My Lego BB-8 story

I first saw BB-8 in a Youtube-video from Star Wars Celebration Anaheim and was instantly fascinated. And I believed, as many others did, that yes, they had gotten this thing right!

As a huge Lego-fan, one of my first thoughts were how I could recreate this thing in Lego. Now, over a year later, that has resulted in this:

Lego BB-8 in the snow.

This 261 piece BB-8 model can actually become an official Lego-set if you help me by voting for it on Lego Ideas. Here’s the link: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/124592

More on Lego Ideas later, but first I want to tell you more about my story with BB-8.

Lets go back to April 2015 again. My head was spinning. How do I make BB-8 in Lego. I had to find a way to create a completely round shape out of Lego-pieces. I quickly came across something called a Lowell Sphere. Lowell Sphere is a building technique to create Lego spheres. It was designed by Bruce Lowell back in 2002. You can read more about it here: http://www.brucelowell.com/lowell-sphere/

Lowell Sphere by Bruce Lowell.

Bruce Lowell’s clever technique made it possible for me to build an completely round shape. I decided to try to make this as close to a life size model as possible.

I also knew that in November 2015 I was going to help my local cinema in Fredrikstad hold a Lego building event, and just a month later, Star Wars: The Force Awakens would have it’s premiere. So I talked with the manager at the cinema and he was very enthusiastic about having my model on display. So now, I had a deadline. Ouch!

I started by designing the model in Lego Digital Designer. The Lowell Sphere technique worked out great. Both on the body and on the head.

Some of the parts for the model. I actually used about 1.000 2x4 white bricks, and about 3.000 1x1 white plates. In total the model used about 11.000 bricks.

Then, sometime during September 2015, I gathered all the parts I needed and was ready to build. About 11.000 pieces. Total weight was going to be somewhere around 10 kg. I had no idea how this thing would hold together, so I had to start building quick.

During October and early November I was practically building every day. Here is an picture of the build, you can watch more pictures on my Instagram-account.

Here I’m in the middle of the process with two of the six sides on the body. I used my model in Lego Digital Designer as an reference to how I should build the model together.

November 6th, the day before the event at the cinema, the model was finished.

The finished model of BB-8.

The event was a huge success and I got so much great feedback on my model! For Lego and Star Wars fans reading this I also want to mention that we made this during the event:

50.000 piece Lego mosaic.

The manager joked with me after the event that if the model somewhat magically disappeared it would be a chance that I could find it as his place.

When I got home that evening I had an idea. Why not make a small version of BB-8! A version as small as possible but at the same time recognizable. I wanted to use the same building techniques as before, and the same colors, because I really believed this was essential to make this model look like BB-8. I started with the head since that would be the hardest one to create at this scale. I found out that it was the two black eyes (or camera lenses) in the front that was important. The eyes were essential to make the model look like BB-8, so this was where I started my design. When I had the head complete I started working on the body. As before I used the Lowell Sphere technique both on the head and on the body. Since the model was so small I had to use round shaped plates on the body to catch BB-8s design. I used only active Lego parts (meaning parts that are still produced by the Lego Company). I did this to ensure that other builders would be able to build their own version. Once complete I made some copies of the set for the cinema manager and some other friends of mine. I also posted some photos on my Facebook-account and got a lot of feedback. I then decided: Why not post this on Lego Ideas?

My first version of the small BB-8. This was posted in Lego Ideas early December 2015.

Lego Ideas is a website where everyone can share their Lego projects. Projects that manages to gather 10.000 supporters within a year gets reviewed by the Lego Company and can become an official Lego set!

Lego themselves has not themselves created a BB-8 set, and I found out that this was something fans of both Star Wars and Lego really wanted.

I posted the project early December, and now when I post this article I have already gotten over 2.000 suppporters. I am overwhelmed by all the support and enthusiasm this project has generated. During the last weeks I have been working on improving my model. I have reworked the internal structure and it is now possible to adjust the position of both the body and the head. BB-8 can now pose!

A 3D render of my BB-8 showing the building technique used to hold the model together.

My very kind and good friend Nick Simons at Sprocket help me make an video showing how to build BB-8. He posted it on Youtube earlier today. You can check it out here:

I have also made building instructions for the model, with a parts list that you can download here: http://www.henriklorentzen.no/lego/bb8v2.pdf

I hope you liked my story about BB-8. And if you think this would be a nice Lego-set, please help me by supporting the project on Lego Ideas: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/124592