A while back we took a look at a modular diorama set called Ubiquitous from a new company called NOVA. The dio comes in pieces and is designed to be built similar to a brick set into walls, floors, tunnels, buildings, or anything else you can think of. The first one we looked at was their standard UB-01 set, which has no lighting parts included. Today we are going to take at their UB-01LS, which is essentially the same set piece wise, but has extra parts for installing LED lights throughout the build. The lights really make a difference here, adding value and really making the whole thing pop, both in photographs and as a display piece. Read on to for some more thoughts and to check some pics of it fired up!
Nova Ubiquitous UB-01LS Modular Diorama
First off, I suggest you check our original review of the non-lights version, UB-01. This is essentially the same set, so I won’t go over all the same points. The focus here will be the new addition of the lights.
The lights are worth it. Seeing pics online before getting in hand really showed some potential with the light set. My first review copy was the non-light version, and it was awesome, but I felt like it could be way cooler with the lights. Looks like I was right.
You build this out the same was as before – the outer walls, then you layer plates on top of them as you see fit. The difference here is that you are snaking USB wires in-between the two layers. This adds a layer of complexity and some forethought. In the initial set, I kinda just freestyled a bit. If I messed up, I tore it down and started over. No biggie. Here, with the lights, you need to plan what your final build will be. There is one starting point for the LED wires, the only block not in the standard set. You need to place that in a central location so that the wires can snake out from there. You also need to make sure the wires will be able to get to all the different panels. The instructions for the primary build that come with it show you where and how to position the wires. That was fairly easy to follow and get working. I built out a non-standard version with no instructions, and getting the lights all hooked up was very challenging. It’s possible, but you literally need to have it mapped out in your head before you start. If you don’t, as I didn’t, you will be re-snaking and re-building repeatedly.
Once you do get a build done, with the lights all wired up and working, you need to give it power. That single new block that comes with this set, where the LED wires start from, the outside of it that you can see has a micro-USB IN. So, you’ll need to hook it up to a battery pack or a wall outlet with a prong adapter. There is no internal battery here, so it always needs to have a wire on the outside visible. Depending on your build, you can place this in the back of the unit, run the wire down to an outlet. Or run it to a battery pack used for charging phones on the go and just tuck it to the side so you can flip it on.
It comes with a remote that allows you to change the color of the lights. There is white, blue, purple and red. There is also a pulse setting for each of those colors, so you can have it fade in and out for each. The remote can adjust all of those things. If you don’t want to use the remote, you can control them all via buttons on the block. When building this out, there is a dedicated slot for the remote sensor that you’ll snake along with power wires internally. Just need to make sure that it is behind one of the panels with open slots or holes, so the remote signal can reach it.
After this is all done, the thing lights up like a Christmas tree. The light is good, but not overly bright. It pops the most while in the dark. The colors are rich, and a welcome addition. There are full panels that layer onto walls and floors which light up, and then there are extra column-like pieces that plug into those. So you don’t just have flat surfaces, you get a bit of complexity with where the lights come from. They really make the figure pop when standing there solo, like a centerpiece display. When used as a tunnel or room, the lights give a sense of realism to the scene.
The only major feedback I’d offer NOVA on this set – give us full instructions for all the different builds. The box has so many cool build outs that I’d like to try. In the standard set, I can kind of look at them and figure it out. But with the lights, I need a bit of guidance on where and how to set up the wires. And really, instructions for the non-light alternate configurations would be welcome too. Take the guess work out of it.
Bottom line – the end result is awesome, and the lights are worth the extra cost. It will require more time and patience to get built each time, so prepare yourself for that.
They are available for pre-order now at BBTS and Toy Dojo in the United States. Hobby Link Japan has them as well. More retailers should be carrying them soon. You can find international carriers at NOVA’s facebook page here!
Check out some key shots here, 65+ below!