Tyger Tyger, burning bright,The Tyger, William Blake
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Organic forms were, once upon a time, difficult to construct with any significant degree of realism using LEGO bricks. If you were to attempt such shapes in before the turn of the century, you would have created a relatively blocky form. The continuing evolution of elements over the last 15 years has led to the parts palette including a significant number of curves, both along the vertical and horizontal planes of an element’s axis as well as bricks with studs on the side, and a variety of clip and bar connections. These have seen the LEGO System continue to evolve beyond a simple toy and into a model-making medium, allowing these organic shapes to become easier to replicate. Once restricted to fan creations, the 31129 Majestic Tiger brings a demonstration of complex techniques, and downright elemental trickery that would not have been so easily possible in 2020!
This set also has alternative models of a red panda, as well as a koi fish. I will come to these in a subsequent review, but I was keen to share the details of the tiger with you today.
I would like to thank the AFOL Engagement Team from the LEGO Group for sending this prerelease set to the Rambling Brick for an early review.
The set is due for release on the 1st of January 2022, and has 755 pieces. It will cost AUD79.99. International pricing is yet to be revealed.
The set comes with 3 bags, and oddly enough the dominant colours are bright orange, black and white. As you examine the content more closely, we can see a wide variety of curves, curver slopes and arches present, as well as some of the 4×4 macaroni plates, ball joints and brackets. There are a significant number of ball joints, of varying sizes, as well as a new printed element, which may well be the ket to the success with the tiger’s strips. But more of this shortly.
The build starts with a central core, making up the tiger’s trunk. I appreciate the fact that the centre of it is a fleshy pink, representing the animal’s internal organs. The core incorporates a number of brackets as well as bricks with studs on the side, and ten sockets for small ball joints.
The orange brackets get the 1x2x2/3 slope, with a stripe on them. To confuse you, I might not have placed them in the correct order, here. I shall correct it shortly, in the next step. The steps are repeated on either side.
What follows, might astound you. The Brick 1X3,Outside Half Arch,W/ Cutout, design number 70681 first appeared 12 months ago in the Creator Expert Police Station. One thing that I never really appreciated at the time is that the curve perfectly marches that of the 1×2 inverted bow. I think I was more frustrated that I had not previous seen, or considered this use. previously. Mind. Blown! I’m sure the New Elementary team probably noticed this when this arch appeared last year.
And so we go on to build the sides of the tiger’s torso. With the base of the panel forming as a stacked collection of plates and curves. The ruffled under side is produced by using as variety of elements – curved plates, facet plates and bricks, and curved bricks, along with slopes and ‘tooth’ elements. There are several small ball joints on the inside which are used to fit the panel into place, on a slight angle, making the belly bulge outward, towards the lower aspect:
Next we start work on the fore quarters. Closely opposed ball joints will create a stronger connection between the body sections, ad is a modification of techniques we have seen in some of the larger mech kits over the years in Voltron, Monkie Kid and Ninjago.
The ruffled white chest of the tiger is created using the 3claw rock element, that first appeared in NEXO Knights. Here we see it in white, and stacked in a staggered fashion. Applying it at 90º, thanks to the 1x2x 1 2/3 bricks with studs on the side allows these elements to achieve an effect that could never be achieved using inverted slopes alone. a douple sided Technic click hinge socket will sllow a leg to be attached on either side. Most of the ‘messy details’ of the plate stacking are covered up by tiles, or else will be obscured by the legs, once they have been built.
The front legs are selectively articulated: a 1×2 brick with a handle at the end engages with a plate with clip, in conjuntion with soume flat hinges. This clip will proving the legs with sufficient strength to be able to supprt the weight, but can be simply disarticulated, allowing the tiger to crouch. The paw is articulated using a large ball and socket joint. The toes are formed using arch elements, with 1×1 brackets forming the toe pads.
Next, the hindquarter follows a similar patter to the forequrters, but is not as elongated. I inadvertently left a couple of 1×1 elements out while I was building this step. Once I realised this, I was astounded at the final result. This possibly included a small bright purple flower which is inserted stud first into an empty Technic hole, just below the socket where the tail will ultimately attach. I’m sure you will get my meaning soon enough. >blushes a little<
Next, the hind legs are assembled. They articulat at the hip with a click hinge, but the knee is fixes thanks to the ‘y’ plate, obscured by wedge plates. Once the legs are assembled and attached, at this stage we have something resembling the Boston Dynamics robot.
Finally, we start work on the head. There is so much in this! We start work on a central core, which includes the construction of the eye the eye consists of a 1×1 round plate with a hole in the stud, with the handle of a 1x1stud with handle element poking through it. a number of elements are dedicated to holding these parts in the right place. The hollow handle through the stud makes for an excellent pupil. It is, as you can see, a fairly parts-intensive technique.
I think it was worth the effort, as you will see when we compare the official eyes with eye tiles. I have heard designers say that they would rather find a brick built solution to a printed element or sticker, and this is a great demonstration why: They really take the effect to the next level, and almost leave me considering this set to be ’Creator Expert’ in the nature of techniques used. These eyes pierce my soul, and dont just leave me feeling like it is a cartoonish animal, like many others in the 3in1 range over the last decade or so.
We add some detail to the sides of the head, filling out the face. I appreciate the tan colour of the teeth here, and I feel they add a lot to the build. A wild animals teeth are rarely perfectly. The ears are angled slightly forward, and the eyebrows are extremely expressive.
There is a small supplementary build here, creating a bird with a little bamboo, on a rocky outcrop which seems to be the source of a spring. It is quick and simple, and seems to have the attention of our Majestic Tiger:
I really like this build: It is smart and posable, and has so much going on! I haven’t even begun to have started to think about the alternative builds.I did hover take the set out into the garden, where the gaps in the agapanthus were used to create a makeshift jungle.
I found myself sufficiently engrossed in this part of the shoot. I might need to try aother more jungle like area at a local park sometime soon.
I have avoided talking about the elephant in the room. The use of a small purple flower to represent the tiger’s anus is a level up for anatomical accuracy, which in the setting of the rest of this model is laudable. It is also easily omitted if you are a little… sensitive.
Finally a quick word about the instructions: like the Monkie Kid sets, this set includes a progress bar along the bottom of the page, and highlights the end of sub-builds with a virtual fanfare. This is a great way to engage the builder along the way. I did not find it too distracting. I have not seen it present in all new sets that I am currently reviewing, however.
And finally: in the Lunar calendar, we will soon be entering into the year of the Tiger. This set also features a Koi and Red panda, both also animals more commonly associated with Asia than other continents. After the build experience on the tiger, I am looking forward to both of these models. I shall probably write them up in time…but there is a lot happening in the new set scene at present, so it might take me a little while.
In the basis of the Tiger build alone, this is a brilliant model. And it is a model. There are multiple points of articulation, and I am impressed at just how espressive the tiger’s face can be. Designer George Gilliad has produced an extraordinary set, realising the possibilities of relatively new elements, and puching the envelope of the LEGO system. The fact that it is a Creator 3in1 set, which epitomises the values of reusing the elements to create something new, reinforces my awarding it 5 out of a possible 5 Arbitrary Praise Units. I have to admit, it has gone straight into my top 10 building experiences EVER. This includes a nostalgia clouded childhood, way too many years ago. It has gone straight to the mantlepiece. If you enjoy animal builds, do yourself a favour and put this set on your wish list for next year. Pounce on it when you can. I suspect it will be frequently out of stock, given the supply chain issues we have seen this year.
I’d love to know what you think of this model. Is it one of the strongest demonstrations of organic shapes in a Creator set ever? I will aim to present the B&C models early next year. But that will merely be for completeness: you already know you want it. Leave your comments below, and until next time,