MOC Focus // Tips for building large LEGO structures
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MOC Focus // Tips for building large LEGO structures

Sometimes, when it comes to LEGO builds, it’s a case of the bigger, the better – at least, until your enormous LEGO build becomes too big! To conquer the issues with stability, balance and space that come along with building large-scale LEGO structures, we asked long-time LEGO builder Edward Miller to share his tips.

What is the largest build you have created, and how large was it?
A “Dieselpunk” city in the sky, big enough to cover a dining table. It has three large towers and a flying cargo freighter built on “clouds” made from white LEGO pieces and Ikea Bygglek boxes. Details include shops and street scenes, weird machinery, flying hot rods and a posh hotel all in a retro science fiction style.

Where do you start when planning a large LEGO build?
“Planning” is a generous word to use! I draw sketches (bad ones) in a notebook to work out the shape of what I want to build, with notes on the details I want to show. Those can “sell” the idea better than building perfect dimensions or size. Then I grab the pieces I want to include and start connecting them. Some I keep, some get discarded. Sometimes better ideas come after a break.

What pieces are essential for large LEGO builds?
1x6x5 panels and 1x2x5 bricks are great for building up in areas people won’t see, like the back of a tall building. This gives stability and strength, while using less pieces and with less weight. Bonus BrickResales tip: Duplo bricks can be used for this very purpose!

What three tips would you have for builders keen to try a large-scale MOC or set?

  1. Plan and build for transportability: If you want to take a large MOC to a show, build for transport. Plan your build in sections which are stable enough to survive a car ride. Make fragile parts like bridges or towers detachable.
  2. Real estate: If you are building big, you need somewhere to build and have your loose LEGO, plus somewhere to display when you are done. That takes up a lot of space, especially if you are going to be doing it in spare hours over several weeks. Think about large trays or wide storage tubs to keep half built projects out of the way when you aren’t working on them. 
  3. Completion: Listen to the Finishing Fairy when she whispers in your ear “that is good enough. You are tired and need to stop now”. If you spend forever trying to build a perfect creation you might have no energy for building the next cool thing or be so tired you make a mistake and drop the thing!

Are you working on any large builds at the moment, or planning any for the future?
I am getting the Dieselpunk city ready for the BrisBricks show at Chandler in October. After that I have a few ideas in the sketchbook: a hydra monster made from trains, Tamatoa from ‘Moana’ in his cave, a Star Wars themed ‘heist’ scene… the list goes on.

What are some of the best large LEGO builds you’ve seen?
There was a stunning lenticular mosaic of Snow White and the Wicked Witch by Tamara Dadswell. Plus, the huge Bat-Cave built by Brent Waller, designer of the Ecto-1 and Seinfeld sets – it was almost 2m tall and packed with detailed Bat-scenes. Not to mention the awesome Brisbane/Queensland themed train layouts built by members of BrisBricks, with everything from cane fields to cricket grounds – just to name a few!

Where do you go for inspiration/tips when it comes to making large builds? 
I often do internet and social media searches for genres or artists and find movie art books for detailed pictures of things that are only briefly visible on screen. I also take phone photos of things I see in real life, like parts of buildings or construction machinery.

Do you have any photos of your large builds that we could run alongside the story?
Scroll down for pictures of a mosaic of a Star Wars “First Order Stormtrooper” made from Star Wars Minifigures, and a giant “Island Turtle” I built with my daughter a couple of years ago (she designed it, I constructed it, she added the mythical creatures, I threw in the Dad Jokes).

Using Duplo is one great way to ensure your large builds are not only sturdy, but light, too - see how our resident expert Greg used the trick on his build?

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