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  1. lego2lego

    Building Snaillads Ave. St. Jacques

    This is a picture heavy topic! Beware!! I would like to apologise up front for my picture quality. Ave St. Jacques by Snaillad is, for me at least, the most beautiful “Modular” MOC I have ever seen. I have put modular in hyphens because it’s not really modular in the literal sense but the style pegs it as a modular building. It was also one of the first topics I commented on. I never would have thought that I would have it standing in my living room just two years later, and I’d be doing a pseudo review. This is my first, so bear with me (I might just wander off a bit). The modular houses have brought me out of my dark ages. My girlfriend bought me Green Grocer for my birthday and ever since I have been back in the fold. I really didn’t know what I had been missing and I started to collect not only the modulars (missed out on Cafe Corner and Market street) but also the UCS Star Wars sets. But it became clear that my wife didn’t like large grey triangles in our living room (ISD) and collecting everything would be financially unfeasible with our first child on the way. So I decide to concentrate on the modulars, stow my UCS Star wars and I discovered LDraw. Also at that time I discovered eurobricks and thus Ave. St Jacques. I was blown away by it. Some time later I came across the instructions and even though they were quite expensive (27,5 euros) I decided to buy them. I had no intention to build it, I just wanted to see how it was done. The instructions came with two brick link XML files. One for used bricks and one for new bricks. The instruction themselves are spread over 5 documents with the largest one more than 1200 pages/steps. Then somewhere last year I decided I was going to build it. As my Lego collection existed mainly of old bricks from the 80’s and I didn’t want to touch my modulars I decided to get all 13.500 bricks new from Bricklink. MY first thought was to take it slow and order in small quantities because with once again a new baby in the house I couldn’t afford to buy it all at once (I also probably wouldn’t be able to wrap my head around the full amount if I had done it all at once). But I soon found out that if I did it with small quantities I could start building around 2025 so something had to be done. I decided to sell some of my UCS Star Wars sets. They had been lying in storage for some years with no clear idea of when they would be built and displayed again. So with some trepidation I sold my ISD and UCS Y-wing. This gave me a lump of cash and I could start ordering. I am still amazed how fats you can blow through your money on bricklink, but at the end of my money I still had quite a few bricks left on my wanted list. I didn’t want to compromise on used bricks (only did so on some ridiculous expensive tan 1x6 arches) so it took until February (I started in October with ordering) before I had all the bricks I needed (leave it to me to find a seller who is also a sailor and isn’t home much of the time. I really need to start reading the shop landing pages). In the end I spent well north of 1000 euros on the bricks I needed. Unfortunately I discovered I missed some bricks during the build and had to break my rule about not touching my modulars. I don’t really know if those bricks were missing in the XML file or if I just wasn’t careful enough with my wanted list. Right at the end of the build I found out I missed 40 or so slope bricks for the roof. Those were definitely not on the parts list and caused a long delay right before finishing it.. But enough wandering, let’s start. The Instructions. As I mentioned the instructions are spread over 5 documents. One for the building, two for the streets, one for de car and one showing how it all fits together. It is noteworthy to tell that the instructions were reverse engineered. I cannot imagine how much work that must have been, doing that from 40 or so pictures. The seller states ono his site and on the instructions that they were made in collaboration with Snaillad but I don’t know how far that collaboration went. Nonetheless it’s an achievement in itself. Instruction are very good too, only the resolution of the documents could be better. The whole build is constantly on the page, that means that the individual bricks are quite small and it is sometimes hard to see where a 1x2 plate is supposed to go. Enlarging the picture is an option but it soon turns into a pixel soup, so a higher resolution would be appreciated. Sample page from the instructions. Step 737. I also have a pretty strong feeling that the instructions were not tested by the creator. I think that if he had, he would have made different choices in some places. This has mostly to do with some structural solutions which could have been better, but are hard to spot when you work purely digital. One of those happens right at the beginning. But like I said, more than 1200 steps and 13.500 parts, time to build. The build. First problem was how do I sort and store all those bricks. During the ordering process I had them all bagged up by color in a large plastic bin. But this wouldn’t be very efficient during the build. I bought a lot of smaller plastic containers and divided the parts by color and shape in order to create manageable amounts of parts. 13.500 bricks ready to be put together. Second problem was that I don’t really have room to build something of this size. So I decided on my living room, the dining table to be specific. This meant that I had to remove everything every evening because the was also being used by the rest of my family. This became more and more tiresome as the build went on and some evenings I couldn’t be motivated to drag all those containers on and of the table. In the end I spent more time searching for parts than placing parts on the model. I seriously miscalculated the amount of time I would be spending on this. My largest model up until this was Spencer Rezkalla’s Empire State Building. It comprises about 5500 parts (mostly plates and 1x1 bricks) and I built it in a couple of evenings. Spencer Rezkalla's Empire State Building. So for some reason I thought I could finish this in four days because I had some friends coming over who are also into Lego. Four days, I didn’t know what I was thinking, after four days I only had the ground floor built, and I had discovered I was missing pieces and I had to correct a “structural flaw”. This was going to be a longterm commitment, much to the chagrin of my wife who has been stuck with a rather large and unwieldy WIP on her dining table. Not counting the numerous containers with bricks on the floor next to it. Sorry dear! In the end it took me 2.5 months of intermittent building to finish this. What follows are WIP pictures of the build. Original support structure as per instructions. Base covered with plates. Modified support structure. In the original setup the tiles would pop-off because the underlying plates didn't have enough support, they would flex and tiles went flying. Tiles, Tiles, TILES! First floor taking shape. Starting the first floor. First floor houses a dentists office. Second floor complete Second floor apartments. It's coming along nicely. Sagging floors, two layers of plates and a layer of tiles isn't the most rigid surface. But with the added weight of the walls it's barely visible. Third floor. Fourth floor. Top floor apartment. Completed model! Yes, it opens! Guess it's really modular after all. Building this model has taught me a lot about advanced building techniques and may even see me building my own MOC. Took me a bit longer than I expected but it was worth it, and I can recommend it to anyone who has the means to pursue something this big. I am contacting a local Lego specialty shop to see if they want to display this in their shop, because I really don't have a place to put it (should have thought about that earlier) and I think people should see what can be done with Lego. I would like to thank Snaillad for creating this awesome building and Brickstreet for creating the instructions. More pictures here