Work In Progress: Second Half

Sorry I have been away for so long – please don’t think I have abandoned my LEGO SDF-1! Things have been extremely busy and unfortunately I won’t have as much time to dedicate to this project going forward as did last month. I have been able to sneak in some time to build here and there; most importantly I have started building the second half of the ship. I’m still short of a lot of pieces, but I did receive a couple of my orders from Bricklink which allowed me to put some finishing touches (although far from complete) on the main center section. Below are a couple of snapshots of the progress to date:

Starting the build of the left side. Part of me feels the blue section of the Main Guns may be too short, but I'll hold off on judging until I see the ship with the both Legs attached. Besides, the last thing I want to do at this point is reconstruct anything!

Although the Main Guns may look almost complete, there is still a lot of work to be done. There are some areas I will have to take apart and rebuild.

As I described in my previous post, there are still major issues with the weight of the leg. I have to decide if glue is the only solution to make the LEGOs strong enough to support the weight horizontally. If glue is the only solution, I have to decide when is the right time to start gluing Sections together, I don’t want to glue Sections together too soon and have to go through the trouble of taking the pieces apart.

To prove my point about not wanting to glue too soon, I have already discovered that I need to rebuild a section of the leg to make it so it can support the ship after transformation. Recently I found a critical design flaw in one of the connection points I built for transformation and as is I don’t think it would be able to support the ship upright.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, I’ll have to attack the leg issues when I have a significant amount of free time to focus just on solving the leg’s issues. For now I am going to wait for my last Bricklink order to arrive.

Good Job so far Sport!

Weight Issues

I have been able to complete most of the leg; however my worst fear has come true. It appears that the weight of the leg has compromised its connection to the rest of the ship. To put it simply when I move the ship the weight of leg forces the connection points to break apart and the leg breaks away from the ship.

This connection point does not support the leg.

This connection point does not support the leg horizontally. Note the white brick on the right, even that extra support does not keep it from falling apart.

To attempt to remedy I reconstructed all of the connection points, including adding an axle connection and a male/female pin assembly as well as reconstructed an internal beam that extended from Section 3 into Section 4 (the legs). Although my improvements improved the strength of the connections I could not overcome the physics of the situation. The current weight of the leg is 2 ¼ lbs, and I think no LEGO Technic pin and/or axle assembly can hold that much weight up horizontally. Also, the leg is currently hollow and will only become heavier as I add more detail to the SDF-1.

SDF-1 Leg Work in Progress

I wanted to avoid using glue in building this model, but I think that at this point the physics of the SDF-1 make it unavoidable. The legs are a 1/3 the length of the ship, the heaviest section of the ship and protrude out with no support – with a model of this size extra support seems unavoidable. I know I could do some alterations to attempt to cut the weight of the legs, but I don’t think I could do any drastic changes that would cut the weight by a third or a fourth. Plus, after transformation the legs support the entire ship so they still must remain sturdy. I’m hoping that if I glue the connection points together it will give it enough strength to horizontally support 2-3 lbs.

If glue is the solution, I feel it is still premature in the build to be glueing LEGOs together; I’m not sure what might still change. Yet, if I don’t try to strengthen the connection with glue now I won’t know if it will work and I won’t be able to handle the ship easily. It’s a dilemma. In the meantime I going to do my best to think of other possible solutions to resolve this without glue, but as I alluded to earlier I think the chances of a strictly LEGO solution is slim to none.

"I know it hurts, I feel your pain too. But don't give up now...you are so close to building the perfect LEGO SDF-1!"

Work in Progress: Center Section

This project is a beast! I’m running out of so many types of LEGOs, I totally underestimated how many pieces this project would require. Today I submitted two more Bricklink orders for pieces, on top of the three orders I already have outstanding. I am afraid to tally how much this ship has cost; I’ll wait to add it up when I’m done.

Today I worked on the second half on the white center section, the section of the ship that the bridge sits on. The tricky part about this section is that rotates clockwise into the first half of the white center section when the ship transforms. In order for me replicate that important feature I have to find the best point of rotation. Again, I am working only with pictures I found online of the SDF-1, I don’t have a toy or model to assist me. I’m building the rotation points with simple Technic pin 1×2 bricks. Below is a photo of the section after I determined the best points for rotation.

It took a long time to find the best points! It was not easy, a lot of trial and error!

Next I had to determine how long the section should be; again I used the images available to me.

I used these images to determine how long the section should be (how far over the legs did it extend).

Compared to everything else, determing the length was easy

Below is a picture of my first attempt to build this section out after I pinpointed the points of rotation. You’ll notice I’m using other color LEGO in this section besides white; that is because I ran out of many of the required white bricks and plates and was forced to use my old spare bricks as substitutes. After I built this section and took this picture I decided it was too bulky/blocky and took it apart. Again, just like the leg the slopes and angles were the source of the problem, replicating them is no easy task. With the first attempt I felt the slopes I created were not faithful to the images I had of the SDF-1 and I knew I could do better.

Not exactly what I wantedAfter hours and hours (approx. 10) and many more versions this is the best version I was able to create:

I did the best I could to be faithful to the SDF-1 images.

I used wedge plates to create the outer angles and inverted slopes for the inner ones. I was also able to match it closely to the images I have of the SDF-1. I’m happy with how this section has turned out (so far), but there is still a lot of work to do here: I’m still missing many of the pieces that I need and I still need to finish the bottom/back of this section. Also, this section is mostly hollow and I am planning something special for the inside!

Being short of so many critical pieces I am not sure what I’ll be able to work on tomorrow. I’ll sleep on it.

Rick likes what he sees so far...

Building Techniques

For all my past LEGO SDF-1 models I have used the same building technique. I always start from the main guns and work my way back to the legs and then out to the arms and carriers, see below:

Sections 1 and 2 should be the easiest sections by far.  They are pretty straight forward except for a few color scheme issues. For each of these sections I plan to use different techniques and pieces to achieve a more detailed and accurate model, nonetheless Sections 1 & 2 should be still relatively easy.  Section 3 will be a bit difficult because this section overlaps section 5 and I need to figure out a way to have to be able to transform. I have never built this section before with the overlap so this will be a new challenge.

Section 4 will be somewhat difficult because this is the center of the ship and integral to the transformation, I will need to find the optimal point for rotation. Plus at this stage I haven’t decided yet if this will be the place for Macross City (I know in DYRL the city is located in the leg but I haven’t found any images of where the city resides within the SDF-1 in the original Macross series). Plus the bridge section is another part that will be extremely challenging to build because of the slopes, the moving parts required for transformation as well as the scale of the bridge and radar.

Section 5 has traditionally been the most difficult part to build, one of the most challenging features is that during transformation the legs slide down (and out) to give the SDF-1 additional height. For LEGO this could be an issue, especially impacting the sturdiness of the model. The model will need to stand and be able to support the weight of the top and middle sections as well as the main guns…I don’t think I have it quite figured out how I will achieve that. Also in the past I have had issues with the long slope of the legs as well as getting the length and height of the legs correct as far proportion to the rest of the ship.

As if Section 5 wasn’t hard enough, Section 6 is the section I am drawing a complete blank on – this I anticipate to be the most challenging part to build.  Even after spending a considerable amount of time on Bricklink I’m not sure what pieces to use. The fact that these sections have to hold up two carriers when it transforms makes it seem that this section is next to impossible. I am not sure of what structure or technique I can use with LEGO to achieve this effect.

If I can get past 5 and 6, Section 7 should be fun to build; I just have to be cognizant of the weight depending on how successful I am with section 6. Limiting the weight could impact the amount of detail.

I already foresee after I ’finish’ each section I will most likely need to go back and alter prior sections either because of scale, proportion, weight and/or transformation issues. This has always been the case with the smaller LEGO SDF-1s I have built in the past. With the increased scale of this one, these concerns are heightened. If I was simply building the SDF-1 in cruiser mode there would be no sections, everything would be connected and the model could be relatively sturdy. However building it in sections so that it can transform creates multitudes of issues that at this point I am not sure how I will resolve and overcome.