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10K CLUB INTERVIEW: Liam Spall, Creator of Working Bowling Alley

Congratulations to Liam, in our LEGO Ideas community known as LEGOParadise! He presents you, not only a visually appealing but also a functional model - Working Bowling Alley - With Functional Pinsetter & Ball Return! 

 

ABOUT YOURSELF

  1. Who are you? 
    Liam Spall


     
  2. Where are you from?
    I’m from Essex, UK.
     
  3. How old are you?
    I’m 21 years old.
     
  4. What do you do for a living?
    I work as an IT engineer at an airport.
     
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    I have a very wide variety of hobbies and interests! Of course, I love building LEGO, and I combine this with my interests in filming and photography to share my creations with the world. I enjoy drawing and graphic design, and I’m also interested in games development, 3D modeling, and programming. I love traveling and exploring different countries and places because this provides a lot of inspiration to me, and I always like trying new things!
     
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    I upload all of my creations to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7IM6pkiwrOmNYGTGG6GUaw
     
  7. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud it and do you have a photo of it?
    I’m currently building one of my dream MOCs; an entire castle kingdom complete with a gigantic medieval city featuring lots of functional mechanisms. For example, there’s a jousting tournament with horses that ride around, a docked ship that gently rocks from side to side as if it’s floating on waves, a blacksmith’s shop with a waterwheel-powered trip hammer, and even a band of musicians who move around as they play their instruments! It’s still a work in progress, but I’d say this is the MOC I’m most proud of.


     
  8. How and when did your interest for LEGO products come about?
    I’ve been into LEGO my whole life. The infinite potential to create whatever you want has always fascinated me, and that’s what makes the LEGO system so appealing. I’ve always loved coming up with my own designs – it’s almost like a puzzle, trying to find the right pieces to fit the job – and nothing beats the fun of inventing a new building technique or mechanism!
     
  9. What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games.. or 'just' watch the cartoons. 
    While my main focus is building, I also enjoy collecting sets and minifigures. It’s exciting seeing all of the new parts and colours available in every new wave of sets, especially during the last few years where it seems like the variety of elements and details within official sets has increased exponentially.

    It’s great interacting with the community as well, because it really highlights how global this hobby is, talking to people from all corners of the world who all share an interest in the brick. Through this, I have also learned about many sub-interests which each have their own dedicated communities; for example sorting and storing LEGO, collecting monochrome minifigures, and constructing giant LEGO cities.
     
  10. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    My favourite current theme is Creator Expert with all of the modular buildings, which include such a high level of detail within their design. I have picked up a lot of useful techniques from this theme, and I aim to match the same level of detail in my own creations.
     
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    My favourite set is 70620 NINJAGO City. The incredible selection of parts, ingenious building techniques, and unique design make it really stand out. 
     
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    50018 Mini Accessory, NO. 11. This element is a multipack of 14 different (and really unusual) connectors, nozzles, and mechanical arms. These are a relatively new set of pieces and they unlock a whole bunch of new possibilities for small constructions, plus they are a cool silver colour!
     
  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    I’d like to highlight three fan designers that inspire me:

    Vince Toulouse (https://www.flickr.com/photos/vince_toulouse/) creates extraordinary art-deco style spaceships and vehicles, using specialized LEGO elements and unusual colours in unbelievably imaginative ways.

    Marcus Paul aka ER0L (https://www.flickr.com/photos/er0l/) builds fantastic minifigure-scale cars, boats, trains and planes that are instantly recognizable, featuring realistic proportions and excellent attention to detail.

    Dylan aka TheMooseFigs (https://flickr.com/photos/99717434@N04/) designs amazing custom minifigures based on characters from a variety of movies, TV shows, and games, using expert skill and craftsmanship.
     
  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    I visit Brickset for the latest LEGO news, The Brothers Brick for awesome MOCs, and New Elementary to learn about the latest elements and parts!

    I also follow several LEGO-based YouTubers including JK Brickworks, Robin Hood Bricks, and Dr. McBrick.

     

ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I love combining aesthetics with functionality to create models with realistic working play features, and I hadn’t seen anyone else attempt to make a fully playable minifigure-scale bowling alley, so it seemed like an exciting challenge!

    Plus I thought it would make a really unique playset with all of the different moving parts and visual details. I’m sure everyone has fun memories of going bowling with friends and family, and I really wanted to capture this feeling in my design!
     
  2. How long was the process of making the project did, and what did you have to research as well. What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
    I built my Working Bowling Alley gradually over the course of several months, as I gathered inspiration for each section of the build. My research consisted of watching lots of videos of real bowling alleys to see how they work behind the scenes, as well as recalling my own experiences bowling!


     
  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    The biggest challenge I faced was recreating the functional pinsetter mechanism on minifigure scale. Real-life pinsetters are hugely complex machines, and I had to experiment with many different designs before I got one that worked smoothly and reliably. The solution which I ended up using reloads the pins by sliding them into place and depositing them in a pattern on the bowling lane. 
     
  4. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters?
    I didn’t rush this build and intentionally took my time to perfect each section before moving onto the next. Especially with things like the finishing touches, where I made sure to try multiple colour schemes until I arrived at the final classy colour combination of navy and gold. I also spent a lot of time working on the video – getting all those strikes took a lot of practice! 
     
  5. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    There’s no feeling quite like it! It’s always amazing to hit 10K supporters, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has supported my project. There have been so many nice comments – a few of them even from real-life bowling alley operators – which is really awesome to hear. 
     
  6. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    The Working Bowling Alley (including a full set of bowling pins) is built out of exactly 828 LEGO bricks.
     
  7. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    My favourite techniques include using Technic axles to hold the bowling pins in the pinsetter, as well as the long 32 stud axles to transport the balls back to the start. I also like the use of construction fence pieces to act as a bowling ball storage rack!

     

ABOUT LEGO IDEAS

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    Focus on creating something really unique that hasn’t been done before. Think of an activity or object that you enjoy, and then see how that can be translated into LEGO! It’s essential to include plenty of details and play features so that your idea offers something to fans of all ages. I also think having some kind of functionality in your model is important, as it simply makes it more exciting and enhances the value of the potential LEGO set because you get to actually interact with the model after you have built it!
     
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
    I mainly promoted my idea through social media (YouTube, Instagram, etc) with videos demonstrating the model in action. Beyond the Brick offered to share my video on their Facebook page, which also helped attract supporters to my project! 
     
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    I’m really like hachiroku24’s LEGO Insects (https://ideas.lego.com/projects/39eb392e-0a3d-481b-b157-8f586082761e)

    They’ve made use of some very ingenuous parts usage to create really life-like and instantly recognizable brick-built insects.
     
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    I think it’s an amazing platform because it gives anyone the chance to see their idea turned into a real set, which is a dream come true for many fans of LEGO! There are so many unique projects on LEGO Ideas, and it’s really inspiring to see all of the talented builders sharing their passion. If you are thinking of uploading an idea, go for it!
     
  5. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
    Yes! I have many more concepts that I want to realize as LEGO Ideas projects in the future, and all of them will include lots of functional mechanisms!
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • mechanical
  • bowling
  • bowling alley
  • functional
  • game
  • playable
Published
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36 comments