Imperial Star Destroyer

This one is a little bit different from my other projects, in that it's not something I've designed and built from raw materials -- this is a LEGO kit that I purchased and assembled according to instructions. However, it's a pretty substatial kit (the largest ever sold) and it took me quite a bit of time and work to put together. As such, I decided to make a web page about it. As usual, click the thumbnails to get larger versions of the pictures.

This is the box it came in, sitting on my railing. Next to the box is a standard-size LEGO mini-figure for a sense of scale. This is a big box.

Big ol box

This is what was inside the box: 4 other boxes, and a set of instructions. For the record, I'm going to be putting this together mostly using the worktable pictured here and the bookshelves in the background. No, the table isn't filthy -- everthing on there is just stains, not dirt. (Also in the background can be seen: A salad dressing bottle used for mixing paint thinners, my lamp, some paint bottles, a box of breadboard wires, a binder of IC spec sheets and a few of my assembled classic space lego sets.)

4 somewhat smaller boxes

This is what was inside of those 4 boxes -- a whackload of little plastic bags full of a giga-whackload of lego pieces. It was quite daunting.

This shot also gives you a full view of my fancy pants Craftsman workbench, a bunch of power tool cases (with power tools in them), my collection of various paints, stains, glues and solvents for use in various crafty projects, a cheap table clamp and a box full of electronic components. Exciting, I know.

A whole lot of little plastic baggies

Here is a closeup of some of the more enigmatic pieces from the box; 3 gigantic wheels, and a whole bunch of magnets. It was not entirely clear what business either of these pieces had in such a model.

Some weird stuff

So, let's get going. This is the result of following the steps on the first 2 pages (out of 226) of the instruction manual. It's not very impressive, but I felt accomplished, considering the amount of work it took just to get everything unpacked and laid out to be accessible.

Just getting started

Now we're getting somewhere. This is one half of the main superstructure of the interior of the model. There's a lot of clever stuff going on in this section of the construction; hinges are used to provide the acute angles (building any angle with lego other than 90 degrees is fairly difficult) and lots of pieces usually used for minifig (lego man) utensils and other such innocuous parts are cleverly used to provide detail to the sides of the superstructure.

In the background you can see some of the parts bags which I moved off of the workbench to make room, the box from the Yoda model I had made recently, a plastic box with some disassembled lego sets in it, the corner of my old monitor, some cables and a Star Trek calendar.

1/2 of the superstructure complete

Now I've got both halves of the superstructure assembled and attached. They're strapped together using sideway technic bricks, and lots of them. This makes the entire construction up to this point very very sturdy -- you can grab it by the middle beam there and shake it pretty hard and nothing falls of or even flexes much out of shape. This is fairly important, as we'll see later. You get a better view of some of my classic space Lego here.

Complete Star Destroyer frame

This shot shows the first steps of breaking the structure's vertical symmetry -- adding feet to the bottom of the model (also attached very firmly to the superstructure) and a second set of magnets to the lower back post.

It has a foot!

Here we see the completed back panel of the ship, complete with 3 enormous engines and 4 merely large engines. Now we know what the huge wheels were for; also, the smaller engines are constructed using a clever combination of barrels, transparent head-haped pieces and larger bucket pieces.

The back view

This one was kind of hard to get a good shot of, but what's going on is that I've gotten 1/4 of the paneling onto the superstructure; the lower left-hand section, to be exact. This is when I realized what the magnets were for: instead of trying to use a multiplicity of hinges and other complex pieces to attach these panels to the frame at angles that differred from 90 degrees in 3 different axes, they simply attached magnets to the frame and paneling, and let those hold things together. It's pretty ingenious. Unfortunately, I couldn't really get a shot of the magnets in action -- they're buried pretty deep inside the structure at this point.

Panels 1/4 installed

And here we see the other bottom panel attached. About as exciting as the previous picture. Note that the backing panel to my bookshelf is oak tone whereas the bookshelf itself is white. There's a story behind that, but not an interesting one.

Panels 1/2 installed

Here we have the first upper panel attached. There are fewer magnets to hold these upper panels on, probably because they don't have to hold against gravity like the bottom panels do. In the background you can see some of the ziploc bags that I use for lego storage.

Panels 3/4 installed

And now the final panel is attached. It's really starting to look like a Star Destroyer now. My classic space lego collection again visible.

Panels fully installed

The 4 panels, in addition to forming the "skin" of the ship, each also contribute to this cool enclosure-type thing around the rear engine panel. Very clever construction, which unfortunately is entirely obscured by the panels themselves.

Rear view, complete

Now I've built the first part of the conning tower -- the little bit that sticks up at the back end of this ship. This part is somewhat interesting; it's not really attached to the rest of the ship at all. This is really for two main reasons. First, as I've mentioned before, getting these kind of weird angles with Lego is fairly difficult -- getting them and having all the bricks to click together even more so. Allowing these large sections to simply settle on top of one another is a much simpler way of building a large, complex structure.

The second cool thing about having this section be detachable is that it allows you to actually pick the thing up. Because of the construction using magnets and partially-flexed joints (as discussed above), the whole thing is really pretty fragile: There's basically nowhere on the outside that's strong enough to pick it up by. So, the only way to move the thing around is to take the entire conning tower construction off, and pick it up by the superstructure inside. Because the tower isn't actually connected, this is in fact quite easy.

Conning tower, partial

Yipee, it's done! This is the top portion of the conning tower, complete with shield generators and bridge. This probably didn't take you long to read, but taking this photo meant a lot to me, because it took me about 3 weeks to put this whole thing together. I probably could have done it in a day or two if I'd worked on it all in a row, but you (or at least I) can only do so much LEGO at one time. In the back you can see the bottom of my Kandinsky print.


These are two smaller things that came along with the big model -- one is a scale model of a rebel blockade runner, which is quite incredibly tiny. I think that's the point, really. There's even a small opening in the base of the Star Destroyer itself (not pictured), so I can recreate the opening scene of A New Hope. Not that I've done that -- of course not.

The other thing is a little placard with some stats about the real (movie real) Star Destroyer -- its size, armaments, fighter complement, stuff like that. Again, some of my classic space lego is visible in lower frame.

Extra stuff

And that's it. Very exciting. Here are the pictures I took of this model for my main LEGO page.

Complete side view Complete back view Complete front view

Back to my projects page.