Here it is at last, the finalized version of the massive Super Mario 3 airship project that I’ve been gradually working on since November 2011! Initially planned to be much smaller and streamlined, this titanic brute ballooned up to a larger scale, and used over 8,000 LEGO pieces in its completed form — as well as electronic components, such as lights and audio. The bulk of the ship is built entirely from reddish-brown pieces that resemble wooden planks, to create the effect of a rickety, wood ship made from logs, such as in its respective video game. Rather than have this ship docked on the ground, I used the magic of transparent-clear LEGO pieces for stanchions and columns, to keep it suspended several inches off the ground (as well as its small fleet of miniships flying)!
This ship has been gradually worked on throughout the winter season, with lots of downtime due to parts shortages. Constructing the ship itself wasn’t a challenge or time consuming, but waiting weeks on end for packages to arrive from Bricklink.com would often cause major delays. For example, the 2x2 round brown bricks constantly ran in short numbers, yet were vital for making the roofs and bodies of the ship’s sections, and I’d generally buy large packs of 300 pieces just to make one side panel. You’ll also see something odd about the arrangement of the bricks: the side “logs” face sideways (studs to the left), yet somehow have studs embedded in them to face upwards. This engineering strategy came to me while I was drunk one night a few months back, where I managed to come up with a method of building a traditional flatbed boat hull, with sideways-facing “wooden” panels attached to the sides using Technic pins — almost like rivets on a boat.
These photos were taken just recently by my friend Roz, who was more than eager to grab her Canon Rebel SLR and come to my house in Queens for a grand photo session in order to help out her burgeoning portfolio. The ship is currently set up in my spare room in my attic apartment, and for lighting, we used two bright white daylight CFL bulbs. These photos are essentially shown here in chronological order, starting with the large panoramic view shot — that was taken first, when we were still calibrating light arrangements and debating to use the flash or combine the CFLs with the default incandescent bulbs — hence the strange mismatched cloudy light balance for the first two panoramic images. Eventually down the line, we found out which light settings worked best, and thus took better photos.
The bow (front) of the ship was the first part to be constructed. It’s an elongated traditional-looking ship front, with a pointy blade for a figurehead, a subtle nod to the Super Mario 3 cartoon series “Doomship.” To escort the ship are several “miniships”, based off the ones first encountered in Bowser’s Dark World of Super Mario 3. These little buggers constantly kept breaking and falling down, as their narrow clear stanchions were very rickety and vulnerable. To create the illusion of the ships flying chaotically out of formation, I would stack smaller ships (hovering) on top of larger ones, to avoid having them all bunched together in a large swarm — as the ships in the game were spread out and came towards the screen one at a time.
The ship’s stern was quite heavy, and the most difficult to attach the clear stanchions to the bottom, unlike the bow and middle sections, in which I could easilt lift with one hand. The stern is so big and heavy, that in order to place the columns on the bottom, I had to basically “jack it up” like changing the tires on a car, by placing it on top of a square box, putting stanchions in each corner then sliding the box out of place. Despite its great weight, the ship’s stern holds up pretty well and sturdy. The stern has three hinged doors: one on the bridge’s deck — a.k.a. the computer room, a barn door in the very bottom rear was intended to be an aircraft launching deck, and of course a hinged door where the warp pipe and inner lights/battery attached to.
Once we wrapped up shooting the pictures, something awful happened: the support kicker to keep the top-most door open came loose, thus violently swinging the stern’s high trapdoor shut — in the complete opposite direction, which forcefully tore the whole right side of the stern off! The roof and warp pipe fell to the ground and completely crumbled to pieces, and are now awaiting repairs. Below is a shot of the back end of the ship, with its bridge’s trapdoor open, as well as the top door (where the pipe, lightbulb and 9V battery stood) missing! Fortunately, the strong structure of the ship stood virtually unharmed following the accident, and the entire stained-glass fireflower window was untouched.
Hopefully we can get this bad boy in a public art gallery in SoHo!
-Baron von Brunk
-- on Tumblr
-- Roz's photo portfolio