Introduction: Transforming LEGO Game Boy Advance - "Vantage"

About: This is the official Instructables profile of Baron Julius Alexander von Brunk, an eccentric multimedia artist in New York City! Baron von Brunk is widely known as a master LEGO craftsman whose work has been p…

UPDATE 6/10/2018: I've slightly revised the construction and design of Vantage to be a bit sturdier and to transform better. These changes have been reflected in the LDD 3-D files in the next page. Also, check out this cool new promotional animated video to show off its transformation.

Following suit of my most popular LEGO creations -- replicas of video game systems/games that transform into Hasbro-esque robots -- I've created yet another custom action figure for my series! Only this time, I not only have a full photo shoot available, but also a complete 3D build guide and parts list, so that you can make your own clones and/or improved models!

With the hindsight of my previous LEGOformers, making this particular creation was not nearly as frustrating; in other words, since I've painstaking developed several transforming LEGO video game systems in the past, this new Vantage figure had over two years of prior LEGO engineering savvy, thus its conception and development was rather streamlined. First you've seen my Zapper Plasmashock, then I lit up the internets with my Game Boy Domaster -- followed by my Game Gear Gearhead, and eventually my Nintendo 64 Ultra Hexacon -- and now, without any further Apu, I bring you. . . Vantage: arguably the Galvatron to Domaster's Megatron (despite Domaster clearly being inspired by Soundwave, and also never getting nearly killed in an epic battle against Autobots)! More or less, Vantage has the overall general design of Domaster, but as well as a very similar (yet improved) transformation cycle of Gearhead. Combine that with the improved ascetics and engineering of Ultra Hexacon, and you've got a mighty fine and durable custom transforming LEGO toy! Vantage blends the best of basic LEGO with the sophistication of Technic, and the flexibility of Hero Factory.

A few things to cover, first: if you plan on copying my exact design scheme and color, you'll spend quite a lot of money -- for you see, to match the iconic image of the Nintendo Game Boy Advance's dark purple color scheme, I've made the outer color of Vantage with expensive and rare dark purple LEGO pieces. The Game Boy Advance was primary sold in dark purple, white, transparent blue, fuchsia, and black (as well as rare/regional colors as orange, platinum, and gold) -- ergo, if money is an issue, I'd definitely recommend making your Vantage clone solid black or white (or even a new color of your choice like red or green), as obtaining dark purple pieces was somewhat difficult. I've included 3D design files for my original purple mode, a solid black version, and a red/grey one that can have its colors swapped out. In fact, I insist: make him yellow to have your own custom Pikachu edition! Make him any color you'd like!

With the exception of the "Boom" game cartridge label (parody Doom game that transforms into an automatic shotgun), everything you see here is 100% native LEGO, with no 3rd-party accessories, cutting, gluing, sanding, nor even any electronics. All of the parts seen here can be purchased online, and many of which can be found in current LEGO sets.

Step 1: The LEGO Construction

  1. Download LEGO Digital Designer - free program made by LEGO Group. This program is very basic and easy to use, as it's intended more for the target demographic of younger builders.
  2. Refer to the download links below to choose your 3D LDD file - whether you're building the original purple Vantage, or his various clones such as Stealth Black and Fire Red editions. Import any one of these models into LDD; from there you can view the project in build mode (to change colors/parts), and then view it in the 3D instruction mode, in which each piece is virtually added to the next in a step-by-step fashion, in which you can zoom in or out and change camera angles.
  3. Purchase LEGO pieces individually from, that is of course if you don't have the proper parts in your collection. If you're anything like me, then chances are you've got adequate pieces in your stash to build at least one of these; otherwise, follow the link and purchase any parts online as necessary. Like my other LEGO tutorials, I make the assumption that you're at least somewhat familiar with Brick Link and how to buy individual parts online. This isn't a novice project! Each model has well over 400 pieces!

Download LDD, choose your Vantage model, import it into the program, and then check one of the HTML parts list links about to see which pieces you'll need. This will let you know what parts to dig out of your personal collection, as well as which specific ones you'll have to buy online. Again, according to the LEGO color chart, rare colors are both expensive and hard to find, so unless you have no problem with spending a lot of money and scouring the internet, I wouldn't recommend building the verbatim dark purple Vantage! Your best bet is to download the Fire Red edition and swap out any colors you'd like, such as switching the red with yellow to make a special yellow version, et cetera.

The Stealth Black edition follows the same essential design as regular Vantage and Fire Red, only with a few slight changes, notably replacing all of the light grey parts with solid black (where applicable), whilst the Fire Red retains all of the light grey pieces, and mostly has its purples switched to either red or transparent neon orange. You'll also notice a slight difference in the tiles with purple vs. red or black: the purple model has a few 1x1 wedge pieces on the legs; this is because 1x1 dark purple tiles were way too rare and expensive to get, thus I cut a few corners. The red and black versions have their legs plated with normal tiles. Also, the black version has a red power light on the left leg, whereas the other models have a bight green one. Again, feel free to make any color substitutions you'd find necessary. You can even change the colors of the eyes, the arm armor, the batteries, or even the mosaic screen pattern.

Step 2: Applying the Game Label

This part is completely optional, and can be omitted if you'd like. I try to limit my usage of stickers, but in the case of transforming video game accessories, game-accuracy is key! For the game, I've designed a custom Game Boy Advance label for my favorite game on the system, Doom (although I've played the PC version since I was a wee lad, this particular game was the one I played the most in high school along with Namco Museum). You'll notice that I've made a parody label, as this particular shotgun's name is "Boom"! The label is available to download here in either PDF, Adobe Illustrator, or TIFF formats (the first two are in vector).

Usually in the past I'd print out the game labels on high-quality sticker paper from a particular local printing shop, but due to time constraints I merely went to Staples and had them print six Boom labels on a single sheet of glossy photo paper. Then I transformed the game into shotgun mode, cut out the label, and glued the upper half of the label on the part that corresponds to the gun's stock end (with water-soluble Elmer's School Glue). When the glue dried, I used an X-acto knife to cut around the contours of the remaining area and carefully glued it on the gun's chamber and magazine (center), whilst leaving the barrel blank. This is actually somewhat difficult and requires keen precision. I got it right on the first try (well, except where some spots don't match up), but to play it safe I'd recommend getting several Boom labels printed on one sheet in case you mess up, cut the wrong spot, or glue it improperly. The only things to make sure are that your label stays on without peeling, and that you can transform it back and forth whilst the label remains secure.

Step 3: Transform, and Roll Out!

The transformation of this guy is rather quick and streamlined, but must be done properly. When going from robot to Game Boy, always make sure to start with the arms; fold them snug to the sides, so that the Hero Factor armor faces out, and make sure the fists are rolled horizontally -- level with the waist. Turn the legs sideways and utilize the ball-socket joints to rotate the two ends against the screen/chest. The head tucks behind the body by pulling back, flipping down, and placing against the back while the battery case is open. Also, the two feet simply fold back into the legs via hinge plates. Transform the shotgun Boom from gun to game by simply folding the stock down towards the chamber/magazine, then fold the barrel down flat. The game cartridge should be able to slide down the Game Boy's top slot with enough room to remove easily.

The batteries of course go inside the rear battery case, whilst the other weapon parts simply remain as "kibble". In Transformers toy slang, kibble refers to weapons/attachments that are only used for one particular mode of the toy, but serve no useful function in the other. For instance, Generation 1 Megatron was a hauntingly-accurate Walther P.38 pistol: his toy in gun mode had several attachments such as a scope, a silencer (suppressor), and a removable stock. The gun scope doubled as robot Megatron's fusion cannon (arm gun), but the silencer and stock served no function whatsoever -- and were intended to be kept in your pocket or out of harm's way until you transform him back to a gun. Well, actually, the original packaging depicted the gun's stock and silencer as combining to form a sort of huge weapon for Megatron to operate (like a turret), but realistically most kids would just transform him from gun to robot and then keep the extra attachments in their pockets. These pieces were called "kibble" to refer to the fact that they'd often get lost and presumably eaten by the dog! For Vantage, his body, Boom gun, and batteries all attach to one another and combine self-contained within Game Boy or robot mode -- HOWEVER, the battery blaster holders (hand and shoulder) and the battery blaster blue lasers can't really fit into the battery compartment on the back -- hence when you transform him to Game Boy mode, just keep them in your pockets and/or purse!

The weapons are pretty self-explanatory, but take note of the Boom shotgun: there's a modified LEGO plate with a rail attached to it, which clips onto the little hook on Vantage's right arm's Hero Factory armor plate. This is how he holds the gun, whereas the battery blaster is just penetrated by the smaller rifle, which he holds in his left hand.

Step 4: Epilogue

Thanks again for your support and encouragement, which allows me to keep making these jolly good transforming video game accessories to dazzle the likes of you all! If you have any issues with building this, or if you run into any major obstacles, feel free to send me a private message so that I can give you any pointers. Like all of my previous works, I'm encouraging you to make any changes or improvements necessary. Although this particular model is my own original design, if you build your own, it shall be your creation and thus will be of your own color design.

What's my next LEGOformer going to be? Here's a clue -- his name shall be "Super Famitron"!

- Baron von Brunk

All photos taken by Julius von Brunk
LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group
Game Boy Advance® is a registered trademark of Nintendo
Doom is a registered trademark of id Software
Megatron and The Transformers® are property of Hasbro
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