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:
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/
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.
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.
November 6th, the day before the event at the cinema, the model was finished.
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:
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?
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!
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