There’s something risky about designing a Lego set around a subject in which curves are the predominant architectural feature. For all its adaptability, and the cornucopia of new pieces that have arrived in recent years, Lego is still, essentially, a blocky product. Many pieces might be curved, but even they still give a predominantly rigid effect: sinuousness and curvaceousness are not in the brief.
So what happens when Lego decides to make sets involving animals? And what happens when the company decides to use the same part to make three?
Surely, madness abounds.
31058 Mighty Dinosaurs is a very ambitious set. Dinosaurs are a difficult proposition at the best of time. For a start, everyone has an idea of their dinosaur. (Pro tip: don’t trust anyone who says they don’t have a favourite dinosaur. They’re either lying, or they have something deeply wrong inside and probably have chest freezers full of dead neighbours in their shed.)
For another, the essential shape of dinosaurs is so varied, and not only from each other: Google Image Search “tyrannosaurus rex”, for example, and marvel at the sheer range of body shapes, stances, and articulation that can be envisaged for just one animal when artists have no real life analog from which to draw.
So, three at once? A doddle, amirite?
Let’s raise the bar. Three at once, and you only get to use one colour, and the whole thing has to be wrapped up in under 200 pieces.
The fact that the designer of this set pulled the task of so astonishingly well is jaw-dropping, Because 31058 Mighty Dinosaurs is an extraordinarily good set.
Like all Creator sets, the three builds come in easy, medium, and complex levels. The simplest of these is a pterosaur. It’s easy to see why: the set consists maily of two wide, sail-like wings attached to a tubular body. Like the creature, the whole thing is simple, lightweight, and streamlined. This is where the inspired parts choice first becomes apparent. The whole things is anchored together by a series of mini-ball-and-socket joints, allowing a superb range of articulation. The wings fold at three separate places. The head tilts and rolls. And the legs fold downwards to stand and back for ‘flight’. All of this in a build that doesn’t top more than 100-120 pieces.
Such flexibility does come at a price, however. The resulting model is exceptionally top-heavy. There’s simply no way to stand it upright without it toppling over, unless, of course, you just happen to catch it in the act of spearing its prey as it lies on the ground……
Okay, it’s unbalanced. But look at the articulation on those wings and the neck!
The medium level build is another old favourite, the triceratops. The success of this particular build was always going to come down to how well the designer could recreate the distinctive frill of the animal, and how well the triceratops’ unique neck structure could be incorporated. The second was easy, thanks to the mini ball and socket pieces that are now such an integral part of Lego’s parts catalogue: the model betrays the same circular rotation of the head and neck joint that the animal did. The first is slightly more problematic: a combination of plates manages to look reminiscent of the triceratops’ distinctive headgear, without really nailing the complex arrangement of curves and indentations that make up that beautiful frill.
A very clever combination of parts and techniques provides frill, horns, beak, and articulation.
The rest of the build is a fairly standard quadruped. Lego produce this shape regularly, and it shows. It’s solid in every facet, easily poseable, and stands up well even with the large, heavy head at one end. It’s a good quality, standard build, perfect for the middle build of the three.
Fame is just a Toy Story casting call away.
Last, and most mighty — as is only right — is the T-Rex. It’s a gorgeous build, as epically unbalanced as the animal itself, with all the weight contained in it’s big, glorious head and gaping jaw, and the torso twisted over on itself to provide any sort of counterbalance whatsoever. Strangely, the whole thing results in a wonderful sense of movement– there is simply no way to post the completed build in a static way.
As madly proportioned and angrily delightful as the creature that inspired it.
Much like the beast itself, everything about the build is sinuous, off-centre, and implies a state of constant movement. It looks great: full of character, with those great big teeth dominating the view. It’s a fitting top-end build for a delightful little set.
C is for chasmosaurus, that good enough for meeeee…..
31058 Mighty Dinosaurs is a fabulous little set. It’s cleverly designed, resembles its source material enough to provide verisimilitude without sacrificing the essential blockiness that is part of the Lego experience, and is, basically, just a whole heap of fun to build. I ended up buying three, so I could display all three dinosaurs together: it’s just that kind of set.
Sigh. There’s always that one kid who won’t behave for family photos.
Get three, so you don’t have to miss out.
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