When LEGO announced they were re-releasing the Creator Expert Taj Mahal (10256), the office couldn't help but let out a little "yelp" in glee! In what seemed like a surprising move by the company, one must think that many iconic sets in the future could be brought back to life in similar fashion.
Unlike the release of some recent re-releases like the UCS Millennium Falcon (75912) or the UCS Death Star (75159), the Taj Mahal is not a re-modelled set, meaning that this is a pure re-release of the same model with just a different set number. By all accounts, the only main difference between the original Taj Mahal (10189) released back in 2008, and this 2017 release is the inclusion of a brick separator, which bumps up the piece count to 5,923 pieces!
Despite the odd nature of this product launch, many of us here at the Light My Bricks office are excited. Back in 2008, a lot of us wouldn't have been able to buy or possibly appreciate the majesty of this set, given it was the largest set at the time and came with a price tag to reflect that. Now being a little bit more mature (?) and having scrapped together a few more dollars in our back pockets, having another opportunity to own this iconic set (instead of relying on expensive reseller markets) is a welcomed change.
Like some of the other Creator Expert releases such as Tower Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Big Ben, the Taj Mahal provides a fairly accurate representation of one of the world's most recognisable architectural feats. The Taj Mahal commissioned back in 1631, is an ivory-white marble mausoleum located on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the city of Agra, India. LEGO has gone to great lengths to recreate this monumental wonder and no detail has been spared.
When emptying the contents of the box, you are presented with 41 bags numbered between 1 and 14, which are housed in two separate internal boxes. At is at this point you start to realise a lot of the pieces are white and a lot of the pieces are small. This is where you start appreciating LEGO updated bag numbering system.
We were contemplating going into hardcore mode and pouring all the pieces into one big pile, but our backlog of other LEGO sets reminded us that wouldn't have been a prudent choice... Maybe next time!
The first stage of the build centres around six 16x32 base plates, which make up the foundation of the set. These are then connected together using Technic pins. As you can imagine, this makes for very difficult transportation.
Pro-tip #1: either building this on or near the location you wish to display this set at or slide a large piece of cardboard underneath the set so you can transport it around. Trust us, we learnt the hard way (more on that later).
Once connected together, the build process moves toward the four minarets. The towers themselves look great once complete, but they are temperamental at best. Due to their height and tiny base, they are easily knocked over.
Pro-tip #2: if you are transporting this set, remove the towers first. Don't attempt to move the set all in one piece. Trust us, we learnt the hard way (see a theme here?).
Up until this point, the build is quite repetitive and simple. However, the next stage of the central building is where things start to get interesting. Firstly are the four archways. These arches contain some excellent detailing to recreate a very realistic representation of the Taj Mahal, and on top of that, there are some really cool SNOT techniques used which will get the creative juices flowing for future MOC designs.
The archways are then connected with four corner walls, to form a square grid. This creates the foundation on which four kiosk domes and the main dome will rest upon.
It's at this point we realised we forgot to take photographs of the build process. We know, we know. Our bad! Our excuse? Well, the build process was really engaging and despite a lot of tiny pieces and a somewhat repetitive nature of this build, it was enjoyable too! And that's important, isn't it? So despite the lack of photos up until now, you'll just have to take our word for it!
The final stage of the build, and honestly the section that really makes the Taj Mahal what it is, is the central dome. This was an absolute delight to build and our favourite part of the build by far. The supporting column for the dome has been recreated by LEGO using a hinged plate technique, giving an impressive circular wall effect. The dome is then sculpted using layered plates, a simple technique that works well to create the complex curves of the Taj Mahal's onion-shaped dome. Finally, a simple spire made up of various satellite pieces and various domes bricks adorn the central dome.
Like the proverbial cherry on top, placing the central dome came with a great sense of satisfaction. As you step back and look at this grand masterpiece, you really do feel the presence and majestic awe of this Creator Expert building.
But, as we alluded to earlier in this post, not all things end well... Shortly after completion, we had to transport the set to another location, and well... this happened...
We cannot stress how fragile and delicate this set is. As beautiful and grand as the Taj Mahal is, it is a fickle set that beckons to explode when disturbed from its slumber. As one of the designers attempted to move the set to the lighting station, a tower started to wiggle, counterbalance here, overcorrection there and the whole base separated (remember, they are only connected by a few technic pins) and the building exploded across our warehouse floor...
A collective gasp and a sudden wave of realisation washed over us, and we realised it was going to be a long evening, trying to put the set back together. It always seems much harder to reassemble a LEGO set in this fashion, knowing the instruction book won't solve everything.
Adding lights to the Taj Mahal (10256)
There is something about lighting up these Creator Expert series of iconic real-life buildings. The sets themselves are gorgeous and are always a challenging but fun experience to build, but lighting them up has always held a special place in our hearts.
Maybe its the life-like resemblance to real-world monuments, or the scale and size of these sets. Regardless of the reason, our design team always look forward to lighting up these sets and the Taj Mahal was certainly no different.
The first port of call for the Taj Mahal was the four minarets, we already knew from previous (transporting) experience that these were going to be a challenge. Firstly, the towers themselves are quite long, even for our longer bit light components. Fortunately, there was enough give on our cabling to allow for a 6-port expansion board to form a connection at the base of each tower.
Concealing the cabling within the tower is also a tricky challenge. There is a propensity for the walls to keep breaking off. It was certainly an area that tested our patience, but the pay off once complete was well worth it.
Next was the base. We realised that LEGO fans might want to see the Taj Mahal from all angles, that is why we placed our strip lights on each side of the base to ensure lighting from all points of view. This created a well balanced and complete lighting look for the LEGO set and given the cavities and ease of access, the strip lights were a breeze to install compared to the minarets.
The mid-section drew a lot of debate within the design team. We all pondered and discussed how to best light this section up. A lot of us were discussing specific colours, but we couldn't come to a consensus on what colour we should use. Ultimately, to satisfy all parties, we decided to use our multicolour strip lights, that way the Taj Mahal would light up in all different colours in rotation.
Finally, the dome. This was a relatively easy part to light up, given the way the dome was constructed by LEGO. A single strip light suspended from the ceiling was all was needed to illuminate this section piece.
In terms of powering, we found that USB has the best option. The multi-colour strip lights require quite a bit of juice and batteries wouldn't be powerful enough or last long enough for this particular kit.
Overall, we were very happy with how this set came out. Whether on its own or amongst other LEGO Creator Series buildings, we're sure you'll agree the Taj Mahal (10256) looks amazing when lit up!
The Light My Bricks Taj Mahal Light Kit is now available at our online store!
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