but it definitely gets good results.

Buy LEGO Lone Ranger Sets

So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO building techniques discussed here? Have you tried building exploding features into your LEGO creations? And how about dealing with covering up gaps created by hinge-building techniques? Feel free to share your own experiences, tips or ask questions in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the other reviews in this series:

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Strider May 15, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Wow, another great review. It makes me want to buy the set 🙂 The Lone Ranger theme seems to be better then I had first thought it to be. Amd exploding walls are one of my favorite functions too.

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Kimono Jay-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING- May 15, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Yep, I love those kind of features on sets! There really fun to play with 🙂

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Meneldur son of Garamar May 15, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Nice! Admin told me more reviews on the Lone Ranger sets would be coming out. This, 79108, and 79111 are my favorites. I especially like the colors and elements used on the buildings in the Colby City Showdown. I like the use of the hinges to make the walls on the bank angled and it gives it more of a realistic feel. The exploding functions are beautiful. Exploding walls are one of my favorite features in any Lego set. Also I think Lego did a wonderful job making sure the buildings looked western and old. Overall this is a great set in my mind.

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Meneldur son of Garamar May 15, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Oh yeah! And I also really like how on the buildings Lego made the base plates brown, like wood. Many buildings in that time would have boardwalks instead of sidewalks. That is yet another thing I like that made the set more western-styled. The “brick” bricks also give the set some realism as well.

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Kimono Jay-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING- May 15, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Guys..I’m think I’m starting to go into the dark ages! 🙁

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admin May 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Oh! That would be really bad… but it is also inevitable for most. Usually everyone goes thru a period of Dark Ages… but it’s still sad. 😕

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Strider May 16, 2013 at 1:59 PM

I got my first Lego set when I was five I think…it was a racers car with a wind up motor. Now they replaced it with a new one. After that I continued to build up my collection, and so I now have about five thousand bricks, yeah, nothing overly special yet but I am pleased with it. I went into my Dark Ages when I was eleven. It lasted about half a year. I had not yet been introduced to the lego community, (i.e. blogs and sites like this,) nor had I really delved into really complex strategic buildings. My advice; don’t completely abandon your bricks just yet. But if you don’t feel like playing with them, don’t make yourself. This will most likely result in you ending up disliking them even more, because you will feel you are obliged to do it and if you have to do something…it becomes less fun. Take Math for an example. Do other things, give the bricks a rest if you are tired of them, and eventually you will come back to your Legos. Don’t force yourself, do other things, and by all means don’t give them away. When I was going through my DA I traded a lot to my brother for other things and, (who would have guessed,) I now like Legos more then ever.

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admin May 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Strider, you make some really good points. Actually maybe we shoudl publish a post about this; “How to Survive the Dark Ages”, or something. 😉

I have heard over and over again from people how much they regret giving away their childhood LEGO sets. Or even worse is when a parent or other family member give them away for you. They will never be forgiven. So it is best to just box them up and put them away.

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Strider May 16, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Thanks Admin, a post on this topic is a great idea.

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Meneldur son of Garamar May 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM

I agree, Strider and Admin.

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admin May 16, 2013 at 9:45 PM

Yeah, I think so too. If you are up for it, you are welcome to write. 😉

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Strider May 17, 2013 at 12:26 PM

I wrote and sent it. Let me know if you get the email.

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admin May 17, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Yep, got it, let’s talk next week when I get back. I did glance thru it quickly and it looks good. 🙂

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Strider May 18, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Sounds great, thanks for letting me know.

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Kimono Jay-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING- May 15, 2013 at 12:02 PM

I think*

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Meneldur son of Garamar May 15, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Don’t go through the Dark Ages! Fortunately, my time in the Dark Ages didn’t last too long, only about a year. Still, it’s not a crime not to play with Legos though it’s great if you like them and they can be pretty awesome. You can do so much with them.

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Dr. Inferno May 15, 2013 at 5:04 PM

I immediately saw this title and went “OH NO, HE’S DOING REVIEWS ON COBY SETS NOW!” I’m glad I was wrong. Good review!

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Fikko3107 May 15, 2013 at 7:40 PM

To be honest, I think exploding walls are slowly becoming the next “Flick Missiles” or the next “Catapult”. (You know, overused gimmicks that LEGO throws in so kids can have more fun at the expense of getting a slightly less realistic model? The thing AFOLs really hate, since they rarely work properly?) However, I’m not exactly correct; Exploding walls are slightly more complex to build and it works better than those Flick Missiles. The only exploding wall I own is the Barrel Escape Hobbit set. The back of the jail cell blows away!

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Håkan May 16, 2013 at 5:42 AM

Though an exploding wall doesn’t get lost as easily as a missile.

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Fikko3107 May 16, 2013 at 5:59 AM

good point. Then again, it sort of depends on the size missile; but yeah, missiles in general are easy to lose.

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DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING (Seriously i have a mouth of lightning) :) May 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM

hey flick missiles are cool dude!..but..they are overused 😛

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Will May 16, 2013 at 1:03 AM

I have written reviews for all 6 Lone Ranger sets, just not the polybags. So expect more as time goes on.

Having built all the sets, LEGO really got their A+ team on this line. It’s all the small details, like the wood flooring and color palate choices, that make the sets above and beyond toys for the older fans.

I also worry that the exploding wall element is LEGO’s next flick missile/catapult. I will say, though, that the walls are all tastefully done and show a level of complexity that the is kind of missing from the missiles and catapults.

Of course, when it comes to break-away sets, the most phenomenal implementation of this that I’ve ever seen was in Pirates of the Caribbean White Cap Bay. Just experiencing the light house collapsing was unbelievable! I think it was one of the interesting builds that gave me a new appreciation for the breaking wall design.

Thanks for all your comments!

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Strider May 16, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Thanks for all your reviews 😀 Comments are the easy part. Not that I don’t mean what I say.

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Madelyn April 20, 2014 at 12:21 AM

ummm…. can you not have only old western banks please put more 2014 banks on there

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admin April 20, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Madelyn, these sets are related to the Lone Ranger film. There are other LEGO Banks – look at LEGO City. 😉

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