10K Club Interview: It's time for class, in Community - Greendale Community College!
Be sure to congratulate Ivan in the comments as always, down below!
- Who are you?
Hello, my name is Ivan Guerrero.
- Where are you from?
I’m from the Philippines.
- What do you do for a living?
I direct commercials for a living.
- What hobbies do you have?
Aside from designing with LEGO, I’ve recently started building miniatures. I also enjoy collecting comic books and Muppet memorabilia.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
You can follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/LEGOIdeasSesameStreet and Instagram at @legosesamestreet.
- 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’m quite proud of my recent LEGO Ideas Astroboy build, based on the classic Japanese cartoon and manga of the same name. I’m not used to building large three-dimensional figures like that, so it really challenged me to build out of my comfort zone.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I was exposed to LEGO at a very young age. Some of my very first sets include the LEGOLAND Police Car (6623) and Turbo Prop (6687). I rediscovered my love of LEGO a few years ago, mostly because of LEGO Ideas sets based on my favorite movies.
- 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 is an amazing medium for creative expression. There are an infinite number of ways to design and build. You can construct the same model in so many ways, using different techniques. Also, there is something about constructing with interlocking bricks that I find both satisfying and challenging. It’s like building a jigsaw puzzle, but you don’t really know what the puzzle will look like. During these very uncertain times, I would also add that building LEGO projects has also been very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
I really enjoyed the LEGO Ghostbusters line. It gave us some of the most accurate representations of the Ghostbusters vehicles and the firehouse in toy form. Those sets inspired me to incorporate Easter eggs and hidden details in my own creations.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
I’ve grown quite fond of the LEGO Ideas Voltron set. Not only did it capture the likeness of the old toy line and cartoon perfectly, it also made use of some ingenious building techniques that allow it to break apart and transform. I think that’s quite an achievement.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
The Mini Figure Trophy (90398) is an awesome piece. It’s basically a really tiny mini figure, which is really cute to collect. I try to incorporate it into my builds whenever possible. I honestly think that LEGO can build a whole line of products around the scale of this little guy.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I enjoy seeing the work of the late Arthur Gugick. He really had an eye for innovative techniques. Nathan Sawaya’s work is also very inspiring and refreshing to see. He’s constantly pushing the medium in beautiful and playful ways.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I’m quite active in various LEGO groups on Facebook. There are so many creative designs out there that aren't featured anywhere else. The creativity from these communities is infectious. I also follow channels like BrickVault, Beyond the Brick, and JK Brickworks.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I’ve been a fan of the show Community since it first came out back in 2009. The show was produced by Dan Harmon, of Rick and Morty fame, and the Russo Brothers, who went on to direct several Marvel movies because of their work on Community. While on the surface the show may appear to be a simple sitcom, Community is actually a densely-layered comedy that subverts expectations of what a sitcom is and can be. The meta-humor and genre-bending format have always been my favorite parts. You never really know what kind of episode you’re getting when you tune in.
While the series ended back in 2015, the Community fan base has remained very active online and passionate about the show — creating fan art, an annual convention, and even a video game. Ever since the show went off the air, the show’s actors have remained close with each other and with the fans. Many of them have become household names and starred in several films and TV shows of their own. In fact, two of Community’s lead actors even became closely associated with LEGO in a series of commercials for LEGO Dimensions and as LEGO characters (X-PO and Unikitty).
For several years now, fans have been campaigning for a Community movie to happen, rallying under the hashtag #SixSeasonsandaMovie. While the movie hasn’t happened just yet (fingers crossed!), the show has had a major resurgence in interest thanks to Netflix. During a recent cast reunion on Youtube, Community fans raised more than $100,000 for charity. Seeing all of these, I decided it was finally time to make my dream LEGO set based on the show.
- 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?
This project was an intense, week-long project. Since we were on lockdown in this part of the world, I suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands. I spent my time rewatching several key episodes from the show and taking reference photos of different rooms and props. I also did a lot of reading on the Community Wiki. It was a big help that the show has been thoroughly catalogued by fans. Several relatives are also fans of the show, so their inputs on what to include in the set came in very handy.
My initial design was only supposed to consist of the study room. As I began working on the ventilation system however, I realized the set felt incomplete without hints of other places in Greendale Community College. The project quickly began to take form after that. I wanted the set to feel as complete as possible, but using a very compact space.
I spent the last two days of my week designing all the flyers and posters. Since the show takes place in a college campus, I had to make a ton of little signages for walls and bulletin boards.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
One of the biggest challenges I had building this set was finding a way to capture the show’s uniquely, irreverent format. Unlike shows like Friends or Big Bang Theory, Community wasn’t shot in front of a studio audience. Many of their best episodes were filmed like mini movies with action, science fiction, fantasy, documentary, mystery, or animation genres. In constructing the set, I was very conscious of including space for these stories to happen, while building a very compact representation of a college campus.
I deliberately only built three walls in the set, so that the characters could “break the fourth wall.” I also wanted it to appear like the characters had a self-awareness of being transformed into LEGO toys, in the same way that they transformed into stop-motion toys, action figures, and puppets on previous episodes. Essentially, the set is like a new episode of Community, and we are all part of that show.
One of the most challenging things to design was the pillow fort. I think I spent the most amount of time building and rebuilding this set piece, because it was a challenge to make plastic bricks look like soft fabric. Initially, I tried to replicate the color palette from the Community “Pillows and Blankets” episode, which included warm shades of red and orange. I later realized that the key to making the bricks look like pillows and blankets was to use muted shades of green and blue, and plenty of white.
Lastly, I also wanted to include hidden Easter eggs in the set, the same way that Community hides jokes in the background that are only noticeable after watching an episode a second or third time. I tried to incorporate this by hiding little references and jokes. For instance, the study group’s Spanish book contains Troy and Abed’s iconic rap lyrics. The flyer for The Greasy Fork diner is designed to look like the poster for the movie Pulp Fiction, based on the homage episode “Critical Film Studies.” The entire set in itself is a reference to a diorama from the episode “Paradigms of Human Memory.”
- 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 think my biggest takeaway from this project was learning how amazing and supportive the Community fan base can be. This has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me because of the tremendous outpour of support from both the actors and the fans of the show. I’ve submitted projects on LEGO Ideas before, but this is the first time I’ve actually received messages from several people saying that my design brought tears to their eyes. If I had known how active on social media Community fans are, I would have been more active in the fan community even before I made this project.
- 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?
It took me exactly one week to build the project. To promote the set, I posted a new social media post every day for one week. It allowed me to keep my content constantly fresh and entertaining for my audience. It was important for me to develop my own targeted and measurable social media campaign for different platforms.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
It took me 9 days to reach 10,000 votes. I was ecstatic by the turnout and by the speed it took to get there. When I previously campaigned for my 123 Sesame Street set, it took me a year and a half to get there. I think the timing for this set was just right.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
I used between 1,500-1,700 bricks to build the set, including parts for the additional and alternate costumes of the main characters.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
The lockers, phone booth, and water fountain really help give the set a sense of location. I’m really proud of that. I think the phone booth in particular turned out great. It’s show-accurate and a cool little detail for hardcore Community fans.
I’m also quite happy with the way the ventilation system functions as a storage area for the various little props from different episodes. If you’ve seen the episode “Paradigms of Human Memory,“ you’ll recall that the vent was used as a repository of lost items from previous shows. It provided me with a very organic way to incorporate a lot of tiny items that hold special meaning to fans.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
The model was initially built using LEGO Digital Designer and completed using Studio.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
My custom stickers were created using Adobe Photoshop and PartDesigner. Each design was based on actual props from the show.
- If LEGO selects your design for production, do you have any ideas/hopes regarding the product design?
I think it would make a lot of people really happy if Community becomes a LEGO set. If my design does get picked up, I really hope that the set manages to retain the self-awareness and meta humor that I tried to incorporate into the build. Community is a very different kind of show from the typical sitcom and I think there is a unique opportunity to capture some of that energy in this set. I’d really like it to feel like when you’re playing with the set, you’re actually part of the show.
I really hope that the Dean gets some costume options too. I provided some suggestions in my project updates and I think fans would really get a kick out of seeing some of these accessories.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
First of all, learn the audience for your design. Try to research how big or small the fan base is for people who will vote, and ultimately buy the set. If there is a small audience for the design, it will probably struggle to reach enough votes. Once you’re able to determine your audience, try to study the kind of content they’d expect to see in your design and your promotions.
Second, learn how to promote the project on social media. Sometimes, it’s not enough to simply post and share on Facebook or in Facebook groups. Learn what kinds of posts works well on Reddit, Instagram, and Twitter. It takes a bit of trial-and-error to figure this out. You’ll need to learn the nuances of each channel and their audiences.
Third, I’d say work on the presentation of your submission. Try to make it look as professional and detailed as possible. You need to keep in mind that you are pitching an idea for a collectible product, so it needs to be pitched like something people will want to buy.
Lastly, create what you love. Don’t create a set just because you think it’s popular or because you think it will do well.
It’s important that you create something that you will enjoy. When you have fun and play with your creations, it will come across in the build, and fans will like it even more. Chances are, if you enjoyed building it, others will too.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
It was a big help that I had active social media accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter for my LEGO Ideas projects. These were the primary platforms that I used to campaign.
A big part of my promotions was the use of the hashtag #SixSeasonsandaLEGOset as a rallying cry for Community fans. I would say that the hashtag was instrumental in getting the word out to other Community fan accounts. At some point, my posts were even shared by several actors from the show, including Yvette Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong, and Chevy Chase.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
I think the ThunderCats set by Alexmorsilla_8413 is an awesome build. The Golden Girls House by misterr is another. That show is very popular again right now among millennials, so it would be a great set to be considered.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
What I really like about LEGO Ideas is its versatility. The platform offers a unique opportunity to create new LEGO fans, by connecting people and their various interests. LEGO already has a built-in fan base for themes like Space, Castle, Western, or City. LEGO Ideas expands that base and creates new LEGO fans out of fanbases for pop culture properties, like Friends or The Beatles, or of original designs, like the Pop-up Book and the Ship in a Bottle.
- 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’ve got an ever-growing list of Ideas I’d like to submit. How I decide which project goes next is really based on timing, audience interest, and my overall love for the build. My list continues to shift around constantly based on those three factors, so I’m not entirely sure which one will come next.
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