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I’ve finally finished my first real MOC!  My goal was simply to make a minifig-scale TIE Fighter that is as accurate as possible in its proportions and details.

(Note: if any of my terminology confuses you, feel free to consult the glossary.)

TF Front 2

I started working on this in March, after completing my mod of @Jerac’s TIE Fighter (working from his first version).  My mod changed a lot of the details, but kept the internal structure of the cockpit and spars.  It also kept the wings mostly unchanged—not because I was satisfied with them, but because as a novice, reworking them felt daunting.

 

Wing Hubs
I knew that the technic 6-blade rotor had potential for a wing hub (thanks to Koen Zwanenburg) but it doesn’t come in LBG.  I found a way to skin it that closely mimics the ship’s greebling, and isn’t too thick.  Once I made these wing hubs, I knew I wanted to make a whole new TIE Fighter to match them.

 

TF Hub

 

Wings
I built a rim with the correct size and shape, and filled in the wing panels with my stacked 1x1 technique that suggests ridges running perpendicular to the wing edges.  Coincidentally, 1 stud is very close to the right spacing for these ridges, so the overall look is quite accurate.  I wanted to minimize gaps around the spokes, which meant using a lot of 1x1 plates (almost 150 per wing).  I placed pairs of plates together where possible, to give a suggestion of the subtler parallel ridges.

TF Side

For the spokes I wanted smoothly tapered tiles rather than the standard steps and exposed studs.  The spokes are less sturdy this way, but the wings overall are reasonably solid.  The angles are a perfect 60 degrees.  It’s annoying that TLG printed a tile for the central wheel with quite accurate details, but shifted the angles to 45/90.

 

Spars
Once I had the wings I moved inward to the spars, which present a trilemma: ideally you’d want your TIE spars to be cylindrical, sturdy, and free of non-Lego parts.  You can have two of the three.

My cylindrical, axle-based construction looks far better than stacked plates, but makes for wobbly, droopy wings.  With standard Lego axles, this model is for display only.  Following Cereal Eating Builder’s lead, I caved and bought metal axles.

TF Spar

The hardest detail in the whole model to render was the “shoulder plate” on either side of the cockpit.  I made a couple dozen prototypes (some early ones here) before finding one that represented all the angles (so many angles!) and wasn’t too chunky and distracting.  I don’t love the gaps and exposed studs, but this is the best solution I could find.

 

Cockpit Exterior
I still prefer quarter domes for the cockpit.  They really limit interior space but the smoothly rounded shape can’t be beat, and the greebles I wanted to include fit nicely in between them.

TF Front 3

The main inaccuracy in this model is the size of the canopy and top hatch, which should be 5 studs in diameter at this scale.  The only solution would be to scale the ship up to match the 6-stud canopy, or down to the 4-stud version.  Maybe someday.

The canopy hinge and the quarter domes also push the cannons too low and wide, but I was able to get them just a bit closer than my previous version.

I’m convinced that space binoculars are the best piece for the “bowties” beside the canopy, but they seemed impossible to attach.  I struggled for a long time to make even an asymmetric connection with a clip or minifig hand, and I almost gave up before hitting on a sneaky solution.  Can you guess how I did it?  There’s a hint in the interior shots below.

 

Rear
The rear cone was a challenge.  My previous TIE had a crude version with handlebars and 1x1 clips.  I wanted something cleaner, and posing stands (now in LBG!) seemed promising.  The trick was filling in the gaps between them.  Purists may feel that I’ve cut my pneumatic hoses too short, but I’m pretty pleased with the result.  The main issue again is that it’s a little oversized—6 studs wide rather than 5—but I’m ok with it because it’s in scale with the hatch and canopy.

TF Rear

I was able to include the cone hump at the top—another oft-overlooked greeble.  To me the dark bowties around the engines are an essential detail, and I was determined to include the red engines, which I couldn't fit in my previous TIE.  I considered cutting a red hose, but I was ultimately able to work in a nipple tile.

TF Rear 2

 

Cockpit Structure
It was challenging to attach the spars securely to the cockpit.  1x2 bricks with axle holes are the obvious choice, but I couldn’t handle the asymmetry.  There aren't many other options, so I ended up using 2x2 bricks with pins, reinforced by 2x4 technic plates and brackets.  With metal axles they're almost solid—in spite of the reinforcements, with swooshing the spars can pull free and rotate forward slightly on the pin bricks.

TF Int 4

The quarter ellipse liftarms are structural, and not only do they make for a smoothly rounded exterior, but their half-stud width is ideal because the details around the edge of the cockpit—the hatch side greebles and the shoulder slopes—are 1 stud wide.  TIE builders who prioritize smoothness and disapprove of my wanton greebling might still be interested in this technique.

 

Cockpit Interior

I wanted to include the shape of the dark grey “dashboard” and the triangle at the top of the canopy, since these are visible on the exterior model (although missing from the cockpit set).

TF Int

The interior is very constrained by the quarter domes and the structure holding them together.  I was less concerned with modelling the interior accurately, but I did want to make sure that it fit a TIE Pilot (with oversized helmet) and that it looked reasonably cool.

TF Int 3

The pilot sits quite centred in the cockpit.  There’s no space for a seat, but the movie set didn’t have one either.  I was tempted to add a bunch of interior details with stickers, but once you start with that it’s hard to know where to stop.  In the end I restrained myself to just 2: the iconic targeting display, and a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the rear “window”.

TF Int 2

Other designers have included transparent rear windows in their designs, but I haven’t seen any that put the interior window the correct position—high up behind the pilot’s head.

 

Struggles with Scale
This is my first attempt at scale modelling, and in the end I found the proportions are not as precise as I’d hoped.  Part of the problem is that the hubs, although reasonably flat, are much thicker than the “real thing”.  I wanted to define the overall width by the centre of the wings from the front view, meaning that the chubby hubs encroach into the spars’ space, and the T-shaped end plate gets squashed.  But beyond that, my spars ended up being a bit shorter than the reference, for reasons I don't fully understand.  I may try to fix this at some point, but I’d probably need to learn digital design to really nail it down.

TF Front vs Source

The side view, however, fits like Cinderella's slipper.

TF Side vs Source

 

Acknowledgements & References
I’ve enjoyed discussing TIE Fighter building with Jerac, Cereal Eating Builder, and others.  (If anyone else would like some feedback about a TIE in progress, get in touch!  In building this I’ve gained a lot of knowledge that is really only useful to a freelance TIE MOC consultant.)

My primary reference (the white overlay above) was the blueprint from the TIE Fighter Owners’ Workshop Manual.  Unfortunately, I’ve recently noticed some inaccuracies compared to physical models.  The EFX prop replica seems more reliable, and you can find some pictures of the original props here.

 

Glossary
I tried to keep this introduction short and sweet (seriously) but I am prepared to discuss every detail of this model at length if anyone cares to ask.  In anticipation, I’ve created a visual glossary of all the greebles I tried to include, so we have some shared vocabulary.

TIE Greeble Glossary

What do you think?

Edited by 20feet

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Absolutely stunning, the hubs on the wings are brilliant, and the level of detail around the cockpit is spectacular.

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I like it because it is a truly new approach to the topic.

There are the studded, set-like TIEs, there are ones meant to be as smooth as possible, and now there's a greeble-centric design.
Maybe not my thing but definitely a work worth a great appreciation!

To me the only thing which "clashes" a bit with general aesthetics are wing beams/spokes as you call them; they could use some greebling too, as they are not smooth on the filming model. This makes sort of a conflict between greebled core and relatively smooth panels. Same for rims; I'd go with flex hoses on clips as discussed somewhere else, just to add this final little piece of detail. 

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Thanks everyone!

53 minutes ago, Jerac said:

To me the only thing which "clashes" a bit with general aesthetics are wing beams/spokes as you call them; they could use some greebling too, as they are not smooth on the filming model. This makes sort of a conflict between greebled core and relatively smooth panels. Same for rims; I'd go with flex hoses on clips as discussed somewhere else, just to add this final little piece of detail. 

I agree that the wing rim and spokes look too smooth in comparison to the hub and other details.  I thought about covering everything with hoses, but it would just get way too thick.  Would look better from straight on but worse from the side.

The only way I'd consider to add more detail there is stickers—a sticker running down the middle of the tiles would be closer to the right thickness than a hose.  But philosophically I'm reluctant to add tons of stickers.

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Oh I never knew about the interior window being so high. Does that... make sense? Like how does that work? Because from that picture it seems like the interior window and the exterior window arent... in the same place.

I guess that's not a question particularly related to this amazing moc but you have cursed us all with this knowledge now so I have to ask.

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24 minutes ago, Magmafrost said:

Oh I never knew about the interior window being so high. Does that... make sense? Like how does that work? Because from that picture it seems like the interior window and the exterior window arent... in the same place.

I guess that's not a question particularly related to this amazing moc but you have cursed us all with this knowledge now so I have to ask.

Lol sorry, that's a bit of a troll.  I looked into this recently and the bottom line is there are several inconsistencies between the interior TIE Fighter set and the exterior model—the set designers back in the day just weren't that concerned with accuracy.  You can read my hard-hitting investigation starting here.

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I made a video comparing the stability of this MOC with Lego axles vs metal ones from Dark Ice Designs.  The difference is dramatic.

So which do you prefer:

1. Sturdy blocky spars like Jerac's

2. Wobbly, cylindrical, all-Lego spars, or

3. Sturdy, cylindrical spars with non-Lego metal axles?

Edited by 20feet
Video embed from Flickr didn't seem to work

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4 hours ago, tabata said:
Wonderful job, do you have a list of used parts?

I don't - yet.  I've been trying to learn Stud.io and working on building this model digitally.  The problem is I used a LOT of illegal techniques which I'm having trouble duplicating in Stud.io.  (Any digital pros out there who can tell me how to position pieces precisely in ways Stud.io doesn't think will fit?)  If I can make a good digital model I may share that (along with a lengthy disclaimer).

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You will need to use mlcad. Studio does not have cut flexible pieces available, while in mlcad there is a generator for flexibles.
Then instructions will be probably done in LPub in one of its variants. 

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7 hours ago, Jerac said:

You will need to use mlcad. Studio does not have cut flexible pieces available, while in mlcad there is a generator for flexibles.
Then instructions will be probably done in LPub in one of its variants. 

Thanks Jerac!  I did figure out how to do most of it in Studio so I'll probably share that, even though it doesn't include the hoses and rubber bands.  I don't plan on releasing instructions because 1) it sounds like a lot of work, 2) I used several rare pieces that wouldn't be practical on a larger scale, 3) I used techniques that would be hard to describe in instructions and would probably try the patience of most builders, and 4) I'd rather see people incorporate some of my ideas into their own MOCs than build duplicates of mine.

I like the freedom of designing a one-off MOC.  I wouldn't want to give that up to try to compete with Jerac and Brickvault, and I think trying to turn something like this into a product would be frustrating for all involved.

But I do feel the need to brag about some of the techniques I used, so I'll probably share more about that even though no one's asking :)

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