Category Archives: LEGO Star Wars

Where the AT-ATs Roam

Sooner or later, every LEGO builder who’s any sort of Star Wars fan is going to attempt an AT-AT at something more substantial than palmtop scale.

This is my first try.

Star Wars vehicles, scenes, characters and battles have been modeled again and again to such a high standard of accuracy and modelling that really, you need massive chutzpah to attempt anything from the Star Wars universe. Especially something from the films; especially from the Original Trilogy.

This obviously isn’t going to be winning any prizes on Eurobricks’ Star Wars forum or anything, what with its general studdiness and too-long back end, but as a first attempt, “you-too-can-build-the-AT-AT” model, it’s reasonable.

I actually wasn’t really considering building an AT-AT at all; this whole build started out with the microscale snowspeeder (with which I’m actually more pleased than the big Imperial walker).

But having built this little speeder, it occurred to me that it might be possible, with my household’s relatively-limited-for-an-AFOL brick inventory, to build an Imperial walker to proper scale with the speeder.

Official LEGO’s never done this. I’d actually love to see someone build an AT-AT to full minifig scale based on the size of one of the snowspeeder sets, but the sheer size of it probably prevents all but the most dedicated builder, and with all the expanses of plate armour the hull’s actually fairly uninteresting at that scale.

Still, what I can only dream about at minifig scale I can finally actually build at microscale.

If I was building it again I’d correct that too-long rear end, but I don’t possess enough tiles to successfully destud it having used this construction method, and I don’t possess enough grey 1xwhatever bricks to build it using the other main technique family for producing a smooth finish.

Ah well. Steps on the path, my friends. Steps on the path. This build was mostly about getting past the intimidation factor of all the really huge $120+ official AT-AT sets and the even huger and more detailed Imperial walker MOCs; a figuring-out that really, building an AT-AT doesn’t have to be that hard.

I think a lot of my mental hangups come from my childhood attempts to build one back when The Empire Strikes Back was a new film and we were still waiting with bated breath for Revenge of the Jedi, as rumour had it the next film would be called.

Trying to make an articulated All Terrain Armoured Transport that would actually stand up back when the black Technic friction pins were a nonexistent brick was way beyond my youthful skill level. I wasn’t about to build a statue; if I was building it, it was going to move. But I couldn’t find a way to keep it from sprawling on the ice like a giant robot Bambi, so I eventually gave up on the idea as an impossibility with the bricks of the era.

And I’ve carried that sense that building AT-ATs is one of the hardest challenges facing any builder with me through all those years.

So here’s an AT-AT. Not a very good one, perhaps, but here it is.

And it really wasn’t hard at all.

Now, a Mon Calamari battlecruiser, with all those lovely stylish curves? That would be truly difficult!

Sanctuary Moon

A break from the Classic Space and Blacktron modes, but not from sci-fi, this Star Wars Original Trilogy build is unusual for me on several counts.

Number one, it’s vegetation. I’m not a great builder of vegetation; my trees are pretty simplistic and I don’t have a huge amount of the various leafy green elements that make good cround cover. This build used about 90% of my inventory.

I always feel like to get good at vegetation I need more plant parts and elements that would be good treetrunk and so on, but because I so seldom build very much with vegetation I never actually purchase any more. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle.

Anyway, Endor is a forested moon, and needs lots of vegetation even at microscale. I’m satisfied, at least, with how it’s turned out.

Number two, it’s microscale with actual human figures, a first for me.

I’ve never really liked the “stack of 1×1 round bricks = human” approach; it’s about the best possible approach at that scale but part of my mind always rebels at it.

This time, though, I’ve used it myself for Luke and Leia in the foreground.

Number three, it uses a technically “illegal” technique, also a rarity for me. The scout troopers’ heads are not properly attached, just jammed onto the ends of the black barbs forming the necks. It’s not that I don’t approve of “illegal” (ie “you’ll never see this done in an official set”) techniques, but I just seldom think of them in building context. A lot of the techniques seriously stress or deform the element, and I don’t have the inventory to sacrifice to the resultant breakages. I’ll need those bricks later.

This creation began as something else entirely. I was haphazardly putting bricks together to build a microscale space fighter when my visiting nephew said “that looks like an X-Wing”. A flurry of “Build a TIE Fighter!”, “Build a Star Destroyer!” followed, and I found myself putting bricks together for a microscale speeder bike.

The white clip elements from the “Mighty Dinosaurs” Creator set seemed like perfect Scout Trooper bodies, but I had to try several different things before I came up with this design for the heads.

And then an Endor scene just naturally followed, with a second speeder bike and a massive tree and underbrush. Putting in Luke and Leia just completed the Return of the Jedi scene.  The giant mushroom in the back isn’t official canon, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

The Darth Mall

One of the great things about LEGO is the opportunity to be silly. And it doesn’t get much sillier than ridiculous puns.

I’ve joked about our local shopping centre being “the Darth Mall”, usually around Christmas when it really is. So when considering whether to get the Duel on Naboo set with birthday money, I had to have a go at building it for real.

The thing is, C-3PO and R2-D2 make a far better pair of shoppers than Darth Maul.

Obviously there’s not a lot to say about this sort of creation, but I’m quite pleased with the shopping trolley.

Building Together

All three of my kids love LEGO, but of the three of them, my son is probably the biggest fan.

One of the main ways we spend time together, in fact, is building together, though it often deteriorates into him providing the ideas and direction and me making it work the way he wants it to be. Of such collaboration have many dragons and mechs and Ninja machines been built.

This was a different kettle of sushi.

Father-and-son building time

He’s a fan of the Star Wars Microfighters game on LEGO.com, and so when he asked me to build him a TIE fighter microfighter I smiled and said “You’re a good builder. You can build it yourself”.

So he did. Then he had me build the X-Wing, which is obviously an AFOL’s creation on the Microfighter theme rather than a nearly-six-year-old’s, but allowed him two ships to have a battle with.

And really, X-Wings are hard. I remember that from my own childhood before there was a set for that.

A few days later I came home from work to discover that he’d made this lovely little charging/refueling/repair station all by himself. No help with the concept, nothing. Absolutely brilliant!

Of course, it’s a bit more rainbow than I’d have tolerated even as a six-year-old, but that’s at leas partly a legacy of my wife. A non-builder with the attention to detail that makes a really superb brickfinder, she had no patience at all with his Daddylike early insistence on everything being the right colour as well as the right shape and carefully wore down his resistance to the Rainbow Warrior concept.

I’m particularly fond of the crates of tools, but the whole thing oozes brilliance.

So I’m trying something very difficult. I’m trying to stop my itchy AFOL builder’s hands from taking over and let him build his own stuff.

…And I thought they smelt bad on the outside!

With this model I return to something I usually seem to enjoy: small models.

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Luke Skywalker riding a tauntaun is hard to pull off at minifig scale; at least, when you don’t have a proper tauntaun. I’m fairly happy with how this built one has turned out.

You’ve got to admire a creature that can handle Hoth’s extreme cold better than an unmodified speeder; remember that when Luke didn’t get back to Echo Base, they couldn’t go and look for him in their speeders because of issues with adapting them to the cold.

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We see that even tauntauns can keel over and die of hypothermia, but the fact that you can take a tauntaun out into weather that will ground a speeder is impressive. Hardy little beasts, these things are. And they don’t need much in the way of support infrastructure the way machines do.

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It’s actually one of the better features of the original trilogy. High-tech blasters and space fighters work alongside domesticated animals, which are used in the sorts of situations in which you’d be likely to find them: poor, lower-tech regions and situations in which you might not want to reveal your presence with too many high energy signatures.

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Anyway, here’s Luke on a tauntaun. Enjoy.

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Prey of the Wampa

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Star Wars‘ own Abominable Snowman, the Wampa, obviously, is native to Hoth. My guess is that it preys on wild tauntauns and whatever other lifeforms Hoth manages to support.

If its approach to Luke is at all typical, it’s an ambush hunter that has the interesting habit of bringing excess food back to a suitable ice cave and hanging it from the roof by freezing its feet into the ice.

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Also, it’s apparently none too concerned whether its prey is fully dead before dragging it home either.

If the legs seem familiar, it’s because I modified them slightly from the ice mech. They seem to work even better here.

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I think I’m most pleased with the horns. The forward-curving horns of the original are difficult to reproduce well in LEGO bricks, but I’m quite proud of what I’ve managed here. They’re technically coming from a little low on his head, but we ca work with that. Actually building these creatures isn’t easy, you know.

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I’m not sure if those legs aren’t actually too big and powerful, but you never really get a good profile of the creature in The Empire Strikes Back, so I’m declaring artistic license to interpret it how I like. Powerful legs for a short dash or pounce from ambush would fit the Wampa’s shown lifestyle.

What with me moaning last time that most Star Wars creatures aren’t all that well-thought-out, the Wampa’s one of the better ones. It actually feels like a real(ish) creature.

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“Oh No! A Rancor!”

As superb as the Star Wars universe is for the designs of its vehicles, characters and sentient races, its alien animals leave something to be desired. The asteroid creature from The Empire Strikes Back is probably the worst offence against reasonable alien biology (it lives in vacuum. Obviously it doesn’t need to breathe. But how does it survive? What does it eat? How does it move from one space rock to the next? And I don’t even want to get started on the improbabilities involved in its finding a mate), but very few of the creatures are all that well-designed.

The Rancor’s one of the better ones, if you discount the improbability involved in it acting (and possibly looking) like a troll. A biped that’s obviously not built for running, like most of the Star Wars bestiary, it’s designed simply to be monstrous. This accounts for almost every one of the Star Wars bestiary, from Naboo’s gargantuan monster sharks to the Dianoga from the waste compactor (which preys on our fear of snakes) to the Acklay (impalement) to the Rathtar (tentacles and bizarrely abnormal motion).

Anyway, I looked at my organiclike ice mech and thought to myself, “you know, I bet I could build a Rancor.  Build one, that is, not buy a giant-sized minifigure equivalent.”

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I’m not sure whether my Rancor or LEGO’s own large minifigurelike moulding is a more accurate size representation of the creature that Jabba keeps as an entertaining way to dispose of unwanted guests.  But LEGO building is typically a little flexible as far as scale goes.

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Now, the Rancor is obviously carnivorous, but even though it’s a biped, it doesn’t seem like it’s built to run down its prey. In Return of the Jedi, it lurches around the dungeon slowly; it does not leap or run. This suggests a scavenger, but. A scavenger of that size ought to have no problems with a little bone. Also it’s slow-witted enough not to try to use its hand claws to dislodge the bone from its mouth, and most scavengers are fairly smart (look at rats). Of course, its hands are huge compared to its mouth, but the fact that it has gasping hands at all suggests a level of intelligence that it doesn’t actually seem to display all that much. On the other hand, though, devouring surprised victims in an enclosed space doesn’t take a lot of brainpower.

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I suppose, too, it’s possible that this is a lamed or crippled specimen. It seems to have enough predatory instinct to kill, which suggests a hunter rather than a scavenger, but its slow forward speed combining with arms definitely designed to grasp and hold throw interesting light on its potential wild lifestyle. If it’s a lamed example, though, that makes more sense. As a pit beast in Jabba’s palace, it doesn’t need to move fast; perhaps it was intentionally lamed to prevent its escape.

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It could also be a specially-developed animal specifically created to serve as a gladiatorial opponent. Star Wars’ biotechnology doesn’t seem as advanced as all that (you get the impression that Kamino’s cloners are unusual), but if the technology exists, the Star Wars galaxy is the sort of place where it’s going to happen.

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Anyway, here’s my version of the Rancor, complete with a pseudo-Luke Skywalker for it to attempt to devour. Lloyd’s hair isn’t quite right for Luke’s, but in some ways it actually seems closer to Mark Hamill’s actual haircut than TLG’s. Go figure.

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Anyway, here he is. I hope Malakili would approve.

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