A few weeks ago I received an email from Ashley at LEGO offering me the chance to partake in a secret viewing of "the world’s largest LEGO model ever built" on Thursday May 16th. Now, when you see a phrase like that written in the body of an email, naturally your interest instantly piques and you immediately crave more details. Alas, I was unsuccessful in prying any additional info about what I would be seeing, so I replied back to her that my wife Dianna and I would be taking her up on her offer.
Read on for the rest of our unforgettable experience along with a full gallery of 80 images...
Our day began with an hour-long train ride into New York City where we were to be picked up by a car service at a designated location set by Ashley. Upon entering the black SUV that was sent for us, I proceeded to ask the driver where he was assigned to take us. His response…? A hangar bay at Long Island MacArthur Airport. Hearing this from the driver raised my blood pressure a bit, as MacArthur Airport is about 20 minutes away from our home on Long Island. I could have bypassed the entire trip into the city and simply driven to the location myself, avoiding train fare and saving a LOAD of travel time. But given the secret nature of this journey, the final destination was never revealed to us, so driving to the location on our own wasn't a feasible option.
Before we left the city for the hour-plus drive to MacArthur Airport, the driver notified us that two other parties would be joining us. We soon discovered that one of those parties was Mark & Amy Picirilli from our fellow The Force United partner, Yodasnews.com! It was great to finally get to meet Mark and his wife in person after countless tweets back & forth between us. Having a "familiar face" joining us on this trip just added to the excitement.
We arrived at MacArthur Airport and were greeted by Ashley herself waiting outside the door to the hangar bay. She greeted us with her customary warm smile and proceeded to open the hangar bay side entrance, unveiling what was waiting inside...
My jaw hit the floor. My eyes widened to the size of golf balls. Standing right there in front of me, mere feet from my face, was a life-sized LEGO Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter!!! We slowly made our way around the craft, trying to soak in all the detail of this stunning build. The specs on the X-Wing were "most impressive" to say the least: 5.3 million LEGO bricks; nearly 46,000 pounds; a 44 foot wingspan; 42 feet from nose to tail and over 11 feet tall. This thing was ready to engage in a dogfight with TIE Fighters right now. In a word: STUNNING.
The lead LEGO builder who was responsible for creating this mass of plastic beauty was on hand to field questions from us. Running throughout the entire body of the X-Wing was a sturdy metal skeleton required to properly support its massive body and weight. It was initially assembled in five separate parts (two wing assemblies, cockpit, fuselage, and rear end) and then those five pieces were joined together to form the final design. The entire model was coated with a special plastic sealant in order to protect it from damaging sunlight and water. It required 32 builders and over 17,000 manpower hours to complete. It was an absolute BEAST seeing it in person. In order to properly frame the X-wing in a single camera shot, we had to hop into a wooden crate that was secured to the end of a forklift and be hoisted up towards the roof of the hangar bay. Yes folks, it was THAT big.
And to make it truly realistic, a built-in lighting & speaker system was installed that, when turned on, would "fire up" the rear engines complete with that iconic low rumble sound effect. And R2-D2, sitting in his famous cockpit position, chirped & whirled along as well! Can you say "awwwsooome?"
To cap off the event, each party was given a special limited edition LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles Holocron Chamber press kit. Each person in attendance was required to sign an NDA confidentiality form (even our driver!) before we left the airport.
You can view all the pitcures we took in these galleries...
While the days extended travel was somewhat tedious (and frankly unnecessary) for my wife and I, the end result (seeing the life-sized Star Wars X-Wing and getting to meet Mark and Amy) was DEFINITELY worth it. This was an adventure that we certainly will never forget, and we thank Ashley and everyone at LEGO for extending this opportunity to us.