Creating an Improved LEGO Iron Man’s Hall of Armor

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UPDATE: I expanded this design and reported on it here.

As I wrote in my previous blog post, I have been sorting my LEGO bricks. This has helped me organize the LEGO pieces that I have, and it has helped me count the quantity that I have in a given type or color brick. This greater knowledge about the bricks in my collection inspired me last night to build a better Iron Man’s Hall of Armor (above) using the “A-frame” plates or “Plate (A) 4M 45°” from 75137 Carbon-Freezing Chamber.

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My original Hall of Armor (above) was a play-oriented set, but it admittedly required care in its handling. It borrowed heavily from the Malibu Mansion and Avengers Tower sets. The curve of the armor display was accomplished with the central pad locked to the base with a 2×4 plate, each adjacent pad was connected to it with a plate hinge and supported beneath by non-locking flat plates, and the ends were connected to the base plate with 1×1 round plates. It worked, but it was fragile and admittedly very busy in its appearance. I thought that I could do better with a different approach focused on using system and Technics pieces, repetition, and strength.

First, I designed the display bad for each Iron Man armor suit. I based it around a 4×6 plate and leftover translucent blue elements from the Avengers Tower set.

I connected the five armor display pads at the top and bottom of each using the Plate (A) 4M 45°. The center pad and the end pads are built up to 1 brick height to accommodate the 3-hole Technic connector brick beneath the center pad. This is where the platform between the armor pads will connect.

The central platform has a 3-hole Technic brick at the narrow end. It connects to the hall of armor arc with three Technic connector bushings. I used 1×1 bricks with outward facing stud all along the front of the display (both ends of the Hall of Armor arc and the central platform). I affixed flat dark grey plates to these to create a contrast with the light grey of the platform surface.

This new design is more for display than playability. It is a much stronger model than my previous one, and it uses LEGO elements in new ways that I had not experimented with on a MOC before. In particular, I was very happy when the central platform perfectly interconnected with the sweep of the Hall of Armor arc. Also, I was able to build a MOC that utilized repetition in the design of the armor display pads, because I had an inventory and organizing system for my LEGO bricks. Had I not sorted my bricks, I don’t think that I would have been able to come up with this design and implement it as quickly as I did.

While you’re looking at the images, can you spot a spy in the model?

Building City Tech’s New Academic Building at 285 Jay Street With LEGO

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Over the past few days, I build a small scale model of the new City Tech academic building at 285 Jay Street. Still under construction, this model highlights its eventual glass-covered transparency (see this PDF for additional renderings of the building’s completed construction) with the model’s approximately 160 clear 1×2 bricks:

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My Serious Change Through Play collaborator Patrick Corbett original gave me the idea to build a model of the new building after we made our first grant-funded LEGO brick purchase. Here is what that first, simple model looked like:

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With only a few LEGO and Duplo bricks, I was able to capture the glass structure, upper floors overhang, and intersecting curve of the auditorium. Eventually, we incorporated this model into the Serious Change Through Play branding logo. While I like this smaller model, I wanted to build one that was larger and captured more detail without breaking the bank.

To begin my larger design and assess what extra LEGO pieces that I would need beyond those that I already own, I copied LEGO brick/plate design grids (see Duckingham Design’s grids, which are terrific) into Microsoft Windows’ Paint and drew in a rough sketch of each side’s elevation:

After these initial designs, I knew that I had most of what I would need to build the base and solid-color aspects. However, I didn’t have any of the clear bricks. Luckily, I saw a bin full of clear 1×2 bricks at the Flatiron LEGO store a week ago, so I returned there to purchase those and spare bricks that I thought might be useful during the build:

After disassembling all of the bricks in the pick-a-brick container (NB: if you purchase a pick-a-brick container from the LEGO store, you should assemble all of the bricks in order to maximize how many bricks can fit and minimize wasted empty space), I used plates and bricks to construct a 20×20 stud base with a height of 1 brick and two plates (one plate level on top and one plate level on bottom):

Next, I began the fun part of the build, which I like to think about as similar to the writing process–brainstorm, draft, and revise. While I had my elevations to work from, I thought of specific ways to put the bricks together that represented the building better and served to make a stronger model. For example, using overlapping joints and interlocking corners in the upper stories look good and make the model sturdier.

The intersecting auditorium provided some of the best challenges during this build, because it has an interesting curve that is like the forward leading edge of an airplane wing. This required a lot of digging through my boxes of bricks to find pieces that conveyed this as best as possible at this scale and appear close to the colors in the building design documents:

You might have noticed a white, silver, and blue structure in the rear of the building. I felt that I would be remiss if I neglected to include the spirit of the building that used to be at 285 Jay Street–City Tech’s previous auditorium with its Klitgord mosaic (see page 8 of City Tech Connections vol. 6 no. 2 here for more information, or speak to Dr. Mary Nilles, who taught me about the history of the mosaics). The original Klitgord mosaics, crafted by Nathiel Choate and Joseph von Tury in 1962 for the auditorium building, look like this (photo by William Avery Hudson):

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Photo by William Avery Hudson.

Using the microscale of my model, I wanted to capture the color scheme and figures despite the extremely low resolution of the medium at this scale. Nevertheless, I figured that I could convey that there are six human figures and a color scheme of white, silver, and blue. Therefore, I built this model of the mosaic–perhaps the preserved mosaic will have a home in the new building?

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