In today's 10K Club Interview, we introduce Florian, known as Brick Hammer, who is definitely familiar among LEGO Ideas fans. It is a 5-fold 10K badge holder and his builds include, for example, Terry Pratchett's Discworld. The idea for his project is connected to studies at university and as the name suggests, something to do with Viking culture.
- Who are you?
My name is Florian. On LEGO Ideas I go by the name “BrickHammer”.
- Where are you from?
I am from Heidelberg, an old university town in southern Germany, which is often visited by tourists from all over the world because of the town’s beautiful historic center and the famous Heidelberg castle.
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
I studied English, History, Political Science and Economics to become a teacher. When I designed my first projects, I was just about to take my final exams.
- What hobbies do you have?
Usually, I am a very active person. I spend most of my free time training martial arts, mainly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I also like to go on hiking trips or spend time indoors reading fantasy novels and watching movies.
Since training martial arts has been impossible in Germany for the last couple of months due to the pandemic, I re-discovered my love for LEGO in the spring of 2020. It all started with me purchasing the new LEGO IDEAS’ set “Pirates of Barracuda Bay” as a project to fill the additional free time. I was instantly fascinated by the idea that anyone could become a fan designer! Since then, I have now purchased several other sets and created 14 submissions on LEGO IDEAS with two of them hitting 10k. Thus, LEGO has now become one of my favourite and most time-consuming hobbies!
Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I only use LEGO IDEAS to share my projects since I barely use social media. People who like my building style should therefore simply check out my LEGO IDEAS profile page.
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?
The three creations I am most proud of are all part of my amazing ongoing LEGO IDEAS journey: “Terry Pratchett’s Discworld”, “Viking Village” and “The King’s Castle”! Each one of them is very special to me due to very different reasons:
The Discworld was my first project that hit the magical 10K mark, a feat I would have never dreamed to achieve so quickly (or at all).
The Viking Village just hit the 10K mark a couple of days ago and this achievement felt even more special than the success of the Discworld because the Viking Village was not based on a famous IP but solely on my own imagination.
The King’s Castle is my newest project and while it has not gathered that many supporters yet, I feel like it is the living proof for my constantly evolving and improving building skills. Especially compared to the first castle I submitted to LEGO IDEAS, The King’s Castle is so much more proficient.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I started playing with LEGO bricks when I was about 3 years old and have loved the product ever since. However, during my teen and early adult years, I partially lost interest and focused more on sports and gaming.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I rediscovered my love for LEGO products and creative building: I started by buying the recent Barracuda Bay set and then went on to design my own ideas with the digital designer stud.io.
- 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.
For me, LEGO products are both my favourite childhood toy and a creative outlet that helps me to express my love for history and fantasy in a unique way.
- 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 LEGO theme of all time is the classic castle theme. When I was young my older cousins owned both 6086-1 and the 6090 castle and I was always so jealous and amazed at the same time.
My love for the castle theme inspired me to mainly focus my LEGO Ideas submissions on medieval or historic themed projects like the “Imperial Island Fort”, the “Viking Village” or “The King’s Castle”!
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
My favourite set of all time is the 6086 castle. For me, it is the best official LEGO castle ever created. It combines playability with a lot of features that can be found in real-life castles and has thus a certain degree of realism while still being an amazing toy for children.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
My favourite LEGO elements are all brick modified with studs on the side. During my childhood, LEGO was mostly putting bricks on top of each other and very rarely on their sides. Nowadays building snot constructions is so much easier than when I first stopped playing with LEGO in my early teen years. When I returned to playing with LEGOs I was really amazed by the many new creative ways made possible by these new brick modifieds.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Since I honestly do not know many official designers, I would have to say I was indirectly inspired by the fan designer Bricky_Brick and therefore I choose him. Due to his creation of Pirate Bay, I rediscovered my love for LEGO and started making my own projects. However, I would say our building style and topic selection differs a lot.
Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I regularly visit Eurobricks and Bricklink. I can recommend Eurobricks to any AFOL looking for inspiration or simply a good place to talk about MOCs and other LEGO-related things. It is truly an amazing fan forum!
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Even though the “Viking Village” does not try to depict a realistic historic Viking village (e.g. I chose to include the 100% imaginary helmets with horns) the idea for the project was actually sparked by my own studies at university: One of the main topics of one of my final exams was the Norman conquest of 1066 and the influence it had on Anglo-Saxon society. As a result of reading several books about Norman (French) culture and its origins in Danish Viking culture, I just had to create a Viking MOC.
- 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?
Once I have an idea that really inspires me the actual building process is fairly quick and straightforward: Building the Viking Village took me about ten days plus a couple more days to create the rendered pictures.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
The most difficult part was finding the right size for the different buildings. I wanted to create the feel of a whole village, which is a difficult thing to achieve while trying to stay below a certain number of bricks. Therefore, I had to try out different sizes of buildings and calculate how many pieces it would roughly take to build the village in a certain size while still having enough pieces left for decoration and details.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Reaching 10K votes with the “Viking Village” felt a lot more rewarding than when I hit 10k with “The Discworld”, since this time I know the support was fully based on my design and not aided by a big and popular IP.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The build consists of roughly 2100 pieces.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
My favourite part about the “Viking Village” is a rather small and seemingly unimportant detail: It is the way I built the doors. Even though they are simply double gates with rounded tops that are framed by a square door frame to make them look square, I was super happy when I finally had found this configuration. Before that, I was using the standard arcs in front of the gates and it did not feel quite right, because archaeological findings of Viking architecture mostly include square doors with no arcs.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I used stud.io.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
I think it is important that you try to design something that you yourself would love to buy or would have loved to have as a child. Do not try to copy others’ designs. Creativity is key.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
My favourite IDEAS project so far is the Barracuda Bay. Without its release, I had not rediscovered my passion for LEGO.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
In my opinion, LEGO IDEAS is an amazing opportunity to share your projects with the additional upside of having a chance to become an official fan designer! It is a dream come true for everyone who grew up playing with LEGOs and always dreamed about having their homemade project officially released.
- 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?
Since submitting the “Viking Village” I have already submitted four brand new projects! “The Luxurious Superyacht”, “Johnny Thunder’s Egyptian Museum”, “Red Rock Goldmine Hideout” and “The King’s Castle”!
Currently, I am already working on another slightly smaller project but it is unfortunately too early to reveal anything.
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