Last year I decided that I wanted to build a MOC that I could easily pack away and bring out at various exhibtions. And being a rather large Marvel movies fanboy I wanted it to be something to do with The Avengers.
After working through some different ideas I started a design showing a number of different scenes built above and around the then recently released S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Each scene be a small vignette highlighting a key scene in the movie and would be built onto a 16x16 baseplate that could be easily removed from the frame for easy assembly, packing and storage. Each would have a 16x16 baseplate as a back as well and the entire scene would need to come off the base or back plate. Below is a picture of my handwritten first concept.
Some further refinement highlighted to me the logistical challenge of having a stable structure that spanned the 80cm length of the Helicarrier, but still allowed me to have the scenes as modular. After revisions I settled on the final design, which has two rows of scenes built into a frame that the Helicarrier sits behind. I was fortunate to discover this Avengers themed storage box at a local store and built the model to be as tall as the box so the Helicarrier could sit behind it.
I worked up a small protoype to prove that I would be able to click in the scenes. The next step was to build a full prototype in LEGO Digital Designer (LDD), which allows you to build models with an infinite number of parts in every colour imaginable. It also let me work up designs for each of the scenes so I knew what parts I needed and importantly what Minifigs.
Once I was happy with the final designed I got a parts list from LDD. Ouch. There were quite a few parts. More than 5700. I didn’t have anywhere near that many but I knew that would be the case before I started.
There is a website called Bricklink which is like eBay for LEGO. You can select an individual part by colour and then find sellers across the world who have those parts and the prices. Prices are set by the seller so there is a lot of variety between stores including different shipping policies and prices.
You can also buy the LEGO directly from the LEGO store but the price is often (but not always) more expensive. Most of the big Bricklink sellers are located in the USA or Europe as they have direct access to LEGO stores and other promotions. Whereas here in Australia there are very few big stores. So whatever I needed to order it would be preferable to buy from as few stores as possible and it was a bit a challenge to work out what might be the most cost efficient way to get what I needed.
At this time I decided to double down and also order the parts to build a Captain America maxifig. Maxifigs are about 60cm tall and are designed to look like their much smaller minifig companions, however Maxifigs are made from individual bricks.
So between the Helicarrier and the Maxifig I had more than 10,000 pieces to order. There are a number of tools which can import parts lists from LDD and then run through all the Bricklink stores and what the best combinations are for you to get what you want at the best prices. It is a bit fiddly to get working and get the best results takes a few different conditions being set but using it I was able to place orders at about 5 different stores.
Then the waiting game began. Being in Australia I am used to deliveries taking a while. Sometimes you get lucky and the box arrives within a week. Sometimes you wait 5 weeks. Sometimes you wait longer. Sometimes you get so close to the convention that you just buy what you need between a dozen stores in Australia and spend twice what you planned. But I got it done and now I have spare pieces anyway.
Finally, the MOC was ready!
The Avengers Vigniettes and Captain America Maxifig first appeared at the Canberra Brick Expo 2015, and were up again at BrickVention 2016. I am really proud of the little details in each of the scenes.