What is it?!
This is what I am calling our “LEGO Scenario” creations. You might be looking at this and wondering what exactly is it that I am looking at? We like to think of it as a LEGO version of a snowglobe, or a diorama. Think of it as a cross between LEGO building with micropolis, mosaics, technic, architecture and Dots techniques all thrown into the mix. Add a little motion and wrap it up in a narrative.
The concept is based upon wrapping one of the new DOTS bracelets around standard LEGO wheels. Once you do that and pop an axle through the wheel, it opens all sorts of possibilities for motion and storytelling. It is done in a very modular way and I show the basic construction in this video:
with my website having a PDF download of this.
Blank Canvas / Framework
These Scenario boxes we like to think of as a blank canvas or framework. Then they can be “skinned” or themed out in any creative way you can think of. A lot of the time when building something mechanical with moving parts, it becomes a single use design and can’t be adapted for anything else. Thus wanted to create something that was reusable and would still allow a lot of movement and motion in the model. This video here shows the Action Box and Motorised Billboards in motion:
The goal was to try to come up with a universal base design so don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel each time. At this size, feel that it will enable one to create scenarios based around favourite scenes from books, movies, TV shows, artworks, cities or any other popular culture idea or subject matter. It also means you don’t need thousands and thousands of pieces and months to build. Thus, it helps to keep it accessible to everyone.
There are 4 main components to a LEGO Scenario – The Action/Wheel Box, Front Display, Billboard and Drive source (either a hand or a motor). It was designed around a 16x16 plate and interconnecting modules. This seemed like a striking a good balance between size and ultimately cost. It hooks into the already existing design language of micro builds. Connections can be made to micropolis layouts and allows motion to be added to cities.
Here I've designed out a couple of themes to show some possibilities and how all the techniques are incorporated.
We’ll start off with the Action box as it has the icon London red double decker bus. Here we’ve mixed up the colours of the bands to go with the ground type. The first band is teal with trees and parkland type environments. The next band is a road with the bus, car and pickup truck. The next band has a train and some track. The blue medium azure band is a water way with sail boats and a cargo ship. The last band rounds out with some more trees and foilage, and a plane flying past.
Onto the billboard. The billboard is a static 16x16 design so you have to get creative with any mosaic image you come up with. Here we’ve gone for Big Ben and a cloud in light relief. The front display is a general waterfall scene over some rocks. It gives away to get from top of the Action Box down to any other micropolis base you might want to connect.
This Scenario I did want to keep simple without too many crazy and elaborate building techniques. The 5 bands in the action box we’ve gone a little overboard to show possibilities of planes, trains, automobiles and everything in between. If this wasn’t so much a demonstration piece, I’d probably lose on type of transport and just let the Action box “breath” a little more.
“Great Wave off Kanagawa” Scenario
“Great Wave off Kanagawa” Japanese print design. This shows the LEGO Scenario can be applied to other media, in this case artworks and designs. I've used subtle relief for depth as the waves in the front are slightly higher than those in the back. We’ve used quarter circle white tiles to give the wave a better feel of organicness as originally it feel very blocky. Also used transparent blue round studs over blue plates to give a couple subtle shades of blue. There is Mount Fiji in the background but like the original print, it is subtle.
The Billboard in this case is motorised by using tread links (think of putting a tank track vertical and attaching plates to it). The design will then be motorised and move around at the same time the wheels do in the Action box. I've wrapped the design around the drive train for that and now we’ll move onto the middle wheel action box.
This box is driven by a series of pulleys and rubber bands. The effect that I was going for is the waves closer to you move faster and break more dramatically. The wave in the back has that effect of being further back so slower moving and more subtle. Much like if you stood on a beach looking out at the waves – those closest to you are crashing with quick movements, those in the far distance moving a little more slowly.
The middle wheel has a fishing boat, also present in the original image but more of a second read item. It travels in the opposite direction to the waves and at a speed that is slower than the fastest wheel, but faster than the slowest wheel.
For purposes of this demonstration, I’ve done the back 2 sides in transparent pieces. Thus you can see more the gears, pulleys and what is happening inside the Action box.
The front display is imaging what might be below the water line, so very much where you can start to make your own creative interpretation of extending the scene. So there is some green seaweed locked in between 1x6x5 panels, along with some transparent blue studs. The center of the Front Display is filled with transparent blue studs and a wheel mechanism - which can turn and churn up the water to give a sense of movement under the waters surface.
A Line of Products
I see this as being a line of products. You purchase the base structure and a scene. Then LEGO could sell different scene packs to theme out and finalise alternative scenarios (sort of link how you might buy a train set which has some track and a train. You can subsequently add to it other elements of track, buildings, trains etc).
Lets say you take the Indiana Jones films. You could have a base pack being based upon the Raiders of the Lost Ark around the sequence with the rolling ball. A 2nd pack could be based around Temple of Doom on a 3rd pack around the Last Crusade. Once you have the base structure, LEGO could sell a range of different scenes from all different properties - licencsed (films) or in house (Ninjago)
The next obvious step is to add lights and sounds. Maybe create a programmable bluetooth speaker that can sit within the model. Through an associated app, you could record dialogue and have triggers.
While I’ve been using a DOTS bracelet wrapped around a wheel, don’t think it would take much for LEGO to make a wheel with studs similar to this one. Can really see it being useful and having a full 360 degree ability to stud.