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[ARTICLE] Star Wars Minilands


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#1 KimT

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 01:38 PM

CopMike to the rescue - maybe something like this :wink:  :grin:?!:


On January 6th the World stopped turning for a short while (at least where I was).
The amazing thing that we've wished for had happened.
LEGO (and Merlin) had announced that they were adding LEGO Star Wars areas to Minilands in California, Billund and Günzburg.
It was all started by this press release by LEGOLand California:


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CARLSBAD, Calif. (Jan. 6, 2011) – In March 2011, LEGOLAND® California is introducing an all-new, dedicated STAR WARS Miniland area for the very first time! Guests can enjoy seven of the most famous scenes from the six live-action STAR WARS movies, as well as a scene from the animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS™ all made out of 1.5 million LEGO® bricks built in 1:20 scale. Guests will be further immersed into the STAR WARS experience as they pose with life-size LEGO models of Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Darth Vader.
Following a chronological path through the STAR WARS timeline, LEGOLAND guests retrace the major events of the beloved Saga. Some of the 2,000 LEGO models will be more than 6-feet-tall. Interactive buttons will allow children to activate animations throughout the scenes. “Our guests have really enjoyed our LEGO STAR WARS Days over the years and we’re certain this new area is going to ignite the imaginations of adults and children alike,” said General Manager of LEGOLAND California, Peter Ronchetti. “We are opening this STAR WARS Miniland display just in time for spring break.”
LEGO scenes:

• Episode I: Naboo
Naboo is one of the most geographically varied planets in the STAR WARS galaxy. This scene depicts the Battle of Naboo and the capital Theed – both the Royal Palace and the hangar. The duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Sith apprentice Darth Maul can also be viewed in this scene.

• Episode II: Geonosis
In this scene, visitors have a fantastic view of the Arena of Geonosis, in which Padmé Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker battle ferocious creatures. Figures such as Poggle the Lesser, Jango Fett and Count Dooku can be seen in the loge. There is also a battle scene of the clash between Count Dooku’s droid army and the Grand Army of the Republic.

• Episode III: Kashyyyk and Mustafar
In this scene, two planets are shown: Kashyyyk and Mustafar. On one side, guests can marvel at the Battle of Kashyyyk – the home of Chewbacca and the Wookiees. The scene includes fantastic vehicles modeled from LEGO bricks, such as the massive Clone Turbo Tank. On the other side, LEGOLAND guests are treated to a glimpse of the fateful duel on Mustafar between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.

• Episode IV: Tatooine
This LEGOLAND scene focuses on famous structures of the desert planet: Uncle Owen’s Farm, where Luke Skywalker lived as a child; the Cantina, with a view inside of the animated Cantina Band, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, R2-D2 and others; as well as the starport with an impressive model of the Millennium Falcon, the famous spacecraft of Han Solo.

Episode V: Hoth
The Rebels took refuge on this icy planet, but the Empire tracked them down and the Rebels were forced to flee. The scene features LEGO models of the Imperial AT-ATs, Rebel snowspeeders and Luke Skywalker’s X-wing starfighter. Figures include Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader.

• Episode VI: Endor
The Endor system plays a key role in Return of the Jedi as the site of the Battle of Endor, fought to prevent construction of the second Death Star. The scene presents the final victory of the Rebel Alliance over the Empire. Endor is a forest moon and home of the Ewoks, who fight against the Imperial forces alongside the Rebels. Guests can also view a large-scale model of a Lambda-class Imperial shuttle on its landing platform.

• THE CLONE WARS: Christophsis
The seventh area shows a scene from the animated series THE CLONE WARS on the planet Christophsis. Chronologically, the series takes place between Episode II and Episode III and focuses on the adventures of Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi as Jedi Knights. The LEGO scene depicts part of the planet’s surface, with the largest of all LEGO STAR WARS models: an approximately 8 foot tall building from the Crystal City. There is also a scene showing a battle between Separatist battle droids and Republic clone troopers.

How the LEGO models are created:
The roughly 2,000 LEGO STAR WARS models are being developed and built by eight model designers and two animation electricians at our sister park, LEGOLAND Deutschland in Günzburg, Germany. It is up to the Master Model Builders at LEGOLAND California to bring the scenes to life with the help of animation electricians, technicians and landscapers all working to ensure the LEGO models appear as realistic as possible with special effects and landscaping.

Planning started in March 2010. The individual film scenes were selected after careful consultation with Lucasfilm Ltd. Pictures and drawings of the figures, spacecraft, vehicles, landscapes, etc. were taken as the basis for the detailed construction blueprints. The model designers used a special LEGO drawing paper for this, on which one square is equivalent to one LEGO knob. In the next step, they calculated how many bricks and which colors and forms would be needed for the models. For particularly difficult model parts, prototypes are first built, before the model is constructed brick by brick. To help the LEGO models last longer, all of the bricks are glued together and then sprayed with a special UV coating.

Authentic STAR WARS sounds, actions and lighting effects help to make the models even more lifelike. For all models, only commercially available LEGO pieces are used.
LEGOLAND Deutschland and LEGOLAND Billund will also be opening new STAR WARS Miniland displays in 2011.

At a glance:

Scenes: Each cluster features a key scene from one of the six STAR WARS films and the animated TV series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS.

Area: Seven clusters (“islands”) with an area of approximately 200 square feet each

Number of bricks: More than 1.5 million LEGO bricks are being used to build the roughly 2,000 models

Total weight of the bricks: 1.3 tons

Location: Next to The Model Shop above Miniland U.S.A.

Timeframe: Thirteen months for development and construction

Construction team: Eight model designers and two animation electricians from LEGOLAND Deutschland as well as three Model Builders and a team of landscapers, animation electricians and maintenance workers from LEGOLAND California
A press release that I learned of through a friend who sent me this link to The LA Times.

And along with the press release we got three pics of the models and one of the announcement being made.

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And then shortly after FBTB showed us pics of the models arriving at LEGOLand California - the same pics that can be seen in the LA Times article's gallery link:

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And now all of the sudden LEGOLand in Billund launched a press release.
(it's in Danish)
It says the same as the Press Release from LEGOLand California.
It even has a few cool pics to go with it - showing the LEGOLand CEO Henrik Höhrmann presenting the new models and a pretty nifty picture of what seems to be Mos Eisley Starport.

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And finally FBTB just posted these 3 pics of more models arriving at LEGOLand California.

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And just when I thought we couldn't get any more pics of the models, I went to LEGOWorld in Copenhagen and found that they'd brought some of the models as a promotion for the new Miniland to open this Summer.
I quickly shot some pics - which was kinda hard due to the miserable light sources there - and this is what I ended up with:

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So now that we've seen the pics of the models arriving at LEGOLand and we've seen pics of some of the models a little closer - what's our verdict as AFOLs?

It seems that the fan community is a little torn on these models and what to think of them.

In my opinion it all breaks down to 'the eyes of the beholder'.
I've choosen to look at these models and the new minilands the way they are - minilands with miniland scale models.
And using that perspective, I think this is friggin' awesome :grin:

This for example:
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Looks a little huge and bulky, right?
Now imagine it a few metres away and yourself being a kid - would this be awesome then?
- It sure would!

Minilands are made for guests in LEGOLand parks - we, as AFOLs, go there as well, but most guests are just there to have fun and be amazed.
The new Star Wars Minilands will without any doubt blow the visitors away.
The models are big, the areas are big and the scenes depicted go all the way back to the first move and forth to the newest Clone Wars stuff.
It's a "win-win situation".

Also to my knowledge the modelbuilders have a predefined amount of money to use for a model. If it gets too big, then they have to shave off something. When you invest in something like this for 3 parks around the world, then it's pricey for sure. They did spend a year building this in Germany!

TLG doesn't own the parks alone anymore - Merlin Group is the people running the parks, which mean that "the old never ending stream of bricks" is over for good. Now the modelbuilder shops have to pay for their bricks, which means Merlin has to calculate every single investment and consider the pro's and con's.

This actually turned out better than I'd expected it to.

Kudos on a job well done in converting Star Wars into Miniland scale.

Only thing that bothers me is; "Why did it take you guys so long to get this done?" :grin:

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#2 eltsyr

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 02:01 PM

I dunno...It looks more like 3D Printing of a voxel landscape than Legos. Brick limitations brings creativity, and those models are too massive and bland, in particular the structures.

Anyway thanks for the great pictures !

Edited by eltsyr, 05 March 2011 - 02:02 PM.


#3 BrickArtist

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 05:13 PM

Thanks for the article KimT. Miniland is looking great. I have to say these designers have really out-done themselves, those models are all stunning. My favorites are probably the Theed, AT-ST(The leg transitions were spot on), and the Juggernaut. I hope I get to this in person at some point.
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#4 KimT

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 05:53 PM

Looks like most of the article is missing - what the heck?! :sceptic:

Dunno what happened, but I'm looking into it.
Hopefully my article isn't gone for good.
For those of you who haven't seen the whole thing, let me just say that it's around 55 pics and some thoughts on the minilands in the end.

Dammit :sceptic: *huh*
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#5 KimT

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 07:06 PM

Thanks to CopMike we've got a backup :wub:
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#6 Brickdoctor

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 07:56 PM

Thanks for summarizing all that, KimT and Cop Mike!

Personally, I understand that these are supposed to fit into the Miniland style, but I still think the MF, T-47, T-65, and X-34 are ugly.

#7 prateek

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 08:33 PM

This is awesome. Hopefully someday I can see this in real life. I also can't wait for pics of the rest of the scenes :thumbup:

#8 KimT

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 10:28 PM

View Postprateek, on 06 March 2011 - 08:33 PM, said:

This is awesome. Hopefully someday I can see this in real life. I also can't wait for pics of the rest of the scenes :thumbup:
Well I'm sure to be at LEGOLand in Billund twice this year, so I'll promise to do a new article/essay on the Star Wars Miniland in Denmark.
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