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10K Club Interview: Meet Diego Maximino Prieto Álvarez of Jurassic Park Visitor Center

Today we welcome you to say hello to the talented Diego Maximino Prieto Álvarez, a.k.a. LDiEgo - this weeks LEGO Ideas 10K Club member. Diego is the mastermind fan designer behind the iconic Jurassic Park Visitor Center! His passion for LEGO and Jurassic Park led him down a several year long journey that eventually led to 10,000 supporters on LEGO Ideas. Diego shares all his experiences from this journey; from why he specifically created the visitor center to the challenges he faced when building it! Diego also adds some incredibly useful advice on how to attract supporters to your project.

Help us congratulate Diego on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!

 

 

About Yourself

  1. Where are you from?
    I’m from Salamanca, Spain.

 

  1. How old are you?
    I am 23 years old. As a curious note, I was born just a few weeks after the theatrical release of Jurassic Park.

 

  1. What do you study or do for a living?
    I have finished a degree on Fine Arts. I am currently looking for a job that could suit my needs and expectations in a creative field.

 

  1. What hobbies do you have?
    LEGO, Obviously! Apart from that, you can guess that anything related to dinosaurs and movies (classics and blockbusters) also gets my attention. Especially the original Star Wars trilogy, or any other film with a noticeable production design behind the scenes. From drawing to storytelling, as well as model making. Any form of creative expression can always catch my interest.

 

  1. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
    I have been playing with LEGO bricks as far as I can remember, since I was a 3 year old kid building with a DUPLO. As I was growing up there was always a theme I liked, from Space to Adventurers. Product lines like BIONICLE and movie-based themes kept me interested in LEGO even as a teenager.

 

  1. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    If I look for the most impressive build, I could point at any huge set, particularly the 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer - one of the most insane sets ever.

    But in order to say something more unusual, I must admit 1349-1 Steven Spielberg Moviemaker Set is one of my favourites. Not only for matching my tastes with subtle Jurassic Park connections, but also for his box presentation and manual, which is basically an informative book. In that sense, it could be considered a precursor of the modern “special” sets with a documented booklet, like the LEGO Ideas ones.

 

  1. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    Many elements introduced in the last few years have been quite handy. One I already use too often is the 99780 Angular Plate 1.5 Bot. 1X2 1/2. Used in conjunction with older parts like the "headlight brick" 4070 (which is a common fan favourite), provides stronger and more sophisticated sideways builds.

 

  1. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    I think every designer has a particular and defining style: Jamie Berard makes nice use of parts in limited spaces, Mark Stafford is good at doing playable vehicles, whilst Adrian Florea’s sets always uses bold techniques. I could continue to list the designers’ strongest points all day.

    I cannot hide that Marcos Bessa’s sets have always been highly influential. His approach to any piece of pop culture is always accurate and respectful to the source material, but keeping a solid design at the same time. Even his non-licensed set, 10245 Santa’s Workshop, somehow looks “iconic”.

    Not only the builders, but also the graphic designers have been an important inspiration. I worked about a full year making the minifigure decorations for my Visitor Center, which has made me appreciate their work much more!

 

  1.  Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    To keep me on track about news and future releases, I periodically consult some popular fan websites like Brickset or The Brick Fan.

    I also read forum discussions on Eurobricks or HispaLUG. The latter is a Spanish LEGO User Group through which I have made some collaborations.

    The Brothers Brick is the place to go when I am curious to see really jaw-dropping creations. If I prefer to look for more feasible builds then I visit Brickshelf and LEGO groups on Flickr as they are good sources for inspiration. 

 

About Your Project

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    Since I was a kid playing with LEGO bricks, and a dinosaur enthusiast, I have always enjoyed the Jurassic Park movies. Despite its scientific inaccuracies, the first installment is an instant classic that has aged well over time (both by its technical effects and by the cast’s plotlines) and is still appreciated by modern generations. Thus, I have always wished to get an official set based on this license. I wanted it not only for the buildings, but also for the minifigure versions of its charismatic human characters.

    Eventually, there had been sets inspired by the sequels, but nothing based on the classic original film has been released yet. If there was a flagship Jurassic Park set then a structure from the original film would be the best choice, as most of their first fans are adults already (so there is room for a more complex building), and some of them even have their own families (so there is also room for a play experience to share with children).

    The visitor center is one of the most recognisable landmarks from the series, so it seems to be the perfect candidate for a construction toy. In a movie where the dinosaurs get just 15 minutes of screen time, this is the actual place where a great portion of the events took place.

 

  1. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    Several sections were a challenge.

    One of the trickiest parts was the front facade. The set is supposed to be aimed at an adult audience, so it deserves a more sophisticated build worthy of display. Instead of going by easier building routes, I paid attention to little details like the diagonal notches in the gray doorframe, and tried to look for the best way to represent them without using any sticker or decoration.

    Matching the inner rooms with the exterior was another complication. I was forced to do a cramped interior. After all, existing LEGO kits already present compact interiors even in large products. Doing everything at a real scale would have turned the final project too big for a realistic set release. Some sections could have been removed or published as separate projects, but this would have reduced the “wow” factor, and would have broken the cohesive aspect of the model. To minimize this small scale issue, the floors can be unfolded or detached for better interaction with model.

 

  1. How long did it take to complete the model?
    This project took me much longer than expected!

    Putting aside the fact that the concept was in my mind for years, I officially started to work on it back in 2012, around the time the “BTTF DeLorean Time Machine” set project was approved. I considered that such a set could open the door for another of Universal’s popular franchises in terms of license agreements.

    I worked on it from time to time, but the design kept going on hold on several occasions, especially in 2013, when Jurassic Park ideas were not allowed on LEGO Ideas.

    When LEGO got the license in 2014, I was surprised that all the focus was around the 4th movie. I thought this could be the last chance for the Visitor Center to get made, so I pushed it forward as fast as I could.

    Once the project was submitted, the work never stopped. While it was gathering support, I spent the following 9 months doing some updates and minifigure designs highly requested by the Ideas community in their comments.

    Even after reaching 10k, I still have been working on the project. How is that possible? Well, creating the building instructions so that the review team could evaluate the model to its full extent.

    It has been a really long journey, and the work has never seemed to end.

 

  1. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
    It was an uplifting and pleasing experience to finally reach the required supports. The most satisfying aspect by far was to gather all the votes sooner than expected - in less than a year.

    However, this was the second time I was fortunate to achieve that goal. Therefore, instead of being excited and relaxed, I took into consideration the great opportunity I had in my hands and I continued working on the project; making instructions and refining the graphic designs to offer the most complete content as possible for the review board.

    The 10k supporters are just the first step, after all.

 

  1. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    I used 2677 digital elements approximately.


About LEGO Ideas

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    I don’t think there is a secret formula to succeed. However, in my experience, there are at least two important matters to pay attention to:

    First of all, the main picture must easily communicate the project’s content. Regardless of the secondary pictures or the description text, that main unchangeable image is the first and true message you are sending to grab the attention of potential supporters. I personally get better results when I use a picture that brings a global view of the creation and piques the curiosity to see it at a larger size. People will not support the project if they do not care to check out the project in the first place. I have seen many great projects not getting its fair share of well-deserved supports, simply because the main picture is not informative enough.

    Secondly, the work never stops. It is common practice to consider that the projects owner’s role has ended once he/she submitted his/her set idea. The truth is, when you upload your creation, you just cannot sit back and wait for the supports. You should make use of the available complementary tabs “Comments” and “Updates”. I recommend reading the opinions left by other users, and never underestimate them. That feedback can be helpful to know if there is anything wrong which you can still change in an update, keeping the project fresh constantly.

^ We're pretty sure of at least 3 things. The talented Diego loves LEGO, Star Wars and Jurassic Park!

 

  1. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
    There are too many projects that I like. Some of them were even lucky to become official sets. I would like to point at two particular ones:

    In terms of IP based ideas, one of my favourites is “Portal: Still Alive”. With an accurate and clean design, the creator does a great job featuring the most representative elements from the Portal 2 video game in a part-wise build, perfect for display. After the debut of Chell in LEGO Dimensions, some fans would be GLAD to also see her main antagonist in LEGO form. The complementary characters are the icing on the cake… and this one is not a lie!

    If we are looking for completely original ideas, my favourite is “Tiny Adventure”. It has everything you could be looking for: A good novel concept, charming character designs, clever building solutions, several functions that offer play value, and even a story with an educational message. I honestly cannot believe this project is not in the review stage yet.

 

  1. 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 like the fact that there is an official platform to voice the fan’s wishes and demands, so that LEGO can more easily search for the next big thing. Both parties get what they want.

    In the past, fan communities have always speculated about future products based on their favourite IPs, while others wanted to see specific fan creations turned into official LEGO sets. LEGO Ideas feels like the perfect bridge to make those wishes be seriously acknowledged.

    To anyone considering submitting their own idea, I would say:

    - First of all, check if there is already an idea similar to yours on the site. A new support to an existing project can be stronger than loads of individual projects from the same subject matter.

    - Don’t be afraid if your idea is not similar to others. That means you have something new on your mind. Do it.

    - The pictures are crucial, and cannot be edited. Therefore, make sure to pay attention to the quality of your photos. If you are using LDD, realistic renders are not an option. Use “LDDtoPOV-Ray converter” or “Bluerender" software to produce better images of your creation.

 

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