Meant to be the missing link between Miniland-scale and the minifigure, CubeDudes evolved into their own branch of the LEGO tree of life when Angus MacLane, way back in April 2009, got up from watching GI Joe: Resolute on TV and began to conceptualize the first of his signature models.
Little did he realise that he’d start a fad that would would end with him designing three official exclusives for LEGO the next year.
Speaking to StarWars.com at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010, MacLane shared his that when he first started figuring out the CubeDude formula – a look that is clearly influenced by the super-deformed style that came out of Japanese anime half a decade earlier, he did a series of sketches to try and figure out what the rules of the format would be.
Once he’d settled on the formula, MacLane emersed himself in a four month long building frenzy that led to his first 100 models – mostly GI Joe, various superheroes and the occasional science fiction character – which he exhibited at various conventions that year, garnering much interest.
It wasn’t until he had them photographed and uploaded to his Flikr account that the CubeDude sensation really blew up – and it didn’t take long before LEGO noticed the excitement.
Last summer after I debuted the first 100 CubeDudes on Flickr, I was contacted by LEGO to see if I would be interested designing a CubeDude Buzz Lightyear as an exclusive for the New York Toy Fair 2010. Of course I said yes! That project went pretty smoothly and we had such a good time working together that LEGO then approached me about doing the two exclusive Star Wars sets. I am such a big fan of both Star Wars and LEGO that the opportunity was really a dream come true. It ended up taking about six months from start to final product, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.Source: StarWars.com
While the contents of each of these two exclusives vary, the basic structure of each character is the same. Made of an assortment of plates and small bricks that were common at the time – and because that’s what MacLane had in his box of spare pieces – each character is an average 13 plates high and have four matching body parts: the 3 x 3 head, a 2 x 3 torso and two arms and legs that mirror each other.
Though the CubeDude builds in his personal collection use the studs-not-on-top (SNOT) technique, at the time this was considered an illegal building method by LEGO and had to be re-designed. “The biggest changes in settling on the design was the availability of pieces” explained MacLane, who used LEGO Digital Designer (a freeware virtual building program produced by LEGO) to produce virtual models for the LEGO marketing team in Enfield, Connecticut to review before the could be approved.
Officially revealed on July 19, 2010 when the official Star Wars website announced that an exclusive 416 piece collection of five characters from The Clone Wars animated TV series would be made available at San Diego Comic-Con 2010 through a lottery system, whereby attendees entered a daily draw to win the opportunity to purchase one of the CubeDude sets for $74.99, with 450 being sold daily (for a total of 1800) between July 22nd and 25th, 2010.
Packaged in a thin cardstock box was a single instruction booklet (laser-printed on glossy paper and hand stapled) along with five – or in some cases six – resealable bags containing a title sheet and the 416 necessary parts to build the CudeDudes.
Each of the characters in the COMCON12 CubeDude – Clone Wars edition has features and details that catch the eye – some are good while one or two are a little awkward (mainly Obi-Wan’s ears!). The use of the lipped slope – an element that is normally used for racecar hoods – as Obi-Wan’s hair is particularly clever, and the effect of using the solid tube in the Yoda’s ear is very convincing.
Likewise, the selection of bricks in Captain Rex’s and Obi-Wan’s torsos are especially effective at replicating the armor of the Grand Army of the Republic, and the headlight pieces on R2-D2’s body and the modified plates with light attachments for C-3PO’s knees go far to give the droids a nifty touch of detail.
Nowadays this San Diego Comic-Con exclusive is only available on secondary market sites like Bricklink and eBay, where sealed sets sell for between $200 and $400, while unnumbered samples can go for over $800.
With the thirtieth anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back being the man focus of the fifth official Star Wars convention, it didn’t come as a surprise that LEGO would opt for a collection of five (out of six) of the most fearsome bounty hunters that Star Wars galaxy had ever spawned. Priced at $74.99, 500 were sold daily via a lottery system at the LEGO retail booth during the four-day event held between August 12th and 15th in Orlando, Florida.
Like those sold at SDCC, the CubeDude – Bounty Hunter Edition exclusives came packaged in a thin cardstock box. Inside was a single instruction booklet (laser-printed on glossy black paper and hand stapled) and five resealable bags containing a title sheet and the necessary parts to build the five CudeDudes. Differing from the SDCC exclusives was the piece count, because at 496 the Celebration set had an extra 80 elements in its inventory for the same price.
Perhaps the most feature-packed of all the Star Wars CubeDude characters – and certainly benefiting from being in MacLane’s original 100 builds unlike the Clone Wars Edition models which were design specifically for San Diego Conic-Con – these five had some great features, including the 2 x 2 tile that acts as a wadded bandage and covers part of Dengar’s face, and the 1 x 1 plates that replicate 4-LOMs exposed midriff.
Wihout a doubt the standout details on Boba Fett is his dented helmet (created by a lone grey plate) and the cape that’s tucked away behind the jet pack, while on Bossk the gaps left by the exclusion of two bricks create believable nostrils and the single round 1 x 1 plates are convinving teeth.
These days this Celebration V exclusive is only available on secondary market sites like Bricklink and eBay, where sealed sets sell for between $250 and $350 (while unnumbered samples can go for over $800) with the higher production numbers helping to keep the price slightly lower than the Clone Wars Edition – CubeDude version.
The concludes our coverage of these cubic characterizations that came from the pixellated mind of Angus MacLane. Have you been inspired to build your own? Feel free to share your thoughts about these – or any other LEGO Star War exclusives – in the comments below.
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.