#448 TIPS: What are 'illegal' building techniques?

Today we will be discussing illegal building techniques; a topic frequently mentioned in the comments and one I get asked about a lot.



So what is an illegal building technique? There is no clear definition, but from my experience within the LEGO community and some research, I believe I have a decent understanding of its meaning.


A LEGO technique is classed as 'illegal' if it puts stress on the elements used; these are avoided by LEGO designers as over time, they would cause the pieces to break or deform. They could also make a set difficult to assemble or disassemble for a kid if for example the connection was too strong for them to pull apart.


Some builders also call a technique illegal when there is no connection between the pieces. This is because if the model was touched, everything would fall apart. Some see this as cheating, as LEGO building is all about interlocking pieces.


Furthermore, illegal building techniques are hard or sometimes impossible to create using digital software. On LEGO Digital Designer, many parts that fit together in real life just won’t connect, such as studs being attached to technic holes. This works fine in real life but not on the digital software as the technic hole is slightly too small for the studs.


In 2006, LEGO designer Jamie Beard presented a talk titled ‘Stressing the Elements’, which discusses illegal LEGO techniques, and just which ones were illegal. This document is probably outdated and LEGO designers will have new standards to go by, but it’s still an interesting and worthwhile read: http://bramlambrecht.com/tmp/jamieberard-brickstress-bf06.pdf


It’s important to note that what’s classed as illegal now may have been legal in the past. For example, the 2002 Audi TT promotional set uses technic pins to connect two parts and you can see from the picture the deformation that occurred.


I hope this has cleared everything up, but don’t let this put you off all of these kind of techniques. They may use what some builders call ‘illegal’ techniques, but most of them can help you achieve the necessary shape or effect without much if any deformation at all. There are of course no repercussions if you use these techniques anyway; it is your LEGO and you can use it exactly how you wish.


Please discuss this in the comments and let me know your thoughts on the topic!

Tips&Bricks is not associated with the LEGO Group. LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site

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