The development of LEGO Hidden Side 70436 Ghost Fire Truck 3000

The model designer behind LEGO Hidden Side 70436 Ghost Fire Truck shares a look at the concept models that led to the finished set

LEGO design projects are shrouded in secrecy. The entire process of coming up with new models is confidential, with the LEGO Group hoping that nothing emerges until the final product is ready for store shelves. That means that it is only rarely that fans get the opportunity to see what goes into product development.

In the case of LEGO Hidden Side 70436 Ghost Fire Truck 3000, which will launch on June 1, Model Designer Niek van Slagmaat has shared a whole series of development images on social media.

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“This set was probably the hardest Hidden Side set for me to design,” he writes. “With the new direction for the story and the app and the inherent complexity of this as a toy, having to balance this many factors was mind boggling. At times I had no idea if we could pull this off.”

Here, fans can get a rare glimpse into how the set was developed, with many of the sketch models that led to the finished article revealed. Over to Niek’s own words…

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“Here are my initial quick sketches from January 2019.”
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“First off, some development pics on the truck. This is the first version I built of this final direction we ended up going with. It showed a lot of potential to make for a fantastic toy. Sadly, there was an incredible amount of structural issues to resolve.”
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“A mech on the back meant very little space for the structure for the wheels. If a kid were to push down on the truck with all their might, it could not buckle. The back also had to look good without the mech. On the final set you can see how I tried my best to fill all the space.”
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“With the structure on the truck figured out, I faced a lot of challenges with the mech legs. For the transformation it needs knees. So I built a stop for them to rest. The build had to be changed drastically as the long term testing showed that they were a crucial weak point.”
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“This is the last one of one of those tests. As you can see, this is pretty close to the final version. Because we were testing the functionality, the colors did not matter as much. So I had some fun making an M-Tron version. The lower leg design was changed to be more robust.”
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“Speaking of colors, very late in the process we shortly considered dark red. I know it’s weird, but I am happy we didn’t. The design language for Hidden Side was something I am very involved in and keeping the good guy vehicles bright colors is important in tying them together.”

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Niek also reveals how he developed the ghoulish villain in the set, Nehmaar Reem – the Harbinger. “I wanted to include some kind of villain, much like we did for the bus. Nehmaar Reem, The Harbinger, was a figure that I had been playing around with since late 2018,” he explains.

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” The first version looked more alien and was intended to go with the lighthouse. The story changed a bit.”
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“For inspiration, I explored a lot of bizarre shapes and expressions. Articulation on a figure like this is a complicated subject. I wanted to make sure it had some articulation, but would be easy to prop up and would not fall apart after rigorous play.”
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“Another take went more into the direction of a large cloaked figure. The minifig head combined with the weird proportions and ominous cloak and armor gives it a very eerie presence.”
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“In order to tie it in with the aesthetic of the ghosts in the app, I explored a printed face that looked like a scaled up minifig head. This was a big hit with the other designers on the team and was combined with the first figure to make the final design.”
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“The final design was then brought to life by some fantastic graphics that carry over into the minifig design. I love the fact that we could convey Nehmaar Reem’s dimensional shifting in a very LEGO way.”

Follow Niek on Twitter – @Toothdominoes – for more LEGO insight and trivia.

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Graham

Graham is the Editor of BrickFanatics.com, with plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. If you would like to get involved with Brick Fanatics, as a builder, writer or photographer – then please contact Graham at [email protected]

Graham

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