Blockbuster: Engineer’s long road for Scotland’s first Lego kit

Michael Dineen was inspired to create the Forth Bridge from Lego after seeing it every day at work.

Blockbuster: Engineer’s long road for Scotland’s first Lego kit SWNS

As Michael Dineen worked on the new Queensferry Crossing, he would often look across the Forth to the rail bridge and wonder what it would look like as a Lego model.

The 42-year-old civil engineer from Clarkston, Glasgow says he thought it would be an interesting challenge to recreate the iconic Scottish structure using thousands of modelling bricks.

“When I first saw it, I thought it would be an interesting challenge to design it and build it to a reasonable scale,” he explains.

After discovering that the bridge hadn’t been made into an official Lego set before, Michael spent some time researching his idea.

He discovered that if he managed to crack the design, he could pitch it to Lego and it could become an official set distributed by the company. 

With no other official Scottish kits on offer, Michael was determined to make his dream a reality.

“I spent three months buying countless pieces and trial and error of trying to get something to work,” he explains.

“Because the bridge is essentially the same thing three times over, I had to get it right once then repeat it two more times.”

Michael used a unique approach to building the model by applying the same principles the original contractors would have taken when it was built in the 1880s.

This meant he had to build the model outwards from the main pillar equally on both sides to avoid it toppling over.

“Because it’s a balanced cantilever bridge, it does teach anyone building it the basic principles of why some bridges stay up,” he explains.

During the fourth month of construction, Michael discovered his model had even more in common with the real Forth bridge than he thought – as he had to hand paint hundreds of tiny Lego bricks to ensure everything was the same shade of dark red.

“You couldn’t make it up,” he laughs.

“There’s a little piece that is four studs long and one stud wide which form the bridge deck.

“There are 240 of them and they don’t come in dark red.

“So I had to sit down with a tin of model paint and a very finely tipped paint brush and paint 240 individual pieces, which was painful.”

Once complete, the 30cm tall and 4.7 metre-wide model made of 3000 bricks took up most of his living room.

“I had to go into my lounge and move the furniture out of the way to build it.

“I was quite astounded at the size of it, I wasn’t expecting that.”

After completing the project, it went on display at Silverburn shopping centre and Central Train Station in Glasgow, featuring on the STV Productions programme Inside Central Station.

Now he’s campaigning for the model to become a piece of Lego history, by being the first official Scottish set.

“One of the most important things for me would be to be behind the first official Scottish Lego set,” Michael explains.

“Any Lego shop around the world doesn’t have anything that represents Scotland and it would be an incredible achievement to be the person behind the very first one.”

Michael has submitted his design to the company and needs 10,000 backers for Lego to look at his proposal.

With almost 7,000 backers so far, he’s keen for people to help support his ambition and achieve his goal. 

To support Michael’s Lego ambitions, head to the Lego Ideas website.