When I first found out my marble maze would become an official set, after all my excitement had died down, I really started to wonder what changes would be made to it.
The model was quite large, larger than any of the previous Ideas sets. Would they need to reduce the part count? Would they make significant changes to the overall design? What changes would be required for the model to meet The LEGO Group’s design guidelines (a glimpse of which can be seen in this document created by designer Jamie Berard)?
I put together a video discussing some of the major changes that were made to my original model, and you can read more about them below as well.
I knew my original model had some shortcomings, especially with respect to strength. In particular, many high stress areas were only attached using stud connections, which would work themselves loose over time and eventually fall apart. Definitely not official LEGO set material.
The official set was designed by veteran designer Steen Sig Andersen, so I should have realized I had nothing to worry about. I was excited, impressed, and a little relieved, when I first saw the final design. The overall look and feel were retained, the tilting mechanism and control system were pretty much identical to those in my original model, and Steen had reinforced all of the major weak points of the model. Awesome!
Of course, it was inevitable that some changes were made. The ball container and travel locking mechanism, for example, were simplified and streamlined. I was really impressed with Steen’s solution for these features, and I thought the way the ball container was incorporated into the locking mechanism was ingenious. My original travel lock also had a tendency to detach itself, which didn’t actually make it very effective.
The mazes were also simplified. Gone were my fancy walls on the standard maze, built using Technic beams on their sides, which, if you delve into Jamie’s document above, you will find are all ‘illegal’ connections. By using standard bricks for all the walls, it also means it is a lot easier to share parts between maze designs.
My original mazes were also one plate thicker, with deeper holes to fall into, but they were also more part intensive and harder to build as a result. The official mazes are simpler, easier to build and much lighter, which results in the control system being much more responsive.
There are a lot of other smaller differences as well. The control wheels are gears, as opposed to the rubber tires in my original model. Most of the buildings in the medieval maze are simplified versions of my originals, and that maze itself is slightly different. The support platform that the maze rests on in the inner tray also runs along the entire interior, making it much stronger.
There were some concessions made as a result of these changes. The shallower holes in the mazes means that in some cases you can get the ball rolling fast enough to roll right through a hole. Some of the structural changes also resulted in the tilt frames being one brick lower, which is the main reason for the uneven tilting I mentioned in my previous post.
I am really pleased with how faithful the official set is to my original model, and quite impressed with most of the changes. I actually prefer to play on the official set now, which I guess really says all that needs to be said. A huge thanks to Steen for turning my original concept into such a great model!