(Written by William)
A few days ago, we discussed the #70425 LEGO Hidden Side Mystery Castle (see: Brick Breakdown: LEGO Hidden Side Mystery Castle), but I also wanted to review one of the smaller sets. Enter the #70434 LEGO Hidden Side Super Natural Race Car! This is the second cheapest set in the latest wave of LEGO Hidden Side sets, priced at only $30.
Just like the Mystery Castle, this vehicle does an excellent job at hiding away all the colored bricks that interact with the LEGO Hidden Side app. And to my surprise, this is the first LEGO Hidden Side set I can recall that didn’t have something that transformed into a monster. I’m not sure how I feel about this as I like the transformational features of the LEGO Hidden Side sets. Though, I can definitely say, this car is excellent in many other ways.
In the video below, I share some of my general thoughts on the set, then we will look at some of the interesting building techniques, why they are done the way they are, and how you can utilize them in your own creations. So, let’s get to it!
LEGO HIDDEN SIDE RACE CAR – ELONGATION
Let’s say you have an action element or even a decorative element that just doesn’t fit into something scaled to a minifigure. Do you give up and just forget about it? You can, but you don’t need to. Especially when you look at smaller LEGO sets, you will notice that LEGO designers will are able to fit in action elements and decorations by using the technique I call elongation.
Keep in mind that minifigures are a brief representation of a person. Therefore, their world is made up of representations of models that are sort of scaled to real life. This means, if you happen to stretch a section of the model out a bit, it won’t necessarily throw off the end result. However, if you do stretch an area out too much – say, you make the back section of a car too tall – there is still a method to compensate for this. Essentially, it involves stretching out and scaling up the entire model. Length, width, and height are all effected. Though you can play around with even this concept. Just because you make something taller doesn’t mean you have to change the width and length by the same amount.
Let’s take the Super Natural Race Car as an example. It needs a color wheel in the back for the app to read. This wouldn’t normally fit a car this scale, especially since you need to cover up three sides of the wheel. So, the height and width were given a little more room. The length of the car was left pretty much alone. The vehicle seems to be based on a coop, which tends to already have a long body.
Even though stretching a model in this way would seem to be a way to make it look odd, in reality, this is a method to disguise features. It does this by drawing attention away from sections you don’t want to have too much focus on. Just by examining this vehicle, it’s easy to say that the color wheel on back is the least intrusive feature you notice. In a nutshell, that’s elongation at work.
LEGO HIDDEN SIDE RACE CAR – EXAGGERATION
Elongation is not the only way to draw the eyes away. When you feel stretching your model would look too ridiculous, you can move to exaggeration. This covers the more artistic side of your creation. Consider it as turning your models overall look past standard and into the extreme!
You have a number of options before you to achieve this. The easiest is to play with colors. If your model has muted colors, you can find more vibrant ones. If you have vibrant colors then maybe play with contrast. Make your blues pale and your reds super dark. Or just use colors nobody would expect to see.
Next, you can look at the edges of your model. If they are square, you can always round them off. Or maybe go more into the edgy look and turn them into sharp blade-like edges and spikes. If you have a corner, consider your options of the angle it should slant or type of curve it should present.
Finally, look at the surfaces and consider if it’ll look better if they bulge out. Should they extrude like a cylinder, a bubble, or even cave inward? Some of these looks are easier to achieve than others, but they do bring more options.
Another way to exaggerate is to subvert normal conventions. Looking at the Super Natural Race Car, we can see the bright colors, the curved edges behind the wheels and cab, the bulging of the front hood and back, but the exhaust pipes are straight up! Normally, we’d expect these pipes to be angled at 45 degrees. Likewise, the giant skull on the front of the car is distracting. These are so interesting that the normal giant intake for the motor becomes mundane. Large intakes are usually distractions all their own. But in this case, the intake hides another colored piece for the app, so you kind of want to draw attention away from it.
APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
Both elongation and exaggeration are techniques you often find paired together in official LEGO sets. These are tools to normalize something that would otherwise really stick out or seem strange. I mention in the video above that it is odd that the wheels can fold down despite there being no real narrative reason for it. However, it’s a mild annoyance thanks to the techniques used.
There are so many other things going on to distract me that wheel movement seems minor by comparison. It’s more important to me that the car is crazy and fun. It doesn’t look like anything on the road. In short, it is unique and interesting. And that’s the important takeaway when your goal is to release your imagination!
If you’re interested in this set, or the other LEGO Hidden Side sets, you can find them all at the LEGO Hidden Side section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? Do you have any of the LEGO Hidden Side vehicles? How do you like their shapes and play-features? And what do you think of the building techniques we discussed here? Do you use them in your own creations? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below!
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