Tamlite LED Flexi Strip Ensures the LEGO ‘Santa Express’ Train Shines Bright
Design and installation firm Sound Systems UK has a distinguished pedigree of working on a variety of high-profile projects. Like most top-level AV firms it has its favoured brands, and when it comes time to specify effective LED solutions, it often turns to products from UK-based company Tamlite.
In its latest project, Sound Systems UK collaborated with iconic brand LEGO to design and install both the sound and lighting elements of new ‘Santa Express’ train, which boasts an astonishing half-a-million LEGO bricks. It is the fifth year that LEGO has constructed a festive installation over the Christmas period, showcased at London’s busy Covent Garden.
For the lighting, an ability to operate reliably no matter what the elements might throw at it was a prerequisite – but so too was the ability to complement the unusual shape and configuration of the installation.
Robust quality and enduring performance are among the factors that have previously endeared the Tamlite range to Luke Kenny and the team at Sound Systems UK. The versatile LED Flexi Strip, in particular, has found its way into a number of Sound System’s recent projects, including last year’s giant Christmas LEGO Sleigh that was debuted to the public last winter. Following an initial stay in London, the eye-catchingly designed sleigh recently took up ‘residence’ in Liverpool ahead of the 2015 Christmas period.
Turning to this year’s LEGO construction, Luke agrees that the Santa Express “Isn’t exactly an everyday kind of project. The lighting had to be able to fit easily around the curves, rough edges and 90 degree angles of the train. Our previous experience with Tamlite LED Flexi Strip– including on last year’s LEGO sleigh – meant that it didn’t take much time for us to specify it for this latest project.”
Lights of an oncoming train
There was never any doubt that it would be an LED-based solution – the need to utilise a 32 amp supply meant that Luke’s team would have gone over-voltage if conventional lighting had been deployed. But the need to guarantee a 4000K colour temperature for bright and crisp illumination meant that the selection of LED product had to be an exacting one.
“We are fortunate in the fact that we have a very good relationship with Tamlite,” says Luke. “We have called on their advice in choosing the right products for different applications on a number of previous occasions. Through consultation with their team it became clear that the LED Flexi Strip would indeed satisfy all of the requirements for this new LEGO project.”
As it turned out, though, Sound Systems did have a special request to put to the Tamlite team. Such was the limited timescale of the project that Luke was reluctant to employ the standard 5m lengths in which LED Flexi Strip is typically supplied.
“It wasn’t really going to be practical for me to spend time cutting the strip on site to ensure that it fitted the locomotive,” he admits. “Fortunately, Tamlite was more than happy to manufacture different lengths of strip to my specification, so that each strip wrapped around the edges of the train perfectly. This saved us a lot of time and further underlined the sense of collaboration that we have consistently experienced with Tamlite.”
Full steam ahead
Unveiled in London’s Covent Garden on 26 November, the latest LEGO train is certainly an impressive sight (and sound!) – building up a real head of steam thanks to a discreetly located smoke machine, while whistles and other sound effects add to the evocation of a Christmas express at full speed. The overall end-result seems guaranteed to get shoppers into the seasonal swing.
“The launch event attracted a lot of publicity and it looks like there will be plenty of coverage as the Christmas period continues, including a special programme scheduled for broadcast on Channel 4 on Boxing Day,” says Luke. “Needless to say given that it was always destined to enjoy a strong media profile, the stakes for this project were particularly high.
“The successful rapport with LEGO was obviously vital in making this all happen on time, but equally crucial was the great cooperation with Tamlite. We needed a robust LED solution able to provide superb output and reliability, and thanks to Tamlite’s ability to supply a bespoke version of LED Flexi Strip – a product that we already knew to be highly versatile and suitable for a wide range of projects – that’s precisely what we got. We look forward to many other collaborations in the future.”