How to Build Large Scale Statues

It took me a few years to perfect my Lego statue building. on this page is my article explaining how I do it, and what I have learned the hard way, to save you the headache.

BEFORE YOU START:

1. To glue or not to glue?

Many Lego purists believe it is wrong to use glue. Although all of my statues are designed to not need glue, I use it for two reasons. Firstly, it gives an extra rigidity to the build, meaning you can get away with using less bricks *(more on that later), and secondly, all my statues are on display in high traffic environments, and I cant keep going back to a retail environment to repair them.

If you decide to use glue, the most cost effective measure I have found is quite a plentiful and readily available material. In this section I will go through the glues I use and why, and how I use them.

1.a The type of glue
It is important to know firstly, the difference between glue and a solvent. For ease of terms we say glue when it really is not.

A glue is like an Oreo cream. it bonds two surfaces together by acting like the cream and holding it together. A solvent on the other hand, is stronger, and melts two items to each other.

The solvent I use, is specifically Protek, PVC Cement, in clear. This solvent solidifies the plastic into one chunk, dries very quickly (matter of minutes) and does not cause the ABS in the Lego to lose structural integrity. (no brittle result).

This glue is available at hardware stores (Bunnings in Australia) for about $5 for a 500ml tub. for a very large scale statue, you may use 2 tubs of glue.

WARNING: this glue is caustic, and comes with several warnings. Due to how the fumes can make you sick, it is advised that you use it in a well ventilated room with good air circulation and avoid breathing it in.

1.b The applicator

As explained above, the issue with the glue is fumes. It took a while to find this item at bunnings, but with such a small nozzle, it is perfect for applying small amounts of glue between lego studs.

I present to you the Wall Grout Sealer Brush Bottle. It is cheapest to buy these, empty, online.

Much easier to use than my previous method of paint brushing the glue on, the only modification to this bottle is to cut the bristles off the tip. I do this as the glue is so tough after one use the bristles will fuse and become useless.

This bottle has a tiny nozzle hole, and allows the glue to escape, but keeps the fumes in. For storage, just a bit of duct tape over the hole to stop air going in, and you have a glue applicator that will work for the ages.

1.c How to glue

My method changes depending on the build an the structure being built. in heavily bricked areas I dab the glue on the studs, and as this is a quick acting glue, you have about 2 minutes before it cures. In wider strips i put a bead of glue down between the studs. Whatever you do try to avoid edge spillage, as it will burn the Lego brick as the glue dribbles over the edge, making an ugly mark on your model.

I find that building such large scale, that limiting the brick palette is useful. This rule is generally made to be broken, as sometimes you will need a longer brick for a section to cover a gap.

I find that generally, a 1×1, 1×2, 1×4, 2×2, and 2×4 selection of bricks is more than adequate to make many combinations of sections, and are usually the most plentiful bricks on Bricklink.com. If you have never used Bricklink, think eBay but for Lego.

     

Also for internal structure I have used Duplo, and old chewed up bricks. This garage find bulk saves a lot of money in the long run.

I won’t be sharing how I make my plans just yet, but will help demystify the plans for you.  All my plans are top-down view, meaning each layer looks exactly as it would if you stood directly over the model. this means you can refer back to your previous layer image to know how to build the next one on top.

Quite simply, before you even start building, read your plans carefully, and ensure you understand the structure you will be working with. For example, when working on a layer that you know the above layer will be the top layer, make sure you have enough structure internally to avoid it sagging or splitting away.

In other words, be mindful, such as in the following example:

when looking at layer 5, I can tell that Layer 6 follows the same pattern. IF however, Layer 6 was the top of the model, I would have to ensure that layer 5 had enough internal structure to support layer 6. This is touched on in the next section in more detail.

The way I build my internal structure is to create a crosshatching internally in wider areas. Also, a wall thickness of at least 2-3 studs is recommended as it gives the outer wall rigidity. Every couple of layers, i use an external brick to “pull in” the outer shell into the middle again of the model, to prevent the design from splitting away or leaving unsightly gaps. a small rubber mallet becomes useful to tamp down bricks firmly, as doing so with your fingers can get tiring.

I also suggest taking a break and a step back and watching the Legoland professionals and how they do things on Youtube. For example, here is their Ford 1:1 build, and if you look, the model is mostly hollow except for the horizontal and vertical beams that create the crosshatching.

As they get closer to the roof of the vehicle, you notice the crosshatching getting closer to each other to maintain that rigidity.

HAVE FUN!

This should be an enjoyable endeavour. If you have any trouble I am an email away. Do not feel shy to ask anything, and remember: Play Well.