10K Club Interview: Aaron Chapman of The Toronto Rocket Subway Train - Minifig scale Electric Train
Aaron Chapman, aka Legovader217 on LEGO Ideas, pulls his Toronto Rocket Subway Train into the 10K Club! We do understand that this isn't an official stop on the Torronto Subway, however we can start a petition to make it one... Right? Anyway, hear more about the model, and Aaron below and be sure to congratulate him in the comments below!
- Whats your name?
- Where are you from?
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
Subway Operator for the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission)
- What hobbies do you have?
My personal hobbies are LEGO, Video Games and Movies. Recently I have suffered from a resurgence of making LEGO stop-motion videos.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I started a website originally only showing off my LEGO ideas projects. I have also added my stop-motion LEGO videos, and I am currently adding pictures of my LEGO room, and LEGO collection. The website is www.the6ixbricks.com
- 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 was always the "follow the instructions" kind of LEGO collector. When The LEGO movie came out my daughter screamed out in the theatre "Dad he's just like you" during the part when the Father was upset for the kids playing with his LEGO. The TTC LEGO train was my first MOC as a AFOL. Since then I have created a GIANT 3000 brick TTC logo, a TTC bus and a scaled 5000 brick recreation of TTC's Bloor/yonge Subway Station (one of the busiest subway stations in north America). I also redesigned LEGO set #3723 to my own 2500 brick TTC Operator figure. .
^ One of Aaron's creations - A platform on the Toronto Subway
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
Since I was a child I collected classic space LEGO because it was the Star Wars of my day. When I was a teenager it all got packed away as life moves on. Then a few years ago, my parents moved to a smaller house and I received my a box of my old possessions. I found my old LEGO and began to sort it back to their original designs. I was missing parts so I started a new hobby of trying to restore all my childhood kits. Then I began to acquire some LEGO sets I never had but always wanted as a child.
The floodgates were opened at Toys R Us when I saw a LEGO Star Wars AT-AT walker. My wife encouraged me to get the set for myself. Little did she know that purchase would one day become a whole new way of life for our whole family. So my adult LEGO collection had begun, as I slowly attempted to get all the sets from Star Wars (original trilogy ONLY) new and old. I realized I enjoyed the cataloging, searching and completing sets as much as building them so I originally focused on buying inexpensive in-complete sets online.
- 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.
I have few friends who appreciate LEGO, so I tend to find my LEGO collection to be private hobby. A few select people have visited my LEGO room, however everyone always agrees with my wife that I should sell tickets for tours. I have always been happiest spending my personal free time alone in my LEGO room watching movies while I sort, clean, dismantle, build or restore LEGO sets.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
For me it was all about classic space LEGO. In my younger days I was always a Star Wars fan however Star Wars LEGO didn't exist back then so I had to create my own using the classic space sets.
With the creation of my TTC LEGO project I have begun collecting City, Creator and Creator Expert series sets with intent of making a miniature city with a functional Subway system. For the first time my wife is appreciating the LEGO sets I bring home as they are not more "grey and black" spaceships.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
Classic Space 6970 (Pic #6970). This was THE most played with set from my youth. Finding the instructions for this set was the exact moment I decided to begin restoring my childhood LEGO sets.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Element #3430 Forklift Plate and Light Gray Fork (Picture #3430). I was so enthralled with this piece from my set 924 that I was overly protective of it. Every LEGO play day with my sister or friends at my home I would hide it away with fears of it getting lost or damaged.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I have always been a fan of the final product offered by LEGO I have never really looked into the people behind it. I never realized how alone in this think I was until I was speaking to the local media about my TTC LEGO project. I attempted to steer the story to be all about the LEGO however, they explained to me it's the person behind the idea is what people connect with.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
And many YouTube channels.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Since I have been collecting LEGO as a AFOL my wife sometimes buys me sets she likes or ones that have a personal connection to our lives. Through the years my wife would buy me LEGO sets based on my current job, or career goals I was pursuing. When I ultimately became a train Operator she surprised me with a passenger train set. I was underwhelmed by the lack of realistic functionality, and features compared to the real trains. I know there are plenty of highly detailed LEGO sets out there, however nothing in the world of trains. So I made one.
- 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?
The process was a very long an arduous one for me. It began with me looking for someone else's design online so I could build a subway train not thinking I could do it myself. I was surprised to find that there were no subway trains, either official sets or MOC designs, and the train MOCs available were not minifigure scale. Late January 2017 while searching for MOCs on the web I came across someone talking about LEGO Digital Designer software. I went straight to the computer and downloaded it and started to figure out how it worked.
I was instantly obsessed with using the software to create a minifigure scale LEGO set based on the train I drive. Each day I would go to work and focus on a certain detail of the train cab, exterior, controls or passenger area and go home that night try to figure out how to make it in LEGO. I was unaware of LEGO ideas at the time, and I was building only for myself.
My first design looked like the train however it wasn't buildable as I didn't own those bricks. So I then catalogued all the elements I had that were the right colours. Then from scratch I started using as many of the pieces I owned already and I ordered the parts I was missing. The first design was over 200 hours of work back and forth, digital to practical. Overtime I realized they were better elements and building methods. So I started from scratch many times using the best elements regardless if I owned them or not to make the design as functional as possible.
The second and third versions required a few elements to be spray-painted as they were not available in the colours I needed however it was a fully functional train with all the features I could pack into it. The final version I was able to build is the most stable and accurate as I was even able to source all the elements I needed in the proper colours.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
ALOT of trial and error. I would be at work staring at the real train trying to break it up into sections that resemble LEGO bricks and my colleagues thought I was losing my mind.
The best way I can describe it is imagine working on a puzzle without the picture on the box and all the pieces are upside down. The hardest section to get accurate was the operator's cab / operational controls because of the size limitations of the bricks versus the detail required in order to make it look realistic and to scale.
- If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him/her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
When coming up with an idea don't restrict your design based on the bricks you own or are used to. You have to explore all the elements and how they can work together.
- 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?
The build time vs the time getting to 10,000 votes is like comparing the time it takes to eat an apple vs waiting for a tree to grow an apple. I found the time spent getting the 10,000 votes was much longer than anyone would expect.
Each redesign of the training I have attempted to learn and adapt or changed the bricks around to increase stability and ease of assembly. Making the operators cab removable was one of the best examples of a design change that I came up with to solve many issues with the original design. I considered entered the train as "LEGO City" theme rather than TTC, but I figured the review panel would do that themselves if needed.
Having displayed the TTC lego project at many public events there have been a few train collisions, or children hands grabbing the train that it has needed many re-builds. I can do it from memory now, no instructions needed.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
I experienced pride, excitement, relief and nervousness all in a matter of seconds. I am proud and excited my work has reached this milestone few have been able to do. I am relieved my part time job of "selling" to people so they will go vote is over and I am nervous awaiting the results of the review process. It was a little over 18 months to get all the votes.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The final version is just over 1600 bricks.
The 3rd & 2nd version were each over 1900, and the original design I built using mostly bricks I already owned was 2900.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
The best technique I found is the one where bricks lock together to form a train! As far as building techniques I really like the use of different types of tiles and plates in order to get most of the features to work. (Sliding Doors, Removable Roofs and Cab, Functional Coupler)
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I first used LEGO Digital Designer for my first versions of the train. For the 3rd and final version I used Stud.io from bricklinks because it has a much larger inventory of elements.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to create the custom posters, maps, and stickers for the controls and train signs. I printed them out onto high quality paper and transparent stickers sheets.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Something different, something new. Don't limit your imagination to things you already like or have. Build for yourself, not to win something or to impress others. Look for something you have never scene in LEGO before and build it.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
You name it, I did it. Flyers posted on bus shelters, setting up a display at TTC public events or model shows, Social media posts, funny stop motion videos and commercial on YouTube, website domain www,TOtrain.ca, nagging the local media, I even stood on the street corner handing out cards. It basically was a part time job for me.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
Playable LEGO Piano and Anatomini are both sets I'd find to be amazing and unique.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
The platform is a great way to connect with other fans and see other people's ideas. The best advice I can offer is to do your research first on both subject matter and functional issues. Once you have it designed, do it again, and again. Starting from scratch each time will force you to try new ways to build the puzzle in your mind.
- 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?
My next ideas submission is in the planning stages. It is based on the most iconic teen movie of all time. Definitely something that a brain, an athlete, a princess, a basket case, and a criminal can talk about over breakfast….😁
I also currently have a two sets up for voting, Little Shop of Horrors and We the North -2019 NBA Raptors Champions!
- 10k club
- 10k club interview
- the toronto rocket subway train
- the toronto rocket subway train - minifig scale electric train
- aaron chapman