Today in New York, LEGO unveiled a massive model of an X-wing fighter from Star Wars. Built by LEGO Master Model Builders, it’s the largest LEGO model ever made. While TBB couldn’t make it to New York for the launch ourselves, we’re pleased to bring you a guest post by BrickJournal Editor-in-Chief Joe Meno.
The e-mail I received got my attention. It simply asked me if I was interested in having a personal tour of the “largest LEGO model ever built.” The note from LEGO had something to do with The Yoda Chronicles, an upcoming TV show on Cartoon Network. The clues given were that I would have to go to New York City and be taken to a hangar somewhere to see this model.
For me, a trip to New York City is a cheap flight and hotel stay, so I accepted the invite and a few weeks and one particularly long windy drive, I along with a few others arrived at MacArthur Airport on Long Island, to a hangar that looked like any other hangar, except for the LEGO logo on the door. We were met by LEGO staff, including Master Model Builders Erik Varszegi and Dale E. Chasse, who led us inside. The first things we saw were the bulletins on the wall and the computer, which displayed an X-Wing. Then we turned and saw the rear of a private plane… Or was that a LEGO X-Wing fighter?
Walking around to the front of the fighter, Erik gave us some information about the model. In case you missed it elsewhere, here’s the short of it:
- Built from over 5 million bricks
- Depicts the iconic X-wing starfighter from Star Wars
- Built in the Czech Republic at LEGO’s Kladno Model Shop
- Shipped in 32 pieces to be reassembled at MacArthur Airport
From there, the plan was to separate the X-Wing into three parts to transport to Times Square: left wing, right wing, and fuselage. Some parts, such as the cockpit and outrigger guns were also removed for transport.
In the hangar, though, it was complete, as if ready for a mission.
Erik then showed us a neat surprise. With the flick of a few hidden switches, the X-Wing came to life with its engines glowing and powering up. The model has an internal lighting system and speakers, including woofers to give a deep sound to the engines. The rumble was one you felt as well as heard.
Nearby, sized-up minifigures of Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, and R5-D8 were also on display, along with Yoda wearing his “I Love New York” T-shirt, which was first seen on minifigures given out at New York Toy Fair earlier this year. While Jek Porkins was a minifigure in this set, he wasn’t present at the hangar, as he wasn’t finished. (He did make it to Times Square, though!) Beside the computer was a reference model and also a sample stud from the final model.
A quick explanation of scale: Because of the proportions of the minifigure, scale is often a fuzzy standard. For this model, the scale was determined to be 1:42, which is a pretty good approximation for kids. This will be important in a bit, so keep this thought. To understand the scale, take a 1-stud brick. The stud alone sized up to be 42 studs by 42 studs, making it almost the size of a large baseplate. This also makes the stud a little larger than the actual set. This makes details pretty easy to build, so every stud does have a LEGO logo on them.
The model also is almost completely composed of bricks, with only a few plates used for shaping.
Scaling to kids is important because the cockpit is meant to be boarded. The canopy doesn’t open, so a side panel is removed for entry. The interior of the cockpit is a photo station for kids to post photos online, so there are no details like the set, but a screen with a mosaic frame. The space is a little cramped for an adult, as I bumped my head on the cockpit glass.
After the cockpit visit, Dale asked me if I wanted any overhead pics, pointing to an improvised cherry picker in front of the fighter. I didn’t hesitate, and I was quickly held over the X-Wing. It was there that I found that my camera lens wasn’t wide enough to get the entire model in one shot. In fact, that was a running problem that Erik picked up on when he said, “Maybe we should have told you to bring a wide-angle lens.” Overhead, though, you get a real impression of the size of the X-Wing. The others with me took pics, and then Dale moved the cherry picker for some more shots.
After the overhead session, I got to see some of the computer work that was done. The model was digitally built around a metal armature, and yes all 5 million plus parts are on the file! That made the computer crash a couple of times, but I was able to see how each section was set up to fit with the others. The files are not that different from LEGO Digital Designer or LCad files, but they are much bigger.
Here are a couple photos showing the internal steel armature:
Our hour-long insider tour ended with a promise of secrecy until the official unveiling in Times Square. Many thanks to Erik, Dale, and the rest of the LEGO gang for showing off this awesome model!
And many thanks to Joe for this quick write-up while on the road from New York! Look for a longer article in an upcoming issue of BrickJournal.