Tom_Brick

[MOC] TIE Fighter - Minifig Scale [Instructions]

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Update: It's finally ready. 

The instructions to my new TIE MOC are now available on my Rebrickable page.
My original postings are below in case you're interested in how this model came about, but here are some renderings of the final product.

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Hi guys, I'd like to share my current TIE-project, what my though processes were, the compromises I made, etc.

To start off, why a new TIE Fighter? I already have two TIE Fighter versions which I'm actually quite happy with. Here I have to take a short detour to the topic of scale. Minifig scale is generally defined as ~ 1:40. However, I typically make my models a bit bigger, somewhere between 1:30 and 1:35, the reason being the anatomy of a minifig. The most striking difference to the anatomy of a real human is the lack of lower legs. One consequence of that is the fact that a minifig that is sitting down is almost as tall as one standing up. So when you look at it, a sitting minifig appears to be a larger scale human representative than a standing minifig. Since in most ships the pilot is sitting down, I tend to use that as my yardstick and hence make the model a bit bigger than classic minifig scale. That has however the downside that once you place the minifig next to the ship, the scale looks off.

My first goal was therefore to build a TIE model that could be used in a setting like a hangar without looking out of place, so it had to be 1:40 in scale.

My second goal was focus more on the interior as well and try to replicate the ball shape made of triangles inside a TIE. This goal I had to give up on, but more on that later.

My third goal was simply to try something new and potentially learn a thing or two in the process.

So, I started out with the cockpit and here is my first version:

800x600.png 800x600.png

As you can see, I used the triangular traffic signs to approximate the interior shape, which I think worked rather well. Unfortunately, it came with some costs, most notably the structure I had to use to attach the "arms" to the cockpit. When closed, the cockpit looked like this:

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Not terrible, but decidedly too much like a rhomboid and not enough like a sphere. I played around with it given this general setup, but it only got worse. So I scrapped the arm design completely and did something very different which meant that I couldn't fit in the triangle into the cockpit anymore.

As you can also see, I went for the thinner rounded corners to define the cockpit shape, that way I had more interior space. But again it came with a downside, namely that the width of the cockpit has an uneven number of studs which caused countless issues down the line.

Anyway, I kept the rounded corners and made new arms which led me to this result:

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Here, I did something completely different to my normal MO. Designing a MOC is always an exercise in making compromises. This time, I compromised on getting a more spherical look overall and in return to live with all the gaps that are the result of it. Particularly looking at it straight from the front reveals a lot of gaps:

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I decided to live with the gaps, seeing how well the ball-shape came across otherwise. The pictures don't even do it justice, it's even better in 3D where your brain sort of fills in the gaps automatically to create the sphere in your mind. The inside is now slightly less exciting though:

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I still have some triangle in the top area, but none near the floor.

Also, I did manage to add an entry hatch up top:

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In the back, I used the same rounded corners as in the front, giving it a symmetrical look. Unfortunately, that again meant to compromise. In this case, I had to give up on having a hexagon shaped window in the back, instead it's a rounded square. Also, again because of the odd width, I could only use 1x1 & 1x2 trans-black bricks to build the window. Not particularly elegant, but it does provide a lot of stability, so at least there's that:

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Lastly, as can be seen in the images, I used the brick stacking method on the wings for the first time. I did that for two reasons, first of all, as I said above, I wanted to try out new things, secondly, with the changes to how I constructed the arms, my typical method of attaching the wings would've looked a bit off and it also would have made the whole thing a bit wider, which wouldn't fit to the scale of this model. 

That's where I'm currently at. Here are some more pictures:

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Next steps:

Next up would be to split up the model into build-steps. That's where I usually find smaller issues or potential improvements maybe also some optimisations. Despite the small size, I'm at more than 1000 pieces for this MOC at this point.

Then, I definitely will have to test-build the thing. I think I may well have designed the cockpit on the razor's edge in terms of structural integrity. Particularly the top-front portion where the two rounded corners meet and the way I've connected the arms to the cockpit may be a bit too flimsy. Also, the cockpit floor is a bit wild in terms of its construction in order for me to make best use of the space in there. All of which can hopefully easily be rectified if there emerges a need for it. Now that I don't have the triangles on the floor anymore, I could raise the floor by one plate without issue which should provide all the stability I need. As for the rest, I hope it's solid enough, but worst case would be for me to close to top hatch.

However, all of that may take some time. I've already spend my entire Lego budget and more for this month. So it'll probably be a while before I test-build this sucker. I'll make sure to update this post once I'm done.

Edited by Tom_Brick

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Brilliant work, the triangular traffic sign pieces capture the interior detail of the TIE and really elevate the model to the next level

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Maybe a but premature, seeing that I haven't even test-built my TIE Fighter yet, but since the objective was always to have a Ship that fits in a larger context, I have designed a fitting hangar bay. Each segment fits one TIE and they can of course be combined. My inspiration was the Hhangar bay from Moff Gideon's light cruiser in the final episode of The Mandalorian Season 2.

Next up, I'll probably also design a center segment from which the TIEs are launched

800x600.png 800x600.png 1280x720.png 800x600.png 800x600.png 800x600.png 800x600.png

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These TIE fighters look very impressive, especially when they are lined up. 
I should say that I like your cockpit very much, it seems very neat. I can see that you really have taken care of the interior, there is enough space and everything is compact at the same time. 

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On 6/25/2021 at 12:31 AM, Tom_Brick said:

Maybe a but premature, seeing that I haven't even test-built my TIE Fighter yet, but since the objective was always to have a Ship that fits in a larger context, I have designed a fitting hangar bay. Each segment fits one TIE and they can of course be combined. My inspiration was the Hhangar bay from Moff Gideon's light cruiser in the final episode of The Mandalorian Season 2.

Next up, I'll probably also design a center segment from which the TIEs are launched

800x600.png 800x600.png 1280x720.png 800x600.png 800x600.png 800x600.png 800x600.png

Any chance of instructions for the hangar bay?

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On 8/16/2021 at 11:59 AM, dignow said:

Any chance of instructions for the hangar bay?

Sorry for the late reply, I was away for a while. If it all works out, I'll definitely create instructions for the hangar bay, but that would still be a bit off in the future. 
My Lego budget is tight and I need to test build it, so far, it's all digital and I wouldn't want to release anything like that without making sure that it works.

I've now ordered all the pieces for the TIE Fighter. That's going to be the first challenge as I designed it on the razor's edge in terms of structural integrity, especially the pickups for the "arms" on the cockpit side. So depending on the outcome of the test build, that may need a minor redesign first.
The hangar should be fine in theory, I don't see any obvious weak points, but I definitely want to make sure that the clamp-mechanism will hold the TIE without it slipping out and also that the rails in the ceiling are strong enough. It should all be fine, but you never know for sure until you tried it in real life.

And of course a test-build will also help identifying where I can simplify things. I may have gone way overboard with the roof for example, or I'm fairly certain that two pillars in the front will suffice. 

tl;dr
Once I've done a test-build and I'm happy with it, I'll publish instructions, which probably won't happen any time soon though.

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So, I've finally received the parts and started to build the TIE, however, I found a problem in my design which I didn't anticipate. It has to do with the arm construction where I tried a construction method that I never used before and which doesn't quite fit by a fraction of a millimetre. Unfortunately the Studio software didn't alert me of the issue, I guess it was just too tiny an overlap, yet it was enough to ruin my design...

But then I figured out another way of achieving a similar result. I managed to build the cockpit now, albeit I had to use some black pieces as I lacked the light bluish grey ones necessary (see pictures below). But that also meant that my solar panel design no longer fits with the arms as they are now. So I had to stop with the cockpit due to a lack of parts coming from the necessary redesign of the solar panels. The good news is that with my redesign, the solar panels will actually look even nicer than in my original design. The crazy part is that this little TIE fighter currently stands at more than 1000 pieces (incl. the solar panels of course)

One more thing I want to work on is the front window. Originally, it was too high, then I lowered it by one plate but now it looks too low. I have an idea of how to solve it, bit that could potentially further compromise structural integrity.

Speaking of integrity, while certainly being on the edge, it seems fine so far. It won't be a play-set I guess, at least not without some major changes, but it all holds up nicely. However, the true test will come once the heavy solar panels are attached. 

The reason for the potential problems is of course the interior. I really tried to get as much interior space out of this design as possible, so that I can fill it with details. Plus I wanted a functional top hatch. That obviously comes at a price. If it turns out to be too weak, I will have to compromise on some things...take out some interior detail to make room for reinforcements or get rid of the opening up top. 

Overall, I'm really happy with the design though. It looks great. Working with the thin, 3x3 rounded corners not only gave it a nice, spherical look, it also conserves more space which was crucial for being able to add an opening in the roof as well as for the interior. Of course it came at a cost, namely that I now have to work with an odd number of studs in width. That is a nightmare and a particular challenge when structural integrity is concerned. But one way or another, I'm sure I'll get there...now I have to wait for my new Bricklink order to arrive before I can continue. 

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Alright, probably the last update for a while until I get the replacement parts for my new solar panel design. I did correct the placement of the front window now. To be honest, I don't know what I did wrong the first time around. I did play around with it a lot, used completely different methods of attaching the dish, but in the end it turns out that my initial design was the best. It's perfectly centred. I don't know why it looked like it was too high the first time I built it. Some parts must have been a bit loose.

Anyway, this is what it looks like now

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3 hours ago, Guyinaplaguemask said:

Amazing, will there be instructions for the TIE fighter itself, I'm not particularly interested in the hangar.

Of course. I've got the instructions ready, but I first want to test-build it. Hopefully, the needed parts will arrive this week. If everything works out fine, I'll publish the instructions. 

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So, today I finally received the remaining parts that I had to order due to the redesign of the TIE's arms and I could finish the build. Good thing that I did as I found another issue regarding the wing construction where it also didn't fit due to an overlap of a fraction of a millimetre which wasn't apparent in Studio. But this time it was an easy fix and luckily I had all the parts that I needed.

Here's the result:
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On the inside, I also made some minor changes. Basically I took out two more triangular traffic signs, the ones that were in front of the pilot. It's a bit of a shame as I started out with ten triangles to shape the interior volume and now I ended up with only two, but the truth of the matter was that the triangles in front of the pilot looked a bit weird from the outside. You'd probably have to sit inside to appreciate them, but since nobody will ever do that, I took them out. The good thing is that the ones that remain are also the ones that are most visible:

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Regarding stability, the ship holds up quite well, so no issues there. However, It is still a dicy construction, so you have to be careful. If you grab it by the cockpit and shake it violently, the arms will likely come off - I haven't tried that though, I did shake it softly and that was no problem, but after a while, the arms did gain some play, so I pushed down on where the arms are attached to the cockpit again to once again secure them. If you pick it up by the arms or the solar panels, it's absolutely fine though, you should be able to do that all day. 

Next, I'll do some new renderings and update the instructions one more time and then I'll put it up on Rebrickable either later today or tomorrow. It's certainly not the easiest build I've ever designed but also not the most difficult one. No real head-scratchers there, the main challenge is that there are phases during the build where it's quite fragile and you have to be careful where to apply pressure and where not to. But once it's done, the ship holds up much better than I thought. 

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I really need to check in here more often - off to check out the instructions!  Thanks!

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Wow.....a real gemstone that I missed - as someone whose built a TIE Defender - gotta say - I love this. :)

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On 8/26/2022 at 1:25 PM, dignow said:

I really need to check in here more often - off to check out the instructions!  Thanks!

 

On 8/26/2022 at 7:23 PM, Kage Goomba said:

Wow.....a real gemstone that I missed - as someone whose built a TIE Defender - gotta say - I love this. :)

I haven't been here for a while either, but thank you both, I really appreciate it. 

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