Here's how designers built the largest Lego X-Wing Fighter in the world
This reproduction of Lego's $60 X-Wing Fighter (model 9493) is anything but child's play. Measuring 11 feet tall and 45 feet long, the X-Wing model was intentionally scaled to match the props used in the original films.
Built in the Czech Republic at a model production facility, the X-Wing is the result of 32 people toiling for 72,000 hours. If you weren't convinced already, here's one more reason to be impressed: the Lego X-Wing dwarfs even the titanic 35-foot-tall Lego mech located at the Mall of America.
"It's quite heavy," Master Lego Builder Erik Varszegi comments."Almost 46,000 pounds."
According to Varszegi, the X-Wing, which is currently on display at New York's Times Square, is "pretty much a 1-to-1" replica of the commercial Lego set, only much, much larger. The team had wanted to stay true to "what kids could buy in the store." Designers painstakingly replicated everything, right down to the worm gears on the cannon.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the task of designing the X-Wing model was a comparatively simple one. The team used proprietary software that Lego developed years ago to scale up the commercial Lego set, and perform necessary editing. Building the model, however, was another thing entirely.
Underneath all those Lego bricks lies a steel skeleton—a skeleton that not only needs to be strong enough to support the distributed weight of five million Lego bricks but also one that can be easily broken down and transported at a moment's notice.
In the end, the team came up with an X-Wing model that it could break down into 34 parts. After first moving the ship from the Czech Republic to Long Island, the designers then went on to hold a few "dress rehearsals" to ensure that they could dismantle and reassemble the ship in a single night—a direct result of city ordinance. Needless to say, things ultimately worked out as planned. Lego then shipped the X-Wing from Long Island to Times Square in a flurry of cranes, forklifts, and human bodies.
"There were dozens on the assemble crew; people were just swarming all over the thing. It was actually quite impressive. It looked like a Super Bowl halftime show," Varszegi quipped.
As impressive as the idea of a movie-sized, Lego X-Wing Fighter alone might be, the construct isn't without a few extra features. The model has engines on the back of the X-Wing that can light up, and it even has the rubber bands from the original version of the model re-made in Lego bricks. Varszegi tells TechHive that they've also recreated the gears that open the wings in the much, much smaller (and purchasable) version, as well as the requisite torpedoes.
Varszegi adds, "We even have 'Lego' written in all of the studs. If you look at all the Lego elements, they just say Lego on each one—something I'm quite proud about."
While he is one of the seven Lego Master Builders in the United States, Varszegi did not take an active role in the creation of the X-Wing fighter, but instead served as a consultant on the project. He says that the team held weekly conference calls where designers in both the Czech Republic and the US would collaborate on ideas.
The X-Wing model will remain in Times Square through Saturday. On Saturday night, another team will disassemble the massive construct, load it up on a flatbed trucks and move it to its new bed at the Legoland amusement park near San Diego, where it will be on display until the end of the year.
What's next for Lego's intrepid team of model builders? Varszegi isn't sure. He says that the X-Wing Fighter is a hard one to beat, but we can be sure that they'll come up with "something just as crazy."