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CHALLENGE: What's the largest self-aligning LEGO set?

paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
edited December 2014 in Building and Techniques
Here's an interesting challenge for to see the new year in:

What's the largest self-aligning Lego set?

In case you're wondering what the question means, I'm looking for the largest set (in terms of number of parts) where no part requires manual alignment. Or to put it another way: What's the largest Lego set which doesn't require any effort to make sure all the parts are lined up properly? (I'm looking at you, 1x1 plates...)

#40013 Halloween Ghost is a simple example of a self-aligning build. All parts are connected by at least two studs, preventing them from rotating even slightly and thus forcing them to align properly. Consequently, all brick edges run parallel to each other as intended, and it is impossible to build it without that happening.

image
A self-aligning build

Obviously there is still a small amount of play in the above set - it will bend slightly - but not by a noticeable amount, so let's ignore that :)

Conversely, an example that is obviously not a self-aligning build includes #40014 Halloween Bat, which contains a pair of black Brick 1X1 W. 1 Knob. Although these are nestled up against other bricks, there is still a 0.2mm gap which allows a noticeable amount of rotation. This means that a perfect build requires the parts to be manually aligned, which causes sadness and despair for OCD types.

image
Not a self-aligning build

Other obvious examples which are not self-aligning builds include any set which contains 1x1 plates or tiles. An exception to that is when they are not attached to anything, or are only attached to something which has rotational symmetry. For example, a 1x1 square plate stacked on top of a 1x1 round plate still counts as a self-aligning build, whereas a 1x1 square plate stacked on top of another 1x1 square plate definitely is not, as you have to make sure they're lined up with each other.

image
Lots of 1x1 plates - definitely not a self-aligning build!

Slap a load of 1x1 tiles onto a large plate and you'll soon see how awkward and annoying it is to try and get them all to line up with each other. Do the same with 1x2 or 2x2 tiles and it's not a problem (and probably a more enjoyable experience!) So, I look forward to seeing which sets you consider to be the largest of the self-aligning builds! :)
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Comments

  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    ... Okay, I guess nobody was up for that challenge then :)
  • Sethro3Sethro3 United StatesMember Posts: 819
    I just came across this post. I have never heard of such a thing, so maybe it befuddled others as well?

    Interesting concept though.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,414
    Perhaps if it was rephrased 'which is the largest set with no 1x1 square parts in it' people might understand :-)
    hewman
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,576
    I'm not sure the hypothesis is correct. If you have a 1x1 tile, plate or brick going next to an already placed (self aligning) larger part, then the 1x1 parts are self aligning.
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    edited January 2015
    CCC said:

    If you have a 1x1 tile, plate or brick going next to an already placed (self aligning) larger part, then the 1x1 parts are self aligning.

    I don't think so. I believe @paul_merton‌ is referring to the slight rotation possible with 1x1 elements even when they are surrounded on all sides.

    A good example is the ground floor of the Parisian Restaurant (not a criticism toward Huw; this is the best example I could think of off-hand where a photo was readily available). There are several 1x1 plates in the patio area that aren't square to the grid although next to a 1x2. The same with the 1x1 tile on the lower left corner; it's rotated slightly counter-clockwise although bordered by a 1x2 tile and 1x6 tile.
    richl
  • rdflegordflego in a world of his ownMember Posts: 324
    I would like to give a commendable mention to the Tower Bridge set. I've had a look at mine and there is really only 10 things that could be put on and not be straight.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,236
    rdflego said:

    I would like to give a commendable mention to the Tower Bridge set. I've had a look at mine and there is really only 10 things that could be put on and not be straight.

    Apart from the 556 tan cheese slopes, presumably....?

    ;-)
    paul_mertonSirKevbagsPaperballparkaldreddEricred5
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    @binaryeye got it spot on :)

    And it's not quite as simple as ruling out sets which contain 1x1 square parts, although that would probably make a good heuristic for ruling out most sets. Sounds like a job for a cunning database query :)

    Bigger parts like http://brickset.com/parts/design-76768 could be used in a fully self aligning build, but if they're only connected at the base (e.g. when used as a tree branch) then they are free to rotate even when next to other parts.
  • rdflegordflego in a world of his ownMember Posts: 324
    Ah @drdavewatford‌ , I've rather shown my ignorance there haven't I? I recently got #60075 which was foolproof except for 4 pieces so I'll change my suggestion. Plus a desktop can quickly allign cheese slopes ;)
    drdavewatford
  • SombuxSombux Member Posts: 7
    Well, technic sets usually don't include 1x1 plates, do they count? :D
  • collect_thatcollect_that Kidderminster, EnglandMember Posts: 1,312
    edited January 2015
    My first thought was to check out some of the sculptures models such as #3723 LEGO Minifigure and at first glance it does look like a serious contender but when I doubled checked the Instructions and parts list there are some 1x1 plates that let it down.

    Now I'm thinking the answer may lie in something actually fairly small and something quite basic from quite early on........ :-/
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,576
    binaryeye said:

    CCC said:

    If you have a 1x1 tile, plate or brick going next to an already placed (self aligning) larger part, then the 1x1 parts are self aligning.

    I don't think so. I believe @paul_merton‌ is referring to the slight rotation possible with 1x1 elements even when they are surrounded on all sides.

    A good example is the ground floor of the Parisian Restaurant (not a criticism toward Huw; this is the best example I could think of off-hand where a photo was readily available). There are several 1x1 plates in the patio area that aren't square to the grid although next to a 1x2. The same with the 1x1 tile on the lower left corner; it's rotated slightly counter-clockwise although bordered by a 1x2 tile and 1x6 tile.

    I don't have a problem aligning square 1x1s if they butt up to an already aligned part. Whereas if they go next to another (possibly unaligned) 1x1 then alignment of the second is more tricky than when next to a larger piece. In fact, it is for this reason that if I need to place a row of 1x1s (in a mosaic for example) I will usually place a 1x8 or 1x16 brick in the neighbouring row and then build the row, and finally remove the aligning brick. I find that makes aligning them easily.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    Like @binaryeye, I've noticed loads of misaligned 1x1 elements in sets built by serious AFOLs, even when they butt up to existing parts.

    I tend to wedge a long plate in at an angle to force a row of 1x1 tiles to align. That seems far more effective than building alongside the plate when it's "in system" and thus resulting in a gap. But it's not much fun.

    So I think a lot of people *do* have problems with alignment. It's just that some don't care, some just live with it, and some go to a lot of extra effort to try and fix it. I find the extra effort detracts from the enjoyment somewhat.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,576
    2x1 also have a bit of freedom. Build a 1m long wall using only 2x1s with no larger parts underneath to align them, and it won't be as straight as a wall made from 1x4s.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    Indeed, because at every one-stud interval along an interleaved wall of 2x1 bricks/plates, there will be an axis of rotation formed by the single studs in that column, and they'll be able to rotate as much as the distance between the plates allows (around 0.02 radians per link?).

    However, build the wall on a baseplate and it can be considered self aligning.
  • zipsforbananaszipsforbananas WalesMember Posts: 250
    edited January 2015
    Sombux said:

    Well, technic sets usually don't include 1x1 plates, do they count? :D

    Oh no not at all. All Technic sets are ruled out - try getting every connecting pin with the gaps in the ends of the pin lined up properly so they're all facing down the brick! Any Lego set with Technic connectors involved has no hope. They're symmetrical so I guess it's not as bad as it could have been, but they're completely free to rotate and only one of the possible 180 degrees of movement is right! :P
    OldfanSombux
  • MorkManMorkMan Phoenix, Arizona, USAMember Posts: 855
    How about Mini Modulars #12030?
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 3,403
    ^ I assume you're joking.

    As for the challenge, I'd suggest something early, like #450-2, which doesn't appear to have any 1x1 plates or bricks, although as Brickset doesn't have an inventory, that can't be confirmed.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    ^ That could well be a contender! Would that kind of set have included any instructions, or was the box art a serving suggestion?

    Incidentally, just noticed that amongst the polybags, #3731 Pumpkin Pack is quite a large self-aligning one, and so is #30141 Jetpack if you discount the items in the minifigure's hands.
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343

    ^ I assume you're joking.

    As for the challenge, I'd suggest something early, like #450-2, which doesn't appear to have any 1x1 plates or bricks, although as Brickset doesn't have an inventory, that can't be confirmed.

    Peeron and Bricklink do. And it has.

    Also, a set is never self-aligning. A model might be. Two 2x2 bricks can be joined at the corner and that's not self-aligning. So it depends on the model. When a set builds multiple models, one may qualify and another not.

    #450-2 doesn't build a particular model, so it can't qualify.

    Almost anything with an axle or bar is non-aligning because they are generally capable of being adjusted.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    Is there a database/website that lets you see all sets which *don't* include certain parts? That would probably narrow down the search space.
  • thehornedratthehornedrat Member Posts: 86
    I found one!
    So stoked!!
    http://brickset.com/sets/10579-1/
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,576
    Surely anything with a flower in it fails?
  • thehornedratthehornedrat Member Posts: 86
    edited January 2015
    http://brickset.com/sets/TRUCHIMA-1/Chima
    http://brickset.com/sets/PARAMUS-1/{Wild-Turkey} -> not sure about the feet though.

    What about hinges? Because if you discount the hinges that make the wings you may find alot of these types in the 'turkey' section.

    http://brickset.com/sets/40077-1/Geoffrey The cheese slope on his head, otherwise he comes close too.
  • thehornedratthehornedrat Member Posts: 86
    edited January 2015
    Sorry about the multiple posts, ran out of editting time :/

    The flower doesn't align to anything, nor does it effect the alignment of anything else, so i don't think that matters, if I understand the definition correctly.

    http://brickset.com/sets/MMMB030-1/Turkey-Dinner <--maybe not, as there are 1x1 tiles and plates!
    http://brickset.com/sets/10090-1/Turkey
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    The feet on the 10090 turkey are not self aligning.
  • GalactusGalactus NLMember Posts: 255
    ^ Neither is the 1x1 brick with the eye print.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 3,403
    I think Duplo should be disallowed...
    paul_mertonAndor
  • aimlesspursuitsaimlesspursuits USMember Posts: 207
    How about Seattle Space Needle #21003-1?
  • yys4uyys4u USA SoCalMember Posts: 1,092
    A lot of the earlier sets, maybe pre 2000 didn't have this problem. So many sets had 1x1 tiles or cheese slopes, but back then there was one 1x1 plates which weren't very common. So I'm guess the winner will be a vintage set
  • GallardoLUGallardoLU USAMember Posts: 644
    what about Naboo Fighter #7141, could be a strong contender
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    ^ Nope, it fails at step 8 in the instructions
    http://cache.lego.com/bigdownloads/buildinginstructions/4129019.pdf
    richl
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    ... and 17; otherwise very close!
  • GallardoLUGallardoLU USAMember Posts: 644
    edited January 2015
    Ok, next submission all the way back to 1988, Air Canada set 611-2, I see no 1x1s of any type, no hinges no instructions available but it appears to be what your after. 92 pieces.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    I can't find the instructions, but that one looks like a safe bet!
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343

    I can't find the instructions, but that one looks like a safe bet!

    http://www.peeron.com/scans/611-2/
  • zipsforbananaszipsforbananas WalesMember Posts: 250
    ^^^Do the wheels count it out as they rotate, or as they're (obviously!) meant to does it not matter?
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    edited January 2015
    As you say, they're meant to rotate, so they are acceptable (as are minifigure limbs and the accessories they hold, turntables, hinges, etc)
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936

    As you say, they're meant to rotate, so they are acceptable (as are minifigure limbs and the accessories they hold, turntables, hinges, etc)

    But not technics pegs, though?
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    Technic pegs are fine IMHO. The spirit of the challenge is to find a set which is most pleasurable to build by virtue of not needing to twiddle around those bits which you would consider necessary to make it perfect. The Air Canada set fits that bill nicely - I can imagine that being both fast and satisfying to build without frustration. I don't think the orientation of a technic peg matters, and indeed if it's acting as a pivot, then you would expect it to move around anyway. But most technic sets probably are ruled out because they'll contain shafts that have to be aligned longitudinally, or cogs that can't ideally be pushed up right against another brick.
  • zipsforbananaszipsforbananas WalesMember Posts: 250

    I don't think the orientation of a technic peg matters.

    He he! I'm well aware I've got a really dumb expression of OCD in that one! :P
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 3,403
    Surely there's larger sets than 92 pieces?
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    ^ Well, that's the challenge... :)
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited January 2015
    I nominate #21102 for the inverse winner of this challenge.
    paul_merton
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936

    inverse winner

    Where I come from we have a word that perfectly expresses the concept of not being the winner. It's called "loser". Antonyms FTW. ;-)
    gmonkey76
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    http://brickset.com/sets/TRUXWING-1/X-Wing has a rather high ratio of "non-compliant" parts
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,576
    But is also a surprisingly fun little build as a well know ship appears from a load of small bricks, which I didn't find tedious. So much that I have 12 of them. :-)
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 3,403
    I've found one that is very unlikely to be beaten, if it's allowed!

    Set #103-2 Imagination Standard Set 3 has 576 pieces, none of which are 1x1 anything (apart from 1x1 round brick, which don't count). The inventory can be seen here.

    Obviously, although it's a 'set', it's just a parts pack, not an actual build, but does that disqualify it?
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