Monday, October 15, 2012

Choice of Scale in the Lego® Model

When I first started thinking about building a model of the Temple out of Lego® bricks, choosing the appropriate scale was an important consideration. It became obvious very quickly that a tabletop model would lack too many of the finer details since there are no Lego® bricks small enough to model them.

Scale Size of an Amah

Rather than pick an arbitrary scale such as 1:50 or 1:100 I wanted to use a scale where the basic unit of measurement in the Temple - the amah - corresponds to a standard Lego® brick. The smallest Lego® brick for this purpose is the 1x1 tile which measures 8 mm (0.31 inches) to a side. Using the 1x1 tile as the equivalent of a one-amah floor tile, the Main Courtyard (135x187 amos) would be roughly 4x5 feet and the height of the Sanctuary Building (100 amos) would be almost 3 feet. Although already bigger than any Lego® set you can buy, there are some important features which would be difficult (but perhaps not impossible) to model, such as the steps - all of which are half an amah tall and half an amah deep.

The next larger brick is the 2x2 tile which is 16 mm (0.63 inches) to a side. With this as a one-amah tile, the Main Courtyard would be 7x10 feet and the Sanctuary Building would be over 5 feet tall. In this scale it is much easier to build important details into the model, and the model as a whole will have a lot more presence, giving viewers a greater sense of what it might have felt like to stand in the Temple. A model built to this scale is approximately 1:29.


To make sure that my chosen scale would work even for the smaller details, I decided to build a prototype of the Menorah. The Menorah stood 3 amos tall, which in this scale comes to just under 2 inches. Working with my existing Lego® collection, I hit upon the design shown below. I tried a number of models with individual arms, three on each side, to hold the lamps, although none of these really worked for me (but I would gladly take suggestions).

[Lego® enthusiasts will notice that the model is built studs down. This approach allowed for a number of additional and accurate details, such as open receptacles on top for the seven lamps, use of the 1x1 slopes to smoothly connect the arms to the body, and the studs on the 2x2 plate serving as the base give the impression of feet.]

Menorah modeled in Bricksmith

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