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Brick Breakdown: LEGO Minecraft The Cave

by admin on January 16, 2015

in Building Techniques

(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 #21113 LEGO Minecraft The Cave. You can also check out the previously discussed LEGO techniques found in official LEGO sets at the end of this article. 🙂

#21113 LEGO Minecraft

“Blocky” is the only word to really describe a LEGO Minecraft set. Many people say that Minecraft and LEGO are just two ways of saying the same thing. However, after seeing a LEGO set inspired by this popular video-game, you can see just how different they actually are. Normally LEGO sets are filled with vibrant colors and interestingly shaped pieces to create the featured models. Sure, some LEGO designs have square-ish tendencies, but most modern LEGO sets focus on fairly life-like models. With the LEGO Minecraft sets there was a need to have less definition and a sense of chaotic randomization that makes them really hard to compare with other LEGO sets. I puzzled over this – and another technique – when I considered writing about this LEGO Minecraft set. Ultimately I realized I will have to talk about a technique that dates back to before I was even born. So grab your pixilated pickaxe and let’s dig into what this set has to offer…

GOING BACK TO LEGO RETRO DESIGNS

For many years LEGO produced mostly simple bricks. They came in various colors and had a number of basic shapes, but in general they pretty much resembled wooden toy blocks. There were two unique features of LEGO though from the very beginning, compared to wooden building blocks; the first one being that the LEGO bricks could stick together, and secondly, every element could fit together with other elements. Fast forward to the present day and those two characteristics are still the core of all LEGO pieces. The difference is that now we have more unique shapes, printed elements, minifigures, licenses, and a whole host of other improvements that make the original designs pale in comparison.

#21113 LEGO Minecraft

Then comes LEGO Minecraft. It has a look that is so basic that we need to revisit some of the oldest LEGO designs and techniques. In fact the issue becomes how to limit yourself from building with more elaborate pieces. The answer comes from creating a base unit to measure everything against. In the Minecraft video-game the world is represented by very specific block shapes. LEGO’s equivalent to this in the minifigure-scale LEGO Minecraft sets became the 2×2 brick – the unit of measurement LEGO designers used for all of the sets in this line.

Essentially what this means is that everything must look like it was made out of a series of 2×2 bricks. Of course you can have a little wiggle-room with a plate’s thickness, but ultimately everything should be measured in 2×2 increments. Once a unit of measurement was decided, it was time to see what could be built. The end result is a retro design that you can apply modern techniques to, without worrying about whether or not it will disrupt the old-school style of LEGO building.

BUILDING MODULAR WALLS WITH LEGO

Most of the times when we think of building a modular wall from LEGO element we do so because we want to include some play-feature (opening walls, exploding walls, hidden passages, etc.). They are often comprised of a number of elements that fit solidly together and make wall-shaped chunks. This LEGO Minecraft set offers a different approach. Instead of thinking of the modular piece as a wall, it considers the bricks that make up the wall. In this way there is a greater degree of modularity in the design. This decision comes from how Minecraft is played, but it does introduce an interesting building option for LEGO fans.

The use of such a design is fairly easy to understand; you can take apart and redesign sections much faster than normal, plus it can look cooler if you are simulating a breakable wall. However this technique also comes with some drawbacks. The most important drawback to consider is the lack of stability. For a good modular piece to stay loose, it needs to have the minimum amount of connection-points. This is often why you only have one or two studs holding a piece. Another drawback is the chunky size you typically have to go with to compensate for the lack of stability due to the very few studs. However, this results in chunkier designs that may be hard to fit into a creation. As long as you are aware of these issues, you can have a rather unique approach to your designs.

APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN

A retro design is just one application for choosing a specific unit of measurement. You can also change the unit of measurement to help enlarge the scale of a LEGO model. For example when you build a basic holiday set (like a brick-built bunny or heart), you can use the smallest detail of the model as the base unit of measurement and enlarge everything based on it. This way you can make the same model, just ten times the size of the original

As for building a modular wall, it is a functional choice you have to make. Do you want something that can come apart easily but is prone to falling apart? If so, a modular wall technique will most likely work in your favor. However, if you need absolute stability, this is a technique you should probably avoid. If you are interested, you might also like to read the Minifig-Scale LEGO Minecraft Sets Review for a detailed look at the features of this set, and you can also find all the LEGO Minecraft sets at the Online LEGO Shop.

Shop LEGO Minecraft Minifigure Scale

So what do you think? How do you like the new LEGO Minecraft sets? Have you had a chance to build any of them? Did you learn from the interesting building techniques used in the sets? Feel free to share your own experiences and tips, or ask questions in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the other reviews in this series:

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

jabber-baby-wocky January 16, 2015 at 11:51 AM

I can’t make up my mind if I like these sets better or the micro ones. It is true though that these sets are closest to retro sets, so if someone is really into old style building they will like these. Also, there is a video of a world record Minecraft layout created with these sets. Largest Minecraft diorama or something.

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admin January 16, 2015 at 5:16 PM

I think you are thinking of this video titled LEGO Minecraft – Largest LEGO Videogame Diorama- Guinness World Records. You can watch it here: http://youtu.be/4EcDpBfKJpA. It is indeed very interesting. 🙂

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BLProductions January 16, 2015 at 5:46 PM

There was a brief discussion of that on a Brickset Forum post… apparently one of the members contributed greatly to that project. I think it was the Builders’ Guild, it certainly fits as a MOC. I haven’t watched the video, but it sounds really cool. 🙂 Largest LEGO Videogame Diorama- I bet there haven’t been too many of those, so no wonder it’s a world record. 😐 But still, pretty amazing work. 🙂

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admin January 16, 2015 at 9:31 PM

Yes, it looks very cool. I did watch the video earlier today. The interview was also interesting. It is worth watching it. 🙂

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Ninja of Stealth January 16, 2015 at 1:41 PM

The only thing I like about these (even though I don’t have any) is the different building techniques. There a type of pixelized building technique Which is very cool! Also the weapons are so cool, I want one!

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Jake January 16, 2015 at 5:08 PM

Yeah, I’m not a huge LEGO Minecraft fan. To me it just feels like more marketing. And the Steve fig isn’t even very good…

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