09 February 2020

LEGO® FORMA and Revan New's alien moth

Posted by Elspeth De Montes
Back in September 2018, The LEGO Group launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for a new kind of premium set aimed at adults: LEGO® FORMA, a kinetic sculpture that could be customised with different skins. Although the theme is not to be continued, we thought we would take a look at the new elements that came with it, and ask the talented Russian fan builder Revan New to create something original using them. We also have official instructions and sample skins at the bottom of this post, for you to download and build yourself.

After successfully meeting its funding target on Indiegogo – in fact overwhelmingly, with 1334% of the original goal achieved – the set and its optional extra skins were produced and dispatched to supporters within the planned timeframe.

Despite this success, this update came from the Forma team in December 2019:
"With your help, we have learned that the kinetic sculpture concept provides a very positive building experience and that in general there is high demand for meaningful customization allowing for self-expression such as LEGO FORMA. A lot of you, would have liked to see more customization options as part of the LEGO FORMA experience. 
Based on these key learnings, we have decided that LEGO FORMA will not be launched further in its present form. We know there is a lot of love for the concept out there, and we will make sure all our learnings are fueled into the broader organization and taken into consideration for future concepts."
However the theme has raised its head above water once more before disappearing into the depths: the core set, 81000 Koi, is currently available only on the UK Shop at Home online store for £42.99. It is not available in other countries as it seems to be some excess stock that is for sale. We have some ideas at the end of this article about how you can replicate your own, however.

First let's look at the new elements that came in the Indigogo version of LEGO Forma.

LEGO Forma Skins

© 2018 The LEGO Group
There were four skins available in total, as pictured left to right above:
  • 81002 Splash Koi Skin
  • 81001 Shark Skin
  • 81000 Koi
  • 81003 Ink Koi Skin
The Technic framework and base came only with 81000 Koi while the other skins could be purchased as additional perks during the Indiegogo campaign. (Those are no longer available; only 81000 Koi is on the UK site.)

The Forma skins (pictured above is 81002 Splash Koi) were supplied ready to pop out from two roughly A4-sized plastic sheets. The skins from the righthand sheet with the pink border are one-sided whilst those on the lefthand sheet have printing on both sides.

The hole in in the skins was designed as a curved triangle so that the material can stretch easily when the connector element is attached.

© 2018 The LEGO Group
Also, the triangle was designed to be just the right size to allow the connector element to stay centred but skins can be removed and reapplied without damage.

LEGO Forma connector pins

Back in October 2018 during the Indiegogo campaign period, LEGO shared a video showing the first batch of test elements using a new mould developed for the Forma theme: the connector (Design ID 49731). 

Named "Technic, Pin 1/2 with Foil Connector" by BrickLink, the critical piece used to attach the skins to the Technic frame was produced only in White (Element ID 6271188). There are 31 supplied with 81000 Koi, while each replacement skin pack had another 30 or so.

The Forma connector pin, shown above centre, has a frictionless Technic pin at one end, the same as the Connector Peg W. Knob (4274) shown on the left. This contrasts with the friction pin found on the Connecting Pin W.Friction/Crossaxle (43093) shown on the right.

The height of a Forma connector pin is the same as a Connector Peg with Knob when a 1x1 Round Tile is placed on the end.  The difference is that the Forma connector pin has a narrow end disc, to maintain part of the pin diameter at the other side of the ridge forming a gap where the Forma skins sit.

The radius of the end disc of the Forma connector pin is a couple of millimetres smaller than a 1x1 Round Tile.

Original build by Revan New: Alien Moth

We sent one of our previous Parts Festival contributors, Revan New (Petya Gus) from Russia, some of the Forma connector pins and the Ink Koi Skin to see what he made of them. 

Petya thought the Forma skins were ideal for wings and built this intriguing alien moth in its natural habitat.

Petya used System elements to hold the skins in position; he had noted that the Forma connector pins were not the only method to firmly attach the skins onto builds.

Instead, Petya used his connector pins within the moth's alien habitat to create a fungi glade.

Download instructions and skins for LEGO Forma to build your own

For now, it looks like these elements will remain exclusive to Forma and as mentioned, there's only one set available in one country, which is not ideal. If you want the official set and you didn't support the initial Indiegogo campaign, then it is time to get your buddy from the UK to order you one before these vanish for good!

However you can recreate Forma yourself, and get super-creative in the process. The instructions for set 81000 are available to download below. Ideally you would purchase the 30 connector pins from a secondary market site, but almost none are currently available. You might instead get away with using Connector Peg W. Knob (4274) with 1x1 rounds as we discussed above. As for the skins, we have the two official blank sample templates from LEGO right here for you to download and get creative with.

We recommend you print the skins on above-average thickness paper, but if you are not using the official connection pins it may be best to not go too thick. Good luck!

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1 comment:

  1. I bought the full slate, plus an extra shark skin, but I was _really_ disappointed to see a hammerhead mockup sitting on a shelf behind the designers knowing there was no way they'd be releasing it.

    One unstated advantage of the pin-and-tile trick is that you can pick different colors for the tile, making it easier to blend in with the skin than a bunch of white dots. And one unfortunate aspect of the downloadable skins is that they're completely blank. I suspect a lot of other people were hoping to be able to download the Ink Skin so they could color it as many ways as they wanted. I suppose there's nothing they can do to prevent people from scanning the actual skins to print, but getting the double-sided sheet to match up will be a little tricky.

    And that 1334% funding level is highly deceptive. They originally listed a huge quantity of all five kits (Koi, three skins, and a combo pack) while the funding goal was a tiny fraction of the total. As the deadline approached, they reduced the quantities of available sets until they brought them down to about the same levels as what had already sold. A lot of people got shut out because they waited until the end to make a purchase and figured they were safe because the sales levels weren't really burning up the internet, only to find out that most of the available stock had been eliminated on the back end. I'd actually considered buying a second Ink Koi skin to color only to have the last one sell while I was deciding whether or not to pull the trigger, but I don't think the quantities sold in the US even equaled the much lower quantities that were originally available in the UK. In the end, they got plenty enough support to actually go ahead with production, but not even close to the level they needed to greenlight further projects of this type. If they'd sold out before they started reducing available stock, we'd probably have already heard about Forma 2.0 by now.