10K Club Interview: Steve Guinness' ingenuity was key, in creating his LEGO Typewriter!
You couldn't write it, a dream come true for Steve Guinness (aka Steve Guinness) who reached 10K votes with his LEGO Typewriter... Come to think of it you probably could write it! Learn more about Steve and his project based on some tech, most of you reading this would probably not have used!:
- What is your name?
- Where are you from?
Chester in the UK.
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
I have been a secondary school Teacher for the last 18 years, but have recently set up my own business, making bespoke LEGO models and running LEGO workshops for local Schools, Libraries and Museums.
- What hobbies do you have?
I am passionate about creativity and love LEGO, as well as woodwork.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
My Instagram is @thebrickconsultant, my flickr is sixfootfivelegofan and my website is thebrickconsultant.
- 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 was lucky enough to enter and win the original LEGO Masters competition on Channel 4 here in the UK, My best build has to be from the LEGOMasters final in 2017, where me and my teammate Nate built a 2x2m life size MOC representing the importance of a work/play balance in life.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I have been interested in LEGO ever since I was a small child, it’s a fantastic system that allows me to be creative. If you have imagination, and enough bricks you can literally make anything!
- 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.
LEGO is my Hobby, but now also my Job! To me it means creativity, fun and play. It is something that everyone can relate to and I’m passionate about encouraging more adults to realize that It’s not just a kids toy, but can be used by any age. I’ve been an active member of my local LUG, Northern Brickworks for 5 years and enjoy displaying MOCs at local events and shows.
- 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 Childhood favorite was Classic LEGO Space, but now I love a range of sets from Mixels, Creator 3 in 1 to Expert Modular sets. I don’t have a particular building style and love to build a wide range of MOCs to stretch my skills and continue learning.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?`
It has to be the classic space set 6971 as I has fond memories of putting it in my letter to Father Christmas and then receiving it on Christmas morning with great excitement.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I was lucky enough to meet a number of LEGO designers and Certified Professionals during the filming of the LEGO Masters competition back in 2017. It was an honor to meet them all and I was very jealous of their profession! Matthew Ashton (the vice president of Design at LEGO) in particular was great to meet, he acted as the head judge on the TV show, which meant that he gave us feedback on our creations each week, this was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn and really work hard to improve my own skills week by week as the competition progressed.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Bricklink and Brickset have to be my two most visited websites, Bricklink is my go to place to buy parts and Brick Set has so many fantastic features, news, reviews and an incredible database of pieces, sets and instructions.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I originally came up with the idea as part of a build on the LEGO Masters competition, which I then modified and improved to make it in to the LEGO Ideas submission. My hope is that it is something totally different from anything that LEGO has ever done before, it showcases that fact that you really can make anything out of LEGO and it will hopefully bring nostalgia to adult fans like me, and wonder and curiosity to younger fans who might not have ever seen a real typewriter!
- 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?
Initially I designed it over a two week period, but have since spent much longer revising and improving it and have in fact made around 7 different versions. I bought a vintage typewriter for my research and then played around with bricks and the mechanism until I was happy with the design. I had some round tiles printed up with letters for the keyboard, but everything else is standard LEGO pieces.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
I have thought a lot about the keyboard layout, and come up with a number of different variations. Eventually I decided to limit the overall size of the typewriter and so therefore had to make some compromises with the keyboard layout. I will be very interested to see what the LEGO design team do with the design and look forward to working with them to continue to improve the design if my idea is selected in the final review.
- If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him/her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
“It’s going to be a long journey. Coming up with the idea is the easy bit!” It can be very hard and challenging to keep momentum going when trying to get the 10,000 votes required, I did a lot of LEGO shows, gave out a lot of flyers, and eventually my efforts paid off. Its hard work but every vote of support or positive comment received or posted on the LEGO ideas site meant so much to me.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
I was up in the middle of the night at around 3.10am when the final vote of support came in. It was a fantastic sense of relief, and achievement, but at the same time the realization that the final decision is now out of my hands. I have to hope that the LEGO Ideas review board can see all the positives in the design, the uniqueness of the idea and keep my fingers crossed for their final decision!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
I have made a few different versions, but in the official submission I believe there are 1254 pieces.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
I am really pleased with the mechanical part of the design, and the way that the hand crank works. It produces a realistic movement and also a great clicking sound that really reminds me of a real typewriter.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
I used the company minifig.me to create my custom prints for the keyboard. They were really helpful, enabling me to create exactly the look I wanted on my final model.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Create something unique, I personally am not a fan of all the licensed themes and associated products, I prefer to see totally original ideas that spark imagination and showcase the versatility of the LEGO brick.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
I exhibited the typewriter at a number of LEGO shows, had it on display in my local library, and printed out flyers explaining how to register support. I was also lucky enough to get some articles and blogs on some major websites such as Brickset, which really gave my submission a great boost of support.
- 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 its great that LEGO has this platform and is willing to engage with fans and look at their ideas. My advise would be to show your idea to friends and family and if possible a wider audience at a LEGO show or similar before you launch the idea. You may think it’s the best thing ever, but you need to consider if other people will like it as well! 10,000 supporters is a high target to reach and not an easy task. But if you do have an original idea, go for it and good luck!
- 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?
Not at the moment, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the future. I think that will depend on the decision of the review board. A positive outcome will be so exciting, like a dream come true, but I worry that a negative outcome will be a real disappointment and may put me off from doing it all again! (So fingers crossed!)
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