Monthly Archives: April 2011

How to buy a set from Lego’s Design By Me Gallery

I’ve been asked many times how someone can purchase a set from the Lego Design By Me Gallery. It’s a little tricky to be sure. So, I’ve decided to write-up a step by step guide. If you ever run into problems, call the Lego company’s great support at 1800-838-9647.

First a little background on the Design By Me service and Gallery.
A while ago the Lego company created a wonderful service where anyone who had a computer and Internet access could create a virtual Lego set, upload it and if they wanted to, purchase it! This is the heart of the Design By Me service. The software that allows one to create the virtual sets is called Lego Digital Designer.

To download, go here and click on the big blue download button! As far as I can tell, you have to download and install the software to purchase the sets. If you can’t or are unwilling to, please call the 1-800 and see if they can help!

After you’ve installed the LDD, go to the Design By Me Gallery page here:

You can now browse and download whatever model you wish to purchase.

Example: Let’s say you want to purchase the “Last Flight” Space Shuttle Atlantis set. Enter the model’s name (if you know it) in the Creation Name text box and then click on the green arrow. (see image below)

After you have clicked on the arrow, the models matching your search criteria should show up, like in the image above.
You’ll note that two models have been found. The one you probably are looking for is on the left. You can click on it for more details to make sure first though!
At this point you’ll be able to download the model by clicking on the blue download bar underneath the model’s thumbnail image. This will download the .LXF file.

Open the file using LDD after the download is complete. The actual .LXF file size is generally very small so downloading should be fairly quick!

Once the file is open, you should see two buttons in the upper right hand corner of the screen: Check Price and Buy.

Clicking the Check Price Button is always a good idea for several reasons. First, you can find out how expensive a set is! and second, you can see if the parts for the set are still available! Sometimes this has been a problem for my sets as certain pieces come in and out of Lego’s inventory. The software can sometimes actually walk you through finding substitute parts/colors that are missing (VERY COOL!!).

Once you’ve checked the price and are OK with spending $1376.49 for the “Last Flight” set, you’ll be asked to upload the model and purchase it.


Upload it? After I just downloaded it? YES!!!

You see one of the greatest aspects of the Design By Me service is that other builders can literally build on your idea! Make them their own! It’s a good thing!

After you upload the model, you’ll be sent back to the eCommerce website to checkout and…

I can’t tell you how awesome this feature is until you try it. The final product looks just like something you would buy at your local toy store! After that it’s between you and your credit card.


Please comment if you have any experiences to add or any tips!

Happy Building!


My latest, latest set (work in progress) #LegoSpitzer Space Telescope

For my friends working on the Spitzer Space Telescope here is my latest creation. Hopefully I can work something out and get this into the Outreach teams hands soon. Given its small sizer and low brick count, this will be far more affordable than most of my other creations! Flickr link here:

Time to give Chandra some attention

While it’s true I have a deep affection for all things Hubble, I was recently reminded that the awesome Chandra X-Ray observatory needed some brick attention. Here is the first pass at my #LegoChandra, properly in scale with #LegoAtlantis 😉 Thanks to Kim Kowal Arcand (@kimberlykowal) , part of the Chandra Outreach team and the Chandra Website’s awesomely detailed renderings of the spacecraft, I’ll be able to add some neat details! Enjoy! I’ll keep everyone posted on where this model goes next!

New Set: Space Shuttle Atlantis, Last Flight

For anyone remotely familiar with me, you know I have a deep love and respect for manned space flight. I grew up with the Space Shuttle program. I’ve been to two launches and hope to be there when the mighty Atlantis takes flight for the last time on STS-135. It is in her honor and the entire Space Shuttle program that I designed and created the set “Last Flight”.  A little over 12 years ago, I started building a scale model of the space shuttle, using minifigs for scale.  I never made it past the flight and mid-deck.

I would go on and build many other things but for some reason never came back to the shuttle. As events for the launch of Endeavor (STS-134) started to pick up steam, I decided it was time. Having just completed Yuri’s Vostok 1 and a series of observatories in Lego, I jumped in feet first. A few days later (and countless hours) I completed “Last Flight”.

My design philosophy was on accuracy, scale and “playability”. The latter part may need a little more explanation. I wanted whoever built this to be able to pick it up and go “swoosh!!!!” with it. Also, to have as much real stuff for the minifigs to interact with. In reality,  that mainly means the hatches work and the CanadaArm moves. The cargo bay doors open and close and the main engines even gimbal (my favorite feature).
There is a “just too tight” for a minifig hatch between the flight and mid deck – a problem with working at this scale. Because I was designing this digitally, I avoided adding landing gear.  While I have some experience in building large models, I didn’t want to chance it with this one. So for now, Atlantis will be “in orbit”.  After I build the model in real bricks, I’ll add the landing gear. Maybe as a “patch” to the original model!  I’ve also gotten suggestions for cargo to fit in the cargo bay. I’m pretty sure but I think my Hubble fits in there nicely… might have to test that out later!  The model has been uploaded to’s DesignByMe Gallery and hopefully will be approved and up for sale tomorrow or soon after.

Set Stats:

Name: Final Flight
Subject: Space Shuttle Atlantis
Number of pieces: 6034
Cost: $1376.49 (from Lego, not including shipping) – I don’t make any money from this.
Availability:  (very soon)

I’m also working on posting the building instructions online soon. In the meantime, once the set is available for sale,  you can download the model via Lego Digital Designer for free!

Happy building and ad Astra!


I thought I’d combine two of my sets and see if the math worked out. Yep. Both the Shuttle and Atlantis are in scale. 🙂

Observatory Week!

I realized after designing the Vostok set, I needed to show my astronomer friends some love. So, I decided to build some sets with an observatory theme. I’ve created three so far with two more planned. Enjoy!

My Latest Creation: The Observatory

Hi all! Still excited after Yuri’s night, I thought I’d move from spacecraft to something a little more close to home. I’m talking about the workhorse of astronomy folks, the observatory, in this case one with a big old optical telescope. This one is for all my astronomer friends who don’t get to play with the Hubble and get to stay up late watching the stars from remote mountain tops!

Set Features:

  1. Two astronomer minifigs. Each one wears a classic space motif shirt. (Hey Timmy @ThinkGeek – get the folks at Lego to let you make the real thing!)
  2. Dome doors that open and close
  3. Rotating Dome
  4. Telescope is positionable
  5. A couch, fridge and pizza for our intrepid scientists.
  6. Rack-mount computer hardware for processing all that wonderful data!
  7. Trees! I’ve heard that some of these observatories have some awesome views!

Photos are available here:

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Yuri and Vostok 1 in Lego!

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of manned spaceflight and Yuri’s incredible adventure, I’ve created a Lego set of Vostok 1 and Yuri!
The set has been uploaded to DesignByMe Gallery and should be available for purchase in the next few days!

Set Features:

  • 1 Minifig Cosmonaut
  • Working Ejection seat
  • 363 pieces

~ $75 (remember, I don’t make a dime and LEGO is work every penny!)