Like A Kid Again

Nebulon Ranger
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
...only with bigger toys.

For the last few months I've been pulling my old LEGO from the garage, dusting them off (literally, with a toothbrush) and doing all manner of playing, building, sorting, dismantling and generally messing up my room. I finally broke down all the Star Wars sets and had them sorted in a moderately convenient fashion. No sooner did I finish putting the last single 1x1 rounded plate into its bin did I start building a model I've been wanting to do for years. In fact, I'd begun even before all the bits were sorted completely - I'd find pieces I thought I could use and set them aside for later, I'd pull out all the browns I had because I knew it was an uncommon color.

The ship I wanted to build was seen in a Dark Horse Comic series called Tales of the Jedi. It was one of the better Star Wars stories and sadly one of the ones not to get much interest outside of the comic. There was no giant media push, no associated video game or novel or cartoon. My guess is because it was dark, deep and decidedly not cute. I owned the books for a long time but after a few times moving I decided to thin out what few comics I had and thus they were sold to a local shop. Figuring I could use the internet to find images of the ship, these are the two I was able to find.

I thought I had a long road ahead of me. The comic image is decent enough but is full of "comic detail;" the quick pen strokes that fudge the construction bits. (Not their fault.) And the schematic, while useful, had nothing indicating scale and only had the front and left side. I was really concerned my take on this ship wouldn't be as true to the design as I'd have liked and I really wanted to make my first MOC (my own creation) a success. So I was really lucky when I finally stumbled on to this. It was a godsend. I couldn't believe I'd found someone who'd made a model of this and shot it from so many angles. Finding this really energized me and while the shots weren't very detailed, they were good enough to give me an idea of how this needed to be built. (A good example, from the schematics, can YOU tell there are six engines? I couldn't.)

With the project revitalized, I set about getting it built. I realize now I should have taken some progress shots, but what are you gonna do. The next step was to determine size. I wanted to make it minifig scale (for the layperson - minifigs are the LEGO figures) but there were only the Wookieepedia references to length and weight. Given a minifig is 1.5" and a normal human is roughly 1.7m, you can get a basic 1inch=1meter ratio. Meaning this sucker was going to be two and a half feet long and that big ass wing was going to be almost four feet.

I wasn't going to have enough brown.

So I made do with a lot of light and dark gray and did a lot of internal construction with other colors. I started like I do every ship I've ever built by building around the pilot. I was trying to keep it simple, knowing I could always go back and add any greebles I'd want later. (Greebles - small bit of detailing to break up the surface and add visual interest.) But the more I built, the bigger it got and soon I was outside the realm of manageable model to giant UCS (ultimate collector series) sized model. And it was getting unwieldy - the wing itself was so heavy that I had to work on ways to reinforce it to keep it from just separating and falling off. If I were to do it all over, I'd build a different frame first, something that had all it's support based off that huge friggin wing. As it is, I'm fairly certain while the ship sits up on a shelf in the library that it's going to come crashing down and I'm going to lose a ton of parts. (I should move that tonight.)

So I finished this weekend and it came in at roughly 18" long, 36" tall and weighing about 4.5lbs. I'm very proud of it but I'm a little worried that I don't have anywhere to go after this. It's a big model and an obscure ship that (as far as I can tell) no one has built out of LEGO before. What's left to do? More of the same ships over and over again? I have a few ideas for things to build so I'll leave this bad boy together for a while then it'll be time to tear it all apart and start something new.

So this brings up two things I wanted to mention in closing. One, if you find any garage sales or online deals with LEGO sets, please let me know. I still plan on trying to get all the Star Wars sets as well as some older space sets, but now it's more for parts than to have a collection. I might get a few in boxes to hang on to. And two, if you have or know where to find cheap (see: free) storage bins, drop me a line. I still have half of my sets to break down but I'm out of bins and most of the parts are in Ziploc bags.

So, that's what I've been doing lately. You?

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