The Blockcade

Welcome to my lockdown obsession…

About a million years ago I was involved with the online Videogame mag Way of the Rodent – technically, we’re still active, but the chances of a new issue are vanishingly close to zero, but for a while there we were, if not surfing the zeitgeist, at least paddling hard towards the waves. One of our biggest successes, back before things went viral, was something we Called Paper Arcade. A bunch of print-out-and-fold “papercraft” arcade cabinets, at Barbie scale. They were fun, and they were popular (and we made precisely £zero out of it because we were a bunch of idealistic idiots who thought that fun should be free – we still do)

Anyway, lockdown happened, we all know the story. But here I was stuck at home for six months (and luckily working the whole time), so spent a fair amount of time sorting through old boxes of stuff – trying to sift out the gold from the dirt.

One thing I found was an old box of Lego Dimensions game packs. Dimensions, as I’m sure you know, was a short-lived but actually quite fun videogame/Amiibo/Lego crossover project where you built little Lego models and then used them on the ingame portal to open different characters, levels and so on. One of the packs I had was the Midway Arcade – basically, Lego versions of Spy Hunter, Defender and so on. It was perfectly fine, but it had one problem.

What the juddering cock is that monstrosity

Green? Since when were Defender cabs green? And what’s going on with that control panel? This is an abomination unto the Jarvis and frankly there’s no excuse for it.

So, I dug out the few odd bits of Lego I had lying around and, in idle moments, started fiddling.

That’s better, although still a few bits of green too many…

And hence, a new lockdown obession was born, you can see them in the background… If you have one of these Defender sets and a few bits of Lego to hand, here are the build instructions – although I’ve changed a few details in this version – use the closest parts you have!

Start with a basic 2×3
Add a 2×4 plate
Followed by a 2×3 plate
A 1×4 plate for the control panel
Add some buttons
And get a joystick ready
A 1×2 for the monitor base
Followed by a rocker base
And the joystick to finish the control panel
Put that to one side and then start building the side panels (use the Defender printed panels if you have them)
Add a 1×1 block with a side knob
And attach that to the model
Do the same for the other side
Attach a 2×2 flat plate to a rocker for the screen (again, use the Defender tile if you have one)
Attach this to the rocker base plate on the model
Start with a 1×2 plate
And another (for height)
Then a 1×2 block
Add a 1×1 block with a side knob
Add another one, but this time rotated so that the knob is to the side (oo-er missus)
Add a 2×3 angle plate to the side for the top of the cabinet
Repeat for the other side
Add a 1×2 plate to space the marquee forwards
Add the Defender marquee panel if you have one, or a 1×2 plate if you don’t
Finally, put the two halves of the model together and you’re done.

But what if you don’t have the Defender specific pieces to hand? Well, you can try ebay, but you can get inkjet printable white vinyl – it’s relatively expensive at something like a pound a sheet (so print more than one thing at once!), but it works brilliantly. I’ve provided some sample artwork below, but feel free to use your own – you will need to scale this artwork to 15mm x 30mm for the 2×4 plates, 15mm x 15mm for the 2×2 plate and 15mm x 7mm for the 1×2 plate. I find that Word is the easiest way to do this (right click and choose Format Size and Position), but you can use whichever software you are more comfortable with

Enjoy. More to come, including Pacman, Donkey Kong, Robotron, Battlezone and a Star Wars cockpit.

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