A few days ago, I wrote about a fantastic event that was put on by my local LUG. However, I was careful to avoid any mention of one of the event displays. Today I’ll be writing a bit about that display, and mainly about my contribution to it.
The display I had been sidestepping throughout yesterday’s post was The Castle Display, a collaborative effort coordinated by Dan P:
This display was built with a 32×32 standard, meaning that each individual build was constructed on a 32×32 baseplate (or a number of them) to ensure that they would fit together on site with minimal collaboration necessary beforehand.
Here was my contribution to the display, Wayfarer’s Refuge:
When the LUG castle display was announced back in October, I got to thinking about the build I wanted to contribute to it. I knew I had to throw out all of my normal design tactics and think through what is essential to a build aimed at a live “audience”. Here were some of the first thought that came to my mind:
- The castle is going to be in a big display behind a fence, so any interior will not be visible to the museum goers and therefore pointless.
- With no interior detail, a striking exterior is essential to making the build interesting.
- An unusual shape for the tower could make it more interesting, and I should definitely avoid the completely mundane and overused light grey for the base color.
I started looking back over the castle line through the years to find a color scheme that I liked and had a decent number of parts to build in. I settled on the color scheme of this castle from 1998:
As for the shape, I decided an octagon would do quite well as LEGO is based mainly on four sided figures.
So I had a color scheme and general form in mind. I got to work building. I took Falsworth Castle down from its shelf to study how I have previously achieved angle walls:
The Falsworth Castle design, which is possible with the use of hinges, was a good starting point, but it needed some modification. The walls of Falsworth are at an angle, but not a 135 degree interior angles that appear in an octagon. To avoid this asymmetry, all of the walls are connected with hinges and held at the correct angle by angle plates:
This solution did not come without its own problems however. A little bit of geometry tells us that since the castles walls have integer lengths, a line perpendicular to any two sides must have an non-integer value as its length, so a standard anti-studs to studs connection to a base plate would not be possible:
After much deliberation on how to solve this problem, I decided to go a bit against my purist nature (using only legal connections). Here’s what I came up with:
The 4×4 circular brick in the center has 4 Technic holes which receive the ends of x-pins who’s heads are plugged in to Technic bricks. Because the x-pins are partially loose, the circle piece rests directly in the center of the tower structure. This assembly is an adapter which allows the standard anti-studs to studs connection that the main construction denied us. Thus, I was able to use a connection like this to hold the tower on a baseplate:
So the tower’s finished! Tada:
…Of course, all that math is well and good, but wouldn’t it be great if I could make a design decision that would render all of that work obsolete? I couldn’t resist the allure, so I decided to expand the castle to include a gateway and another tower:
It turns out that was a good decision, but it left me with a problem. I didn’t have enough of some parts to create the left hand tower in colors and design that matched the right side! I courted with the idea of creating the castle in white or in classic red, but I threw both of these ideas out of the window and stuck with the black color scheme. To get the parts I needed, I sent out a signal:
An arrangement was made for me to get the parts at the event on setup night, so I moved on to honing the structure and design of the build. I improved the roof of the gate section, added some little details, and was able to achieve a semi modular design:
By the time I had finished this stage of the design process, the show was only days away. Ever since I added the second tower, I had been avoiding the moment that I would have to figure out how to attach the tower to a standard 32×32 baseplate that is used for displays. The tower is wider than 32 studs wide, so a complicated angle would be necessary if I was to fit it on one plate. While experimenting with base designs, I made a dummy base allow for easy experimentation (the full build is a bit unwieldy):
After doing some experimentation with the dummy base, I came up with a design that used two small turntables and 1 large turntable to achieve the angle I needed. Unfortunately, the Technic pins that are required to make the castle modular don’t hold the towers as closely together as the standard brick connections on the dummy base, so the full build didn’t fit on the connection points the way the dummy-base had suggested. I had to scrap that design, but I’m actually quite glad. It forced me to keep working and lead me to a better design which employs the the turntable receiver on the base of an octagonal plate:
The angles of the octagonal plate also served to wedge the tower in the correct orientation:
This process brought me right up to the start of the event, with no time to spare, so I packed my things up and headed to the event:
When I arrived, I placed the castle in the display, and the modular design allowed me to easily remove the incomplete tower so I could replace all of the off color parts with the correct black ones:
So after all of that hard work, I finally got to see it complete and in the display. How satisfying!
Here’s a slideshow of the major steps in the design process:
That was quite a satisfying challenge and it gave me a real reminder of why I build, and why I write about my LEGO experiences!
I want to give a huge thanks to Leif H for supplying me with the parts that I needed to complete the tower. I also want to thank you for reading. I hope this was an enjoyable read for you, as much as it was an enjoyable build for me! Let me know by dropping a comment below!