(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 #21109 LEGO Ideas Exo Suit. You can also check out the previously discussed LEGO techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end of this article. 🙂
So far everything that has been released from the LEGO Ideas/LEGO CUUSOO platform has been something very unique with a fresh look at LEGO model creation. And the #21109 LEGO Ideas Exo Suit is no exception, in fact it takes us to even newer levels. The LEGO Exo Suit blends the worlds of LEGO Constraction (Construction + Action) figures and LEGO System in such a complex yet seamless way – basically creating a bridge between the two – giving LEGO fans lots of learning opportunities.
Normally a LEGO builder will specialize in either LEGO Constraction or LEGO System. Of course, the very best builders are proficient in both methods, but the reason for most people to choose one or the other is due to the fact that LEGO Constraction and LEGO System elements – and the way a person approaches building with them – are quite different. Even though all LEGO pieces have at least some common interconnectivity, most people tend to use these elements separately. However when you are able to combine the two different building methods, you widen the possibilities of what can be done with LEGO exponentially. The LEGO Exo Suit gives us great lessons on how this can be accomplished.
➡ LEGO CONSTRACTION & LEGO SYSTEM BLEND
For starters, most LEGO models that blend these two styles will usually incorporate LEGO Constraction as the framework and LEGO System for detailing. This is primarily because LEGO Constraction has a high degree of functionality, which means that when an arm moves or a knee bends, it is the LEGO Constraction that defines how that works. Since this is a crucial element in designing a moving model, it makes sense that LEGO Constraction provides the skeleton.
However it is interesting to note that in the LEGO Exo Suit, each section of the body is specialized; so rather than just using LEGO Constraction for the frame and LEGO System for details, a case-by-case design choice has been made for each part of the body. For example the feet, the hands, and the torso use LEGO System, while the arms and legs take advantage of LEGO Constraction. You may note that the more fluid elements are typically the LEGO Constraction sections, while the more rigid areas are LEGO System.
This is demonstrated by the number and ways the elements can be articulated. For LEGO System articulation can be found in the fingers, the twisting of the feet, and the canopy for the driver. In each case we are dealing with a single type of movement, like a basic rotation or swivel. Meanwhile, the arms have ball joints for the shoulders, swivel for the elbows, and rotation in the wrists – that all work as a single unit. Ultimately, for blending a LEGO creation with multiple building systems, I recommend asking yourself how fluid you want the model to move in each of its major areas. This determination will point to the right method for the right job.
➡ THE LEGO TRIANGLE OF BUILDING
One topic that doesn’t get addressed much is triangle of building. Basically, there are three points of construction that a LEGO model is built around: decoration, stability, and functionality. Often times when building you have to exclude one to achieve another. This is why figuring out how to double up on one of these points is the best way to build.
As I have mentioned, this topic doesn’t get addressed much as official LEGO sets often go above and beyond to equal out these three points of creation. It is usually LEGO fan models that lack in some of these areas. In fact the LEGO Exo Suit is the first official LEGO set I have built that seems a little weak in one of these major functional points; and that is stability. The LEGO Exo Suit definitely maxed out its potential on decoration and functionality, however stability is a bit on the weak side. And by stability I don’t just mean the model staying together, but also balancing the whole structure and how well the small decorative elements remain in place.
Fortunately the LEGO Exo Suit just begs for being modified and perfected, so you can fix the problems you may encounter. The point that’s important here is knowing where to look when your LEGO creation encounters problems. For instance, if your model looks too stiff you may need to revisit its functionality, or if it is overly decorated you might be giving up some stability and/or functionality.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
The interesting thing with LEGO Constraction and LEGO System is that they usually use a third system – LEGO Technic – to find common ground. Essentially a system will be defined by how it is used in your LEGO model. So by being aware of what you want to achieve, and by being familiar with all three systems, you can more easily find the right types of pieces to make it all work. In addition, the best LEGO model is the one that is directly in the center of the triangle of building we talked about. It gives LEGO fans a little bit of everything without forgetting anything essential. Being aware of the triangle can also help troubleshoot any areas where you run into issues; simply examine what you built and figure out which of the three features is out of balance.
As you probably know already, the #21109 LEGO Ideas Exo Suit has been sold out at the Online LEGO Shop for quite some time now, although it has been announced that they will be restocking at some point – hopefully sooner rather than later, as a lot of people missed out on this set. My understanding is that official LEGO stores have been restocked, so if here is one near you, you can check there. The set is also available on Amazon for a somewhat higher price: LEGO EXO SUIT ON AMAZON
So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO Exo Suit set? Have you had a chance to build it? Did you learn from the interesting building techniques? And did you modify or change it in any way? 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 Ideas Research Institute
- 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