And I soon learned that as impressive as a Billund-designed LEGO Star Wars set is, sometimes they need a touch of joie de vivre to give them a touch of pazzaz, and there was an Australian company rising to the challenge of brightening the brick.
Started by a group of passionate Australian LEGO fans who wanted to illuminate their modular buildings, Light My Bricks has grown to be one of the most well-respected suppliers of LED lighting solutions to LEGO customers.
Reaching out to this small company to suggest a review article brought forth a positive response and soon enough their BB-8 #75187 Light Kit was dropped into my letter box.
The contents of the box are sufficient to light up most of the quarters of this rolly-polly astromech droid, and include the following:
- 3 x white 30 cm bit lights
- 3 x red 30 cm bit lights
- 2 x blue 30 cm bit lights
- 1 x flashing white 30 cm bit light
- 2 x 6-port expansion boards
- 1 x fire effects board
- 2 x 5 cm connecting cables
- 1 x Flat battery pack (requires 2x CR2032 batteries – which were included)
A big surprise, and a mark of quality, was the inclusion of all the necessary – and genuine – LEGO elements (a trans light blue 1×1 plate, a trans dark blue round 1×1 plate, a trans clear round 1×1 plate 1×1, a light bluish grey round 1×1 with open stud, a trans clear 2×2 plate with rounded bottom and two trans red 1×1 plates) that are needed to properly complete the modification.
To most irregular LEGO builders it might seem a bit incongruous to be replacing a trans light blue 1×1 tile with a trans light blue 1×1 plate, but the micro-differences in the elements’ dimensions allowed enough space for the ultra thin cabling to wind, wind and weave around the studs without being cut by clutch power, which as any LEGO fan knows, is the only thing more powerful than the Force.
The kit doesn’t come with a printed set of instructions, but Light My Bricks provided an easy to follow online version, which had great photos and some helpful suggestions on how to complete the upgrade.
There’s nothing to say about the instructions themselves – apart from noting that they are easy to follow and highly illustrative – and if you stick closely to the steps you should be able to complete the install in around an hour.
No specialist knowledge about electronics or the ability to solder is required to fit the kit together, as all the connections slip neatly in place – so long as you get the terminals round the right way.
I admit that at my age the fiddly cable connectors took a bit more dexterity than my fingers were used to, but a touch of patience and a lot of squinting won the day. I also got a bit confused by the first reference to the “fire effect board” and was expecting some kind of sensor that reacted to blaster fire. (I really don’t know why I thought that!)
But after a quick think realised that Light My Bricks was referring to the flame element that tipped arm that projects from BB-8’s front portal.
And quite the fire effect it is too. With the exception of the flashing LED on BB-8’s head dome – this light is unique because it makes the flame glow and flicker in such a way that it seems to dance. It’s a shame that in refitting the flame element the action that gives it the characteristic snap to BB-8’s signature thums-up motion.
Modifying a LEGO model is perfectly natural in the life-cycle of a build, but in most cases it’s because the original design is getting organically upgraded. However a few of the steps that were required in the Light My Bricks installation did feel a bit traitorous as they made me wonder if it would discourage other 75187 BB-8 owners to be disinclined to break the set down and use the bricks for another build, which is one of the core LEGO brand values.
That said, the reward of a light-up BB-8 is well worth the risk of falling off a high horse; while the lights are off the only visible non-LEGO artefact are a couple of thin stand wires sneaking out from a few bricks – and these are easily ignored but because the outcome is both highly realistic and entertaining as well as being surreally festive.
My only regret is that the battery pack wasn’t white and had the ability to lock onto the back of the BB-8 model. Or perhaps, even better, a slightly longer cable so that the battery box could be tucked behind the data plaque on the stand. While there is the option to order additional Light My Bricks parts there isn’t an extension cable available at the moment.
The BB-8 #75187 Light Kit is currently available and priced at a very affordable AU$59.99 (approximately US$43). With free shipping anywhere in the world there’s not much reason to give this expansion a go – unless, of course, you don’t have 75187 BB-8. This exclusion to your collection can be remedied with a quick visit to LEGO.com, Target or Walmart, where it’s available for purchase, priced US$99.99.
If the brick-built BB-8 doesn’t interest you, Light My Bricks also do a number of other LEGO Star Wars lighting kits. And if you’re an owner of 75192 Millennium Falcon be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming feature on how to light up your Falcon, thanks to Brickstuff.com.
This post originally appeared on Rebelscum.com on the 15th of February, 2019.
Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.