The 46,000-Pound X-Wing: How LEGO Built The World’s Biggest Star Wars Toy

Hint: it took 18 months, 32 builders and more than five million LEGO bricks.

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Amy Sussman / AP for LEGO Systems, Inc.

It’s a toy! It’s a plane! It’s…an X-Wing made entirely of LEGOs?

That’s right: almost 30 years to the date after the release of Return of the Jedi, LEGO is stoking Star Wars fans with a life-sized replica of the iconic aircraft, which just debuted in Times Square. Some 5.3 million LEGO bricks were used to build the 46,000-pound model, besting the Mecha Robot to become the largest LEGO creation in the world.

(MORE: WATCH: The World’s Longest Working LEGO Railway)

How’d they do it? “Very carefully,” quips Eric Varszegi, a LEGO “master builder” who consulted on the project. And yes, that’s his actual job title.

Planning began roughly 18 months ago, at a LEGO facility in the Czech Republic. Execs knew they wanted something big and Star Wars-y to promote their new toy-inspired animated miniseries (The Yoda Chronicles, premiering May 29 on Cartoon Network), and recreating a fan-favorite flier like the X-Wing “just seemed like a great thing to do,” says Varszegi.

(MOREThe 8 Best Lego Reenactments)

But this was no ordinary plaything. The official X-Wing prop planes—as LEGO learned from Lucasfilm—measure 42 feet from tip to tail, with a lengthy wingspan. They’re also 11 feet tall. Structurally, says Varszegi, there was no way a creation that big could rise from LEGO bricks alone, especially if it needed to weather earthquakes (a must when it moves to a Legoland theme park) and support kids in the cockpit (hello, photo-ops).

So the engineers started sketching. Their solution: a steel substructure, which would be wholly covered in real LEGO bricks to preserve the illusion of LEGO-ness. They also chose to keep the wings closed, because the open “X” formation would be tough to execute safely.

xwing_construction

Courtesy Lego Systems Inc.

Click to enlarge.

Once plans were set, 32 builders worked day and night to make them a reality, placing one tiny LEGO after another. “That first brick is always the biggest challenge,” Varszegi recalls. “If you put it in the wrong spot, it will throw everything off.”

Several months later, the finished X-Wing was shipped to the States—because, alas, it cannot fly. The model will stay in Times Square through Saturday, before trekking West to Legoland California, where it will join LEGO replicas of the Taj Mahal, the U.S. Capitol, and maybe, eventually, a Death Star?

“At life size?” says Varszegi, laughing. “There aren’t enough LEGO bricks in the world.”

(MOREBehold: The LEGO Batcave of Your Dreams)

15 comments
MegP
MegP

I'm logging in to register surprise that this article continues to show up on the very short list of Google news editor picks for Time.  I think Legos are pretty neat, a whole lot more fun than Lincoln logs, but for the life of me - given brutality and suffering arising out of geopolitics, issues like US growing income/wealth disparity, and environmental havoc across the globe - I must say I'm mystified that Lego creativity, even 'world's biggest' of anything at all', (battle weapons of all things!), should merit such devoted promotion!

sneems
sneems

@MegP    So you like all your news to be repetitive, dramatic, bias, and depressing.  Because we don't see that promoted almost everywhere.

I think it's refreshing to see something cool, intuitive, and positive being promoted.

MegP
MegP

@sneems@MegP "... you like all your news to be repetitive, dramatic, bias(ed), and depressing"   ??   As it happens I usually scan headlines for reference to life and earth-care dilemma.  Especially appreciate thoughtful coverage that includes in-depth back-story, is wiling to challenge unexamined assumptions, and stays clear of using 'memes' to replace 'depth'.  

I live 'close enough' to some of the realities to know their impact. Well-done media explorations of issues, or components of issues, can serve us well. Sometimes Time articles draw my active interest and appreciation, sometimes not - same with other outlets.

"refreshing to see something cool, intuitive, and positive being promoted" - I don't disagree at all - to a point.  The only reason I bothered to comment tin the first place was, as I said, "surprise ....mystified that (a single article on the particular subject/theme) should merit ...devoted promotion."  

It just seemed (seems) curious - as I said - just now - to dominus69 - "bemusing". 

GuySteam
GuySteam

@MegP @sneems I agree, I really hate it when they report on something other than violence, wars, and child molestors 

dominus69
dominus69 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@MegP

While I don't share your rather hysterical aversion to a fantasy 'battle weapon' from a film, nor do I want to read about nothing but brutality and unfairness every single morning; I have been thinking much the same thing, seeing this pop up as an 'Editor's Pick' day after day after day is rather odd....

MegP
MegP

@dominus69 @MegP  Popped in to reply since my little remark and observation seems to have now brought 2 replies! Was a bit ?validating?, ?reassuring?, ??? that at least one other person noticed something curious ('Editor's Pick'  ..day after day ...rather odd...)  I suppose my saying so again will get me accused of conspiracy thinking!  ... only commented in the first place because as you note, 'day after day' ... Mostly I was bemused. (?hysterical aversion? - that surprised me too!)  :)

robindthom
robindthom

This is really neat. I don't remember when this movie was released, so I never heard about this. I am glad to be hearing about it now though. It is cool all of the things they can build out of Legos. We were at a zoo the other say that had a bunch of life-sized animals made out of legos. Of course, my husband sells Tuscon brick (http://www.cabcoaz.com) so I suppose we're all in to building things. 

etriganbulldog
etriganbulldog

Too much info...like when he admitted that it COULDN"T be built out of LEGO's...I'm all for using a steel frame to save bricks, but I thought the idea was to...

Oh right the idea is to sell LEGO's, forget true inspiration...next they'll use a veneer, and draw the bricks on...

rowarho3
rowarho3

It still iz bitchin, whatever ya what to call it.

ScottWilliamson
ScottWilliamson

Also - if, as you say, that's is his "actual job title" then loose the (slightly condescending) quote marks. It should be capitalized, as in "Eric Varszegi, a LEGO Master Builder".

JeremyKlapprott
JeremyKlapprott

Actually, a starfigher. But to-mate-oh...to-maught-o...:)

sbunny8
sbunny8

"... a life-sized replica of the iconic aircraft." The X-wing is a spacecraft, not an aircraft.

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight like.author.displayName 1 Like

@sbunny8 Meh, Star wars is ww2 pacific battles in SPACE! so I cant really blame anyone for just calling them an airplane