Have you seen the movie, Beverly Hillbillies, with Jim Varney? Remember the blooper out-take where Jethro picks up a 6-foot long party Subway sandwich and two feet of it falls off the end?
Imagine building a SHIP that is 3 or 4 feet in length, and the same thing happens.
It's a tragedy that Subway no longer makes those long sandwiches, and a tragedy to have that happen to your MOC while on your way to a Brickfest.
That is why the first thing to do is to build your SHIP's skeleton, or structural frame, first. If you purchased Lego's Millenium Falcom UCS, or even the minifig Star Destroyer set, you will notice the instructions have you building the framework first. This will hold the ship together and make it rugged for play. Considering your MOC will be some 3 or 4 feet in height, width, or length, there will definitely be a need for strength to hold it together.
For help with building structure, take a moment to examine those building instructions from Lego for the minifig star destroyer, the UCS millenium falcon, or other large building sets, and even take some time on brickshelf and search for SHIP. There are several MOCs on brickshelf where the builders took photos of constructing their SHIPs and they did a great job of documenting how they built the structure.
You will start to notice that they all use technic pieces. That's because technic pieces are awesome for structural builds, and technic pins allow another dimension of connecting pieces together rather than just stacking. You can even do SNOT (Studs Not On Top) work with your SHIP's structure with technic pieces.
You can also just use large brick pieces or large plates for structure. The very much so renowned Daniel Jassim started off using large base plates for his first SHIPs, as did Keith Goldman (he won't admit to it, but he did). The only problem with large bricks and base plates is that no matter what you do, you have this large piece in your MOC that you have to work around, and it can make your SHIP look awkward. It takes some practice and skill to work around it and still have a good looking MOC, but we all have to start somewhere, so if you choose this route, just go for it.
The structure will not only hold your ship together (Lego SHIPs can get heavy fast, weighing 20lbs or a lot more), but it will also give you something to build off of, and can help to greatly reduce 'blockiness'. Blockiness is where your SHIP looks like a bunch of square blocks put together, no sleek or varying design (think Star Trek versus Borg cubes -- sleek versus a cube).
You will know if your structure stands the test when you handle your MOC. If the body holds true, you did well; if you have splattered subway sandwich, then its back to the drawing board. Again, spend some time seeing what Lego and others have done with structure, and borrow that. Large bricks and plates will also work, but will reduce your versatility and design options. Spend some time working on structure, you won't be disappointed with this critical step in building your SHIP.
Remember, you have lots of options even at this beginning phase. Sure, technic is popular for structure, but we are starting to see some great builds out of Bionicle. I have even seen an MOC using Galador (sp?) with Lego. Whatever you use, this will be the core of your MOC and will need to be the skeleton of your designs. Permalink