We have reached the end of Castles Week 2022. While today’s entry is not a castle per se, it was inspired by the theme of old. My first LEGO® dragon was from the Fright Knights sub-theme. Consequently, it was all black with red wings. I decided that I wanted to design a larger, brick-built, black dragon. Sadly, my dragon MOC was a fail. Not a total fail, but certainly not a success either.
This project started back in May 2022. True North Bricks held Dragon Week. It was a celebration and study of brick-built fantastical creatures. While all members of the True North Bricks team contributed to the event, I wrote my entries with a personal goal. I wanted to learn how to build my own LEGO® dragon MOC. It took me several weeks, with a brief pause in between. I hit a bit of creator’s block and ran out of steam. However, I got back into it, and a completed my first custom dragon. While it turned out more of a Dragon MOC fail, that’s okay. Remember, not everything you create will be a gem. Use every build as a learning experience, and that is what I am doing here.
Use fails as learning experiences.
One of the major issues I had with official sets like Fire Dragon Attack and Water Dragon was the exposed joints. I wanted to conceal hinges in areas like the hips and shoulders as much as possible. LEGO® designers accomplished that well in the Majestic Tiger set. Consequently, I referred to that frequently. Additionally, I used a non-LEGO® set for inspiration as well. Sacrilege, I know. However, Drogon from MEGA Construx gave me ideas. So, I started my model with the rear legs and hips. Originally, I used a two-pin approach for torso attachment. However, that limited range of motion. Consequently, I changed the design to one pin… however, that ended up a mistake. More on that later.
Next, I moved on to the tail. The first design was based on the Water Dragon design. I love the whip-like quality of it. I had just watched all the Jurassic Park movies and re-read the books. The stegosaurus’ tail inspired me to add spikes. I also liked the spines on the Fire Dragon’s back, so I incorporated those. Sadly, my design proved too heavy. In whipping it around, it frequently detached. In severe cases, it also broke the hip joint. I ended up shortening the tail and decreasing the number of bricks used in it. However, even now in the finished model, the tail is too heavy. I did not find a compromise between weight and aesthetics this time around.
#1 reason for my dragon MOC fail: I used too many bricks, making it too heavy.
With the lower body complete, I moved on to the torso. I built it in two sections. With the water and fire dragons, I lamented the limited mobility of the torso. Consequently, I designed extra joints into mine. Once again, I made them single-pinned hinges. Once again, that was a mistake. My final dragon is too heavy for joints like that. Picking it up causes gravity to yank all the joints downward. It’s like picking up cat… everything goes limp like a sack of potatoes. I suddenly understand why LEGO® designers use fewer bricks and joints in official dragon designs.
In any case, the joint issue was not apparent that early into the build. I only realized it later. So, with the lower torso ready, I moved on to the chest and shoulders. This section went through a few iterations. In fact, I designed one look that I really loved only to realize I forgot the wing attachment points. Consequently, I needed to redesign. I designed the forelegs at the same time, and they remained relatively unchanged as the build progressed. The Majestic Tiger inspired the shoulder joints.
#2 reason for my dragon MOC fail: I should have doubled up all the torso hinged joints.
The feet went through a big change as the build progressed. Initially, I modelled the feet after the Majestic Tiger. However, the claws I wanted did not stay on very well. Subsequently, I studied the design of the Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon a little more. The final design I settled on took inspiration from there. After building the front feet, I went back and redesigned the rear ones too. However, I built the front and rear feet slightly differently. The rear feet need to be more robust in my opinion.
As for the wings, I used the cloth pieces from Fire Dragon Attack. I really liked those. The original black LEGO® dragon figurine inspired the whole concept for this dragon. So, the orange/red color scheme from Fire Dragon works well in my model. However, I redesigned the attachments. I used Technic rods and connectors for the frames. However, I inserted the cloth in between pins and connectors. It was the only way I could think to make the wings completely foldable as well. The downside is the pins do not fully lock. Sometimes, the fingers of the wings wiggle their way loose.
#3 reason for my dragon MOC fail: the wings fall apart too easily.
Similar to the tail design, my initial head and neck designs were all too heavy. The neck originally consisted of two segments plus the head. In the end, I eliminated one segment. Additionally, the head went through a few iterations. The original base structure was that of the Majestic Tiger. However, even with one less neck segment, it was too heavy. I completely redesigned it. Only the lower jaw and its attachment maintain similarity to the tiger model. However, it is still a little too heavy. While the neck holds the head up, tapping the body often causes the neck to give and head to lower.
#4 reason for my dragon MOC fail: I made the head too complicated and heavy.
I have never tried to build a custom creature before. In the end, I think I built a nice-looking dragon. However, it is not very structurally sound. I learned a lot about weight versus aesthetics in building this model. Decisions made by LEGO® designers that seem simplistic and not very aesthetically pleasing suddenly make sense. From a play perspective, my dragon does not hold up. While this model did not turn out the way I hoped, I learned a lot. It is also important to keep in mind that the first time you try something, it is rarely perfect. So, we keep building and getting better! What do you think of my LEGO® dragon? Have you built one yourself? Let us know in the comments below or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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