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Big LEGO techniques in small packages

(Written by William)

Have you ever had the experience where a LEGO technique seems to suddenly click for you? I know that type of experience usually comes to me when I’m building a LEGO model of my own creation. That’s primarily due to the fact that I’m asking the LEGO-elements to do something they’re not specifically designed to do.

The other time I get that experience comes from working with LEGO Technic elements. All the moving possibilities are intriguing, but I kind of expect to be fascinated with those particular sets.

What surprised me the most is having that experience while working with standard LEGO-elements. What’s more, it inspired me to challenge myself and make my own creation that was just like the set.


That’s right. This LEGO VIP-exclusive LEGO set literally took my breath away with the things I learned. The set sells for $80, but is only sold to VIP members. Of course, most people who would buy it are probably already members anyway, and if not you can sign up easily. (You can see a full review of the Mini Modulars here: Mini LEGO Modular Buildings Available Now!)

The Mini LEGO Modulars set boasts an impressive 1300+ elements to make micro replicas of five of the most popular LEGO Modular sets; Café Corner, Market Street, Green Grocer, Fire Brigade, and the Grand Emporium.


I think what made me receptive of the techniques I learned was knowing that this LEGO set used the smallest elements possible. This gave me the right frame of mind to accept that on the most basic level, this is what is possible.

Taking this into consideration, I could then expand my understanding to larger applications easily. In fact, I’m very comfortable with large-scale projects. I’m used to working with the concept of going big. My limitations in building typically come from the finer details.

Forced to face these elements gave me an appreciation for LEGO I never knew I lacked. I was humbled by the miniscule size while impressed with the amount of detail that was possible.


There are more techniques used besides side-ways and off-center, but they are the two techniques that stood out. Nearly every micro-building used these techniques to great effect.

Window-ledges lined up like magic, elements rarely put together began to fit seamlessly. This is drilled into your head when you’re forced to make entire floors of a building with these techniques and it manages to be a sturdy build.

I think the other reason why it resonated with me is because it built things the way I like to create. There is a density to these models not found in the average LEGO set. This reinforcement gives these tiny buildings a nice heft and weight that I find very satisfying.


Many times I will find a LEGO set and think, “Man, I can make that better”. This is one of the few times I had no urge to change a model in any way. Rather it inspired me to create my own micro-buildings to show to other LEGO fans.

This is my mini blacksmith based on the LEGO Medieval Market Village

I’ve already planned out a model which I’ve tried to scale with the Mini Modulars. That way, when I’m done I can have a whole series of micro-buildings that reflect larger counterparts. I find myself both nervous and excited just attempting such a project.

What about You? Have you ever run across a LEGO set that inspired you to become a better builder? Do you find you like sets that parallel your own building style? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. 🙂

Here is a list of currently available Modular sets at the online LEGO Shop:

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Quad March 8, 2012, 8:29 PM

    Great post. I also find that I discover surprising techniques just from messing around with several bricks. In fact, just messing with some 1 x 2 x 1 panels I created an excellent road for a microscale city MOC. 🙂

    • Will March 10, 2012, 8:18 PM

      Cool! Do you have any pics of your MOC yet? I’ve been getting into a lot of microbuilding, as you can see. So I’d like to see what you came up with.

  • Kevin March 9, 2012, 4:41 PM

    Great post. I’m really excited about micro building and love the new modular set.

    • Will March 10, 2012, 8:20 PM

      Yeah, micro building is very fun and different than what I’ve done so far. These new mini versions of the modulars have gotten my wife and I into buying the modular buildings even though we’ve been trying to resist them. But it’s hard to resist LEGO in general. So we’re quite happy, but broke. 😀

  • TomTom March 10, 2012, 10:15 AM

    You bring up some good points, Will! Microbuilding is actually a lot harder than building something very big. Although building big has its challanges also. As far as Lego products that inspire me it is definitely Technic. I’m not a big Technic builder myself, but every time I see a Technic MOC from someone I just go vow! 😀

    • Will March 10, 2012, 8:25 PM

      Yeah, I can see your point with Technic creations. The connections its uses can feel so alien to someone used to the conventional building elements. Of course, if you look at the Technic stuff long enough, you can start seeing how the parts can interact with the “normal” pieces. For example, any connector that can hold an axle is perfectly suitable for holding a bar in place. As is, the Technic pins can do the same thing with a bar. Additionally, a Technic pin is also the same size as standard stud. Which if used the correct way, can lead to even more interesting possibilities.

      But as you said, I think we all have that certain category of LEGO that both intimidates and fascinates us. And boy is it awesome! 😀

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