10K Club Interview: Introducing Liam Spall of the Working Waterfall - with Continuous Flowing Water!
We really hope you enjoy reading this interview. Please congratulate Liam in the comments below too! :D
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
I’m from Essex, UK.
- How old are you?
I’m 20 years old.
- What do you do for a living?
I work as an IT engineer at an airport.
- 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 travelling and exploring different countries and places, because this provides a lot of inspiration to me, and I always like trying new things!
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I upload all of my creations to my YouTube channel!
- 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 love building MOCs that combine aesthetics with functionality, as I like the challenge of integrating complex Technic mechanisms into small, minifigure-scale models. A couple of my favourites include a working ATM that dispenses money at the push of a button, a playable pinball machine, and a grand piano with tiny functional keys!
I’m also particularly proud of another much larger MOC: a motorized LEGO race track which includes four cars that actually drive around it, with the help of a special magnetic conveyor belt mechanism hidden underneath the road!
- How and when did your interest for LEGO 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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 Beyond the Brick, Robin Hood Bricks, and JANGBRiCKS.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I knew I wanted to build something really unique that is unlike anything else that LEGO currently produces. I also wanted to design something that not only looks great on display, but also includes a functional mechanism that brings the creation to life and adds a whole new level of playability.
In addition, I have visited many real life waterfalls in the Lake District and in Thailand, and I thought it would be cool to recreate a LEGO waterfall with a realistic flowing water effect that actually transports transparent-blue “water” 1x1 studs in a continuous cycle. I wanted to really capture the motion of a waterfall, as well as create the feeling of a natural wonder with lots of little details to be explored!
- 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 spent about two weeks building the Working Waterfall, and another several days photographing and filming it. I researched a lot of real life waterfalls, mountains and cave systems to get a better understanding of these types of natural formations from all around the world. This helped inspire the small touches such as the pine trees and eagle’s nest.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
The biggest challenge I faced was designing the main mechanism to create the continuous flowing water effect, which went through many iterations before arriving at the final design. Some of the prototypes included using barrels attached to a chain of Technic link treads which moved around to collect the water, and even an automatic 1x1 stud launcher that fired the studs back up to the top of the waterfall! While those were certainly fun, I’m happy with how the final mechanism turned out because it is the smoothest and most compact design.
- 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?
Overall, I’d say the construction went quite quickly – it took around 3 to 4 days for prototyping, another 7 to 8 days of building, and an extra day for the finishing touches. As for promoting my idea, I spent another 3 or 4 solid days on the presentation of my project in the form of photos and videos which I shared on my social media channels.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
It felt amazing to reach 10,000 supporters! It took just over four and a half months to get there and it was great fun responding to all of the great comments and positive feedback. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to support my project, and I am very thankful for this exciting opportunity!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
I haven’t done an exact count, but I estimate it is between 2000 to 2500 bricks in total. I reckon the part count could easily be lowered by utilising even larger pieces around the base of the model, and the number of motors could be reduced down to a single motor using some kind of gearbox.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
Apart from the main waterfall mechanism, my favourite part is the path that winds through every part of the mountain and allows minifigures to walk all the way to the top. I think it’s especially cool how the path goes across a bridge that extends behind the stream of the waterfall – you can even see the water moving in front of it!
I also like how my Working Waterfall fits perfectly in any layout. For example, it goes well with any theme, whether it’s modern, castle, pirates, or jungle!
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
My best advice would be to focus on creating something that is completely original, something that you’ve always wanted to make! 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!
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
I initially advertised my idea on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, where I posted videos of my Working Waterfall in action. I was also fortunate to be featured in issue 65 of Blocks Magazine, where I talked about the design of my waterfall. Apart from that, the rest of the support for my project has grown organically, which I am very appreciative of!
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
I love Il Buono’s Sheriff's Safe with Combination Lock (https://ideas.lego.com/projects/ef3b2103-0002-4b76-9346-dd6b1f5815ec) for the awesome working lock mechanism and the fantastic Wild West theme! It's very impressive how they have managed to fit such a complicated mechanism into such a compact space.
- 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!
- 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 a lot more ideas I’d love to submit! I won’t give anything away, but all I’ll say is if you like functional models then you are in for a treat!
- liam spall
- 10k club
- 10k club interview
- working waterfall
- working waterfall - with continuous flowing water