(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 #79008 LEGO Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush. You can check out the previously discussed LEGO building techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end of this article. 🙂
When I first heard about the #79008 LEGO Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush set it took me a moment to remember where a pirate ship fit into the story of the Lord of the Rings. Then I recalled the ghosts and Peter Jackson’s cameo in the movies and it all came back to me. Frankly, there are very few scenes the ship appears in, especially when you do a marathon of watching all the movies in their extended editions. At any rate, LEGO Lord of the Rings gets a pirate ship in its line-up; giving a fantastic addition to the series, while still leaving plenty of options open for future sets. Now let’s get to the interesting LEGO techniques used in Pirate Ship Ambush set!
➡ DECEPTIVE LEGO SLOPES
It’s pretty obvious that a ship will need some very “un-square” elements to create a realistic design. That is why LEGO made the specialized hull pieces for the base of its ship. However, when the front and back sections of the hull need to be raised, LEGO designers don’t always use the specialized elements. The reason for this is because it allows for more opportunities to create small distinctions from ship to ship. This however also presents a new problem; many of the LEGO pieces that could potentially work are not sloped exactly to fit a ship. Therefore, you need to engage in a bit of deceptive slope-work.
Essentially, you figure out what is the most important angle for the parts to be in to make the ship look good, and that becomes the primary characteristic you design around. In the LEGO Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush set the front and back sections of the ship use inverted slopes to point to the ends of the ship, leaving a very odd squareness to the sides. This is where knowing how to work with LEGO slopes comes in handy.
One way to use this LEGO technique is to add context around the imperfect slopes. In this case, LEGO designers sandwiched the slopes in between some highly specialized elements, then masked what they could to hide the imperfections. Finally, they distract the eyes with all the various detail-work; wings, blades, shields all vying for your attention, while taking your eyes away from vaguely shaped bottom. Taken to this extreme, they make an awkward design look completely appropriate.
➡ UNDERSTANDING YOUR LEGO SHIP
Making a LEGO ship looks simple at first; have a boat-bottom, rudder, steering, and a mast with a sail and you’re done, right? Well, that can work, but it won’t look as impressive as the ship of someone who has done their homework. Let’s look at the finer details of the LEGO Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship to get an idea of what I’m talking about. For starters, this is a pirate-ship. However, it is not a ship from the golden era of real pirates, rather it is from a fantasy-realm where technology is not as advanced. Hence the lack of cannons for example. However it does have some pirate-ish details; it has a ram on the front made for attacking other ships. It also has low side-walls, which is a common modification that pirates make to aid in boarding. It’s highly armored with very little reserved for trade or passengers. And it looks like it is built for speed. How can we tell? Well, it has a very shallow hull and the sails have no rigging – all indicating a smaller, lighter ship. But there are three sails; more than a ship this size would have, giving it speed. If compared to a 1700’s real pirate ship, this would probably be classified as a modified pinnace – a longship that was made for shallow waters and maneuverability. It really could not handle long voyages or go in deep waters.
Remember how I mentioned it was important that The LEGO Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship is a fantasy throw-back? It makes sense that their ship design is not built for long ship trips since the technology would not be as readily affordable. Also, the mercenaries this ship was taken from were said to primarily engage in coastal raids which fits the boat’s design. Another signature feature of this ship is the triangular sails. Most pirate ships utilize a square sail for greater hauling power. Even modern sail-boats use two triangular sails connected to a single mast. This ship has three different masts which indicate a fairly inefficient design – again indicating a cruder technology.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
It is often the case that LEGO does not have the exact piece you need when it comes to specific angles. The solution for this tends to come from creative applications of various building techniques. Like utilizing slopes for their most important angle then deceive the viewer’s eye from the imperfections.
As for LEGO ships, every little detail paints a distinct characteristic of how that ship is used. A lot of guns may indicate a warship or pirate ship based on their number. Of course that many guns also represent a heavier ship which would require more sails. This in turn will suggest the need for certain amounts of rigging and so on. The bottom line is that a good LEGO ship could be slapped together real quick, but a great LEGO ship will require some planning and adding logical and realistic details.
So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO building techniques in the LEGO Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush set? Do you like LEGO ships? Have you experimented with making your own? Did you pay attention to providing realistic details? 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 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