This stunning 1:36 scale B-1B bomber is made of about 8,000 LEGO blocks, beating the Millennium Falcon's 5,195. Created with no special pieces, it has movable wings and retractable landing gear, just like the rest of its companions: one Russian plane, the SU-27 Flanker, and two classic US aircraft, the E-2C Hawkeye and the now infamous F-15. We talked with Ralph Savelsberg, the LEGO master behind them (you asked for these interviews), about how he builds them. Read the interview after the jump, along with a huge gallery.
Jesús Díaz: How many pieces do your models use?
Ralph Savelsberg: I don't really keep track of how many parts I use for any particular model. I can really only guess. The smaller ones (the F-15, Su-27 and E-2C) probably use between 1,500 and 2,500 parts each. I wouldn't be able to narrow it down any more precisely without taking them apart and counting. The B-1B is a lot bigger and heavier and probably uses between 6,000 and 10,000 parts.
JD: How's your typical building process?
RS: There are quite a few builders who sit down and start building. I can't quite do things like that, or perhaps it doesn't actually lend itself very well to the subject. I use pictures and plans of the aircraft. 1/72 is a fairly common scale for model aircraft and it's comparatively easy to find proper drawings on that scale. My planes are 1/36 mainly because I can simply scale them up by a factor of two relative to the scale drawings.
JD: So you use drawings first?
RS: I usually make a number of drawings (the old-fashioned way with a pencil and paper) trying to figure out how to represent the aircrafts' general outlines, such as the shape of the wings, for instance, in LEGO parts. There is only a limited range of angles available in LEGO plates, so getting the angle of the leading or trailing edge of the wings right can be tricky. I used a pythagorean triple (3,4,5) to do the tailplane on the B-1B and used a combination of different angle plates to get the wing on the E-2C right. That's the sort of thing I really have to work out on paper.
I sometimes also make drawings of specific parts of a plane, such as the nose on the E-2C or it's radar dish. I find that simply putting parts together doesn't work as well for me as visualising the shape, thinking about how to build it in LEGO and then making a few drawings before I start to build. The Su-27 was almost completely designed on paper. The F-15 was a lot simpler somehow and came together without too much preparation.