You may very well have played one of the numerous videogames that David has worked on, today we welcome the multi-talented David Falkner, a.k.a. LegoWolf, for his LEGO building talents. Originally from the UK, David was inspired to build his Modular Train Station as a result of a long-lasting interest in trains going back to LEGO trains in the 80's, as well as photographs of photographs from nineteenth century European train stations!
How long did it take to build? What challenges did he have to overcome with such a complex modular? David reveals it all in the following interview. Make sure you also check out how David integrated his Modular Train Station with existing official modular buildings.
Help us congratulate David on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!
- Where are you from?
I have lived for most of my life in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My family moved here from the UK originally, but I consider this my home.
- How old are you?
I’m 42 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
I am a software developer and make videogames at BioWare studios, a division of Electronic Arts. I was the Lead Programmer for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic as well as Mass Effect 1 through 3.
- What hobbies do you have?
I love to build, and so I am constantly playing about with models, LEGO, or small programming projects at home. I enjoy photography, which has come in handy when taking product shots of my models. My other big hobby is tabletop roleplaying. I am playing through two different Pathfinder Adventure Paths at the moment.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I have been a fan of LEGO since the first sets that our parents bought for us in the 1970s. All the children in our family enjoyed LEGO, and we pooled our sets together early on to build the largest town we could in my bedroom, along with an enormous pile of loose bricks that we would build crazy stuff with, from marble madness boards to rollercoasters to spaceships that transformed into robots. When I moved out on my own, I did not have enough space for our LEGO collection, and so I had to content myself with a single Technic set that at least let me noodle about. It was not until a few years ago that I stumbled into my first LEGO shop in Disney World and saw all of the exciting new sets that I had been missing. It is fortunate that I have more space at home now, because it is rapidly filling up with modular buildings, Star Wars and Marvel models and a whole lot more!
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
For purely sentimental reasons, I would have to say “7822 – Railway Station” from 1980. We had limited access to LEGO’s extensive train collections in Canada because of the power conversion challenges with the 12V sets, but this set was brought over by our relatives in the UK and it whet my appetite. I treasured it for its rarity, as well as its enormous size and versatility. That station, as well as the variations that I designed with it, was one of the anchors of our LEGO town. A close second would be “497 – Galaxy Explorer” which was the heart of my space collection.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
I do not have any favourites, although I do prefer bricks that have flexible uses. Large “pre-fab” bricks that serve as entire sections of wall, for instance, are hard to use in different ways that do not look like the original model they were designed for. That said, I have seen some designers here make use of these large bricks in ways that I had never imagined, like the use of DUPLO parts in the Modular Ice Cream Parlor, so perhaps I should try harder!
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
The LEGO designer that inspires me most is Pete Strege, whose models can be found on Flickr. He makes many buildings at a scale that would be difficult for me to imitate, but they are packed with architectural details and interior designs that send me scurrying back to my desk to try out for myself.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Flickr is a treasure trove of LEGO inspiration, and the fan community there is friendly and supportive. I check that feed compulsively. Eurobricks is similar, and also a great resource to refer back to for ideas on techniques.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I have always been a fan of LEGO’s trains. I grew up in the 1980s when LEGO had a selection of rolling stock and locomotives that allowed some of the sophistication of dedicated model railway systems, like electronic signalling and decoupling. From the time I got my first train set, the railway layout became a key feature of our LEGO town. Years later, once LEGO started releasing modular buildings, that old excitement was rekindled and I started to plan out a new LEGO street. It just felt incomplete without a train but there was no clear way to bring them together, and so I decided to fix that problem.
^ Modular buildings have a special place in David's heart.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
The trickiest and most important part was definitely the glass roof. I had a clear idea of the arch shape that I wanted because I had pulled together many reference photographs from nineteenth century European train stations, but curved surfaces require ingenuity in LEGO. Other LEGO modellers have created some fantastic glass canopies, although usually at a larger scale than I could not accommodate in my 32x32 baseplate. I went through three or four different iterations before settling on a similar technique to the skylight in LEGO’s “10224 - Town Hall”. The scalloped effect to the roofline was not my original intent, but rather a happy accident that I embraced as I played with various techniques to build the curve that I wanted.
- How long did it take to complete the model?
The first version was the work of a couple of weekends. It was exciting to try my hand at the level of detail required for a modular building, and so the work was very focused, and I lost sleep as I lost track of time. The later versions were spread out over about four months, as I realised what I did not like about the design and puzzled out better solutions. My friends and family had valuable suggestions for improvements too. I took my time with this phase until I felt my changes were just changes and no longer improvements. You can see some of the major iterations in my flickr album.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
It took a little over 8 months to hit 10,000. Actually, it took precisely 246 days, which I know because I checked compulsively; I even wrote a Python script to help me stay up to date with the results! The initial response was overwhelming, taking me over 2800 votes in the first two weeks, but inevitably, the pace became slower and steadier after that. The support for my model was exciting and flattering, and I think the interest indicates that my model fills a practical need for a lot of people’s LEGO towns.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
I used 3006 bricks, which is a bit high for a modular building because I have included an unusual level of detail in the back as well as the front. I can think of several ways to bring the part count down, but I have avoided making those changes so far because I am not certain which approaches would reduce the cost of the set while preserving the look best. For instance, is it more helpful to reduce the number of bricks, the total weight, or the number of different types of brick? I hope that the review process will give me some helpful suggestions.
^ David shows how his Modular Train Station came to life!
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
I think a lot of people are already doing it right: design something that you are passionate about, because the most important thing is to have fun. But the best thing to do if you want your project to be successful is consider what other LEGO fans like too, and what kind of play your model can give them. Once you have posted, be gracious with feedback, both complimentary and constructive, and be generous with your feedback on other people’s models too. And, of course, post in all the places where you think people who would might support your model congregate, including LEGO fan sites, social networks and special interest sites. I advertised to some model railway groups, for instance.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
If you were to ask me that question every week, I would give a different answer each time! There are so many wonderful projects to choose from, and browsing new models is addictive. At the moment I am quite partial to The Parthenon, which is rather like an Architecture series model, but at a larger scale and with tremendous detail packed in, from the painted marble frescos to the statue of Athena in the centre. It is a lovely use of the owl part.
- You have other projects on LEGO Ideas, what is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
I have been delighted to discover how welcoming and supportive the AFOL community is. LEGO Ideas is a great place to share your designs, where people are generous with their support as well as suggestions for improving your designs. I recommend sharing your model on the site regardless of its chances of making it to production. If nothing else, you might make new friends on the way. It is also a great place to browse for inspiration. The best tip that I can think of before designing a model for LEGO Ideas is to consider who your audience is and what they will be able to do with your set. Is the model just attractive and nostalgic, or is there also some kind of fun people can have with it? I have seen several sets on LEGO Ideas that would obviously make my town more interesting, or that would be great for play, and those ones excite me the most.
^ How many LEGO Ideas sets can you spot in the above photo?
- lego ideas
- 10k club
- david falkner
- modular train station