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How can you tell from information on the box or manual what the size of the finished set will be? I'm thinking of space needed to create and store, etc.

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Modern largest sets usually state on the box how big they are. But this isn't a case for smaller sets.

However there is another option. Based on brick dimensions it is possible to estimate the size of a set. Assuming set is built in traditional "studs up" approach:

  • each stud on horizontal plane would be 8mm
  • each brick on vertical plane would be 9.6mm, where each plate is 3.2mm.
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    Bricklink (and other sites) give dimensions of most elements in studs, but looking that up for each element in a set is probably a major task - and given the number of ways elements can be combined and the amount of air "trapped" in models, I doubt that the size of the elements can be used to estimate the size of the finished set. Apr 1, 2023 at 10:15
  • @Henriksupportsthecommunity I don't see where your concern is coming from. It is fairly easy to roughly calculate everything in studs/bricks and later convert to Metric/Imperial system.
    – Alex
    Apr 1, 2023 at 21:02
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    Yes, but even though we know the dimensions of an e.g. 2x4 brick, that doesn't tell us much about the dimensions of a "model" consisting of two of them. If the two bricks are placed fully on top of each other, we only have to add the heights, if they're combined in a different way, we also have to look at the other dimensions. And that was just with two bricks that combine in 24 different ways (several has the same size), with 6 2x4 the number of combinations rise to above 900 million. Apr 1, 2023 at 23:03
  • @Henriksupportsthecommunity it seems to me we are looking at this at a different angle. My idea is that you count your bricks of final model from pictures, rather than checking the part list to estimate the variety this have and resulted dimensions. Assembly of two stacked 2x4 bricks have dimensions of 16*32*19.2mm, same two 2x4 bricks in cross configuration will be 32*32*19.2mm. Same goes if you have more of them, even in odd shapes.
    – Alex
    Apr 2, 2023 at 6:34
  • The question does say "or manual", and I guess you can see the final model at the end of the manual. It might not be possible to see if e.g. anything sticks out of the back without going through the manual. But I guess that will work - I was thinking about estimating the size from just the box (where some size information is given for large modern sets). Apr 2, 2023 at 7:29
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LEGO shop site

In the marketing for large LEGO sets, they typically make a big deal about advertising the dimensions. In the case of the Apollo Saturn V for example you can find the dimensions under the 'Specifications' section:

Measures over 39" (100cm) high and 6” (17cm) in diameter.

You might also be able to find this on the set box.

Bricklink Studio

Bricklink Studio also has a feature that displays the dimensions and weight of models. This can be found under the menu bar 'Model' and then 'Model Info'.

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If you can find an existing model of the set you are looking for you can download it and import it into the software. Of course you can also make modifications to the model or build your own too.

You can import LEGO Digital Designer files into Studio as well and there is a huge collection of fan-made models of existing sets at Eurobricks.

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