Product Idea

The Time Machine

“The Time Machine is a promising adventure into the world of Technic LEGO sets. Released just in time to celebrate its 20th anniversary, all ages will marvel in recreating Hollywood’s iconic special effects machine: The Time Machine (albeit without the time travel bit )." Timely Quote Magazine
 
The Machine 

The Time Machine recreates the special effects wizardry from Hollywood’s 2002 movie “The Time Machine”. I didn’t mind the movie, though I’m sure most agree its adaptation of the 1960 film’s time machine is a visual engineering marvel. HG Wells’ (original author) 1895 novella ‘The Time Machine’ spawned multiple radio stories, two television series, three feature films, a myriad of comic books and has popularized time travel throughout science fiction entertainment. Our fascination with time travel machines continues to this day and this set allows everyone to build their own (time travel not guaranteed). 

The Model/Set 

By comparison, this set is like a Technic set. It primarily uses Technic components, has multiple moving elements, is a complex build, and will take many enjoyable hours putting it together (I guarantee much longer than our protagonist took to determine his time travel theorem). For the purists, this set attempts to represent the original as close as possible. Though there are some compromises, such as the original machine comprised 9 sets of mirrors in a nonagon shape (9-sided polygon). This set uses an octagon shape (8-sided polygon) to simplify. There are a number of stickers/decals not shown as I don't know how to add them to particular parts (maybe future updates).

The design shown here incorporates a lot of gold (which is not common) to respect the original machine. However, I have also included a photo which demonstrates how the set looks using common yellow pieces.

The set includes virtually all the major elements of the original machine with working elements. Notable inclusions: 



  • Bi-directional rotating mirrors (video further down)
  • Spinning drums and gears (date and time rings) on the control panel. 
  • Piston action elements at rear of machine 



  • Folding ladder 
  • Movable handle (next to seat) 
  • Insert handle to manually operate the moving elements 

Dimensions approximately: L 46 cm, H 47 cm, D 37 cm (L 18 in, H 19 in, D 15 in) 

Minifigs 

  • The charismatic Dr Alexander Hartdegen (our protagonist time traveller) 
  • The compassionate Mara (Dr Hartegen’s future love interest) 
  • The dispassionate Über-Morlock (future antagonist) 



The Design Process 

The design started with determining how the rotating mirrors with bi-directional rotation would function was included (key element). Once that was figured out, the rest of the design was a matter of scale. The rotating elements were then mounted within the black sphere, which is crammed while ensuring mechanics and stability (also a core feature of the design). Several times I revisited sections and worked out simpler build methods. New sections often built on existing sections making it a fun experience. Following this came the legs, platform, underside and finally the above platform components. P.s. Studio doesn't bend flex pipe like LDD (pity) and I've had to reduce a lot of aesthetic features (parts).

It was challenging to design taking around 220 hours to complete. 

The following 1 minute video shows the rotating mirror assemblies working. The rotating assembly was constructed using whatever pieces were available.



The Last Bit – The Why and Me 

Why? I’ve always loved this machine and wanted to challenge myself to design a LEGO version of it. I would like to think this set would appeal to lovers of Technic and science fiction. Plus, it would be an enjoyable and complex build! 

The year 2022 also marks the 20th anniversary for what was at the time, a series of well-established special effects and a time machine design that has stood the test of time (at least until year 802,701). 

After a LEGO hiatus for around 2 decades, I received a LEGO set for Christmas several years ago. This reignited my love for LEGO, building LEGO and designing too. 

I would like to prototype this over time and will update accordingly – but don’t time me.