Recently I’ve been hanging around with this cool biker gang. Don’t let the word “gang” fool you, they’re all decent kids. After learning what a daredevil I used to be when I was young(er), they accepted me as one of their own. Of course as you know, wisdom comes with age. So when they were going to choose a vice president for their club, they asked me what he can do to prove he’s worthy. The first thing I asked them was “Is he an AFOL?”. They said no. Well then, I said, if he can build this expert LEGO Harley Davidson Fat Boy set, then he’ll definitely prove himself worthy. They thought it was a great idea, and so here we are.
Well, that’s only half true. While the person who built this model is indeed a non-AFOL and has been recently chosen as the vice president of his club, it really has nothing to do with me. It was a gift for his birthday, and I wanted to see how a non-AFOL would feel while building an Expert set. But enough of me talking, let’s get to know this guy and his thoughts about the LEGO Harley Davidson Fat Boy set and LEGO in general.
Can you tell us about your history with LEGO bricks?
I remember playing with them around the age of 6-7. Apart from that, I haven’t played with any LEGO sets for a long while. After all this time, I realized that the sets have really evolved.
What about your history with motorcycles?
I’ve been riding motorcycles for 29 years. Other than the occasional ride, I didn’t get a chance to ride a Harley Davidson bike much. I have never personally owned one. My childhood was spent on MX bikes, and later on I mostly used 4 cylinder racing bikes. I still ride a bike in my daily life, although this one looks more like the bikes from Mad Max. I’m the vice president of a motorcycle club, and the bikes others use aren’t much different than mine.
How realistic do you think LEGO Harley Davidson Fat Boy is?
The way the motor and the pistons work seems very realistic, especially when you consider it’s made of LEGO bricks. I’m a little disappointed that you can’t see the movement of the pistons. I think it would have been much better if transparent parts were used so we could see the mechanism from the outside. Still, it looks pretty good like this, too.
How similar is it to the real thing? I’d say 90%. However, because of the blockiness of LEGO bricks, the soft contours of Fat Boy have disappeared a little, making it look stiff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this to belittle the set. When you buy a professional model, the parts are made specifically for that model, so they’re more realistic. But like I said, it’s really good considering it’s made of LEGO bricks.
How hard was it to build?
I’d say the difficulty level isn’t 16+, a kid 12-13 years old can build the model easily. After all, it comes with instructions. If it didn’t, then it would really be for experts. Of course there are too many pieces, so it takes a while to finish.
You said you’d finish it in 2 hours. It took you around 7. Would you like to say anything about that?
What can I say? I was a little too over-confident.
What is your general experience about the model?
Having missing pieces was a huge disappointment, and honestly, disheartening. I hear it’s really rare to have pieces missing in a LEGO set, it’s funny that something bought as a gift would have that. The customer service here was hard to reach, so for a minute I thought “That’s it”. Fortunately, once we were able to reach them, they were very helpful, and the pieces arrived pretty quickly.
I really enjoyed building it. Even though some parts were challenging, it seemed easy to me. The compatibility of the parts, the way they fit is really good, too. At first, as I was making the engine block, I couldn’t make anything of it. As the model developed, it looked better and better. I still wish the engine block was transparent, and the piston heads were red as if they were heated. It would make more sense then to build the whole mechanism. It’s good like this, but if it was transparent, it would be perfect.
I liked the stickers. They left it for us to put them on, so it would feel more realistic. It may have been better if they were printed, but it’s okay like this, too.
I like the exhaust pipes, the V-type engine, and the radiator. The pedals are wide, comfy. It’s really good that the bike can lean on both pedals, there’s no chance of it falling down. I sound like I’m about to get on it and ride away, but after so many hours, after seeing the finished model, I really feel like that.
The best part is, there are so many moving parts. It invites you to play with it, and you just can’t help yourself.
Is there anything you’d change? Or anything you’d add?
I would make a few modifications, add a few details. I would add a sissy bar to the backside, and add some saddle bags. The seat can be covered with leather, too (laughs). A small led lamp may be added to the headlight. Maybe a skull on top of the mudguard. Things like that.
Another thing… the tachometer’s finish could have been flat. I think it would have looked better like that.
I think the most important thing missing here is the rider. No vehicle in the world means much without its user. You can have a Lamborghini, but without a driver, it will just sit there. I think LEGO could have added a rider to this model. After all, they have bigger scaled figures (Editor’s note: He’s referring to the constraction figures). The bike is cool, yes, but without the rider, it’s incomplete.
There, you have heard the impressions of a non-AFOL building an expert LEGO set. However, that’s not all. When you’re being watched and recorded by an AFOL, the AFOL herself tends to have a little fun of her own, and make some observations. So here are mine.
Observations of an AFOL
Considering this was the first time he was building a complicated LEGO model, finishing in 7 hours doesn’t sound too bad. One thing that amazed me as I watch was his ability to apply the stickers with such ease. I mean, all of us dread those stickers, right? We try to center them as much as possible, to align them so they’re straight, and sometimes do a lot of do-overs. For him, it was as easy as 1-2-3. I have to say I felt a bit jealous about that.
As people who are used to the world of LEGO, most of us know the names of the pieces. We say tiles, plates, bars, slopes, 2 by 4, 2 by 2 etc. An outsider calls these shiny square, thin rectangle, long (or short) pipe, and roof-like thingie. For parts even we don’t know the exact names of, like “pin connector plate with one hole” (thank you Bricklink), he simply uses the word “thingamajig”. Now imagine how many thingamajigs I had to look for when he was building 🙂
When he first saw the set, he said he’d finish it in half a day, max. He did, after all, made so many models before, and they were really complicated. After some time, half a day turned into several hours, and finally to 2. I just smiled. It turned out 2 hours wasn’t even enough to finish the first bag, but one should never question a man’s confidence, right?
I imagined myself building the very same set and compared myself with him. I would look at the connections, the building techniques, the unique parts. He, on the other hand, knew the parts of a bike like the back of his hand, and constantly compared them to the real thing. In a way, he was looking at it as a whole, while I would be getting lost in the details.
I have to say, watching someone new to our world build something is almost as fun as building it yourself. Besides, that expression on his face when it was finished was truly priceless.
If you want to read about the history of LEGO motorcycles, don’t forget to check out this article right here.
Oh, and one last thing. Most of the building process was recorded on video. It’s a mixture of a speed build with “OMG what have I gotten myself into!!” If you’d like to see how it all went down, check out the video below! Fair warning, though, it’s my first time making such a video, so my apologies in advance for the camera shakes.