Lately I've been spending some time playing with Lego's software Digital Designer. In early summer I had created a few "UFO" like models for Dylan using different angled plates to create a "round" look to the ships. In the end it caught me and I had to finish the model and order the parts to prove it worked.
The model is supposed to be round and disc like - just like UFO's are supposed to be. As I've got a lot of technic bricks and gears I wanted folding legs that fold into the disc, hiding them. I tried using gears to get them in sync and moveable from the side. I got all that working, but there wasn't enough room inside the design to fit it all in and let a mini figure pilot it. So I tried to make the design higher, which made it look ugly. So in the end I simplified the legs drastically and created a floor on two levels to fit them in.
The view from the side reveals two lumps at the back that hold hinges for the roof. These lumps are the only bits breaking the round and disc design.
Ordering the bricks is simple. Lego Digital Designer is coupled with their online store: You just click a few buttons and your order is placed. Unfortunately that is also the most expensive way of building the models.
My first designs were over eighty Euros, So I had to radically simplify some parts, leave out hidden bricks etc. and reduced the price to around fifty Euros.
If you then take the parts list and look every brick up on Lego Pick-a-Brick, you get a price point that is about one quarter to one third less. So where did I get the parts list from? I exported the model to MLCAD. In MLCAD you can then export a parts list. This parts list has different parts numbers, different colour names and different descriptions than in Pick-a-Brick, but if you're willing to work it out you can save some money.
Sep 4th 2011 (10:25) NIKON D7000, AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D (1/250s, f=5.6, ISO:100, Camera Flashed WB:Auto1)
The consequence of all this penny counting is that you have a high chance of missing a part or accidentally ordering a part in the wrong colour. White and light grey as well as black and dark grey are difficult to keep apart on screen. And the pick-a-brick user experience isn't a highlight in usability.
I ended up missing 8 2x2 inverted slopes in black from the bottom section - luckily I have enough of those to fill in. I also missed one steering wheel and ordered the 6x6 plates for the roof in white instead of light grey. And that by the way is called "medium stone grey".
At the same time Lego Pick-a-Brick seems to be in a different place every day.
You can get the parts even cheaper by going to Bricklink. Their user interface is better, but all in all more complicated because you're looking at hundreds of shops. Bricks are often marked as new and are sometimes more expensive than from Lego - so you have to cross check to be sure.
Sep 4th 2011 (10:48) NIKON D7000, AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D (1/250s, f=4, ISO:140, Camera Flashed WB:Auto1)
Finally a view of the inside. It's actually very spacious. The deepest level is 8x12 and five bricks high. So a mini figure can stand. The entire interior space is 16x16, but the corners are blocked. there is no door - only the foldable roof. I would have loved to have a ramp lowering from the floor, but I had no idea how to build it in. Perhaps in a later version.
Building instructions and parts list are available, just send me a mail.
Sunday, September 4th 2011