Building the Death Star on company time

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A few weeks ago the team at SkyScanner [1] contacted me to say they were building the Death Star as a team building exercise and would I like to see and share the video they've made of the build.

I suspect many of you reading have already built it yourself, given it's been available for 5 years now, but nevertheless I thought it might be fun to post it here, if only to watch how non-AFOLs approached the task:

Matthew, the, er, 'project manager' wrote this about the experience:

"A few months ago, one of our chiefs asked via our internal communications channel if we’d like to build the Death Star. For four lucky Skyscanner employees, it was the chance to re-live some of our days as kids.

"Upon arrival of the new Lego kit, we instantly took to the first open pod in the canteen – think kid hoarding new toy at Christmas. Once the box was opened, we realized we had ourselves a legitimate problem: multiple boxes. After further discovering each box had hundreds and hundreds of pieces, we initially felt overwhelmed. Then again, the engineers and developers assured us all that there would be a methodical and pragmatic approach to building this monstrosity.

"First, we figured that stealing an entire bench and table at the canteen wasn’t really going to win us any friends. Okay, back to the pod. Wait, there are FIVE of us. How would we fit? Insert temporary booster seat at the edge. Then, packaging from the first box starts tearing open (ending up on the table or floor) and eventually we realized that it did in fact look like a Christmas day disaster. To help, we stole (borrowed) a few bowls out of the kitchen and began sorting them. Uh-oh, lunch is now over and we had a quick think about moving forward. Since taking a conference room wasn’t conducive to a growing company’s plans, we all agreed to slim down the building to two or three at a time and take a crack at it daily. We even developed a communication method intended to inform the next group of our stopping point: a lego man with pieces in the bowl and bending a page back. Easy enough, right?

"Over the next four weeks, Andrew, Mike, Hugh, and I worked over 32 hours to complete this absolute gem of a set. We did find problems differentiating the colours of the pieces and the methods our team used might have been expedited had we not over analysed. As individuals, we’ve all built sets as kids and as adults. In fact, two of our guys ran into each other at a nearby department store looking at Lego sets – one buying and the other looking.

"The four of us haven’t yet determined our next project, but odds are, it’ll be slightly more travel-related and will need to include more co-workers – since many wanted to help! Lego, if you’re listening, a skip full of bricks to make something epic would be greatly appreciated, ha! "

There's more on the SkyScanner blog.

If only all companies let their employees do such cool exercises, eh?!

Let us (and Matt) what you thought of their efforts in the comments. When you build something that large, do you sort all the parts first to that degree?

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[1] SkyScanner looks to be a pretty good flight finding and price comparison site which has several useful features I haven't seen before. I'm not affiliated to them: I'd never heard of them until now!

13 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Looks like a pig of a build but as a non SW collector I'm fascinated by the circular ring structure and how that all makes a strong build, I'll check the PDF.

Food and Lego? Err... no thanks I prefer houmous free models :p

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By in United States,

My wife gave me that set as a wedding present. I didn't keep track of how long it took to build, but it took a good chunk of three or four days to finish. It's not a terribly complex build, but it has a lot of nice details and hidden mechanics. My 5 year old niece, who's just transitioning from DUPLO to LEGO, is fascinated by the Death Star every time she comes to visit.

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By in Switzerland,

It certainly is a tremendous whopper of a set! It was a fun build and the finished model looks great while packed with lots of cool functions.
I did sort the bricks first (with a build this size I always do) into about 25 seperate containers, particularily as I got one of the sets with unnumbered bags.

But the poor sticker sheet, ouch! seemed to get quite the harsh treatment. And the food... that's a no-go for me - I'd be washing my hands all the time and otherwise searching for crumbs on the LEGO. Wouldn't get any building done at all ;-)

A great story, hope you get the chance (read: your boss gives you more LEGO) to share another build like this!

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By in United States,

Huw, did you read the blog? They're calling you out. Defend the hallowed name of brickset!

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By in United States,

This company will be defunct within six months. Fail.

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By in United Kingdom,

I bought this for myself for a Christmas present (no one else was going to buy me anything good!), and built it over a couple of weekends. Don't think it took me 32 hours in total though I can't remember how long it did take.
Mine did have numbered boxes and numbered bags though, which helped a lot!

Keep the food away from the Lego!

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ Huw, if you've got the time you should totally do that! Challenge them that you can take it apart and rebuild it in one 9-5 day! Or get them to take it apart for you first, coz that's always the worst part about building a set for the enjoyment - if it's already built you have to un-build it first!
I've just thought, if you need a representative I built the not-so-big-but-more-technical unnumbered-bags 10212 Imperial Shuttle in about 5 hours with a few breaks. I finish my degree in May and I've not got anything lined up straight away, where's the company based and would they pay my petrol? ;)

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By in United States,

I'm glad it took me longer than 2 minutes to build mine. It took me at least 4 minutes.

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By in United Kingdom,

Not sorry in saying this but this is evidence of a company wasting its time – would you actually get any real work done? I think it would have been easier if ONE person built it, probably takes far less time to 'delegate' and 'ponder over' as they seem to have.

I find building a Lego set on my own a therapeutic and relaxing hobby, having LOADS of people trying to build the same thing would irritate the hell out of me and no doubt mistakes were probably made.

What annoys me is many companies keep pressurising people to WORK and yet heres 5 guys mucking about essentially building a toy. Not impressed.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ lol very good
I built a second hand one, so I ended up with a huge pile of over 3,000 bricks. I never bothered to sort them so it took a little longer than four minutes

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By in United Kingdom,

@sf1378 - Lighten up! You've totally missed the point.
They were doing it in their lunch breaks, so what's wasting time got to do with anything?
And if you're complaining that it's got nothing to do with their job and you make it a solo build then you've taken out the teamwork - the one thing that does actually relate it to their job!

Yikes! I love a rant as much as the next guy, but that was painful!

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm in the process of rebuilding my Death Star (house move forced me to dismantle it due to size). A team is definitely required to sort the bits once out of the numbered bags and in a great big pile. It looks more like the Death Star II after Lando and Nien Nunb pay it a visit.

Not fun.

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By in Romania,

Food - no go.

I built my Death Star one Saturday evening, started about 8pm and worked through to Sunday early afternoon - about 18 hours in all. I did not eat or drink, I don't even remember going to the toilet. Was in a total Lego zone.

I build Lego sometimes with my partner. We take it in turns, each picking the parts for the other. Built the Fire House this way. Is a nice way to share Lego with your loved ones.

Richard.

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