Sunday, 12 June 2011

And the Mystery MOC is.....

OK, so enough already. It's literally months ago that I teased people with a sneak peek of the pieces from a LEGO Star Wars UCS MOC that I'd bought from eBay (you can read about it here if you missed it the first time). A surprisingly large number of people contacted me or left comments and tried to guess what the model was, but only Anio and Cavegod got it right - well done, guys ! I have to say I thought the bag of red pieces would be a bit of a dead giveaway, but clearly not......

Anyway, in case you're still wondering what I bought, it's high time I put you out of your misery - it's a Venator Class Star Destroyer. According to the seller, it's made up of over 2600 parts, and is around three-quarters of a metre long and a third of a metre wide. It certainly looked awesome in the eBay listing, so after some negotiations with the seller I shut my eyes, gritted my teeth and shelled out the cash....

First impressions were excellent - the parts arrived in a sturdy box with a picture of the model on the front (pic above; click to enlarge), and everything had been securely packaged for shipping so arrived in tip-top condition. All the parts were bagged up in pristine new self-seal bags. According to the seller, more than 95% of the parts were brand new, although due to sourcing difficulties a few had been previously used. Also in the box was a USB memory stick containing a PDF of the instructions and other documentation, and a sticker sheet, of which more later.

I quickly set about sorting all the parts into three clear crates in time-honoured fashion - small pieces 2x2 studs or less in one crate, plates bigger than 2x2 studs in another and everything else in the third - and got ready to build. Given that the instructions were 'home-made' they were pretty good, although certainly harder to follow than official LEGO instructions. Colour discrimination was tricky at times (particularly black and dark blue-grey), and some building steps involved large numbers of pieces, but progress was generally reasonably straightforward. The first stage of construction involved building a rigid frame out of Technic beams, with hinged plates to make the distinctive angles, and two sturdy stands were then bolted on to the frame (see below).

Next came the slightly tedious task of covering the outer surface of the frame with detailed greebles, and then the more interesting task of constructing the brick-built tail section and impressively detailed engines. Technic axles were employed to stop the sizeable engines from sagging, and I was pleasantly surprised how sturdy the engines turned out to be.

Once the frame and engine sections were complete, it was time to start putting some skin on the bare bones. Similar to Set 10030 Ultimate Collectors Series Imperial Star Destroyer (ISD), the upper and lower surfaces attach to the frame by way of magnets, although I'm pleased to report that the magnets on the Venator seem less prone to letting ago at the slightest provocation than those employed in the construction of the ISD. Another improvement over the ISD is the use of tiling on the upper and lower surfaces, adding a distinctly polished air to proceedings. I turned the model upside down in the picture below so you can see the lower surface with the distinctive red centre stripe and observe how the stand pylons pass through.

Once the lower surface was in place it was time to construct and attach the upper surface. You can see in the close-up below the magnets used to anchor the upper surface in place; these magnets and their holders attach to the frame via Technic pins.

Similar to the lower surface, the upper surface is tiled, even featuring a blocky, tiled representation of the red and tan Open Circle Fleet emblem. The upper and lower surfaces attached easily to the frame, being pulled into the correct position by the magnets and automatically bending at various hinged points to accomodate the underlying frame - nice !

The final major part of the build was the dorsal command structure, which includes the twin bridge sections. This structure slots neatly into place over the yellow guides visible in the picture above.

Once the dorsal command structure (above) is in place, the ship itself is done, and you can see pictures of the completed ship below (as ever, click to enlarge the pics).

The final task was to build the stand for the name plaque. The model came with a sticker sheet containing 2 different types of sticker to choose from. I plumped for the predominantly monochrome option which was designed to look like the plaque from an official UCS set, although the alternative colour version also looked excellent.

So, all done, and I'm delighted with it. As well as looking sleek and polished, I'm also extremely impressed with the stability of the finished model - it feels extremely well bolted together. It certainly wins out in terms of polish and stability in comparison with Set 10030 UCS Imperial Star Destroyer, although the ISD does admittedly take the plaudits from the perspective of sheer jaw-dropping size and impact.

Downsides ? Well, there's the cost of the set, which was considerable, although reasonable I think given the piece count and the effort required to source everything. The instructions were tricky to follow in places. There were also a few key pieces missing; some I could source from existing sets, but a couple I had to order from Bricklink which while not particularly expensive, did mean I had to put the building effort on hold for about a week. There was also a smattering of old grey parts in amongst all the blue-grey pieces. These old grey parts certainly stand out to my eye, and you can even see a couple in the pictures above. While it's always possible that the inclusion of these pieces was deliberate, and to me at least they really don't detract from the model, I'm pretty certain that's not the case. Still, all bar one of the old grey pieces are also available in blue-grey, and it'd be cheap and easy to replace those that are visible with blue-grey equivalents should I choose to do this, so a minor gripe, basically. Suffice to say that the downsides are far outweighed by the positives, so I definitely have no regrets.

A note about the designer; when I bought the model, I assumed that the seller had designed it himself, but it transpired that he'd actually bought the instructions from eBay and then sourced parts. I've been informed that the model was based on an original design by Primus. although if you know different then please let me know so the designer gets appropriate credit.

If you want to see this Venator "in the flesh", it'll be on display along with a large number of other Star Wars UCS models, both official and unofficial, at the UK's National Space Centre in Leicester on July 16th and 17th 2011, as part of a larger LEGO display being put on by the Brickish Association. Hope to see you there !

Edit - thanks to Anio, who identified the designer as Primus.


  1. This is a really fantastic interpretation of one of the better clone wars era ships. Considering that lego's own mini-fig scale variant was somewhat disappointing combined with the fact that it is unlikely that Lego will do an official UCS variant of this ship, I'd say this was a wise purchase! In some ways its a shame that some of the designers of such excellent MOC's don't take a more entrepreneurial approach and actually sell copies of their models for those of us who lack the time or talent to design them ourselves. I guess the time required to source the parts and make the instructions is very off-putting but I think there could be money to be made.

  2. Agree that there's potentially money to be made from selling MOCs; clearly the person who sourced the parts for this Venator and sold it to me thought so, particularly as he also sold at least a couple of others as well I believe.

    The Venator was more promnent in the Clone Wars TV show than in the movies, so depending on whether we see more series of this (and indeed assuming that the LEGO Star Wars TV specials - - appear) the Venator may yet provide the source material for a UCS set, but we'll just have to wait and see.

  3. Anonymous12/7/11

    The design comes from !

    Also, could you tell me the guy on ebay who sold this too you! PLEASE!

  4. Anonymous17/11/12

    Awsome! this is why I got obsessed with making my own.

  5. Ellis23/1/16

    Are the instructions that came with it the same as these because they are not easy to follow I wondered if the ones that came with your were different if so would you mind sening them to me

    1. I'm pretty sure that the instructions you've linked to are the same as the ones I have; they're not LEGO-quality, but I don't remember them being too bad.

    2. Ellis27/1/16

      Do you have a parts list because that would make the job a thousand times easier :)

    3. I don't think so, unfortunately; there certainly isn't a parts list included in the instructions that I've got.

  6. Anonymous5/5/16

    I saw a list of parts at the last page of the instruction. Is that the part list?