Whether you build MOCs, OPCs (other people’s creations) or stick to/modify official sets, the world of LEGO Star Wars is a wide one. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. But rookies and veterans alike are sure to learn a thing or two from these three Star Wars experts.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Matt is a public servant from Brisbane who is particularly obsessed with the Ultimate Collectors Series (UCS). He loves recreating scenes that aren’t commonly seen or recreated, and typically builds to Minifigure scale incorporating ships and vehicles he finds in toy shops. Matt started building custom Star Wars sets around four years ago after selling off his UCS and building scaled-down versions instead – he has built a microscale Death Star II, Super Star Destroyer and Tantive IV, plus two custom character builds of Princess Leia and R2-D2 (to name a few). His best MOC to date is his enormous ‘Blue Squadron’ training base (pictured above), a free-standing atmospheric space installation featuring six BTL-A4 Y-Wing Starfighters that won the ‘Intermediate Uniqueness’ award at BrisBricks.
Jeremy is a freelance AFOL journalist and bicycle mechanic from Nundah. Jeremy claims not to know the design and building techniques to MOC his own builds – though we’d beg to differ - and instead spends his time building sets and OPCs (other people’s creations) and writing about the latest releases. It’s a good thing Star Wars is his favourite LEGO theme (“Are there other themes?!” he jokes) because he spends his life researching and writing about it. Jeremy’s most rewarding build is the microscale replica of 10143 Death Star II – it was the first one he did and it introduced him to Brick Resales, where he managed to get 100% of the parts!
Jack may only be a teenager, but his LEGO building skills and knowledge – especially when it comes to Star Wars – are certainly advanced. He has MOC’d a side building for Jabbas Palace, based on a third section of the palace that was shown in ‘Return of the Jedi’ but missing from the official set, and says his dream build is either a Tatooine or Naboo landscape. Jack says he is constantly thinking about, researching, collecting, building, designing and talking about LEGO, and loves building anything Star Wars – whether it’s characters, landscapes or buildings.
When it comes to figuring out what you’re going to build, Matt says to form an idea of a scene, world or place in the Star Wars universe and then study it as much as you can.
“I look over images online and try to recreate those images with LEGO pieces,” he says.
A stickler for detail, Jack will re-watch Star Wars movies to find inspiration and ensure accuracy. Jeremy, on the other hand, typically hits Google. He also checks out Rebrickable (a great Brisbane-based website) to find instructions and parts and recommends bookmarking The Holo-Brick Archives for all the latest LEGO Star Wars news and articles on the history of the theme. And, if he still can’t find exactly what he needs, Jeremy will look at other builds to see if he can adapt any other builder’s techniques.
“Quite often I'll chat with other LEGO fans when I'm sifting through the loose pieces at BrickResales and get ideas from them,” says Jeremy.
You’ve got your idea – now, it’s time to source the parts. For Matt, Jack and Jeremy, this means heading straight to BrickResales.
“I always wanted to MOC but never found the opportunity until I found BrickResales,” says Matt. “That’s where my journey started."
“I always leave BrickResales with twice as much as I intended to buy,” adds Jeremy. “Going to BrickResales is like going to IKEA!”
If you don’t have an idea in mind or know that you will be creating a lot of Star Wars builds in your future, there are a few parts you’ll want to have in your collection. For Matt and Jack, LEGO Star Wars Minifigures are a must-have – though collecting them all is almost impossible.
“I keep a large supply of miscellaneous parts that are sorted by colour and into plates and bricks,” says Jeremy. “I'll have a list of pieces I need when I'm building a specific model, but I don't restrict myself to those. Don't be shy about grabbing interesting pieces – you never know when they'll come in handy – and just make sure you have lots and lots and LOTS of grey plates!”
“Collect as many dark bluish grey and light bluish grey elements as you can possibly find,” adds Matt, “especially when you’re building ships.”
The Star Wars universe is rich with detail, particularly when that comes to the look and feel of the different planets, buildings and scenes. Jack says that, in order to create realistic builds – especially landscapes – focus on adding detail to the terrain.
“For example, Geonosis should have layers of ground terrain to give the surface that rocky look,” says Jack. “Adding studs and cheese slopes will create the look of small stones or pebbles.”
Jeremy also emphasises the importance of adding smaller pieces to create detail – a technique called greebling, for those who aren’t in the know. He says this is a great way to create that "used universe" look that Star Wars is famous for.
“For Star Wars builds, particularly ships, greebling can be a main factor,” says Jack. “For example, if you were building the Millennium Falcon you would use greebling on the outside to create the details that are present on the ship. A ship like the Sith Infiltrator, on the other hand, would use very little greebling and would use more smooth bricks instead to create its appearance.”
If you are overwhelmed by the amount of detail required in some builds, Matt says to start small – and having seen the excruciating detail Matt added to his large-scale Blue Squadron training base, we’ll take his word for it.
“The larger your creation is, the harder it gets to pay attention to fine details,” says Matt. “Use as many small elements as possible, too, with a variety of colours to achieve that realism.”
But if you are attempting to build a large structure, having an action plan in place is key. While it’s easy to get swept up by the outside detail, having a strong internal structure is perhaps more important.
“Study how the official LEGO sets are built to get a really good framework before working on the exterior,” says Jeremy.
This means spending a bit more time researching before collecting the elements you need. Matt says that Wookieepedia is a fantastic source for photos and sketches of builds, offering so much more information that you might typically see in the movies.
But above all, Jeremy says, it’s important to be realistic – you can find great source imagery, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t get it spot on the first time around.
“You can always come back to the build once your skills and spare brick collection has expanded,” says Jeremy. “LEGO bricks can be used to replicate a lot of landscapes, but sometimes you have to be inventive about how you connect them.”