dvw2

[MOC] 2019 Advent Calendar—Gymnastics

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Last year I created a custom LEGO Harry Potter advent calendar for my wife, and it went over spectacularly well. So well that my daughter, now 8 and a budding gymnast, requested one of her own this year. She wanted a gymnastics-themed calendar, so last spring I set about designing one for her. Weirdly enough LEGO introduced their own gymnastics-themed set in 41372 Stephanie's Gymnastics Show, but there wasn't much crossover with what I'd planned. I did ditch the trampoline I'd already assembled, though!

Last year I did a day-by-day posting in the Brickset Forum, and this year I thought I'd introduce it here. I hope everyone enjoys it and I'd love to hear feedback! I'll have a full album over at Flickr as this moves along.

Day 1: Base & "Floor Springs"
The first day sets up the "training center," with four baseplates and the substructure for the floor exercise. I though it might be fun to build it this way so my daughter can think a little bit about how the floor at her gym is actually built. Doing it this way might result in the surface having a little "give," too. We'll see!

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Edited by dvw2

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Day 2: Floor Exercise Surface
Today the floor exercise was completed, with a tumbling surface, out-of-bounds line, and a nice border outside of that. Minifigs and minidolls (Mia & Stephanie from 41372) took turns running through some tumbling passes.

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Edited by dvw2

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Day 3: Parallette Bar
This has been done by LEGO in an official polybag once before, but not accurately. Today's build is an 8-piece version that is less cute but more realistic. Sadly, minidolls cannot really use this since their hands don't rotate (really, it would be great if that were resolved one day), but standard minifigs can, with a little finesse.

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Edited by dvw2

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Day 4: Folding Practice Beam
For home use, there's a kind of half-length floor balance beam that folds in half. This is really handy in the living room, where it can be easily put away. I wanted to have something in the calendar to replicate this, as it's been an important part of our daughter's development over the last couple of years. What I designed is sort of a hybrid between that and what the kids call the "fat beam" at the gym; a much wider low beam for practicing new skills before trying them on the full-size equipment.

A folding beam folds fully 180 degrees; I couldn't figure out how to do that easily in LEGO without making the build super-thick, and of course it had to have a flush surface when unfolded. So it goes a little more than 90 degrees with a click hinge. I think it gets the point across, and who knows, maybe some Friends animals can use it for climbing or something.

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Edited by dvw2

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Day 5: Stall Bar
My daughter and I had a disagreement about what to call this essential gym equipment. I initially called it a stretch bar, but she calls it a leg-lift bar (since that's mostly what she uses it for). After further investigation it looks like it's actually called a "stall bar." Either way she knew exactly what it was and is pleased to have another recognizable object. Two more light building days (including a gymnastics version of the all-important advent calendar "weapon rack") and then it's going to get into some serious competition equipment. Stay tuned!

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Edited by dvw2

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Day 6: Lockers
An important part of the gym, for the team gymnast, is the lockers. Just like school, it's a social hub, and a spot the gymnasts can keep their things and call their own. A couple of days ago my daughter asked if there would be lockers at some point; I demurred. But here they are, and she was excited to see them show up!

These are blue and orange, with a touch of gray, to go with the team leotards. They're sort of a hybrid locker/cubby (at the gym, the cubbies are for the recreational gymnasts) and there's a team backpack and a lost water bottle on top. I admit it was kind of fun to use the old blue mailboxes I remember so well from my own childhood Space sets.

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Day 7: Weapons Rack Accessories
Today is the day after a meet for our daughter, so we have a simple selection of accessories for the LEGO gym. Two new trophies, additional water bottles and another backpack for the lockers, and a chalk bowl. The chalk bowl is really part of the uneven bars we'll see soon enough, but also a kind of universal gym accessory, so it made sense to pad out today's batch.

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Edited by dvw2

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Day 8: Vault Table
Today we have a new piece of serious equipment, the vault table!

I think this came out pretty well, in terms of authenticity. it's got an adjustable angle by way of a click hinge (not height, though), and looks about right, if maybe a bit large. But then again, compared to an 8-year-old, maybe it's OK!

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Day 9: Springboard
This one I'm pretty proud of. A springboard was essential, and it would of course have to be actually bouncy. I dug into the BrickLink catalog for pieces with springs, and it turns out there aren't too many, aside from giant Technic suspension pieces. But there is one 20-years-defunct piece that turned out to be perfect for this build: Vehicle, Spring Wheels Holder 2 x 2

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I went through a bunch of iterations of this last spring and gradually found my way to this final design, which involves Technic bricks to support the axles of the spring piece and some empty space to allow vertical travel.

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The kiddo was pretty amazed that the piece isn't made anymore, and was excited about the springiness and also the "collar," the padding you see around the springboard in televised meets. At her level they don't use that padding yet. For this it was essential, as it includes the Technic bricks. In retrospect it might be possible to use plates with clips to grip the axels instead, but the measurements of the spring piece do not match up cleanly with System dimensions so I can't say for sure. Might be worth an experiment.

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Edited by dvw2

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Side note on this subject matter: There is an amazingly entertaining Minifig-point-of-view blog post by photographer Lynn about the official Friends gymnastics set over at Toy Photographers. It's beautifully shot and a great read. It features the Mia & Stephanie figures seen here but also a pair of Team GB gymnasts from the 2012 CMF collection.

Go check it out!

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Day 10: Vault mat & runway
Let's finish the vault event! The vault requires a landing mat and a runway, so that's today. For the quickest and seemingly simplest event, there's still a lot of equipment!

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The kiddo had her characters try out a few more vaults now that the apparatus is complete.
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Stuck it!
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And time for a little breather after the workout.
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Day 11: Uneven Bars
After floor and vault comes the bars. This is probably the most technical piece of equipment in the gym, so naturally it uses a bunch of Technic elements. I had a few versions going when the official set came out this spring, and while I didn't like the bars component of that set, it did have some really helpful part usage. That set uses the Bar 8L with Stop Rings and Pin (Technic ski pole). That allows the build to have a proper bar width, since regular LEGO bar pieces are not very long. I ended up using a similar setup, though without spinny handles on the outside. Getting all the geometry right to fit on the system grid was a challenge, but ultimately I made it work. The bar spread is even adjustable like a real bar set!

My solution alongside the bar set from 41372:

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Mia & Stephanie cheer on their teammate.

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Technic elements allow for a (slightly) adjustable setup.

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Giants on the high bar!

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Edited by dvw2

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Day 12: Balance Beam
The final apparatus for us the fearsome 4" wide, 16' long balance beam. With all equipment complete, what else is needed to hold a gym meet? I guess we'll find out in the next week.

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Day 13: Judge's Table
With the gym fully equipped, it's time to get set up for a meet. Today we have a simple judge's table, and the teammates run a mock meet at practice. Fluted bricks work nicely to suggest a draped tablecloth.

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