Krakken Alert – An Octopus MOC

Back then when I was writing my review of the Deep Sea Creatures (31088) set I was quite enthused as you may have noticed, yet something was missing that I would have considered essential – an octopus model. This compelled me to actually sit down and create one of my own. That may sound simple and obvious, but of course there’s a specific twist to the whole story, so allow me to tell you a bit about the thoughts and design process behind this project.

The Objective(s)

Before I even started to actually construct the model I knew how I wanted it to look and feel eventually. How to get there was a different story entirely, so I had to establish a few rules and parameters.

Octopus MOC, Comparison with the Squid from set 31088

Size Comparison with the original Squid from the Deep Sea Creatures (31088) set

The scale should match the generalized “squid” model one can build with one of those sets. This would not only reduce parts count to something sensible, but also keep things manageable since I wanted to include tentacles with a realistic length and on top of it all eight of them as you would find them in nature. Ideally I also wanted them to act and look naturally with some tapering and possibly also the “wings”/ skin webs between them at least hinted at.

It also set up a nice challenge in that it would require some strategic thinking to capture the shape of the creature, build a robust and stable model and still keep it poseable. If you get my meaning – building a large model and getting a good approximation even of complex surface curvatures is easier, but the real crunch comes when you have to express them with a limited number of pieces crammed into a small space.

The model itself should be based on the four sets I ultimately had bought as much as possible, meaning it should use the parts contained therein without having to throw in too many extra parts. This would save cost and avoid too many leftover bits clogging up drawers and storage boxes. Resorting to some additional parts from my collection should be kept to a sensible minimum, though I was aware that I possibly could not avoid it entirely. Some elements I planned on using are just not part of the original set.

The two factors combined resulted in a third prerequisite presenting itself: The overall parts count would and should be in a region that equals that of a commercial mid-range set, i.e. the accrued cost should ideally not exceed the combined value of the initial four sets plus some minor spending for the extra parts. Reigning in the cost would make it feasible to create instructions for the model and publish them so others could possibly re-create it without going broke in the process.

Time for some Action…

Building the model took quite some time. I’m a slow builder who likes to take his time to properly check and evaluate each step to begin with and naturally, getting the most out of limited resources presented its own challenges, given that my parts repository isn’t endless and even small changes can cause delays if you don’t have the right piece on hand and have to wait for that Bricklink order to arrive. I’m also a bit obsessive about making things stable and unbreakable, requiring even more thought to go into how you attach individual elements so they don’t fall off easily.

Octopus MOC, Head in resting Position (closed)

Head in resting Position

Octopus MOC, Head in swimming Position (open)

Head in swimming Position

Given those circumstances and my self-imposed rules I started out with the main part of the head, the mantle. Visually it is the largest body region on most octopus species due to it being more or less a big hollow sack inflated by water inside. Naturally the main purpose is to provide jet-like propulsion when said water is pressed out through the siphons, but the mantle also plays an important role during mating rituals or in its deflated form for camouflage when the octopus is resting. Incidentally it also looks like a big bulbous nose, which in not so minor parts is one of the reasons I think octopuses are cute. Getting this right therefore was important to me.

The tricky part for this section of the body was squeezing in all those elements necessary for the perpendicular building, so the various slopes could be attached to the sides, front and top. The problem here is not so much that it would be impossible overall, but rather that you have so little room and in some corners three different “flow” directions converge. One has to find ways of fitting in all those different brackets and bricks with studs on sides.

After that was done and I had arrived at a satisfying look the model rested in a box half-finished for quite a while. During this time I dabbled on and off with the aft section to which later the tentacles would be attached. In the process I must have started over and rebuild this segment at least five times, optimizing the various sub-steps over and over.

Octopus MOC, Tentacles fanned out

All eight Tentacles fanned out

Octopus MOC, Top View with spread Tentacles

Top View, notice the Shape and Volume of the Mantle

The point here is that the eight ball joints for the tentacles needed to be placed in a very specific way. They had to be far enough apart to accommodate the tentacles themselves, yet close enough to keep the body section compact and small to match the mantle’s scale. Additionally I also wanted to retain some semblance of the attachments being placed in a circle.

All of this made this quite complicated, even more so as later this little part would have to be solid enough to not fall apart when the tentacles were attached and exerted their force. In the end I opted for an alternating placement of the square ball joint plates with the longer bar and the regular short versions. This would also come in handy since it allowed for some overlap of the tentacles without them getting canted.

Octopus MOC, Tentacle, Side View

Tentacle Side View

Octopus MOC, Tentacle, Top View

Tentacle Top View

Compared to all that, the tentacles themselves were more or less a walk in the park as their construction is pretty obvious in the first place. Once you have decided on the length and number of the individual elements it’s merely a matter of building the segments eight times each and clicking them together. A bit repetitive, but perfectly manageable. In the interest of easy modifications I kept the design quite generic and the tentacles are interchangeable for different positions. There’s a million ways to handle this, so you could naturally also build your completely own interpretation, vary the overall lengths or build specific versions for each attachment point.

Mission accomplished?

The measure of how well I may have achieved my own goals depends on a few factors.

First, the re-usage factor of pieces from the original Deep Sea Creatures (31088) sets can be anywhere from around 60 percent up to 90 percent. I wanted my model to look “nice”, so I did quite a few color swaps/ replacements by digging into my parts repository and this value is therefore inevitably on the lower end. In particular I shunned all the red pieces from the original sets, if they would be visible. If you can live with that, the number will go up.

Octopus MOC, Tentacles partially curled up

Tentacles partially curled up to illustrate Poseability

The same goes for compromising on some structural parts like the ball joints. Unfortunately the sets only contain so many of them and they are not always in the right orientation. Unless you seriously spend at least a bit of money on additional such parts you could swap out some of them with the regular hinge joints at the cost of reduced stability and limited posing options. Good candidates for this would be the tips of the tentacles where the loads and forces aren’t that extreme.

Octopus MOC, Rear View with open Tentacles (Attack Posture)

Rear View with open Tentacles (Attack Posture)

The previous point also extends to the overall realism. A good chunk of parts is genuinely consumed by just the tentacles. As it turned out at the length I built them the pieces from the set didn’t suffice in quantity and I had to complement them with additional ones. The more you shorten the arms and use fewer segments, the closer you get to not having to rely on extra stuff. This is entirely up to you.

Though generally I’m of the opinion that the length of the arms is often totally underestimated and misrepresented, there’s no denying that different sub-species of octopi have different lengths. As a general rule you can say the smaller the creature, the shorter the tentacles. This includes infantile and adolescent specimen not yet having fully formed tentacles, but also small variants like the poisonous blue-ringed octopuses appearing more stubby to begin with.

Octopus MOC, Rear View Detail with Beak

Rear View Beak Detail

With all those optimizations you can trim down the overall parts count from above 600 pieces to 400 and below. You can take this even further and only use six tentacles if you want to match it up with the squid, though then you may require quite some reworking of the aft head section. In any case, anything is possible and more than anything else I consider my model one possible approach and solution with lots of room left for alternatives. In fact even now I’m considering options on how to improve this further.

Instructions are coming?!

From the start I planned to create instructions for this little critter, but as a matter of fact I haven’t even started yet. Given that I built the model physically, I have to go back, disassemble it and back-trace what I actually did at each step. That’s gonna take some time, so bear with me and check back in a few weeks. In the meantime you can always support my efforts by ticking a few items off my wishlist as encouragement and motivation. Lately I’ve had this weird image in my head how the octopus would look hugging the ship in the bottle or something like that, for instance. ­čśë

Rigid Green and Black – 42077 B-Model MOC

When I wrote my review of the Technic Rally Car set (42077) I already mentioned that I almost like the B-model, the sand/ dune buggy, better than the main model and was thinking about how to fix some of its issues, so now here we are and I can present you with my solutions.

First let’s have look at some cosmetic changes, though. As I also mentioned in my article, I wasn’t particularly fond of the overall coloring. I have nothing against Red just as I have nothing against Dark Azur, but the disproportionately excessive use of both colors on the model is still a bit of an eyesore. That’s why I decided I would change it eventually early on. Of course the limiting factor is the availability of the parts in respective colors. An easy fix would have been to throw in some Orange parts, which go nicely together with the Dark Azur. I, however, was aiming for something a bit more exclusive and at some point settled on an overall Black model with some┬áBright Green trim elements.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Overview

As it turned out this was an almost genius stroke of luck, mainly because indeed the extra Black and Bright Green parts were easy to procure and so cheap, I’m almost ashamed to admit it. Apparently there are still a lot of the green parts floating about from the 24h Racer (42039), yet there seems to be little demand for them, so in turn prices are low. The black parts are not quite that cheap, but still very affordable. Either way, I’m not complaining as I’m always on a tight budget. Of course you can try out other combinations and the recent release of the Bugatti Chiron (42083) would possibly even allow you to build a real “classy” buggy in Dark Blue with contrasting wings and “leather” seats in Dark Tan┬áfrom its parts.

The yellow wheel hubs can be sourced from the infamous 6×6 All Terrain Tow Truck (42070) or the old Volvo LF 350 (42030) and I also had just enough yellow angled liftarms in my stash to match the seats. Primarily I opted for Yellow because the shock absorbers already are in that color and are very visible on the car. On the other hand – when you add more color you have to get rid of it elsewhere or else your model looks like a flamboyant parrot. Therefore I threw out as many Red parts as possible. A few are still in there due to the fact that I didn’t rebuild the set from scratch, but rather replaced the components step by step on the original build and didn’t want to disassemble it further.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Side View

Replacing the “tubing” from the cage/ stabilizing frame is perhaps the biggest hiccup you will encounter during the build. Ever since LEGO decided to color code axles (Red and Black for even-numbered lengths, Yellow and Light Bluish Grey for odd ones) you are limited to those four colors and have to make do. In the upper section I could of course have gone with Black, but that would have eliminated every bit of contrast. So I opted for Light Bluish Grey instead. This has the unfortunate side-effect of the frame with the flashlights on it to be one unit shorter. thankfully, however, the lower section of the framework it is connected to is a bit of a cheat and only held together by flexible joints, so it can adapt and will only slightly change in angle.

An unresolved mystery is replacing the 16L Steering Link axles. Since they have ever only been included in a handful of sets in Light Bluish Grey they are rare as gold and prohibitively expensive even in used condition. Plugging together some suitable alternatives from shorter axles and connectors therefore is a lot less painful and when done in a thoughtful way it doesn’t looks that bad. The same goes for the windscreen frame.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Front

Getting to the juicier bits, naturally it’s not all about looks One of the things that really teed me off on the original LEGO model was the sloppy construction of the front hood as laid out near the end of my original article. Treading the fine line between wanting to improve the model, but also not wanting to spend an eternity redesigning the entire chassis I went with a simple solution that is so obvious, it makes you wonder why the LEGO designers didn’t use it. Perhaps it eluded them, perhaps they were under the gun and not allowed to use more parts, perhaps something else. Either way, looking at it, it is an almost ridiculously easy fix. The only caveat is that undeniably it changes the appearance drastically and the whole section now looks a bit like the Caterham Seven‘s (21307) front.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Aft Section Closed

The original aft section of the model uses the Technic mudguard/ wheel well panel as a shortcut for simplified construction, but due to my color choice and this part not existing in Black currently I needed to completely change this area. The benefits should be pretty clear. By eliminating this element completely from the equation, it frees you up creatively. You are no longer bound and limited to colors that have it, which is great. Additionally, the newly constructed hood closes seamlessly, making this much more believable as an engine compartment.

Personally I also think that a plain flat area is much more credible for a vehicle that drives around on beaches and similar locations. You could strap an inflatable boat, a rolled up tent, a bunch of sleeping bags, your surf board, fishing equipment or any number of other things to the flat platform.LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Aft Section Open

Most importantly, though, all of these changes make the whole affair a lot more rigid, both at the front and rear ends of the car. I’m not going to say that it’s stiff as a brick, but compared to the wobbly mess that the original construction is, I’d consider it a major improvement. Point in case: It may not be relevant for a display model, but if you ever plan on adding a motor and RC the greater stiffness will pay massive dividends.

Since all of this is hard to explain and also not easy to recognize by some simple photos, especially when everything is black, I have gone through the trouble of creating custom instructions. There are a few things you need to keep in mind, however:

  • I did not re-create the entire instructions and only the parts that actually require modifications are shown.
  • The build steps are more of a suggestion than a fixed order. They show you how things are supposed to work, but implementing the changes may require some fiddling.
  • Similar to the previous point, adding the modifications may require to disassemble the existing model, at least in part.
  • Color choices are based on my customized model. Feel free to use whatever you have at hand, especially in the internal areas that may not be visible from the outside.
  • Some extra parts (liftarms, panels, axles) not included in the original kit are required.

The instructions in PDF format can be downloaded by clicking on the image or the link below it:

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Instructions Cover

LEGO Technic Rally Car (42077), B-Model (Buggy), Custom Enhancements

If you have specific questions feel free to ask them here and on the forums where I’m active and will spread the news. Enjoy your build!

Final Surprise – 42057 MOC – finished

It took me much longer than I anticipated, but I never lost sight of finishing up my custom version of the small gyrocopter (42057) I was so pleasantly surprised with back then.

LEGO Technic, Gyrocopter (42057), MOC, Overview

After I had built a better-looking engine imitation (at least to my eyes), I started by recoloring my model, so after the issues with the black liftarms in my last article the photos I would take eventually would allow to discern the details better. I also used this opportunity to re-arrange a few pins in preparation for the additional steps I had in mind.

LEGO Technic, Gyrocopter (42057), MOC, Left Aft View

The large rotor seemed easy enough and I stumbled upon this more or less accidentally when I realized I actually had those 12 x 1 plates in my inventory. That would provide enough stability and the curved slopes could easily be plugged on. Admittedly, it still looks somewhat bulky, but that probably can’t be helped. Those blades in reality are quite thin, but very wide and after I scrapped my idea of using standard helicopter rotor blades from the City line (which only would look okay if there were at least three of them, anyway) this is as good as it gets.

LEGO Technic, Gyrocopter (42057), MOC, Bottom View

The other thing I so wanted to do was add some sort of damping on the landing gear. Those small vehicles often land on rough terrain, so something would need to be done to not only make this more bearable for the pilot but also protect the equipment from heavy impacts and vibrations. This doesn’t necessarily mean there would be explicit shock absorbers, though. The gear could be mounted to elastic connectors, the airframe could allow for some twist and torque with semi-rigid connections, the struts could be made of carbon fiber or another flexible material. There would be many ways this could be implemented.

LEGO Technic, Gyrocopter (42057), MOC, Detail

Of course you don’t have these options with LEGO, so right from the start I had to think of somethings else. Due to the lack of space on such a small model using genuine shock absorbers with springs was out of the question, so I opted for the 2L rubber axle joiners as the elements to take the forces. The real trick then became to fit them in a way they could

  • serve their function as a damping element
  • keep the landing gear overall relatively stable and robust
  • not exert too much force on the plastic parts so they don’t crack or block pins by too much tension and friction
  • be mounted at reasonably perpendicular angles so as to not destroy the rubber itself by too much force.

This was further complicated by the fact that I wanted to retain the overall proportions of the vehicle and make it look halfway elegant by using only 0.5 thick liftarms. As a result of course some connections are a bit flimsy and other Technic aficionados might scoff at “not doing it correctly”, but for such a small model I find it perfectly acceptable.

LEGO Technic, Gyrocopter (42057), MOC, Detail

Since all this long-winded hubbub of mine is not going to be much use, I have once again created a full instruction for you to follow along and build the model yourselves. I’m almost getting good at this…

Before you begin I would recommend you study the original LEGO instructions, especially if you don’t own the actual model. This will give you a better idea about the parts used and what elements you would have at hand if you were to buy the box:

LEGO Technic, Helicopter (42057) (LEGO website)

Keep in mind that, while you can make good use of the white panels and other elements in the original box, you are still going to need a ton of extra parts, so my pimped version will require to do a little shopping or resorting to your existing back-catalog of Technic parts from other sets as well as some stud-based LEGO. Some prior experience would certainly be helpful.

The colors I used in my model are of course only recommendations for a consistent, unobtrusive color scheme. As long as everything works, you can use whatever you want. Conversely, feel free to implement your own alternative solutions if you don’t have the parts. As they say, there’s many ways to skin a cat and before I settled on my final design, I tried out a lot of alternatives.

Click on the link or the image to download the building instructions!

LEGO Technic, Gyrocopter (42057), MOC

LEGO Technic, Gyrocopter (42057), MOC, Instructions Cover

Trash Time!

I’m in the process of getting a bit into a) building houses and the landscapes surrounding them and b) trying to learn to create my own building instructions, so it’s not unwelcome when inspiration strikes and I come up with my own little challenges to learn the ropes, as it were.

MOC Euro Dumpster

The first of those is a typical standard large volume (around 450 liters) trash dumpster as you can find them in many European countries and of course in Germany. Each country has its own slight variation on those, but the basic shape is always the same. they uses to be made of zinc-coated metal, but these days most are made of plastic. They come pretty much in any color you can imagine, though the majority seems to be made in dark green and various shades of dark-ish greys up to full black.

The color of the lid indicates its contents. No extra color usually means mundane household trash whereas yellow and blue stand for recyclables, meaning packaging (tin, plastic, TetraPaks etc.) for the yellow one and paper for the blue one. In some regions you can also find other colors like orange for recycling electrical/ electronic devices.

To my surprise I couldn’t find many examples of this particular type on photos of LEGO, so this reaffirmed my intention to build one even further and I spent an evening dabbling around, scraping together elements from my still very limited collection. The biggest hold-up was experimenting with proportions, as I didn’t want it to look too massive, either, and be compatible in size with the standard minifigure scale and in turn thus anything from basic Creator buildings to City and Friends┬áup to the Advanced Modular Buildings.

MOC Euro Dumpster

After I had figured out the structure and that the model could actually be built this way (I prefer to build physically first to avoid any surprises of digital concoctions not working in practice), turning it into a digital building instruction was another matter and say what you will, calling those LEGO “CAD” programs and the tools around them unsophisticated is doing them a kindness. In my line of work I’ve seen and used lots of CAD programs and thought I’d seen it all, but when it comes to LEGO some of those tools are just jarringly atrocious.

I pretty much tried all of them and then opted for LeoCAD, because at least it looks halfway decent and has snappy UI interaction. The same can by no means be said for LPub, the tool for turning your 3D model into a graphical booklet with pages and all that good stuff. Mind you, I’m not saying it doesn’t do what it’s advertised for, but it is slow as hog and not very safe and user-friendly. Turning a big custom Technic model into instructions could be a pretty daunting, time-consuming task. Anyway, I digress and shall save my thoughts on this for a separate article.

If you care to fancy up your little city or just prop um some empty back alley, you can download the instruction using the link below. Keep in mind that the actual colors don’t really matter that much as long as you have enough bricks of a given type to actually build it. If you have suggestions on how to improve the design, in particular making some connections a bit more sturdy, fire away in the comments.

MOC Euro Dumpster, Instructions

Time to take a Stand – 75532 – Custom Display Stand MOC

When I wrote my review of the Star Wars speeder bike, aside from the brown color my second biggest gripe was the ugly stand it is mounted on. This has been on my mind quite a bit and I’ve been doodling around with various ideas for a while until I settled on a design.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Clean Underside

First you need to get rid of the old support struts, which is easy enough. The only real caveat is the beam for the megaphone-like auxiliary intake on the right, which requires you to use two 6L beams with half width. I also cheated by removing the bushings used as spacers, but that’s nothing anyone would really notice. I also removed the arrow shooter gun and mechanism since I plan on adding a more correct looking small gun later. I just haven’t got that parts yet. This also requires to use some 4L half width liftarms and replace some pins, but isn’t really anything convoluted.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand Detail

I built the stand from transparent liftarms that I scraped together from various sources. They are rare and I was under the illusion they would look good, but as it turns out, there is a glaring issue with them in the truest sense. Since the areas between the pin holes are also hollowed out (in contrast to conventional liftarms, that are solid/ fully formed in these regions), depending on how light hits these regions you get a glittery mess that doesn’t looks transparent at all. I was pretty disappointed to say the least.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand Detail

As they are, the current transparent liftarms look okay on a dark shelf where the shadows can seep through and obscure them a bit, but my thinking is that LEGO should start producing better solid versions, ideally even with a slight greyish tint and polarizing effect. The pins would of course also need to be made from the same materials. I’d even buy a dedicated “display stand” set with such parts if only they offered it.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand Fixation Points

Interestingly enough the stand can be easily integrated into the existing construction because basically after removing the old supports and the arrow gun you get access to some pre-existing nooks and crannies where the “fingers” of the stand can slide in. They are far enough apart, so they don’t affect the balance of the model in a negative way and at the same time this is stable enough to rest the model on.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand

Construction of the stand itself is straightforward. Since you can only get the double-elbow and 15L liftarms in transparent, your options are limited, anyway. therefore it essentially boils down to plugging the parts together where they can possibly overlap and adding a few extra axles, pins and connectors here and there to make the construction more rigid plus some bushings to get the correct 4L width of the aft prongs.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand

Of course this can be spun any way you like and if you’re not getting strung up on a specific color and have a wide selection of different liftarms and connectors, you sure could easily come up with alternative designs. Regardless, perhaps this can be useful in some way. If you have questions fire away in the comments.

 

A better Surprise – 42057 MOC

A few weeks ago I was quite surprised by a random lucky find after having padded out an Amazon order without much further thought beforehand and ever since it has been on my mind to improve on some of the quirks the model also had. I dabbled around on and off on some evenings and tried many things until I arrived at something that satisfied me.

Note: I was oblivious to the limited capabilities of my old photo camera and for aesthetical reasons used a lot of elements in black, so things may be difficult to recognize. You should be able to determine the types of pins and axles used based on their colors and I’ve added call-outs for some critical elements to make things a bit easier, but if you have specific questions just fire away in the comments. I’m also considering building a model in LEGO Digital Designer and generate a building instruction, but this is still way off in the more distant future.

Objectives

First and foremost of course I wanted to get rid of the ugly motor and that shall be the primary focus of this article. Other things like replacing/ improving the rotor blades are left for a later date, as I haven’t yet really looked into alternatives, which presumably are going to be some sort of the City line stub-based helicopter rotor blades.

To make things not too complicated my goal was too retain as much of the original model as possible. This in particular meant to keep the overall proportions and appearance by re-using sub-assemblies that already exist. Thankfully, since the model out of the box is already designed to resemble a lightweight helicopter/ gyrocopter many sections are already constructed in a way to simply plug on to a central body like you would on the real thing.

E.g. for transportation purposes the aft tail would indeed be just a simple tube or scaffolding structure that can be transported side-by-side with the main fuselage in the same car trailer and then easily be bolted on at┬áthe airstrip’s preflight pad. Same for the main rotor or the various covers.

With that in mind I kept the overall logic of the groupings intact. You just have to be careful then to always move the entire group like for instance the seat assembly to retain functionality. On occasion it means however that you may have to move a few pins around or change their type so they plug into different holes and connectors.

Additionally I wanted to avoid the use of too many extra parts. I knew I would need some parts from my own inventory simply because they are not contained in the set and I also knew that I would need quite some pieces to create a custom engine rendition, but otherwise I tried to restrain myself and not go overboard. This is an affordable set, after all, an there seems no point in making it too difficult and too expensive for other people to customize it.

The clunky motor being the big stinker, it represented a few challenges to get rid of. Because it is used as a structural element, once it would be gone the model would lose a lot of its stability, so I had to come up with a way to compensate. On a similar note I also wanted to free the cockpit parts from their use as anchors for the elements that stabilize the main rotor’s bearing and shaft. This may seem unnecessary, but if I ever decided to customize the model ever further, it would facilitate things like replacing the panels

With all this it only seems natural that one would also want to improve other details also while at it. One simple thing is for instance adding all sorts of little lights to make things more lively and at least retain the illusion of the air vehicle complying with FAA regulations. ­čśë

Lego 42057 MOC, Overview

Basic Idea

To achieve what I wanted I knew I was going to need a lot more room or more specifically longer arms and more pin holes. Initially I thought it would be as simple as replacing the small L-shaped liftarm with the bigger version and then plug everything else onto it, so this acts as some kind of central girder/ bulkhead, but no such luck.

To even come close to that I first had to extend the length of the model while at the same time not actually making it longer. This contradictory requirement stems from the fact that in order to keep the functionality of the rotor gear you have to keep it as a compact unit, but at the same time sneak in those two or three extra pin holes. The bottom view illustrates this best.

Lego 42057 MOC, Bottom

The front beams are 11L instead of the kit’s 9L and likewise the original 5L side rocker bars made from two 0.5L┬áthick elements have been superseded by a conventional 7L arm. To account for the increased length, the front wheel was moved one hole aft and the 7L liftarm equally has one more hole of overlap. The large L-shaped elements now fit in-between the rest without a gap. You just need a lot more pins and also move the connectors on the cockpit side panels.

Onto the top of the large L liftarms the smaller ones were attached horizontally and pointing forward, which would later serve to hold the gear shaft for the main rotor. With that in place, we can start thinking about the actual motor.

Motor Design

In the process of coming up with an alternate engine I must have tried┬á at least ten different designs. Ultimately I wanted this to be more representative of a small V-shaped four or six cylinder dual row engine as it very likely would be on a real aircraft of this kind – small, not too powerful, high rev engines that make a lot of noise, but run smoothly and reliably, avoiding vibrations and providing some safety margin in case of emergencies.

Unfortunately this turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated. Since there are basically no wedge type/ angled lift arms that can be plugged together directly it all ends up being a mess. Any connector that you insert to produce a specifically add to the width, which has the potential of making things look way too bulky, even more so on a model that for a large part is only 5L wide or even narrower. Also the angled constructs lacked stability and it was difficult to add the axles for the transmission gear.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Aft

In the end I settled on something a lot simpler. I used an H shaped 5 x 3 liftarm (or “bone”, as I like to call them) as the base. At the bottom I added two pins with holes that would later act as the bearings for the big cog’s axle. On the sides I added two┬á5L┬áliftarms onto which I built the “cylinders” using lots of grey bushings, axle pins, and┬á3L┬áand┬á4L┬áaxles to fill in the open spaces. Two of the cylinder heads are again connectors with holes for the propeller axle. This is a straightforward construction that is robust and stable.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Engine, Top

The engine block then was fixated with a short T-type connector that is anchored between the two smaller L shapes on the main frame with a simple 3D axle. This has the advantage that as long as the bottom part is not locked down, you can swivel up the whole affair, which makes working on the lower parts easier. With this you also get an exchangeable modular platform onto which you can build other drive units like a small gas turbine or other engine variants. I fancied up mine by also adding exhaust pipes, which e.g. could be found in another small set like the speed racing boat (42045) and the red top light on a black pin, the latter of which plugs into the remaining free hole of the hinge mechanism.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Engine, Bottom

To properly work the bottom of the engine needs to be pinned down as well. I re-used the lower section of the original engine holder yellow axle, but modified things to make use of the now elsewhere redundant 0.5L thick liftarms. This made sure the delicate overall appearance was retained and provided just enough room to accommodate all those little axles and pins. So in essence the engine at the bottom is held up by a 3L pin going through one element affixed on the engine itself and the other two connectors on the frame clamping it in, as it were.

Lego 42057 MOC, Engine

Offsetting the connector for the aft beam by one unit also made for a more realistic look with the small propeller having a little more room. Sadly enough there’s no rivet-like pin with a flat or hemispheric stopper head, so I used the freed up ball-headed pins. This looks a bit odd, though. An alternative might be using stud adaptor pins and cover them with a red and green transparency, so this could double as board/ starboard formation lights.

Main Rotor

On the original model the main rotor is held by a somewhat awkward, yet at the same time almost ingenious construction that involves the two white sidewall panels. It plays on the tension of the two tubes used for the canopy frames and is built as a self-stabilizing block that really only works once you have flipped up the two connectors (page 46 of the building instructions). As I wrote in the first paragraph I wanted to come up with something simpler that would allow to remove the panels without affecting the rest, so I had to turn this on its head.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Left

Here’s where we revisit our two small L-shaped elements from earlier, as there’s still three empty holes to cover. In goes another connector, which is locked in place with a 3L axle in the front and a black axle pin in the rear. The protruding pin (and its matching counterpart ordinary black pin on the opposite side) then serve as a holder for two connectors in-between which a no. 2 axle-to-axle connector with pin hole is placed. Said pin hole is then occupied by yet another pin with hole and once you add the rotor axle into the mix – voil├á, you get a pretty stable construct that holds the rotor firmly straight in place. Don’t worry! It sounds more complicated than it is and you’ll figure it out.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Engine

Details

After all the trouble all that is left is taking care of some details. I added yet more connectors to re-attach the small shields that cover the engine. Depending on what your preference in the matter is, you could leave them out or with a bit of creativity leave out the exhaust pipes and use just the shields.

Another considerable change/ improvement I made with the steering linkages for the rudder. Say what you will, not even the aft section running parallel to the beam looks just sloppy plus using the clunky 3L 40th anniversary white liftarm annoyed me. With the 4L lever type liftarm from the original motor holder no longer used anywhere, it came in handy here. The only caveat is that the direction is inverted and the freedom of movement is not as large, but I consider this a minor thing.

Due to using the longer liftarm on the base frame I also had a pin hole to spare to directly plug in the “stick”, allowing to omit the extra pins on the white panel. See the recurring theme here? with no obstructions in the way you can literally swap the panel for a different one in a minute and turn your little chopper into a police vehicle or fire surveillance plane using blue/ green or red panels, respectively.

Final Words

When building my models I do small changes all the time, but sitting down and making a dedicated effort to completely change someone else’s work is a whole different matter. It reveals that the logic applied to LEGO models is not necessarily in line with “how stuff works in the real world” and it also illustrates that different ways of thinking can result in completely different methods of approaching (engineering) problems in order to solve them. This isn’t always fun, but an interesting challenge no less.

With the engine part now being almost 100% foolproof I might indeed try and come up with some other methods of emulating drive units. There’s already ideas rummaging around in my head on how to do a jet turbine. Other things I’m contemplating is some work to build an elastic, damped and fully steerable undercarriage system and of course one could go crazy on detailing everything to your heart’s content. Even a bubble canopy now seems easy enough by just replacing the front section. and yes, that main rotor thing, too… ­čśë