(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 #70814 The LEGO Movie Emmet’s Construct-O-Mech. You can also check out the previously discussed LEGO techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end of this article. 🙂
The biggest, coolest, baddest thing Emmet builds in The LEGO Movie is the Construct-O-Mech. Yes, he also designed the double-decker couch, which is pretty sweet… especially if you have a lot of buddies. The #70814 LEGO Construct-O-Mech does include a couple of skeletons, and an angry – though still adorable – version of Unikitty, but the rest of the set is all mech. There’s no dinky catapult, no Micro Manager, just intense bipedal goodness. So let’s see what makes this set a great teacher of techniques.
➡ FAUX DESIGN WITH LEGO
Most of the time LEGO sets simply build what they are meant to be. For example a fire-truck is a truck used for fighting fires, and a LEGO fire-truck looks pretty much like the real thing. Rarely do you see a level of abstraction in LEGO sets where something looks like it was built out of something else. Of course children do this kind of building all the time, but as far as official LEGO designs, The LEGO Movie sets are some of the first to really embrace this concept wholeheartedly.
This is not to say there haven’t been sets that combine two different concepts – you can just look at the LEGO Legends of Chima and LEGO Ninjago lines for examples – rather, what you don’t see much of is something decorated to look like it was made of components from something else. And this is a subtle, but very important difference. In the first method, the way you go about planning the model forces you to combine the ideas from the very first pieces. On the other hand, if a model only has faux elements you can wait to integrate them at a later point in the design process.
When you use a faux design your primary concern isn’t structural stability nor is it functional use – although you can certainly work a functional element into the design. Your goal is all about manipulating color and shape, because these two factors will allow you to sculpt practically anything onto an existing design.
For example, let’s look at the feet of the LEGO Construct-O-Mech. First of all the feet needed to be big enough. This has nothing to do with faux design itself, but the structural integrity of the set. Once this important feature was figured out the treads and other decorations were added to make the feet look like they belonged to an excavator. If you remove these decorations you would still have feet that keep the model standing.
This same principle is true for the arms and hands of the mech as well. Once the core is built, you can add pretty much anything from spinning claws to a chomping face. The important thing is that the faux elements can be decided on last. And this is what makes this technique so useful; it shows us that we are not forced to finish a model as we build various parts. LEGO fans who are familiar with LEGO Hero Factory sets know this technique all too well; when they want to make a different mech/robot, all they have to do is re-skin a similar frame and they are done.
➡ MOUNTING WITH LEGO
Sometimes you just don’t know what will work in a spot of your LEGO creation. This could be because you are not yet sure of how much space you have to work with, or you aren’t ready to make a decision. In such situations mounting is your best friend. There are dozens of ways to leave open a mounting-spot that you can use later. It can be as simple as some free studs, or the option that will fit nearly any situation, is an axle-brick. There is nothing as secure as a good old axle connection; it can hold a good deal of weight, and there is enough variety of connectors to angle things in virtually any direction.
So if you are building studs up, add in a 1×2 brick with axle-hole. If you are using some sideways building, throw in a 2×2 round brick with axle-hole. Once you are ready to figure out what needs to be mounted, the hard work has already been done. You can see this technique used in the LEGO Construct-O-Mech at shoulders; the two mixer barrels, and the two crane booms. Each piece is given a connector to determine its angle, and then the object being mounted is added. As you can see, once you incorporate a simple mounting option you can take advantage of it later, and pretty much the sky is the limit to what you can add.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
Understanding faux designs is nothing more than understanding how to prioritize while you are building with LEGO. Consider how you make a house; you don’t start with the window decorations first, rather you begin with floors and walls. Faux design is similar to this concept. In many ways it is easy, on the other hand it will test your ability to give the finishing touched to a model and work with shapes and colors effectively. Mastering these technique will strengthen your building skills in other areas as well.
As far as mounting goes, there is a wide range of ways to leave mounting points on your LEGO model. You may not know exactly what you want to mount, but it is useful to know if is going to be something light weight or heavy. If what you are adding is going to be light, you may be okay with clips and bars or locking finger-hinges. In cases where you aren’t sure, then taking advantage of things like pins and axles will be much more reliable.
What do you think? How do you like the LEGO Construct-O-Mech? Do you have the set? Have you built it already? Do you use similar techniques 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 Forest Animals
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO King’s Castle
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Cinderella’s Castle
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO MetalBeard’s Sea Cow
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO MetalBeard’s Duel
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Minecraft Sets
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Disney Princess Sets
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Back to the Future DeLorean
- Brick Breakdown: The LEGO Movie Ice Cream Truck
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Parisian Restaurant
- Brick Breakdown: The LEGO Movie Flying Flusher
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO The Hobbit Dol Guldur Battle
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Winter Village Cottage
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Winter Village Market
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Lord of the Rings Council of Elrond
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Castle Dragon Mountain
- 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