Recently I had the pleasure to build and play around with a very interesting and unique custom LEGO model by LEGO fan alanyuppie from Malaysia. It is basically a LEGO Transformers autobot; morphing from an innocent looking van into a giant robot, codenamed Metalhide. Metalhide is based on Ironhide, one of the main autobots from Transformers. 🙂
This is actually not the first LEGO Transformers model Alan built. If you check out his blog, you will see that he has a whole collection of amazing LEGO robots and autobots. And yes, these models actually transform; in other words you don’t have to rebuild the van into a robot like you would find in the official LEGO Creator sets, nor do you have to take any pieces off or put extra pieces on. You simply unfold the van into its bot-mode with a few smooth twists and turns of it’s various sections – just like a traditional Transformers toy.
Alan talks on his blog about how Metalhide came about (edited slightly for clarity): “Recently going through pictures of my past LEGO creations I came across an Ironhide prototype I made in yellow. I kept wondering why I put this project in limbo. Suddenly I felt an urge to bring this model to closure, so project Ironhide was re-born. Actually I was not too keen on the vehicle-mode at first (plain old boxy van), but since G1 Ironhide doesn’t have a ‘proper’ toy reference I was spurred to take on the challenge. The original Transformers Ironhide toy is different from its cartoon counterpart. The toy van transform into a mobile command/attack-center with a seat for human pilot. After browsing through numerous Ironhide illustrations I settled with a version with grey shoulders, white torso and grey thighs.” Here is a video of both the vehicle-mode and the bot-mode of Metalhide. Unfortunately the video doesn’t show the actual transformation process, but I have done it and it works… mostly.
If you have been building with LEGO for a while now you know that creating a transforming LEGO model is not an easy task, however it is undeniably fun, and something that likely most LEGO fans have tried at some point in their LEGO building career. In fact LEGO itself usually ads transformation features to their play-sets – just look at the LEGO Legends of Chima and LEGO Ninjago vehicles! However these transformation are in general fairly simple; folding wings, hidden weapons, cars or airships splitting into two separate vehicles, etc.
In case of Metalhide, the entire vehicle unfolds into a robot and vice-versa. An incredibly ambitious undertaking for sure, and there are some very-very clever building techniques used to achieve this. You can see on the pictures here that both the robot version and the van version are well-built and look good. The robot-mode has movable arms, legs, head, and of course giant guns. (The orange one shoots acidic/high-temperature stuff, while the blue one is for super-cooled liquids to freeze the target. Ironhide is a trusted body-guard of Optimus Prime, so yeah, he needs big weapons!). The vehicle mode of Metalhide is very interesting. Although it looks like a van on the outside, and it can roll around, inside it is jam-packed with the folded-in parts of the robot, and now the big guns are on top of the vehicle.
Such full transformation of one LEGO model to another is extremely impressive, but it also comes with its own set of challenges; it must be very well built and all parts locked in securely to be able to survive the transformation process. In regards to Metalhide, although I have successfully transformed my robot into van-mode, I’m not looking forward to do it again. This is probably due to the fact that I’m not as familiar with the model as the original creator, and most notably because there are a couple of sections (the arms and the cockpit) tend to fall off during the transformation process, due to lack of proper locking techniques. It’s a shame because other than this issue the rest of Metalhide transforms smoothly.
You might ask why I’m being critical of such an amazing LEGO creation. It would be enough to just congratulate the creator and be inspired by their model. The reason I’m including both the pros and cons of my experience while playing with this model is because Alan is planning to sell his LEGO Transformers (Metalhide is already available and more coming), and he asked me for feedback. It is one thing to build a LEGO creation for yourself and for others to admire, and a completely different thing to offer your model for sale so other people could build it.
From that perspective I would say that Metalhide is almost there, but not quite. The instructions to build the robot were easy to follow (although there were a couple of mixed-up steps), the final model is amazing, but the transformation process falls a short due to the sections I mentioned above falling off. An experienced LEGO builder could handle this, but someone less familiar with the building process and expecting the same quality and play-experience as from an official LEGO set would be disappointed, even frustrated. I have alerted Alan about the problems I ran into and he said he is going to fix them as soon as possible.
Having said all of that, if you are an experienced LEGO builder who is interested in the LEGO Metalhide Transformers model and would like to support a fellow LEGO fan, you can purchase the set at bricklabel.net. It is $120 and available in very limited quantity. You can also visit alanyuppie’s blog for more pictures of Metalhide here and here and other LEGO robots.
So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO Ironhide/Metalhide model? Did you ever attempt to build your own LEGO Transformers? feel free to share, ask questions, or discuss in the comment section below! 😉
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These are nice! Why doesn’t he upload them to LEGO Ideas?
I have suggested that too, but due to licensing issues it is not going to be possible for LEGO to produce these. Mattel owns the Transformers license. Big rivals with LEGO. 😉
I think it’s Hasbro that owns Transformers. But yeah, they have Construct-bots and Kreo so, pretty big rivals.
Oh, yes, sorry about that. You are correct. It is Hasbro. Same difference though. Another big rival of LEGO.
In my mind, you can’t make a toy license of another toy. It’s just fundamentally wrong. Then again, Kre-o makes Barbie sets right? Aren’t those Mattel?
As long as the parties agree eanything can happen. Kre-O already makes Transformers construction sets in a licensing deal with Hasbro, so LEGO is out of the picture for sure, at least until Kre-O’s license expires. And since the sets are nice and highly popular I doubt Hasbro will switch construction toy brands. But it could happen.
Great idea, love how the transformation!
Anyways, I’m back from my trip to West Virginia (it was awesome), and I have checked Lego Shop US thoroughly. The Star Wars, Chima, Technic, and Friends summer waves are up, as well as the Exo-suit, Research Institute, Arctic Ice Breaker, and Arctic Supply Plane. Lots coming out! 😀
Nice to have you back. Glad you had a great trip. Yeah, lots and lots of new sets are coming out in August! It is going to be an expensive month! 😀
For most people, though not me. Of what’s coming out, the only sets I’ll get are the Exo-suit and the B-wing. 😕 But there are lots of other previously released sets I want! 😉
Yeah, this has been an expensive year for LEGO and usually the best sets come out towards the second half of the year, starting from next month. So yeah, everything is awesome! Except my wallet. 😕
I’m always fascinated with LEGO Mechs in general. It’s one thing to make a good mech, but another to make a good mech that can be rebuilt into a van. But Transformers MOCs tend to step it up further; they can actually transform without disassembling! That’s pretty cool, IMO. I remember an article I read from a while back, I think…An Indonesian AFOL actually made a transforming Optimus Prime MOC. It was amazing! The face especially, was commendable, since it completely uses bricks. I remember that the creator gave this great tip, that if you want to make say, a LEGO Mecha MOC based on a show or something, you need to be familiar with the topic. You need to look at the topic better, but instead of focusing on the action and such, you need to notice how the joints work, how this particular bit could be made with these pieces and what functions does that Mecha has, and then try to implement it in your model as best as you can.
I just remembered this tip recently, and I think it’ll be kind of neat if my Robot models can have call backs to those old Mecha shows like Macross or Voltron; I’ve never really been an avid viewer of Giant Robot Animes; so I made the resolve to start. I’m not going to crawl too far back, I guess, starting with this Neon Genesis Evangelion I’ve been hearing so much about and make my way through others I’ve heard a lot of like Eureka Seven and Gurren Langann…
Oh wait, I forgot to ask this in the last post. You probably didn’t notice it admin, but could you tell whether the model used jarringly “Illegal” techniques?
Everything seems pretty legit. Took me several hours to put together the thing so I don’t remember all the steps, plus there were a couple of mistakes in the instructions which made it even longer to finish the model, but yeah, I don’t remember anything illegal. It is a solid model, and once the problem with the arms is fixed it should be quite awesome. The transformation is really interesting.
Off-topic, but USA Today confirmed the Batman UCS Tumbler 76023. See more here: http://brickset.com/article/11824/ucs-tumbler-confirmed
Looks cool! 😀
Just awesome! 😛
It’s me alanyuppie here!
thanks for the in depth review and (puns ahead) constructive criticisms. Well I am personally frustrated too with the flaws mentioned and have taken immediate action last week to improve on that . Can’t believe it took me a single evening to do that (shall upload photos of the new fix in our facebook page soon) . It’s now as solid as ever,especially with the simplification of the shoulders.The waist joint is easily strengthened with implementation of one technic pin on top of the current 4-stud connection. Finally, transforming the figure from one mode to another will not resort in causing madness.
Sometimes, I tend to took the “longer path” and overcomplicates things when building, apply unnecessary swivelling /folding that compounded to the lack of structural integrity of the whole design (as a Transformers fans, I love complex transformations in toys.. as favored triple changers too!).
Ah yes.. .regarding LEGO Ideas, you guys are correct. There is no way I can pull through when it comes to licensing. But I’m not giving up on that yet. Perhaps one day I will post a generic transforming mecha (not from Transformers universe of course) there and hopefully might get your support.
thanks again =)
People seem to be amazed at transforming lego sets, and quite sympathetic, even apologetic, to legos/kreos lack of ability or inclination to make actual transforming sets. There used to be a brick company called Tente, they produced sets which were at the time, far advanced of legos sets. They had a whole series of transforming sets. They changed from spaceships, trucks, aircraft etc into robots, without having to take them apart and reassemble. This was done in the 80’s, with 80’s tech. So you are telling me it is acceptable for lego/kreo to be so lazy as to neglect the effort to make actual trnsforming kits in this day and age?
LEGO does make all kinds of transforming sets. Just look at the LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Legends of Chima line; they are full of transforming vehicles. LEGO however doesn’t own the Transformers license, so they can’t make official Transformers sets. That is up to LEGO fans to build themselves. 😉