In Destiny, I have shot the same 10 aliens over and over for hours on end to make more in-game cash. I’ve played the same missions dozens of times and spent days in the same locations seeking elusive in-game items. I’ve used every boring strategy to kill each impossibly hard boss, including the ones where you sit in an antechamber or on a chandelier taking potshots with a sniper rifle or strategically unplug and reconnect your internet cable. When the game’s latest and greatest expansion, “The Taken King,” launched, I selected the void sword on my Titan character and completed a quest by killing hundreds upon hundreds of enemies using only my weak punch attack and the occasional grenade.

Nothing I have done inside of Destiny was as tedious as putting together the official Destiny wooden 3D sparrow kit I received in the mail yesterday.

Made by a company called IncrediBuilds, the 3D plywood puzzle/model comes with no fewer than 182 individual pieces and 112 assembly steps, plus two tiny, tiny diagrams that give each piece a number. In building the thing I spent more time staring at that diagram trying to figure out which piece I’d need next than actually putting things together.

Sensing that the construction process would be hilarious, I started live-tweeting before I even opened the box.

Bungie sent me the sparrow kit in celebration of the launch of Destiny’s newest game mode, a Sparrow Racing League that more closely resembles that N64 podracing game than anything else seen in Destiny up to this point. I got to play sparrow racing a few days early (follow that link to see what it looks like), and I can say definitively that it is more fun than putting this model together.

As the process continued…

…I began to track some figures:

The puzzle’s pieces are made of flimsy wood. They need to be punched out individually as they’re called for. I found that some pieces would fall apart in layers as I punched them out, no matter how delicate I tried to be.

I stopped trying to be delicate as the hours ticked up:

As a kid I always wanted to put together model airplanes. I was a lot more artistic back then, my mind more elastic and confident that I could accomplish whatever I tried. After the first couple of hours putting this sparrow together I knew exactly why my parents always refused to indulge that whim.

At a certain point it was sheer obstinance driving me—that and the looks some of my coworkers were giving me. I had to finish. It started to come together:

After the last stragglers had filed into the elevator to head home for the night, as the building staff began emptying trash cans around the office, I finished:

And holy shit, it actually looks pretty cool. It’s not perfect; the parts that should be symmetrical aren’t, the edges don’t quite line up, and there are pieces missing (although you wouldn’t know it unless you’d spent four and a half hours putting it together). Also the bottom falls off sometimes.

But tedious as it was I’m glad I spent the time on this. There’s a metaphor about Destiny the video game in here somewhere; about how the game seems monumental and complex, because it is, and how frustrating and tiresome it can be when you’re grinding the same activities over and over just to get your level up a few more points or earn some exotic gun. But then, when the grind is over, your relief and triumph are palpable and real. And you have some new prize to show off to your friends and strangers online.

I tallied up my totals:

And that’s nothing to the 1,000+ hours I’ve spent actually playing Destiny (seriously, I just looked at my stats). I’ve made friends in Destiny and grown closer to those I already had; I’ve conquered every challenge the game has offered so far; I even sold my soul for a ride to the top.

When I finished the model I wasn’t sure whether it’d been worth it, but with a little distance I can say that I’m pretty sure it was—even though, based on some of the Twitter replies I received, it seems the greatest challenge is yet to come:

I hear the Taken have invaded my local arts and crafts store. See you in the model paint aisle, Oryx.

You can buy your own 3D sparrow model kit and feel as accomplished as I do right now for around $20 from Bungie’s official store.

Mike Rougeau is’s Gaming Editor, in charge of all things video games, including the arts and crafts stuff. He lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend and two dogs. Follow him on Twitter @RogueCheddar.