(Written by William)
Ever since the #10220 LEGO Creator Volkswagen T1 Camper Van was released in 2011, I’ve been a big fan of the LEGO Creator Expert vehicles. They may not be the first sets I pick up each year, but once I catch up on the most-have sets, the LEGO Creator Expert vehicles are strong contenders for my money. This is primarily because they are full of interesting details and building techniques, which is possible due to the larger scale. 🙂
Based on my previous experiences with the line, I was excited to get the #10258 LEGO Creator London Bus, however I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed after building it. The building experience wasn’t as rewarding as with the other vehicles. I believe the reason for this is two-fold. First, the LEGO Creator London Bus is a slightly smaller scale than what we’re used to in this collection, and thus the amount of intricate detailing is limited due to the smaller size. The second reason is due to the type of vehicle the LEGO Creator London Bus is. Being a bus, which favors utility over fashion, it has a lot of repetition in its design. The curvy parts are more interesting, but they make up such a small portion of the vehicle they are negligible. Putting together the set is a lot like building a rectangular box with small bits of flourish here and there.
The LEGO Creator London Bus is also lacking in terms of interesting building techniques. We do see the clipping technique we talked about in the Brick Breakdown of the #10263 LEGO Winter Village Fire Station, and the curving stairs we discussed in the Brick Breakdown of the #10251 LEGO Creator Brick Bank. As there is not a whole lot more to cover, in this Brick Breakdown episode we’re going to look at some of the more fundamental building techniques found in the set.
➡ BUILDING CURVING WINDOWS WITH LEGO
Figuring out how to build rounded shapes with LEGO bricks is always a challenging and rewarding experience. In addition, they also look impressive. This is especially true for making curved windows. The LEGO Creator London Bus uses two primary methods to achieve this sleek look.
The first method involves framing; you take a window larger than what you need and frame it with other parts. The simplest way to do this is demonstrated at the back and two sides of the top level of the bus. The actual windows are set back a bit, then sideways and curving parts are added around them frames. Keep in mind you can get very creative with frames. For instance, in the #10260 LEGO Creator Downtown Diner the rounded windows are framed by arches.
The second method involves using the naturally occurring curves in a window. Take a look at the front and back of the second level and the two windscreens of the LEGO Creator London Bus. Each has a naturally occurring slant, and the pieces around them simply accentuate the curved shapes.
It is worth mentioning about naturally occurring curves that they don’t have to be made of a single piece. Which means you can build in the curves, if you so choose. A good example of this is in the large #10217 LEGO Harry Potter Diagon Alley set from 2011 (see above). LEGO designers used hinges between window frames to create bay windows and skylights that had curves to them. If you do go this route, keep in mind that you’ll most likely need to consider how to minimize gaps that appear in brick-built windows. Otherwise, you may end up with something that looks less like a window and more like a vent.
➡ UNDERUTILIZATION OF LEGO ELEMENTS
I have noticed that LEGO designers sometimes add parts that may not be the most perfect pieces to use. To give you an example, in the LEGO Creator London Bus we can see on the underside of the roof that a couple of brackets were chosen. They get the job done, but they leave some exposed studs that serve no purpose.
The most likely reason for this is to cut down on cost. It is cheaper and more efficient to use the same piece in the same color already in the set, then to add in a completely different piece. And, this can be a good technique to use in your own building to save some money.
As LEGO fans, we try to make our creations as perfect as possible. Which means we tend not to cut corners when it comes to building. As a result, we have heavier and more parts-dense (and thus more expensive) creations compared to official LEGO sets. But let’s say we don’t really want to pay $10 to get that single perfect piece from eBay or BrickLink, because the part is in an odd color or was only released in a large and expensive set.
This is when it might be useful to find alternative parts. We still want the best possible quality in our design, so there are a couple of things to look at. One, does the alternate part do what it supposed to do? Two, will it be seen? If the first answer is yes, and the second is no, then you might as well go ahead with the cheaper alternative. Truthfully, LEGO fans can get a bit OCD when it comes to making their own designs (and I include myself in this category). The fact that we know that we are not using the exact piece we originally wanted can mess with our heads. At times like this, we can remind ourselves that LEGO designers do this all the time. And they are the professionals.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
LEGO by its nature is a very blocky building system. Thus, each time we add in a curve or tilt, they appear very interesting. Mostly, they start transforming a limited building toy into a work of art. It’s often small breakthroughs like this that gives us more confidence in the hobby and encourages us to strive to make bigger and better things.
On the same point, we can also become our biggest obstacles. By seeking perfection in every possible thing, we actually limit ourselves creatively. The underutilization of parts is nothing more than a creative solution and the way we need to train ourselves as builders. Sooner or later, we will make something where the perfect part just doesn’t exists in the right color, or it is very expensive, or very difficult to find. By regularly substituting parts that go underutilized, we train ourselves to be in the right frame of mind for an easy yet effective answer for such challenges.
What do you think? How do you like the #10258 LEGO Creator London Bus? Do you have it already? Have you built it yet? And what do you think of the building techniques discussed here? Are there any other interesting techniques you found in the set? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! 😉
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