This will be a tough trying to keep my focus on this post while I’m all giddy with excitement due to the Oscars coming on. In fact, I am so into this star studded affair I’m watching the red carpet shows just to take in the stellar atmosphere. You know, Seacrest giving me stimulating insights into how such and such mega start became emotionally entwined with her character or some fabulous dude giving me a thorough analysis (yes, even with prompter arrows) on how a particular dress flows with her natural curves and highlights a recent cosmetic surgery… and you? … no… okay, I’m joking, I really don’t give a shit about actor/actresses in general, but I do watch it so I don’t feel bad when I watch one of their downloaded movies. Do they realize this hurts their “your stealing from the mouths of my shoeless children so stop stealing my movie” mantra when they have awards shows like this?
Oh well, on to something FAR more interesting to me. This post focuses on a Christmas present my wife got me this year. Turns out that LEGO is now producing an Architect line and it turns out they have a Fallingwater set. We are both big Frank Lloyd Wright fans and had the opportunity to visit a number of his creations throughout the years. Fallingwater out in Mill Run, Pennsylvania was one of those places.
For starters, the packaging of this kit is quite impressive with a mixture of modern day LEGO construction and Wright featured architecture prints. I thought the 16+ age recommendation was a little high. I understand the threat of choking, but clearly any teenager should be smart enough to chew before swallowing and based on the weak cellophane texture of the bagging, those posed no threats to suffocation.
One thing that really stood out was the manual (pictured at the top of the box). Here is a closer shot.
It consists of a number of pages providing architecture design details of the actual building and related history. These pictures do not show the crispness of these pages with their gloss black backgrounds. Clearly there was some graphic artists consulted in the packaging of this product.
Hit the jump to see more details on this project…
Here is a quick shot of the detail in this manual.
Obviously this is one of Frank’s goal pictures seeing as how the cantilevering had to be redone in the final product due to the front patio dropping down. We were out there right before they were going to shut the tours down to fix this issue. Apparently it is corrected now and open for business again. Linda and I might have to take another trip out there to see the results of their work. The other nice feature of this manual is the easy to follow assembly instructions. In fact, they are so easy there are NO WORDS in the entire process, just step numbers, piece counts snf ISO depictions of the model with outlines around the pieces being added at that particular assembly step.
One odd thing was the grouping of the blocks in their packages. I figured it would be a sequential packaging based on the assembly instructions. To keep everything neat and tidy I had planned to keep everything closed up until it was time to put it on the model. Unfortunately, I had every bag opened getting pieces out by like the third step in the process. You also had to do a lot of nub counting in order to verify you had the right LEGO block. This really just added to the overall fun digging in the bags to locate the right piece. This, obviously, got easier as the model progressed due to less pieces to sift through and I started looking ahead and pre-fetching some blocks by looking a couple of steps ahead.
Here is a shot of the progress at step #12.
As you can see, all the packages are open, but so far successful in keeping everything contained during the build schedule. Layer by layer, the manual walked you through the process. Interesting enough, a lot of the substructure is never seen in the final product. If there is one disappointment, it has to be using the clear LEGOs for the water components. It would have been more stylish to use some transparent blue blocks. This would also give a greater contrast between the water components and the structure’s glass. I did like the nameplate built into the structure.
One thing that made me smile during this process was the heavy use of what I called the LEGO building principles used as building guidelines during my childhood creative years. One of those principles was the overlapping of LEGO blocks to build stronger walls. Clearly this is a principle the LEGO Architecture creators believed in as well and it was employed everywhere it could be applied. I also liked the finishing blocks (no nubs) used as caps for walls and walkways. This gives it a much more finished look and does a good job of capturing the essence of the original structure. What was a little lacking was the tree representation. Basically they staggered single nub blocks on top of a small circular brown blocks that represented the trunk. I think a custom cone block would have looked really nice on the top to give it a better tree feel.
There were actually a number of sub-structures that had to be built. These structures were then placed into the base structure (shown above). I made an effort not to look too far ahead which allowed me to speculate on what I was building. Sometimes I was right, sometimes it surprised me with how tight a fit it made once the sub-assemblies were incorporated into the model. Here is a shot of one of the substructures.
And this is where I have to come clean and admit I made a mistake. When I placed the sub-assembly on the base it seemed to sit up a little higher than expected. After going back through the directions (twice) I decided that it was suppose to fit that way and that it must have some significance to the original design. Here is what it looked like.
See that little gap between the gray blocks and the smooth tan blocks right in the middle of the picture. Seem odd to you too? My spidey senses ended up being correct. This is due to a placement flaw of the three stair-stepped LEGOs (you can see them better three pictures back). The ISO view caused some confusion (used to seeing these situations called out in blueprints – yeah, I’ve spent some time in our factories). Turns out the steps needed to be placed back one nub allowing the entire structure to fit down tight into the base. This took a little while to figure out and it even took the creation of another sub-assembly to convince me there was something wrong.
Here is a shot that shows the corrected base and the resolution of the gap issue.
Exactly one Olympic hockey game (Russia Vs Czech) and a Ski-Cross trial later, the project sadly came to an end. This was actually a lot of fun and required zero material preparation and better yet, no mess to clean up. It looks so good it is now proudly displayed in our living room. Kudos to Adam Reed Tucker (LEGO Designer) for expertly arranging the 811 LEGO pieces to capture the beauty (albeit a tad more blocky) of a vision by one of the greatest architects of all time. If you have some money lying around (these kits are not cheap) and some time to kill or want to spend some time bonding with one of your children (assuming you can pry their fingers off the XBOX controller) point that browser to Amazon and pick yourself up one. Personally, I’m already planning on buying another one!
So, I’ll take you around the finished product:
From the Right…
From the back…
and from the left…
and finally, the shot you’ve been waiting for. This is the completed kit from the front with all the sub-assemblies properly placed. Nothing like admiring something you have made yourself!
Oddly enough, after all the steps were completed there were 5 lonely pieces left over. I hate to leave anything unfinished (tends to grate on me until it is resolved) so I literally went back to page one and verified every step that had these components in them. Sure enough, everyone specified was in their proper position. I thought about just sticking them on the model somewhere, but in tribute to the work of Adam (and Wright) I decided these were just extra pieces in case one of the 16 year old builders accidentally (or intentionally on a dare) swallowed one. Seeing as how I didn’t have the urge to eat one (obviously due to my mature age and all) I put them back in the box.
Thanks LEGO for giving me 4 hours of true enjoyment!