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Adventures In Legoland

January 30th, 2007

Recently I gave Lego’s “Digital Designer” software a spin. It’s a free program which allows users to build a virtual model, upload it to lego.com and even purchase it. I’d tried it once before, but at the time the selection of bricks was limited to a few pre-sorted bags. They’ve upgraded the system so that it’s now possible to buy only the precise bricks you need.

For my first attempt, I decided to go with a familiar-looking dinosaur model that I dubbed “Goshzilla.” The software was relatively intuitive to use, but I found myself hampered by the limited selection of green bricks available for Lego Factory designs. I wound up making some compromises that wouldn’t have been necessary if I’d had access to the full range of bricks.

I decided to order the completed model just to see the results, and received the package last night. (Literally…our mailman has been showing up later and later, and last night he scared the crap out of us by sticking the package in the door at 8:30 pm!)

I was a little disappointed with the packaging. The site seemed to imply that I’d receive a custom-printed box, but the picture was actually a computer-printed paper insert. Still, it was pretty cool that the labelling actually named it “Goshzilla.”

Building the model exposed some flaws in the process. The building instructions were generated automatically by the software, and they didn’t always follow a logical sequence. Rather than building everything from the bottom up as is customary, several steps had bricks floating in mid-air, awaiting later connection.

In addition, I found that designing the model as a virtual object resulted in a somewhat rickety structure. Within the software, everything neatly snapped together and held its shape, but in the real world governed by the laws of physics, Goshzilla could have benefitted from a bit more bracing. (In my defense, that’s where the somewhat limited palette of bricks had its greatest effect.)

All in all, it was a good learning experience, and despite the issues I mentioned above, I may try it again one of these days. It’s certainly fun to get your own custom Lego model in the mail!

And if you want to order Goshzilla, you can do so.

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