Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Introducing the Microscale Castle/Pirate Collaboration

Written by:  David Gregory

At Brickworld we’re always looking for new ways to engage people in building projects that are fun and let LEGO fans combine their efforts to create something beyond what they could do alone.  Some fans of the castle and pirate themes had a meeting at Brickworld 2014, to try and come up with a project that would let anyone get involved on any level of commitment.  It was decided that a modular microscale project was the best way to do that. As with any modular project, we had to come up with a standard for the “base” module.

Have you ever seen a patio paved with octo stone pavers?  Each stone is the shape of an octagon with a square on one side.

The base module for a micro castle/pirate display is based on the principle of this pattern.  Back in 2010 TLC released a 10X10 octagonal plate <http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=89523> .  So far this part has been released in 6 different colors, 4 of which will work just fine for making modules: green, tan, dark bluish gray and dark tan.

All you need to get started is to attach a 10X10 octagonal plate to a 4X4 stud square, bring the height up to 1 brick + 1 plate, and voila!  You have a module.

Here you can see examples modules in three different colors (banana for scale.)

Now you may be thinking that when multiple modules are put together, their borders will be sort of wavy due to the angles of the pieces meeting.  You’re right, when these modules are put together, there will be no gaps, but there will be angles—angles in LEGO that are not 90°!

Straight lines work well for city blocks and space stations, but the coastlines, fields and stone walls of a micro medieval display have so much more character when they’re allowed to deviate from straight lines.

We have an example of blue water modules, even though the 10X10 octagonal plate hasn’t been released in blue.  We’ve simply put 4X4 cut-corner wedge plates <http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=30503>  on one of the octagonal plates.  In fact you could use those same wedge  plates in colors such as light bluish gray, black, white or reddish brown to make modules in colors that are different from those in which the octagonal plates have been made.

Believe it or not, there’s also another way to make a water module.  The
solid version of the 10X10 octagonal plate has a small hole in the center, but there’s also a 10X10 octagonal plate that has a large cutout in the
center <http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=6063>  that comes in dark azure.  Once you have one of those, attach 4X4 studs worth of some dark azure bricks, build something that covers the center cutout (volcano, island, whirlpool, etc.), and you have a Caribbean water module.

Once you have your base(s) built, the details are totally up to you. Castles, pirate ships, farms, krakens, towers and islands are only a few of the many ideas of what you can make to fill your module(s).

We say that this project is “microscale,” but what does that mean?  For the purpose of this project microscale is any scale smaller than minifig scale. Do you want your people to be the little dudes from the LEGO boardgames?  Go for it.  (That would be the largest that the scale could go.) 

Do you want to go with the traditional microscale standard of a person being represented by a 1X1 round brick?  That works too!  In fact you could create a landscape where the inhabitants would be too small to be  represented by any LEGO piece.

All of those options are just fine.  Don’t worry about the scale of your creation not exactly matching the scale of the creation next to yours.  That won’t be important when they’re all put together.  We’ll be too busy hearing people ask, “Is this supposed to be Settlers of Catan?” to worry about scale conflicts.

One of the nice things about building in microscale is that anyone has enough pieces to participate.  People can add 20 modules to the display or just 1.  Bringing your micro landscape to life requires far fewer pieces than most MOCs, so you can build a single module with literally a handful of pieces.  The house in the photo below is made of only 7 parts.

The micro people who populate your world can be simple placeholders, or they can have a bit of personality built into them.  The knights in the picture below are each only 5 pieces.

Are you thinking about making a module to add to the display at Brickworld?

Here are some basic guidelines:
  • Each module is made from a 10X10 octagon + a 4X4 square.
  • The 4X4 square area goes on the left.
  • Modules are 1 brick + 1 plate high.
  • Feel free to build things that are larger than what will fit on 1 module.  You can connect your modules together and build across them.
  • There is no limit to the number of modules you can bring.
  • The display coordinator is responsible for bringing/building a border around the perimeter to keep the modules from shifting around.
Also, as the 2015 event nears, make sure to check the event schedule for a presentation on microscale building from David Gregory and Ben Ellerman.

(And word has it that they might even have custom microscale kits available)

1 comment:

  1. Hmm... I'll have to think long about this one. Could be fun. Tempting to make a large multi-module section with some nice terrain in it.