(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 #21110 LEGO Ideas Research Institute. You can also check out the previously discussed LEGO techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end of this article. 🙂
If you’re keeping up with what’s hot in the world of LEGO, you know fans are going crazy for this LEGO Ideas set. This is no surprise, as you get three nice scientist ladies, some pieces in new colors, and essentially three interesting models. However, as nice as the astronomer and chemist minifigs are, there is no doubt that the paleontologist steals the show. And the skeleton of the dinosaur is downright inspiring. The set does have a few special pieces, but you can still build your own with some slight modifications, in case you’re inclined to do so. You will see that most of the interesting building techniques are used in the dino – everything else is pretty standard build – so that’s what we will focus on.
➡ CREATING PATTERNS WITH LEGO
We briefly talked about this technique before as larger sets like the #10937 LEGO Superheroes Batman Arkham Asylum and the #10237 LEGO Lord of the Rings Tower of Orthanc use this technique to great effect. Essentially you need interesting patterns to break up the monotony of large models. The obvious difference in this set is that it is not large. This means we get an example of the technique used in a slightly different way.
Take a look at the dinosaur’s spine; the majority of it is made up of a repeated series of modified plates with some small round plates thrown in for shape and spacing. Ultimately what you end up with is a pattern, however – unlike in large constructions – this is not an accenting method to help decorate a wall or window, but it is providing the main structure for the model.
The bottom line is that when you are making patterns on a smaller scale you have to be aware that it may also need to serve a much more functional role. Which means that how the pattern looks can’t be the number one concern, like it would be on larger models. A smaller creation has to put structural stability on the same level as the decorative aspect. Here you will see that the spine is reinforced at the front with a stand and at the back with the legs.
➡ DOUBLE CLIPPING WITH LEGO
Another fascinating technique you can learn when looking at the dino is the use of clips; some of them are used for the structure of the model, whereas others are for shaping the skeleton. You can usually tell the difference by looking at how many clips are used to secure a section. Start with the structurally less important elements; the barbs for the ribs and the arms are all held using a single clip for each. Now look at the stand in front; it uses a clip at the base and a clip on the skeleton. Since these clips are working in tandem, you can tell that they have a bit more important than just pure decoration. This may all get a little confusing with all the extra clips thrown in, but ultimately you have to look at what is being supported. You will find that – for the most part – clips are doubled when they serve more than just a decorative purpose, and you can get away with using single clips when they are not supporting a structure.
The feet have to be solid, therefore each foot is locked in place with two clips. Next, the hips are secured to the legs with two clips locking them in. And because the spine needs to bend, another two clips are used to achieve the effect. Then the shoulders are locked in place with two more clips. Finally, as the head needs to hold its integrity, two clips are used for the top of the skull and two for the lower jaw. As for the stand, the clips are important to secure it, as it helps the legs to hold up the entire spine. The neck on the other hand does not need to hold a lot of weight, and in addition it makes a great pivot point, so a single clip is all that’s required.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
We often don’t think about creating patterns in smaller models simply because we are trying to fit lots of different shapes in a small area. Take for example a sink in a house; there is the faucet, the tank that holds the water, possibly a counter, and you can still try to make a drain. That is a lot of very different shapes. Pattern creation requires a degree of regularity. This is why the spine of the dino is such a good example. Next time you want to make something that has a consistent shape, you might want to consider pattern creation as an option.
As for doubling clips, this is less of a technique you have to practice, but rather a good habit to get into. Working with clips is often a delicate form of LEGO model creation. They are some of the most susceptible pieces to break, so learning to use them appropriately is a good idea. Generally speaking two for structure and one for decoration is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Please note that the #21110 LEGO Ideas Research Institute is shown as sold out at the time of writing this review, however according to this blog-post at the official LEGO Ideas website it will be back soon, so keep checking back at the LEGO Ideas section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? How do you like the LEGO Research Institute? Were you able to get the set as of yet? Have you built it already? Which of the three small vignettes do you like the most? And 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: Emmet’s Contruct-O-Mech
- 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