How to build a lego viking boat and reach 10.000 votes? A look behind the scenes of my lego ideas project!

LEGO Viking LEGO Ideas01

On 7. March was the time and my Viking Longship reached the 10.000 voices at LEGO Ideas. Today, I want to give you a personal look at the different stages of the project: the building process, the creation of the instructions, and the road to 10.000 supporters!

With most LEGO Ideas projects you only see the nice pictures and the finished project. The fact that there can be a lot of work behind it and what thoughts I had about my Viking ship, you will learn today in the look behind the scenes.

The idea with the Vikings

In the end, you often ask yourself: "Where did it start??" I can easily put the blame on a single minifigure. Because with the minifigure collection series 20 LEGO brought out a new Viking, which immediately caught my eye. The implementation was close to the historical models, came with a new helmet without horns, a round shield, a spear and even a cape. It was also practical for me that the figure has no yellow printing and can therefore easily be converted to a flesh-colored figure – I personally like that better.

LEGO Vikings Series 20

After I was able to feel the first three figures in their pouches, it was clear: the grim guys need a ship! So I went out and found seven more northmen to be able to equip the ship then also with a sufficient quantity of shields.

At first, my Viking boat idea was not specifically intended for LEGO Ideas. I wanted to have a ship for my minifigures and since I’ve been asked for building instructions a lot lately, I took it as a challenge to build as sturdy as possible with parts available.

The ship is built

First I made a picture of Viking ships. How do they look like and what were they used for? Since there are a lot of different longboats, I tried to work out the iconic features of the ships and went straight to the first design with real bricks.

A narrow hull

Pretty quickly some building techniques were clear, which should be used for the hull. So the bow and stern should be made of upright 1×4 curved slopes and the curved transition should be built with the help of 4×4 quarter circle tiles. This technique directly promised to make a suitable combination.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship Wip 11

Since both the ship’s mast and slopes were to be centered fore and aft, I decided to give the boat an odd width. This is of course rather untypical for LEGO models, but it made a lot of things easier. First I tried it with a base of 8×16 plate + 1 row next to it, but this made the ship too bulbous and too wide for me. My Vikings were to travel in a sleek and slender longboat. So I built the right variant two knobs narrower.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship Wip

With the change in width, the angle of the slanted segments in the front and back had to be adjusted as well. While it had previously fit with 90° and a 1×1 Travis Brick, it needed a flexible connection for the new angle. In the final model it is different in the front and in the back, so that there is a seat for the captain at the stern.

The color choice for the hull came pretty early because of the used 4×4 Plate with Cutout, which is only available in selected colors. In combination with the dark red I liked it then particularly well. You could have built the whole boat just in brown, but I think this way it has more individual character and is more diversified to build.

Bow with dragon head

The most fun I had with this MOC was also with the small details and so also with the iconic dragon head decorating the bow of the ship. I made countless attempts here and approached the final design step by step.

In this version, I still tried to suggest the eyes with a dark gray bucket handle:

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship Wip 7

The next version is already very close to the favorite and shows the brilliant idea to fill the interior of the 1×3 arch with the hinge. However, the eye of the figure was still missing here and the head was altogether too gray for me.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship Wip 6

The version that made it into the final model wins me over with its simple design that accurately captures the desired aesthetic. Theoretically, it can also be built completely in brown, but since there is already a lot of brown on the boat, I decided to use a metal head.

Stern

If the head of the dragon sits at the bow, then the tail decorates the stern accordingly. Again I tried different approaches to find the right building techniques. The first variant uses a 1×2 tile with teeth.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship Wip 9

I liked the shape of a spiral in the next design, but the realization was too angular for me. I also wanted to make the stern a little lower and more subtle than the bow.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship Wip 8

In the end, this squiggle made it into the model, which incorporates a 1×2 plate with a Technic hole as an additional detail.

The idea to tilt the mast came to me when I saw a gameplay video of "Assassin’s Creed Valhalla". In the Viking game you can drive your boat under bridges, for which the crew folds down the mast. I found this fascinating and wanted to have this feature for my ship as well!

The realization was a little bit more complicated, because you have to pull in the ropes at the mast. Thanks to a Technic axle, the pole can be firmly anchored at the lower end or loosened and tilted as desired.

For a potential LEGO Ideas implementation of the ship I would be very happy about a fabric sail. At the moment there is unfortunately nothing matching in color, so the design has to make do with a hauled-in and brick-built sail for the time being.

Viking figures

Of course, a Viking ship also needs a crew to sail it across the seas to discover new continents. For my design, I mainly used the Viking minifigures from the collection series 20, which initiated the whole project. Equipped with a few different colored beards and different faces, this resulted in a solid rowing crew.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship (4)

Nevertheless, the grim guys were all still too similar for me, so I added more figures to the Ideas project with an update at a later date. Besides the guys armed to the teeth on the right side, I also took a tough shield maiden on board. By the way, the extremely detailed torsos of the woman and the warriors are all Rohan upper bodies from LEGO Lord of the Rings sets.

Viking Minifigures Crew 2500

Create building instructions

After I was satisfied with the look and stability of my ship, I started to build the instructions. For this I usually proceed according to the following steps:

Rebuild digitally

Since I prefer to build the model with real bricks first, I disassembled the ship again, rebuilding it digitally in the process. For this I work with Stud.io from BrickLink, which works very well for me. In the meantime, you can even bend flexible elements like the ropes roughly into the right position in the software with a little patience, so that the digitizing didn’t cause any problems for this design.

Viking Ship Digital 01

Optimize

In the next step I will make some improvements to the digital model. Rather expensive parts are in the best case replaced by cheaper variants and parts that are not to be seen in the end anyway, are also color-matched. The goal is to use as few different parts as possible without changing the look of the ship. This helps everyone who wants to rebuild the model later and wants to order the bricks for it.

I replaced the printed shields for the instructions with an affordable alternative. So you can still build a nice longboat, even if you don’t have enough Viking figures.

Building steps

To appreciate the effort behind official LEGO instructions, you need to have created one yourself. The more complex the model becomes and the more submodels have to be built and then attached, the more confusing it can become. That’s why I usually go backwards and work from the finished model step by step to the first brick.

You can think about it as much as you want – the best way to test a manual for functionality is to test it. For this I like to give the raw version to someone who has nothing to do with LEGO, and see if the subject can handle it anyway.

Rendering and Layout

When I am sure that nothing needs to be changed on the model or the steps, I render the PNG images from Stud.io and create the final layout in InDesign. You can also make one out of Stud.I can create a PDF out of io, but the texts are not exported as vectors, but as pixels, which I am personally not satisfied with and prefer to take the detour via the professional software.

For the layout, I used some graphic elements like a Celtic knot, waves, and a matching font to give the instructions a coherent overall look. I also reinterpreted the symbol for model turning as a Viking shield.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship Instruction 02

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship Manual 03

LEGO Ideas Viking ship instruction 01

You can download the finished tutorial for free and, if you want, of course you can also build the model. Since I also linked the tutorial at my LEGO Ideas project, the texts are all in English.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship (9)

While I was busy with the tutorial, I asked myself: why not post the project at LEGO Ideas? The manual is nice and good, but you can only build a Viking ship with it – the problem with the Viking minifigures still remains. So the plan was changed and the project was chosen as my new LEGO Ideas design!

But I can’t recommend creating a tutorial for a LEGO Ideas project. LEGO Ideas – for good reason – does not want building instructions for ongoing LEGO Ideas projects to be sold, so only free instructions are allowed. Convincing the LEGO Ideas team that my tutorial was indeed free and would remain so required some back and forth via email and caused the release of my Viking ship to be delayed by a good two weeks.

Presentation

Already in 2018 I had tried my luck at LEGO Ideas with a MOC from the Pixar movie "Oben". Unfortunately after two years with about 2.500 votes completed. So I was aware that a project there is not a no-brainer, but you need a strategy to get to the 10.000 votes. The first thing I needed was a good cover image, so that the ship would stand out from the many designs on the platform.

I chose a dark green background and used fog to create a mystical atmosphere. Here you can compare the picture before and after the processing.

For the LEGO Ideas cover I added a caption, so that everyone could see what I had built here. In the meantime LEGO Ideas has changed the rules so that new projects are no longer allowed to have a title in the picture.

The way to the 10.000 votes

On 10. December my Viking Longship went online on LEGO Ideas and so the hot phase of the project started. From then on, it was a matter of steadily collecting new supporters and votes. In the best case, without annoying my followers and the LEGO community to death with posts about my Viking project.

The journey of my ship started directly well and I could crack the first milestone of 100 supporters on the very first day. Shortly after, Lukas posted the project here on StoneWars, which gave it another boost, thanks to your support.

LEGO Viking Longship Graph 10000

The graph makes it feel like it went poorly from mid-December to mid-January, but my Vikings continuously got more than 50 backers a day, which was a perfectly adequate amount for me, as it would have definitely made it to the finish line with a maximum run length of over two years.

But it didn’t take that long, because on the 17. January start the LEGO Ideas survey for the 90. anniversary and the number of visitors on the website went through the roof, which also benefited my project. A particularly big step I came to the goal on 3. February closer, when the second part of the voting followed and the day after, when the LEGO Ideas results and two new sets were announced.

So all in all, I hardly had to advertise my project, because enough people became aware of my ship via the Ideas platform. After only 87 days it was on 7. March then so far and the necessary 10.000 supporters for the Viking Longship, much faster than expected!

LEGO Viking Longship statistics 10000

I really could not have imagined a better course for my Ideas project. I would have loved to show my ship at exhibitions and meetings of the community and convince supporters, but this was not possible because of the Corona situation. But fortunately it worked without.

To find out how the voyage of my Viking ship is going, now it’s wait and see. The current phase of the LEGO Ideas review will last until the beginning of May and we can probably expect a result at the end of this year.

Personal conclusion

I will never tire of thanking you for your great support! Especially the energetic support right after the release and the continuous anticipation where the Viking ship is right now, has motivated me extremely and made the whole thing a successful project already! With any luck LEGO will put the crown on the ship by making it an official set, but that is now out of our hands.

LEGO Ideas Viking Ship (3)

No matter what happens, I’ll keep you informed about all further developments of my longboat and if I start another LEGO Ideas project, I’ll be happy to present it here again.

Do you like the insight into the development of my LEGO Ideas project?? What section of the journey do you find most interesting and what area would you like to learn more about? Feel free to write me your opinion in the comments!

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