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Brick Breakdown: Large LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1

(Written by William)

I’ve been picking up nearly everything LEGO has made involving Ghostbusters. I may have missed one of the LEGO Dimensions Ghostbusters sets, but I made sure to get at least all the major releases. So, when I heard LEGO was going to release a large version of the Ecto-1 and that I would get my hands on an early review copy, well let’s just say, this has been the hardest thing to keep under wraps.

As you can read in the press-release that was published yesterday, the #10274 LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1, is made specifically for adult LEGO fans. This is reflected by the 18+ age category printed on the box, as well as the box art. Below, we will discuss the general features of the set, and then also discuss some of the interesting building techniques and play-features.

Those who have built the #76139 LEGO Batman 1989 Batmobile released last year will have some idea what to expect from the Ecto-1. First of all, because these two vehicles are much larger than the typical LEGO Creator expert vehicles, they have plenty of room for some extra special features. (You can read my review of the Batmobile via the link at the end of this post.)

Speaking of special features, the #10274 LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1 comes with some functions that I have never seen in an Ecto-1 before. This is because the vehicle is based on the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife film. I must admit, this set makes me want to really see the new film! Among the features are moving instruments on the roof, a surprise release ghost trap, and a pop-out swiveling seat complete with proton pack!

As for features  fans may not be happy with, one is that you don’t get any minifigures with this set, unlike so many other models done in the Ultimate Collector Series style. The Ecto-1 also features quite a few stickers (all the various warning labels and rust spots are stickers), although it’s worth noting that the bricks with the Ghostbusters logo are all printed, as are some of the more basic gauges and control panels inside the car.

As far as the building experience, the set is broken down into 12 numbered bags with one un-numbered bag. This does make the build a bit more accessible for novice builders. Though with over 2,300 pieces, there are areas of the model that can be a tad challenging, even for experienced fans. In the video below, I will show you the various play-features and functions of the Ecto-1, and also share some more of my general thoughts on the set.

I expect that the Ecto-1 will be one of those sets that will go out of stock within the first couple of days. So, to see if you’ll want to rush out and get it, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting building techniques.

BALL JOINT MOUNTING & HINGE WORK

As you can see, on the pictures and in the video above, the Ecto-1 features some rather challenging angles. The back of the car is especially notable with its tapered body, fins, and curved back windows. LEGO could have made a few specialty curved parts and call it a day, but they didn’t. Instead, they took up the challenge and managed to make it all work using ball-joints.

Having been popularized by LEGO Mixels, small ball-joints have been associated with action figure style posing rather than mundane connection points. However, the Ecto-1 gives us two great uses for these handy little pieces.

First up is the back door of the car. It is set at an odd angle that naturally won’t sit flush. Ordinarily, we’d have to rely on a solution that the angles of standard LEGO hinges provide. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough room for that type of solution here. The answer to this problem turns out to be the aforementioned small ball-joints.

As long as you have two sockets in a row that are open in the same direction – in this case left and right – then you automatically can form an angled door hinge. The tilt of these ball-joints doesn’t seem to matter all that much. In fact, the door itself places the ball-joints at more of an angle. The end result is a way to make angled hinges without angling a whole section of the main structure.

Speaking of main structure, on the sides of the vehicle at back are some slopes tilted at a very odd angle. Below the fin and break lights at the back, the car’s body tapers down toward the really large tail light. The question is, how does it connect solidly into the car’s frame? Just like the back door, ball joints are used to attach this section of the car’s outer paneling.

What prevents this section from turning into an angled hinge is the other pieces around it. If you restrict what can move then what you are left with is just an interesting way to mount pieces at cool angles. If you plan to you use this technique in other applications, keep in mind that you may need to make the walls thicker than normal so you can hide a ball-joint and socket for mounting purposes.

DUAL STEERING IN THE LEGO ECTO-1

The steering of the Ecto-1 is practically the same as in the #10265 LEGO Creator Expert Ford Mustang. Steering is always a fun feature, especially in a large car. The only problem is being able to get your hand inside the vehicle to steer the car. Well, thanks to all the ghostbusting equipment found on the roof, it’s hard to see that there is a nifty surprise hidden amongst them. Near the front of the roof is a knob, which can be used to steer the vehicle as you push the car along. This technique is often used in LEGO Technic vehicles, but I don’t remember every seeing it in regular LEGO cars. I would surely hope to find it more often, especially in the larger vehicles like the Ecto-1, as it is such a practical approach.

Implementing this mechanism is remarkably simple. Just add an extension to the main steering device with an axle, add a gear to the end of the extension, then use another gear to extend a second axle outward. Top off this contraption with a control knob, and you’re done!

Notice how I didn’t specify in which direction to run the control knob axle. The important part is that it is accessible. The direction it runs is completely up to you.

TRIPLE-LAYERED WALLS IN THE LEGO ECTO-1

Let’s say you are ready to try your hand at building a super challenging vehicle that will require a lot of detailed angles and hidden connections, and you also want to make it look nice. Where do you start? My suggestion is to consider having three layers of walls, which is nicely demonstrated in the Ecto-1.

Each layer is tasked with a different purpose. The outermost layer is meant to be decorative. This is where you can focus on the most artistic curves and body work. It also gives you enough room for featuring different depths, in case you need to have variety.

The middle layer is where all the mounting happens. This is where you figure out what type of connection points are needed and where they might appear. This layer will have some structural purposes as well. But consider it to be the transition point of where the serious bones of the vehicle meet the more decorative parts.

The innermost layer will definitely lean towards making the vehicle sturdy. On occasion, you may want to add a decorative element for the interior, but this layer is really meant to hold up the windows and walls. If you have weak points here then you can expect stability issues in your creation. You will often need to blend this layer with the middle layer to add additional strength to your design.

Keep in mind that this is not a hard rule to follow but a reminder. Many builders forget that it might he helpful to scale up the thickness of the walls when they are scaling up their models. A thicker wall gives more building room, which means more options on how the end product can look. And judging by the Ecto-1, you can definitely see the results.

APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN

The bigger your LEGO model is, the more amount of detail you can put into it. However, you will not be doing yourself any favors if you can’t capitalize on this level of detail. Ball-joints have given us a great method for tackling slanted surfaces we never thought were possible before. Whether you are looking for a new type of hinge or interesting angle to position some parts, these joints might be your solution.

Though making something prettier is not necessarily the only issue you will come across with a larger model. The functionality of what you build should still exists. If you go through the trouble of making a working feature, make sure that you can use it to the fullest. It’s not terribly hard to do, as demonstrated by the dual steering of the Ecto-1, it just may take a bit of forethought.

Just like planning out how to tackle a large creation takes forethought. Dividing up layers of your model to handle different responsibilities can be one way to tackle a very challenging project. When so many elements need to work together, it is easy to lose sight of what the end result should be. To give an example of this, In the video below, I’ve made an additional Brick Breakdown topic where I go in depth about one of the action elements of the Ecto-1. The general concept is based on restricting movement and parts will follow the path of least resistance, but the end result seems so complicated that I’m not sure I could have easily explain this just by writing it down. The truth is, each part has a distinct purpose and it’s by isolating each of these that you end up with the amazing play feature. Hope you enjoy.

If you’re interested in the #10274 LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1, it will be available directly from LEGO on November 15th. For more details and to purchase the set, visit the LEGO Creator Expert section of the Online LEGO Shop.

What do you think? How do you like the new LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1? Is this a set you are planning on getting? And what do you think of the functions and building techniques we discussed here? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Martin November 6, 2020, 10:10 AM

    Thank you. Very good review. The dual steering feature is fairly common in Technic sets, but I agree with you, they should be more common in Creator and City sets too.

    • Will November 6, 2020, 12:32 PM

      I was hoping someone more familiar with Technic could comment on this.

      I’ve only recently been getting into Technic sets and one of the two I built did have a top know for steering, but it didn’t have a basic steering wheel that also steered the vehicle.

  • yoladiel November 6, 2020, 10:28 AM

    Wow. The Batmobile is huge! Thanks for the review. I like that rotating chair. I’m thinking of adding something like that to a spaceship or military chopper. What would you say is the minimum space required for a function like that?

    • TomTom November 6, 2020, 10:31 AM

      I’m wondering about that too. It seems like a great function.

    • Will November 6, 2020, 12:37 PM

      In this model they use a 16 stud width.

      You can easily shave off a couple of inchess from the sides.

      The biggest limiting factor is that spring shock. I do know smaller versions are available and an industriuous builder could maybe make something that worked like this piece.

      I’d say go with 14 studs wide and make a prototype. Then if it works examine what pieces you have to scale it down further.

  • Random AFOL November 6, 2020, 10:48 AM

    I love how the front grille is made with roller skates! I would have never thought of using them this way. I wonder; are they going to release other sets for the new Ghostbusters movie, or this will be it?

    • Will November 6, 2020, 12:43 PM

      Before the shutdown of the theaters. And there was a possability for Ghostbusters After Life to come out, there was rumor that we would see some sets for the movie.

      The rumor I heard suggested maybe 3 or 4 sets.

      Counting this set as one of them, it is reasonable to expect a couple of sets.

      No clue as to what type of sets they may be considering things like LEGO Art exists. But I’m sure one of them should have minifigures.

      Though they’d want to release those along the same time as the movie’s release. This set was the exception since it has enough nestalgia to stand on its own even though it has new modifications. I’d look at when they are planning to release the movie as an indication when we can expect more Ghostbuster sets.

  • Daniel November 6, 2020, 2:17 PM

    I like it, but I already have the original one, so I don’t know what I would do with this. It’s a little too big for my taste. But I like how it looks.

  • Will November 6, 2020, 3:22 PM

    This set is more in the realm of a specialty item.

    It does have play features, but fans are more likely to get it for the building experience and as a display piece.

    The original Ecto-1s could fit more easily into most peoples’ collections.

  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi November 6, 2020, 3:30 PM

    The balljoint connection seem to open up a lot of possiblities. What I don’t understand is how did they get it at an angle? Is one balljoint connection sitting further back than the other?

    • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi November 6, 2020, 3:31 PM

      Oh, yes, I see it now on one of the pictures. One of them does sit further back. Mind blown. And this doesn’t put any pressure on the parts?

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