10K Club Interview: Meet Andrew Harkins of NASA Space Shuttle (Saturn V Scale)
As a life long LEGO and Space Shuttle fan, it was almost as though this week's 10K Club member Andrew Harkins a.k.a. KingsKnight, was destined to build and submit his NASA Space Shuttle (Saturn V Scale) to LEGO Ideas. Andrew was kind to share plenty of insight and great images into his meticulous planning process that truly illustrates the passion and time spent on his model.
Help us congratulate Andrew on joining the exclusive LEGO Ideas 10K Club and for sharing his story with us!
- Where are you from?
Los Angeles, California, USA.
- How old are you?
- What do you study or do for a living?
I’m a Character Animator for DreamWorks Animation.
- What hobbies do you have?
Recently it’s been mostly LEGO, but I’m also a huge ice hockey fan and used to play quite a bit, but not so much these days. I also like constructing Halloween costumes. Lately my evenings are spent watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Simpsons while building LEGO.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
My interest began before I can remember. My parents would get me and my siblings LEGO sets and we, along with my cousins, would build all sorts of crazy things like transformers and candy sorters. There was a time we built a LEGO train track ramp down the stairs and attempted to fly our own LEGO airplane creations down it. It was always fun when we were all together playing with LEGO.
^ Andrew took his shuttle to meet its older and slightly bigger sibling.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
Far and away favorite set is the original Black Seas Barracuda (6285). It’s such an amazing and beautiful set. I don’t think it could ever be topped. I still remember that Christmas when I received it as a gift. It was so special to me, that I kept it all these years and now display it proudly at work.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
My favorite element is the one I finally find after looking for half an hour! It’s such a relief!
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I wish I knew more official LEGO designers, but I have been able to find some designers via the LEGO designer videos. Most recently, I love the Simpsons sets by Marcos Bessa, Chris B Johansen and Gita. I would love to see more Simpsons sets (e.g. Kamp Krusty and Moe’s)!
I also like the recent American muscle cars by Craig Callum and the Speed Champions team. The shapes they recreate at that scale are fantastic. The GT40 in particular is an incredible build for its scale. I would love to see more vintage classic muscle cars!
As far as fan designers go, I love the creations by Chris McVeigh (powerpig). His retro builds are clean and very nostalgic for me, and his sketches are extremely creative. I admire that he always seems to be improving old builds, and experimenting and looking for new techniques.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I used to check out MOCPages, Eurobricks, and The Brothers Brick a lot, but lately LEGO Ideas and Instagram have been my main source for finding new creators and creations. I also spend a lot of time on Bricklink looking for parts.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
The Space Shuttle fascinated me as a child. I used to love watching the launches, and hearing about their missions in space. One of my favorite LEGO sets as a child was the 1682 Space Shuttle set. More recently, I’ve been visiting my local museum, The California Science Center, where they house the Space Shuttle orbiter Endeavour. As I said in my proposal, in a couple of years they will be displaying it vertically with a real External Tank and real Solid Rocket Boosters as if ready for liftoff! This may very well be the last big event we see involving the Space Shuttle, and I truly believe it will be a spectacular display! This has been my main inspiration in creating this model, and why I think it would make a great set.
^ Andrew took a very planned approach to the construction of his LEGO model, partly as it was important to keep it in scale
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Definitely the large red-orange External Tank. The correct scale would be about 9.5 studs in diameter (so it could be 9 or 10 studs wide). I ended up making it 9 studs. Because of this odd number, it was challenging to get the proportions correct, to get the edges to line up just right, and to make sure it was structurally sound. I think there is a lot of room for improvement, but it is fairly stable.
- How long did it take to complete the model?
The initial idea was over a year ago, but I didn’t have time to really get going until this summer. From that point, it took several months. I went back and forth building it digitally and physically. Each method of building would inform the other. Earlier on, I was working at a smaller scale, but once I got the Saturn V set, I knew I had to switch it up and build to the same scale. At that point I did a complete rebuild to get the new scale and proportions to match. All the while I had a good friend at work encouraging me to finish it and post it which helped keep me on task.
^ Early sketches shows Andrews thought process while planning and designing
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
I was both ecstatic and exhausted when it finally hit 10,000! I have to admit I was refreshing constantly as it got closer and closer, so it was a relief to get to 10,000 supporters. I never imagined it would ever get there, so I was amazed with how quickly the support seemed to grow. It took a little over 5 weeks.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The Space Shuttle is about 1400 parts (and if you include the launch pad and astro van from the updates, it gets closer to 1800).
^ Andrew's shuttle including his launch pad and astro van updates
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Have fun and build what you love! The passion you have in your idea will show in your build. Also, make sure you make some nice images to go along with your idea. That main image will be the first thing people will see, so make it a good one!
I would also recommend using social media to get the word out. I was able to reach a lot of my own family and friends through my normal social media, but I was also trying to get the word out to interested sites. One such site that wrote up a really great article, was collectSPACE.com, which was then shared with Space.com. Having interested groups read about the project on these pertinent sites helped get the word out. At one point, the manufacturers of the original Space Shuttle Main Engines, Aerojet Rocketdyne, shared the collectSPACE article on twitter. It was incredible! To top that, the highlight was when a real Space Shuttle astronaut, Rick Mastracchio, shared the LEGO Ideas link to all his followers on twitter. I was truly humbled! You never know who will eventually see your project, so it never hurts to get the word out.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
Of course the Saturn V was such a huge inspiration! But I love several of them: The Mars Curiosity Rover, The Back to the Future Time Machine, and I’ve just finished building the amazing new Fishing Store.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
I love that there is a place where people can share their ideas with others, and where those ideas have the chance to become real! There is nothing else like it! I think LEGO has done a such a great service for fans with this.
One tip is if you’re going to build it digitally, I would recommend testing part or all of it by building it physically. That will help make sure it’s stable.
^ The external tank in the works, shows how structurally complex Andrew's model is.
- lego ideas
- 10k club
- andrew harkins
- nasa space shuttle saturn v scale