LEGO is breaking its own record: Today, the toy company unveiled a life-sized model of the Star Wars X-wing starfighter in Times Square. It’s the world’s largest LEGO model, 42 times larger than the retail set and 43 feet long, with a 44 foot-wide wingspan. It’s a project more than a year in the making, requiring 32 builders to work for some 17,000 hours in the Czech Republic. Last week, LEGO invited EW to the hangar where the model was kept, in top secrecy, for several days after being shipped by boat from Europe. “Honestly, I didn’t think we could pull it off,” says Erik Varszegi, a LEGO master builder who worked as a consultant on the project. “I mean I’ve worked on some big things before, but nothing quite like this.”
The X-wing takes up more space than you’re imagining. The hangar where it was kept was near other hangars, and other, actual planes. The model contains 5,335,200 LEGO bricks and weighs 45,979.61 pounds — but it isn’t all just LEGOs: Beneath the bricks is an impressive steel skeleton. After that, Varszegi says “You basically have to start from the ground up. It’s all glued, so we use not an adhesive but a solvent, so it actually kind of bonds the bricks together. And we go layer by layer by layer, and slowly it comes together.” The starfighter can then be pulled apart for transport with the help of a surprisingly simple-looking color-coded guide.
What’s more, the X-wing comes complete with a photo booth in the cockpit, engines that light up, and a slate of sound effects. “It starts off as this big bass rumble when the engines turn over but then this jet engine whine comes up and it’s like, ‘Alright, that’s loud enough. You can stop now,’” Varszegi says. “But it keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
The LEGO X-wing will be in Times Square through Saturday; afterward, it will be installed at LEGOLAND in California for the remainder of the year.
LEGO has been partnered with Lucasfilm since 1999 and “they’ve fielded some pretty strange requests from us in the past,” Varszegi says. But this was a special undertaking for another reason: The super-sized X-wing is promoting the premiere of The Yoda Chroncicles, a three-episode series, on Cartoon Network on May 29. Check back next week for our preview of The Yoda Chronicles.