First of all, thank you! As a "longtime" fan of your work (think it was the samurai Samukai first, so evidently not that long), I really appreciate the compliment overall.
Thanks for mentioning it was immediately recognizable from the render and largely from the colors, which I will admit weren't all too vexing to get down quickly (beyond the exorbitant use of sand yellow). And yeah, the physical model isn't great colorwise, but as long as it achieved its purpose as a proof of viability (and the contest entry as a whole), I think I'm fine.
The model does connect with itself, but my guess is it wouldn't really create a circle without sacrificing the cohesion of the groundwork as a whole. Because it's given an acute angle, and because I ultimately nixed the plan for all three planes to be the same size, my guess is that you could probably get away with connecting two without making it look excessively.
And speaking of which, I may have overstepped the price range I was going for. At roughly 664 pieces (with hypothetical minifigs), it's well over the bounds of a $40 or $50 set and can't justify itself with such an excess through size like the Water Strider or a couple other Ninjago Movie sets can; and, from the "comparison" shot to Master Falls, there really isn't much it does justify with such a small overall size. I supposed that this contest relies on far less than creating a "set" as much as a concept model, but I do believe that if I'd constrained the project just a little more, it would end up a little more realistically designed for mass consumption.
Though I doubt making these for mass-market is the primary concern for this competition. Considering the sheer talent of one of these, like Bricknave's serpentine trap model, I'm just hoping for third place at best, if not a participation badge (that's what the little symbols under your avatars are, right?). I enjoyed building the thing and genuinely getting involved in a competition rather than missing the deadline, but my guess is that I've ended up somewhere in the middle rankings with the entry.
All that aside, good luck with your entry! If those RPG models and "tablescraps" say anything about your talent, no doubt it'll be solid.
(Also, you went through the imgur album, right? For anyone parsing through this thread, the images there do expand on the model's functionality and function as a "playset," giving some insight into it if the LDD file didn't already)