Reconstruction Blues

LEGO SDF-1 in progress. Rebuild of 3 sections, still need to finish rebuilding the white tip of the Main Gun.

I have spent the past couple of days reconstructing much of the SDF-1 I thought I had completed. This is the prime reason to only build one side at a time! When I decided to build the white center section 10x across I wasn’t careful enough with considering the width of the other sections I was working on at the time. As it turned out the scale was way off, the other (blue) sections were way too thin making the center section look fat and way out of proportion. Since I wish for this to be largest most massive LEGO SDF-1 I have ever built I decided that instead of decreasing the size of the white middle section I should instead increase the width and length of the sections I had completed so far.

The reconstruction has forced me to rebuild 4 parts (I have rebuilt 3 so far – I still need to rebuild the white section of the Main Guns):

The 4 sections I had to rebuild, it was no fun.

Since the building techniques were essentially the same the rebuild wasn’t too complex, just time consuming. The only major discovery is in cruiser mode my male/female assembly I designed to connect the Main Gun (Section 2 to Section 3) doesn’t work as well as I predicted. The Main Guns are really relatively ‘heavy’ and the axle and pin still doesn’t provide enough support, an external plate is still needed for extra support. Also, with the rebuild the Main Gun section is longer and wider too. I’ll have to revisit how to better connect the Main Gun to the ship later on, but at least now with the Main Guns being wider I have more real estate to work with at the point of connection.

I’m also using the male/female assembly for the arm joints (the white section protruding out), but for now what I have built for them is more so just a place holder. What you see now in regards to the white center section is another place holder (mostly). I only started building it to help me with the building of the legs, I need the section to help build to the correct proportions. I know I’ll have to tear it apart and rebuild it at least 2 or 3 times. I’ll need to find numerous connection points, decide what to with the inside, figure out how to build and connect the bridge section, etc. – all of which will require extensive trial and error. However, with this at least I’ll have the basic length, width and height confirmed and proportional.

I still need tons of new pieces, so I’ll be back on Bricklink soon. Tomorrow I want to get started on the SDF-1 Legs…I already know it will be a difficult beast. This project so far is far, far more challenging then I originally thought it would be. Hopefully I won’t have another reconstruction mistake like this one, it’s more fun building new sections then rebuilding old ones.

Minmay worried about building the SDF-1 Legs...

Work in Progress: Section 5

Section 5 Work in Progress. Still missing a lot of pieces so Sections 3 and 4 are also incomplete.

Above is snapshot of my progress to date. I could have been further along if I didn’t underestimate the quantity of blue bricks and plates I would need. At this point I have run out of or running short of numerous types of pieces, so much so that I believe I am on my eighth Bricklink order.

The new section, Section 5, I am building is just like Sections 1 through 4, much more complicated than I expected. Some of the challenges I have with building this section are:

1)      building the overlap from section 4

2)      how to firmly attach section 4 to section 5 in cruiser mode

3)      how to firmly attach section 4 section 5 after transformation

4)      making a space for the arm joints (which I haven’t figured out yet how I’ll build)

5)      what slopes to use for the top

6)      insuring the length and width are proportional

7)      figuring out what method to use to attach the legs (for transformation)

In short, there is a lot going on in this section, and much of it is features I have never included before in previous (smaller) LEGO SDF-1 models. For example: The connection method I plan to use to connect sections 4 and 5 together (tile pins) should work both for cruiser mode and after transformation, but for now it is just a blueprint in my head until I can test it when my pieces arrive. Until then I won’t know if what I have planned will provide enough support in both modes.  Also, I have never included the overlap between Sections 4 and 5. I am also going to attempt to build a version of the male/female joint discussed in the previous post for the white arm joint, again something I never attempted before.

Section 5 in Crusier Mode

During transformation the legs disconnect and slide out from this section. I have built that functionality before and I am thinking about using the same technique (pins, tiles, etc.), but I have to see if it will work on a larger scale. Most importantly I have to build it so that it can support the weight of the top of ship after transformation with my goal of improved sturdiness.

The legs slide down revealing this midsection connection point.

Also, no matter how perfect I build Section 5 I WILL have to take some of it apart (perhaps multiple times) once I complete the building of the main center section. I will need to locate where exactly to place the pin or axle that will connect the center section to Section 5. I remember on previous models there was a great deal of trial and error to pinpoint the correct position…I know that part won’t be any fun.

I don’t want to miss mentioning a small detail, this section has yellow border going around it at the bottom and I ordered pieces so that I include that feature. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do to replicate the interior (the bottom), but I think that will be relatively easy. Last, the only other feature is the gun turrets; there are 3 just on this section alone and unfortunately I have no idea what those will look like at this time.

Zentradi/Meltrandi Connection Joint

Yesterday I received one of the Bricklink orders I placed on Friday and that allowed me to put some finishing touches on the Main Gun section, see below:

I am happy I was able to figure out a method to reverse the plates on the bottom. I want the bottom of the SDF-1 to be just as detailed as the top, especially since the bottom is visible when the ship transforms.

The previous post about rotation points is important because the connection between Section 2 and 3 is very complicated. Sections 1 and 2 together so far weigh in at 13 oz., which as I explained in the last post is too heavy for one pin to securely connect to Section 3. To connect Sections 2 & 3 I have built a new assembly that tries something I have never tried before: a Zentradi/Meltrandi (male/female) connection using a pin and axle, below is a mockup of the potential connection built from old spare pieces:

I used two pins in the mockup because that is all I had in my spare pieces; I’ll use an axle instead for one of the pins when my next Bricklink order arrives.

Understand that this connection is critically important: not only does it have to securely connect and support the Main Gun to the ship in cruiser mode but it must also support the Main Guns vertically after transformation – and after transformation Section 2 and 3 are still connected but in a different position (the rotation).

Let’s call the cruiser mode connection a 0 degree connection. For transformation, that connection changes to a 90 degree connection. Both the axle and pin connections don’t match up when you rotate it from 0 to 90 degrees – or if they can I wasn’t able to figure out how. If it was simply 180 degree rotation, like it is between Sections 1 & 2, I wouldn’t have this issue because it would just be a mirror and the pins and axles would still exactly matchup after rotation. So to resolve this predicament the Zentradi/Meltrandi assembly connection I have designed with the a pin and axle only the axle connector will connect Sections 2 and 3 after transformation.

Highlighted in yellow is the Main Gun's 90 degree pivot between Sections 2 and 3.

In the past, building this section has always been extremely tricky; there is not a lot of real estate to build the connection between (in this model only 3x). On prior models I used only pins to connect the sections and cheated with external reinforcements. This worked well enough in cruiser mode but after transformation the Main Guns were always a very unstable. I’m hoping that the extra support this new Zentradi/Meltrandi assembly provides will drastically increase the stability and sturdiness of the Main Gun’s connection in both modes. I hope this design works, I won’t know for sure until after I build the entire SDF-1 and attempt to transform it.

Which SDF-1 to Build?

My first decision is which SDF-1 to build: should it be the traditional Macross SDF-1 or the Do You Remember Love SDF-1? Decisions, decisions, decisions. The DYRL SDF-1 is by far the more complicated, detailed and complex SDF-1 – and not to mention the most popular version with Macross fans. I still love the original version more so for nostalgia, but even nostalgia can’t trump the shear coolness and complexity of the DYRL version:

My building experience has only been building the original SDF-1 out of LEGO, but after admiring the numerous DYRL SDF-1 pictures available online my interest in constructing that version definitely piqued.  For the DYRL version though I would need a ton and a half of gray and dark gray bricks – as opposed to a ton and a half of blue and white bricks for the original SDF-1. Unfortunately, the economics of it all made the decisions for me. Checking Bricklink I recognized there was significant price difference and availability for gray bricks vs. white and blue bricks. It appears it would be way cheaper for me to build the traditional Macross SDF-1.

The traditional SDF-1 would also be a bit easier for me to build too since I have built that version in the past, but it is a little disappointing to not be taking on DYRL. Maybe if I have the time and extra finances later in the year I might consider taking on the more complex and challenging DYRL version. Above all though, I’ll wait to see how the Macross community reacts to my original SDF-1 version I’m preparing to build now.