There was enough interest in a photoblog of my progress on the Lego Tower Bridge that I decided to go ahead with it.
Here’s something you have to understand: I love spatial stuff. Every Christmas, my mother, my brother, and I do a holiday jigsaw puzzle. I think they’re generally a thousand pieces — whatever fits on the kitchen counter, anyway — and we polish them off in a few days flat, in part because I will kind of just sit there and put pieces in until somebody makes me stop. A few years ago I suggested we try one of those 3D jigsaw puzzles, and ended up doing ninety percent of it myself, because I was the one who really wanted it; the puzzle was Neuschwanstein, and it still sits atop my desk at home. Last month my mother said I could have gone to work for Lego as one of their designers, and it’s probably true; spatial reasoning has always been one of my strong suits.
So this is a most excellent present for my husband to have gotten for me. And, like the Christmas jigsaw puzzles, I’m inclined to marathon on it unless somebody makes me stop. Since I have work to do, I’ve imposed a self-restriction, which is that I’m only allowed to play with the Legos while watching movies with friends. At the moment, we have plans to do movie double-headers every Sunday night for a while, so you’ll likely get Monday updates to the photoblog.
Behind the cut, for the sake of people’s flists, you’ll find the progress from Day Zero and Day One.
Four thousand two hundred eighty-seven pieces in twenty-eight sacks. Piled up, it looks like this:
Kind of unmanageable, ne? Fortunately, kniedzw still had the bins and ziploc bags from when he built the Lego Taj Mahal at work, so the Day Zero step was to open all those sacks and sort the pieces into something resembling order:
There, that’s better. (I did not, however, count all the damn pieces, unlike my deranged husband and his project. One of the few instances in which I am less obsessive-compulsive than him.) Part of the reason I refused to count is right here:
Five hundred fifty-six pieces — more than ten percent of the total — are these little 1×1 tan slope-y bits. (You’ll see why later on.) I was damned if I was going to count them all.
Oh, and these are the instruction books:
That doesn’t give you any sense of how many pages there are, but whatever. Like I said, they’re magazine-sized.
On to the actual building. The first thing you construct, going by the directions, is the central span of bridge, the moveable part:
I’m convinced they have you build that first so you can experience the satisfaction of completing a sizeable-looking chunk of the whole. Enjoy that satisfaction, because it’s going to be a while before you experience it again; next up are the towers.
As you can see, I chose to build them in parallel, rather than doing first one and then the other. This has nothing to do with plans to stage scenes from Sherlock Holmes atop the unfinished structure, no sirree.
I’ve never done one of these Lego projects before, the big ones that replicate a real-world structure, and I’m fascinated by the attention to detail. Because my lighting is crappy (I’ll try to do better in the future), you can’t see this, but there’s stuff in the foundation that is, when you get down to it, unnecessary. Those piles in the middle are three brown standard bricks each, the middle one offset by one space, to provide an attachment point for the grey bars. The offset space is filled by a semi-specialized dark grey piece, 1×2 but rounded into two semi-cylinders. Once the foundation is finished, those pieces are invisible. You cannot possibly see them. They could have been hot pink and spiky, for all anybody but the builder would know. But somebody went to the effort of choosing something appropriate; I can only presume it’s based on the actual structure. This happens again and again as I go along, and every time it does, I grin a little in pleasure.
Here’s the first story of the towers completed. (Dim lighting, I know; I’ll fix that for later shots.) Those rounded corners are where all those fiddly little tan bits are going: you stick them onto underlying pieces in long lines, then stick those pieces onto side-projecting bits. Very tedious work, but good for watching movies, as it doesn’t require a lot of attention.
I didn’t work constantly through both movies, but I spent a goodly portion of that time on Lego-building, and here’s where I got to in the end:
Not a bad start, I think. And here, since I used flash, you can see detail much better: the corners of the towers, and down in the light grey foundation some of the semi-rounded bits I mentioned before. The barrel-like bits marking the top of the first story and base of the second are a pain, quite physically; you have to stick four roundels onto pipe pieces, then force additional pipes into the stack so the horizontal pieces that attach the stacks to the rest of the structure have something to latch onto. My fingers hurt by the time I was done.
I haven’t yet attached the central bridge to the towers. You’re supposed to do that after the towers are done, but I think I’ll delay; the only thing connecting those bases are two little pipes on each side, and since I have to lift the entire mess up onto my office bookcases when I’m done, I’ll probably do the last stages of assembly up there. (This thing is going to be heavy, y’all. Not so much in the grand scheme of things, but more than I want to trust to a pair of little pipes.)
Anyway, it’s good progress. I’m maybe twenty percent of the way done, though it’s hard to judge for sure, since some pages are a lot more complicated than others. I haven’t yet finished the first booklet, though. That will have to wait for next Sunday, when I get to work on this again.