10K Club Interview: Peter Reilly, creator of Lego HeroQuest
Meet Peter Reilly (aka KingGloriousSquirrel), the creator of LEGO HeroQuest and our 10K Club member in focus this week.
Please do help us congratulate Peter in the comments down below!
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
I studied product design engineering, was briefly a toy designer specializing in tree houses but now design submarines and warships – I have the most random work history haha.
- What hobbies do you have?
I love travel and learning about other cultures. I’m also a terrible but enthusiastic cook and dancer. But I really love doing stuff that gets the adrenaline going, from diving with sharks, paragliding, skydiving and climbing. Planning my next trip for when I can – I really want to see an active volcano erupt and to take my drone photography to the next level.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
Unfortunately not – I have my product design engineering portfolio that shows some of my design work in other industries but the LEGO HeroQuest is the only LEGO creation I have to share at the moment. I’m working on a few other models though that I think will gather some excitement in the community that harken back to my toy designer days.
- 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 have a few work in progress pieces that I’m not ready to showcase just yet but will soon. The only other thing I can think of is the Mars mission competition model I designed. Taking inspiration from when I was designing holiday homes (see random work history) it featured a nano scale lunar build, spaceship and mars landed base as well as a miniature planetary model that I geared to accurately represent the orbit of mars and earth. The main spaceship body was incredibly intricate and could open into a large play set (mars base) and close to form the spaceship with floors becoming walls when spinning through space. There was even a mini Chris Hadfield with guitar hiding in there. I could talk about that design forever as there were so many details hidden in every corner of the build.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I guess the same as most, as a young child. The first set I can remember playing with was 7727-1 Freight Steam Train. Although I suspect my dad bought it also for himself. I loved the forklift mechanism and power functions. Even now I love things like the EV3 set and the possibilities it offers.
- 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.
Ha well the girlfriend is very supportive but I secretly think she reckons I have too much. I’ve become a big fan of the later sets and licensing. Some of the licensed tie-in sets are astounding – take the Batmobiles for example or Lamborghini Sian, just wow. I loved the computer games too as they were just so much fun. The charm and playfulness they display is so good. I own every set from the LEGO Dimensions line and am looking forward to the Skywalker saga releasing later this year.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
Dimensions is the only theme I collected everything for but that was a mishmash of everything in the best possible way. I guess if I had to pick a favorite it would have to be the creative modulars but I was late to the line and so many are out of print.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
Ninjago City and the Docks – a cyberpunk modular set up just overflowing with detail and imagination. Make more of these please! Even as smaller stackable sets with all the different city layers could be cool.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Got to be the jumper. It allows you to build off the stud grid and bring so much more possibilities to your designs.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I watch all the YouTube videos by Brickvault and Just2Good as well as others – I love the moc showcases they put on display from designers all over the world.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I guess brick set and brick link but that’s more to see older sets that are no longer available.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I heard about the LEGO Ideas program and thought I would give it a shot. I spent a long time thinking about what I could design that hadn’t been done before. I had several ideas that I rejected when I saw there was already a design submitted so I dug deep into my childhood and remembered the fantasy game I played as a kid and then had my eureka moment. I felt the concept of the game and the contained map layout could make it a perfect fit for the LEGO format and for the rebirth of a much-loved board game with an enduring and strong fan base.
- 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 guess with the benefit of being a product design engineer I was able to tackle this as any other product development, with market research, concept design and detail design. I considered that with the game having such a cult following, anything other than a full reproduction would be an injustice to the original.
My first draft, I went all in with dungeon walls and a far more detailed board but soon realized that my part count was far in excess of what would be possible. So I stripped the design back to what you now see. I researched the original game components and rules and developed a game system that would allow for players to replay all the original quests as well as a board that could potentially be modified for future expansions. About four months of development, redesign and experimentation went into getting the project to its final form.
I then had a go at recreating the now iconic box artwork in a LEGO format using some forced perspective tricks to get the rendering just right and then some touch up in Photoshop. I would be keen to submit LEGO versions of the rule and quest books as well as treasure cards if LEGO are keen?
I am aware there is some complexity to the IP but given LEGO's impressive track record with lines like Dimensions, I believe the LEGO group would be able to make this project a reality. The reason I chose HeroQuest over other classics was the generic fantasy setting. If LEGO wanted, it would not be difficult to develop a unique LEGO version free of IP restrictions using the original HeroQuest as inspiration.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Maintaining the room layouts as well as the required clear black borders led to a lot of difficulty in alignment and ensuring that every furniture piece and door could be placed anywhere on the board without clashing. The board may look simplistic (it has to be) but it went through so much modification and adjustment to get it to the level that works.
Unlike other models that people make in LEGO, this is a complete game. Every element had to perfectly interact and combine with every other valid element. A design tweak anywhere would ripple through the entire concept. Designing to minifig scale was key and getting everything to finally come together cohesively was its own reward.
I also wanted the hero characters to have their own unique style and to start off as shown:
The dwarf with a short sword (2 attack dice) and the ability to find and disarm traps from the start
The wizard with the staff (1 attack dice) but access to lots of spells
The barbarian with the broad sword (3 attack dice)
The Elf with a short sword (2 attack dice) and a few spells
Note: I have sent on a scan of the original rules that explain how all this works in play, but what is key is that it is an incredibly simple game system for 2 to 5 players and not at all like other dungeon and dragon type games. It is simple, easy to understand and fun and with so much potential for players to build their own adventures.
As the players advance through the quests they will get tougher and better equipped as they find or buy better items:
Players could then customize their characters as they play and the scope for players creating their own characters with LEGO elements and expanding them and creating their own dungeons is limitless. I truly believe this is an Ideas project that could have a long life beyond the initial set.
- If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I should have applied for a job as a LEGO designer years ago. My girlfriend keeps nudging me to do it. In fact, I’m going to look for vacancies this afternoon.
- 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?
I actually did nothing to promote the idea. It just sort of took off on its own. It was my first ever submission too. The fact that it made the 10,000 is incredible but I think it speaks volumes to the fans that want to see HeroQuest return that the idea was welcomed by so many.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Ecstatic! I think it took about a year. There was an insane surge of voting at the start that just blew me away. Then I started seeing my designs popping up on forums and videos around the world talking about the design. It’s all been very surreal but awesome – everything is awesome!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
2989 parts! My first draft was over 10,000 parts – I basically just designed away into the small hours of the night (something I do a lot with creative design projects) with no restrictions. But it was all time well spent. The more detailed versions just show what other players could do to build upon the design.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
There’s a few. The recreation of the gargoyle or some of the furniture pieces. I’m really proud of those. I was also able to cheekily include myself in the design. The original game had a painting above the fireplace – that became my LEGO avatar: King Glorious Squirrel.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
Designed and built entirely in Studio 2.0.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
There are a few – generally, I drew them up in Illustrator or Photoshop and used Part Designer to apply them to the minifig or tile piece. I wanted to keep them to the minimum so only for a few essentials such as certain monsters or the dice did I make my own.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Spend as much time researching the potential idea as designing it. Having a clear concept in mind before you start allows you to develop a much more focused design – it also ensures you don’t run afoul of overlapping someone else’s who may have already had a similar idea. And make sure you have fun doing it!
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
Luck mostly. But I guess the time spent researching potential and vastly varied ideas allowed me to find that little gem that appears to be liked by the community.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
Wall-e or the Saturn V or the Fishing Store are all great Ideas sets that I own and probably among my favorites. Someone also developed an amazing James Bond Lotus set for a competition that I thought would have been a great companion piece to the Aston Martin. Wish I’d come up with that one. There is also a Glados design I quite like.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
LEGO is pure creation. So many industry-leading experts working for the biggest engineering firms got their passion for engineering from playing with LEGO as children. To take time out from designing state of the art aircraft, planes or ships to go back to what first ignited that passion is really something special.
Play is an inherently fundamental part in our development from children to adults. It evokes our curiosity, imagination and teaches as so many skills we rely on in later life. When we are young there are no limits to what we can do – to take that nostalgic step back to what inspired as to create again as we once did just feels so good. To create with that innocence and passion is just so rewarding.
- 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?
I feel so many Ideas submissions are based around existing IP’s (mine included). I would therefore like to design something uniquely my own. I designed a bunch of toys many years ago at university that I would like to redesign in LEGO, complete with motorized components that I think could be a big hit.
I also developed a full solar system model that is accurately geared to the orbital periods of the planets. I think that could make a unique desktop piece. I got the math figured out for it but not the aesthetics yet.
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