(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 the #76009 LEGO Super Heroes Superman: Black Zero Escape. You can check out the previously discussed LEGO building techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end. 🙂
The Man of Steel is finally getting his fair share of LEGO time! Of course, it’s not LEGO’s fault. After all, Batman has a vehicle and gadget for nearly every occasion. Regardless, Superman is ready to shine! I can’t say I’m a huge Superman fan, so I don’t really know who the guy in the black is, but boy, does he look awesome! Speaking of which, if you do know who this villain is I’d like to hear about him in the comment section below. Now let’s look at the techniques used in this LEGO Super Hero set!
➡ LEGO SLIDING-DOOR TECHNIQUE
You’d think that sliding-doors would get used more frequently in LEGO sets, as they are quite fun. But for whatever reason they don’t appear too often. But we can still learn to build a good sliding-door mechanism that we can incorporate into our LEGO models. For starters, sliding-doors work best with wide rails. These LEGO pieces are specially designed to hold a door in place while providing a smooth surface for the door to slide in between. Generally the same length rail is required at the top and bottom of your door.
Next you need a stop. This is what prevents the door from flying off the rails on either side. The stop can be located on the door itself, and use the door frame to stop against. In the case of the LEGO Super Heroes Black Zero Escape set, we have a small modified brick with a bar off the side that runs into the sides of the door-panel. Granted; an easier method to use is to have two stops one at each end of the door’s movement. Of course, the more you can hide a stop, the better it will look. The other factor of a sliding-door mechanism is to reduce friction wherever you can. As mentioned earlier, the rails are excellent for this purpose. As for the door itself, you’ll want to cover up any exposed studs with a tile. The larger the tile the better since every groove between tiles provides one more point at which the door can catch.
It is possible to make your own rails for your slide instead of the pre-made ones used here. A typical choice would be tiles. Just remember that the more tiles used, the more grooves there will be to catch on. But if you have no other option, make sure to use the longest tiles possible. Ultimately, that is all that’s involved; you make a frame with smooth surfaces, then provide extra room so whatever fits in the frame can move back and forth in that free space. It is a bit more intensive work than just adding a normal door, but it has a very nice look and functionality.
➡ ANGLED LEGO MODEL ORIENTATION
The odd ship that comes with this set is meant to be held at a particular angle. This brings up a few interesting design challenges. The biggest of these is showing it to a person who knows nothing about the thing you designed your model around and having them understand what it is. People are so used to looking at LEGO with the studs up. Of course, building something upside down can also work well. But when a LEGO model has to be held in a 45 degree angle to make sense, you’ll have issues. The best way to approach this problem is by the use of angled elements. Notice how the ship has various wedges with their own odd angles. It also has a couple of guns pointing out in a strange direction. In cases like these, people handling the model will begin turning it based on the various angles they see in order to make the ship look level.
For this particular ship, the angle of the seat is the biggest clue to the direction it needs to be held. This is reinforced by the boosters in the back and the guns in the front. If you need to know anything about making odd angles work for you, it is to break up any straight lines that go in a direction you don’t want and build features that will look like they go together when held the right way.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
Doors are not the only element that can slide on a LEGO model, however they are the easiest feature to work with. I recommend beginning with doors and working your way up to more complicated mechanisms. Slides are excellent when it comes to using multiple techniques together, so get the basics down with doors first, then start playing around with the possibilities. 😀
Ships of the space-faring variety often present us with these really strange angles. These tilts and turns provide builders with a whole new way to look at their pieces, but they also present a visual problem for the uninitiated. When it comes down to design, just make sure you have created new straight lines at the angle you want and people will have no problem orienting themselves to what you have built.
So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO building techniques in the LEGO Super Heroes Superman set? Have you used any of the techniques discussed here in your own LEGO creations? 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:
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Tower of Orthanc
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO City Dump Truck
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Monster Fighters Ghost Train
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Silver Mine Shootout
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Constitution Train Chase
- Brick Breakdown: Ninjago Temple of Light
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Comanche Camp
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lone Ranger Stagecoach
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Star Wars AT-RT
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Arkham Asylum Part 1
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Arkham Asylum Part 2
- Brick Breakdown: Legends of Chima Polybags