(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 #70403 LEGO Castle Dragon Mountain. You can check out the previously discussed LEGO building techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end of this article. 🙂
I have to start out by saying that I’m a huge LEGO Castle fan, and I always look forward to new LEGO Castle sets; especially big fantasy creatures like dragons! Honestly, I was expecting more from the LEGO Castle Dragon Mountain set; something bigger and more substantial. However I do understand that the dragon elements cost a lot to produce and they are ultimately worth about half the price of the set. But because I do like dragons, I will let my disappointment go for the sake of that big beasty. And I would say that if you are planning to pick up LEGO Castle Dragon Mountain, you pretty much need to have the same perspective – mainly because what you build is closer in size and detail to a $30 set than a $50 one. Like I said before; the dragon adds a lot to the price tag. That’s not to say the design is bad, just be prepared that what you end up building is smaller than you might expect. But enough with the griping and time to look at the techniques! 😀
➡ SELECTING THE TONE OF YOUR LEGO MODELS
Dark, forbidding places have an abundance of tone. At a glance you can easily tell whether a place is good or evil. For example look at the Tower of Orthanc in the LEGO Lord of the Rings series. Once you see it, there is no surprise that the wizard is a badguy. So the question is how to come up with the right tone for your LEGO model?
It all comes down to how we associate various things. In the LEGO Castle Dragon Mountain set there are a lot of barbs and pointed slopes – these are things we associate with claws and teeth. There are also old vines and spider-webs – these are things we associate with age and ruins. The colors on the bad side are dark-gray, black, and red – representing scary unknown, and sinister things – while on the good guys side we get friendlier colors. This bit of contrast also works on the level of the equipment used by the minifigs. The badguys have weapons that are a darker metal than the good guys. All of this represents tone; which gives your creation character.
➡ THE ASYMMETRY OF EVIL
Asymmetric building with LEGO is the technique that has you constructing one side of a model different from the other. This is a really great technique for creating something that needs to look random – like elements of nature. However, when used in a building, it often comes across as the structure being under some evil influence.
This idea comes from how we as humans perceive beauty. Symmetrical features are how we identify balance and a sense of attractiveness. So when you throw in something a bit off-kilter or lopsided, we start thinking of the thing as ugly. In general, something that is evil should be ugly to us. Now look at the LEGO Castle Dragon Mountain model; one side is taller than the other. Also, one side is wider than the other. Meanwhile, we use the small bridge as a dividing line to compare the two sides because it is one of the most symmetrical things in the set. Ultimately we get a building that looks evil – now you know why.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
One of the biggest benefits of LEGO is that it allows us to create and tell stories out of our imagination. Character and tone are important elements in how these stories come across to others. Knowing how to express what we want to convey with shape and color is a fundamental aspect every good LEGO builder should have a grasp on. And when you do, your LEGO models will stand out all the more.
Interesting fact about asymmetry being evil; LEGO had a number of parents complain about their Blacktron space series. They said that the sets were too evil and they didn’t want to expose their children to that type of influence. Little did the parents know, but LEGO never thought of that series as evil. They merely built asymmetric structures in dark colors. It was the parents’ own associations with these features that made them think it was evil.
So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO building techniques in the LEGO Castle Dragon Mountain set? Do you pay attention to the tone and symmetry of your LEGO creations and what kind of mood do they convey? 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 Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Ninjago Golden Dragon
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Superman Black Zero Escape
- 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